Chapter 10

After dinner is over and done, and my tour of the house is finished, Levi walks with us back up to our new room. Squid's going on and on about the pool, and how he can't wait to swim in it, and asks Levi multiple times if it's the biggest pool ever. Levi assures him that, to his knowledge, it definitely is the biggest pool ever, and returns my smile over my brother's head. We pass a few of the others going up, like Cristal, Champagne, and Ashlian, and all three of them wave, but seem too busy to stop and talk. I assume they're the night shift today, getting ready, because all three of them are grooming in one way or another. When we get to my room, Levi turns and looks at me apologetically. His purple tipped hair hangs over his eyes, indicating that he hasn't had it cut in some time. "I'd like to stay and keep you company longer, but I'm working tonight."

"Oh. Okay." I try to sound casual, but I'm nervously combing through my options in my head. I wanted to stay in my room for the rest of the night, and rest up, but if something does happen, and I do need to be out and about, I hate the thought of being on my own. Levi, even though I haven't even known him for a full day, had been my first option. He had to know the ins and outs, and so far he'd answered all my questions, and truthfully at that. He had the hope that we could get out of here, and I too wanted to hold onto that hope. But if he wasn't there, and I needed something, who was I supposed to turn to now? Cristal and Champagne had both seemed very friendly, and while I hadn't spoken that much too Ashlian, the fact that he seemed close with the twins gave me hope he'd treat me kindly enough. So of course, all three of those people had also seemed to be leaving.

Levi, reading the distress on my face, puts a hand on my shoulder. "I'm sure if you have any questions, or need any help, Carlos would be happy to help." Carlos, of course, had so far seemed happy to help, and if I hadn't seen him come home earlier, I probably would have turned to him. But I knew he's spent all day working, and was probably exhausted. He probably wanted to sleep. And Raven and Rose too. These three people had all been nice, or at least casual, but all three of these people would also be dead asleep in their beds within the hour.

"Right." I finally answer, and Levi looks at me apologetically one last time. "I'll be back in the morning. See you then."

"Yeah. See you."

He turns and walks off quickly, and I hear one of the two twins, (whose voices I can't differentiate between yet) call and ask him if he's getting ready.

"On my way!"

After he's vanished behind a bedroom door, Squid and I do the same, and even though Squid is raring to go, jumping up and down and grabbing for all his toys, I'm suddenly exhausted again, despite our earlier nap.

"Jack's house is really cool, right Edward?"

I nod, but don't verbally answer, laying down on the bed and shutting my eyes. Over the next few minutes, I shuffle around in the bed until eventually I'm curled up under the covers, hiding the light of the room with a blanket over my face. I can hear Squid still exclaiming happily, talking about stuff, and asking me questions that thankfully don't actually need answers. I expect this to go for quite some time, but as it turns out, Squid is more tired than he lets on, and after only ten or so more minutes, I hear a light switch, the quick running of feet, then he climbs on the bed with me, quiet as a mouse, and snuggles into the warmth of the blankets.

"Goodnight." he whispers, and I open my eyes enough to look at him. He's looking back at me, with nothing but some pure kind of child love, and I feel my heart squeeze. If it means I get to see those kinds of looks on my brothers face, I can do the things I'll have to do.

"Goodnight." I put my arm around his waist, snuggling so that my face is buried in his side. He still smells like kid, despite it all. Because he is still a kid. And he needs me. I feel his hand on my hair, and he gives it comforting pats, like I'm a dog.

It's quiet for a couple minutes, and I think he's dozing off, when I suddenly hear him whispering very quietly to himself, bringing me out of the slumber I'd started to fall into. I'm about to ask him who he's talking to, since I've never heard him talk to himself in the dark, and it's honestly a little creepy, when I catch a few words of his conversation.

"I miss you a lot. Edward does too."

Grandpa Edward, I realize. He's talking to our grandpa. I block out the sound of his voice as best as I can, because I'm afraid that if I continue hearing him, I'll start to cry.

For only a few seconds, I shut my eyes and allow myself to talk to him too, if only in my head.

I'm sorry if you're disappointed in me. But I have to do whatever it takes. Please protect us.

I don't know if there's an afterlife. If my grandfather is watching over us anywhere in this world.

But if he his, I hope he understands.

*(*)

I don't know how long we've been asleep when I open my eyes. For a few disorienting seconds, I don't know what it is that woke me up, and just have the weird, off putting feeling that something did. I glance at Squid to see if maybe he'd moved or was awake and had said something. But he seems deep asleep, so I look groggily around the room for an indication that something happened, like a book fell off a shelf.

That's when I hear a knock on my bedroom door. It's loud enough that it woke me up, and could have woken my brother, but not loud enough to cause a house wide disturbance.

"Who-?" I start to say out loud, but then stop myself. I'm too far away from the door to ask it quietly, and I don't want to wake my brother. He really deserves a good nights rest. I do too, but I'm not in the position to just ignore whoever it is at the door. After all, it could be Jack.

It could be Jack.

God, if it's Jack, there's only one thing he would want from me in the middle of the night. More practice. My stomach curls uneasily, and I think about pretending to still be asleep and trying to ignore it anyway. But whoever is out there probably heard me start to speak just now, and that isn't so much an option. Besides, if it is Jack, he'll probably just come in if I ignore him.

I slide out of bed quietly, and instantly am cold. I don't know if it's because I've left the warmth of my brother and the blankets, or if it's the fear and apprehension swirling around deep in my gut. Probably both. I take my time getting to the door, hoping that if I take long enough, the person on the other side will have given up and gone away by the time I finally make. And while I haven't heard any more knocks, I think that's just because whoever it is did hear me talk, and knows I'm awake, and is just waiting, because I haven't heard anyone move away from the door.

Maybe it's Levi, I think hopefully to myself. Maybe he's just come to let you know he's back.

I don't know if it's stupid or not to think this, because I really have no idea how long Squid and I have been asleep. It could have been thirty minutes, it could have been three hours. Maybe it's been long enough for Levi to leave and finish his jobs for the night, and maybe it hasn't.

Or maybe it will be Carlos. He had seemed friendly, and maybe he'd wanted to check on us, even though he had to have known we'd be asleep. Or maybe he thought we were awake. Because, as I've said, dinner could have been twenty minutes ago for all I know. I've never been the kind of person who has any kind of idea how much time has passed when I wake up. I could be waking from year long comas, or tiny power naps, and it all feels the same to me.

As if it wasn't a useless and stupid idea, I check the door for a peephole. Who knows, maybe Moxie wanted one. But there isn't one. Obviously. I open the door, just enough to look out, preparing myself for it to be Jack, hoping it will be Carlos or Levi.

The person standing on the other side of the door is none of these three people, none of my guesses.

It's Chi.

He's wearing a white shirt that almost reaches his knees, so I can't see if he has any sort of bottoms on. No shoes, though he is donning a fuzzy, warm looking pair of purple socks. I figure it's his sleeping attire. But he looks pretty put together for a guy who might have just been asleep. His hair is in place, and his eyes aren't giving any indication of grogginess as he shifts his gaze to me, and narrows them.

"Oh..." I say, the surprise obvious on my face, and relief sinking into my body. But then I realize maybe I shouldn't be relieved. Maybe Jack sent him here to get me. Maybe they'd been in the middle of something and Jack had decided it was a good thing for me to a part of. I tense back up more than a little as I whisper, trying still not to wake my brother. "Chi...right?" I don't actually need the "right", I remember his name fine, since he made such a big deal out of telling it to me.

Chi rolls his eyes.

And sighs.

Like I'm the one inconveniencing him, like I was the one came into his room in possible the middle of the night, (and I'm starting to think it is, because the rest of the house is dark and quiet, leading me to believe that those who aren't out working are asleep) and woke him up.

"Yeah." he replies in a clipped, though hushed tone. "Can we talk for a minute?"

I guess it was nice of him to whisper, and not wake my brother. Or maybe he just doesn't want the rest of the house to wake up.

"Um..." A glance over my shoulder into the darkness of the room confirms that Squid is still asleep, and a look back at Chi gives me the feeling my taking a second to consider this is greatly annoying to him. What does he want to talk to me about? Earlier he had to be forced to tell me his name, and now he's showing up at my bedroom to say something? Whatever it was, I didn't have high hopes, or a good feeling.

I decide to get this over with, what ever it may be, and step out, closing the door enough behind me that Squid shouldn't be able to hear us, but leaving it open just a crack.

Turning to face him, I open my mouth, even though I'm not sure what I want to say. It turns out I don't need to, because Chi speaks before I could ever have the chance.

"I just wanted to let you know," he gets up in my face, and my hearts starts pounding and my blood starts pumping at this sudden confrontation. "to stay away from Jack." he finishes. "Do what he asks you to do, but when that's over and done, you stay away from him." He says it all as a cold order, putting out a finger like he's going to jab it into my chest. He doesn't, but it doesn't calm me down at all, because all of this is fucked up. He's an adult, I'm a child, and yet, here he is, getting in my space like he wants to fight, and telling me to stay away from Jack in my free time, like I would ever want to be around him at all.

"I don-" I try to tell him I don't want to be around Jack, and therefore he really has nothing to worry about, but he cuts me off.

"I'm not here to be your friend, but I don't have to be your enemy. Stay away from me, and him, and I'll just ignore you like every other animal that uses this place like a shelter."

Anger flares inside me. I don't know them at all, but I get the feeling he doesn't either. I didn't come here because I wanted to, I doubt any of them did, so how could he act like they're here to try and destroy whatever the fuck he has going on with Jack? How could he be so stupid as to not see that we're aren't using this as a fucking shelter, we're here because our other option was DEATH? At least in my case.

"You-" I start again, but once again, he cuts me off.

"Stay away from Jack. Do you understand?" His eyes are bright with anger, and I don't understand. I haven't done anything to him. Why is he so mad, or so worried? What the hell was going on?

I just want him to go away, so I can go back to sleep. I could yell at him and tell him he's the stupidest person I've ever met if he thinks I'm here to steal Jack from him or something, but what's the point in even trying? He hasn't let me get a word it yet. So I just nod curtly and quickly retreat into my room. I have to stop myself from slamming the door behind me.

A few seconds pass, and there is only silence on the other side of the door. Finally, his footsteps make their way away from us, and I exhale, not sure what just happened, but too tired to care anymore that night. I crawl back into bed, trying not to think about it.