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What Are We Doing?

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Vex was going to kill him, Percy was sure of it.  He didn’t even have an excuse, that was the worst part.  It had always been Vex who went out and came home with kittens and squirrels to nurse back to health, she was the reason they had an incubator in their dining room for the little animals.  She’d brought home all manner of wild and domesticated creatures; at this moment she was rehabilitating a litter of puppies who had been found in a ditch, a beautiful falcon, and a skittish, abused two-year-old dog.  


But even with their revolving door of creatures, which Percy and the others had long since gotten used to, Vex had never done this.  He was pretty sure it wasn’t his fault; he had simply gone down to the farmer’s market to get some fresh veggies and meat that Keyleth was planning on cooking for dinner.  The twins usually went, but today Vax was helping take care of the very sick week-and-a-half old puppies, which meant that Percy had been volunteered to go, alone, since Grog and Scanlan were asleep after drinking the night away and Pike was at work.  


He’d finished getting the peppers when he saw it.  The farmer’s market was fairly large, so Percy had spent some time perusing and buying a cool necklace that he found for Keyleth, before going to actually get what he needed to buy.  He was carefully settling the food in his bag as a flicker of movement caught his attention.  A small figure was creeping about in the area behind the stalls and Percy moved forward, hurrying forward as quietly as Vax had taught him to. 


The dark-skinned girl was reaching for a loaf of bread when Percy got close enough.  She was very thin, with an undercut that had the longer parts of her hair tied up, and a blue coat with combat boots and black pants.  Percy stepped forward, one hand coming down to drop onto the loaf and forcing down a grimace as the teen jerked back. “Hey, calm down, unless you want the guy to see you sneaking around back here.”  There was something hostile in her eyes, but he could see the layer of fear under it, so he softened. There was something wild on the girl’s face as Percy walked calmly back out to the front of the stall.  The girl hung back a few steps, clearly ready to run for the hills as Percy bought the loaf of bread, and a bundle of sandwiches.  He calmly walked over to a picnic table and grabbed one for himself, leaving the rest on the other half of the table.


Slowly, the girl crept over to settle down on the bench and grab two of the sandwiches, watching Percy with a look of hostility.  He didn’t even bother to stare back, humming to himself as he pulled out his phone to check his email and calmly ate his own food, relaxing once the girl began to gulp her own food down greedily.  She barely stopped to breath, which was rather concerning to Percy, and she finished her three sandwiches before his one was completed. “My name is Percival; it’s very nice to meet you.” The girl’s eyes flickered to his face, and he tried to not be intimidated by the hostile look in her eyes, tried to focus on the raw fear that it was masking.  “What’s your name?” 


The girl didn’t speak, not as Percy did his best to get her to, not as he moved from booth to booth to finish buying the meat that Keyleth wanted, or as he pocketed a bundle of dog treats for trinket.  But while she didn’t speak, she followed him all the while, casting sharp, fearful glances at everyone they passed. Percy had no idea what to do about this, not until he started in the direction of the parking lot and watched the girl freeze.  He turned to glance at her, seeing the violent trembling of her fingers as she pulled her thin coat tighter around herself.  “Do you have somewhere to go?”


The moment she shook her head, Percy knew he had no other choice.  “I don’ and a few of my...friends own a house just down the road.  They’re...they’re better at this, at people, then I am. Some of them. Kiki isn’t better.  But we have hot water and Kiki is making stew for dinner and we can figure out how to get you where you want to go from there, if you’d like.  I’d also be happy to drop you off somewhere, if you’d like.” The girl gave him a sharp look but, slowly, crept towards the car with a look that said “If you try anything I will murder you.” 


Percy drove home probably a bit more quickly than was advisable, but the girl in the passenger seat looked ready to jump out of the car at a moment’s notice. He pulled into the driveway, grabbing the bags and clambering out and towards the house.  They lived on the outskirts of the city, close to both the forests and stuff that Vex loved and the city where some of their party worked. It also meant they had enough land to keep the many animals that Vex was always bringing home, so it was sort of perfect. 


Vax met him at the door with a kiss and a grin, grabbing the bags before glancing over Percy’s shoulder and freezing.  “Uh, Perce? Who’s that?” Percy sighs, glancing at the girl, who looked five seconds from bolting into the forest with just the clothes on her back which was not something Percy wanted to have happen.  “This is...well, not sure on a name at the moment.  I met her at the market.” He gave Vax a meaningful look and the black-haired man nods, turning and moving to let both in.  Percy sits on the couch with a groan, stretching out aching legs as the girl hovers in the doorway.


In the end, it’s Vax who finally realizes that this isn’t helping anyone.  He disappears for a moment and comes back with a bundle of clothes, which he tosses to the girl.  “Bathroom is the second door on the left. It locks. Feel free to take a shower.” The girl blinks incredulously and darts off before Vax can change his mind, and he flops onto the couch with Percy.  “Dude, seriously.” Percy flushes, ducking his head down with something nervous in his eyes, and Vax softens as Percy explains the events of the morning.  


Keyleth and Vex get home not long after Percy, grinning and holding hands as they duck into the house, pausing at the sight before them.  Percy and Vax were snuggling, which was adorable but not that weird, but there was also a new figure curled up in a chair intently watching the episode of West Wing that was on.  All three jumped as the door opened and Percy perked up. “Kiki! Vex! Kiki, your ingredients are in the fridge.” Keyleth grinned, tucking herself into his side with a wide smile before setting off for the kitchen.  Vex flopped down on the couch with the two, glancing over at the girl with a questioning look on her face. “Hello dear, my name is Vex.” The girl hesitated, eyes careful. “ ‘m Beau.”  


They don’t get much more out of her, except that she’s fifteen, and that no one was looking for her.  They don’t quite believe that, but they all know what it means to want to get away so none of them question it.  After a while, Percy moves into the kitchen to help Keyleth cook and to his surprise, Beau follows.  Keyleth puts them to work, slicing veggies and herbs. Pike is home from work now, helping the puppies with the twins, as Scanlan and Grog play video games in the living room.  It’s just about a normal day for them, and he can see Beau slowly starting to loosen up a little. 


Dinner is stiff.  Beau snatches her bowl with trembling hands, but she doesn’t eat till the rest of them are and curls around the bowl like she’s ready for it to be snatched. Pike blessedly keeps up a steady conversation about the puppies who Vex was caring for, and the others can see the way Beau perks up when they mention the animals.  Trinket, the two-year-old pit-bull she was caring for was also the subject of much conversation, because he was the most adorable creature in the history of the world, if you listened to Vex. But Grog and Scanlan were still watching the teen who was hunched in a chair next to Percy in confusion, and Beau still refused to speak, which made dinner very awkward.  


Afterwards, Vex grabbed Pike and Vax to help with the animals, since the falcon had taken a liking to Vax and to no one else, which left Percy and Beau in a room with Scanlan and Grog.  Scanlan hesitated, seeing the concern in Percy’s face as the white-haired man opened his mouth to try and convince them to not say something rude, and he turns to the dark-skinned girl hovering a step behind Percy looking lost.  “Hey there, I don’t think I ever introduced myself. The name is Scanlan Shorthalt, it’s nice to meet you.  Want to play some video games?” He doesn’t give her time to actually answer, moving over to turn the TV back on and tossing a remote to Percy and another to Grog, dropping one onto the couch next to Beau.  Percy’s heart swells with love for the gnome, giving him his most grateful stare as he turns his attention to the game of Mario Kart.


They learned quickly that Beau was good at video games.  The girl absolutely demolished them in three series in a row, and slowly started not staring at them like she was ready for them to start yelling when she did.  After three games, Scanlan declared that “We have to get her to play against the twins, cause they might finally lose!  But I’m never gonna win so let’s play some monopoly or something.”


When the twins came back out, they found Percy curled up on the couch with Scanlan sprawled on his chest, both sound asleep.  Beau was curled up in an armchair, which didn’t look terribly comfortable , as Grog dozed against the wall. The girl jerked upright as soon as they entered, sending a nervous look in their direction but settling back down once they moved towards the kitchen.


Beau woke up slowly, warm blanket tucked around her.  She stiffened, blinking slowly around the room and relaxing once she recognized the red-painted walls of the room she’d fallen asleep in the night before.  Her legs ached from their curled position but she wasn’t quite willing to get up yet. The smell of bacon wafted into the room, along with something sweeter that she thought might be pancakes.  Out of the corner of her eye she could see the white-haired man she’d come here with, curled up cuddling the male gnome who had bright purple hair.  She curled even smaller, trying to fall back asleep.  This place felt warm, in a way her old home never had, and if she just didn’t get up she could convince herself that this was going to stay.

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After three days, Pike locked them all in their bedroom to figure it out.  Well, “locked.” She knew better than to ACTUALLY lock half of them in a room and not let them out; Percy would be hiding in the corner before the lock had finished clicking, and Grog probably would've broken it down.  Instead, she flopped down on their Extremely large bed, curled up settled down to rebraid Keyleth’s hair, and spoke up. “We really have to figure out what we are doing about Beau.” Percy froze, fingers stuttering from where he’d been working on a very complicated braid for Scanlan.  Vax was the best at brading, but he’d had a long day so he was sprawled with his head resting in Vex’s lap clinging to her hand as she braided and unbraided his hair. “We can’t kick her out.” Percy blurted out, eyes wide with worry that was harsh enough that Keyleth squirmed loose from Pike’s grip and moved to wrap an arm tightly around his side.  


“Perce, she doesn’t have to go!  None of us are gonna kick her out, right guys?”  She questioned, sending a worried look at the others. Scanlan gave a thumbs up from his spot on Grog’s shoulder, eyes bright.  “Course not! She’s good at video games.” Percy snorts, settling down on the edge of the bed and cuddling into Keyleth’s grip for a moment as Pike speaks up again.  “But we’ve gotta figure out what we’re gonna do. We can’t just hide her here, she needs an education.” Scanlan snorts, thinking of the many, many signs that the girl wasn’t ready to be in a group of people alone, but didn’t comment.


“We should find out if there’s someone chasing her.”  Percy glances up from where Keyleth has been drawing shapes down his forearms.  “What?” Vax is sitting up now, though still curled into his sister’s side and gripping one of her hands with both of his.  “I, uh, I don’t... someone hurt her.  We know someone hurt her. That’s very clear.  But if someone is chasing her, we need to get them to stop, because she deserves better than that.” They sit in silence for a while after that, and Percy is getting ready to get up and make sure Beau is OK when Keyleth speaks up.  “I...we can’t kick her out but she deserves better than us right? We’re not, we’re not good at being people much less being in charge of a kid. ”  Percy grimaces, curling tighter into her side and watching the other’s faces tighten as, to his surprise, it’s Grog who shakes his head.  “But she likes us! And we’re good at fixin’ stuff! And people.”


Percy walks out of the room and freezes.  Beau is sitting on the couch, book discarded next to her, and the two-year-old pitbull Vex was trying to rehabilitate was sprawled over her knees.  The girl had one hand resting carefully against the dog’s neck and as Percy watched, she rubbed her fingers over the animal’s ear, one hand dropping down in a quick motion, causing the dog to hop off her lap and settle on the floor leaning into her legs.  “ Vex ” Percy breathed, causing the half-elf to slip up to stare over his shoulder.  “How did he get out!” she hissed. Percy shook his head, touching a finger to his lips and pointing at the dog, who was now Sitting and Laying Down at the girl’s silent commands.


A moment later, Beau’s eyes flickered up and she froze as she saw the figures standing in the doorway.  She made a hard motion with her hand and sent the dog behind her legs. “I-I-I’m sorry!” The girl gasped out, reaching back to press a hand into the dog’s fur.  “I-I’m sorry.  He was scratching at the door and he was crying and he sounded scared and he was being nice.”  One of the girl’s hands flaps desperately, eyes wide with terror as she presses herself back into the wall.  The dog pressed up against her legs, sending a wary look at the people around him but seeming unwilling to bolt.


“Beau.”  Percy breathed, voice as gentle as he could make it.  “It’s alright. None of us are going to hurt you, Beau.  It’s ok. We were just surprised. That dog hasn’t liked people since Vex brought him home a few weeks ago.  It’s ok.” Beau whined, slumping to sit against the wall and making a flipped hand-motion command that pulled the pup into her lap without her touching him and Percy gets it.  “The dog knows sign. That’s, amazing.” Beau gives a slight nod, leaning and wrapping an arm tightly around the pup’s shoulders as she settles in silently.


Most of them don’t have a normal schedule, and Beau learns that fact very quickly.  Pike works as a nurse, which means her schedule has a tendency to vary a lot. Percy does some kind of engineering.  Vex works at an animal rescue and has a tendency to bring her work home, a lot. Vax apparently did some kind of freelance bladesmithing, which was really fucking cool in Beau’s opinion.  Scanlan was a singer and felt the need to show this fact off a Lot.  Grog worked as a hand-to-hand combat instructor. Keyleth split her time; she worked part-time with Vex at the shelter and part-time at a plant nursery, spending her free time working with Percy or cooking delicious meals with Pike.  The somewhat questionable schedules mean that there’s always someone around, usually more than one someone, which was sort of nice.  


They cleaned out a room for her.  Beau wasn’t sure what to do about that.  It was a good-sized room, with a bed and a desk and reddish walls and Beau was pretty sure it was the nicest place she’d slept in a while.  The bed had a blue blanket with golden trim that she was pretty sure Pike had made, though she hadn’t dared to ask.  She curled up in the corner of the bed pressed against the wall, wrapping her blanket tightly around herself as she struggled to sleep.  She curled her knees into her chest, finally falling asleep cuddled up into a tiny ball.


She woke up screaming herself hoarse.  She was shaking violently, having shoved herself into the corner of her room as far from the door as she could be at some point during the night.  The sound of someone banging on the door sent her skittering even further into the corner, tears silently streaming down her face as she shook miserably.  On the other side of the door, Vex was firmly blocking Vax from using his lockpicks. “For the love of the gods, brother, if you do that she will never trust you again.  Go get Percy.” Vax nodded and ducked off and Vex sighed, leaning against the wall by the door to sleep again. “It’s ok kiddo, you’re safe, I promise, you’re safe. Please let me know that you’re ok.”

Beau crept slowly to the door, fingers hovering over the lock.  She knew how this went but at the same time she couldn’t convince herself to disobey.  More than that, as she finally became more aware of her surroundings, the girl just wanted to not be alone.  One shaky hand unlocks the door, darting back to her side as she quickly retreated back to her corner. The door opened and Beau flinched, curling her head in and wrapping her arms tightly around herself as she waited, but nothing came.  She slowly opened her eyes, vision finding Vex kneeling on the floor. “Hey there darling. You’re safe.” She soothes, eyes gentle. “It’s ok. I know you’re scared, but you’re safe here. I promise.” Beau couldn’t move, frozen in terror in the corner shoved under her desk.  Vex hesitated, glancing around for a moment, before reaching up for the bookshelf and grabbing a book, settling in against the wall and opening the novel on her lap as she started to read.  


Vax did not wake Percy.  He really understood why Vex wanted him to, he did, but Percy never slept and so they had a strict “For the love of the gods do not wake Percy up unless the house is on fire” policy that Vax was firmly following.  He slipped back into his spot, feeling Percy immediately cuddle back into his side as he drapes an arm over Pike with a hum, quickly falling asleep. 


Beau curled up on her side, resting her head on her arms as she fit neatly into her corner.  Vex was still reading, voice gentle and kind as she worked her way through the beginning of the first Harry Potter book.  Beau had read it before, but Vex had a great voice for reading and it soothed something painful and skittish in her chest. She wrapped her arms around her knees, closing her eyes and slowly dozing off.  


The girl woke up to sunlight streaming through the window.  She slipped out of her spot, hissing in pain as she stretched out her stiff limbs and glancing skittishly around the room with a wide-eyed look, but nothing was moved so she relaxed slightly.  There was a bundle of clothes on the bed so she moved to there, pulling on some sweatpants and a loose sweatshirt with a groan. She didn’t want to go out there; she didn’t want to leave.  They were kind and good and they hadn’t hurt her at all.  At least if they made her leave she had a belly full of food and warm clothes and she could run further so that her father couldn’t track her down.


And yet, as she slipped into the living room, no one even looked up.  Vax was sprawled on the couch dozing, head resting against Scanlan’s hip as the gnome typed on his phone.  Pike and Vex were feeding the puppies on the couch, petting the little animals as they suckled happily from their bottles.  Beau slipped slowly into the kitchen, giving a confused look at the fact that it’s Percy making breakfast not Pike. She hovers just behind until he turns, startling back a step and raising a hand to her with wide eyes.  “Oh, good morning! Pike is at work till tonight.” He explains, passing a plate of pancakes over to Beau who grabs it and retreats to the corner of the room and digs in.

“We should really get you registered for school.”  Beau froze, giving a loud whine of nervousness and shoving even further into her spot in the corner of the room.  Vex sighs, turning to give a gentle look at the girl. “Beau, you need to go to school; if only because we would get in a lot of trouble if we kept you out of school.”  Beau gave a frantic shake of her head, curling herself into a ball and burying her head in her knees and shaking, plate forgotten off to one side as the girl quivered.  


Percy flinched away, shoving his plate onto the table and all but bolting in the other direction.  Vex cursed, eyes flickering between them before moving to follow Percy, shooting an apologetic look at the others.  She darted after him, grimacing in pain as Percy ducked into his workshop, though considering it a victory when he closed but didn’t lock the door.  She carefully opened it and stepped in, grimacing at the state she saw him in. Percy was gripping a hammer tightly and going to work on a piece of metal, hands shaking as sparks flew, striking his forearms.  “Percival, darling, are you alright?” She questioned, keeping her voice low and gentle. Percy’s shoulders shook as he released the metal, hammer thudding on the table as he turned and latched onto Vex, burying his head in her shoulder with a bitten-back howl.


Beau was still shaking.  Scanlan dropped down beside her, leaning his little body against her side.  “We’re not trying to hurt you Beau, but Perce and Vex are right. We really don’t wanna get in trouble for you not going to school.  Plus, I’m told school is important.” He wrinkles his nose, and Beau gives a sharp chuckle. “I never found it important, but Vex and Keyleth got me to graduate through sheer force of will.  Why is it you don’t wanna go beside, yknow, us being way more fun?”  Beau whined, low and tired, one hand flapping against the tile as she taps her lips with her other hand, giving a grunt of frustration.  


By the time Vex and Percy reemerge from the workshop, Beau is curled up on the couch playing Call of Duty with Scanlan and absolutely destroying him.  Vex snickered, settling down nearby as Percy paced the room. “Scanlan, give up.” Vex says with a grin. “You’re never gonna beat her.” Scanlan groaned dramatically, flopping back onto the couch and dropping his controller.  “She’s too good!” He whines, and Beau snickers as she tosses the controller to Vex ands starts a new game.  


In the end, they circle back around to the discussion of school.  Percy hasn’t stopped pacing around the house, though now he finally settles as Vex tugs him to sit between her and Scanlan.  Beau glances down at the phone in her hand; it was a nice one, too and she tapped at it for a moment before it spoke. “You’re not my legal guardians; you can’t register me for school or they’ll take me away.”  Scanlan stands, ducking out of the room for a moment and returning with a package of papers. “We’ve got a friend, Allura, who works with CPS. We called her up to sort of explain what was going on and she tracked some information down for us.”  He explains. Beau tightens, pulling her knees into her chest and shivering a little at that, but Scanlan keeps talking.


“She looked into your case for us, off the record ‘course.  Turns out your uh...parents? Lost custody of ya’ to the state.  Something about not reporting you being missing; Allura didn’t give details and we didn’t want to read the file without your permission.  But she uh, she got us the papers. To be your legal guardians, till you’re 18. Technically, it’s the twins, cause we didn’t exactly wanna explain our relationship to the state, but who cares about technically.”  Beau made a sharp, frantic noise, one hand clumsily reaching forward and Scanlan seemed to understand as he passed her the folder of papers carefully. She fumbled through them, finding the one she needed and staring at the papers; she noticed, slowly, that the “signature” lines were empty and so she tilted her head in confusion and Vex shrugged.  

“We wanted to ask you, dear.”  Beau gives a nearly frantic nod.  She would be safe, away from her parents. And then, they couldn’t make her leave.  She could stay.  Beau nodded, leaning forward and burying her head in her knees as she burst into sobs.  Vex’s heart broke for the terrified girl as she dropped to the floor next to her, resting one hand on Beau’s back and rubbing it soothingly.  The others gave them space; Scanlan was leaning against Percy’s side running fingers in intricate patterns down his arms in a way he knew the white-haired man liked; Keyleth would most often do it, but she was at work at the plant nursery.  Vax made a note to check in on him later; Beau was so like Percy it hurt, and it was clearly bringing up memories. But for now, he just made loud, crude jokes with Grog until Beau’s shoulders stopped shaking and she scrambled back up, reached for a controller, and got ready to play.

Chapter Text

Beau has been with them for two weeks now.  They’ve all settled in pretty well, and the girl is speaking more now that she knows she can stay, though it’s still rare.  She was starting school in a few days.  She was not pleased about that, and they were all somewhat concerned, but Vex held firm and so the rest of them did.  Beau was curled up in a chair with a book on her lap more often than not, now, working her way through a novel of some kind.  Vex was curled up with her head on Vax’s knees, shivering slightly though asleep as one of his hands worked at her hair. Percy was mostly leaving them alone today; it was clear neither was having a good day, and Vax didn’t do well when Vex was upset.  Grog was sitting leaning against the couch with Scanlan perched on his knees discussing a football game or something, while Pike eagerly interjected comments from her perch on the Goliath’s shoulder. And Keyleth was…somewhere, which was why Percy was glancing around nervously and taking stock of his family.  


Keyleth was at work at the flower shop, today.  She loved the little shop that she worked part-time at, making bouquets and caring for the live plants.  Today had been a fairly slow day, so she spent most of her time being extra precise at caring for the plants and working on a new bouquet design that her boss, Uvenda, asked her to try and make.  It was about six pm when she finally finished up, cleaning up and bringing the trash bags out to throw them away into the small dumpster in the alley before heading home to see if the twins were alright.  


As she turned into the alley, Keyleth froze.  There was a tall, thin figure reaching into the dumpster on the other side of the street, the one that the restaurant next door used.  As Keyleth rounded the corner and her feet made a sound on the pavement the figure froze, cowering back against the stones with wide, terrified eyes as Keyleth slowly moved forward.  “Hello? Are you ok? Do you need help?” The redhead blurted out anxiously, one hand flapping wildly as she spoke. “I won’t hurt you it’s ok.”  


The figure looked younger the closer Keyleth got.  She stopped about five feet away, crouching down to make herself smaller and less threatening looking like Vex always was doing with animals.  The girl looked confused, flinching away with wide eyes, but Keyleth persisted. “It’s ok, my name is Keyleth. You’re ok. Would you like some food?”  The figure froze, adam’s apple bobbing jerkily with fear as she gave a tiny nod. “Ok. Ok, give me a second.” She turned to rummage through her bag, where she always had a wide variety of snacks, finding the sandwich she hadn’t had time to eat for lunch and an apple.  She carefully set them down on top of a bag and moved back, watching painfully as the figure darted out to grab the food.  


It was frigidly cold.  Keyleth was shivering slightly, muscles twitching in protest of the way she was out here without a proper jacket, but she persisted.  “Do you have somewhere to go? It’s not safe out here.” The girl gave a jerky shake of her head, something quiet and frustrated in her eyes.  “Ok. Do you want to come back with me?” Keyleth blurts out. The girl gave a quiet, incredulous noise, but Keyleth persisted. “We’ve got the room.  No one will hurt you. You can get warm and food at least.” She flapped nervously, eyes skittish, but the girl gave a very hesitant nod. Keyleth relaxed slightly, pulling her bag back onto her shoulder and pulling out one of her fidget chains to wrap around her fingers as she walks.  


Keyleth, at least, had texted ahead.  Of course, she’d sent a message saying “Otw home bringing someone be nice” and shoved the phone into her pocket so she couldn’t see the responses.  She walked home briskly, hearing the thudding of the taller girl’s footsteps following her down the street. It was only a ten-minute walk, but by the time they reached the house, Keyleth was flapping nervously as she stepped inside.  Trinket trotted to her side and the girl made a soft noise, one hand brushing through the soft fur as she moved further in. Vex and Vax were still asleep, but Scanlan, Pike, Grog, and Percy leapt to their feet as the others entered. “Hey kiki!”  Pike grinned, scrambling over to hug the redhead, who gratefully drops to a knee and reaches for her, burying her face in the gnome’s shoulder. Grog hovered awkwardly a few feet behind as Percy carefully approached the tall girl. “Hello, it’s nice to meet you, I’m Percy.”  The girl didn’t move, didn’t fidget or squirm, just wrapped her arms tightly around herself and waited.  


“Would you like to go take a shower?”  The girl gave a cautious nod, slowly following Percy towards one of the bathrooms.  She ducked inside and Percy grimaced as he heard the lock click but didn’t comment, walking back to the living room.  Beau was curled smaller than usual, hands roughly clinging to her book as she glances between the others, looking small and afraid.  Percy glanced about the room, feeling his own stress grow as he tries to figure out who to go to first. Thankfully, Pike figured it out first, reaching and gently dragging Keyleth to the bedroom, Scanlan and Grog trailing after her like puppies.  


Percy followed, flopping down on the bed and trying not to glare.  “Are you alright dear?” Pike asked somewhat worriedly, and Percy nodded, butting his head against her hand until she gave a fond smile and started petting his hair. Grog was looking between them in confusion, leaning against the wall near the door.  Keyleth was squirming, flashing hard as she gave a wide-eyed look at the rest of them. “She was in the alley and she as trying to get food from the dumpster next to ours and she looked scared.” The girl mumbled a little frantically, looking like she wanted to disappear into the wall.


Beau curled herself into a little ball and waited.  Vex and Vax were sleeping, Vex curled up with her head resting on his lap and both sound asleep.  She didn’t want to believe that this new person was dangerous, or that they would somehow sort of take her place here, but the terror pulsating in her chest was hard to ignore.  The sound of a door opening drew her attention back to the hallway as the tall girl stumbled out into the room and glanced around nervously. Beau hesitated, torn between snapping at the girl and feeling guilty.  She was tall, wearing some of Grog’s clothes because they were the only ones that would fit her, which meant that she was wearing sweatpants and a Jets sweatshirt. Beau sighed, standing and gesturing at Vex and Vax.  “Try not to wake them, please?” She asks softly, switching to sit by the twins. “They don’t sleep enough.”


The girl hesitated, glancing towards the door.  “I should go.” She murmured, voice soft and accented in a way that Beau didn’t recognize.  Beau sighed, glancing towards the door. “Only if you want to.” She muttered gruffly. “They won’t hurt you if you want to stay.  ‘m Beauregard.” She settles back watching the girl stand awkwardly, fearfully, in the doorway.Beau grimaces, recognizing the look of fear in the other girls eyes and just quietly settling in to wait.  


Pike and Grog reappeared, after a while.  Beau glanced between them warily, deciding against being in the room for this conversation and darting off towards her room, it still made her a little giddy to call it that, to stress about starting school in two days.  Pike watched her go, sending a fond glance after the girl before turning back to the human in front of her, smaller than Grog but with the same sort of tough build.  “Hi! I’m Pike. Are you ok? Do you want some food?”  


Yasha didn’t understand what was going on.  Everything in her was begging her to run, back to the security of the streets or the forests that she knew.  Her fingers were digging tightly into her ribs, pressing down on the worst of the bruises she’d gotten from a fight a few days earlier.  She’d almost won, but the boys had had a third person who had shown up in time to steal her coat, money, and shoes. They’d not gotten her wallet, at least, because it was shoved inside her shirt, or her bag, which was in another alley, but they’d taken nearly everything else and left her shivering from the cold.  Now, wrapped up in a sweatshirt and sweatpants that were warm, she knew her chance out there was better.  


And yet, she couldn’t get past what the other girl had said.  The idea of people not hurting her was laughable, now; she could feel her sweater rubbing against the deep scars on her shoulders, and she’d had to shower slowly to keep soap out of what were still open wounds down her back and hips.  It took her a moment to notice the gnome was still talking, and another few moments to understand what she was being asked.  The common bit at her tongue, leaving her eyes full of frustration for a moment before she managed a rough “Food, please.”  


Mercifully, the gnome doesn’t seem to question her, nodding and scrambling towards another room.  Yasha hesitates, but the goliath turns and gives her a confused look so she yelps and scrambles after the gnome.  The kitchen is big, and incredibly intimidating, but before she can go right back out, the gnome is in front of her again, nudging her gently over towards a nearby table and sitting her down, pressing a bowl of warm soup into her fingers.  The girl gave a low, tired hum, sitting awkwardly down. Her fingers clumsily grabbed for the spoon, carefully forcing it to her lips and being as careful as she could at eating.  


Pike watched intently, settled on Grog’s shoulder with an arm around his head.  “She reminds me of you.” The gnome said with a small smile, thinking back to their own youth.  Grog gave a grumbling sound of agreement, staring down at the girl who, despite looking at the food like she was starving, was eating incredibly slowly, like every bite took effort.  When she finally finished, she glanced up, seeming to realize for the first time that they were still there and paling substantially, shoving the empty bowl away and tucking long legs to her chest as she waited.  It took Pike a moment to understand but she does, clambering off of Grog’s shoulder and leading the girl in the direction of their other spare bedroom, the one that Beau didn’t live in. “You can stay here, ok? We’re right across the hall if you need anything.  Sleep well.”

The room was slightly smaller than Beau’s, though Yasha had no way of knowing that, but it was still far and away bigger than any place she’d ever had to sleep.  It was clean, She didn’t sleep on the bed.  Yasha took the blanket and the pillow and slept curled up on the floor of the closet, hands clinging tightly to the blanket that was wrapped tightly around her.  It took a long time for her to fall asleep, listening to the old house creaking around her, but it was warm and the blanket was soft and she felt far safer than she had in a very long time.

Chapter Text

Pike grouped them up that night, rousing the twins with gentle touches that still resulted in her having to duck away from a few wild swings from Vax.  They gathered in the bedroom, Keyleth curled up with Percy, both looking exhausted.  Percy had his hands tangled in Keyleth’s hair, working briskly on braids as Keyleth was curled against his side, weighted blanket wrapped around her.  Pike perched on the end of the bed, sending a kind look at her partners as she herded Vax and Vex to curl up with them. Grog and Scanlan came in a few moments later and settled down on the bed, Scanlan perched on Grog’s shoulder.  


“Should she start with Beau on Monday?” Keyleth blinks, gives a deer-in-headlights stare at Percy, and huddles closer to him.  Percy gives a low hum and nods, but Pike isn’t even sure if he’s agreeing with her or Keyleth. Vex and Vax are tangled together near the middle of the bed, a pile of dark hair and limbs that, if it wasn’t them, Pike would think were asleep.  It took a moment, but Vax shifted so he could speak, voice shaky but there.  “We should. Pike, you called Allura?” Pike nods, scrambling further up the bed to tuck herself into his side.  “Yeah; she said it wouldn’t be hard to get permanent custody. We all know the laws are uh...questionable here. Faxed the papers over before and I sent them back already.”  Vax nods, flopping back to re-tangle himself in with Vex as they all sat quietly for a moment.


Yasha really didn’t understand how, two days later, she was standing just behind Beauregard getting ready to leave for school.  Beau was going to be a freshman and, when they’d tried to figure out what grade Yasha should go into, the consensus had been the same.  The girls didn’t talk much, because Yasha barely spoke and Beau didn’t initiate conversations, but they seemed to get along well enough.  They were lucky; they’d only really missed a few days of school, since the year was just starting so the principle Dairon had assured them that the teens wouldn’t be behind.  


Percy was driving them, with Grog coming along.  Pike and Vex also had their licenses, and so did Keyleth though she hated driving, but Vex had been awake all night dealing with a sick cat at the shelter so she’d been deemed too tired and Pike had an early shift, so Percy was dropping them off, then Grog off, then going to his own work.  He sent a worried smile at the backseat, eyes gentle. “You have your bags? Phones? Money for lunch?” Both nodded, and Percy nodded approvingly. “If anything happens and you need us please text.”  Beau gives a gruff “OK” and darts out onto the sidewalk.  Yasha follows more slowly, sending a panicked look over her shoulder at them as she went.


Beau stalked slowly into the school.  She ducked into the crowd, moving silently with the flow as she moved in the direction of her first-period English class.  It was a big room, bigger than the private all-girls school her parents had forced her into. There were also a ton of different races; tieflings and humans and elves and even more. She leaned back, scanning the board and relaxing once she saw that they were apparently reading To Kill A Mockingbird, which she’d read the year before.  


Yasha stood in the entryway of the high school and tried not to panic. Beau had disappeared seamlessly into the crowd, and the tall girl was now left alone in the mass of people.  She ducked her head down and pushed forward, scrambling through the mob as her breath caught in her chest. She stared down at her schedule, willing the words to make sense and slowly she manages to figure out that she has Gym class first. She glances around, stumbling slowly down the hall until she manages to find the sign for the gym.  

She hated the gym.  The instructor was big and tough and he reminded her enough that he scared her.  Even worse, as she slowly managed to figure out, they’re not allowed to work out in the clothes she came in wearing.  She had no idea why; her sweatpants and long sleeve shirt was perfectly reasonable material for exercising. She crept timidly towards the locker rooms, eyes flickering between the Male and Female with a wide-eyed terror.  She slowly moved to the female one, slipping into the locker room and rummaging through her bag for the t-shirt she vaguely remembered Grog giving her that morning. She found it, glancing around uncomfortably as she noted that while most people were changing in the open, there were stalls at the back.  That’s where she went, tugging her own shirt off and glaring at her too-flat chest, tugging on the new shirt and slipping back into the gym as fast as she could.


By half-way through the class, Yasha was near tears.  She’d kept up easily with the running and the stretching, but then they’d been split off into teams for basketball and the taunts had started.  She was sort of grateful that she didn’t understand some of them, spat too quiet or too fast for her to translate, but too many made it past her ears.  “Freak.” The boy nearest to her growled and she dug teeth into her wrist, squirming back against the wall. She’d played very little basketball in her life and despite her size, which one of the boys seemed to think should give her an advantage, she was not playing well.  


It all came to ahead when she missed a shot, watching one of the girls on the other team swipe the ball from the air and dart the other direction.  Yasha stumbled, going down hard on one knee for a moment before surging back up just in times to listen to the boy shout “Fucking freak. We don’t want you here you you fucking tranny.”  It took a moment for the words to filter through Yasha’s sleep-deprived brain, and another for her to translate them, but as soon as she did she froze. She could feel anger pulsing in the back of her mind right alongside the panic, wanting to just cream him, but the panic won out and she ran.


She opened her eyes to dim light.  She was crammed under a staircase, unable to draw more than a desperate gasp.  She was sure it was filthy, but she couldn’t find it in her to care. She was shaking, violent tremors running through her large frame as she gave a choked cry.  Soft footsteps behind her failed to draw her attention, until she opened her eyes to a purple-skinned tiefling with incredibly red eyes crouched in front of her. “Hey there, dear, are you alright?”  Yasha shuttered, curling smaller, and the tiefling softened. “It’s alright, I won’t hurt you. But this area is gonna be loud, soon. I know somewhere safe.” He offers a hand and she curls smaller for a moment but her terror wins out and she grabs his hand, scrambling after him a short way down the hall into a closet.


The tiefling released her hand and she floundered, gasping desperately for air, back against the wall, eyes gleaming with terror as she grasped frantically for his hand.  She could hear him talking, feel the hand he was using to grip hers tightly, but she had no idea what he was saying. Slowly, she felt the worst of the terror and anger fade, leaving her feeling embarrassed and exhausted.  The tiefling was watching, something kind and worried on his face. “Are you alright darling?” Yasha gave a weak nod, giving a very quiet “My name is Yasha.” The tiefling made an affectionate noise, and Yasha vaguely noticed his thumb running along the back of her hand soothingly.  “I’m Mollymauk Tealeaf. It’s very nice to meet you, Yasha.” Yasha glanced towards the door, face tightening for a moment. “Should go to. Class.” She muttered, but Molly shrugged. “You can. But if you wanna sleep I can go take notes for you.” He draped his long coat over her and Yasha curled up, resting her exhausted head on her bag and falling fully asleep for the first time in days.  


Beau wasn’t enjoying herself, but her day had gone  OK  at least.  She didn’t hate her English teacher, there had been a sub in math so they hadn’t done anything, and she’d had a free period.  Now, she was on her way to chemistry, which was her last class of the day. She got lost on the way, and so as she entered the room she saw what looked like the only empty seat in the room and sat there.  There was a thin boy in the seat next to her, wearing a long coat. He had reddish-brown hair and she caught a glimpse of what looked like blue eyes before he turned away. On his other side was a small girl who Beau quickly realized was a goblin.  


She raised an eyebrow in greeting to the girl, who ducked closer to the human with a wide-eyed look.  The girl shrugged, turning her attention back to the chemistry book in front of her. The teacher was talking loudly about something, and as he passed her table, she swore she saw him shoot a glare at her table mates.  The boy flinched, curling an arm protectively over his friend, so Beau did her best to leave them be.

Vex picked them up when school ended.  Beau flopped gratefully into the seat on the passenger side of the car, bag settled on her knees.  It took a few minutes, long enough that Vex sent a worried text to Yasha, but after maybe five minutes the multicolored-haired girl appeared, being trailed by a purple tiefling.  Yasha gave a raise of her hand to the figure, clambering into the car as the tiefling hesitated on the sidewalk. Vex sighed and took pity on him, rolling down the window to ask. “Are you coming?”  He sent a hopeful look at Yasha, who gave a confused, wide-eyed nod, before grinning and hopping into the backseat. “Thank you ma’am!” he chirped happily as Vex gave an inward sigh, wondering what have I done? 

Chapter Text

Yasha and Beau were quiet on the ride back to the house, though the tiefling, who Vex quickly learned was named Molly, was not.  Molly reminded her greatly of a taller Scanlan, especially with how Scanlan had been when they were that age.  Molly was fidgety and bouncy and, if Vex knew anything from years of Scanlan, the teen was incredibly nervous.  He scrambled out of the car as soon as Yasha did, settling down on the couch near her and grabbing the remote that he’s thrown.  Beau flops on the other couch, glaring at Molly who is rambling on about his and Yasha’s English class.  


“Shut uppppp.”  Beau groaned, burying her head in her elbow for a moment before turning back to the game, controller balanced easily in her grip as she quickly worked to decimate the opponents.  Yasha wasn’t great at the game, so it quickly turned into Beau and Molly vs four. Vex was in the kitchen, getting some meat ready for the young Fox who was currently in a pen in the backyard, recovering from two badly broken legs.


Molly stayed till the sun began to set, dueling Beau at half a dozen different video games.  Scanlan woke up and came in about halfway through, joining in quickly and delightedly as it turned into Scanlan And Molly Versus Beau.  Beau claimed Yasha for her team, but the taller girl was impressively bad at video games, so she didn’t super help. Molly glanced down at his watch as it reached 6 pm, grimacing and standing with a smile, tail thrashing behind him as he gave a grin at Yasha.  “I’ve gotta be off, see you tomorrow dear. And I suppose I’ll see you as well, unpleasant one?” Beau gave him the finger, causing Scanlan and Molly to both burst into giggles as the tiefling waves off Vex’s offer of a ride. “I live very close ma’am, but thank you for the offer.”  He said with a beaming smile, grabbing his backpack with his tail and ducking out onto the street, smiling as he went.


“He’s fun.”  Scanlan declares.  Beau grumbles dramatically as Yasha gets up, going to help Pyke with dinner.  The gnome usually just has her cutting things, but today Pyke was already hacking at beef, cubing it for a stew.  “Oh, Yasha! Can you grab the potatoes from the fridge?” Yasha gave a shaky nod, slipping over to the fridge and staring for a moment, forcing her brain to remember what potato meant, spotting the vegetable and grabbing it, carrying it over and starting to cut it.  


They get up the next day and go again. Beau goes to every class, sits in the back taking notes, and doesn’t say a word.  She writes and writes and writes almost desperately, needing to do well, better, needing them to think she was good enough that there’d be a reason to keep her.  She didn’t see Yasha much during the day, as they shared no classes despite being in the same grade, but that was ok, that was fine.  She hadn’t made many friends yet, as she literally didn’t speak, but at least she also hadn’t made enemies.


Yasha hated school.  She was terrified and overwhelmed in nearly every class.  After the first class, she’d stopped going to gym, spending that class hiding in what she’d dubbed Molly’s Closet.  The tiefling was a lot, but he never made fun of her when she didn’t understand something and he didn’t mind helping her with her homework.  She wasn’t horrific at math, but her science and English knowledge were non-existent which meant she spent most of her class staring at the book willing the words to work with her head.  After, she would curl up with Molly and let him pet her hair and try and explain the plots of the English books in the most absurd ways possible.  


Beau walked into science class a few minutes early, for once, since her last teacher hadn't shown up for….some reason.  She paused at the door, glancing around before she heard a noise in the other direction. It sounded like a yelping noise and she stiffened, hesitating for a moment.  Another, louder cry forced her into movement, darting down the hall towards the source of the sound.  


Her ears brought her to the mostly-closed door of a classroom, the door cracked open.  She could see two shadows through the glass door, eyes catching on the way they moved.  One brought their leg down, and she heard another howl. That was it: the girl ducked slowly forward into the room, eyes landing on the tall boy with black hair and a smaller girl with brown hair that was longer and tied back.  There was a figure in front of them, curled up on the tile. “Freak.” The bigger one sounded like he was sneering.  “You know better than to say no.  Don’t make us tell The Ikithon who you’re friends with.”  Beau could hear the soft, muffled whines from the figure on the floor and she grimaced, ducking back into the hall.


She leaned up against the locker for a moment, pretending to read her phone until they appeared.  She waited ten, fifteen, twenty seconds before ducking back into the darkened classroom. She purposefully bumped a hip into the desk she was closest to, calling out softly.  “Who’s there?” A muffled whimper forced her movement further, eyes falling on the frail figure curled up on the floor. Beau knelt, reaching out and grimacing as the figure rolled away before her hand could touch her shoulder.  


Her eyes landed on his face and she stiffened as she recognized the reddish-haired boy from her chemistry class.  “Hey man, you’re ok. I’m not gonna hurt you.” She soothed, resting her hand against his shoulder as he shuttered, teeth digging into his knuckles as he held back tears.  “Do you want me to get your friend?” At his frantic nod, she stood, pausing to drape her coat over him, since his was missing, before ducking out into the hallway and running back towards the classroom.  The teacher hadn’t let them in yet so she darted forward, pausing a few yards away and beckoning frantically.


He was still on his side when they got back, sobbing weakly into the coat. The goblin, who he had somewhat frantically called Nott, dropped down and forced her way into his arms, clinging on tightly.  The boy gave a sob, wrapping tightly around the smaller teen. “Do you guys need help?” Beau offers awkwardly. She could see the bruises dark on the pale face, blood staining his shirt, and her nervous heart ached.  The goblin’s look was incredibly suspicious and she gave a sharp “we’re fine.” Beau nodded, turning and putting herself between the duo and the door. She could hear Caleb whimpering weakly behind her, loud sobs filling the air.  She didn’t turn around, keeping her shoulders up quietly standing guard in the doorway.


She didn’t think they’d come back.  They’d left Caleb shaking and crying on the floor of a classroom and she hadn't thought they’d come back.  And then a shape was shoving at her and she roared, twisting and shoving the figure against the wall in one fierce motion.  A blow to her ribs caught her by surprise and she twisted, planting a fist into the ribcage of the second figure with a shouted: “Nott, get him out!”  She shouted, throwing herself and the taller body to the floor. She could hear the rush of feet as Caleb and Nott bolted, stubbornly refusing to make a noise of pain as she felt one wrist crack under her.  


She waited till they’d fallen back for a second before she moved, forcing one leg under herself and bolting down the hall and out of the building praying that Caleb and  Nott had run the same way.  She made it to an alley a quarter-mile away before she spotted the blood, grimacing when she saw the forms resting against the wall.  She slumped down across from them, feeling the panic that running had been pushing down swelling up in her chest. She whimpered, wrapping her arms tightly around herself and rocking frantically, blood pounding in her ear as she shook. 


Nott was worried.  The girl had helped to get  Caleb out, which she was grateful for, but now she was slumped like a marionette with her strings cut, shaking violently.  She reminded Nott too much of Caleb, to the point that the little goblin couldn’t help but be concerned. “Caleb?” She whimpered softly.  “What do we do? You can’t go back, they’ll kill you!” Caleb blinked sluggishly at her, and Nott rolled her eyes affectionately. “It’s alright.  We’re safe, I promise. They won’t get us.” Beau made a miserable noise in the back of her throat, managing to get her phone out of her pocket. She shoved the phone at Nott, before going back to her nearly frantic rocking.  Nott fumbled with it for a moment, glancing at the human in confusion before turning her attention to the phone, flipping through the numbers before going with the one titled “Asshole.” She grinned at that, holding the phone to her ear and beginning to speak. 

Chapter Text

By Caleb’s count, it was twenty three minutes from when Nott left his lap that she returned, one small, clawed hand pressing to his cheek.  He gave a little whimper, pressing closer to her, unable to make his mouth form words. He wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, but he could feel the cold concrete under his shoulder, the blood running down his face, the small goblin weight pressing down on his lap.  


Molly was scared.  He wasn’t often afraid, but the absolute terror in the squeaky little voice saying that Beau was hurt had him shaking in his boots.  He and Yasha had run the half-mile to their location, taking only a few minutes to get there.  Yasha dropped down next to Beau, gathering the smaller girl up into her arms and letting Beau huddle frantically closer to her chest as Molly dropped down on the other side of the road.  “Hi darling, I’m Molly. We’re gonna get you and your lovely sister out of his alley, because this place smells. ”  


The redhead was silent but the goblin shot him a grateful look.  Yasha stood, taking most of Beau’s weight as they moved slowly towards the street.  Molly tried to get himself under Caleb’s arm, but the boy crumpled and Molly only just managed to get him to the ground.  It was clear that he wasn’t ok, at all, so Molly gave a loud “Hey, Yash, can we switch?”  


Beau found herself leaning on the annoying tiefling’s shoulder, tail wrapped around her side to keep her upright.  She yelped as one of her legs struck the ground, trying to hold back tears but she was tired. “It’s ok, unpleasant one.”  Molly soothed, keeping Beau upright as best he could.  “It’s ok, Beau. You’re ok. None of us are going to be upset if you cry.”  His voice was soft, tail running soothingly against her hip as he worked his way to the end of the alley.  Yasha was fully carrying Caleb, who was alternating between cuddling into her grip and trying to throw himself out of her arms.  Nott whimpered, reaching up to cling to Molly’s free hand in a way that he found fairly heartbreaking. “It’s ok, dear. Where to?”  Nott shrugged, giving a soft “Caleb can’t go home.”  


Molly didn’t ask why she didn’t mention herself; it was clear that whatever the reason was, she probably had a good one.  “Yasha. Can we call your people?” He calls. Yasha grimaces, glancing around skittishly. “I. Uh, Maybe?” She calls softly.  “Might be mad.” There was something afraid on her face and Molly badly wanted to go hug her, but there was time for that later. “They won’t be.  You’re helping people.” The girl nodded, flipping her phone to Molly, who caught it and debated who to call for several minutes before making a decision.


Unfortunately, his calling Pike went straight to voicemail, and so did his calling Vex and Percy.  As Yasha said they were the only people who could drive, they all quickly realized this wasn’t going to work.  Caleb had gone from quiet terror to loud terror, thrashing and sobbing frantically in Yasha’s arms as she struggled to not drop him and it was clear that whatever he thought was happening wasn’t what was happening, but even Nott’s best efforts couldn’t soothe him.  Beau wasn’t much better: Molly was having to physically hold her up but even with that she was whimpering and trying to get away from him.  

“Well, let’s get moving.”  It’s over a mile back to their house, and with Molly and Yasha each carrying two bags and a person, he’s gasping quickly.  Nott is running to keep up, holding her own bag tightly. “Shh, it’s ok, unpleasant one.” Molly soothed as Beau gave a particularly tragic whimper.  “It’s fine. We’re safe.” Yasha was doing better, but she was bleeding from where one of Caleb’s arms had caught her in the face and he was still thrashing and crying out every few steps so Molly just prayed there was no one around to see how suspicious they looked right now.

Apparently Molly’s prayers were not being answered, because half way home, the sound of sirens filled the air.  He cursed, voice sharp and angry, in infernal, helping Beau stand a little taller and grimacing at the way she stiffened.  “Unpleasant one, would you like my headphones?” She gave a little whimper and nodded as he slipped them over her head, turning on a music track at random and nudging the phone into her hand, turning to face the car that was pulling up.


“Something I can help you with, officers?”  Molly asked smoothly, tail running soothingly over Beau’s hip.  The bigger officer sent a cruel look at him and he grimaced. “What’s happenin’ here, boy?”  Molly glanced over his shoulder; Yasha was doing her best to keep Caleb from panicking again since he’d finally quieted down a little.  “My friends had a nasty altercation with some muggers.” He explained smoothly. “We’re just getting them home; they live about three quarters of a mile that way.” The girl whimpered, swaying in his grip as he shifted to rebalance them.  “You don’t really think we’re gonna buy that, brat? What did you and your friend give them?”  


Molly Glanced at Beau, realizing for the first time just how out of it she looked.  “Nothing, sir.” He responded honestly. “She had a bit of a panic attack, I think she’s just tired. Her guardians are good friends with someone who’s a nurse so we were gonna see if she could take a look and make sure.”  The cop studied him, and Molly couldn’t take his eyes off of the gun the figure was still fingering. “What’re your guys names?” Molly glanced over his shoulder, and Yasha gave a slight nod. “Well, good sir, I’m Mollymauk Tealeaf.  That’s Yasha back there with Caleb, and the small one behind me is Nott. Oh, and this is Beauregard.” 


Molly saw what was coming too late.  The officer moved forward, grabbing Beau’s chin to look at her eyes, presumably to see if she looked super out of it.  Beau screamed, throwing herself away and throwing a kick out in absolute terror. Molly shoved himself between them, trying to keep Beau behind him.  “Stop! She’s scared!” He roared furiously. “She’s scared.”  


The next thing he was aware of was screaming pain in his leg and side, and metal digging into his wrists.  He could hear Beau gasping in terror next to him, a frantic “Ah, ah, ah” that sounded bad.  “It’s ok.  You’re ok.”  He gasped out, grimacing as he felt himself shoved into the back seat of a car, his horns slamming against the door so hard it hurt.


He lost time, for a little while. By the time he could feel the ground under him again, he was in a cell with his hands and legs cuffed for...some reason.  His head was in Yasha’s lap and she was murmuring, unable to really pet his hair like she wanted to because her hands were cuffed, too. Beau was pressed up into his chest, sobbing in the exhausted, tired way that he knew people did when they’d been crying for a long time.  He shifted a little eyes landing on Caleb, slumped in the corner with Nott in his lap. Nott was cradling an arm to her chest and Caleb was sporting more bruises than he had been, and Molly was suddenly incredibly afraid of what had happened.


He wanted to ask how long it had been, but he didn’t have the words.  “Hey Yash.” He rasped softly instead, bringing his head down to run a horn over Beau’s shoulder, hissing in pain as his aching body moved.  “Shh, Beau.” He murmured, feeling unreasonably concerned for the girl. They bickered, a lot, but they were friends, he hoped, and the distraught noises Beau was making were bad enough that he was pretty sure anyone would feel bad.  He could see Beau straining against the cuffs, and dropped his head back to rest on hers, murmuring, “it’s ok, your folks will get us out of here any moment now.”  


Nott slowly nudged Caleb in their direction, but the human resisted, letting out panicked little gasps.  His shirt was badly torn, and Molly tilted his head to silently ask Yasha what had happened, but she gave a soft shake of her head.  Finally, Nott managed to prod Caleb to their side and Molly leaned down, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “It’s ok, darling. We won’t let them get you.”  Yasha hummed in agreement, keeping her eyes glaring at the door until she heard something, nudging Molly with her knee to get his attention.


“Excuse me, but you have my wards here.  We need their arrests voided at once and their immediate release or we will be suing.”  Percy’s voice was calm and polite but Molly could hear the undertone of fury there. He couldn’t quite hear the response, but Percy’s voice grew louder and more angry.  “No, you have absolutely no justification to hold them. Release them now and maybe we’ll only try and press charges for assault, not a hate crime. Do you really think the judge will ignore the fact the ones you went for were the goblin and the tiefling?”

Molly shot an alarmed look at Nott, but the goblin calmly ignored it.  “Percy.” Yasha breathed in relief. “He will get us out.” There was a quiet confidence in her voice, and Molly couldn’t help but agree that if anyone could get them out, it was Percy.  Beau was still shivering against his chest, completely out of it, and it was clear that Caleb wasn’t much better, so Molly’s biggest concern right now, beside the sharp pain in his leg, was how the fuck they were going to get those two out.


The sound of the door being unlocked caused them all to curl closer together, backs and shoulders pressed together since their arms were still held and they couldn’t really hold each other.  The door swung open, revealing a pair of guards who gave them a disgusted look, crouching down to undo the cuffs, putting no effort into being gentle. Molly’s body ached but he ignored it, watching the guards finish unlocking them before stalking out, leaving the cell open.


“Yash, can you get Caleb again?”  Yasha nods, standing and helping Molly up first, getting the purple tiefling leaning against the wall so his throbbing left leg wasn’t holding him, before turning to Nott.  The goblin nodded, so Yasha crouched down and picked Caleb’s shivering form up. He stiffened, giving a little whimper, but didn’t start thrashing. Beau had gone stock still as soon as Molly had moved, but now he crouched awkwardly to speak to her.  “C'mon, unpleasant one, I want to get out of here. Let me help.” Beau whimpered, eyes wide and terrified, but she clumsily reached out a hand, let Molly help her to her feet. She let him lean on her, taking most of his weight as he steered them towards the door, offering his free hand to Nott, who glared but still clung to his wrist.  


Percy was standing in the lobby waiting, Vax and Vex as two dark shadows on either side.  Vax cursed, hurrying forward and moving to take Beau’s weight from Molly, eyes furious as he glared at the officers.  Yasha had a firm grip on Caleb, who was starting to get twitchier again as she started towards the door. Percy moved to check on them, and Vex gently approached Molly.  “Molly, dear, are you alright?” The tiefling gave her a skittish, wide-eyed, definitely lying look as he nodded, hobbling towards the door with a tiny goblin glaring at anyone who got within 10 feet of them.


The car didn’t really have enough room for them, but they made it work.  Percy drove, and Vax took front seat with Vex sitting on him. As the others tried to figure out the backseat situation.  Yasha clambered in one side and managed to find a way to sit with Caleb on her lap and both of them sort-of-buckled-in. Molly took the middle, Nott perched on his lap so she could reach Caleb, and Beau huddled against the window on his other side.  Percy glanced into the backseat, forcing his mask to hide his fury as he drove them home.