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Now it was certain, that boy had been telling the truth. Trying not to think about what that meant for Rowan, Jack gestured for Harkot, Kaya and Harley to follow the two strangers inside. 
"Thank you for your part, anyway," he said to Harkot. "And for being honest." From what he had heard of the cannibals, they were savage, ruthless creatures, and if they really had allowed Rowan to die, he would not rest until every one of them was dead. But now he knew that, for whatever reason, that boy had saved his sister, he couldn’t allow him to be killed. 
Harley frowned at Harkot as she began to follow her brother. “What about Johan?” she asked suspiciously. “I was with him. So why wasn’t he there when I woke up? What did you and that kid do to him?” 
Futa raised his eyebrows in renewed interest as some of the words Johan mumbled came out clearly. ”Maybe I was wrong,” he said thoughtfully. “That type usually provides a little entertainment.” 
"It’s pathetic," Gem said coldly, his fear of Johan fading slightly. But only slightly. 
When Johan finally came round, the girl who had told everyone else to back off stepped towards him, her brow creased in concern. “Are you alright?” she asked. 
Rowan smiled grimly. “I know he may have killed me,” he replied, as though it was no big deal. “But I guess that’s just how it goes when you’re the handsome hero.” He closed his eyes and spoke dramatically, indicating that he was just joking. Of course he was; he disliked heroes. 
His expression turned serious though, at Ayva’s question. “I don’t know,” he said warily. “I wouldn’t put it past him if this is an act.” 
But Mama didn’t seem to think so. She placed a cautious hand on Oliver’s shoulder, her expression unchanging. “You don’t remember anything else?” she asked softly. 
That settled it. That was when his personality had changed. It was obvious now what had happened; this guy had two personalities, who appeared to be completely unaware of each other. He was dangerous to keep around, but she refused to attack him in his vulnerable state. This side of him was innocent. 
"The baby’s fine," she assured him. "Now drop the self loathing. We’re going inside. You too." She fired the last words at Rowan and Ayva, and began to lead Oliver towards the building. 
"If you’re truly sorry, you’ll stay where I can see you," she went on firmly. It would also be best, she thought to herself, to search for some way of restraining him. 
Rowan got to his feet, helping Ayva to stand, and watched Mama incredulously. “And…now they’re best friends,” he muttered, reluctantly following them inside. “That’s good. That makes sense.” 
"I’ll help!" Shou chimed happily when Lola approached Katana. He had reached the room last, but in time to hear her request. The dull contrast between the sunlight outside, and the crumbling, dark, damp building didn’t seem to bother him one bit. It was another new sight, and it appeared to be safe. 
Tim approached the three of them, quickly as Jess had left. If the three of them decided to move the beds, he’d be stuck with the children. “You stay and watch those,” he said to Shou. “You don’t look too good.” Although his words were for his own benefit, they were true. Shou looked ready to collapse, despite his cheerful attitude. 
Shou’s smile faded, but, with one last, apologetic look at Katana, he obeyed, leaving the heavy lifting to the other three.  
Harkot looked Harley a bit confused. “I honestly hope he’s dead….” Harkot said coldly to Harley about Johan. “He lead everyone into the fire! For all I know he was probably the one who started the damn blaze.” He sighed and shook his head then walked to Kaya and helped her up and they began walking toward the building. “Right now we need sleep, and food and water.” Harkot said slightly to himself through a yawn.
Katana smiled at Shou and then left the room with Lola and Tim as they went to get mattresses for the children.
Lola lead the way and they found what the needed and were able to get them back to the room with ease, by the time they got back Lola and Katana were both feeling the strain of not sleeping. Once the beds were set up Lola crawled onto one of them with Sorren and Darling and was fast asleep like the other children.
Katana went over to Shou and picked him up onto his back, like a piggy back and began to walk through the halls looking for somewhere to sleep. “You must be tired…” He muttered a soft smile on his face.
Jess woke up hearing foot steps in the hall and sighing began to sing softly. Her voice echoed gently off the walls and down the halls. 
Koah heard her voice and fallowed it and when he saw her laying on one of the beds in the cell he let out a howl and his pack all came and laid in the room next door, Koah though stayed out in the hallway so he could keep watch over everything.
Jess smiled when she heard Koah and sung even louder, she thought she was only singing to him until she heard a voice and looked up and saw Tim standing in the doorway. She smiled tiredly and whispered, “You know… It’s bad luck to linger in doorways…” 
Bringing the small smile back to his face, Johan regarded the woman in front of him, “Yes, of course. Those mushrooms must have contained some sort of toxin. Though, they seem to have left my system. Your concern is appreciated.”
While he was pleasant to the female, he was more interested in the boy near Futa.
He was…familiar.
Glancing over at Gem, he recognized him from earlier.
It seems he managed to survive. …Though, he may cause issues.
Keeping his eyes on Gem, staring into his eyes, “Nice to see you again.”
Noticing Futa’s close proximity and disposition towards the boy, he wondered…
Speaking softly, calmly, “Perhaps this is the ‘project’ you spoke of earlier?”
He paused for a brief moment, “The ‘perfect reunion’?”
At Rowan’s joking remark, Ayva managed a small laugh, smiling slightly as she spoke, “Hero eh? Well, at least you didn’t end up getting yourself killed. Then all this damned coughing and smoke inhalation would’ve been for nothing.”
Frowning, she looked at Oliver, recognizing that him putting on an act of innocence was highly plausible. In a slightly hushed voice, making sure Oliver couldn’t hear, she narrowed her eyes at him, “…I’m not gonna go anywhere near him…who knows what that psycho would do…Better safe than sorry.”
Accepting Rowan’s help, they too began to head to the prison.
Though, as they walked, she found herself unable to suppress the yawn, “I haven’t really gotten any sleep since I got to this…place…Hopefully there’s some decent beds inside.”
She doubted that, if there were beds, they’d be comfy, but considering how tired she felt, she would probably fall asleep without a hitch.
When Mama set her hand on his shoulder, Oliver shook his head slowly, “No…nothing else…” Voice trailing off, his eyes grew wide.
Why had she asked that? Did….Did I do something else?!
Snapping his head up to stare at her, his eyes were frenzied, “Why? What happened? …Did I do something?”
Frenzy gave way to doubt, “A-…Are you sure? Cause the baby seemed pretty upset..”
Mustering up a small, sad looking smile, he sighed, as if deflating, “I’m sorry….I guess pouting isn’t very productive or helpful….”
Following Mama as they made their way over to the prison, he stared up at the building, “Have you ever been in this place before? …What if there are already others inside?”
Slight paranoia entered his mind as they came to the crumbled hole that had previously been the entrance. 
The girl blinked as a smile flicked onto Johan’s face so automatically, and stepped back slightly to give him more room. She was about to ask whether he was sure, when he turned his attention to the cannibal. 
Gem wore an expression that told Johan clearly he didn’t trust him. But it slowly left him as he began to think. Futa was not going to let him go, he was certain of that, and if he stayed here much longer he knew that sooner or later, Futa would probably get bored and give in to the other’s demand of disposing of him. But, if he allowed them to believe that Johan wasn’t a threat, there was a chance he might kill them for him, destroying their chances of putting his camp in danger. 
He forced a polite expression. “Nice to see you, too,” he replied, his eyes still focused on Johan’s in a way that shamelessly asked for his help. 
Futa watched the exchange between them with obvious jealousy, his hold on Gem’s hair tightening. But he smiled at Johan’s question. “It’s not exactly perfect, but it will do,” he replied cheerfully. 
Gem dropped his polite expression, and his attention snapped to Futa. “What?” he demanded. 
At that moment, the two who had left to retrieve Harkot entered the building once more, followed by the group of moles. 
Harley stopped just outside the door, disbelief washing over her. “You…can’t blame him for that,” she said defensively, not wanting to believe him. But, even as she spoke, she remembered the feeling Johan gave her when she had first seen him, and doubt began to cloud her mind. 
Jack’s mind, however, was clear, and filled with a burning red. “He’s not dead,” he whispered furiously. “But he will be in a minute.” He shoved past the two who had just made their way through the crumbling doorway, and hurtled towards Johan, cutting Gem off before he had a chance to inform Futa how much of a creep he was. 
Grabbing Johan by the collar, Jack dragged him close, a burning rage emanating from him. “You tried to lead my sister to her death?” he demanded, his grip on Johan’s collar tightening. 
"Jack!" Harley shouted as she hurried inside, lost in mixed feelings when she saw Johan was alive. She approached him as well, ignoring everyone else, and pushed Jack’s hands away from him. "Did you?" she asked, obvious hurt in her voice. His smile never seemed to leave him, and it seemed to confirm the suspicions Harkot had given her. "Did you?" she repeated, clenching her fist, and readying herself to drive it into his face. 
"No, he didn’t!" 
Harley turned her furious gaze on Gem, and saw the boy pulling himself from Futa’s distracted grip. “I saw what he did,” he continued to invent. “He tried to get to the lake…He must have thought it was a river, ‘cause he only saw it once. But when he realized he was leading everyone the wrong way, he tried to get everyone to turn back. You were already out. He would have died if he kept going in circles with you, so I promised to take you to the lake while he found a more permanent safe place. Whoever told you any different is lying.” 
The anger slowly faded from Harley’s face, and she lowered her fist. But Jack kept a suspicious glare on Johan. Harkot had no reason to lie; and what was that he had said about Johan starting the fire himself? After what had happened with Tom, he wasn’t about to trust anyone so easily. 
"I’m sorry," Harley said quietly. 
Futa, meanwhile, failed his attempt to keep up his cheerful appearance. He followed Gem’s few steps towards the others, and watched Johan coldly. He wasn’t in the mood to share Gem’s attention. Not now that he’d finally found him. 
The other’s reactions were mixed. Some watched the scene unfold with confusion, others with suspicion. But most of them had in common the reaction they gave to Gem as he spoke up. They regarded the cannibal with the deepest hatred. 
"Futa, keep it quiet," the girl who had been so concerned about Johan a moment before ordered. 
Shou had almost been asleep by the time the others returned, and he allowed himself to be lifted from the floor without protest. 
"Only a little," he murmured, resting his head on Katana’s back. The sound of Jess’s singing put him right back to sleep. 
"Oh yeah, I didn’t think about that," Rowan said apologetically. "I’ll do my best and try not to die then. But only if you will promise me the same." 
They kept their distance as they followed Mama and Oliver into the building, and he silently agreed with Ayva. He didn’t intend to go anywhere near that guy ever again if he could help it. Now that he’d almost fought him, he decided that staying alive was too important. 
"Don’t worry about it," Mama said, deciding not to tell him just now. It was better to let him rest before dropping a bombshell like that on him when he was exhausted. It might even bring the killer personality back out if she wasn’t careful. 
She forced a smile when he mentioned the baby again, and shook her head. “She’ll be fine. Now we’re here, I can return to keeping them all safe.” They entered through the doorway on her last word, and she was having similar thoughts that they might have neighbours. 
"If they’re a threat, we’ll defeat them," she said simply. "If not, we’ll negotiate with them, and if they’re not up for negotiations, we’ll stay here anyway." 
They heard the sound of someone singing and, assuming that was the where the others were, began to follow the corridor. 
Half way down, Mama found a room with the door half open, and saw Lola fast asleep with the babies inside. She led Oliver into the room, and settled herself on one of the mattresses, feigning sleep. While he was unrestrained, it was not wise to drift off, and she was accustomed to going days at a time without. 
As she lay there, holding out her hand towards the nearest baby, and letting him wrap his tiny hand around her finger, more tears began to fall from her tired eyes. “You were once this small,” she whispered to the ceiling. 
Rowan watched them go anxiously, but sleep was beginning to overcome him, as well. “It’s a prison,” he commented as they passed cell after cell, grimacing as he looked through the windows of ones that were locked, to see the skeletal remains of thousand year old humans. Eventually, they found two cells a little down the corridor from the one in which Jess was singing, and Rowan entered one. 
"I hope the bed is comfortable," he said to Ayva, with a small, half smile. "If it isn’t, you can always come in here." 
Tim couldn’t help smiling when Jess stopped singing and looked up at him. “I don’t believe in bad luck,” he said bluntly, stepping into the cell. “It’s a superstition only moles care about.” 
He stifled a yawn, and leaned against the wall, looking absently out of the barred window. “I’d like it if you kept singing,” he continued. “But, you should probably get some sleep. It won’t matter how tired you are later when we have to set this place up properly for our temporary stay.” 
Whilst the exchange with Gem took place, Johan noticed a change in his eyes.
As if the boy were pleading for something…for…help?
Help with what though?
The mere fact that he read this from the boy’s eyes somewhat interested him.
Curious. Coming from the boy who so adamantly wanted my corpse not long ago.
Looking back over to Futa, it seemed the air was tainted with jealousy.
Nodding slightly, he shifted his eyes towards the door, seeing Harley hovering outside amongst the others, talking to Futa, “Unfortunately, not everything which we plan in this world achieves perfection.”
Standing still, making no attempt to move out of Jack’s path, he observed as the furious man grabbed him.
Saying nothing, doing nothing, small smile still in place as Jack and Harley questioned him, he wondered…
Would Jack truly kill him? It seemed the man wanted to.
…He didn’t care. 
If he died here, the world would keep on spinning.
It did not matter.
About to address the questions Harley and Jack posed him, the voice from that curious boy spoke up.
Listening along with the rest of the group, he became increasingly certain that this boy wanted something from him.
Some sort of favour.
As Gem coming to his defence utterly contradicted what he had yelled during their last encounter. Since that boy certainly wanted him dead during that time.
So it seemed the boy wanted him alive, as surely as it seemed Harley’s brother wanted him dead. That boy could have received his previous wish if he had stayed silent…
Curious indeed.
I wonder what he could want.
As Jack release his collar from his grip, he returned to his previous stature, standing straight.
He would play along with Gem’s lie.
Turning his attention to Harley, he put a hand on her shoulder. 
Sighing slightly to display the relief he did not feel, wearing an expression to display the remorse, the regret, that he did not feel, he spoke to her in his ever calm, gentle voice, “I’m so glad to see you’re alive. I-….”
He paused for a moment.
Dramatic effect; it always seemed to achieve the successful conveyance of sincerity of emotion.
“I suppose that I had gotten my directions mixed up…I almost killed you…and the others…I’m sorry.”
Pretending was not a difficult feat for him.
Indeed. Not everything which we plan in this world achieves perfection.
Feeling eyes burning into him as he spoke, staring at him, he noticed Futa had lost his previously cheerful disposition.
It seemed he was not at a loss for enemies in this room.
Ayva’s smile broadened at Rowan’s words, “I promise that I’ll try not to.”
Moving proved a slight challenge, as she found herself leaning on Rowan occasionally, as she wasn’t fully recuperated.
Oliver’s distressed expression remained.
'Don't worry about it'? …She's not telling me something….I did something terrible….Didn't I?
He was tempted to press the issue, as it was something very important to him, though he could tell that Mama didn’t want to talk about it.
Trying to think happier thoughts, his sad smile returned, though he let his voice mumble, “….I hope so…”
He indeed hoped the little one would be alright.
Entering the building with Mama, he looked around a bit before returning his attention back to her. Staring as she spoke, he couldn’t help but feel comforted. The confidence in this woman was great. Something quite admirable.
Yet…things were rarely ever that easy. Even he knew that. 
Hah! Even you, Ollie.
Frowning slightly.
….Shut up!
Listening to the singing as they approached the rest of the group, he followed Mama into a room that already had quite a few occupants.
Lying down on a mattress, he closed his eyes, ready to drift off to sleep when…he heard soft noises, almost whimpering sounds….Crying?
Perhaps it was one of the children?
Though…when children cry, they usually make a big fuss…
Glancing over at Mama, he noticed the subtle glint of tears as they meandered down her face.
Should he ignore it? …she seemed like the strong type that wouldn’t appreciate the attention of comforting words.
But….He didn’t like sitting idly by while someone was upset, in pain…
Sitting up on his mattress, he looked over at Mama, whispering loud enough so she could hear, yet hushed so that the others in the room wouldn’t be woken, “..Are you alright?”
Looking around as they walked, Ayva felt a slight pang of disquiet, being in such a place….
Who had previously occupied these cells? Murderers? Rapists?…
Shuddering slightly, she wondered briefly whether she would be able to sleep at all.
As the two of them approached two cells, she heard what Rowan offered.
Slightly put-off, she couldn’t help but wonder…
…Do all men only want sex?
She used to think she knew the answer to such a question with certainty, but meeting Shou, Katana, and Rowan, they all seemed to contradict her previous thinking. As they all seemed genuinely nice and interested in her well being beyond such primitive urges.
Perhaps he was only trying to be cute…?
Trying to hide her distaste, trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, she smiled back at him, laughing slightly, “Ya never know. Though I’m sure it will do the job.”
Smiling at him again, she entered her cell and lay down on the bed she found.
Forgetting her previous concerns about the inmates, slowly, she began to fall into the world of slumber. 
Harkot kept a close eye on Johan as he spoke, all the while thinking about all the people that had died in the fire. “How can you do that….” He whispered half to himself.
Jess smiled and before she knew it she had grabbed Tim’s hand and was pulling him down into the bed next to her. She looked at him and gave him a small sheepish smile and then continued so sing, her head leaning against his chest. At first the were both tense but as Jess sang Tim relaxed, and so did Jess. Soon the singing had stopped and Jess was fast asleep again. 
Harley smiled, her faith returning as Johan spoke. “It’s not your fault,” she assured him. “At least you tried to save everyone. I want to know whatever did start that fire. That’s to blame for all this, not you.” 
It was very difficult not to let the anger show on his face, as Gem watched the two of them. Johan was obviously lying. But he was good at it. He didn’t care at all if that girl, or anyone else died. From his reaction to Jack grabbing him, and his earlier comments while inebriated, he didn’t appear to even care about his own life. And it was safe to suspect he had been the one who had started the fire in the first place. 
Never, had Gem felt so much disgust as he felt for Johan, or pity as he felt for Harley. 'When he's no longer useful to me, I'm going to break every bone in his stupid body. Maybe that will wipe the smile off his face,' he thought bitterly. 
"The hospital dormitory is all set up for these people," another voice cut through the tense atmosphere, and the ones the girl had sent to set up beds for the newcomers retuned. 
Jack stepped forward to lead Harley after them, towards the dormitory, but Gem stopped him, pulling on his sleeve and speaking in a low voice. 
"I had to risk my life because of your sister," he said, as though Harley was at fault for almost dying. "So it’s your job to make sure no freak decides to harm her. Them too.” He gestured towards Harkot and Kaya. It was difficult, as he uttered the word ‘freak’, not to look Johan’s way. Since these moles might also be useful, it was probably best to keep at least one of them on guard. 
He didn’t get to hear Jack’s response, for at that moment, Futa’s possessive hold on him returned, and he was whisked in the opposite direction to the others. But, from what he already knew of Jack, he guessed his words had done their job, even if they made him angry in the process. 
Mama looked tiredly back at Oliver as he spoke, and nodded. “It is best to let out these things when you feel them,” she said matter-of-factly. “They clog your mind, otherwise. It will stop soon, so go to sleep.” 
She closed her own eyes and turned away from him, still pretending, but allowing herself to fall completely silent. 
Rowan couldn’t help noticing the discomfort on Ayva’s face as she attempted to humour him. 
He wanted to apologize, to punch himself for being so tactless, but he had no energy, and Ayva was already gone. 
Sighing guiltily, he backed into his own cell, and laid down on the bed. Within moments, he was fast asleep, hoping that when he woke, he would be able to find Jack and Harley, alive and safe. 
Tim sat completely still, confused by Jess’s actions. 
But as she began to sing again, he allowed himself to relax, and found himself unconsciously stroking her hair as she fell asleep. This mole really was a nice person to have around. If he wasn’t careful, he would end up actually liking her. 
He didn’t get much chance to consider this risk, however, as he felt his eyelids beginning to droop.  
Regarding Harley as she spoke to him, Johan replied, “I suppose you have a valid point. Though if we had followed Harkot, maybe more lives wouldn’t have perished.”
Pausing to glance briefly at Harkot and the others, he continued in a hushed voice so that they couldn’t hear them, “Don’t you find it peculiar? ..I find myself wondering, what did cause such a tragedy? Perhaps one could dismiss it as an accident, or maybe delude oneself into regarding it as some sort of natural disaster, yet…it seems to have the characteristics of organization, and some degree of thought.”
Paranoia. Such is natural amid humans when they conjugate in groups.
Prodding such existing feelings of distrust shouldn’t be a difficult undertaking.
Continuing to talk to Harley in a hushed voice, “If someone did indeed commit such an act…I wonder. Who could it be?”
Regarding Futa’s group, “And what do these people intend to do with us?”
Observing how the group acted around them, especially Gem, it seemed there was already a sense of unease. 
He could certainly make use of that at some point.
Yes. Suspicion and hate tends to fester amidst people.
Following as they began to lead them to the aforementioned dormitory room, he noticed Jack falling back, that kid speaking with him. 
Hand hovering back on Harley’s shoulder, they walked together to the dorm room.
Upon coming to the room, it seemed they had set up beds for them. 
Laying down on one of the beds, he said goodnight to Harley, eyelids flickering shut.
As he was on the verge of unconsciousness, he found himself wondering about what Futa had mentioned earlier.
He wondered…
Perhaps some part of the roof would crumble, collapse. Perhaps…tonight….death…..
He drifted off to sleep, all the while feeling no semblance of stirred emotion.
Staring at Mama as she spoke, Oliver couldn’t help but feel somewhat dissatisfied, sad.
What she had said made sense….yet….
He wanted to help her feel better, but it didn’t seem that that was possible. At least not in their current situation.
Before he thought of what to say next, she had already turned away from him. It appeared that she had met with sleep.
Laying back down on the mattress, sighing slightly, unhappy that he wasn’t able to help, he eventually fell into an uneasy sleep, finding himself tossing and turning…plagued with horrific dreams.
Time went by quickly as they slept, and approximately nine hours later, they began to open their eyes.
Johan stared at the ceiling of the dormitory upon re-entering the waking world.
His body and mind were still intact. He had not been crushed.
It seemed he would be among the living for the time being.
He was neither glad nor disappointed.
Once awake, Ayva began to wonder…what would this day entail?
It was strange, waking up in such an unfamiliar place.
She almost found herself in a panic when she had first awoken. 
Oliver awoke to a cold, hard floor, pain through his body.
Confused as to why he felt so terrible, he noticed that he had somehow managed to fall onto the concrete ground. 
Harkot had not gotten much sleep, they had all slept in the same room and he had not liked the idea of sleeping in the same room as the man who in his opinion was a killer. He had stayed awake most of the night and now that everyone was waking up he slowly stood his head spinning slightly. Harkot shook it off and went to find Harley’s brother.
Katana had fallen asleep on the floor of the cell and awoke from a nightmare with a jolt which caused the bed he had been leaning against to shake and caused Shou to open his eyes slowly.
Katana smiled when he looked up to see Shou looking at him. ” sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.” Katana whispered and brought his hand up and moved a bit of hair out of Shou’s face. “Did you sleep ok?” He asked smiling and stretching a little.
Lola awoke with a start at the sound of a sharp cry she looked around and found Sorren reaching for thin air she smiled as the baby cried out again and slowly picked him up and calmed him. She began to feed him and stood slowly rocking back and fourth in a gentle motion.
She didn’t know that there were others in the room and turned around and came face to face with Oliver. She jumped and quickly spun around hoping he hadn’t seen much.
Jess felt the warmth of the sun coming in through the bared window and her eyes fluttered open. She sat up slowly and then blushed when she noticed Tim laying next to her his arm still around her waist. He was still fast asleep, slowly trying her best not to wake him, she laid back down. Her forehead against his, she closed her eyes again and smiled as he shifted and held her tighter in his sleep, or so she thought. She opened her eyes again slowly and saw his open as well looking back at her, her face instantly turned bright red. “I-I’m sorry I thought you were asleep!” She began to back away but was stopped. 
"Morning," Mama said in a strangely cheerful way when the others began to make a commotion. She was wide awake, and feeding the other newborn and one of the toddlers. Most of the babies were old enough to be off breast milk, but they would have to make do for now. 
Mama’s bright attitude didn’t fade as she turned to face the other two, not particularly caring to hide herself the way Lola was. 
Shou yawned, and smiled at Katana as he woke. “We’re still here,” he whispered. “Good…I thought it had been a dream.” He shook his head when Katana apologized, and sat up, wincing in slight pain. 
"I don’t like to sleep too long," he said quietly. "It would waste time, don’t you think?" He stood up from the bed and made his way over to the barred window, the glass of which had long since gone. "The forest…isn’t there any more," he whispered. 
Tim woke as he felt something brush against his forehead, and stared in slight confusion. For a brief moment, he seemed to forget the events of the previous day, but when Jess opened her eyes and blushed, it all flooded back to him. 
He hastily grabbed her before she could fall off the bed, and sat up. “I should try to find something for us to eat,” he said, unable to meet Jess’s eye. With that decided, he stood up, and headed for the door of the room. 
Rowan had been too worried about his brother and sister to sleep much. He had awoken after five hours of on and off sleep, and been unable to stop his mind running, imagining them in the worst situations. What if they hadn’t been able to get out of the fire? What if they were alive, but he was never able to find them again? 
The thoughts were too much for him, and he began to explore the building. It was made up of mostly cells. They lined the walls on each floor. A dining area sat in the middle, and near the back, was what appeared to have been showers, but the ceiling had caved in, and the room had become overgrown with weeds. Here and there, he found skeletal remains; an arm, a skull, sometimes even an entire body, the clothes mostly eaten by the years. 
By the time he found his way back to where the others were, he could hear them stirring. 
Jack had barely slept, either. His suspicion of Johan, uncertainty about the offer that had been proposed to him only half an hour before the forest had begun to burn, and worry over Harley’s health, was all mixed with the feeling of grief he felt for Rowan, who he was now certain was dead. 
How was he supposed to tell Harley? The three of them had never been separated before. 
Before he could even begin to think about how they would cope, he noticed Harkot approaching him, and rubbed the sleep from his eyes in mild irritation. 
"You made me look like an idiot earlier, you know?" he said bitterly. "What do you want now?" 
In the bed beside Johan’s, Harley had had similar problems with sleep. Johan’s words had left her lost in the depths of paranoia. If someone really had started the fire, what was the reason? Who had they been trying to kill? And then there were these people. They seemed…too nice. They had no reason to take in complete strangers, yet here they were. They had even given them warm water before they slept to help clear their lungs of smoke. 
Could they have started the fire, to force them to come here? There didn’t seem to be anywhere else to go. And with that thought, she felt another sharp, pang. 
What about Rowan? If he wasn’t here, then where was he? 
She could hear voices, but remained where she was, too exhausted to move or contribute to the buzz of conversation in any way. 
The room was rancid, and lit only by a flicker of sunlight streaming down from a hole in the ceiling. It held what remained of two beds, and a rotten desk, piled with terribly preserved books. 
Around the room, was an assortment of bone chillingly creepy items. Human skulls, crudely sewn together dolls, all faceless, yet staring somehow, and writing on the walls in what appeared to be blood. The writing seemed to spell out song lyrics Gem vaguely remembered from somewhere, but as he absorbed the horrible sight, he became aware of a pain in the side of his head, and the fact that his hands and feet were tied together. He was also wearing a uniform identical to Futa’s, messy stitching and all. 
"Hello," Futa said cheerfully from the other bed. 
Gem’s gaze fell upon him, and he was overcome with fury. “Let me go, so I can strangle you,” he growled. 
Futa just laughed. “But I can’t do that,” he insisted. “You have to remember me first. I’m helping you remember.” 
"I’m sure I’d remember if this had ever happened to me before,” Gem responded sarcastically, pulling at whatever was binding his hands. 
The smile didn’t leave Futa’s face as he rose from his bed. “Don’t worry,” he said gently. “You have all the time in the world to remember. The clues are all here.” He gestured around the room. 
Gem looked again at the writing on the wall, and at the dolls. There did seem to be something oddly familiar, nagging at the back of his brain. But it was impossible to think when he was so angry. Besides, he saw no reason to play along with this idiot’s stupid little game. 
Instead, he decided to focus on other things in the room; the sunlight raining down on him, and two, broken hand mirrors in the corner. They were apparently in some kind of windowless attic. In a moment, he had found an escape. Maybe he wouldn’t need help from those moles, after all. 
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be so easy.  
After remaining on the ground for a while longer, Oliver managed to get himself up off the floor, body screaming at him with each move and twitch of a muscle.
Yawning slightly, shaking his head to dispel the lingering fear that remained from the nightmares, he turned around.
Upon seeing Lola’s bare, exposed breasts in the act of feeding, his face donned a red cloak, embarrassment written in bold letters on his face.
Without even realizing it, his still tired brain seemed to find time to admire her anatomy, relishing in a few moments of happiness before remorse set in.
….beautiful breasts….
Before he was able to turn around, Mama then added more fuel to his emarrassment.
Quickly turning away from both of them, he immediately spouted his apologies, “I-I’m sorry!”
While Oliver was quite ashamed of staring so blatantly at their breasts, Tom felt otherwise. He quite enjoyed the show.
Tom’s voice ringing in his head, “Surrounded by nice breasts! What a thing to wake up to, eh, Ollie?”
Needless to say, this only exasperated his guilt and shame, as he had to admit…….they were quite nice.
Standing still, staring off at the wall, he was unsure of what to do.
How embarrassing….she already didn’t like you, remember? But noo, you just had to go and stare at her breasts…..Idiot.
“Hahah! No, actually, that’s the first smart thing you’ve ever done, Ollie.”
Feeling increasingly awkward with each passing second, Oliver decided he wanted to check out the place a bit more.
Who knows what could be lurking….
About to take off down the corridor, he remembered what Mama had said earlier about staying in sight.
Wanting to talk with Mama, but not wanting to increase Lola and his embarrassment - it didn’t even seem like Mama had even batted an eye - he raised his voice, making sure he could be heard, “Is it alright if I turn around now?”
Continuing to speak, staring at the wall, still flustered from before, “Uhm…It would probably be in our best interest to check this place out a bit more….right? ….There may be others living in this place.”
Swinging her legs off the side of the bed, Ayva sat there for a moment, contemplating the events that took place the previous day, wondering if they would find themselves facing tragedy every day. 
She found herself longing to return to her previous existence, wishing that this was all a delusion.
Cringing slightly as her head began feel as if it were being split in half, she realized that everything that had happened yesterday…the fear, the mushrooms, the adrenaline rush….must have staved it off a bit.
She could feel it creeping back…
I don’t have time to deal with this.
Instinctively reaching for the inner, hidden pocket of her jacket, she started panicking when she felt its emptiness, before remembering…
Right….those ass holes took it before banishing me to this…this damned place.
Hands shaking slightly, she heard the rustlings of the others waking.
Not wanting to deal with people, she exited her cell and began walking away from where the group was.
Unfortunately for Rowan, she was so focused on getting away from them, that she didn’t see him approaching. Bumping into him, she tried to push him away and brush past him.
Observing the others as they awoke, Johan came to a sitting position on his bed.
He remained still, watching as a small amount of food was brought to them.
Accepting the food, he found no semblance of hunger within himself. 
While it was tempting to ignore the food all together, eating was one of those necessary things. 
Though…he concluded that he didn’t need all of such food to extract the appropriate amount of energy his body required.
Placing some of his food onto Harley’s tray, he glanced over at the door.
As he consumed the remaining food in a near mechanical manner, he considered the possibility that Futa’s group might confine them there for a period. As it seemed the group was interested in them, yet still cautious. 
Kaya was confused as to where she was when she woke up. The air felt different here, like they where inside? Then she remembered. There was a fire. Harkot had taken her away. And.. someone else? Was it that cannibal boy? She tried to remember but wasn’t sure, in all that chaos. She pushed herself up and someone carefully handed her a tray. Kaya quickly discovered the food on it and while she ate her mind wandered. What was this place? And who where these people? 
Suddenly Kaya remembered something else. The color drained from her face as she realised she had told Harkot, in her sleep deprived state, what she had done to herself. Why had he still saved her? Was he still here? “Harkot?” she quietly asked.
Johnny had followed Mama when the fire had broken out. He made sure nobody noticed him, he liked observing things in the background. He backed off even more when the wolf pack arrived, not being particularly fond of animals he couldn’t fight off. There was another reason he kept his distance though. One of the people seemed to be.. rather interesting, yet very dangerous. Somehow Johnny got the impression that Mama sometimes sort of trusted this guy and sometimes hated his guts. All Johnny could conclude so far, was that this guy could not be trusted.
Johnny had observed everyone while they went into the prison. He had refused to go inside the prison himself. He took pride in being an excellent thief, so he wasn’t going to stay in any prison, for any reason. Instead he sat on the side of the prison, his back against the wall. He sat on the west side of the building, to shield him from as much light as possible. He knew he shouldn’t fall asleep, unguarded like this, but his body left him no other option. With fear for someone surprising him when he woke up, he fell asleep anyway, drifting off to some much needed rest. 
Mama watched Oliver with slight amusement. It was funny to see the guy who had been such a challenge to her cowering away from a couple of pairs of breasts. It certainly didn’t seem like something a cold blooded killer would do. 
Of course, she reminded herself, this side of him was as innocent as the children feeding from her…or so she thought. 
When he spoke, she rolled her eyes, and draped a blanket over the babies heads. Lola had already hastily concealed herself, apparently just as embarrassed as Oliver was. 
"You can turn," she said impatiently. A small smile played on her mouth as he continued. It seemed he had kept his end of the promise, and remembered not to wander off alone. 
"I doubt anything we meet would be too much of a threat," she said confidently. "But I suppose we should check this place out. First, though, I owe you that explanation you so desperately wanted." 
As she spoke, she lifted the older baby from beneath the blanket; it was the child Oliver had dropped in the forest. This would be a risk, but one she had promised to take. 
"Do you have a lot of blackouts?" she asked. 
His mind still occupied with his siblings, Rowan didn’t notice Ayva until she was trying to push him away. 
"Hey," he protested, backing out of her way slightly. Without thinking, he let his hand close around her wrist. "Are you ok?" he asked, his voice filled with concern. 
Harley forced herself to sit up on the bed as the rations of breakfast were served to them. She muttered a small thank you, still wary of these people, but grateful nonetheless. They were guarding the door like a hawk, giving her the feeling that if she, or any of her companions tried to leave, they would be persuaded to remain in the dormitory. 
Her thoughts were broken when Johan poured some of his food onto her tray. “You have to eat too,” she scolded him, but she smiled gratefully. How could she have suspected him? 
As she mentally kicked herself for thinking negatively about Johan, Futa entered the dormitory, a spring in his step as he made his way between the beds, to the ones handing out food. “Could you save me a couple of berries, Rosie?” he asked politely, smiling at the girl who still continued to give Johan concerned glances. 
Harley found her gaze following him, and frowned when she noticed red flecks on his face and collar. Was that blood? Maybe she was right to be wary of these people, after all… 
Taking a small handful of berries, Futa turned his attention to the others. He was certain he had heard the one closest to him call out for someone, but he was slightly surprised to see that she wasn’t looking at anyone in particular. She didn’t react to him staring at her, either. 
"How useful do you think these will be?" he asked. 
Rosie shrugged. “It depends on how willing they are to help us,” she replied, lowering her voice to a whisper. “It’s not as though they have much of a choice.” 
Futa was about to respond, when the door of the dormitory burst open, and the big guy, flanked by two others hurried in. 
"We caught three more cannibals," the big guy announced, savage excitement in his eyes. "And one of them is their leader!" 
"They were trying to hide by the lake," the other added. "A whole big group of them…Most of them got away, but these ones will do to send the rest of those filth bags a message." 
Futa’s eyes sparked with excitement and he rushed after the others. Even the guards by the door apparently couldn’t pass up this opportunity. 
Taking advantage of the low security, Harley climbed out of bed to see what was going on.  
As Harkot stepped forward to speak to Jack he heard another voice. It was Kaya, he quickly turned around to see her and made a bline straight to her. “Hey! Hey… It’s me. Are you alright?” He asked her putting his hand gently on her shoulder.
Katana smiled at Shou as they got up. He smiled and stretched giving Shou a cheeky smile and fluffing up his hair.
Lola finished feeding Sorren and then looked at the other baby’s who were starting to wake up and crying for food. She smiled as she picked one up and began to feed it. She looked over at Mama who was doing the same thing. She looked at Oliver as he turned toward them again, this time she was covered but her face still grew red she looked down at the child and smiled, stroking the baby’s head softly.
Jess watched as Tim left the room an quickly got up and walked out as well. She saw Koah standing as she walked out and smiled. “Come on! We have work to do!” She said and began to run through the halls with the wolf right beside her. She made note of everything, every room, every bit of bent metal, every shard of broken glass. She noticed a piece of cloth hanging on a window and grabbed it, it was a flag, or what was left of it. She went back to scouring the prison she gathered as much broken glass as she could find and as she walked back out to the entrance of the prison she came across a needle. She smiled and held it up in the light and then began to laugh. “Well… That really is… A needle if a fucking hay stack!” She sat in the light and began to sing softly as she sharpened the bits of glass into knifes. 
 Turning around slowly, Oliver glanced over at Lola, who still seemed as embarrassed as he was, if not more so. Apologizing to her again, he tried not to look at her much, as he didn’t want to exasperate her embarrassment.
Trying to focus his attention back on Mama, he listened to her speak.
Right…an explanation…..
He had almost forgotten about that…
His stomach turned, becoming an anxious ball of knots.
….Do I really want to know….how much of a horrible thing I am?…
While he wanted to stop her from continuing on such a tangent, he found himself keeping silent.
He had to know.
It would be irresponsible to remain wilfully ignorant.
At her question, he lapsed into a moment of reflection.
Did he have many blackouts?…
Voice wavering with uncertainty, “I….I guess sometimes….yeah….”
Pausing for a moment, he felt almost defensive, “But! ….That was always the alcohol….right?” He seemed to be speaking almost more to himself.
His eyes were almost pleading, as if he knew his logic was wrong yet “Cause at the camp, I was drinking that fruity alcohol stuff, so it makes sense….And all those other times….I swear I was drinking….”
He was slightly ashamed to make such a claim, as he felt something wasn’t right….sure, he did drink a lot, but…..that wouldn’t explain……
Stopping himself, he now looked at Mama seriously, as if resigning himself to the fact that she knew more than he did, “….Please…You have to tell me everything…before something else happens.”
Tom knew where Mama was heading with this, though he wasn’t concerned in the least. Heh. This should be interesting.
Turning on Rowan, Ayva managed to slip her wrist from his hand. 
Her body already felt cold, clammy as sweat presented itself.
Backing away from him slightly, she could clearly see and feel his concern, and while she did like him….Everything felt extremely irritating, and in that moment she couldn’t stop it.
She wasn’t herself…
Voice loud, tone sharp, she had no mercy, “Do I look ok to you?! Are you that damn thick? Look at me! I’m a mess! Banished to this fucking hell hole, with a bunch of morons who almost got me killed and now I can’t even….” Gaining some semblance of control, she stopped herself, letting the sentence hang unfinished. 
She didn’t want to tell him that.
“Just….go away and stop bothering me.”
Turning away from him, trying to suppress the shaking, she stalked off in the opposite direction, leaving him there.
Feeling increasingly terrible and ill as she went, she knew she would have to stop moving soon.
She felt so tired….
Nearly collapsing into a nearby cell, she curled up on the ground, her body rebelling against her, yelling at her….craving…..
As she lay there, the cold sweat, nausea and shaking continuing, she couldn’t help but feel slightly sad.
…She hadn’t meant any of what she had said to Rowan…she didn’t mean to be so awful to him.
Closing her eyes as her condition worsened, she hoped that he didn’t hate her….
Keeping his usual smile, Johan shrugged slightly, “My body doesn’t require much in the way of fuel, it’s fairy efficient I suppose. That aside, people who go through such an ordeal as you have need more energy to heal.”
Setting his tray aside, he continued to observe the situation, noticing that the blind woman he had conversed with the other day had also survived.
Considering the scale of the fire, he briefly wondered as to how many lives it had actually ended.
Noticing Futa, it seemed that the boy had been busy, or so indicated the blood.
It seemed the reunion he spoke of was going well, considering his cheerful demeanour.
Watching as Harley left the room, he wondered if he could be more….productive if he broke from such confines as well.
Getting up, he quietly slipped through the doorway.  
Mama watched without a word as Oliver tried to think, and in his panic, used alcohol to explain the blackouts. She would have felt sorry for him, if this wasn’t such a tense moment. Any moment, she was waiting for the other personality to come out. 
Just in case it did, she gently lowered the two babies onto a mattress beside each other, and covering herself with what remained of her dress, straightened up. “Could you take care of the children for a moment?” she said to Lola, her reasons clear in her voice, to Lola at least. 
Then, she made her way to the door and gestured for Oliver to follow, deciding to use his previous suggestion to get him away from the babies. 
"If it was the alcohol," she said as she walked. "Then it’s the strangest side effect I’ve ever seen. Besides, it started way before you had anything to drink. I couldn’t smell any alcohol on you when we fought…If anything, this side of you came out after you drank.” 
She stopped and turned to face him, pointing to the bruises on her neck, and lifting her bandaged wrist. “There’s a side to you that becomes violent,” she continued bluntly. “When I first saw you, you had killed a member of my camp, and someone else from the look of what you had been carrying around. But I don’t believe you had any control over it.” 
She knew he would freak out at best, or become possessed by that…demon at worst, and she was ready for it. 
Tim made his way outside, and to where the treeline had been. The forest, as far as he could see, was a sea of dull grey and black, no leaves in sight; just dead remains of tree bark, still smoking slightly from the fire. It was lucky, he realized, that the fire hadn’t spread to the prison. Some of the trees were much closer than they had thought. 
There was certainly no point trying to find food there. 
He turned back towards the building, hoping to find something edible growing by its foundations. What he found, however, was much better. 
Someone was sleeping in the shade. Closer inspection told him it was the mole who had been so difficult to catch the past few weeks. But now he appeared to be completely vulnerable. 
Rowan stood in stunned silence as Ayva exploded at him. He watched her go with a mixture of bewilderment and guilt. 
He turned back the way he had come, and slowly began to make his way to the room with the caved in ceiling. 
Shou smiled back, leaving his hair the way it was. He would have retaliated, but Katana was far too tall. 
Instead, he gripped his arm excitedly. “We have to explore ever room in this place!” he insisted. 
Jack glowered at Harkot when he turned away without speaking, but his anger faded slightly when he realized Harkot was going to comfort the worried looking girl on the bed across from him. 
He decided not to follow as the others began to make a commotion. He already knew how cannibals were treated here. Looking around the room, he half wondered whether the boy who had saved his sister was still alive. 
It was a possibility. And if there was ever a chance to go searching, it was now. He climbed out of bed and out of the dormitory, moving in the opposite direction to the others. 
Harley became aware that she wasn’t alone as she crept towards the crumbling staircase, and she looked back to see Johan. Now she felt slightly guilty, as she remembered she had left almost half of the food he had given her. He didn’t seem to need it though; if anything he was as alert as the people at the bottom of the stairs, who were crowding around three people, bound in makeshift ropes. 
As Harley turned her attention back to the scene below, she noticed that one of the prisoners was an old man, at least eighty years old. 
"I wonder why they’re so hospitable to us, but not them?" she whispered, slightly nervous that they would be noticed. "That poor man." 
That poor man was giving just as good as he got, however. His words were full of fire as he spat insults and threats at his captors. 
Just as he received a personal attack of being referred to as a certain reproductive organ, Futa smiled, and leaned in closer to the man. “When we rip out his tongue, can I keep it?” he asked hopefully. “It would make a nice present for my brother.” 
"F**k you you little-" the man began to continue. But he received a sharp strike to the head, from Futa’s largest companion. 
"Henry! Now I’ll never know what I am!" Futa protested. 
Henry looked at him for a moment, then muttered under his breath. “Oh, I could tell you what you are.” 
"Hm?" Futa asked pleasantly. 
"We should keep this one alive," Henry said to the others, ignoring Futa. "Holding their leader hostage will give us the advantage." 
"We already have a perfectly good hostage," Futa pouted. 
Rosie raised her eyebrows at him. “In one piece?” she asked. 
Futa shrugged. 
"In any case," Henry went on impatiently. "We know this one is of value to them." 
At this, one of the others spoke. A large man who, if he was standing, might even have been taller than Henry. “You people are digging your own graves!” 
Futa knelt before this man, apparently bored with the other, who was too unconscious to be interesting. “I want this one’s head,” he decided. 
Sighing, Henry decided to oblige. It wasn’t as though this man was of any use to them, anyway. They would kill both him, and the girl, who was silently struggling against her ropes, an expression of anger that rivalled her leader’s, etched onto her face. 
Henry lifted what appeared to be some kind of axe, made from flint and string, and brought it down on the large man, who seemed to accept his fate. If he couldn’t protect the elder, he was no longer useful. 
The air was filled with the sickening sound of tearing flesh, and cracking bone, and the head fell to the floor, splattering the immediate area, and surrounding people with blood. 
Harley’s eyes widened in disgust and disbelief. She clamped both hands to her mouth to suppress a scream, and backed into the wall. 
Kaya felt relief wash over her as Harkot came to her side. She nodded and smiled to let him know she was fine, at least under these circumstances. “Where are we?” she asked him, as she still had no clue where they were. She had realized that they were inside somewhere, but in the chaos of the fire she hadn’t had the time to keep track of their directions. They had carried her most of the way anyway.
Suddenly she heard a happy yet unknown voice. It sounded to her like a young boy’s. A strange feeling accompanied the voice, and even though it made her body shudder, she became interested. She heard the boy and a lot of others leave and she decided she wanted to explore too. Without thinking what Harkot wanted to do, she stood up and an excited expression spread across her face. “Let’s go exploring.” she said to Harkot, decisively. Then she walked away, not even caring about all the stuff that could trip her.
Johnny suddenly awoke to the sound of footsteps nearby. Instead of jumping up though, he stayed down, looking through his eyelashes to see who it was. He quickly recognized Tim, one of the cannibals. Johnny kept his eyes closed, curious as to what Tim would do. When he saw him closing in, he quickly debated his options. He could either wait to see what Tim would do, or he could get up and protect himself. It didn’t take long for Johnny to decide on the last one.
When Tim was almost within reach, Johnny jumped up and backed away, keeping the prison wall on his left. When he was a few good meters away from Tim, he crouched down, balancing on the front of his feet, one hand lightly touching the ground. He looked at Tim with an aggressive expression, almost snarling. He might have had a cannibal party, but he still didn’t trust them. Even less now that the forest burned down and he had no place to hide in anymore. It might as well have been one of the cannibals to start the fire, in their intoxicated state. “What do you want?” Johnny growled at Tim, his eyes never leaving Tim’s face. 
Harkot smiled and stood up to fallow Kaya and locked eyes with Jack. ” can we talk later… Away from all the Crazyness. Like civilized men?” He asked Jack quietly looking him straight in the eyes. He gave him a small crooked smile as he was pulled away by Kaya to go explore.
Katana fallowed Shou out of the room and down the hall. He smirked and quickened his pace and swooped down on Shou picking him up and putting him on his back effortlessly. “We should find something to make doors with?!” He said with a smile and looked up at Shou. Before he could consider what was going on he pressed his lips to Shou’s cheek hard, squishing his face.
Lola smiled and nodded at Mamas words. As her and Oliver walked out of the room she set down the baby and went to her pack she had managed to grab before running out of the camp. She had been able to also grab a bunch of fabric and cloths. She went around the room making sure all the children had something to cover them selfs with.
Jess had made at least three knifes and was taking a break. She sat back against Koah and looked up at the sky. Jess jumped a little when she heard people talking near by, slowly, grabbing one of the knifes she made her way toward the voices. As she rounded the corner she saw Tim and the guy who had jumped on her in the woods the day before. Jess felt her blood get hot and she scowled leaning against the wall watching the two of them. 
Watching as Mama set the infants down, Oliver followed her out of the room.
If he were in a happier mood, he would have waved “goodbye” to Lola and the babies, though….He felt the polar opposite of “happy”.
Walking beside Mama, he felt as if he were being led to the gallows.
Sighing at her comment on the alcohol, “Yeah…..I suppose that doesn’t make much sense, does it?”
Stopping as Mama did, he continued to listen to her in silence.
With each word out of her mouth, he became increasingly upset.
Staring at her as she pointed out the marks on her body, his head began to spin.
He didn’t remember any of that….
Carrying around…?
He felt….ill.
He had hurt her?! ….
He had….killed somebody?!
How was that even possible if he didn’t remember?
….you’d think you would remember a thing like that….
Without even realizing what he was doing, he had grabbed Mama by the shoulders, and, eyes wide, tone nigh hysterical, tried to comfort himself, “I-I would never, under any circumstances kill anyone! Never! I-….I just know….that I wouldn’t……”
Stammering, struggling, “H-how is it even possible to kill people without even remembering?! Surely you’d remember something like that?!…..surely….”
It was obvious he was trying to lose himself in the comforting embrace of denial.
Though….even while he spoke, he knew that what she had said was the truth.
….it makes sense now…..
I guess I really did deserve to be sent up here….
…..I guess I wasn’t framed….for killing….all those people….
Gripping her shoulders, he let his head hang down, resting his forehead against her neck.
I-If I did do all that…….
….Since I did do all that….I should just….just….
A near cold calm shot through his system as the realization finally resonated within him. He knew. He could feel it…
Forehead pressing against her neck, he closed his eyes.
Voice quiet, yet unnervingly serious, stern, he made a request, “You…you have to kill me….before I do anything else….please…”
I am a terrible person.
A terrible person.
All the while, as everything unfolded, Tom simply laughed.
Oliver could barely hear his own thoughts over such strong laughter.
“Please…before I lose the nerve….”
Johan replied to Harley’s question in a similarly hushed voice, “Well, they did refer to them as ‘cannibals’ earlier…perhaps that is the root of the issue.”
Remaining silent, they both watched the events unfold.
The strong exchange of words.
The axe raising.
…The execution.
While they both watched as the man’s head became forcefully detached from his body, he was not particularly impressed, nor interested.
While it had its merits of being something of interest, the lack of fear was….less appealing.
Though there was some fear, the atmosphere was one dominated by anger.
At Harley’s reaction to such a sight, he watched her as she backed into the wall.
It was clear that she wasn’t enjoying the sight, rather, she was quite horrified. 
Now that was more interesting….though, standing there watching for any longer would increase their chance of being spotted.
Although he didn’t know exactly how they would react to their presence, he knew that it would most likely be in their best interest to avoid such a thing.
While he had no qualms with simply leaving Harley there and exploring the building himself, he knew such an action would be considered to be in “bad taste”.
Turning to, and walking over to Harley, he spoke very quietly, calmly, “Come on.”
Gently, yet firmly, grabbing Harley by the shoulders, he turned her around, so that she was now facing down the opposite direction.
“There are more productive things we could be doing.”
Leading her away from the scene, they went off down the hall, stepping into a different hall to make sure they would not be seen. 

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Tim swore under his breath when Johnny sprang awake, instantly moving into a stance of defence. It would be near impossible to get him now. But they had to eat. 
"That should be obvious," he replied coldly. "The forest has burned all the food along with it, so you will have to do." 
He sensed they were being watched by furious eyes, and looked in the direction Jess was hiding. 
Shou’s eyes widened with shock for a moment, as Katana kissed him, but then he smiled. 
"We probably don’t have to rush to make the doors," he said, allowing himself to be carried off in search of materials. "From what I saw through the window, we might be the only survivors." He spoke without thinking, completely forgetting that Katana had a brother. 
"I…I’m sorry," he added quickly. 
Mama stood still as Oliver grabbed her by the shoulders, lowering her guard slightly. Her eyes filled with pity as he spiralled into denial, insisting that he would never kill anyone. He didn’t have to say it; she already knew that this side of him was completely innocent. 
It took all she had not to pull him into a comforting embrace, and to keep watching in silence as his entire world fell apart. 
At his final words, however, Mama put her own hands on his shoulders, and gently distanced herself until he was at arms length. “I won’t kill you,” she said firmly. “No matter how much you plead. I do not harm the innocent, no matter what.” She stared directly into his eyes, half wondering whether his other personality could hear her next words. “If, at any time, you pose a threat, and I have no other choice, I will kill you then. But only then.” 
Then, finally, she gave in to her instincts, and pulled him into a hug. “You haven’t hurt anyone,” she assured him. “You seem to have another personality. If you’re aware of them now, you might be able to stop them. But even if they do get through, I won’t let them kill anyone else, so you don’t have to worry.” 
Harley nodded wordlessly, and began to follow Johan. She couldn’t seem to find her voice to ask where they were going, or what would be more productive. Maybe they were searching for a way to escape? 
That had to be it. They couldn’t stay here any longer. Not after what they had just witnessed. They had to warn the others…Jack. She had to tell him what these people were capable of. It didn’t matter if that guy had been a cannibal, the way they had dealt with him had just been…brutal. 
She was completely numb. Fresh waves of shock kept sweeping through her, as though she was watching the beheading over and over again. She didn’t notice Jack in the corridor ahead of them. 
Jack didn’t notice them either. He was peering into each room he passed, searching for some sign of that cannibal boy. But he was having no luck. 
Harkot’s words were also playing on his mind. If he was caught, he probably wouldn’t be able to talk later. So, when he finally noticed Johan and Harley approaching, he jumped, and stumbled backwards against the wall. 
"Oh," he muttered, obviously embarrassed. "It’s just you." 
Humming cheerfully to himself, Futa left the group, taking the head with him. They would deal with the other two prisoners; hopefully they’d both be locked up for him to play with. 
But right now he had more important issues to attend to. He hurried up to the room where he was holding Gem, and pulled away the boards of wood that blocked the doorway. 
"I brought you something!" he said happily as he burst inside, replacing the boards once more. "It’s sure to brighten the room up a bit!" 
Realizing he was being ignored, he spun around to look at Gem, holding the severed head by its hair. “Look!” 
But he was ignored yet again. 
Gem refused to open his eyes, his nose already filled with the scent of blood. Whatever Futa was holding, he didn’t want to see it. 
"I brought you some food, as well." 
A moment later, Gem felt a few berries being pushed into his mouth, and finally opened his eyes to glare at Futa, with the intention of spitting harsh insults at him. But, when he saw the head staring back at him, his words died in his throat. 
"You bastard," he whispered. How had they managed to kill him? He had been the camp’s strongest. As long as he was around, no one dared touch the elder. Did that mean he was dead too? And what about Mama, and all the others? 
From the look Futa was giving him, it seemed everything was hopeless. “When I get out of here,” Gem hissed, his voice filled with venom. “I am going to destroy you.” 
The smile faded from Futa’s face, and he put down the head. “You won’t be leaving here, until you remember me,” he reminded him, his tone now threatening.  
Kaya ended up in the hallway, where she heard something crack and fall on the floor. It stopped her in her tracks. The sound brought her back to her past, making her knees feel weak. But instead of falling down she turned around and ran away, bumping straight into Harkot. She grabbed his hand and pulled him along, running away through another hallway. After a while she tripped and fell, releasing Harkot’s hand just in time. She stayed down on the ground and started sobbing. 
Johnny had to suppress a laugh at Tim’s answer. Instead he let a smirk creep up on his face, not moving from his defensive stance. “So what are you going to do? You never caught me before.” 
While he said that, a little voice in his head added: that was always because of the trees. He ignored the voice and decided to provoke Tim further. 
"I don’t even know how you all survived out here this long. It is so easy to evade your entire camp." this time he didn’t stiffle his laughter and let out a dark chuckle. "Maybe I should make it easier for you guys and keep still. Not even sure if you would catch me then." 
Katana smiled at Shou and headed in the direction he was told to go.
Harkot was a bit shocked as Kaya ran ahead of him, when she fell from his grip he scrambled to grab her before she hit the ground but he was to late. As she sat on the ground beginning to cry Harkot knelt next to her, “Kaya…” He whispered placing his on her shoulder. “K-Kaya are you alright…” He stroked her hair softly trying to calm he a bit.
Jess smiled when Tim looked toward her and decided it was a good enough time to come out. She walked out from her hiding place and over to Tim, holding her knife. She walked up to Tim and smiled putting her elbow on his shoulder. She looked at Johnny and then whispered in Tim’s ear, “Can we eat him?…” She smiled as he looked down at her.
Lola had made sure all the children were asleep but as she walked to the door of the room her hand was suddenly grabbed by Darling who looked up at her with a crooked smile. Lola smiled and was about to say something when she heard the voices of Tim am someone else. She looked toward the doorway and then realized the voices were coming from further outside. “Come on…” She said picking Darling up and holding her on her hip as she walked out of the room. She walked out into the hall and turned to see Oliver and Mama, hugging. Lola stopped and just looked at them a slightly confused look on her face, what an odd relationship these two had. Shrugging Lola stepped forward and cleared her throat causing the two of them to look a at her. “Tim is fighting with someone outside…” She said bluntly. He gaze drifted to Oliver’s face then her eyes quickly darted to Darlings face. Lola forced a smile and kissed the little girls nose. “Come now, let’s get that hair out of your pretty little eyes!” She said with a smile and started to turn to go back into the room her eyes catching Oliver’s again. 
When Mama embraced him, Oliver was quite shocked, to say the least.
She knew about his….dark side.
She knew how terrible he was, yet….she….hugged him?!
It seemed she believed that he himself, as he was now, was not to blame but…he shared a body with such a terrible force, what difference did it make? What sense did it make to prolong what inevitably has to be done?
From the tone of her voice, and what little he knew about her, he was inclined to believe what she said, that she would stop him, and…kill him…..if she had “no other choice”…
….But….he wasn’t sure he wanted to take such a risk.
To risk waiting….
What if he managed to evade her and…hurt someone….killed someone…else…
Why not just do it now and get it over with?
He shook his head, breaking their eye contact, “It’s not worth the risk….waiting….I’m not worth that risk….”
At Mama’s words, Tom became more amused. Taking a liking to you, huh Ollie? What a waste of time!
That woman overestimates herself.
“Stop it?…Control it…huh?…how can I control something I didn’t even know about until now?”
He was doubtful, “No…I think you have too much faith in my capabilities…”
'Don't have to worry'?…
How could he not worry?!
While he admitted to himself that he was relieved that she didn’t kill him on the spot – dieing wasn’t something he looked forward to – he was also very distressed, and indeed worried.
Worried about what he would do in the future.
Worried about hurting….killing more people….
Could he go on living….knowing that the body he thought was his own ran such a high risk?
He found himself unable to shake the feeling of impending doom.
…..she would only kill him if he posed a threat….
He briefly considered doing something to force her to kill him, but….he just couldn’t. He couldn’t do something like that. He didn’t want to hurt anyone just for that…what a selfish, horrible thought…..
The whole point of him wanting her to kill him was to stop him from hurting anyone else in the first place.
Breaking from Mama’s embrace, his voice remained somber, mind cynical, “I don’t see how I can not worry….”
Thoughts trailing off as they were interrupted by Lola’s voice, he let himself be temporarily distracted by her presence.
Staring back at her, his eyes grew sad as she quickly looked away. He couldn’t help but feel morose, dejected, dispirited. 
He couldn’t help but wonder….What did she see when she looked at him? Did she see a horrible person? Some sort of….psycho? …monster?
He wondered…
Had he….done something to her?! That…other side of him..
…It would explain why she had reacted so adversely to him back at that camp…why she had rejected him…
Is this what life will be like now? Wondering….worrying….about what I have done and may do to people?
….maybe I should just do it myself…..
His demeanour was sullen, resigned, though he found he couldn’t look away from Lola completely…
It seemed she had a young girl with her.
He admired how well she got along with the young one, she seemed to be a very caring person.
Though, seeing the child, he was reminded….
…That his other side didn’t seem to discriminate…..
….dropping that infant….
His breath caught in his throat.
Would he-! ….Would he kill children?!
Watching Lola leave, he turned back to Mama, “conflict…I don’t think I’d be very useful….”
Edging away from Mama slightly, “I’m sorry…but wouldn’t it be best if you handled it, the situation with Tim?”
He wanted an opportunity.
Somehow to get away from everyone.
Yes…Isolation, then….
…but would he be able to do it?
Did he have the nerve?
As they walked, Johan noticed that they were approaching Harley’s brother, Jack.
Stopping with Jack’s abrupt reaction to their presence, he glanced back over at Harley.
Would it be suspicious if he suggested that she go with her brother?
No…splitting up is something often done by people to explore areas.
To ‘cover more ground’.
“Yes, it’s us. It seems our hosts are not as kind as they appeared.”
Composed as usual, he continued, “Perhaps you two should search in this direction,” He indicated the aforementioned direction, pointing off down a random corridor, “While I head in this direction.”
Yet again, he indicated said direction, “This building is quite spacious, if we split up we may be able to gather our bearings and form some idea of what we are dealing with. Theoretically, we would be able to cover more ground in this manner. Perhaps get ourselves, and the others, away from this ordeal.”
Ayva was having a rather unpleasant time.
While her body tried to deal with the sudden absence, she remembered…
She had gone through a similar experience a few years ago…
She knew how that had turned out…
Why did she always succumb to their beckoning?
….Maybe this time she would overcome it…maybe she would finally get that crap out of her body for good.
It’s not like there would be any laying around up here….would there?
Forcing her protesting body to her feet, she managed to make her way out of the cell, into the hallway.
Maybe…Maybe she would be able to find some!
Mind obviously not thinking logically, she started on her wild goose chase. 
Mama took a step back, watching Oliver as his mind continued to spin. “Then, make yourself worth the risk,” she said sternly. “It’s not my faith in you that matters. Now you know about it, you can try to control it.” 
Her words were a harsh contrast to her previous gesture, but she felt it was what he needed to be told. 
When Lola approached them, she let out an impatient sigh. “That child can’t keep out of trouble for a second,” she muttered, half considering whether to just leave Tim to it. But she knew she couldn’t. If that idiot decided to draw attention to their hide out while they were vulnerable… 
With another, exasperated sigh, she looked at Oliver once more. She could see in his eye that he was planning something. For a brief moment, she thought his other personality had reclaimed his body, and was trying to trick her, but that doubt vanished when he spoke. She was about to remind him that he had to stay by her side, when she saw the wolf, skulking at the end of the corridor. Those wolves had already proven themselves useful. If he attacked anyone, the wolf would put a stop to it. 
"Fine," she said, turning away to go deal with Tim. "But remember, if you do anything stupid, that demon might come out again." With that, she marched down the corridor and outside, finding Tim with ease. Someone was making a lot of noise, laughing and mocking. 
A wicked smile spread across Tim’s face as Jess joined him. He looked back at Johnny, seeing it in his eyes. He knew, there wasn’t anywhere to hide any more. 
"We’ll have to share him with the others," he said disappointedly in response to Jess’s question. "But I’m sure there will be enough to go around." 
As Johnny continued to mock the entire camp, Tim rounded on him once more, his eyes burning with anger and embarrassment. How the hell had they not caught this guy yet? Well, he wouldn’t be laughing long. 
However, just as Tim opened his mouth, something solid collided with the side of his head, disorientating him and sending him stumbling to the ground. 
"Idiot," Mama growled, standing over him with an expression of disgust. "Making so much noise out here. Do you want mutants chasing after us here?” She turned on Johnny, her annoyance not fading for a second. “You,” she said sharply, vaguely recognizing his face. “I’m pretty sure Gemini chose to keep you.” As she spoke, she delivered a kick to Tim’s leg, sending him sprawling to the ground again as he attempted to stand. “You know the rules. You can’t eat them when they’ve already been accepted into the camp!” 
"What camp?" Tim couldn’t help retorting, his anger at Mama rising again. "We don’t have a camp any more. Who cares about the rules? Or the words of a dead brat! I know your dirty little secre-" 
Mama’s third strike was automatic, and the next moment, Tim was clutching a bloody nose, uncertain whether she had used her fist or her foot. 
As she returned her attention to Johnny, composed as though nothing had happened, she couldn’t help noticing, and admiring the well made knife in Jess’s hand, or the way this mole had adjusted to cannibal life so easily. 
"You can stay, as long as you make yourself useful." 
"Wait," Jack insisted hastily. "Why don’t you hear them out before you go looking for a way out?" 
Harley’s wide eyes stared at him in disbelief, certain she had heard him wrong. Why was he sticking up for these people? Johan was right. They needed to split up and search for a way out of there. 
Jack went on quickly. “They already told me their intentions when they rescued me last night. I got lost, and they offered me a place to stay, in exchange for helping them.” 
"Help?" Harley repeated blankly. 
Jack noticed something was wrong with her, but he had to explain. Whatever these two had seen their hosts do, it was for a reason. “They need help getting rid of a band of cannibals,” he explained. “They’ve been kidnapping and murdering people as they’re sent to the surface. And now is their best chance. The cannibals usually stay around the entrance to the underground tunnel; they’re not exactly familiar with the forest as these people are. The ones who didn’t burn to death will be vulnerable. If we want to survive up here, we have to help these people get rid of them, first.” 
A small spark of fire returned to Harley’s eyes, and she spoke coldly, as though to a stranger, and not her brother. “I’m not helping them kill anyone,” she said firmly. “And you shouldn’t, either.” 
"But nothing!" Harley interrupted angrily. "We’re going to do as Johan says, split up and find a way to get us all safely out of here before they start chopping our heads off as well!" 
"But those cannibals-" 
"I couldn’t give a damn what those cannibals have done! We don’t have to involve ourselves with them either. If we’re attacked we’ll fight and that’s it!” 
"They killed Rowan!" 
Harley’s next words died, coming out as a small, confused sound. “What?” 
There was only one way to escape the indescribable pain, and that was to go somewhere else. 
Gem closed his eyes, refusing to give the psycho the satisfaction of drawing tears from them. His mind drifted to the camp leader’s guard, the one person Mama herself didn’t dare to challenge. 
Dorian was different to Mama, however. His nature was more obviously gentle. He would give the children piggy back rides, and on his shoulders, they felt almost as though they could touch the tallest branches of the trees. They couldn’t, of course, but the ground was a long way down. The first time Gem remembered being lifted onto those shoulders, he had been three years old. Dorian was especially kind to him and his brother, probably because he was trying to get onto Mama’s good side at the time, and she loved them as much as their own mother did…Probably more. 
His brother…Why was his mind drifting to him right now? It had been a long time since he had spared him a thought. He’d almost forgotten he had existed. Skinny little thing who always clung to Gem, his eyes constantly leaking, along with his nose. He had been a weak creature, but Gem had always felt obligated to protect him. But that was as much as he could remember. In his mind, they had been identical, but now, he had the slight impression that his brother’s hair had been a different colour. Maybe it was dirt? No, Gem had always been the messy one. Apart from his leaky face, his brother had always kept himself immaculate, even when they were very young. Their mother barely had to clean him up. 
Where was his mind going? He didn’t want to think about this right now. What he wanted, was to break free from the ropes, and shove a shard of glass down Futa’s throat. But he wasn’t even sure whether Futa was still there. How long had it been? 
He decided to open his eyes. The right one opened easily, but the left was just a searing pain. Staring back at him was Dorian’s head, the eyes already gauged out.  
Jess gasped softly when mama appeared, and she clutched the knife tighter. She watched mama as she knocked Tim down and felt her blood boil, but she kept her composer. Jess knew it was a bad idea to fight amongst themselves. When mama turned her attention from Tim Jess knelt next to him. “Are you ok?…” She asked a soft smile on her face. After a moment she pushed one of the knifes into his hands saying, “I made this for you…” Her face grew red and she quickly stood and watched as mama talked to Johnny.
Lola stood near the entrance to the room and before she had the chance to think twice she let out a loud sigh and stepped out into the hall with Oliver.
“So…. You and Mama huh?…” She asked a small smile playing at the corners of her lips. She figured if this man was going to be a part of their group it was best to get on his good side. 
At Mama’s words, Oliver felt slightly insulted, though he couldn’t blame her for being harsh, “…I didn’t say I wouldn’t try, its just….don’t hold your breath…”
He wasn’t sure she had heard him though, as by the time he let the last words hang she had already turned her attention elsewhere and begun to make her way outside.
Watching her leave, he noticed the wolf staring at him from his periphery.
It was quite the intimidating creature…
Turning to Lola at the sound of her voice, “Me and…Mama? ….Is that her name?”
He never remembered being introduced to Mama, so he was unsure. He also felt slightly confused.
Just what was she implying? Though….
Realizing how his and Mama’s interaction may have looked like from an outside observer, someone who wasn’t aware of the situation, he could understand where she was coming from.
Finding himself looking at Lola, he wondered…should he tell her? If she didn’t know about him and his….predicament, shouldn’t he warn her?
Though…if he did that, she may not want to be around him…….though he wouldn’t blame her, if that were her reaction.
He wouldn’t want to be around himself either.
Slightly conflicted, he knew he should tell her the truth….somehow….but how?
“Me and Mama, huh? No….we were just..talking….”
He wasn’t sure how to go about it.
Should he just say it outright?
Say that he has one personality, himself, as he is now, and another who goes around murdering people?!
….she would definitely run for the hills then….
He kept his distance from Lola, thinking that it would be safer for her and the child that way.
He didn’t trust himself.
Who knows when it’ll come back….
And yes, he would certainly try to stop it…but still…
It was better if he didn’t get close to people. Maybe then they would be safer….
Sighing sadly, he tried to go about it a different way, “Have I ever been…violent towards you?”
He hated this. This entire situation was something he wasn’t prepared for.
…Why couldn’t he just be a normal person?
Looking at her with sad eyes, he didn’t want to ask these questions. He was afraid of her answer….yet, he had to know.
“I didn’t hurt you….did I?”
Staying silent and listening as the two talked, Johan had no reason to interject.
Though, as the conversation progressed, it seemed he found himself lodged in a family matter between the two siblings.
Would it be best to stay silent?
Keeping the air of distrust and paranoia was necessary. At least at this moment, in the present situation.
Regarding Harley, he spoke in his ever calm and gentle manner, “Wait a moment,”
Gaze shifting to Jack, “How do you know that your brother is dead? Did you actually witness his death first hand? Perhaps saw his body?” 
Kaya stopped sobbing, but the tears kept falling down, this time silently. She smiled a weak smile, and pulled on Harkot’s arm so that he would sit next to her. She crept closer to him until their shoulders touched and sighed a deep sigh. “Harkot.. I can’t do this anymore” she said, sighing sadly and pausing for a moment. She had to tell him. She couldn’t just leave it now.
"You remember what I told you at the campfire? About.. About what I did to myself?" she asked him. The campfire already felt like a thousand years ago. "There was a reason I did that.. why I blinded myself. And that sound of cracking bones.. I don’t even know what happened.. but it brought me back. Back to then." She started her story, shuddering as the horrible memories slowly came back to her.
"My family.. I lived with my mother and little brother. We lived quietly, we didn’t want my brother to be banished. But one day, a man came to our house when I was alone. He threatened me.. Said that he would come back and if I didn’t cooperate with him then he would make sure my brother would be banished. Of course I didn’t want that. So when he went away I kept my mouth shut, living in fear of what he would do." 
She paused again, pulling her knees tighter to her chest and resting her head on them. “He came back. And again And again. He came back for two years, every few weeks, but I never knew when. He did.. things. To me. One day I refused. He got really furious, I had never seen anyone that angry. He didn’t do anything to me right then, but he swore to come back and hurt my family.”
Kaya’s voice grew really quiet. “If that had been the entire extent of my story, I would have lived happy ever after. But he came back. And instead of turning my brother in, he tied us all up. He forced me to watch my mother being tortured and murdered by him. And then..”
She couldn’t continue for a moment. Trying to hold on to the last few scraps of her usually well composed mask, she pulled herself together enough to tell the last lines of the story. 
"Then he made me do the same to my brother." The hallway they were sitting in grew even quieter than it had been. She couldn’t hear anything but her own and Harkot’s breathing. 
"He left me alone after that. I lived on the streets but I everything reminded me of what I had done. I grew mad. I didn’t want to see a world in which I had seen what I had seen and I had done what I had done. So I blinded myself."
Johnny kept still when Mama scolded Tim. He wanted to laugh, but he was smarter than that. He suddenly remembered that Gem indeed decided to keep him, or at least had taken care of him back in the camp. He hadn’t seen Gem on the way here. Did he go with another group? 
"Is Gem here too?" he asked Mama. "Because if he isn’t, I’ll go look for him. Might as well make myself useful, try to look for some food on the way."
Turning to Tim, he said. “You can come with me, we might even become friends” A smirk played across his face. 
Mama could sense the fury emanating from Jess, and she smiled slightly. 'Well,' she thought. 'Tim just might have found his own little bodyguard.' 
Her smile faded as Johnny asked about Gem. She shook her head sadly, her eyes threatening to well up once more. Since waking, she had managed to suppress the overwhelming feeling of guilt, but now it returned with the force of a brick. 
"You won’t find him," she said quietly. To avoid having to say it, she clung to his other offer. "But you and Tim can go search for food. We have hungry children inside." 
Tim refused to look at Jess, angry humiliation overcoming him as he sat on the ground, his free hand attempting to stop the flow of blood gushing from his nose. 
His other hand closed around the handle of the knife, and he looked down at it. “You made this?” he asked, his voice full of surprise. “It’s so good.” For a moment, his anger vanished, but it returned when Johnny spoke to him. 
"I don’t want to become friends with you!" he snapped. 
He gave Mama an incredulous look. “I can find food on my own!” 
"Do you want me to add a black eye to your list of injures?" Mama fired back at him. "Get up and help him find food, or you’ll be the main course. And you!” She shot the last two words at Jess. “I want to talk to you, stay there.” 
Her eyes were still shimmering slightly, but keeping herself busy, shouting at them, made her feel a little better. 
Jack blinked, for a moment at a loss for words. “I didn’t see it,” he admitted. “But that cannibal boy did.” 
"Didn’t you just get finished saying how you wanted to kill the cannibals?" Harley demanded, her heart pounding in protest to what she had just heard. "Why would you believe what one of them said?" 
"He saved you," Jack pointed out. 
Harley shook her head. “No, he just took credit for Johan trying to save me,” she responded coldly. 
Jack looked at Johan, his brow creasing in the suspicion that still refused to go away. “I didn’t see him actually get killed,” he repeated. “But what are the chances he’s still alive?” 
Lola looked at Oliver with wide soulful eyes. She sighed and told Darling to go into the room and that she would be in soon. She smiled as the little girl nodded and giggled as she ran away. She looked up at Oliver from her crouched stance on the floor and smiled. As the stood up straight she rolled up her sleeve she spoke softly, “I was trying to back up Mama and you grabbed me. You were trying to get my knife…” She held her arm towards him showing him the hand shaped bruises that he had left in her wrist and four arm. Slowly he reached up and placed a gentle hand on his shoulder as he looked at her arm not saying a word, she just started to softly rub his arm she could see it visible relaxed him to some extent. 
“I… I hope you don’t mind me saying this… You were abused… Weren’t you?…” She paused feeling stupid and with withdrew her hand from his shoulder and crossed her arms in front of her. “M-my mother was a therapist… She taught me how to identify different things in people…”
Katana and Shou had been wandering around for what felt like hours, but couldn’t have been. They found all sorta of cloth scraps and bones and dried hides that they began collecting to bring back to the group. Katana looked into one of the rooms and in the corner stood a wooden object with metal white strings stretched on it. It looked very odd indeed, but katana shrugged and picked it up anyway.
Harkot didn’t know what to say, his blood was boiling and he felt the rage building up inside him. 
“A… A m-man like that deserves a long painful death…” He stuttered when Kaya finished talking. He rested his chin on the top of her head and stroked her hair gently. “I promise… I won’t let anything like that happen, ever again!” He’s voice was still harsh but it had a slight warmth to it.
Jess nodded when Tim asked if she really made the knife. She smiled and opened her mouth to explain, “When you live in a place where everybody wants… A piece of you.. You have to learn how to fight back.” She smiled brightly hiding the hurt look in her eyes from the awful memories. When Mama told her to stay where she was she looked up and nodded once and then stood and waited for the other two to go on about their hunt. 
Oliver watched as Lola sent the girl away, wondering how she would answer….dreading her answer.
Watching, staring as she rolled her sleeve up and revealed the injuries he had inflicted, he lapsed into a self-loathing silence.
How many people had he hurt?
When Lola touched him, confusion entered his state of mind.
He didn’t understand it. Why was he being treated so kindly? …First Mama, now Lola…
He had hurt them, caused them pain, but yet…
It baffled him.
While his mind tried to make sense of it, he found he was losing himself in her touch…
Her hand was warm…soft…soothing…
Her voice entering his ears, he looked over to her face, into her striking eyes.
At her question, unwelcome memories rose to the surface.
Looking away from her, he shook his head, trying to dispel them, “It doesn’t matter….It…doesn’t excuse how I acted….I’m sorry I did that…So sorry…”
Tom, ever watching and listening, was slightly interested. Heheheh…Therapist, huh?
I wonder if she picked up any tricks from her Mum.
Maybe I’ll finally be rid of you, huh, Ollie?
As her hand left his shoulder, he found himself missing it. Though….this was probably best.
“Your mum was a therapist….then she probably warned you about people like me…terrible people…”
Glancing from the marks on her forearm and wrist to her face, he took a step back. 
It pained him to do such a thing, as he found comfort in her presence, yet…he didn’t want to tempt it.
He didn’t want to hurt her.
“You probably shouldn’t…get too close…It would be safer if you stayed away.”
Waiting as the two argued slightly, Johan was silent until Jack addressed him.
“Well, considering what that group of yours were saying about there being a group of cannibals, alive, at a lake - a ‘whole big group of them’, if my recollection is correct – then perhaps it isn’t too out of place to consider him alive still.”
“While it seems there was indeed a large number who perished in the fire, there also seems to be a fair number who survived; judging by their conversation. At this juncture, assuming either way would be irresponsible.”
He paused for a brief moment, as if further considering Jack’s question, “Perhaps it is prudent to think of him as ‘missing in action’ rather than rigid terms such as ‘dead’ or ‘alive’.”
Addressing both Harley and Jack, “I have heard on occasion that twins have some sort of ‘special’ bond. Perhaps this is similar with triplets?”
“Tell me, do you truly feel that he is gone?” 
Kaya stopped talking for a long time, leaning on Harkot. She listened to his even breathing and her own ragged breaths until her breathing was even too. Right in this moment she felt the protection she had always needed, but had never gotten. Then she started pulling herself together, piece by piece. She let out a deep breath she hadn’t realised she was holding in. 
“It is no use feeling revengeful towards this man.” She muttered, surprising herself.”It is in the past now and I will never see him again. I need to move on and start surviving here.” 
She paused and then smiled. “Will you help me up?”
Johnny’s face saddened for a moment when he heard Gem didn’t make it. Mama hadn’t said it outright, but it was clear enough. He quickly pulled his face back into a smirk and continued talking to Tim. 
“So you and me then? We have to find some food somewhere.” In a sign of trust, to get Tim to go with him, Johnny stood up straight and turned around, turning his back on Tim. 
“Are you coming?” He asked and started walking. 
Tim gave Jess a small smile as he reluctantly got to his feet. He couldn’t help feeling impressed. The knife was well made; he could tell just from holding it that it wouldn’t fall apart when he hunted down their dinner. 
His smile faded into a glare as he looked at Johnny’s back. “You don’t have to talk to me,” he grumbled. “I’m only going with you because she thinks she can still boss everyone around. After what she did I don’t feel like listening to her any more, so watch your back. If we can’t find food I might just resort to my original plan.” 
He followed Johnny into the ruined forest, glaring the entire way. 
Mama watched them go with a small, exasperated sigh, and turned back to Jess. Her expression softened. “I couldn’t help but notice those knives,” she began, deciding to ease into the topic she was most interested in discussing. 
As Johan spoke, Harley began to relax, the dread she had felt slowly faded into hope. “Right…I’d forgotten about that,” she said, feeling slightly sick as she remembered one of those cannibals had been beheaded in plain view. “If so many people survived…Rowan has to be one of them.” 
Jack’s gaze drifted to the floor, and he nodded slowly. “I guess it’s possible,” he said, a flicker of hope in his own voice. “I don’t believe in all that telepathy crap…But it doesn’t feel as though he’s gone.” 
"Right then, that settles it!" Harley said decisively. "We know Rowan…He’ll have found some way out. Right now we have to focus on getting us out of here, so these people don’t kill us before we have a chance to reunite with-“ 
"Oh, don’t you trust us?" a cheerful voice interrupted her. Futa approached them and stood beside Jack, his previously immaculate uniform now drenched in the blood from the severed head.  
Harkot nodded and slowly stood and helped Kaya to her feet. When she was standing straight he put is hand gently on her shoulder. “C-can… Can I hug you?…” He asked, his voice almost a whisper.
Lola looked at Oliver a concerned look on her face. “I was learning to become a therapist as well. If you need to talk.. You can talk to me.” She said smiling at him.
Before she could stop herself she stepped forward and hugged him gently. She didn’t know why but everything inside her was convinced that was what he needed. “You don’t have to be alone…” She whispered her face hiding against his chest.
Jess watched the two of them walk away and smile when Mama spoke. “Yeah… I used to live on the streets in a really bad part of the city… I…” She gulped and tried to swallow a lump that had formed in her throat. “I made weapons out of anything…” She looked up at mama and tried to force a smile. “S-so what did you want to talk to me about?” She asked quickly trying to change the subject. 
Nodding as Lola spoke, Oliver was contemplative, deep in thought when she suddenly hugged him.
Shocked for a moment, he slowly let himself relax into her embrace.
Relishing this moment of serenity, he gingerly put his arms around her.
Letting the silence stretch, he was hesitant to break it, but he knew he had to tell her, “Well…I have to tell you about something…warn you, just in case…”
Trailing off, he still wasn’t sure how to word it, yet he forced himself to continue, “…you know how I-…I hurt you? Well…I don’t remember that…I don’t remember fighting Mama…Nothing….apparently I have blackouts….Apparently I have…another personality….”
He let that hang in the air a moment, silence enveloping them while he dreaded the next part, the critical information…the painful part. 
He hoped she wouldn’t freak out.
“This….this other side seems to enjoy….hurting people….killing people…Mama made me aware of this…this terrible side….so that was what we were talking about before.”
Letting out a sad laugh, “So, apparently I’m never alone. Apparently, I’m stuck with this….monster….”
Playing with her hair slightly, he realized he had been talking about himself too much….Yes, he had to warn her, but he could have just worded it simply….
Feeling bothered by himself, he knew that she must have been growing tired of his ramblings.
No one liked listening to his annoying voice, right?
Hah, right! Wow, I’m surprised you actually remembered something for once, Ollie.
About to ask Lola more about herself, he found himself feeling….odd.
What was this feeling? Seemed familiar…..
Before Oliver could do anything, Tom had shoved him into the corner of their subconscious.
Smirking slightly at the situation, Tom was not completely satisfied with just a hug.
Too easy, Ollie.
How could he not take advantage of the situation? It was just too perfect.
Bringing her closer, holding her tightly against him, making it so that he could feel her breasts against his own body, Tom grabbed her ass roughly, getting a good feel.
Voice darker, lusty, he bit her ear and whispered, “I’d like to fill your ebony with my ivory.”
"I’m going to rip you apart."
Suddenly, Oliver snapped back into consciousness.
Regaining some semblance of control, Oliver went pale as he realized the position he now found himself in.
What had just happened?!
Immediately removing his hands from Lola, he jumped away from her.
Hands up, expression embarrassed and horrified, he immediately apologized, “I- I’m sorry!”
Regarding the two, it seemed Harley and Jack were satisfied with Johan’s answer.
Feeling the atmosphere of blood lust before he spoke, he let his eyes wander over to Futa.
He noticed the boy was now coated with blood.
In his ever calm, gentle voice, he kept his gaze on Futa, unfazed by the blood the boy now wore proudly, “Trust. Yes, in the end it comes down to that.”
“Trusting a group of people who are unknown elements poses a challenge. Especially when the aforementioned group seems to be riddled with issues.”
Perhaps….if he spoke appropriately, Futa may be persuaded to kill some of the others.
“A group that is already at odds with each other, struggling from their own inner turmoil, is not one which lends well to outsiders trusting it.” 
Kaya let Harkot pull her up and smiled a small smile at his question. Would she be okay with it if he hugged her? The answer was clear to her very quick. Harkot had been the one to protect and look out for her from the very beginning, of course she would trust him with this. Instead of answering him, she stepped closer and put her arms around his waist, laying her head on his shoulder. She closed her eyes and realised she hadn’t felt this safe in a long time.
Johnny walked in front of Tim, ignoring his threat. He stood on one of the burnt branches, and started jumping from branch to branch, like a small child. After a long time of jumping, he suddenly realised that he hadn’t paid attention to any food sources, or to where they were going. He didn’t even know if Tim was still following him. He stopped immediately, turning around quickly. He found Tim unexpectedly close. He raised an eyebrow. ”Were you also jumping?” 
Without waiting for Tim’s answer, a childish smile crept up on Johnny’s face. He called out “catch me if you can!”. He gave Tim a small peck on the cheek to annoy him and then turned around and sprinted away, this time jumping over all the burnt logs and branches.  
Mama sat down and gestured for Jess to join her. “That must have made you strong,” she observed, aware that Jess was hiding her true feelings. That would do her no good, but she wasn’t here to give her lectures; that could come later. 
She smiled, and glanced towards the trees. “Camp customs may be irrelevant at this point,” she began. “But I don’t believe the elder is dead. As long as both he, and Tim are alive, I’m going to keep our traditions going.” She paused for a moment, and pointed to the dress Jess was wearing. “Every time I see you, you’re with Tim. You can’t hide your feelings from me,” she went on. “But Tim is an idiot, and quite frankly, I think you’re much too good for him. Even so, if you’re willing to commit, I think we could do with another celebration to raise everyone’s spirits, when we’ve settled down, of course.” 
She stood up, and nodded towards the trees. “Think about it, but for now, do me a favour and make sure those two don’t tear each other apart.” 
Futa’s smile faded as Johan spoke. “What do you mean?” he demanded. “We have no issues.” 
"Says the boy who’s covered in blood," Harley muttered, looking as though she wanted to throw up. It appeared he had taken the severed head after all, just like he had wanted. 
She glared back when Futa looked at her, deciding to keep up her guard around this boy. But he seemed far too distracted by Johan to care what she had to say. 
"At odds with…What are you talking about?" Futa snapped his attention back to Johan, becoming increasingly annoyed. "What have they been saying to you?" 
Tim followed close behind Johnny, half debating whether to turn off in another direction and abandon him. But he knew Mama would just give him hassle if he did, so he remained in his shadow, scanning the charred ground for any surviving berries. It seemed hopeless. 
When Johnny spoke, he looked up, and instantly felt Johnny’s lips on the side of his face. 
Rage gripping him, he clutched his knife tighter and hurried after Johnny, not caring to move quietly to avoid scaring prey, or being detected by potential threats. 
But, just as he thought he might catch up, he heard voices, and froze. 
"Oi!" he hissed at Johnny. "Shut up a second!" 
"…cannibals around here somewhere…" 
"We might be able to round up a fair number of them." 
Tim darted behind a fallen log, and flattened himself to the ground, gesturing furiously for Johnny to hide.  
Jess listened to mama, as she spoke Jess’s face grew progressively redder. When mama told her to go find Tim and Johnny, Jess nodded and slowly stood up and turned toward the forest. Before she entered after the boys she turned and looked at mama, “Am I that obvious?….” She asked softly. Not wanting to wait for an answer Jess quickly took off running through the blackened trees fallowing the small signs the yow had left behind. 
She looked down for a moment and didn’t realize that someone was just a head of her until she had ran into them. Jess crumbled to the ground but the man she had tripped over stood like a brick wall. Jess looked up at him. He was a big man with huge arms, she instantly grew nervous. 
“Grab her! She’s one of them!” Someone yelled and before Jess could scramble away she was roughly grabbed and hoisted up off the ground. She tried to protest but was hit in the back of the head with something. “Wha…..” Was the only sound that left her lips before she went unconscious, and was slung over the mans shoulder and carried away. 
Unknown to the people they had been watched the entire time by two shadows.
Lola jumped when Tom grabbed her. She tried to wiggle out of his grip but it was no use. She gritted her teeth and clinched her fists as she felt his… Excitement, growing and pressing against her. When he suddenly released her she straightened out her dress and as he started to apologize she could stop herself from punching him in the face. She glared and quickly turned and walked back into the room, where he wouldn’t see her lean against the wall. She looked down at her hands which were shaking uncontrollably, wether from rage or excitement Lola couldn’t tell.
Harkot slowly wrapped his arms around Kaya, she all but disappeared into the hug seeing as he was a giant compared to her. He bent down to her ear and whispered softly, “I won’t let anyone hurt you like that again… I promise…” He sighed and slowly rubbed her back. 
 Thrown backward by Lola’s punch, any lingering excitement which Tom had left Oliver with died.
“I deserved that.”
He watched the blood drip from his nose onto the floor, absentmindedly wiping at it with his already bloody sleeve.
….I deserve more than that..
He was deeply ashamed.
Thoroughly disappointed in himself, he watched as Lola stormed off.
Letting himself meet the floor, he sat there, back against the wall.
What was he doing?! He had just alienated one of the only people – besides Mama – who had seemed genuine in their concern for him.
Did you even try to control it?! Stop it?
He thought he had…
He knew it.
He had known he wasn’t strong enough to combat such a malevolent force.
If I can’t control it….then it-….I’ll end up harming more people…
While he was still wrapped up in self-loathing, he began to wonder about Lola.
Was she alright? …..probably not….
He wasn’t exactly sure what he had done, but it must have been awful.
Concerned about Lola, he began wondering whether it would be wise to follow her…
What if he did go and apologize to her again? Would she even believe him?
Wouldn’t it just sound like a pathetic attempt at an excuse?!
Against all better judgement, concern getting to him, he got himself up off the floor and headed to the room’s doorway.
He couldn’t leave it like this.
He just couldn’t.
He didn’t want her to despise him…
Lingering by the doorway, he slowly entered the room.
Keeping his distance from Lola, as he was trying to avoid further exasperating the situation, he spoke, his voice sad and deeply apologetic, “…Are you ok?”
Trying to maintain some eye contact, “I can’t even imagine what you must be feeling…what happened was inexcusable, and it seems all I can do is apologize.”
“I’m sorry. I am so very sorry that happened.”
Glancing over at the little girl that he had seen earlier, he looked back at Lola, “I know that I’m a terrible person, and I do terrible things…I tried, but….I can’t even seem to control it….”
He paused for a moment, letting out a sad sigh, “Anyway…I just wanted to say that I….I won’t be bothering you anymore..”
“I’m sorry.”
He was about to leave, to ensure that whatever heinous things he may do in the future would never come to pass, though….he doubted he had adequately cheered Lola up.
But he wasn’t sure how to make her feel any better…..
He got an idea.
Looking back at Lola, “If it would make you feel better…you can hit me again.”
I deserve more than that….
Keeping his steady gaze on Futa, Johan spoke, “Even the most concerted, in sync, groups of people experience some degree of disagreement and arising of issues, though it seems your group can hardly be considered as such.”
Hearing Harley’s comment, he acknowledged her contribution and continued on that thread, “Yes, that is precisely it.”
Through bringing Harley’s point into the conversation perhaps the suspicion on him would lessen in the event that Futa did indeed carry out his plan.
The entire conversation could possibly be passed off as a slew of innocent observations made upon Futa’s request for knowledge.
He didn’t exactly care about the consequences such suspicions may most likely bring about, rather, such precautions were necessary purely to maintain the sense of trust around those that may be useful later on, and maintaining his pleasant, honest appearance was a necessary element.
He did realize that the majority of the suspicion would still rest on him, as he was the one engaging Futa the most, though it did not matter.
Turning back to Futa, he continued to speak, “Do you not notice how they talk to you? Act around you?”
He didn’t acknowledge Futa’s enquiry, neither confirming nor denying whether they had been speaking to him. The boy had already jumped to such a conclusion, and it would be faulty to say otherwise.
Considering Futa’s change in demeanour and interest, it appeared that the sequence of events was panning out adequately.
While he did indeed observe that the boy was becoming increasingly annoyed, and he acknowledged that he may well take such emotions out on him, it didn’t particularly matter, and it was a “risk” which was necessary to reach his goal.
“It seems they do not particularly agree with your methodology and conduct. Considering they are adults whereas you are much younger…”
He paused for a moment, “I may be out of line, but perhaps they have ulterior motives concerning the group, it’s members….and whether the future sees you as a continued part of it.”
Now to observe, wait, and see what unfolds. 
Kaya held onto Harkot. “Thank you,” she quietly mumbled against his chest. “I don’t know what I would do without you up here.”
Eventually she let go of him, but she held his hand in hers. “We need to continue our exploration,” she said, much stronger now. She felt lighter, now that she had confessed her story to Harkot. She smiled up to him. “Do you mind leading?”
Johnny had thrown himself on the ground next to Tim. Before he realised what had happened, Jess was already taken. He looked at Tim with wide eyes, not knowing what to do. Then he remembered he had never put the cannibal clothes on, he still looked like a mole. “I know you don’t like me, but you have to trust me and play along right now.” 
Before Tim could protest, Johnny had grabbed him by the back of his collar. He dragged him up and towards the men.
“Hey, guys!” He called out, flinching slightly when the men in front of him turned around with aggressive looks on their faces. 
“Easy! I’m from the underground, see? I captured one of the cannibals, but I have no food left. Mind if I come with you?” 

Futa glared at Johan, his fury rising with each word. How dare he? How dare he? 
His fists shook as he clenched them. “For your information,” he said to both Johan and Harley. “I have yet to bathe from delivering an important present.” He spoke as though it was only natural that he should be covered in blood. 
"And they love me!" he insisted. "Not every family is perfect on its own…Sometimes you have to make it perfect yourself.” His eyes grew wide, and he stared at the floor, digging his nails into his arm. “I just have to make it perfect and you’ll see. They would never try to get rid of me…I keep them all in line. I know what is best for them…It doesn’t matter if they don’t agree…They can’t be expected to know what’s good for them on their own, can they? They have to be told. They have to be forced to see it…You’re wrong…and if you question the way I do things again I will sew your mouth shut…” His fingernails cut through the fabric of his shirt, and pierced his skin, but he didn’t seem to notice. Or rather, the pain seemed to be the only thing preventing him from losing it. 
Harley stared in horror at the boy as he lost all stability. 
Jack, on the other hand, stepped in between Johan and Futa, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. “Stop it,” he said firmly to Johan. “Are you trying to fill his head with this crap on purpose?” 
"Of course he isn’t!" Harley snapped at her brother. "That kid needs help." 
"…No wonder my brother won’t love me…" Futa continued to spiral, his hands moving to grip his hair. "They’ve been filling his head with lies…Like they’ve been filling your head with lies…It’s their fault I had to punish him…Those backstabbing bastards…I’ll have their heads…” 
Tim groaned inwardly when Jess came running through the remains of the forest, and straight into one of the strangers. They thought she was a cannibal…What a shame. He had been starting to like her, but what could he do now? 
But the choice was made for him. “What?” he hissed at Johnny. “Why should I trust yo-“ 
He was dragged out from his hiding place before he could even finish protesting, and as they stepped towards the hunters, who appeared to be out for cannibal blood for some reason, his eyes widened in anger. “You traitor!” he hissed at Johnny. 
Henry observed Johnny for a moment, his hold on the unconscious Jess unwavering. “You might be useful,” he said thoughtfully. “If you really did manage to capture that cannibal.” His gaze turned icy as he looked at Tim. 
A moment later, another one of the hunters had knocked Tim out as well. 
"Come on," one of the other hunters said to Johnny, and they set off once more, towards the school. "You can tell us everything you know. Where you found this cannibal, if there are others, and if you know where they are hiding." 
Mama headed back inside, not particularly wanting to leave Oliver alone with Lola and the children for much longer. She was surprised Jess had had to ask…It was written all over her face. 
As she made her way down the corridor, however, she heard a hushed voice coming from the room which had been converted into a nursery. From the sound of it, they needed a bit more time. She backed down the corridor a bit, until she could no longer make out what was being said and sat with her back against the wall.  
Harkot smiled and began to lead the way for Kaya as they explored he also began to describe everything as they walked.
Lola looked past Oliver to make sure none of the children had woken up and lucky they hadn’t. “I…I-it’s fine…” She stuttered. Suddenly she grabbed his wrist and pulled him out into the hallway again and from there everything seemed to happen so fast. 
Then after a moment,
Suddenly he was leaning on the wall kissing her. Then he spun her around and pressed her against the wall. All the while franticly kissing and groping each other.
Time passed and finally Jess opened her eyes. At first her vision was a little hazy, she could at least tell she was inside and being held by something. She moved to rub her head but her arm was stuck. She tried to look down but her head was strapped to the chair. As he sight came back to her she noticed she was in a small room. There were people there, one if them was much shorter than the others and was standing right in front if her. All of a sudden she let out a sharp cry as something was stuck into her at her thigh. It wasn’t a knife, it almost felt like a needle. “Wha-what’s going on??” She breathed, her breathing had become rapid, it was obvious she was scared. 
 Expecting another punch, Oliver was quite surprised with her sudden reaction.
He put up no protest as he was yanked out into the hall.
…what is she thinking?
He had no idea what to expect.
As their mouths became entwined, Lola kissing him, utter confusion spread through his mind.
….What just happened?!
The woman who had just punched him a minute ago, the one who showed no interest in him whatsoever the previous night at that party, was now…..KISSING HIM?!?!
While his mind was stuck in a whirl of confusion for a moment longer, the rest of him seemed to be quite receptive.
His body seemed to know what it wanted.
Turning her around seemed almost automatic, for some reason…..though…..no.
He didn’t like it this way.
Gently, he turned her back around, so that he could clearly see her face…her beautiful eyes..
He wanted to make sure that she was enjoying this.
…can’t really tell that staring at hair…
Part of him wanted to slow down…
Did she really want this? Or was this some odd way of coping with being exiled?
…She had seemed relatively put together before….though, people can be quite skilled at masking their true emotions.
Looking at her, kissing her, it seemed as though she were having fun….though….
Pausing for a moment, heart racing, blood hot and breath quick, “…Are you…Sure you want to?”
Well…It seemed as though she did. As, upon asking the question, rather than answering with words, Lola…grabbed him.
As they continued, he found the self-loathing and depression he had felt moments earlier slip away into memory.
At this point in time, his entire focus was enraptured, captivated by this woman in front of him.
She was making him happy, and he wanted to reciprocate.
Kissing her neck, he ran his hand up her thigh, under her dress.
About to go for her under garment, moving the hand that had been on her breast to unzip himself, he saw something out of his periphery.
Paranoid – what if one of the children woke up?! - he stopped abruptly, and glanced over.
His body froze.
Staring at Mama, his mind became a flurry of panicked thoughts.
How long has she been there?
Did she notice us?!
It didn’t seem as though she was looking at them…..
Tom was getting annoyed at him, growing impatient. Who the hell cares if she’s there?! Just fuck her already!
….In a sly tone, Tom made a suggestion. Why don’t you ask Mama to join?
…this voice? Who’s voice is that?!
What?! Are you just going to stand there?! Gaping like a moron?
….shut up.
Don’t be a fucking idiot!!
Shut up!
She’s right there! Why do I ever leave anything up to you?!
That’s it! I’m gonna -
Without realizing it, his retort made itself known to the world outside of his fractured brain, “Shut up!”
He went pale once he realized he had said that out loud, nearly yelled it…
Mama must have noticed them now. Yet….
He found himself unable to move.
…..Oliver wanted to do one thing, while Tom wanted another…
I can’t do this with Mama watching….
Just screw her already!
Watching in silence as Futa descended into a state of greater emotional instability, Johan remained composed in his sturdy, upright stance.
This boy certainly harbours some deep seeded issues.
His calm, collected gaze on Jack as he stepped between Futa and him, he answered after Harley came to his aid, “Of course not. I merely provided the knowledge he sought.”
From Futa’s ramblings, it appeared that he had succeeded, though, while he recognized that further “encouragement” was now unnecessary, the boy had not actually killed any of them yet, merely talk.
All he could do now was wait and observe his actions. 
Kaya felt the happiness coming back to her when Harkot started to lead her around, describing all the things he saw. It almost felt as if she could see again. If it were possible, she would’ve liked to keep on walking like this forever. But she knew they had to get back to the others at some point, maybe even make herself useful. They had to move out of this place soon, she didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. She suggested it to Harkot. “Harkot? Do you think there are empty buildings left? That we could set up camp in?”
Johnny followed the men all the way to the school. He told a half true story about how he had found the cannibals. He had told them how he had separated from the group he had come up with on his first day, and had since survived on his own. He had told them that he had evaded the cannibals very often, and when he had encountered Tim after the forest burned, he had knocked him unconcious and dragged him along until he found the men. He also told them he had no idea where all the others were. 
As soon as they had arrived to the school. one man had taking Jess and Tim away, while the other had taken Johnny to some kind of dormitory, passing a very bloody hallway. As soon as the man had left, Johnny started sneaking through the hallways, in search of Tim and Jess. It took him a good twenty minutes, but then he finally saw one of the men go in a room. Johnny sneaked up to the door, unfortunately it had no glass. Instead Johnny held his ear to the door, listening intensely. He heard a footstep next to the door and was about to jump back, but was too late. The door knocked him over and when he looked up, the man who had brought him to the dormitory was looking at him, quite angry too. He dragged Johnny inside and tied him to a chair next to Jess and Tim, then knocked him unconscious. 
Mama was lost in thought, her hopes high for their promising new ally, and the wife she would make for Tim. She had neglected to tell Jess that, if she did choose to marry him, that would make her close to royalty in the eyes of their camp. 
Her thoughts were interrupted abruptly, however, when Lola and Oliver burst from the nursery. At first, she mistook their movements for fighting, and half rose from the floor. But then she realized what they were doing, and was gripped with a mixture of confusion and slight anger. So…that was all he had needed? she thought bitterly, unsure whether to escape into an empty room or stay put. They might notice the movement if she chose to hide… 
But, as she averted her eyes from the scene, Oliver caught sight of her. She stared at him for a long, awkward moment, until he shouted. Shocked by his outburst, she got to her feet, trying to keep her composure, and walked wordlessly past the two, to the door of the nursery. 
"I don’t care what animalistic urges take you," she said quietly. "Don’t leave the children unattended to fulfil them." Then she vanished through the door, her face a little redder than usual. She didn’t feel she had the right to lecture them. After all…The number of times she snook away with Dorian. 
Jack narrowed his eyes at Johan. “You worded it the way you did on purpose,” he said angrily, certain Johan was up to something. 
"Oh, stop it," Harley hissed at him. 
Futa was still rambling on to himself, his grip on his hair tightening. But, just when it looked as though he would begin screaming, another voice called out from somewhere below. 
"We got two more!" 
Futa’s cheerful aura returned in an instant, and he released his hair, his eyes sparking with interest. “You three should get back to the dorm,” he chimed, giving them a bright smile. “Lunch will be served soon…Excuse me, I have some business to attend to…” He looked down at his clothes and laughed. “And just look at me! What a horrible way to meet our new guests. But it can’t be helped. I can’t keep them waiting.” 
Humming cheerfully to himself, he skipped off in the direction of the commotion downstairs. 
Harley blinked and stared after him. “Er…” she began. 
"We should head back to the dorm," Jack said, deciding it was best not to question Futa’s actions too much. 
Futa continued humming as he entered the room in which the cannibals were being held, along with the old man and the furious girl. 
"Oh, that’s a pretty one," he observed as he approached Jess. But as he examined her face closely, he recognized her, and the one sitting beside her. She wasn’t a cannibal, but it seemed they had accepted her, as they so often did with a select few from underground. The one beside her was a guy he had often seen disagreeing with Gem whenever he spied on the camp. The two had seemed fond of each other, but Gem didn’t like either of them. He decided he wanted to see them suffer. 
Wordlessly, as Jess began to wake up, he pulled out a small box from his pocket, and flicked it open, pulling out a long, sharp needle. “I’m going to take this one with me,” he decided, pushing the needle into Jess’s thigh, and ignoring her cry of pain. “Unstrap her from the chair.” 
Henry glowered at Futa, looking as though he wanted nothing more than to send him flying through the window, but he untied Jess, and roughly wound the ropes around her wrists once more. Then he flung the disorientated, terrified girl towards Futa, and turned to the door. “I’m going to go feed the new recruits,” he grumbled, his voice filled with disgust. 
But he didn’t get very far. The door hit something solid and, already furious, Henry reached down and grabbed the intruder. “I thought we couldn’t trust this one,” he said, as he strapped Johnny into the chair he had just pulled Jess from. “His story didn’t seem to add up…I bet he was lying.” As he spoke, he delivered a sharp strike to the back of Johnny’s head. 
Futa watched in slight interest, an idea sparking into his mind. “Come with me,” he said sweetly to Jess. “If you fight I will kill that cannibal you like so much.” And with that, he led Jess up to the attic, removed the boards hiding his secret room, and pushed her roughly inside, tying her to the second bed in the room. Gem was asleep on the other, or unconscious, it was difficult to tell, so, without another word, Futa turned on his heel and left again to put his cruel plan into action.  
Lola had stopped when Oliver pulled away and looked down the hall after a moment of just looking up at him, her eyes traced his line if sight and she saw mama. She stared at her as well her face growing redder by the second. When Oliver shouted Lola jumped and pressed herself against the wall, trying to be as small as possible.
When Mama walked past them and spoke Lola felt a lump form in her throat. She opened her mouth to speak but before any words could escape her lips Mama had already walked through the threshold and into the room. Lola didn’t know what to do now. Her mouth was dry, her heart was still racing, and she was still shaking. She slowly looked up at Oliver an almost pained look in her eyes.
“I… I’m sorry…” She whispered. Her eyes trailed down to her hands that were still on his chest and she slowly brought them away and held them to her head.
“I shouldn’t h-have done that…. S-sorry…” She said biting her lip. A small smile tugged at the corner of her mouth..
It had been fun though, she could even say it was nice to interact with someone in such a way.
Harkot smiled and chuckles softly at Kaya’s question, “I’m sure there are… If not, well we could always figure out how to make a place to live.”
Jess tried to get away from the boy but she was so disoriented and confused that she could barely hold her head up.
As she was tied to what she could only guess was a bed she looked around, “w-what are you going to do to me?…” 
She whispered her voice cracking. Tears slipped from her eyes and as she looked up all she saw was the boy who had brought her here, smiling at her, then leaving the room. Suddenly she let out a loud scream. 
Watching in silence as Mama brushed past them, Oliver was finally able to muster movement from his previously frozen body.
Removing his hands from Lola’s body, he tried to compose himself.
Though…what Mama had said put a damper on his previously uplifted mood.
Leaving young children alone….they were sleeping though….but still….
Who cares.
He tried to ignore the voice.
Staring at Lola, a semi-sad smile crossed his face as she spoke, “It’s alright. Technically…I could have refused, instead of…”
He let out a small laugh at the awkwardness of the situation they now found themselves in, “You know…It would have been fine to leave it with a hug. Maybe talk a bit more…heh…..though…that was fun…”
"I’m sorry if I scared you with that….outburst. I didn’t mean to say that, yet alone yell it….."
As he spoke, he suddenly came to the realization that he didn’t even know her name.
Embarrassed and ashamed, he figured introductions were in order.
Better late than never.
“I’m Oliver.”
“What name shall I associate with such a lovely person as yourself?”
Johan watched as the boy suddenly regained his cheerful disposition before leaving to tend to the others.
While he held a clinical curiosity pertaining to Futa’s intentions towards the people they had captured, he knew that if he acted on such interest it would only serve to deepen the suspicion already cast on him.
Staying where he was, his features remained unaltered as he focused the majority of his attention on Jack.
“Perhaps your preconceived suspicion of me is influencing how you view my actions. Bias, once established, is quite the magnificent lens through which ones perception is skewed.”
A momentary pause held between them.
“Just earlier, you had been so convinced of my guilt and harmful intentions that you threatened to end my life. You appeared certain in your actions. Resolute.”
“Though, would you have executed such a threat?”
“Tell me, do you continue to feel as you did then? Would you prefer it if I were dead?”
He chose this moment to insert a brief pause, as if considering their options, the ‘pros and cons’, before continuing, “Perhaps it would better serve our sparsely numbered group if you acted on said threat. Carrying on like this, holding onto such suspicion; such things are not worthwhile nor are they productive. They merely serve to defer your focus away from the real issues we are currently presented with. Rather than aiding, it is a hindrance. If your suspicions can only be quelled by my ceased existence, it may be the necessary course. Perhaps then your focus could be put to better use.”
“Ultimately, your suspicions would better serve us if it were directed elsewhere, perhaps towards that boy and his group, rather than causing internal conflict between us.”
As he spoke, he vaguely wondered as to whether Jack would understand the point he presented.
Even if he did understand, he knew Jack would most likely continue to harbor suspicions towards him, though perhaps he would keep such things to himself rather than articulating such thoughts.
The possibility that he would not understand, and perhaps go on to end his existence, was certainly present, but even if he did choose such actions, it did not matter. 
As Futa replaced the boards, he heard a loud scream on the other side, and his anger flared once more. He had told her not to fight him, and she had struggled the entire way. And now she was screaming. 
'I did warn her,' he thought as he made his way back downstairs, to the room where Tim and the others were being held. Without a word to any of his comrades, he grabbed a knife. 
Gem awoke abruptly when Jess screamed, and instinctively tried to move away from the noise. “No, don’t!” he whispered, opening his right eye. The left still seemed to be sealed shut. 
When he saw Jess, he frowned in confusion. What was that rude mole who kept following Tim around doing here? Was she the one who had screamed? 
"Idiot…" he breathed, listening carefully for footsteps on the other side of the boards. "Don’t let him hear you…What if he comes back?" 
But maybe…she wasn’t really there. Maybe he was just hallucinating again; it wouldn’t be the first time. As his gaze fell on Dorian’s head, he remembered the dreams he had been having before. Maybe Jess wasn’t really there. He closed his eye again, deciding to ignore her, and her screaming. She would go away if he didn’t pay her any attention. Yet…he didn’t want to be alone here. He could feel his sanity slipping with every passing second. He almost wished that bossy mole really was there. Even if that mean the idiot Tim wasn’t close behind. 
Much sooner than he had hoped for, the sound of moving boards returned, and Gem opened his eye to glare at Futa, who was carefully placing a bowl of water and a towel on the bed next to Jess, before pulling the boards back into place. 
"Hello," Futa said cheerfully to them both. "Sorry to keep you waiting. I just had to get a few things…And I brought you a present." He said the last sentence happily to Jess, unravelling a second towel, from which something thin and bloody fell, landing inches from her face. 
"I’ve read all about weddings," he went on happily. "And the exchanging of rings…So, since you disobeyed me, I decided to take it upon myself to make sure that you can never marry that cannibal you like so much. That’s his ring finger." 
Without warning, he grabbed Jess roughly by the hair, and forced her to look into his eyes. “If you disobey me again,” he continued in his sweet voice. “The next time it will be his di-“ 
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Gem interrupted him, his voice finding a new strength as he realized Jess really was there. He didn’t like her, or Tim, but he would never wish upon them the torture this psycho would inflict upon them. 
Futa looked over at him, still holding onto Jess’s hair. “I didn’t forget about you,” he promised. “Don’t worry. I brought this up here to play with you. I’ll kill it when I’m done.” 
Gem glared at him, but knew it was pointless to argue further. There was nothing he could do to stop Futa killing Jess. 
Humming to himself once more, Futa picked up the bowl of water, and the towel, and began to roughly clean the ash from Jess’s face, letting his nails catch on her skin every now and then. 
Harley groaned inwardly, oblivious to the irony of Johan’s words. If anyone’s perception was skewed by a bias, it was hers. The thought was never able to cross her mind, however, as she knew Jack wouldn’t understand. He was far too impulsive to stop and consider what Johan was saying. If anything, he would take it as a challenge. And sure enough… 
"Is that some kind of threat?" Jack demanded. "You want a fight, but you want it to look as though I started it? You want to get rid of the one holding our group back, is that it?” 
"That’s not it at all and you know it!" Harley snapped at him. "Fighting amongst ourselves is pointless, that’s what he’s trying to say. I thought you were finally starting to come around until that kid showed up.” 
"I want to believe Rowan’s alive," Jack retorted. "I didn’t say I’m willing to trust this guy…If you don’t see it, I might as well give up trying to convince you!" 
He turned on his heel and made his way back towards the dormitory, leaving Harley and Johan in an exasperated silence. 
"He really is a stubborn idiot sometimes," Harley said apologetically. "He’ll come around once he realizes he’s wrong; but don’t expect an apology." 
At that moment, a high pitched sound cut through the air, and Harley froze, feeling sick again. That was a scream. It felt as though they had walked right into a nightmare. Would it be better to investigate, or ignore the sound? 
Lola couldn’t help but laugh, a soft nervous laugh. She looked up at Oliver and slowly patted him on the chest, “Lola….” She said softly. She nodded and looked up at Oliver, a new confidence coming from within her. “It was fun.” She said slipping from under him and walking to the middle of the hall. “I’m going to find more cloth.” She said looking into the nursery at Mama. With that she turned and looked at Oliver. “Do you want to come?” She asked hopefully.
Jess looked at the finger that had landed next to her and after a moment she looked up at Futa. “Y-your crazy…..” She whispered. Suddenly something wet and cold was put on her face, she gasped as the boy cleaned her, cutting her every now and then with his nails. “D-don’t touch me!” She gasped and tried to move away from his hand but didn’t get very far. When he was finally finished she had bloody scratches down her cheeks, over her lips, and some on her neck. 
 “Lola. I suspected you would have a gorgeous name.”
Watching as she ducked under him and walked a ways away, Oliver stayed in place for a moment; not particularly wanting to be alone, not wanting to follow Mama into the makeshift nursery – after what had happened, what she had said, he knew he couldn’t face her, at least not yet without feeling guilt and shame….Besides….
Being around Lola just felt….right.
He didn’t want to let go of such a feeling yet.
Smiling, trying to forget and avoid everything that had happened earlier…..dropping that infant….finding out about…it…..all those terrible things…..
Walking over, standing beside Lola, he nodded, “Sounds like a good idea. May as well be productive.”
The two of them walked in silence for a moment, peering into the cells they passed.
Slightly uncomfortable with the void of sound, he asked the first thing that came to mind, “….What do you think of this place…you know, being above ground? ….Do you miss your old life at all?”
It seemed that voice had gone away….at least for the moment…
Jack certainly did not understand Johan’s point. It seemed he had given him too much credit.
Perhaps wording it in simple terms would have produced the desired result.
No matter. 
Such thoughts were pointless now. 
It seemed there was no need to say anything though, as Harley spoke up, rivalling Jack’s questions.
The best thing to do in this instance would be to allow Harley to continue arguing on his behalf.
It appeared her surviving the inferno wasn’t entirely such the unsatisfactory outcome.
She was proving quite useful.
Observing their short argument, he continued to watch in silence as Jack left them.
While Jack’s initial reaction had not been the one ‘desired’, it appeared as though his main goal was fulfilled – at least in concern to Harley. Jack wasn’t going to further his pursuit of convincing Harley against him. Though, that did not mean that Jack wouldn’t spout his suspicions and theories to the others.
At Harley’s reassurance, he gave a small shrug.
“I’m not sure whether such a thing will ever come to pass. It seems he already made up his mind about me…”
Trailing off as a woman’s scream tore through the air, he recognized the expression on Harley’s face.
She was conflicted. Most likely wondering whether it would be wise to explore the noise.
It seemed the scream had originated from the direction that Futa had gone to.
It was almost certain that that boy was the cause.
In passing, he wondered what the boy was doing.
He had speculations.
….Such a fear filled sound.
Glancing down the hallway, towards the scream, he acknowledged the opportunity such a sound presented.
It was an opportunity to satiate his curiosity if he so chose.
Turning his gaze back to Harley, he suggested they investigate, “Perhaps we could put an end to further pointless suffering. Further death.”
“Though, such a thing may only serve to put our own lives at risk.” 
Kaya felt a glow spread through her chest when Harkot chuckled and responded to her question. Suddenly she could imagine a future in which not everything was hopeless and bleak. She squeezed his hand and leant into him. “Lead me to the exit then.” 
As soon as she said that, a sickening scream tore through the air. Kaya stilled completely and hold on tight to Harkot. “Harkot,” she said, her voice nervous now. “I don’t want to investigate any more. Get me out of here. Now.”
Johnny came back to conciousness with the sound of muffled screams in his ears. He opened his eyes, feeling a stinging pain on the side of his head. As soon as his eyes focused, they widened in sheer terror. He wanted to scream, but all he could get out was something muffled and dull, much like the ones he was hearing. Soon he realised he was gagged.
He wanted to close his eyes, but he couldn’t. In front of him Futa was slowly sawing off one of Tim’s fingers. Tim was gagged, like himself, and what should be blood curdling screams were almost inaudible. Tim looked as if he was about to pass out, white as paper and tears streaming down his face. Johnny was sure the same thing that had made him keep his eyes open, was keeping Tim awake. While sawing the finger off, for no apparent reason, Futa was laughing hysterically. The sound of his laughter was so filled with pure evil and menace, you could never close your eyes while hearing it.
The finger came off and Futa finally stopped laughing, making Tim pass out immediately. Futa turned towards him, making Johnny screw his eyes shut out of fear of what would come. Instead, he heard a door fall shut. He opened his eyes and saw that he and Tim had been left alone. 
Harley snapped out of her conflicted thoughts as Johan spoke. “I guess it isn’t much of a choice when you put it that way,” she said, her voice resigned. “We’ve already risked our lives enough here; I guess one more time won’t hurt.” 
And with that, she began to walk in the direction of the screaming, her eyes focused on the corridors ahead, but her mind whirling, conjuring up the worst possible situations they might land themselves in. 
Up two staircases, they found themselves on what appeared to be the top floor of the school, the walls and roof of which were rotting away, leaving a number of holes almost as big as the glassless windows. 
"There," she whispered, listening closely to the sounds coming from behind a boarded up door to their right. 
"Better crazy than someone who would join those cannibals, sweetheart," Futa said as he cleaned Jess’s face. He ignored her protests and demands not to be touched, and finished by making a long, deliberate scratch across the front of her neck. 
"There you go," he said with a smile. "Now you look almost presentable." 
He was about to go on speaking, when he heard the small, cracking sound of someone stepping on a piece of fallen slate outside the door. Quickly, he grabbed the first blunt object he could reach, which was Dorian’s head. He moved the boards aside, and quickly swung the head at the first intruder, colliding with their own head, with a satisfying crack. 
Harley crumpled to the floor, unconscious before she even knew what had hit her. 
"Oh…hey," Futa chimed as he looked up at Johan, the head still swinging by its hair. Something about Johan made him certain he wouldn’t interrupt. Still, he would have to punish Jess for attracting company. "Would you like to come inside? We’re about to play a game."  
Harkot nodded as Kaya asked him to get her out if there. The scream had shaken him as well, his face had gone pure white and he could feel a nervous sweat on his brow. As they began to walk out Harkot could swear he heard someone singing in a sad voice, sounding almost like they were crying. Not stopping but for a moment to listen to the sad singing he lead Kaya out of the school.
Lola smiled, her face was still very red. She sighed softly at his question, “I don’t really know how I like it up here yet… I… Well I had a daughter back down there… But… She died..” She whispered the last bit of her explanation looking at the floor as they walked.
“Her and my mother got the flue… I tried to get medicine… But I couldn’t afford it. So I stole it. I made it home. And the fucking neighbor saw me giving it to my mother.” She shook her head and then whispered angrily, “fucking bitch!” She sighed and smiled up at Oliver. “What about you?…” She asked softly.
Jess gasped as he scratched her neck. Tears still rolling off her face she tried to think of something better. Without noticing it she began to sing a lullaby her mother had once sang to her when she was scared. She closed her eyes tight and sang, blocking out what was happening around her. 
Following behind Harley, Johan let her lead.
Up stairs, down another corridor, the pathetic noises of human suffering grew louder with each step.
It seems they were headed in the correct direction.
Coming upon a boarded up door, it seemed they were at the right place.
He considered it for a moment.
Through that door, he expected to come upon that boy, Futa, once again.
Sure enough, he recognized the boy as he moved the boards aside and delivered a successful strike to his companion’s head.
Without so much as a blink, he watched calmly as Harley was forced into the realm of unconsciousness.
It seemed the boy was quite resourceful; using a severed head as a blunt force weapon.
Her body now on the floor, he glanced over at the boy.
Well, it seemed Harley wouldn’t pose an issue in her current state.
“Very well.”
Stepping through the door and over Harley’s body, entering the room, he made a cursory observation.
The fear emanating within this room was thick.
Immediately, he recognized one of Futa’s captives – that boy that he had met on two previous occasions, the one Futa seemed so possessive over.
Reflexively scanning the room, his eyes came upon the source of the screams; a woman, covered in scratches, who was now crying and singing.
It was curious how different humans react to such treatment.
To pain.
To impending death.
The boy was clearly enjoying the process.
It certainly came as no surprise to him that Futa was the torture type.
While the fear derived from such things as torture was appealing in it’s own right, it was something which required quite a bit of time.
It seemed a waste.
The time spent to carry out such elaborate whims could be time better spent.
It could be time allotted to ending more lives.
Turning his gaze back to Futa, he considered sharing his wisdom, his logic, though he knew nearly all children were not the most logic driven creatures.
Though, human kind was not the most logic driven mass in general.
“A game? How long do you plan on prolonging this ordeal?”
Oliver listened in silence as Lola answered his questions, told another piece of her story.
She had a child….
Saddened by her words, he was unsure whether he should give her a consoling hug, or merely offer words.
Would it be awkward if he hugged her?
Putting his arm around her, drawing her slightly closer and gently squeezing her shoulder, he spoke in a sad voice, “I’m sorry…That must have been heartbreaking…devastating…I can’t imagine how terrible losing a child would feel.”
“That horrid woman…You certainly didn’t deserve this exile….the government…A bunch of corrupt assholes…”
Stopping himself, he knew now was not the time to rant about his dislike of the people in power.
He shook his head.
“Your daughter dieing…being treated like a criminal…I am sorry.”
Lapsing into silence for a moment, “Just by looking at you, I would have never known you went through such hardships…such grief……You must be very strong.”
At her counter question, he had to think for a moment.
“Me? Well…I have conflicting feelings about being up here….but it doesn’t really matter, I guess, since we’ll never be able to go back….”
Mumbling slightly, “…I do deserve to be up here…..”
Talking more clearly, he looked at Lola, “And whether I miss my previous life down there…..hmm….”
If someone had asked him that before he became aware of his…other side…he would have been emphatic, that yes, indeed, he did miss it. At least to an extent. But now…..
“Back underground, I had a pretty normal life. Went to work, to bars, tried to find a nice person,” He laughed a bit, “Trying to find the person for me.”
He sighed slightly, thinking about Lola’s family, “I didn’t see my family often. Parents are busy with their own life, my brother…..haven’t seen him since……”, he shrugged slightly, “Who knows what happened to him…”
His voice trailed off for a moment, eyes wandering to the floor before he suddenly looked back up, “So yeah!..My life was ok, normal, though…..sometimes…..blackouts….I guess…..”
Stomach churning as he remembered, his voice grew quiet, “…I guess it wasn’t red paint……”
It was unnerving how quiet that voice was being….
Trying to be more cheerful, he veered off, grabbing a cloth that had been covering one of the cots in a nearby cell, “Found one!”
Rejoining Lola, he examined it more closely, “Though…it is quite dirty.”
He began shaking the cloth out, trying to get all the dust and dirt off it. 
"It depends on them how long it takes," Futa said cheerfully as he put down Dorian’s head, dragged Harley’s unconscious body into the room and, grabbing more ropes, tied her up by the cabinet. 
Then he turned to Johan. “You wouldn’t mind, would you?” he asked, approaching him with the last rope, and tying his arm to the desk. “If she wakes up she might not think it’s fair that you get to watch in comfort and she doesn’t.” He made sure to scratch Johan’s cheek as he spoke, drawing enough blood to kill Harley’s curiosity if she raised any. 
“I don’t think it will take too long,” he went on, bringing the bowl of water over to Gem, who seemed to have escaped into his own little world once more. “I plan on killing the girl when she no longer interests me, and it’s obviously up to her how long that takes.” He sat down beside Gem, who instinctively tried to cower away, even in his present oblivious state. 
“As for this one,” Futa said softly, running his hand through Gem’s golden hair. “I don’t really want him to die, but I’m beginning to accept it might happen if he continues to disobey me. I think a little shock might jog his memory of who I am. So I came up with a game that serves two purposes and is fun for both of them!” He tapped the bowl of water with his free hand. 
“Drowning serves for both shocking and killing.” 
At that, Gem’s mind sprung awake once more, and he stared into the bowl of water in terror. “No, don’t!” he breathed, attempting to struggle away. “Don’t you dare!” 
Futa’s grip on Gem’s hair only tightened as he looked over at Jess in annoyance. “Shut up already!” he snapped at her, launching Dorian’s head in her direction, and missing her by an inch. “All you do is make noise. I should just cut out your tongue and be done with it! Stupid girl. I’m trying to give you important instructions, so shut up and listen!” 
Lola smiled an giggle a little at Oliver’s excitement at finding, what looked like a blanket. As he began to shake it out dust filled the air and Lola began to cough. She smiled at the look on his face. “I know how we can clean it.” She said softly.
Jess quickly stopped singing and screwed her eyes shut as a head landed on her chest. She let out a soft yelp but quickly but her lips to stay quiet. 
"That’s better," Futa said bitterly as Jess stopped singing. "Honestly, did you want to attract the attention of everyone in this damn building?” 
He closed his eyes impatiently, then pulled Gem’s head closer to the bowl of water, his irritation rising again as Gem fought desperately against him. “Now,” he said seriously. “We’re going to play truth or dare. The girl will go first. And you will play.” He added the last sentence with a deliberate glare at Jess, ignoring her discomfort at having an eyeless, severed head on her chest. “I am going to hold his head underwater until you complete the task given to you; if you say truth, the task will be longer, but if you say dare, you will have to inflict serious pain upon yourself. When you have completed the task, I will hold your head underwater, until he completes his task.” 
"You can’t make us-" Gem began to protest, but Futa seemed to have grown bored with his fighting, and plunged his head into the bowl. 
Gem began to struggle instantly, aware that it was a waste of oxygen…But did it really matter? He and Jess hated each other. She wouldn’t cause herself harm to save him. 
"Of course you don’t have to play," Futa continued, narrowing his eyes at Jess. "But if he dies, so does your beloved cannibal…Of course I’m giving him no motivation to save you. So I guess you have to ask yourself. Do you care more about the nine fingered idiot downstairs, or yourself? Truth, or dare?" 
When Jess said truth, Futa glared at her, but composed himself to ask the question. “Describe, in detail your most traumatic experience.”  
Jess stared at Futa her eyes wide, and as soon as Gems head went under water her heart began to race. When Futa told her to describe her most traumatic experience she felt like her breath had been rip out of her lunges. Quickly she took a deep breath and began. 
“I was attacked! The man force me to… Take him…. He hurt me! Now I have nightmares about it every night, I still see his face. I still hear him calling me a slut as he walked away, leaving me in the dirt for dead.” She looked at Futa her eyes were re from crying, “there you have it! Now let him go!” 
Johan put up no protest as the boy tied him, he merely observed.
Briefly regarding the rope that tethered him to the desk, a flicker of memory from his stay at that institution rose to the surface.
Though such things did not bother him.
As always, he failed to ‘feel’ anything.
He didn’t care.
The sensitive skin on his face felt as blood from the cut trickled down his cheek, though he showed no semblance of a reaction.
He simply watched as Futa went over to his two captives, listened as he spoke.
This boy certainly had a plan, however foolish and misguided it may be.
He decided to remain silent.
To say nothing and simply watch.
To simply listen.
Hearing Lola coughing, Oliver stopped shaking the cloth.
"Sorry about that."
Looking down at the cloth again, it appeared to have retained most of it’s dirt, “It doesn’t seem that helped much anyway…”
Smiling slightly, Lola’s suggestion was tempting, though…
He didn’t want to seem more irresponsible than he already was…
Besides, they had just met.
Also…What if someone else caught them?
….Who knows what was lurking around this place.
Directing his smile at her as they continued down the hall, “Tempting…and I know we almost did it a bit ago, but….” He laughed, slightly embarrassed, “I don’t usually do that type of thing. I’m more the ‘get to know you first’ kind of guy.”
He wondered in passing whether that sounded ridiculous….
Glancing into the cells they passed, he was slightly surprised that they hadn’t come across any more blankets.
Going into one of the cells, he looked out of the barred window, “You know, one thing could be said of this experience…Seeing the sun, seeing the stars…So beautiful. Such a magnificent thing, the sky.”
He turned back to Lola, “Definitely beats staring at concrete.” 
Futa raised his eyebrows in interest as Jess spoke. That was something he could use as a weapon, if he chose to harm her psychologically next. 
"I’m not sure that was enough…" he began, but as he spoke he noticed Gem’s movements had changed. The bubbles had stopped, and his hands were curled into unnatural positions. He hastily pulled him up, and released him, letting him fall onto the bed. 
Gem lay on his side, choking up the water clogging his airway, both relieved and confused. That had to have been over a minute…but he had expected longer. He had expected not to be released at all. He turned his blurred gaze towards Jess, whom Futa was now carrying the bowl over to. Did she actually play along? Maybe she wasn’t so bad, after all. Or maybe she had just been trying to help Tim…Either way, she had just saved his life, and he had to return the favour. 
His coughing slowly faded into heavy, ragged breaths, and he glared through a curtain of hair at what he could see of Futa. 
"Now, it’s your turn," Futa said cheerfully, grabbing Jess’s hair, and roughly shoving her head into the bowl. He looked over at Gem curiously. "Remember anything, yet?" he asked, as though intending to start a conversation. "You must remember something-" 
"Dare!" Gem interrupted him angrily, watching the hand with which Futa held Jess. It was shaking with the effort of keeping her under. Futa just wanted to waste time. "I choose dare! It’s your game you psycho, so play it!" 
Futa’s cheerful expression vanished, and he gave Gem an irritated look. “Impatient,” he muttered. “Fine then. Remove a tooth.” 
Tied up, it was impossible to reach his mouth with his hand, and Gem suspected Futa counted on that. He pushed his tongue against one of his front teeth as hard as he could, until he heard a crack, and felt a sharp pain. Furiously, he spat the tooth out onto the bed. 
Futa released Jess, and began to pick up the bowl once again, but at that moment, the boards at the door began to shake, and he stopped. “Henry, what the hell?” he growled, obviously annoyed at being interrupted. 
The tall man bustled into the room, a questioning look on his face. “What was all that noise?” he demanded. He froze when he saw what was happening; the two on the beds struggling to breathe, the unconscious girl tied by the cabinet, and the strangely calm guy tied to the desk, a long scratch across his face. And Futa, standing there with the bowl of water, looking as though he wanted nothing more than to continue whatever sick game he was playing. Henry couldn’t stand that boy; not one bit. But then he noticed something else. There was something strangely familiar about the girl lying on the bed. He had vaguely noticed it before, but now it seemed much clearer. Where had he seen her? His memory seemed to be telling him it was from his time underground. 
Lola laughed, this time louder at Oliver’s assumption. “No! I saw a stream last night while we were running trough the woods. We can wash it it the water and hang it to dry. The wind will dry it in no time!” She smiled and looked into one of the rooms and saw what looked like it had once been a tapestry. It was yellow and had what looked like an elephant with human arms on it. 
She smiled and when to grab it when something ran under her feet. She looked down and saw a white streak run to the corner of the room.
Jess gasped for air when she was let go and looked over at Gem, her face turning red when she saw the blood on his chin, he had picked dare… To save her…
She gave him a soft smile….
When the door burst open she looked up and what she saw made her heart stop. It was HIM…
Her hands turned to tight fists and as he looked at her Jess felt rage boiling up inside herself. As he stepped into the room and looked at her she quickly looked away and her eyes landed on Futa who was staring at her with a menacing smile on his face.
As the girl looked away from him it Henry like a brick wall and a cruel smile spread over his face.
“Well hello there doll face!” He boomed stepping over to her and running his hand down her cheek. “This is a very familiar position for us isn’t it?” He asked kneeling next to her.
Jess let out a soft whimper and cowered away from Henry trying with all her might to hold back tears. 

Becoming embarrassed as Lola denied his previous train of thought, Oliver tried to keep his composure, “…Oh.”
….that’s why you never assume anything…idiot…
His smile now slightly sheepish, “Well, that sounds like a good idea, if you can remember how to get to it. Though maybe we should gather a few more blankets before making the trip…”
Noticing Lola looking at something, he began to ask about it, “What is i-”
Cutting himself off upon noticing movement down the hall, he looked over.
Slightly paranoid and tense, he relaxed slightly when he saw it was only a woman.
She didn’t look to be in very good shape.
Distracted by this new person staggering, almost lurching, down the hall, he began to approach her.
Concern painted his facial expression and crept into his voice, “Are you alright?”
Ayva was having a difficult time keeping herself moving; her head was spinning, and every once in a while debilitating waves of pain would clutch her nerves.
Even though she had found herself nearly on the ground on several occasions, she was determined and stubborn in her pursuit for something…literally anything that could induce some sort of high.
Though her journey had been fruitless thus far.
It felt as though she was going in circles…
She had been busy looking into a cell when she heard a man’s voice.
Stopping abruptly, that voice sounded familiar….though….different. The tone was different..kinder, concerned….
Snapping her head over to the source of the voice, her eyes grew wide and a chill tingled down her spine.
It was that guy! From earlier….
The one who wanted her left behind to die.
Trying to suppress her fear, she backed away from him, hostile glare on her face, “Back off! Stay away from me, you psycho!”
Johan continued to observe in silence as the ‘game’ Futa had mentioned commenced.
Though, the game didn’t even make it to the third round when it was abruptly interrupted by a tall man Futa referred to as Henry.
Glancing over at the man, it appeared he had been the one that woman had spoke of.
He remained silent.
Futa looked from Henry to Jess curiously. “You two know each other?” he asked. Then he realized, and a wicked grin spread across his face. “Oh don’t tell me! It was him? He’s the one who attacked you?” The look on Jess’s face confirmed it, and Futa’s eyes filled with glee. “Oh this is just perfect. Henry, why don’t you join us? We’re playing truth or dare. You can have the privilege of holding her head in the bowl.” 
He paused again, and looked past Henry, out of the door. “And since you’re here, you can help me bring up the others…They can all watch and have their turn. And when we’re done, if she’s still alive somehow, you can have her-“ 
"You’re a sick bastard!" Gem shouted, his voice still hoarse. 
"Another outburst like that," Futa said calmly, without even looking at Gem. "And I’ll slit her throat right now." 
Gem fell silent, but glared at Futa as he put down the bowl on his bed, and made his way over to where Harley was tied, dragging her by the hair to Henry. 
"Carry that," Futa instructed. "We can just tell her she’s been asleep the whole time. It would complicate things if the recruits started disappearing." Then he turned to Johan, and untied him. "As long as you don’t try to stop us, you can stay and watch," he said with a smile. 
As Gem watched Futa, he realized for the first time that Johan was there. He had been so quiet. So he was in on this as well? 'I should have just let him be killed,' he thought bitterly. But no, maybe he could still use him. 
When Futa and Henry left the room, Gem immediately turned his attention to Johan. “You owe me,” he said, trying to keep his voice from shaking. He didn’t like the idea of being left vulnerable with Johan in the room, any more than he liked being left with Futa. This guy intentionally led people to their deaths, and he didn’t seem to care what happened, even to himself. There was nothing stopping him killing both him and Jess; it was doubtful whether any punishment Futa gave him would have any effect. 
"I stopped them finding out what you did. They would have killed you…They still could, if I decided to change my story. I admit, I kept you alive for my own selfish reasons, but that doesn’t change the fact that you owe me. Let us out of here, and I won’t say a thing. I promise…" His voice trailed off as his gaze fell upon the scratch on Johan’s face. "And I’ll repay you, as well. If it’s not all burned up, there’s a plant in the forest I used to use whenever my brother-" 
He stopped, and, with a sharp intake of breath, realized who Futa was. Of course, it was so obvious. The bloody words on the wall, the dolls…Even now, he realized that his brother’s hair had been black. But…he was dead… 
He tried to compose himself. This wasn’t the time to get distracted. Maybe he was free now, if he let Futa know that he remembered…If he apologized…But that didn’t help Jess. She would still be tortured and given to that vile creature. And besides, after everything Futa had put him through, he didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. 
"M-my brother…had sharp nails too. But that plant was the perfect medicine. The scratches were completely gone within two or three days. It would keep you safe, now we have no idea whether any mutants survived the fire, or where they are. If you go outside, they’ll be drawn to the smell of your blood, no matter how small the wound. That plant will get rid of the smell…Please…I’m…" He stopped, swallowing his pride. Jess had saved him, without knowing whether he would save her. He had to get her out of there alive…And, after all, if Futa was his brother, it meant this entire thing was…'My fault,' he thought with a pang of guilt. 'This is all my fault.' 
"Please, I’m begging you."  
Henry smiled at fear all over Jess’s face and was about to play with her hair when Futa spoke. At his words Henry’s evil smile grew even bigger and he turned and without a word picked up Harley and slung her over his shoulder. As he began to walk out her turned back and looked Jess over one more time then said in a sick voice, “Don’t worry doll face, I’ll be back soon.” With that he turned and took Harley to one of the rooms downstairs and then went to get Tim and Johnny. He picked up Tim, it was easy because he was still unconscious, and carried him up to the attic room. As he stepped inside he felt Tim begin to move and he quickly sat Tim in a chair and tied him down, then he went to he Johnny.
Jess kept her eyes shut as Henry entered the room again but when she heard foot steps she opened them slowly and saw that Futa hadn’t come back yet, and Henry had left. She heard someone mumbling, it was a new voice. She looked up and saw Tim picking his head up. His hand was covered in blood, so Futa really had cut off his finger. 
Kaya was still holding on tight to Harkot’s hand as he led her out of the building as fast as they could. As soon as they got out, Kaya could feel the sun on her back and she still trusted Harkot to bring her somewhere. They walked on and on, to get as far away as they could get. Suddenly Kaya stopped in her tracks, pulling Harkot to a halt too. She was sure she had heard something. As if someone or something was following them.
"Harkot. Please tell me you heard that too"
Johnny trashed when Henry dragged him up the stairs. He should’ve never tried to be so heroic. All he had wanted was to get Jess out and find out where these people were hiding. Now he didn’t even know where Jess was and he had just witnessed one of the most horrible things he had ever seen. 
At last Henry stopped walking, and dropped Johnny on the floor. Before Johnny could get away though, he felt a sharp pain on his hand and cried out. Henry had stepped on it to make sure Johnny couldn’t get away while he was moving the boards. Once they were moved, Henry dragged Johnny inside and tied him up. 
Johnny was horrified by the scene before him. Jess was in tears and looking terrified out of her mind, Tim was still half passed out, also tied up, Gem had blood on his face and there was a severed head somewhere in the room too. Then Johnny noticed Johan being in the room too, calm as ever. His strange calmness unnerved him.  
Johan remained silent as Futa untied his bonds, and the two of them exited the room.
Listened as Gem spoke to him.
He stayed still, observing as Henry came back carrying a semi-unconscious man, and subsequently secured him to a chair with rope, leaving shortly after.
Once Henry had arrived and departed for a third time - this time depositing another male, slightly younger than himself - he walked close to a dirt coated desk. Once there, he gently picked up the rust encrusted knife he had noticed earlier.
In no particular rush, he then turned and smoothly walked over to where Gem and Jess were.
Standing beside the boy, he looked down at him, into the eye that was free from the clutches of his hair.
It was curious, how much people’s ‘normal’ personality change once the threat of death is nigh.
The boy was clearly desperate, and he could see the glint of fear in his eyes.
It appeared Futa had shook his mental foundation.
Perhaps the boy was remembering, realizing something?
No matter.
Voice ever calm, gentle, yet cold, he responded to the boy’s proposal, “I ‘owe you’. Perhaps some would view it in that light. Yet, I never asked for your assistance, nor was any needed. I could see that that man had wanted to kill me. Intended to end my life. And he vary well may have.”
“I did see. And I did not care. Nor do I care about such a thing now.”
“Your offer is not enticing. Given due time it will heal. Danger and ‘safety’ are not factors I consider. They hold no importance.”
He paused for a brief moment.
“It is curious, how humans place such an exorbitant measure of importance on life. It is simply an everyday happening, no more significant than the division of a protozoan organism. Yet, very few seem to realize this truth. They go on believing that their life is somehow special. That they matter and are of worth. That there must be some purpose. It appears such is their nature.”
He brought the knife to Gem’s throat, his blue eyes burning into Gem’s one eye.
“Life has no meaning. No worth. No ones, not yours, nor hers, nor his,” He gestured towards Jess and then Johnny, “Not Futa’s, nor my own life; none of these are special. Life is not inherently special, no amount of pining or wishing will make it so, nor is it something to covet. We are all but a speck, a flash in the vast time-line of the universe.”
“Many do not see this. They are blind.”
“Though it does not matter. Everyone will find themselves consumed by the imminent void.”
"Such is the nature of death.”
“Such is the nature of existence.”
As he spoke all this, his expression remained constant, his voice unchanging.
"There is no point, fighting for such an insignificant thing as life."
He began to press the blade into the boy’s skin when…..he heard the distinct noise of footfalls and sloshing water.
They must be returning.
It was highly likely that Futa would react poorly if he remained in his current position. Especially if he carried what he intended. 
While he certainly didn’t care about the consequences pertaining to his life and well being, he did realize that it would be more productive if he ceased and returned to his previous state beside the desk.
More lives could be ended if he delayed this.
Retracting the knife, slipping it into one of his suit coat pockets, he swiftly, smoothly, returned to his position by the desk.
A short moment later, Futa and Henry came back into the room, carrying large buckets of water. 
Johan was taking a long time to answer, and Gem began to grow nervous. By the time Henry had brought in both Tim and Johnny, he became certain that Johan would not help him. He wasn’t surprised, though. 
He watched Johan pick something up from the desk, and his blood ran cold when he saw what it was. Johan really didn’t care about getting out of there alive; he was just going to kill them all while they were vulnerable. And it didn’t surprise Gem at all that he was first. 
Staring up into Johan’s cold eyes, it was impossible to hide his fear. He didn’t want to die. But nothing could stop this man. As Johan began to speak, that became clear. He wasn’t grateful, he wouldn’t have cared if no one came to his aid, or if Jack had killed him. None of that mattered to him at all. 
Gem tried to speak, to insist that Johan was better off alive, but all that escaped him was a small gasp. 'This man…' he thought, his eye wide with terror. 'I knew there was something dangerous about him…I should have let him be killed…If I had…” 
"I’m not so arrogant to believe that," he whispered, his voice barely audible. He didn’t believe his life was any more special than anyone else’s. He knew there wasn’t always a way out. He accepted that there was nothing truly significant…Yet he didn’t want to die. Why did he care so much about his life? 
A small sound of protest escaped him as he felt the cold, rusty blade against his throat, and he began to hyperventilate. But as he continued to stare into Johan’s eyes, and listen to his words, he felt himself…agreeing with him. It was true. He wasn’t special; none of them were. Why did he demand to be saved? They were all going to die…If they escaped the mutants would get them, if the mutants didn’t get them, they would starve, if they managed to find food, their injuries would become infected…Why delay the inevitable? He was tired of fighting. 
The light and determination vanished from his eye as Johan began to press the blade into his skin. He had had enough. This never would have happened if he hadn’t betrayed Futa in the first place. His fast, dizzying breaths slowed and calmed as he began to accept his fate. 
But it never came. 
A moment later, Johan had pulled the knife away, and Futa and Henry had returned to the room once more, Futa’s eyes bright with excitement as he pushed the bowl of water aside, letting it fall to the floor and shatter. He put down his bucket in front of Gem, then untied his arms, leaving his feet tied to the bed. Then he moved over to Jess to untie her arms as well. Now Henry was here, he didn’t have to worry about them struggling too much, and now they could play properly. 
"Isn’t this fun?" he said excitedly. "Round three will be even better!" He glanced over at Johnny and Tim, and his smile brightened as he skipped over to them. He took Johnny’s chin roughly in his hands, and pointed to the bucket of water Henry had put in front of Jess. "You should watch carefully, because I’m not going to give the instructions again when it’s your turn." He let go and stood in front of Tim, who was slowly regaining his consciousness. Grabbing his injured hand, he began to squeeze the open wound where his ring finger had been, and looked back at Jess with an evil smile.
The pain was enough to wake Tim, and he began to scream. Resisting the urge to throw up, he tried to concentrate on what was in front of him. There were a lot of people in the room, but he couldn’t make out any of them; not even Jess. 
"Do you want me to cut off another?" Futa asked Jess. "No?…Oh I’m sorry you want to continue playing, don’t you? Ok, I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Don’t worry." 
He made his way back over to Gem, and grabbed him by the hair, pushing his head into the bucket. “Truth or dare.” 
This time, Gem didn’t bother to take a deep breath, or struggle. His legs kicked involuntarily, but his mind was still clouded by Johan’s words. He no longer cared. 
When Jess chose dare, Futa’s eyes sparked with glee once more. “Pull off three of your fingernails.” 
Mama was beginning to feel hungry, but she hadn’t exactly expected Tim and Johnny to find something quickly. Still…it had been hours, and they still weren’t back. 
A sound by the door of the nursery caught her attention, and she looked up to see Rowan standing there, holding a blanket in one hand, which was wrapped around something that smelled sweet. In his other hand, he was pulling a strange barrel made from a carved out tree trunk, which she recognized instantly as a container of alcohol. 
"Those morons managed to find food, then?" she asked as she stood up, gently placing the baby she had been cradling back onto the mattress. "Good." 
"Excuse me?" Rowan asked, his brow furrowing in confusion. "I found these in a tree outside." He let go of the barrel and opened the blanket to reveal at least ten apples. "And this was hidden in one of the rooms." He gestured towards the barrel. 
Mama frowned at the barrel for a moment in confusion. That was definitely one of theirs. But she hadn’t thought anyone from camp had come this far before. She did recall a number of barrels going missing about a month earlier, and it seemed that Rowan had discovered one of them. 
"You’re useful, after all," she said as she took an apple and began to cut it up for the older children. "But where did those idiots get to?"  
Standing beside the desk, straight posture, hands crossed behind his back, Johan watched Futa’s interaction with the captives in silence for a moment longer.
He kept his gaze level, fixed on Futa.
The boy was busy, however, he was certain he would be able to hear.
Speaking ever calmly.
“You enjoy this, yes, such a thing is evident. Yet.”
He paused, glancing over at the door.
“Would it pain you, infuriate you, if the others… Intruded?”
“A happening like that, would not be an unusual occurrence, considering.”
He regarded Henry briefly.
"They would not take too kindly, seeing this scene of yours, would they?"
“Your game would be ruined. The only souvenirs you would possess from this endeavour would consist of the ring finger, knowledge of that woman’s experience, and perhaps a few fingernails.”
“Rather than 3, perhaps 4, corpses, you would have but dreams.”
He was well aware that the boy may…No, most likely will, turn angry.
Though, perhaps Futa would utilize that anger. Perhaps, he would be spurred into ending their lives.
Perhaps that would happen.
He knew the chances of such a thing happening was slim.
Oliver stared at Ayva, stunned. Confusion seeping in.
While she had already taken a step away from him, her outburst had prompted him to follow suit.
He didn’t recognize this woman…
So why, then, was she reacting so poorly to seeing him?
Do you really have to think about it? Hah. Wow.
Making sure he kept his distance from her – as he didn’t want to cause her any further discomfort – his voice came out sad, resigned, “I’m sorry for whatever I may have done to you…..I hope it wasn’t too…..horrible….”
Eyes narrowed at Oliver, Ayva kept close to the wall furthest away from him.
She didn’t buy it.
This must be some sort of bullshit act.
“Shove your apology, and just-….Just back off!”
Cautiously, making sure to keep an eye on him, she walked passed him.
Continuing her walk-stagger motion down the hall, she continued to destroy the cells.
Trying to find something…
Disoriented, she didn’t even realize that she was back where she had started….Until….
Looking into a room, she saw a woman - Mama – and….Rowan….
Eyes wide – what’s going on? Why are they here?! - she began to turn on her heel. 
Harkot pulled Kaya close to his side and looked around quickly. “I heard…” He whispered looking around quickly.
Jess looked around her for something to do what Futa had told her to but there was nothing. And then the reality hit her, and she slowly brought her hand to her mouth. Biting into one of her nails she quickly ripped her hand away and as soon as the nails came lose from her fingers she let out a scream.
But she wasn’t done, shaking and crying she put another nail in between her teeth and did the same thing. 
She cried out and looked at the three bloody fingernails on the ground then up at Futa as he let Gem’s head go. 
As Futa watched Jess use her own teeth to tear off her nails, he became aware that Johan was talking, and he frowned, trying not to get distracted from the show in front of him. 
"They know not to interrupt me," he said through gritted teeth, his grip on Gem’s hair tightening unwittingly. 
Futa was too distracted to notice however, as Johan continued to get to him. “It doesn’t matter what they think!” he snapped. “They know that if they ruined an important game like this, they would be the ones playing next.” 
Just as the third fingernail was torn from Jess’s hand, Futa rounded on Johan, pulling Gem’s head from the bucket as he moved, and the anger and confusion Johan had filled him with before returned in full force. “Each and every souvenir is valuable!” he hissed. “And there will be three corpses either way. It’s not up to them to try to stop me! You’re talking as though they have a say in what I do!” 
He let Gem fall back onto the bed. “They don’t have a say!” he went on, his suspicious glare turning on Henry for a moment. He would have launched himself at Johan; forced him to part-take in the game, were it not for Gem. 
Despite Gem’s present, apathetic state, his body continued to fight, and the water he had swallowed forced its way back up. As he rolled onto his side to be sick, the anger faded from Futa’s expression, replaced by a flicker of concern; guilt almost. 
Instead of ranting further at Johan, he rounded on Jess. “You took too long, you stupid girl!” His heart pounding with worry, his hands shaking as he pulled out his sewing box, he approached Jess. “You did it on purpose…You’re one of the ones he was warning me about, aren’t you? You want to ruin my game? Don’t you? Why are you crying? Don’t you want to play any more?” 
He withdrew a needle, and pushed it into the bleeding end of Jess’s finger. “If you don’t stop crying, I’m going to kill that cannibal!” He gestured towards Tim. 
Rowan shrugged, not entirely sure to whom Mama was referring. But he felt it was best not to anger her. 
But, he barely had a chance to, for at that moment, out of the corner of his eye he saw Ayva. “Hey…What’s wrong?” he asked, his voice full of worry as she began to turn away. 
There was something wrong with the way she was walking. It was almost as though she had been injured, but she didn’t appear to have any wounds. Dropping the apples, he reached out to stop her, briefly remembering their last encounter. But, it didn’t matter if she yelled at him this time. She needed help, and he intended to give it. 
Mama frowned at Ayva’s movements, unable to see a visible cause. Perhaps it was smoke inhalation? Or, maybe the situation was getting to her. Either way, she couldn’t be allowed to wander off in her condition…Rowan appeared to have it covered for now, and it seemed the last thing Ayva needed was to be crowded. So Mama stayed back, ready to intervene if her help was needed.  
As Futa began to lose his composure, his mind seemingly whirling, Johan was silent.
He knew further conversation on his part was unnecessary.
The boy’s mind would take care of the rest.
It was a natural process of human minds; to take in information, to make assumptions.
To jump to conclusions.
Observing the scene, he remained still, his static, apathetic gaze meeting Futa’s furious eyes as the boy directed his temper towards him.
It seemed that the boy’s mind was racing, jumbled, confused.
This was confirmed when Futa turned on Jess.
Accusing her.
Humans. Creatures plagued with irrational, illogical thoughts.
Such a reaction. That was part of the preferred outcome.
Oliver was still for a moment, reflective.
He felt the doubt, worry, self-loathing…slowly creeping back.
Trying to grip him.
To put him in a vice of hopelessness.
In an attempt to distract himself, he went back to looking for cloth in the nearby cells.
Though, as he searched, he realized that Lola had been oddly quiet all this time.
A hue of slight worry tinged his mind.
Glancing back, over to her, he noticed that she was still in that same cell.
Slightly perplexed, he scooped up a sheet that he found and approached her.
Concerned, “Is everything alright?”
From where he was, it seemed like she was looking at something…
Ayva stopped.
Frozen mid-step by the sound of Rowan’s voice.
Her unsteady, shaking hands clenched, forming fists.
Turning back, mouth opening to yell, to express her irritance and frustration…..
Seeing him…..she recalled how sad she had been, how upset with herself, after she had yelled at him the first time….she couldn’t do that again…not to him…her savior…
….She felt tired.
Exhausted. In pain.
She felt herself slump into Rowan, her forehead resting against him.
She was too tired to yell…
Tears escaping, dampening his shirt, her shaky, desperate voice was ragged, “I-…I feel like I’m going to die…”
“I wish I could…make it stop……”
Her voice dropped in volume, now quiet, “…but I couldn’t find anything…in this crap-hole..” 
Lola looked at Oliver and then smiled at the turned around. She was holding a little white puff ball, it was a pup. One that Lola hadn’t seen before now.
Jess tried to stop crying but as the needle was pushed into her already bleeding nail bed she let out another horse cry. She bit down hard on her bottom lip, so hard that she broke the skin but she was able to keep quiet. Except a slight whimpering that she couldn’t control. 
She looked up at Futa and before she could stop herself she blurted out; “I have a dare for you!”
Her heart stopped as the room fell silent and everyone turned to look at her. 
Irritated by the sounds Jess continued to make, even as she attempted to stifle them, Futa pulled out another needle. Before he could push it into the second injured finger, however, her outburst interrupted him. Caught off guard, he dropped the needle on the floor. 
The room was so silent, that the soft sound of the needle meeting the rotten wooden boards, seemed magnified. Futa stared at Jess with wide, bewildered eyes. 
"You dare me?" he repeated, his voice no more than a whisper. "You…dare me?" If he wasn’t already so wound up by Johan’s words, he would have laughed, but as it was, he was angered further by Jess’s nerve. He grabbed her roughly by the hair, and pushed her head into the bucket, holding it there for at least ten seconds before turning to look back at Gem. 
But he was in no condition to continue playing. It would be no fun. For a moment, he considered just killing Jess there and then; it was what he intended to do, after all. But, as he caught Johan out of the corner of his eye, he felt the sudden need to prove that he didn’t have to rush things. 
He let Jess go, and glared into her eyes. “Fine,” he said quietly. “You have my attention. But if you’re trying to waste my time, you know what will happen.” 
As Tim listened to the muffled voices surrounding him, he recognized one of them vaguely. It took him almost a minute to realize that it was Jess. His eyes, which had been fluttering, trying to stay open, widened, and he looked straight at Jess and Futa. “Jess…” he muttered. 
Shocked, confused, and concerned, Rowan slowly wrapped his arms around Ayva. “You’re ok,” he assured her gently. “You’re not going to die. Not while we’re here…What were you looking for?” 
Mama picked up one of the apples, and approached the two of them, handing it wordlessly to Rowan. 
Rowan smiled gratefully, and pushed the apple into Ayva’s hand. “I got these for you. But when I came back, you weren’t there…Now we have to share them but there’s enough to go around. It will make you feel better…If you’re hungry.” 

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Jess held back all her emotions and looked straight into Futa’s eyes after she was released from the water. Then brought up her bloody hand and pointed to Johnny. “Him… I dare you to let him go…” Futa looked at her like she was crazy, but before he could do anything she said; “And then you can keep the rest of us… Forever.” She saw his eyes brighten for a moment.
After a moment she heard Tim’s voice and looked at him her eyes full of fear. 
Futa thought for a moment, then laughed. “You talk like I didn’t intend to keep you until you die,” he said quietly. “Did you think I would let you go when you decided you had had enough? Are you really that arrogant?” 
He glanced over at Johnny, and frowned thoughtfully. “But…” he continued slowly. “I guess he has yet to become a cannibal. He’s innocent, isn’t he? I could get scolded if I break him too much…” He drifted off, and an idea flickered in his mind. If Johnny escaped, he would no doubt run to the other cannibals, and bring them back to the school. It would be easy to ambush them…And get them all. With any look, even Johnny would be back here before long. He wasn’t losing anything. All he could do was gain. 
"Fine," he said with a small smile. "Henry. Let him go. He’s free to do whatever he wants." He turned his gleeful eyes back towards Jess, and lowered his voice. "But I assure you, you’re going to regret this." His smile faded as he noticed she was looking at Tim, and he stepped between them. "If I break you now, or him, I’m just breaking my own property," he reminded Jess, as he made his way over to Tim. 
"I don’t know who you are, but you won’t get away wit-" Tim started, but Futa cut him off, by grabbing his injured hand, and easily snapping the finger next to his bleeding stump. 
Tim cried out in pain, and tried to get a glimpse of Jess. “Why didn’t…you make him let you go?” he demanded, his voice strained. “You’re not a cannibal, either!” 
Oliver’s concern dissipated as Lola turned around, her soothing smile serving to calm his thoughts slightly.
Being called a lying psycho was no fun…..though that woman was half-right….
He re-focused his attention.
Looking at the furry thing in her arms, a warm smile sprang to his face.
Leaning over slightly, he reached to pet the pup, “What a cute little guy! I wonder where its family is…”
Glancing around the cell briefly, the tapestry caught his eye.
Examining the tapestry a bit more, he wondered what the creative mind behind it was thinking when they made the piece.
An elephant with multiple human arms and limbs…holding some stuff….Looks like it’s dancing.
It struck him as an almost religious thing…
Turning back to Lola, “Have any idea what that’s about? Looks like it may mean something…”
As Rowan’s arms encompassed her, Ayva’s mental state began to feel at ease.
The tears began to slow, her mind becoming slightly more stable.
Though, while her mental state improved, her body was still in turmoil.
Listening to him talk, his voice, she refused to look up.
She was conflicted…
While she didn’t want to lie to him, she also did not want to tell him…she didn’t want him to think less of her.
Talking into his shirt, her voice echoed the regret she felt, “I’m sorry….for earlier. I shouldn’t have shouted at you like that.”
“I’m surprised…I thought you’d be angry with me…”
Feeling the firm, smooth shape of the apple in her hand, she glanced over at the fruit.
At the sight of it her stomach churned unhappily for a moment.
Eyes closed, she tilted her head back. Taking a deep breath.
Opening her eyes to look at Rowan, a small laugh escaped her mouth, “That’s sweet of you, but…if I eat anything, I think I’d be sick.”
Smiling at him, slightly pained, “I don’t think you’d like vomit all over your shirt, would you?” 
Lola looked at the tapestry and nodded, “My mother used to tell me stories about how the people that lived above ground before everything went to hell. She said that people believed in all kinds if different gods. Unseen beings that apparently had the power to control… Well everything.” She looked up at Oliver and smiled softly feeling her blood run hot as he looked at her. Her face became hot, she was blushing. She wanted him. 
Quickly she shook away the animalistic thoughts that plagued her mind and continued. 
“They fought amongst th-them selves over which god was the true god… M-many people died…” She sighed as she found herself stuttering. Slowly she bent to the floor and let the pup go.
Jess gasped when Tim’s finger was broken, “STOP IT!” She yelled. 
She looked up just as Henry shut the door to take Johnny out into the woods and let him go. Quickly she started moving and leaned up and untied her legs. She quickly got the her feet, and before Futa could do anything she had shoved him toward the back of the room. The quickly untied Tim and when he didn’t move she have him a hard slap to get him awake, it worked and he jumped up and looked at her, “you owe me big time if we make it out of here!” She whispered as she went over and began to do the same for Gem. She untied him and shook him then huffing loudly gave him a good slap on the cheek as well. As she turned toward the door she found the other man, the quiet one, had blocked their way out. “Get out of the way!” She demanded. 
Rowan laughed and put his hands on Ayva’s shoulders, taking a step back to look her in the eye. “You’re not the first woman to yell at me,” he said reassuringly. Although she was one of the first he genuinely cared about. 
He couldn’t help noticing her reaction to the apple, and a flicker of concern crossed his eyes for a moment. But he forced a smile, taking the apple back. “Well…I doubt vomit could make me look worse. I’m already covered in ash, and dirt and…I’m pretty sure some kind of oil from those vans yesterday…But I wouldn’t want you to be sick.” He glanced towards Mama, who was changing Sorren, apparently switched off from their conversation. 
"Do you want some fresh air?" he asked Ayva. He was still curious to know what she had been searching for, since it obviously wasn’t food. But he didn’t want to push her. 
Futa stumbled and fell to the floor, hitting his head on the frame of the bed. As the pain surged through his skull, he began to feel tears leaking from his eyes. 
Tim smiled weakly at Jess in response, and got to his feet, steadying himself as his head began to spin from the pain and blood loss. “What are you doing?” he asked, already half way to the door as Jess began to untie Gem. “We have to go…” But, even as he spoke, he noticed Johan standing by the exit, and braced himself for a fight. 
Gem was a little slower to move. He sat up on the bed, holding his cheek, and cast his blank, dead gaze first towards Futa, then towards Jess and Tim, who seemed to be confronting Johan by the door. 
Tim threw himself at Johan, knocking the knife from his hand, and made a run for the door, refusing to look back. The knife skidded across the floor, and landed by Futa, just as he began to recover. 
As the knife reached him, Futa’s hand slowly closed around the handle, and he got to his feet, tears still streaming from his eyes as he saw what was happening. “You LIAR!" he screamed at Jess, grabbing her by the hair and dragging her back towards the centre of the room. YOU SAID YOU WOULD STAY HERE FOREVER! You lied to me!” He threw her to the floor before she had time to defend herself, and began clawing at her face with one hand, the other holding the knife to her throat. “Do you hate me?” he whispered. “I did what you said! I kept my end of the deal! How could you lie to me? And now you’re trying to take him away from me!” He looked towards Gem. ”Don’t leave me!” he pleaded. “Don’t leave me again!” 
Gem’s hands shook as he brought them to his ears, desperate to block out the noise. His one working eye closed tightly. He didn’t want to deal with the guilt any more. The guilt of abandoning his brother, and causing all of this. The guilt of not being able to help Jess after she had just untied him. He could sense Johan watching the scene, and knew that when he stepped in, it would be over, for both Jess, and him. 
His response triggered Futa’s fury even more, and Futa pressed the knife against Jess’s skin. “You brought this on yourself!” he hissed. “You want to take him from me, so I’ll take something from you…I’ll take that voice you like using so much!” He raised the knife slightly, ready to carve into her throat, when something slammed into him, forcing him to roll off of Jess. Expecting to see Tim, he looked up, and his tear filled eyes widened in shock when he saw Gem leaning over Jess. 
"I’m sorry," Gem whispered as he looked at Jess’s face. The shove he had given Futa had caused the knife to cut a long line from the side of her mouth, across her right cheek. He still had no idea why he had moved at all. Johan’s words were still echoing through his mind as he helped Jess into a sitting position. 
Futa began to crawl back over to them, his eyes streaming with tears. “Don’t leave me,” he begged. He turned his attention sharply to Johan. “You! Get them! Kill them if you must!” 
Listening intently as Lola spoke, telling him what she knew of the tapestry, Oliver’s interest grew.
He found it nice, standing here.
Looking at Lola’s beautiful face, listening to her wonderful voice.
A smile crossed his face when Lola smiled, the growing rosey glow spreading across her face adding to her appeal. That is, if it were possible to add to her natural attractiveness.
In Oliver’s opinion, such a feat would be impossible.
“Wow. Who knew…The history behind it would be so rich…”
He briefly glanced over at the tapestry before returning to rest his eyes on Lola, “Maybe we should take it with us….”
Trailing off, concern jumped across his face as Lola continued speaking.
Why was she stuttering?
…maybe it was just nerves?
What if it was something more serious?!
He began to panic slightly, his concern deepening.
Maybe she was having a seizure?
…What if it was a brain tumour?!
Frowning slightly, worry written distinctly on his face, in his eyes and seeping into his voice, he put his hands gently on Lola’s shoulders, “Are you alright?! Do you have some sort of medical condition?”
Examining her face, her eyes, he tried to discern whether she was alright. 
Laughing a bit at Rowan’s comment, Ayva raised an eyebrow at him, “Oh? So I guess I shouldn’t feel too broken up about it eh?”
"Maybe I’ll yell at you more often then, if it doesn’t bother you." 
Her voice betrayed the joke.
Her small smile remaining in place, she laughed louder at his comment, “A little dirt never killed anyone….it makes you look..rugged.”
Upon him mentioning oil, “Huh, I thought you smelt a bit…odd.”
Wincing as a sharp pain radiated through her nerves, her smile disappearing momentarily, she tried to keep her composure.
To mask the pain.
Maybe…maybe some fresh air would be good…
Face pale, smile weak, she nodded, “Yeah…I think that would be a good idea..”
Breaking free from Rowan, she turned and, slowly, began to make her way over to the door.
Clenching her trembling hands into fists, she tried to ignore the pain.
Looking back at Rowan, she was glad to see that he had followed, “Hopefully it’s warm out.”
Johan had remained silent and still the entire time.
Simply watching as Jess overpowered Futa.
Stepping back, he kept his balance and composure upon being forced backward by Tim.
He spared a brief, disinterested glance at the knife as it made its way to the ground.
Though, noticing Tim’s movements, it was apparent that the man was going to try to escape.
A moment later, Tim made his move for the door.
Deliberately, swiftly, efficiently, and without betraying much effort, he moved his arm out, catching Tim’s throat in his hand.
Grip firm, slowly tightening, he forced Tim backward.
Keeping the man still, he observed the events as they occurred, his expression steady.
Futa taking possession of the knife.
Attacking that woman.
That boy foiling Futa’s attack.
Briefly glancing at Futa when he spoke, seemingly ordering him, he chose not to acknowledge the boy directly.
The air in the room was electrified with intermingled emotions.
Eyes shifting from person to person, voice eerily gentle, calm, he addressed everyone present.
“It seems everyone is in a state of disarray. Perhaps it would be more productive to calm yourselves.”
"To accept the inevitable.”
“Perhaps, putting an end to the ‘game’ is in order.”
Fixing his cold gaze on Futa, “Perhaps now you see? Are you satisfied with the length of time this ordeal has been prolonged?”
“This situation you find yourself in; such a thing could have been avoided simply.” 
Jess sat up slowly and looked around the room, her head spinning. She slowly reached her hand up slowly to her cheek, she touches her chin softly and then looked at her blood covered hand. “Wha…. What happened….” She said softly then looked up at Gem and slowly got to her feet. She looked back at Futa and scowled then quickly turned back toward the door and began to walk. She glared at Johan, and shoved him away from Tim and the door. “We are leaving!” She growled as she glanced around her.
Lola looked at Oliver and felt her breath catch in her chest. She nodded then whispered, “I’m fine… ” she smiled up at him gently placing her hand on his chest. She looked at her hand for a moment thinking through her next words then began still looking at her hand, “U-uhm… Can I ask you to do something?…” She looked up at him and continued softly, “K-kiss me…” She whispered stating up I to his eyes. 
"Well, I don’t enjoy being yelled at," Rowan said playfully as they turned to leave the room. 
"Rugged, huh?" he said thoughtfully, putting a hand to his chin. "I never thought of it that way…I’ve always avoided dirt until now…But perhaps I should try this ‘rugged’ look-…Hey! Are you saying I smell?" He pretended to look offended for a moment, before melodramatically moving his hand from his chin to his forehead. "I must be doomed…Maybe I should have thought to smuggle some soaps up here…" He drifted off as he opened his eyes and saw that Ayva seemed to be struggling again. 
"Are you ok?" he asked, his playful tone fading into concern. He tentatively put his hand on her back, watching her hands clench, and noticing the pained look in her eyes. "Take it easy, ok. There’s no rush…And if it’s cold you can have my shirt…if you don’t mind smelling like oil." 
Tim stood frozen as his airway was slowly restricted, his face gradually turning redder and redder as the scene unfolded. 
When Johan spoke, an icy chill ran through Gem’s entire body, and he clutched his arms, his nails digging into his skin. Accept…end… 
"No…I don’t want to die…" he whispered as Jess got to her feet, his need to survive returning. 
Futa wiped his eyes and picked up the knife once more. He nodded slowly. “I just wanted to play with them for a bit,” he muttered defensively. “I thought we could play a bit longer…I didn’t think this would happen. No! Don’t leave!” He screamed the last three words at Jess when she announced they were leaving, his eyes filling with tears once more. 
Tim stumbled slightly, bringing his uninjured hand to his neck, and gasping. “I would have helped you…” he began to insist, but his words faltered when he realized just how angry Jess was. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Futa approaching, knife raised in a threatening stance that contradicted his distraught expression. He was no longer a threat to them. Tim plucked the knife from his hand, and turned it towards Johan; the only one now who could possibly stop them. 
"Come on, Jess," he said, taking her hand. 
"You’ll never make it!" Futa insisted. "This place is full of people who want to kill you…You wont get out!" He tried to glare at Johan, but his emotions were out of his own control, and he continued to look upset. "Why aren’t you stopping them! I’m ready to kill them now! That’s what you want isn’t it! I can’t let them leave here, I can’t! I don’t want to be alone any more! I want them to stay with me…Please…make them stay!" He dissolved into tears, crumpling to the ground and grabbing onto Jess’s ankle. "Please…" 
Gem listened in complete silence, his grip on his arms slowly loosening as he realized what was important right now. Johan was outnumbered…by three injured, tired people it was true, but he was outnumbered nonetheless. And he wasn’t moving. Did he only move to kill when it was certain?…That didn’t matter now…As long as Tim had that knife, and he had nothing, he was at a definite disadvantage. Even if Futa tried to help him, he would just get in the way in his present state. 
…His brother…was always such a crybaby. His face was always leaking, and it was always up to Gem to take care of him. It was pathetic… 
Gem slowly rose to his feet, as Futa sank to the floor, and wordlessly approached him. He knelt down to pull Futa’s hand from Jess’s ankle, then wordlessly pulled him into a gentle hug. “Stop crying. You look like an idiot,” he whispered. 
Futa froze, his eyes wide with shock and confusion. 
"I remember now," Gem continued. "I remember who you are…Everything will be alright now…You can come with us." 
Jess and Tim would never allow Futa to join them, not after everything he had done. And Gem didn’t intend to let him tag along, either. He could get them out of there, and that was it. His expression was cold, but Futa couldn’t see it; he had settled into Gem’s arms, his eyes closed, and his tears halted. 
"You won’t be alone ever again," Gem lied soothingly. "Just help us get out of here, and I’ll stay by your side forever this time. I promise." 
Futa nodded into Gem’s shoulder. “Promise?” he repeated, his voice muffled and sad. 
"Promise," Gem said, pulling out of the hug and forcing a smile. 
"What the Hell was that?" Tim demanded as Gem stood up, bringing Futa with him. "That monster is not coming with us." 
"He is if you want to live," Gem said quietly, while Futa was busy drying his eyes. "You deal with that," he added, raising his voice slightly and glaring straight at Johan. He began to shake slightly, but clutched his arm once again to steady himself. Johan seemed to thrive off other people’s fear. 
Taking a calming breath, he turned to Jess. “You-” he started, but, feeling the anger radiating from her, decided to speak more softly. “We…have to be tied up again,” he said hesitantly. 
Oliver’s concern giving way to a slightly perplexed expression, he watched Lola silently as she said she was fine and subsequently went on to stare at her hand.
She didn’t exactly seem fine…..
Though she was indeed smiling, which was a good sign.
Eyes slightly wider, as he was still a bit confused as to what was going on, he nodded at her question, smile returning, “Of course you can. You can ask me anything.”
He did realize that she had asked for him to “do something” rather than simply “asking him something”, though he felt that he needed to get that out in the air.
Between the brief moment she asked that question and her speaking next, he found himself wondering what Lola was going to ask him to do.
For some reason he felt slightly nervous, almost anxious to know.
Staring at her face, into her eyes, he felt a small pang of surprise when she asked him to kiss her.
…why am I confused?? She did say she enjoyed what we did….earlier….
Happy to oblige, he answered, “Ok.”
He dropped the two blankets that he had been holding.
Smile widening, he caressed her face, hand moving down her cheek, jaw, and to her chin.
Coaxing her chin up, he bent down to kiss her nose.
Becoming slightly flushed, he put his other hand on her face, this time kissing her soft lips.
Kissing her gently, almost timidly at first, he found his want for her grow strong.
It seemed to impart more confidence to him.
Tongues, lips, mouths; it seemed they were beginning to find themselves back to where they had been earlier.
Hands touching her face, moving to her ears, hair, neck, and down to her waist, he gently shifted her body, moving them both towards the cot.
In an almost playful motion, he grabbed her waist, pressing her to him, and abruptly launched them both down onto the cot.
Kissing her, he rolled both their bodies so that Lola was now resting against the cot while he found himself staring down at her, kissing her neck.
Stopping for a moment, embarrassment crept onto his face; he realized that he had gotten carried away.
She had only asked for a kiss, after all.
“…Sorry…you just wanted a kiss, right? ….I don’t know what came over me…”
Though such a statement wasn’t true. He knew what it was.
Who it was.
Lola was just….she was just too much….
How could he not get carried away?
Being around her, he felt himself just wanting to be with her. To show her some love, some enjoyment.
…everyone needs something beautiful like this, in this world…
His smile was sheepish, “…I guess I get a bit carried away sometimes.”
As the woman who had confronted him earlier broke the grip Johan had had on Tim’s throat, he was effectively shoved to the side.
She was obviously taken by anger, and while the force she had exerted on him was strong, he was still able to keep his balance and composure in tact.
Still, unmoving for a moment, he eventually stepped back to his previous position, in front of them.
Once more in their path.
Glancing over at Futa as he spoke, it seemed the boy was engulfed by emotional turmoil.
One moment he was angry, wanting to kill them.
The next, he returned to a soggy state of tears.
He did not speak to him, however, as Tim had swiped the knife.
He turned to look back at the man.
Regarding the knife that was now in Tim’s possession, his expression remained the same; though, if one were looking closely, they would be able to notice that his small smile deepened slightly, corners curling a bit more, while his eyes dulled.
Maintaining eye contact, he stepped forward, closer, closing the gap so that the knife in Tim’s hand was nearly touching the flesh of his neck.
Eyes cold, passive, he looked into the man’s eyes, “If you intend to use such a weapon, perhaps a swift, accurate stab here,” He moved one hand from behind his back to his head, indicating the temple, “Would suffice.”
“However, arterial incisions are also quite effective.”
There was a moment of silence.
Expression constant, gaze steady, he slowly shifted his eyes over to Futa and the other boy as he listened to their exchange, his head following.
Paying Tim and Jess no mind, as if dismissing them for the time being, he directed his voice to Futa.
"Is it not simply that boy you want?"
"Why then, would leaving the others alive be favourable, necessary? Perhaps he is trying to deceive you. To steer you away from the pleasure you would derive from ending their lives."
He paused for a moment, “Curious, that the boy you had tortured, the boy who called you a ‘sick bastard’, the boy who vehemently deemed you a ‘psycho’, would have such a change of heart.”
"Curious indeed, that a boy who, just earlier, while you and Henry had gone, asked me – pleaded to let him go, a boy who wanted nothing more than to get away from you, would suddenly embrace you, as if you were someone that mattered to him.”
“Is that not suspicious?”
His voice maintained its usual tone, one of calm, gentle, and void of emotion, throughout the words he spoke.
It seemed Gem had pacified Futa for the moment.
But that would not do.
Listening to Rowan speak, Ayva found herself becoming increasingly amused, “Yes, rugged. You look less of a pretty-boy this way.”
At his comment about the soaps, she felt a twinge of home sickness.
Sure, it had not been the best life, nor was it ideal, but…it had had its charms.
Shaking her head, trying to clear the layer of fog, she looked at Rowan as he inquired about her state.
She felt grateful that he was concerned.
Her voice was unsteady, wavering, though the words got out.
“It’s nothing I can’t manage….anyway, it doesn’t matter much. It will go away….eventually.”
Smiling against the pain, “I would rather be warm and smell like oil than cold.”
While their pace was slow - her own unsteadiness and difficulties being the culprit - they did manage to find their way out of the prison and into the fresh air beyond the walls.
Finding herself tired, weary from the walk, she leaned against Rowan slightly, looking out onto the forest of ash.
“It’s almost sad….Coming up to the surface and seeing these plants for the first time…and them being destroyed.” 
Before Jess could protest, Gem turned quickly to the bed on which he had been tied up, and began to grab the ropes. But he froze again when Johan began to speak. 
"Like I care about what happens to them, either,” he lied, his heart beginning to pound as he hoped Futa wouldn’t begin to get confused again. “It would look suspicious if just the two of us went out. The others might question his motives…Tim…Kill him already.” 
Tim had half a mind to throw the knife at Gem’s back, but that would leave him without a weapon, and it would definitely upset Futa’s already unstable mind. “I’ll take your advice,” he hissed at Johan, raising the knife to his head. But, a second later, something heavy collided with his uninjured hand, sending the knife airborne once again. He looked down and saw Dorian’s head on the floor between him and Johan, then back towards Futa, his expression filled with dismay. 
Futa lowered the hand he had used to throw the head, and pushed his thumb between his lips, his eyes welling with suspicion and uncertainty. 
Gem’s hands shook furiously as he collected the rope from Jess’s bed. That man…was always one step ahead of him. He was determined to end their lives right here in this room. He didn’t even seem to have a motive. 
"Shut up!" he shouted, his voice as shaky as his hands. He crossed the room to stand beside Futa once more and, dropping the ropes, grabbed him roughly by the shoulders. "Don’t listen to him. He just wants to upset you…You know I would never have said any of that stuff if I had known who you were. You’re my brother and I…care about you. He’s nothing. He wants to see us all die. You included…I just want to protect you.” 
Futa stared at Gem for a moment, his thumb still perched in his mouth, then past him at Johan, his confusion clear on his face. “Why would…you beg to leave me?” he whispered, slowly pushing Gem’s hands away. 
"He has been against your game from the start!" Gem insisted. "When you left the room, he tried to kill us, without your permission. He’s not on your side.” 
But Futa was no longer listening. He approached Johan, stumbling slightly. “If they’re dead, they can never betray me, or leave me ever again,” he said quietly, his voice blank and automatic. 
Rowan sighed, almost sadly. He didn’t know how to be anything other than a ‘pretty boy’. But it seemed he was going to have to learn. 
He kept his hands on Ayva’s shoulders as they slowly made their way outside. “I feel so useless,” he admitted quietly. “I wish I could make whatever it is go away…” 
It turned out, it was slightly cold outside, and he removed his shirt, draping it over Ayva’s shoulders. He followed her gaze into the ruined forest, and nodded sadly. 
"I’d always secretly wanted to see the plants up here," he replied. "But…there will be more. We have the entire surface to ourselves now. I bet there’s forests even bigger than this one, and we could get to see them all…At least a couple more, anyway."  
Jess looked back at Gem and scowled, she couldn’t believe was happening right in front of her. “Really?” She almost yelled, “you all are just as crazy as him!” She looked down at the head that had landed next to her and then kicked it. “I’m leaving!” She looked at Tim to see if he would fallow her. As she stepped toward the door Johan stepped in front of it again. She quickly kicked him in the shin and shoved him against the wall by the door. “You fucking Psychopath! Stay out of my way!” With that she have him another hard shove knocking him against the wall hard.
Lola watched as Oliver sat up and she slowly brought herself up next to him. “It’s ok….” She whispered. 
She slowly took his hand in her own slightly shaking hand and looked at it a moment before kissing his lips softly. She pulled away, only a little and smiled then brought his hand to her hip and whispered, “we can get carried away together….”
With that she kissed him again. 
Unfortunately, Ayva was seemingly oblivious to Rowan’s sadness at her comment, as all she heard was a sigh, one without any negative connotations.
Usually, she wouldn’t have liked, or allowed, a man to touch her like that, his hands on her shoulders.
She prided herself in masking her weaknesses, and such a thing was a requirement for the job she had…
But it seemed he had caught her in a vulnerable state…and besides….his hands felt nice, warm.
Putting one of her hands on his hand, she shook her head, “Please, don’t. Don’t get down on yourself when there is nothing else you could possibly do. You’ve already done more than enough.”
“Truly…you have been quite wonderful. It’s not your fault, there is nothing anyone could do….”
Her voice hushed, turned small as her thoughts wandered, “….unless you could find some…”
She let herself trail off.
Stop thinking about it! It’s not making anything better, now is it?
Feeling the cool air on her skin, she jumped slightly, startled by the shirt that now hugged her.
If my body didn’t feel like shit, this moment would be perfect.
While a part of her genuinely felt that he cared….the pessimistic voice…that doubt that, maybe he was wanting something….expecting more from her in exchange….
She tried to shake the voice away.
He was being so sweet, so kind…He didn’t deserve that.
Holding the shirt on her, she slowly closed her eyes when Rowan spoke.
She tried to conjure up a picture, an image of the large forests. The many forests.
Slowly opening her eyes again, the images fading as she faced the destruction, she did indeed feel sad that this one was now gone.
Turning back to look at Rowan, as he was a much more pleasing sight than the desolated forest, curiosity ran through her voice, “The plants, were they as you imagined?
“I hope you are right. It would be nice to see those things.”
Watching Gem as the boy tried to maintain Futa’s attention, as he ordered the man to kill him, Johan was silent.
His gaze on Tim, he waited for the knife to pierce his skin, to cut into his brain.
He waited for the fatal blow.
For death.
Though, it never came.
Watching as the severed head knocked the knife from Tim’s hand, sending it reeling off, away from them, his expression was unchanged.
It seemed he would go on living, at least for a few moments longer.
He considered the situation.
If he were to obtain the knife, he would need to ensure that Tim, or any of the others, would not leave – it would not do, allowing them out. The death of those in this room was preferable. 
Observing the scene Gem and Futa created, the desperate conversation between them, it appeared he had been marginally successful.
Though, hearing that woman’s furious voice, seeing her movement from his periphery, he turned around in time to block her path as she made for the door.
But, he also got to observe as she began her assault on him.
While he did indeed feel the pain as Jess kicked him, and roughly shoved him against the wall – as his nerves were in top condition, his senses finely tuned – such pain was insignificant compared to other things.
That institution…..
Yes, he had experienced far greater degrees of pain.
He had long ago learned to embrace pain, to accept it as a condition of being human and to internalize it.
He had a strong, confident command of his own body, so it was easy for him to maintain his expression without letting any semblance of pain through.
Staying against the wall for a short moment, he came to compose himself, standing straight.
It seemed his hair was now in disarray, jacket torn slightly.
Though that did not matter in this instant.
Sparing a brief glance over at the knife, he now saw that it had landed farther off.
Out of reach.
Eyes back on Jess, he returned to his position between her, Tim and the exit.
This back and forth, this exchange they were involved in, was proving to be unproductive.
This was getting them nowhere.
Turning to Futa, the boy now closer, it seemed he had been seeking confirmation in his thoughts earlier.
Responding to what the boy had said, “Yes. The dead can do no such thing. Corpses are much more complacent, compliant. They would never attempt to leave you, nor would they attempt to get in the way.”
He was aware that it was necessary for him to make a bolder move if their deaths were to be secured.
Without betraying any effort, he stepped closer to Tim, placed a hand against the side of the man’s head and forcefully brought his head to the wall.
One swift motion was all that was required.
Tim’s body, void of consciousness, fell to the ground hard.
He knew that the man was still alive, though that would suffice, for the moment.
Now, turning to the woman, he was well aware that what he was about to do would only serve to anger her more, but it seemed to be the necessary move.
Firmly, he placed his hands on Jess’ shoulders.
Grip strong, he moved forward into the room, forcing her back.
While it appeared that he was simply putting space between her and the exit, his primary goal was that knife.
The woman’s mind was already obviously clouded by anger, though further distraction was most likely required.
Staring into the woman’s eyes, his voice came out smoothly as ever, “Such actions you have taken, such violence…You prefer to be in control, yes?”
“No wonder, then, that you are so infuriated by this situation you find yourself in. Does it sooth your need for control, resorting to violence? I suppose, force can be effective means of achieving, and perhaps maintaining such a goal.”
As he spoke, they slowly, steadily, moved.
“Back then, when that man – Henry – used you, forced you into that situation, was that the first time you realized it? How helpless, so pathetic, one can be. Control, it was stripped from you then, but now, why should that be so? Why should you allow things out of your control, when you are confident that you can maintain it?”
He was silent for a moment.
“While you may try, perhaps even succeed in most facets of life, to maintain control…There is time, there are hardships. There is the law of the Universe.”
“No one can ever achieve true rule over the entirety of their life. However hard you may try.”
With each step, he drew closer to the knife.
With his last word, he came to rest the sole of his shoe on the knife.
Now, getting the opportunity to grab the knife, was another thing to consider.
Shifting his gaze back over to Futa, it was likely that he would be able to persuade the boy to attack her.
That would give him the window of opportunity required.
“This woman, she seems certain in leaving here, certain that you will allow them to live. But, what right does she have that allows her to say that? Is she, along with that man, not your ‘property’, as you so rightly put it?”
“Not only that, she appears to be determined to spoil your reunion. To take your brother away.”
Referring to the incident where Jess had been dared to rip off some of her nails, where Gem had been sick due to water inhalation, he continued, “Why be lenient to a person who almost allowed your brother to drown? She took a bit too long, that time, didn’t she?”
It did not matter whether Futa ultimately won the fight, if such a thing were to occur.
Simply, all that was required was a distraction.
Oliver smiled at Lola as she took his hand, reassured him that what he had done was not such a terrible thing.
Feeling her hand tremble, he was about to voice concern when she kissed him.
Get carried away together….
That sounds nice.
Kissing her back, both hands now on her hips, he pulled her closer.
Not wanting to press her against the hard wall of the cell, as that would surely be unpleasant, he moved her back down onto the cot.
Kissing her, moving his hands over her body, under her clothes, her hands doing the same to him, he found himself wincing a bit, at first.
The injuries he had attained from his fight with Mama were still sore – especially his ribs.
Yet, as they continued, things getting more intense, the pain became a faded memory; adrenaline serving to rid him of such unpleasantness.
Tenderly kissing her collar, her neck, he let his one hand wander down, tugging at her undergarment. 

Kaya crept closer to Harkot as he said he heard the noise too. She strained her ears to locate the thing that was making the sound. She slowly turned and could hear something more clearly now. It sounded like someone was walking towards them slowly, limping. Or maybe it was more than one? “Can you see something?” she asked Harkot.
As soon as he was brought outside, Johnny started running. Soon his legs and lungs started burning, but he ignored it, running even faster. He ran without direction, just wanting to get away from that horrid place as fast as possible. 
After he ran for what felt like an hour to him, he saw a building looming in the distance. He recognized it right away, and ran straight ahead until he reached it. He wanted to run inside, to find Mama, or maybe that psycho they were with, or really any person on his side. When he reached the door, instead of running inside he ran into someone, sending everyone falling to the floor. When he hit the floor he could hear his arm snap, and he cried out in pain. He tried to sit up, and scurried backwards until his back touched the wall. While still clutching his arm, Johnny looked over at the two others, a man and woman. Johnny vaguely recognized them, but was sure he never talked to them.
"Are you two okay?" he asked them through gritted teeth. He was trying to keep from screaming, his arm felt like it could never be used again. 
"You idiot!" Gem groaned, as Jess attacked and confronted Johan. What followed was inevitable. 
He watched as Tim’s head was slammed against the wall, and he went down, unmoving. And, as Johan deliberately pushed Jess back into the middle of the room, his gaze fell on the knife on the floor. That was what he was going for. If he managed to get a hold of it, his wish for them all to become corpses would surely come true. 
Gem began to feel  dismay sinking in, unsure of what to do next. Futa was a lost cause, Tim was useless, and Jess was too angry to think clearly. The only way to stop Johan now, was to get to the knife first. But even as he began to move, Johan’s foot landed on the handle. He was filling Jess’s head, the way he had done with Futa. The way he had done with…him. And then, to his horror, Johan continued his corruption of Futa’s fragile mind. 
Futa watched Johan in mild interest, his mind still reeling. It was settled. He would make them all into corpses. And then they would have no choice but to stay with him forever. But when Johan’s attention switched back to him, he snapped back into reality, his anger rising again. 
"She’s not going anywhere," he said firmly, making his way over to them. "I have no reason to let her live…They’re mine! She’s just trying to steal from me!” 
And, at Johan’s comment about Gem, Futa snapped. He was right…Jess had almost allowed Gem to drown. If she had taken a few seconds longer… 
He grabbed Jess by the hair for the second time, and pushed her against the wall, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You wanted him to drown, didn’t you?” he growled at her. “You didn’t want to have to go through another round…You know, Henry will be back up here soon, and when he gets here, I’m going to give you straight to him!” 
The second Futa went for Jess, Gem scrambled for Johan, barging into him and pushing him as far away from the knife as he could. He hastily kicked the weapon under one of the beds, and sank his teeth into Johan’s hand. He was confident Jess could take Futa. She was stronger than him, and his compromised mental state would hopefully make him even easier to overpower. Right now, he had to focus on stopping Johan getting to the knife. 
His jaw clenched down tightly, and he began to taste blood. But, Johan hadn’t reacted to the pain Jess had inflicted upon him before…it was doubtful whether a little blood would affect him now. Still, it was worth a try. 
Rowan smiled at Ayva, relieved that he had been able to help, even if it was just a little. He opened his mouth to insist that he wasn’t wonderful, at all, when he heard her half request. 
"Find some…what?" he asked, instantly regretting the question. Of course, she didn’t want to talk about whatever it was, right now. Hadn’t he silently promised he wouldn’t push her on the subject? 
He hastily allowed the conversation to switch back to nature. “Well, to be honest, I didn’t pay much attention while I had the chance,” he admitted. “There didn’t seem to be much time to admire the scenery yesterday…and now it’s gone. But, we will find more.” 
Not wanting to run the risk of her becoming uncomfortable, he removed his hands from her shoulders. But, just as he was about to continue the conversation, something crashed into the both of them, knocking them off their feet. 
He sat up, his hand clutching his head where it had collided with the ground, and he turned irritated eyes towards Johnny. His anger faded, however, when he saw the condition Johnny was in. His arm aside, his expression and heavy breathing gave away the fact that he had been running from something terrible. Was it coming their way? 
"I’m fine," he assured him, deciding not to talk for Ayva. "But, are you? You look like you’ve been dragged through a nightmare." 
Jess was about to push back at Johan and fight back when she was grabbed by her hair by Futa. As he pulled her she stepped in one of the puddles of water.
She fell…
Her head hit the floor with a loud sickening crack.
She went unconscious, the last thing she saw was the door opening and someone stepping inside.
Henry stepped into the room and saw Jess fall. He looked around the room and quickly saw Johan going for the knife under his feet. He grabbed the man by the collar of his shirt and pulled him up off his feet. 
“Not so fast there little man.” He said in a calm cool voice and then bent to grab the knife.
Lola quickly pulled off Oliver’s cloths and smiled as he did the same to her. Things became almost playful, Lola laughed as he kissed her body. She ran her fingers down his spine and smiled as he looked at her. 
“I want you…” She whispered their body’s moving against each other’s. 
Watching as Futa grabbed hold of Jess, the boy’s fury ignited, Johan deliberately went for the knife.
Though it seemed acquiring the knife in this instance would not come to pass, as a body, smaller than his but quite forceful, shoved into him.
Keeping his composure and balance as Gem threw his body into him, pushing him back, it seemed things were not going as smoothly as was ideal.
Though he did not care.
Such was the way of the Universe.
As the boy sunk his teeth into his hand, he regarded him, keeping his expression constant.
Pain was pain, and it was not something worth expressing, nor would doing so be productive.
He had indeed felt worse.
“Perhaps, if you had gone for my neck and applied a bit more force, you could have been more productive.”
The boy’s grip on his hand was strong, and he knew that moving would incite more pain, but that did not matter.
Pulling the boy along, he made his way over to the bed the knife had slid under.
The boy tried to stop him, and was certainly determined to keep him from the knife, yet, of course, he was just a boy. Not fully grown, and not as strong as him.
Reaching down towards the bed, towards the knife, he heard a new set of footfalls enter the room.
Someone else was there.
But perhaps he would be able to get to the weapon in time.
Perhaps it was Gem that caused him to be slower than usual, or perhaps Henry was just quicker - it did not matter now, as he found himself turned around and grabbed.
His gaze wandered to the man’s eyes.
It seemed Henry had returned from letting Johnny go.
The man was quite large. Quite strong.
Though, of course, he did not care about such a thing.
Such as was usual, he felt nothing. He was simply an emotional void.
His expression ever calm, apathetic, voice steady and consistent, “That woman you so expressed desire for,” He indicated the now unconscious Jess, “Nearly escaped in your absence. Though it appears she is in a placid state as of now. Would it have mattered to you, if she had succeeded?”
With that short statement and question, he ceased talking.
He knew the right instances in which silence was required, such as he knew when talking was necessary.
It seemed silence on his part was appropriate.
He was confident that Futa would address the man, and have quite a bit to say to Henry.
(I’m not at all satisfied with what Johan said to Henry, though for some annoying reason I can’t think of anything better. Damn you, brain! Perhaps imagine he said something better? >…..<)
When Lola began undressing him, Oliver felt a brief, fleeting moment of self-consciousness.
What if she saw them?….all those scars….
…that certainly wouldn’t be an attractive sight.
Such thoughts only caused a minor falter in his movements however, as he realized there was nothing he could do about it. If she saw them, she saw them. If not, then great.
Though, he was not aware that on this body, there were no such scars.
Taking her clothes off, their bodies intertwined, the two of them took part in a dance millions of humans had done before them.
Many names are associated to such an act.
Some simply call it sex.
Though others, believe it to be making love.
To Oliver, it was more than simply “getting laid”….though could it be rightly referred to as “making love”?
…perhaps not, as they had only just recently met…
But that didn’t matter.
All he knew was that he cared for her, they were having fun, and both deriving pleasure.
That was all that mattered.
A long while later, when both reached maximum satisfaction, when it was finished, he found himself rolling over to lay beside Lola. In doing so, he nearly fell off the narrow surface of the cot.
Laughing slightly at his own clumsiness, he found himself taking a deep breath, closing his eyes.
His heart was still racing, blood still hot.
Laying there in silence, he came to realize that they had been gone for quite a while now….
…perhaps they should be heading back with the blankets…
Dismissing those thoughts, he rolled to his side, wrapped his arms around Lola and pulled her closer.
The cot was narrow, but, as close as they were, both of them were able to lay on it.
Burying his face in her curly, beautiful hair, nuzzling her neck a bit, he cuddled her.
Kissing her cheek, her ear, “I hope that was as good for you as it was for me.”
…What could staying here a bit longer harm?
Ayva shook her head at Rowan’s inquiry.
She was going to answer, perhaps something along the lines of “I don’t want you to think less of me”, but thought better of it.
It would not serve much of a purpose.
It would just complicate things.
The conversation shifted, and that’s what she focused her attention on.
She found herself nodding at his words.
It was quite true.
With everything that had happened, there hadn’t been much time for relaxation and admiration of the landscape.
At the end of his reply, his confidence gave her hope.
Smiling slightly, “I like your confidence. It’s almost contagious.”
When he moved his hands away from her shoulders, she was about to protest, but quickly, to her surprise, found the wind taken from her as some guy collided into them.
Finding herself now on her back, her body clutched in a vice of pain, she lay there for a while longer.
Eventually, she found herself slowly sitting up.
Before getting a good look at Johnny, her voice came out harsh, “What the hell was that for?! Couldn’t you have just watched where-…..”
As her eyes came to rest on the guy that had interrupted her and Rowan’s conversation, she found her expression softening slightly, voice trailing off.
He looked exhausted, terrified, and in deep pain, as if he had gone through a most unpleasant ordeal.
“I’m alright….”
She found herself echoing Rowan’s concern, “…Did something…happen?” 
Gem fought desperately against Johan as he approached the bed, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. He just wasn’t strong enough to stop him. He was seconds away from the knife… 
But, just as Johan was about to reach for the weapon, Henry returned and swiftly grabbed him, taking the knife for himself. Gem slowly unclenched his jaw, releasing Johan, and slid to the floor, overwhelmed with despair. Now it really was over. 
Futa stood over Jess, slightly disappointed that she was no longer conscious to feel the pain he had planned to inflict upon her. But, he brightened slightly as Henry came back into the room. 
"You took your time," he scolded him. "He’s not lying. That bitch managed to get free, and set the other two off. You can have her." He approached Henry, his arms folded impatiently. "Take them down to the basement, now. That one you set free will bring the rest of the vermin back here with him, and we should hide these so they don’t get the chance to reunite before we kill them." 
Gem raised one hand slowly, and gripped the leg of Johan’s trousers. “You haven’t won, either,” he said quietly, his voice empty and defeated. “I’ll make sure you don’t get to see us die.” 
Lola smiled and stifled a giggle as Oliver almost fell off the cot. As he pulled her closer and held her Lola couldn’t help but smile even more. “Yes..” She whispered and kissed him sweetly, “That was amazing.” She said and rested her four-head against his. Her eyes fluttered shut and she let out a long sigh of content as he ran his finger over her skin. 
“Do you think we should head back soon?” She asked, her eyes still shut. She didn’t want to move, she didn’t want this to end.
Lola knew that as things began to settle down she would most likely have fewer and fewer times like this with Oliver, she would have to be watching the children with Mama. Part of her was afraid to leave the cell, what if this had just beed for the sex for Oliver. She quickly pushed those thoughts out of her mind. After all, it wasn’t like they were together, if that was all it was for him then she would just have to accept that and get over it. She one thing she did know for sure was that she liked him, being around him made her calm, he was funny, she felt safe even though there was the ever present risk of that other personality appearing. She didn’t mind the risk though, if it meant she got to spend time with Oliver she was ok with it.
Henry scowled as Johan spoke and stared down at Jess’s unconscious body. He shrugged when Futa spoke then putting Johan down Henry said in a cold voice, “As long as I get to still have some…. Fun with her, I think I’ll live.” As he spoke he got an evil look in his eyes. It was sick, he was sick. 
He slowly put Johan down and grabbed Tim and Jess and slung them both over his shoulders. 
As he turned toward the door he looked back at Futa and grumbled, “Just give me some time alone with this one before you come down. Then you can kill her in what ever way suits you.” With that he took them down to the basement and began tying them up. 
He put Tim in a corner of the room and made sure his hands and feet were secure and he was gaged before turning to Jess. He smiled and picked her up, carrying her around a corner he tied her arms right above her head and gaged her aswell. When he saw her start to come around he smiled and began to pull down his pants. “I’m glad your awake. It’s always more fun that way.” With that he went to work, and the basement was soon filled with the sound of groaning and muffled screams for help. Sadly for Jess they fell on deaf ears.
Finally it was over, as Henry got up and dressed himself, he untied her hands and then walked out, locking the door behind him. Jess could only lay on the dirty floor, her body seared with pain, tears flooded her eyes. She could hardly breath.
She prayed for death…
After a while she moved her arms and was able to take the gag out of her mouth. When she did she couldn’t help but let out a weak sob. As they walked Harkot heard the sound clearer and clearer. At first it sounded like someone walking but then it turned into a voice. He could faintly make out what was being said. Jacob walked a good distance behind the two lost looking people singing softly as they went a long. He made sure to stay in the shadows until he was sure what he wanted to do. 
Futa watched Henry go, now almost completely calm once again. “I’ll be down there to finish them off soon, so hurry up!” he called after him as he replaced the boards at the door. Then he made his way back over to Gem. 
"What is he going to do to her?" Gem asked, in the same, defeated voice. He wasn’t even aware that he was still clutching onto Johan’s trousers. 
"You don’t know?" Futa asked, raising his eyebrows slightly as he knelt down and pried Gem’s hand away from Johan, and began to tie him up for a second time. Gem didn’t flinch, or attempt to fight him. He was finally broken. Futa smiled, and dragged Gem back to the bed. "He’s going to destroy her. When I get down there, she will be begging for death. 
"I don’t want him to hurt her," Gem whispered. 
Futa put his hand on Gem’s damp hair, and began to untangle it. “I know,” he said softly. “But you’re going to stop caring soon. I’m going to kill you now. Then you can be mine forever. There will be no more foolish attempts to escape, or pointless feelings of concern for other people. You’ll belong to me, and only me.” 
He continued to untangle Gem’s hair, and began to sing softly, the lullaby their mother had sang to them as children. 
Gem closed his eyes, no longer caring what Futa did to him. As he gave into his exhaustion and fell asleep, Futa stopped singing and turned to Johan. 
"I want to wait a while," he decided. "There’s no rush, is there?" He smiled brightly, as he removed his hand from Gem’s hair, and stood up. "Thank you for helping me. I don’t know what I would have done if they’d escaped." 
Tim slowly began to regain conscious, the muffled sound of someone crying meeting his ears. He opened his eyes, wincing in pain, and realized, with dismay, that he was tied up and in another unfamiliar place. 
When he saw Jess, however, he froze. She was sprawled on the floor looking absolutely distraught. Her clothes were torn, and… 
As it hit him, what must have happened, he felt sick. He tried to call out to her, but realized there was something in his mouth, stopping him. Instead, he began to shuffle over to where she was. As he moved, however, his foot brushed against something cold and metallic, which skidded away across the concrete floor. 
Was that…the knife? His heart beginning to pound with hope, he switched directions, and went for the knife. Once it was in reach, he kicked it back towards his hands and grabbed it, cutting the rope that bound him, with difficulty. 
It seemed to take an age to break, but eventually he managed it. He removed the gag from his mouth, untied his feet, and immediately ran to Jess’s side. “Are you…” he began to ask. But of course she wasn’t ok. He pulled her into a hug, his anger reaching boiling point. “I’m sorry, I let them hurt you.”  
Kaya and Harkot and had slowly started walking again, but before long Kaya stopped in her tracks again, body tensed. She had no idea why her body reacted this way. She strained her ears and her grip on Harkot’s arm tightened. She could still hear the person walking behind them. Was that.. was he.. singing? It sounded faintly familiar.
Suddenly she knew. Suddenly she recognized the voice. But it couldn’t be. He was below ground. She was never going to see him ever again. She wanted to scream and cry and run. But all she could do was just stand there.
At Rowan’s and Ayva’s questions the memories of the last few hours that Johnny had pushed away in his mind flooded back in his head. He screwed his eyes shut and tried to clear his mind. He couldn’t. The images of Tim’s finger being cut off and Jess tearing her nails out couldn’t leave his mind.
When he opened his eyes there was somehow more pain and stress than before. “I found some of the others.” He started. “I set out to find food with Tim and.. and then Jess.. all my fault..” his voice trailed off. He dropped his head on his knees for a while. Then he looked back up at them, with a bit of renewed strength. 
“We have to find them. There are others there, others that have evil intent. Others that we haven’t met before. I have to talk to Mama. Gem is there too.” 
Smile broadening, Oliver was glad to hear that Lola did indeed enjoy herself.
He didn’t like intimate relations as much if the other person wasn’t having a good time.
He wasn’t purely into it for his own satisfaction.
As Lola came to rest her forehead on his, he found himself wishing the moment would freeze, stand still in time for at least a minute longer.
Though, hearing Lola’s voice, her question, he found himself disappointed. Even though he knew they should head back, he was reluctant.
Staying here…that would be so nice.
Face expressing his hesitance, his hand stopped, fingers hovering over her skin.
“Yeah….I suppose we’ve been gone for quite a while now, huh?”
Letting his hand lay on her leg, he glanced over to the scattered blankets before returning his attention to Lola.
Voice slightly hushed, “It would be nice though…to stay here, like this, for a while longer…”
Kissing her again, he turned over to the clothes by the bed.
Slowly reaching for the dress, and the rest of Lola’s clothes that they had left askew on the floor, he rolled back over to presented them to her.
Smile slightly silly and expression sheepish, he was about to hand them over, “I guess you’d like these back then?”
Johan remained silent as he was set down, Henry becoming more interested in other things.
Observing, ever silently, he watched as Jess and Tim were carried out by Henry.
Glancing down at the boy who was clinging to his trousers, he felt responding to him was unnecessary.
Winning, losing, such things were not relevant. They did not exist.
One cannot win. Simply, there is only the prospect of dieing sooner, ‘prematurely’, or dieing later.
He continued to maintain his silence as Futa came over and detached the boy from his pants.
Listening as Futa tied up the boy, and said his piece, it seemed Gem had drifted off into unconsciousness.
Gaze directed at Futa as he spoke to him, it seemed the boy thought him an ally.
He neither acknowledged nor denied whether his actions were to benefit Futa.
Having the boy think that – at least for the moment - was of no consequence, so he would allow him to continue to believe that which he had assumed.
Speaking while slowly and deliberately walking over to the two, he addressed Futa’s inquiry, “Perhaps waiting is not the preferable course.”
“Have you forgotten? Just moments ago, your brother nearly escaped. Is it necessary, to take such a risk? To risk abandonment?” 
"To risk, perhaps, never seeing him again?”
He was aware that there were no obvious weapons present in the room - now that the knife had been removed – though, despite this, he was certain that he would be able to end their lives.
He was efficient in these matters.
He knew the proper way to choke someone. To crush the windpipe.
He knew the proper way to snap a neck, to effortlessly sever the connection between the brain and central nervous system.
There were also walls, so, if need be, he could very well use it as a surface on which to crack Futa’s skull open.
He knew how to end life.
And he was proficient.
If it turned out that Futa preferred not to kill the sleeping boy, it would be necessary for him to act at that point.
As his last question entered the air, he found himself standing within arms length of Futa.
If it did become necessary to kill both himself, he knew that taking care of the currently awake one would be required.
First Futa, then the other boy.
He waited for Futa’s response.
Ayva, listening to Johnny speak, grew both worried and slightly intrigued.
When he mentioned it being his fault, she felt the urge to deny it, to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault, but…She really didn’t know.
She had no idea what had happened, what the situation had been.
It was safer, in her opinion, to stay silent on that point.
None of the names Johnny spoke of sounded familiar, as she hadn’t been introduced to any of them….though….
Maybe this ‘Mama’ woman was the one who had stood up for her against that psycho earlier? The one who had been carrying those babies?
Gingerly, still uncertain, she pointed through the entrance of the prison.
Glancing at Rowan, as if asking him, her voice came out hesitantly, “I think Mama is that woman down the hall…in the room with all those kids.”
Looking back over to Johnny, Worried by his previous comment, she decided to press the subject, “Others….people with ‘evil intent’…What exactly happened there?” 

Lola slowly opened her eyes and looked up at Oliver as he handed her the cloths they had thrown to the floor. She have him a soft smile and reached for them.
As they dressed and started gathering the blankets Lola couldn’t help but glance over at Oliver often. She smiled when he looked at her as well, “What are you lookin at?” She chirped playfully scrunching her nose.
Harkot heard the singing and quickly pulled Kaya close to him and covered her with his trench coat. “It’s going to be ok.” He whispered squeezing her shoulders gently to help her feel better.
As they continued walking Harkot picked up a large branch, almost the size of his own arm. It had sharp smaller branches on it and would make a good club weapon. Though he hoped they were only hearing things due to lack of sleep or food and he wouldn’t have to use it.
Katana and Shou had been scouring the whole complex and had found a lot of stuff. Some of it they didn’t know what it was but some, like blankets, knives, pipes they could use as weapons old bones they could sharpen. They knew what those were. Katana smiled as the walked into the room across from the nursery, “we should use this as a supply room.” He said pointing out the shelves, “we can put the weapons up there so the children don’t get a hold of them.” As he spoke he heard voices and looked back at Shou, “who do you suppose that is?” He asked a big smile in his face.
Jess could hardly lift her head to look at Tim. She leaned her head on his chest and cried quietly.
After a while she fell asleep, but even in her dreams she had no escape from this place and she woke with a start. She looked up at Tim who was still holding her close, and rocking back and fourth gently.
“I’m…. Sorry…” She whispered, her voice was raspy and her mouth was dry. 
“If I hadn’t fallowed… Everything would be fine.”
She wanted to cry, but couldn’t anymore. A small pathetic smile on her face she continued talking. 
“Mama said I should marry you…
She said we make a good match.”
Jess laughed softly but this only caused her to cough. 
She caught her breath then said in a bitter voice, “Its alright if you don’t want to. I wouldn’t want to marry me either…. I’m rotten…” She looked away from Tim and her eyes fell on the spot when Henry had attacked her. She just stared…. 
As Futa watched Johan approach him, he couldn’t help feeling a little strange, as though there was danger somewhere nearby, but he pushed the feeling to the back of his mind. 
"I don’t think he will try to run any more," he insisted, although his voice was uncertain. He looked down at Gem, who was fast asleep, a tear in the corner of his right eye. Would he still try to leave if he was given the chance? 
"I’m not sure if I want to say goodbye, yet…" 
But, at Johan’s last words, his mind was made up. He couldn’t risk not being able to see his brother again. At least dead, he couldn’t go anywhere. He wouldn’t hear his voice, or see the smile he remembered so well, but he would be able to ensure that he never left. 
With a small, sad nod, he pulled the rotten blanket from the bed, and rolled Gem onto his back, folding the blanket over and over until it was a neat, thick square. Taking one last look at Gem’s sleeping face, and brushing a strand of wet hair out of his eyes, he lowered the blanket over his mouth and nose, holding it firmly. 
"It was not a dream!" Harley hissed for the fifth time, as she and Jack made their way up to the third floor. "I don’t care what that man said, I know what happened. Someone hit me. And they took Johan, I’m sure of it.” 
"I’m sure he can take care of himself," Jack grumbled, not particularly caring whether Johan was in trouble or not. 
As they reached the boarded up door, Harley pressed her ear to it, a little more cautiously this time. Someone was speaking…Was that…Johan’s voice? She couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he sounded uninjured. She let out a sigh of relief. 
A second voice responded, also familiar. It was that boy. The one who had been covered in blood. 
"Are you going in there or not?" Jack asked impatiently. 
"Shh!" Harley shushed him. The voices had stopped. Panicking, worried the boy had grown bored with Johan, Harley kicked the boards covering the door, snapping them and sending the pieces spinning into the room. 
"Johan! Are you ok?" she asked, hurrying over to him. 
Futa jumped, letting go of the blanket, and glaring towards the door, just as Jack followed his sister inside. “What the hell?” he demanded furiously. Infuriated further as he realized Harley was the one who had tried to interfere before. Maybe he should have killed her back then. 
The sceptical look on Jack’s face faded into one of horror as he looked around the room; at the blood on the walls, the…dolls, the bones and…was that a severed head with gauged out eyes? Finally, his gaze fell to the boy on the bed, who was tied up and in a horrible condition. It was the boy he had been looking for. And now his suspicions were confirmed. “You sick bastards,” he growled, hurrying over to the bed and pushing Futa  out of the way. 
"Get away from him!" Futa screamed, grabbing Jack’s arm as he began to untie Gem. "Stop interfering! This has nothing to do with you!" 
Jack gave Futa another shove, this time pushing him into the wall. He managed to untie the last of the ropes, and lifted Gem off the bed, quickly checking that he was breathing. 
"The poor thing…" Harley whispered, watching her brother with concern in her eyes. She rounded on Johan, her eyes narrowed. "Are you going to explain yourself? I know these people are in some kind of petty war with the cannibals, but are you really helping that crazy boy kill a child?” 
Shou folded up the extra blankets and placed them on a lower shelf, nodding at Katana’s suggestion.
At the sound of the voices, he glanced back towards the door curiously. But as he moved, he accidentally knocked  the pile of bones they had neatly stacked by the door, and it fell with a clatter. “Oh…” he gasped. “I’m sorry.” 
He listened again, and the voices continued, as though undisturbed by the noise. However, the noise had disturbed one of the children across the hall, and the air was soon filled with the sound of crying. 
And a moment later, an angry face appeared at the door. “What are you two idiots doing?” Mama demanded. She had half expected to see Oliver and Lola and was surprised to see the two she barely knew. 
Shou hastily began to pile the bones back up again. “We found these,” he chimed happily, looking up at the screaming baby in her arms. “They might be useful…” He drifted off, seeing the dark bags beneath Mama’s eyes. “Would you like us to look after the children for you?” he asked, forgetting to ask Katana whether that was what he wanted to do. 
At the sceptical look Mama gave him, Shou hastily continued. “I’m good with children,” he insisted. “And Katana has been thinking of their safety too. He’s the one who suggested we put the weapons up there.” He gestured to the higher shelves. “So the children wouldn’t get hurt.” 
Mama was about to express her uncertainty, when the voices outside became more urgent. “You can watch them for five minutes,” she said, finally giving in and handing Sorren to Katana. Then she turned and hurried to the door to hear what the commotion was. 
Rowan was also unfamiliar with the names Johnny used, but, as he mentioned ‘others’, his heart began to pound with hope. “Who did you find?” he asked before he could stop himself. “Was there anyone who looked like me?” He forced himself to stop, as Ayva gestured towards the door. 
"Yeah, I think she’s Mama," he agreed, attempting to stay calm. "We’ll take you to her." He got to his feet and began to help the other two up, half listening as Ayva asked about the ones with ‘evil intent’. If his brother and sister really were there…were they in danger? He had to doubt it. They were more than capable of taking care of themselves. 
Well. Harley was, anyway. 
Just as he was about to lead the way back inside, however, something large and blonde whirled into their midst, and approached Johnny. 
Mama’s eyes were wide with disbelief, but she managed to reign in her emotions. “Where have they gone?” she demanded. “I highly doubt it was your fault if that idiot Tim was involved…But you must take us to them immediately…” Her voice drifted off, and a certain desperation sparked in her eyes. “Are you sure Gem was really there?” she asked, her voice betraying that she believed Johnny was playing some sort of sick joke. 
Rowan stood beside Ayva, his eyebrows raised. “I guess we were right about her being Mama.” 
"What are you sorry for?" Tim asked, his voice uncharacteristically soft. He frowned as Jess spoke, wondering why she had followed in the first place. 
But then it struck him. Mama had put the idea into her head? “Mama?” he repeated bitterly. “Is she the reason you came after us?” He clenched his fists furiously. “I should have known this would all be her fault. I bet she let you run off on your own when you had no idea where you were going. It’s her fault this happened to you!” 
He broke off when Jess called herself rotten. “Who says I don’t still want you?” he demanded. “I don’t think you’re rotten. I think the ones who did this to you are rotten…It will be ok, now.” He got to his feet, gently lifting Jess into his arms, and made his way towards the door of the basement. It was blocked by something on the other side, but he knew it wouldn’t take too much force to break it down. 
"You sit here, ok?" he said, lowering Jess to the floor. "I’ll get you out of here." 
Putting on his clothes, Oliver couldn’t help but glance over at Lola as she too got dressed.
She was certainly a lovely sight to look at, very pleasing to the eye.
But, that wasn’t something that was overly important to him.
From the time he had spent with her so far, he felt that she was a wonderful person, with a loving personality.
She was clearly quite strong.
Just…a person he wanted to spend more time with.
Slightly surprised, startled when Lola noticed him admiring her, he couldn’t suppress his embarrassment.
Why should I be embarrassed?
Knowing that he was being a bit ridiculous, considering the intimate activity they recently took part in, he smiled, “Oh, just admiring you, that’s all.”
While the nagging temptation to apologize surfaced, he did not indeed succumb to it, as it seemed she was not at all offended by his gaze.
She seemed satisfied by his answer, as she simply smiled and shifted to put on her dress.
Thinking that he should maybe, probably, stop looking at her, he bent down to pick up the rest of the blankets.
Though, he found his eyes constantly being drawn back to her.
As he began to stand back up, blankets in hand, he watched as she turned slightly…..noticed something…
Some of the skin on her back seemed…shinier than normal skin…more puckered in some areas…
Smile flickering away, faltering, he realized what they were.
He felt upset with himself.
How did I not notice them before?
Concern rising, he stood up fully, and, without noticing, dropped the blankets where he stood.
He didn’t care if the blankets got even more filthy.
Kicking the blankets out of the way, he went over to Lola.
As soon as he was close enough, he gently put his arms around her, embracing her.
Expression sad, his voice was soft, “I’m sorry.”
While he understood that drawing attention to scars was not something most people liked, he found himself running his fingers across her back.
Realizing what he was doing he caught himself, stopping his hand.
He was slightly annoyed with himself for such an insensitive act. 
He didn’t want to cause her any further emotional distress.
Holding her, he apologized, “I’m sorry…If you ever want to talk about it, I’m here.”
Watching as Futa decided to end his brother’s life, Johan was silent.
Once that boy was dead, he would kill Futa.
After that…
Hearing the boards be forcefully broken, he calmly turned to see Harley run over to him, her brother entering the room as well.
He watched the scene silently as Jack overpowered Futa and rescued the boy from suffocation.
No. Not everything goes according to one’s own plans.
As Harley directed her suspicions toward him, he remained silent for a short moment.
Without a weapon, he knew killing these people would take a degree of struggle and time.
It would certainly not be a quick thing.
Now, would such actions be necessary? Would the struggle be worth ending their lives now?
Perhaps, in this circumstance, it would be necessary to postpone.
It did not matter.
Their deaths can be accomplished on a later date.
Gaze on Harley, he took on a defensive, slightly hurt expression, “From the knowledge you have gathered, from all you know about this situation we find ourselves in, what do you believe? Do you truly think I would participate in such a thing?”
He paused for a moment.
Feeling fresh blood from the scratch Futa had given him earlier running down the side of his face, he deliberately chose his injured, still bleeding hand, to wipe at his cheek.
Smearing more blood on his face in the process, he moved his hand away from his face and looked at his tooth-marked extremity.
All that he had just done was what some would refer to as a “show”.
Bringing the injuries he had acquired to light, in front of Harley, emphasizing them, perhaps her sympathies would be directed away from the boy.
Such a thing may distract from the situation.
Eyes focused on Harley, he put down his hand, a bit of blood dripping on his clothes, he continued, “Perhaps…you don’t trust me?” 
Katana looked at the baby a little shocked at first, but after a moment he smiled and cradled the infant in his big arms. 
“Well hello there. Aren’t you a cute little pudgy fella!” 
Katana’s smile grew as the baby giggled and reached up for Katana’s head. Suddenly his head was jerked down as Sorren grabbed a handful of Katana’s hair and pulled it down. He quickly began to chew on the hair in his hand, though because of the baby’s lack if teeth he was more like gumming on Katana’s hair. 
“Uhhh… A little help?… Please?…” Katana said not moving, he didn’t want to upset Sorren again.
Lola jumped a little when Oliver suddenly spun her around and hugged her. At first she was slightly confused but when she felt his fingers on her scars she felt a lump form in her throat. 
“It… It’s from when I got caught… They beat me…”
She leaned her head on Oliver’s shoulder and sighed.
“The liked to beat a lot of the women they caught. I think it made them feel stronger…” She smiled and looked up at Oliver, “I’m fine.” She reassured him and placed her hand gently on his cheek.
Jess leaned on the wall Tim had set her against. She watched as he tried to break the door down, after a moment she shook her head a muttered softly, “Why not just let them kill us?….” She looked down at her hands and took a deep breath.
“We are probably going to die anyway. Why not get it over with.” 
She saw the knife that Tim had and as he tried to break the door again she grabbed his hand. “Please?…” She looked up into his eyes, it was almost to much to believe…
She was begging…
“Please, just kill me.” 
She smiled softly up at him as he stared at her awe struck. 
"I…" Harley began, her expression softening slightly as she saw the hurt look in Johan’s eyes, and the blood on his face. "Of course not," she said apologetically, watching as he tried to wipe away the blood, his hand also injured. 
That horrible boy had been hurting him, as well. But still… 
"But I heard you talking," she continued slowly. "You seemed so calm…I…I’m sorry. You’ve been going through Hell and I had the nerve to suspect you. Of course I trust you. Here.” 
She tore a strip of material from her sleeve, and gently began to wrap it around Johan’s injured hand. “Did he bite and scratch you?” she asked incredulously. “What kind of animal is he?” She gave Futa a disgusted look as he began to recover. 
Jack was too busy checking Gem’s condition to listen or protest to what his sister was saying. He closed his eyes impatiently as Futa grabbed him a second time. 
"Give him back!" Futa screamed. "You can’t do that! You can’t just take him!" 
"Watch me," Jack snapped back at him, giving him a third shove, this time not holding back. Futa fell to the floor hard and hit his head on the bed frame, instantly knocked out. 
Now that disturbance was gone, he could focus on finding Gem’s pulse. A soft flutter met his fingers, and he sighed with relief. The boy was alive. Barely, but at least he stood a chance. 
He turned to Harley, and scowled when he saw what she was doing. “You’re not still going to worship the ground that creep walks on?” he demanded. “Didn’t you see what he was just doing?” 
"He wasn’t doing anything," Harley said stubbornly. 
Jack was about to yell at her to wake up and realize that Johan was no good, but as he opened his mouth, the boy in his arms stirred, instinctively burying himself into his chest, as though sensing safety there. 
"Whatever," Jack grumbled. "Let’s just get out of here." He turned towards the destroyed entrance, and marched out angrily. 
Sighing, Harley finished bandaging Johan’s hand, and, tearing off a second strip for him to hold to his face, she turned to follow her brother. 
Shou placed the last of the bones back on top of the pile with a satisfied smile. He turned to look at Katana when he asked for help, and couldn’t help laughing. 
"Aw, how sweet," he cooed, making his way over to them, and stroking Sorren’s soft hair. He gently took Sorren from Katana, detaching his hair from the baby’s surprisingly strong grip, and held him to his chest. "Push your hair back," he said, his eyes never leaving Sorren’s peaceful face. "I’m going to give him back to you…It’s so cute seeing someone as tall as you holding someone so tiny. And I think he likes you." 
Once Katana’s hair was safely out of the way, Shou carefully handed the infant back to him. “Have you ever held one of these before?” 
Tim never stopped kicking the door, even as Jess spoke. At first, he only half listened, aware that she was upset, and vulnerable to all sorts of horrible thoughts. 
But, when she grabbed his hand, he stopped, and looked back at her, his eyes wide with shock. No one had ever asked him to kill them before. And, although she was a mole, no matter how they bathed her, or what they gave her to wear, he didn’t want to kill her. 
He shook his head angrily. “Sit back down,” he said firmly. “I’ll have the door open soon. They won’t kill us. Not while I have this knife. We’ll both get out of here, and I’ll find somewhere for you to bathe again. I’ll kill every one of them I come across, so they can’t hurt you any more.” 
He continued kicking at the door, feeling slightly light headed now. It occurred to him that he had lost a lot of blood, and, although the adrenaline was stopping the pain now, he knew that once he and Jess were out of there, and somewhere safe, his hand would be in a world of pain. 
Eventually, there was a satisfying crack, and the door swung open. He put the knife into his belt, and gently began to pick Jess up. 
But then he saw them. The scars on her back. 
"Did they do this to you, too?" he whispered. 
Harley glanced back at Futa as they reached the door. She would have felt sorry for him, if what he had been doing wasn’t so unforgivable. 
"I’m sure you did all you could do," she said quietly to Johan. "Maybe staying calm was best…If he was so unhinged. How could he think killing was the best way to solve his abandonment issues? I want to know what idiot put that idea in his head in the first place. If we hadn’t got here when we had…he would have killed you both…" 
She didn’t want to think about it. “We should have got here earlier, before he could hurt you at all. I’m sorry.” Sadly, she shook her head. “Don’t thank me, I allowed it to happen.” 
They reached the staircase before she was able to clear her head enough to answer Johan’s question. “We have to get out of here,” she replied. “It’s not just that boy…All of these people are untrustworthy. We don’t know what they’ll do to that boy if we let them take care of him.” 
Gem was still fast asleep in Jack’s arms, and barely moved as they made their way down to the next corridor. And while Harley was aware that he and Johan both still needed medical attention, they couldn’t wait around here to get it. It was too dangerous. 
"We’re untrustworthy?" a voice interrupted, and a figure appeared at the end of the corridor. It was Rosie. "Don’t you think that’s a little harsh?" 
"Not after what we just saw," Jack shot back angrily. "Get out of the way, we’re leaving." 
Rosie narrowed her eyes at them, but maintained her composure. She looked past the triplets, at Johan. “One of you is injured,” she said calmly. “Why don’t you stay and let us help?”  
Kaya felt numb, she didn’t feel anything in her mind or body. At some point she came back to her senses, and she noticed they had started walking again. The voice, his voice, was still following them. A tear slipped down her cheek. When she spoke, her voice came out a whisper, barely audible. 
"That voice. I know it." She stopped whispering, trying to listen if he wa still following them. Even more quietly than before, she whispered. "It’s his voice, Harkot. His.”
At Ayva’s question, Johnny looked over at her. “There is another group of people, in another buidling. I only saw three rooms, but somehow it looked like a school. I saw horrible things there..” his voice trailing off as Mama came around the corner.
Johnny cringed away from Mama as she yelled at him, the pain in his arm worsening. “Yes, yes I’m sure that Gem was there.” he said quietly to her. “He wasn’t doing very well, but he was alive. There was a young boy there, I think around the same age as Gem, but with black hair. He seemed to be the leader. He tortured everyone.”
Johnny stopped talking for a second and then he looked Mama right in the eye. “He tortured Gem the worst, but he also seemed attached to him the most. I will take you to there if you want, but I am not going in there again.” 
Focus split between observing Jack and listening to Harley, Johan kept his eyes on her, appearing as though she were the center of his attention.
As Harley apologized, it appeared as though she had genuine interest and concern on his behalf.
He was used to such cursory things.
In his life beneath the surface, he encountered it quite often. People being kind, courteous, expressing interest and concern for him, people wanting him on their side, for their own purposes.
Though, the degree to which she seemed to care was slightly different.
It was curious.
Yes, indeed, though such things were worthless.
They didn’t matter.
“Yes. Staying calm, keeping a cool demeanor under such extenuating circumstances, perhaps it wasn’t the best strategy. That boy, he is quite…erratic.”
He shrugged, “It seemed to be the preferable decision at the time.”
He glanced down at his hand for a second as Harley began to wrap it. Returning his gaze to her eyes, he nodded.
“Yes. Though, the damage isn’t as serious as it could have been. That boy, he is quite disturbed.”
Gesturing towards Gem, “The other boy, apparently he’s his brother…”
"The ‘kind of animal’ that boy is, is one of delusion and paranoia. He was spouting nonsense about being ‘abandoned again’. He is quite possessive of his brother, as if he belongs to him. He seemed to think that by killing him, he would have his brother forever.”
“Who would have known, such a young person would suffer from such a mental state, and be able to inflict such damage.”
Looking past Harley, he observed the interaction between Jack and Futa.
The boy was quite persistent, but of course, proved no match against a fully grown man.
At Jack’s forceful shove, Futa came to rest on the floor.
Still, silent, it seemed he was now in the realm of unconsciousness.
Hearing Jack’s irritated voice, he remained silent, as he was confident that his opinions would fall on deaf ears.
That Harley would not believe him.
That she would deny it.
And, indeed, she did.
Holding the material Harley had handed to him against the side of his face, he walked beside her as they followed after her brother.
Turning to Harley as they walked, he knew that the showing of gratitude was required, “Thank you, for the make-shift medical aid.”
Glancing back down at his wrapped hand, he knew that further treatment was required to stave off infection.
The human mouth is by no means a sanitary environment.
Though, such things were not worth considering.
Looking at Jack’s back as they left the room, he glanced down the hall, “May I inquire as to where we are headed?”
Brows furrowing at Lola’s words, Oliver put a hand against the back of her head.
Stroking her hair as she spoke, explaining how the officers, the supposed ‘harbingers of justice’, did this to her.
He felt a deep sadness for Lola.
Sadness intermingled with rising disappointment, surging anger.
People in positions of power…of authority….why did they always seem to abuse it?
He couldn’t understand it.
Why…How…How could anyone derive pleasure from someone else’s pain? Someone else’s suffering?!
Looking down at Lola as she touched his face, her own face smiling, it seemed he was more distraught than she was.
Voice soft, sad, “I’m sorry. I guess I forgot…you are strong.”
Twirling the curls of her hair in between his fingers, his other hand against her face, thumb stroking her cheek, he looked into her eyes, “But…you know, don’t you? You must know you didn’t deserve that..no one deserves that…Those men…those bastards…Corrupt, disgusting assholes…”
He shook his head.
The anger and frustration was clear in his voice, and while he was indeed angry…for some reason…
Why? Why couldn’t he hate them? They were scum, weren’t they? To do such a thing…
Maybe they had personal issues….
What the hell am I thinking?! Making excuses for those people….
A loud, amused laugh ripped through his brain.
Pathetic as usual, huh? No surprises there. You never did have any balls. Any nerve.
That woman there, she’s more of a man than you.
That’s one of the only smart things you’ve accomplished, actually! Fucking that woman.
That was quite the fun time!
….please….just be quiet….please….
Next time, I’m gonna have to have her my way!
You!….you are not going to touch her! Ever!
More laughter.
Just watch me.
Fingers twitching against Lola’s face slightly, he withdrew his hand, trying to ignore that mocking voice.
Forcing a small smile, he kissed her nose, “If there’s anything bothering you, or if you feel you need to express something, anything, you can tell me.”
Hands moving to help her finish putting on her dress, he kept his eyes on her face, staring into her eyes, “I hope you realize that I am here for you. That I…I care for you.”
“I plan to stay around, with you…And I don’t intend on leaving.”
He paused for a moment, “If that’s alright with you.”
Saying this, he knew that he meant every word of it.
He did care for her…
Even if that voice mocked him for it.
He hoped he wasn’t coming on too strong.
Hoped that he wasn’t pushing her away.
Maybe it would be better, if he pushed her away…
Maybe she would be safer…
But, he didn’t want that to happen.
He didn’t want to have to stay away from her.
I can do it…I can control it.
I won’t let that monster near her.
Oliver was serious in this. Resolute.
Tom though, he simply found the concept amusing. 
Glancing at Harley as she talked, their little group continued down the corridor.
Johan shrugged slightly, “Perhaps, though it makes one wonder whether there was any preferable course of action in such a situation - as you mentioned, he would have surely ended our lives regardless.”
“Who knows what gave him that idea. Perhaps an outside source, though it is not unheard of for the human mind to warp and wander so far from sanity and logic.”
Shaking his head at Harley’s next words, slight guilt in her voice, his own voice came out soft, soothing, “You should clear your head of such thoughts. Regret is never productive, and, in this instance, is unfounded. You were rendered unconscious, after all.”
Contemplating his options, it seemed the most preferable course of action would be to stay in the building for a little while longer.
Eyes on Harley, Jack, and Gem, his own course of action seemed clear.
Having them stay would increase the likelihood of their deaths occurring.
This place was large, and it was quite possible that he would be able to find another weapon. And perhaps the opportunity to end their lives would present itself.
Eyes resting on the woman in front of them, “Yes, it seems your group should be regarded cautiously. Considering everything that happened.”
“Perhaps you should consider a different method of dealing with that boy, Futa. As, if I recall correctly, your group claimed to reserve its lust for blood for those ‘cannibals’. Yet, those of us who are not in fact cannibals found ourselves in a situation where Futa, and that large man - Henry, found it amusing to subject us to treatment that was in direct conflict with your group’s claims.”
“My injuries pale in comparison to what the others received.”
By mentioning the others, he knew it was highly probable that Harley would inquire and try to seek them out, as she seemed to posses a sense of justice and compassion towards others.
In that instance, he could lead them off somewhere, isolate them…
Attention snapping back to Johnny as he spoke, addressing her question, Ayva suppressed the urge to raise an eyebrow in doubt, ignoring her usual skepticism, as it did seem that Johnny was telling the truth. 
Mind distracted, her voice came out far away, quiet, “Another group, eh?…”
About to ask about the ‘horrible things’ Johnny claimed he had saw, that blond haired woman appeared.
Taking a step back from the interaction between Johnny and Mama, as it seemed they had some talking to do, she looked over at Rowan and nodded, “It appears so, doesn’t it…”
Watching the two, she felt her stomach turn at the thought of going to that building. It wasn’t particularly due to fear. Rather, it was because she was aware of her own condition.
She knew that, if she did go, she would not be able to help much. Perhaps she would even be a hindrance.
Voice low, directed at Rowan, “It seems some people need help…What role are you going to play? Are you going to help them?” 
Mama released Johnny slowly and took a step back, a mixture of emotions running through her. Relief came first, but as he spoke, she began to feel sick, worried, terrified. 
"Tortured?" she repeated, her voice quiet, almost eerily calm. She couldn’t believe that a boy the same age as Gem would do, or even be able to torture an entire group of people without being stopped. Why hadn’t Johnny overpowered him on his way out? Why hadn’t he saved Gem? 
She closed her eyes. That didn’t matter now. They needed to get there as fast as they could. She would be able to question that boy once she had stopped him. “I wouldn’t expect you to go back in there,” she said, a grateful note in her voice. “Take me there, now.” 
Rowan listened intently to the exchange between Mama and Johnny. Although he felt slight concern for those mentioned…being tortured, he couldn’t even imagine what that was like…he was more anxious to know whether his brother and sister were there. But what could he do if they were? 
Mama seemed strong. She looked confident that she could take on whatever obstacles were in the way of saving the others. 
And what if Harley and Jack weren’t there? He would be getting in the way for nothing. And then, there was Ayva… 
He forced a smile as Ayva spoke, and shrugged, trying to look unconcerned. “I’m no hero,” he replied. “Besides, I think she’s got things under control. By the sounds of it, her opponent is a little boy. It would be cruel to outnumber him too much.” 
He began to turn away, refusing to let Ayva see the guilt carved into his expression. 
Rosie frowned in confusion as Johan spoke. “Futa knows not to harm our new recruits,” she said slowly. “I’m not too surprised, though. But…Henry. I didn’t expect that kind of behaviour from him.” 
"Well the evidence is right in front of you, isn’t it?" Harley hissed at her. "Now let us-" she stopped when Johan mentioned others. She turned to him, her brow furrowed. "There were more of you in there?" she asked. 
Jack shifted his position, so Gem rested more comfortably in his arms, and took a step back from Rosie as she approached them. But it seemed she was not interested in harming the boy. 
"We have been considering for a while now what to do with that…demon," she said quietly, as though afraid Futa would hear her. "If you’ll just return to the dormitory, I will let this incident slide." 
"Excuse me?" Harley snapped, her attention springing back to Rosie. "You’ll let it slide? You? Are you being serious? They were almost murdered by that demon, and you’re going to forgive us? We’re not going anywhere with you. We’re finding the others, and leaving!” 
"You’ll never get that cannibal out of here alive," Rosie said shortly. 
"And you’re going to stop us, are you?" Jack demanded, looking as though he was ready to punch her. And he might have done, if he hadn’t been carrying the unconscious Gem. 
Rosie put a hand to her forehead. “Listen,” she growled. “I will go get the others. You wait in the dormitory. I will see to it that you all receive medical attention, and then you can leave if you still want.” 
"I’m coming with you to get the others," Harley said firmly. 
"Fine," Rosie grumbled. Then she turned to Johan, who seemed to be the calmest. "Do you have any idea where they were taken?" 
While most of Ayva’s attention was on Rowan, she did indeed continue to listen as Mama questioned Johnny.
It seemed that the two were both emotionally invested in the situation at that building…
She felt slightly awkward, as she didn’t even know who they were talking about…this “Gem” person that they both seemed so concerned about…Tim…Jess….
Whoever those people are, she wouldn’t be able to help them.
Watching Rowan as he spoke, she felt herself relaxing.
She sighed in relief, as she didn’t want him to leave, “Heroes are overrated anyway…”
“I find it hard to believe that a kid could do all that. Though, I guess in this screwed up world, it may not be such a ridiculous thing…”
Trailing off when she noticed Rowan turn away, she raised an eyebrow, “Is something wrong?”
Gathering up the rest of the blankets strewn across the floor, Oliver and Lola began to exit the cell they had been in, to make their way back to the nursery, when they saw figures by the prison’s entrance. 
Heard voices.
Listening for a moment, he could hear the emotion in their voices. The urgency.
From the sounds of it, something important was going on…
Walking over to the group, he recognized most of the faces…Mama, Rowan, Ayva…
Knowing that his presence made her uncomfortable, he tried to keep his distance.
Noticing Johnny, he found himself wondering who he was…he had never seen him before….
Listening to Johnny and Mama, it seemed they caught the tail end of the conversation, hearing something about “torture”…
Hearing that word made his skin crawl…
The happy mood he had been in gave way to concern.
Wanting to ask about it – what was going on - he found himself unable to, as Mama and Johnny did not wait any longer.
Watching as the two began to set off, he felt a rising panic.
…people being tortured….
He couldn’t just stay here…not when he could potentially help.
What use would I be if I don’t help?
No…he didn’t want to be useless…
About to take off after them, he realized that he still had blankets in his arms, as did Lola.
While he didn’t know what to do with the blankets, as he would feel bad handing them off to someone else when they had taken on the task, Lola seemed less concerned about that.
Lola gave the blankets she had carried to Ayva, subsequently taking the blankets Oliver had carried from his hands and giving them to Rowan.
Staying still for a moment, surprised at Lola’s swift actions, his expression grew apologetic as Rowan and Ayva looked at them.
It didn’t seem like those two were going to come along….but still….to just thrust their responsibility off onto someone else…
“Sorry…Could you two bring those to the nursery, please?”
Before Ayva and Rowan had a chance to respond, Lola grabbed Oliver’s arm. Re-focusing his attention on Mama and Johnny, they followed after them.
-Sounds like a bit of fun!-
-sounds terrible…..
Glaring after Oliver, her voice conveyed the disbelief she felt, “What the hell?….So they’re just gonna let that psycho tag along?”
Glancing down at the ball of blankets she had acquired, looking back at Rowan, “I guess we have some blankets to deliver now?…”
Observing as Rosie and Harley interacted, Johan nodded at Harley’s question.
“Yes. There were two others.”
He saw no need to mention Johnny, as he was not, currently, on the premises.
While he recognized that he may well come back to help, warning Futa’s group was not necessary.
Perhaps omitting this detail would provide a favourable outcome.
Letting his words drift off and be overtaken by Harley and Rosie’s tense conversation, it was quite obvious that the two were not enjoying each other’s company.
Perhaps he would be able to use that.
After some time, it seemed they had reached a decision.
And yes, Harley did indeed react as he predicted.
Gaze on the two women, he spoke ever calmly, “Yes. Henry took them down there.” He turned down the hall as he spoke, pausing briefly, “Perhaps it would be wise to make haste. Who knows what kind of tortures they are being subjected to.”
It seemed they agreed.
Leading them down the hall, he kept his eyes active, scanning their surroundings for anything that could be useful.
To ensure a higher probability of success, he knew that obtaining an efficient weapon was essential.
Due to the deteriorated state of the building, large chunks of the wall were available.
Perhaps such a chunk would make an appropriate blunt force weapon… 

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Rowan forced a laugh, still facing slightly away from Ayva. If he looked at her, he was certain she would see the regret and worry in his eyes, and he didn’t feel like being questioned. “Exactly,” he said quietly. 
He thought for a moment, barely noticing Oliver and Lola as they exited the building. “I wish I could say I was surprised,” he admitted quietly. “But, like you said, this world is messed up.” 
When Ayva asked if something was wrong, he froze for a moment. But he was saved from responding when something was pushed into his arms. He snapped out of his daze and looked at the blankets, then at Lola and Oliver as Oliver spoke. Despite Oliver’s polite, apologetic tone, a need to defend anyone he might attack, coupled with the crippling fear of confrontation took hold of Rowan, and, as he watched them go, his worry increased. What if his siblings really were there, and that man harmed them? He had to go. He had to make sure they were safe. But… 
His legs refused to move. He had already told Ayva he would stay…And they had Mama… 
"Well, if he’s with them, he won’t be around us, or those children," he pointed out, trying to sound cheerful as they turned to take the blankets back inside. "And this gives us something to do." 
He gave Ayva another forced smile, grateful to avoid having to lie and insist nothing was wrong. 
At least two of the babies were crying, he could hear from the end of the corridor, and he guessed it wouldn’t be easy to assist whoever was taking care of them in calming them down. 
Mama barely glanced back at Oliver and Lola as they joined the tiny rescue team. She had words for them both, but now wasn’t the right time. 
"You," she half snarled at Oliver. "I’m warning you to keep that other side of yours under control. I’m not in the mood to be lenient with it." She spoke sharply, and shortly, fully aware of the harsh unfairness of her words. If Oliver could control when that monster overtook him, she and Lola wouldn’t still be sporting the injuries he had caused, and one of their camp’s strongest fighters wouldn’t be dead. At least, she thought half heartedly, Dorian was still around somewhere, probably keeping the camp elder safe. They would be the next to reunite with, after rescuing Gem and the others, of course. 
Her heart skipped a beat as it hit her. If Johnny was telling the truth, Gem was still alive. Somehow, he had made it, and she would get to see him again. She quickened her pace as the thought crossed her mind. She was concerned for Jess, as well. Although she barely knew the girl, she had potential. It was a shame she had chosen Tim, as he was an idiot and probably got her into the situation she was in right now. 
But there wasn’t much to be done about that. 
It seemed to take them an age, traipsing through the burned down forest, before the school, in the same, crumbling state as the prison, loomed into view. And once it was in sight, Mama sped up once more, stopping only when she trod on something that cracked beneath her foot. It was the charred remains of a body. But what interested her was beneath it. It had managed, unwillingly, to protect a tiny cluster of familiar plants, which she picked wordlessly. When crushed together, these plants were able to kill almost any infection, and clear up any minor injury within days. From the things Johnny had said, they would probably be needed. 
"Right," Rosie replied, looking as though she felt sick. She began to follow Johan, making a point to ignore the other two. "And I assure you, Henry will receive twice the punishment they are enduring." 
"Oh, that makes us feel much better," Harley grumbled, glaring at the back of Rosie’s head. 
Jack followed, only because of his distrust for Johan. He didn’t want to leave his sister alone with him, and some stranger who had allowed her comrades to torture three people. He glanced down at Gem, who was frowning in his sleep, apparently experiencing some discomfort. It was no wonder, however. The boy’s face was bleeding from two shallow, yet long wounds, and his left eye in particular was a mess. The entire top half of his body was soaking wet, and the ropes he had been tied with had left marks on his wrists, and probably his ankles as well. 
All Johan had was a scratch and a bloody hand. Had he really been tortured at all? Or had he been in on the whole thing? Were these alleged ‘two others’ even real? 
As Jack watched Johan carefully, he began to notice his eyes wandering, as though looking for something. What was he up to? 
Harley walked beside Johan, silently at first. But as they neared the end of the corridor, she began to speak tentatively. “You’re worried about them, aren’t you?” she asked. “It’s not your fault if they’re hurt.” She thought of what he had said before, about there being no preferable course of action. He was probably right. That boy had been completely unhinged. It was terrifying to think what his accomplice was doing to the others.  
Listening to Rowan’s voice, Ayva noticed that he never answered her question.
With a slightly furrowed brow, she found herself feeling concerned.
She usually tried avoiding such emotions, tried shoving them away to make room for something more useful, less bothersome. However, it did not seem to be working now.
Why did she feel this way now?
Trying to ignore the feeling, she heard what he said regarding Oliver leaving with the others, “Yeah…I guess you’re right.”
She hadn’t even considered that….
Following Rowan back inside the prison, blankets in hand, they approached the nursery.
As they approached, the loud squalling of infants grew stronger.
Feeling slightly irritated – as their screaming incited her headache to return - they came to the entrance of the room.
Looking into the room, she saw that there were two men with the babies – a tall, darker haired man and a shorter, happy-looking man.
It seemed as though they were having a difficult time handling the babies.
Trying to ignore the wailing, she set the blankets she had been carrying down, “Here. We were told to bring these here…they’re a bit dirty though.”
Wincing as they moved, his ribs still very tender after the fight he had had with Mama, Oliver tried his best not to slow them down.
Jumping slightly as Mama turned on him, he stared at her in silence, voice caught in his throat.
At Mama’s words, he was taken aback.
He hadn’t even considered how terrible things would be if…
Would he end up killing more people?!
All he wanted was to help, but…
The anxiety and panic caught his heart, and his stomach turned at the thought of what might happen if he wasn’t strong enough…Looking at Lola, he remembered what he had decided earlier. But….would he actually be able to accomplish such a thing?!
Trying to shake the distressed expression that caught his facial features, he tried his best to sound confident – he didn’t want to worry the others, “I….I will control it…I won’t let anymore horrible things happen.”
He hoped he wasn’t proved a liar.
After a long while of travel, they finally came face to face with the deteriorated building.
Knowing what the building contained…what was going on inside…
…The building seemed more ominous than the prison.
As Mama stood up from collecting something from the ground, their small group cautiously began to enter the school.
Looking around, he tried to observe, to listen for anything that would give them a sign as to where the others were.
The place seemed almost eerily silent, except for…
While it was faint, he could hear voices…and angry sounding voices, at that.
It sounded like the voices were coming from up those stairs…
Unsure, he looked to the others for confirmation.
It seemed they heard it as well.
Moving up the stairs, the voices grew slightly louder, the tone seemingly calmer.
Stopping, it seemed they had found the source of the voices.
Staring at the backs of the people walking down the hall, the two men seemed….familiar to him…
As they walked, Johan listened to the continued hostility between Harley and that other woman.
Though, his mind was more interested in determining whether using such a blunt force weapon would be efficient in this situation.
If he did grab it, and knock out or perhaps kill Jack, Rosie and Harley may cause issues. Such a thing was not efficient. 
Glancing at Harley, he nodded his head, “It is difficult not to worry, in such a situation. Who knows what could be happening to those unfortunate souls…”
While he reached a decision, the arrival of others was betrayed by the squeaking of the stairs.
He let his voice drop off.
Turning to face the new comers, he recognized the one – Oliver, he had said his name was. 
Gaze on Oliver, that lurking aura of darkness he had sensed in him earlier was still present.
Voice calm, directed at Harley, “It seems we have company.”
As the group turned around, Oliver finally realized who those two men were…
That handsome blond man….
…is that…Johan? 
His anxiety and paranoia relaxing ever so slightly, he went over to them, bringing Lola along.
“Jack! Is that you? I haven’t seen you since before that forest fire…I was worried something happened…”
Shaking away dismal thoughts, he smiled slightly, “I’m glad you’re ok!”
Glancing over at Johan, feeling a bit embarrassed by his own outburst, his eyes widened at the sight of his bleeding hand, “Are you ok?!”
Had Johan been tortured?!
Feeling the worry creep back slightly, he looked around at the others in their group.
Noticing the boy in Jack’s arm – the cute young boy he had seen at that party – and the condition he was in, his temporary happiness crumbled.
“….What…What happened here? Is he going to be alright?” 
Rowan put down the blankets he had been carrying on top of Ayva’s, and glanced around the room. He couldn’t help but notice that the two men needed help. There was a baby clinging to the taller man’s hair, and the other was trying to soothe the two crying infants at once. 
Shou smiled tiredly at  the two of them. “The more, the better,” he chimed gratefully. “We’ve already had to start tearing the ones we have for nappies.” 
Noticing how exhausted Shou looked, Rowan made up his mind. Forcing yet another smile, he turned to Ayva. “We may as well help out…I may not look it, but I’m actually good with children.” He made his way over to Shou, and took the younger baby from his arms. 
The child slowly stopped crying, and yawned, her eyes fluttering closed. And, no longer having to share space and attention, the baby Shou was still holding began to drift off to sleep as well. 
"Wow," Shou said, gently lowering the baby onto the mattress and standing up. "How did you do that?" 
Rowan shrugged, allowing the baby’s hand to wrap around his little finger. “I said, didn’t I,” he replied, feigning arrogance. “I’m good with children.” 
Shou made his way over to the blankets, under the guise of straightening them out. He kept his back turned to Ayva, but he couldn’t completely hide a soft, rattling sound. By the time he turned back to the others, whatever had been rattling was gone, and his smile had returned to his face. 
"Are you good with them, as well?" he asked Ayva. 
Mama felt only a small twinge of guilt as they approached the building, thinking of the way she had spoken to Oliver. She noticed he seemed to be having difficulty keeping up, and knew it must have been due to the injuries she had dealt him. Right now, he didn’t appear to pose a threat. 
She pushed the plants safely into her dress, and followed the others inside. At first, everything was silent, but then she too heard the voices, and urgently began to climb the stairs after them. 
"We’ll rescue them soon," Harley assured Johan, her tone soothing. Focused on making Johan feel better, she was unaware of the approaching footsteps. She only realized they had company when Johan suddenly turned around. 
Following his gaze, she saw the others, and instantly raised her guard. Oliver and Lola were familiar, but she had no reason to trust the other two. She nodded when Johan spoke, keeping her narrowed eyes on Mama. 
As Harley and Johan turned, Jack glanced back as well, and as his eyes fell on Oliver, his blood ran cold. He took one step back, but it was too late. Oliver had already hurtled over to him. 
"What?" he asked incredulously. He was certain Oliver was just trying to keep up appearances in front of everyone else, pretending to be concerned. His real concern was probably that Jack would tell everyone what he had tried to do. And he intended to. 
As Oliver’s attention turned to Johan, Jack rolled his eyes angrily. “I’m guessing you two are actually friends,” he muttered bitterly. But his bitter expression gave way to fury when Oliver turned his attention to the defenceless boy he was carrying. Jack quickly turned his back on Oliver, shielding Gem as well as he could. 
"He’ll be alright if you stay away from him!” he snapped. “Get away!” 
"Jack!" Harley hissed, as she realized these people posed no threat. "What is wrong with you?” 
Jack rounded on his sister. “He tried to-“ 
But Harley didn’t find out what Oliver had done, for, as he turned, Mama caught sight of Gem, and, in her haste to get to him, almost bulldozed Jack to the floor. She grabbed Gem from his arms, and sank to the floor, checking each of his injuries. His breathing was faint, he was limp in her arms, but he was alive. 
"Oh, thank goodness," she whispered, burying her face in his wet hair. 
Harley watched with a slightly raised eyebrow. Then she turned to Oliver, Lola and Johnny in turn, her expression demanding an explanation from one of them. 
Jack steadied himself, somehow feeling worse now that Oliver was there. Now there were two people he had to watch out for. He had almost confronted Mama, but she didn’t seem hostile. 
Rosie, however, did not like the intrusion one bit. 
"How did you people get up here?" she demanded, regarding Mama with disgust. She was willing to let the boy go, because he was young, but this cannibal was familiar to her. She was one of the strong ones she hoped had burned to death. She didn’t intend to let her leave the school alive. There was something she didn’t like about Oliver, as well. Her question was aimed at him, as he seemed the most talkative. 
It seemed, for the moment, Jess and Tim had left almost everyone’s minds.  
Mouth a flat line, neither a smile nor a frown, Ayva sighed slightly, “Yeah…I suppose.”
Eye twitching slightly as the incessant wailing continued, her headache increasing, she tried to ignore it and focus on Rowan.
Giving him a doubtful look as he claimed to be ‘good with children’, she watched with slight interest as he removed one of the babies from Shou’s arms.
As the babies began to calm, she found herself feeling impressed.
“Who would have known. What are you? Some sort of ‘baby whisperer’?”
“Or, maybe you just have lots of experience?”
While her attention was focused on Rowan, she noticed Shou from her periphery, unintentionally watching as he went off to the pile of blankets.
Beginning to lose interest, she was about to speak to Rowan when she heard it.
It was a faint sound, but quite distinct.
The rattle of pills.
….pills….Pills…maybe the closest thing, besides those mushrooms, that I’ll get…..
Focus now on Shou, she tried to contain her growing desperation.
Grabbing her skirt, hands clenched, she managed to keep her voice steady as she answered Shou’s question, “No…not really….”
She sighed, “I mean…I don’t have much experience with those types of things…”
Eyes wandering up and down Shou, she wondered where he could have hidden the pills.
Not caring that what she was about to do next would appear quite strange to the others, she let go of her grip on the fabric of her skirt and grabbed at Shou’s sleeve, “Sorry, but…I need to talk to you. Alone.”
Turning, shaking hand still attached to his sleeve, she brought the two of them out of the room and down the hall a bit.
Heart racing, mind whirling, eyes slightly wild, she pressed him against the wall, “Where-…Where did you put them??”
Nodding at Harley’s reassurance, Johan watched along with her as Oliver approached.
Staying silent at Oliver’s concern over his well being, he watched the man’s attention jump back to Jack and the boy.
He simply remained a still, silent, observing presence.
Hurt by Jack’s reaction to him, by his words, Oliver recoiled.
Expression disintegrating into an upset, distraught state, he tried to work out why he had reacted in such a way.
Thinking out loud, his voice was sad, slightly desperate, “…Why?….we seemed to be getting along back by that fire…what did I….do….”
Voice trailing off, he realized it.
He remembered being beside Jack at that fire, but then….nothing. 
Nothing until that party.
Trying to suppress his anxiety, he wondered.
What had happened in that stretch of time?
He remembered Mama saying that he had killed someone at that camp…fought her.
But…What about before then?!
Abiding by Jack’s wish, he backed away from him and Gem.
He looked at Jack with sad eyes, “I am sorry….for whatever terrible things I did.”
Observing the interaction between Oliver and Jack, it became obvious to Johan that something had transpired between them earlier.
Judging by Jack’s visceral and immediate reaction, it was clear that whatever had happened must have been quite unpleasant.
While Jack was convinced of the man’s guilt, he was thinking otherwise.
It seemed that, while he had most likely done something ‘terrible’, the man in front of them now – Oliver – clearly posed no threat. It was that darkness in him. He was certain.
He wondered…
Perhaps, he would be able to draw the ‘evil’ out.
As Harley spoke up, yelling at Jack, Oliver turned to her, about to defend Jack. To say that, no – Jack probably had every right to treat him as he did. But, before he got the chance, Mama charged Jack, taking the boy from his arms and causing a shocked moment of silence.
Staring at Mama, her expression betrayed her relief and elation.
He felt a flicker of happiness for her. 
He was glad that, so far, the trip was going well for someone.
Mesmerized by the lovely reunion, he was startled by Rosie’s suspicious tone.
Turning, staring at her, he felt a bit perplexed…he wondered…
Was this some kind of trick question?…
Silence engulfing him, he took a moment to respond.
His voice came out slowly, tentative, “….we walked through the door?”
It was only once the words had slipped from his lips to the air that he realized what he had said may be misconstrued as rude, perhaps sarcastic. Though, truly, the last thing he ever wanted to do was upset people.
Gaze directed at Oliver, Johan did not acknowledge Rosie, as she was not currently required.
Masterly feigning concern in his voice, he addressed Oliver, “Perhaps you could alleviate some of the tension here. Did you indeed do something to Jack? If so, what was it?”
Turning to look at Johan, Oliver shrugged and shook his head slowly, sadly, “I-I don’t know….I guess I must have….but…I don’t remember…”
Voice wavering, he swung his attention back over to Jack, “Please…tell me…I-…I need to know…What did I do?!”
While he dreaded Jack’s response, he felt that he needed to know. If he didn’t, it would bother him. Eat him up inside. 
Rowan laughed and shook his head. “It’s nothing like that,” he insisted. “I’m just used to having to calm down an overgrown, grumpy baby on occasion. These are easy compared to him.” 
He sensed Ayva wasn’t exactly happy with the situation she had been forced into, and opened his mouth to suggest that she rest somewhere else, when her attention snapped to Shou. Frowning, he watched as she seemed to tense for a moment. Was something wrong? 
Shou, on the other hand, was completely oblivious. He continued to smile as Ayva spoke. “I guess we’ll all get a lot of practice, now,” he said cheerfully. “There’s so many of th-“ 
He stopped when she grabbed him by the sleeve, slightly taken a back. 
Rowan frowned, unable to shake the feeling that something was wrong. Of course, he barely knew Ayva, but the way she was acting was definitely strange. He watched as she practically dragged Shou out of the room. To his dismay, the baby in his arms decided she didn’t feel like sleeping any more, and resumed her crying, leaving him stuck trying to comfort her, when really, he wanted to know what was causing Ayva’s strange behaviour. 
Shou followed Ayva, unable to hide his confusion. He winced slightly as she pushed him against the wall, and stared at her with bewildered eyes. “Huh?” he asked obliviously. “Put…what?” 
Rosie blinked, slowly taking in what Oliver had said. Then she was overtaken by outrage. “Excuse me?” she demanded. But Oliver’s attention had already drifted elsewhere, as Johan spoke. It didn’t seem as though she was going to get anothe word into the conversation for a while, and there  was no point trying to gain any control over what happened next. Not when she was so outnumbered. 
Instead, she decided to glower silently at Oliver, infuriated by his nerve to answer her question sarcastically. 
Jack turned his attention from Mama, to Johan, his eyes narrowed in suspicion. He had a feeling Johan was enjoying himself, stirring the already tense atmosphere between him and Oliver. 
He laughed bitterly, his cold eyes drifting to Oliver as he denied all knowledge of what had happened, and began pleading for answers. It was obvious that he just wanted to come across as innocent. But it wouldn’t work. Jack was not about to let him get away with what he had done. 
"Don’t play stupid," he growled at him. "You know exactly what you did. You were fully conscious of your actions when you came out, swinging that arm around like some kind of toy. You tried to kill me! Did you really think you could get away with that, just by pretending you don’t remember?" He took a step towards Oliver, a little more confident than he would have been if they were alone. "Yeah, we were getting along just fine at the camp fire. But you’re the one who put an end to that. Admit it, you’re only sorry you couldn’t finish the job!” 
Harley looked from her brother, to Oliver, her own feelings a mixture of anger and suspicion. Up until now, she had believed Oliver was on their side. He had seemed nice before, and he seemed genuinely concerned and remorseful. But, she distinctly remembered watching him and Jack disappear into the trees. Neither had returned. Was it possible his innocence was all an act? 
She had to believe her brother. He wouldn’t lie about something like this. 
Her own fury rising, she closed the gap between herself and Oliver, and, mustering all of her strength, punched him in the face. “Bastard,” she hissed, her voice filled with disgust. “You’re still going to stand there as though you’re the victim, even after-“ 
"He really doesn’t remember," Mama said flatly. Her tone of voice suggested she was simply stating the fact, rather than coming to Oliver’s aid. She got to her feet, cradling Gem protectively in her arms. "I highly doubt it was actually even him." 
"What did you say?" Jack said, glowering at her furiously. 
But Mama ignored him. “Is there any particular reason you neglected to mention your other personality?” she asked Oliver. 
Harley allowed herself to relax from her aggressive stance, and stood back to stand beside Johan. Jack, on the other hand, still looked as though he wanted to kill someone. “Oh, that’s right. Cover for him,” he said sarcastically. 
Mama spared him an impatient look, and frowned when she saw his face. He looked awfully similar to that idiot back at the prison. She chose to ignore that for now. 
Eye twitching slightly at Shou’s claim of ignorance, Ayva was growing increasingly impatient, “Please…Just save it. You know what I mean.”
She moved closer to him,“I heard it, you know! That rattling….You have pills, don’t you?!”
She didn’t want to hurt the guy, as he seemed sort of fragile, but…who knows what she would do….
She wanted those pills, whatever they were.
She wanted them, and she would get them.
Face close to his, hands clenching, her frustration and desperation were clear, “Where are the pills?!”
Flinching at Jack’s aggressive voice, Oliver’s sad eyes grew wide.
Listening to Jack as he told him what had happened, he grew even more horrified at himself.
…swinging an arm around?! …why??….tried to kill him….
He tried to resist the instinct to back away from Jack as he came closer; though, this was not out of wanting to appear “strong”, rather, he didn’t want to be rude, and he had no right to run away.
He had asked for the truth.
Shaking his head slightly at Jack’s last part, his voice was quiet, “No…I am sorry any of that happened at all…you didn’t deserve that treatment…I guess…you may not believe me….but, I’m glad you’re still alive.”
Since his focus had been on Jack, he was startled when Harley advanced on him. Hit him.
Forced back by Harley’s punch, he found his nose begin to bleed again. Dripping.
Glancing down, he felt sick as the sight of his blood soaked shirt greeted him, the fresh blood – though, this time, being his own – joining it. He doubted any amount of washing could get it all out….
Looking back at Harley, voice small, he was about to suggest that Harley hit him again, if that was what he wanted…since he still seemed angry…Oliver didn’t want anyone to hate him, but it seemed it was inevitable….
Though, not a single word was able to escape before Mama spoke.
Johan shifted his gaze to Mama as she spoke. 
Her statement was quite interesting. Quite illuminating. 
From what little he knew of Oliver, and from what he could intuitively sense, her statement seemed logical. 
Indeed, such a thing would make sense.
At Mama’s intervention, Oliver found himself feeling grateful…Though…No. 
He was just being selfish. 
He had no right to feel that way.  He didn’t deserve to be spared the punishment the others wanted to inflict upon him.
Sure, being hit did hurt, but he knew….he deserved more than that.
Opening his mouth, he tried to answer Mama’s question, “I-….I….” Lapsing back into silence, he wasn’t exactly sure why he didn’t mention such a significant thing…
Hearing Jack’s sarcastic comment reminded him.
“Be-….Because…that’s no excuse….I know I would never do anything like that, yet, apparently I have…or, I guess, that other thing has…But that doesn’t make anything alright…All the terrible things have still been done, and I can’t do anything to take it back.”
“I…I still killed all those people…I dropped that baby…I still hurt Jack…I still hurt people…even if it wasn’t my own intention, it was my body…these hands….”
He was silent for a moment, staring at his own hands, “…even my clothes…all that blood….are evidence of the horrible things I’ve done…”
Shuddering slightly, he wished he was wearing something else, a different shirt.
“…I just wish I could make up for it, for everything that I have done…” 
Looking back up at Mama and the others, “If they want to hurt me, I have no right to hide behind that…to use it as an excuse…They have every right to punish me…”
As everything was happening, Tom simply observed. 
The entire situation was one he found quite amusing.
Voice steady, Johan addressed Oliver, “How can we feel safe, knowing you are capable of such destruction? How do we know that you won’t try to end all of our lives?”
Staring at Johan, Oliver didn’t know if it would be right of him to try and reassure them…but…he found his mouth talking before he was ready, “I-…I won’t let that happen….I mean, I’ll try…I’ll try to control it. I don’t want anyone else hurt because of me.”
Raising an eyebrow at Oliver, Johan continued, “Oh? Are you really strong enough to oppose such an internal force? You sound rather uncertain.”
“Or, perhaps…you don’t want to admit that other personality of yours is the weak one? Perhaps you simply don’t care enough to control it all the time. Is it simply a temperamental child that can be put in the corner?”
Oliver simply stared at Johan, confused and surprised. He was about to say no, and insist that he was the weak one, and that he does care…but….
Tom listened to the blond man’s words, anger increasing, boiling into fury. 
Temperamental child??!!
ME? Weaker than you?! Who the hell does he think I am? Some pathetic piece of nothing that isn’t even stronger than you, Ollie?!
Please…you are not going to do anything…I won’t let y-
Hahahah! You? Won’t let ME?! What a fucking joke.
No. I won’t let you. So…please…
Oliver’s protests were not helping the situation.
Tom simply laughed.
I’ll show them what real strength is! 
"I don’t…" Shou insisted, a small flicker of fear entering his eyes. He wasn’t used to being treated this way. Ayva was obviously desperate for something, but he had no idea what it was. 
But, when she mentioned the pills, it struck him. She had heard the bottle, and now it seemed she would stop at nothing to get her hands on them. But, why? 
He pressed himself against the wall as she moved closer, his eyes staring into hers. If he didn’t give her the pills, he didn’t know what she would do to him. But…if he did… 
It was out of the question. He needed them. 
"I’m sorry," he breathed. "I don’t know what you’re talking about…I don’t have any pills." 
Jack didn’t believe a word of what he was hearing. He didn’t care if Oliver was sorry. He didn’t care how many times he apologized, or even how sincere he sounded. By the sound of it, what had happened was likely to happen again, and he didn’t want to give him that chance. 'He may be happy I'm still alive, for now,' he thought bitterly. 'But later might be a different story.' 
It was best to just keep his distance from that guy. 
"Dwelling on all of that will do you no good," Mama said sternly as Oliver spoke. "You made a promise to keep that monster under control, and you owe these people a proper explanation for your actions. It’s not fair to them to hide it. What if it happens again?" 
As Johan began to speak, Mama inclined her head in his direction, indicating that was precisely one of the reasons why they needed to know what they were up against, if it came to it. 
But, as the conversation between Johan and Oliver continued, Mama frowned. Maybe he was taking it a bit too far. 
Harley seemed to be thinking the same thing. “Johan,” she warned him. “Maybe saying that isn’t such a good idea.” She was certain no one would enjoy being referred to as a ‘weak, temperamental child’, even a…whatever Oliver had inside his mind. As it was, she much preferred it if it didn’t emerge. From what Oliver had said, it had caused a lot of pain and death. 
Deciding it was probably best to intervene, to distract Oliver from what Johan was saying, Mama stepped towards him. But, as she looked into his eyes, she feared it was already too late. 
It was worth a try. 
"If they’re going to punish you, they’ll do it regardless," she said, trying to snap his attention back to his apology. "I’m guessing that boy would have punched you, no matter what you said-" 
"Excuse me?" Harley said, briefly looking from Johan to Mama. 
"You won’t ever be able to get away with what he has done, but it is your responsibility to prevent it from happening again. And part of that is making sure people know exactly what he is.” 
"Did you hear that?" Harley grumbled to Johan. "She’s got some nerve…" Her voice drifted off as she looked up at him, worried that he would continue. He didn’t seem affected by Oliver’s secret whatsoever. Maybe because the guy was outnumbered right now. "I don’t think you should say anything else to him. You might make it angry." 
Looking into Shou’s eyes, Ayva could see his fear.
Was she really….being that scary?
She hadn’t realized how aggressive she was acting…
What if she had just been hearing things? What if this man really doesn’t have any pills?
Emotions rivaling her desperation ran through her – shame, worry and sadness.
Yet…ultimately, such feelings were not as strong as the ever beckoning cravings.
Overpowering her compassion, desperation gave way to anger.
Shaking her head, her voice bordered hysteria, “Don’t! Just. Don’t! Don’t open your mouth if you’re just gonna spew lies!”
Clutching Shou’s shoulders, she had an idea…
She began to shake him. Rather violently.
Listening intently as she shook, her idea seemed to pay off. She heard it again.
The rattling of pills in a bottle.
A brief flicker of excitement and relief went through her features.
It seemed she wasn’t hallucinating.
Though…that meant that he had been lying.
Lying straight to her face.
“This could have been easier…”
Shoving him against the wall, she let go of his shoulder with one hand.
Hand shaking, she reached past the zipper of his jacket. Feeling the inside layer of his jacket, her erratic hand came upon a cylindrical shape.
In a series of frantic motions, her hand opened the pocket that was holding the shape and touched it.
Feeling the distinct, smooth surface of a pill bottle, she stopped for a moment, as if shocked.
Though, such a moment passed quickly, and she soon found her fingers wrap themselves around its circumference.
She quickly retrieved it from Shou’s pocket.
Clutching the bottle in her hand, looking at Shou, she let out a sad laugh, “Lying isn’t worth it, if it’s this easy to prove otherwise.”
Twitching slightly, her voice rose, anger clear, “What the hell did you think would happen here?!”
She brought the bottle of pills between them, and shook, “Did you think I’d just walk off, be all ‘Ok then! Have a nice day’?! You clearly don’t see…” 
"You should never bullshit a desperate person!”
Calming down slightly, she glanced down at the bottle of pills.
Staring at them for a moment, examining them, she eventually directed her eyes back at Shou, “What exactly are these…? …tranquilizers?”
Sad eyes looking at Mama, Oliver almost felt the urge to explain, to defend his reasoning. But…he knew she was right.
Why was he doing this? Why was he being so selfish?
Feeling more ashamed of himself, he found it difficult to look Mama in the eye, but he managed.
What must she think of him?
“I-…I remember…and I do intend to try…You’re right, I’m sorry. It wasn’t fair to them….”
His voice grew quieter at her question.
“If it happens again…then….then-”
Yeah yeah yeah. Haven’t we heard this broken record before?
“-I should just…die…..”
Johan shifted his gaze to Harley slightly, regarding her as she made her protest known.
“What has been said was said. Unfortunately, such things cannot be undone now.”
He watched in silence as Mama made her attempt at distracting Oliver. However, Johan could sense that such a window of opportunity had passed.
Glancing back at Harley, it seemed she had not particularly enjoyed Mama’s comment.
Voice calm, gentle, he vocalized his agreement, “Yes, saying anything more would be folly at this point.”
Hearing everything, Tom took hold of Oliver’s consciousness.
Feeling something was….off, Oliver’s expression grew profoundly worried.
No! Please! Don’t-…
With some degree of effort, Tom effectively shoved Oliver into the depths of his mind.
In a voice that was clearly mocking Oliver’s sad, quiet voice, bordering on sarcasm, Tom responded to Mama’s words, “Exactly what ‘he’ is, huh? Well…he’s a horrid person, who seems to enjoy torturing people, killing people, yadda yadda yadda.”
“Oh! Woe is me to be trapped with such a monstrous thing!”
Dropping the deliberately terrible Oliver act, Tom let out a laugh, “As if you believed that moron. Him control me?! What a joke! Have you not realized the scope of his pathetic-ness yet?”
Hearing Johan’s calm voice as he exchanged words with Harley, Tom’s expression darkened.
He was getting fed up.
That guy….What the fuck?!
That fucking guy! ….Has the nerve to smile?!!
Turning away from Mama, he now let his attention focus on the blond man.
Advancing on Johan, Tom’s voice was almost eerily calm, “That was quite the talk you gave back there. You even got Ollie confused. Though, granted, that’s not such a difficult feat…”
Now standing directly in front of Johan, expression less than impressed, voice taking on a viscous edge, he continued, “Now, why don’t you say all that shit to my face?!” 
As Ayva clutched his shoulders, Shou closed his eyes. There was no longer any trace of a smile on his face. “Please, I-” he began to protest. But a second later, she was shaking him roughly;  too rough. The pain the painkillers had been keeping at bay seemed to return at full force as the quick, jolting movements persisted. 
When she stopped, the hand that held him against the wall was the only thing keeping him standing. 
"Please, don’t take them," he whispered as she began rummaging in his jacket to find the bottle. But it was no use. She already had them. Shou looked at the bottle in dismay. "I’m sorry," he said quietly, unable to meet Ayva’s eyes. "They’re very important to me. I thought…maybe…" He broke off, resisting the urge to be sick. "I don’t know. I just don’t want you to take them away. Please." 
It was too late for that, and he knew it. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was desperate as well. 
As Ayva’s anger seemed to fade, Shou forced himself to look at her. “They’re painkillers,”  he replied, deciding there was no use lying, now. “If you want some…I’ll give you a couple. But I need them. Please, give them back.” 
Mama closed her eyes impatiently, and shook her head. “You’ll try harder,” she said sternly. “And with any luck, it won’t happen again. And if it does-” She broke off, as she looked into Oliver’s eyes again. He seemed to be struggling. It appeared Johan’s words, far from helping, had woken Tom. Her intervention made no difference whatsoever. 
"You really shouldn’t have said it," Harley said exasperatedly. "What if-…" Just as Mama broke off, so did Harley. Oliver’s tone had changed. He seemed to be mocking them, or mocking…himself. 
"Bastard," Mama hissed, taking a step back from Tom, worried he would turn his attention to Gem. But, fortunately, he didn’t. "He may not be able to control you, but you know, I can!" she growled at him. 
But he had already begun to advance on Johan. 
Harley stepped between the two of them, glowering up at Tom. He was much taller than her, but she didn’t care. “You already heard him,” she snarled. “Back off! Unless you want a black eye to go with that nose!” 
Sighing wearily, Mama watched Tom go, aware that he was too angry to listen to reason. Johan had really made him angry. 
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Jack slinking into the shadows of the wall, watching Tom with apprehension. 
"You," she hissed at him. 
Jack froze, and looked at her, obviously afraid that some of the anger that was hanging in the air, would be directed at him. 
Mama’s expression softened ever so slightly as she approached him. “Can you keep him safe?” she asked, indicating Gem, who was still fast asleep in her arms. 
"I don’t want any part of this," Jack said, shaking his head. "I just know I’m next on that psycho’s list. He already tried to kill me once…I won’t be able to protect that kid." 
"Then, take him away from here," Mama insisted. "It looks like things are going to get dangerous here, and I can’t fight properly if I have to watch out for him, as well." 
Jack looked past Mama, at Harley, who had taken it upon herself to start threatening Tom. He shook his head again. “My first priority is my family,” he said firmly. 
"So is mine," Mama shot back. "I can make sure no one here gets hurt, but you have to trust me. Take him and leave." 
"I can’t trust you!" Jack protested angrily. "I just met you." 
Mama sighed impatiently, aware they were running out of time. It wouldn’t be too long before Tom lashed out at Johan and Harley. “Listen,” she hissed. “If you follow the direction of the moon, when it rises, after about an hour’s walk, you’ll come to another building. A prison. I don’t think it’s merely a coincidence that one of the boys there looks so much like you.” 
Jack’s anger faded, and he stared at Mama in disbelief. “Rowan?” he asked hopefully. 
Mama nodded, although she wasn’t completely certain of his name. This boy seemed to be looking for him, nevertheless. “Will you do this for me?” she asked. 
Jack nodded, and took Gem from her. Before he could turn away, however, Mama pulled the plants from her dress, and pushed most of them into his pocket. 
"Crush those up and use them to clean his wounds," she instructed. 
Slightly confused, Jack nodded again. The wall behind him was crumbling, and one of the holes was just large enough for him to fit through…This place was teeming with people who might stop him, so leaving through the door was out of the question. But they were so high up… 
As he stared through the hole at the ground below, he saw it was thick with tall weeds. They might soften his fall a little, but he doubted whether it would be enough. He sensed Mama turning away from him, but did not look back to see what she did next. He was almost relieved to get out of there. All he could do was hope she protected Harley. 
Closing his eyes, he held onto the unconscious boy in his arms, and jumped. 
Mama was already half way to Tom, keeping her eyes on his back. This time, she wondered whether she would have to kill him…If she could…  
Lola had been silent the entire time, listening, preparing to stop Oliver if he became to worked up. 
At his tone changed she grabbed his wrist to perhaps calm him but he pulled his arm away she quickly looked around for something to knock him out with.
She saw a brick laying on the ground in front of her and quickly picked it up. Hesitating for a moment she had to remind herself this was no longer Oliver, this was Tom. She moved quickly, running forward she kicked the back of his knee causing him to fall forward and then slammed brick down on his hand. When he was looking up at her Lola yelled, “give him back!” 
If she could get through to Oliver he could fight his way back.
Katana had walked out of the room for what felt like only a few moments but when he walked back into the room Shou was in what he saw made his blood boil.
“Hey! Give those back!” He yelled grabbing Ayva’s wrist and holding it tightly. He snatched the pill bottle from her and shoved it into his pocket. 
“Listen I’m a lot stronger then you, I don’t want to fight you but if you make me I will.” He looked the girl dead in the eyes and scowled.
Harkot kept Kaya close as they continued to walk. The voice was growing louder and Harkot knew he had to get Kaya somewhere safe. Suddenly he saw the shadow of a building ahead if them. He quickly picked Kaya up and began to run. “It’ll be ok…” He whispered to her as they reached the building.
Jess was drifting in and out of consciousness. She knew Tim had gotten them out a d that they were moving but she didn’t know where they were. Suddenly she heard a mix of loud voices and he eyes opened. She looked up as they rounded a corner and saw a group of people arguing. She saw Mama, and Lola, there were other faces se recognized but was to out of it to focus on them. She blinked and when she opened her eyes again standing a little bit past the group of people she saw Henry.
Her breath caught in her chest and she grew tense. Jess felt as though she couldn’t move.
Henry had heard the commotion and went to investigate and when he came down the stairs what he saw confused him some. Until he saw Jess and Tim coming around a corner. They hadn’t been noticed yet it seemed and then Jess looked at Henry, his mouth spread into a big disgusting smile. He stepped forward, licking his dry cracking lips as he made his way towards Jess and Tim. 

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Listening to Shou speak, say that he needed those pills, Ayva couldn’t help but feel skeptical…
What if he was lying again? Trying to make her feel sorry for him…
Pressing him against the wall, applying a bit more force, “You’re really in no position to be dictating terms. You’ll ‘give me a couple’? You ‘need them’? Well…I do too….How the hell do I know you’re not lying aga-….”
Her voice trailing off, she noticed…
He looked unhealthily skinny…fragile…..He looked…
Maybe he wasn’t lying this time….Maybe he did truly need those pills….
Sighing, she removed her other hand from his shoulder and attempted to open the bottle.
Her hands were not very steady though, which caused some difficulty. Fumbling with it a few times, she eventually managed to twist and pop the lid off.
Shaking a handful of pills into her trembling palm, she replaced the lid and re-pocketed the bottle, placing it in her own jacket pocket.
With her unoccupied hand, she grabbed one of Shou’s wrists and brought it towards her other hand.
Twisting his wrist so that the palm of his hand became exposed, she brought her hand to his palm.
Trying not to drop any of the pills, she pressed them into his palm, “Here…it seems you probably do need them…”
She knew she would probably regret giving him some…once the rest ran out…
Reaching back into her jacket pocket, she produced the bottle, “Painkillers…they should probably do the trick..”
Opening the bottle, she dumped two pills onto her palm and swiftly brought them to her mouth.
Swallowing them dry, she clutched the bottle in her hand.
Backing away from him slightly, she ran a shaky hand through her hair, trying to compose herself.
“We should probably get back…help them with those kids.”
About to head back into the room, she gasped as the tall man who had previously been watching the babies yelled and grabbed her.
Clutching the bottle in her hand tighter, she struggled against his grip. Though, it seemed her resistance was in vain, as he pried the bottle from her hand.
Finally managing to pull her wrist from Katana’s grip, she met his scowl with a glare.
“You shouldn’t butt into something that doesn’t concern you!”
While she tried to hold his gaze, she found her eyes wandering to the pocket he had put the bottle in.
What the hell am I going to do now?!
About to tell him to ‘fuck off’, she found herself feeling….calm.
It seemed the pills were kicking in.
Letting the soothing wave take her, she backed away from Katana.
Not looking at anyone, or anything, in particular, her voice came out soft, almost distant.
“We should get back to the room. I’m sure it’s not too much fun dealing with a room full of kids all alone.”
Sluffing Mama’s comment about ‘controlling him’ off with a laugh, Tom briefly turned to her, “’Bastard’? Really? Is that the best you could come up with? Heh, I’ve heard worse.”
Turning back to the man, he was about to yell at Johan some more when that boy that punched Oliver stepped into his path.
Slowly moving his eyes down to look at Harley, listening, the boy’s voice was growing to be quite the irritating sound to his ears.
Raising his eyebrow at Harley as he spoke, he found himself laughing, “What is this? What are you to him?”
He searched Harley’s eyes for a moment, “Oh? Maybe…His little boyfriend?”
Listening a bit longer, Harley’s threat fell on indifferent ears, as he found such a thing amusing, “Oh yeah…About that…”
As his sentence trailed off, before Harley could react, he brought his fist to the boy’s face.
With that, he brushed past the boy and returned his attention to the young man who had referred to him as a ‘temperamental child’.
Stepping in front of Johan, he roughly grabbed the collar of his turtleneck sweater, and yanked the blond man closer.
While Tom wore a smirk he also felt…disquieted.
This guy….
He doesn’t struggle, doesn’t try to break free….didn’t even try to move out of my path…
What the fuck is with this guy?!
Examining Johan a bit, he was beginning to feel even more irritated…
He didn’t like this guy’s cold eyes…that small smile…
Noticing his bleeding hand, Tom’s smirk deepened, “And here I was thinking you were some kind of robot.”
Removing one hand from his collar, he slowly reached down. Grasping the younger man’s injured hand, he ripped the cloth that bandaged it off, taking with it the blood that had began to clot.
Swiftly, he shoved the cloth into one of his pants pockets – it seems like a fairly long strip of cloth, who knows, it could be useful later on – before grasping Johan’s freshly bleeding hand.
Finding the tooth holes with his fingers, he began to exert pressure on the wounds.
Watching Johan’s face, he dug his fingers in.
Feeling the pain radiate from his hand as the man had his way, Johan kept his features still.
Calm. Cold.
He did not break composure.
Smirk flickering from his face, brow furrowed, Tom was less than pleased with this guy’s lack of response.
Maybe he is some sort of robot….
Digging his fingers deeper, he found he was able to feel the muscle, feel the tendons.
But still, even as he pressed, this guy didn’t even wince.
Hooking his fingers into Johan’s hand, he tugged, opening the wounds further.
His voice an irritated rumble, he expressed his mounting frustrations out loud, “What the fuck is this? Are your nerves shot or something? Do you not feel…this?!” He pulled some more, ripping more skin away. At this point, one could almost see the inner workings of his hand.
While he knew what he was about to ask was rather absurd, he found himself asking anyway.
“Are you some kind of robot?!”
Johan did not acknowledge the question pertaining to pain, though he did respond to the latter, voice ever calm, “No. I am as human as you are.”
Tearing the wounds further, mostly just for the hell of it, Tom’s irritance was not dissipating.
“Could’ve fooled me, what with that blank face of yours.”
“Well, you should know, considering the situation we find ourselves. Perhaps you feel - metal? Wiring? Plastic? - Under my skin?”
“Fuck you. I haven’t ripped you apart yet; opened you up.”
There was a moment of silence, the tense atmosphere radiating from Tom as his fiery eyes bore into Johan’s cold eyes.
From what Johan had observed, it seemed that Oliver’s ‘dark’ personality quite enjoyed inflicting pain unto others.
He was quite certain that further prodding was not a requirement, as the man would most likely lash out – and kill – the others of his own volition. Though, the man seemed similar to Futa in the sense that he relished the suffering, the pain…
He reserved a mild clinical interest in this man, and he knew that, if he were to use him, it would be necessary to ‘get to know him’ a bit more.
“You do not enjoy being controlled, clearly, yet, that woman seemed confident in her ability to pacify you, should the time come. Perhaps she is strong enough? Or, is she simply another delusional weak person?”
Eyes narrowing as Johan spoke to him, Tom was not sure whether he should indulge him by answering.
He almost felt…slightly insulted by the notion of Mama being ‘weak’…though she had cried earlier, and she did seem to have a soft spot for what he could only presume was her son…
Voice slow, almost hesitant, as he felt that this guy was trying to accomplish something, he responded.
“No…I wouldn’t say that she’s ‘weak’…She puts up a good fight…though she does have her moments. Crying…that kind of shit is not exactly a display of strength…but….”
Stopping himself, his frown deepened.
Why exactly was he telling that guy all this?!
Johan found his response quite illuminating.
Curious. It seemed this man had a set definition of what he considered ‘weak’, yet refused to put that woman in such a category.
He meant to address this contradiction.
“You appear to view such things like ‘crying’ as a characteristic of ‘weakness’, yet, for a woman who you admit displayed such a trait, you did not designate her as such. Is that not a fraction of weakness on your part?”
Tom, now quite disconcerted, was about to yell at Johan, when he noticed Mama from his periphery.
Now aware of her presence, his previously rapt attention on Johan dissipated, and he came to realize that the hallway was less crowded…
“Oi, oi!”
He found himself quite frustrated as he turned to glance at Mama.
He never usually let his attention completely focus on one element…he usually always noticed what was happening around him…
“What the hell? You didn’t have to go break up the party…But whatever. I can always find them la-”
Before he could finish his sentence, he found himself abruptly brought to the floor.
Apparently he was off his game.
How could he not of noticed all this?!
The annoyance and anger he had felt churned into fury as a brick was brought against his hand.
Gritting his teeth slightly, he snapped his head to look at the person who had so rudely interrupted.
Eyes resting on Lola, his fury transitioned into amusement.
A mirth filled laugh shot through the hall.
“You really want that pathetic moron back? Really?!”
Snatching his hand away, out from under the brick, he brought his body back up to a standing position.
Looking down at Lola, almost leering, he let out another laugh.
“Wanting him…What does that say about you? You must be really desperate. Or maybe weak people just flock together, is that it?”
Pausing for a moment, he seemed to consider his words.
“Though…I must admit, he did show some semblance of intelligence - hell, he managed to get under your dress!”
Laughing again, he took in a deep breath, as if composing himself, preparing for something.
Putting on an ‘Oliver’ esque expression - eyes wide, almost innocent - he looked at Lola.
“Is this what you like?”
He then adjusted his voice to that of Oliver’s softer, almost sad, apologetic tone.
“I’m sorry…so sorry…I just couldn’t…I couldn’t control him…I-….I hope I didn’t hurt anyone…kill anyone…again…..If only…I-..I wish I was stronger…”
As he spoke, his imitation of Oliver being eerily accurate, near spot on, he slowly moved closer to Lola.
Taking her hand in his, he looked into her eyes.
“Please…I’m such a horrible person…”
The firm grip he had on her tightening, he brought her hand down, low, brushing against him.
“…please…make me feel better…”
Breaking character, he pulled her closer, twisting her wrist, his expression now dark, a malicious smirk on his face, “Now, that is all you are to him. All he wants is a little fun. A little pleasure. He truly is a selfish person.”
Voice acquiring a cold, harsh edge, his words came out clearly, deliberately.
“Don’t delude yourself into thinking he actually cares.”
…but…I do…I do care about her….please….just stop…
Shut the fuck up! 
Shou winced as Ayva increased the pressure with which she held him to the wall. “Please…” he begged again. But she was right, he was in no position to be asking anything of her. “I’m not lying. I know you have no reason to believe me now, but I’m telling the truth!” 
He was startled when she released him, and he held onto the wall to keep himself standing, which was proving difficult. As he watched her open the bottle, he sighed. “Don’t take more than two at once,” he warned quickly, assuming she was taking the tablets there and then. “They’re very strong…” 
He drifted off when Ayva grabbed his wrist, and pushed the pills she had poured out into his hand. The fear slowly faded from his eyes, and he smiled gratefully. “Thank you,” he said, a fraction of his usual cheer returning to his voice. As Ayva took two of the pills, Shou pushed his hand against the wall, taking a step forward. He nodded when she suggested they go back to help Rowan and Katana with the babies. 
However, they barely took two steps before Katana approached them out of nowhere, and grabbed Ayva’s wrist, easily taking the painkillers from her. 
"Wait, it’s ok!" he insisted. "She gave some back. Don’t hurt her." 
But Katana and Ayva seemed locked in an argument…for a moment, anyway. He was taken a back when Ayva suddenly calmed. It seemed the pills had done their job. She no longer seemed desperate. 
Letting out a sigh of relief that the situation hadn’t escalated, Shou nodded and began to follow them back to the room. As they walked, he tugged on Ayva’s sleeve, and handed the pills back to her. 
"I won’t be needing them all," he said with a smile, before moving to walk beside Katana. 
Harley glowered at Tom, clearly wanting nothing more than to tear his face off. And, as he spoke, she decided she would do just that. 
"What did you say?" she hissed. "What did you just call me?" 
But, she didn’t get a chance to retaliate. As Tom’s fist connected with the side of her face, she was thrown back against the wall, and crumpled to the floor. His punch had more force than hers, and she hit her head against the wall hard. Disorientated, she could barely focus as Tom continued to approach Johan. 
"Leave him…alone…" she said, too dizzy to sit up properly. 
But what she saw next snapped her consciousness back. He removed the material she had used to bandage Johan’s wound, and begun to open it further with his fingers. She watched, horrified, feeling sick as the small wound was forced to expand, exposing muscle, and causing blood to drip onto the floor beside her. 
She wanted to scream at Tom to stop, to jump to her feet and tear him away from Johan herself, but she was still feeling faint. Why wasn’t Johan doing anything? He was just standing there…smiling…still. 
What was that going to achieve? He was just making Tom angrier. Why wouldn’t he defend himself? 
She caught a few words of their conversation, and it almost seemed as though…Johan wanted to antagonize Tom. To see how far he could push him. But why? 
As their conversation turned from the topic of robots, to Mama, Harley found herself worried that Tom would completely lose his temper. He did not look happy. 
By this point, Mama had almost reached Tom, and stopped just behind him as she caught some of his words. As he told Johan his opinion of her, she felt a slight blush crawling onto her face, and her previous plan of dragging him back, away from Johan seemed forgotten. She found herself smiling. It wasn’t a compliment; she was half certain she should have felt offended, at least a little, but she didn’t. 
When Tom spoke to her, however, she wiped the smile from her face, and narrowed her eyes at him. She should have been focusing on getting the others away from him safely, so why had she allowed herself to be distracted? 
"you’ll leave them alone!" she told him firmly, reaching out to pull him away from Johan. However, Lola took matters into her own hands. 
Mama hadn’t seen Lola pick up the brick, or approach Tom, and she had no time to stop her, before she had knocked Tom to the ground, and smashed his hand under the brick. “Stupid girl,” she hissed under her breath, ready to intervene. 
However, she found herself unable to move. As Tom got back to his feet, and approached Lola, the flicker of…whatever it had been…seemed to twist into a knot of…jealousy? So, Oliver and Lola had found somewhere to be alone together. Why did that annoy her so much? 
The feeling stopped her running to Lola’s aid, despite being aware that Oliver’s ‘act’ was just that. Not genuine. 
And, as Tom took Lola’s hand, Mama turned half of her focus to Johan and Harley. 
"You foolish boy!" she scolded Johan, looking at the state his hand was in. "What did you think you would achieve by provoking him?" 
"Just leave him alone," Harley snapped, finally managing to sit up. She knew standing was a bit of a risk, right now. Glancing past Mama, she saw Tom tightening his hold on Lola, and dropping his act. "You should be more concerned about her. I can take care of Johan." 
"She can take care of herself," Mama responded. "He’s not going to hurt her." 
"Where’s my brother?" Harley demanded, realizing that what Tom had said previously was true. Jack was nowhere to be seen. 
"Somewhere safer than here," Mama said shortly. "He’s making a lot of noise," she added, referring to Tom. "I wouldn’t be surprised if we had company soon. So you are not going to distract him any more, you understand?" She fired the question at Johan. "All that will do is delay treatment for your wound." 
On the way to the exit of the building, Tim and Jess had briefly been forced to hide in what had probably been a classroom. 
Tim had overheard part of a conversation he did not like one bit. These people. These psychos had his grandfather? And, from the way they had been treated, he could guess what was happening to him, right now. 
But where? Where were they keeping him? 
Was it possible he had been up there too? Had he been rooms away from him while that horrible child had been terrorizing them? 
He had no choice but to find out. “I’m sorry,” he whispered to Jess. “We’ll get out of here soon…There’s just something I have to do, first.” 
And he carried her back up to the third floor, hiding every time he caught a flicker of movement. As they moved, he found himself getting distracted with the thoughts of the horrible things his grandfather might be experiencing, and didn’t notice the voices until it was too late. 
He looked forward, recognizing a few of them. Was that…Mama? And that guy who had dropped the baby? Focusing on the voices, he didn’t notice Henry approaching them, at first. 
"What do you want?" he demanded, holding Jess protectively close. 
Everything was fuzzy as Futa returned to consciousness. There was a large, painful bump on the back of his head, and he winced, his eyes brimming with tears as he realized he was alone. 
He didn’t like to be alone. 
They had taken his brother away from him again. 
Absent mindedly pushing his thumb into his mouth, he clambered to his feet, pushing his other hand against his pounding head. 
There were voices…somewhere close…If he followed them…maybe… 
Jack had managed to land with a few shallow cuts and scratches, and an ankle that felt sprained. He stumbled through the thick weeds, barely able to see over the top of them, and limped across the wide open space surrounding the school. 
Somehow, Gem had remained asleep. Fortunately, he seemed to have escaped injury from the fall, although there were now a few twigs tangled in his long hair. Jack had a feeling the woman who had sent them out would kill him if anything happened to this boy. 
Once he reached the burned trees, he looked up to the sky, and saw the white orb beginning its ascent. That was the moon? He was certain it had been in a different part of the sky the night before. He’d have to follow the direction it was in now before it moved again. But first… 
He looked down at Gem, who had begun to frown in his sleep, and started walking in the opposite direction, towards the lake. Taking care of his wounds would have to come first.  
Lola felt his grip growing tighter and tighter by the minute, as he pretended to be Oliver she glanced around for something else do use.
She had to wind him up, wear him out. If she could do that Oliver could break through. She looked up at him and they locked eyes. “How does it feel?…” She asked taking a step forward pushing him away from her. “I mean your trapped in there all the time. It must get quite boring? Lonely? Maybe cramped? If I had someone else in my head all the time I’d probably have the worse head ache.”
Katana loosened his grip on Ayva’s wrist and looked over at Shou, his formerly cold hard Barrier dissolving. “Come on…” He put his big arm around Shou’s shoulder as they walked out of the room. Just before they entered the nursery Katana pulled Shou aside. Once he made sure Ayva was inside and out of earshot he pulled the pills from his pocket and looked at them. Sighing he glanced at Shou then the pill bottle, “what are these for?….” He asked not looking at Shou, his eyes were fixed on the little bottle in his hand.
Jess screwed her eyes shut, as if that would somehow hide her.
Henry looked at the two of them and smirked, “Isn’t this cute!” He bent and whispered to Jess, “looks like your prince is trying to save you.” 
He laughed as she shook like a leaf in the boys arms. “Awh what’s wrong doll face? I thought you liked me?” Henry smiled and twirled a strand of her hair between his fingers. 
Shou smiled as he felt Katana’s arm wrap around him. It distracted him from the fatigue he felt, and he was almost disappointed when Katana released him. 
He began to follow Ayva into the room, but was surprised when Katana stopped him. Of course he was going to ask about the tablets. How could he not? After everything that had just happened. 
Smiling brightly, he shrugged. “I get terrible headaches,” he lied cheerfully. But, he knew Katana would not believe him. Most medication was taken before people entered the vans. He had personally witnessed things as harmless as cough medicine being forced from the hands of mothers. Katana must have seen too. 
Medication was only left in the hands of those who needed it to survive…probably as some kind of sick joke by the government. 
"It’s really nothing to be concerned about," he said quietly, averting his gaze from Katana’s face, and attempting to duck into the nursery. 
"Who the hell even are you?” Tim growled at Henry, taking a step back. Whoever this guy was, Jess was absolutely terrified of him. Tim didn’t even bother to keep his voice down. The others seemed distracted, anyway. 
As Henry took a strand of Jess’s hair in his hand, Tim realized, with a sickening pang, who this guy must have been. He must have been the one who did…this to her. 
"You bastard," he whispered, as the realization ignited a furious flame within him. Holding Jess in one arm, he reached for the rusty knife in his belt, and directed it towards Henry’s throat. 
Harley finally managed to get to her feet, and she immediately began to fuss around Johan’s wound, insisting that he let her re-bandage it. 
Mama watched the two of them with slight impatience, before turning her attention back to Tom and Lola. Now, it seemed, Lola was provoking him, probably attempting to get through to Oliver. 
At the same moment, Futa stumbled out of the room at the end of the corridor, bringing with him Dorian’s head. He made his way determinedly towards the voices, still wincing from the pain in his head. After he got his brother back from those people, he would kill them. 
Straight ahead, he saw the familiar figure of Henry, leaning down over someone he couldn’t yet see, but, as he approached them, he realized who they were, and glowered. 
"I thought you had taken these down to the basement!" he shouted. "What the hell have you been doing? While you were gone, some freaks came and took my brother away! They’re around there somewhere, I can hear them! You go take care of them right now!" 
Jack collapsed by the side of the lake, relieved to be able to rest a while, and that he was out of that place. He just hoped that woman would keep her end of the deal, and not let anything happen to Harley. 
He gently laid Gem on the ground, removing his wet clothes, and wrapping his own jacket around him. It seemed the only wounds in need of immediate attention were the ones on his face. 
Gem’s clothes were, although torn, in wearable condition. They just needed to be dried. Jack put them to one side, then carefully pulled the plant out of the jacket pocket, along with his inhaler. 
He replaced the inhaler into his trouser pocket, and began to crush up the plant between two rocks. 
It wasn’t very difficult, and as he became lost in the monotonous movements of hitting the plant, trying to keep any of it from falling to the ground, he didn’t notice the movement behind him. 
After almost five minutes, finally satisfied with the small pile of green mush, Jack turned back towards Gem, and let out a yelp, almost dropping the entire thing, when he was met with a wide, turquoise eye, glaring back at him through a mess of tangled hair. 
"Holy sh-!" Jack gasped, juggling awkwardly in an attempt to keep hold of the rock. "How long have you been awake?" 
But Gem didn’t answer him. He slowly looked out at the lake, and the look in his eye became fearful. He tried to crawl away, but the long sleeves of the jacket tripped him, causing him to tumble backwards. 
Jack glanced at the surface of the water, then at Gem’s wet hair and clothes, and mentally kicked himself. “Don’t worry, you’re safe,” he assured him. “I’m not going to hurt you.” 
Gem sat up again, cautiously this time, and glared at Jack with obvious distrust. He opened his mouth to speak, but began to cough instead. 
Now that Gem was awake, Jack wasn’t entirely sure what to do. Was he supposed to pat him on the back, or leave him alone? Should he let Gem wash his own face before applying the plant to his wounds? Most of all, how the hell was he supposed to get the kid to trust him enough to follow him to the place Mama had mentioned? 
Jack watched hopelessly as Gem coughed for almost a whole minute. Just as he decided he would at least try to put a hand on his shoulder, Gem stopped coughing, and looked at his outstretched hand. 
"Don’t touch me," Gem warned him angrily. 
Hearing Shou’s warning, Ayva was not perturbed, rather, she was even more interested in the pills.
They’re strong eh? …Good.
As they walked back to the room, after her spat with Katana, she found her thoughts slowing.
Slowing, eventually, to the point of virtually no thought at all.
No thoughts. No noise. No cares.
Staring off into the space in front of her as she moved towards the nursery, she didn’t even notice Shou’s approach.
Though, she did not feel surprised, nor startled, she was just simply present.
Turning her head slowly as he pulled her sleeve a bit, she watched absently as he placed the pills in her hand.
Gazing down at them in silence for a moment, she closed her fingers around them.
Moving her head back up, her voice was wispy, “Thank you…”
Empty space where Shou had just been, her gratitude was wasted on the still air. Though…
She could always thank him later.
Continuing toward the nursery, she entered the room without even noticing that the other two were not there.
Spotting Rowan, taking care of the babies himself, she moved towards him.
Moving…felt as if she were hovering.
These things….are definitely strong…
Smiling at Rowan, “Everything here…is it going well?”
Taking a step back as Lola effectively got Tom’s attention, Johan simply watched the situation unfold.
While that woman appeared to want the other personality, it seemed things were escalating.
Perhaps he will kill her.
Hearing Mama’s voice, he turned half-away from the scene, gaze now on her.
Being referred to as a ‘foolish boy’ was not something he often – perhaps ever – encountered previously. Even still, such a thing did not matter, and he certainly did not care.
Expression calm and constant, he began to compose a response when Harley spoke up.
Watching the two as they spoke, there was no need to contribute to such a conversation.
Though, eventually, Mama’s words came back to his direction.
Eyes on Mama, his expression remained the same, “It appears that woman has captured his attention, for the moment, yet, it makes one wonder…”
He continued without acknowledging her comment about his hand, “How long will that last? Will he grow bored? …What would happen then?”
Gaze drifting over to Harley as she got to her feet, he saw no need to speak further.
Staying silent for a moment as she lamented over his hand, he remained still.
“Do what you wish.”
Noticing Futa, Henry, Jess and Tim from the far reaches of his periphery, it seemed the situation may be about to change.
Perhaps evolve into something more ‘dangerous’.
While he did notice them, he did not turn to look at them head on. He simply kept his line of sight on Harley.
Injecting a note of concern in his voice, “How are you feeling?”
Even though he did not truly care about Harley’s well being, such an inquiry seemed to be a necessary social element.
Perhaps it would keep her attention elsewhere, away from what was happening down the hall.
Futa was distracted with Henry and them for the moment, though….
While it was certainly not guaranteed that Futa would attack – and preferably kill – a few of these people, it was not out of the realm of possibility that he may turn his aggression on them, perhaps blaming Mama or Harley for Gem’s absence.
Listening…Indeed, it seemed the boy had already formed a similar thought.
If Futa was to attack, it would be necessary to keep their attention elsewhere, as he is just a boy, and would require a degree of stealth and the element of surprise in order to get the upper hand.
He did not expect Futa to exercise stealth in his movements, which created more need for the others to be distracted.
Noticing Mama out of the corner of his eye, it seemed as though she was going to intervene. Keeping an eye on her, Tom expected to be yelled at some more, pushed away from Lola, but…such a thing never happened.
It seemed she had turned her attention to that blond haired humanoid.
Hearing Lola’s voice, he raised an eyebrow, “Trapped, huh? So that’s what you think.”
It seemed things were getting even more amusing, more entertaining.
Laughing a bit, he took a few steps forward, closing the gap Lola had put between them when she had pushed him. 
He shook his head slightly, “No. That pathetic being you seem so fond of…Let me be clear.”
“He has no say. I am never trapped. I have complete control. If I wanted to, I could go weeks, months, years keeping that pathetic excuse of a human locked up in my head.”
“So,” He leaned over, playing with one of the straps of her dress, “Whenever you see him, know that that is only because I allowed it.” His smirk deepened.
"And I could just as easily make it so that you never see him again.” 

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Rowan was cradling one baby in his arm, while attempting to change Sorren with the other hand. It had been a while now, since the others had left, and he was certain the babies were getting hungry. But, he had no way of feeding them. 
As Ayva re-entered the room, Rowan barely noticed her, until she spoke. He jumped slightly, and looked up. 
She had an odd expression on her face. 
"Er…everything is as fine as it can be…" he replied slowly, giving her a puzzled look. "What exactly…happened out there?" he asked, glancing past Ayva towards the door. Shou was showing no sign of returning just yet. 
He looked at Ayva again, and a thought struck him. Her behaviour definitely was strange. Perhaps… 
"Did you…Did you just get laid?” he blurted, before he could stop himself. “Ah…Sorry. I guess that’s none of my business…” 
He drifted off, attempting to think of a way to change the subject, before she hit him. “Can you feed these?” he asked, mentally kicking himself a second time. That question wasn’t much better. 
"Hmm…" Mama muttered as Harley began to re-bandage Johan’s hand. "I think she’s captured more than that." 
She glanced back at them for a moment, unable to hide her unhappy expression. “He knows that if he starts something I’ll kick his ass. Don’t worry about that.” 
"I didn’t see you kicking his ass when he was doing this!” Harley growled at Mama, pulling Johan’s hand towards her, a little rougher than she had intended to. “And you!” she fired at Johan, turning her angry gaze to him. “Don’t give me that ‘do what you wish’, as though it doesn’t matter. This could get infected! Why didn’t you knock him out? At least fight back? Why. Did. You. Provoke. Him?!” The last question was punctured by a series of weakened punches to his arm, as she became more and more upset. “Don’t you care about your own life?” she demanded. “Don’t you realize how horrible it would be if something happened to you?” 
Her eyes brimmed with tears as the punches grew weaker and weaker, and she found her self resting her hand on his chest. “Don’t,” she whispered. “Don’t ask how I am. Don’t be so concerned about me, when you don’t even try to defend yourself! I’m fine. I’ve hit my head harder than this before. It’s not like I’m the one bleeding everywhere! What am I going to do with you?” 
Mama watched the two of them, keeping one eye on Tom, who seemed to be monologuing, informing Lola that he was the one in charge. She doubted that was completely true. If he was truly in charge, they wouldn’t have seen Oliver at all…right? Nevertheless, she wanted to hope that wasn’t the case. So why… 
At the sound of voices at the other end of the corridor, she turned, dropping the attention she was paying to the others. Someone was shouting. This was all they needed. The ones Johnny had warned them about were most likely the source. “I’ll drag him out of here by his face,” she grumbled, referring to Tom, as she turned from Johan and Harley, and approached the voices. 
Henry turned to Futa, regarding him coldly for a moment, then scoffed. “I don’t answer to you,” he snarled. “I just stuck around to get what I wanted. And now I have it.” He turned back to Jess, the evil glint in his eyes returning. Tim wasn’t a threat. He could bat him away with one fist. 
However, as he went to swipe the knife from his hand, he found himself crumpling to the ground, as Futa kicked him hard in the back of the ankle. “All you care about is that noisy bitch!” he screamed. 
Tim froze, uncertain what to do next. But Henry was already out of his immediate reach. 
Clambering to his hands and knees, Henry glared up at Futa, his eyes blazing with fury. In one, swift movement, he reached forward and grabbed the boy tightly by the throat, squeezing for a moment. “Fucking little brat!” he growled, watching in satisfaction as Futa flailed pointlessly, dropping Dorian’s head, and sinking his sharp nails into his hand. The pain was worth wiping the smile from that demon’s face. 
Henry got to his feet, and threw Futa against the wall with as much force as he could muster, before returning his attention to Tim and Jess. 
Tim was still holding the knife towards him, looking a little sheepish now. He seemed to be realizing that even with a weapon, with Jess in his arms, he stood no chance. “Back off!” he warned, taking a step back, himself. 
"Hand her over," Henry shot back. "Surely you don’t want her now, anyway." 
"Get back, you sick bastard!" Tim yelled, stepping forward again, now too angry to care that he was outmatched. 
Henry just laughed, and closed the gap between them. Before Tim could raise the knife, he had sent him flying across the corridor, grabbing the knife for himself. 
At the same moment, however, Mama had reached him. 
"And I thought I would find a group of idiots trying to stop us from leaving," she said, as she glanced from Henry, to Tim and Jess, who were sprawled on the floor. "But apparently it’s just idiots fighting each other." 
Tim glowered at her, but stayed silent. 
Henry turned, his threatening stance still in place as he leered down at her. “Huh,” he grunted, looking her up and down. “I would, if you were younger.” 
Mama’s expression turned from one of slight irritation, to full blown rage. She grabbed the front of his shirt, ignoring the knife in his hand, and pulled him close, glaring up into his eyes. “You would, what?” she growled, noticing the state Jess was in. “Do you want to try it?” 
She pushed him back into the wall behind him, and walked forward, closing the gap between him once again. “Go on. Try it!” 
Now equally annoyed, Henry lunged forward, swinging at Mama with the knife. But she dodged, kicking him in the stomach, and forcing him to double over against the wall, the knife dropping from his hand. “I dare you!” she continued, grabbing him by the hair, and spitting in his face. 
Henry took another swipe at her, this time managing to punch her hard on the cheek. 
Mama stumbled back, but kept her grip on his hair. She was about to swing for him again, when she tripped over something round, and fell back, wincing in pain as her ankle twisted. 
Glancing at the thing she had tripped on, her stomach turned. Was that…No…it couldn’t be…Dorian?! 
"You bastard," she whispered, as Henry loomed over her again. "You killed him!" 
Henry smirked, leaning down over her. “Yeah, and?” he said, gloating. She was clearly upset. “He’s the one you should be angry with,” he said, gesturing towards the unconscious Futa. “He asked…begged me for his head.” 
Mama was hardly listening. She was no longer conscious of her own actions. Her hand closed around the handle of the knife without her knowledge of it, and, before she knew what was happening, she had swung her arm forward, slitting Henry’s throat cleanly. 
But she wasn’t done. 
She jumped on top of him, and began to stab him over and over again, first in the neck, then in the face, and finally in the chest. 
Her hands, face, clothes, and the walls and floor around them were painted red, her own screams much louder than Henry’s, which died down eventually, as he stopped convulsing, and went limp. 
Mama continued stabbing for almost a full minute after he was dead. 
When she had finally finished, she stood up, trembling, ignoring the horrified look Tim was giving her. Her anger switched to Futa. So, he was the one Johnny had spoken of? The boy around Gem’s age? Who had tortured her son, and ordered for Dorian’s head to be removed. He deserved to die as well. 
She approached him, raising the knife over his exposed, vulnerable chest. One swing would end him. He was only small… 
But, even as she raised the knife, she felt her anger dissipating. The boy had tears running from his closed eyes. And his face was…familiar. She remembered every child she had ever raised. 
But this one had died. She had been so sure of that, the day Gem returned from the lake, crying; hysterical. This boy was supposed to be dead. But here he was. 
Mama closed her eyes, and shook her head. Did it matter? He was obviously a monster. But a monster she had fed, and changed, and bathed, and hugged when he had cried. 
Before she could decide what to do, however, she felt the knife slip from her hand, as she raised it above her head. It flew backwards, down the hall, at a surprising speed. 
Jack quickly withdrew his hand. “Are you ok?” he asked, concerned. The cough had sounded bad, and Gem still seemed to be struggling to hold back another coughing fit. 
Gem just glared at him, obvious distrust in his eyes. 
"Er…" Jack went on uncertainly, picking up the rock again. "I’ve been told to…" 
Gem looked at the plant, and frowned. “It’s wrong,” he said, his voice quiet, yet the rudeness was still there. He took the rock from Jack quickly, wincing as he almost came into contact with his hand. He picked up another rock, and began to crush the plant himself. 
Jack watched for about two minutes, as Gem crushed the plant into a thick paste. 
"There," Gem muttered, putting down the rock, and crawling over to the edge of the lake, apparently still unable to stand. He could barely crawl. Jack was certain he would fall again at any moment, but knew he would be scolded if he tried to help him. "Stay back," Gem whispered as he reached the water’s edge, his voice shaky, his breathing quickening. He was obviously terrified Jack would push him in. 
He pulled back the long sleeves, and began to wash his face quickly. Then he turned back, and held out his hand. “Give me that,” he said shortly. 
"Right…" Jack said awkwardly, picking up the rock, and carefully handing it over as gently as he could. Still, Gem flinched. But the boy immediately began to apply the paste to his wounds. 
He used half of it, and then pushed the rock back over to Jack. 
"Why am I still alive?" he asked, his wide, bright turquoise eye filled with fear and confusion. 
Looking from Rowan to the children he was attempting to care for, Ayva almost didn’t hear his reply.
At the sound of his voice, she turned her head to admire his face, a smile on her own. 
“That is good…” Her voice was soft, distant, wispy, “Happened? Oh…just a friendly conversation….”
Trailing off, she cocked her head to the side at his inquiry. Though, instead of becoming angry, as she normally would, the pills seemed to be doing their job well. 
Blushing slightly, she patted Rowan on the head, laughing, “No no…Nothing like that. It was just…chatter.”
Moving slowly, she found a semi-comfortable spot and sat down beside him.
Looking at the baby in his arm, it seemed like it wanted something…
Poking at the child a bit, she furrowed her brow in slight confusion at his next question, “’Feed’ it?”
Glancing down at her breasts for a moment, she shook her head, “No….”
The smile that had vanished momentarily sprang back to her face, “Just ‘cause I have boobs, doesn’t mean I can squirt milk from them.”
Listening to Mama’s voice, Johan vaguely wondered whether her statement was based in truth. Was she capable of ‘kicking his ass’, as she so put it? 
Indeed, Tom had commented on her combat skills…
Letting Harley drag his mutilated hand in front of Mama, it was quite obvious that she was upset.
Yes, Harley certainly was.
Standing ever still, he watched her with cold, steady eyes as she broke down. 
At first, she was quite furious, yet, as she continued to speak to him, her state deteriorated.
He stayed silent as she asked questions, began hitting him, yet continued her emotionally fueled spewing of concerned and sentimental words. 
While Harley was having an emotional moment, he simply felt nothing.
Gaze on her, he remained silent.
Narrowing his eyes at Lola, Tom seemed to be waiting for some sort of response. Though, he wasn’t waiting too long by the time a pair of loud, angry voices came echoing down the hall.
Shifting his head to look down the hall, it seemed Mama was now there, having a loud fight.
It seemed to turn physical fairly quickly.
Watching as Mama killed that large man and subsequently began stabbing his corpse, he felt a….strange feeling.
Stabbing, stabbing, stabbing him over and over again….It was clearly overkill, and she was obviously upset about something, yet…
There was an odd flittering feeling in his stomach, accompanied by the all too familiar sensation of excitement.
All that blood…All that rage radiating from her….
He found Mama quite…beautiful…brandishing that blood coated knife, her own body covered in the results of her fury…
Slowly shifting his eyes at the screaming, Johan watched from his periphery as Mama effectively ended Henry’s life.
Though, after the deed was complete, her attention fell on Futa.
The boy, in his current weakened state, was quite clearly useless to him.
Preoccupied by the highly attractive state Mama was in, Tom didn’t even notice the knife flying at him until the handle connected with his head.
Frowning, he narrowly managed to snatch the knife out of the air as it began plummeting towards the floor.
Effectively distracted from the situation with Lola, he turned away from her, holding the knife in his hand.
Sauntering over to the group down the hall, his expression was a mixed conveyance of irritance and amusement.
“Oi oi! Watch where you throw pointy objects, will ya?!”
Twirling the knife between his fingers, he shook his head in mock disappointment as he approached, “Don’t you know how to properly treat knives?”
Coming up to Mama, he stopped, briefly regarding Henry’s corpse.
Pointing at his still intact nose with the knife, “It seems you missed a spot.” Directing his question towards Mama, “May I?” 
With a quick, efficient motion, he slashed a deep cut down the ridge of Henry’s nose, carving it clear off so that the nasal cavity was now exposed. 
Turning back to Mama, his expression was one of mild amusement and satisfaction, “There. Now it looks a bit better. Wouldn’t you agree?”
"Much more…Aesthetically pleasing."
Smirking slightly, he spun the knife around a bit more, “That was…quite the sight a moment ago. I’m honored to have caught sight of it. Yet…I am a bit surprised you didn’t go for the….” Sly smile crossing his lips, he winked at her, “..Pubic region.”
Laughing slightly, he continued, “It seemed you went for nearly everything else.”
As he talked, he moved towards her a bit more.
Looking Mama up and down, he found himself coming to admire her current disposition even more, yet….
…..she was distraught…distracted…..and he now had the weapon….
Now was his chance.
Walking forward, close to her, he put his free hand around her. Running his finger down to the small of her back, he grabbed her, pulled her close….
As her body came against his, he slid the knife into her at an upward angle, aiming for the heart. 
Twisting the knife, his smirk flickered slightly, before dissipating completely. 
Why was she still standing? She should be bleeding out…weakening….
Did he….Did he miss?! ….Impossible….he never once missed such a target before…so…why now?
But, as seconds flew by with Mama still standing, still breathing, still living, it became obvious.
He was shocked, disappointed, and quite furious….
What the FUCK?! How the HELL did I MISS?!!
….yet…there was a very small part of him that was relieved… 
Katana watched Shou closely and fallowed him into the nursery slowly. 
“Are you gonna be ok?…” He asked quietly, gently placing his hand on Shou’s shoulder.
Lola watched as Tom walked away, still speechless about what he said.
Would she really never get Oliver back. She felt her stomach sink and a lump form in her throat.
She fallowed him slowly, and watched him with Mama. She felt her skin get hot. Before she did anything she would regret, Lola went over to where Jess and Tim were.
“Are you to alright?” She asked helping Jess sit up.
Jess looked up at Lola and nodded weakly.
“Where?… T-Tim?….” She whispered looking around them. 
First she saw Tim and then her eyes landed in the bloody body of Henry.
Suddenly her eyes filled up with tears.
He was dead….
After all this time….
He could no longer torment her.
“You… You killed him!….” She whispered her heart was pounding almost out I her chest. “Thank you…”
She couldn’t hold back the tears anymore, they fell freely now. 
Rowan winced when Ayva reached out her hand, and opened his eyes in surprise when she patted him on the head. He wondered, what kind of ‘friendly conversation’ could have raised her mood to the point that his tactless question didn’t offend her. 
As she sat down beside him, a small silence fell between them, and he thought for a moment, watching as Ayva prodded the baby in his arms. Maybe she had been stressed before because she had been looking for Shou? And now she had been able to talk with him, she was feeling better. That had to be it. 
The baby, who had opened her mouth to cry, stopped when she felt Ayva’s finger against the side of her face, and stared at her, puzzled. 
"I’m sorry," Rowan said, his face slightly red when Ayva answered his second, tactless question. "I didn’t mean to assume…" He stopped, deciding any more he said would just make things worse. Although Ayva didn’t seem to mind. She was even smiling. 
Noticing movement by the door, he glanced towards it, and saw the other two beginning to re-emerge. 
"So…" he went on, his voice becoming playful. "I’m guessing that chatter was private?" 
Shou looked back at Katana and smiled. “Of course,” he replied cheerfully. As Katana put his hand on his shoulder, he held it there gently with his own, and the two of them re-entered the nursery. 
He looked over at Ayva, his smile fading for a second. He wouldn’t tell Rowan what had happened. There was no point. 
Harley had expected Johan to stop her, to move away from her fists, to say something. But he didn’t. He remained still, as though he didn’t feel her weak punches at all. 
She slowly stopped, and looked up at him, her face streaked with tear tracks. 
"Why…" she began. But she was cut off by the screaming. 
She turned her horrified gaze towards the scene a little way down the corridor, and her stomach turned. She put one hand to her mouth, and automatically backed into Johan. 
Blood…There was so much blood. Even more than when that cannibal had had his head chopped off. 
The woman who had been standing beside them was covered in it from head to toe, still stabbing the corpse of a large man. 
And now, the man who had attacked Johan was watching them, drawn there by the sight of blood. She didn’t like the expression on his face. 
Which changed when the blunt end of the knife hit him. Harley found herself secretly wishing the other end of the knife had hit him instead. She glared at him as he walked past, hating the tone to his voice, and the way he spun the knife casually. 
Mama turned to look at Tom, still breathing heavily, her eyes burning with anger. 
"That knife has already been contaminated by that monster’s blood," she said quietly. "I doubt it matters what kind of treatment it receives now." 
She raised her eyebrows when he mentioned she had missed a spot, and watched as he proceeded to slice off Henry’s nose. Her stomach churned. He was doing this out of pure enjoyment. 
"You’re a sick bastard," she hissed back at him. Although, watching him cut a person she felt a deep hatred for, wasn’t exactly the worst sight she had seen. "Aesthetically pleasing," she repeated bitterly. "He’d look better if he was on fire." The words were mumbled to herself in pure disgust. 
Looking at him properly, she almost began to calm down. But his next words sickened her once more. 
"I’m nothing like you," she whispered. "I wasn’t trying to put on a show. Precise, planning where to stab was too good for him. But I doubt you’d understand. I went for whatever the knife hit, because I wanted him dead. Nothing more than tha-" 
As she spoke, she hadn’t realized Tom was moving closer, and he took her by surprise when he pulled her into…a hug? 
She began to relax, oblivious at first to the knife in her chest. She found herself glancing over Tom’s shoulder at Lola, as she hurried over to Tim and Jess, to make sure they were ok. A small smile flickered across her face. 
But then it slowly faded as she turned her gaze to Tom’s eyes. He too was smiling, smirking, and his smirk was also fading. At the same moment Tom realized he had missed his target, Mama realized there was a sharp pain in her chest, made worse as the knife had twisted from its original position. 
She winced, her breath catching in her throat, and tried to stumble back, out of his grip. But the shock prevented her from moving. 
Tim seemed to notice what had happened as well. He was watching Tom and Mama, his eyes narrowed with dislike for the both of them. A small smile played on his own mouth when he realized she had been stabbed. 
Quickly, he turned his attention back to Jess and Lola. 
"We’re fine," he said shortly, although it was clear Jess was not fine. As Jess began to cry, and thank Mama, who likely could not hear her, Tim pulled her into a hug, hiding the sight of Henry from her. 
He turned to Lola. “We need to get out of here,” he said, getting to his feet and bringing Jess with him. “The noise will have attracted the people who live in this place…and when they see what she’s done, they won’t be very happy.” He lifted Jess onto his shoulder and grabbed Lola’s hand, leading the three of them towards the stairs. 
Of course, he remembered that his grandfather was still being held captive. But…really…what were the chances that he was still alive? Maybe he would let Jess take Mama’s advice, and the two of them could be married. That would make him the camp leader. 
With nuisances like Mama and Gem out of the way, he could find other members of the camp and rebuild, with Jess by his side. 
They ran down the stairs, narrowly avoiding the others as they made their way up towards the source of the noise. 
Mama barely noticed them go. She finally managed to stumble back, clutching the knife in her chest. 
Slightly hunched over in pain, she looked up at Tom, her eyes filled with both betrayal and anger. “I gave you too much credit,” she said, her voice strained. “I thought you were better than this…But it seems…you’re just a coward…” 
Holding back a pained cry, she pulled the knife out slowly, watching as her own blood splattered onto the floor, joining Henry’s. “A coward…who can’t even kill me with a cheap shot like this…” 
She smiled bitterly, and stumbled over to Tom, raising the knife and pressing it against his neck. She was still stooped over, her breaths shallow and ragged. 
"I’d kill you if you didn’t interest me so much," she whispered, withdrawing the knife. 
Showing every sign of defending herself if he decided to attack again, she tore at her dress, and wrapped a long, thin strip of the material around her torso, as tightly as she could, letting out small, muffled gasps of pain. 
Once she was finished, she glared at Tom again, looking as though she might smack him. 
But, it was never clear what her intentions had been, for, at that moment, hurried footsteps making their way up towards the third floor interrupted them. 
"Damn," Mama whispered, looking back at the hole through which Jack had jumped. "We’ll have to leave that way." Although, she knew jumping from such a height would be extremely painful in her condition. 
Rosie, who had been watching everything unfold from the corner, decided to make her move. She wasn’t letting Mama out of there alive. She stepped in front of the hole. 
"You’re not leaving," she told the four of them calmly. 
Jack saw the absolute desperation on Gem’s face, and his bewilderment gave way to sympathy. 
"Don’t worry about that now," he said, unsure how to explain everything that had happened. "Your mother told me to get you somewhere safe-" 
"My mother?" Gem repeated, his voice filled with terror. She was still alive, too? He seemed to curl in on himself, burying his hands in his hair. First Futa, now her. And this guy was on her side…He was obviously leading him back to another room. It wasn’t over yet. “I don’t want to…” he whispered, beginning to hyperventilate. “Don’t…Please…” 
He scrambled to his feet, and tried to run. But after three steps, he tumbled back to the floor, and Jack was forced to grab him to stop him falling into the lake. 
This only seemed to aggravate his condition, and Gem began to claw at his arms and face, desperate to get away. 
Realizing Jack was stronger than him, his will faded again, and he fell limp in his arms, the life fading once more from his eye. He continued to breathe as though he had just run a mile, but otherwise, he was still, and calm. 
Jack watched him in concern for a moment, before grabbing Gem’s damp clothes with his free hand, and getting to his feet. He looked down at the rock with the crushed plant, with half the mind to take it with him, but he feared if he let Gem go now, he would begin to fight again, and end up injuring himself, or worse. 
Mama had had some more of the stuff, he reminded himself. It wouldn’t really matter if this little bit was left behind, would it? 
"I’m sorry," he said quietly to Gem. "I trust her, so I’m doing as she said." 
Although he was still awake, and most likely heard Jack’s apology, Gem didn’t respond. 
Jack began to walk in the direction he thought he had come, but, glancing up at the sky, groaned in dismay. The moon had moved again. “Damn it,” he whispered. “Why can’t that damn thing stay still?” 
Smile still on her face, Ayva regarded the baby as a perplexed expression crossed the child’s face. She couldn’t help but chuckle a bit – it was one of those priceless expressions.
Removing her finger from the child’s face, she slowly rolled her head over to look again at Rowan. Seeing the tinge of colour that now painted his face, her smile broadened.
“Ahhhh….Apologizing, apologizing….Doesn’t that seem like a waste of time? ….”
Pausing for a moment, she was taken aback by that word; ‘assume’.
Of course, she had heard it many times before, so why now was she getting a nostalgic feeling?
…strong drugs…..yes….
Laughing a bit more, “I guess it is better not….’Cause you know what they say…’Assume’ makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘you’ and ‘me’!”
Distracted by her own comment, laughing, she didn’t even notice Shou and Katana’s return until Rowan spoke to them.
Cutting her laughing short, coughing a bit in that effort, she let her head and eyes wander over to the pair.
She would have wondered what they had been talking about, yet…She found herself too busy waving at them.
Focus spread so that it reached the outermost corners of his periphery and limits of hearing, Johan watched Harley while also observing the gory scene Mama created. 
In his calm state of silence and composure, he watched along with Harley as Henry was mutilated into a creature that was nearly unrecognizable. 
Unlike Harley, who now backed into him, he displayed no reaction whatsoever. Since, like usual, he simply did not care. 
It was just another worthless, insignificant life gone.
Resting his uninjured hand on Harley’s shoulder, staying still, it seemed the scene was upsetting her. Voice low, a near whisper, “Does such a sight, all that blood, bother you?”
Perhaps such information may prove useful.
Eyes level, observing the scene between Mama and Tom, it seemed they were having some degree of difficulty.
“Ohhh no,” Tom shook his head, as if he were in the middle of lecturing a child who had just said something that was incorrect, “No, it’s never the knife’s fault. You’re simply projecting your hatred of that,” He gestured lazily to Henry, “Idiot onto the knife. It is just an inanimate object of course. It’s not its fault you decided to get all of his blood on it ”
Hearing her ‘sick bastard’ comment, he didn’t seem fazed, rather, he laughed a bit, “Yeah yeah. So I’ve been told.”
Though, oddly, the tension seemed to dissipate….but only momentarily
When Mama stepped back from Tom, the knife lodged in her chest now visible, it seemed that Tom was not as efficient of a killer as Johan had suspected, though…
Recalling their previous interaction, he knew that something was off.
Tom had appeared to be confident in his abilities earlier, and he did seem clearly frustrated by the result.
Perhaps he did indeed harbor feelings towards that woman and such feelings were preventing him from killing her.
Listening to Mama’s voice, he was certain Tom would not react gracefully to Mama’s last slew of comments.
Distracted by his failure, by Mama’s still living body, Tom payed Tim, Lola, and Jess no mind.
Narrowing his eyes at Mama, left eye twitching slightly at Mama’s words, his expression turned dark, stormy…Furious.
Coward, huh? COWARD?! Who the FUCK does she think she’s talking to?!!
Hand clenching into a tight fist, he wanted to shout at her, tell her to ‘Shut up!’, tell her that he ‘NEVER missed’, but he knew that that would only serve to paint him as an incompetent fool. As yes, he had indeed missed…
Oh, how he wanted to grab her, jam his fingers into that stab wound and…just….Rip her APART! 
Take that damned heart of hers and squash it! 
Though, while such imagery was fun, he knew it was simply that – only entertaining his imagination…
“Coward?! Just what do you think I am? Tell me, what have you been thinking, behind that blond hair of yours?? You think I’m some sort of moron? Some sort of pathetic shit that can only kill you through so called ‘cheap shots’?. 
"Hah! As if I’d care what you think!”
He paused for a moment.
Running one of his hands through his hair, he forced an angry laugh, “What you and your simple mind may think of as ‘cowardice’ and a ‘cheap shot’, is nothing of the sort. It was simply the intelligent move, using the situation to my advantage. But of course you wouldn’t recognize that.”
“Yeah, it is true that you’re not dead, but what fun would that be? A quick death with no suffering? Really?! Hah! Sounds like a bore! No, this is how it was meant to be. It is quite satisfying, seeing you-…”
His voice trailed off as Mama came back and held the knife to his throat. Taking a step closer, he continued his sentence, “…Suffer.”
Furious eyes dancing, they were seemingly daring her to try, oh just try and kill him! 
While he certainly did not, does not, have a death wish, his heightened state of aggravation was causing him to be more confrontational than was wise, and he also knew such actions were usually seen as ‘intimidating’.
And besides, in the state she was in, he was confident he could stop her before she inflicted any real damage.
Yet, she withdrew the knife of her own accord. 
…She didn’t seem in the least bit intimidated.
Whatever….fuckin’ woman….with her tight dress…covered in all that blood…
Raising an eyebrow at Mama’s comment, he let his head drop back, laughing for a moment, “You’d kill me? Hah! That’s quite the bold statement, considering your…” He let his eyes wander over her slumped  figure, the blood oozing from her wound , “Condition.”
Impatient eyes watching as Mama bandaged herself, he thought it would have been better if she had simply ripped her entire dress off.
“Oh? I ‘interest’ you? Coming from you…Is that some sort of compliment? Feels almost like an insult, considering all the other shit that came from your mouth moments ago. What? Have a change of heart? Like me now?”
His voice remained relatively level on the spectrum of anger, though…with every word he uttered, he found his frustration and ire did not dissipate….
Turning as he too heard the approaching footsteps, he let his eyes follow Mama’s gaze to the hole. In her opinion it was the only way, but he disagreed. Why not meet the owners of the footfalls? He was certain he could take them on!
…he really wanted to hit someone…break someone…
The pressure was building….he felt like he’d explode if….
Fuming and furious, wanting to take out his frustrations on someone, anyone, Rosie’s sudden appearance from the silent corner she had been in effectively caught his attention. 
Fists clenching and unclenching, he stalked over to her, footfalls heavy, hitting the ground with forceful thuds. Despite the heavy, deliberate steps, he was swift and sure in his actions.
Grabbing Rosie by her hair, he yanked her away from the hole and shoved her against the nearby wall. Ripping a chunk of hair out in the process, her head hit the wall with a loud CRACK.
Hand shooting out to wrap around her throat, he held her in place against the wall.
“Shut up! We’re gonna leave through that hole regardless of what you want. But..first…” Hand moving from her throat, up her neck and to her lips, “The only sounds I want to hear come out of you are your screams!”
Forcing his fingers through her lips, he reached down her throat to grip the base of her tongue. Digging his fingers into the muscle, he tore at it and, with one yank he ripped her tongue out. 
The satisfying music of screams filled the corridor.
Smirk playing at the corners of his lips, Rosie’s eyes seemed to be hoping, perhaps begging, it to be over, that that was all he would do. But….no…
He was not through with her yet.
Briefly examining the limp, dangling tongue in his hand, he turned his eyes back to Rosie. It seemed that she was not enjoying herself, though, of course, that was what he wanted. Though, her eyes seemed to be begging, wanting, something…he knew that it was probably just for him to stop, but he found his other train of thought more…amusing. 
“Oh? What is it? Would you like your tongue…Back?”
Clutching the bloody tongue in his hand, he brought it back to her mouth and shoved it back down the woman’s throat, forcing her to swallow it.
Pleased with the disgusted, horrified expression on her face, he shifted his focus to the other vulnerable area of the face – her eyes.
Slowly, deliberately, he brought his saliva coated hand to her left eye. Pushing the eye lids aside, he positioned his fingers around the perimeter of the eyeball and applied force. Pressing his fingers into her eye socket, he brought his fingers together in a meeting that effectively wrapped them around and under her eye – a near scooping motion. 
Withdrawing his arm, more screams echoed through the building, as, his hand withdrawing along with his arm, he brought her now severed eyeball with him.
Bringing the eyeball up to her intact eye, making sure that she could clearly see it, he swivelled it around so that she was effectively ‘staring’ at herself – dead pupil gazing at horrified pupil. Grasping the eye between his thumb and index finger, he began applying pressure….more pressure…until….
Effectively squishing the eyeball, the clear fluid splattered on her face.
Letting what little remained of the eyeball slip through his fingers and to the ground, from his periphery he spotted a pile of rubble close by, near the hole.
Grabbing a brick that was hiding amongst the rubble, he brought it in front of her face before proceeding.
Careful not to damage her brain, he smashed the brick into the bones of her face, smashing her jaw, cheeks, teeth and more.
He didn’t care if he was being ‘excessive’ or ‘going overboard’, he simply needed an outlet. Besides…it was quite…Fun!
He just wanted to destroy something…someone….To tear them apart.
He found this systematic process of destruction quite….therapeutic. 
With each brutal bludgeoning with the brick, each satisfying crunch of shattering bone, he found his anger transforming in to excitement, enjoyment…
Before directing the brick at her skull, he briefly considered simply leaving her there to suffer…maybe push her out the hole, let the exposure and wildlife finish her off…..but….
In a couple of swift, strong motions, the few brief meetings between the brick and her skull, while causing an amount of blood spatter, put an end to her life.
It was much more rewarding to end her life himself.
Once her face was demolished, the cavity which held her brain now a caved in pool of blood and grey matter, he tossed the blood coated brick aside with a flick of his wrist, her body collapsing to the ground shortly after.
Now in a significantly calmer, composed state, he glanced back at the others.
Content smirk on his face, he glanced towards the stairs, “Seems like some our ‘friends’ have arrived.” 
The baby continued to stare at Ayva a little while longer, as she laughed and withdrew her finger. She gargled a moment, bubbles expanding from her mouth, before deciding her hand was infinitely more interesting than what was happening between the adults. Popping it into her mouth, she began to drift off to sleep. 
Rowan looked at Ayva, his face still slightly red. “I guess you’re right,” he sighed, giving her a smile. Her next words, however, made him laugh, accidentally waking the baby once more. 
"Did you get into the alcohol?" he asked her, raising one eyebrow. Although he didn’t recall Ayva getting a chance to open up the barrel. Perhaps she had found more of it somewhere? 
"Alcohol?" another voice interrupted them, and Rowan looked up to see Shou floating towards them happily. 
"You drink?" Rowan asked, looking slightly sceptical. 
Shou nodded. “On occasion…But…” He glanced at the babies. “Guess it’s best not to, right now.” 
"Maybe they’d appreciate some alcohol,” Rowan joked. “We don’t have any way of feeding them.” He averted his eyes from Ayva as he added the last part. 
Shou looked at Ayva for a second, then past her, at one of the mattresses, on which a wolf was fast asleep. He drifted over to her and, gently, rolled her slightly onto her side, smiling when he saw them. 
The wolf glared at him a moment, looking as though she was contemplating biting his hand off. But then she yawned lazily. She didn’t protest when he took the first baby to her, allowing him to drink hungrily from her. 
"…Well, I could have thought of that,” Rowan grumbled to Ayva. “If I was insane.” 
Harley seemed to calm down slightly as Johan rested his hand on her shoulder. She drew in a deep breath, and nodded, closing her eyes against the onslaught of images running through her mind. 
"Doesn’t it…bother you?" she asked, her voice filled with incredulity. She opened her eyes, and looked up into Johan’s, her confusion returning. He really didn’t seem bothered by any of this at all. "I’ve never liked the sight of blood," she said slowly, her attention returning to the interaction between Mama and Tom. "Not since I was a child…I don’t understand how you can stay so…calm…" Her voice drifted off when she saw the knife in Mama’s chest. 
Somehow, she was still alive. 
But the scene that followed…Harley was not prepared for that. Once certain Mama was going to be alright, although she couldn’t say she cared much, not after what Mama had just done, she began to turn for the hole in the wall to join the others in escaping. But stopped when Rosie stood in their way. Harley glared. What did she plan to do alone, anyway? 
Her irritation soon faded into sympathy, disgust, and horror. “Stop it…” she whispered, when Tom began his attack. 
Mama hadn’t had much chance to respond, before Tom had turned and made a beeline for Rosie. She grimaced as he grabbed the girl and forced her against the wall, ripping out her tongue. She began to hurry after him, stumbling as her wound slowed her down. 
By the time she reached him, he was already going for Rosie’s eye. “Stop that at once!” she growled at him. “There’s no need…She could have been easily pushed out of the way!” 
But, she didn’t pull him back. She didn’t even attempt to physically stop him. Maybe it was the pain she was in, but she didn’t much feel like helping Rosie. She remembered, these people were the ones who had tortured her son; left him in that state. Wasn’t Gem’s left eye ruined? An eye for an eye, as they said. And hadn’t they killed Dorian? This girl deserved everything she got. Besides, it was better that he took his anger out on her, than any of their group. 
Mama stood back, watching, letting it all happen. She ignored the footsteps as they grew louder and closer, and then stopped, replaced by a horrified silence. She ignored Harley’s quiet pleas for it to stop. She ignored Rosie’s own screams of agony and terror. And she ignored the flecks of blood and bone that flew past Tom’s shoulders, hitting her own face. 
All that mattered was that these people paid. 
All of them. 
She glanced back towards Futa, just as Tom was finishing up, and made her way over to him, leaning down to look into his face as he began to stir. This one seemed to have had a huge involvement in what had happen, and she wasn’t about to let him go. She was interested to know how he was still alive, as well. She felt…it was her responsibility to punish him. She had raised him after all. But, as she recalled his mother; that woman, she couldn’t be surprised how he had turned out. Like mother, like son. 
Roughly, she grabbed, him, giving a death stare to his companions, who drew back, despite easily outnumbering her and her ‘group’. She dragged him back towards the others, wincing in pain as she moved. 
By the time she had reached the hole in the wall again, Tom was finished with Rosie. 
Harley leaned weakly against Johan, her legs trembling as she forced herself to stay standing. But it was all too much for her. She leaned forward, and threw up on the floor. 
"You’re a monster," she screamed. "You’re both monsters!" 
Mama spared her a brief glance, before returning her attention to Tom. “It seems they have,” she agreed softly, but paid them no attention. She looked instead, at Rosie, or what remained of her. 
"Tell me," she said, a small purr entering her voice. "If you had really wanted to make me suffer, why didn’t you just do that? I was vulnerable for a moment, wasn’t I? It would have been the perfect opportunity. And isn’t that what you said…You were taking advantage of the situation…But…it doesn’t seem your style.” 
She placed one hand on his chest, pushing him to the wall. “You know what I think?” she went on. “I think you were trying to kill me with that cheap shot-…And yes, it was a cheap shot. Don’t interrupt me with your excuses…It was a cowardly, cheap shot, no matter how you look at it…And now you’re all frustrated because you never miss your mark. Yet, this time you did. First time you’ve ever missed?…I can only speculate why…” She drifted off, looking at his lips. “You interest me more and more. And you can take that as a compliment.” She paused for a moment, and smiled. “My condition won’t stop me doing this.” And she stood slightly on her tiptoes, and kissed him. 
Harley’s jaw dropped in a mixture of disgust and exasperation. The group intent on stopping them had now begun to advance, hurling insults and threats at them, and she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. 
Mama slowly released Tom, and backed off slightly. His previous comment had been right. She had been projecting her hatred for these people onto the knife. Their blood, was the blood of monsters to her. But, seeing it on Tom’s hands, she couldn’t help but feel…grateful. Although it had obviously not been his intention, he had took part in her revenge. “Thank you,” she muttered softly, without giving an explanation for her gratitude. 
"Oi! Are you listening to us!" an angry, obnoxious voice cut through the air, dragging Mama’s attention from Tom, to the gathered group of people. 
"Can you take him?" Mama asked Tom, gesturing towards Futa, who was now sprawled on the floor a foot away from Rosie. "You can kill him when I’m through with him, and you can make the call whether he gets back to the prison uninjured or not." 
"They’re both completely insane," Harley hissed at Johan. But she reluctantly hurried over to the hole in the wall. 
As Jack fought his way through burned twigs, and fallen trees, he heard something moving to his right, and froze. He turned back to see three people bustling through the ruined forest, behind him. 
"What do you want?" he asked defensively, glaring straight at Tim, who was also carrying someone, and dragging a second person along behind him. 
Tim stopped his hurried footsteps, and glared back at Jack. “I want nothing with you,” he said rudely. “I’m just trying to get back to the prison…” His voice drifted off as he looked at Jack's face. “I could have sworn you were already there…But your hair is different.” 
Jack dropped his defensive stance, and hope filled him once again. So…Rowan really was alive? And these people knew where he was. It seemed he had been going in the right direction, after all. 
"Long story," he muttered. "I think we’re headed to the same place…But I got a bit lost. Would you mind-" 
"Why do you have him?" Tim demanded, looking at Gem with disgust. He had assumed Gem had died at Futa’s hands; now he found himself disappointed. 
"A woman with blonde hair…His mother, I think, asked me to-" 
"Oh?" Tim interrupted again. "Well, I doubt you have to concern yourself with what she wants now, considering she’s dead." 
Jack's eyes widened in horror. That couldn’t be true, could it? Mama had promised to keep Harley safe. How could she be dead, now? 
Gem was equally horrified. He moved, for the first time in at least ten minutes, turning his gaze towards Tim. 
"She’s dead," Tim repeated, a slight, malicious look on his face as he caught Gem’s eye. "And both her, and her…offspring are more trouble than they’re worth." 
Jack narrowed his eyes, unsure whether he could trust this guy. In any case, he had no intention of abandoning Gem now, even if…No, especially if his mother was dead. 

Jess had fallen into a deep sleep but as Tim carried her through the woods she came to and opened her eyes looking around quickly. “Where are…” But before could finish everything became clear to her.
She looked up at Tim with soft eyes, “I… I think I can walk now..” She said putting her hand on his chest gently.

Harkot still heard the voice and didn’t want to stop. “It’ll be ok. Nothing is gonna happen.” He smiled pushing Kaya’s hair out of her face. ” I just hope my brother is ok…” He looked ahead through the darkness an saw what he thought were figures moving through the trees.
“It there anyone there?!” He called out walking toward the shadows.

Lola walked quietly behind the others, Toms words running through her head over and over again.
She hated him, Lola couldn’t bring herself to not. But she couldn’t shit out Oliver, she didn’t know how to be with him the way he wanted without also hating him in the back of her mind.
She knew it wasn’t Oliver but Tom, but still. It was still there.


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Tim looked down at Jess as she stirred, and a kind smile returned to his face. "You sure?" he asked. He gently lowered her to the ground, then looked back over at Jack, at his narrowed, suspicious eyes. "You can come with us," he sighed. "But that boy is nothing but trouble. You'll regret bringing him with you." 

"I'm sure I can take that risk," Jack muttered bitterly, his eyes drifting to Jess for a moment, then past her, at Lola. "You..." he said slowly to her. "You were with Rowan. He went after you and that baby! Is he ok?" 

However, before he had the chance to hear Lola's reply, another voice joined their's, shouting through the increasing darkness. 

Tim turned and saw the outline of two people making their way towards them. 

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Jess winced from the pain emanating from within her as she walked. She suddenly grabbed Tim's arm so she wouldn't trip.
"Sorry.." She said softly, letting go of his arm she looked back at Jack and Gem and then at Tim.
"He saved me." She said standing up straight. "He saved you too... That kid was going to..." Jess touched her throat and then her cheek.
"That kid was going to slit my throat but Gem pushed him off me... This should have been my neck." She pointed to the deep cut on her cheek.

Lola heard the voices of people walking close by and looked around to see two people walking toward them.
"Your brothers fine..." She muttered glancing back at Jack.

Katana watched Shou closely and smiled at his actions.
"That was really smart." He said placing his hand on Shou's shoulder.
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Hearing Rowan’s lovely laugh, Ayva’s smile deepened.

She thought it was a nice change of pace from before. Simply looking after children, not worrying about whether you’ll get burned alive or killed by some psycho. She wished, hoped, that it would stay this way…Unfortunately, the rational part of her knew that things never worked out like that…Mama would come back soon, and that psycho…She wondered what the others would be like….

Hopefully they are nice…friendly…


Cocking her head to one side as Rowan asked her about ‘alcohol’, her expression was one of slight confusion. 
Voice hesitant, she responded, “Alcohol?….No…..”

She didn’t even know there was alcohol around.


Turning her head to look at Shou as he spoke to Rowan, she let herself lapse into a state of silent observation.

Staying silent as she listened to the exchange of words between Rowan and Shou, she felt almost offended by the idea of giving children alcohol, though, such a feeling quickly passed as she realized that Rowan had been joking.

He seemed to have an…interesting sense of humour.

Laughing slightly at his suggestion made in jest, she found herself following Shou with her eyes as he went over to the wolf and rolled her over.

She was surprised that the wolf didn’t bite him.


Confused, wondering what Shou was going to do, her eyes widened in surprise and shock as he brought the human baby to the wolf’s teet.

That is just…..unnatural…..



She was so shocked by his actions that she almost missed what Rowan had said. 
Tilting her head over to look at him, her voice betrayed her surprise.

“I….I just don’t even know what to say….”
While the pills still seemed to be working, as there was a strong, underlying layer of calm beneath the surprise, it seemed her disquiet was stronger.

“…how would someone even think of doing that?”

Agreeing with Rowan, her voice dipped to a whisper, “That….is definitely not normal…..”


Slowly, Johan glanced down to meet Harley’s eyes as she answered. 
Her words indicated that her fear most likely stemmed from something traumatic from her past. 
Perhaps something she saw. 
Perhaps something she experienced. 


As her voice dissipated, it seemed his response would not be required, as she quickly became distracted by the sight of Mama’s injury.


Watching the scene between Rosie and Tom unfold, he was able to gather more information. 
The man seemed to be mostly fuelled by emotion…
Though…judging by the way he removed the eye, and shattered the bones in her face without causing any trauma to the brain, it appeared as though Tom possessed a fair bit of knowledge pertaining to human anatomy. While the man was lashing out due to emotion, he didn’t seem to be completely ‘out of control’. 
He seemed to know how to incite fear, and most certainly, pain. The look in Rosie’s eye betrayed it all.

While he analyzed Tom, he was also aware of Harley’s waning state. She felt unsteady, as if she may fall over.

From a purely clinical standpoint, it was interesting how humans watched things which cause them discomfort, even though there was the equally viable option of looking away or closing their eyes. Yet, he knew that most humans displayed natural curiosity, so such a thing was not unusual.


When Harley vomited, he briefly wondered about the food situation. Surely, food was in scarce supply. Perhaps it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that a few of them would succumb to malnutrition.

Concern emanating from his voice, “Are you alright? It seems that terrible scene has ended, at least…”


While Tom had heard Harley and Mama’s vocal protests to his actions, he chose to ignore them. Knowing that others around him were disturbed by such a scene only deepened his enjoyment.




Looking at Mama, the good mood he had been in moments before slowly began to deteriorate as she spoke. 
His eyes narrowed at her slightly.
Smirk flickering, he couldn’t completely mask his surprise when she pushed him against the wall.

What is with this woman??


There she was, again going on about him being ‘cowardly’…that his attack had been a ‘cheap shot’…and all that crap…
Is she trying to get on my nerves?

He would have spoken, retaliated, but she kept on talking, leaving no room for his own voice to enter.
When it seemed she was through talking at him, he opened his mouth to speak, when….
She kissed him.

This woman….

He was surprised by the change of events.


Standing still for a moment as she pressed her lips against his, he moved into her, kissing her back.

It was odd….he usually didn’t enjoy kissing, yet….this wasn’t so horrible…

Biting her bottom lip, he was about to grab her, pull her closer, but before his hand reached her waist she had broken off, moved away.
Smirk in place, eyebrow raised slightly, his voice was dark, yet…playful, “Don’t you think that was a bit of a tease?”


Voice trailing off slightly at her expression of gratitude, he felt slightly confused.
Did she somehow think he had purposefully done something to help her? ..surely she had gathered by now that he didn’t operate like that….

Purposely failing to acknowledge her ‘thank you’, he turned to the group that was yelling at them.
Their voices were becoming quite the irritating presence.

“Hey! Shut the fuck up!”


Turning back to Mama at the sound of her voice, his smirk wavered slightly.

Sparing Futa a brief glance, he was about to laugh, and say ‘No’ to her request but….it was odd…the way she asked…

Was actually quite considerate.

While he felt slightly annoyed at her request, he was in a much better mood than earlier. And…it didn’t sound like such a terrible proposition…

“I don’t see why you’d possibly want that kid, but…”
He rolled his head back slightly, expression one of slight exasperation and boredom.

Grabbing Futa by the arm, roughly picking him up as if the boy were a ragdoll, he turned towards the hole.

Needing some sort of reprieve for his actions, he rationalized it as not helping Mama, but, rather, doing something that would benefit him later.


Going over to the hole, he was quite tempted to chuck the kid through.

Who cares if the fall kills the little bastard…

Tightening his grip on the boy as his frustration mounted, he stepped in front of the hole and exited the building.

While yes, he would have preferred to drop the kid head first, Mama hadasked nicely…Perhaps that was indicative of something….”fun” happening later…he could only speculate…
It was on this expectation and the prospect of killing the kid later that he managed abide by Mama’s wish.

That woman…

She better not be jerking me around.

Though…even if she had just done that to placate him…..He was not one to deny himself of something he wanted…


Landing on the ground below, he clenched his teeth upon the impact. While he had landed in the proper manner, his ribs were still quite sore.
Standing, he moved away from the building slightly.

Looking down at Futa, he felt a stir of emotion - annoyance. 
This kid was peacefully unconscious while he carried him around? What the Hell?! Why should he act as this kid’s personal ‘transportation’ service?!

About to shake Futa, to yell at him to ‘Wake the Fuck up!’, he then remembered how annoying children were…

Loud, stupid voices…thinking they know everything…Fuckin’ little assholes…


He was conflicted, and kept going between the two points.

It seemed that, either way, he would have to endure the all too familiar feeling of irritation.

…if he did wake the kid up, and he was annoying, he would indeed have an excuse to hurt him…

Like I really NEED an excuse…

Remembering the article he took from that humanoid earlier, he moved a hand down to his pocket.
Yes. It was still there.

Hmmm….I do have that long piece of cloth from earlier…If he gets annoying, I can just shove that down his throat. 
That would shut the little shit up quick.


Making up his mind, he shook Futa in a violent manner before yelling at him, “Oi, kid! Wake the fuck up! This isn’t nap time!”


Following Harley over to the hole, it seemed the other group was growing quite hostile, and they were making their way closer.

Motioning for Harley to go first, Johan glanced back at the advancing group, “It seems we have run out of time.”
“Ladies first.”


Watching Harley exit through the hole, he briefly wondered whether she knew how to land properly. If not, perhaps she would become injured, maybe even meet her death. It was not out of the realm of possibility to die from such a height.

Though, such a thing did not happen.
Waiting until the others were out of the way, he too followed their path out the hole.

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Rowan shook his head incredulously. “I don’t, either,” he said, staring as Shou took baby after baby to the wolf. They didn’t seem to mind, and the wolf appeared almost irritated when they were removed. But still. It didn’t seem right. 
He tore his eyes away from the scene and looked at Ayva. She looked as confused and uncomfortable as he felt. “Well, he does seem weird,” he whispered. “Eccentric people have a way of coming up with the strangest things…Maybe he’s the one who got into the alcohol.” 
“You mean me?” Shou said cheerfully, suddenly in front of them without warning. He shook his head. “Unfortunately not. Drinking now wouldn’t be entirely safe.” He gave Ayva a meaningful look as he spoke. “I just read that some animals would take care of human babies if they found them abandoned…And, those children needed feeding, right?” 
Rowan stared at him a moment. Surprisingly, the guy was not offended. He was still smiling. “I…guess,” he muttered, a little confused as to why Shou had looked at Ayva so intently. 
He coughed a little and stood up, as Shou took the baby from him, and carried her over to the wolf. She was the last one. Making his way over to the huge barrel, he attempted to open it. “I guess we don’t have anything to drink out of,” he said in dismay. 
Shou looked up when he felt a hand on his shoulder, and smiled at Katana. "It seems the others disagree," he replied, his tone still cheerful. He looked over at Rowan for a moment, as he tried to remove the lid from the barrel. "I wonder if they'll manage to get into it," he said, half to katana, half to himself. 


Watching Tom go, reluctantly taking Futa with him, Mama briefly wondered whether the boy would reach the prison alive. Her curiosity about him didn’t seem to make her care too much. 
Putting one hand on the crumbling wall as the other two approached, another, distracting thought hit her. He had kissed her back. She hadn’t entirely expected that. She hadn’t expected she would kiss HIM in the first place. Was she going mad? That hadn’t just been a tease. She had…wanted to kiss him. 
Shaking the thought from her mind, she returned her attention to the hole, and jumped through. 
Her landing wasn’t as smooth as it should have been, and she found herself stumbling to the ground, becoming tangled in the weeds. Holding back a cry of pain, she straightened up again, feeling the blood oozing out from beneath her makeshift bandage. 
Tom was a little way away, shaking Futa roughly to wake him. And, as the boy’s eyes opened, Mama couldn’t completely suppress her instincts. Futa looked extremely distraught. 
Futa stared up at Tom, his eyes wide with fear, confusion and sadness. But that silent stare only lasted a moment. He opened his mouth, and began to scream, trying to claw at Tom’s face. 
Mama reached out one hand and grabbed his before his sharp nail could connect with Tom’s eye. “That’s enough of that,” she said firmly. 
Instantly, Futa fell silent, and stared at Mama instead, familiarity and calm entering his eyes.

Harley couldn’t help but look back at the ones drawing closer, barely giving her and Johan time to jump through the hole. 
“Yeah,” she said shakily as she moved forward. She would have liked the time to plan her jump. But she guessed that was impossible now. Holding onto the jagged sides of the hole, she closed her eyes and jumped. It wasn’t as though she wasn’t used to this sort of thing. But, she had never jumped from such a height, or to save her own life before. 
The last thing she heard as she jumped was Johan’s “ladies first” comment, and she couldn’t help smiling. After Tom’s rude assumption, that was a relief to her. 
She landed with her knees bent, and let the momentum cause her to roll onto the ground, out of the way of Johan’s landing. Getting to her feet, she pulled some weeds out of her hair and looked at him, her eyes betraying the horror she still felt. 
“You’re still so calm,” she whispered, leaning against the wall of the building for support. “How…After seeing all of that…” She shook her head, recalling Johan’s response to the gruesome scene. He hadn’t flinched or moved at all as she had leaned against him. And when it was over, he had simply asked how she was, as though more concerned for her well being than what had just happened. 
“And before you ask again, I’ll be fine,” she said, her voice a little stronger now. “But I don’t think it’s over…” Glancing up to where they had just jumped from, she became aware that unless they moved, their pursuers would hurry down the stairs and catch them. 
It seemed Mama was thinking the same thing. As Harley looked over at the three she refused to trust, she saw with dismay that Futa was now awake, and the source of a terrible, shrill noise. He only seemed to go quiet when Mama spoke to him. 
“We should head for the trees quickly,” Mama said to all of them. “There may not be much shelter, but if we can outrun them far enough, they might not follow.” 
Releasing Futa’s arm, she turned to lead the way, limping slightly. 
Harley didn’t want to follow her, but she found they had no choice if they wanted to live. Staying close to Johan, she began to make her way to the treeline as well. 
Although quiet, Futa was not happy. He glared at Tom, and spoke with venom in his voice. “If you shake me again I will carve your head in two!” he hissed. “Where are we going?” 
He didn’t seem to care that he was being removed forcefully from his home, now that he had seen Mama. 


"It's fine," Tim said, helping to support Jess as she steadied herself. 
His smile faded when she continued to speak, and he glanced over at Gem. "I should have been there for you," he said quietly. "If I'd helped...he wouldn't have even got to harm your face. Gem was only looking out for himself, I bet. Get you on his side." 
He looked at the cut on her cheek guiltily. 
Jack, on the other hand, was glaring at Tim. It seemed obvious what kind of person he was. But, as Lola spoke, he felt a wave of relief wash over him. "Oh, thank goodness," he whispered. He was about to ask whether they had managed to find the baby, when the two others emerged from the burned trees. He recognized them instantly as the other two who had been at the school. 
Although still distraught, Gem managed to lift his head as he heard Harkot and Kaya approaching, and he seemed to find some comfort in Kaya's appearance. At least she was safe. And Jess was, too. 

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Watching Shou alongside Rowan, Ayva’s surprise remained as the wolf allowed the children to feed from her.

It was an odd situation, as the babies didn’t even seem to care.

I guess they’re just….so hungry?


While it proved to be a slight challenge, she managed to tear her eyes away from the scene as Rowan spoke to her.

“True….” Her voice was quiet, hesitant, “Maybe he did….”

Jumping at Shou’s voice, she turned her head to stare at him. 
Sneaky little bastard, isn’t he?

Listening to his voice, her eyebrow raised slightly.

Why was he looking at me like that? What ‘wouldn’t be entirely safe’?

It seemed the pills were waning slightly, as the calm gave way to a small ray of irritance.

Whatever….he’s probably just trying to make me paranoid or something….


Shrugging as Shou finished speaking, she pushed her hair out of her eyes, and echoed Rowan’s sentiments, “…I guess wolf’s milk is better than no food….just…it’s an….odd sight…”


She watched as Shou brought the last child to the wolf. It was an interesting sight, seeing human children drinking from a wolf’s teet, and she found herself watching in a near mesmerized state yet again.
Once you got past the uncomfortable-ness of it, it was actually quite an amazing concept.

Finding herself wondering what other animals Shou had read would take care of human offspring, Rowan’s less than pleased voice roused her from her thoughts.

Following his voice, her eyes came to rest upon the sight of him attempting to open a barrel. 
…probably that barrel of alcohol he mentioned….


Slowly getting to her feet, she made her way over to Rowan.

“Well…..if we get this top off,” She lightly rapped the top of the barrel with her knuckle, “We could probably get away with using our hands.”

Smiling at Rowan, she tried to help him open the barrel. But, after a few minutes of trying, with no success, disappointment hung in the air.


Letting out an exasperated sigh, she took a step back from the barrel. It didn’t seem like they’d be able to get the top off unless they found…something….
She glanced back over to Rowan, “Do you see anything we could use to pry this thing ope-….”

Expression perking up as her eyes caught sight of a metal object off in the corner near the bed, her voice took on an edge of anticipation, excitement, “I wonder if that would work?”


It seemed Harley had not met her death, rather, she seemed to be quite skilled. The way she landed was not something one would see from an inexperienced person. Most would tense up, fight against gravity, whereas she knew better. She knew to relax and go with it.


Watching silently as she brushed the organic matter from her person, Johan simply waited.
Yes, it seemed his calm disposition unnerved people, but such a thing was not something he thought necessary to actively address.


Staying silent until now, he followed her upward gaze, nodding at what she said, “It seems staying here any longer would certainly not be wise.”



As the others began to move, heading into the few trees that managed to survive, he followed alongside Harley.

While they were bringing up the rear, they were close enough to hear the others’ voices.

It seemed tension was not lost, rather, what little patience that man had seemed to be wearing thin as him and Futa continued with their interaction.


With each step, the jarring motion sent another layer of pain on top of the dull ache from his hand. 
While his features did not portray such things, he could feel that it was still bleeding, ever so slightly.

Paying his mauled hand a brief glance, he vaguely wondered whether Gem’s words earlier contained truth. Certainly, they did seem within the realm of possibility.
If so…

Perhaps the mutants would be attracted by his blood. The boy had said that they were drawn to blood, ‘no matter how small the wound’. 
If that were the case, perhaps they would all perish soon.


As he continued walking beside Harley, he decided to inquire about her skilled landing – perhaps he would be able to gather more information, to determine her strengths and weaknesses.

“That was quite the impressive sight, watching you land as you did. Most would not know to act as you did; to go along with gravity. Perhaps you and your brothers did that sort of thing often?”


Moving his face backward in an attempt to get out of the range of the kid’s claws, Tom was about to simply drop Futa on the ground when Mama approached, stopping his hands.

Eyes effectively distracted from Futa, he did not offer any semblance of gratitude, yet his voice was not as harsh as it should have been, “You know, I am perfectly capable of handling a stupid little shit like this.”



As Mama continued forward, establishing herself in the front to lead the way for their small group, he found himself watching her.

Taking a moment to admire her from behind, he was rudely torn from the lovely sight by that kid’s irritating voice.

Frowning, he turned his impatient eyes to Futa.

Hearing his threat, his frown broke into an expression that conveyed both annoyance and amusement.

Tone taking on an edge of mockery, he let out a single syllable laugh, “You’re going to carve my head in two, huh? Hah, with what? Those long, girlish nails of yours?”


While he was amused by Futa’s threat, he found his question annoying. Even though it was a perfectly reasonable thing to ask, he simply found his voice so damned…Aggravating!


Voice now sharper, amusement dissipated, he offered up a lackluster reply, “You know? Considering the position you’re in, asking stupid questions like that should be the last thing you do. Really, you shouldn’t do it at all. In fact, if you get any other inkling to ask another fucking stupid thing like that, maybe I’ll just bash your head against that boulder over there?!”

Anger rising with each word, he paused for a moment.
He had said he would bring the kid back with them…he would be able to kill him later…

Voice still angry, yet a bit more calm, he continued.

“So, where are we going? You’ll damn well just have to wait and find out!”

It was oh so tempting to just kill the kid then and there….

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They had been walking for what felt like forever when the big old prison came into view. Jess looked up at the big stone building and a sigh of relief escaped her lunges. They had made it, they were alive!
As they made their way into the prison Lola looked around. Harkot was still carrying Kaya, he seemed fairly protective of her but, she noticed his gave was fixed on Jess who walked in from of him with Tim.
Everyone walked in scilently but as Harkot walked he heard a voice from down the hall and knew exactly who it was, hisbrother.
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