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Two Big Problems

Chapter Text

They are not liked being here from the start, although, honestly, nostalgia still brighten impressions. It's too quiet streets and all these curious faces of citizens who are willing to gut a freshman, just to learn all his secrets. Kat turned away from the window of car, eyes closed. She was homesick when she was 13, but now in Springfield, not Sherwood, was her home. So she wasn't going to go out from her grandmother's kitchen, but two months later she had to go to school. Kat reminded herself often, why did she agreed to move back — only a year here and then she can go anywhere when she graduate from Westerburg.

She would like to be James. His only problem was only a new-old classmates who could remember him as a thirteen-year-old wild boy, which is was possible to piss off from the one word. However, if they will wishing to have fun now, they will not be succeeded - her brother for four years learned to control himself, and even recall his second (girly) name could not cause any violent reaction. Perphaps, just sharp sarcastic jokes as an attempt to repel the attack.

“Arrived,” sighed the mother, looking at them through the rearview mirror. “Smile grandmother at least.”

“You smile – we smile.” Immediately replied James, getting out of the handsome "Fiat".

Oh, he certainly wanted to play on his terms! Could choose the better time! Filled with annoying towards her sibling, Katherine went out after him, adjusting hers rumpled black jacket. Mother not even brushed her black clothes, this is not important for her. She returned to her native city, from which she was escaped four years ago with such joy, and came back for the worst of reasons — the death of a friend. And now, standing on the threshold of hers parent’s house, Veronica couldn't pull the damn doorbell. However, it was not necessary, grandma opened the door for them, barely teenagers after the mother has crossed the first step.

“Ronnie!” she exclaimed, drawing her daughter in big hug. “Honey, they're here!”

Going into the house, Kat plunged into the almost forgotten atmosphere of the old elegant environment in which almost nothing has changed. Even pictures hung on the walls in the same places. She and her brother took turns hugging grandma and grandpa, who helped to bring things to the second floor. And then there was a second reason to hate the homecoming — a joint room. Actually, this used to be their mom's. In shades of blue, rather small, with a dim table lamp, which they remembered, again. The only difference: two beds instead of one.

“Mine.” J. sat on one that was closer to the window.

“Enjoy,” snorted the sister, throwing a backpack into a corner.

He behaved himself like a child, and it is not only irritated, but angried. The two of them it J. couldn't, damn it, grow up. Even now, when they arrived at the fucking funeral.

Two hours later, when all the stuff was moved into the house, Sowyers, not even unpacked theirs bags and boxes, went to Church, late for a memorial service. There was not as many people as siblings would expect, but everybody was quite a sincerely mourned the dead. James with his mother and sister went to the grave of the deceased, which the twins could still remember how his godmother. Kat could only see a pale and obviously too much embellished the face of aunty Martha, but even from this view she became very sick. Mom stood surprisingly strong, looking at the face of a old friend.

“I should to be there...” she whispered, tapping the shoulder of the deceased.

“Hey...” Kat barely touched her sibling with elbow.

J. looked even calmer. Katherine can call herself brave, but she always was weaker than him. Brother's look turned to her, excited.

“Get out?” he asked, without answer realizing her condition.

Making sure that the mother can be left alone, they hurried to leave the Church, sitting under the fence into the grass of the old cemetery. And that’s how the childhood is died — with the weeping mourners mixed with the funeral music. Kat breathed deeply the fresh air, trying to get rid of the smell of incense that is ingrained in her nose. J. pulled off his jacket and tie, showing a black shirt that was little tight — they do not have time to buy a new one before moving.

“And now what?” asked Katherine, lying her head in knees. “Mom will not standing. Aunt Martha was her mainstay since childhood. If it weren't for aunt Martha, we would not have borned...”

“Mom is stronger than granite, that was said by aunty Martha too, remember?” brother smiled sadly. “We still have aunt Heather.”

Miss McNamara, of course, was still the kind aunt who gave them the caramel and helped to gather in the school, when the mother left them with her, but she could’t be supporting. She now cried even more than Veronica. However, J. was right. Mom at least has a place to go.

Brother put his arm around her, and if someone would made a comment kind of "What are you doing under the fence?" they both would have get off a stranger. This is could not be any worth... Their godmother was killed, they had to move this damn Sherwood with its whirlpool of crimes and horrors, and all of their friends, all of their calm pretty life left in Springfield. Stuck in this strange hole, which they left with joy four years ago, was the most crappy situation. How it all could change so much just for four years?

“The witness said that the car was dark...” they heard a voice behind them.

Kat looked up, exchanged glances with her sibling. He also froze, not intending to cast the votes. In this, their views have converged. J. clung to the fence tighter to avoid being noticed, Katherine responded.

“He wanted to drop poor Martha from the bridge directly into the rocks...” the woman sniffed loudly. “Escaping of responsibility! Unhumanity!”

“Maybe Martha could jump under the car by myself? However, seventeen or eighteen years ago...”

“Police said,” a woman quickly complained him, “that the witness was sure of what he sees! Fucking punk, I'm sorry Lord, run over her twice!”

“But who is this witness, damn him!” her companion nearly choked on the cigarette. Siblings felt the sharp smell of tobacco that passed through the cracks in the old fence.

“They let me know when killer will be cached,” the disappointment could be heard in the voice of the weeping ladies. “Otherwise, it... Ohhhhhh!..”

This sorrowful moan turn Kat's inside upside down. J. frowned, becoming incredibly serious. It was clear that this short conversation reproduced more of an impression. Without a sound, he whispered to his sister:

“It was Mrs. Dunstock.”

Kat slightly hit her head into the fence, before lifting off the ground. Now when she's used to the sunny fresh streets, she began to feel her dark head hot. Its had to come back to mom and aunt Heather, but they want to know more about what happened to their godmother.

“If the police have a witness who saw the murder, they will find this monster, sooner or later,” with obvious fury said James, and then, slapping his hand over his knee, rose with a grunt. “Aunt Martha doesn't deserve this.”

“Did you hear what that man was said?” Kat doubtfully pursed her lips. “Why he thinks that the aunt could jump under a car? What was that seventeen years ago?”

They only knew that it was theirs mother's senior year, which about she doesn’t like to talk. Some teachers in middle school said sometimes about some "incident eighty-ninth in Westerburg High", where were studied Veronica Sawyer with hers friends and probably the father of the twins, which about they knew nothing. ‘Nothing’ means ‘absolutely nothing’. But the question now was not about him.

“We can find in Sherwood Internet cafe and read,” J. shrugged. “Or, what is even more interesting, scudded in the library. With a computer it will go faster, but in the library admission is free and information is more, after all, how many Newspapers had accumulated up to eighty-ninth... Or,” he grinned, “we can quickly and free of charge, from the horse's mouth.”

“You're a talker,” Kat could not help but grin in response. “So I think I'm go into the library. You are really believe that Internet cafe could appear an Sherwood?”

James really doubtfully pursed his lips.

“Well, to dream,” he chuckled. “The day after tomorrow we go in Westerburg High, to the Principal. Today I saw in the stadium the players training. So let's have a couple useful contacts.”

In fact, this misplaced enthusiasm could be justified: they are for the first time in their life became interested in what was happening in Sherwood many years ago. When they were ten, they already knew that this subject in their family imposed a tacit taboo, in the thirteen years they were interested about that in the least, and the years that’s they lived in Springfield it is forced to forget about "the incident oh Westerberg High" even mom. And now, finally, had a great chance. If they wanted to know why Aunty Martha died, it was necessary to start with the past.

***

Their first three days in Sherwood were not as bad as described by the sister. At least J. liked it here. Despite the fact that Internet cafes are still not there, in the library they were given a whole bundle of Newspapers and eighty-ninth year, from May to December. They could only hope that the book mites will not spread to them, and that the mice hadn’t eaten the page that was really needed. Kat is now the third day was reading the newspaper last semester eighty-eight, sometimes coughing from the dust, and then a thousand times washed her hands from her. J. didn't like such a fuss and so quickly began to search for acquaintances.

Today he returned from school himself, saying to his mother went back home without him. Mom was not happy, but he just had to stay. At the school stadium, somewhere in the corner of the stands, sat a company of boys, gushing beer. He approached him, spoke, and then to swing so much that he returned to his sister late in the afternoon, but it was worth it.

“Great news!” exclaimed J. immediately throwing the dirty shirt on the bed. “This weekend we're going out of town. In the neighboring town there's one cool club where we go to hang out with students and not to catch the eyes of the residents of Sherwood. We will hang out with the best quarterback of this season...”

“Why should I go?” Katherin chuckled in her usual style a little evil introvert.

“Because I said I'd be with my sister. Come on, Kat, don't be lazy and unpack your decent clothes. We are the freshman’s in the senior class, so to join a good company will not interfere.”

“We’ll be studying with them just one year. I won't even remember their names,” snorted the sister.

J. agreed her right, but he still wanted to be sure that this last year in school he'll be in good company, quietly and without any scoring from slow-witted cruel boys. For this it was necessary to make friends with a couple local players. This cold calculation should have worked.

“By the way, I almost was able to talk to these guys. Surprise, they are not as stupid as I thought. I asked them about what kind of crap was going on in the eighty-ninth and you know what I heard?”

Finally, in the eyes of Katherine appeared genuine interest. She looked at him irritably and impatiently, saying, tell me already. But J. affected with being a little dramatic, but now it is impossible to resist.

“We were talking in the stands,” he grin. ”Quarterback Ed showed me on the field and said that in the eighty-ninth someone blew it up. That is, in less than an entire trimester since the beginning of September, and someone blew up the stadium! The field was restored for another six months.”

“You said, our mother saw such crap and haven't been told to us?” Kat even jumped out of bed. “Now I understand why she doesn't want to talk about her high school. She had real military action...”

“Flowers,” J. said, citing new friend. “Boys said that there was a large batch, it all happened about three months, but they really cannot tell, because don’t know anything more. They promised to recall to the party. It seems to be something about three or four suicides...”

What?!” Kat stood dumbfounded. “Suicides? The explosion of a bomb? Maybe they are just mocking on you?”

“I doubt that. Why would they lie?”

“Let me think, to get you to that party, for example!”

“Well, I would have going to it anyway,” J. smirked. “Just now there is a standing reason. And if you haven't noticed, we now know exactly where to look: from September to November.”

Glances again turn on the thick stack of papers.

“If it turns out that the guys didn't lie, we just have to go to learn more. They will tell you what you want.”

“Because they need to put their dicks in any girl!” contemptuously spat out sister.

“Oh, you know how to get the guys off, so I doubt that they will succeed,” J. grinned again. “Come On, Kat. We have here such a sensation, planned...”

Katherine looked at him askance, snorted angrily with deep breath, but agreed. J. internally cheered.

The party was planned Sunday evening, what is meaning tomorrow, so they still had a lot of hours to prepare for it. That's just James chose clothes and was counting the money, and Kat was reading the newspaper, complaining that the autumn releases looked like they were soaked in the puddles before you give to the library. J., when his finished his preparing, helped her with reading, taking the October issue and his notebook. It was necessary to build the whole picture before go to the deal of aunt Martha.

“J.” whispered the sister. “Look.”

He looked over her shoulder and saw on the first page of one of the September editions of a photo of a girl about their age, with a beautiful and such a proud face expression that confidence to seep through the image. She had blonde wavy hair, blue eyes, bright red lips and clothing brand, is also in red. Too much for Sherwood and his weekly newspaper. "The young student of Westerburg high committed suicide!" — read a catchy title.

 

"’Body of Heather Chandler seventeen years old was discovered at her home the morning of 30 September’," began to read sister. “’Next to her body was found a suicide note with Abyssinian the reasons for such a terrible act, as well as orders concerning her personal property. All the evidence points to suicide. The Westerburg High school, where has studied Ms. Chandler, grieve deeply, because, according to teachers and classmates, Heather was a General favorite. A memorial service will be held tomorrow at eleven in the morning’... So, Heather...” Kat looked thoughtful. “Remember that aunt... I mean, miss McNamara told us? She and miss Duke was in the same company in high school. Miss Duke also named Heather. And, it turns out, this company consisted of girls with that name. And, if Ms. McNamara was friends with our mom, she would know that Chandler girl. We need to ask aunt Heather...”

“Now it's eight o'clock, at this time we not go away. Why don't we go to our aunt tomorrow?” J. shrugged his shoulders. “And now you can read the rest of the Newspapers... Although, this is proof that the guys didn't lie to me!”

James saw sister rolled her eyes and suppressed the urge to give her an elbow in the rib. It has been such that he went too far with the force of the blow, and the sister then sulked for a month, looking at the giant bruise on his side.

“Okay, you guys didn’t lie, but I still choose to believe aunt Heather.”

“If she will tell you anything,” muttered the brother.

Already happened that they asked about first love of Veronica Sawyer from her friends. Aunt Heather was already evasive, preferring to talk about difficult exams and how their mother was very upset by her senior year, being pregnant with twins. Although she knew that the twins want to know about the other. But aunt Martha was not avoiding this issue, or told a thousand stories, except those that were needed really. She said, "I have no right to talk to you about it behind your mom. If she wants to, she tells herself. You just should give her a time. Grow first". And only several years later, the guys realized that aunt Martha, in general, did the right thing. What a pity that four years they haven't seen her alive, and now never talk to her, and won't be able to watch "the Princess Bride", even though J. was sick of this movie after ten revised happy endings. Now they must to understand why their godmother deserves such an unfortunate end. How it all began?

It's been ten o’clock of the evening. Kat decided to take a shower, and her brother, meanwhile, took up her boring post, flipping through a sheet of newspaper in search of any mention of the school, except announcements of football games between the different schools. With a rapid rate after these announcements usually went mention that the team of Westerburg High once again got their asses handed to the enemy. J. tried to remember what news heard about the team when he was in middle school, but quickly realized that no special Westerbergs at that time were not allocated. Apparently, during their peak has passed. Somewhere in October he saw one torn page, once again on the front page, a photo of two players, both in the form, bruised and happy. Apparently, another match was a success. The irony of J.'s gone, when he read the text the column called "Pair suicide shocked the city". James grabbed the Notepad, quickly rewriting excerpts from the article, and then, when his sister came out of the shower, threw her:

“Two more! Imagine pair suicide!”

Katherine, wrapped in a bathrobe, stared at him. Of course, when you come out of the shower, least expect to learn from the crazy brother about what he found the news of double suicide.

“What?” she was confused.

“Here,” the brother put it in the hands of the binder with the open page. “look. These are two of the most talented players of Westerberg. Fan favorites, the treasure of the city. Their death called a loss for all humanity.”

“Why would they die together?” puzzled asked Katherine, finding the right line, but the sibling answered quickly.

“They, as it turned out, was gay. And died from that,” J. quickly came across the contents of the note in the newspaper, “’could not open their love to a disapproving world’. And then at the funeral their fathers have recognized each other in love, but this is the second page...”

“So, three of the popular and beloved students end up with life because of... Misunderstanding from others?” Kat grimaced. “That... Sounds like gibberish.”

“We have not yet reached a possible third suicide and blast soccer fields,” James took the paper from her. “Maybe everything will become clearly soon. And while, Yes, it sounds crazy.”

Kat shook her head, tightly closing his eyes.

“Look... my eyes are already cloudy. I’ll not sleep away if we keep this up...”

“Well then go to sleep, and I still read,” J. sat down at the table and turned on a dim lamp.

A sister approached him and turned off the device.

“Okay, detective Poirot, maybe you've had enough? James, I'm serious. We are for these three days only learned of stuff that I need at least week to think about it. Dosage information, heard about it?”

The young man rolled his eyes, but then lowered his head and suppressed a yawn. Today he really drove through the city and many heard, and one more day he could lie in bed. Kat was right again.

“Okay, mom,” he gasped. “By the way, how's mom?”

“Well, she's at dinner looked quite good. We hoped that by the end of dinner you will come back, but then you called and we didn’t wait for you.”

James was sorry to do this to mom, but after all, the cause for which he stood was an important one. Yes, if the mother told them before that she had lost three of her classmates, he would still have schools agreed to go home.

This evening to wish each other sweet dreams was just a mockery, so the twins turned away from each other, asleep in the silence.

Chapter Text

Jason Dean had a hard time. That bomb blast, though not killed him, but mutilated badly. Once the man even regretted that he had made such a shitty ammunition with his crooked youthful hands. Now he had only one fully functioning hand. The prosthesis could also do something, but it never lacked the dexterity of a real hand. JD many times wondered if Veronica would like it now. She, of course, loved him not for his appearance, but... Oh, right, he also ruined her life. Well, they all got fucked then. He left with the mangled body and health, which he corrected still, and she has two children. Their children. Children who look a lot like him. Jason could not even imagine what Veronica felt when she looked at her little son. James (unlikely she decided to call him like that on her own) reminded him too much of himself. His look and his warrior spirit. Kat was just as dispassionate and resentful. He first saw them since seven years after the explosion. He spent the first year in a coma, the other five tried to learn to live again with his body and the last year he began a new life according to the documents. And when he came to Sherwood from that town nearby, where he awoke after what happened, he did not expect to know that:

 

a) Veronica could not finish university
b) she had two children

 

He drove to her house at the Valentine's Day (which was incredibly ironic in his opinion). There was a light in the windows, couple figures flashed. He noticed McNamara's car at the house, what surprised him - did they manage to make friends?

 

Then he saw a courier with a pizza knocked on the door, and the door was opened for him by... a girl. A girl with dark straight hair and hazel eyes, grinning from ear to ear. JD already saw this smile before, saw it in the mirror before the explosion, when he could still grin without pain, and now he had to re-learn to do it. He did not have time to think about it, as the ruffled-head boy appeared in the doorway, who tried to take the box by force, exchanging pieces of paper that did not resemble money.

 

“James!” oh, this strong-willed tone.

 

She hasn't changed. Unless, became much more mature. Dragging the boy into the house, even too rough (really, they're just hooligans), Veronica quickly apologized to the courier and, giving him real bills, took the pizza into the house, and at the same time pushed her daughter back to the living room. JD was left to stare at the closed door, slightly taken aback. And never tried to talk to Veronica. At first he wanted to know more about these children. Perhaps they can be just guests...

 

No, they was not. When they returned from their weekends to a junior class of primary school, he looked at them during breaks, running and throwing snow. The boy was never called "Jimmy" or "Jim". Just "James". At least he’s heard it from Veronica. Son was also teased by the other boys, and, almost crying with vexation, he trying to catch up offenders. When he succeed, he gave them a beating to the sister’s cry, and at the end of the school day they were usually taken away by a tired and dissatisfied mother, who is gradually ceased to be angry, accustomed to frequent calls of the Principal.

 

Jason began visiting them less often, always at different times, and then he formed a whole schedule of visits. Once a month he was examined in the hospital, then he was bought with medication, then visited the twins in Sherwood. Every three years he had the move, always in different seasons. When the Ohio was already inhabited them, he began to move to other States. He made more acquaintances; got more work, which meant more problems (he was a courier, sometimes carrying not not-quite-legal things). And once, when the twins seem turned thirteen, JD came to Sherwood, late for a while. And not found of Sawyer. Rather, the old Sawyer was in place, as stumps of trees, but their daughter and grandchildren had already left and even managed to sell the house to other residents. It took a month to find out where they went.

 

Now he was visiting them in Springfield, which was complicated task - there were more cops and security cameras on the streets. He had to come less frequently, but each time his children were growing up faster and faster. James became almost his copy, only his hair was curled, like his mother’s, and Katherine got a lot from Veronica, except for hair and facial features.

 

JD learned that James has a lot of good acquaintances but few real friends with whom he talked for a long time. Son has collected contacts. Smart boy. Kat was an analyst — she was a good student, but nothing more stood out. Or rather, didn't want to stand out. Not a trace was left of the son’s bad behavior, nor was the daughter’s grudge. Or they learned to hide it well. Then Jason found out that Veronica took her son to anger management classes, and Kat went for two years in the club of young technicians. Got her first companions, and some knowledge of mechanics, but more than two years she still did not last.
Approached their senior year, JD better thought through how to tell them about himself. He decided that he would do it after prom in order not to spoil their studies and not to force them to leave the city in a panic. By the time his face, though covered with visible wrinkles, but almost healed and had regained its former mimic mobility. Eyebrows and hair grew, also he managed to get used to the prosthesis. They would have recognized him. And Veronica, of course, too.

 

And so, as soon as the school year ended, he wanted to come again in June. Unfortunately, he had to miss their Birthday. He would like to see the celebration even the corner of his eye. In their years, he met Veronica (and did many other things). After learning that they moved again, he could not resist a surge in his hands – what’s now?! Contact reported that they returned to Sherwood for permanent residence. The reason was unexpected - Martha Dunnstock died. Or rather, it was unexpected to find out that she was killed. Who could prevent such a gray mouse? JD hit the gas pedal, not even having heard the rest of the information from the contact.

 

He was near the house of the Sawyer, when he saw that her "Fiat" arrived. Veronica looked haggard, but still calm. After all, this is not the first funeral of a classmate, noticed his sick mind. James looked like he didn’t worry at all, and Kat looks like she doesn’t thought about the funeral. At least, he thought so, until he saw them at the church. His daughter, leaning on his brother, seems to be crying, buried her face in knees, and his son pulled off a suffocating tie and jacket. Both looked immensely tired. JD was sometimes so disappointed in himself when he realized that he could not understand them at first sight. He was so sorry about the abyss that was between them, but could not help it. And if he showed up in their lives now, Veronica, so knocked down, definitely would have gone crazy. And he didn't want to break her, just like he did before. No, this is his old fatal mistake that none of them could ever fix. The only thing he could do — to prevent such mistakes again.

 

The contact called again, told him the name of the witness and his testimony, which only managed to produce. It looked extremely strange, but one thing was clear - Martha foolishly decided to relive the past. And now the police will go on the same path. JD was in constant readiness. Even if he had to reveal himself to Veronica and children ahead, he would reveal, but did not allow the police to take them away.

 

***

 

It was 2007. Eighteen bloody years. Veronica lay in bed, closing her eyes, and saw only a metaphorical lump that crushed her with all its weight — those tons of new feelings, problems, successes and events that made her new life lasting for eighteen years.

 

It all started in November of Eighty-Nine, when she found out she was pregnant. It immediately became clear that she could not return to the old life of the quiet and the excellent girl when everyone at school considered it his duty to remind her that she was a slutty’s future single mother. Mom and dad resisted, quite strongly resisted. Veronica almost stood up, but Martha, with her parents sheltered her. Heather McNamara was also nearby. By the way, Dunnstock never uttered a single word of reproach or reproof against her. Then in the winter it turned out that a child is not one, there are two of them. This awareness felt like a hit to the second cheek. She only came to terms with one child from JD, but then it became clear that there would be two of them. Two possible little psychopaths running around her house wanting someone's death. Veronica coped with it herself now, calming down and deciding that even genetics can be corrected by proper upbringing. And she was, at least, a better upbringer than Bud Dean.

 

Mom and Dad, having thought it all over and shed tears, took her home. They continued to love her and their grandchildren, even chose their names. In recent months, Veronica was so bad that she was not even against the name for the boy, which she regretted later. James clearly did not deserve a middle name in honor of his great-grandmother. She didn’t think what an evil joke would be the name ‘James’ for a boy who so similar to his father with a similar name ‘Jason’. And Veronica was ashamed that she didn’t love her son because of this, fearing him and turning away from him for the first couple years. But everything stayed in past. Katherine Heather Sawyer grew up as a thoughtful girl without a craving for communication, that should be afraid of more than just like the similarity of her son and his good-for-nothing father. Veronica tried to give Kat all her love and support, then tried to rehabilitate herself in front of James and he, thankfully, accepted it and forgave. Only now she noticed how much he needed her love, and her whole life is devoured by shame that she had not given it to boy earlier.

 

But by the time they moved to Springfield, they were already a real family. Not perfect, where everyone had their own bugs in head, their own injuries and problems, but the family. And she, thinking about the fact that Sherwood is driving them crazy, did not regret it. In Springfield it was easier for children to adapt. James was accepted to the school without problems, without old offenders he found new friends more easily, accepted her offer to go in anger management courses, and this helped him very well. Katherine was completely lost in a big city, but then Veronica take her to the courses of young technicians not far from home and, it was miracle, it helped too. The daughter joined the society, achieved success not only in school, but also in the club. Of course, she did not finish them, but Sawyer, as a loving mother, could not insist. She saw that Kat could no longer go there, that for her it was a past stage, and she did not forbid leaving the courses. Katherine for this remained very grateful to her. By the way, she didn’t even lose her old friends who stayed in the club.

 

And yet, if the children remained the meaning of her life, it was necessary to think about work. When she lived in Sherwood, she went to college in a nearby city. Yes, it was not Harvard, but he was close to home and gave at least some secondary education, which was enough to get a job as an editor for a local newspaper. In Springfield, this gave her a chance to get a job as translator and the same editor in the more popular publication. Is she more or less liked, and it brought enough money for the twins and she herself having everything that they needed. After some time she became a tutor of literature and English. Pulling up the children was an ungrateful and nervous exercise, but well-paid. Thanks to this business, James and Katherine were able to get for their sixteenth birthday a subscription to a good gym, where they managed to place together for last year before...

 

Before life went to hell again. And there she was lying on her bed, eyes closed, feeling the pressure. The pressure of guilt about the Martha’s death; the pressure of guilt due to the fact that she returned her children to this hole without prospects, where they would again become those uncontrollable children who were affected by this damned city.

 

“Not Martha, please, not Martha...” Her own whisper had been reflected in her head for weeks. “Why?”

 

Why was she killed? Investigators said that she deliberately came to the meeting with the murderer. She knew him. She trusted him. Who had so much cruelty to kill Martha, who never was guilty?

 

“She came to me at last week!” Heather cried on her shoulder. “We were reviewing school albums... We only spoke about Kurt and Ram...”

 

Veronica’s lungs did shrink. She did not remind herself about them for eighteen years, and now the next memory of their death, which so badly crossed with Martha's death, hit the head with a sledgehammer. Sawyer did not know how she had not fallen from her feet yet in the church, next to the coffin. She even missed the moment when her children left.

 

However, she needed to somehow settle down here, in Sherwood, once again. The post of editor in the newspaper hasn’t been available, but mom found her students who need to be pulled up in English language. The work was a great way to bring the mind into order. More cases, less worries. The children sat in their room and, like, not so much suffered because of the move. James settled in even faster than she had expected, and Kat... well, it was difficult for her at first even in Springfield. Maybe in Westerburg she will find a couple of new friends. Unless, of course, if they are not would be as assholes as her own classmates eighteen years ago.

 

On Sunday, the twins seemed to be going to some kind of party. Veronica did not particularly approve of teenage parties, but her children, at least, found something to distract and to make friends with anyone. When they were together, she could not worry about them.

 

“Just do not drink!” Sawyer warned automatically, having heard this at lunch. “And, Katherine, do not mix any pills with alcohol.”

 

“Mom!” She hissed. “I don't... I don't take pills.”

 

“But, if anything would happen, they need to be taken,” Veronica smiled, having heard an embarrassed sigh and grin of her son. “You too don't forget it, James. Suddenly you'll have a girlfriend.”

 

“She needs to understand it herself,” the young man did not efface. “And what should be with me, always with me.”

 

“Ew, James!” snapped Kat. “Do you know how disgusting you are when you talk so boastfully about this?”

 

“I use protection, it's not a reason to be proud?” - scoffed son.

 

“Enough!” intervened their grandmother. “Ronnie, why did you start this conversation over food?”

 

“Before the party I will be busy, I have a student in an hour,” Veronica warned. “We will study from three to seven o’clock.”

 

“We are leaving at half past six. We need to get ready in advance,” Katherine sighed. “If James were not so obsessed with punctuality, we would have left at seven and that's it.”

 

“These are our new friends!” feigned horrified young man. “How can you keep them waiting?”

 

Noisy dinner ended too late. Veronica barely had time to get ready for tutoring. Her student was a little late, which made him feel uncomfortable. But he brightened up the delay by the fact that he was quite well versed in the material of the subject. He just did not have the times that needed to be properly trained for the exam.

 

Veronica saw her own children for the last time at twenty minutes before seven. They left home even later than they intended.

 

“Is it your children?” asked her student, showing huge curiosity.

 

“Yes. They will go to the graduating class.” when she thinks of it, Veronica couldn't help smiling. Two of her baby grew up so fast. They already had to choose a university.

 

Shortly before seven she sent the kid home, realizing that he had learned and understood quite a lot today. Brew yourself a cup of strong tea, Sawyer sat down by the TV, flipping through the monotonous programs. She decided to switch to the local Ohio channel, which was quite a good channel with good news feeds. In the second half of the 2000s, when Veronica and her children were still living in Springfield, some news about Sherwood was shown on the news, so it became even more interesting to watch. They talked about their hometown about once a week. Maybe today they would bring the news of the whole week and include the Sherwood chronicle?

 

The phone rang when five minutes of state news had already passed. Veronica picked up the phone, sighing annoyed.

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Sawyer?” Asked a dry voice.

 

“This is their daughter,” she replied.

 

“Miss Veronica Sawyer,” the man replied exiting. "We need you. You get a call from the local police station, my name is Lieutenant Hammer."

 

“Do you need... me?” Veronica asked, feeling along her spine shiver from a bad feeling.

 

“This is about Martha Dunnstock, your dead friend. Accept our condolence.”

 

“Thank you…”

 

“We want to talk with about what was happened eighteen years ago at Westerburg High School when you studied there with Miss Dunnstock. In short, this concerns the case of three suicides that occurred in the period from September and November. I’m cannot tell it by phone. I'll be there in ten minutes, once you're get home.”

 

“Yes, I will wait...” she answered.

 

In response the beeps sounded, and Veronica continued to stand with the handset at the ear, feeling her stomach fell down. It seemed drenched with icy water from a large bucket.

 

Easy,” she ordered herself, “they didn't say they blamed me. If I were a suspect, I would not be warned about the arrival. This lieutenant just wants to talk. "

 

Her legs buckled a little earlier, before the woman had time to fall on the sofa. A fine tremor went through the body, a wave of fear caused her skin to turn white. They couldn't blame her. There was no evidence. JD died, and before that he did everything to remove suspicion from them. Her diary in which she described everything in that ill-fated autumn, had been burned previously soaked in her tears. There was nothing but her memory.

 

The doorbell forced to jump to the ceiling. Veronica immediately grabbed the door handle, but when she turned to open the door, her gaze appeared two men in uniform. Both walked into the living room, removing headwear.

 

“I’m Lieutenant Hammer,” said a tall man with gray hair in his temples and lush dark eyebrows. He looked about forty or forty-five. “This is Detective Follman, my partner. Can we sit down?

 

Veronica ceded place on the couch, and she sat in the chair opposite, already feeling here, as during interrogation.

 

“Officers?” her mother walked down to the living room, giving everyone a surprised look.

 

The men explained to her the reason for which they arrived. The elderly woman, shaking her head, offered to make tea to them and stood nearby in the kitchen. It was look like if she did not exist, but Veronica knew: her mother hears and sees everything, and she will certainly express her opinion on each question. It doesn't bad at all, mom will provide her with an alibi.

 

“Do you remember what happened eighteen years ago?” asked the lieutenant.

 

“Heather Chandler has been my friend for a while. I remember her perfectly,” she answered calmly. “I remember Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweeney too.”

 

“And you remember how Miss Dunnstock tried to commit suicide because of the love to Mr. Sweeney?” asked Hammer. “After that, she almost became a disabled person.”

 

“Scary story!” Mrs. Sawyer looked out of the kitchen for a while. “So sorry for her! And for boy, of course.”

 

“The cases of Miss Chandler, Mr. Kelly and Mr. Sweeney were implicitly recognized as suicides, all the evidence pointed to this,” the lieutenant returned to his speech. “But your friend didn't fully believe her beloved could be gay and kill himself and his lover. Did you know about this?

 

“She told me something. I did not listen to her,” Veronica bashfully lowered her face. She really was ashamed of the fact that then she was so rude with Martha. “She thought he loved her, but... But everyone made fun of her... Me and my friends too. We did not think she would take it seriously.”

 

Lying about Martha, even now deceased, burned her tongue.

 

“And, in your opinion, did she cease to insist after she learned about the spoof?”

 

“Then she tried to kill herself. But she survived, moved on and we never spoke about it. I mean, Yes. I think she stopped believing in her conjectures.”

 

“Actually, she didn’t stop,” now Detective Fullman began to speak, who by age approach her. He is emanated energy and the smell of black coffee. “Witness says she met the killer on the bridge because of that. She said she knows all about what this man had done eighteen years ago and she was going to reveal it to the police. For this blaming she was... eliminated.”

 

Mrs. Sawyer let out frightened sigh. Veronica looked at the detective with wide eyes, speechless. Martha... God, why did she get into this... Who killed her? She and JD worked alone! Martha blamed the innocent, and and he would just laugh, because against him there is no evidence... So it was not innocent. But... JD was dead. And no one did help him. No one, right?

 

“If she found the murderer, it means... Those children didn’t kill themselves!” - screamed her mother in horror.

 

The lieutenant nodded sadly.

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Chandler for a year asking to reopen the case of the death of her daughter, want to investigate all over again. We have to open two cases of suicide, because now the murderer of Miss Dunnstock is connected with them. If we find him, close the three folders at once. If this person is free, he can kill anyone who owns at least some information. Can't you guess who is your friend suspected as murderer, Miss Sawyer? Or maybe your own suspicions?”

 

“No!” replied too nervously. “I don't... I had no idea that Martha was still interested in Ram’s death. I don't even know who she might suspect! I didn’t communicate with anyone at my senior year, only with her, Miss McNamara, a bit with Miss Duke and... with my boyfriend.”

 

“That tragic boy, Jason Dean,” her mother sighed.

 

“Oh, the case of the carried bomb into the school,” the lieutenant frowned. “Was it your boyfriend?”

 

“The father of her children!” Exclaimed Mrs. Sawyer. Veronica furiously looked at her.

 

“We only met for a month, and then it happened,” she said with anger. “I hate him and do not want to talk about this psycho. But with my children everything is fine and I love them. It's not their fault that their father was a deranged pyromaniac.”

 

“You are surrounded by mortal dangers everywhere, miss,” the lieutenant raised his eyebrows. “We'll look after you, ‘cause you were so close with Miss Dunstock. The murderer can come back to you, if he thinks that you might know something about him. Call us if you learn something, or in the 911 or for my personal number” Hammer handed her his card.

Her mother, feeding the officers tea, held them out of the house, and then turned to his daughter.

 

“Want some sedative, honey?”

 

“No, I... I need to rest. Why are we come back here?..”

 

“Maybe you really should leave before the killer is catch? Maybe we are all better to separate for the time? We could go to Tremont to aunt Lucille...”

 

“We will talk about this later, mom,” as she climbed to the second floor, to her narrow guest room, Veronika felt with every step how her head was spinning more and more.

 

She locked herself in her room and slid down the wall, thinking what she should do now. Staying in Sherwood was impossible. If the crimes were solved, she would go to jail, or an unknown murderer would have finished her off earlier. Children were in danger anyway.

 

Just in case Sawyer collected a bag with the most necessary things for escape. She needed to talk to the twins. And if it did decide to delay, she will have to tell them first about why their mother is going to jail.
Kat's phone was out of reach, and James is disabled. Veronica was sitting on pins and needles waiting for her children.

Chapter Text

“Here,” a friend named Ned gave him a glass of punch. "So what are we talking about there?"

 

“Kelly and Sweeney,” James reminded. "Two talented players of the eighties and at the same time the main Romeo and Juliet of the same era."

 

“Lovebirds," nodded guy. "A dark spot of a team of Westerburg. The old coach still remembers them. We try not to ask, but a couple of words he spoke to us in training. My father, when he was in the team in his years, remembers that Kelly and Sweeney were constantly set as an example, and now nobody wants to remember about them. Gay suiciders in Ohio, where neither suicide nor gay people are welcomed. Hit the bull's eye. But they say that they were some kind of assholes."

 

“At that time, no rules had yet been introduced by which people who did not succeed in studying were excluded from the team,” entered another young man named Shepard. "And, of course, the team was just a dummy, in all senses. Following the strategy of the match - their limit. Naturally, the best players were stupid like cork. Aggressive, strong, gambling! Of course, they been the best players of those seasons."

 

“You tell it like you fell in love yourself,” Eds grinned.

 

The guys supported him with a friendly laugh, Ned hit Shepard on the shoulder, he shoved him off anger. J. laughed without much enthusiasm, only to maintain a general mood.

 

“So two dickheads, not only began to meet, they also killed each other because of love,” Sawyer chuckled. "Sounds like a tragic story of repair."

 

"And you're an expert on such tales?"

 

"Have you read 'A Clockwork Orange'? Such dramas in my spirit!" J. raised a glass of punch into the air. "For those who at least knows how to read!"

 

With a slight smile, the guys raised their glasses in response. James liked these guys - their head was in place, but, nevertheless, something in their head was not enough, since they themselves had never thought about such a chain.

 

“Oh, and there was some girl there,” he remarked. "Before or after?"

 

“Before,” said Eds, grinning. "Heather Chandler. My father always called her like that. She was the hottest and most popular girl eighty-ninth year, when my parents were in high school. My mother calls her pretty bitch, but she's probably jealous of the fact my father still let drool over her. Apparently, she was so beautiful that even after death, causes the hard-on of adult men."

 

"Heard about Heather McNamara and Heather Duke?" Ned asked. "They are were her friends. Like, a group of girls with the same name or something like that. And Duke's boobs have not changed since eighty-nine. They're just..."

 

“These are implants,” Shepard rolled his eyes. "Everyone knows about it. Do you have erection with inflatable boobs?

 

"I have it with any tits, unlike you," Ned laughed.

 

J. barely threw back his head, tired of such vulgar retreats. He didn't mind dirty humor, but now he was only interested in the suicides case. Personality of suicides, details. Not what kind of tits have Miss Duke... Remembering what he was taught in the anger management group, the young man sighed deeply.

 

“You have a goal. Little things that make you angry are left behind.”

 

Ten. Nine...

 

"Hey, J.” Eds called out. The young man immediately looked up again. “Is your last name Sawyer, right?”

 

"Eight. Seven."

 

"Yeah."

 

"Six. Five."

 

"Your mother is Veronica Sawyer."

 

"Four. Three."

 

"I guess."

 

"Two."

 

"She hook up with that guy who blew up our football field."

 

"What?" he even rose from his seat, forgetting about the damn bill.

 

"In Westerburg High were studied some mad guy. Seems to be newcomer, nobody knew him at all, except for your mother. In November, he committed suicide by exploding on the football field. Mother did not tell you?"

 

“No,” James breathed, lowering his gaze. Every second he understood more and more why his mother was so afraid of this topic.

 

In this field, she lost... Boyfriend. And the rest of the school year was passing pregnant. That is, their father...

 

"What was the name of that guy?" He asked, without thinking.

 

"Hell knows," Eds shrugged. “No one remembers him here, only a huge hole in the stadium, which he made."

 

"Easy!" Ned put his hands forward when J. headed for the door. "Are you okay? It's just stories."

 

“I'm fine,” James tried to look calmer. He sighed even deeper, but, fuck, of course, it didn't work. "Punch hit in the head. I'll take a breath and have a snack."

 

But, being in the hallway, he headed not toward the exit, but in the other rooms - to look for his sister.

 

By the way, Kat had no idea about anything like that. She tried to stay away from too loud guys, and from those who smoked weed. For the whole evening, she did not drink a single drop of beer or punch, she just went everywhere with a glass half-filled with some kind of berry-flavored drink, just for she wouldn't be bothered with an urgent request to drink again. This establishment did not remind her at all normal clubs, where there were adults on the dance floor, expensive high-quality drinks and guards, who stopped any brawl. It immediately became clear that the 'club' is just the name for this stash of young people who no longer need home parties, but who have not yet grown to decent clubs and bars.

 

Katherine fought off two strange teenagers, almost poured cocktail over strange girl in an extremely short dress, and then almost ran into a quarrel with her wild friends, but in the end she managed to escape without bruises, hiding in one of the niches - empty and what to conceal, absolutely unsanitary, but there was no one here, so hiding here for a while seemed like a good plan. Neon light simply destroyed the sight and transformed the colors of furniture and walls beyond recognition. Covering her eyes, Sawyer leaned back and sighed. There was a real desert in her mouth, so she had to take a sip of the lethal mixture of drink, just to wet the throat. As expected, there was about 80% vodka and 20% juice, which was too hard for Katherine. She put the glass down for a while and folded her hands in her lap.

 

Why did she agree to go with her brother? Hoping she could make friends with someone and ask them about Chandler, Kelly and Sweeney so simple?

 

"Is this seat taken?" a guy of about twenty-one seemingly stuck his head behind the likeness of the curtains, looking inside. "Can I sit here? I'm alone, if you have problem with that."

 

"You can take a sit," Kat waved a hand, pointing to the sofa opposite. "I'll leave now."

 

"C'mon. I'll be quiet company," the young man fell down next to her, although there was plenty of free space. He smelled of alcohol, but just a little. "Feet are tired. Here today is just fantastic party!"

 

“Yeah,” Katherine nodded, with a silly expression on her face. "Have you been here for a long time?"

 

“It's two hours already,” the guy shrugged, then turned to her and held out his hand. "Fred."

 

"Kat."

 

Suddenly a new friend laughed. Sawyer almost immediately realized how it sounded. Childishly funny. But Fred laughed too hard at this. Because of this, the girl felt uncomfortable.

 

"Where are you from?" He asked, suddenly stopping laughing.

 

"Does it matter?" Kat shrugged.

 

“You have a point...” Fred looked at her all with his large bright eyes. Looked appreciatively.

 

"I definitely need to leave. Will you let me out or should I walk on the table?"

 

"Why are you so nervous? " the guy reached his hand to her, but then Katherine got up. "We just met each other, and you already want to escape. You know, I don't like these games."

 

"I do not play. I want to find a brother. The brother who came with me and is looking for me for sure," if only he had not already drunk half a bowl of punch during the conversation and was not lying somewhere near the table. "So, I will go over the table? "

 

"Want to be taller?" Fred grinned. "Come on."

 

Kat, without any hint of grace, with grunting and fussiness, climbed onto the table and quickly jumped off of it, already on the free side, after which it quickly left the niche, looking around. Familiar clothes and hairstyle peered from afar. James was here. Just went down...

 

"Kat!" persistent guy grabbed her hand, coming out after her. "I thought you mean something else..."

 

"Really, can you still think?" she tried to pull out her hand, but Fred could not let go of her.

 

'You have a dirty language..."

 

"And strong legs that is hurt bad. Did you understand the hint?"

 

"Oh, come on..." reluctantly the young man let her go.

 

"Kat!" brother quickly turned out to be near. "What have you got here? Are you okay?"

 

"Are you a brother?" asked Fred.

 

"Yeah, a member of the brotherhood 'Expanded Borders'. Sister Katherine, I have something to say," J. took her by the other wrist, leading to the exit.

 

Looking around, Kat noticed that the party was going on at full force. No one is following J., he was alone. Sibling was tense and almost running because of excitement.

 

"What happened to you?" She asked loudly.

 

"I learned something interesting. Really interesting."

 

They moved away from the shabby club, and then slowed down, heading for the bus stop, from which they came here. Did they go home? So soon? Did he learn so much?

 

"What happened?" Kat asked more quieter and more anxious.

 

“I don’t know how to start... Let's not discuss this on the move,” her brother growled, quickening his pace again.

 

The evening was cool, so it was in the interest of the girl to move faster. The clouds were already gathering over their heads, which made sky dark earlier than usual on the streets. This is happen quickly then she expected. A couple of days ago, on the TV predicted rain. Damn, why she always forgot the umbrella when the weather was bad?

 

The first rumble of thunder made them go running. The bus stop was already in their sight, it had to cross the road and run another three hundred yards. J. did not hold her hand, he put his hands in the pockets of the blazer, put on the hood, because of which his face was not visible, and went ahead. He always had the advantage of running. Kat had no pockets and no blazer, she was wearing only a black skirt and a cream-colored blouse with short sleeves. There were twenty bucks in the reticule, the phone was discharged in half, and a brother’s notebook, whose asked to hold his notebook with her, because he didn’t have pockets with suitable depth.

 

Heavy rain overtook them ten futes from the bus stop. By the way, she also poorly protected from the rain - all in the cracks through which water leaked and blew the wind. So-so protection. A faded bus schedule said the next one would be here in forty minutes. Standing here, getting cold drops by the collar, was the worst situation that evening right after meeting Fred.

 

"Now you tell me?" Asked Kat, jumping from one foot to the other.

 

Looking at her with a confused look, who had lost the thread of thought, James first blinked two times, and then, recollecting himself, took off the blazer and threw it over shoulders of his sister.

 

“Kelly and Sweeney were, to say the least, stupid guys. They had only football in their head. I was told that they were very aggressive and narrow-minded. And now it is completely unclear why they have such a love for each other, for which it is not a pity to end up with life," the brother said thoughtfully. “Chandler was the object of desire of all men in Westerburg. This explains her popularity. She also had her own group - girls with the same name. Aunt McNamara and Miss Duke, however, were in it. That's mean, she had friends or yes-man's, without a difference, and any school guy was at her feet. Popularity, fame and universal love. It also doesn't seem like a reason to die."

 

"Maybe there was some special sect, which consisted of all the popular kids at school?" the girl shrugged her shoulders. "And they have been brainwashed. This is in the spirit of King’s books..."

 

“Kat,” her brother’s voice was almost colorless. “I learned that mom never told us,” he looked into her face. So confused, James looked rare. "There was one guy-newcorner in that senior year. No one knew him and, apparently, no one was friends with him. Our mother was friends and was his girlfriend. And then he blew up a football field with him."

 

Katherine recoiled in surprise. She could not believe in what she had to heard. Was it for real? Was their mother friends with a suicidal psychotic? She saw how he committed suicide while staging a terrorist attack... Oh God. It is clear why she never talked about it.

 

“Poor mom...” the girl barely touched her face. "Who was this guy?"

 

“None of the teenagers knows, and adults probably don’t remember. But wait... Don't you understand?" James gently touched her elbow. "Kat, our mom had a boyfriend. Only one and hardly after that she could sleep with someone else. And she got pregnant from him."

 

"No, wait..." Katherine opened her mouth in shock. "Fuck me..."

 

"We have to ask mom. We must to," J. squeezed her hand harder. “But first we need to find this incident in the newspaper and find out his name. Maybe his relatives remained in the town. We need to learn more about him..."

 

Lightning lit their faces, and then a loud rumble shook the entire bus stop. The rain began to hit the ground so much that its huge drops seemed to be hailstones.

 

“Our father is a suicide and a terrorist,” Kat finally said it out loud. "And a psychopath."

 

Her last word drowned in the next peal of thunder. Brash penetrated into every cell of the body. Because of wet hair neck was frozen. James shrank, standing in one t-shirt. Katherine threw a blazer over both of them. They hardly warmed their shoulders, but it was better this way than if one of them was almost in warm and the other was in absolute cold. So it was fair.

 

None of them uttered a word, both stood shocked and silent. A black car of unknown brand drove up to the stop. In the twilight and under the veil of rain it was completely impossible to disassemble. The window opened slightly and the face of a man appeared - pale and with dark hair-headed.

 

"Give you a ride?" He asked loudly, shouting over the sound of water.

 

“We are up to Sherwood,” answered J.

 

“Me too,” said the driver. "Climb up. I'll load for free."

 

This seemed not just a lucky, but a strange coincidence, but there was no choice. It was not even known whether the bus would arrive on time. Maybe the stop would have been blown away by the wind and rain earlier than it should be. The siblings hurriedly took their seats in the backseat.

 

“We'll wet your car,” Katherine said guiltily, and then looked at the driver.

 

He had... some familiar features of his face, but at the same time she was sure that she had not communicated with this person before. Maybe she saw him somewhere briefly?

 

"Nothing, then I'll dry it. I can't leave you here," the man answered her, meeting her gaze, and then turned to them with his whole body. "My name is JD, and I know you. Have a deal with your mom once upon a time. You are James, and you are Katherine, right?"

 

The siblings nodded. Every minute seemed weirder. Some kind of bad feeling was twisted in the chest.

 

“We don’t remember you,” her brother said. "How long have you been... dealed?"

 

“In High school,” JD turned to the steering wheel, and the car finally started moving.

 

Lightning flashed once again, illuminated his face from the side, sparks reflected in his eyes. Because of a sudden rush, Kat grabbed her brother's hand, because now she understood why he seemed familiar to her. She turned to J., and he looked back at her, inquiring with a look. Those eyes... No, it can't be. She went crazy. Due to the fact that J. told her, it now seemed to her like... They are similiar.

 

“How did you... how did you get here?” asked Katherine.

 

"Passing trought. I drove to Sherwood because... To be honest, I was going to your mother," the man sighed. "Because she needs help."

 

"Our mom?"

 

Kat remembered that just tonight, when they were saying goodbye, mother looked peaceful. She taught a schoolboy and she was fine. Just a couple of hours ago...

 

“The police came to her this evening. When I saw, then..."

 

"You were in Sherwood," immediately noticed James, clenching his fists. "We were not there for two hours. So the police were with our mother just recently. And you were there at that time. How did you get here?"

 

“I've come for you,” now JD was barely nervous. “Because your mother probably needs you right now. Did she call you?"

 

Kat reached for her phone. Damn... He was on the silent, six calls from my mother were missed. And now there was no connection to call her back!

 

“Mine's off,” James whispered to her. "I forgot to recharge it. He turned off when I went to the club."

 

Forgetful jerk!

 

"She got arrested?" the girl leaned closer to the driver. "Our mother. Was she detained?"

 

“No, but surely she will be soon.”

 

"For what?" the young man was surprised.

 

“She will tell you herself when you see her. Especially now, when... when I'm here," the man looked back at Kat. And he did not seem mad. There was even some relief in his eyes. He was glad to see them, glad to carry them.

 

The puzzle has developed quickly.

 

“Because you are our father, yes?” Katherine did not look away from him a decisive glance.

 

"Hey!" James hissed at her. "Lost your mind?"

 

JD looked away. His jaw began to play nodules, his face had a thoughtful expression.

 

“Yes,” he answered shortly.

 

Kat sat back, exchanging glances with her brother again. J. was so pale as if he saw a ghost. In fact, he was almost a ghost. Usually those who blew themselves up on the football field do not survive.

 

"But... how?" He gusped.

 

“I will explain everything when we take your mother. Another half hour and I'll explain everything... She will be not happy to see me. She has a good reason for this, as you have."

 

“You... You killed yourself with a bomb and disappeared for eighteen years,” growled Kat. “We all have reason to hate you. What the hell was going on in eighty-ninth year? Why did you do this to her and us? Where have you been all these years, damn it!"

 

Ten. Nine.

 

He could not breathe.

 

Eight. Seven.

 

His fists trembled.

 

Six. Five.

 

No, he can't hit him. And he can not escape.

 

Four. Three.

 

He and his sister are far from home, there is a storm outside, and the only person a few miles around is a psychopath who introduced themselves as their father.

 

Two. One.

 

Mom. If he would believe him, half an hour and they will see mom. Which is a big problem. Oh, fuck, they all have huge problems! Just fucking gigantic!

 

“I must start counting again... Oh, fuck the bill. Think, J., don't waste time, think!"

 

"How should we believe you?" He asked, interrupting his sister's angry tirade.

 

"Veronica and I met three weeks after the start of the school year. Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweeney piled on me because I talked with your mom and liked her. I kicked their ass. Then we met at 7-eleven, when she and Heather Chandler were going to a party and went there to buy cornuts. After that party, we... we started dating."

 

From the abundance of familiar names a whole chorus of alarm bells rang in head. J. squeezed his sister's hand. Their mother was involved in all of this. She was close to the most popular and beloved personalities, but she herself seemed to remain in the shadows. And then her famous friends died in a strange way. And now the police came to their mother. And their father, who appeared eighteen years later, came out of nowhere to take them all... where?

 

"When we pick up mom, what's next?" asked the young man.

 

"We'll leave Sherwood. Far and long. Your mother needs to realize that she now has no other choice,” JD pursed his lips.

 

There were so many questions, but they could ask them to mom. Sherwood was close, they were driving as fast as they could, considering the weather. The rain soon ended, the view outside the window cleared. The siblings were silent, not letting go of each other's hands. Kat snuggled up to her brother, and he didn't relax for a second. When the car turned at the familiar streets, James, without asking permission, lowered the car window from his side and began looking for the mother.

 

The car stopped right at their doorstep. The door was opened by mom. Seeing her face was so nice, it brought so much relief, however mixed with anxiety.

 

“What...” she looked at the children, and then noticed the driver’s face, but she didn’t have time to get a closer look.

 

"Get in the car!" JD sounded so confident and calm. "Veronica, I will explain."

 

"Mom!" shouted Katherine.

 

It was then that Sawyer came out of a stupor, turning her gaze to the children. She was scared. J. got out of the car, Kat wanted to go next.

 

"Sit here!" warned her brother. "We will be here in a second."

 

He ran home, closing the door.

 

“This man...” Mom suddenly blushed from an overabundance of emotions. "He... How did this man come to you?!"

 

"You had the police!" exclaimed the young man. “And Kat and I know they can arrest you. JD told us that you will explain everything. Mom!"

 

He took her by the shoulders, turning her defocused look to himself.

 

"Mom, get yourself together! Go. Whatever you've done, we must go. And you must tell us why we have to do this."

Chapter Text

Kat shrank in her seat, lowering her eyes. She was alone with JD for only two minutes or so, but these two minutes were felt like an eternity because it was impossible to get rid of the discomfort. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, closing the driver's window on his side, and also looked down. All Katherine thought about: if only mom and brother came back here as soon as possible. Why they have been walking so long? Why did she even have to obey her brother and sit here?

 

Taking advantage of the peace and quiet, given to her, most likely, not for long, the girl began to think. There were suicides at school, and their mother connected to all suicides. One of them was her boyfriend and he survived. Mom is associated with these mysterious and implausible suicides, and now the police are chasing her. The conclusion suggested itself: she was a criminal, she was a murderer.

 

Kat taught herself to reason sensibly, especially in dangerous situations. Now there was just such a case, where a cold, not hot head, was needed, and, nevertheless... Mom? Her and J. quiet mom who loved working with titles, making milkshakes and watching girlish melodramas late at night? She was her hero - a single mother, who always showed stamina and perseverance. For the sake of them, her mother went not to the university, but to the college (although Kate once found her mother's report card and was struck by her average score, with this, the roads were opened to two main universities of the state, and even to Washington!), and after that agreed to work as a simple editor. And could such a selfless person, capable of making such sacrifices for the love of loved ones, ever be able to kill and fake everything for suicide?

 

“Why did you kill yourself?” Katherine asked, breaking the silence.

 

JD flinched from surprise, and then looked at her through the rearview mirror.

 

"You know about it?"

 

“We both know, me and J... James. We collected information. So why?"

 

He grinned at what looked completely insane in this situation.

 

"For her surviving. Your mother almost died because of me. I think 'let it be me, I still could not survive'. I thought so at least."

 

"But you survived."

 

"Miracle. I was in a coma for eleven months, and then... Long story."

 

“Okay, you have an alibi for one of the eighteen missed,” Kat glanced at him frowningly, before turning to the window and continuing to wait.

 

"I could not come to you so easily. You do not know what are you talking about!" these charges, apparently, touched him greatly, because he reacted to them with irritation, but he smiled in the conversation about suicide.

 

Katherine closed her eyes, reproaching herself for this attempt to find out something useful. So she did not learn anything important, only angered a man who was crazy. The noise outside encouraged her. James sat down next to her, throwing her backpack with her, which she came here. He was so concentrated and tense for a long time, for the first time in his entire life for such a long time. Mom hesitated, finally sat on the passenger seat. She glanced at JD. The silence established in the cabin was heavy.

 

“Hello,” the man said, more or less calmly, starting the car. "Veronica, I..."

 

“I'll kill you, Jason,” her gaze, sharply thrown in his direction, could incinerate alive. "Go. There is a long talk ahead."

 

"Do not call me like..."

 

“Indeed, on the way, you will have time to tell us something about this situation,” James interrupted them. "Maybe you start right now?"

 

Veronica lowered her head, her lips visibly trembled.

 

“Mom...” Catherine spoke softly. "We know what was happened in school at your senior year. Found it in the newspapers, and James asked the students about it. And we even learned about JD, literally half an hour before we met him. If you don’t tell now, we will soon find out for ourselves. But I would like to know it from you."

 

“The children are right,” JD said. "Do you want me to start?"

 

"No, I will tell everything myself!" She answered firmly, lifting her head, and then turned to the children. “Just know... that I didn't want this. Neither for yourself nor for you. I love you more than my life."

 

J. approached her, as did his sister.

 

“Mom, we love you too,” he said.

 

Veronica glanced out of the corner of her eye at JD, but did not meet his gaze.

 

“It all started when I became friends with Heather Chandler in the senior class. She was…"

 

“We know who she was,” sighed the young man. "We know that she was the most popular girl and that she had a group of girls with the same name. Aunt Heather and Miss Duke were there."

 

"Uh, yes. How, you say, you learned everything?"

 

“It doesn't matter,” answered Kat. “We know that she died strangely, we know that Kelly and Sweeney died just as strange as she, we know that as strange as it was...” the girl looked at the man. Veronica nodded to her daughter. “And we heard at the funeral that the killer was trying to hide... the body.”

 

“Okay... I made friends with Heather Chandler, because without them I was an outcast. And at the first time everything was fine until they decided to play joke with Martha. Everyone knew that she was in love with Ram, so... I faked a note that Ram invited her to a party."

 

“Did you do this to Aunt Martha?” Katherine was surprised.

 

"I did not want. I tried to dissuade Heather, but they convinced me that..."

 

"They. Aunt Heather too?" James specified.

 

"Yes. She was not always so kind to everyone. Those months have changed her. In general, on the day when Martha received the note, I met..."

 

“With me,” JD suggested, when a long pause appeared in the story. “And then Kelly and Sweeney climbed up to fight, and I, in front of the whole school, beat two of them.”

 

James clenched his jaw, remembering his primary school.

 

He is ten. Boys from the outskirts of Sherwood called him fatherless.

"No, J., stop it!" the thin voice of the sister is trying to shout.

He hits one boy with his head on a stone column, then pushes the second one to the ground and hits him with his foot, wherever he has to. He want to hurt them so much for they could forget how to talk at all!

 

 

“...At the party I quarreled with Heather, I could no longer tolerate how they humiliate Martha. She promised to destroy me. And we all understood what it meant - I would be worse than an outcast, not only in Sherwood, but also in other cities where the hands of the Chandlers reached. And I went to the only person who at that moment could understand me."

 

"Our first night!" JD sighed lyrically. "You said you were on pills."

 

"I was drunk and smoked. Who knows how it affected..."

 

"Skip it!" moaned Katherine.

 

"In general, in the morning, having sobered up and thought over everything, I went to Heather to beg for her forgiveness. JD went with me as a support. She asked to make her a hangover cocktail and..." Veronica covered her mouth with her hand. "You could say that I messed up the mugs. You said nothing!"

 

"If she had survived, would everything be better?" The man asked in the same tone. “She wasn't going to forgive you, you know that well. And something I did not saw that you regretted her death."

 

"What happened?" confused asked James.

 

"JD offered to give her a drain cleaner, he even poured it into a mug!" hissed his mother. "But I refused. And then I got distracted and messed up the mugs."

 

“Chandler... drank the cleaner?” Kat grimaced in disgust.

 

“To the bottom,” JD confirmed. “And when she died, we had nothing left but to arrange it for suicide.”

 

Katherine sat back in her seat, staring at the adults in horror. It was true and not at the same time. Mom killed Heather Chandler. She was killed by accident, because of JD, but, nevertheless...

 

"She was the most disgusting bitch of all the bitches in the Earth," breathed Veronica. “And after her death at school, it was supposed to be better... But Kurt and Ram went wild. Before that, they were the most terrible people - they hurt the weaker ones, said disgusting things and... they tried to rape your aunt Heather and me. And then they spread rumors... and beat JD..."

 

The man was silent, listening further. In the rearview mirror, his gray tense face was visible.

 

"We must just scare them!" The woman shouted again, which made James shudder. "And you lied about these “Ich Luge”-bullets! And I translated them, Jason!"

 

"Don't call me like that."

 

"'I lie'! You mocked me! We planned to paralyze them with these bullets, and then furnish everything so that it was an attempt to suicide two gays. And you!.."

 

“You spent at least five minutes with Ram’s body. And you saw that he was dead, but you did not stop me!" JD interrupted her. “And then again you didn’t look suffering!”

 

"I was afraid of you!" Sawyer hit him on the shoulder. “You set up three murders and wanted to blow up the school!”

 

"What?" now James has raised the tone.

 

"He deceitfully collected signatures from all students, and then attached a fake note from them, as if on behalf of everyone, where it was written that this was a massive suicide! And I would love to kick your ass with a croquet stick again! Yes, and I don't care that you sacrificed yourself at the end! It does not make you a hero!"

 

"You killed me first! Shot me in the stomach!"

 

"The gun worked randomly! You put it towards at me, you wanted to kill me!"

 

"I did not want to kill you!"

 

"You beat me up!"

 

"It was a necessary measure!"

 

"SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU!" exclaimed the young man. "Enough! Enough..."

 

He moved away to the window and, hunched over, squeezed his ears with his hands. Kat was in the opposite corner, she covered her face with her hands and it wasn’t visible how she felt. Only once her shoulders shuddered, because of this, it became clear that she could not hold back her tears. Veronica, looking at the children, also turned to the window, barely audible sobbing. JD fiercely snuffled, but no more than that. They have not yet crossed the border of Sherwood, but have already quarreled in such a way that they did not want to hear any more secrets and did not want to see these close, but such alien faces now.

 

He sat shaking his legs, waiting for his painful execution, but his mother only stood in front of them, frustratingly looking at the faces of the children, folding her arms over her chest.

“James ...” she breathed. "What is it this time?"

“He called Kat a mop,” grunted the boy. "And pushed her."

“Mr Byers said your son attacked first,” the principal quietly cut in. "And his friends confirmed."

"He's lying! Lying!" James turned around on the spot, almost crying from despair. "They conspired!"

"Katherine?" Veronica attracted the attention of her daughter, who cautiously lowered her eyes, not looking at anyone. "It's true? They started first?"

“Miss Sawyer,” the principal began to speak again. "This is the fourth time. And the problem is not who starts first.

"This is the real one problem!" the woman sighed irritably. "I speaking with my children, I bringing them up. And the parents of those boys? What are they doing to resolve the conflict?"

“J. wasn’t the first to start,” Kat said.

"'James', Kitty. Your brother's name is 'James', not 'J.'.

The children looked at her guiltily, and then fell silent for a long time, without uttering a word. While mother again quarreled with the principal, they exchanged glances. James realized that he didn’t regret what he did, although he was forced to apologize. Kat first wondered why she could not call her brother 'J'.

A year later, he beat those two boys, Sean and Ricky. He beat them so much that they were afraid to approach him at school, although they continued to call him from afar. Six months later, they moved to Springfield.

 

 

The young man opened his eyes, understanding why he woke up. The source of the noise — the radio — was not very loud, but it was one of those annoying songs from the eighties. Apparently, the parents woke up nostalgia. James was still feeling heavy. He glanced out of the corner of his eye - his sister was sleeping on his shoulder. Mom was saying something quietly, JD was silent. Outside the window it was dark, only the lights flashed past, blinking in his eyes.

 

Therefore, she did not allow to call him 'J.'. Because even without that, he looked like his psychotic father, there wasn’t enough to take over his name. Then why did she give him a similar name? By accident?

 

James closed his eyes again, listening to the quiet talk.

 

***

 

The radio helped she to recover faster, so Veronica, having already calmed down, looked at JD again in the last hour and a half. Each time she found one new feature in him and each time she recognized one old one. His hair was harsher to look at, she didn’t even need to be touched to understand it (she absolutely didn’t want to touch them!), his eyes kept this mystery that attracted to themself. In fact, he is not so much changed. A few wrinkles, more manly features, a stronger look. Veronica looked around cautiously at the children. They slept, and therefore did not turn away from her. Her son's face finally became calm, and now she again saw his resemblance to her father, with whom she resigned. This manic desire to compare them came back with JD.

 

“How did you find them?” The woman asked quietly.

 

“Do you... What exactly do you mean?” He asked quietly.

 

“I meant how you found them today, but since such a conversation... How long have you been following us?”

 

“Eleven years,” the man answered, not at all surprised that she had guessed his presence in their lives. "But I did not attend, but visited."

 

"To visited, it means, at least to be seen," said Veronica. "This is at least. Normal people, when they want to visit, they come to say hello and spend some time together."

 

“And when have me or you become normal?” JD barely smiled. “And you didn't marry a lawyer. Well done."

 

“Oh, shut up... So how did you find us?”

 

"Just came to Sherwood. I wanted to see you, but I saw them first. They tried to deceive the pizza delivery man.” He laughed softly, hitting Veronica with how much there was... love. “And then I watched them go to school. J. Junior delivered a lot of problems, huh?"

 

"His. Name is. James." The woman growled. “For once, call him 'J.', I'll hurt you. You'll call him 'J. Junior' - tear off you fucking balls."

 

JD smiled, as in earlier times, with a twinkle in his eyes. Once again, he was convinced that his Veronica did not change, although she tried very hard.

 

"How did you find them today?" She asked, tightly clutching her seat belt.

 

“I drove up to your house because my contact told me that the police were going to interrogate all of Dunstock's friends. I was late, you had the cops. And I knew that it was a problem, because all the time you lost ground in front of the cops..."

 

"When I was!.."

 

“I knew where to look for children, because a few days before that I saw you drove them to Westerburg, and then J... ames got out and went to chat with some guys. And I heard that they called him to a party, and he promised to come with Katherine. So when the police were with you, I went after the children. And I found them in the rain at the bus stop, when they had already left the party. Actually, they were even smarter than I thought. They guessed that I was their father. True, I am careless..."

 

“Martha,” said Veronica. “Martha realized that Kurt and Ram were killed. And she went to the killer. And I had no idea who it was, because you're dead. And now it turns out that you are alive, that you have always been there and you have some kind of mysterious contact merges information to you about Martha..."

 

“I didn’t kill her,” JD said hastily, seeing her fists clench as Veronika was ready for attack. “And I also want to find the killer, as you know.”

 

“Because he may know about us...”

 

“And also because you're in danger. You and the children," noticing her embarrassment, the man looked at her with a new smirk. "You thought I only have a cold calculation on my mind? Thought I didn't care about you and them?"

 

"You do not know them!" hissed Veronica. “You don't know me either! The fact that you have been watching us for eleven years still does not mean anything!"

 

"Kat is a good mechanic. Jim is well versed in people, but a little out of tune with himself. Katherine does not like to communicate with people, James is chatterbox. They both have high marks and good notes from teachers. And Jim likes to drink slurpe with a taste of chewing gum. From who he learned it?"

 

“And you think you can be their father, knowing only that about them? You are not their father! Not after what you did! And you do not even have the right to correct!"

 

JD was silent, not answering her, but it was obvious that he did not agree. And to argue him, as in past times, it was impossible. He remained a big child.

 

Veronica leaned back in her seat, still clenching her fists to pain in her knuckles and in the palms into which her nails slammed. She was angry again. Apparently, she would never have been able to talk to JD at least once, and not to shout at him in first five minutes.

 

"Where are we going?" She asked, barely keeping her voice quitly.

 

“Marysville,” he replied. "There is a good motel, where you do not take documents when you check in, and you can still pay in cash. I have enough money for two weeks."

 

"And then what?" Veronica chose to remain silent, don't saying that she also grabbed some savings.

 

“I'll do some work,” JD said briefly. "You'd better sleep. We'll be on the way another hour."

 

“I'll sleep in the motel,” Sawyer hugged herself again.

 

It was warm in the car, but she didn’t take off her jacket until the very end. But behind this, James stirred, removing his blazer and covering it with his sister. Then he caught his mother's gaze. The son looked at her detachedly and indifferently, just a second, before turning his attention back to Kat. Usually they did not care about each other so openly, but, of course, Veronica knew that the siblings loved and cherished each other. James in primary school would not have fought so much if all those insulting words and tricks had not so hurt his sister. And one day the son forgot his school lunch, then Katherine...

 

Oh shit. They did not eat anything from dinner. Could snack something at a party, but, seriously, did they really go there to eat? And she herself, of course, forgot to take at least some loaf on the road. Well, JD could feed them. And he, of course, would drive in only 7-eleven. It remains only to wait for this to happen.

Chapter Text

JD stopped at a motel in Marissville at about ten o'clock. Veronica turned to the children and froze, not knowing how to touch them and what to say to them. It was a pity to look at her.

 

“James, Kitty...” the woman called softly. "It's time to get up."

 

Katherine stirred first. She looked sleepily at her mother, but almost immediately her eyes cleared, as did her mind. Pushing James, she gave him an eloquent look, and then got out of the car, looking around. They were clearly on the outskirts of a small town, which had little light on the dark line of the horizon with its night lights. The two-story motel in front of them was with a spacious parking lot, and quite close by, in two minutes walk, was seen 7-eleven. At the thought of the delicious food that was there, Kat experienced a stinging pain in her stomach, which was accompanied by the rumbling of a dying whale.

 

“Go first to 7-eleven?” asked JD, attracting their attention. "Veronica, what about slurpee?"

 

He raised an eyebrow, mother turned away from him. Kat realized that before her parents had connected not only love for each other, but also love for cocktails. True, now mom apparently didn’t want to recall this either.

 

"What would you like?" She asked, turning to the children. "I'll buy you something satisfying. Have you ever eaten at this party?"

 

Kat only remembered the sip of that alcoholic mix, but reasonably decided to keep silent about it, shaking her head bashfully. J. didn’t even look at their mother’s eyes, didn't move, and seemed to didn't hear anyone. He looked thoughtful again, constantly thinking about something too important to pay attention to reality. This happened to him sometimes, that he went into his thoughts such a deep way, but never to such gloomy ones.

 

“I'll go with you,” JD said. "What? I ate less of yours. Besides, I pay for food. Free of charge."

 

Veronica once again glanced in his direction with a murderous gaze, but postpone a penalty for later, but for now, going up to the children, extended her hand to them. James barely noticeably recoiled, and Kat took her mother's hand, walking hand in hand with her. Still, no matter how her mother was guilty, she said she did not want anything of this for herself and them, her children, who were not guilty of anything. And mom all this time was carrying such a burden on her shoulders, trying to protect them. She was completely impossible to blame. But James seems to be laying up blame. He imagine something for himself. Maybe he understood more than his sister. Of the two of them, he was discerning, not she.

 

The shop met them with the usual shelves of food, light music, sounding from the speakers. Somewhere in the background there was a late broadcast from the TV for employees.

 

“We'll pick the food ourselves,” Kat told her mother, then leading her brother aside, to the farthest corner.

 

She loved packaged sweets hanging there. And she loved slurpee, damn it. She don't even care from whom it is transmitted to her. She just didn’t scream about it as James screamed. He even once mixed up all tastes in one glass because of parlay, then drank it in one gulp. And even then shouted how amazing it is. When the headache let him go, of course. And then, when the sore throat receded, he began to drink cocktails again. True, never again all tastes at once.

 

"Bubble Gum or Cherry?" Katherine asked, holding two glasses.

 

"How do you think?" not too friendly brother blurted out, not looking into her eyes.

 

“Gum,” she nodded to herself and gave him one cocktail, and took herself another. When J. took the first sip, Kat decided to start a difficult conversation. "Why are you avoiding mom?"

 

“Because... she agreed to leave with this psycho,” James breathed quietly, with anger audible in his voice. "We could refuse. Leave at mom's car, drive back to Springsfield. Actually, anywhere. It seems to be that Aunt Martha’s murderer we should be less wary of than this..."

 

"JD," Kat nodded with sadness. If she hadn't said this, her brother would swear, and their mother could have heard him.

 

The rule for a long time already reigned at their home: they would not swear at bad words, but if they broke out, there wouldn't be blaming for it. A sort of compromise. Despite everything that was happening around now, no one didn’t want to ruin their family foundations. At least what is left of them.

 

“Actually... he might be Aunt Martha's murderer,” James whispered to her.

 

The girl met his gaze with horror, but silently. She did not want to shout at the whole store and attract unwanted attention of parents.

 

“Why do you..."

 

"They were talking in the car, and I woke up and heard,” her brother answered hastily.

 

“They just..."

 

”He said that he didn't do this, that he himself wanted to find the killer, because...“ his jaws clenched, "he wants to protect us. I don't believe any of his words. Not a word of this..."

 

“Hi,” JD appeared behind him.

 

The siblings looked at him at once, turning pale because of sudden.

 

“Dreadfull etiquette, I apologize,” the man immediately continued, hardly embarrassed. "You too go first for the slurpee?"

 

James quickly passed him, but Kat dared to look into the face of the parent, but did not speak to him, because... she seemed to be speechless. Because of fear. Fear of father and espacially brother. He could blame her if she spoke to JD again. All that Katherine did - left an empty paper cup next to the machine gun, and then looked away. This man, too similar to them, made her creep. He destroyed their family, and now he was smiling, trying to behave simply.

 

“Hey, Terrible Kit,” James called, breaking the tension between them. "Look, magic beans!" he threw her a pack of her favorite peanuts with a grin.

 

“Go to hell,” the girl gasped. This children's joke really is already fed up with her!

 

But, nevertheless, she took the pack for herself. And even grabbed the second. Nobody called her the Terrible Kit. She had fought with the offenders of her brother only two times, and now he would not have let her forget about it.

 

"Do you know who you are?" She whispered to him, then poke a bundle of gelatine worms into his chest. "Move the gyrus."

 

James was an absolute egoist. Now he wanted to bring down the tension and escape from reality, so that he exposed himself and his sister to fools, for which she was not at all grateful to him. But, however, she now also wanted to blow off some steam, so her last phrase was said with a smirk on her face. Yes, only they could smile in a lousy situation (albeit with sadness). At least, Kat always wanted to believe in their rareness. Well, now they were a fucking lot of exceptional. Be carefull what you wish for, as they say.

 

“And two more hot dogs,” J. asked at the checkout when food was pounded.

 

And they walked out of the store, slowly sipping on the slashes, clutching foods to their chests. Plus, the unprepared campaign was that they now, apparently, was allowed to eat all sorts of rubbish, if only they ate and were not hungry. Although mom was still out of place, looking at this bunch of mischief.

 

In the lobby of the motel, if it could be called a lobby, behind the counter, they were met by a sleepy young man who idly propped up his head with his fist.

 

“Now all four-bed rooms are occupied,” he said leisurely. "There is a decent triple room."

 

“This will do,” answered JD immediately. "Just let me know when the four-bed room is available."

 

And as soon as they got up to their one-damn-room, being alone there the whole family, Veronica exhaled loudly.

 

“Children, would you mind sleeping on the same bed for a couple of nights?”

 

“No,” the twins answered in chorus. James is too loud.

 

He was satisfied with anything, if only his mother did not sleep in the same bed with this monster. Kat, thinking about this, grinned, albeit for a small moment. Their single bed, issued for a double, was even larger than the one that was in the grandmother and grandfather's house. The one flaw - girl had to share it with her brother, and he tossed and turned in his sleep and too often he kicked her with his feet. Well, that would not be the first bruise from him.

 

“I’m the first to shower,” said Veronica, walking past them. "And some of your stuff in my backpack."

 

“Thank you,” Katherine replied with great appreciation. James didn’t say anything again, deserving a jab in the ribs.

 

"What?" he asked with his lips with a displeased face.

 

Kat, to be honest, was ready to break him for being so unfair to his mother. Yes, she could refuse to JD, could stay away from him. Maybe it was in her plans, she could plan to run away from him with the children, but she could not tell them about it, because she was constantly hanging around... by him.

 

“Then we'll talk,” she whispered, glancing toward JD, who was pulling off his dark coat.

 

James also looked in his direction, but immediately looked away. It seems that he was angry just because of his look... Now, in the light of a bright lamp, when it was possible to examine all the details, Kat looked, unable to turn away. She did not understand why this psycho implies her. Well, one little thought that it was her father, whom she hadn't seen and didn't know for seventeen years, could have become an reason, but, nevertheless, the fear of him was stronger. So why? Katherine realized that she was looking for more similarities. And she found them. And she looked into his behavior, his manners. He did not take off his gloves, did not roll up his shirt sleeves, which seemed strange. And all the buttons were buttoned to the very throat. Thick, impermeable textile. It is very hot - walk in it at summer, especially under the coat. The only thing that he took off in addition to the coat - shoes.

 

Realizing that she had been watching for too long, forcing her brother to strain herself, Kat turned away, drawing attention to the very backpack that her mother was talking about. The girl took it, starting to rummage through things. Here from their things were only towels, toothbrushes, and one hairbrush for two.

 

"Here," brother threw her his backpack. "I will be richer."

 

There were three sets of clothes for her, four for him (a proud soul), several books, charging for phones, and also her glasses. If she read for a long time without them, her eyes began to fell like hell. If he remembered this at such a critical moment, it was true bro's love. Barely smiling at her brother, Kat laid her head on his shoulder. James smiled back.

 

“There's something else there...” he opened second large section of his backpack.

 

Seeing a small pile of newspapers, Katherine understood why the backpack was so plump. Looks like there was a whole selection for November.

 

"It seems like you managed to take everything," the girl grinned.

 

“More than you think,” James closed the newspaper section, and then frowned again, turning his whole body away from JD. "Tomorrow, yes? As soon as you manage to stay alone."

 

Kat nodded eagerly. Then they went to the shower next, one by one. In the bathroom, the girl changed into jeans and a T-shirt, and went to bed at the same time. And, it seems, she fell asleep faster than required, although she slept too much today. Even despite the level of sugar in the blood. She didn't think she had such a strong stress.

Chapter Text

Kat couldn't sleep when someone look at her. When she woke up, she first thought that J. was probably an idiot if he was staring at her back, knowing that she felt it even in her sleep. Then she realized that it was not her brother, and not her mother either. Actually, they were not at home. Not at Sprigfield or even Sherwood.

 

Katherine rose abruptly, wrapping herself more tightly in her shirt and trying to focus her eyes on her surroundings. It was still a poky room at a roadside motel. A fresh, cool wind blew through the open window, the sun shone through the curtains, which were washed up to an obscure color. Kat rubbed her sleepy eyes, realizing that it was JD who was looking at her. If there was someone else in the room besides them, she would not have understood, because the man stubbornly pretended to read a book, the name of which the girl could not see.

 

Looking around, Kat tried to figure out where her brother could go. Probably brushed his teeth in the bathroom. His backpack was open, everything inside was turned upside down. Surely there is lacked toothbrush. Next to her bedside table lay her spectacle case, and her favorite book, as well as her own toothbrush. Sometimes James behaved like a mom. By the way...

 

Mom's sweater was here, she hung it on the headboard of her bed, but her mom herself could not be seen or heard. She left here her phone, her bag with things. In an attempt to understand what was missing, Katherine thought hard, looking at her mother's things.

 

“She is standing outside the door,” the girl shuddered at that calm remark, casting a cautious glance at JD. He, sensing this, looked up at her, breaking away from the book. "Came out to smoke. And your brother is in the bathroom."

 

Kat wanted to say that she already understood this, but she kept silent, looking away. By the way, mom smoked very rarely. She practically overcome this habit, but sometimes very bad days happened. Or even weeks. Rising to her feet, the girl straightened her clothes, then found a suitable braid to tie the tail at the back of her head, because somewhere a normal hair tie was lost.

 

James peeped out of the bathroom with a towel in his hand. He had a wet face and hair, the water flowed straight into the collar, but all he was worried about: the voice of JD, that he heard. Because of this J. immediately glanced unkindly at his side, then at sister.

 

“Good morning,” he said softly. "Come here."

 

“Give me a second,” Kat reached out for a toothbrush, but this thing, for spite, had fallen over the nightstand. "Damn it!"

 

If the brother had not been so tense, he would have surely pushed her from behind or joked again, but instead of all this, James, sighing, closed the door behind him, waiting for his sister to deign to join him.

 

Katherine had to move this damn old furniture back, which only got off the floor with a piece of carpet. Bed of dust and fungus have awakened disgust in her, but she was far from a fastidious person. Taking her brush with two fingers for the tip of the handle, the girl, frowning, put it down, and then began to move the bedside table back.

 

"Need some help?" asked JD behind.

 

Sighing patiently, Kat glanced at him, seeing, however, not just a mocking smile, but a real readiness to come to the rescue in such trifles. But, for God's sake, even if she had to kill a dragon with a toothpick, she would not use the help of this psycho. Taking the item, because of which there was so much noise, the girl went to the bathroom.

 

"Do you always listen to your brother?" There was a question in the back, before she could touch the door handle.

 

Katherine froze for a second. At school, she met such assholes. They tried to play on their affections with each other with James, tried to sow a quarrel between them. When Kat was small, she was rude, James was also rude, sometimes reinforced with his fists, but then they became more mature, thoughtful, even sneered at it themselves.

 

“Only when he is right,” she answered without thinking, and then quickly disappeared into the bathroom, resisting the temptation to turn around and see what JD's face was at that moment. "There is the Mordor behind a bedside."

 

“If the Nazgul are disturbed you, I’m always there,” brother answered in a serious tone, but at the same time his lips twitched. "What were you talking about?"

 

"Nothing. He just told me where you are and where mom is. Because I woke up alone. Alone with him," Katherine carefully laundered her brush of dirt before giving up and throwing it into the sink. "Damn it!"

 

“Too many damn words this morning,” James noted. "Is your mood so bad?"

 

“End up with your jokes,” the girl rinsed her face with water, then brazenly took the towel from the brother to wipe off any moisture. "When will we talk?"

 

“When we are far enough away from them,” said James quietly.

 

“Well,” Katherine smiled sadly, “now the bathroom has already become a privilege, don't you think so?”

 

“I want to get out into the city and go to Springfield,” James said.

 

The sister looked at him for about three seconds, blinking and fooling stupidly until her face stretched out, then acquiring a stern expression.

 

"If you're serious, then you're a stupid moron!" She hissed. "We can't leave!"

 

"Why?"

 

"Hm, how about the fact that we're leaving our mother here with this... this psycho. And also a murderer is free, who might want to kill our mother, and now us too!.."

 

"We are with two murdurer in the same space for almost a day!" interrupted her James. “He could have killed Aunt Martha. He was in Sherwood, do you understand? Eleven years of watching us!"

 

"Why such confidence, huh?"

 

"They talked in the car. And I don't think that Mom is threatened with something. They, at our age, killed three peers and, it seems, this JD doesn’t particularly care. Maybe mom..."

 

"Leave mom alone, do you hear me?" raised the tone Kat, clenched her fists. "It is not her fault that he pulled her into all this!"

 

“Maybe it was she who involved him in. Or, at least, not particularly resisted until that very November. And, maybe, she was enjoyed, because she gave birth to us!" James squeezed the edge of the sink.

 

"You!" Katherine forcefully pushed him in the shoulder. "You're crazy! This is our mother!"

 

"Your middle name!" He replied towering over her with his formidable figure. “We thought you were named after Aunt McNamara, and now? Maybe you were named after that dead girl, her friend? And my name? Through a whole childhood she... hated me."

 

"How can you even think about this? You are crazy! Heartless psycho!" girl shoved him again, heading for the exit.

 

And, coming out of the bathroom, she slammed the door so much that it seemed that a crack had gone along the wall. In the eyes of Kat, the righteous fire was burning, she wanted to tear to pieces and smash. If her mother knew that she could be so angry, if she only knew why she was called the Terrible Kit, she would have taken her daughter to anger-control courses with her brother. In a pocket of jeans, it seems, there are a ten or fifteen dollars lying around, plus or minus a couple of cents. That was the way to distract.

 

“Kitty,” her mother was stunned by surprise when her daughter jumped out of the room, nearly knocking her mother through the door. “What is it?”

 

"I will go to 7-eleven right now!" She snarled. "Don't worry, I have money!"

 

Her heavy footsteps echoed throughout the corridor. Running down the stairs, the girl threatened to knock them down or fall down, flying a full span, curled up like a roll. For both options she did not care with the high bell tower.

 

The woman at the reception, who replaced the tired guy, greeted her, but Kat flashed past, instantly finding herself on the street and, putting her hands in her pockets, headed straight for the convenience store. Silence, spaciousness and freshness inside 7-eleven immediately restrain her fervor, albeit a bit. Katherine, wandering past the rows with fast food, never stopped scolding her brother mentally. Clutching at the counter, she looked at the sausages with a blank look, thinking about how a brother, being completely confident in what he was thinking, said that they had better leave their mother here because she... it turns out is no different from JD? Mom was not like such a cold-blooded psycho. She, like any person, had her own oddities, but this is within the normal range. Right? Taking the first available loaf, Kat almost threw it at the cashier, continuing to scold James to herself. He was always so fucked up, yes. Before the anger management circles and after them too. There was always a fire burning in him, he wanted to do something, walk, talk, think, manage things. To solve any conspiracies, even fictional. But, Lord, this is too much.

 

"Hate you..." muttered the girl to herself.

 

"I'm sorry?" asked the cashier, squinting.

 

“Nothing, it's not you,” Katherine gave up, then left the store, starting to eat on the move. She knew it was bad. But she didn't care. Can it be much more harmful than now?

 

Halfway through, she saw her brother approaching her, and therefore she froze, almost choking on her breakfast. With contempt, Kat looked at James to the very second that he stopped right in front of her, looking at him with hostility. They were silent for another couple of seconds, only their irritated sniffle was heard. Then Katherine began to chew again. She wiped the sauce from her lips with the back of her hand, not intending to be neat now.

 

"Come to make a piace?" The girl asked, chewing.

 

The brother wrinkled his nose a little and raised his chin, denying his appearance, but almost immediately his pride wiped from his face, he lowered his gaze and gave out through force:

 

"We shouldn't be separated. We have to work together."

 

"I'm not going to work with you!" anger again twisted the face of Kat. “You're crazy if you can even think such a things about our mom! And if you became such a psycho!.."

 

“Calm down, even the stray dogs turn on you,” James grabbed her arm. Katherine pushed him away. "Stop it, I want to tell you something important! Yes, I was wrong... A little."

 

"You're a mad and you're idiot! A little!" the girl gave a hysterical chuckle, waving her arms, still managing to somehow hold the whole bun in her hand.

 

“Our mother is not to blame for being dragged into this,” the guy continued quieter, knowing that his sister would hear him anyway. "But she's still to blame for not trying get out of this shit. She could at least try."

 

"She tried, you know it! She screamed it in the car," Katherine hissed. “When he wanted to blow up the school, she was the only one fighting with him, she alone defeated him! Our mom is not a maniac! You are maniac!"

 

“I know she’s not a maniac,” James continued calmly, even though his jaws were played. "I got excited. I admit my guilt."

 

"This is not enough!" the girl passed by him.

 

Brother caught up with her and pulled her to him, already annoyed.

 

"I'm not a dog here! I want to say something important, and you can not listen to me! Let's act like adults!"

 

“Okay, come on,” Kat replied, more calmly, folding her arms over her chest so as not to get dirty with the bun.

 

“We already understand what happened to Mom and this JD, with these schoolchildren, but we still don’t know what happened to Aunt Martha seventeen years ago. They didn't talk about it when they told us themselves you-know-what. Aunt Martha did not know about this batch, but what was she involved in then? She knew her killer, she blamed him for something. In general, we need to move on."

 

“Great, we have a whole pile of newspapers. Come on," Katherine waved her hand toward the motel.

 

"Yeah, after they wrote about Chandler and those two soccer players, you have to rely on newspapers, for sure!" sweeping nodded guy. "No, my way worked. We need to talk to someone who knows this story. With someone who participated in it or at least lived during those events."

 

“Mom and JD,” Kat pointed to the motel again. "The most accurate sources of information. They themselves created this story."

 

“That's exactly what I would ask of them last,” James shook his head. "Mom can still tell something, but JD can confuse her and us. He may be the killer, remember? He was in the city at that time, was following us, he also has some contacts that can give him any information. At seventeen, he made or bought a bomb, which was enough for a football field, and now it’s not hard for him to buy any weapons. I'm sure the whole trunk is crammed with..."

 

"What do you suggest?" Tired of brother's manic thoughts, Katherine went straight to the point.

 

“I suggest we go to Sherwood,” before his sister started the angry tirade again, he added. “Exactly for three hours: an hour to go there, set aside an hour to talk with mother's classmates, then an hour back.”

 

“This is by car,” Kat hardly answered, said to him in a soft voice, as if with a stupid child, whom everything had difficulty with, “if you don’t have free machines that we will obtain in a legal and free way, then you’ll have to take the bus, and before that it is necessary to find a bus station and a suitable flight to Sherwood."

 

"We are almost on the run. The legal way is very expensive and long. We are not going to visit grandma, we are looking for the godmother's killer."

 

“J., I don't want to go to jail if they notice us! And we are likely to notice."

 

"I have driver's license."

 

"The stolen car is now very quickly found, J." broke the girl.

 

“James,” he interrupted sternly suddenly. "Not J."

 

Katherine rolled her eyes. God, how many problems did this man bring in their lives. And, she noted already twice in the morning, her brother sometimes behaved exactly like their mother.

 

“I'm not going to be an accomplice in hijacking a car,” she said. “And even if I'm were going to, we would not be able to slip out unnoticed for three hours.”

 

"We could do it at night. Or, in extreme cases, give the parents sleeping pills."

 

"Oh, you're definitely crazy!" Kat even stepped back a step. "First, try to slip something in to JD unnoticed. We are not a family, we do not have a common dinner. We all eat at different times..."

 

“You could give him a bottle of lemonade with sleeping pills,” her brother interrupted. "He speaks to you. Trust, apparently."

 

"Well, let it be so further! I can not even imagine what will happen when he wakes up and understands everything! We don't know him at all. Maybe he will beat us all for it! This is the second. And thirdly, think about what their reaction will be when they find out why we did it all. How are you going to justify yourself? 'Yes, we put you to sleep and left you helpless for three hours, but we are for the good! We went to look for Aunt Martha's killer!' Mom get heart attack!"

 

The guy rolled his eyes, but did not protest. Since he was silent for too long, Katherine rightly considered that he had run out of arguments.

 

“If you want to do something good, James, think carefully,” she said calmly. “You know, you have to sacrifice something: either mom, or this stupid investigation, which the police are doing quite well. And I don’t want to sacrifice anything. Let's go to. And by the way, keep it up."

 

She gave him the remaining half of the bun and, looking at the confused face of the sibling for the last time, turned her back to be the first to enter the hotel.

 

***

 

Hearing a sigh behind, Veronica almost swallow a cigarette, but but silently endured the fact that JD stood beside her.

 

"Will you treat?" he asked.

 

She handed him a pack and a lighter. She rarely smoked anyway. Probably, in the near future she would really need it, but now it was not worth worrying about it. The man took only one cigarette, shook his head, refusing the lighter, and took the same thing out of his pocket. So he never threw this habbit.

 

They stood silently still half a minute, looking at the industrial area of the city from the window in the corridor. It was difficult for Veronica to struggle with the desire to run after her children, who quarreled, but she often thought that they were grow up enough to make peace without her, and the thought flashed that now they would not want to accept her help. And it only reaped her heart more.

 

“If you think that you told them everything in vain, then you shouldn't,” JD again spoke first. "They are smart and grown-up guys. And still love you."

 

“Well, if I had known that my mother had killed three in her youth, it would have somewhat changed my perception,” the woman shrugged her shoulders, hearing that her voice was trembling with nerves. "If you didn't appear..."

 

“Murderer of Dunnstock would sooner or later rant on you, you would go to jail, and they would be alone. Sounds better?" JD, looking at her face, raised his eyebrows, and then, dragging out, exhaled thick clouds of smoke. "No, you yourself know that they should have learned this from you. And the sooner the better."

 

“They would have lived beautifully without it. You could not appear to them, you could only come to me, you could warn. We would have left and managed without you, and now my life is ruined again," she crumpled a cigarette butt, practically pressing it into an ashtray, and then reached for a new cigarette.

 

“I can't live like this, you understand that too,” his indulgent smile drove her to death. "I love you and love them.'

 

“You can't love them!” She repeated. "And you can't love me. It's over eighteen years between us! And I would never come back, I would rather kill you!"

 

“You won't kill,” he smiled again, childishly, teasing. "You're not a killer. And you do not want to be a murderer."

 

"Oh, you say!" slamming a hand on the window sill, Veronica angrily looked at him, breaking a cigarette in her hand. "Where were these words eighteen years ago?"

 

“I was too...” the man frowned, trying to find the word, “disobedient then. And I was a terrible egoist."

 

“You knocked me into three murders and wanted to blow up the school,” the woman reminded. "Do you at least understand how vague the word “disobedient” in relation to you? And you're not just an egoist, you're a misanthrope and a cynic! And you have not changed a bit, I see through you!"

 

“Well, in order for me to stop being a misanthrope and a cynic, I really have to die,” JD's grin didn’t amuse her at all. "But, you know, I matured. I also endured a bunch of operations, the number of which could not be remembered, underwent a course of rehabilitation, psychotherapy, I have a real cyborg hand and a bunch of injuries. It can change a person, even a little bit. But, I think I changed completely when I saw them for the first time. I wanted to see only you, but I was not upset at all, having learned that there are also exist them. I was attached to them from the first second."

 

"But they to you - not!" blurted out Veronica. "Do you know how hard we lived? Since you made your unknown contacts, you know that James was the most unhappy child of all children. Because of who his father is, he had to be so hard! He is your copy, he was always too much like you, but I could love him, I raised him, brought him up and was able to prove that all this connection with you can be cut off. And do not try to fix it again, I beg you! Do not spoil their lives!"

 

“I don’t think I'll ruin everything. They said they made inquiries about me. So they wanted to know."

 

"But not that their father was a maniac!"

 

"I was. And you have been. But here we are, both crumpled, maimed and repaired. Like I said, we have very smart children, Ronnie. They will understand this perfectly."

 

The man held out and laid his rough palm on her hand. Veronica did not immediately turn away just because her heart sank, these long-forgotten sensations arose. She seemed to be seventeen again, for one small moment. JD's hand was still hot, now, perhaps, not so smooth and neat, but it was the very fire that seemed to flow through his veins instead of blood. And he was all the same gentle, still stretched to her soul, like a boy.

 

Veronica pulled out her hand, and then looked out the window again. She had no choice. But she could try to convince him again.

 

***

 

Mom did not remove the hand immediately. She had such a look, as if she was surprised and touched, but there was no anger in her gaze, which surprised the siblings very much. Katherine felt how tense James was, she looked back at her brother and realized that all her excuses about her mother, who had not so convinced him so much, now completely crumbled into dust. Closing his eyes, the twin passed on, almost pushing her shoulder, and, pointedly passing by his parents, went into the room. Mom no longer looked so moved by his eyes, for a few seconds she recoiled from JD, but apparently, James did not notice.

 

"Mom, we..." Kat quickly walked over to her, looking mainly at her, but also looking awkwardly at her father. "We had breakfast. For now we have enough, but... But... Oh alright."

 

Also turning away, the girl entered the room after her brother.

Chapter Text

Katherine did not take her eyes off her brother. They were sitting on the same bed, opposite each other, leaning on the high headboards, to which they had placed pillows. James did not look at anyone, he seemed to be dozing, leaning against the wall, but Kat felt his isolation and tension with all the fibers. He was capable of stupidity after what he saw and thought. Trying not to lose sight of him, she did not dine and did not go to the bathroom sometimes for about three hours. If James now clearly did not care about satisfying hunger, thirst, and the most primitive needs, then his sister, although she found the situation with her parents eerie, thought, in fact, about how she would not die from hunger. For the rest of the day she in addition to that half of the morning bun also ate the second pack of nuts that had been stored up. And even managed to stretch it for the whole day. Mom and JD didn't talk about what happened (thank god) and now they were staying away from each other (THANK GOD, because when they tried to communicate, they immediately began to quarrel, and when they quarreled, there was a lot of crying and the bloody details oh their youth said out loud, and girl so far no longer wanted to hear anything from this).

 

In addition to spying after brother and playing a surviving person with a single ration of food for a week, Kat had time to read. She took King’s book in her hands, but instead of rereading “Misery”, put newspaper articles on the pages, hiding behind, moreover, with a backpack so that wasn't so noticeable. If someone showed a little more attention, it would be easier to notice, girl was knew that. And she also knew that JD would notice if he hadn't already noticed. Katherine had time to note his quick eyes, with which she could only compare her own. Mom was also very attentive, but she allowed emotions to distract herself. Kat, on the other hand, tried to allow less interference from the hot head. And, realizing that she was probably similar with JD by just this, the girl, oddly enough, was not afraid. Yes, comparisons with her father could not be avoided. Yes, she has some makings of him, but this is biology, genetics. Fortunately, she apparently take the best of his and mother's. Of course, to notice it out loud meant to have a serious quarrel or even fight with James, so Kat kept kept silent and thought less.

 

After dinner, she noticed how a brother with shining eyes quickly grabbed his notebook and pen. Apparently, something suddenly dawned on him. It became even more obvious when James after the last five minutes was still writing something without a break.

 

"What..." the girl gingerly began to ask the question, first talking to him after returning to the room.

 

"Remember, I said that I heard the conversation in the car?" James at this moment didn't look so withdrawn and reticent, as in the morning. He whispered to her almost conspiratorially. "You slept then. I just write down everything that I heard, and also try to make a coherent story from all that we know. Did you find something?"

 

Of course he noticed. Not just noticed, but also paid attention to it. And he stopped being offended. Well, she really wasn't to blame for anything. Bless him for understanding that.

 

“No.” Katherine shook her head, annoyed. "What do you have?"

 

James handed her a notebook, offering to read it herself. Kat timidly accepted it, flipped through a few pages back to the top of the notes, made in a hurried but firm hand. Before that there were scrawl and chaotic notes, of which, apparently, consisted of a whole story.

 

Mom became friends with Heathers in September. A little later, she began dating JD. Kelly and Sweeney were blame him, for that he beat them. Then mom gave up on Chandler, who was a bitch. They quarreled, then mom went to JD. In the morning they came to Chandler together, mom wanted to make peace, but with the filing of JD poisoned Heather with a cleaner. They furnished it like suicide. Kurt and Ram became even more scumbags, they tried to rape mom and aunt McNamara, JD wanted to take revenge on them. He convinced mom that there are special bullets for a pistol that do not kill a person. Mom herself killed one of the guys, again with the filing of JD. They set it up like the suicide of two gays suffering from a disapproving world. Then JD wanted to blow up the whole school, he wrote another note and collected it somehow (how?) all signatures. Mom was able to break his plans. JD exploded on the field. But survived. He was seven years could not come to Sherwood. He has been watching us for eleven years. He has an informant. He was in Sherwood at the time of the murder. He has no alibi. But he denies and tries to take us away from Sherwood. Motive? Does he have a reason to lie? The reason for the lie # 1: he doesn't want  mom to be afraid or to hate him. According to him, he is looking for a murderer. Is it so?

 

Aunt Martha did not know what happened (?). She blamed the other person, some well-known to her. For some reason he killed her. So he is guilty too.

 

The right people:

 

  • an accomplice of mom and JD ( who? )
  • aunt MacNamara
  • miss Duke
  • witness to the murder of Martha ( who? )

 

 

Could there be a killer among them?"

 

“Not so much.” James shrugged. "I still need to display a list of those questions that need to be answered..."

 

"J., you are a rare genius." Kat barely smiled at him.

 

James, not J.” he said dryly again.

 

Katherine could barely resist from a chuckle and a strong hug. There were still parents, there was JD. Show their feelings and their vulnerability in front of him didn't want to.

 

For dinner, they finished all the remaining nuts. The rumbling in the stomach, of course, didn't stop, but they didn't want to leave the room or let the parents know about the hunger. Kat would like to talk with her mother, but she didn’t know how to start a conversation. She now could not even imagine what her mom had in her head. What does she think and what does she feel? Was she the mother who could be trusted with everything, or would JD find a way to manipulate her again?

 

Before going to bed, Kat, brushing her teeth with her finger, thought that she would start a conversation tomorrow. And she has already started reading newspapers for the November. She and James were so close to the answers! They could solve everything alone! Since the conversation method worked better, she could try to learn something from JD. It was risky, but he never left the question without answer. The main thing is not to anger him, nor to get angry myself. Once he trusts, he can tell her something useful. But what is truth and what is not, she and her brother will understand.

 

At night, waking up from a spasm in the stomach (which had completely collapsed), Katherine turned around to take a glass of water poured from the tap from the nightstand. And then she realized that the bed was empty. Brother was gone. There wasn't a sound of water in the bathroom, there was no light from the cracks. Kat looked around, trying to find James at least somewhere. Trying not to wake anyone, she barely knocked on the bathroom, suddenly sibling was still there, but in response she received only silence. Then the girl quietly went out into the corridor, where a light bulb was dimly lightning. Downstairs at the reception there was that guy again, now fully dormant. He had a small TV set in the groove under the reception, which lighted the whole environment and sometimes ruffled. The sound of the TV program was barely perceptible, but it was like a sitcom. In the hall, too, was empty. Having noticed a large clock above the entrance, Katherine distinguished time, narrow her eyes: its after midnight.

 

"Hey Hey!" the girl with a force struck the bell, then the guy, almost falling off a chair, woke up. "Have you..."

 

"I didn't sleep, in any case!" He exclaimed, clinging to the magazine visitors and residents. "I just closed my eyes for a second, sorry!"

 

“Have you seen my brother here? Remember us? We settled a day ago."

 

"I remember. Here, in fact, one guy ran. Minutes..." he looked at his watch, "twenty ago. Or fifteen. Or twenty five."

 

"7-eleven," Katherine thought. Brother could rush to the store, feeling the hunger. He, nevertheless, ate a little less per a day than she. Practically nothing either. But then the girl remembered: the store closed just an hour ago. Then where was James gading? Kat thanked guy reflexively, then quickly walked out of the hall onto the street. It was not as fresh as in Sherwood, but there was no such abundance of smells and city noises as in Springfield. Silent cars stopped in a dark parking lot. The girl walked past them, walking silently. Here was JD's car. Black Mercedes. The girl wonder what he worked to get money for... No, she didn't want to know. Rather, she wanted, but for now she was afraid to guess. And now she had to think about her brother.

 

Continuing to go further past the rows of cars, Katherine saw a store that was glowing, but was already empty. And she was at a loss for a few seconds, until she noticed movement from the side. Frozen, Kat looked to the left, peering into the far corner of the parking lot. Someone was messing around at the car, trying to open the door and... It seems that this silhouette, which was barely audible, was her brother. The closer Katherine approached, sliding silently between the cars, the more she became convinced of this.

 

"What the fuck are you doing?" asked the girl, realizing that he slowly reveals the car.

 

The frightened face of the sibling turned to her was pale to death.

 

“It's you...” he breathed out in relief. "Why don't you sleep?"

 

"What the fuck are you doing?" She repeated.

 

"Quiet!" whispered James. “You'll wake up the whole motel!”

 

“You still want to escape!” she said with suprising. "Although you know that your plan is shitty! And you still leave mom and me here!"

 

"I'm not leaving you. I am not leaving you!" He exclaimed. "He threw us all! He invilved mom in this shit! He could kill Aunt Martha! And I’m going to, if I can’t at least make some progress in the investigation, come back and pick you up. Of all in this world, I can only trust you. And if I stayed behind, I could somehow give you a sign, we would communicate, you would withdraw mom for a second, you could have won even a minute, and then I would take you from him... That was my plan. But, if you do not want me to leave for a long time, let's go back to the first plan. We will leave together, come back just before dawn. We will find at least someone or something that can help us..."

 

He continued to speak in an elevated tone, and Kat knew that, no matter what she said, she would not be able to convince him, or at least talk over. But she had to try to calm him down. And she knew that this can be done only by doing what he wants to achieve. She knew her brother, and he knew her and they both trusted each other all their lives, they fought for each other. But she never had so hard choice in favor of brother.

 

"Give me your master key... You stole it from me. I knew it could not abyss."

 

“Unlike you, it came in handy,” said James, a little softer, letting her pass to the car.

 

He trusted her. He didn't shout at her, he wasn't angry anymore. So she has so far done everything in the right direction.

 

"Whose car is it? Signaling…"

 

"No alarm. I beat off all my legs about this," the brother grined nervously. "And she is here for a long time. Her wheels were a little blown away, so I thought to ask the dude in the lobby for a pump..."

 

"Go and ask. I still try to start."

 

Opening the door for five seconds (and noticing that the sibling behind her silently stared at her), she sat in the driver's seat, staring at her brother, and then began to dig under the seats and in the glove compartment with a frown.

 

“Hold the knife,” James gave her his beloved Swiss, and then went to the motel.

 

Katherine wanted to rush after him, but realized that it was too early. Now she will not convince him. Open the door and volunteer to bring the car back to life — too little to put it back into a convincing conversation. Opening the panel with a knife, Kat frowned at the tangle of wires, some of which were slightly rusty. She removed the sheath, connected the necessary one's, then checked to see if there was any gasoline in the car at all. Naturally not. But next was a ready tank. James amazed her, when he only had time for this... With a creak opening the hood (it took a whole body strain for this rusty horn), Katherin looked at the engine, battery and other parts. Damn, the battery, although it was intact, but clearly could die before they could return here.

 

"Do you have in mind any other machine that at least doesn't explode when we sit inside?" She asked her brother when he returned.

 

“This one is good,” he said, offended. "She didn’t used only for a month, look at the wheels."

 

"For a month she couldn't rust."

 

“It was raining,” James spread his hands. "You think I'm a layman?"

 

“I think you're an idiot,” the girl growled under her breath.

 

She was able to fix something, rubbed the dust, checked for liquids, filled the fuel in the tank. James found a jack in the trunk of a carriage, pumped up the wheels himself. By the way, an hour has passed.

 

"What time is it?" asked Kat, sat behind the wheel again.

 

"Already passed the two o'clock," the twin answered.

 

“We will not be able to return before dawn.”

 

Katherine connected the wires again. With a roar, letting out clouds of dust, and trembling all the body, the car started up. James pushed her into the passenger seat, sitting behind the wheel himself.

 

“We will not be able to return before dawn,” his sister told him uncertainly. "Listen, we now learned that the car is on the move. Maybe we will try tomorrow?"

 

"Why wasting time?" the pedals creaked.

 

Riding back, the car moved across the curb of the parking lot, and then drove along the lawn to the exit track. Katherine held on to the door and seat, afraid to fall out, or to punch the roof with her head. James led, clenching his teeth. And, nevertheless, was silent.

 

“She's going, great,” Kat breathed. "Let's go back."

 

"How? On the lawn and through the curb?" asked brother. "Don't be afraid, Kitty. It's too late for that."

 

They were already on the road, driving forward, towards Sherwood.

 

"I forgot... I forgot the newspapers and glasses. And the money." she said.

 

"I took all the money that I could bring here with me. By the way, here it is, take it," he handed her several crumpled bills. "This is your half. And it will be uncomfortable reading in the dark." James tried to accelerate more.

 

"I don't want to leave!" already confidently said Kat. “Let me go, I'll be back at the motel on foot. You needed there someone that you could trust!"

 

"Hey!" J. slowed down, looking at her. "Take it easy. We will be back..."

 

"I want to stay with mother!" interrupted the girl. “If you don't stop, I will. And I'm a fool and risky, you know me..."

 

James braked himself, drove to the side of the road as soon as he saw that his sister was stretching her hands to the steering wheel, and her feet to the pedals.

 

“Okay, just don't be crazy!” he answered. "Kat, why did you even help me? Why then sat in the salon?"

 

“Because you wouldn't have listened to me otherwise. I thought you would calm down and listen. There must have been at least some common sense in your head! You're in such a hurry to escape from here!" she got out of the car. 

 

"Should I be wanting to stay? With a psycho and our mother, who has always been so smart and brave, and now she has again succumbed to him, like a little girl!"

 

"She did not give in, she pulled out her hand."

 

"She even let him put this fucking hand. If I were in her place, I would have broken his face!"

 

"You would break, yes! You could never hold back in your hands!" Kat almost poked her finger in the chest. "There is no need to stop and think like an adult and intelligent person at least once! You first do, and then you just think!"

 

"What is there to think about? Godmother was killed, and this dick is glued to our mother and you! And you still protect them both! I know that you and JD regret it."

 

"What?"

 

"Mom was always been never enough for you. Now daddy has appeared, let it be a stranger, and you are glad!" James pretended to grin. "And he too. He sees you as a weak girl, sees a naive, sees that you can be fooled, just like our mother! You will not notice how you will go on about it and..."

 

"And someday blow up Westerburg?" Asked Katherine, feeling her fists clench in anger. "Why so low, let be blowing up all Sherwood. That still rotten hole. Take it alone, J.!"

 

Slamming the door, Kat walked on, hearing the sibling scream at her back:

 

“You know that I'm right, Kitty! So I will take, and you stay!"

 

He didn't try to stop her, did not try to resolve everything between them. If he had called her, if he had tried to turn her back, she would have returned without hesitation. But, since James was a hot-tempered, hard-nosed asshole, he left. And in fact, drove off to Sherwood. Walking along the side of the road, Kat felt how her tears rolled over her eyes. What will she say to mom when she finds out everything? What if brother's car breaks down the way? Or even explode?

 

"James!" Catherine turned around, even hearing the loud roar of the carriage, but the car was barely visible. The girl began to wave her arms. "James!"

 

However, the car disappeared behind the trees pretty quickly. Hands down, Kat turned back toward the motel. It was about ten minutes walk. Actually, not scary. Even the lights above the track was lightning up. But the girl was in real horror. She added step, wiping away tears. They couldn't be separated. Especially this way. He should not have gone there alone. What a fool she is!

 

In the pocket she has those crumpled bills. Its half. The money that James scraped and gave her, thinking that they would go there together. He forgot to pick them up. Without them, he could not fill the car or at least have breakfast. Considering the bills, Katherine realized that he had enough for an incomplete refueling and a small dinner. God, let him buy himself some food...

 

From the thoughts of food, the girl felt her stomach growl again, now it is even harder than before. To the hotel had to go about five minutes. She must to eat at least something. 7-eleven worked from seven o'clock. Maybe there were convenience stores in Marysville, not far from here?

 

When Kat came into the lobby again, the guy behind the desk seemed to be bored, looking at his TV screen, but in reality, apparently, was dozing again, since he didn't pay any attention to her. Not far off was a booth with a few old brochures. Katherine took a couple, because they had a map of the city and an indication of the sights, and a couple of cafe names. One of them worked 24\7, apparently for truckers and tourists passing by, and it was also written that a new Internet-bar had opened in the center. That was already interesting. Thinking a little, the girl left the motel. Nevertheless, she wanted to eat very much. Stronger than sleep and cry.


 

Veronica woke up at five. Her children wasn't in bed, the backpack with their belongings was gone. She went downstairs, where the guy in the lobby was about to leave, followed by an elderly woman.

 

"By the way, your children left here at twelve o'clock at night. They returned, right?" asked the old woman, smiling. The guy behind her back instantly cheered and blushed. 

 

"Where did they go?" asked Veronica.

 

"In the parking lot, I guess. And then the guy came back after an hour, asked me for a pump for the wheels." said the boy. "Then, it seems, they did not return."

 

Veronica ran back upstairs, slammed the door into their room.

 

"JD!"

Chapter Text

They had been standing in the parking lot for five minutes, staring at an empty parking place in the very corner, from which there was a track washed in the grass directly to the driveway. Veronika had tears in her eyes, but she didn't cry, in any case. She, as befits Veronica Sawyer, gathered her last will into a fist, tried to think calmly. 

 
"They are escape for a first time?" JD asked her. 

 
This way - for the first time.” the woman sighed, then frowned. "This is because of us. Rather, because of me." 

 
"Veronica, this isn't..."

 
"Stop repeating this to me!" She interrupted sharply. “Even if not, my children think differently.”

 
“Where do you think they went?”

 
"Sherwood and Springfield, there are no other options." Veronica shook her head in confusion. “Either they are with my parents or with their friends. James has so many friends..."

 
“And where will we go to the first..."

 
”There is no us.” she snapped again. "I'm going for my children. They know me. Give me the car keys.” said the woman, turning to him with her whole body. 

 
"No, you can't go alone!" his face twisted in violent determination. Just like then, at school. “We were leaving Sherwood to escape the killer. And you will not return there until we figure out what to do with it, especially, alone!"

 
"First, I am not going to deal with anyone else except my children," Veronica stepped closer, also raising her tone, "and, second, a murderer, if he, of course, has no informant who is watching me, don't know where I am, what I am going to do and on whose car I will come to the city."

 
JD was already going to give her another quarrel for drop a hint that he was that man who killed Martha, but then he froze. Informer. Damn, flew out of head. 

 
“I'll call my contact.” he murmured, more calmly. “There are cameras in Sherwood and Springfield. Of course, it will take some time - to track them down by the video surveillance system, but we will know for sure where they are."

 
Sawyer recoiled from him, also losing her angry expression on her face, replaced by confusion. She said nothing, looking away. JD hurriedly dialed the number. Three beeps. Another long one. 

 
“Harriet.” 

 
“JD,” his 'friend' replied, “I'm listening.” 

 
“James and Katherine Sawyer stayed with me in the Motel 'Nest' in Marysville. At night, they fled in a stolen car. Most likely, they are in Sherwood or Springfield. Check out the cameras and, probably, the traffic patrol reports."

 
"I'm understand that the urgency is great."

 
"Very hightly." 

 
"You know yourself what is the minimum time at such a scale and with such minimum information. Need specify?"

 
"Hour?" he tried not to betray the voice.

 
"I'll try for an hour. Springfield will have to be tricky.” Harriet grunted. "I will call as soon as something turns out. In touch." 

 
“In touch.” the man replied, then turning to Veronica. Impatience and hope filled her eyes. JD really didn't want to disappoint her. "Information will be at least an hour later."

 
“I can get to Sherwood in an hour." Sawyer snapped in desperation. “Just give me the keys.” 

 
"Veronica, most of this time is messing around with cameras in Springfield. With Sherwood Contact will figure out faster." 

 
"Why do you have such nicknames? He has a name."

 
“It’s more usual to call him Contact in public.” JD answered. 

 
Veronica covered her face with her hands, head down.

 
"My children - hell knows where. They escaped from me, an unprofitable mother, straight to the killer... They are alone, they have no money and no food. And I am completely helpless. Please, JD, give me the keys."

 
The woman looked at him with such bitterness that he almost gave up, but he still had a bit of sanity. 

 
“I'll go with you,” said Dean. 

 
"You can not flicker in Sherwood. If the killer notice me, he will not harm me. The police are watching me, I will be in front of people. If the children are there, pick them up, take more things and money, and then leave right away. And even make a detour to not be traced to Marysville, and then we will change the city for sure. But the killer most likely knows you too. He will not miss you so easily."

 
JD did not look into her eyes, he thought hard. Veronica was right, but, nevertheless, he did not bother for himself. He has experience of hiding from the police, he can easily change his name, documents, place of residence. Expressing this argument to her, the man repeated: 

 
"So I am going with you."

 
"Children escaped from the two of us! And if they know and love me, you scare them. And they might think that there is something between us. And I do not want them to deceive themselves. I'll talk to them alone."

 
JD felt the balance of the balance. But he could not sit here with folded arms. Their children were really in danger, anything could happen to them. Yes, even exhaustion from hunger and spending last money on crumbs of gasoline. And what if the siblings are in Springfield? Veronica will make a U-turn from Sherwood while he is still sitting and talking to Harry. No, that will not do. They could go one way and another, since she insisted so much on going somewhere.

 
“Then I have a condition.” Dean said resolutely. “I'll rent a car to get to Springfield. If they are not there, I will return back, and if they there, I will not come in contact with them, I'll make sure that they're alright until you get to us." before Veronica expressed an impulsive 'no', the man continued. "It is profitable, Veronica. Think for yourself. No matter where they are, it won't take us long to search for them."

 
She paused, really listening to him and thinking. Her face reflected all the doubts and anxieties, but in the end, it was a very good deal. In his life he didn't yield to anyone as much as for her. 

 
“Okay.” Sawyer nodded reluctantly. “But you will tell me everything that your Contact  will tell you, word to word, second to second.”

 
"Give me the number." JD immediately climbed into the phone, ready to add a new recipient. 

 
Writing down the coveted numbers and dictated to her in return, checking with her, the man removed the phone, and from another pocket pulled out the keys, throwing them to her. He did not like this plan. Very much. But, nevertheless, Veronica entrusted him to go to Springfield alone, so that if the children were there, pick them up. Yesterday she was ready to kill him if he approached the children. It remained to hope that Sawyer was prudent and would not really linger there for long, but would not run away from him.

 
“Veronica.” the man called, looking as she looked at the keys in her hand, clearly presenting the possibility of escape. “Please don't try to hide from me with them. You better not do it. I will find you again. But I am not to impose and play with you in happy family. I want to protect you. Whatever you say, I love you."

 
Her gaze turned to his face was angry. Another second, and again a heated argument begins... Oddly enough, she did not say a word. Her face smoothed out, her lips pursed with a thin stern line. She wanted to say something, but said nothing, heading for the car. JD understood that now, when he gave her such opportunities, trusting unlimitedly, it could buy her even a little. And she probably now felt contradictory, and therefore was silent. Watching Veronica taking the driver's seat, Jason stood at the door, accompanying her every action. 

 
“And there is something else.” he said when the engine hummed. “In the glove compartment, if anything would happening, there is a gun. It has three rounds."

 
Sawyer's eyes widened in horror.

 
“I’m not saying that you must take advantage of it, but if there is a real threat to your life or the life of children, I want you to have something to protect yourself.” Dean tried to quickly explain. 

 
"Call me as soon as you find out something. Immediately." Veronica snapped, and then, turning away, focused on driving out of the parking lot. 

 
JD didn't want to say goodbye, because he really hoped that Sawyer would return to him with the children, and not choose a meaningless escape. This plan was so shitty, but the situation really got out of control, they could have come up with something better, but the lack of time and panic affected.

 


 

Katherine realized too late that this pamphlet was two months, no less. Dates of events and discoveries of enterprises have long passed, and the glossy paper could not fade so quickly. Yes, it was nice to know that the brain finally began to work, receiving nutrients. Sitting at the bus stop and greedily eating a second hot dog, Kat peered into the night landscapes of the city park and wondered what to do next. She was alone, with a pack of a bills in her pocket, a step away from getting lost in an unfamiliar town at night. How thoughtless was the decision to go look for some unknown Internet-bar at two in the morning? Now she understood what kind of mistake she had made, giving free rein to emotions. Well, at least she found a round-the-clock eatery and ate, thanks for that. She had to go back to the motel, tell her mom about what happened... Her throat tightened so tightly that a piece of bread did not even crawl, forcing her to choke. Clearing her throat, Katherine quickly wiped away tears.

 
Mom would die of fear if she knew what James had done. And she could blame her, her daughter, which would be completely fair. Kat had to wake up mom even earlier, could have stayed with James and saved him from rash acts in Sherwood, talk to him later. And now there was no J., it wasn't possible to contact with him. Her sibling could get into trouble now, with this damn ruined car. Frowning, the girl dropped her head down, instantly losing all appetite. Now the hot dog began to remind to taste the stale boiled sausage in a bun made of sawdust. The girl almost burst into tears of despair, and at the same time realized that she had no desire to eat up this swindler. But now to throw out food, even such a lousy, would be a sin. Sticking an uneaten sausage into a paper bag, Katherine leaned back on the metal wall of the stop bus and closed her eyes, starting to feel a little sleepy from satiety. No, she was not going to sleep, in any case in this place and at this time. It was just necessary to take a breath, calm down and then go to the motel. Grief and shame, which caused her to strain, were dulled by a wave of heat that spread through her body and gradually took possession of every cell of her body, urging her to relax.

 
Kat swore with her life that she just blinked, that she was conscious, heard everything and was aware of everything, but nevertheless she woke when someone's hand touched her plump pocket. Sharply opening her eyes, the girl saw in front of her a tall dark figure in a thick hoodie. In the darkness, Katherine only managed to see an unshaven jaw, and huge shoulders. She grabbed his hand, tried to jump to her feet, but then strong hands pressed her shoulders. With horror, Kat felt her legs bend, and her wobbly body yielded to the pressure. The man pressed her forearm against the wall of the stop, still trying to put his hand in her pocket. He himself was scared by the awakening of the victim, but on his side was suddenness and physical advantage. Katherine kicked him off, kicked his foot, managing to finally move this rock, and then, jumping to her feet, somehow managed to dodge the capture. Stumbling, she ran into the park. Her back felt the approach of the robber, who now also did not intend to surrender. His steps were getting closer and closer. Kat didn’t keep a scared scream and realized that she couldn’t hide in the park - only thin trees and benches. The stone fence of the park was low enough to jump over it. Without thinking for a second, the girl climbed onto the hedge, breathing in her entire chest for fear, and, trying to jump, fell sideways, barely having time to put her hands on the ground. The man behind was already standing by the hedge; she saw with side vision his hands that lay on the fence. The girl didn't understand how she was on her feet so quickly, continuing to run as fast as she could. A heartbeat, frantic and loud, resounded in her ears, so nothing else could be heard. Kat crossed the road, ran somewhere down another street, saw a row of houses behind a large store, and rushed toward him, but managed to notice a net fence, so she turned and ran in the opposite direction, spitting on all the sidewalks, paths and street signs. Neon signs were replaced before her eyes so quickly that she just saw changing colors. As a result, when the lungs were already burning with hellfire, she ran to the nearest corner, turned around for him, and stumbled, fell to her knees, realizing only that she was now sitting in some gateway, where the walls were painted so much that there is doesn't left some free space. But she managed to notice the mesh fence, so turned around and ran in the opposite direction, already spitting on all the sidewalks, paths and street signs. Neon signs were replaced before her eyes so quickly that she just saw changing colors. As a result, when the lungs were already burning with hellfire, she ran to the nearest corner, turned around for him, and stumbled, fell to her knees, realizing only that she was now sitting in some gateway, where the walls were painted so that left free space. 

 
Gasping for breath, Kat crawled to the darkest wall and crouched there, pulling her knees up to her chest. The noise of blood circulation in veins still sounded in the head, the elbow of the hand, on which she somehow tried to lean on the fall, terribly sore, her legs rattled and ached because of such an unexpected cross, on which her life literally depended. The whole body trembled with fear, the girl searched for her pursuer behind the driveway, but didn't notice a single passerby, only the cars drove once a minute at full speed, partly illuminating the headlights and the doorway for one small moment. After sitting for another half-minute, Katherine felt that she was now breathing normally and, breathing in a full chest of air, burst into tearless sound, her face buried in soiled jeans. Oh God! How could she sleep? How to get out of here now? How to get to the motel? She could go and find that stop where she was sitting, but even if Kat had a desire to at least get out of here, not just to go back to where she was almost robbed or even killed, with all her desire she could not have done so. She didn't remember where she ran. Just rushing at full speed from one building to another, from one sidewalk to another, risking being brought down on the road. A hand reached for a pocket to take that brochure and look at the map again, but fingers only ran into an empty pocket, slightly turned outwards. Oh No. No! Katherine slammed herself in another pocket and immediately a hoarse, but incredibly lightened moan escaped from his chest - the money was in place, at the very depths. She was not robbed, but she set herself up, as always. Probably dropped in the fall. Dropped her last chance to return home before dawn.

 
Breaking her hands behind her head, Kat burst into tears again, shaking from helplessness, shame and fear in this dark alley in some unknown city. Smearing the sand on her face with a dirty hand, covered with tears, the girl thought that nothing could be worse in her life. She lost her brother, lost her mother, leaving her with the least reliable person in the world, she lost herself. And all this is due to her own stupidity, because she is disgustingly foolish. Katherine pressed herself against the cold wall, then knocked her head against her, although no punishment could be worse than this.

 
Somewhere in an hour, when she made the first attempt to calm down and at least fix something, she decided that she would ask the way for passersby when most of them appeared on the street. She also thought about getting out of the alley and look around, but her instinct, instantly letting her know that he was still awake, cried out in panic that she shouldn’t do this, and her body obediently tensed, intending to increase place. Kat didn't want to resist. She had been sitting for what time in the same position, watching as neon signs gradually lose their color, because the sky began to clear. Something smelled of food. The girl remembered that she also lost a hot dog. Although, she now had no appetite. The remains of panic fear helped to forget about all the needs that may arise. When the first people passed on the street - two old men, quietly talking to each other, Kat was at first frightened, first thinking about the steps that she was her pursuer, but then immediately calmed herself with the fact that several hours had passed and she needed to pull herself together. Ten minutes later she was able to calm down completely. Rising, Katherine felt her limbs heavy, tired of the night marathon, and numb because she sat in the same posture. Slowly, she went outside and looked around. Naturally, the unfamiliar look pretty frightened to her. Then Sawyer looked at herself and shook the dust from her clothes. Of course, this is didn't add pretty look to her. It must have been a nest on her hair. People don't like to talk to strange dirty people, it was understandable without developed social skills, like James. But, nevertheless, it was possible to try. 

 
The first woman who got in her way mumbled something and hurried past. The man on the run accelerated the run, trying not to look at her. One sleepy motorist, who couldn't start the car, although he looked at it with fear, but suggested which side Sherwood was located. Focusing approximately there, Kat went forward, seeing only the endless streets, for her surprise. She couldn't run so far. It seems like she did not run for long...

 
Stares were felt from all sides, burned her back. Katherine knew that it wasn't her paranoia. She was followed, she felt it well, with all the cells in her body. She still understood disgust and apprehension, but it was obviously something else. The girl added step temp. Somewhere across the block, she turned around, not noticing anyone strange among pedestrians. Of course, they looked at her with apprehension, but without interest. All the same, it didn't reassure.

 
Somewhere on the corner, when the police car appeared on the road in the distance, Kat experienced at first an inexplicable desire to hide even in the nearest garbage can, if only the cops wouldn't notice it. She ran around the corner, waited for the car to pass by, then looked out. After a second, the girl realized that she was dirty, sleepy, completely wild — most obviously, would attract the attention of any respectable policeman. And she didn't needed attention. If she had wandered here from a motel on the outskirts, they would have taken her there and ran into a mother scared to death and JD, who, in fact, had been dead for eighteen years after attempting to blow up the school. Who knows how he would react to the cops. 

 
"Uh, girl?" Ingratiating male voice called her.

 
Sawyer turned around, even reacting too harshly to it. 

 
"I didn't want to frighten you, honestly, I just thought maybe you need help?" a middle-aged man with glasses on his nose, in a denim jacket over a black T-shirt, approached her, he indeed felt sincere pity, judging by the look. 

 
“No, I'm fine.” she immediately realized how false it sounded, with her appearance, so Katherine corrected herself. "That is, I was just at a friend's party, I woke up like this, and now I got a little lost here. But I know where to go. Thanks for the excitement."

 
She went further along the avenue, the man caught up with her, then adjusted his glasses with excitement. 

 
"Do you go to the highway?" He asked. “I could give you a ride...”

 
“Sir,” Kat answered, already annoyed, “I told you, everything is fine with me.” 

 
Now he was so close, she could smell the fumes. How much beer did he drink? In the morning! Recoiling, the girl went further, quickening her step. She did not want to see people at all now. Talk to them too. Or even accept help. Now, every person who was going to meet her seemed to be an enemy, and even those who threw glances at her were even alarming. The feeling that she was being watched resumed after a couple of minutes.

 
Soon, Katherine appeared to be on a familiar street. There were only industrial buildings, not so many people, but somewhere nearby there was noise from the highway. Nearby was parking for truckers. She saw something similar at night... But then it was dark, the landmarks looked different. This is the unfinished building, that's for sure. Behind him was the exit to the pedestrian crossing, and from there about five minutes to the motel. Five minutes walks to mom! Kat resolutely went ahead, past the back walls of the roadside shops, past the empty doorways into the concrete box, which apparently should have become a big supermarket.

 
When steps were heard from behind, Katherine turned around to see the very man who wanted to help her. Now he had a more serious face. Kat, having sighed, already felt anger because of his stubbornness, until she saw something oblong gleam in his hand. Folding knife. Fear immediately overwhelmed her. Taking a step back, and, in fact, having prepared to run as fast as she could, a girl heard.

 

“Do not move, otherwise I will throw it at you. It will be more painful," very calmly, as if it weren't a threat. "Go into the building."

 

“No,” she replied timidly, keeping her eyes on the knife. 

 
“Come in, otherwise I'll cut you right here,” the man lifted him higher, to the level of her belly.

 
“I'll scream.” warned Katherine. They were instructed at school what to do in such a situation. Then she thought that it would be easier to fool the attacker. Now she just said the right phrases without even thinking about how it would look. "I'll call the police."

 
"Yeah, the police. You think I didn’t see that you were freaking out from the cops?" an unkind smile twisted his lips. "Yes, if you had a phone, you called your precious parents a long time ago, or whoever is there from you to be taken away. Friend, party, yes. I have no idea what you got into there, but I know for sure that you don’t want any help now."

 
He took a step too far. Already was a yard from her. Run - suicide. 

 
"In the building. Now." he repeated. "Last kindly requested."

 
Katherine felt her heart pounding loudly, as the breath of panic stirs her chest so hard that her shoulders twitch. She looked askance at the gray doorway of the concrete box. Inside there were only graffiti on the walls, dirt under the bare windows, layed bottles. She could jump out the window. Fight off the bottle. Beat off his knife. 

 
"I count to three."

 
No need to continue. Kat walked halfway down, staring in horror at the foldable blade pointing at her. When she was inside, she had already put her hands in front of her, thinking about how she could be able to shield herself from cold weapons. She was smart and fast, and still strong enough. She was able to run away, push away a man, take away a knife. It was necessary only to think very hard to think. No way, don't panic, as then. Her whole body was already shaking, her lips were trembling. Her arms, half outstretched, were dead and pale even in this dim light. 

 
“I have money.” she said again. "Take away, just leave me alone."

 
"And how much will you rate your virginity?" the man raised an eyebrow, stopping, then took off his eyeglasses, put them in the inside pocket of his jacket. "Try to surprise me."

 
Her breath swelled, her tongue felt swollen. Cold sweat broke out on forehead. With all her heart, more than anything, Ktherine hoped that at least someone would hear them, that at least someone, even a drunkard or drug addict, would see them here and distract his attention. For just one moment. She was ready to jump out of the window, was ready for anything, just... 

 
"Don't... come closer. Don't come close, otherwise..."

 

James was slammed into a lamppost. His eye was already swollen. Now he missed two blows: to the cheekbone and collarbone. 

 
"Stop it!" She cried now to those two boys. "You, dickheads, go away!"

 
She tried to protect him with herself, but one seventh-grader pushed her somewhere to the side, without even looking. Flopping on her ass, Kat stared at his back in amazement, then with anger. James was already lying on the ground, raising his hand in an attempt to defend himself against a kick. Katherine felt that her eyes were bleeding and her hands were clenched into fists. All she wanted was to kill them.

 

 

"Otherwise, what?" a man approached, she drifted away. "In your best interest not to resist."

 

"Bastards!" she punched this boy in the ear with such a sweep that she felt her own frail shoulder crunch. 
 

 
With a gasp, the guy collapsed, the other looked at her with such bewilderment that it became ridiculous. The hand hung like a whip, but Katherine lifted her out of her last strength, then threw a bag into the second monster. While he was dodging, she pounced on him with her whole body, clinging to the nails with bare hands, biting his shoulder, then clutching tightly, punch him in the eye, falling with him to the ground. 

 
"Get away!" She cried madly. "Oh, you scums! I'll kill you!"

 

 

“Stand back,” she repeated, feeling her foot stumble across a wall. 

 
The man came very close, then brought the knife to her neck. Kat didn't breathe. She felt a cold blade, and she also felt deadly horror. 

 
“Stand back,” a voice behind him made her so happy that she wanted to kiss the owner. 

 
The girl with the attacker looked at the speaker. And, God , if she had been told earlier that she would ever be so happy  to see JD, she would be angry. He caught her desperate and grateful look and Katherine realized that he was afraid and at the same time angry to the point that his right hand, the only one not drawn into the glove, clenched into a trembling fist.

 
"Deaf?" Growled JD.

 
"I have a problem with my girlfriend, guy. It's none of your business." the man said. 

 
“Your girlfriend is my daughter, son of a bitch.” Kat hasn't seen so ardent and darkened with rage eyes since her brother stopped fighting. “So get away from her and piss off while you can.” 

 
The man slowly lowered the knife. Katherine took a deep, noisy sigh, never taking her eyes off the blade. Then, with a sharp movement, the attacker cut the air, almost slashing JD across his chest. He barely managed to recoil, then hit the shoulder, but the knife did not fall out of his hand. 

 
Kat, screaming, dived down, looking for a fight from a corner. 

 
"JD!" She sighed loudly. 

 
"Get out!" He replied.

 
He managed to glance at her only at the corner of his eye, before the knife with a whistle went past his neck. The attacker growled like a beast, grinning. JD raised his left hand. The knife fell right on the palm. Katherine covered her mouth so as not to scream, but noticed that her father did not grimace in pain, although he had to. And there was no blood left on the blade. 

 
"Go away, I talked to you!" He repeated even louder.

 
Kat ran to the door, hearing the sounds of a struggle behind her. However, she could not leave JD here. For some reason she could not, although she had to. James insisted that he was a criminal, mother hates him. She went with him only for the sake of the children. The brother told her that JD was manipulating the two of them. So what was the catch? Leaving him here would be right. He himself said so in the first place. Secondly, if he hadn't wound, he would have returned. Thirdly, if he had wound, then one problem in their life is even less... But this was inhuman. Whoever her father is, leaving him in this unequal fight would be the most disgusting thing she would do in her entire life. She already left her brother. No, no more like that. 

 
"Shit!" JD's shout made her look at him with a frightened look.

 
The knife, that damned knife, slashed it across his right arm, right across the forearm. His black cloak became even darker from the blood, which immediately infused the whole sleeve, becoming one large spot that spread faster and faster. Why so fast?! Did he hit his veins? JD tried to knock out the knife with his left hand, but he almost reached half of his forearm. The attacker stared at him in surprise. JD, madly angry and hissing through his teeth in pain, weakly shoved him away from him. The man recoiled almost two steps away, but father leaned his back against the wall, leaning against it with a wounded hand. Immediately flowed down the stream of blood.

 
A second later, the crazy maniac grabbed his knife again, practically pulled it out of his hand... BANG! The man staggered to the right, shouting and clutching the back of his head with his left hand, then turned his face, looking in amazement at the girl. Kat, holding tightly to the cracked bottle in her hand, now struck right in the forehead. The rattle of glass mixed with the sound of a ringing punch. JD, barely breathing, saw the peasant fall at his feet. On his left side of the head, barely reaching the temple, such a huge lump swelled. The same was now on the forehead. Katherine looked at the bottle with the broken bottom, still pinching its neck. A second later, she threw it away, looking at him with horror.

 

"Fuck off, crazy!" the boy pushed her away. "Get out of here!"

 
He ran away with his friend, flashing his heels. When their steps subsided, the girl turned to her brother, who was already rising on his elbows, and looking at her with a slight amazement. 

 
"J." she rushed to the brother, trying somehow to take him more carefully to help him get on his feet. "You didn't break anything? J., can you hear me?" 

 
“I'll call you the Terrible Kit now,” he chuckled softly, then looked up at her dull eyes. 

 
"What?" Sister answered in surprise. 

 
“Nice punch,” James's quivering smirk hit her. 

 
And only now Katherine realized that she rushed into the fray for the first time in her life.



“Nice punch,” her father snorted, drawing her attention to himself. “Although I told you to leave.” 

 
However, he was not angry. He only looked at her calmly, as only a bleeding man could watch. And, of course, gratitude was read in his eyes. Kat let out a long and noisy sigh, then dropped to her knees. 

 
“We should get out of here quickly.” JD groaned and squinting, rose to his feet and even helped her up. “This asshole is not dead, even though he is lying here for a long time.” 

 
“I didn't kill him...” Kat whispered. 

 
“Unfortunately, no.” the father looked with disdain at the muted man. "Let's go."

Chapter Text

James didn't immediately cool, but rather soon. He realized that he had left his own sister on the track, left her with their mother and that freak, but it was already too late to return. Besides, in any case he was not going to back down from the plan. His fingers, painfully gripping the steering wheel, slowly unclenched. Determination diluted with fear and timidity. He was alone, for the first time in his life he embarked on such an important adventure, not having a sister near him. Although he had a clear, thought-out plan, it was still not certain that everything would go well. Because Kat called this plan shit. But she didn’t know all the details, so her opinion was wrong... Wrong?

 
Rumbler, as he managed to call the car, continued to make noise and knock during the ride, but was driving at high speed without problems. It had a full tank of gas, it had a brand-new battery under the hood and quite a good engine. Katherine wasn't a professional, but she loved messing with her mother's Fiat, and always did her job well. Although her little experience and excessively developed sense of responsibility could be relied upon. However, from anxiety, his eyes couldn't close. He rode for more than an hour before he could see the familiar lights. Sherwood was a dim quiet town even during the day, not to mention the night.

 
The only one of all rare line of the cars, Sawyer turned on the road to the city. The car was already rustling so loud that its rumbling echoed through the sleeping streets. Grimacing, James parked it at the old graveyard, as far as possible from residential buildings. James doesn't wanted to be heard by everyone or even be arested by the police. The old women in Sherwood were nervous and curious. Coming out of the car, he decided to get to the nearest bus stop himself. He would have had enough money for food. The nearest convenience store was far away, but it was nothing. 

 
"Hey boy!" James turned around, peering into the darkness. Somewhere, standing at the gate, he was hailed by some low man. "Why are you staying here?"

 
"I was driving to the center, but my car was completely loud. I just wanted to go to the nearest grocery store and then come back here. Do I need to park now, sir?" asked James, approaching. 

 
A wrinkled old man leaning on a shovel looked at him, and then sighed. 

 
“I heard your car, even with my hearing aid.” he tapped his ear with his finger. "Fine, let's stay for the time. Otherwise, you will start and wake up the whole city... And where are you from?"

 
“From here.” answered James. "I was at a party, only managed to escape to home."

 
“Night parties...” the old man grunted. "I knew two youngsters who loved the night parties. Lying right here, drunk, sometimes with girls. Immediately they were buried twenty years ago. How old are you?"

 
“Seventeen.” Sawyer didn't think to lie, although he could. 

 
“Just like them!” the old man raised his tone, his eyes wide. "Athletes, well done, good guys, that's just burned their youth, heard enough, read a lot, and killed each other. You haven't heard, I guess."

 
“Kurt Kelly and Ram Sweneey.” the guy breathed out loud, frozen in place. 

 
He immediately thought of them as soon as he put all the puzzles together. Twenty years ago, two athletes, good guys, killed each other. Only today, or rather yesterday, James made notes about this in his notebook.

 
"You heard, yeah." the old man nodded. “Everyone here has heard about them. And even then I was not only guarding here, but also digging graves. I remember every younges who died at this fall. And then the youth began to go to foreign cities. There you get into trouble, far from home, and what will you do? And what will do your parents?"

 
James was silent, dropping his gaze. He has matured another small plan. 

 
“And these guys have fathers, I heard that too... uh..."

 
“Ugh!” the old man spat at his feet. "Of course, they are gone mad! But who can blame them? Both sons were the only ones in families. This is why they became... the same." 

 
“And after them there was a guy, it seems.” James raised a curious glance, but tried to leave his tone indifferent. "His name was Jason or something like this..."

 
"He was a newman in town. Also the only one to the father. I don't remember their last name. His father was in a mental hospital for something boomed. And that is better than those two, Kelly and Sweneey, God be their judge..."

 
"Did he have some people at the funeral?"

 
“No, only father.” the old watchman shook his head. "Why are you so interested?"

 
"I just... heard about him something. But no one really knows anything." James sighed. “Okay, goodbye, sir. Good luck with your work."

 
“And you’ll get home well, boy. Better not drive around to parties on this trashcan."

 
The guy grinned back, but when he turned his back, the smirk from his face evaporated. He thought about what he had just found out: JD has no other relatives besides his father, who is now sitting in a mental hospital, if he is alive...

 
"Hey boy, hey!" the watchman cheerfully called him again. 

 
James turned, frowning. 

 
"What's the matter?"

 
"I remembered his surname. Dean. Their last name was Dean."

 
“Thank you, of course, but...” the guy shook his head. He had to show that he was not interested. It would be strange if the name of some unknown dead person was interesting to him. 

 
"I know, uselessly said it." the old man waved his hand. "Go."

 
And the young man went further. For a second, he even allowed himself to imagine how the combination 'James Dean' can sounded, and then he shook his head, angry at himself. It sounded foolish, very ugly, very! And not at all because the mere fact that JD could have married their mother was distastefully. Just because it sounded like he was some kind of cool hero of some kind of overly pretentious series. He liked 'James Sawyer' more.

 
When it turned out to dismiss this thought, the guy thought about where to go now. It was almost three in the morning; even the oldest grannies did not wake up so early. And, actually, he promised to return to the motel by dawn. But he could at least try to learn something else. Aunt Heather slept, that's for sure. She had no habit of not sleeping at night, like Veronica, who was sometimes tormented by insomnia. Now, understanding why this happened to her, James felt sorry for the mother. He practically did not blame her for anything, he didn't lie to his sister. Just looked at everything from the other side, tried to think soberly. And yet, no matter how pathetic mom was, she didn't seem to him like stupid girl who could be deceived by some kind of boy. Undoubtedly, his mother loved him, but she’s not one of those women who lose the mind because of love. She was brave strong and smart already when she won JD with a... What did she say? A croquet stick? Yes, even too brave and strong.

 
Passing by the phone booth, James stopped for a couple of seconds. He knew the name of his father and grandfather. If he was still alive and lived here, then it was possible to find out the address by looking in the telephone directory inside the machine. Why he wanted to know the address? He couldn't just come there and appear on the eyes of someone from living relatives. They might have questions, why is this boy so much like their close relative, who died a long time ago.

 
James spat on everything. He wasn't going to go to the Dean. Most likely, it wasn't even exist. He was just curious, okay? Going into the machine, the guy saw that the directory is still as weighty as before. Many adult residents of Sherwood, who were older than thirty-five, had difficulty switching to mobile communications. Highlighting his phone, James began flipping to the letter 'D', then slowly and slyly read the list of names, making shure that he isn't missed the most important. It seems that not so much Deans was in Sherwood, just one: 'Dean, Bud'. At the same time, the line with his name, telephone number and address was crossed out with a marker. Directories changed every couple of years, so something happened to Dean recently. Even if it wasn't the same Dean, it was possible to go and check, blessing, the crossed out address was still readible. James was definitely not going to shuffle on the other side of the city. He quickly got to his car, started this misunderstanding again (yes, his sister is a genius, he remember, but, in fact, he also knew very well how to start the car with the help of the wiring), and ride, again rattling the insides of the Rumbler.

 
So, the fourth hour of the morning went, and he, like some kind of fool, stood and looked at the old shabby house. If the building hadn't been so neglected and abandoned, it would not even be different from a number of other almost identical houses on this street. On the mailbox was almost erased the inscription, once inaccurately derived bold strokes of black paint: 'Dean'. From the box stuck numerous receipts to pay for any services. Squeaky low gates seemed to be absolutely no barrier to thieves and detractors, but something prompted James, no one wants to come here of their own accord. He walked to the porch, then noticing that there was a lock on the door. Well, the owner of the house wasn't in home. This for better. The guy went around the house, trying to look into the windows. The door leading to the patio was open. Great, so the lock on the front door was a snag. Obviously someone was hiding from postmen and bailiffs. James went into the kitchen, where, obviously, as in the other rooms, it was terribly dirty. Smelled of rotten food, alcohol, fume, and much more than the other unpleasant. The non-working refrigerator was wide open, inside was empty, not counting the mold spots on the inner wall. From the empty and very dusty living room he could see a staircase to the second floor. And, being a completely risky fool, James, naturally, went there. He had already heard the dissatisfied voice of his sister - "Are you crank?" - and almost felt like she was pulling him back, calling for sanity. Justifying to himself, the guy decided that the owner most likely sleeps in the company of a drunkard or under the fence, or, if he is here, he is unlikely to be in a sober mind and memory. The condition of the house clearly spoke of a long and chronic drinking bout. The ladder, unfortunately, creaked, but no one came out. So it was empty here. From one bedroom, where the door was ajar, something bore. James did not even want to know what was there. He was afraid that if he looked in there, he would weep from the smell. Or, worse, stumble upon a drunken mug. The other room at the end of the corridor was closed for another small lock. And, due to the dust on it, for a long time. Well, it was very interesting to come here, soak the clothes of the old stench, and find out that there is nothing interesting here, except for the old locker, to which there was no key. But after all it was possible to make a master key. Kat taught him, he remembered. In the end, the only thing that was not so good in Springfield - the ever-sticking lock in the school locker.

 
James went downstairs, noticing a whole bunch of crumpled receipts in the fireplace. Obviously, old Dean liked to bask in living fire at particularly cold evenings, when he was the only one on the street who didn’t have heating because of his debts. He sat down in front of a whole heap of soot and ashes, in which crumpled pieces of paper were stained, Jim found what he was looking for - a paper clip. Strong enough not to break and not bend in the lock, but flexible enough so that he could shape it into the master key with his deft hands. As a result, after five minutes of fussing with the old lock, hearing the long-awaited click, the guy did not even believe at first, but then readily opened the door. And, to his surprise, here, compared to other rooms, there was no confusion and stench. Yes, everything was turned upside down, but there was no dirt. Maybe a couple of powder stains on the ceiling of the room, the scorched carpet, but nothing more... Having closed the door behind him, James walked over to the desk with the boxes turned out. There were educational notebooks, some old ones. Taking one of them, the guy wiped off a layer of dust from it and read: 'JD's property'.

 
Doubts left. 

 
He stood in the room of his father, was in his house, where his drunken grandfather-psycho, Bud Dean, now living. At the moment, James could see what was surrounded the seventeen-year-old JD, who was once loved by their mother.

 
Of course, this whole mess, as if looking for something here, was a search. Probably, after such a loud suicide, they were looking for another bomb or ingredients for it. James sat on a mountain of clothes, under which the bed was hidden, and began flipping through a notebook. There was a minimum of notes, but a maximum of drawings. Black, sometimes illegible, often just doodles, but sometimes - beautiful and colorful drawings. The slurpee glass was a harmless pattern, and then a mushroom cloud appeared, which occupied half of the notebook page, then an explosion, accompanied by a big inscription “BOOM!”, as if in comics. His father was always crazy. One day the impulsive drawings suddenly changed. The guy looked at the date - it was already notes for late September. Here was a croquet stick. He met Veronica. James froze, running his hand over the drawing drawn with a slight pressure. Then the notes disappeared altogether. Jim found some more notebooks, flipped through each one to the end. In one of them on the last page was a portrait. Portrait of Veronica. Of course, like everything done with a black pen, but there was not a single doodle here. Only neat lines, careful observance of the smallest details. Purity, accuracy, frugality. It was probably the only drawn with love in it. This time, James didn't deny this, didn't vehemently reject this thought and look for another explanation of this tenderness that was put into this portrait.

 
Of course, he loved her. If he hadn’t loved, he wouldn’t have killed those people who hurt her. Of course, it was a sick love, but very strong. James hated JD, but he seemed to have gradually ceased to wish for his death. His father was crazy psycho, but deeply in love. And after all, at some short time, he and Veronica were happy and in love with each other with innocent young love...

 
James unearthed a mountain of clothing. It's surprised how Bud never got rid of these things. He simply locked his son’s room into the lock, threw away the key, and seemed to forget that his only child lived here. Don't even throw things away. If he genuinely wanted to get rid of all this, the locker wouldn't have become an obstacle for him. James found at the closet another trench, more worn, which was a little too big for him. Yes, he was not afraid to try it on. Looking at himself in the mirror (which he had to wipe first), Jim thought that if he met such a guy at school, he would try to avoid him. After that, he hastily pulled off this trench coat and left at the mirror. There were also many posters that could be seen in the light of the rising sun. The biggest one was the poster for the film “Evil Dead II”. James bitterly noticed that he himself, to be honest, always liked this movie. However, as Katherine do.

 
James went further, to the far corner, where books were scattered around the bedside table, and there was one unpacked box for moving, probably opened during the search, and before that it was closed. Apparently, JD was also a habit to pull with the arrangement of things to the last. Or maybe he often moved.

 
The fallen book was "Moby Dick", but in the box... James didn't want to look there, not at all. These were not his things. It was the box of his father when he was still a young man. He didn't open it until the imaginary death, so there were reasons. In fact, these thoughts became even more curious. Jim toke box in hand. Above it was written with a fluent hand: 'Things'. And that's all. There were only half of the things here. Two books from the school curriculum, cassettes with recorded programs, an empty photo frame, and a bent badge with the inscription 'Criminal', portrait of John Bender and a small caption under it 'The Breakfast Club'. This gave James a smirk. He wanted to ask JD if he really loved this film and this character in it, or just bought an icon for self-irony. Putting the little thing in his pocket, the guy left the box at the place from which he had taken it.

 
Then he took the 'Moby Dick' and sat on the bed, deciding to look through the book. Still, too many notes were in fields... 

 
Yawn for the first time, James didn't even notice. Then he didn't notice that the sentences sometimes blurred before his eyes. 

 
When the door banged against the wall, James jumped to his feet. The dream took off. He didn't even realize that he had fallen asleep at all. The sun outside the window was already in full swing, breaking through the dim glass. In the doorway, stretching out his hand with a pistol, was obviously Bud Dean. Unshaven and stout, in a shabby shirt, with bulging eyes, as if he saw a ghost. 

 
“You...” he breathed. "You're seeing to me. I am sleeping."

 
James mentally swore, realizing that wake and hangover Dean took him for his son. Bud lowered the gun, then, barely stumbling, nearly fell to the floor. 

 
“You died.” he gasped in fright. "You exploded."

 
James was still silent, glancing toward the window. The second floor. Jumping into the window will be a problem. But an even bigger problem will be staying here. 

 
Bud ran the first rag into him, James waved. 

 
"You are not transparent!" The man exclaimed. 

 
The guy, quickly seeing how he could run away, threw back some kind of T-shirt, and then rushed to the exit, slipping out. 

 
"Stop!" Bud firmly squeezed his forearm. "Are you alive! Are you alive!" He screamed. 

 
"No, I'm dead!" responded James, trying to escape.

 
“You...” Bud was hanging around with him. "You exploded! You fucked up my life!"

 
Grandfather tugged at himself, giving a strong slap in the face. Ring hited the ears. James sighed, splitting his eyes, but immediately got his teeth. 

 
"They took my company! Took the job! You wanted this!"

 
The grip on his arm was unclenched. The guy staggered back, stumbled and almost rolled down. The relief didn't last long. 

 
"I must blowed up this whole house with you even earlier!" Bud grabbed him by the collar of his shirt, then, shaken once again, began to fall. 

 
James, waking up, began to push him away, tried to hit him in the face so that these tenacious fingers would finally open. It seems to hit the chin. The old man gasped, then growled, and then hit the body, hitting the edge.

 
"Because of you, I was in an asylum for five years! Because of you they think i'm crazy!" Bud, snapping, shoved him into the wall. 

 
James lost his foot, fell on his back. Bud was coming at him like a tornado. Jim kicked him, hardly a man managed to strike first. Grandfather, shaken, clutched at the railing, but James ran down, but, missing his foot, fell down. Fortunately, these were only the last four steps. 

 
"You geek!" Bud roared, then a shot rang out. 

 
And, for God's sake, nothing gave so much strength to run, like a gun in the hands of a madman who wants to kill you. James, barely rising, rushed into the kitchen, jumping out into the courtyard and running onto the road. There was blood in his mouth. In the nose was the smell of dirt and fume. In the eyes still floated stars. 

 
"Geek!" Bud shouted in his back. 

 
Out in the street, creaking brakes, a car was carried. Black Mercedes. And James, realizing whose car it was, didn't even know where to run now, until he noticed his mother at the wheel. She stopped right in front of him, there was an indescribable horror on her face. 

 
"James!" She exclaimed with pity. 

 
A shot from behind made the guy flinch. He turned around for the last time, looking at this damned house in a half-empty street where his father had once grown up. And now, every time, before calling him a psycho, James would surely remember where he grew up and with whom. Bud Dean pointed the gun right at him. 

 
"Get down!" shouted mom.

 
The guy ducked, then, when the bullet whistled somewhere nearby, quickly climbed into the car. Another bullet flew past. What a joy that old Bud Dean lost his skills with age! After another ten seconds, Veronica Sawyer, quickly turning around, took her son away from this street. 

 
"James Francis, we will have a very long and very serious conversation!" Exclaimed Mom, still terrified. 

 
"How did you find me?" just asked Jim, panting. 

 
“Do you even know what I felt when I woke up alone and saw that my children had run away!” continued to shout mom. 

 
James grabbed the handle on the door, staring at his mother in surprise. “But Kat, didn't... did Katherine return to the motel?”

 
"You left your sister on the street at night alone!" mother looked at him with such anger, which the guy hadn't seen yet. "And she didn't return! She was in Marysville, JD found her."

 
“You left her there with JD!” shouted James now. "Left her with this..."

 
"Because I went after you!" Mom answered in a raised tone. "I thought you left together! JD and I wanted to split up and look for you in Springfield and Sherwood. He picked up this contact so that he would find you on the cameras. I rode here for an hour and died of obscurity!"

 
Mother shed tears from her eyes. That's what the guy could never resist. He immediately disappeared, immediately shrank, feeling his exorbitant guilt. He did not return until dawn. Moreover, fell asleep, in the fucking house of fucking Bud Dean, the biggest psycho in all the state. He broke mother's heart. Kat will kill him... 

 
"Then JD called me and said that you in Sherwood. Kitty said you wanted to come back before sunrise. So what the hell are you doing in this man's house? Why did you go there?"  Mom was terribly serious, while still crying. 

 
“I just... I just wanted to see what if Dean still living...” he was babbling. 

 
Mom stopped at the curb, and dropped her head on the steering wheel, immediately burst into tears into her voice. James hurried to hug her.

 
"Mom, don't cry, please! I’m all right, I'm here with you. I'm not going anywhere else without you, honestly..."

 
"Jimmy, baby!" Veronica very tightly pressed him to her. The injured rib gave a stabbing pain, James grimaced, but did not give a sound. "I was so afraid! I thought you were going to get you killed! If I was late, this man..."

 
"No, no one would kill me, mom!" He strongly doubted this, but had to calm mother urgently. “I swear I'm fine. You had time, see? You found me. Tell me how you found me." 

 
Veronica barely pulled away from him, quickly wiping away tears.

 
"I was told that you were visible on the cameras, you drove into the city. I drove along the same road and asked the guard at the graveyard if he had seen your car. He told me that he even spoke to you, that you know about Kurt, Ram and Jason too. You recognized his name and left. And then I thought that you could go to Bud. I was in such a hurry..." mother covered her face with her hands, but she no longer cried, only breathed deeply. "James, I'm just a terrible mother, I know! And I'm a terrible person. The worst in the world! I... I loved him. I loved this monster... If I hadn’t spoken to him at the day of acquaintance, there wouldn't be nothing..."

 
“And Kat and I wouldn’t exist either.” James took mother's hands, removing her palms from her face. “He loved you and killed for your sake, but, mom, it’s not your fault. You didn't know that he would be a maniac... And this is not even JD's fault."

 
Veronica looked at him in surprise. 

 
"You think so?"

 
“Well, it took me a while to get to that.” the guy shrugged. “I also risked too much, but I understood a lot of important things, learned a lot... And I don’t even know if it was worth it or not. I risked everything, risked myself, for the sake of such a simple thought, which I, of course, had never thought, because I'm fool. I almost died as the biggest idiot, mom. And I am ashamed, I am very ashamed. I don’t even know what I can do, to redeem yourself in front of you, in front of Kat. I'm such an idiot..."

 
"James, honey." Veronica hugged him again. "You're not an idiot. You're the smartest boy, I know that for sure. You just can't hold yourself. And this is not your fault either." 

 
Embracing her, the guy felt salty tears in his eyes.

Chapter Text

JD barely stand on his feet after two minutes. Kat feared that he would fall down and they wouldn't be able to go anywhere at all, so carefully took his arm. JD strained, she too, but, nevertheless, didn't say anything when feeled a prosthesis instead of a hand. People do not remain unscathed after blowing up themself, and don't take a knife in the palm of the forearm with such equanimity. 

 
"Where is the car?" asked Katherine. 

 
"Your mother take it. She left to look for James. I have to call her..." the father reached into the pocket of his trench for the phone, but couldn't find it. 

  
They stopped by the road, the girl pulled a device out of his pocket by herself. She dialed mother's number from memory. 

 
“Hello, JD, I'm already in Sherwood, but...” Mum murmured, like a tongue twister.

 
“It's me, mom.” Kat replied shamefuly, afraid to even look into JD's eyes. 

 
"Kitty! Sunshine!" Mom just cried. "God, are you with him? Are you with James there?"

 
"No, it's just me. James went to Sherwood, mom." Katherine felt that now she was crying herself. “We are... we quarreled with him, I didn't stop him..." 

 
“Give me.” father extended his hand weakly. The girl put the phone to his ear. 

 
How strange it was to feel her father's hair, which tickled her fingers. So dark and tough. She herself had the same.

 
"Veronica, listen." his voice immediately returned to normal. He tried to speak calmly, kept the pain inside. "Yes, she is with me, I found her in Marysville. The Contact called me and said that she had been here since two in the morning. Listen, Veronica, wait... Listen, okay? I will explain everything later. She is here, she is alright, I will feed her and let her sleep until you return. James drove in Sherwood at three o'clock in the morning, he didn't pass and didn't walk through the center. He was probably on detour roads, the shops' cameras didn't notice him."

 
Katherine didn't notice how she let out a sigh of relief. James got to Sherwood... God, he didn’t have an accident on this stupid car... But he didn’t come back before dawn, damn it! He wasn't in the center! He was missing somewhere! One alarm quickly changed another.

 
“Yes, he is still in the city.” JD called her the car numbers, then turned his gaze to her, to his daughter. "Do you remember how it looked?"

 
Kat nodded and put the phone to her ear, then called the brand, barely stammering. "The color is light green, there is rust on the hood on the edges. The rear sags noticeably, and the cap on the left front wheel is also different. Is that enough?"

 
Mom said nothing, obviously surprised, but then exhaled. "Completely. Take care of youself, Kitty. I will be there soon."

 
“Just find James.” said her daughter. "Tell him... Tell that I said many stupid things. I didn’t want..."

 
“Don't worry, honey.” mother replied.

 
And pressed 'hang up'. Looking out at JD, Katherine saw that he was looking at her curiously, but more sympathetically. Kat put the phone back in his pocket, and then they went down the street. 

 
"So he stole the car?" the man asked, when from awkwardness the girl already pursed her lips. 

 
"I helped him. And I could have gone with him, but I was afraid. And I stayed on the road.” Kat confessed, then squeezing her jaws in anger at herself. "We could be in Sherwood together. We wanted to return before dawn, and now he is in trouble, and I... And I almost died twice."

 
"Twice? repited JD. Katherine bit her tongue and from now was completely silent.

 
She is no longer answered and didn't look at him until they walked up to 7-eleven, and then, stopping, Kat sighed. The shop was still closed. Before the opening was less than an hour. 

 
"Do you want to eat?" asked her father. 

 
“No.” she replied, quite sincerely. 

 
Now the food was in the last place. It would be insane to get hungry now - when she, having not slept almost all night, got into trouble twice, was nearly slaughtered, and now she was moving the bleeding JD to the motel. And she stopped only because he was getting worse. He became very pale. 

 
“Can you enter in the hotel on your feet?” The girl asked him. 

 
Father shrugged. 

 
"There is a woman at reception. Don't you think, even if I walk into myself, in this form, she will have a lot of interesting questions."

 
Sighing, Kat walked on. Well, she could come up with something. At the entrance to the motel, she left JD at the wall, and went inside, feeling her father watching her back. The woman at the reception, glancing at her, gasped. "O merciful Lord! What happened to you, miss?"

 
"You just don't believe in it." Katherine manage to smile. "In fact, we wanted to apologize, me and my brother. We went to a theme party, and no one was warned. Our parents were looking for us, right?"

 
“Yes, but...” the woman adjusted her glasses, frightenedly looking at her and looking behind her back. "Where is your brother?"

 
"He ride with friends to his girlfriend. We have very big problems..." sighing, the girl rested her hands on the rack. “My father took me from the party and he seems very angry. I think there will be house arrest. Sorry, really, that we scared you so much."

 
“I'm seriously thinking to evict you for it!” Now the old woman frowned. "I was threatened with criminal liability!"

 
"No, nothing serious, I swear!" Kat waved her hands. "We had a horror evening and that's it! My father was threatened with a heart attack when he saw fake blood..." 

 
Katherine pointed to a red spot on her t-shirt. In fact, it was JD's blood, somewhere even fresh, and at the mere thought of it her legs flinch, but Kat only smiled nervously, and then smiled sadly. An old woman got all the paint off her face.

 
“You teenagers are completely crazy.” she said. "Where is your father?"

 
“He smokes outside.” Katherine said with a sigh. “I know it will be arrogance, but can I ask you for threads and needles? I just don’t have one with me, I forgot to take it from home, and I need to sew my clothes. For now I hardly ever get pocket money for new ones. I'm really sorry..."

 

The old woman rose from her seat with a grunt of hostility. Still mumbling apologies and regrets, Katherine walked her all the way to the back room, and then called JD. Limping, he stepped into the hall, quickly crossed it and got to the stairs. Seeing that after him there stayed two drops of blood, the girl was horrified. While still watching the lame father look, she wiped a drop from the floor with her own palm.

 
“Here, miss.” The woman came out of the back room, Kat barely managed to get to her feet, and then, trying to keep at least a calm face, took a hank of thread along with a needle, taking them with a clean left hand. "Another similar incident and I will expel you, honestly, even though you paid for two weeks. I'll tell the same thing to your parents..." 

 
“My father just went into the room.” she nodded toward the stairs. “And mom and brother will come back at... Honestly, I don’t know when. But very soon, I guess. But I will tell you words to my father."

 
"I will say it to him with you!" The old woman readily went up the stairs, Kat rushed after her. 

 
“No need, really...” she mumbled. 

On the second floor, they both saw JD, with a very serious face, frowning, already half went into the room.

 
"Mister!" called woman. 

 
He threw such a displeased look at her that she froze in place. Kat, too, turned cold, thinking for a moment that all this spite could be turned to her. 

 
“You... you know about our rules... This is the last time...” the old woman murmured. 

 
“Yes, I know.” he growled. "And my children will be punished for this to the fullest extent, no doubt. Katherine! "

 
Startled by how her father snarled her name, she went to him. For all the time of their communication, she had never seen him like this... He was like this with Veronica at the very end? Was he in anger like that? When she closed the door behind her, she looked back and didn't expect to see her father so exhausted. And... not a bit of anger towards her. All his spite and anger was just pain, which, probably, he could no longer hold in himself. 

 
“We need to go to the bathroom.” he said shortly. "He cut me... very hard. This son of a bitch..."

 
Kat helped him to reach, to drop the coat and shirt on the tile... Under which (she tried not to look, she tried very hard) there was pink-gray skin, covered with uneven scars in some places, rough. On the right side, the entire side was covered in blood. The forearm was cut diagonally, a large line went almost along from the elbow to the wrist. And there was a lot of blood. Very much. Katherine felt so bad that she almost vomited a lousy night snack. She closed her eyes, trying to breathe deeply, but then the smell of blood came to her nose... 

 
"Quiet, calm down." the father told her. 

 
She wanted to laugh hysterically, and at the same time cry. He was dying, and she was unharmed, and at the same time she had to be calmed down by him. 

 
“God...” she murmured. "God..."

"It is need to be sew. Have you ever sewn up wounds?" asked JD, seated in the shower. 

 
Katherine nodded, then shook her head, then simply sniffed, trying to cover her face with her hand. When she was a little girl, she saw how doctor suture her brother after fights. Once, Mom did it. Once... when she fought for the last time defending her brother, she had a cut from a sheet of steel above her shoulder. She herself didn't understand how it happened, just fell on it, not even feeling anything, and a sharp corner did a one and half inch wound in deep, four inches to the right and it would hit the neck. Mom shouldn't have known, in any case.

"Hush, here!" The brother's voice sounded above her ear, she cried like a little girl. 

“Is she clean? Did you wash your hands? I will have tetanus!" she was hysterical. 

"Don't pour tears right there, then it will not be!" James shouted at her.



JD tied his hand with a rag above his elbow. There was not so much blood before that, now it almost stopped. He tried to wipe his hand with a dry cloth, but the prosthesis did not obey. Kat, holding her breath, looking half-closed, wiped herself. 

 
“The first-aid kit is at the sink, in that drawer.” the father suggested. 

 
She went for it her on stiff legs, almost crawled over the medicine with trembling, dirty fingers, but then she awoke and first washed her hands. Washed so hard as she could. Under the nails there still dirt. 

 
“Come on, Kat.” JD called from behind. "Hands are already clean, I see. Wipe them off with peroxide if you have a doubt. And the needle too."

"Everything is sterile, stop whining!" James cut her off again with annoyance. "I am nervous myself. By the way, I need to be afraid. Why did you even climb in it?"

“They would kill you.” 

The brother grinned painfully, his blue fingers with a needle approaching her skin. Kat squealed, turned pale, tensed, began to breathe heavily. 

“It won't hurt." brother assured. "Well, maybe just a little. Look, there are two inches here. I will do it quickly, you just try to twitch, okay?"



Katherine sat down next to him, wiped with a bandage soaked in peroxide, his skin. Pinkish bubbles flowed down into a pool of blood, dissolving there really red foam. Father had a strong hand, he did not even strain, or could no longer do it. She hung up a wet thread on a needle, barely hitting the fifth time. If she could do it, she could sew it up. Not deep, not strong, calm. And she must not to cry. James told her not to pour tears there.

“You may not look." said brother. "So it wouldn't be so scary." 

And she really turned away, but the pulling pain was pretty strong, forcing her to twitch. However, it was still more painful to endure a ragged wound than this. 

"Easy. One stitch ready, or what do you call it there?" James tried to smile, but he was so pale, just deadly pale. Katherine couldn't look at him. "Well, nine more such stitches and that's it. Very quickly, you can stand, right?"

He spoke to her like a child.



One stitch. JD was silent, not twitching. There was much more pain in his life than this, probably already insignificant for him. He was burning in fire. He must have transplanted the skin. He used for pain for twenty years, and before that he fought for Veronica. How many stitches did he get in his life? Can this one compare with them all? 

 
“It's all right, Kitty.” said the father. Kat glanced at him with a bit of amazement. She was called this name only by her mother. JD, weakened, gradually recovered. He looked at her so confidently, so proudly, with such confidence. "You can tighten up."

"James!" it was the fifth stitch. It was painfuly than the first. 

"It was necessary to tighten!" The brother shouted back. "Why are you yelling at me? You know who I am, I'm not a doctor! And I try here for you..." 

He bit his lip, making the sixth. Struggling with herself, Kat looked at her wound. Wow... It didn’t look so scary. Of course, it was sewing thread, and black. The most unnoticeble. He screwed up even with a choice of threads. But, in fact, he sewed very carefully. He tried. And the tearing pain just became pulling. Seventh stitch. James no longer trembled. He was as focused as possible and seemed not to pay attention to her gaze, chained to him and to the stitching wound.



Tenth stitch. Katherine felt cold sweat running down her forehead and temples. How many minutes have it been? Or even an hour? Her hands had already become lighter, even her eyes got used for it, as well as her nose used for to this metallic smell and taste on her tongue, but her state of health only worsened. She could not take her eyes off this wound, which was already a 1/3 tightened by her stitch. Blood was seeping from the it, but barely. 

 
"Did you sew wounds before?" asked JD when it already seemed to her that he fell asleep. 

 
“I saw how they do it.” she answered in a hoarse voice. "And someone sewed me. One time. It was James." 

 
In head there was such a jumble. How many stitches needed to be done? How long was the thread? But her head cleared a little when her father started talking to her. She paid attention to him, and not to her sickness and blurred eyes.

 
"James?" with tired surprise responded the man. "How it happened?"

 
"I fought. We did it together. I just don't want to disturb mom, I was so scared. I panicked. But it was necessary to sew, there was two inches in length cut through with an steel sheet. And, actually, deeply, I felt such pain, as if eight inches deep into. James reassured me, he offered to sew himself. And he sewed up. The scar was ugly. It drags on slowly. And mom hasn't seen it yet."

 
She didn’t even immediately realize that she had uttered such a terrible secret to him, the most unreliable person... Although, it wasn't for now. JD was a reliable person. A terrible, mysterious manipulator, but a reliable person. For some reason she thought so.

“A little bit at all."  James breathed, apparently for himself. 

Kat believed him, really. She saw herself. He had bruised hands with broken knuckles, but he sewed carefully. He himself was sick and scared, and he sewed. And he did it, maybe not as carefully as a real doctor, but it worked. 

"It's over." 

They sighed at the same time. Her brother put a bandage on top of it, covered at least five patches on all sides, and then went to the door, leaning on the wall, as if he could fall off his feet. 

"Fuck. You know what, the Terrible Kit..." 

“J...” she grumbled without mood, feeling, nevertheless, guilt and duty to him. 

“...never ask me again about this, understand? Never in my life, you damned motherfucker." 

There was a silent for a second.

“We have the same mother." Katherine said. "So that was the biggest disgusting swear from you." 

A nervous smile appeared in brother's weakened face, then he laughed softly.



Twentieth stitch. It seemed to her that every one of it was different from each other. And all of them, of course, were ugly, although she tried, and yet what was the point of trying? Try not to disfigure JD with this suture? There were still about five. Or ten. 

 
“And I know that you fought.” father suddenly said. 

 
Kat glanced at him in amazement, and then came to her senses: he followed them. 

 
"But, apparently, Veronica does not know."

 
"Don't tell her. Please.” the girl blurted out. 

 
“Naturally, I will not.” the man replied, even with a small bit of offend. "Although it is strange that she herself hasn't guessed yet. How often did James call you the Terrible Kit with her at near?"

 
At the mention of this nickname, she was usually angry, but now she almost smiled.

 
"Not so often. He seems lake a thorn in ass, but never reveal my secrets. And I won't reveal his secrets either... Did you see our fights?"

 
"I saw. And I'm a bad father, just because I'm proud of how James fought and how you fought with him. He protected you and your mother, and you protected him... I wanted to tell you about myself after you graduated from school. So don't think that I would follow you on the sly all my life..."

 
"You couldn't do otherwise. I understand." answered Katherine, looking away. "Truly understand. You may not explain it to me twice."

 
She made another stitch. After that, JD again cut the silence with the phrase: 

 
"I'm so sorry."

 

“Me too.” Kat pursed her lips, and then, without letting him say a word, she squeezed his hand.

 
Not the wrist, for which she held it, but the palm soiled in blood. She was so afraid to look up, otherwise her father would see that she was about to cry. And she could not cry. No, it was absolutely impossible. JD barely squeezed her hand in response. Not weak, but just cautious. Afraid that she will break loose or quickly let him go. Kat didn't let go. She sighed and continued sewing.

“Never ask me again, understand?”



When she finished sewing, she put a bandage on the wound and carefully untied the improvised harness. 

 
"It's over." Short word. Calm and relief.

 
JD looked at his hand, then at her again. 

 
"Thank you." 

“No, there’s nothing to thank me for.” Kat shook her head. “If you wouldn't go for me, you would have been safe.” 

 
"If you wouldn't do this, he would have killed me."

 
“But because of me, you had to go to Marysville and save me.” 

 
"You aren't blaming for being in trouble. And, even more, it is not your fault that, as a father, I had to go for you and get you out of this shit."

 
'As a father'. Katherine silently opened her mouth, but immediately closed it and rose. 

 
“You need to change your clothes and lie down...”

 
"I know that. I can handle it myself. Now nothing threatens me. Can you bring me a travel bag here?" answered JD, slowly rising. 

 
Kat nodded and left. Finding that bag behind the bed, she opened the bathroom door and put things inside, then closed it behind her. And now, falling on her bed, she felt it again. Shiver. A large shiver that broke her body. If she closed her eyes, everything showed again. Everything is the voice of James, who screams in her back when she slams the car door; her own screaming and dimming headlights as he drives farther and farther away; Marysville night and booklet, clutched in her hand; dark cold bus stop; a hairy hand that climbs into her pocket for money; fall from the fence of the park; dark alley and quiet sobs; hours waiting, fear and trembling; light avenue, pedestrians who turn around; a maniac who offers her help; folding knife with a shiny blade; JD, who is very angry, who doesn't kill this jerk just for her sake; JD, who is injured; all the power in her hands, with which she can only punch, as she once punched a seventh-grader in the ear; blood, not her blood; mother's voice; thread and needle; more blood; sickness…

 
“Kat.” she realized that she was lying against the wall, dropping large tears, and JD, already dressed and not so weak, but immensely tired, was standing. "You need to take a shower and sleep. Your mother found James. She will be back with him soon."

 
“She found him.” the girl gasped, closing her eyes again. "He is alive..." 

 
"And, if I understood it right, practically unharmed. Although stuck in a fucking hell..." JD was silent, almost growling, and then sighed. “They will be back soon and we all will leave here. You also need to change clothes."

 
Yes, that goes without saying. She didn't want to get out of bed, but, imagining just for a moment, how mother and brother would react when they saw her in mud, blood and tears, Katherine almost jumped to her feet. She grabbed the first thing she came across - the very blouse and skirt she was wearing on the day they urgently left Sherwood. And, going to the bathroom, the girl found that everything was clean. There was no blood. Everything was washed, the first-aid kit, rummaged and flung open, was closed on the latch, as before. All those splashes, all that dirt and heaps of clothes on the floor — everything evaporated, as if there was nothing. It would be as if she had lost her mind, and she saw it. But on father's hand was a bandage to the elbow, which it was impossible to hide with the sleeve of a shirt, and there was dried blood on her skin. On the fingers, on the clothes, on the knees. Pulling it all off, Kat climbed into the bath and turned on the water, not such a boiling water, to burn here alive, but hot enough to wipe off all this filth. And, it seemed to her, all this still on her anyway. The fingers were already shriveled and red, the nails almost came off, but under them, it seemed, there was still dried blood. There was dust in her hair, sort of. There is sand on the elbow. It's been half an hour. Catherine got out reluctantly, only to look at herself in the mirror. Clean, she remarked with satisfaction, but she still felt dirty. Pasting a plaster on a bruised elbow, about which she was remembered only now, when it was tingling after bathing, Kat tried to examine the bruise from the knife on the neck. It wasn't there. Of course, he didn't hurt her. Only threatened. But it was so close... Having washed with cold water for some time, trying to stop an endless stream of tears, the girl dried herself with a towel, got dressed and went into the room. After the shower, the nose again felt all the smells. It smelled only of shampoo, soap, cleanser, which, apparently, came in handy a lot. No blood.

 
JD, barely asleep, looked at her with attention. Even carefully. 

 
“I'm fine.” Kat said, not very confidently. "I'm just tired."

 
At least it was true. She removed a dirty blanket from the bed, on which she lay before the shower, and fell right on a clean sheet, again hugging herself with her hands. Now all these images of various misfortunes that happened to her, retreated in the face of exhaustion. She fell asleep as quickly as she could. 

 
And was awakened by some terrible rumble, as if someone were pounding a bucket with a hammer without stopping. JD looked out the window with a wary look, holding the phone in his hand. Kat, sleepily blinking her eyes, got up, and then, thinking that she had already heard such a sound, she suddenly realized that this was the pimped car that James had driven on. And if it was the noise of the car itself...

 
"They're back!" She exclaimed, quickly shoeing and at the same time trying to find an explanation for JD. "This is James's car! They're back!" 

 
The girl cheerfully went out into the corridor, went downstairs (by that time the roar had already stopped), and ran out to the parking lot. Father's Mercedes was standing on the edge. Mom got out of it. Painfully familiar car, almost falling into separate parts, was right behind it. James tried to force the door to close, slamming it incessantly. 

 
"James!" shouted girl.

 
The brother turned around with such a face as if he hadn't seen her for about fifteen years. And Kat didn't know what she wanted more: to hug him or punch him in the face for not returning before sunrise, as promised, and for all saying things to her then. But she noticed that he had a big scarlet bruise on his jaw, starting to fill with a rich purple color, and under the eyes of brother there were such huge bruises, as if he hadn't slept during all his life. And his eyes were, like two wells, so dark with fear and grief. However, seeing her, he came to life. 

 
"Kat!" He said, rushing to meet. 

 
And, not having had time to take three steps to him, the girl felt how tightly her brother squeezed her in his arms. She, too, pulled him to her, almost choking. 

"You!" She exclaimed in his ear. “J., you... you...”

 
"Moron!" grinning, the brother clasped her face with his hands, breathing heavily, and then, after watching enough of her, pressed again to his chest. "I'm an idiot. I am such an idiot, you can’t even imagine..."

 
"...I can imagine..."

 
"...and I don’t even know how I can atone for this. We shouldn't have separated, remember? Never in my life I will leave you again! Never!"

 
"Me too!" Katherine burst into tears again, but this time for joy, and immediately laughed. "James, I will never leave you!"

 
Veronica, standing a little behind, looked away from them, trying not to burst into tears again. Immediately her eyes caught JD. He was without a trench, now in a shirt with sleeves rolled up over a T-shirt. And he, too, was on edge, but relief, due to the look, overwhelmed him too. Looking away from the children, he caught her gaze and sighed. His arm was with bandage on it, and it seemed that scarlet drops appeared on the bandages. Immediately Sawyer felt how many questions she had, first of all, to him, and then to her daughter. She was safe, healthy and unharmed, but he, too pale and so weak that he could hardly be recognized. In the morning he was allright. What happened to him? Did he save himself? Did Kat save him? Veronica, just a second thought, went straight to him. Her children, in each other’s arms, couldn't rejoice for more that they finally found each other.

Chapter Text

Veronica let him to avoid questions when they were standing at the motel. She gave him some air when he said that now they needed to leave and began to pack. She didn't ask for his permission, she sat behind the wheel, simply because, well, did you see him? JD hardly controled his right hand with bandages on it, and his left arm, hidden under the sleeve and under the glove (which was a hundred percent prosthesis) seemed to be heavy in general - it was noticeable how his shoulders were tired. 

 
"Where we go?" She asked when he returned from the hall, settling all questions with the reception woman. 

 
“West Liberty.” JD gasped out, spreading across the passenger seat, and then glanced at the children, who were already starting to sleep in the back seat, but still listened attentively to their every word. “Then, if everything goes well, we’ll go to Kenton.”

 
"Back to Sherwood?" Said James, who had been ignoring him for several days before. And now in his sleepy voice Veronica couldn't hear any hate, only seriousness. "The plan said to stay away from it, or I was wrong?"

 
“The plan was quitely different.” JD didn't hiding that he wasn't happy because of this escape. Then he looked askance at Kat. It became clear that he was dissatisfied with both of them. "We just left not far for a while, until we come up with something better- Don't come up with something together. But the police didn’t look for Veronica, she is still unaware of anything, and there is no new information about the Martha's killer..."

 
Veronica glared at him displeased.

 
“Come on, they understand everything.” said JD, knowing full well what this look meant. "And, nevertheless, if you broke into Sherwood again, you could bring a tail. So we leave now."

 
Katherine, already falling asleep, sighed heavily. She has already moved from Sherwood to Springfield, just recently returned back, and now, who knows how much more they would travel around the state. Or maybe even across the country. Maybe her life would have become a series of crossings and an endless escape, and the only thing that would be different is her locker combination. And yet, Kat wasn't going to take the initiative and try to disrupt the course of things. Now she was with her closest people, the only people in the whole world who could be trusted. And, although she didn't like such plans, she humbly relied on JD and Mom. James didn't say anything (probably because of shame), and, therefore, he also accepted this. When he already gave up and relied on others, Katherine had no choice but doing the same.

 
Squeezing her brother's hand, she felt how he squeezed her hand in response, and then, putting head on his shoulder, fell asleep. In the presence of the whole family, it was so calm that she didn’t even have nightmares.

 
James, full of impressions, fell asleep later. Until that time, he remembered how Bud Dean shouted curses at his back, from which goosebumps ran down his back, and he saw mom’s tears, and her hands holding the steering wheel. He didn't want to leave her alone in the car, but he had to take the Rumbler out of Sherwood and return it back to Marysville, to the parking lot of the hotel, where this unfortunate car would continue to rust further. But after all, while Katherine was pack their things, he didn't lose time: he pulled out the battery, and left it here, in the backseat. Gasoline didn't make sense to merge - it was not enough in the tank. After all, he hasn't time enough...

 
The son’s snifflength informed Veronica that the children had fallen asleep completely. With a worried look away from them, she glanced again at JD. He looked back at her. 

 
"What happened in the city?" She asked quietly, nodding at his hand. 

 

"Mugger. Kat ran into the mugger, I found her in time and we fought back together," he replied. "but she is a clever girl and, in fact, very strong, and I haven't fought for a hundred years. There is also prosthesis..."

 

"How many of it do you have?" asked Veronica, deep in her soul, not wanting to know the answer to this question.

 
"A hand, then a pin in the leg, which is unlikely to ever be pulled out, I still have headaches. For the first five years, I was completely deaf in my right ear. Over time, it becomes easier, I regularly testing in the hospital..." he gave a long explanation, without looking into her eyes. “And you... You seem to have given birth to children in the eighth month.” 

 
“The usual situation when a woman is pregnant with twins.” Veronica repeated the words of her attending gynecologist, which he told her more than seventeen years ago. "But, in general... There were problems. At school, at home. The only one who supported me everytime is Martha."

 
Silence fell again. Sawyer focused on the road, driving smoothly. She was looking for any way to get away from this topic, because now too little time has passed since she buried her friend and couldn't think about her without tears. Although now, whatever the topic they have brought, it was impossible to escape from the burden. 

 
"What is that mugger did to you?" The woman asked, looking again at the his hand. "Somehow quickly the bandage gets wet. Maybe you need a seam?"

 
“Uh... there is no need in seam." muttered JD, laying his sore hand on his stomach. "Kat already sewed."

 
"Kat?" Veronica almost completely turned to him. 

 
“Look at the road.” the man immediately said to her. “If you react this way, I'll sit behind the wheel.”

 
"Go to hell, how can I react to this? You really can't explain anything!" Sawyer turned her face to the road, but she still hardly saw it. Paints came off her face. "Tell me the details immediately."

 
“Jesus, are you sure you can lead in this condition?” 

 
"I can park on the sidelines." Veronika muttered. “By the way, I drove the children to school and clubs for seventeen years, during which they fought in the morning every three days. I can lead with one hand and separate the violent teenagers with the other. And you had better tell, until my hand got to you."

 
"It sounds ambiguous." 

 
"JD!"

 

"Okay!" he prepared to dodge her strike. Her hand was firm already at seventeen years, and now probably has become even stronger. Fortunately, Sawyer gave him a chance. “I found her when the mugger drove her to some kind of construction site. He had a knife." Veronica interrupted the story with a noisy sigh, JD, after waiting a second, continued. “I distracted him, told her to run, but naturally she didn't run away. I haven't the opportunity to train for a couple of years, I haven't eaten for almost a day and haven't slept, so, of course, this damn maniac has been superior to me. Although the prosthetic and knife is still equal. Fortunately, he didn’t touch anything serious with a knife, it functions normally..." JD squeezed his left hand into a fist three times, then slowly made a brute force with all his fingers. "I will then check with my supplier whether it is worth repairing it. Actually, expensive shit."

 
Veronica realized that she wanted to ask him how much he earns, but then she stopped: they were talking about her daughter. 

 
“How deep did the knife cut you?” She asked. 

 
“Deep enough to touch veins. And long enough."

 
Imagining how much bloody was there, Veronica was frightened not for herself (she had seen blood in her life), but for Katherine. Peeping at her daughter, Sawyer noticed that she was sleeping calmly on her brother’s shoulder. Although, it didn't mean that she wasn't scared then. 

 
"You say you fought back together?"

 
“She knocked him out when she noticed that I was seriously injured. And she was scared that she could kill him. Just imagine, he threatened her with a knife, and she was afraid that she could kill him..."

 
"I just brought up humanity in her. She doesn't mean any harm to anyone, even to the worst persons in the world."

 
JD sighed as he remembered how his daughter squeezed his hand in the bathroom when he said he was sorry because he didn't appear in their lives. For the first time he thought: why did he, the worst man on earth, deserve her? 

 
"How did you passed the old lady at the reception?" Veronica asked a new question. 

 
"Again, Kat quickly come up something. She came up with some kind of utter story about the party, then asked to give her threads and a needle, and while the old woman was gone, I went to the room. And then she sewed my hand."

 
“Sewed your hand.” Veronica echoed, then realizing that she couldn't even breathe. “Kat never sewed people in her life...”

 
“But she saw how it was done with James. And, for sure, in the club of the young machanics she learned something. You know as well as I do that she has dexterous hands." the man grinned with pride. 

 
Veronica didn't take her eyes off the road and was sulked. She hoped that the children wouldn't live her fate, wouldn't face these terrible situations, and now her young daughter, who almost died, managed to see lots of blood and even sew up someone... 

 
“She kept herself well done.” JD tried to console. "At least for someone who does this for the first time. Of course, not perfect, but I think it will still heal, as with a hospital stitch..."

 
"If we hadn't left Sherwood, she wouldn't be lost, wouldn't fell into mortal danger and she wouldn't have to do this."

 
“Let me remind you that you wouldn't have left Sherwood if some idiot hadn't killed Martha, and the police hadn’t rediscovered the suicide cases.” the man frowned. "And in general, could you have a normal life, Veronica?"

 
“I had a normal life before you and after you.” she squeezed the steering wheel tighter. 

 
"But did you like such a life?"

 
“I liked these seventeen years every day much more than the burden of guilt that I could bear for the hundreds of killed teenagers.” Sawyer snarled, then giving him an evil look.

 
"I didn't mean those murders that was and wasn't happened. Without it, you and I, we had a very interesting time spent together." JD smiled with nostalgia. “I remember the day we met, I remember our first meeting at 7-eleven, I remember our first night and all the evenings that we spent in my house. Even my father couldn't spoil them."

 
Veronica was silent, remembering too. She was really good at every moment with JD, which didn’t touch the killings either by word or action. But, nevertheless, there were these tragedies. This can not be forgotten. 

 
“And yet we are here.” she replied. “You took the bomb yourself, I was left alone with two children, and your father drank himself deeply in debt and lost his mind. And this morning he tried to shoot his grandson, before that he beat him."

 
"Tried to shoot?" asked JD. "Was there a gun?"

 
"Of course, there was a gun, a real one, loaded with non-blank bullets. He missed only because he was drunk and inadequate." Veronica started, thinking that she might not have time to help her son. 

 
“How the hell could he get a gun?” hissed JD. "And why he haven't died yet?"

 
Veronica looked at him with a little surprise, then her eyes changed to a sympathizer. She remembered how Bud Dean was back in the eighty-ninth. Even then, he was ruled only by the thirst for destruction. Not only material, but also moral. He destroyed his wife. He destroyed his son... almost. And now destroyed himself. 

 
“You didn't follow him?” She asked.

 
“I checked him a couple of times, but I made sure that he hasn't changed, so I stopped being interested in him about six years ago. Then you moved, I stopped being interested in Sherwood at all.” JD lowered his eyes. "We, Deans, are too livelier."

 
"Weakly said." Veronica barely grinned. "You are also very sticky. Like a burdock."

 
“Well, thanks.” the man barely grinned back. "But I can't so easily unstuck from you, Veronica. And it's not even James and Kat's fault."

 
Sawyer barely glanced in his direction, and, noticing on himself his habitual interested and eager gaze, quickly looked away. To her horror, she realized that she wasn't angry or disgusted. As then, in the hallway of the motel, when something swayed inside her at the touch of a hand, so now something sank inside. And this she was afraid even more. 

 
“This is not the time, JD.” answered Veronika, although she could shoved him here and now. But indeed, it was not the time. Just because they all were weak now.

 
The children were sleeping, Jason was also starting to nap. Actually, she would have slept now too, but it was possible to sleep off later. And still began to make itself felt hunger. To just get away from it all, Sawyer turned on the radio, setting the volume to quiet. Naturally, JD set up a wave from the station, where the seventies and eighties hits were playing all the time. And, of course, she loved them. At least, it didn't awaken in her so much a desire to turn off and forget, as modern songs did. It seems that Kat could only work with 'Queen' songs in background, she had an old player, in which at least twenty songs was song by Freddie Mercury. James, from the age of fourteen, every Christmas morning playing the 'ABBA' in entire apartment. Before that, he listened it in secret. And, god, they were never as united as at that moment when one day in the car on the radio began to play 'Teenage suicide - don't do it'. All three of them at once rushed to turn it off, while muttering to themselves completely different curses. Veronica didn't notice how she smiles, continuing to remember how carefree her children really were. They never clung to the past. And she would like her to be able to leave it behind just as easily.

 
To West Liberty reached quickly. Faster than from Sherwood to Marisville. Only nine songs changed in player. Veronica, seeing the inscription 'Welcome!' by the road, slowed down and turned to JD to wake him up and ask where to go further.

 
He snuffled, dropping his head on the window, just like James, sitting behind. Veronica remembered how many nights she spent with him, then her first boyfriend, so calmly, when there were no global problems. Then, glancing at the young sleeper JD in the twilight, she allowed herself some completely naive and sweet thoughts that he, the dark horse, would turn out to be the prince that she seemed on the first day of the meeting. Yes, she was still excited about how he had filled Sweneey and Kelly. Those few quiet nights, of which there were very few, were the happiest times in her life. She hasn't it before, and definitely wouldn't have after. 

 
"Wake up, JD." Veronica called him calmly.

 
She barely touched his shoulder, because otherwise he didn't want to wake up, then the man threw up his head, and looked at her with an almost conscious look, as if he hadn’t slept, only a deep noisy sigh gave him out. 

 
"Yes?" he asked. 

 
"We are in West Liberty. Where to go?"

 
"Oh, I'll show you. Um, before that blue building, then to the right."

 
Veronica obediently rode, according to the instructions, until they reached the last point - a one-story motel, built like a letter "U". Again, not the richest, away from the center. Although, unlike the roadside dwelling in Marisville, this one looked neater. 

 
“There’s definitely a four-bed room here.” JD put in a word.

 
And Veronica decided that she definitely liked here. She gently woke the children, they woke up from sleep much worse, but silent. Like sleepy flies, they somehow proceeded to the hall. Here, the woman at the counter was younger, and even more serious and cheerful. 

 
“This is your key.” she said, almost not looking at the new tenants. "Enjoy your stay."

 
“Thank you.” JD replied, almost kindly, which contrasted quite a bit against his family — completely sleepy and obviously not very disposed towards polite conversation. 

 
The room had more amenities (for example, a TV, albeit a small one, and a separate bathroom), but all that now caught her attention was the bed. Separate, soft, clean. Spitting on hunger, Veronica immediately fell on the bed. By the edge of her ear she heard the conversation:

 
“I'm going to go downstairs and go to the store, which is near.” JD said. “You want to keep me company, James?” 

 
And, it seems, she completely lost the essence, because she chopped off almost immediately.

Chapter Text

James liked their room. Here was a wall dividing one room in half, and, in fact, it played the role of a divider, the which one there wasn't just a little ability to move off. In this wall from their side was a niche with candy bowls. But it was a fucking nougat, James couldn't endure nougat if she was somewhere else, except in a chocolate bar.

 

Kat pulled her brother toward the beds (separate and quite soft, God bless this motel), but James needed to go to the bathroom. He wanted to change his clothes and even glance at the bruised chest.He doesn't felt such a painful bruises for a long time enough. In the bright bathroom, where the floor was tiled, and a small bath covered by a shaky curtain, James went to a single mirror over the sink, then slowly pulling the t-shirt over his head. His shoulders and arms ached, not to mention the rib, but, nevertheless, he managed not to swear to himself. A pale skin was visible in the mirror (perhaps it was in the light, and not because of exhausted), on which a hematoma the size of a large fist spreader like a darkening spot. The bruise's tone was already quite dark, with red stains. James gently touched the rib to feel him and see if there was a fracture, or at least a crack, when he heard the voice of JD, who had visited them again:

 

“I'm going to go downstairs and go to the store, which is near.” JD said. “You want to make me company, James?

 

He now didn't want to make a company to anyone, especially this man, but, judging by the tone, he had no choice.

 

“Give me a second,” the guy asked hopelessly, carefully putting the t-shirt back on.

 

Coming out of the bathroom, he saw JD, holding a bag of things, already at the exit of the room, not far from Kat’s bed, and she was already taking a nap, looking very limp. Mom, who was visible behind the wall, was already completely asleep, turning away from the wall. JD had a hand rewound, blood appeared on the bandage. It seems he needed more physical help than an obvious conversation. Well, that was the burden of the man in the family. Sighing, James went to the exit, without unnecessary words grabbing the bag. JD quietly closed the door behind him, and then went outside with him. By the way, he was without a trench. James thought he doesn't wear it only when he slept. The guy remembered his wardrobe in the house of Bud Dean. More clothes of dark colors, one more trench coat, several checkered shirts. And by the way, they were both now in checkered shirts. Friendly father and son!

 

"Where is the trench?" James asked, grinning faintly.

 

“Worn out,” JD replied, burning his bag with his eyes. "I still have to go somewhere else besides the store. Want with me?"

 

“I do,” answered the guy, slightly bowing his head.

 

He was a little curious. JD lured him most likely. He had something to show and tell, so why not look and listen? Nodding, the man led him across the road, straight to the store. James terribly wanted a sweet and cold slash for freeze poor brains and not think about anything for a second, but there were not even any cocktails on sale. James took a pack of loaves, a pack of unsalted crackers and two bottles of cheap soda for himself and Kat. Father bought a large bottle of mineral water, licorice sticks, buns with nuts and two packs of cigarettes. He paid for two. James again carried two light bags of groceries, following the man who was now carrying a bag in his left hand. They walked another five hundred yards before entering the gateway. From the courtyard of a building it was separated by a weak net fence. JD unbent the edge of the net so much that he could easily get in there, James didn’t have to do anything at all, except for one tiny scratch on his arm (he just inadvertently held the sticking edge of the net). The clumps in which they found themselves separated not only from the living streets, but also from the sunlight, were obviously home to the homeless. A yellowed rumpled mattress lay around a wall, the empty and beaten trash bin stood in the corner. Pipes for rainwater rusted, broken, littered here, or were carried off somewhere. Through the asphalt, completely dotted with wide cracks, rare grass was growing up somewhere. The windows of a low building were smashed, lined with plywood, also swollen with moisture. The peak of the roof, closing the square above them, slightly twisted around the edges. James, looking around at the cloudless sky, looked back down. JD was busy shoving things out of his bag in the trash can. There was his trench, and also... Kat's clothes flashed. A glimpse of a familiar color blurred with black and red.

 

"What is this?" asked James, coming closer and looking into the trash, rusted from the inside.

 

"Some worthless rags," JD responded lightly. "Get away please."

 

James barely managed to recoil, looking for further action with amazement. JD took out a bottle with some kind of liquid from a noticeably lighter bag, then he began to pour it on things. The acrid smell was familiar: kerosene.

 

"Can you help me? Light a rag and throw in there," the man handed him a piece of cloth, torn from a damaged shirt, and a lighter. "I can control my hands."

 

Not immediately, but James managed to kindle a rag a little, and then threw it into the tank. The burst of flames blow him with a hot wave and loud noise, the guy make a few steps back sharply, looking at it with amazement. There was lighten up a greenish flames sometimes. It smelled not just of kerosene, but also of burning and... He could hardly smell the blood in the air.

 

“Now listen,” began JD, drawing attention to himself. “You left Kat on the road, for some reason she went to Marysville and still there until morning. She didn't tell me what happened to her before I found her, but I am sure that she was threatened with serious danger. Then in the morning she ran into a maniac, but fortunately, I found her on time. Your mother is sure that it was a mugger, because I told her so, but naturally, it wasn't him. He had a knife, he threatened your sister. I started to fight him, I was wounded. Kat knocked out that bastard with a bottle, we went to the hotel, she sewed my hand. The clothes were spoiled, but I hides them, and washed all the blood in the bathroom. And your mother better not know all the details. But it is very important to know them for you, boy, because your stupidity turned into problems not only for you, but also for your sister."

 

James didn't look away from his serious face. Even mom didn't have such a reproach in her eyes. She forgot about scolding him, but, of course, JD didn't. And, in fact, the guy was glad that at least someone soberly looks at his idiocy. Now all the fullness of the blame fell on his shoulders.

 

"Don't think that I don't know this - I am very guilty before Kat and mother. I'm ashamed, okay?" James frowned at the fire, so that it wasn't so noticeable how the tears fulfilled his eyes. "Blame, scold me. I am for it. I have no idea how I can fix this, but I really want to. If you know, then please don’t waste your time on the accusations that I know of and tell me."

 

“You can't fix it,” JD gasped out, also looking at the fire. "Your sister is also make such a weird thing. Something made her go to the city, although she was walking past the motel. And, of course, she is silent about what happened to her. I think she will tell you, because you understand her very well. For example, you, too, brought hell knows where."

 

James smiled sadly.

 

“You never visited your father,” he said. “Did you even know how crazy he became?”

 

"Believe me, now he is simply not in himself, and before that he was insane for a very long time, even before my birth."

 

"And what kind of company did he owned?" James dared to look at the man.

 

“The demolition company,” JD looked back at him. "He told you?"

 

“Yes...” James drawled, barely rubbing his jaw, which was still painted. "He said a lot of things. So you didn't visit him? And you didn't look after him like you did for us?"

 

"Well, it would be strange to look for a man who, let me say it a little simple, led you to the path of destruction. I have long since gone down this path, and it cost me dearly, in every sense," JD rubbed his left hand, which was fake. Too much it attracted attention, James couldn't help but notice after so much time.

 

He wanted to ask about his mother. Where she was? Rather, what happened to her and how long ago? But this question was too personal. James couldn't bring himself to ask him.

 

"How much time did you spend in the house?" asked the man after several depressing moments of silence.

 

"I don't know. A couple of hours for sure. I just fell asleep. Tired very much, sat down to read a book, 'Moby Dick', and dozed off. He woke me when he burst into your room. And I thought that jumping from the window wouldn't be the best solution, but I should have somehow got out. And somehow it turned out that I couldn't slip by. He kick my ass, of course, but not as much as he could."

 

“He could shoot you,” JD chuckled.

 

“Well, reminding about this, I got off much easily,” James shrugged.

 

Surprisingly, he heard JD chuckle. He didn't take his eyes off his son, as if with force he restrained himself from some mischievous word or action.

 

"I read your notebooks. You, generally, painted beautifully," the guy frowned a little. “There was a mess in your room, as if they were searching something. And, I didn't climb things, just the boxes for the move were also opened..."

 

"My room didn't became some kind of pantry? And all things in place?" JD grinned again with sadness. “Interesting... Actually, I made some inquiries a few years ago. Do you know that my father was in an asylum for compulsory treatment? He built an explosive device and wanted to demolish our house, but he was detained earlier. They said that he was let down by prolonged stress, but it seems to me that it was't because of long stress. As a result somehow he was released after the treatment, and also for a good condact. And now he had a fucking gun. It seems to me that he never went crazy. He still is."

 

James sighed, his hands in his pockets, and then he felt in one pocket something smooth and warmer. Badge. Slowly pulling it out, the guy hesitantly squeezed the thing in his fist for a couple more moments, and then barely reached it out to the man.

 

"I honestly didn't rummage in things. I just found it in one open box and put it in my pocket, I also wanted to look closer later..."

 

He opened his hand, showing the 'Criminal' with a nameplate from the police station. JD, at first, as if not believing his eyes, examined the badge without blinking, and then carefully took it with two fingers of his right hand.

 

“Wow... I completely forgot about this,” he said.

 

The man turned his gaze to the fire. His hand froze, as if preparing to make an easy throw. One movement - the badge on fire. James didn’t care for this badge, although he looked quite pretty. In the end, it was the father's thing. An old knickknack of a house he never wanted to remember. This silently hesitate was felt and quitly noticeably. Finally, JD turned back to his son and put the badge in his hand.

 

"You know what?" He said calmly. "Keep it. For me it has been long time to keep such things to myself. If you want, throw it away or burn it. You found it, took it out from that place, so now it yours, and what to do with it is also up to you."

 

James could have thrown it into the fire without hesitating. He would like to see how JD will react to the fact that his son so mercilessly parted with his little thing, didn't hesitate a single moment. But it was a kindergarten: get rid of something to someone out of spite. Throwing a badge in the palm of his hand, James barely grinned.

 

“Actually, I always liked The Criminal,” he said. "And Kat was in love with him at the age of ten. I think she will like this thing."

 

"Just don't tell Veronica where it comes from. I think she will not approve."

 

James put the badge back in his pocket, and then looked at the fire, which had diminished noticeably. Still, there was too much heat, even for this cool nook. In the end, the usual July day began, the sun was already scorching. Moving away from the tank a few steps, the guy folded his arms across his chest.

 

"And now what are we going to do according to the plan?" he asked. "We must somehow solve all this shit until the fall. Kat and I are going to the senior year, we can't be too busy."

 

"We solve it until the fall, believe me," said JD. “Just don't go anywhere alone anymore. Have an idea, share it with me or with your mother, be good boy."

 

“Mom wants to keep us away from it all,” James snorted.

 

“Well, it's already late,” JD snapped his tongue.

 

“Exactly,” the guy nodded. "And, nevertheless, she'll not allow us to participate in this investigation. Does she have a plan of action? Or rather, she has it at all? What are you going to do? Actually, I even had some urgent questions that I was going to get answers to immediately, and not to move and hide from who knows. And the fact that I was in the house of Dean, this doesn't apply to my plan. That is, my plan was good, I just let myself digress to gather some more information."

 

"And what did you manage to learn while you were pounded by this psycho?" JD turned to him, also folding his arms across his chest.

 

“I learned that you were a loner, that you were a newcomer to the city, and that no one needed you except my mother. You loved each other, but here's the bad luck, you still loved destroy things. But this is your father's fault, I don’t blame you anymore. I actually found out quite a lot about the seventeen-year-old JD, so now I have even the slightest idea of whether should I believe you or not."

 

"And? Should you?" the man barely grinned.

 

“You loved our mother,” said James, by force. "Loved really. Maybe now you love, but this doesn't change the fact that she is just a puppet in your hands. That's when you stop pushing and controlling her, then I’ll understand that you’re actually on the right way. In the meantime, all your words are just beautiful chatter."

 

“I don't need to lie to Veronica or you and Kat, but if I was you, I would have thought the same way as you,” JD shrugged. "Unfortunately, beautiful chatter is my most important skill."

 

“You understand me,” James was still frowning. “Just try to get mom into something bad again, or leave us all in trouble again, I'll find you and kill you, even if Kat hates me.”

 

“Be careful of the threats, J.”

 

"I'm James."

 

“...because what if all of a your expectations about me suddenly will not be fulfilled,” JD smiled. "I am a villain for you, it’s obvious, but you don’t know fully what was then, what was before and what was after. I can lie to everyone around, I can lie even to you, but only to protect you. It’s true, believe it or not. I will not convince you, persuade and try to prove something, I protect you not for the sake of achieving some of my goals. I just lo- " he faltered a bit, then corrected. "You are dear to me. You are my family."

 

“We have never been a family because, you know, you missed eighteen years of family life,” James lowered hands, and then stepped back, back to this fence. "And you're psycho."

 

“We're all psycho to some extent,” JD followed him.

 

They silently got out of the nook, then left the lane to meet the bright streets. Frankly speaking, James thought that everything would be much more complicated than he imagined. And now it turned out that this conversation was even too peaceful.

 

JD unpacked a new pack of cigarettes, got one. He patted his pockets, then turned to his son. He immediately realized that the lighter remained with him. Pulling her out of his pocket, he gave his father a light, then put the lighter in one of the shopping bags.

 

“When your sister and mother wake up, we'll stop at 7-eleven,” JD said. "I need to fill up the first-aid kit and buy a normal meal."

 

“And slurpee,” said James, already knowing that this mania was inherited from him.

 

“And slurpee,” the father nodded.

 

Calm and seemingly even carefree, they leisurely reached the motel.

Chapter Text

Kat woke up and opened her eyes when the pain in her stomach was already unbearable. The room was mired in quiet darkness, the rare gleams of night lights seeping through the window, leaving marks on the walls and furniture. Throwing a first glance at her brother, the girl noticed that he was sleeping with a mortal sleep, very loudly sniffing.

Then something caught her eye on her bedside table. Looking closer, Katherine realized that it was a bottle of water, a package of cookies and a bag with something else familiar to the smell. Without thinking for a second, she pounced on food. Of course, she would like something hot, more satisfying, much bigger then this, but because of the hunger, any food was a great success. The bottle was not water, but slightly carbonated lemonade, but so much the better. She catastrophically need something sweet.

“Hey, Night Eater.” brother called hoarsely, opening one eye. "Enjoy your meal."

Apparently, she was very noisy, since she was able to wake him up.

“Thank you.” Kat answered awkwardly. "When did you buy it?"

“JD and I went to the store in the morning, remember?” asked James lazily. "Next time we will go to 7-eleven."

The girl has experienced a little delight, having already decided what semi-finished products she wants to buy, warm up and eat immediately.

“By the way, this is also for you.” the brother called, pulling something out of the pocket of the jeans in which he was sleeping. "If I'll hit the forehead - don't be bore."

Kat barely noticing some little thing that flashed in a strip of light and managed to catch it with her right hand, immediately pressed to her chest, and then she looked at the warm object. It was a badge for clothes. These were in vogue with them in Springfield. Some boys hung their on denim jackets, not even leaving empty place for another one. Katherine had one that she lost when she moved, but she didn’t worry much about it. But this one... This one seemed completely new, although the 'Breakfast Club' was released in the eighties. Damn it, it was written 'The Criminal', and the silhouette of John Bender, holding a sign from the police station, made Kat experience a belated delight and a rush of nostalgia. She barely smiled, gripping the thing in her fingers. Yes, there was a noticeable dent, the pin needle barely bent. Apparently, the badge with the owner was fell and hitted often enough.

"Where did you get it, James?" Asked Katherine, looking up at her brother.

He didn't answer. Slept again. To wake him up once again would be inhuman, so the second time Kat decided not to ask this question. Left it for another time.

There was a rustle and quiet, but pepful steps. JD stepped out from behind the wall that divided the room, holding up a pack of cigarettes and a telephone. He noticed that his daughter wasn't sleeping, looked at her with a surprised look.

She gave a voice first. "I was just hungry. Woke you up?"

"No, I just wanted to go out for a smoke. Are you full?"

“Not really.” Kat shrugged. "But there's nothing you can do. And you... you have... uh, you haven't changed the bandage?"

"Changed, but couldn't tie tight." eyes got used to the darkness, so that the girl was able to consider his guilty smile. "Heals not very well. If it were not for your seam, I would have died long ago."

Katherine felt chills crawling on her back. She was afraid even to imagine how she could survive the death of JD in her arms. What would she do? How would she explained this to her mom if she could get to her faster then police?

"Want to go out with me?" asked the father, now feeling awkward. Probably noticed a sharp change in her mood.

Kat nodded without thinking, and then quickly got up and left the room first. They didn't go to the main entrance, but one by one walked through one unlocked door at the end of the corridor that led to the fire escape. JD sat down right on the iron steps, taking a lighter from his pocket. After hesitating for a couple of seconds, Katherine shyly sat down beside him, almost close, because the staircase was not wide enough. Then she realized that she had nowhere to put her hands, so she began to twist the badge in her fingers again.

The pungent smell of cigarette smoke made a little grimace, but then getting used to it she breathed easy, remembering those rebellious fourteen years. Her two fights, for which she deserved a stupid nickname, a battle wound, and then the first cigarette. And those two weeks that she was hiding around the corner of the school building, trying to finish faster than the bell rang for the lesson. James avoided her as much as he could, because she poured a lot of perfume on herself, so long as her closest people didn't smell the smell of cheap smoke. There was no problem with the tech club. The local boys were less interested in what kind of person you are and what bad habits you had. If you could make a working electrical circuit, at least they took you for a person.

"James gave it to you?" asked the father.

Kat looked at him, bursting from the memories. JD pointed to the badge.

“Yes.” the girl replied. “Do you know where it comes from?”

“He found it in my house, in Sherwood. He put it in his pocket and fell asleep with it."

“Wait, where did he find it?” Katherine asked, listening more carefully.

“Your brother found my old address, burst into the house of my stunned dad, rummaged a little in my old room, and then when the old man found him...” the man frowned and pursed his lips. “Let's just say that James barely managed to get his feet off. Fortunately, your mother found him when he ran out of the house."

Kat raised her eyebrows, unable to turn her eyes away from JD's face, who spoke so calmly about it. Then she remembered her brother, so scared, disheveled, battered.

“This is your father did... this.” the girl waved her finger along her cheek, where her sibling had a severe bruise.

"Yes. He took him for me." Her father did a big smoke with his whole chest.

Only James could be fool so badly! She swear, he wouldn't live to be twenty, If he hadn't a sister!

“Idiot.” growled JD.

“Oh, yeah, he is the biggest one.” Katherine agreed viciously, again wanting to break her brother's spine with all her heart.

“I’m actually about my father, and you’re sure about James, am I right?” The man asked, grinning.

“I don’t know what’s up with your father, but James is an idiot.” Kat folded her arms.

There was an awkward silence. Well, it was embarrassing, at least for the girl, because she realized that she blurted out something that was not worth talking. It was just too easy with JD. He rarely worried, didn't show much feelings, fought back with sarcasm. He and James were easy to confuse, even if you weren't crazy.

"You didn't visit him, right?" She asked quietly, not even sure that he would hear.

“I will tell you, as already said to James: it would be strange to return to the person who once brought you on the path of destruction.” JD sighed. “I don't want to go back there again. Of course, my life now is not like the peace-loving way of a repentant criminal, but this is not that, this is different. Now I'm not crazy. Well, maybe crazy, in my own way, but I'm not a maniac. Your mother... ” he raised his eyebrows, changed a little in his face. With such trepidation, he uttered her name. "Veronika... She is the most insane person I have ever met. I mean, she is not like the others. Very clever and talented, so insightful, but, unlike me, she does care. Don't spit on this world and the people in it. She always understood me, always knew where it would lead. And she cared about me, until the very end she wanted to help me with all her heart. Naturally, my maximalism played in one place. And I didn't listen to her."

He smoked a cigarette to the end. Katherine closed her eyes, finding the answer to some of the smallest and most trivial, compared to the others, questions that wouldn't let her rest. How do they love each other? Why was this love so strong? Why didn't mom stop loving? They were similar. Alone in the whole world, real soulmates who in some ways were worth each other. Mom didn't just love him, she wanted to fix him, to help him, but when she couldn't, she rushed to stop him. And stopped. But only because he loved her in return, because he sacrificed himself in the end.

“Your mother is the same Veronica Sawyer.” her father said with a smile. “So she will certainly understand that I am not lying, that I will not be the same killer.”

"Are you sure about this?" Asked Catherine anxiously.

“I'm sure.” JD nodded. “In the end, whatever I am, the only one for whom I can stop is she.”

It became clear as day that he still loves her with that very strong love, no matter what.

"And when she will understand what will happen next?" Asked Kat. “Even if she can forgive you, what will happen to us all? We will not be a family. You can't live a normal life, and she can't live in escape. James will not allow, while he is alive. Everyone will have a questions. And also this killer of Aunt Martha, whoever he was. If he knows about you, he will hand you and mom over the police. And if from him... we ever get rid of... Then the police sooner or later will come to our mother."

The girl sighed loudly and turned away, because tears began to roll in her eyes. Their lives flew down the slope, there was no easy way out or at least a good outcome. Everything led to the fact that mother's life will collapse completely, and she and her brother will have to accept this.

“Don't cry.” she heard her father’s soft and at the same time confident tone. "We will deal with this, do you hear me? And, whatever waits for us further, nothing bad will happen anymore. I promise that you will have no problems because of me."

Something stirred in chest. Kat realized that it was an alarm, so unexpected and strange, because it was about JD. He spoke like that, as if... as if he could disappear from their lives again. And, after weighing everything, Katherine quickly realized that she didn't want this. Yes, she had already managed to hate herself for such a desire, because it was absolutely unreasonable, treacherous towards James and her mother, but she couldn't do anything with herself. Now she couldn't even think about how she would live when her father disappeared again. Even if something bad happens to him, from which he no longer gets out, she will not be able to live without looking for him in a crowd of people, not trying to see his car, not thinking about what she would do so that he would notice her again and perhaps smiles with that fervent smile with a drop of pride that flashed across his eyes.

“Promise that you will not disappear from our life anymore.” she blurted out, looking into his face with fervor.

JD was surprised, but only a couple of seconds. He didn't smile anymore, then he looked away, just to not meet her gaze. Barely frowning, he lit a second cigarette.

Promise me,” Katherine repeated, half turning to him with her whole body, “that you will not leave us. That you will not leave... At least..."

"I will not leave you, Kat." finally, he answered confidently, looking at her, and seeing that she had already lost her courage.

Her fists, holding onto the railing, were tightly clenched, although her face was serious, with decidedly close eyebrows, like her mother's, she began to crack like a mask. Her lower lip hardly trembled, and her eyes sparkled with tears. If he hadn't answered, she wouldn't have been able to speak further. However, he had enough of what she had to say. He understood everything, and this made life easier for her. Maybe Kat was loyal to her family and her principles, but she had a hard time without a father. And it is not surprising that she didn't want to return to that life - the life of a lonely fatherless girl.

“I promise.” he added.

And then her tension disappeared completely. She held on to her last strength, trying not to show her weakness, but what was the point?

“JD...” Kat spoke, dropping her eyes. “Don't think that I am a sentimental girl without brains, just..."

”I was never thought so, and wouldn’t think eather.” he almost grinned, exhaling smoke. "You are an extremely clever girl. And sentimentality makes you a real person."

She looked at him timidly, and then barely smiled. “People often get failed because of sentimentality. Live with James for at least a week, and you will become a big cynic."

JD grinned louder, the mischievous sparks glowing again in his eyes.

“You have a point,” he stated, "but, if it weren't for sentimentality, where would we be now?"

She didn't answer, and it didn’t seem that this was the question that needed to be answered. It was already clear. Silently, they sat here while JD was smoking a second cigarette. Kat peered into the lights of the city that lit up the horizon line, making it difficult to see the already dim stars.

“You need to sleep.” said father, slowly rising.

The heat that he had, and which was so warm to the girl, was replaced by coolness.

“You too.” she responded, rising faster than him.

JD groaned for a second before he saw his daughter stretching out her hand, offering help. After a second of hesitation, he accepted, a little ashamed of himself.

“You are completely softened.” Kat sounded at his thoughts, but, unlike his inner voice, she spoke with a soft smile. “And which of us needs sleep the most?”

“Your mother.” he answered, without thinking.

And they grinned together. Katherine let go of his hand, but she didn't cease to smile tiredly until the very moment they approached to the room.

"Cherry slurpee or Coca-Cola?" JD suddenly asked at the door, barely touching the handle.

“Coca-Cola.” answered Kat.

“Finally.” he said quietly with some kind of glee she didn’t understand, after which he entered the room first.

Still being in light confusion, the girl again went to bed, and now she realized that it would be much easier to sleep again. She didn't stop smiling even now.

Chapter Text

queen - under pressure

James woke up when the water was rustling in the bathroom, and behind the wall there were barely rustling sounds and some quiet talks. Rising, he looked there. JD sat on the bed, and Kat calmly pumped a bandage to his hand. They were both calm, even too calm as they were preparing breakfast, but not bandaging the wounds. Especially Katherine.

“Hi.” JD said, noticing him first.

James blinked sleepily, looking at his sister. She also looked at him, finally showing at least some tension. Why was she scared of him, and she sat quietly with JD? The guy immediately frowned.

“Good morning.” she breathed. "Now mom will come out and you will go to the shower. And then we'll go to Kenton. On the way we have breakfast."

"And how long have you been awake?" He asked, a little hoarsely. “And...” he looked again at the bandaged arm, but said something different, “are you making plans?”

Kat exchanged glances with JD, she was a little unhappy, and he was calm and patient. When did they manage to trust each other so much?!

“I'll be right back.” she said to the man, folding the first-aid kit again, and then heading towards her brother.

Taking him by the hand - but how firmly! - the girl led the young man out of the room. Without letting him say a word, she spoke. "First, thank you for bringing me food and leaving half yesterday, and, second, I am ready to strangle you! You stuck alone in hell, and not just some easy one, but in the Dean's house! And you knew that his father was alive!" James opened mouth, but Katherine start talking even louder. "You were there until the morning! Rummaged in things of JD! Fell asleep in his room! Do you even realize what a miracle it is - that you are still alive? James, there is not a drop of humanity in you!"

"What?" He exclaimed.

"Yes, there is not a little drop! The instinct of self-preservation is not just absent from you, it went to a minus, I already know this for a long time, but have you even thought for a second about how we will suffer for you, me and mom? James..."

"I just wanted to know if we still had relatives in our city!" he shouted her. “I was told that only his father was at his funeral. And when I found out that he was still in the city, I couldn't miss the chance!"

"A chance to get a bullet?" shouted Kat. "I better kill you with my own hands! Moron!"

JD opened the door in time when both of them were already reaching out to start fighting.

"Well, well, well!" quickly standing between them, the man spoke in a conciliatory tone, looking now at his son, then at his daughter. "You know how thin the walls in here?"

"What's the matter?" Veronica with a wet head looked out of the bathroom.

"Nothing!" answered JD, looking at her. "Just a little dispute."

“And for what this time?” The mother asked, frowning in alarm.

James and Kat looked at each other, still gazing.

“I definitely heard that Kat wants to kill James.” the mother repeated. “For wanting to kill himself. All three of you - quickly in the room. And by their beds. JD is also concerned. I'll be out in three minutes. If I don’t hear the honest story from you, there will be a very long conversation with everyone. And with JD too."

She closed the door behind her. All three, barely pale, obediently went back and sat down in places. JD took out a pack of cigarettes, but then changed his mind and put it back into the nightstand. Katherine pressed herself against the wall, spinning the badge in her hands again. She frowned very much, but no stronger than James, who was lying on his bed with his back to her. The tension between them alternated with awkwardness, but the big grudge didn't disappear anywhere.

“I apologized.” the young man said two minutes later, when they were already feeling a great shame before each other.

“But you're still an idiot.”

“Should I apologize for that too?” The guy snarled again.

Behind the wall came the faint laugh from JD. Veronica came out of the bathroom after a few seconds, fussily straightening a towel on her head.

“So,” she said seriously, “it's time to sort things out. Right here and now. I understand, we are now have not the easiest time in the family, but because of what was such a cry?"

“I learned that James was in JD's house. I can't even imagine, what is need to be think!.." Kat again raised her tone.

James turned sharply toward her, jaw clenched.

"Quiet!" Veronica stretched out her hand. "Kat, James perfectly understands that this wasn't the most sensible act. And he repents of it. Why can't you figure it out
between you calmly? This is not the case, not at all the time to sort things out with a fight. James, you are either..."

"Well, if it was some kind of school jerk. C'mon, even if this is my own grandfather screams in my face all sorts of rubbish things, but this is my sister!" now he spoke.

Veronica noticed how for a second, just for a moment, JD tensed aside, clenching his fists. She looked at him with regret, tried to calm him down with a look. JD, noticing this, closed his eyes.

“And she doesn't understand me.” continued James. "Not even trying to understand! By the way, it's not me who started fighting!"

“You both know how hard it is for all of us to understand all this. Even in ourselves. Each of us in this situation simply can't control himself. If we recall how many mistakes each of us has already made in a panic or out of ignorance, then we are all would start fighting. Now we can't hold on each other anger, not to mention the quarrel, rush insults and accusations. I no longer speak of raising a hand against each other. Please, let's understand. We will stick together."

“James, forgive me.” Kat spoke first, not raising her eyes. She spoke awkwardly, with obvious shame. "I was stupid. I'm just worried about you."

“And forgive me.” her brother answered. "Again. I really know that it was the most idiotic act in my life. I just... I'll explain to you later."

“James, if we are all at the same team,” JD suddenly said, “and if we solves all the problems together, then what is the point in mistery?”

Katherine and Veronica noticed with amazement that the guy, instead of getting angry or at least showing displeasure, was confused, and then, after thinking for a few seconds, he looked at them, womens, with apprehension.

“You’ll tell us all later.” Kat suggested. "Already in the car."

“Then I'm come for shower.” he murmured, taking some clothes and then running to the bathroom.

Veronica looked at JD. And again, he met her gaze straight, not at all embarrassed. As if it should be that he managed somehow, imperceptibly from them, for some unknown period of time, to establish tangible contact with James.

"When did you just have time for this?" whispered Veronica.

“You promised that you would have a long conversation with me.” he answered, suddenly smiling. "Do you want to go out for a smoke?"

Sighing, Sawyer nodded. She took her cigarettes, JD pulled out his own.

“Mom.” Kat stopped her at the door. After hesitating, she added. "JD. We will investigate all together, yes? Fair?"

Veronica didn't have a time to answer, but while she thought, the man nodded.

“We just have... James, he had a rough outline. We had a story that we learned from you, and which we found ourselves, but incomplete. There were not enough details, some answers. And we needed to know them."

"What kind of questions do you have?" asked Veronica anxiously.

"James himself will tell. He has everything written down and laid out on the shelves." the girl tucked her legs under herself.

Having exchanged glances, the adults left the room, reached the very fire escape, but now they were on their feet.

"Investigate with them?" Veronica chuckled. “You think it's a good idea to throw them at this?”

"They started off quite well without us, now they will be a good help. They don't seem faint-hearted, so nothing bad will happen to them,” JD said without a doubt. "Especially if we take them under control. If you refuse them, do you think they will sit quietly in one place while we are on the road? They will quarrel again and fall into trouble, or will again go according to their own plan. Kat has your analytic skills, and James seems to have a good knowledge of information."

"How are you..." Veronica sighed, shaking her head. “They were afraid of you... Almost hated. James, of course, revised his views a little after he got out of your house. He told
me himself. But he... He listens to you. And Kat..."

"She doesn’t deserve a father like me." JD smiled sadly. "I know that for sure. And whatever I was, she still sees good in me, although it seemed to me that only you are capable of it. Therefore, we hit it off. I promised her that I would not leave her anymore. With James, the promise was something else." he grinned again.

"When did you have time to talk?"

"When we went to buy food. Yesterday morning. But it was a very entertaining male conversation."

“If you beat my son, or if he beat you, even if you raised a voice on him...” Veronica muttered at once.

“None of this.” JD waved his hand. "He just made it clear why he was so worried about my presence, and I promised that I would prove my good intentions. Nothing you should worry about."

“When it comes to you and our children, I can't help but worry.” she said harshly.

“You said 'ours',” the man smiled wider, “not 'mine'.”

“You understand me, JD,” she said, a little bewildered, “and you should have kept your promises, otherwise they would give you a beating. You saw Kat in anger. Even if you break her heart, she beat you so much that you can not even imagine."

“I don’t get tired of noticing that she is very much like you.” the man was still smiling.

This smile knocked her. With him... Urgh, it was impossible to be angry with him, because he made her feel akward! She was thirty-five years old, after all!

"What are we going to do, let's figure it out later, on the way to Kenton. James will tell you what they managed to find out, we will give them answers to the questions, and together we will come up with a further plan of action. Maybe even go immediately to Sherwood. Because you need to talk to the witness that saw the death of Martha."

“First you need to find him... Or let me guess so, have you already found him?” asked Veronica, not bringing a cigarette to her mouth.

JD silently waved his phone in the air. Harriet, she immediately thought. That mysterious gray cardinal.

"Don't you tell me who it is?"

“Heather Duke.” JD gasped out.

Veronica, in spite of herself, sighed, frightened by the very name. Eighteen years have passed since she took away the patronage of the school from Duke. Since then much water has flowed. Heather married, keeping her surname, and became a co-owner of the store, which, over time, grew into a hypermarket under her strict guidance. She was widowed about four years ago, when her husband had an aneurysm, but Veronica didn't hear anything about her, and wasn't interested in her life at all, only Heather MacNamara always threw up any news to her, even those who were interested in her last. Heather Duke, still from school, was far away from her with McNamara and Dunnstock, and, perhaps, supported some rumors about who Veronica’s father was, but she didn’t talk too much, and didn’t say a word to her until the end of the year. Then they didn't meet at all in the city, with the exception of rare special celebrations. They met once a year, or even less. And each time, Heather smiled all the same hypocritically, glancing at her children with such a falsely affectionate look that Veronica wanted to hide children and defend with a knife. Duke herself had no children, but Veronica didn't judge her for that. They went too different roads.

She saw Martha's death. She knew the killer.

To get any information out of her was already difficult. She constantly needed something in return.

Looking at JD, Sawyer frowned, realizing that he was thinking the same thing.

“Much to our happiness,” he drawled, "I know something too. I think she played a role in the murder."


James collected things pretty quickly. Katherine, of course, get ready even earlier, so now she sat and twisted that badge in her fingers. Having found his diary with the story, the guy put it on top of things. He checked the newspapers from the library were in place. Everything was ready so that JD and mother could be easily explained what his plan was.

James looked at his sister.

“I...” He smoothed his raw hair, trying to lay it down. "I walked away from the plan, and therefore was already an idiot. Simply, if you called this shitty, I already must to thought of something."

"Well, your plan was not so bad. Just a little unreasoned and spontaneous.” Katherine replied guiltily. “Anyway, now JD and Mom will be thinking with us. In four heads we'll think up something better."

James smiled more confidently. Yes, if they really think and do together, then everything should go well. In any case, they would have succeeded if they acted together.

Mom and JD came in the room, both serious and collected. Mom's confusion was impossible not to notice.

"Get ready?" The man asked them.

The teenagers nodded.

"In the room, nothing is forgotten or lost?"

James shook his head. Kat glanced at the badge in her hands reflexively. For some reason, now she was afraid of losing it. Maybe because all the other things were already in the backpack, and it wasn't, and it was easy to drop. Belatedly, but she also shook her head.

"Go to the car, climb inside."

JD threw the keys to his daughter.

"Aren't you afraid that we will steal it?" asked James, barely grinning, which deserved the strict look of the mother.

“Well, that's why I gave the keys to your sister.” the father answered with a smirk. "Although she can open the car without a key, as well as start it, she will not steal it."

"When did you start to open the cars and start them without a key?" asked the mother, looking at her in surprise.

Kat responded with a frightened look, then quickly looked at JD. He curled his lips guiltily and shrugged.

“It was a joke.” he answered for his daughter. "I was joking, Veronica. She's a mechanic. So, it can cope..."

"Don't try to speak my teeth." she told him sternly. "I see when you're lying."

"Ich luge?" He asked immediately, try not to smile.

It seemed impossible, but Veronica got angry even more. She immediately jumped to him, he began to run away from her.

"Is that funny in your opinion?" she exclaimed.

"We will wait in the car!" James shouted, but, it seems, he wasn't heard.

Having exchanged glances, the siblings shrugged their shoulders and left the room, going down with their things. Throwing backpacks in the backseat, the guy sat on the front, while his sister sat in the driver's seat.

James reached for the radio and turned it on. In the salon, another song from the eighties began to play quietly, quite groovy, with a long guitar solo. Nodding in tact, the guy began to look around here. At this time, his sister, having examined all the signs on the dashboard, spoke.

“We need to get a gas station.” she said briskly. "I will remind JD."

“And when did you and JD manage to make friends like that?” Brother asked bitterly, without distracting from the contemplation of the cabin, but in his voice sounded something caustic.

“When he pulled me out of the shit in Marysville.” Kat replied grimly. "What are you doing?"

James at this time opened the glove compartment, but, not even having time to see what was there, he turned to face his sister, looking at her in surprise. In fact, she didn't swear herself. Of course, from the story of JD it was possible to understand how bad she was, but now he understood it completely. Apparently, it wasn't worth asking about the details.

"Do you always need to climb into all the dark holes?" The girl asked, slapping his arm. James, immediately came to himself, layed his hand to his chest. "What if he has something dangerous there?"

“Yeah, trap.” the brother grinned, yet opening the glove compartment with his second hand to the end.

Both of them immediately froze, silent. James's grin disappeared for a while. There was nothing special in the glove compartment - checks from shops, papers, documents, it seems, from some hospital. Yes, nothing special, except for a gun. A second later, the surprise disappeared in both of them. This was JD, who lived illegally, and obviously worked illegally. Even ordinary, especially cautious citizens sometimes carried weapons with them as a defense. James and Kat knew in the schools of Sherwood and Springfield guys who walked with folding knives and pepper spray cans. This, of course, is not a gun, but their friends weren't adult males with a low level of moral principles who survived the explosion. James immediately reached for it.

"What are you, are you kidding me?" asked his sister, already frightened of hissing. "What if it's charged?"

“This is what I'm going to check.” the brother explained. "Easy, Kat. I'm not going to shoot from it. I didn't hold a gun in my life."

“That's why I can't give it to you. You can even shoot a stick in your hands.” Katherine snapped. “Will it be easier for you if I check?”

“Do you know how to handle it?”

"In theory. yes. You and I, in general, played the same toys, and the same films were watched, so we both know, I'm just more careful than you, and..."

"Jesus, take it and check it out." James, taking a gun, put it in the hands of his sister, who frightened away from him by the barrel in the windshield.

It was weighty. Harder than the stupid plastic toy they used to play with. Remembering how they charged plastic bullets into it, Kat found the same button on the real gun that she had released the holder. Of course, it wasn't the model, but it was a real gun at all, but the button was about the same. The clip fell into her lap. It counted three rounds. Kat took it and put it back cautiously, and not in the way that the obscene police in the films did, in a sharp movement. She reached back to the glove compartment to put the weapon back, muzzle to the other side of her brother.

“Wait.” James carefully took the gun from her, carefully wiped it with the sleeve of his shirt, and only then put it back in the glove compartment. "What? Just a precaution."

Katherine rolled her eyes, and then turned up the radio. She urgently needed to calm down and forget that in front of James lies a loaded weapon.

"You know what?" she said. “You better sit back."

“Kat..."

He didn’t have time to finish, because they noticed Veronica and JD coming out of the motel with their things. Now, without a choice, they sat in the back seat, surrounded
by backpacks. The parents, sitting next to each other, didn't speak, but mother looked hardly calmer, and JD... He never worried.

As soon as the car left the driveway and headed towards the highway, the man gave a voice:

"First go to 7-eleven, or let's talk about the plan?"

"7-eleven." All answered in unison, albeit with different intonation. It’s just that Veronica spoke without enthusiasm, and Kat hesitated a bit between what she wants to eat and
what she wants to know everything. Only one James answered without a doubt, with a broad smile.

JD, looking again at the road, smiled with the same wide grin.

Chapter Text

It was definitely the most mischievous, most expensive and most delicious breakfast in the whole short life of siblings. They fell into the backseat, each with a small package of food and his own slurpee. Veronika, acting as an adult responsible person, bought more healthy products, half of which was left in reserve, but, nevertheless, she still slowly sipped her cherry dessert through a straw. Just because little joy never hurts. JD, of course, took himself a big Coca-Cola taste, sometimes glancing through the rearview mirror at his daughter, who had exactly the same. And Kat, catching this look, allowed herself to barely smile at him, looking with the same sparks in the eyes that had made her so close to James and her father.

When the slurpees were done and breakfast was eaten, which happened very quickly, about ten minutes after they drove off from 7-eleven, JD spoke again first:

"So what was your plan for this, James?"

The guy raised his eyebrows, immediately remembered it, and reached into his backpack. After a brief fuss, he pulled out a notebook, holding it out to his mother. JD glanced at the pages as she read all the necessary entries, but didn't get distracted from driving the car. James, after two minutes of silence from his parents, was already shyly hiding behind the seat of JD, as if looking at the scenery outside the window. Kenton was close. And, nevertheless, it was a decent hook to Sherwood. James was wondering how much time it would take to get to his hometown, if without stops in motels and shops. His thoughts were interrupted by his mother.

"You came up with it yourself." She didn't ask, but claimed. In her voice, he could hear the oscillations between confusion and anxiety.

“I told you so.” JD told her with a bit of pride.

“Actually, James thought it all up.” Kat corrected.

The guy, noticing that all eyes were on him, grinned awkwardly, trying to overcome his embarrassment.

“You seem surprised.” he said.

JD, letting out an almost silent giggle, looked back at the road. Mom smiled.

"Of course, didn't think that I would have to praise you for this, but you are did a great job. And..." she frowned a little, intending to say something, but obviously struggling with herself. “In general, a mother shouldn't be proud that her son personally investigates the murder, using the help of his sister.”

“But you are proud, mom.” James couldn't hold back a warm smile. "Thank you."

Veronica turned away, but her lips stretched out in a tiny smile.

“So in short, you wanted to look for witnesses.” JD interrupted a brief moment of silence. “Your mom and I also discussed this. And we also need to go to the same witness. What
was the list there, Veronica? Read it."

'Mom’s and JD accomplice, Aunt MacNamara, Miss Duke, witness of Martha’s murder'.” Veronica read, and then sighed very loudly and for some reason. “By 'accomplice', James, do you mean the one who knew about the murders? There was no such person, and if he was..."

“In a broader sense.” interrupted her son, patiently seeking an answer. "After all, once JD collected a bomb. From somewhere got everything. And it somehow collected all the signatures..."

"God sees, I didn’t want to brag, but I did everything you said but the last one." JD entered. "That's the catch. Listen to us now carefully, because there is one very important thing. Mark it in your notebook. All these people that you listed, if you subtract McNamara from there - the same person."

The siblings froze, staring at him at first uncomprehendingly, squinting equally, and then amazed.

“What...” James didn't have time to finish speaking when Katherine immediately entered.

"Miss Duke?" exclaimed Kat. JD nodded to her, pleased that she understood this so quickly. “Your accomplice and witness to the murder of Aunt Martha? How?"

“Did I mention that after Chandler’s death Duke took her place?” asked Veronica, starting to think out loud. “She had a great influence on people, so..."

“I used blackmail to force her to collect the signatures of all the students of Westerburg High.” JD said. "She was friends with some Betty, I don’t remember her last name, there are a lot of pictures left that she kindly gave me. I gave them Duke in return for all the signatures."

“And then you blew yourself up, and the signatures weren't useful.” Veronica stared at the window with a blank look, then gradually horror began to appear on her face. "She could compare this. Yes, she was a fool, but certainly not a complete idiot..."

"Wait, can you rewind to another moment?" James was thoughtful too. "Kat, remember the day of the funeral? We heard Mrs. Dunnstock talking to a man. They said that Martha had already happened something eighteen years ago, at that time."

"She..." Veronica shook her head, closing her eyes, as if she was very painful to remember. "She also wanted to figure out what was going on. Martha was in love with Ram, and in September, Heathers persuaded me to write her a love note from his behalf, so she didn't believe that he could be gay and commit suicide because of it. Martha came to me with this question, because I was her friend and we could solve it together. But I..." she smiled bitterly. "Of course, I couldn't resolve this issue. I told her that we were joking about her, that Ram had never loved her. In general, I was so rude to her, but I was afraid that she would investigate further and find out everything. Martha left, and the next day we learned that she was trying to commit suicide by throwing herself under the car."

“God.” Katherine covered her mouth with her hand.

"She didn't succeed, and because of this, they began to poison her even more than before. I could deal with her more gently..." Veronika sat up straight, putting her hands on either side of herself, and again staring out the window with a blank look.

Her children, having looked at each other, silently shared anxiety among themselves. JD, who was sitting quietly all this time, didn't let go of any jokes and never smiled, gently touched her hand with his fingers. Veronica again didn't pull back her hand. James, looking at this, already clenched his jaws, but his sister quickly grabbed his arm, warning him with a look and a barely noticeable shake of the head.

“When the police came to me that evening, to which we left Sherwood, they said that Martha had made some attempts to investigate. Their witness..." here she nervously grinned. There was a small pause, during which mom tightly clenched her hands into fists, suddenly visibly angry. "...the witness told them that she threatened the murderer to reveal everything she knew to the police."

“Now you understand why I suspect her?” JD asked.

Kat, looking down, also thought, and then squeezed her brother's hand. When she hardly put all the pieces of the puzzle together, the awareness hit her with the same horror and anger as her mother. Veronica, by the way, didn't answer JD. She looked at him with bitter malice, suddenly holding his hand tight and moved closer.

“We’ll go to Duke.” she said. "Let's go to Sherwood."

JD, resolutely meeting her gaze, nodded, and then grinned at that very smile, which didn't promise anything good.

"She could understand everything!" Kat exclaimed, attracting all the attention to herself. “And Martha, too, doing this thing, would have thought Duke had done it all! Of course, she wouldn't have thought of you, mom! Duke had the most motive! She wanted to take the place of Chandler, she substituted Ram and Kurt, and then, when they tried to outrage you and Aunt MacNamara, she could get rid of them. Aunt Martha, in a rage, showed it to Duke, and then... And then..."

"And why would she tell the police about it later? If it were a case without witnesses, it would be easier for her." said James.

“Obviously, she’s got something pierced.” JD said. “Someone could see her near the place of the murder. Then she came up with the whole role of the only witness, brought them to a false or non-existent trace. The main witness has many advantages, but here it is necessary to do everything very correctly. Apparently, Duke has become very clever. Her ability to breed gossip reached its apogee."

"And you want to go to her? Mom, this is very risky!" Kate shook her head frantically. “If she really is a murderer, you are in danger! And us too!"

“We have a slight edge.” JD raised his finger, then pointed to them. "It's me. Most likely, she doesn't know that I am alive. Veronica and I will figure out how to talk her, she will go alone. Of course, with a weapon. And she will call me, so I will hear the whole conversation, and I will immediately come running if I hear something wrong. I will sit outside, nearby, on the phone."

“We will drive my car.” Veronica said. “You will drop me and the children off the town, and you will drive up to Duke’s house, but somewhere far away. I will go to her on my Fiat. The police can watch me."

“It's even better.” agreed JD.

"Don't chase the horses!" exclaimed James, moving forward, and thus forcing them to disengage their hands. "What are we going to do, me and Kat? You promised that we'll also participate."

"Exactly!" Katherine approached. "We cann't sit back!"

"I can't endanger you." Veronica shook her head anxiously.

“But they won't sit, you know.” JD said frowningly.

"We will not!" nodded James.

"What do you suggest?" frowning, Veronica frowned at him.

He thought intensely while the children and the beloved looked at him. It took a few seconds before the eyes of JD fell on his son's notebook.

"There is one safe place where they can go, and at the same time, perhaps, to do something useful. MacNamara."

"What?" the guy fell into the backseat, folding his arms across his chest. "You offer us to sit with McNamara?"

“No, James.” his sister suddenly answered calmly, before his father could do it. "She's on your list of people, remember? We can talk to her."

“And what's the point if we understood that Duke is the most necessary witness here?” he threw up his hands, frowning at her.

“She might know something about the Duke that we don't.” JD told him. "After all, she was friends with her longer than your mother."

“And all the time after school I had some kind of relationship with her, or at least I heard some news about her that I didn’t want to hear.” Veronica nodded. “You know how Aunt Heather loves to talk. This will not be a problem for you. At the same time at least see her from the very day of the funeral."

James rolled his eyes exhaustedly, finally fell silent, completely surrendering. Kat, turning away from him, again approached her parents.

"Let's repeat from the beginning. Are we going to Sherwood right away?"

"Bypassing Kenton, we are going to Sherwood." Veronica nodded. “JD throws us off the city, he goes to Duke's house, but he parks away from him. I go home, take my Fiat and go to Duke on it. You go to McNamara. If some of them aren't home, you or we return to my parent's house, wait for the rest. If one of us ends up with Heather earlier, he will call. You, Kat, call me, and I will call you back. This, it seems, is in rough terms, but extremely understandable. Is that clear, James?"

“I heard.” he grunted.

"Did you understand?" asked mom.

“Absolutely.” he sighed. “Kat and I go to Aunt MacNamare. If she's not at home, we return to our home. When we finish talking with her, which is very unlikely, Kat will call you. I understand that if you don’t finish talking to Heather, your number will be busy."

“True.” Mom nodded.

“If anything, mine will be busy too, but if Veronica’s phone sits down, then... Veronica, you see a pen. Write my number in his notebook.” JD said.

“Yes, give me a second.” She took the pen and pulled her phone out of her pocket, copying it from there.

“If your mother is not available, then call me.”

"And if you will not be available?" asked James, pursing his lips.

“Well.” JD grinned. “Then we have huge problems...” he noticed his daughter’s serious face. "You understand that this will not happen. I will always be ready to insure your mother. She has a gun, I have one too. There are two of us, she is one, surprise on our side."

“She could be a murderer.” said Kat carefully.

JD opened his mouth, but immediately closed it, and exchanged glances with Veronica. Everyone understood what the answer was hanging in the air. "We, too."

"What will happen when we find out all the information?" asked the girl.

"Let's get to home all together." answered Veronica. “My parents seriously thought about going to see Aunt Lucy. I have to call them and ask. If they are there, then we
will gather in a diner, which is opposite the central park."

“Further actions depend on how Duke behaves and what we'll get from her.” JD said. "There are many scenarios. In a few of them, we all have to leave the city. In a couple of options, even forever."

"If Duke wants to hand over mom to the police, then she will have to work very hard." Kat nodded. “But why should we run away? Why can't we fight back? She killed Aunt Martha, she can ruin our lives for all of us, and she can kill mom too! Isn't it easier..."

"She won't get away with it, don't even hesitate." said JD. “Maybe you won't have to kill her. Only as a last resort, if there is a real threat to your lives."

Veronica nervously fidgeted in place. She didn't like this alternative at all, but she was silent, because she herself thought about this last resort.

“Okay.” James broke the silence in the car, exhaling that word. "How many are there before Sherwood will have to go?”

"We will drive through Kenton in half an hour. Then another hour or so to go to Sherwood." the man answered him.

“If you want me to change you,” the guy suggested carefully, “call me.”

“No way." Veronica said clearly. "You can think that you are punished for stealing that car."

Sighing even harder, James fell back onto the seat, folding his arms over his chest and once again turning to the window. Kat, patting him on the shoulder encouragingly, turned to her window, thinking more to herself than looking at the trees and cars flying past. All the same, she didn't like this plan, but not because she complained about the easiest and most useless work, like a brother, but because she was worried about her parents. She used to be worried about them two before, but this time it was even difficult to call alarm. It was like... Prediction. Bad feeling. But it was pointless to state this fact, because JD had good or, at least, not bad arguments.

Chapter Text

The road was held in silence, only the music from the radio was playing in the cabin, distracting at least a little from gloomy thoughts. At least, Kat calmed down a little. She was angry that James had managed to fall asleep so easily with his arms folded. Probably, he too overeat too much. But there was a meeting with Aunt Heather ahead. She would never have missed the children of her friend without feeding them at least a cookie.

Sherwood was too close. Kat wobbled awkwardly on the spot as soon as she saw the welcome sign at the entrance to the city. She looked nervously at her parents, then barely shoved her brother. He immediately started, waking from a not so deep sleep, and then looked at her inquiringly.

"Am I missing something?" he asked. "I didn't sleep, I just dozed."

“We arrived.” the sister said.

Stopping at a gas station, Sawyers got out of the car. JD stayed behind the wheel. And, if before his face was calm and ordinary confidence, now he was alarmed. At least, excited, but not less.

“Take care of yourself, every one of you.” he told them, glancing at everyone. "I'll wait, Veronica. Send a message when you get to your car. And you two write to me when you get to McNamara."

“Yes, sir.” James saluted, taking with him a backpack that contained newspapers and his notebook. “Do you know where Duke lives?”

“We know.” said Mom. "I know the address of her husband, to whom she moved after the wedding. Heather, who MacNamara, didn't say that she moved out of his house after his death."

"This is true, she not moved." JD nodded to her. “Harriet sent me the address. So you and I will not be lost."

With a grin, Veronica grunted, throwing the strap of her bag over her shoulder. Kat and her brother watched their parents, who didn't even bother to say goodbye. But Katherine immediately straightened herself: they didn't have to say goodbye. In the end, it was not so dangerous... Right?

James at the time was thinking about something else. Sherwood was a small town, there wasn't even a simple shopping center. This whole town could be crossed on foot in an hour, if you walk without much haste. When he had just entered teenage life, he studied all the streets near his, up to each house. Aunt McNamara's street he knew about as well. He didn’t stick only on the outskirts, built up with new houses in the eighties-nineties. There lived very grumpy people in different senses: the rich and just inhospitable old men. As an example, Bud Dean. James already wanted to ask where Duke lives, but he immediately realized that his parents wouldn't tell him, thinking that he could ruin the plan by come straight there. He wasn't going to do that. Although, if everything had become really bad... He should have asked Aunt Heather for the address.

JD's car drove on, winding in the streets and lost sight of them. Sawyer, holding her gaze, went to her house. Their paths came different in about fifteen minutes. Aunt lived through two streets, so the siblings had to turn there, not reaching the house. Wow, they were so close to their home, but they had to do so much so that they could safely come there. Kat squeezed her brother's hand, he gave her an encouraging smile. Now, when mom wasn't around, they decided to speak, for some reason, still embarrassed or afraid of her hyper-care.

“James,” the girl said, “what if something bad happens to our parents?”

“We will help them.” he answered immediately, barely frowning.

She realized that he too was thinking about this, and this caused a slight relief, because at least she wasn't alone in her presentiment.

“And what if...” she paused, fearing to even think about such, but, nevertheless, she had to ask. "If they don't come back... If we don't have time?"

“Then hurry.” snorted the brother.

Sighing, Kat squeezed his hand. She knew what he was thinking. She is realistic with a bias in pessimism, likes to think about the worst. Simply put, hysterical from scratch. But there was such a possibility, and, therefore, she had to think about what to do in this case. They will leave, of course. They will find their grandparents, return to the city only with them, somehow reach the age of majority, and then leave back to Springfield or elsewhere, to another state. And they... they'll run away again, but... If Mom and JD are killed, who then closes the circle? The threat can't hang over them forever, they can't and shouldn't live all their life in hiding. JD promised they would figure it out together. If they won't, then...

“Do you think we could deal with Duke alone, just you and me?” She asked, and then, noticing the irritation that had already flashed in his eyes, added. "Yes, I know what I am. Just answer the question and that's it."

James thought. Miss McNamara’s house appeared far away. The brother was still silent, thinking about it.

"JD has some plan. If his plans don't work, then we must either be clever as fuck, or fast as fuck."

Kat sighed again. Her brother was smart when he wanted, so that sometimes he had very precise thoughts. This time was no exception. And she had nothing to answer, nothing to ask. James avoided a direct answer to the question, couldn't tell her face, so he had a disappointing answer.

They rang the doorbell of Aunt Heather, and then, hearing the footsteps, were relieved. She opened the door for them, dressed in one of her yellow robes, of which she had four,
one for each season. When she saw the teenagers, she was pleasantly surprised.

"Jamie, Kitty!" she exclaimed. "What a surprise! But when I called you at home, no one picked up the phone. Your grandparents went to relatives, and you and your mother ... Where were you, by the way? Why didn't Veronica warn me?"

“We left town for a couple of days.” James smiled at her. "Let's just say, we had to take a break from all this. Here come back, grab a couple of things. Mom went somewhere, and we got bored and we decided to go to you."

"My darlings!" she pulled them, letting in and in the house. "You have no face at all! Something happened?"

“Well, there was something.” Katherine nodded, sitting down on the sofa in the living room. "Aunty Heather... Mom told us everything. All that was then in her senior year."

MacNamara got all the paint on his face. She barely holding the table, somehow sank into the chair opposite, without taking a tearful look from the children. James sat next to his sister.

“Don't think about something bad, aunty, everything is fine.” he said in a soothing tone. "We aren't scared and we don’t have nightmares. We aren't angry either with mom, neither with you nor with JD..."

Kat shoved his elbow into his side, but it was already too late. Heather put her hand over her mouth.

"Do you know about... him?" She asked. "Did she tell you?"

“Yes, our father,” the girl nodded. "She doesn't described it in a detail, but we already understood. He was very... charismatic."

“And crazy.” added James with a mournful air. "But nowhere are his photos. We were looking for mother's graduation album, but we didn't find him. Thought maybe you had
more photos from the prom year."

“My sweety.” Aunt Heather shook her head. “If you know everything, then you understand that I have no pictures of him left. It is unlikely that there is at least one photo where he is captured. We studied together just two months before..."

“Yes, we understand.” Kat nodded. “But we're not here just for him. He, in fact, so trifle. We should at least look at mom, at you, at aunt Martha," Heather barely sobbed, "and it is also interesting how those... well, those two guys and the girl you were friends with looked like. Mom responded about her not very well."

"Really?" McNamara sighed, already crying out. "Oh, Heather was so beautiful and fun... But she was a bitch, of course. And then... I'll show you, I can find albums, they are in my attic..."

"Can I help you?" James got up.

"No, my dear, take a seat." aunty shook her head, slowly rising. "I will find everything myself, I know where those thins liyng..."

Slowly she proceeded up, holding tight to the railing of the stairs. The siblings were left alone in her bright spacious living room, where it was luxurious and cozy. They always felt so good here that sometimes they didn’t even want to go home. The house of Aunt Martha were also very nice, but it was MacNamara who still lived with rich parents who had a lot of delicious food, expensive appliances: a TV and a radio that worked without interference. Yes, she spoiled the children of her friend. Obliviously Aunt Heather herself for some reason didn't have a children. It seems she couldn't do it. Because of this, she once had a long time ago depression, and since then she has rarely established relationships with men, looking for the one who would love her in poverty without children, to whom she could move. In Sherwood such unoccupied men were few. But aunt had good friends, many of them. Now, Marta was gone, and Veronica was in unexpected ways. She was probably very lonely.

"Kat, if everything settles down, what shall we do?" asked James quietly.

“Living here, probably.” she shrugged with a grin. "Go to school, look for colleges. Mom will work, we can also do a side job to save up for admission."

“And shake alimony with JD.” Brother barely grinned. "What? I think he will only joy of it. He never regrets money on us, have you noticed? Because of him, mother didn't go to the university to take care of us. And, in order to atone for it in front of her, he will definitely pay for our education."

“Our mother is not the person to whom you can atone with money.” Katherine replied sternly, frowning. "I will not talk about it with you. At least not here."

James rolled his eyes, and then noticed a vase with his favorite caramel, so he immediately reached for sweets. Until Aunt Heather returned to the living room with two albums, he managed to eat half the contents. Kat clapped him on the arm as soon as she heard Aunt’s footsteps. But, of course, she was all for it. She loved them two as her own children.

“Well, this is for the entire graduation year.” Heather gave each one an album. “There is Heather Chandler at first. She is there everywhere. She couldn't miss the reason to show off in the frame. She loved it..."

McNamara sniffed loudly, then went into the kitchen, obviously, for a glass of water.

“Mom said there was another Heather who was Miss Duke.” James said. “You were good friends with her, right?”

“Thanks to Chandler.” answered the aunt. "We have always been together. But then she..."

There were quiet sobs. Kat sighed, also starting to give in to emotions. She didn’t like to see someone from her family cry for any reason. And now they practically brought it up with these questions, but they needed to know it so much, and the sooner the better. So she allowed her brother to ask questions further.

“Duke always wanted more.” Aunt came out of the kitchen with a half empty glass of water. "I didn't notice then. I think Heather Chandler saw it, in every way she let her know that there could be only one girl like her. And then, when with her... it happened, Duke seemed to be overjoyed. We were no longer so close, she no longer wanted to play friends, she wanted to be a queen of a sort of kingdom. Westerberg High for Chandler was something so insignificant, she marked higher. And Duke enjoyed what she had. She failed to become the second Chandler, although at school they loved her. But then she somehow didn't succed. Her dad was detained for having done the wrong operation for one woman; her mother almost became a bankrupt. Heather found a husband, a young entrepreneur..."

All this time, siblings flipped through the album. In the beginning, there were a lot of Chandler. She wasn't just a red spot on the background, she was always ahead, and decorated with itself any place. Nearby was the same Duke in green clothes, and Aunt MacNamara, who didn't change her yellow sunny tone. Then Veronica somehow imperceptibly joined them. They were only two photos, but always together, four. Mom kept somehow aloof, imperceptible even then, although she was one of their group. And then Chandler ceased to appear, all her friends ran away. Flashed separately on different photos. Duke now wore red. Jackets covered her breasts and, frankly, James, looking at it, understood why the boys were so worried about this topic. He himself asked for the question about silicone inserts.

Kat, stumbling on one photo, where the entire high school was at some scene, where the teacher spoke with papers in her hands, she saw a mom in the crowd, all in the same clothes of blue tones. Somewhere there was a figure of Aunt Martha nearby, but this was unimportant. Somebody's arm rested on mom's arm, while it was still real hand, half hidden behind the sleeve of a black raincoat. The quality of the photo left much to be desired, but it was him. It was his head and his back. His muddy dark figure in black. Again pushing her brother, Katherine pointed his finger at him. James looked at it with genuine interest. half hidden behind the sleeve of a black cloak. The quality of the photo left much to be desired, but it was him. It was his head and his back. His muddy dark figure in black. Again pushing her brother, Katherine pointed her finger at him. James looked at it with genuine interest.

“...and then he was going to move his enterprise to a neighboring town, but that misfortune with an aneurysm happened...” Aunt Heather sighed. “Duke was so resistant at a funeral, although she was, of course, hard. She left the house, the whole business. It is difficult for widows to live in Sherwood..."

"Where does she live now?" Kat asked, interrupting her aunt.

“Oh, they had such a wonderful home not far from her parents' house. She didn't sell it, but made repairs there. I was there and she returned the green tones. She said that her psychologist had advised her to return to soothing tones. She seemed to me refreshed. Maybe she drinks some medicine. Although there were rumors that she had a boyfriend. Heather, of course, was always an enviable beauty, and now she has her own state. Not surprising."

McNamara shrugged. She already behaved more calmly, finished drinking water from a glass, looked at teenagers with love.

"And where is this house?" Asked Kat. "Mom and I have never been there. That's strange."

“Oh, just Veronica and Heather quarreled a little after your father... well, did this thing.” McNamara pursed her lips. “You know what kind of mother you are. She doesn't tolerate bullies at all. On that day, when... a bomb in the stadium exploded, she fell into the school, all battered, in soot, blood, but so... free, light. She broke up with her first boyfriend, so she explained this to Martha. She took a red hair tie from Duke, which used to belong to Chandler, and said that the city would now have a new sheriff. And this is all over now completely."

Aunt Heather waved her hand, frowning.

“We stopped communicating with Duke altogether. She didn't pay attention to us, although later, when everyone became aware that your mother was pregnant, it was somewhere in March or April, literally everyone looked at her and said all sorts of nasty things. But Martha and I supported her as best we could. And here it is". McNamara showed the two of them, opening her arms. "Here you are. Healthy adults, such smart guys. We all love you, no matter what. And you didn't stop loving your mother, did you?"

"Why should we stop?" smiled James. "Our mother is the coolest."

“That's right.” Heather nodded. "The best."

“So where does this Duke live?” Katherine asked for the third time. "You said that you yourself went to visit her."

“Oh yes,” she told them the address, “such a nice street. There doesn't live some middle people."

James realized that he knew such a street. He walked along it a couple of times, and even more so on Halloween night, when all the children of the city poured into the streets, attacking the nearest houses. The city was small enough to knock at every door at least once during this festive evening. On that street, they always gave expensive sweets, but not enough. The hostesses were always dressed beautifully and received them hospitably. But he didn't have to knock on Duke's door. He tried to remember what houses he saw on that street, but he couldn't. There all residential buildings seemed the same.

“Did Miss Duke continue to talk to one of classmates after school?” asked James. “She could have many friends.”

"Yes of course. It’s hard to get out of the house and not even cross with someone from the school." nodded his aunt.

“Just at Aunt Martha’s funeral there were a few classmates.” the guy shrugged awkwardly. "Of course, we know that you and our mother didn't have many friends, but... Aunt Duke, like, didn't conflict with Martha? And with none of you, right?"

“She just ignored us, Jimmy.” Aunt lowered her eyes. “And she never had warm feelings for Martha. At school, we... teased her. But then I made friends with her, but Duke didn't. She didn't even apologize. She didn’t even consider it necessary to do so."

“So they didn't even have time to talk before... it happened.” James shook his head ruefully. "Sorry. Maybe now Duke is going through.

"Heather?" McNamara smiled sadly. “She never worries or regrets, honey. Although I really wouldn't like to say so, but this is true. I can't lie. On the last evening, when it happened to Martha, I saw Duke, not far from the bridge where... your godmother died. And she seemed agitated. She seemed to have a presentiment. And when I found out about Martha, I thought that she could come to the funeral, but she did't, and I realized that she never..."

“Wait, aunty.” Kat interrupted her softly. “Did you see her near the bridge that very day?”

“That very evening.” she nodded. "We crossed literally a mile from him. Heather was driving home, it was raining. She seemed to be in a hurry, didn't want to talk to me for a long time, although she never spared time to talk."

“I see...” James nodded thoughtfully. "What time is it?"

Learning from MacNamara what time it was, he started up.

"Kat!" He exclaimed. "Mom can look for us!"

"Yes?" She replied, then immediately realizing what he was getting at. "Oh, right! We should go home, aunty. Please forgive us for being so rude..."

“Kitty, you are such a sweet girl when you apologize.” Heather smiled at her. "You know that I will not be offended at your, never in my life. Why don't you call your mom? Maybe she will allow you to stay longer? Or I can call her."

“She sort of got the phone, but she didn’t have time to charge.” answered James. “And she probably hasn't come home yet. We will go before she arrives. And, if she arrived first, then we are waiting for big problems. We will tell her if we are already home late, then she will call you."

After saying goodbye (the farewell was delayed by three minutes), they went out on the threshold, then hastily moved away from the house. And both of them were a little shaken by what they found out. So Duke was there, on the bridge. And, if she was the main witness, she could show a little more sympathy to Martha. She could have come to the funeral. But she didn't. Maybe she was tortured by wine? Or was she afraid?

“We haven't learned anything.” Kat snapped. "Nothing sensible. She really can just be a witness."

“But we have at least something.” James raised his eyebrows. "Let's think better. Don't you remember detectives?"

“I don't remember.” Katherine frowned, looking at him incredulously. "What have you already invented there?"

"The bridge, where Aunt Martha died, is he just with two lanes, without any traffic, and near it there are no roads, only the river. Duke was driving in a frightened car. If she saw the murder with her own eyes, the killer wouldn't let her go so easily. He couldn't miss her, think for yourself. Imagine."

Kat imagined. The murder on an empty bridge, around which there are no other roads. And so, a car appears, lighting the headlights all the way and noisy in the whole
picturesque district. If she were a murderer, she would have fled before the appearance of a car on the bridge, hearing from a distance. Or, if it's too late, would have noticed a witness. At least his car number. And here goes Duke, who is not stupid at all, as mom says. If the killer had already escaped, why would she be scared there? Nothing would remain, no one would leave the body in plain sight. And, if the killer is there, why not turn around and go back? She wouldn't be just a fool, she would be a dead fool if she acted differently. It wasn't even strange, it was absurd.

“JD may well be right.” James impatiently repeated, taking out his notebook and looking for the number in it. "Call mom."

Katherine dialed her number, then patiently began to listen to beeps. She was ready to hear “the abonent is busy,” but she hoped, of course, that her mother would answer while what they could find out was turning in her head. And everything completely flew when she heard that the abonent is not available at all.

“So we’re calling JD.” her brother said calmly, handing her a notebook.

Kat dialed her father's number. He promised to pick up the phone if his number isn't busy. He had to... With each beep, with every second of silence, they both tensed more and more.

"The abonent is not available or is outside the network coverage area"...

"James." she called out anxiously. "Maybe the number is wrong?"

"Mom wrote it. She never makes a mistake.” her brother answered, confused. "Dial again."

She manually typed again. Once again stood several beeps. Once again she heard a mechanical female voice, indicating that the abonent is not available.

"And if you will not be available?"

"Well. Then we have huge problems..."

Looking at each other, the siblings realized that they were both alarmed to the same extent. And after a second, they again realized that both want the same thing.

“We’ll find his car on Duke's Street.” said Kat first.

James nodded. Turning to run, they rushed to their goal, driven by fear.

Chapter Text

Veronica, slowing down at the driveway to Duke's house, first dialed the number of JD, whose car was visible nearby. He could perfectly see this courtyard and the exit from the house, as far as Sawyer could imagine.

"Yes?" the man answered.

“My parents really aren’t home.” she said. “I called them when I drove here and said that I wouldn't be in the city for a few more days, I asked not to worry about... Well, you know yourself. They are in three hours from Sherwood, get along with my aunt."

“Okay.” JD responded, more calmly. “Now just don't shut down, okay? Be sure that your phone is in touch and that I can hear everything."

“Okay.” she repeated. "Don't hang out, okay? I know, JD, that you can't help but worry about me, but whatever problems I have, they will, in any case, be less than yours if you get out of the car."

“Veronica, I know what to do myself.” the man replied a little sharply. "I am thirty-five and I was carrying explosives in my trunk. Carried through three states and three road posts."

“Interesting detail.” the woman nodded. "Tell me later, okay?"

She distinctly heard his intense snort on the other end of the line, and decided for herself that she didn't want to respond to that. Thrusting the phone into her pocket so that the light screen wasn't visible, Veronica got out of the car. She saw that the car Heather was standing here, in the still open garage, so with confidence (or at least with a small share of it) rang the doorbell. The first minute of waiting lasted like an eternity. Then, when the door opened, she smelled the perfume from her inside, Duke's favorite perfume, which she hadn't changed since high school, and she herself appeared in the aisle, looking at her cold, unable to hide the interest that flashed in her eyes.

“Veronica Sawyer.” she drawled, that matured girl who had once been taken away a red hairline.

“Heather Duke.” Veronica responded, trying to look at her without dislike. For this she had to constantly look away.

However, it wasn't hidden from the eyes that Duke spread her lips in a curious smile.

"And what do I owe to your appearance?"

“I want to talk with you.” Sawyer refrained from clenching her fists on alert. Ever since high school, she was all tense when Heather approached too closely with such foxish curiosity. Even when she was just a small bipod against the background of Chandler.

"About what?" Duke asked, slightly bowed her head to the side.

“About Martha Dunnstock. You know what happened to her." Veronica frowned noticeably.

Heather raised her eyebrows, leaning her shoulder on the door jamb.

"Really?"

“Heather, for God's sake.” Veronica almost roared. “Can we do this without such questions? You know that Martha is dead. And someone... of ours classmates killed her."

Something alive, not so indifferent, flashed in her hazel eyes. Sawyer simply couldn't patied this mega-bitch, but she had to. And, it seems, she finally managed to catch her on the hook. Quickly glancing at the streets, Duke opened the door wider and nodded inside the house.

"Fuck it, come in. Obviously, you have very hot news."

The living room was a lot of green. That darkest tone, which was diluted by other stylishly embedded colors. Sitting on a soft leather sofa, Sawyer refused the offered glass of wine.

"Are you sure?" Duke smiled. "This isn't the one of easiest conversation, right?

“I can handle it.” Sawyer shook her head.

"Uh, so you, then, didn't soften to the end. Keep it up." smiling, Heather sat opposite.

Throwing her legs, she sipped a drink from a glass.

“So.” carefully licked her lips so as not to smudge the bright red lipstick, she smiled wider. “I didn't hear anything from the police, except Martha knew the killer well. You, of course, know better whom she could know well. Why do you come to me with this and not to the cops?"

“Because of all of classmates I know only you and McNamara.” answered Veronica, folding her hands in her lap. “And I need to make sure I'm right before I go to the police.”

"I still don't understand what is my role here?" Duke looked at her patiently.

“You know all of our classmates. More precisely, you know where they are, who they are and what they do. You keep in touch with them. I just wanted to consult with you and find someone who best fits the description of the killer. The police came to me too. They told me some of the testimony of the main witness, and also said that Martha, from the eighty-ninth year, didn't stop trying to investigate the case of Kurt and Ram."

"Kelly and Sweeney? Beautiful doves?" Heather sighed. "They are suicides. What could she investigate there?"

“She was sure that they were killed.” Veronica said, feeling how Duke’s gaze was becoming not curious, but evaluating. She seemed to want to notice something in her, to catch on something. “And she may have found their killer. That's when she rushed to him with the charges, and he dealt with her. And the police now think that all those suicides were murders. Someone dealt with Heather Chandler, with Kurt and Ram, and now with Martha. And who else knows for whom he will come next time."

“You missed another one.” Duke looked at her almost playfully. "That boy in a trench coat from which you gave birth to children. He too suicide."

“No one did kill him. He died before my eyes.” Veronica replied immediately, sounding very cold, almost hostile. "He certainly doesn't apply to any of them. He was just crazy, and those events..." she remembered that JD listened to her carefully at the other end. "Those events haven't done better. He missed his insanity, so it was also..."

"Your lovely twins know who he was?"

“They don't know anything about him.” Sawyer shook her head sharply. "And they not very want to know. They don't know anything about my senior year."

"Wow!" Exclaimed Heather. "How is it? Nobody told them about the glorious life of Veronica Sawyer on the way to becoming the sheriff of the city?"

“Stop it.” Veronica threw to her. "I thought it was in the past."

“Ah, my dear.” Duke rose from the couch. "Of course, this is in the past. I then was a terrible selfish. If I were the queen of the school, I wouldn't have survived half a year."

She poured herself a new full glass of wine.

“So... can you help me find someone who can play the role of Martha's killer?” The woman asked.

“As it turned out, you are not as smart and professional as you seem, Veronica." Heather allowed herself a slight grin. "Of course, I will help you. But you will help me too. After all, so do partners, investigating the case?"

Sawyer's eyes narrowed, looking a little awared.

"What exactly do you want?" She asked.

“Just a little.” Duke waved her hand. “Just to keep my secrets. And I can also keep yours. Nobody knows that you are investigating yourself, while not relying on the police?"

After waiting a moment, Sawyer slowly shook her head, looking away.

“Well, I won't give it to anyone, really.” Heather promised. “But it seems to me that I can give you something more than just names and characteristics.”

Veronica looked at her, breathless. Duke sighed and went to the kitchen, and from there she returned with a second glass.

“I told you I won't drink.” repeated Sawyer.

“I think it will be necessary.” Heather shrugged, pouring half a glass to her. “Because I can really tell you something very important about your beloved friend and the godmother of your children.”

Veronica straightened up, starting to gradually strain, as in the old days. Duke handed her a glass and, after hesitating, Sawyer took it from the hands of her former classmate, because otherwise she wouldn't have spoken.

“I can tell you in detail what I saw that night. I am the most important witness.” Heather said softly.

Veronica stopped breathing, looking straight into the hazel eyes, which so hypnotized her with her seriousness and mystery.

"What?.."

“I couldn't tell anyone about this.” Duke hurried to say. "But I can trust you, Veronica. We are accomplices, we are not enemies. You are Martha's best friend. You should know about this. Better drink, I'm serious. I will drink too, because... ” she closed her eyes with a sigh. "Because it isn't easy to remember every time. And it's hard to live with it. If I share with you, it will be easier for me, that's for sure."

Heather drank a glass to the bottom, then looked at Veronica with a sorrowful look. She, holding a glass to her mouth, took two decent sips and pretended to take the third. Then only she could breathe deeply.

“That night I was returning to the city from Danton. Begin to drizzle, so I rode slowly, so as not to skid directly on the bridge. And now, when I was right on it, I saw them, like on an open palm. It’s impossible not to recognize Martha, she was always visible from afar, she was so... her clothes were always in such motley tones.” Heather quickly corrected, clearly not wanting to talk about Martha's fatty form. “And the man who was driving the car. I saw how he... He was..."

"He moved her with a car..." Veronica whispered, carefully driving out ideas about it from the head.

"Yes. And then he saw the light of my headlights. I only had time to see the raincoat on him, and then he turned on the high beam and I almost blinded, gave the pedals, was frightened. I almost drifted, I almost broke through the fence." Heather sighed anxiously. "And so, he swept past, on such a dark car, but small. I saw Martha... She was lying there, almost on the edge of the bridge. I wanted to run up to her, I wanted to go out and try to help. But then I heard the squeak of wheels behind me and I thought that he could turn around to catch up with me, then I... I am such a coward!" sobbed Duke. “I left there as fast as I could! And I couldn't leave the house until the police arrived..."

"Heather..." Veronica shook her head, feeling that her tongue was tangling. "You... You..."

She looked into her glass. Red wine seemed to her like blood. Martha's blood. The blood of Kurt and Ram. The blood of Chandler. Looking up, for some reason she saw only Duke's bright red lips, which called her name. Also blood. "Veronica". She shook her head, trying to shake off this delusion. Didn't help.

"Veronica..." Heather was close. And she... smiled. "You're so touching, Veronica. Let me show you the place where I... saw her. Let's go for a ride. The wine hit you in the head..."

Sawyer stirred, touching her pocket and sighed heavily. She needed a phone. JD. There is something wrong.

“...something is wrong.” she realized that she had said the last phrase out loud. "No, Heather... Something wrong..." pulled the phone somehow, she focused a floating look on the screen. "JD..."

"JD?“ Duke pulled the phone out of her weak hands.

Veronica tried her best to resist weakness, whatever it was caused. Heather had a phone in her hand that she was looking at, frowning.

"So you, Veronica... Did you help to listen to our conversation to your friend?" She asked with hostility.

“You poisoned me.” Sawyer whispered, finally.

Duke kept her finger on the phone's power button, and then gave it to Veronica.

“Not poisoned.” she said. "Just lulled to sleep. And, apparently, not in vain..."

Heather pulled away, hastily took from the table by the window a large ceramic vase. Sawyer remembered that this vase belonged to Mrs. Duke and was very weighty. Heather approached the door and hid behind it, holding the vessel in her hands. Veronica was almost completely ruined when she heard the roar and her name, which supposedly was a response from the past, sounded in the voice of JD. And then a sharp jingle. Thud. Shards.

And it seems that now she has experienced a terrible belated fear, but it was too late.

Chapter Text


 

They were already on their way to Duke's house when they ran out directly to JD's car, standing nearby, about four hundred yards or so. James first yanked the door, she was open. The car keys were in the ignition. Immediately there was a bag of JD, lying in the back seat. Kat, for example, perfectly remembered that her father had locked the car even when they had all gone to the store for about ten minutes. So he broke down in an instant, because of something so important that every second need to be saved. Remembering the case in which he and mom participated, this didn't bode well.

“There’s no phone here.” the brother said, searching the seats. "He left with it."

“He couldn't not pick up the phone.” Kat sat next to him, already trembling with fear. “James, we have to go, James...”

"Wait, Kat." he touched her hand, closed the door behind her. "Easy. We need a minute. Just a minute. Do you have any plan?"

She shook her head, almost pulling her hair from her anxiety. Then the brother put his hand in the glove compartment, pulled out a gun.

“This one is also in place.” he said. “Do you think he could have an another one with him like reserve?”

“James...” Katherine whispered, looking at him unceasingly. “Listen, we should at least find out where both of them are. Their cars are here, so they are at Duke. And, if both of them don't pick up the phone..."

"Ok, we'll try to figure out where they are. Get to the plot." James tightened his grip on the gun. "And we have to take a gun. If she tied JD, then what can we do with our bare hands?"

Kat turned away from him, not wanting to look at the weapon. They couldn't take it, they couldn't go there at all, they shouldn't have gone there. But their parents were there too, they could need help right now! And how can they help them if they themselves are defenseless?

“Okay.” she breathed. “But I'll take it..."

”Kit.” he gasped in shock.

Raising his eyes to him, the girl noticed that he was looking in front of him, into the distance, noticing something. She didn't have time to understand that. She barely saw that Duke's car was leaving the garage.

"Get down!" shouted brother.

They both sank lower, James peered intently, holding his hand on his sister’s shoulder and practically pressing her to the seat.

“She's leaving.” he said. “She has someone in her car... I can't see from here. But he is... not conscious, it seems..."

"James, it could be one of them!" She exclaimed right away. "We have to go!.."

"Start the car!" shouted brother. "Follow her. Carefully, okay? You know as well as I do. Come on, Kat, go!"

"I have no license with me!" she trembled, confusedly looking around the dashboard.

"Kat, fuck this, don't slow down!" James reached for the key and started the car himself. "Either you drive, or let me go behind the wheel!"

Katherine got ready and went ahead, trying to gain speed, so as not to lose sight of Duke's car. They turned the corner, being already on one of the main roads. James ruffled his hair, found sunglasses in the glove compartment, and immediately put them on his eyes. The girl knew that if Duke turned around, or at least one glance went through their car, she would immediately recognize them. She had already seen them once upon a time on the Day of the City, so that, despite the past years, she would have no difficulty in recognizing them. Kat slowed down, increasing the distance between the cars.

“She can see us.” she explained to her brother. "So, it is clear who is sitting in her car?"

"No longer. I say, this someone can be unconscious. He could fall down on the turn."

“God...” Katherine breathed, tightening her grip on the steering wheel. "Where do you think we're going?"

“Not to the center, that's for sure.” James said thoughtfully. "Just don't fall behind, I beg you..."

"She will recognize us!" repeated sister louder. “We won't miss her, J.!”

And, in the name of all the saints, he finally didn't correct her. Maybe because he was nervous to such an extent that he wasn't in such trifles, although lately his old nickname has pissed him off badly, not giving a moment's rest.

When they drove to one of the outskirts of the streets, driving up to one rather important road, the siblings realized where Duke was going. The road going through the bridge. The same bridge where...

“Turn up.” James said sharply. "We know where she goes. We have to stop her."

"I already did!" Kat pressed the gas. In an instant, they were even firmly pressed against the seats, before she, with her teeth clenched, let go of the pedal.

She no less wanted to stop Duke before she did something terrible with their parents on the bridge, as she did with Martha. No, the godmother had enough. They couldn't allow the same fate for the mom. And for the father.

Duke turned on the bridge. The twins already wanted to spit on stealth, they followed her so quickly that their car skidded around the bend. They were almost breathing Heather in the back. She seems to have finally noticed them, because she added speed. Now she was not going to stop at the bridge.

"No, you will not get away!" James picked up the gun.

"What the hell are you going to do?" Exclaimed his sister.

"Wheels!" He replied furiously. "I'll hurt her tires!"

Opening the window, he leaned out of it, aiming at the car. Kat couldn't stop the car, otherwise they would have missed Heather, but she couldn't allow her brother to shoot either.

"There are only three bullets!" she said. "Spend them and we are unarmed, do you hear me?"

James, stretching out his hand, squinted from behind the wind beating in the face. He was breathing heavily and deeply, looking at Duke's car. Sister was right. Only three rounds. Spend them - they end. Don't shoot - miss Duke, and then parents end.

Shit! How did they even come to this?!

"J." repeated Katherine. “We almost crossed the bridge, J.! Get back in! Don't you shoot, understand?"

Ten.

His mother is in the car.

Nine.

Or JD. For some reason, this is not get this easier.

Eight.

They are alone in the whole world and have no one else to rely on.

Seven.

They must rely only on themselves.

"You can't, that's enough!" Said Kat, holding out her hand to him and clinging to his shirt.

“I can.” he said calmly, closed one eye.

Five.

No one can't do it, but him. Sister doesn't have enough eye's power and composure.

Four.

He went to these fucking courses for something bigger then just for anger control.

Three.

Right?

Two.

Deep breath.

One.

Exhale. Shot.

The gun in his hands strongly twitched, the noise made the guy flinch with his whole body. He didn't hear the cotton of the tire! He couldn't miss! Duke's car looked sideways, swayed for a second, then began to wag. The right rear wheel began to descend quickly.

"You got it!" exclaimed Kat in amazement.

“Got it...” James breathed.

Visibly wagging the back, the car almost turned the hood towards them, but stopped, turning sideways to them. Duke, sitting behind the wheel, breathed heavily, taxiing the car almost to its fullest.

Kat stopped few yards away from her, and then both teenagers jumped out of the car, heading straight for her. James was holding a gun very tightly, hardly lifting it up, but still afraid to aim at a man. Heather looked at him startled, scared, desperate, like a beast cornered, but not surrendering without a fight.

Going to the car, the guy opened the door on the driver's side, looking at Duke with caution. He glanced in the backseat. Falling on it, Veronica was blacked out, her face was covered with hair, and her hands were tied with a green belt from some robe. Under the seat, barely placed on the floor, JD was firmly clamped, his back in a plaid shirt was recognizable. Seeing his parents unconscious, in an unknown state, James got so angry that he raised his gun more confidently.

"What did you do with them?" He exclaimed, gazing through Duke.

Kat jerked the door from the back seat, she was locked.

“Get out of the car.” snarled James, breathing heavily from anger. Duke looked at him extremely hostile, still holding the wheel. "Come out, I'm talking to you!"

“The police will be here faster than you can say the word 'Mommy', Psycho Junior.” Heather spat back, barely straightening her hair. “Did your dad teach you such manners?”

The boy had no doubt directed the muzzle of the gun at her, pulled the trigger twice already.

"Unlock the doors!" Kat roared to her. “You fucking murderer!”

“It's ironic to hear it from the children of the real killers.” Duke replied to her. "My hands are clean, your aunt doesn't count, I defended myself! But your mommy and daddy killed children for no reason!"

"Shut up!" Shouted James. "What did you do with them?"

"Nothing for which I face a prison sentence! But you, boy, will not see a college!" Heather unhooked from the steering wheel, slowly bringing her hand to the unlock button on the front panel. “The door will not open on that side, it is broken. Only the back of my side will open. Don't be nervous, boy, keep your trembling fingers away from the trigger."

“Kat.” James nodded at her back door on the other side of the car.

Sister immediately ran to it and opened the door.

“Mom...” she whispered. "Dad. Oh my Lord..."

James threw her anxious and at the same time surprised look, because, no matter how he worried about parents, she called JD a...

Duke turned out to be a fast bitch, grabbing the girl by the hand and pulling her towards her. For Katherine's breasts there were nail scissors. James stopped breathing, pointing a gun at her. Kat only had time to take a breath.

"Do you want to check which of us will do its work faster?" Duke grinned, barely glancing at him. "Come on, try your luck, boy. Try it."

Katherine looked at her brother in dismay. He exchanged glances with her. If he shoots, Duke will overtake, no doubt, but he may hurt his sister. The gun in his hand was noticeably heavier, the brush trembled. He couldn't shoot, no. On the left were parents who probably needed medical assistance, on the contrary was Duke, hiding behind his sister. She wouldn’t pierce her deeply, but even the slightest wound... James had no idea what even a small wound in the chest could lead to. There is a heart and lungs. It wouldn't end well anyway.

“Put the gun down.” Duke warned, slowly getting out of the car and pulling the younger one Sawyer to her.

And he lowered. Because it was impossible otherwise. His sister's tears ran down her cheeks.

“Your parents are alive.” Duke told him, standing behind Kat and, practically, hiding behind her. “Though I doubt your unexpected father. Here it was for me was still a surprise. How long have you known that he is alive?"

The siblings were silently startled, at a loss of speech. They couldn't even breathe, just looking at each other.

Kat looked her brother in the eye, and understood that he was no longer angry. He is terrified. He cannot orient himself; this is not the situation in which he could go ahead or speak his opponent's teeth. She thought, but her thoughts stubbornly flew out of her head, because her ribs had scissors in the hand of a psycho lady.

It was necessary to think. She was already in that situation. If you don’t think, if you don’t try to fight back, then she’s definitely finished.

When a maniac kept a knife at her throat, what could she do? Obey him. But he still didn't even press on the blade. He only scared her. Duke did the same thing, but she scared James. She paid more attention to him, even though she held Katherine to her, holding her hand to her forearm.

It was necessary to distract. Just for a second. How did she cope with the robber at the bus stop? Hit the leg. Here a little hit. Need to beat off the scissors from yourself. She has one hand free. Heather didn't look behind her free hand, she looked at the guy's gun. Kat slowly began to raise her palm, bringing her close to Duke's wrist. She breathed her almost the back of the head. So her nose is on that level. And she had such a beautiful, chiseled one. Fragile in appearance. She probably never broke it.

She fought twice in her life. Seen how James does it. A punch in the nose disoriented any boy. Hit it, push away from her hand with scissors. This isn't a knife. She can't beat it so easily. But the moment should be enough for her... Kat caught her breath. She remembered how it was done.

“JD...” came a faint voice.

Mom could be seen from here, the door was open. She raised her head, all at once paid attention to her.

And Kat swung her head back in a big way. In general, she, too, was a little pained, but a loud crunch and cry informed her that Heather had to hurt more. However, Kat hit her arm, pulled out of the grip of a woman, then tried to knock her down, but Duke was firmly on her feet. She pushed her toward the railing.

"Kat!" brother rushed to her.

"Kat?.." Mother's voice was heard. Then it, hoarse, sounded louder, more frightened. "Kat! James! Children! JD, wake up!"

"James, grab her!" Kat pointed toward Heather, who had already risen to her feet and was running away from the bridge.

He finally looked at the woman in green, who was wheezing with pain.

"Don't move!" He shouted, starting to catch up. "Stop!"

And it was better for her to run faster, because now she threatened not only his parents, but his sister as well. First, James fought to the blood for his family. Secondly, Duke plunged him into horror and made him feel helpless. This angered James more than anything else.

"Mom!" Kat rushed to the car. "Mom, are you alright?"

"Untie my hands!" Veronica gave her related brushes.

Katherine somehow dealt with the knot, then they raised the man together. JD gave a moan in response to these actions, then opened his eyes. He had blood on his head, but more of it remained on the floor of Duke's car.

"What is she she used for you?" with frighten asked Kat.

“A large vase.” Veronica chuckled disappointingly. "He will live. You only need to sew up faster."

The girl experienced a huge shiver, only thinking about how to sew again. She had enough of that sea of blood... She couldn't...

"What a chaos!" exclaimed mom. "What are you doing here? What happened?"

“Veronica.” JD suddenly opened his eyes. They both approached him. "Veronica..."

"Shut up, for God's sake." she grumbled to him. "I'm fine. Kat too."

“Chaos...” he grinned, looking at her with a dull look. "Funny word."

Chaos is what killed the dinosaurs, right?” Sawyer frowned. "Just breathe... My phone is on the seat. I'll call the police. Just don't shut down, okay?"

There were noisy screams from behind, James couldn't calm down. Turning around, the girl saw that he had catched Duke practically behind the railing, down the slope to the river. And there was a shot.

"What..." Veronica turned on him.

And, not hearing anything more, Kat ran there, jumping over the railing almost at once step.

"James!" She cried.

She saw that her brother, stumbling, fell on Heather, in whose hands now was a gun. They both fell to the ground, sliding even lower, almost to the water itself. Trying to descend quickly, while not rolling down the slope head over heels, Kat ran to them just at that moment when Duke sat down on her brother, almost putting a gun to his forehead, but he knocked the weapon out of her weak hand. Katherine picked it up faster than any of them, and then raised it to Heather. James was still lying on the ground, covered in dust and river clay. From the fight, the wound on his lip burst, blood began to flow again. Grunting, brother somehow rose to his feet, Heather was still on her knees, holding hands behind her head and looking at them viciously.

"Follow in the footsteps of parents!" She spat out. “That's how they killed Chandler, Sweeney, and Kelly, right at close range. I always knew you were as nutty as Sawyer and your
dad! He almost blew us all up at school! Come on, girl, continue the work of your parents! Blow up all the fuck here! And then you all die in your own chaos!"

James stepped toward his sister, but he stopped when he saw her grin, which made him feel ill. She didn't take the gun from Duke, and then came very close to her.

"Kat?" asked brother anxiously. "Kat, no. She's not worth it."

“Chaos.” Katherine grunted. “Chaos, Aunt Heather, is what killed the dinosaurs.

And, swinging, she gave Duke a hit in the head with a gun. The strength and rage invested in the blow was enough for the woman to fall at their feet, but not die. Looking at her, Kat realized that she should be terrified, but caught herself feeling relieved, just only because her brother, alive and almost health, was standing nearby not hit by a bullet, and the killer of their godmother - captor of their parents - was lying at their feet.

Chapter Text


 

JD, opening his eyes, looked around the room that seemed familiar to him. First, he saw a bright ceiling, then photos on the walls - Veronica with her parents, Veronica with children. Turning to the side, his head splitting from pain, he saw on the table next to the bed a pack of pills and a glass of water. He had to put a lot of effort into getting out of bed through the pain and the dull red veil that clouded his eyes, but, to be honest, he already had to deal with this before. Just needed to use for it again. Here he found that he had his prosthetic arm removed, because weight was too easy from one side. Then, after drinking two pills and a whole glass of water in one gulp, he gently lay back, now starting to think. It was obvious that, since he was in peace and quiet in the house of Sawyer, and not in prison or even in hell, it means his family managed to crank something up. He didn't remember anything at all from the moment he entered Duke’s house and saw Veronica landing on the sofa. It turns out... they were saved. And JD didn't even think who it could be. James and Kat, of course. No one else could. And if it were someone else, would he be here now?

After waiting another minute, the man stood up again, leisurely heading for the door. But he didn't have time to take three steps, when suddenly in the room, half open the door, slipped Kat. Seeing her father, she opened her eyes wide, and then, with a sigh of anxiety, rushed to him.

"JD, no!" She said softly. "Don't worry! We are all intact! All is well! Lay back. I'll call mom..."

He let her put him back, but he didn't let go of her hand.

“Better you tell me.” he didn't want to wait, he just couldn't.

"Did you drink the pills?" Asked his daughter, throwing a glance at the table. "Do you still want to drink?"

“I drank it, I don’t want to.” her father answered, sighing from the pain that had gushed from the tension. "Come on, Kat."

Now she sighed, touching his shoulder. He could see with the naked eye how much she was relieved, how carefully and soft she looked at her father, worrying about him every second. “James and I were with MacNamara, as you told us. We learned almost nothing from her, except that Aunt Heather saw Duke on the evening of the murder of Martha leaving the bridge in a nervous state. James and I thought carefully and came to the conclusion that if she had been the main witness for real, she wouldn't have been able to get out of there, or she would have been dead until the police had managed to take her under protection. We called mom and you two times, but both of you were inaccessible, then we rushed to the rescue. Found your car unlocked, with the keys inside. We climbed inside, searched everything in search of a phone, but it wasn't there either. Found a gun in the glove compartment. Then we wanted to go get you out of the house, but Duke took you by car herself. She took you to the very bridge, because she wanted to furnish everything like an accidental double murder or, probably, something like that."

Kat frowned and looked away, fearing only the thought of it, but she continued to speak. “James and I drove after her in your car, but we couldn’t allow her to stop at the bridge or take you out of the city, so... we had to stop her.” the daughter blushed slightly. "James from your gun managed from the first time hit her on the wheel. Duke didn't cope with the car and stopped, and we detained her right there, behind the wheel. James was holding her on the gun, and I went to pull you out of the back seat. But we were so afraid for you that we were distracted, and she managed to capture me, threatening James that she would pierce me with the scissors that were at her hand."

JD had to raise his eyebrows in amazement, then squeezed Katherine's hand in alarm.

“It's all right, really.” she smiled at him comfortingly. “Duke was so scared back then that she only followed the gun, James, but not me. I broke her nose, it seems, and knocked the scissors out of her hand, but she shoved me, and almost ran away. James rushed after her, and I stayed with you and mom, because mom woke up. Together we managed to pick you up, you fell from the seat to the floor. You woke up, you spoke to us. Do you remember?"

The man, trying to remember anything, shook his head thoughtfully.

“You spoke to mom.” Daughter’s smile became sad. "Just a couple of words spilled. Do you know how you scared me? Why did you rush into Duke's house unarmed?"

"I heard on the phone, as Veronica begins to weaken and call me, and that's why i'm rushed without hesitation. But Duke had time to notice that she called me, and waited for me, it seems..." JD reached for the back of his head. "What is was?"

"Mom said it was a vase." Kat pulled his hand down. “Duke almost skulked your skull. Please don't make any sudden movements, don't strain yourself..."

"How did you manage to cope with this?" He asked, confused. "Still, such a powerful blow, for sure there was a lot of blood."

“You don't even know how many cuffs James grabbed in primary and middle school.” His daughter smiled again with longing. “Remember, you said you saw me fight?”

"Yeah."

“The first time this happened, I rushed to his defense because he was nearly killed. Then he had a concussion worse than yours. He also spoke to me in his own manner of a bad joker, and then fall in comatose for a whole day. Mom was crazy. Because of this, there was a second fight. I was all nerves, and he was weak. I was so sorry for him. I thought that he would forever remain with this scar and an eternal headache. On the street, we crossed with those boys, they said something about me and about him... That was the first time when I attacked people with fists, but not James. Although, he also fought there a little bit to prevent them from beating me. We quickly fled, but I had a wound on my shoulder. And then you know."

JD, staring at the ceiling again, sighed.

"So what happened next?" he asked. “Duke escaped?”

"No, James caught up with her, but he didn’t want to shoot her, she took advantage of this, almost took the gun from him. They were already behind the bridge, somehow they rolled down there, almost to the river itself. I ran to help him, grabbed a gun before Duke. She was already crazy, it seems. She told us in hysterics about all the chaos that we made up... I was forced to quote one very damaged person," Kate squeezed her father’s hand, smiling more confidently, "and told her that chaos is what killed the dinosaurs. It seems like, I correctly caught the meaning of this phrase."

JD looked at his daughter with a surprised look, and then smiled at her, for the first time since he saw her and heard this long story, which hadn't yet come to an end. He didn’t have time to ask when he managed to say that phrase to her, she continued:

"This is your and moms stuffs. She said this when you spoke to her on the bridge." the girl explained. "In general, I also didn't shoot, I knocked her out. We had to do something to solve it. We hurried to raise Duke back to the top, mom hadn't yet called the police, she had been thinking all the time how we could get out of this situation. Invented something, by the way. Heather wanted to beat us, but in the end we beat her stronger. Mom wrote a note on her behalf that she was about to commit suicide because she was the very killer. For the police to think that Heather had faked it, Mom tampered with her own handwriting. We left a note in the glove compartment. Then Heather was put back on the driver's seat, it was necessary to throw the car off the bridge, as if a fight broke out there, and Duke and mom fell down. I was told to take you to our home, to help you here, to hide better. Mom herself drove off the bridge with Duke in the car to set it up as a convincing accident. She wasn't injured, fell on the fly into the water, then managed to emerge, easily swam out to the shore. Heather has got much, so she hasn't yet emerged. Water washed your blood out of the car. The car hit the concrete pillar from the old bridge, then rolled over, swam a little more before it was carried onto the stones. The wheel, in which James got a bullet, was completely torn off, and swam off into the distance."

Kat grinned mournfully, looking around at her father again. He felt dizzy from such news.

“Now the official version of the police.” Katherine summed up. “Mom came to Duke to talk because she was looking for the killer. Duke spoke to her, but gave her sleeping pills before mom guessed her guilt, and then hinted that she was the murderer of Chandler, Sweeney and Kelly, and then of Martha. Sleepy mother in an attempt to attack her crushed a vase, cutting her own. Duke wrote an imaginary note and took mom to the bridge, but she woke up along the way and a fight ensued. The car fell off the bridge, mom fell out of it, but Heather didn't have time. Mom called the police, James 'ran' on the bridge, told them what we heard from Aunt McNamara and what we understood from this conversation. Mom was examined, her injuries agreed with her testimony. Heather is now in a very bad condition in intensive care, she is unlikely to wake up. The police are considering a version that that she was a murderer, in all seriousness. She had a motive - jealous for Chandler, hatred for Kurt and Ram, who tried to rape her friends, then she wanted to fend off Martha. The cops found a wet note in the glove compartment, dismantled it and believed it. She didn't have time to clean up the house, so they found a broken vase, and drops of blood, and a glass of sleeping pills in wine, which was supposed to almost kill mom if she drank it all. In general, the police have enough evidence to admit her guilt. But they can't plant it. No matter how Mr. and Mrs. Duke tried to cure their daughter... she is bad". Kat shook her head. "A blow to the concrete pole almost finished it off."

Now Kat was silent for a long time. Her story was over, JD listened, struggled to understand and accept it. But the migraine only intensified, as soon as it was harder to strain the brain.

"Don't think about it yet. Now everything is good - that's all you need to know." Katherine, having caught his attentive gaze, now couldn't hide the tears of relief. “I'm so glad that James and I managed to..."

”Kat...” JD whispered, gladly wrapping her in his arms.

And he could not say anything more. Kat smiled through her tears, clinging to him for the first time, now not experiencing either bitterness, no shame, no sense of the threat hanging over them, which kept her from calm before that. She was relieved, free, and so glad to feel her father’s arms, even if weak, because he lacked another hand, but so welcome, that she couldn’t stop crying now and from that.

“Dad...” she answered in a whisper, wrapping her arms around him as if they wouldn’t see each other for another seventeen years.

And when she heard JD's deep noisy sigh, she broke away from him, surprised at how alive and happy his look was.

“You need to rest.” overcoming a strong desire to return to his arms, she let go of his hands.

“I'm fine.” he lied, without batting an eye.

“I’ll call Mom and James now, and then you’ll definitely need to rest.” she smiled wider, got out of bed and left the room, quickly wiping away tears.

JD didn’t even notice how those seconds passed, waiting. His thoughts weren't even occupied by the incredible solution of the problem, which Veronica had already fully invented by herself, but by what Kat called his dad. It would seem such an insignificant word, but... Watching them for eleven years, he could afford it only in the most unrealistic dreams. And now it wasn't just a dream. For the first time in his life, what he wished with all his heart came true. And it was such a heady feeling that filled his chest with warmth... Which he didn't have time to enjoy.

"JD?" James came into the room first. "Well, how are you?"

“Alive.” he nodded, almost pretty. "And you?"

“Barely hurt.” the son smiled a broken lip, rather falling into a chair. "Kat warned that she told you everything."

“We dealt with Duke.” Veronica concluded, sitting down on her own bed next to him. She wasn't as carefree and contented as a son, but her whole appearance radiated a
welcome relief. "Now everything is exactly behind."

“You slid off the bridge into the river.” JD frowned, touching her hand.

“I jumped out of the car.” she added. "And by the way, it was painful. I gets the most big bruises. Barely swam to shore. James helped me out."

"If I knew that she was going to fucking jump off from the bridge!" The guy exclaimed, looking sternly at her. “She ordered me to leave there, and when I walked away from her, she started the car and rushed down! And now I understand why you..."

"We discussed this!" shouted at him mother. “If you don't stop raising your voice on me, I'll lock you in your room until the end of summer, understand?”

With a violent sigh, James stood up. JD still couldn't believe that this boy, his whimsical son, was holding a gun. Although... No, he could easily believe it. But the fact that, having only three rounds, James got the wheel on the go from the first time, he couldn't.

“Then we will talk.” the son said, turning to him, and then left the room, leaving them alone.

They were both awkwardly silent, looking at each other with anxiety and guilt.

“I didn't save you.” JD gasped out first.

“You are not an expert in saving people.” Veronica shrugged. "You have, let's say, another specialization. I came up with a plan, embodied it convincingly enough, and everything worked out. Thanks to you. You taught me that."

“This is not what a normal person can being proud of.” JD snorted.

"But are we normal?" Veronica smiled. "My parents left again for my aunt. I convinced them that I and the children wanted to be three, that the police psychologist had advised so. They bickered for a long time..."

"Wait, have they been here already? How much did I miss?" The man asked, confused.

"Two days. They arrived on the same day, as everything happened, left this morning.” answered Veronica. "Nobody went into this room, I managed to convince everyone that I was traumatized, and I don't want to see anyone on my territory. In general, I almost didn't lie about the trauma... Duke was a mad bitch. The children said that she blurted out in hysterics, as if she had killed Martha in order to defend herself. I practically killed Heather, but... I am not ashamed and not afraid." Sawyer shook her head. "This is the only murder that I don't regret."

“I am so sorry I came into your life at all.” JD gasped out.

"You aren't to blame, we all know that - children and me. Your mother left you, and your father broke you. You were too little to be able to resist this." Veronica squeezed his hand, forcing him to turn a painful look at herself. "But you tried to fight it. For me. And..." she sighed, smiling at him. “I'm glad you're not dead, JD. I'm glad you're here with us now. If I had the opportunity to rewind time to eighteen years ago, I wouldn't fix anything, except that I wouldn't allow you to explode and be crippled."

“You shot me a finger.” he reminded me with a sad smile. "And hit the bullet in my stomach. If I hadn't exploded, I still wouldn't stay handsome."

“You're still handsome.” answered Veronica, looking at him embarrassed, trying to keep from smiling.

Obviously, she had plenty of time to think about her attitude towards him. And JD already liked her conclusion. He saw that she feels more than just the joy of his presence.

“I have no arm.” he reminded. “And I am scarred.”

“I know.” she said, still not raising her eyes. "If you haven't noticed, you have on other clothes, and you are clean."

Of course, who else could take off his prosthesis, wash him and change clothes? And... she wasn't disgusted by his current look? The scars, of course, healed, but they still disfigured him so much that he himself sometimes became disgusted.

"And what do you think?" he asked.

“I think you're handsome, I already said it.” she answered, almost irritated. “I still see your face, JD, and it’s the same. Your voice, your movements, your words, they are all the same. But you are... became different. Both of us."

“The life damaged us.” he nodded.

"But didn't break to the end?" sighing, Veronica lay down next to him.

She did it so easily, as if she didn’t have that hatred and disgust, like a week ago, when they met again for the first time after a long separation. Five days ago, she fiercely rejected the idea of sleeping in the same bed with him, and now... if he was slept for two days on her bed, then...

"Have you slept next to me all this time?" With some fun asked JD.

“This is my bed, so it's you slept next to me.” answered Veronica. “Where else would you hide? And I didn't want to sleep in the living room on the couch or make the children huddle in the same bed."

“You could sleep in your parents' room.” the man teased her.

"Shut up."

JD laughed softly, and then wasn't surprised that Sawyer kissed him on the lips. Most likely, she wanted to shut him up, but of course there was no other way. And, having felt, after eighteen years, the taste of her lips, which remained almost unchanged, he stopped feeling that thirty-five-year-old JD with chronic migraine. He felt like a lucky guy, as he did in high school, when Veronica Sawyer decided to spend the night with him. He remembered her warmth, her smell, her unskillful manner of kissing, and now, smiling with a full mouth, he noted that almost nothing had changed. Unless, she was more mature in body and spirit.

Looking up from his face, Veronica, barely smiling, ran a cool hand over his cheek.

“You must rest, JD.” she whispered to him carefully.

“I'm already rested.” he objected. "I waited eighteen years of this moment."

“I think you'll be able to wait for another day.” the woman ran a hand through his hair and then rose to her feet.

Chapter Text

 


Two months later

 

James liked his job. There was no better job than being a cashier in 7-eleven, although he couldn't resist not to spent half the salary on his own goods. And yet it was better than being a waitress like Kat.

"And here she is!" the guy exclaimed, having met the sister from work.

Because of Katherine's face it was possible to say that she escaped from the cafe with great relief.

“Here he is.” the girl replied. "How is your shift?"

“Better than yours.” James threw a pack of nuts to her. "Magic beans for the Terrible Kit!"

“Today I really nearly rip two mans in half.” Kat almost snarled, quickening her pace. "Didn't mom call you?"

“No.” James shook his head, easily catching up. "And you?"

“No.” Katherine sighed.

Another five seconds, they walked along the sidewalk silently, quickly passing the work center. There was a reason to rush home enough to both take time off early.

"And dad?" Kat asked a little awkwardly. James didn't mind that she called JD that word with him, on the contrary, he was happy for his sister, but at times she herself was embarrassed to talk about JD like that.

“He, too.” answered the brother. "You know that he calls me infrequently."

"But suddenly."

"The miracle didn't happen. For now." James grinned. “From you stinks like food.”

"And from you stinks like cleanser, but I don't arise, so you better keep your mouth shut." snarled his sister.

Her sullenness quickly evaporated when their home appeared close by. But there were no cars around, and the door was locked, as in the morning when they went to school. The siblings went home in sweet anticipation. So the parents haven't come back yet. They still had time to meet them.

Grandma and grandpa hadn't yet returned from a two-week trip to Florida, which their mother gave them for their marriage anniversary. So JD could have stayed with them for a few days. James would like his father to stay here for a long time. He quickly left the city in July, after he came to himself and was able to recover from the pain. The farewell was blurry, the parting was too ragged. Then the mom was overseen by the police. But the courts and trials were left behind, Duke died a week later after her fall from the bridge. The buzz in Sherwood sat down, mom managed to get a job as an editor again, and the two of them went to their senior class. JD left for another examination, then plunged headlong into work, didn’t even call them at all for several weeks. Kat hasn’t seen him since they parted on July 7th at 7-eleven, then she worried about him all this time, even though she held herself like an impregnable fortress. But James convinced her that she no longer needed to hide from him. He had no hatred or indifference to JD. He respected and appreciated his father. Maybe even loved. Quite a bit, yes. A little bit. This wasn't bad, right?

Just mom was very happy. She was so young and so free, she breathed in her entire chest and sometimes, he heard, talked on the phone with him at night, just as McNamara liked to chat with her many friends. JD didn't do anything to her, he was able to prove that he loved her in fact, which wouldn't allow her to be in more trouble. James wouldn't reproach him. Even the fact that JD couldn't refrain from adventures. And, as it turned out, mom too.

On September 1st, they all received gifts. Kat received a new book by Stephen King, James, to his great pleasure, received a compact player, and mom... a little invitation for a little vacation. A brochure from the hotel in Marysville was attached to it. The children persuaded her to go, leave them for a while, and then return home with their father. Well, they put not much effort. Mom wasn't particularly opposed. She only worried about them. It was still forbidden for James to touch anything that could catch fire, flood the house, injure him and his sister, hit him with a current, and blah-blah-blah. He kept his promise, really. But Kate burned butter when fried potatoes. And broke the pan. On the floor. Where now was the black burnt spot on this.

In general, they waited for their parents with impatience. Equally anxious for both of them. And when Mom and JD entered the house, Katherine rushed at both of them with such strong arms that she could strangle the two at once, if not for James, who had intervened on time. With an effort he pulled out his mother to gently embrace her, so fresh and joyful, and then, embarrassed a little, embraced JD, who was no longer so weak. In the same look coat, but new.

"How is your head?" the son asked immediately.

“Its okay.” the man nodded with a smile. "What about the house?"

"Intact. Kat almost burned the kitchen.” James snapped, glancing her sister with a contented look.

“He exaggerates.” the girl snorted. "Really, everything is alright. Just the pan fell. And how is your vacation?"

The parents looked at each other conspiratorially, deciding among themselves who would speak first. Of course, the father spoke.

“Wonderful.” he breathed. "I think we have something to tell."

"You are?" Kat looked at him with adoration, now not hiding how much she missed.

“If this isn't a story about how you crossed the border in pursuit of policemen, then this isn't such an interesting story.” James shrugged, getting disgruntled views from his
mother and sister.

"Oh, I think it comes to that!" nodded father. "Did you cook something?"

“We call for pizza.” the guy chuckled. "Kat isn't in cook mood."

And they went to the sofa, which still had hot boxes on the table. It was one of the wonderful evenings in their new life, where they were family. Not the most normal, but family. Everyone here loved each other, there was no hatred or fear. If they forget that JD is still living illegally, and therefore hiding in Sherwood from the eyes of others, everything was even perfect.

“So what's your story?” Asked Kat, propped her head in her hand.

“Not that this is any exciting adventure, miss.” JD said. “It’s just that your mother and I talked a lot about what will happen when you finish this year.”

“We'll go to college, yes.” James nodded. "Then leave here forever, finally."

“I wanted to return to Springfield.” Veronica recalled slowly, choosing words.

"You wanted?" taking advantage of the pause, asked Katherine. "That is, you don't want to go there? Will you stay here? And where will JD come? Are we going to send grandparents in trips forever?"

“Wait.” her father stopped. "I offered your mom something else. Well, for example, driving around the country with me. And then I won't have to hide. We will visit you together during the holidays, the whole company will come to Springfield or here if you wish. In general, so that... so that your mother wouldn't be so lonely, or so that I wouldn't have to make a long journey back and forth in order to see her. Of course, this implies that she will be part of my work. But I will not endanger her, honestly."

“Carry goods back and forth, that's the whole danger.” Veronica threw up her hands, hiding her eyes from the children. "And I don't mind at all, this is common sense, agree, but... I wanted to hear what you think about it. Of course, there are nuances there, like the fact that I am still going to work as an editor for articles on the Internet. It is necessary to buy a phone with access to the network. And I have to do all the documents, I must have a connection with my parents for, if anything happens, there are no problems..."

She continued to list all the things that were embarrassing her, muttering to herself while the siblings looked at each other, noticing that they both barely held back a smile. Of course, it was a difficult decision. They worried about mom. In the end, it wasn't a vacation. It was life with JD, which was equal to life on the run. Illegal work, constant travel, serious dark stuff. But... after a week that turned their lives around, and two months later, when they could observe their mother, it was noticeable that she was created just for that. She was always too unusual woman. Not the one who can work in the editorial office or teach children to write. A meeting with JD confirmed this. Besides, who could look after her better when children went to colleges in two different states? And who could look after JD at this time?

“Mom.” Kat stopped her endless stream of words. "This is, of course, unexpected. And we'll always worry about you, it will be difficult to accept your choice, but this is your choice. You know what kind of life you are more drawn to. We are almost adults, and you are all the more..."

"Well." James sighed, realizing that they, nevertheless, thought a little differently. "Both of you are knew each other for eighteen years. If you are sure that you can stand each other longer than two months, then try it. And generally, another ten months before graduation. You still think, but know that we, in general, don't mind."

Veronica, smiling broadly, nodded to her son.

“Yes,” Katherine breathed, “James said well, too.”

She took herself another slice of pizza, looking fervently at her father just like only he and his children could do it.

"By the way, how did your final ten months begin?" he asked.

The siblings smiled, looking at each other.


 

This was their third day at Westerburg High. So far, they have been sitting together at a separate table, not even trying to find friends for themselves. James had enough of the fact that school players welcomed him at the meeting, and therefore the rest didn't climb to him. Kat was pleased with that too. But on this day somehow everything didn't come up at once. On physical education, Katherine noticed that some girls were watching her, and James noticed the boys' views on chemistry. And at lunch...

"Hello." the girl in the orange suit, clutching the tablet with the next questionnaire to her chest, smiled sweetly at them. "You're new here, so it would be worth to meet. Ester Nashville."

She extended her hand to them. Kat barely shook her, James, too.

“We are Sawyer.” said the guy. "She's Kat, I'm J. Nice to meet you."

"You lived here before. I was just able to find out something about you, but I am not sure that you know me." the girl barely bowed her head to the side. "If you need something... Refer to me as the main one. I will help with all I can do."

“Thank you.” Kat nodded. "I think we can handle it."

“Nice badge.” Ester nodded at the badge pinned to Katherine's denim jacket. “I like the 'Breakfast Club' too.”

“Thank you for your concern, Ester.” said James meaningfully. "We really appreciate that you decided to meet us personally. Now, if you don't mind, we'll have lunch next. Nice to
meet you."

“You're need to be careful here.” Nashville told them, leaning a little closer. "Any gossip, there are, go to school. And sometimes all sorts of trouble happen. But you, I am sure, will be able to avoid it. The main thing isn't to cross the road... to everybody."

“It looks like this city lacks a new sheriff.” the siblings looked at each other, James grinned. "We, if anything, will always be ready to replace him. And we don't demand thanks in return, so don't worry."

"We just strong enough." Kat nodded confidently. “Thank you for your carrying, Ester.”


 

Now, remembering this, she couldn't hide her smiles.

“This city lacks a sheriff, as I said.” the brother remarked. "But we, if anything, on guard. So you can sleep well."

“I'll follow you,” Mom said calmly, “and if you touch anyone with your finger, you can immediately run out of the country from me.”

“It sounds interesting.” the guy raised his eyebrows, taking the remaining piece of pizza. "Don't worry, mom. Until I buy myself a car, I will not beat anyone."

Katherine said nothing with a smile. She didn't promise anything to her mother.

The next day, she and his brother barely got out of bed. September morning was quiet, windless. The guys were in the same mood. Gathering quietly, they left the room, quietly following down to the kitchen to warm up the last junk food for breakfast before going to school and then to work.

"You think they really should live together?" Kat asked her brother when he, leaning his backside on the table, drank juice. "How long will they live together? Don't get involved in anything again?"

"Even if they get involved, they'll certainly find a way to get out, don't you think?" snickered James, smoothing his naughty hair. "Mom, maybe with him isn't safe. But if something happens, it will bother him, that's for sure. And JD isn't crazy, really. But, rather, not completely crazy. I trust him. He will not put mother in mortal danger. Otherwise, she'll put him into. You seem to trust our father."

"I do." Kat nodded. “But he and mom always do it somehow. And, if anything happen, we'll not be around."

James sat down in front of his sister, so that their eyes were on the same level. He took her hands.

“Deans are hard to kill.” he chuckled softly. “And don't say mom is Sawyer. They already look like completely married couple."

The girl laughed softly, knowing it without her brother. She was glad for her parents, who were twenty years younger, returning to each other. And, although none of them spoke about it out loud, it was obvious even to a fool.

"They'll sort out their mess. And honestly, I wouldn't interfere in their Santa Barbara."

James pursed his lips awkwardly. Kat handed him hot macaroni from the microwave.

"Why?" She asked with a smile.

"These are our folks. This is disgusting.” he replied. "It's like if..."

Kat looked over his shoulder. Without even going down the stairs to the end, mom and dad stood close together. JD held her waist and kissed her, but Veronica, taken aback, still didn't resist. James turned and sighed, looking at it.

"Well, that's what I said." He rose from his chair, blushed. "Now at night I will not fall asleep."

Parents broke away from each other. Veronica, barely shoving a man in the chest, came down, frowning in embarrassment, while JD grinned, looking after her, and then looked at his daughter. Kat was blushing now too, dropping her gaze. She was very clear about what his brother was talking about. It wasn't very comfortable to watch someone else's private life, and when it was the parents, then... it became even worse.

“Oh lord...” she whispered. "Good morning, mom, dad."

“Excuse me,” James said loudly, “but now I don't have a comfort zone.”

“My greetings to you.” Father dropped into a chair across from them. "Pasta with cheese?"

“You're a showboy.” Veronica whispered to him, a little bit displeased. "Just don't forget about it."

Father laughed at it. Kat, listening to all these morning murmurs, sleepy conversations, giggles, seeing the grimaces and this sleepy family atmosphere, felt, strangely enough, very comfortable. Cozier than ever. And now, only now, she finally thought that everything had become perfect forever.

Well, how perfect everything can be about Sawyer-Dean.

Chapter Text

Kat loved her costume and damn proud of it. She spent three whole days to make these stunning, pleated sleeves, wings, and now she banged James every time he dared to laugh about it.

“You’ll not even wear something again!” she blurted out to him when he finally got her with his jokes.

"What makes you think so?" Brother grinned, hiding his face behind the magazine.

And, frozen, Katherine stared at him, knowing that, since he was smiling again, like a bloody fox, he was making some ambitious plans about which, of course, he wasn't going to tell her. It was the first drop of curiosity, which was soon grown to the whole sea.

There was a day before the school party. Kat thought that her brother wouldn't be able to avoid being questioned, that she would surely find out what kind of costume he had, because they live in the same room and get ready together. However, her brother intentionally avoided her. Today he came home under the night, having climbed out of the window with the help of a staircase, for not to get caught by his mother in the living room, and then threw some strange old backpack on his bed, which they had never had before.

"What happened to you?" Whispered the girl, closing the window behind him.

Even in the twilight it was noticeable how pale and alarmed he was. Looking out, the guy pulled down the curtains.

“Nothing.” He breathed. "Just ran."

"Run from who?" Kat put her hands to the sides.

"From no one.” James snarled at her. "Everithing is alright, okay? Let's go to bed already."

"What are you brought?" She asked, pointing at the backpack.

“It doesn't matter.” James waved as he shoved the stuffed bag under his bed. "Mom swore?"

“She said she would talk to you at breakfast.” Kat breathed. “And if you run away before breakfast, she'll come after you after school.”

"Oh shit!" The guy groaned, falling on the bed right in the upper clothes. "What do you think is waiting for me? By the way, I'm already seventeen years old, and I work. I have no right to come home whenever I want?"

“No.” Katherine replied calmly, taking off her glasses in which she had reread her textbook. “As long as you don't call mom or me, you don't have it. And especially, until you pick up the phone when we call you."

James obviously wanted to say something, but said nothing, taking the phone out of his pocket. He cursed softly to himself. Looking at him out of the corner of her eye, the girl noticed that he was passing a fingernail across the screen of his flip phone. Moving closer, Kat realized that a large crack had gone across the screen.

“Bravo.” She remarked phlegmatically, and then went back to her bed. "You also crashed the phone. Have a nice dream, brother."

“And you too, sister.” Snarled James.

October 31st was almost a trivial day in high school. Discharged children already roamed the corridors, in some classes there were lessons devoted entirely to this holiday. Ninth-graders were engaged in decorations in the gym throughout the big break. With a grin, Kat noticed that Ester Nashville in her favorite orange dress was like a pumpkin. Her two bosom friends, Abigail and Ashley, did more important things than just watching the preparations for the disco. Abby, the captain of the cheerleaders, helped decorate the hall, and Ashley, an assistant teacher in computer science, was engaged in the selection of music.

"Sawyer!" Nashville shouted to them, noticing them behind a bunch of students.

“Oh shit.” James blurted out, rolling his eyes, and then turned to face her, putting a polite smile on his lips. “How are you doing, Ester?”

“You will be at the disco, I have a list, so don’t deny it.” The girl shook her inherent tablet before their eyes. “I need to know how you dress up. I warn you, all sorts of things, like paper list with some name on the chest, don't be welcomed."

“I will be wearing Freddie Mercury's costume.” Kat answered her. "The white suit from a concert at Earl's Court in 1977."

Ester, pursing her lips, stared at her baffled.

"Suit with puffy sleeves?" Said Kat. Ester was still silent, her gaze gradually turning from puzzled to wary, as if she was looking at a madman. "Come on, don't pretend that you haven't heard about Freddie Mercury!"

“I heard.” Nashville grumbled. "Okay, let's clarify how this suit will look decent."

Katherine immediately replied. “There are no exposed body parts in it.”

“This is the last thing I worry about.” said Ester. "I just mean how much it... hmmm... will fit into the overall concept of the evening."

"The concept of the evening?" James squinted, pursing his lips in a grin. "It's Halloween!"

"It's not just a Halloween!" Ester shook her finger. "This evening is arranged by me and my friends. Guys from a neighboring town can come here, so I’m concerned that we are not mistaken for stupid, tasteless pigs."

“Freddie Mercury is a sample of outrageous.” Kat folded her arms across her chest. “And if someone considers him tasteless, that’s his problem.”

Ester patiently sighed, turning her gaze to girl's brother. "And you?" She asked.

“It's surprise.” He replied, nodding slightly. “But I'm sure nothing tasteless. Maybe the guys even like it."

"Really?" Ester bit her lip. With a sigh of patience, she looked at them almost irritably. "Okay. We'll talk in the evening."

And, turning away, she went back to the hall.

Katherine really loved her costume. She sewed him out of two suits, for six months she bought suitable textile, when they were still living in Springfield. Then she thought about hair styling, having managed to practically repeat Freddie’s hairstyle from the seventies. When she began to spray with varnish, and nearly strangled her brother, James, picking up his backpack, went to the bathroom.

He was gone for an hour. Katherine had just finished her preparations, and was already waiting below, showing herself to mom. She took a few pictures on the family "soap box". She always liked her daughter's approach to costumes. Mom herself, it seems, didn't participate in Halloween parties in high school. Her entire senior year lasted like a Halloween party, so Kat didn't blame her.

When they heard footsteps on the stairs, they both sighed in relief.

“James, you dress like a girl...” Sister gasped, turning round, and stood still, looking around at the guy.

In boots almost to the knee, in black jeans and his beloved stretched dark turtleneck with a cut off throat and stretched sleeves, putting on a black worn coat that was a little big at his shoulders, her brother stood in front of her, grinning, and his grin looked scary. His face was covered with pale powder, with the exception of the eyes and lips. They were circled in black, and there was a black stripe along the cheeks and forehead of each eye. Tousled wet hair, heavily watered with varnish, looked as if he had just emerged from the water.

"Boo!" Said James. "I'am dead, and I move!"*

"You, bastard!" Kat breathed. “Now I understand why you invented such shitty costumes before. Saving up fantasy, huh?"

“No, just inspiration flooded… once.” He grunted, heading for the exit. "So, ladies, should I wait for you in the car?"

“Jamie...” Mom called, still not taking a careful look from him. "Where did you get these clothes?"

"My mate in the store suggested an excellent flea market. Therefore, I recently returned home late." The son tried to smile innocently, but with this makeup it turned out to be creepy. "Let's go. They'll start without us."

They drove to school silently. Now Kat felt herself mega-stupid next to her brother. She is in this scenic snow-white image, and her brother, the bloody Craw*, scare by his only appearance.

“Good luck.” Mom sighed when they got out of the car, drove into the parking lot. "I hope for your well-being. And call when..."

“...when we need to pick us up, we remember.” Her son answered. "See you."

Veronica Sawyer's 'Fiat' left the parking lot, leaving two teenagers at the school door, through which they timidly exchanged glances and entered together. In the dark corridor, consecrated only by lamps in the form of pumpkins, there was no one else, the disco noise coming from the hall informed that the party was in full swing.

Entering the hall, they saw a crowd of guys. The colorful costumes were barely distinguished by the powerful light music that put pressure on the eyesight. Sawyer went to the table, on which stood a cup with punch. Looking around, Kat tried to find at least one teacher nearby, until she noticed anyone. By the way, she didn’t see any children under the ninth grade here either.

"Here you are!" Shouting over music, Ester Nashville appeared next to them somehow completely suddenly.

In the motley lights, they could see her phoenix costume, made from one lush cocktail dress, which included multiple orange feathers pasted all over the hem and sleeves. Katherine could barely resist a laugh, thinking that these decorative feathers could be made from turkey feathers.

"Oh poor me!" Exclaimed Ester, noticing her outfit. "Um... So this is... shocking Freddie Mercury?"

“His early manifestations.” Kat grunted, looking at her. "And on you, it means... pest costume?"

"This is a phoenix!" roared Ester.

James, however, laughed out loud.

“Did we satisfy your curiosity, Nashville?” he asked.

Glancing at both of them with her irritable, tenacious gaze, she grunted, shaking her shoulders.

"What are you, a clown?" she growled.

"Sometimes!"* The guy winked at her. "Come on, this is a classic of the nineties. It's not even retro."

"Why am I not surprised that you came like that?" She asked, no longer hiding her caustic cheekiness. "I explained too incomprehensibly to you? Here can come guys from a nearby town! If only you catch them in this look..."

"This is a school party!" answered Kat. "We are learning here, they are not. So that we will have a good reason to put them out of here. Or do you think teachers are blind?"

“No, I don't.” Ester smiled. “Okay, Sawyer, don't boil. Try punch and join the party..."

She scored two glasses for them and had already started serving, when suddenly something shoved them from behind. Stumbling, the siblings flew at the outstretched cups, which, of course, completely by chance, at the wave of Nashville's hand, turned over so that they poured their clothes. James hissed, feeling the cold, sticky drink quickly flowing to his pants, wetting a thin turtleneck coat in a second. Kat gasped aloud at all, and then looked at one huge purple spot on her snow-white suit.

"What a nightmare!" Exclaimed Esther, twisting her lips in a desperate attempt to contain a smirk. "Excuse me guys! Who is there pushing like this?"

Turning around, James and Katherine saw no one. But it seems that Ashley’s white dress flashed through the crowd.

"You bitch!" Roared Kat, turning to face Ester. "I ruined a week for this costume!"

"A week for this?" The girl raised an eyebrow. "You are either very slow or very crooked."

"Slutty!.." Kat pushed her, but James quickly put out her hand.

“Stop, don't.” He warned, hitting the girl in front of them with a despicable look. "Let me do it better."

Some of the guys turned to the noise, and already looked at them with wide eyes. James picked up a new glass of punch.

"Don't you dare, shitty freak!" Shouted him Ester. "You'll be pay me for that the whole pitty life of yours!"

"Oh you think so?" The guy suddenly held out the glass to his sister, she took it aback in his hands. "Don't worry, Nashville."

She relaxed a little, looking at them cautiously, already beginning to calm down. Kat saw the self-confident smile reappear on her lips, but... James suddenly took the remaining punch. The whole cup. And poured into Nashville, right on her head. As if struck with thunder, Ester, opening her mouth, froze, and then squealed when the guy gently put the bowl back on the table.

“Now I have paid off.” James grunted, taking his sister by the hand. "Have a nice fun guys!"

“You're dead, Sawyer!” Ester shouted at his back, already accurately drowned out all the music.

"I know!" he answered.

"And you, too, crazy!"

Katherine, nodding with a smile, showed her middle finger, and then they left the hall, moving away from it as soon as possible. And the farther they went, the sooner the smiles disappear from their faces. Kat was shaking with anger and adrenaline. She was so mad! After all, this costume...

"Bitch!" Sawyer growled.

“Mega-bitch.” Nodded her brother. "Leave it. This is a children's party. We'll arrange our own."

"Kidding me?" Kate grinned, bitterly looking at him. "Where are we going to arrange it..."

"Hey, Sawyer!" Shouted to them in the back.

"Oh shit!" Katherine rolled her eyes before she and her brother turned around again.

Three figures stood at the end of the corridor. Having approached, the siblings realized that they were three guys who were strangers to them. One of them was wearing a Freddy
Krugger costume, the other looked like Batman, the third was just dressed like a goth.

"And our costumes are not suitable yet?" Smirked James. "It's nice that you heard our last name, but we don't know yours."

"And don't have to, it will not give you anything." Grunted one guy. "We must go out for a smoke."

“We don't smoke.” Kat grunted.

'Freddy Krugger' looked at her like an annoying child.

"And you don't ask, Cloudy. Need to talk heart to heart."

The siblings looked at each other sternly, and then turned their eyes to the colorful company.

"Let's go."


 

James got hit in the face in the first five seconds of the 'talk'. Immediately he was kicked in the side by this emo boy.

"Let me go!" Roared Kat, feeling strong grip of the guy who was dressed in a gloomy superhero. "Let me go, until I knock you on the wall, idiot!"

"Stay down!" Shouted 'Batman' at her. "Or you be bump on your own ugly pumpkin!"

Katherine, swinging her leg, gave him a sharp heel on the knee. This freak put on a rubber mask on his face, but at the same time pulled tights on his legs. Could one be a bigger idiot? He loosened his grip, then Sawyer gave her elbow to his face, but she couldn’t do much harm, 'Batman' was only confused when the mask slid to the left.

"Fuck, who are buying costumes like that!" Katherine snapped, managing to jump to her feet, and gave the guy big hit between his legs with all her strength.

Howling, he fell backwards. Kat turned around when she saw James, having managed to get up, hitting the leg to one guy against the wall, the other one here seized his neck with
his elbow.

"Fuckers!" Katherine gave this one punch in eye, but he grabbed her by the shoulders, hammering her back into the wall opposite.

She saw that James, left alone with the 'Freddy Krugger', somehow holds the position.

"You, little cunt!" Goth snorted at her. “The Bloody Cloudy!”

"This is Freddie Mercury's costume, tasteless dickhead!" Kat swung and put her head in his forehead.

At the same time, she herself shone from the blow, and the stars began to shine in her eyes, but this jerk at least detached from her for a moment. The girl, seeing before her eyes a muddy staggering picture, was able to rise to one knee just in time, because the goth had already made a swing with her foot to strike her shoulder. Katherine dodged and grabbed his leg, pushed him away, knocking him down. Two guys fought back with a snarl, but she had her own vendetta here. She kicked this emo in the stomach, as he struck her recumbent brother, and then turned to face James.

Again, he made a fist across the face, the makeup was already smeared, revealing a pale complexion with blood on a chipped chin. In the black eyes of James burned rage. With a turn, he hit the attacker in the collarbone, then with a clear and quick blow he broke his nose, and then, taking his hair (the 'Freddie' also loose his hat), struck his face on the knee.

Kat, looking back, saw Batman getting to his feet. Running up to him, she kicked him again in the same place, and then shouted: “Run, James!”

And brother, breathing heavily, quickly looked at the doorway in which they had fought, before running after his sister. She ran to the bus stop, just at that time a bus was passing by. The driver, to their happiness, slowed down to pick them up. Inside was one old woman, a middle-aged married couple, and five children in different suits, holding bags half full of chocolates in their hands. All of them, having stopped talking at once, looked at them with disturbing glances. Kat, panting, looked at herself. Crimson stain from a punch has long been mixed with dirt and someone's blood. Maybe it was her blood, because her nose was very sick. But then she looked up at everyone.

"Have a nice night of the dead guys!" She exclaimed, smiling awkwardly. "Pick us to the final bus stop, sir!"

"As you say!" The driver, not surprised at all, turned back to the steering wheel.

James gave the fare, paying for two, and then sat in one of the rear seats, exhaling all the air he had in his lungs. In doing so, he grimaced in pain.

“Cool party,” he said, "right?"

"Yes, the one that was in school, just sucks." Katherine nodded, covering her eyes and sighing with relief. "It seems we grew up from Halloween."

James nodded back, then grinned. His smeared black smile was already some kind of ugly-funny, not scary. Kat, looking at him, laughed cautiously, and then straightened up and gently folded her shoulder blades, feeling her shoulders ache.

After leaving at the final stop, they immediately headed to 7-eleven. James Shiftman today was dressed as a vampire. Rather, from a vampire suit, he had only a trickle of fake blood at his mouth, plastic canines and small red dots on his neck, almost like a bite.

"Hi, Sawyer!" He exclaimed. "Well, how's the party?"

“It sucks.” James winked at him.

Derek (as indicated on his badge) laughed, winking at him, and, thank God, didn't ask them about anything else.

“Hey, Sawyer Two, who are you?” He asked as they passed by, already armed with two big slurpees.

“I am a zombie.” She answered calmly. "Zombie Mercury."

"Wow, cool!" answered Derek.

And then the doors closed behind them. Following to the parking lot and sitting on the hood of someone's empty car, the siblings sighed, looking at the lights of suburban Sherwood.

"We are over?" Asked Katherine. "Well, that is, you doused Nashville with this bastards. Do you think mom would like this story?"

“Mom wouldn't like it.” The brother shook his head, wincing at the headache caused by the icy drink. After a second, he added. “JD would.”

Grinning, Kat continued to drink a Coca-Cola slurpee, and then, almost finishing, asked again. “You haven't been to a flea market. Where you got things, fess up."

“There, where a normal person doesn't set a foot.” Answered James.

Kat looked at him again. Her brother looked sadly at the city, not daring to look at her face. The coat that he put on... It was more suitable in style for their father, but not for Eric Draven*. And because of it their mother recognized this.

"Went to Bud's house again?" Kat sighed.

“He was drunk to death.” James chuckled. “But just in case, I didn’t go through the door, but I pulled out a stepladder from the neighbour courtyard to get to the shed above the main entrance, and then go along the curtain to the window. I just went in, took the backpack, coat, something else from the little things, and then went out. This time I had a good plan. Just please don't tell mom."

“I think we'll have more serious problems now.” Kat clapped him on the shoulder, James hissed at it. "Call mom so she took us?"

Brother took a phone out of his pocket, but it didn’t even turn on. And on its screen was already a whole sit cracks, beyond which nothing was even visible.

“Fuck.” The guy said.

Sighing, Kat pulled out her phone. The clock was only half past eight in the evening, and for some reason, the connection wasn't working for her either. She had already dialed her mother's number to try to call at least that way when a native voice was heard nearby.

"Greetings and salutations."

"Dad?" Katherine, turning, stared in surprise at JD, who looked at them without much joy. "Did you come back to town?"

“Surprise.” He grunted. "I didn't think that I ever have to look for you through the Contact again. Get in the car."

Siblings obediently, climbed into his 'Mercedes'. They were afraid of his fatherly tone, but at the same time were glad to see him. And still smile somehow got sick.

“So,” JD got behind the wheel and lit a cigarette, “before your mother, who is going crazy today, sees you, tell me honestly, who kicked you up?”

“Freddy Krugger, Batman and Emo.” Kat sighed.

 

 


 

Chapter Text

Veronica heard incessant loud muttering right at her ear, and therefore opened her eyes. Of course, she loved JD, especially at such times, but not so much to allowed him to wake her in such an arrogant way. Sighing, Sawyer touched his cheek, covered with light, barely noticeable, but palpable bristles. JD didn't move, but finally fell silent, continuing to sleep. His face smoothed out, he pursed his lips for a second, and then his eyelashes barely trembled.

Sawyer hated herself for not being angry with him for a long time, but when he was like that, it was simply impossible.

His straight hair stood up, closing one his eye. Veronica removed them from his face, which, of course, was useless - the strands came back after a second. Sighing, she gently moved. The blanket slid off his shoulder, exposing his skin, covered with rough relief of gray-brown scars. Old, slowly tightening, turning his once-tender youthful skin into something like hard armor. Scars ended at the neck, their end was hiding somewhere on the back of the head. Once Veronica managed to feel them, running his hand into his hair. JD didn't like being touched to his wounds. It was something post-traumatic. Of course, she didn’t do that anymore, but she remembered that feeling well. She was used to this uneven hill where his left hand was supposed to be. If it were there, he would certainly have hug her in a dream. He loved to do that, she remembered it for a long time.

Veronica carefully covered the man with a blanket to the very face, and she got out of bed as carefully as she could. Immediately she felt the coolness of the room, which immediately enveloped her naked body. As she dressed, Sawyer looked at her watch. It was the morning of the twenty-fifth of December, there wasn't much time left until James would wake up and start his own barrel organ. Eh, she had to wake JD.

“You're leaving.” He remarked sleepily when she was already trying to get her hair in order, standing by the mirror.

“Good morning.” She replied, getting used to the fact that he never begins their meetings with ordinary wishes. "I'm not leaving. This is my home. I am here all the time."

“You're leaving the bed.” Grunting JD sat on the edge, still wrapped in a blanket and rubbing his eyes. "How is it possible?"

“Christmas morning.” She reminded, looking at him with amusement. "Do you remember what I told you?"

“Uhuh, the 'madhouse'.” He nodded sleepily, got up and began to dress after her. "But for now, everything is quiet."

"James didn't wake up yet, thats why it's quiet." Veronica sighed, handing him a comb. "Come on, JD. Make me happy."

"Didn't I make you happy at night?" He grinned, looking at her fervently.

“It's morning.” She reminded him, without blushing a bit. "Take a comb. It is necessary to adequately finish your first decent Christmas weekend."

Sighing, JD took the comb from her, trying to brush his hair, but it was an impossible task. He couldn't stand even five seconds, then turning to Veronica.

“Since this is the case, you agreed yesterday.” He said, grinning again. "So, maybe, we will add one more gift to the collection?"

"Now?" She asked, a little taken aback. "That is, you think that in the morning you can shock the children with this?"

“It’s impossible to shock our children.” He grinned. "They themselves can shocked anyone."

Veronica chuckled, not doubting it at all. She had enough Halloween. James with smeared make-up and blood, Kat is exactly the same, in a ditched suit, with a stern expression
on her face. Both knuckles knocked down on their hands. And in the middle is JD, who for some reason is pretty funing, promising her a very curious story. This story wasn't curious at all! Her children contacted the local Heather Chandler, and she set some boys from a foreign city to beat them! Sawyer then didn't know for who she was angry at and whom she smacked. As a result, 'great prize' got to the principal of Westerburg High. Nashville was really a bitch, but fortunately, not so much that the siblings were ready to kill her.

But it was a little different.

“JD, I'm not quite sure if this will be a gift for them.” She chuckled. "Well, that is, imagine yourself in their place. You run in a good mood, unpack the gift, rejoice even more, then you sit down for breakfast, and then you are told such news..."

"... and I start to rejoice even more!" He exclaimed with a smile. "They'll be delighted, you know that!"

Veronica sighed, looking into his inspired look, full of enthusiasm.

"Ok, they'll approve, and then what? We didn’t really think about it. You just asked, and I just agreed. By the way, you knew that I would agree to everything at that moment."

“And you were completely sincerely.” JD nodded dreamily, and then, approaching, licked his lips, stretched out in a wide smile. “Okay, I'll pick up another moment. Watch it. Marry me, Veronica."

She, clasping his hand, smiled, looking into such young eyes, glowing with love and desire. Like yesterday, she suddenly didn’t care about all the problems. There was only he and she, both young and sincerely loving each other.

“Okay, I will.” Sawyer breathed.

“You see.” JD raised his eyebrows, grinning, before kissing her.

Veronica grinned back, closing her eyes. He kissed her aggressively, expressing his great joy, which sometimes even the most happy children lack. Veronica responded to the kiss, because she was also happy, really. Of course, this wasn't the limit of her dreams, she didn't even think about marrying JD, in his position as a living dead, but for some reason she didn't oppose this thought at all. On the contrary, she gave herself to meet it, without regrets. There was no point in concealing it.

Suddenly loud melodious music was heard throughout the house with a nice male voices singing the cherished “Last Christmas!” And, of course, there was a loud roar, laughter, and then a shout from James, who, having traditionally rolled down the railing into the living room, was probably singing, opening his arms:

"LAST CHRISTMAS I GAVE YOU MY HEART! BUT THE VERY NEXT DAY YOU GAVE IT AWAY!.."

"James, you fucking asshole!" Katherine shouted in response, drowning out his uneven singing. "It's ten in the morning!"

"...TO SAVE ME FROM TEARS I GAVE IT TO SOMEONE SPE-CIAL!"

"When I get to you, you'll pay for your damn 'Last Christmas'!"

There was even more tramping, rattling and screaming. Alternately, the tape recorder was paused, then switched on again, causing the house to rumble every time. Veronica, sighing, covered her face with her hands.

“We have to go.” She said hopelessly.

“We'll tell them.” JD nodded confidently, already overcoming a degree of surprise. "Today, while they'll be distract by gifts. Go."

"God save me!"

“Our love is God, Veronica.” JD reminded with a smile, closing the door behind them.

They caught the moment when Katherine beats her brother on the head with a sofa cushion. In her eyes shone the concentrated rage of the awakened human. This was also a tradition - she slept until dinner, James got up at exactly half past eight without an alarm clock. At Christmas morning, of course, everyone got up when James got up. Laughing, he shoved his sister away while continuing to hum the lyrics of the song from 'Wham!'

Looking around at them and how Veronica frantically separated them, JD recalled that he fell in love with this 'madhouse' already when Sawyer had told him about it, but now when he saw with his own eyes he didn't just fall in love, he felt family holiday mood. Yes. now. Yes, when his daughter beat a singing son, and the future wife tried to drag them apart.

Of course, they calmed down a bit when they unpacked their presents. Kat got a black fluffy scarf, which immediately wound on her throat, hiding behind it half of her crumpled face, and James enthusiastically tried on a black coat. New, normal, not so old and reminding to JD about his far gone not quite approximate youth.

“And one more thing.” He said, looking at Veronica. She immediately blushed, taking his hand. Kat's eyes immediately revived, James was grinning awry. “Your mother made me an invaluable gift, agreeing to finally become my wife.” JD announced.

James flinched as if something pushed him from the bottom, and Katherine, suddenly finding herself on his feet, looked at them wildly. "Really?" she exclaimed.

"Yeah." Veronica nodded. She expected her daughter to rush to them with hugs, but she... quickly turned to her brother, pointing a finger at him.

“You owe me a hundred bucks, James Dean!” She exclaimed, and then laughed. "The more you delay, the more interest will accumulate, so don't keep them for a long time!"

The guy, fatefully rising, sighed, his hands in his pockets, and then inconsolably told his parents: "Could you wait until our graduate? I argued that it would happen after it."

"It's late!" Kat, happily laughing, wrapped him with a black scarf, and then rushed to her parents, hugging them both equally tightly. "Finally! Don't think that I am so happy
because of hundreds bucks, I am very happy for you, very very much, I was waiting for this, just a hundred bucks don't fall from the sky..."

JD couldn't stop smiling, and Veronica was still a little impressed with such reaction of children. Throwing off his damn scarf, James walked up next, hugging his parents, now as tight as he could. "I am also glad. But a hundred bucks don't fall from the sky to me too." He grunted.

"And when did you argue?" Their mother asked, finally finding her voice.

“In early October.” Her son answered. "Actually, since July I knew that you will getting married, it was just a matter of time..."

"Hundred greens, don't even try!" Kate laughed, not wanting to break the embrace with her mother.

Having kissed mom in both cheeks, then the father, the girl could tear them off. “Of course,” thought Veronica, “of course they knew.” There was no one else in the world who could have foreseen their actions with JD better than their own children.

"Let's go to Las Vegas in January. I steal your mom from you, don't you mind?" asked JD.

“We don't, dad.” Answered James.

At once silence reigned. James grinned wider, and now his eyes began to sparkle, comparable to the Christmas garland - bright and mischievous.

“Don't make me say it again.” He said, grinning.

JD, standing up, put him into a tight hug, to which his son answered timidly. Behind them flashed a camera flash. Mom's eyes shone with tears. Kat was smiling pretty, stroking her shoulder.

Then, when Veronica and JD circled in a slow dance with the acoustic version of 'a-ha - Take On Me' playing, everyone here thought that this Christmas seemed to be the best for all of them.

Chapter Text

JD remembered how he ordered Veronica to run and hide. All he could think about now was that she wasn't caught. Judging by the sounds coming from outside, no one was caught. There was only a working rumble, quiet conversations, sometimes tapping on the door of the container into which he was thrown, but nothing more.

He didn't know how much he was already lying around. It seems quite a long time. This presence in the dark and open space, muscle trembling and pain, sometimes suddenly flashing and just as quickly subsiding, reminded him of how he came out of a coma. About those first weeks, when he didn’t really remember himself, but he didn’t forget those feelings that he felt every minute for whole weeks.

If he doesn't take the medicine as soon as possible, he'll have to return to the hospital. These damn freaks have put him well. JD can thank them for not being shot down. If they had done this, they would have had to either finish him off, or take care of his wound, which they clearly didn't want. And they needed him alive to exchange it for something more expensive.

When, for an infinitely long time, the door creaked open, letting in the blinding daylight, JD narrowed his eyes, before he could really see the figures of the people who had pulled him out.

“Good news.” A deep voice told him with a grin. "You'll have the last trip. Not to say this would be pretty..."

He was immediately put a bag on his head. JD felt too many discomfort. Dizziness, shaking, migraine. He didn't understand how he turned out to be in, apparently, a car surrounded by bouncers. And while they were driving to their destination, he couldn't come to his senses, he was scared what was happened to him very rarely. Of course, he wasn't afraid for himself. At this time, he could only fear for Veronica and his children. They had to have a graduation day after day, after which they would have turned eighteen years old... The last thing in the world he wanted to spoil this day with his miserable death. And Veronica... Well, last year was the happiest year in his life. For the sake of god, this year is to die for. Although to die, of course, he didn't want to. He terribly wanted to live, to see his wife and children. Seeking to overcome a headache, he thought hard, thinking how to get out of this situation. Will it be a gun or some of the most terrible way to kill? Although, how could he get out if he didn't have a prosthesis with him. He hadn’t had to fight with one hand yet, but he had to try. It was necessary to break through.

The car slowed down, it seemed too fast. JD felt a faint horror, because he hadn't really come up with anything worthwhile. They pulled him out of the car, pulled the sack off his head and shoved him forward. Falling to his knees, he let out a sigh, trying to get used to the bright light and cool air. Apparently, it was an early morning. The smell of fresh earth reached his nostrils. JD looked up when he saw dark-colored men's shoes in front of him. Then he raised his head higher to see the young man in front of him.

“Almost untouched, in flesh.” Said a dry voice behind.

“Excellent.” The native voice seemed almost hallucination.

JD looked up sharply to see a painfully familiar face, however, framed by light strands. His eyes were hidden under aviator sunglasses.

“You should have been warned that we would come.” Said James, not looking at his father.

“And we received a warning.” The man answered, almost snarling. "We didn't think that would come..."

"Boy?" He clarified, barely smiling. "My... daddy... doesn’t really like to flash on people for such trifles."

He barely leaned toward JD, looking around with very convincing discontent. “You missed the second one.”

"And lost one of our friend!" Growled to him in response. "If not for this deal, this trash would have been dead a long time ago!"

“Daddy would like him to accept his end from our hands.” Said James, almost tenderly. "Believe me, he will answer for everyone he killed. Kit, be good!"

Another door slammed. In less than a few seconds, someone's hands held up again. Not so strong, not so rough. JD would smile if he could. He didn't see the man’s face, but he was sure that his own daughter was dragging him into the car, and with great care.

“Now about the price.” The man heard by the edge of his ear when he was thrown into the back seat.

“Exactly.” The young man replied with a smile, then took something from the front seat and handed it to them. "There are lack twenty."

"Why the fuck?" Immediately bristled the man with whom he spoke.

There was a click of the fuse.

“Because we did part of your work.” Answered James calmly. "Found the second one. And no one else needs to worry about her. Me and my dear cousin had to mess a little hands, although this wasn't in our plans. For this you owe a twenty."

“We would have found it ourselves.” Grumbled back.

"I doubt it very much. She was a very nosy bitch, despite her respectable years." James almost smiled. “If your boss has any complaints, let him try to give them to my dad. Maybe we'll have to stay here."

He clearly enjoyed the situation. JD couldn't see what made him so pleased, but he really wanted to look at it. Apparently, the bandits couldn't do anything with him.

“Thank you for the delivery, guys.” Was heard from the young man. "Kit, take care."

Daughter sat down next to him, a familiar sound came. She unloaded the gun.

“It was nice to talk.” J. was already heading for the car.

"How old are you if you have such a daddy?" Acutely asked one of the muscle.

“They’re already not imprisoning for me.” The young man replied with a smile. “But I’m definitely going to be too tough for you, honey.”

"Would you like to check?" He stepped forward.

Kat was still silent. JD saw that her hair was reddish, tied up, and in her eyes, covered with colored lenses, there was a splash of rage and, quite a bit, fear. Surely she curled her lips alone, painted in a dark beige lipstick. Leaning out of the car, she aimed a pistol at the one who said the reckless phrase. In response, there were clicks of the trigger.

"Boys, calm!" Demanded James. "Get in the car, Kit! Calm down! No one threatens me! While we aren't killed by each other, upsetting our esteemed fathers, it's better to says our goodbye."

He sat in the back seat, Kat took the driver's seat, then started the car. And, when they drove off, there was the sound of the engine of another car, which gradually subsided. The road was bumps. JD now and then fidgeted, jumped up.

“Freaks.” Kat muttered, finally giving a voice. "I could talk to them."

“You would have shot someone with excitement.” Now he was recognizing his daughter and his son. In her voice sounded strict notes and horror, making her hands tremble, and he was no longer so self-confident.

“What the hell are you doing here?” JD asked, gaining the ability to speak.

“We are also glad to see you, daddy.” James replied sarcastically, pulling off his glasses and adjusting his wig. "We are here because you and mom have run into trouble, why else
would we be here?"

“Veronica...” The man muttered.

“...is okay.” The daughter answered, a bit calmer. "She is waiting for us at the apartment. Tell me, why you give your customers your address?"

“Because... Wait, how much do you know?” He asked again, never ceasing to be surprised.

“Quite a lot to have every right to curse you and mom.” James almost smiled, then pulled a syringe from his pocket. "Here is a double dose of pain medication. Mom said that you should be enough for a long time."

He gave his father a shot in the leg. JD didn't immediately feel relieved, but when it enveloped him with a pleasant wave of numbness, he sighed in relief. Kat seemed to relax too.

“You have graduation.” He reminded. "And birthday."

"What kind of graduation can be in Westerburg? We were not going to go at all.” Answered James with a frown chuckle. "And we have a birthday tomorrow."

"So, today... the Third of June?" Asked JD. "I was there for two days?"

“And during these two days, Mom did so much to get your ass out of there!” Kat exclaimed, finally giving vent to the senses. "We rushed here in three hours, JD! Three hours! I almost ditched my grandfather's car!"

“Bent the gas pedal.” Snarled James. "I didn't know that it was possible at all."

“And believe me, I was ready to kill any cop who wanted to stop me. I have exceeded all existing limits in the country, in order to then break no less than fifteen laws and allow James to risk himself, pretending to be a juvenile lover of criminal authority!" The daughter hit her hand on the steering wheel.

“Count from ten to one.” Her brother reminded her gently. "Let's together."

"Fuck off!" Snapped Katherine.

James obediently pressed into the seat. JD hasn't yet had to see such an evil daughter that even her hot-tempered brother was afraid of, who hadn't a priori instinct for self-preservation. James looked meaningfully at JD, who realized that he didn't get out of a confused mood not for a second.

“Rest.” The son barely slapped him on the shoulder. "The thing is really rubbish. This need to think about by sober."

His eyes closed by themselves, as if waiting for permission. The seat of the car turned out to be much softer compared to the iron bottom of the container, so he fell asleep quickly.

And came to himself later, when James, grumbling how damn heavy he is, dragged him into the apartment and almost threw him on the bed.

"JD!" Veronica was right there next. "Hell, in the name of all saints! Are you okay? Have you been hurt? Nobody suspected anything?"

“Everything's great.” James smiled at her. “Did you call the police?”

“Yes.” She nodded. "The news already has the first information."

JD out of the corner of his eye noticed that Kat impatiently grabbed the remote, turn on a small TV with a single local channel.

“...The shooting around the old plant of 'Pine Sawdust Corporation' continues for fifteen minutes.” The announcer was saying. "Reinforcement continues to arrive, there are no wounded among the policemen, but it is still isn't possible to break through the path to the terrorists. The captain reports that they may have far greater stocks of weapons than previously thought..."

"You couldn't find a safer clientele?" Grunted James. "If you take every gang for which you have to work, then..."

"Stop it!" Snapped at him Kat.

JD felt the hands of Veronica, who gently pulled off his clothes.

“You called the children.” He muttered sleepily.

“They answered me faster than Harriet.” She timidly justified. "And, by the way, the help from them came much faster than from him. They almost went to save you with their bare hands."

JD almost laughed, but instead a painful moan escaped from his chest.

“We'll be downstairs.” The children responded before they left the apartment.

“You pretended to be a criminal authority.” JD drawled out, feeling the coldness of the ointment mingled with painful sensations.

"I didn't pretend. You really were almost bought back, but we... detained them. Not killed, you know. Let's just say a little robbed. We took only a ransom for you and his
phone to correspond with the boss who held you. Now both gangs think they have set the police on each other."

“James is a good actor.” JD replied, almost listening to everything she said. "I almost believed him."

“He just knows how to lie as well as you do.” Veronika responded with a little displeasure.

He sighed with relief, feeling that she was rubbing his face with a damp rag. “I almost got out myself.”

"Oh, he is not. James is definitely lying better than you.” His wife replied with a grin.

JD smiled broadly, looking at her with merry sparks in his eyes, and was able to rise on one hand just to reach her face. “How should you have feared for me, Veronica Dean, if you disarmed and robbed the criminal authority, and then you put out two gangs to police forces?”

“I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t have... umm, business acumen.” She said. “You told me yourself that I have it.”

“Oh, yes.” JD, his eyebrows raised, fell back again. "You learn too fast."

Veronica grinned no doubt, then helping him up and take the pills.

"Where are we going now?" The man asked. "We aren't going to celebrate the age of children in this place?"

“Back to Ohio.” She assured. "They want to go to Springfield, go to the cinema and dance club. In general, the plans are ambitious."

“I broke Kat's gift.” JD growled guiltily. “I lost him when I was taken.”

"You know what, you meet with them their birthday. For them, this is a gift. So valuable that they came rushing here at full speed for you." Veronica wrapped her arms around his face. “You're so stupid, Jason Dean.”

"Don't call me that."


 

Kat gently pulled the lenses out to put them back in the box, and at the same time noticed that her brother was beating the glove compartment with his fingers to the beat of the song playing in the radio. She was infuriated by the imperturbability of James, who took this hot mess as a replacement for the rotten graduation party, at which they clearly wouldn't be happy. Katherine would have preferred a quiet holiday evening at home, but...

“Come on, we were shaking more from fear.” Her brother threw to her, trying to calm her down.

“I don’t know how about you, but I’m still shaking.” The girl sighed. "They can find us. They are accurately calculated faster than we cross the border of the state."

“They don't have time.” James drawled. "Kat, we are going to apart in August: you are in the university, I'm in college. We should spend the last two months together as best we can."

“We have different notions of what is 'better'.” She raised her eyebrows.

“But we saved our father.” Breathed her brother.

Oh yeah. Katherine went it all out to get him out of that factory. By the way, she almost started torturing that criminal authority when he didn’t want to let go of his phone. And she wasn't ashamed of all the atrocities she committed. For a year, she realized that sometimes being a criminal isn't so bad, especially when it comes to her family. Of course, it was impossible to compare today and the day when she embedded a device in Ester Nashville’s locker that electrocuted her as soon as the girl touched the code lock. She dared to blurt out something about their mother, so this measure was the weakest one that bitch deserved.

How managed they finish this year?

Thank for mom (who increasingly went on business trips with JD) didn't know about half the tricks of the children. Grandma barely agreed to tell her nothing. And because of it every time it was so cool, revenge brought great pleasure.

The siblings would disperse in their educational institutions having a large amount of experience, connected with all kinds of cause the material and moral damage.

Well, actually, put over two gangs to the police wasn’t such a bad thing. They were more afraid than they did, James was right.

“Okay, it was exciting,” Kat said displeased, and then, noting that her brother was already grinning, she added, “but I wouldn’t like to be involved in it again! And I wouldn't want someone from our family run into this!"

"Who asks us what we want?" Snickered James. "For us, Deans, it somehow goes without saying."

“Officially, we are Sawyer.” His sister said to him.

Although, to confess, she was always glad that she was Kat Dean. And each of her tricks was made not by Katherine Heather Sawyer, meekly, who was absolutely against any violation of the rules, but by Terrible Kit Dean, who could have shot in someone's knee. Purely theoretically, yeah. In the end, dad taught her to shoot only in bottles.

“You don't need make excuses in front of me.” The brother hugged her.

Katherine, for the first time in the day, smiled.

Chapter Text


 

"grab a bat wth u."

This message from his sister made James specifically alarmed. At first he didn't take it seriously, smiled, wrote to her 'why' but there was no answer. An hour later, when his palms were already sweating due to the fact that he had clocked himself up a little, Kat met him in the parking lot of her student residence, she was darker than a cloud.

“Hi." Her brother told her.

They, in fact, hadn’t seen each other personally for three months, but it wasn’t obvious that Katherine was delighted to see her sibling.

"Did you grab the bat?" She asked right away, sitting in the front seat of his second-hand pick-up truck. At the same time, a strong odor spread through the cabin, a very familiar and at first unpleasant one. But James hasn't bothered that yet.

“I said hi.” He frowned, and then turned to her. "What happened to you? I wasn't there for only about four months..."

"Dreadful etiquette, I apologize, but we have one very important thing!" Interrupted Kat. "Bat is with you?"

“Of course.” James started the car. "You are without your stuffs."

“We’ll come back here for it, deal for five minutes, now go.” Katherine buckled herself up.

She told him where to go, and then she tied up her hair in a high tail and rolled up the sleeves of a thick black jacket above. J. watched his sister out of the corner of her eye as they drove to some sort of shack, which, according to Kat, was three minutes away.

“Come on, explain.” The guy said impatiently.

"My neighbor make friend with the drug addict. And, to even greater misfortune, she is my only friend here. Looks like she was dragged back there. And there is no one to get her
out." Kat sighed. “You’re probably luckier with your friends.”

James snorted. One of his neighbors was obsessed with growing cannabis on the windowsill, and the other - with the creation of electronic music. J. already had enough bass and beats. Fortunately, the first neighbor from his ideas so far successfully managed to dissuade. Well, at least his quiet neighbour at the table in class was a nice guy.

"So far, I can't boast of any important catch." The guy shrugged. "But I study well and the elder trusts me so far."

Kat almost smiled. J. knew what she was thinking, and he thought about it too, so he grinned in the same way. He was also interested in how quickly he would start having problems with objects.

"That house over there!" Katherine pointed finger forward. "Green roof!"

In the two-story building there were old and rather powerful wooden gates, apparently closed from the inside, but Kat easily unbent a wide board on the fence. James took his brand-new bat from the backseat, presented by his father to the beginning of his studies, and gave it to his sister, who grasped the handle no less confidently. There was a heap of garbage in the courtyard, rotten perennial grass, but a noticeable path on which was layed few empty bottles led to the door to the building.

"Have you been here before?" Asked James.

“Nope.” Kat, looking thoughtfully at the open door, stepped forward.

"Then don't go poking your nose." The guy overtook her, going up two squeaky stairs to the top.

“Well, of course, we have your nose to be poking first...” Muttered sister from behind, brother ignored her, looking around her anxiously in the hallway.

Below, in the first two rooms, there was nothing and no one alive, except for the old fungus on the walls. On the second floor, the staircase to which was directly in front of them, there was some noise and grunting. The siblings, having looked at each other, stood up denser, and walked up the steps. Kat almost put the bat in front of her. James first saw the dark corridors and the rooms without doors with bare walls. The shutters on the windows were closed, the only source of illumination here was some kind of gap in one window frame, one of the shutters behind which was squinted, letting in rare rays of light. Today it was cloudy on the street, so here, inside the house, almost nothing was visible. Then the guy's eyes, accustomed to this lighting, or rather to his lack, noticed the source of the noise.

“Hey...” Katherine called softly, stretching the bat straight in front of her, and carefully approaching the guy lying by the wall on the dirty mattress. "Hey!"

He moaned louder, and then waved his hand.

“Don't touch it.” Her brother warned, pulling on himself. "Let's go around the rooms and that's it. Calm and quiet."

"And if she isn't here, but one of these knows where to look for her?" The girl hissed, frowning. “Okay, let's look first...”

In the first room there were two more men, but their age couldn't be determined. From the syringes lying in the corners, James realized that this was definitely not just a flophouse, and grimaced in disgust. Then they had to go, highlighting their way by phone. Sometimes the inhabitants of the brothel woke up and frowned at the light, some didn't react at all, continuing to lie without movement and sound. J. really wanted to believe that they were just stoned and in deep cuts, and didn't died in this damp hollow, which for some reason hadn't yet been torn down.

When they stumbled upon a girl about their age, James heard his sister's voice. “Helena,” Kat didn't ask, but claimed. She leaned even closer, grabbing the neighbor she had found. "Helena! Helen! Wake up. Come on, come on!"

"What is it..." The girl could barely move her lips, reluctantly, first opened one eye, then the other. “Who else is there?"

”She was drugged.” James stated dejectedly, highlighting his phone.

"What is pumped up now?" Katherine asked disgustedly, trying to pick it up.

“It’s pumped up...” Helen responded, terribly pale and like a cloud of wool — just as unsteady and formless.

"Hey there!" A voice from the corner made them turn around. "Get the hell out of here!"

“Well, It's time to get out.” James busily handed his sister a bat again, and he picked up her neighbor. She was quite lightweight, as if she hadn't eaten for few weeks. "Let's go faster..."

"Eh, where did you get it?!" Silhouette came to light. He turned out to be a guy of about twenty with uneven stubble, in a wrinkled clothes far from the first freshness. "Leave the Birdie!"

"The birdie has to go back to the nest!" Responded J. "Kat!"

"Go away, you, asshole!" She swung the bat. “I remember you, bastard! Once again you come to our building, I will turn you over to the cops, understand me?"

"Listen, you..." The guy, staggering, leaned forward, but James immediately realized that it was better not to get on the bad side of his sister, because if she looked at this obviously familiar young man with such hatred, he wouldn't be good. Katherine with a force hit the addict on the outstretched hand, and then, when he, shouting and shaken, turned to her half-nosed, hit the shoulder. Howling, the addict sank down, clutching for the dislocated joint.

"Bitch!"

"As I'll find out that you dragged her here again, I'll rip off your eggs, did you understand me?" Kat swung again, bat with a whistle cut through the air. "Got it?!"

"Got it!" Responded guy, growling from pain. "Whore!"

"Damn motherfucker..." Katherine, sighed heavily, lowered the bat. "J., let's go."

They went down as fast as they could. Helen had already begun to toss and turn, sometimes the sounds she made were very threatening. For example, groans and rumbling in the stomach.

“If she pukes on my seats, you will wash them.” Said James displeased, putting the girl in the thin jacket in his car. "Did someone gave a shit there at the university?"

"We have this year devoted to the fight against alcoholism, but nobody said anything about drug addiction." Kat spread out in her seat, letting out a tired sigh. "Now let's go to the campus. I will leave her, and tomorrow our building super will come for her."

James looked at Helen through the rear-view mirror. Blonde, clad in baggy clothes, dirty and grimacing with nausea. She was probably pretty when she was in adequate condition and wore clean clothes.

"What is in it in general that you managed to make friends with a drug addict?" J. asked with genuine curiosity. “You barely putting up with me either because I'm your brother.”

"She's a good girl actually.” Kat noted sadly, looking out the window. "She just had no luck with her family."

James immediately nodded understandingly. This reason was enough for him, but there must have been others who made his sister get close to her neighbor. They themselves in the family now, of course, everything was just fine, but a year and a half ago everything was bad for a long time. Was Kat some kind of Mother Teresa now?

"Are you sure that this crap doesn't appear around your campus again?" Asked James.

"I'll drop it over to our super or the head of guard of the university. And if they threaten... I'll get a gun.” Katherine said resolutely.

And James nodded again understandingly, without asking any more questions. JD taught them to shoot. Not just a gun. He devoted even more time to Kat, there were so many problems with her, but now it was she who of them two could precisely shoot without a miss and without hesitation. James would have thought a little more, weighing all the pros and cons, before firing at anyone, but, oddly enough, his sister was different in this matter. Thank God, mom didn't know. She would have killed JD with a griddle. By the way, about them, about mom and father, who are waiting for them.

“Just go faster with stuffs.” The guy said. “I don’t want to come to Ohio late in the evening, we were already late.”

“The bags have already been ready.” His sister snapped. "Check your clunker better, otherwise we'll definitely die somewhere on the track until late in the evening."

"Rather, you die than my pretty boy." J. grinned, gently stroking the steering wheel.

Until the end of the summer he saved up for this pick-up, and then his parents added half the cost, and now this dark blue car, which, by the way, was older than siblings, found its new owner, who was ready to blow dust from it. Kat still just didn't sit behind the wheel, didn't have time to ride on it a little longer. She didn't even see it properly, because the pick-up was bought after she settled on campus. So far, James has given his sister a chance.

He again carried Helen in his arms, and brought in a semi-empty building, following his sister. The guy, of course, dreamed about visiting the girl's building, but clearly not in such situation. His sister's neighbor has already begun to spin in his arms, so he laid her on the bed in their room with great pleasure.

“Kit...” The girl said. "Is that you, huh?"

“Yeah.” Kat gently touched her hand with the palm of her hand. "I need to go. I told you, remember? You sit here now, don't go anywhere."

"You'll return to the exam?" Asked Helen plaintively.

“Of course.” Sawyer smiled. “Just four days and I'll be here again. Don't be silly. There I promised to kill that bastard who drags you into this den, and it seems he didn't like it. So you shouldn't answer his calls..."

"I'll wait downstairs." J. with a sigh headed for the exit. "I grab your bags."

He went down with a small suitcase, loaded it into a pick-up truck, no longer worrying about getting the backseat soiled with wheels. All the same, now would have to be washed and disinfected. Preferably, the entire salon.

Kat came over two minutes later, already much calmer, not so tense. She sat down next to him, and then the boy caught her shiver. Sister obviously wanted to take on something, but either she didn’t know why, or she was afraid. Pick-up left the parking lot, and only then James said, without any irony or reproach. "You can light a cigarette with me. I will not tell mom or dad."

"I don't smoke, what did made you think so?" Katherine raised an eyebrow, almost convincingly portraying amazement. Almost convincing.

"Your hands are shaking, and even when you got into my car at that time, you stank of cigarettes like hell. How much do you smoke in day?"

The sister lowered her eyes, clasping her fingers. "Usually no more than two. But then, you know yourself, this is a serious matter... And anyway, if it weren't for this stupid session..."

"You got straight 'A' in almost all subjects!" surprised James.

"I works for them for two months. And, in fact, no one has canceled the winter exams. For God's sake..." Kat pulled from the inner pocket of her jacket a pack of thin cigarettes. "Really you will not tell?"

“Silent like deadman.” The guy shook his head. “I have no idea how you will hide it from them during the holidays.”

Katherine smiled sadly, holding a cigarette in her mouth and light it. A thin stream of smoke, barely appearing, immediately disappeared behind the open window, dissolving in the wind. James often noticed how much has changed in nearly a year and a half of JD's presence in their lives. Mom became more confident and more energetic, Katherine became braver and more open, and he had to grow up. It turned out to be more fun than he imagined.

Salon didn't have time to soak up the smell of tobacco - Katherine stopped on a single cigarette. She had enough of this to sit back and breathe a sigh of relief.

“Does it really help?” Her brother asked, again breaking the silence.

“Sometimes it solves even the most difficult problems.” Katherine nodded.

"What are the problems of a freshman can be so serious?" James asked with a smirk, but he stumbled upon his sister’s displeased look. "I mean, before the senior year, we killed Duke, in the summer we dealt with the criminal authority, we set up a gangster group. Being a freshman harder, or what?"

"Well, the gun in my hands is no longer trembling, and the pen is still shaking, so..." The girl shrugged her shoulders. "We were together, and now had to disperse. Learning to cope with everything alone."

"This is just a study. The father said it himself, exactly to you." James pointed his finger at his sister. "Univer is not the limit for you. If something goes wrong, damn it. Mom lived fine without it."

“J., that's not what I mean.” Kat raised her eyebrows. "We matured, do you understand? We have already parted. Do you remember how we said that we couldn't stick together all our lives?"

“You dreamed of moving out from high school times.” The guy grinned.

"Don't say that you don't want to live all your life with me and with our parents."

"Oh no. They have a life-long mating season..."

“Well, only with me.” Katherine snapped. "Just me and you, as before. Yes, we fight and fight over trifles, but otherwise everything is fine, right? You and I are all on the shoulder.
Though Duke, even the gangs, even the drug dealer.” The girl smiled, and then, looking blankly at the long road, confusedly, she stopped smiling. "But who am I without you? What can I do? How can I live in silence, without these eternal problems, without our quarrels, without crazy parents? Dad said that in life there is so much interesting and colorful, but I don't see any colors, while you aren't around."

“Kat, this is just a first impression.” James remembered the words of his new class teacher, who helped them adapt in college. "You yourself chose this university. You like the mechanics. Just left to be drawn into the study and everything will be okay. We haven't disappeared from your life at all. Here's a weekend with our folks, and soon on a vacation to Florida. An hour ago we went to the convent of the drugger, where you beat a bastard with a bat. Here's color to you - his blood on the old parquet!"

Kat grimaced. James realized that he should have followed the language, but he wasn't yet mature enough to give up stupid, pathetic phrases. “Well, you understand what I want to say.” He added, quieter and calmer. "And if you don’t like a foreign society, then live like a father. I mean, don't try to blow up your university, but simply don't force yourself to go to it and communicate with people. Mom found work at home, and JD sells weapons. Measured quiet everyday life..."

"Are you at least satisfied with your life?" Asked his sister.

James shrugged. He quickly got used to everything, and this time he didn't have to suffer. And despite this, he, too, was visited by thoughts, like his sister's. He also didn't like
people in general. Many of them were narrow-minded amateurs to pop into something, only the topics of conversation changed. And their life goals were either too low-minded or damn ambitious, which even the astronaut couldn't reach.

“I'll always find a reason to pony, you know me.” J. preferred to smile at his sister without a carefree, instead of answering her simple question. "Open the windows, then you need to air. Do you want to eat?"

Kat shook her head. James, looking at how sharpened her facial features and figure during these months of study and the weeks of smoking, sincerely wished that mom would feed her much enough.

The road to their home state was long, but the time passed somehow quickly. Played perky songs on the radio, there was all sorts of nonsense on their mind. Behind the wheel of a pick-up truck, James felt like a real driver, he was fond of the road so much that he forgot about everything. And this time he almost passed such an important turn, which was the last on their way.

The apartment in Springfield, which mom acquired as a place of permanent residence, was in fact only a place where parents could return instead of motels and the house of the Sawyer family in Sherwood. In short, it was their home. The home to which they returned rarely, but, nevertheless, it was at least something sustainable in their unstable life. At least some kind of native walls where you could really relax. Of course, it was a bit crowded when they were going with the whole family, but it was cozy. For the sake of family gatherings, James was willing to endure sleep on the sofa in the living room.

Father's car stood at the entrance, relieving relief in his heart and joyful exhilaration growing with every second. The siblings, with trembling, climbed to the fifth floor, and then knocked on the door at the same time, as a duet.

Mother's hugs were as strong as in August during the farewell. Fathers were just as neat and awkward.

“Some of you smell like cigarettes.” He said immediately.

“My cape smelled.” Answered Jay. "I left it in the cabin. My neighbor smokes an infection, but I didn't manage to wash out all of the clothes."

“Show your teeth.” The mother immediately ordered.

James grinned, noticing how Kat hides her red face from embarrassment.

"Come on, Veronica, they are eighteen. You started smoking at seventeen.” JD told her, grinning.

Mom, without even looking at him, kept silent. The siblings, having looked at each other, sighed.

"Did you have an argument?" Kat asked awkwardly. "Because of what?"

“Your father is a cynical freak...”

"Oh, we started again!" JD raised his gaze to the ceiling.

“For what reason did he become a freak this time?” Asked James.

“He blew up a bridge in Arkansas. With himself on it!" Veronica pointed his finger at him. “You knew that I was against this plan! You knew it perfectly! And you lied to me!"

“The firefighting plan was better?” JD entered, raising his eyebrows. "You wanted a shot for me?"

James looked tiredly at his sister. After a year and a half of such a life, she had already ceased to worry so much because of the constant danger in which their mother and father were stuck with their heads. She simply didn't have enough nerves to worry about each scrape, and, nevertheless, she turned pale every time, and sometimes she was angry to such an extent that she wanted to run something towards her parents and yell, accusing them of such carelessness. James didn't blame her, he also sometimes felt bad, but to go to the quarrel of Deans was a deadly occupation.

“I suggest we go and sleep.” He said, barely bending over his sister's ear.

By morning, the quarrel would have been hushed up or completely resolved; they were equally well aware of it, so, with a sigh, the sister agreed.

Parents went to quarrel in the bedroom, Kat closed the door of a cramped guest room behind him, and James lounged on the sofa, looking at the ceiling. It wasn't the family evening that they all wanted, but, of course, they wouldn't have been able to be like a normal family in their lives.

And, all the same, his heart ached with boredom and longing. James already knew what loneliness is, although he was never a lonely person, seeking to meet and communicate. But he had so few true friends, and now in a new place there were even fewer of them. When he wanted to talk, to share something, Katherine wasn't there, and she is always - always - listened to him, in whatever mood she wasn't. Mom wasn't even longer, she was eager to catch up with JD, passions were running high and there was no place for grown-up children. James understood. He was a little offended by her, but he understood. JD wanted to communicate with them, but with his way of life rarely came out. There was nothing to say here. Even offended somehow didn't work. He was a jerk, but a good family man. Being angry with him meant being angry with yourself, because they were alike in this.

J. realized that his lips, by themselves, stretched out in a sad smile from these thoughts. It it what it is. It was his family. He loved and couldn't live without them. Just like Kat, James had a question - who am I going to be without it?

From the parents' room soon muffled moans were heard. Parents put up, cool, but James with whole his heart didn't want to be a witness to this. With a pillow on his head, he lay for about three minutes, and then, unable to bear it, he got up and went out to the balcony. The cold winter wind perfectly insulated from any noise from the apartment. Too bad thoughts couldn't clear.

James looked at the lights of his familiar city, began to study houses and dark windows, life and light down there on the roads. He was so small, so insignificant. Yes, insignificant, although he tried with all his might to prove to himself that this wasn't so. Fighter and talker, that's who he is without his sister. Hopeless boy without his mother. Single boy like his father in the same years.

James brushed his hair with fingers, and then sighed. He wasn't used to being alone, and the attention of strangers didn't compensate for the love of his relatives, he realized it too late.

Of course, he understood that whining was useless. Big boy. He'll achieve something in life, start his own family. Just too abruptly he lost the former.

"Can't sleep too?" Asked Katherine from behind.

She stood beside him, smoking again. Her appearance was too chipper for a girl who was woken up, but nevertheless tired, so the guy concluded that his sister couldn't sleep, as he did.

Frowning, she deeply breathed. In the dark, the glow of a smoldering cigarette gave some strange calm. Although it was probably due to the presence of Kat. She was standing nearby, so he was also not alone, and she was again ready to listen to his whining.

“Hard to sleep.” J. nodded. "Because of parents... Although not just because of them."

The sister looked at him very quickly, confusedly exhaled from the chest all the smoke, and then lowered her head. “Sorry about this mess by day.” She said. “I'm sorry I dragged you to that house. We haven't even really talked. I wanted to go with you to McDonalds, and then it turned out..."

"No, Kat, not because of this!" James didn't immediately realize that Kat took these words on her own, so now he was justified. "It turned out messy, yes, but interesting. That is, there is no your fault... Ah!" He raised his hands to heaven. "I wanted to say that... That I also feel uncomfortable with the fact that we are all now apart. And I experience the same thing as you. Well, that is, my life is tasteless, I can't do anything except speaking, and I feel so lonely without you that even a wolf howl."

Katherine quickly hugged him, and very tightly. She was a very strong girl for her fit. James missed both her strong arms, and her equally strong blows. His lips again smiled against his will.

“Oh, my ugly brother...” Katherine cooed wistfully.

It finally became noticeable that she missed him.

“We're twins.” The guy exhaled. "So, calling me a ugly, you mean yourself."

Kat laughed very softly. It wasn't so cold on the balcony, the heat of the fragile sister's body was enough to warm up. Katherine pulled away briefly to finish her cigarette, which
was quickly smoldering in the wind.

"Maybe we really need drop out of education?" She asked.

“Mom will kill us.” James sighed. "Especially, I like college. Do you like a little bit in uni?"

“It's fun there.” Kat shrugged.

“I noticed.” The guy grinned.

Katherine couldn't help but smirk, dragging herself once more, when suddenly the noise of the opening door forced them to turn around with a kind of game trapped. This was facilitated by the face of the father, similar to the expression on the face of a hunter who ran into prey.

“There you are.” He sighed. "And what are you doing here?"

“We breathe in the air.” Said James.

Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a blushed sister. Not only from fear and embarrassment, but also from the fact that she had to hold her breath for a long time.

"And how long are you young people breathe here?" A grinning mother appeared over father's shoulder.

Parents were disheveled, chipper, mother in one dressing gown, father without a prosthesis. James grimaced.

“Since you started to put up,” He said.

“Breathe, Kitty.” JD added with a grin. “It's just us, and your breath is already gone, honey.”

Kat, with already red eyes, coughed. From the mouth of the first burst of smoke. James himself blushed at how awkward the situation was. "Can I finally go to my couch!" He exclaimed, pushing in between the parents.

At once they turned their full attention to him, diverging to the sides and bristling against the walls. James squeezed between them, hearing his sister exhale from behind breathing with relief. But she coughed right away.

"Quickly run away from the cold." Mom pointed her finger inside the apartment. "Couldn't think of a better place?"

“You have a place like this.” James rolled his eyes. “We just needed to go somewhere to talk. Should we go up the stairs?"

"Talk about things in night." Veronica narrowed her eyes. “Is that why some of you smell like cigarette again?”

"Enough!" Katherine screamed so sharply that everyone shuddered. She looked so hurt that it was getting scary. "I smoke, not James! Yes, Mom, I, oh my God, took up cigarettes! Dad said you smoked in my years too, so don't you dare look at me like that!"

“I am another matter." Answered Veronica. "I lived at another time, I had other problems."

"So, I also have problems!" Exclaimed the girl. "We all have problems! J. and I spent the entire senior year outcasts because of one bitch, then we saved your asses, and then we parted, and I had few fucking reports, so my only friend turned out to be a drug addict, and I had to ask James bring me a bat to beat from our campus any junkies! And, if I don't smoke, I will crush someone's face!"

James dared to come closer to hug her.

“Come on, leave it.” He whispered.

“You are with dad,” the sister continued sadly, clinging to him, “constantly traveling. And now I have absolutely no one left. And J.'s too. We know that it will not be possible to be together for the rest of our life, and it’s still hard to learn to do everything alone. But not all the same life we count on you. You have your own problems..."

"Oh, we didn’t start this evening like we must to." JD sat on the sofa, right on the son’s blanket.

“Whatever problems we have, both of you can always and must count on us.” caid Veronika confidently. "I understand that it is difficult for you to adapt to such a life now, and I don’t want to offend you, but all that you have thought up for yourself is nonsense."

Mom first kissed her daughter on the forehead, then her son. James smiled shyly in response to this gesture.

"This is, so far, only your first semester. Unfortunately, it wasn't easy. We were supposed to come to both of you in October, but, you know, there was a hitch in Columbus, then there was a chance to save money, for we could spend the best winter holidays with you, and we jumped at it. And, in an effort to provide you a great time, we completely forgot... about you."

Mom pursed her lips guiltily.

“Damn.” Said the father. "We screwed up, Veronica."

James exchanged glances with his sister, and then he sighed in relief.

“You know what, no holidays are worth such sacrifices.” He said, almost displeased. "It would be better if you instead of Arkansas drove for us. I didn't need some Florida if i can just spend time with you."

"Well, okay." Veronica smiled. "We'll go there after your winter exams, and then, I swear, I'll make you not doubt for a second that we are still a strong and friendly family."

Kat barely lifted the corners of her lips.

“I'm hungry.” JD called. "We have baked potatoes for you. Let's forget about two o'clock in the morning, wipe out the memory of the last six hours, and discuss your study at meal time. Kitty, did you say something about junkies and the James's bat. I can't wait to hear the details."

Mom led them to a cramped dining table, sat down next and hugged both of them.

James was a big boy, he need to learn to cope with difficulties alone. But, screw this, not now.

Chapter Text

 

Oh, guys, there is long story. Officially, it began on November 4, when I posted the first chapter in russion fanfiction site - Ficbook, but unofficially, it came to my brain long before that, when I read one unfinished JDonica fanfic about them and their twin girls. I had a sort of headcanon, how these twins dance to ABBA songs, and then... somehow everything else came up. I didn't want to plagiarize, never in my life, I just suddenly had an idea - what if instead of twin girls there are twins a boy and a girl, what if Veronica is threatened not by the police, but by some unknown killer? How could JD not come to them for so long?

And here we are. Almost 60 likes in Ficbook, more than a twenty likes here, lots of feedback, lots of collages. A sort of small audience, a kind of anonymous club of insane people, where I love you all as my children. ❤❤❤

But after all, as I said, it all started with headcanon, where the twins from another fanfic dance to the song of ABBA. This means that it wasn't just the beginning of my vision of AU "Jason is alive and they have children." It all started with a song.

Why am I doing this? Oh yes! Songs. This fanfic has an impressive playlist, but it isn'r easy. There are a lot of songs from the 70s-80s-90s, as many as references to the culture in my fic. Other songs are suitable for the mood and the text. Some of them are supposedly created for JD, the JDonica at all, or their children.

 

 

So:

ABBA - Dancing Queen.

  • The very melody with which it all began. Later I made her the favorite James's song.

 

ABBA - Happy New Year

  • This song was mentioned in fanfic just once, as another favorite of James, and I didn’t stop at that, no. Christmas special also inspired by it.

 

ABBA - Waterloo
ABBA - Voulez-Vous

  • In general, songs that fully resemble the character of James in their mood.

 

Queen - Another One Bites The Dust

  •  Song-feature of Katherine.

 

Queen - Under Pressure (with David Bowie)

  • The song, that inspired me for a writing the midlle of work. Such despair, which, nevertheless, brings pleasure.

 

Queen - Killer Queen

  • Song of young Veronica Sawyer

 

Halsey - Gasoline
Halsey - Control
Melanie Martinez - Mad Hatter

  • Songs for JD and James.

 

Halsey - New Americana

  • I once listened to this song, but I forgot about it altogether. And then I was reminded in a review of it and I realized that I unconsciously made a cool reference. And then I heard it again, because it's just the aesthetics of James.

 

Twenty One Pilots - My Blood

  • The second song that came to my mind at the thought of the twins Kat and James.

 

AWOLNATION - Sail!

  • I heard it on YouTube in edit for JD. I listened three more times, read the text. And, inspired by it, wrote all the parts of the chapter “Scatter”.

 

Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks

  • The whole song fits the mood of young JD, as well as twins.

 

Foster The People - Helena Beat

  • A song that suits the whole fanfic. Both in the text and in the mood.

 

Grandson - Blood // Water

  • The song that I discovered recently. It can be considered the official soundtrack to this fan fiction, because 1) it is fucking awesome; 2) - its text absolutely falls into the meaning of all what is happening in fanfic.

 

M.I.A. - Paper Planes

  • A song that fits the Sawyer-Dean family.

 

Wham! - Last Christmas

  • Another song that is a James's favorite. Officially anounce that James loves Wham! as much as ABBA.

 

Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc

  • Since the action takes place in mid-2007, I was looking for mid-zero songs to get a better dip at that time. Having found this song, I immediately introduced how the Dean family travels to another hotel, listening to this track on the radio, or how James alone goes to night Sherwood, shaking his fingers in time with the melody.

 

a-ha - Take On Me (acoustic)

  • Veronica and JD's song at the end of fan fiction. Their part in the Christmas hastily was written precisely for this song.

 

Imagine Dragons - Natural

  • Song for twins and JD, which is literally suiting them, to my opinion. (this song suiting everything and everyone, but shut me up)

 

Melanie Martinez - Carousel

  • Song for one of collages, that seems to me desperate enough for the siblings too.

 

Imagine Dragons (again) - Believer

  • Suiting JD and children (agaaaaiiiin).

 

Тима Белорусских - Витаминка

  • Ahaa, russian song! Yes, its fast, emotional and full of energy, just like my characters. I just made one selection of collages, try to put this song to them and I literally lost my mind because it was so alike to... everything?

 

Van Halen - Jump

  • 80-th song, which gave me good mood when i was ending last chapter and this special.

 

ABBA - Does Your Mother Know

  • ABBA should start and end this playlist, because it start and end all this story, from the my image of AU to the end of translation of this work. It's also the mood of all fic, if you wanna watch it like funny absurd story about family, who running from their problem until their understand that there isn't problems at all (but they themselves).

 

Snail's House - Hot Milk

  • Surprising shit. You know this challenge on YouTube with short edit wth this song? I FUCKING TAKING PART IN IT, BECAUSE IM SILLY AND HOOK-HANDING BUT YOU ALL HAVE NO CHOICE

 Heathers fanfiction | Hot Milk

TA-DAAAAM! I have a bad (for my readers) habbit - make the video format of additions to my works 😉

To your attention - a teaser (or something there) to the “Two Big Problems”. Yes, he is ugly and short. But don't forget where my hands are growing from.

I love you everyone, very very much.

 

And, In honor of the final of this work, a small present for you and for me - all sorts of facts that you didn't think about, but which you should find out:

 

  • Kat with the bat in the last chapter - a little reference to the musical. Just imagine - Veronica with a croquet stick, and now imagine her daughter with a bat. Yes wow.

 

  • All the scenes with the smoking Kat were written under the impression of the smoker JD in the movie. Couldn't resist for young smoking Christian Slater. And, actually...

 

  • ...back in the sketches for fanfic made back in October-November 2018, it was planed that one of the twins would smoke. I always leaned toward Kat.

 

  • Initially, I wanna called Katherine 'Bridget' first, but very quickly changed that name to Katherine Heather Sawyer. J. was harder. At first he was 'Jason Francis Sawyer' then he became 'James Isaac' then I came to a compromise 'James Francis Sawyer' which I really liked.

 

  • I didn’t have time to realize this in fanfic, but for you to know, Katherine loves to wrap herself in black trench.

 

  • On Halloween 2008, twins will be apart, but they, without saying a word, will change the costumes. James first dressed like Freddie Mercury, and Kat like Eric Draven. I could write a whole story for you about how they would see pictures from the brother/sister party. Their facial expressions are simply indescribable, you imagine.

 

  • Another small scene that has the right to exist. JD and James bump their fists and grin.

 

  • I have an obsessive spin in my head the scene where Katherine was supposed to shoot a gun at least in some chapter. Unfortunately (or fortunately), there was no place anywhere for this scene.

 

  • The same scene that should be in your head: JD's next trip to the doctor. Just now Veronica is near and, for God's sake, she behaves like his mommy - listens carefully and writes down all the recommendations, carefully selects medications, and prohibits a lot of things.

 

  • And he doesn't obey her and lies. They quarrel ALWAYS. There is only a death could fix it.

 

  • There should have been a scene where James shows off his bat to his sister, and she knocks it out of his hands and teases her brother with taking his toy to herself.

 

  • Like the scene where Kat and J. go together. Behind his shoulder - a bit in the blood, she smokes, her knuckles are knocked down. They were in trouble.

 

  • In the original script, JD shouldn't pick up the children at the bus stop, but should meet in 7/11. There was a report on TV that Veronica Sawyer was looking for, so they had to go with him for their mother because of this.

 

  • After realizing the truth, the twins should have escaped to Springfield.

 

  • The gun give to them differently too. In the original script, this happened much earlier - James would have stolen it from his sleeping father.

 

  • All information twins should find out in the Internet bar. At first they should have suspected McNamara and would have turned to Heather Duke to find more information about her, and she, of course, would be happy to invite them to her place.

 

  • So at first the twins should have been hostage, not JD and Veronica.

 

  • The joint scene in Duke’s house was originally, where, during intense conversations and a mock fight, James and JD, by joining forces, could free themselves and distract Duke.

 

  • In the first script, Kat had to shoot her and seriously hurt her.

Yes, at first everything was cool, but it turned out... as always, in general. Well, at least it was fun. Glad you read fanfic and read my snotty posts. Maybe when I get rid of the shackles of other fan fiction, I will write another work on Heathers. Maybe even in the framework of the same AU-children. Wait and see.

 

Spoiler: i did it. Again in russian site and again it unfinished but i really enjoying the writing process. You can check it out, use the google translate and see. Maybe you manage even understand something.

 

And some stories about translation:

 

It was hard. Really hard, long, but interesting af.
I can talk in english good, really good, but writing is... uh, little less good.
There should be a long boring chapter about how am i use the GoogleTranslate, suffer, read my studying texbook and remembering the rules of english language, crying and five times fight with my strong desire delete this shame from site, but i love you and don't want to torture you with my pity tears, so i write the most interesting details.

 

Names of characters:

 

  • I read few english-language works for found out, how it be more comfortable for you and helpful for me read and write the Jason name - JD, J.D. or Jason Dean. In russion there is just 'Джей Ди' or 'Дж. Д.', I choose a first one for my fic, it look more accurate.

 

  • There growing another simple problem - James name. Would it be J., Jay or i should cutting off his short name. In rission - just 'Джей' for 'Джеймс'. Why english name so difficult for writing?

 

  • And Kat. Would it be 'Kat' or 'Kate', 'Katherine' or 'Catherine' and another infinity various of this name, which in russion have a one simple word 'Кэтрин' and short 'Кэт'. I never choose Kate instead of Kat, because it's too soft and royalty for her.

 

  • God thanks, Veronica doesn't give me such a troubles.

 

  • BUT

 ALL THIS MACNAMARA, DUNNSTOCK, SWEENEY AND REST OF THEM
NOW I HAVE CROSSED EYES

 

And, of course, specifics of russian linguistic. It was so fun choose the better words instead of it for english language. Maybe (im shure that) im fucked up, but it was the funniest fail in my life.

 

And i wrote this chapter (exactly part about translation) without any of translators, which means that im growning up with this work in being good translator. Almost better then a Google, huh.

 

Thank you for reading me.

 

I love each of the people who liked work on ficbook and here.

 

I love everyone who wrote reviews.

 

Love you. Just you, one of them, who read this now.

 

And don't say my goodbye.