Elly quietly pushed open the front door, trying her best to close it just as softly with her arms full. Both her mind and body ached with a tiredness she hadn't known was possible to posess. A tired, frustrated, irritated and yet completely calm feeling, like she'd gone through a major trial and somehow come out unscathed. And that was what it was, in reality. A trial. Not for her well-being, but for someone else's.
At least she'd done it the right way this time. She'd talked the talk and she had someone on her side. Two people on her side, and three was quite a number. And no one really objected, but they still tried to make things hard for her. Oh, and they'd continue to try.
They'd asked where Daniel was. 'Daniel,' she'd remembered telling them and mentally grinning, 'is in my care as of now.' They'd, as usual, protested that they should have him back. She'd told them that they could have him back, only if they took Soren as well. 'Well? Isn't his mental health just as valuable as Danny's?'
They'd quickly dropped the discussion. No one wanted Soren around, he was too much of a hassle.
The blonde boy in her arms rolled his head one way, falling in and out of his drug-induced dreamlike state, and was once again silent. His breathing seemed weaker now, but she tried to brush it off. She was thankful he was so light as she carried him through the front hall, making her way to the kitchen, or walking around with him like this might have been a harder task.
Before even entering the kitchen, Elly took note of two very distinct smells. Cigarettes and something coppery. She could practically drink the tiredness of the house around her, as if its very foundation would soon heave in and collapse from the sheer emotions of the people it held.
Stepping through the doorway, Elly clutched the boy in her arms just a bit tighter and felt him stir. She had a feeling, a light suspicion he could sense it, too.
The second blonde angel was there, locked up in his own little tower of madness, in his head once more. His knees were bent, avoiding the contact of his mostly-bare skin with the cold ceramic below him. His hands were laid out to either side, fingers bent in a natural position, eyes blank. Of course, those blank eyes never noticed her appearance, the presence of another intruder, or the wreck of a man huddled up in the corner.
The blood was the last thing Elly noticed. The blood was the only usual bit about the scene.
Her gaze flickered over to Danny, knees bent up to his chest, pressed into a corner, looking much too young for his age. His eyes were hooded by the messy locks of boyish brown hair that, up until two days ago, he'd kept immaculate. In one shaky hand, he held a cigarette, that was ever-so-slowly pressed up to his chapped lips. Elly knew he'd noticed her, at least. Even if she couldn't see his eyes, he was looking at her. Those charcoal eyes were screaming at her, dark and burning a hole into her sanity, looking helpless and dangerous all at once.
She dropped Dove off onto the couch, watching him curl up into a fetal position as soon as he left her arms, and walked quietly over to crouch beside the boy on the floor. It felt like he was just trying to ignore her now, as if she was a fly on the wall and she would go away if he thought hard enough about it. Or didn't think at all.
Elly glanced at the blood smeared across the tiled floor in some sort of maddening design of stars and symbols and happy emotions. She didn't know why he did this. She liked to think she did. That it was his mother's fault, his father's fault, the fault of the person who screwed up his head and picked out the good parts of his brain. Whoever's fault. Her fault. His fault. Whoever.
She knew how, though.
He'd released the demons once more, those demons that toyed with his conscious and ripped at his frayed nerves and slipped into him when he wasn't paying attention, and injected their thoughts into him. And all hell broke loose, and Soren, the poor boy bathing in blood on the floor... He wasn't the only one who'd been scarred that day.
"You're home early."
The dry, choked-sounding voice startled her out of her thoughts, and she stared down at her angel with a motherly look. "Come on, let's get you cleaned up."
"No, it's okay, it's not much..."
Even though he was slow in this state, there was still hollow laughter and faint smiles and everything else that helped pattern out the make-believe. Soren didn't object as she pushed pills past his dry lips, sat him down on the counter and bandaged him up, and she smiled back at him with a little more life. Just to see if he'd play along. And she finished it all off with saying ,"There, all better."
As if he was a little child and she could mend all his scrapes with a bandaid.
Mend him, too.
After that, everything sped up into fast forward. The world seemed to move against her as she put Soren to bed, to sleep at 3:00 in the afternoon, and ran downstairs to talk to Danny. Poor, scarred Danny. Poor, poor Elly. She grabbed the cigarette from his lips and stamped it out underneath her toes, even though it felt like it burnt through her socks, as if she was angry at him. There were cigarette marks all over the floor, and in the living room too, on the carpet. And he stood up, taller than her now by about an inch, and whispered in her ear three simple words.
"Talk to Luciana."
Even if she wasn't all there, she was still a little more sane than her 'brothers', and she didn't like to show what she was missing, anyway.
The music that was streaming through the door reminded Elly of something that might once have been poppy, until it got into the hands of some punk rocker. Still, it seemed much too normal to be turned up too loud like that, completely oblivious to the rest of the house's occupants and their whereabouts.
She opened the door to find the room of any typical teenage girl, complete with clothes and schoolwork strewn across the floor, and posters and memories tacked to the walls. Except Lucianna didn't go to school, and those memories weren't hers.
The redhead in question was sprawled out on her bed, doodling in a notebook with sunlight streaming in through the lime green drapes on the window. Elly had never understood how Lucianna's room was always the brightest in the house, even on the day of a storm. When it was dark or raining, she'd close all the curtains and place throw-pillows and lava lamps everywhere and hold meditation ceremonies.
It was one of Elly's fond memories. Lucianna was more naive back then, when she'd started looking through tarot card and palm reading books, but it had made her happy and so Elly had played along with it. She let the girl create her world alone, let her use her imagination like a normal child. And one day, during a particularly violent storm, Elly had heard voices upstairs. She'd peeked in through the door, and found all three of them, Danny, Soren, and Lucianna, sitting amongst the pillows and reading and humming. Soren was huddled into Lucianna's lap, his blonde hair a mess from laying around the pillows too long, and was that a smile on his face? They all looked happy, laughing at whatever nonesense Danny was reading aloud from the book in his lap. The thunder just past the curtains created a sort of strange ambience, she could even see the lightning flashes, but the three people in the room didn't notice. They didn't seem to notice much of anything, except each other. Elly carried on with her business and didn't dare bother them.
With her music and her doodles, Lucianna didn't seem to notice much of anything, either.
"You were supposed to watch him," Elly had commented with her arms folded. She wasn't angry, how could she be with Soren peaceful and asleep in the next room over? "Turn the music down, Soren's sleeping."
Lucianna barely responded. The conversation continued on much in that same fashion.
Elly would never understand why Lucianna refused to help Soren, even as she did countless chores for Danny and practically coddled the new boy. What was his name again? Dove. The pale bird.
She liked to think Dove was some miracle. Something special that she'd been gifted with that heaven would never take away from her. Dove was life, even little Lucianna understood that, and Dove was something amazing. Elly supposed that was where he got his name. A small, frail, tranquil, absolutely beautiful little bird that was kept in a cage to protect and nurture. The bird sang sad songs and longed to be free, but was doomed to be sought after and caged once more.
The boy had no parents, she knew that much. Truth be told, she didn't know much about him, aside from what Chance had told her. He wasn't much to take care of. The boy had never been outside the asylum in his life. As far as she could tell, he'd been born there.
It took the rest of the afternoon, and some of the evening for the angel to wake up. The drugs that had been pumped into his body through his bruised little hand had been enough for someone twice his size. But still, with such a restless mind, she supposed a bit of comatose couldn't hurt him, and beside the nitrous oxide, the IV was only there to keep him from thrashing about on the way back to the house. Apparently the boy didn't do too well with medication, even when asleep.
He was the most peaceful sleeper, if not the easiest to handle, when he was on something. The doctors at the asylum had, understandably, wanted her to be there when he was being put under. Her and Chance.
The room had been cold, with tiles underfoot and metal walls. The ceiling was a blinding sort of white, the kind that made you think you were staring right into the sun. So no one looked up, and no one really looked anywhere but the floor, for that matter. The walls were too reflective. Dove had been curled up on his side when she'd entered, Chance following her, and had offered the two of them a shaky smile.
He certainly didn't sound stable.
"Are you here to kill me?"
The standard-issue sterile clothes they'd wrapped him in didn't look too comfortable, especially those short sleeves that left his bare skin exposed to the chilly tile floor as he lay his head down. The shorts were made of the same fabric, a floppy, thin material that showed most of his pallid legs. He stared blankly onwards, looking every bit like a paralyzed snake, so close to death and yet still so ready to attempt its strike on anything that came near.
Elly felt the caregiver push her way past, unintentionally throwing off the older woman's balance. She muttered a quick apology, one that Dove certainly wouldn't hear, and crouched down beside the messy-looking teenager. It reminded Elly vaguely of her own mother, so many years ago, ready with a bandaid and a hug for when she'd tripped and fallen. Completely oblivious to the rest of the world, as well.
She remembered perfectly how things had been done when she'd came in 'posession' of Danny, and, to some extent, Soren. They'd been reluctant to let Danny leave, but he'd still been bid a proper farewell and escorted out of the asylum like any other person.
They were giving Dove laughing gas.
It made her worry. Almost. What sort of child would be on her hands after this? Soren was the demon in their haven at the moment, would the effects of Dove's presence double his unpredictability?
And yet, as Chance murmured soothing words to the boy, who struggled weakly against the mask she'd strapped around his head, she supposed the gas could have another reason for being a part of the whole ordeal. It only confirmed her suspicions that the almost-inhuman Dove had never left the hospital. It wouldn't be good for anyone if he reacted badly to the change of scenery, per se.
Within minutes, the blonde boy was limp as a rag doll in Chance's arms, and she easily scooped him up and carried him out of the room, not waiting to see if Elly would follow. She did, but only after a moment of reflection.
How blind is this world?
Almost an hour later, the pair of them were home. Five hours later, Dove had woken up.
It didn't made sense to her, at first, why he slept for six hours on two hour's worth of drugs, but it clicked after awhile. He probably wasn't used to the luxury of being able to sleep on something comfortable, and this was his recovery period.
She'd gently laid a blanket over him and placed a pillow beneath his head. Though the pillow stayed, the blonde boy had kicked the blankets off after fifteen minutes and grabbed them in his hands, choosing to instead clutch the soft fabric to his chest.
waking up had never been so easy
especially when you didn't even know you were sleeping
so hold me
I'd never had such a nice dream. Walking down an empty street of an empty city, in the middle of the daylight, just soaking up the sun, and then it was gone and I was left in a room I didn't recognize. And I still don't know if it was because of the dream or the room, or maybe I was just confused, but I started crying. And sobbing. And screaming a bit, too.
And the lady... She brought back memories. She made me realize this wasn't a dream, this wasn't a nightmare, this was reality and only my good dreams could make me feel so high. She'd been there when they'd pushed me into dream-land. So let the torture being, but no, she'd sat me up on the leather couch I'd been sleeping on, and she'd held me.
And I think I wanted her to cry, too, because this was my tradgedy and she made it seem like it wasn't worth tears.
Elly had been wandering around the kitchen ever since she'd brought the boy back home, partially because it was directly beside the family room, where he was sleeping, and partially because it was the room that needed the most cleaning today.
She hated that metallic smell. She had to get it out.
Burnt cigarettes scattered the room, making finding them like a child's easter egg hunt. Danny had always wandered when he was stressed, but this, in her mind, constituted as a bit more than stress. Crimson liquid smeared across the floor, the smell mingling with the ever-present odour of smoke and, this time, something else. Elly bent down and grabbed a discarded black Sharpie, cap nowhere to be found, and sniffed annoyedly. Beside it and the stains were macabre-looking doodles, drawn with an unsteady hand directly onto the tiled floor. She winced.
It only took an hour to scrub the floor and clean up the rubbish, but by the time she was done, Elly looked and felt every bit like an old housekeeper, weary and unkempt-looking. With sore hands and knees, she'd ambled into the family room, plopping down on a couch just as soon as she could, to watch the sleeping Dove and wish and pray and maybe, just maybe, she could feel a bit of his serenity.
Elly wasn't nearly as quick and energetic as she was when she'd taken Danny in. Of course, Danny had already been 10 years old and mostly capable of taking care of himself, just as Soren, at 9 years, and Lucianna, at 6 years, had been. They were all rarities, each with their own reason for existing, for simply breathing. But it had worn her down. They were three very special children, she knew that much, but such uniqueness was meant to be distributed equally. Instead she was given a triple dose.
Once again, Dove's addition to their little family was beginning to nag at the back of her mind. Lucianna had taken a liking to him during her short time at the asylum, she knew that much. Soren and Danny, however, hadn't even met the boy.
Soon, he began to stir. Rolling around on the couch for a few moments, he sighed and mumbled things to himself, incoherent things, incomprehensible things. He seemed to immediately recognize the lack of hard tile beneath him, and as a result, refused to open his eyes to see exactly where he was.
The boy did wake up, after what seemed like ages, to a room with the last bits of evening sunlight seeping through its drapes and a vague smell of coffee and cigarette smoke. Elly guessed that he would be confused, but she didn't understand just how confused until he began to cry.
She'd held him close through the shaking and the sobbing and the quivering mumbles of "I'm scared, I'm scared...". She'd held him until everything but his lips ceased to move, silently mouthing those words over and over again.