Silent Worlds: Child of Darkness and Light

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic


Yakusoku makes a breakthrough in therapy. He also gains courage from Ludwig to open up about the abduction. Reeves is brought to his knees with grief over a video tape.

Chapter 14 (v.1) - From the heart

Submitted: May 08, 2019

Reads: 37

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Submitted: May 08, 2019

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Quinn hated that she had to take a breath, hated that she had to hesitate before walking into her eldest son's bedroom. Her anxiety was high enough when he became a goth like that troublesome guy, Gev; and her anxiety was at maximum when he was gone. Now those anxieties are back, just being around him.

She didn't want to walk into this room and see that Yakusoku wasn't there, she didn't wanna have feelings come over her where she would walk in and want to tell her emo-child to clean his bedroom. But mostly, she didn't wanna see that the police had been right about his choosing to disappear. That something he'd truly loved was taken with him when he decided to be gone.

Quinn touched his things that day, each thing had some sort of meaning that she either did or didn't know about. The lewd drawings were a bit strange, but she couldn't even get mad at him. She can't now, though the knowledge is still with her.

Quinn hates the fear she feels from him. Not knowing what to say to your child is a frightening thing, especially when anything you say seems like it will make him selfdestruct.

She misses that little boy who'd run into their bedroom full of energy, and ready to chat about his day; she misses that young boy who'd keep his attention fully focused on the screen whenever he watched a mystery movie, and would solve it before the detectives in the film. Quinn misses his unconditional love.

Yakusoku may have been bad, but he still behaved like he was good when it mattered. He cared enough to be a good kid when asked. But now, he's a bomb.

Sucking in a breath, she turned the knob while knocking, allowing herself in. "Yakusoku... We need to talk." She paused to take in the sight before her.

The curtains are closed, the lights off, it'd be dark if not for the light coming in from the hall; not a single electronic thing is running. The room is quiet and still. Yakusoku is laying on his side in fetal position.

"Honey?"

When he didn't answer, she went to the worst possible scenario right away. Suicide. He was on watch in the hospital- even the hospital psychiatrist in Canada told them to watch out for him when he's at home. His exact words being: What you can't do in a public place, you may do in your own home. It was wrong of him. Chilling. But true.

Rushing over to the bed, Quinn snatched the child by the shoulder; ready to shake life back into him. CPR! Sense slaps! Whatever it took! But all she got was a spooked child, yelling in momentary terror from being touched by surprise.

Hand to her chest, she let out a breath of relief before wrapping her arms around him in the tightest, warmest hug she could offer.

Yakusoku observed his mother in a thoughtful silence; her tear-stained cheeks were kind of commical against the music playing in his earbuds. He's been sort of... at peace since deciding to commit suicide in a pact.

So, he whipped out Ludwig's gift and listened to some remixed Sixx a.m. Yakusoku wasn't sure what he liked more, his favorite songs or his best friend playing away in the background like a mad genius.

It reminded him that he wanted to form a band with him, and Gev. How he'd figured he could play guitar and all... It made him, unfortunately, think about a newly acquired skill at playing piano. A skill he never wanted or would need, taught to him by Maria of all people. He can't unlearn it, just like he can't forget about his gift. She'd stuck so many things to him, that he found himself suffocating in it. Appreciate this. Know that. Learn this. Love like that... She even allowed him to keep up with his school! Just like a mother... She wasn't his age... She was a woman. And these thoughts took away his good mood, and sent him spiraling again.

It didn't last long, mostly because he'd been snapped out of it to have his attention return to the music when just faintly in the background he'd heard an out of place laugh from Ludwig. Yakusoku couldn't help but smile when making up scenarios of why the male had laughed. And listening to the next song playing, he'd deciding that Ludwig must have laughed off an awkward feeling of wonder of what he'd been doing with it all.

There were a lot of little mutters in the makeshift remixes from his violinist friend. He'd been telling himself through low singing to play a certain cord, or he'd hum the song faintly. He swore once, who knows why, but Yakusoku found the whole thing hilarious. How he'd missed it the first time, he figured, is because he was so downtrodden that he didn't notice anything but the lilt of the added instrument to his favorite band.

But now he's left to wonder what the heck is going on, and why he was being shaken from his calmed state.

"What's the matter?" The dazed male asked while removing his earbuds. "Did something happen?" He meant her crying. She couldn't be crying because of him, he's not doing anything.

"No... No.." His mother began to laugh. "I'm just glad that you're all right."

Quinn hugs him again rocking them back and forth. Yakusoku offered a dry smile, and hugged his mother back. He still doesn't get it, but it's fine. She deserves to be happy. And she'll be happier in no time. The Lands just have to wait for January... everything will be fine then.

"I didn't see your headphones, baby, I'm sorry I scared you."

"It's okay, but... they're earbuds, you don't normally see them- not at first glance, anyway."

"Yakusoku, I came in here to ask you why you left therapy yesterday?" Quinn's sad eyes lock with her son's; in the dim lighting she can't tell what he's thinking. Lucky her.

"I don't know." He says very honestly.

Yakusoku didn't know he'd gone to therapy- or Mamoru did, anyway. But he can imagine Dr. Fradkin was ticked by the departure, if his understanding of the alter is accurate in any way. Mamoru seemed to be a real do-for-yourself kind of guy, not to mention a self-pleaser. If he doesn't wanna do something, he's not gonna do it- in vice-versa.

"You can't not kno..." She trailed off then tried again. "Yakusoku, you need to go see Dr Fradkin... He can help you get better."

"How? By talking about my problems?" Yakusoku shoves his player under the pillow; not like he had to hide it, he just felt the need. "I don't wanna think about them anymore, not on purpose..."

Trying to be a stolid mother, and not allow her heart to break from her son's words, she informs him. "I really think he can help you, on top of that, you're going again today. I'm not dropping you off and leaving, I'll wait in the hall if I have to."

Knowing she won't stop antagonizing him until he agrees to go, or is flatout dragged, he nods. "When are we going?"

"Ten... Please wash up and change into something comfortable." With her fingers, she brushed his messed up hair from being stuck to the side of his face that had been pressed on the pillow. "You're getting your full session this time... No arguing."

"I'm not!" Groaned the male, already annoyed with the posturing.

"Okay." Kissing his forehead, she stands. "We love you, sweetie... We're not doing this to punish you."

"I know that."

"Okay. Ten o'clock."

He nods; his eyes automatically glance at the time. Everyone is at school by now, no one is left to save him from knowing, out loud, what happened... again.

x x x

Armed in his Batman Beyond logo hoodie, he crosses his arms to give himself some sort of barrier of strength. He can't hug his mother's side like some goofy kid, who needs some place safe to talk about his nightmares.

"Mrs. Land, I'd like for you to stay for this session, actually."

"I'd planned to sit out in the hall to ensure he stays, but... Do I have to sit in with him?"

"It's not so much to avoid his fifth departure, but I'd like to have a session with the both of you." He steepled his fingertips together.

"Oh... I guess that'll be all right." She wondered, though, if she should inform Reeve that she might be a little late returning home? "Would you like Reeve to be here too?"

Yakusoku looked horrified. He doesn't wanna talk about his issues with his mother... With. His. Mother! She'll be hurt. Worse than hurt, she'll panic and think she has to proove something to him, when that's not the issue at all! He can't take the smothering attention of one more over emotional female. And his dad might come over too?! What the hell kind of scare tactic was this shrink trying to pull?

"Yakusoku's been telling me that he's been having issues with reconnecting with the family, we can start there." The shrink looked at the teen as if to say 'Checkmate.'.

As expected, Quinn looked at her son with a worried gaze. "Yakusoku, is that true?"

Curled in on himself, he shooks his head.

"Yakusoku... this isn't an attack. You should talk to your mother."

He glared daggers at the man, but responds regardless. "Maybe... I don't know... Just sometimes..."

"Is it because we're not attentive enough?"

Her gaze pierced him so completely that he couldn't escape the enclosure! He doesn't wanna talk about this right now! He actually did wanna see Dr Fradkin, but not for this; he wanted to ask him about his feelings of hatred towards Ludwig, and now he's being forced to talk about his detached feelings for his family.

The silence stretched long enough that Quinn, again, asked by simply saying his name. "Yakusoku?"

"Sometimes. I just don't feel like I belong home, it's not because I feel ignored... It's just... because."

"Because of what?"

Just like a panicked child, like when he was a child, he snagged one of the strings dangling from his hood and began to nervously gnaw on it; Quinn pulled it from his mouth.

"Honey, please... Whatever you have to say to me, just let it out."

Sucking in a breath of air, he releases it like an agitated sigh. "I just don't feel like I fit in anymore. I don't go to school; I can't keep everyone from worrying about me; I'm just hanging around to be felt sorry for and it's bothering me that I can't do something. It's like..." His bitter rant lowered, and he muttered quietly the feelings he's held in for a while now. "you'd all be better if I weren't home."

"How can you say that?"

It was just like he'd thought. She's giving him the standard show of affection. They really will be better off once he's out of the picture. She can't even think of anything to say it him aside from "how can you say that?"

"I don't wanna say because you replaced me... But, you've all got things to do now; lives that you've made... And what have I got?" He plays on the tips of his hood's string. "I could easily just be a vegetable in your eyes."

"Yakusoku, stop it! You are not a vegetable, and you are not seen that way... Not by me, or your father. We love you!" Quinn's gaze sharpened with determination to have those words sink in. "Fanny was a miracle, but she is not a replacement for you... No one can be you, so no one can replace you..."

The teen remained silent with that statement. His dual colored gaze is studying the arm of the couch like it's throwing up rainbows, and unicorns.

"Yakusoku..." Fradkin chimed in. "What do you think of your mother's words. Do you understand what she's telling you?"

Yakusoku nods.

"Is there anything you'd like to say back?"

"You know you can say anything to me... We've always been open with each other."

"No, we haven't... You don't know anything about me." He snipped under his breath.

"...Then tell me. If... If you can't tell me then tell your father- or write it down, if it's easier."

"I'll only feel sick knowing that you're reading it, knowing that it's written down and it's just there."

"Tell me."

He seems as though he's thinking about it, but he shook his head. "I can't."

"Why?"

"Because, I can't. ...I'd once asked Maria if it was hard for her to be forgotten, and I was only asking because I wanted to hurt her... But now, I feel forgotten, and all I wanna do is tell her that I'm sorry for ever saying it- does that make sense to you?" He then looks at the Fradkin. "You're supposed to be so good with this stuff... Why do I feel like this?"

"You said it yourself, you feel neglected and replaced. And you've been with your captor long enough to feel a sort of kinship with her... Your pains, joys, and experiences from then on were all hers then. You haven't finished adapting to being home."

"But why not? I hated her so much, just to come home and feel this way." He scrunched his hand on the apolstry. "I love my baby sister, and she's not the problem... But at the same time.." He shrugged.

"You feel like it's either her or you?"

Yakusoku felt ashamed. He felt like he should be hanged for his reply. But, he nods.

"Yaku'... Fanny isn't your competition. You're not used to being a family of five... You're not her only older brother... I can see why you'd think you don't fit in, but you're wrong." Quinn touches him; unknowing of how much her hesitance to do so hurt him inside. But you try inching your touch towards acid and see how quickly you stick your hand in.

"Fitting in" Dr Fradkin spoke from his voyeurs desk. "isn't instant. Not with friends, not with changing schools, sometimes not even with family. It's classic emotional turmoil, with children of a single child family, to be apprehensive of a new arrival. But for you, it's a bit different because you feel your little sister came at an odd time."

Yakusoku nods, not that he agrees, but that he understands. And in a way, Dr Fradkin was right. If Fanny had been expected before he'd left, he wouldn't feel small in her tiny shadow. But she came while he was away, and so to him, she's a mountain of "So there.".

"Honey, do you understand what Dr Fradkin is saying?"

He nods.

"It'll take some time, like any new experiences or relationships with people... It takes time... But eventually, you'll get used to Fanny as a part of your life. She'll need you for things that she can't need Ai for." Fradkin straightens from his lean.

"I wanna talk to you," Yakusoku says to Quinn. "but I don't think I can- not with what I have to say."

"What do you have to say?" Quinn's brow rose in question.

"...That it's all so pointless now." He sighed. "Talking about it."

"You're hesitating now," Fradkin informed. "Yakusoku, it's important that your family know how you feel. You have to tell them so you can start to find your place with them again."

He sucked in a breath. He really doesn't want to say anything. But, maybe the doctor is right. Maybe it's his own fault that he's feeling estranged from his family. Wetting his lips, he says very slowly and, as best as he can, calmly. "...When I told you and dad about Maria... over the summer, when I was fourteen... It wasn't the whole truth."

Quinn is feeling a little lightheaded now. What on earth could Yakusoku have withheld? She honestly can't even remember that summer, or the thing that her son is talking about. What could it be?

"When I'd said that she'd taken me somewhere... I said that she flipped out, and I was worried for her. ...I lied. I was the reason that she'd flipped out. Mom... Maria tricked me into following her, and when we got there..." His words stilled as that day played out in his memories.

He was paralyzed, and molested- multiple times! He was only fourteen, and he had some woman having her way with him! Most people would find it so damned sexy, and such a turn on... those fools chose it, at least they probably thought they had. Seduced by someone is practically a lovely form of brainwashing. He was brainwashed into buying into Maria's lies and the truths within her lies.

She hypnotized him, and lured him around with seducing words of telling him the answers to the mystery that was herself. In the end, she'd gotten what she'd wanted. She had sex with him. But she didn't and wouldn't get his love. It would seem, though, she got a lot of other things from him. He even didn't know how he felt about her, when she would call him at the ward, and make him feel like he wasn't alone. As long as she were still out there, he wouldn't be alone.

But she's gone now. And wouldn't you know it, she was right. Yakusoku feels, and may very well be, completely alone. No one understands him; and with his gift lurking secretly around them, no one can. So why tell his mother and father about what happened? Why make the worrying worse?

"Yakusoku, you have to talk." Quinn says softly. "Whatever you're going through, we'd like to understand. We'd like to be able to help."

"Then why did you stop looking for me! If you care all that much... Why?!" He snapped. "Ludwig found me! Ludwig hunted me down! You gave up, and on top of that, you started a new family... without me!"

"You know that's not what happened. Fanny wasn't planned, she's not your replacement." Her voice is so tiny that it's barely audible. "Honey... We didn't stop looking, we just became afraid of who we became; we had to redirect ourselves in order to raise Fanny, but we never stopped hoping that you'd be found."

"Well, wish granted. You decided to let hope do its thing, and I was found. It all worked out so great, except maybe for the part where you've got me back... Now what?" Pissed, Yakusoku finally looks at her with eyes full of wonder, rather than disdain. "Where do we go from here? What do we do?"

Quinn wasn't sure what to say, really. What could she say?

"I'm afraid to be at home because I feel lonely, but I'm afraid to be away because it all feels like a dream. I'll wake up one day and find myself laying in that cell, wondering what reality I prefer... Because right now, they both feel the same."

That did it. Quinn's tears fell to her lap, and she excused herself from the room. It was one thing to talk, but to be told that their loving home is no different than his captor's cell... She just needs some air.

Yakusoku looked after her. He didn't wanna make her cry. But everyone keeps pushing for conversation that just isn't gonna ever be spectacular, or go well in their favor. He's angry, at everyone- himself included! And he doesn't know how to stop it. But, it's actually good that she left. Now he can get down to the session that he wanted.

"Dr Fradkin?" He's cut off before he can go on.

"Yakusoku, why did you make it your goal to hurt your mother? You were supposed to talk with her, not allow yourself to be angry and keep her from understanding you."

"I don't know how that's even possible. Anything I say will send her out of the room in a panic... We've been over this. And maybe part of me did wanna hurt her, I needed to talk you before you invited my mom to sit in and have a session with me."

He mentally added a very firm "asshole" to the back of that. Why doesn't this man get it? He's not ready to talk with his parents. Until he's found the right way to word it, to keep them safe, what can he do?

"Yakusoku, pathways to wellness need to be established."

"It's all talking! For fucks... Listen, I wanted to come today because I wanted to talk to you about something I've been thinking about."

Interested that the teen actually sought his counsel, Fradkin perked an ear.

"It's about Ludwig, and I'm going insane because of it... I don't wanna feel this way, but I can't help it- it's like sixty two percent of the time that I feel this way." He rambled.

Nodding, the man smiled kindly. "It's ok, most people tend to turn their saviors into love interest; it's just how the heart works."

"...What?" He doesn't allow the man to repeat himself, he just continues what he was saying but with a more indepth explanation. "I meant that, I think I hate him."

"You hate him?" That's new.

"Yeah, and I don't want to. I like Ludwig, he's one of my best friends... And, he saved me but..."

"But seeing how it all turned out, you wish he hadn't. I see."

"Is this some sort of coping crap? Like I said, I don't hate him or even want to... But when I look at him sometimes, I wanna smash his face in."

Fradkin nods. He can understand that scenario. It's going to take him a moment to decide how to approach the response, because the teen is so volatile. His feelings tend to be a classic case in situations like this. You either hide from the world, fight the world, become angry, lose interest in everything you once knew, or you try to hard to regain what was lost just to end up pushing it all away until you end your life or run away.

"It's normal what you're feeling, especially if your friend has been acting differently towards you. Has he been showboating?"

"Ahaha, no." He had to laugh.

Ludwig was not the kind of person to showboat over something, no matter how major it is. It's just not his style.

"He has changed, though... I mean, he says he's always liked me.. y'know... liked me when he confessed his feelings... the little piss." He muttered good-naturedly. "But, I don't know... his having a thing for me is hardly the reason I hate him. It's like you said, he helped me, and I kind of blame him for it. But why is what I'm asking?"

"You've already answered your own question again. Ludwig helped you get home, he's the reason you were taken from a lifestyle you were beginning to have to accept, which put you, once again, into an uncomfortable situation. You feel like he's meddled into your life, and you hate that."

"But, thinking about him makes me happy sometimes." He smiles, its sort of odd and private. "He gave me this gift for my birthday, and when I listen to it it makes me happy."

"Do you return his feelings?"

Yakusoku almost lost it with laughter, but he suppressed that pain and instead chose to shake his head. Taking in what Fradkin had said about hating Ludwig, he asks. "Why do I have to like him, just because I wanna like him? Or because he likes me?"

"Most victims of war tend to go through a Florence Nightingale syndrome."

Frowning, he asked. "What's that again?"

"Most people have a misconception of the situation, when it's the opposite. The caregiver tends to fall for the patient."

"I'm not his patient."

"No. But, considering when his feelings for you came out... He may like you because of it. Sometimes, though, the patient falls right back."

'Not this patient.' Thinks the male. "And anyway, Ludwig isn't taking care of me... He doesn't check up on me like other people do, and aside from his liking me like that, he's pretty much the same."

'You spend a lot of time defending him for someone who doesn't return his feelings.' Thinks the doctor.

Ignoring the man's thoughts, he asks. "Will it ever go away, though? Hating him?"

"If you let it. It's all about redirecting your negative mindstate." Fradkin informs. "You have to realize everyone is only looking for ways to help you, but you can't let yourself get in the way of that. Attacking them, and pushing them away is the easy way out."

And he can recall saying something like that to Gev, when he'd talked to him about Maria. He'd told Gev that his parents aren't afraid of him, and they only want to figure out how to get along with him. His family and friends are doing the same thing with him. He's on fire, and they just wanna put him out.

"But you don't understand what it's like... When you've been there, and everyone is trying to 'get it', it's frustrating... It only seems like they're fishing for information."

"I can." He nods in agreement. "It tends to be exactly that a lot of the time, but the people who really care about you" He gives a nodding gesture to the hall where Yakusoku's departed mother has fled. "the one's who'd like to know your pain and hurt, when you share it. They feel that pain because you're important to them. You're not scaring them, or making them wish you'd never said anything, or came home. It's just the same pain from the overwhelming state that you're in."

Whoa.

"Oh, he's good." Comments, the once slumbering, Mamoru.

Yakusoku's eyes shift to the side as though the male were sitting right beside him, then he looks back at the doctor. "That... makes a lot of sense to me, thank you." He stands. "But you should know, and they should know... the whole thing's split me in two."

Grabbing the door knob, he locates his mother by the elevator where a bench sits.

"Can I go?"

"Of course. Unless there's something else you'd like to discuss?"

"Maybe next time."

The drive home was a sort of downer. Yakusoku kept opening his mouth to say something, but he'd always stop himself before anything came out.

"Yakusoku, would you like to be enrolled back in school?" Quinn finally found her voice to ask. "Would that help?"

"We already tried that, remember? They won't let me enroll in the middle of the year."

"Middle of the year.." She mutters then informs. "School starts in September, it's the end of November... we've barely scratched the school year."

He smiled listening to her speak. This isn't a mom that he's used to, so listening to her talk this way is pretty funny.

"I'm going to call them and insist that they allow you back in."

"Insist?! Listen to you, puffin' up your chest and being all commanding."

"Well, I'm mad... You're feeling alienated from everyone and it's not fair." But she's smiling.

"If it doesn't work out, can I get a part-time job working with Gev and his mom?"

"What does she do?" Quinn firmly objected, but right now she would have agreed to anything to keep her son happy, and participating in life.

"Catering. I'm not cooking or anything, just putting it on trays and walking it around."

Calming the part of her that wants to say 'No', she nods. "If that's what you want."

Momentarily burdened by his mother's response, he says quickly. "You don't have to agree to everything I wanna do, just to make me happy. I'm not gonna shrivel up if you tell me "No"."

"That's good to know, but, I don't want you to miss out on either of these things... If they'll make you feel better."

"I don't know if it'll make me feel better, but I'd like to try." Sitting with a pause of sadness in his mind, he resigns to saying what's on his mind. "I didn't mean to hurt you in there... I wanted to tell you things, but you freak out- Hell, I'm freaking out having to talk about it, and relive it... I know what's in me now, and having everyone else know... Sometimes it feels like it would hurt me more than the pains had."

"I can understand that, to some degree... But when it doesn't feel that way... Please come to us, Yakusoku. We're all here for you, and we love you."

"I know."

"Just be sure you feel it as well."

He nods in agreement.

Yakusoku and his mother exit the car, and head into the house.

"Guess who's got a job?" He expects to see her husband and baby seated on the couch, or in the kitchen. "Reeve?"

"We had to go out for a little bit; let's have pizza for dinner. Love Reeve and Fanny." Yakusoku hands his mother the post-it he'd found stuck to the center of the television.

"That's funny... I wonder where they could have gone?"

9 ~ 9 ~ 9 ~

Officer Bradford showed Reeve Land into the interogation room, where the police chief is waiting at the desk to speak with him. The man hadn't expected to see a baby in Reeve's arms, and he smiled warmly at the child. If only the situation were going to be the same.

Taking a seat, Reeve sat Fanny on his lap; giving her a lollipop to occupy her from fussing while the two speak. "You said you found something in the woman's home? What more can she have done to our child that needs to be known?" Reeve asks. "We just want what happened to go away..."

"I'm afraid it's not going to be that simple."

"Why? What did you find?"

"Mr Land, to what circumstances have you gone through to have your son?"

"I don't understand? Yakusoku is adopted, Ai is too... I thought this had something to do with Marissa Ashford?" He's still enthralled in his confusion, and on automatic he retrieves the tossed sweet from the floor after Franny hurled it down there. "Why are you asking about Yakusoku's adoption?"

Bradford walked into the room, as if he were given a signal of some kind. The room already has a television in it, a flatscreen set on the wall with a built-in DVD/Blu-ray player, but whatever this man was going to say to him seemed to need a VCR.

"Chief Cornell... I don't..." He shakes his head, but watched the screen when it came to life to reveal what's on the videotape.

"Around what age would you say this child is?" Cornell asked seriously enough to make the walls wish they didn't have to witness it.

"Is this Yakusoku?" Reeve looks at the young boy who couldn't be more than six, seven, or eight.

It's hard to say when the young boy's lower half is covered as it is. And Yakusoku is a bit on the 'runt' sized as it is. The video is paused, so he doesn't know the nature of its contents beyond a young boy, who looks exactly like his son.

"Chief... What is this about?" Seeing that the man is only going to stare at him, he continues. "He looks about six to eight years old... Why?"

"When was your son adopted? How old was he?"

"Eight. He told us that he was eight... It's one of the limited things he knew about himself." He badgers now. "Will you, please, tell me what is going on? I deserve to know."

"Officer, roll the tape."

The man seemed sympathetic to Reeve, but he has his orders and he pressed the play button to un-pause the screen.

"Is it on?" The young Yakusoku looks at the camera. "Yeah, I see the red light... Is it gonna be like before?"

He doesn't sound sad or scared, just huffy like a child being told to eat broccoli when they'd rather not. Whomever is holding the camera zoomed in on his plump little face, but doesn't say a word.

"Fine." Looking straight at the camera, he smiles sweetly. "I don't wanna be alone tonight." He whispered.

Reeve looks away when Yakusoku pulls off his pajama pants. But he can still hear it! "Stop the tape..."

"Mr. Land..."

"Stop the damned tape!" He stands; bouncing Franny in his arms to calm her threat to be an upstart, he hissed at the two policemen. "What the hell is this... Who filmed that!?"

He is going to kill them. He's going to hunt them down on his own if he has to and kill them! There was no denying the child in the film to be Yakusoku; he still makes those same huffy expressions, he has the same birthmark on his left thigh and right foot. But who would do something like that?

"We're uncertain if Ms. Ashford was the one who shot the videos,"

"Videos!? There's more than one?"

"In this box, there are at least thirty four video tapes, four of which have your son alone, and two have him with someone else."

Reeve could have thrown up. He could have set fire to the box of tapes, removing them permanently from existence, but all he could do was collapse and let the defeated, frightened tears fall from his eyes.

"Your grief doesn't go ignored Mr Land, but I should warn you... We have to know the entire story of how you came to be the owners of-.."

Cutting the man off he practically hollered. "We're not his owners, we're his parents! There was nothing illegal about our adopting him!"

Reeve was allowed a moment to compose his sorrows. And he needed it. His son... That bitch... How could anyone be so cruel? And there are more- other children on film!? How does something like this happen?

"How does this happen?" He asks no one.

"We see it a lot, I'm afraid." This is officer Bradford. "Parents need money, so they'll pimp their kid out virtually. It's a high-selling business, and a quick way to make cash. Like young women striping their way through college. They think if no one is being touched, no one gets hurt. It's a clean situation that has been flawed many times, but no one can stop it when they're crafty enough."

"And my son... He belonged to people who would do this? No wonder he ran away..."

"He ran away?"

"We'd assumed that, or he was homeless and just fainted from exhaustion... But he was too clean to be homeless, and well-fed."

Nodding, the chief of police takes the video back once the officer ejects it from the machine. "Mr. Land, again, I'm sorry... But I'm gonna need the whole story from you or your wife."

"Oh my God, Quinn... You didn't show these to her, have you?"

"You're the only one."

Nodding, he says. "Good, good... Please, don't let my wife even know about these. It would destroy her."

"We will agree to keep your wife out of this, so-long-as you tell us the situation of your son."

"When my wife and I were returning home from a trip, we came across a child, Yakusoku, who at the time had no name. He said he doesn't remember anything- nothing at all! We took him to an agency after he'd spent a night at our house, we didn't know what to do with him. Can you imagine it, what would you have done?"

"Called the police." Says the chief.

"We hadn't thought of it. We were only thinking of the child, and how if he were homeless what more could he do but be put into an agency. You think someone adopted him for a day and did this?"

The chief shakes his head.

"We adopted him within that same year, and another child... our son, Ai." Seeing where the man's gaze fell, he replied. "Fanny is ours, blood related. My wife couldn't get pregnant before, but we really wanted a child. We'd planned on getting Ai, and we decided Yakusoku as well."

"It seems so farfetched, but we checked out your papers..."

"I understand." Reeve nods.

Chief Cornell couldn't help but believe the man. His sincerity is too... sincere. So, the question now is... Why was this boy away from his original home? A question that can only be answered by the teen's real family.

"We have reason to believe that your son ran away from a voyeur ring, that was being hosted in his home. He chose not to remember because he was afraid to go back, in spite of what could have happened to him by going with you and your wife."

"He's lucky he came across us."

"It would seem so, regardless of current events, I can tell you love Yakusoku very much." He nods. "We're planning on contacting his birth parents, to get their take on the situation."

Reeve's brown eyes could have bugged out of his head hearing that. They know Yakusoku's birth parents? How? The Lands have been wondering for years, when they first found the child, and they went about speculating his past. But to have someone know...

"What are their names?"

"We can't disclose that information, not only for their safety but your own." He stands. "We've been contacting all the parents to the children in these videos, we're in the process of condemning someone who's already dead. But, we have to investigate a crime that may have more than one guilty party, as most of these situations do."

"My God..." Reeve whispers. "Good luck then... Find them all, if they can be found."

"We surely will." He stands. "I can give you something, though."

"Yes?" He was hoping it was the family's name. He'd like to have a word with them.

"Your son's real name, if you'd like to know it?"

Reeve wasn't sure. He likes his son's name. He and Quinn put a lot of thought into it. Would he have to start calling him by it, if he does know? But then, Yakusoku doesn't know about any of this, and if he does, he's keeping it to himself very well. Reeve felt his head dip, he'd nodded. He wants to know.

"It's Ha-ku-o." He said it in it's utmost pronunciation.

"Hakuo... Hakuo..." He just sort of let that resonate with him. "Thank you." Going for the exit, he paused. "Chief Cornell... What if the family aren't the culprits of this? What's going to happen to Yakusoku?"

"Depending on their situation.. I can't say. But if they're not guilty, you'd better find yourself a lawyer."

A lawyer! How can this be happening? This abduction has gone from worse to dire. They just got their son back, now there's a chance that they could lose him again... forever this time. He can't see that happening, and he was ashamed as he walked out of the room hoping that this other family were guilty of a horrible crime.

0 ~ 0 ~ 0 ~

"I bought Little Caesars," Reeve announced when entering his home. "Son, would you go out to the car and carry them in?"

"Sure." Yakusoku set his book down, and hurried out of the house.

Reeve's been cheerful since he got home earlier. He's been talking with his son about the books he's been reading, gaming with him, they watched Let's Make a Deal with Wayne Brady and took bets on the content's capabilities.

The man was gonna do whatever it took to dispel that video from his memory. He can't see his son, and not feel the image creeping up on him. His thoughts must have been very clear on his face, because every now and then Yakusoku would look at him with an odd expression.

Quinn seemed to be compensating too. She was busy asking him if he'd like something to eat; she'd cleaned the house and for some reason got into an argument with the school.

Reeve had to tell his wife. He had to tell her about Yakusoku's family being out there. She has a right to know, she's his mother, and she has to know. He figured he'd get his chance when the kids were asleep.

"Hey Ludo," Yakusoku says when spotting his friend walking up from the street. "Here," He shoves a box into his arms. "Wanna stay for dinner?"

"Nope. My mom's making pork shoulder."

"Then why are you here?"

Ludwig felt his stomach knot; it wasn't the tone that the question was asked, because it was actually light and sweet, but it's the underlying hatred he knows the male has for him. He's been depressed about it for most of the day. The only time he wasn't was when he'd gotten consumed by Gev's little scene in the boy's room.

"I was bored, and thought you'd show me those drawings you said you would."

"I..." He stopped himself from saying that he never said anything like that, but then he remembered that Mamoru had been joyriding him... That sounds wrong. But whatever the case, the male had been in charge for a while. Figuring he may as well cover his tracks in the matter, he nods. "Sure."

"You've got mail." Quinn says to her son when he enters the kitchen. It had been nabbed around noon, but no one really looked at it, having been busy with Yakusoku, and trying to regain some normalcy.

"More... I'll pass."

"Nope. This is from your middle school." She says reading the addressee's information.

"What do they want?" He took the envelope.

"Hi." Ai says to their visitor.

Ludwig smirked at him, but placed his attention on Yakusoku. Middle school was a life of the male's he never got to know. He barely knows his high school life, since he's been absent of it for quite some time. Not to mention, all the time he'd known him, the guy either hated him verbally or physically. When they became friends, he was gone shortly after. Weird as it is, he knows Gev, Clark, and Nono better than he knows Yakusoku.

'At the rate things are going, I wonder if I'll ever get to know him?' He side-eyes the male.

"They want me to talk in front of the students about the abduction, are they insane?"

"Let me see that." Quinn looks over his shoulder. "They're holding an assembly, and would like for you to speak during it."

"What would I even say?" He sits at the table. He can feel his nerves prickling as stress roiled over him. "It sucks... Anyone knows that."

"Sounds more like they want you to talk like Smokey the Bear, or Scruff McGruff!" Ai chimes in.

"I guess that makes sense."

"This one must say the same thing, it's from your elementary school." She says when rifling through the other envelopes and coupon magazines.

"I don't wanna do something like that." Yakusoku says it as though it were offhandedly to a television audience.

"You should, it could be good for those kids." Ludwig puts in his two-cents.

Taking a slice of pizza, he bit into it, speaking as he chews. "I won't know what to say."

Ludwig shrugged. He doesn't care what choice Yakusoku makes, he just thought it was a good idea.

Looking his friend over, Yakusoku bit back a smile when thoughts of the male played through his mind; he didn't realize it, but there's a lot about Ludwig he doesn't know. For starters that he swears. He's never heard him do it, and if he has than it's so infrequent that he can't remember. Guys like him shouldn't swear, it just sounds funny.

"Mom, can I eat upstairs? I wanna lay down for a bit."

"Are you ok?" Quinn asks instantly. He's nearing the given time to have his check up to get his cast and stitches removed, maybe he's feeling worse.

"I'm a little tired from the pep-pill, but not tired enough to not eat." He stands from his seat, taking his plate of three slices with him. And as if it were an afterthought, he grabbed a fourth slice. "Come on, Ludo."

"I won't stay long." He says to the Lands.

They weren't really concerned, but figured Ludwig had only said it because Yakusoku said he was tired. The two teens tromp up the stairs and into Yakusoku's bedroom.

Ludwig couldn't help but imagine Yakusoku dropping his food where he stands then scooping him into his arms and just kissing him like mad; like he'd said he wanted to do yesterday. Like they had last night. He's so confusing, really. It's like he's playing ping-pong with how he feels about him, and its starting to make Ludwig a little wary. He can take either decision Yakusoku makes, but not both of them. It's too confusing.

Having seen the images that Ludwig thought, when they entered his bedroom Yakusoku set his food down and approached the daydreaming male. Grabbing Ludwig's wrist, he placed his hands on his rear then wrapped his arms around the confused Canadian's neck.

"Does this feel natural to you? Because it doesn't feel natural to me."

"It does, actually."

Yakusoku scoffed and released him immediately, returning to his bed to retrieve his food and lie down as he wanted to. "You're exhausting."

"You're exhausting!" He takes a seat at the desk. Leaning forward, elbows against his knees, he adds. "And stop giving me fanservice if you're not interested."

"Is it making you all torn up inside?" Asks Yakusoku while eating.

"Yes!"

Smiling around his bite, he comments cheerfully. "Good. You deserve it."

"How do I deserve it? What'd I ever do to you?"

"Aside from making me uncomfortable with your feelings for me," he set his plate down on his lap. "Not to mention, having me talk with my mom about my feelings during a therapy session that I only wanted to go to, to ask about you."

Cheekily, he asks. "You wanted to talk about me? I'm intrigued."

"Don't be... But, you'll be happy to know that I don't hate you." He picked at the plate. "Dr. Fradkin said that I only hate that you made me uncomfortable." Ceasing his fingers movements, he adds. "I was starting to get comfortable being with Maria, and then I'm taken away and forced into another uncomfortable place."

"Huh?" He scrunched his face up.

"...I wish you'd of found me sooner, but since you didn't... I kind of wish that you didn't find me at all." He returns to eating his pizza. "I'm miserable, and uncomfortable with my own family. I blame you for it."

"I'm..." He stopped himself from apologizing, and corrects his words. "I'm not sorry I found you, I'm never gonna be. You'll just have to suck up being uncomfortable until you find your way again."

Taken aback by the tone, he says lightheartedly. "Geez, say it in French."

Smiling, he moves over to the bed, having a seat beside Yakusoku. "I'd do it again. I'm a serial offender of doing the right thing. And having you home, is the right thing."

"Oh shut up, cornball- mm!" He moved his plate onto the nightstand; removing his cell phone from the little drawer, he opened it up to the camera. "Smile."

Ludwig glances at the phone, then cocks a brow of uncertainty to this odd behavior, before just going with it and putting on a smile. Yakusoku leaned his head closer to Ludwig's until they were both inframe, then he took the picture.

"What's that for?"

"Darts." He teased checking how the photo came out. "Gimme your phone."

Handing Yakusoku his phone, Ludwig watched the male repeat his earlier action of turning on the camera then holding it out. His smile wasn't as sincere as the first time, but he smiled all the same.

"At risk of pissing on a sweet moment, what are you doing?" He returned his phone into his sweater's pocket.

"We don't have enough pictures with each other." He shrugged. "I didn't even delete the ones with Clark and Nono... I think I need to, if they're gonna keep being dicks to you."

"They are."

"I'm sorry."

"What are you sorry for? You aren't doing anything, and I'm the one who likes you." As if reminded- and he was- he says. "Oh, and get how weird this is... Gev kissed me."

"I know." He eats the third slice of pizza.

"No. I mean recently, today, in the boy's bathroom."

"Euw." He took another bite, after waiting out a loose sausage to fall onto the plate. "Why're you two kissing in the bathroom?"

"We weren't, he kissed me... Then he told me he likes me, and he has for a while."

"Uh-huh?"

"Around the time you went missing, and he and I were looking for you... He says it just happened."

"That's great! You two can have each other."

"Why are you being so blase about it? I just told you your best friend is gay or bi, and you tell us to be happy together.."

"I'm not saying it like that, I'm saying that if he likes you-" He shrugged. "Gev is likeable. Why can't you get into each other?" He put the third slice up to his mouth, but set it back down on the plate. "I also think the drugs are keeping me from the real shock of Gev being gay, and me knowing nothing about it." Sighing, he smiles. "Gev has always been a firm believer of being happy for his friends no matter what... If he's gay, or gonna be gay, I'm gonna support that."

"But he wants to fuck you?"

"He hasn't."

Scoffing, Ludwig mutters to himself. "I knew I was right, and you brushed my comment off."

"How come he hasn't come out to me, then? I think he wants to fuck you, and was just singing to me." He laughs.

In Spite of how flustered he feels, he finds himself laughing too. "What is so funny?"

"The whole situation is just hilarious... I'm finding out so much about everybody. It's just weird."

"How many of those pills did you take?" He inquired. "Anyway... I don't have feelings for Gev; I like you. I like every thing about you."

"Corny... You're so corny." He smiled.

He didn't realize just how sleepy he really was. He can hardly lift his plate to put on the stand.

Yawning, he closed his eyes. "Ludo... You should consider Gev.. I'll never like you how you want me to. I'm not attracted to you."

"I'm not attracted to him."

"But you could be, if you gave him half a chance."

Snowballed, he gently snaps. "Isn't that just what I've been saying to you, about us?" He cocks a brow. "I think you're pushing this so I back off of you."

"I am."

Defeated, he sighs out his frustration. Lifting Yakusoku's hand, he placed it over his mouth, and like before, he kisses the back of the male's hand. He backed away from the bewildered male and scooting from the bed, he waves a hand.

"I'm gonna go. I think you should reconsider speaking at your old schools... It could be good for you, too."

Blinking, he went to say something, but decided not to. Lowering his hand, he looks at the offended area, unsure of how to feel about it. But he does know, this sort of thing is also part of his anger of being in a fish-out-of-water situation.

9 ~ 9 ~ 9 ~

"Mr. Land... Are you ready?" Asked Principal Fowler.

Yakusoku's been shaking his numb hands about and pacing to keep his trembling legs busy. Stupid Ludwig, he's doing it to him again! He didn't wanna speak at the schools, but for some reason he woke up early in the morning; showered, dressed, brushed, ate breakfast and waited around to be driven, by his mother, to Birchview Elementary school. So now, here he is... standing in the auditorium, with no speech to lay upon these peering eyes, and bored minds.

Maybe it's just another one of those things that he has to do, another way for him to make memories and bestow something to this world before he leaves it; like he did when he took pictures with Ludwig yesterday. He wanted to give him something, especially when he just came to realize that the two of them really have nothing between them beyond the Canadian's burdensome interest in him.

Ludwig's affections, they came at him just as awkwardly placed as Franny. And he just doesn't feel he should have any part of it. Ludwig said it himself, he's a serial offender. If he's not backing down, he won't. So let him make offenses, it won't last long. January is right around the corner.

"Do your best, honey." His mother says before he walks out on stage to the micced podium. She promised she'd sit in the car.

He thought, if he were gonna do it, it couldn't be with her listening. How is he supposed to talk about something like this to kids!? What should he say? Should he joke about it to ease the tension that's gonna be so thick he'll choke on it.

'I've gotta stop questioning everything I do. It's only making it worse.'

Stepping out into the whole of the room; he swallows over a nasty lump in his throat. The atmosphere is as bored as you'd expect it to be during auditorium gatherings that aren't talent show related. Yakusoku looks out over the crowd of minors, and feels himself start to shake. All their little voices are coming in, as they start to realize just whom he is.

'He's so cute!' Thinks a young girl.

'Who is this guy?' Thinks a boy.

A girl lulls her head to the back of the seat. 'How much longer are they gonna make us sit in here. Ugh! I actually wanna go to class.'

'I wonder how come he's here?' Thinks another young boy with a rather high voice for his guessed age.

'That's that guy from tv! The one who was kidnapped!'

He can't do this! More so when they all begin to whisper to each other about his identity. He closed his eyes, and just wished that everyone would disappear.

"You can do it, Promise."

His eyes snapped open hearing a familiar voice in his head. Looking around, he listens to the male again telling him that he's by the exit.

"I had to come," Ludwig projects. "I knew you'd need support." He gave him a thumbs up, and a smile. "Just talk like you're talking to yourself, or me... you'll do fine."

'I'll do fine... Just talk to myself...'

Sucking in a breath, he begins with a cracked voice. "H- How many of you know the definition of a stranger?" He asked.

The kids look shocked that he'd said anything, unsure of whether or not that was a rhetorical question or if he actually wanted an answer. So they said nothing. Yakusoku decided to keep his nerve and go on, even though none of them were listening.

"Nearly all of you will answer what you've come to know, or what the dictionary says... Which is: someone you don't know, someone you and someone you're close to doesn't know. Basically, it states a person who's out of place." He looks over by the door, where Ludwig nods to him that he's doing great. "You're wrong, in thinking that... Everyone, whether it's a man, woman, child, or someone your own age- everyone is a stranger until you get to know them. I'm a stranger to all of you, as well."

The kids seem to be thinking about that. They can direct their gaze right to a bunch of kids from class they don't know, even by name.

"Until you know them, they're a stranger." Yakusoku continued when their little minds calmed down. "The true meaning of the word isn't a person, but a person's behavior." He let the comment sit. "A person could suddenly pop up everywhere you are, showing too much interest in you and the things you do... This strange behavior could be closer to home, like an abusive parent... Your mom and dad can become strangers if they suddenly decide they're gonna cross the room and slap you. I can be seen as strange if.." And he raised a leg and suddenly starts hopping up and down on one foot. "I decide I wanna give this whole speech hopping on one foot."

He stops bouncing, allowing the kids to have their laugh then calm down.

"Light or dark, strange behavior can't be understood right away or ever... I thought like most of you do, that the world is a safe place, right? I don't look people I don't know in the eye, I don't talk to unfamiliars... But I wasn't aware of the danger of strange. I talked to the person who took me, I got to know them... And they weren't who I thought they were, not at all."

The young kids' faces darken hearing those words. Curious as they were, when it was presented to them they don't know how to feel beyond afraid.

"Her strange behavior stalked and hunted me, it ran me down until it could win... Because I didn't say anything. No one had any clue that anything bad was going on, I thought I could handle it by myself... You may not be believed at first, but you have to be firm, put it out there! Tell someone you're not ok with someone's odd attention on you... Then what happened to me, won't happen to you."

"Excuse me..." A girl raised her hand, and stood.

"Hmm?"

"Is all strange behavior bad?"

Smiling, he says. "Not if it doesn't make you uncomfortable... I don't know, personally... If my mom were abusive to me my whole life, then one day she's making me pancakes and giving me kisses and love..." Yakusoku chuckled. "I can't disagree with that strangeness."

The girl nods taking her seat once more.

"You make an interesting point though... Not all strange is bad, sometimes you can turn a little strange yourself. But anything you're not ok with, that's when you should raise the alert flag." He looks out over the children and says softly. "I'm not trying to scare any of you, I'm just trying to make you aware of the world around you, and yourselves... You could be the loneliest person in the whole world, but no one ignores a person's pain. Just trust that." He looked at them again. "I got lucky, I'm one of the three percent of a ninety seven percent of missing people who are never found. So find your voice. Thank you."

At first the kids just looked at each other, then slowly one by one hands began to go up all around the room. Yakusoku was unsure of whether or not he should be delighted that they listened to him, or worried about the questions their young minds would have for him. It was the same when he repeated the speech here, at the middle school.

Are they gonna want gory details of what happened to him, because truthfully- for the most part- even he is unsure of what happened during some of it.

"Um, you the boy in the front with the yellow tank."

"So, even if someone comes up to me and asks me for the time... I shouldn't tell them because they could just wanna talk to me?"

"You can tell them the time and move on, but if they persist on asking you things then find an adult and avoid that person from then on." He answered as responsibly as he could think of on the fly. "How 'bout the girl with the purple knit hat."

"Did you really save that little girl?"

Assuming she meant Tsukiko, he nods. "Yeah, I guess we kind of saved each other because," he shrugs. "She motivated me not to give up, because she was too young to be in a place like that. I had to get her out of there, even if I didn't make it."

Some of the girls began to giggle at how knightly that sounded, or prince-like; Yakusoku wasn't sure if it should be looked into or not when he asked the next kid to speak only to have him decide to chicken out and sit back down. Another boy just stood up and said as loud as he could.

"My dad said you're a faggot because you let some woman keep you captive, is that true?" He sat down and laughed with a bunch of his buddies who dared him to say it.

Ludwig grazed that child with his smite, but kept calm from wanting to belt the little fucker. Ai felt the same way. His brother is wearing his heart on his sleeve, and some little shit wants to be the class clown. Yakusoku, on the other hand, thought about telling that kid to tell his father to shove it, but instead he mentally counted to ten then said out loud.

"No. I'm not. I just couldn't bring myself to harm a girl- even if she was bad."

"But that's stupid." Said the smartass. "If she was all that bad you should have just hit her!"

Feeling his fuse light up, he bit his tongue. "Yeah, I guess you're right. But when you're as weak as a wet paper and strapped to a bed, it's kind of hard to beat someones brains in." He slapped himself for saying that. Crap.

The spooked elementary kids were in an uproar with chatter now. Yakusoku damn near told them all to shut up, but he knew that wouldn't help anything. Why did he open his mouth? Principal Zimmern of the middle stood up and took over the microphone.

"That will be all Mr. Land, and thank you." Turning her attention to the rowdy bunch she says in a serious tone. "Shut up you brats, you'll treat Mr. Land with the respect he deserves; it could have easily been one of you this fine youngman had saved. So show him some appreciation."

The large crowd quieted, then they began to clap for him. Principal Zimmern smiled, the crinkles on her face now showing off her actual age to the world. "You're a hero Mr. Land, you truly are. That will be all. Thank you."

"Thank you." Yakusoku, a bundle of nerves, walked away from the stage unaware of the child that followed him out from one of the side doors.

"Excuse me, Mr. Land?" He tugged on Yakusoku's sleeve.

"Hmm?" He stopped in his tracks, that were heading straight for the exit out of this place where his new ride, Ludwig, was waiting for him.

Turning to see a young boy of 14 staring up at him, he made an expression of realization that it was the kid who'd chickened out on asking a question.

"I've seen you before, when you were younger."

The kid nods. "I was at the park, you told some old guy to leave me alone when I was climbing trees. That man... from the park... He used to always talk to me, before you told him to stop..."

That was four years ago! Yakusoku was surprised he'd remembered.

The boy bit his lip, shyly looking at the floor. "Do you think he would have..." The kid blushed but his eyes swelled with tears.

Yakusoku shook his head, kneeling down. "He was too elderly to drag you off on his own, so I don't think you were in danger of being snatched- at the time- but you might have been willingly abducted if you'd gone with him voluntarily. Because he's old, and we're taught to respect and be kind to our elders, he could have asked for help and got you into his car or home. But he's gone now, in a nurses home under their care." he brushed a hand through the kid's hair offering him a smile. "You don't have to worry about him."

The kid nodded with a smile. "My name is Damion, by the way."

"Hmhm. You can call me Yakusoku, Damion."

"You know, you really are a hero. I wanna be like you when I get older- haha, a hero to the people."

"Get yourself into a good martial arts class, and you're already halfway there." Patting the kid on the shoulder, he straightened up straight. "I have to go now. See you."

"Bye." He returned to the auditorium.

He felt good about how that went. He felt really good. And his words kind of got to him as well. He wouldn't allow anyone to do something to him that he isn't comfortable with; looking over at Ludwig, who's pacing for the exit, he smiled thinking about the idiot's kiss on his hand.

'Maybe I have gotten a little strange.'

 


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