There are countless universes, you know, all coexisting peacefully with one another. Of course, they all continue to deviate slightly from whichever universes lie beside them, and yet, there are just some things that are always constant.
The sky is always blue.
Summer is always warmer than winter.
Russell Seager is always abused by his parents.
In one universe, this abuse created a murderer who ultimately murdered himself.
In another, this same murderer went insane.
In yet another, the pitiful murderer chose to stay in his dreams.
And in another universe still, that unfeeling murderer was never created.
The pavement as he fell back onto it hurt against the bruises from his father's belt on his back, but Russell didn't give that man the satisfaction of seeing him so much as flinch.
No, instead, he scrambled back up to his feet and started running, trying to block the images of the police chief's bloody corpse out of his head.
Officer Yumi was the only one who could’ve helped him, but now...
Now she was bleeding out near the couch in the living room.
Her soft blonde hair was dark with blood...
Russell didn’t need to look back to know his father was chasing him, trying to keep him from telling the police of his heinous crimes.
"You're pathetic! To hurt your own child like this- this ain't right!" BANG.
There was a bang sound, much too close for comfort, and pain blossomed in his right shoulder blade. Another bang sent him crashing down onto the street, scraping his knee to add to the bullet that'd lodged itself into the back of his calf.
Russell started crawling, zig-zagging as best he could so his father wouldn’t get a chance to aim for his head.
She wasn't even able to call for backup as her body hit the floor, her head bouncing off the coffee table.
"DR. KANTERAAAAA!" He called out desperately. Surely the shop was as slow as ever, and the kind doctor would come to his aid!
There was another bang, and a bullet just grazed his shoulder.
He didn’t have much time left.
“DR. KANTERAAA! QUICK- HELP!"
He'd never been so loud and panicked before, and his throat stung a little from the exertion. But in that moment, as Dr. Kantera rushed out and tackled his father in a display of strength he was greatly unused to seeing, Russell had never felt so at peace.
In the time between his father's arrest and trial, it was also revealed that Russell's mother was a neglectful drug addict, even though she'd never physically harmed her son, and she was arrested for possession of illegal substances. So, unable to stay with her for that reason, Russell ended up staying with Dr. Kantera.
This wasn't too terribly new to either of them, as Russell had stayed overnight a few times in the past while Kantera treated what he could with his herbal remedies. However, Russell had never stayed longer than one night at a time before now, and even though the doctor had so generously offered, the boy was sure he'd tire of him soon.
And maybe Kantera knew this, or else he just knew how anxious Russell could get, but the man never bothered him about it, and treated him with the same sleepy, patient, kind air as always. It made Russell feel better about the situation, somewhat.
Kantera didn’t ask anything of him- just told Russell to go and do what he normally did when he was away from home. As long as he returned for dinner and an extremely light check-up, that was enough.
Of course, Russell would have preferred to repay him by...well, primarily by not burdening him further every night, or else by helping him take care of the shop during the day. However, Kantera had more or less asked him to stay, and Russell didn’t have the necessary knowledge to be of much use- and like hell was he going to ask Kantera to teach him when the man had a shop to run. So he went to school in the day and hung out with either Chris afterwards, and returned to the clinic before dinner.
And for a time, everything was peaceful...