By the time my ankle healed, the boys and I had come into a comfortable routine. Even on the days where they left for work, I would mindlessly clean, trying to get my ankle used to the pressure I would put on it. Red didn't like it, but I told him I would eventually need to get back to my own life at some point. He reluctantly agreed to let me wander around and clean, but to stay out of his room, Papyrus's room, a spare room and the basement.
I went shopping to make sure they were stocked up on food. I dusted the house and I made sure all their stuff was sparkling clean. I cleaned their kitchen top to bottom and cleaned their bathroom, trying to keep my mind busy.
It had been a couple weeks since I had talk to my parents, and while they had both tried to call, I wasn't ready to talk. I was still really upset that they had said something like that without knowing them. Granted, I couldn't really blame them. I mean, I was staying with the Boss and the Judge. Who wouldn't think the worst?
Red had been laying it on thick, and had been giving as much attention as possible. A sweet word here, a lingering touch there. And while I was telling myself it didn't affect me, it did. It really did. I made it seem like it didn't do much and would laugh it off, or tell him to get lost. But on the inside, my heart was pounding out of my chest.
Papyrus seemed to notice his brother's advances, and had even made it a point to avoid me the first couple of days after the dinner with the others. He always muttered something under his breath, and at one point I heard him mention bonfire smoke. I wanted to ask him about it, but something told me I wasn't ready for the answer just yet.
On the day I was supposed to leave, Papyrus offered to come with Red and I, just so he could see where I lived. Also, to make sure he knew how to get to me if his lazy brother couldn't. I agreed, and we packed the beautiful sports car with my stuff and Solider, who was angry at being stuffed back into his cage with Red' magic. When he parked in front of the building, I could feel the hair's on the back of my neck stand.
Something wasn't right.
And I wasn't the only one who thought so. Red and Papyrus looked at each other, motioning for me to stay in the car. But like hell I was.
I raced up the stairs behind them, grabbing the apartment keys from my pocket. Neither of them said anything as they peeked around the corner into the hallway that had my home. When the coast was deemed clear, I made my way to my door, unlocking it with trembling fingers. It took a few tries, but when I got it open, I could only stare blankly.
My home had been ransacked. My furniture was overturned, and papers were thrown everywhere. My books and games had been tossed around and there was a small hole in the wall where I kept a picture of me and an old friend. My kitchen was demolished in rotted food. I covered my mouth and nose with my shirt, heading for my bedroom.
The bed was halfway through the broken window, and most of my things were thrown about in the room. Even my closet had been raided, and my clothes were piled in heaps throughout. My jewelry was laid out in different places, and one piece of jewelry was stuck to the wall with a large knife, and a note written in familiar handwriting. I felt my blood run cold as I went over to it, wrapping my hand around the handle of the knife.
I gently wiggled it as I moved it out of the wall, keeping my hand on the paper and the necklace. It was a recognizable piece, and one I thought I had sold off when I left that life far behind me. When I finally managed to get it out, I let it clatter to the floor before reading the note, the handwriting giving mass amounts of anxiety.
I found you, Bunny. Can't wait to see you.
I couldn't breathe. When had I fallen to the ground? I could hear my name being called, but it sounded so far away. The sounds of footsteps, someone calling for someone else. There was a loud noise like a thud. Someone was grabbing me, trying to coax me to breathe. Did I stop breathing?
I took in a huge gulp of air that released on a quiet sob. The note in my hand stared back at me, taunting me. His flawless handwriting was there, which means he had been here. He'd been looking for me. After trying so hard after these last three years, he had found me.
“sugar, what d'ya mean 'e found ya?”
Was I talking out loud?
“ya are. an' yer not makin' much...shit.”
That was Red's voice. The Judge. The skeleton mobster who killed people when told by his Don. The skeleton monster who struck fear in the hearts of those who didn't know him. Who didn't know him like I knew him. That was Red, and he sounded his curse out on a hiss.
Those loud thuds were coming back as I came down from what I was feeling. I released the note like it burned me, letting out a panicked gasp. It landed right next to the necklace, the little bunny charm glinting up at me mockingly. I felt my hands shake as I sought out where Red was, trying to ground myself. Not again. I couldn't go back to that.
“sugar, yer makin' no sense. ya gotta tell us what's goin' on.”
I had to stop doing that.
I wasn't ready to tell them. I curled myself up in Red's lap, burying my face in his red vest. My tears were hot on my cheeks, burning my eyes. I couldn't draw in a deep breath, and my fists tightened themselves in Red's clothes. God, I was probably wrinkling all his good clothes. Would he be mad at me, too, for doing that?
Dominic always was.
“Bunny, what have I told you about that? Fuckin' Christ, bitch, this shit costs more than you're worth.”
The memory made dread crawl down my back like a snake. Fear gripped me and I couldn't help myself as I let out a small whimper. Red's arms were around me, his teeth pressed against my forehead in a feather of a kiss. I was shaking. But I wasn't cold.
I was so fucking terrified.
There was nothing else said. Papyrus came back inside with an extra suitcase and began packing things into it. He grabbed my discarded jewelry box and started putting my pieces back inside of it before putting it in the suitcase. When everything he could fit was in it, he shut and locked it, heading back out and leaving the apartment.
Red still didn't say anything, even when Papyrus didn't come back. He simply held me on the floor of my room, his eye lights trained on the note that was crumpled up on the ground, its message loud and clear.
Dominic had found me, and he obviously wasn't okay with me leaving.
I don't know how long he and I sat there like that, me just curled up in his lap and his arms wrapped around me. He kept my head tucked under his chin, and he ran his phalanges through my hair. He didn't say anything the entire time, just rocked us back and forth and hummed something low in the back of his throat. At first I didn't recognize it, but then it hit me. It was a song about an indie game I had been meaning to play.
In a moment of clarity, trying to cheer myself, I picked up singing along with where he was humming.
I used to be so beautiful,
Now look at me
My actions are undutiful
It's clear to see
Come on and step out of that cage
There's a new chapter, turn the page
I'll take my place up on the stage
All eyes on me
I can hear you calling
Calling out for me,
I'm falling down,
Won't you set me free?
He stopped humming and I immediately stopped singing. His soft chuckle reverberated through my body and I found myself burying myself further into him, hiding my blushing face. Oh, God. I actually sang in front of him.
“didn't think ya'd know that song,” he murmured above me. “most people don't.”
“I play a lot of games,” I chuckled hollowly. “Probably a bad coping mechanism, but I like playing a lot of games.” I looked around. “Where did Paps go?”
“he packed up th' rest o' yer stuff...or what was salvageable o' it,” he muttered, adjusting us so I could see the room a little better. “yer gonna be stayin' wit' us, an' i won't hear anythin' 'bout it.”
I blinked up at him and tried to think of a way to tell him no. I could always stay with my parents, but they lived three hours out. Grillby had a daughter he took care of, since the mother wasn't in the picture. So I wasn't going to bother him. Other than that, and the skeleton brothers, I had no one else in the city. And I could live on the streets.
I let out a breath through my nose. “Fine.”
“boss already went back t' th' house,” he said, “so we're gonna take a shortcut.”
He nodded. “m'gonna needja t' take in a deep breath and hang on tight, sugar,” he murmured in my ear. His voice sent shivers down my spine. “an' whatever ya do, don't let go.”
I gripped him by his vest, burying my face in the silky fabric. When I inhaled, he wrapped his arms around me a little tighter, before there was a sense of weightlessness. It felt like everything was floaty, and when I took a peek, there was just endless black around us. I turned and kept my face buried into his sternum while we came back down from his shortcut.
I took in a huge gulp of breath, moving away from him as I looked around. We had landed in my room. Papyrus had been here, and the suitcase I vaguely remember seeing was sitting on the floor right beside the door. Solider was in here and when he saw me, he gave a loud cry.
Red slowly detached the rest of himself from me and picked up the cat. Like, actually picked him up. While Solider didn't seem happy with it, and when he was deposited in front of me, he instantly came over and curled up in my lap, purring softly against my legs. His eyes remained on Red, but he just sat on my bed still, one of his hands laced with mine.
“we're gonna find out who did it,” he said lowly. “yer not goin' t' do this on yer own.”
Did I really want to tell him what was going on? Everything had been fine until I ran into Red. Everything had been going fine. I hadn't heard from Dominic since I left. Since he willingly let me go and told me he would never see me again. He had told me I wasn't worth the rest of the effort he thought I was.
The memory stung, but there was something off with this. Dominic doesn't like putting effort into things he wouldn't eventually get. That's what I had been told by the many men I had sat with at night, listening to them tell me how lucky I was I had Dominic to protect me. And he said to my face he didn't want me around anymore. I wasn't worth it. That he had to set me free.
Did I really want to tell Red everything about what had happened? Cause if I told him, I should tell everyone involved. This could affect them, too. Besides, I had a sneaking suspicion that they were going behind my back anyway to try and get information.
After all, I didn't have Frisk's number before the party, and the day after, it was in my phone. And I remember leaving said phone on the counter, not the table.
I chuckled humorlessly. I must be losing my mind, or maybe I was just paranoid. Maybe I was just meant to be with him, after all. Leaving behind Red and the others would be hard. But I didn't want anyone getting hurt because of my past.
The memory of the bunny charm was in my head. Wait...no.
Red was holding it in his hand. The thin chain was wrapped delicately around his phalanges, and he was watching me for a reaction. Even after years of teaching myself to school my features, that necklace still seemed to bring out the worst in me.
“Happy birthday, Bunny.”
All of the biggest people in the family were gathered, and I could see all the expenses they went to, just to make me feel like family. It took them months to trust me. After all, I was just a country girl who came to them for help. My dad had been sick and we needed the money.
And here I was now, a few months later, sitting with them having a lavish dinner and laughs. Some of the girls didn't like me, but Dom said it was just because I was prettier than them. I didn't believe him; these girls were flawless. Their clothes and makeup were well done and proper, and I just sat here in a pair of faded jeans, mud-caked boots and an old shirt.
But, when I saw the necklace in Dom's hand, I felt like the prettiest girl in the entire world.
The chain was thin and silver, and the charm underneath was a bunny rabbit. It was covered in small, shimmery stones and there was a small sapphire in place of the eye. It twinkled up at me and I held my breath as I went to touch it.
“Dom, this is...”
“Wanna wear it now?”
I nodded eagerly and turned so he could put it on. I moved my newly cut hair out of the way and let him fasten it in place before he brought me against him, nuzzling my neck. I laughed, placing my hands on his arms.
“Happy birthday, Bunny. I love you.”
Love. What a shit word.
I looked away from Red, down at the cat and ran my hand over his fur. He would need a bath, and I would have to make sure he knew which rooms he could and couldn't go in. Would need to learn a whole new set of rules for him. Maybe they wouldn't even let him in the actual house...
Red's hands were on my shoulders, shaking me gently. I took a minute to blink and come back around before looking up at him. He didn't look mad, but he definitely looked worried.
Wait, no. Curious. There was no reason for this vicious monster to worry about a silly human girl. He was the Judge. He had more important things to do rather than worry about me. I was just being burden to him. Eventually, just like everyone else, he'll leave.
They always do.
His voice drew me out of my thoughts again, his eye lights searching my face. I slumped down, gathering Solider in my arms.
“It's alright. There's no need for that. I'll just move,” I murmured into the cat's fur. He purred in response to my voice. “Everything will be okay.”
Red's brow bones furrowed as he regarded me and shook his head. He held the necklace up and watched as I flinched away.
“sugar, ya gotta tell me what's goin' on,” he said, his voice gruff. “ya clung t'me like a lifeline. not that 'm complaining, but...”
I shook my head. “I can't, Red. You'll be in danger. I'm in danger. Papyrus is in danger.”
That made Red scoff, so I paused and listened to him as he said, “danger? us? 'n danger? sugar, ya wound me wit' th' lack o' faith,” he muttered. His eyes went to the necklace in his hand before he met my gaze again. “we're not 'n danger 'ere, sugar. you are.”
I could feel my lower lip tremble and I buried my face in the fur of my cat. I felt like I couldn't breathe again, and I couldn't bring myself to look at him. I didn't want to see that stupid necklace. I didn't want to hear his stupid voice. And I didn't want to be in this position. I used to be so carefree, and so excited for the life of the city. And then the bastard came and took a doe eyed country girl and fucked her up.
Dad got sick, and I thought I had what it took to pay them back. How was I supposed to know it wasn't with actual money?
I felt myself being moved. Solider lazily moved from my lap after giving me a lick on my hand, moving down to his bed. Red curled me into his lap, laying his mandible on the top of my head. I saw him toss the necklace onto the table beside us and moved my face so it was buried in the silk of his vest again.
“i know ya got yer secrets, sugar,” he said gruffly. “but if we're gonna help, we need t'know these things. that includes whatever yer hidin' from us.”
I shook my head. “I'm not ready,” I gasped out, trying to find my breath. “I can't.”
He gave an aggravated growl in his chest, rumbling against my cheek. But he said nothing else and he just curled me into his arms and held me. His fingers stroked through my hair, and he was humming again, a different song this time. I didn't recognize this one, but I definitely liked it. It sounded good in the rumble that was his voice.
I shut my eyes, trying to will myself to breathe. Everything would be okay. Red would protect me. Papyrus would, too. They were here for me. I wasn't alone anymore. Or at least, not as alone as I had felt.
I had them.
Dom chuckled to himself, watching as his bunny had a meltdown in the arms of the filthy monster with her. There was an extremely tall one with them that was packing up her stuff, and he scowled now, looking closer. Shit. It was the fucking Judge with her. And Boss.
How does she end up with someone like the goddamn Judge?
He leaned forward, taking a small sip of the lukewarm coffee. His eyes narrowed as she buried herself into the monster's lap, curling into a small ball. Something she had once done with him, back when she was scared of his world. When this was all new to her.
He rolled his eyes and leaned back in his seat again. It didn't matter. What did matter was that she thought she had actually been free to go. It was laughable how easily she tried to blend into society after her time with his family. He could almost remember the fear in her eyes when they dumped her on the streets.
It made him tingle in the most funniest of ways.
He ran his thumb over his bottom lip as her sweet voice carried over to him. He had always loved the way she sounded. Listening to her sing first thing in the morning when she was cooking or showering had become something he'd gotten used to. Her voice was soft enough he couldn't pick up what she was singing, but he could pick up her voice out of a crowd any day.
Like when he'd seen her in the that gross bar, working with a monster. Over time, he'd see her stop looking over her shoulder and actually smile. The small that had always been just for him was shared with others. And he hated it.
He hated letting her go. He knew he didn't own her, specially not now with debt paid off. Now she could just a regular person, living a regular life with a very shitty past. That's what his boss had said. But Dom couldn't agree. He had always felt better with her at his side, even if she was a little air headed.
But that was just another thing to love about her.
When they vanished, he muttered a curse, watching the necklace vanish as well. He couldn't even be mad. Hell, if he had half a mind, he would disappear, too. But, over the years, he couldn't get his mind off of her. His Bunny. She had made it clear she loved him, and he didn't realize until it was too late when his boss had told him to give up.
After some persuasion, he had convinced the boss man she would be fine to come back. She would come back, and everything would be okay.
But he didn't count on the fuckin' skeletons.
He glowered at the abandoned apartment before standing and leaving the little cafe across from Levy's old building. He'd have his work cut out for him, but having his Bunny in his arms would be all worth it in the end.
Whether she liked it at first or not.