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Innocence Lost (ABANDONED)

Chapter Text

”Hey kid, watch where you’re going!”

A man’s frantic yell was heard from the pavement as a little girl, no more than 13 years old, bumped into him whilst running as quick as her little feet could. She looked up at him and all he could see on her face were two pure blue eyes that almost made his jaw drop, but what they did do was make him shut his mouth.

The girl continued and ran past the man without as much as a sound to excuse herself for sprinting into him. Her whole body was exhausted from moving so much, but she pushed her feet onwards even though the rest of her screamed for mercy. She would not yield until she had gotten far away from her two adoptive parents, they were not far and if she stopped for more than just one second, they would surely catch her.

The strong wind was blowing her backwards and slowing her down severely, her body was abdicating the immense pain that had randomly struck her in her hesitant ‘jailbreak’ as she called fleeing from her adoptive parents’ house. She had to stop up at some time or she would break down on the pavement and they would find her, no matter what she did.

They were horrible towards her; they adopted her as an eight year old to use her as personal servant. She cleaned up, cooked all the food, took all the dishes and then at nightfall, they would throw her into a tiny little room with only a few blankets. They beat her whenever she did the slightest thing wrong (sometimes she thinks they beat her just because they find it fun), they screamed words at her that made her want to pull her ears off just so she could be free of hearing such things.

Though she knew pulling her ears off wouldn’t actually do a thing, it was more of a in a metaphorical sense when she thought of it. She might’ve been a poor servant to an atrociously evil couple, but that didn’t mean she was stupid. Whenever she was alone, she picked up a few books and began reading from their personal library. She had picked up a lot of knowledge from those few moments of reading that had spanned throughout her years at their residence; enough to survive alone (or she likes to think that it is enough).

Her favourite books were the ones about Sherlock Holmes, she even pretended to be like him sometimes; she especially liked deducing things (astonishingly, most of her deductions turned out to be true).

But those survival skills she had accumulated in her sad life would be worthless if the pain vibrating from her legs would be enough to make her trip over and not be able to lift herself up to continue on. She had to take a break, but where? There were no places to hide; it was just tiny road with a few houses tucked on the side.

She would rather stay outside instead of seeking refuge inside one of those households, the time with her adoptive parents had led her to believe that all adults were evil (except Sherlock Holmes) and should be avoided at all costs, but she simply did not have a choice or they would find her.

She quickly skipped across the road to the nearest house. It was a nice looking blue and white (with some hints of red) painted house with American flags hanging outside (she quickly deduced that the one living in that house was a bit of a nationalist). She hesitantly knocked on the door as loud and as quickly as she could, to alarm the resident that someone was in need of her help.

The door was opened by a middle-aged man with stubble and a small bottle of whiskey in his hand (she also noticed the handle of a pistol sticking out of his back pocket), he seemed to have an atmosphere of tenacity hanging around him, but he still somehow seemed like a friend, like someone she had met once.

“Whaddya doin’ hangin’ around a neighbourhood like this at this time o’ day, kid?” He had a gruff voice and his breath reeked of alcohol and cigarettes, but it did not change her disposition towards him, he still seemed just as familiar as he had a few seconds ago.

“Please mister, there’s a pair of scary strangers searching for me and I hoped you could help me by letting me stay in your house, just for the night. Please?” She put on her sweetest and most childish voice (she knew that it could help a long way when it came to adults) and the ‘puppy face’ as people called it, she hoped that her childish ‘cuteness’ could convince the stranger to let her into his house.

But he didn’t seem to be affected by her feeble attempt; he just stood there at the entrance and stared at her (She could not help but to notice that his eyes were gleaming with a beautiful emerald green colour).

“Fine kid, but don’t make me regret lettin’ you in my house.”

“I won’t, sir!”

He turned around and marched into the house; she walked right behind him and closed the door behind her. He walked into his kitchen and began drinking from that bottle of whiskey he had been holding the whole time.

“You can take the guest room, up the stairs, first door to the right.”

“Thank you so very much, mister…?”

“The name’s DeWitt, Booker DeWitt.”

“I’m Elizabeth.”

“Elizabeth what? You don’t have a surname?”

“No sir, I was raised at an orphanage, I never met my parents and thus I have not found out what my surname is, but I’m searching for them.”

“Ah, alright. Oh, and just call me Booker, no need for formalities in my house.”

“Oh, alright… Booker.”

Elizabeth suddenly felt as if something that had been brutally weighing her down had been lifted off her shoulders. Never once had any adult asked her to address them by the name, and it was rare that an adult addressed her by her name instead of ‘incompetent brat’, it was apparently something she would have to get used to when she was in Booker’s house.

The sound of knuckles banging into wood suddenly flew into Elizabeth’s ear, someone was at the door and Booker had already noticed and was walking over there to see who was bothering him now. Elizabeth instinctively ducked behind cover should it be her ‘parents’ or devils as she liked to address them by when no one was around to hear.

“Hello mister, have you by any chance seen a little girl, about ten or eleven years old, walking by? We’re so terribly worried about her. She has dark hair, blue eyes, a blue skirt and a white blouse.”

Elizabeth froze inside, there was a woman outside who had just described her and she had a nagging feeling that she knew who it was.

“Who are you?” The sound of Booker’s voice for some reason calmed Elizabeth and made her regain her senses.

“I am her nanny, Miss Ackerman, her parents have sent me to look for her, and they’re oh so worried about how she is. She ran off towards this part of town just a few hours ago.”

Elizabeth allowed herself to peek out a little bit; she could spot an ugly woman right in front of Booker, but she did not know who it was, she never had a nanny. How parental of her adoptive parents, they’re not even bothering to lift their lazy bodies from their couch to look for her; instead they send someone to search for them. Elizabeth had a strong feeling inside that this Miss Ackerman was nothing but utter trouble.

Booker was scratching his chin, Elizabeth quickly deduced that he was contemplating whether he should reveal her to Miss Ackerman, or lie and save Elizabeth from a dull and hard life.

“Sorry miss, but I haven’t seen any kids runnin’ ‘bout my home.”

The ugly woman gave Booker a distrusted glare; she knew that Elizabeth was there.

“Fine then, pardon me for bothering you.” She turned on her heels and marched away, Booker whispered something that sounded like a curse under his breath before he closed the door. He strode over to the kitchen where Elizabeth was and sat down on the same dull chair to drink from the same dull whiskey bottle.

“Thought you said you didn’t have no parents.”

“They’re my adoptive parents, but I see them more as ‘slave drivers’ than parents. Please don’t tell them I’m here, I just want to get away from them. I’m begging you, mister DeW—Booker. Please.”

“I won’t, don’t you worry ‘bout that.”

As if on cue, Elizabeth charged into him and hugged him tightly, no one had ever shown her the slightest shadow of kindness, but she quickly retracted from the hug seeing as it was highly impolite of her. She muttered a quiet “Thank you.” Before taking a seat, she wasn’t going to sleep just yet.

“So ehm, Booker, does anyone live here with you? Like, do you have a wife or children or a housemate or something of the like?” Her own mind could not figure out why she had asked exactly that question.

“I used to have a wife living here with me.”

“A wife? What happened to her?” Elizabeth tilted her head slightly with a curious mien on her face.

“She died giving birth.” Booker let those words fly out of his mouth as quickly as he could let them, as if he was scared to mention it.

“Oh, you have a child?”

“No.”

“What happened to the child then?”

“I’d rather not talk about that with someone I barely know.”

“Oh, okay. Sorry, I shouldn’t have pried.”

Elizabeth got up from her seat and walked out of the kitchen in a complete awkward silence, when she knew she was out of Booker’s sight, she ran to the bedroom Booker had offered her and opened the door marginally to see what was inside. There was a bed, an actual bed, not just a few blankets and a tough pillow thrown on the floor like there was in her old room at her adoptive parents’ house. An actual bed that even looked comfortable by what she was able to see.

She walked anxiously towards the cream white bed; it was so beautiful for someone like Elizabeth to gaze at that it almost made her drool. She finally had the chance to sleep contentedly and wake up the next day with her back not hurting at all. The bed was far too big for her, but it didn’t matter to her. Her weight was not enough to push the bed just a little bit downwards. The thick blankets licked the skin that her clothes did not cover and made her regain all the warmth that she had lost outside, all the warmth and a bit more (almost enough to make her sweat).

For the first time in her life, she actually felt happy. She had gotten away from her 'slave drivers'; she had gotten a new friend (even if he was an adult) and life overall just seemed much brighter for her now that she felt cared for, instead of constantly being scolded and beaten with no remorse from those who beat her. Booker did not see her as someone who was below him, he did not see her as a mere child born to do the biddings of every adult she stumbled upon; no. He saw her as an equal, he allowed, no, he asked her to address him by his name.

Perhaps it was only some adults that were evil and some were actually nice enough.

Chapter Text

The blissful sound of a guitar playing a familiar tune woke Elizabeth up the next day.

She stared at the wooden ceiling above her and rocked her head to the sides as the tune played. It was like a lullaby, with every sound the guitar made, Elizabeth became more and more weary and sleepy. It sounded so familiar, but she could not place her finger on why it was like she had heard it a million times yet she could never get tired of it.

She was so acquainted to it that she even began humming to the magical melody; her brain was already closing down and readying itself for few extra enjoyable hours of sleep, but she interrupted it all by shaking her head and regaining her senses in a matter of seconds; she had to find out who was playing that melody.

She got up from the bed and stretched out a slight bit while inaudibly gaping. She took a bit of air in through her nose and exhaled it from her mouth; Booker’s house had surprisingly clean air, despite his quite obvious alcohol problem, but it was palpable, if she had gone through the things Booker told her about yesterday, she would undoubtedly be in the same state as he was.

The guitar’s melody was emanating from the kitchen, Elizabeth walked as carefully and silently as she could down the stairs and towards the kitchen; she wouldn’t want to bother the one playing, she wanted it to keep on going. Cautiously she peeked into the kitchen from the narrow hall, she could see Booker; he was the one playing that heavenly tune. Elizabeth sat outside the door so Booker wouldn’t have the chance to see her, she closed her eyes and intently listened, if her ears had eyes, they would cry tears of joy.

Booker abruptly stopped playing; she could hear him put the guitar beside him.

“You’re already up? I thought you would’ve slept for a few more hours.”

Elizabeth tried to fake a casual and indifferent strolling into the kitchen for a meager attempt at making Booker think she hadn’t heard anything, but it was easy to read her face, she was struggling to make her face look indifferent, which revealed everything to Booker.

“Sorry if I woke you up by the way, I realize it could’ve been me and my excessive guitar playing.” He looked to the guitar on his right and then back into Elizabeth’s eyes.

“It’s okay. You’re a really good guitar player, mister DeWitt, have you ever thought of getting a career in music, or do you already have one?”

“No and no, it’s just a hobby of mine.”

Elizabeth didn’t know how to continue the conversation from there, her adoptive parents never talked to her unless it was to scold her or give her more chores; and all the other children from the orphanage were for some peculiar reason scared of her. So she threw herself into an awkwardly silent situation, and Booker had to save her once again.

“Uhm, are you hungry? Just take whatever you’d like from my fridge.”

Elizabeth’s eyes widened at what he just said, he offered her to just take whatever he had? There had to be some kind of catch, no adult could be that friendly and that generous; it was surprising enough that he had allowed her to stay, and her mind had hard times fathoming it when he had offered her a room.

“A-are you sure? You’re letting a child rummage about your food.”

“You seem pretty grown up for your age, there’re a lot of things I’d let you do; just remember to leave some for me.”

And that one sentence was all Elizabeth needed to feel content for the rest of her life.

 


 

Booker had went out to work and left Elizabeth all alone and she had taken on the task to look at what Booker owned to deduce what kind of person he was, she searched every nook and cranny so she could get every single bit of information about the odd yet friendly adult.

She had found a lot of alcohol and deduced he drinks too much of the stuff and should lay it off for a while.

She had found that a lot of his food were only several days away from rotting and deduced that he didn’t eat a lot; but that did not explain why he looked fit.

She had found a lot of stuff and in the end, she believed she knew Booker better than anyone else (perhaps his wife knew more, but she is dead so that doesn’t count in Elizabeth’s book), but there was still one last place to thoroughly explore (and she only had about an hour and a half before Booker would return), she still hadn’t taken one single look at the attic room; it was locked, but she had found a bunch of keys hidden everywhere, all she had to do was find out which one fitted the lock.

She raised her hand to her chin to scratch it (she imagined Sherlock Holmes did that when he was thinking) and saw that the lock was big, old and rusty, so the key she was looking for must obviously be old and rusty. She glared at all the keys in her pint-sized hands and found the exact kind of key she was looking for.

“I am getting good at deducing stuff.” She smiled as she spoke the words out loud to herself.

The attic was filled with tiny dust moats that were only visible because of the sun illuminating the room through the frosted glass window. It seemed like the kind of place Elizabeth could easily just lie down in and fall asleep almost instantly, despite possibly waking up with a painful back because of the absence of a proper bed.

There were a lot of old crates scattered around, but what really caught Elizabeth’s eye was the giant black piano; such a shame it was, to see that it was only collecting grime and not being played on. She had to try it, she has always adored beautiful music, but she never had the chance to try an actual instrument.

The seat in front of the piano was also quite dirty, but it was intact and nice to sit on. Astonishingly, the keys had not collected any dust or filth, they were completely clean. Elizabeth let her fingers roll across the cold keys; she had noticed pianists did that a lot before they actually started playing.

When she started pressing the keys down, she quickly found a fitting pace and for a thirteen year old, it didn’t sound like someone was pulling a cat’s tail, it sounded quite nice if Elizabeth had anything to say about it; her immediate thought was to get a career as a pianist. Yes, that’s what she was going to do, get a career as a pianist and then get married and have a couple of kids; that was her dream life. She knew she was going to grow up and become an adult at some time, but she was definitely not going to become boring, even if nature forces her to become one of the things she hates.

She kept on playing, her slender fingers navigating their ways around the keyboard easily. She closed her eyes as she began to get familiar with all the placements of the keys. She kept on playing for what seemed like an eternity, but she could continue forever with this if it wasn’t because of her primal need for nutrients and rest.

The sound that the piano was making drowned the noise as the trapdoor to the attic room opened up and Booker climbed up the ladder; but Elizabeth didn’t notice him, she kept on playing as if it was to save her own life.

“Elizabeth, what are you doing?”

And suddenly she woke up from her musical trance.

Chapter Text

”Elizabeth, what’re you doing with my wife’s old piano?”

Elizabeth stared awestruck into Booker’s emerald eyes, only his head was over the trap door and in the attic; the rest of him was still attached to the ladder. Time must definitely flown by so fast while she had played a few songs, time runs when you have a lot of fun, as she had read in so many books.

All she could do was stutter, he had just caught her messing around in his house; what would he do now? Act like all other adults and scold her until she cried (most continued even though she was crying)? Kick her out of his house? Adopt her by force and act like a slave-driver? Booker seemed too nice to do something like that, but even though this knowledge of his inner softness gave her a grain of hope, she had hard time finding it when it was covered up by all the dread she felt at this very moment.

“I w-was exploring, please d-don’t y-yell at me, please.”

Lying to Booker was stupid, she could feel that he was the kind that would notice her tongue spitting out lies, and that it would be foolish of her to even attempt covering up what she had been doing in his attic room.

But even though Elizabeth had both mentally and physically, braced herself for Booker’s incoming rage, it never came; he rose up completely from the trapdoor and just stared indifferently at her.

“Why would I yell at you? Anyway, I got nothin’ ‘gainst you exploring, just mind yourself at that piano, it was one of my wife’s favourite possessions.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I just got carried away. Did your mother play on this piano? Was she very good at it?”

“Guess that depends on your taste, I personally thought she was the best of the best.”

“Was she a famous person?”

“Famous? Not really.”

“Oh, okay. I’m going to go down to my room, I’m sorry for troubling you, mister DeWitt.”

Elizabeth quickly ran over to the trap door and climbed down the ladder, she had gotten away so quickly that she couldn’t make out what Booker was saying. She tried to move as fast as she could without running, she wouldn’t be able to take another uncomfortable scene like that.

The room Booker had loaned her was still in the messy state she had left it in when she went to explore. She dived under the white sheets and pretended to sleep; she could hear Booker coming towards her room; and as if on cue, she could hear the door open and footsteps. She didn’t need to see Booker to feel that he was right above her, checking if she was still awake.

When he had assured himself that she was sleeping, he turned around and walked out of her room as silently as he could. Elizabeth counted for a bit after she heard the door close to convince herself that Booker was too far away to hear her.

Booker didn’t deserve to have a frustrating child living in his house, he was the nicest person she had ever met and he would definitely do better without her. She started cleaning up in her room; it had to be perfect before she left. She had to remove all her marks and make it look like no one had ever lived in the room in the first place.

She didn’t have any personal belongings other than a little backpack she had stolen from her adoptive parents, but it was empty and she didn’t want to take more things from Booker.

She would have to leave in the morning, the moon was rising and she would not be able to see a thing if she ventured out at this time of the day. One last night and then she would be gone and Booker would probably be happier than ever.

After cleaning up, she crawled up on her bed and eyed the room, it was as clean as the first time she had seen it. She covered herself in the ever-so-comfortable sheets and stared at the starry sky from her window. It was a beautiful night, no night-clouds that covered up the stars so she could make out all kinds of forms and figures from the stars. One of the figures looked oddly like her and a grown-up man holding hands and smiling, what was even more baffling was that the grown-up man figure looked somewhat like Booker.

Even the stars lied to her, it seemed like they were predicting a happy life for her, but she knew she wouldn’t have any of the kind. A happy life with parents, something she could only dream of. Even just one proper parent (in her mind, the perfect parent would be just as kind as Booker was) would suffice to her.

The thoughts of a happy life made her grow weary and she drifted off to a last sleep in a house she would call home if she had the chance to, but all of this would be gone tomorrow and she would be on her way to find a place she could call her home, even if that meant travelling across the great land of America.

 


 

Hours later she woke up as a thunder cackled nearby. The full-moon shone brightly through her slightly-open window and she could hear an owl coo quietly outside. She looked around and saw the familiar wooden room she had, still as welcoming as ever, but something was different, she could hear some sort of crying.

Even though she tip-toed through the hallway, the clear sound of her tiny feet reverberated throughout the house. She just hoped it wouldn’t wake Booker up. She followed the sounds of sobbing and traced it to… Booker’s room?

Why are you crying, Booker? She mused. Booker seemed like a hardened man, the type that wouldn’t cry; so why was he? Or was it someone else? The curiosity inside of her was reaching its peak point, she had to take a look and check if something was wrong.

The door creaked as she opened it; Booker was lying in his bed and snoring, occasionally sobbing. She drew closer as silently as she could and stared at him. He twitched as if he could feel she was near and muttered some incomprehensible words while sobbing.

He muttered again and this time, Elizabeth heard it clearly.

“Anna, Anna I’m sorry, I’m so sorry for everything. Anna I’m sorry.”

Elizabeth looked up from Booker and covered her mouth as she was about to shriek of fear.

Gigantic words that looked like they had been cut into the wall with long nails were staring back at her.

“ANNA I’M SO SORRY”

Booker twitched and moved uneasily in his sleep, he opened his hand and revealed a wrinkled picture. Elizabeth leaned over him and slid the picture out of Booker’s hand. It was a picture of a dark-haired woman standing next to a man who looked like a younger version of Booker. They were both smiling and Booker seemed so happy on the old black and white picture. The picture looked worn out, as if someone had repeatedly rubbed a finger across the aging ink.

Elizabeth flipped the picture with her small fingers to see what was on its back; something was scribbled across the paper. It looked almost unreadable but she persevered and read it, even though it almost hurt her eyes.

“Happy birthday Anna.”

Elizabeth slid the picture back between Booker’s fingers and was close to crying on his behalf. He had lost his wife and (apparently) his child as well, he was in a situation that was worse than the one she was in. He truly deserved better than having an irritating child running about his house; which only strengthened her determination at leaving him alone.

She noticed all the whiskey flasks at his bedside table and stared at them. Drinking his problems away was never a good thing (the books she read said so), so she opened the window and threw them, one by one, as far away as she could. Surprisingly, Booker was too busy sobbing over his late wife’s death to wake up.

When she had thrown the last bottle away, she turned and looked at Booker with sympathetic eyes before she skipped across the hallway to her room and stared at it for what seemed like an eternity to her. She was going to leave, she didn’t deny that she loved the hospitality Booker had shown towards her, but she couldn’t stay and bother him anymore.

She cleaned her bed up and gave a last smile to her room, no, Booker’s guest room, as a way of saying “goodbye” before she went downstairs and out. The cold summer evening breeze kissed her cheeks that rapidly turned red. She put one foot ahead of the other and before she even knew it herself, she was running again. Running was one of the things she loved; it was like flying to her. She could see a steam locomotive at a train station; a sign above the train read “PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA”; she stared at the amount of people boarding the train and knew where she was going to go now.

This was truly going to be a grand adventure in itself, and happiness bubbled up inside of her, she was going on an adventure just like in one of the books she had read. She was going on adventure, and she could not wait.

Chapter Text

”The train is leaving the station in five minutes! Five minutes folks.” A guard nearby yelled.

She had to act quickly to get on the train or it would leave without her, but what should she do? She had never been in a situation like this. Her mind was boggling with ideas, both good and stupid, but she was book-smart, not street-smart and therefor she had no idea what to do.

“Are you lost, little miss?”

The voice of a man startled her and made her almost squeal out of surprise, but she held herself back. The man who had asked her was a tall man who looked to be in his mid-twenties, he had orange hair and a beige suit on, as well as a beige suitcase.

She could already sense he was one of the better adults; she had put them in two groups; the “Booker-kind” and the “evil parent”. This one emitted an atmosphere of care and pleasantry; but that didn’t stop Elizabeth from worrying what he would do if she told him she was going to sneak on that train and flee from her home.

He kept smiling and patiently waited for a response.

“My parents are on that train but the guards won’t let me in. Could you please help me, kind sir?”

“You know, lying isn’t a nice thing to do.”

And so she froze inside; how did he know she was lying?

“But I’ll still help you; here.” He reached into his right pocket and pulled out a train ticket. He held it out to Elizabeth and she took it from him and stared at it.

“Dear brother, hurry up or we’ll miss the train to Maine!” A woman who had the same orange hair colour and suit (albeit with a long skirt rather than pants) with an orange hue that matched the man’s suit perfectly.

“Ah, I am afraid I must say my farewells now.”

“Thank you mister.” Elizabeth muttered and ran to the train.

The train was a big blue steam locomotive that seemed to be aging a lot (She had read about amazing trains powered by diesel that were at some time going to replace the old steam locomotives). The guards (reluctantly) let her in and she made her way to the wagon that was furthest behind. As she went through the train, she noticed that the train was eerily empty; she could only spot a few people in the coupés now and then.

The wagon that was at the back of the train was completely empty. She took the closest coupé and hoped that no train conductor would come here to and ask her for a ticket; she had one but the guards outside had been glaring at her ticket for what seemed like an eternity before they finally let her in.

The train let out its well-acquainted steam howl before it took off and gathered speed. Elizabeth yawned and quickly fell asleep to regain those hours of rest she did not get back at Booker’s house.

 


 

She was having a dream that seemed peculiarly familiar. It took her minutes to realize she had had the same dream in Booker’s house, the night before she left. She was wandering around in Booker’s house, it was empty and she could hear atypical noises emanating from the attic room.

She wanted so desperately to go up there but she froze just as she was about to pull the ladder down so she could climb up there. Something was holding her back, the feeling of having a heavy rock weighing her down was stemming from her stomach and she felt a weird tingling sensation coming from her neck all the way up to the top of her head and her eyes felt like two heavy balls made out of steel.

But the curiosity that filled her was stronger and forced her to overcome the false pain she felt. The ladder came down smoothly and the trap door creaked as she opened it and climbed up. There was nothing, even those crates and the old piano that was here are gone; except one she hadn’t noticed, one in the corner of the room.

Booker was sitting on that one crate with his old guitar in his hands and the woman from the picture was humming something whilst Booker played the familiar tune that woke her up after her first night’s sleep in his house. They were smiling and it seemed like they were having fun.

Elizabeth tip-toed closer and noticed that the woman’s stomach was inflated.

“What do you think it’ll be?” Booker asked the woman.

“A girl.” She responded.

“How do you know?”

“Motherly instincts.”

“What should we name her then?”

“I’m thinking about naming her after my mother, E-“ she suddenly held her tongue back and looked over to where Elizabeth was standing. She just stood there and stared at Elizabeth when she suddenly let out a sharp mixture of a banshee’s wail and an injured wolf’s howl. It pierced Elizabeth’s ears and she tried to cover her ears with her palms, but to no avail.

Booker was gone, the only thing left of him was the old guitar that suddenly looked much older than when he had held it. When she looked over to the woman again, she was gone as well; only her black dress was left, littering the dusty ceramic wooden floor, but an echo of her horribly terrifying scream remained until it toned out and drowned in the silence of Booker’s house.

 


 

“Hello? Are you alright?” A female voice called out to Elizabeth.

Elizabeth’s eyelids halfheartedly lifted themselves and a happy vision graced her sea-blue eyes. It was another child, roughly at her age by the looks of it, it made her so happy that it wasn’t another adult (or the train conductor).

“Uhm, hello?”

She called out again, Elizabeth must have been staring strangely at her with wide eyes.

“Oh, sorry. Yes, I’m okay, I’m just so glad to see someone else at my age.”

They sat there in awkward silence for a few minutes afterwards, both of them bizarrely not knowing how to continue the conversation further than just a short greeting.

“I’m Eleanor Lamb by the way; I hope you don’t mind that I sit here with you, adults are so boring and sitting alone even more so.”  She looked up from the floor she was previously glowering at and smiled at Elizabeth.

“I’m Elizabeth, and I don’t mind.”

“Elizabeth…?”

“Yes?”

“Don’t you have a surname?”

She couldn’t control that her face went into a clear frown.

“No, I’m an orphan who never got to meet her parents.”

“Oh, that’s so sad to hear, I kind of know that feel, I knew my mother but she didn’t care for me, so I left her, but that’s already enough about me, why are you on your way to Philadelphia?”

“I… I just don’t like New York, that’s all.”

And Eleanor already knew she should not interfere anymore with personal matters.

 


 

Booker woke up with the worst hangover to date.

He moved his hands towards the bedside table to feel if there were any more whiskey bottles, he was already down, so a few more bottles wouldn’t hurt, or so he thought; he reached out to his bedside table and searched for another bottle. He reached out so far that he eventually tumbled off his bed and crashed into the wooden floor below him.

He pulled himself together and got up, only to see that all of his whiskey bottles were gone. The one thing he clearly remembered from last night was that he had put all kinds of bottles and flasks on the table to wake up to something that wasn’t boring the next morning.

“Did Elizabeth take ‘em?” He said sluggishly before he dragged his body out of the room and towards the guest room. He opened the door only slightly and peeked in to see that there was no one in the bed. He opened the door completely and to his surprise, it was as clean as ever, as if no one had actually lived in there, but where was Elizabeth?

“Elizabeth?” He called out her name several times before giving up the calling and began to search for her whereabouts in his house. She couldn’t have left, could she? She couldn’t be something his mind had conjured up to fill in for his lost wife and daughter, could she? No, she couldn’t, but she was certainly not in the house.

“Elizabeth?!” He called out one last time.

“You know, you’ve searched in every nook and cranny but you haven’t found her; so what good would yelling her name do?”

Booker turned around swiftly and threw his right hand into his pocket, expecting a pistol to be there out of pure reflex, but he realized it was upstairs in his office, with all his other weapons. He stared blankly at the woman who had talked, she wore a beige suit, orange skirt, orange tie and had flaming orange hair, her accent was the snobby kind of British that Booker could simply not withstand.

“Who are you? And how the fuck did you get in my house?”

“Cursing as well? Ah, I had hoped your manners were beyond that of a primal ape.”

“Listen; my house, my manners. Now tell me who you are.”

“I am the one who is going to help you; you see, I work for a man in the higher places who can wipe away whatever debts you’ve collected over your years of drinking and gambling, all you need to do is to bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.”

“Girl? What girl?”

“The one you let live in your house.”

Booker stared dumbfounded at her before he cleared his throat.

“I need time to think about something like that.”

The woman reached into her pocket and took out a little wax-sealed letter and handed it over to Booker.

“There’s a motorized carriage outside, give this letter to the chauffeur and he’ll drive you to Philadelphia, which is where the girl should be at in an hour or so.”

Before Booker could even respond, she took swift strides towards the door and exited. Booker ran over to the door and glanced outside, the woman had disappeared into the thin air.

“I can already tell this is gonna be one ‘ell of a job.”

 


 

“So Eleanor, why are you on your way to Philadelphia?” Elizabeth peeked up from the dusty book she had found lying under her seat.

“Honestly? I don’t really know. I just wanted to get away from my mother and search the whole country for my lost father.”

“Why don’t you come with me? I’m trying to find a place to fit in and stay; we could travel with each other until you find your father and I find a place to call home!”

Eleanor couldn’t hold back the massive smile that formed on her face.

“Alright, but I think I have to tell you that my father is a murderer who’s completely nuts.”

“Uhm…”

“Just kidding.”

 

Chapter Text

Booker stumbled outside in a shabby state only carrying his pistol with him. The motorized carriage was outside as the woman had said, he handed the letter to the chauffeur and the chauffeur asked him to get on.

After driving for a couple of minutes, the chauffeur seemed to get bored with the silence and tried to spark a conversation with Booker.

“You’re quite the silent type, eh? Name’s Leumas, by the way, Leumas Cheebrow, and accordin’ to this letter, I’m going to be the one to get ye’ ‘round this glorious land.”

Booker did not respond to Leumas’ attempt at killing some of the boredom; he merely sat on his seat in the back of the car and stared blankly at the picture of Elizabeth. Was the woman back at his home really speaking truth when she said the men she worked for could wipe away his debts? He could finally get around at starting a new life (he promised himself that if the woman was not lying right into his face and if he completed the job, he would stop drinking and gambling completely) and maybe finally forgive himself for what he has done to Anna, both his daughter and his wife.

“Not the talkative guy, huh? Then stay silent if I should stop at the nearest restaurant for some tea.”

“Would you kindly shut up?”

“Guess there’s no tea then, sad, I could’ve used som’. Anyways, I’ll be escortin’ you the whole way, so I thought we must as well get acquainted as soon as possible. As I said, name’s Leumas Cheebrow, and you?”

“Booker DeWitt.”

“DeWitt huh? Rings a bell actually, just dunno what bell it is.”

“Hmph.”

“So, Philadelphia huh? Heard the declaration of independence was signed by the founding fathers in that very city, it’d hold quite a lot of history I believe, even though I myself have never been very interested into that history business, no sir, I usually keep to myself. No one care about an old fisherman either way.”

“Fisherman? Shouldn’t you be piloting a boat then?”

“I should, but sadly there is no money to earn on that, and a man’s gotta pay for his food and home, even if I don’t have any wife or children to care for; it’s still hard for a modest man to get a modest income. And sadly, I ‘aven’t caught anything worth sellin’ since my younger days.”

“Shouldn’t give up your dream man, if ya’ want to sell fish, sell fish.”

“I appreciate your kind words sir, but I should concentrate on drivin’ this car.”

***

Elizabeth lifted her heavy eyelids and woke up to Eleanor shaking her in an attempt to wake her up.

“Elizabeth, wake up! We’re here.”

Eleanor’s voice trembled with anticipation, it was easy for Elizabeth to pick up on that and note that she must have been filled to the brim with excitement the whole trip. Elizabeth herself wasn’t too happy about it, Philadelphia was a known city and she knew that from her books, but it didn’t matter to her if she could not find a place to shelter herself from those horrors who had named themselves her adoptive parents.

In retrospect, it was mostly the father who had been the one to make her feel completely worn out every evening; the mother had a kind word every now and then, but she kept mostly to herself. It wasn’t hard for Elizabeth to answer quickly should anyone ask which one of her adoptive parents she favoured over the other.

Eleanor stopped shaking Elizabeth and took quick strides towards the window and gazed at the city that was covered by the chilly afternoon. It had taken the train quite the time to reach its destination, but they were there, now it was just about finding an inn to stay at for the night before beginning the actual adventure tomorrow; it was getting dark quickly and it would be too tough to try navigating the city when it was completely covered in the darkness of the night; not to mention the temperature that would most likely go down and all the thugs and other scary people who came out at night.

“Where should we go first?” Eleanor turned towards Elizabeth and asked enthusiastically with a smile planted on her young face.

“We should probably find a place to sleep at; we won’t be able to do anything once it’s nightfall.”

The smile faltered slightly, but she nodded at Elizabeth and Elizabeth could easily read that her face screamed “That would probably be the wisest.”

They walked side by side to nearest exit of the train and took their first steps on the cold gray bricks that made this train station in Philadelphia. The city was something to marvel at; it was a beautiful sight, especially with the descent of the sun illuminating the tall towers with a breathtaking orange colour. It all came together so perfect that Elizabeth instantly favoured this city over New York.

Most of the buildings looked as if they were painted blue, and the orange light contrasted it in such a gorgeous manner that both Elizabeth and Eleanor bore the exact same awestruck facial expression, but their admiration was quickly interrupted by the guards.

“What’re you two little misses doin’ ‘round here? Shouldn’t you be with your parents?”

All Elizabeth could do was stammer and stare at the guard dumbfounded as she ransacked her brain for possible excuses.

“Ah, Eleanor and Elizabeth! My two dearest daughters, where have you two been at?”

A voice suddenly called out to them and they all as if on cue turned towards the source of the sound. A man was coming towards them. He had flaming red hair, a beige suit, orange pants and an orange tie as well as a light brown bowler hat.

“Wait a minute…” Elizabeth muttered under her breath as she thought about where she had seen this man before.

“Well come on you two, wouldn’t want to worry your mother now.”

He placed his left hand on Eleanor’s back and his right on Elizabeth’s and pushed them towards the exit of the station, not saying a single word to the guard standing at the train. Just outside the exit a woman with the same clothes (albeit she was wearing a skirt and not pants) was waiting on them.

“Do we really have to pretend to be their parents?”

“How would we get them away from that awkward scene that would’ve escalated quite quickly should we not have interfered?”

“Having children is not something I would bother with.”

“There is a difference between pretending for a few minutes and actually having children.”

“Does that matter?”

“Yes it does.” He sighed “Rosalind, sometimes I question if we truly are related.”

“We both know we’re related in a way most people would find peculiar. It is still the same coin.”

Eleanor suddenly interrupted them.

“Who are you two?”

“It does not matter at this moment; what does matter is that you two find a place to stay.” The man responded curtly to Eleanor; the woman walked silently beside the man (he was her brother presumably) and they stopped at a little building.

The wood that made the building looked as if it could fall at any moment, the red paint was peeling off and a few of the windows were smashed to pieces. It did not look like the kind of place anyone should stay inside just for a brief moment; let alone live in there.

“Ah, here we are; you two go on inside.” The man said.

“We will join you in a matter of moments, as soon as a few matters at hand have been dealt with.” The woman added briskly before tugging at her brother’s sleeve and motioning him to follow her. They both vanished into the crowd of people and the fog that coated the city like a blanket. Elizabeth unexpectedly regained her ability to speak once they were fully out of sight.

“I know those two, or at least the man; he gave me the ticket to the train before suddenly disappearing with the woman at the station in New York.”

“But did they tell you who they actually are?”

“No.”

“I don’t like them; let’s hope we won’t see them anytime soon.”

“I have a feeling we will.”

Elizabeth and Eleanor walked side by side towards the building. There was a faltering sign that read “Blue Ribbon Inn”. They carefully opened the door and took inaudible steps towards the prominent desk at the end of the room. From the outside, the inn looked disgusting and unwelcoming, but from the inside, it looked cozy and pleasant.

They continued walking until they reached the brown wooden desk. Elizabeth looked up at the man standing behind it and almost shrieked out of shock; the man was the same man who had just escorted them away from the locomotive; and of course his sister stood behind him, leaned up against the blue painted wall, right next to a shelf filled with all kinds of numbered keys.

“We have company.”

“We do indeed.”

Elizabeth was never sure who was talking when those two were speaking; they sounded almost identical and she was too astonished to pick up on which one had what kind of voice. Eleanor, not knowing how to react properly to a situation like this, opened her mouth.

“But… how… you were just outside and you walked away… and you’ve changed clothes in an inhuman speed! Who are you two? “

“Outside? Little miss, we’ve been here inside all time.”

“That doesn’t answer my question! I want to know how you two can do all that weird stuff!”

“It is simple, but telling you would ruin all the fun, wouldn’t it?” The woman replied without as much as giving one little glance at Eleanor.

“Dear sister, they must be tired; we should let them retire to their room now for some rest.”

The man grabbed a key from the shelf behind him and tossed it towards Elizabeth who caught it (even though it almost slipped out of her hand) and stared at the little label.

“Number seventy-seven is your room. I hope you enjoy your stay at the Blue Ribbon!”

Eleanor, who was seemingly confused of the whole scene that acted out in front of her eyes, grabbed Elizabeth’s arm and pulled her with her upstairs to look for the room they were going to stay in. Considering 77 was a high number, there weren’t a lot of rooms. Eleanor counted the rooms and their labels on their way upstairs.

1, 2, 5, 7, 32, 54, 63, (and finally) 77.

It was a large room considering it was just two little girls who were going to stay there for a short night; there were two beds, a table with two chairs, two small closets, a shelf, a little window, and two bedside tables (each of those two had bowls filled with treats and sweets as if someone knew there was going to be two little girls who loved candy living in this very room).

Eleanor instantly threw herself onto the leftmost bed and began snoring softly while Elizabeth proceeded to look at the things there were in this room. A few coins were left here and there in some of the cracks and closet; a nice find and she knew that money would be something essential to an adventure such as this one.

She walked over to the window, threw the curtains to the side and opened the window slightly; even though the room was all things considered very lovely, it still smelled of alcohol and smoke (which were two of the things Elizabeth hated the most and she prized fresh air over almost everything else). There was a hummingbird flying right outside her window which was weird considering she had seen a lot of them, just never at nighttime.

But the night was eating away at her and she was becoming more and more drowsy. All she could do was mumble a quiet good night to the hummingbird before walking over to her bed and burying herself in the sheets. It was not as comfortable as the bed in Booker’s house, but it was good enough for her. A few minutes passed before she drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

“Bye Bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee bu’ the levee was dry, them good ole boys were drinking whiskey in Rye, singin’ this’ll be the day that I die, This’ll be the day that I die.”

All Booker could think about was when Leumas would stop the soul-torturing singing about driving and sailing. It was very slowly getting on his nerves, but Booker could not lie about it either; Leumas was infecting him with his merry mood. Although Booker wouldn’t sing nor dance, he didn’t do “sissy” things like that. Even though Leumas was slowly getting him in a better mood, the song was just unbearable.

“Leumas, could you stop singing?”

“Why?”

“It’s annoying.” Booker answered Leumas bluntly.

“Opinions, I guess. But I’ll stop singing, if that’s what you want, sir.”

“Thank you.”

And so they drove on in silence. The sky was dark blue above them and Booker’s mind was slowly dozing off. For some reason, there were still birds chirruping happily in the trees beside the forest-road they were driving through. How anyone could think their singing was ‘beautiful’ was far beyond Booker’s mind. It was annoying, at best. All he wanted was to peacefully fall asleep while Leumas kept on driving to Philadelphia, was that too much to ask for? Yet somehow, Booker still found himself drifting off to sleep. And as soon as Leumas noticed, he began singing again. A thunder was heard in the distance and Leumas knew rain would come their way soon. It was at those times he was glad he had bought a car with a water-proof roof.

 


 

Booker woke up to the sound of thunder cackling not far away. He looked up from where he was and saw that they were still driving. The sky was a dull gray and the serene atmosphere that had been present last night was gone now. The birds weren’t singing now and Leumas was humming the same song he had been singing almost all the time.

“I see you’re awake, sir. I think you’d be happy to know that we’ll arrive in Philadelphia in a matter of hours now. Then you can go find your daughter or whoever it is.”

“She’s not my daughter.”

“My apologies, then.”

And then he began his singing again.

 


 

Elizabeth woke up to the sweet singing of the exact same hummingbird she had met last night.

Booker would probably have liked birds singing.’ She thought to herself before turning around in her bed to face Eleanor, who was still peacefully sleeping in her own bed at the other side of the room. It was actually kind of funny to watch her; her mouth was open and saliva was dripping onto her pillow. Her bizarre snoring was something Elizabeth would laugh at if it wasn’t for the impoliteness of doing so.

Elizabeth set an abrupt end to her train of thought and rose up from her bed and walked over to Eleanor to shake her awake. They would have to get going soon. The sleeping figure finally woke up from her once so quiet slumber with a gape aimed at Elizabeth.

“Morning.”

“Come on, we have to keep moving if we’re going to get anywhere. We can search the city and then get moving unless we find something.”

And all Eleanor could answer with was a gape and her getting up from the bed.

“Can we at least have breakfast before we leave? It’s the most important meal of the day, you know.”

“Yes, alright.”

And so they walked downstairs to where those odd twins where, except they weren’t here. A grumpy-looking man was standing at the desk downstairs.

“Uhm, who are you?” Eleanor suddenly spoke without Elizabeth’s consent.

“I own this damn place. And who the fuck are you two kids? Go find your parents.”

“No need to curse.” Elizabeth whispered to herself, hoping that he would not hear.

“The fuck did you say, girl?”

“Nothing, nothing!”

“Better have been nothing.”

Elizabeth tugged at Eleanor’s clothes and dragged her outside.

“Well that was weird.”

“Yeah, it was. Did those two twins or whatever just act like they owned that place?”

“I don’t know. Who would do something like that?”

“No idea.”

And so they continued onwards.

 


 

“I think I should inform you that we have arrived at Philadelphia now, sir.”

Booker looked up from his seat. He had been staring at a picture of his long-dead wife. A picture where they both were in the attic room of Booker’s house. In the picture, Booker was sitting on a crate while playing the guitar and his wife was singing to it. It brought good and bad memories to Booker. The height of his life was when she was there, but then it had all curtly ended when she had given his daughter birth.

A teeny tiny part of Booker hated his daughter for what she did and that part thinks that she deserved whatever happened to her after he had abandoned her at an orphanage’s doorstep, but Booker tried his best to suppress that part of him; because the rest of him loved his daughter with a passion. She was his own meat and blood for Heaven’s sake, and that part of him constantly reassured Booker that he had abandoned her because he was in no fit state to raise a child.

“She’s better without me.”

“Sorry, what did you say, sir?”

“Nothing, Leumas. There’s an inn over there, I’ll meet you there when I’ve searched this city.”

“Alright. Good luck, Mister DeWitt.”

And with that, Booker stepped out of the car and Leumas drove away towards the inn Booker had pointed to. Booker carefully stored the photo of his wife in one of the internal pockets of his worn vest. He then reached into his trousers’ pocket and took out the small picture of Elizabeth he had.

“Alright. I got a girl to find.”