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Madness in the Shadows

Chapter Text

 

“You should just leave. Go. It’s better than staying with her.”
“But she’s my mother. Besides, where would I go? It’s not like I have anyone else out there.”
“You’ve got me. You could come with me and my grandma.”
“The law wouldn’t allow that.”
“Then I’ll hide you in my room. We can still go to school together and I can bring you food. We can keep you here! I don’t…I don’t want you to go back to that house, Kevin. I don’t want you to leave.”
The eight-year-old child turned from the paper cup of water in his hand and looked at the girl that sat beside him on the swing set.
“You…you don’t want me to leave?”
The girl shook her head. “No. I don’t want you to leave; to go back. I just want you to stay here with me.”
Kevin Wendell Crumb wanted to cry. Ever since his father got on that train five years ago, he was left alone with his mother. The abuse he suffered at her hands. She had a malevolent way of punishing a three-year-old and it had continued on for those five years. The only way to avoid his mother was to keep everything spotless; perfect. He tried as hard as he could but sometimes he faltered. One of those times led him here to these playground about a year ago. It was normally empty this time of day, save for that first day. It was where he met her; Emily.
Emily Thompson was also eight, and a quiet girl from his class at school, and came here to the playground every evening. It was here that her mother died two years ago when a drunk driver went off the road and it was here that she felt closest to her. She now lived with her grandmother, due to the fact that her father took off before she was even born. Her mother had been kind and loved her though, much unlike Kevin’s mother.
Meeting Emily gave him something that he thought that he would never have. Someone that just genuinely cared for him, that only wanted his well being. That just wanted his company. He was thankful to Emily.
Dennis was too, though the other voice in his head didn't want to admit it.
Ever since he started taking his mother's abuse, he had acquired what his father called an alter, or a split personality. How a man in his thirties had developed in the mind of an three year old had yet to be revealed, but it had happened. Kevin was thankful for Dennis, though. Dennis was a thorough cleaner, and the only thing that stood between Kevin and his mother's beatings.
This was something that he hadn't shared with anyone else, though. He doubted his own mother even realized it, realized the change. Dennis was easily angered, terrifyingly so. He heard his thoughts all the time. They scared him.
That's why he hadn't told Emily about him. He had finally made a friend, one that didn't tease him or look at him in a funny way. Someone that didn't pry him for answers that he didn't want to give. She took her time with him, and it resulted in him finally opening up to her and revealing about his mother's abuse. He had feared her rejection after that, but it never came. Instead she had hugged him there in the swingsets they now sat in, offering him emotional support however she could.
She would bring extra food to school with her so he could eat. Snacks to the playground whenever her grandmother baked. He had met her grandmother, been allowed into her house once about a month ago and the elderly woman had let him feast upon so much sugar that he had a stomach ache. He had told Emily's grandmother that he would go straight home.
Instead, Emily had opened her window and he snuck in, spending the night there.
It's not like his mother would care.
And she hadn't. She hadn't even noticed that he was gone. It was the only time that he had stayed the night at Emily's house. They had shared the bed that night, the first time that he had slept with another body next to him since his father died. To do so again, it had been a pleasing feeling.
Kevin was quite sure that Emily's grandmother knew that he had stayed the night when he showed up at their front door that next morning in the same clothes and asked if Emily could come play, but the sweet elder lady hadn't mentioned anything about it and had invited him inside for breakfast first.
She had already made enough for three.
Though it had only been a year since they started talking, Kevin adored Emily and her grandmother more than anything.
"I don't want to burden you," Kevin gave her a small smile. "Things have been getting a bit better lately. I'll be alright for now."
Emily puffed up her cheeks, the wind blowing the wisps left out of her braided auburn hair, her brown eyes staring straight into his blue ones.
"Kev, you know I don't like it when you lie to me."
Whenever she wanted to be stern with Kevin, though it was never often, she would call him Kev. Never would she use his full name, not after he told her that was how his mother called for him.
"I'm not lying, Em, I promise. I just don't want you to worry."
"That's entirely impossible, Kevin. That became impossible the day I gave you my pudding cup."
Kevin's laughter burst from his throat. It was the third day they had eaten lunch together at school. Kevin had nothing to eat but a sandwich and Emily had insisted he eat her pudding cup. He had refused at first, of course, but she told him to either take it happily or she'd feed it to him herself.
"One day, I'll be big and strong enough to make sure you don't worry about me anymore," Kevin stood up from the swing and turned to face the girl beside him. "One day, I'll be able to take care of us both. Then you'll have to accept MY pudding cup."
The girl snorted. "You know how dirty that sounds, right?"
"Em, we're eight! Nothing should sound dirty at this age."
"Tell that to Kenny and Cartman."
Kevin rolled his eyes. "Do I have to tell your grandma you're watching naughty tv again?"
The girl gave an exaggerated gasp. "You wouldn't dare!"
He grinned. "I dare!"
Emily launched herself up from her swing and Kevin took off, dodging the obstacles in the empty playground, laughter drifting in the air around them as the sun was setting in shade of oranges, reds, and yellows. It was days like this that he didn't want to end. There would be school to deal with tomorrow and his mother when he went home. Already he could feel Dennis starting to move, as if the older man in his head was waking up from a nap. He trembled at the thought of what awaited for him at home but he didn't want to worry Emily.
He would try his best not to do that, no matter the cost.
They ran around until Emily was the first to collapse on the grass, her smile bright and chest heaving. Kevin plopped down next to her, his own face hurting from smiling. Idle chatter passed between them a bit longer after they caught some of their breath. Emily was going on about the colors she would wear to school the next day and was trying to convince Kevin to match with her. She did this nearly once a week, keeping to blacks, whites, and greys, the only colors that he had to wear.
Rolling over on his side, he stared at her, a small smile on his face for a moment before he spoke again.
"I meant what I said. One day, I'll be sure to take care fo you."
Emily was still for a moment and a short fear passed through him. He feared laughter or rejection, but she turned her head, that smile on her face like always. He blinked once, not wanting to miss how the setting sun made her eyes look like pools of honey.
"Let's make a promise. The first one to graduate High School takes care of the other," She lifted her pinky up to him, ready to make a promise. "Deal?"
Kevin blinked, confused. "But Em, we're in the same grade. We'll graduate together."
Her grin stretched a bit wider. "I know."
He blinked again, confused for a moment before the meaning of her words reached him. "Em, you-"
"Deal?" She asked a gain, moving her pinky closer.
Kevin gave what he believed was the largest smile ever to grace his face. She was asking him to promise that they'd be together and there for eachother until the end, whenever that finally came. He didn't know if it would come true, so many things could happen between the ages of 10 and 18, and so many more could happen even after, but for now, he was going to make believe that this promise would be true.
Reaching forward, he linked his pinky with hers, squeezing tightly.
"Deal."

Chapter Text

Kevin wore a grin as he allowed Emily to pull him around the Zoo. The school had a field trip the week before to the Philadelphia Zoo. Kevin, however, had not even mentioned the trip to his mother, not daring to ask for the money to go, and had stayed behind at the school catching up on homework and other things. The moment that Emily knew that Kevin wouldn't be going, she had opted to stay at the school as well.
Her grandmother held a membership to the Zoo and Emily had convinced her to take her and Kevin both that weekend. Already Emily and her grandmother did so much for him, but he was most thankful for her not asking questions, like did his mother know where he was or who he was with. If anything, he wanted Emily to stay as far away from his mother as possible.
He was glad that Dennis thought that, too.
It had been a year since the duo had made the promise in the park and he was glad to say that, so far, everything had been good. His grades were good, and he enjoyed his time outside of his house. Every moment he could spare was spent with Emily and he wanted it to go on forever.
Though an elder woman, Emily's grandmother, who insisted that he just caller her Miss Julie, was able to keep up with the energetic duo; ahead of her, but always in sight.
It was the first time ever that Kevin had been to the Zoo and he drank everything in excitedly, taking in animal facts and other things that his friend was happily telling him, trying to keep up with her pace would be exhausting to some but not to him. He'd rather have Emily telling him all these things than just looking at the plaques before the exhibits or some guide hired by the zoo.
They went in a circle, following the trail through the Outback Post and small mammals to Penguin Point and Bear Country. They had enjoyed the African Plains, Emily choosing to challenge Kevin to a game of running like a gazelle through the area before coming to the Aquatic Animals and Raptor Ridge.
Stopping for lunch at the Watering Hole, enjoying hotdogs and chips, the weather being too cold for ice cream. They then chose to enjoy the use of the playground area before Kevin found his feet frozen at the top of one of the slides. Watching as Emily's back disappeared down the slide, he stepped to the side to allow another kid to follow her down, turning instead to rest his head against one of the bars to the side.
Something had been bothering Kevin for a while now. It was Dennis.
Dennis wasn't a problem at all, no, he still protected him from his mother and would take over when Kevin found himself getting frightened or exhausted, but what scared him was that it was happening more and more often; and now it wasn't just at home.
Dennis had taken over at school one day.
Emily had gotten sick and was forced to stay home and Kevin had found himself lost without her and Dennis just...took over. He regained himself when he was leaving school, his feet having been headed towards Emily's house. Emily had refused to let him inside for the fear of him catching her cold, but had opened her window instead where the two happily conversed about the schoolwork that she had missed.
Sadly they were in different classes this year but lunch was spent together, as was recess and side classes, like art and PE.
Dennis, despite his OCD, had been taking them to see Emily. Having conversed with Dennis about the young girl over and over, Dennis had admitted to liking Emily to the extent of trusting her to take care of Kevin when he wasn't around. Though Kevin argued that he didn't need her to take care of him, Dennis had given a slight chuckle and returned to the corner of the boy's mind like he always would until he was needed again.
But it was happening more and more often. It...worried Kevin. If Dennis were to, one day, appear before Emily, he would have to explain everything to her. He feared her reaction to learning of the friend that lived in his head. He feared her laughing at him or being scared and running from him.
He wanted to tell her about Dennis. The older man thought that was a terrible idea but the boy ignored him for the most part. He trusted Emily and despite the anxiety he felt about revealing something like this to her, there was a small part of him, a small glimmer of hope, that was confident that Emily would accept him; accept Dennis.
He had been mulling over all night beforehand, telling himself that he was going to tell her the next day but every time he mustered up the courage to do so, he lost it just as easily. He knew that Dennis was watching, waiting, but the man was unusually quiet, as if just waiting to take over.
If Emily were to laugh or be disgusted, Kevin was confident that Dennis would take over and protect him. Would he do something to Emily, or would he just take them away from her and home?
And that's why Kevin was nervous. The thought of losing his friendship with Emily was terrifying. But if he wanted to keep this friendship, then he had to tell her about Dennis. He'd rather tell her first before something else happened and she met him without some kind of insight. They were getting older. It was bound to happen eventually.
"Kevin? Are you all right?"
At her voice, he turned to see that Emily had returned, concern on her face as she stared at him, both ignoring the other kids around them.
Kevin gulped and opened his mouth to speak but found his voice gone. Licking his lips nervously, he placed on his best smile.
"Of course I am. Just thinking that's all."
Emily's lips puckered like they always did when she knew that he was lying to her or hiding something and was going to scold him for it. Kevin found him shuffling his feet under her gaze and when he opened his mouth to speak again she had grabbed his hand and was pulling him away from the slide. Following her, they left the area and moved towards one of the far jungle gyms that was set up towards the vacant side of the playground. Kevin paused for a moment, watching as Emily slipped through the bars and took a seat on the mulch that was laid out beneath it. For a moment, Kevin thought that it resembled a cage. He hesitated, only moving inside it after Emily patted the spot in front of her, waiting for him.
Kevin sat before her but stayed silent. He couldn't look at her, knowing that she was staring and just waiting for him to talk. She always did. The record was an hour before Kevin broke and finally admitted that he had broken a vase of his neighbor's the night before and felt guilty about it.
Her patience was astounding to him.
But he couldn't take an hour to talk this time. Not about this.
He could feel Dennis stirring in his head, obviously interested in the end result, despite claiming it to be a bad idea.
"Do...do you think it's possible..." He paused for a moment, trying to find the right words. "For the body to be home for more than one person?" He refused to look up at her, fearing what he would find.
"What do you mean? Like...two people in one body? Like different souls?"
Kevin poked at the mulch at his feet. "Yes, but the two are different. So different."
"If there's two, then of course they'd be different."
"But...what if their ages were different too?"
Kevin knew that he was stalling but he couldn't help it. His hands were starting to tremble. He was almost sure that Dennis would take over but it seemed like the older man had no plans to do so.
"So...you're trying to tell me that you have an imaginary friend that's old?"
Kevin would have laughed if he was not so nervous.
"Dennis is not imaginary!" He gave a wince as his voice rose. "He's...he's been with me since before my dad died. He protects me from my mother. When I'm scared, it's like I've fallen asleep and I'll wake up and I'll be in class or walking down the street. Dennis cleans to keep mother happy; to keep me safe."
She was silent for a moment. "Have you ever...have I ever met...him?"
Her voice was soft, probing gently.
"No. But as we get older....you may. I just...I wanted to tell you myself instead of you two just...meeting."
Things were silent between them for a while and Kevin found that he couldn't move to look at her. He was ready for her reactions. He could feel Dennis just inside, ready to take over if needed but it was soon clear that he wouldn't be.
"Well, if he protects you from your mother, then he's fine by me!"
Kevin looked at her in shock. "R-Really?"
"Of course!" Reaching forward, Emily pulled Kevin's head towards her and kissed his forehead. "If you can hear me, thank you for keeping Kevin safe for me, Mr. Dennis. He's important to me and I don't know what I'd do without him."
Normally, Dennis would complain about someone touching them but now he was quiet with a different emotion present.
He was flustered.
Emily's grin was just as bright as ever, assuring him that she wasn't going to think him weird or avoid him.
"You're not mad at me? Or scared or...or disgusted by this? Think I'm a liar?"
Emily locked eyes with him.
"I'm a little afraid, no, intimidated, perhaps, by the thought of someone taking control of my best friend's body, but just because I feel that way doesn't mean it won't happen. And I know you're not a liar, Kevin. My grandmother always tells me that we all have a guardian angel with us. Perhaps that's what Mr. Dennis is! He just needed to step in to help you a bit more firmly due to circumstances."
She grabbed one of his hands and squeezed. "Nothing you do could ever make me scared or disgusted, understand? You're my friend, Kevin, my best friend, which means Mr. Dennis is my friend now too!" She leaned forward. "Can I meet him?"
Dennis' presence pulled back into his little corner so fast that Kevin almost swore he could hear the wind.
He chuckled. "He's sleeping right now. But if the day comes..."
"Oh, I can't wait!"
Gripping Kevin's hand, Emily pulled him along behind her and resumed their trip around the zoo. As they moved from attraction to attraction, Emily didn't let go of Kevin's hand. The warmth that spread through him assured him that he really had nothing to worry about. He had been worried over nothing. He should have known that Emily would have believed him, wouldn't have shunned him for telling her everything.
She was much too nice for that. She truly was a great friend.
"I want to work here," Emily spoke as they leaned on the railings, overlooking the hippo enclosure. "I like animals and so I want to work here, at the zoo. Help take care of them, you know?" She glanced at him. "You think I can?"
Kevin grinned at her. "You can do anything you want, if you have the drive for it. You can do anything you want, Em."
She squeezed his hand. "Then it's the Zoo life for me," She glanced at him. "What about you, Kev? What do you want to be when you grow up?"
The boy was silent, watching as a Hippo dove under the water, little air bubbles breaking the surface.
"I never really thought about it before. Never got that far ahead. But I do know," He grinned at her again. "Is that I want to be close to you. So if you want to work here at the Zoo, then that's where I'll work too."
"Kevin, you have your whole life to choose. You should choose something that makes you happy! Make your own path, or at least that's what grandma says everyone should do. You won't be happy otherwise."
"But I have no problem working with you; nothing makes me happier than being around you. Unless...you don't want me around in the future."
Emily shoved his shoulder and linked their arms instead of their hands now.
"If I could glue you to my side and keep you forever, I would." She bumped against him again. "You and Mr. Dennis."
Kevin bumped her back. "Then it's the Zoo for both of us."

Chapter Text

Her mother's anniversary was coming up. Emily tried to stay happy and positive but she could feel the depression that would always hit her around these days. She tried to keep it hidden from Kevin but she was sure that he could tell. There was a look in his eyes that made her confident that he was aware that something was bothering her but he never asked her about it and for that she was thankful. Kevin never pried and just did his best to make her smile. He would always succeed at that but the moment she was alone again she felt her sadness return.
In the two years that she and Kevin had been friends, the anniversary of her mother's death always fell on school days and so it had been easier to hide her emotions from Kevin when her grandmother would keep her from school and they would travel to the cemetery. But this year is was a Sunday. They would go in the morning and be back after lunch and Emily would go to the park. Kevin would undoubtedly be there; he always was now.
Emily didn't mind, she wanted to be with her friend but she was worried how she would look to him. A broken mess was much too kind for how she felt she'd be.
This year in school, Kevin and her had been placed in different classes. Emily had happily complained about it where Kevin had not. She knew that he was just as disappointed as her but he was too kind to voice it. Lunches and extra activities were still together and as music came around, she was looking forward to seeing her friend.
Except he never came.
She knew that he was at school, they had been together on the bus. They had lunch together after music and Emily looked forward to it, like she did every day. The duo would sit at a picnic table outside and she would read books to him, him claiming that her voice soothed him and Dennis both. Right now, the choice was Harry Potter.
It was cute to see him listening to her read with his eyes closed. She was sure a few times that he had fallen asleep but it was never proven.
As the teacher closed the door, Emily turned to the blond that sat next to her and Kevin, a sweet girl named Amber.
"Hey, have you seen Kevin? Is he running late or something?"
Amber stared at her as if in shock. "You haven't heard yet? I would have thought you would have been the first to know!"
Emily began to feel nervous. "Is he okay? Did he get hurt?"
"He got into a fight!" Amber explained, her face lit with excitement. "Timmy Burdock was teasing him during the previous class and Kevin just...kinda snapped when Timmy grabbed him. Timmy's face was all busted up and he was crying when he was escorted to the nurse's office. Kevin was taken to the Principal."
Nothing but worry flooded her. Not even paying attention to the teacher, her mind was completely on Kevin.
That sweet, timid boy punching someone in the face? Impossible. Especially if it was Timmy Burdock. He was twice Kevin's size! Nothing Timmy did would result in Kevin...
Emily furrowed her brow.
What if...what if it wasn't Kevin after all? What if it had been Dennis?
A few months had passed since Kevin told her about Dennis and though she had yet to meet him, she was told nearly everything about him.
Dennis was a firm soul, Kevin had explained, and could be cold but the young boy assured that he was nice; at least to him. Kevin said he had OCD but Emily only knew that meant he was a clean freak and didn't like being touched when he was in control.
Could...could Timmy's teasings have cause Dennis to take control? If so, then the moment Timmy touched Dennis...
It was the only explanation for what happened. Dennis was the one to punch Timmy, not Kevin.
That made Emilly frown. Kevin was gonna get in trouble for something that he, technically, didn't do. She wondered if Dennis would be able to hear her through Kevin if she scolded him about his temper.
Her back was packed and ready the moment the bell rang, signaling that the class was over. She stopped for no one, hurrying to the Principal's office, hoping that Kevin would still be there. She didn't know what exactly it was that she was planning on doing when she got there but she knew what she didn't want.
She didn't want his mother to get there.
The thought of what his mother would do to him when they got home worried her more than anything. She didn't want Kevin to leave with her.
Her fears were true though, when she found an older woman pulling Kevin out of the office by his wrist, her mouth moving but Emily was too far away to hear what was being said.
And something told Emily that she didn't want to hear it. However, she did feel panic erupt in her chest, her worry growing stronger.
She stepped forward, ready to run in, grab Kevin's hand from his mother, and drag him behind her, away from his mother and the school both. She couldn't bear the thought of him being hurt but as she went to run forward, Kevin's head turned as if he knew she was there and they locked eyes.
Emily froze.
Kevin's face, usually so soft, was now hardened, like stone, his expression void of anything that was Kevin, save for those bright blue eyes that seemed to warn her to stay away.
It was only for a moment that he stared at her before both Kevin and his Mother disappeared around the corner.
And in that moment, however brief it was that their eyes had locked, Emily felt two things.

1. That Boy was NOT Kevin. He may have had Kevin's face but that was not the same boy she had rode the bus with that morning. This now confirmed everything that Kevin had told her as true. There was another...persona living in Kevin's body.

2. She felt...excited. Something in her stomach felt off. It didn't scare her but it was a mix of excitement and something else she couldn't place. It was a pleasant feeling; one that made her giggle.

Though not formally introduced, she had just met Dennis. The excitement made her giggle again and she began to hope that she and Dennis would get along well.
What Emily didn't know, however, was that with that innocent, fleeting glance, her life was now forever changed.

Chapter Text

Kevin had been suspended from school for the next week. The days of that week dragged on for an eternity for Emily. After school she would immediately go to Kevin's house. His mother had been there the first two nights, resulting in only small waves from the second floor window that served as Kevin's bedroom. The third day, however, Mrs. Crumb was gone and Kevin had let his friend inside. He was careful to keep a sweater on while in front of her, confirming her fears.
His mother had beat him again.
Instead of pestering him about it, she hugged him instead, offering him the silent support that was needed. The two children had laid in Kevin's bed for hours, the young boy soaking his pillow as she gently rubbed circles on his back.
She had cursed at herself for not having the Harry Potter books to read to him now and so settled with singing to him. It was something her mother used to do to calm her down and sleep when she was younger. She was pleased that it worked on him. His sobs faded and the peaceful look on his face matched the rhythms of calm breathing as he slept.
Emily lay rigid beside him as night began to fall. His mother could come home at any time but she couldn't force herself to leave Kevin here; not like this. There wasn't much a ten year old could do in circumstances like this other than smile and be there.
She just laid there, either staring at the ceiling or brushing the dark hair out of Kevin's face as he curled into a ball beside her. She moved only once, to use the bathroom when the phone on the wall caught her attention. Grabbing her card from her bag, she called the number off of it and left a message for her grandmother, unsure if the elder lady had figured out where she was. She knew that she would get a scolding when she finally returned home but she just couldn't make herself leave her friend, whether or not his mother came home.
Returning to Kevin's room, the boy was still asleep and she took a better look around his room.
Next to the bed was a small white dresser, a desk and a chair sat on the opposite wall and his closet was left open, revealing clothes and shoes. Strewn across his desk were drawings and homework. One drawing was an unfinished flower that Emily was quite positive that she was not supposed to have seen so she covered it with others before dragging the chair to the door.
Using what she had learned from movies, she wedged it under the doorknob, just incase Kevin's mother came home. She was not against dragging Kevin out the window to escape, the height not dangerous to use. The hardest part of that, no doubt, wold be convincing Kevin to do it.
Carefully placing herself between Kevin and the wall again, she tossed the cover over them both, using her arm as a pillow as she decided to study his face in the darkening room. Instead of counting stars, she found herself counting the freckles on his face until she fell asleep.
All week her mother's death had been plaguing her dreams. But tonight she didn't dream of anything at all. No blood. No car or fire. No screams. Nothing but silence and a peaceful sleep that she seemed to have lacked for the last week. Perhaps it was because she was finally sleeping somewhere outside of the house that she had shared with her mother. Or, perhaps it was because Kevin was with her.
Sunlight trickling over her face was what finally awoke Emily, telling her that Mrs. Crumb either never came home during the night or she had simply ignored Kevin completely.
She couldn't pick which she preferred more.
Raising her knuckles to rub the sleep from her eyes. She stared at the pale ceiling above her for a moment before rolling her head to look at Kevin.
She gave a start to find him already awake and staring at her from the pillow.
What startled her wasn't his staring, it was that hard, calculating look in those blue jewels that he had for eyes. It was the same gaze that she had met in the school hallway.
There was Dennis, not Kevin.
She didn't know why Dennis had taken over but that same, strange feeling erupted in her stomach again, mixed with even more excitement that she had felt the last time.
Rolling on her side she faced him, her head propped up in her hand.
"It's nice to finally meet you, Mr. Dennis."
He stared back at her, frozen in a mix of fear and confusion, as if wondering how she could tell that it was him and not Kevin. He was silent for a bit before deciding to finally reply.
"I've been watching you."
He wrinkled his nose, realizing that a man in his thirties saying that to a ten year old could send the wrong message. "I mean I...you..." He took a breath and calmed himself. "You take care of Kevin...very well."
His voice was deep, not like that of a ten year old boy. The accent screamed Boston to her; she liked it.
Emily gave a relieved sigh. "I'm glad you think so. I just wish...there was more I could do."
Dennis blinked. "Like what?"
"I'm not sure. I just feel like there's something so much more I can do for him; for you."
"Your..." He searched for words a child would understand. "Support is all he needs."
"He needs help!" Emily argued with a frown. "We need to tell someone. Keeping Kevin here with his mother...she could kill him. It's not fair that he has to go through with this. I don't want him to be hurt anymore. Neither of us want that, do we Mr. Dennis?"
"This is a conversation that you need to have with Kevin, not with me."
Dennis stared at her for a moment before sitting up in the bed. He had been awake for over an hour now, just watching as the child beside him slept. There had been no sign of Kevin's mother coming home the night before, and the chair against the door made him cock a brow, but he refused to get up. He watched the girl instead, as if trying to figure her out.
This girl, Emily, was a mystery for him. Having only watched her through Kevin's eyes, never having the chance to speak to her himself before now, he had been convinced that this child was only using Kevin for some kind of means of her own. He had been set on trying to find ways to prove it to Kevin, that she was like his mother, but the last year was beginning to prove him wrong. The more he watched, the more he felt that this girl, someone that Kevin had met by chance one night, actually cared for Kevin more than his mother did.
Very near more than Dennis did himself, if that was even possible. Dennis watched as Emily would bring him food. Would buy him things with the allowance her grandmother would give her; she had saved up for three months to buy Kevin a new yellow and black jacket the moment the weather started getting cold last year; that wasn't the work of someone faking it. Not a child.
It confused Dennis completely. When Kevin had told him that he was going to tell Emily all about him, he had tried his hardest to convince him what a terrible idea that was. That it would result in nothing but heartbreak and anger and distress. All that was given, however, was acceptance.
In all the time that passed after Kevin told her everything, nothing about Emily and how she treated Kevin had changed. She didn't treat him worse or extra special after learning everything. She changed nothing, not even the bright smile that crept across her lips every time she saw him.
This girl was far too kind for her own good but as long as she was kind to Kevin then he would accept her. If she hurt him though, he'd never forgive her.
Dennis stood from the bed. He wanted to change his clothes from what Kevin had been wearing yesterday but with Emily here he was against it.
"Kevin's mother won't be home until later tonight," He told her. "You need to eat and be on your way before your grandmother gets angry. And I need to clean."
"We can clean together!" Emily reached out and grabbed Dennis' hands. "I called grandma last night. She knows I'm here. Besides, I've been wanting to meet you. To thank you for taking care of Kevin for me. And also, I can't just let you clean on your own! It'll be fun with a second person."
"This isn't about fun," Dennis frowned at her. "If there's even one mistake, then Kevin's mother-"
"All the more reason for me to help! You can check and make sure I'm doing it good enough so that doesn't happen. If I fail, then you can send me home, all right? Come on, Mr. Dennis, just give me a chance. Please?"
He stared at her, his frown glued to his face. He would usually say no and force her from the house but the grip on his hand was making him think otherwise.
"Only if you clean right."
With a squeal of glee, Emily was off the bed in second, one hand still gripping to Dennis' as the other pulled the chair from the door. The only thing that kept her from hurrying down the stairs at a blinding fate was Dennis. She was tugging him at first but stopped when she realized that he wasn't budging and so slowed down to pace beside him.
Emily was happily conversing about what Kevin had missed at school, about inviting him on another trip to the zoo in a few weeks, and going camping over the summer. She was talking to him like they had been friends for years, inviting not Kevin, but HIM. He was...unsure of what to think of that. And Kevin was currently tucked away sleeping still so he didn't have anyone to ask.
Emily pushed him into a chair in the dining hall before disappearing into the kitchen. He wasn't sure what she was doing but he was beginning to twitch as he heard the noises and clinks. Just imagining what mess she was making made him dig his fingers into the arms he had crossed over his chest.
Eventually she came out with two plates, a sandwich on both.
"Here, it's a PB and J!" She set a plate in front of him. "My favorite."
Dennis stared at her for a moment before reaching forward for the sandwich, the frown slowly disappearing as Emily's voice continued to sound.
Dennis was almost completely sure that Emily would take off after eating and wrinkled his nose a bit when she ended up staying to help clean after all. He checked everything that she cleaned inch by inch, searching for even one thing to scold her on but it seemed that the young girl had been waiting for that and was one step ahead of him.
He was impressed. With her helping him like this, he would get done much faster than usual. If that happened then he could sit down and enjoy a book until Kevin decided to wake back up or his mother came. Whichever came first.
Perhaps he could get Emily to read for him a bit.
At that thought, Dennis shook his head with a scowl. That was the last thing that he wanted; wasn't it?
Turning from his bedroom, he paused when he heard Emily's voice coming from across the way in the bathroom. He opened his mouth to ask what she wanted when she continued and he realized that she was singing, not talking.
Leaning against the frame of his doorway, he had clear view into the bathroom and he crossed his arms, watching as she cleaned; as she danced.
It was the funniest thing that Dennis had ever seen. In the last seven years of being with Kevin, nothing he had seen was more comical than this ten year old singing and dancing in a bathroom as she cleaned. He didn't know the song but there was no doubt in his mind that she was off key and those dance moves CLEARLY didn't go with that song.

 

"I wonder what it's like to be a superhero
I wonder where I'd go if I could fly around downtown
From some other planet, I get this funky high on yellow sun
Boy I bet my friends will all be
Stunned, they're stunned"

 

"You left a smudge on the sink."
Dennis' voice made her jump, dropping the rag that she had been using in the tub. Dennis half wished that he had caught her using the toilet brush as a microphone.
"Sweet Panther, Dennis!" Emily clutched at her chest, as if her heart was about to jump out. "Don't do that!"
Dennis cocked a brow. "Sweet Panther? Is that the best you can do?"
"What's this, Mr Dennis? Encouraging a ten year old to cuss? Shame on you."
"Dennis."
Emily blinked. "Beg pardon?"
"Just Dennis. There's no need to add a Mister in front of it. At least, you don't."
"Aren't I special?" She giggled, grabbing her rag again and resuming her cleaning; she did, however, take care of that smudge on the sink first.
Dennis found his feet moving forward to where he now stood in the doorway of the bathroom. His arms were still crossed and he settled to watch as she moved. Instead of singing and dancing again, though, she glanced at him.
"Did I really do such a bad job downstairs to where you have to watch me? Or are you just hoping I'll dance some more?"
Dennis cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable with her remark, and decided to change the conversation.
"Kevin informs me that you want to work with animals."
"I take it I'm the main source of most of your conversations."
"More or less."
Pulling the lid of the toilet down, she sat and glanced up at him. It was so strange, so different, seeing Kevin standing like that. Straight back and firm, that emotionless look upon his face, it was like looking at an entirely different person. The only things that told her that it was definitely the same boy was the way his dark hair curled around his left ear and those bright blue eyes of his. No one else in the world could have eyes that blue shade; it would be inhuman, to her at least.
She'd never tell anyone this, not even Kevin, but his eyes were the reason why her favorite color was blue.
"I want to work with wildlife," Emily told him. "Mostly cats, like lions and tigers."
"And panthers?" Dennis asked with an amused tone.
Emily looked at him with a giggle. "Was that your attempt at a joke? I think Kevin had to be joking when he called you uptight."
"He called me uptight?"
If she had been drinking, Emily would have choked on it. "I'm only joking, Dennis. Kevin does nothing but sing your praise, I promise." She smiled at him. "And yes, panthers too."
"Why animals?" Emily dropped her head a bit. "Em?"
Hearing Dennis call her by the nickname that Kevin gave her made her smile but as she looked back up to him, he saw that it didn't reach her eyes.
"My mother died due to some drugged up woman behind the wheel of a car. My father took off because he didn't want me. My grandfather died in a bank robbery. Kevin's mother beats him. His father left and never came back. And that doesn't even begin to scrape the top of everything else you hear on the news. Murders. Rapes. Kidnappings. People are the worst thing on this planet. Wars. Diseases. I'd rather help animals than help humans."
Of all the answers that Dennis had been expecting, that had not been it. He studied her, thinking over her words.
"That's a dark mindset for a child to have."
"Not everything is all sunshine and rainbows, Den." She told him. "And children...they are the best listeners. They hear everything, even when others think they don't. Sometimes, being a kid forever doesn't seem so bad when you really think about it. We can play innocent but we can still hear everything."
Dennis wanted to reach out, to touch her shoulder or head or something, but thought better of it and pulled back.
"Thank you for your help, Emily," He decided to say instead. "I'll repay you."
Emily giggled as she stood up. "I'm your friend, Dennis. You don't need to repay anything," Dennis backed up from the doorway and let her out, not even bothering to check behind her this time. "Now, if you insist, then you'll dance with me next time, right? After all, it's no fun by yourself."
Dennis swallowed and watched as she descended the stairs, talking about getting some water. He shook his head, trying to ignore the thoughts that now chose to run through his head.
He silently prayed to the Sweet Panthers that they were Kevin's thoughts and not his own.

Chapter Text

The thunder rolled through the area, signaling that the storm was about to hit. It was supposed to be a bad one today. Emily knew that she should get home soon but she couldn't will herself to move.
She and her grandmother had returned from the cemetery around three hours ago. She had run off the moment she got out of the car and hurried to the park, now sitting on the swing.
The swing had been where Emily had been sitting that day when her mother died. They had been here, despite her mother having been on a late shift at the ER the night before. Emily had begged and begged to go that morning. She had been right here, on that very swing, left to watch as the van ran a red light, swerved to miss another vehicle and hitting a curb. It ran across the grass and hit the woman that had stepped away for only a moment to answer a phone call from her boss. Emily had watched as her mother was hit by that van. It wasn't something that anyone should see, especially not a child and not when it's their very own mother.
It was something that Emily wasn't sure she'd ever be able to erase from her mind, and all because she wanted to go to the park; all because some woman on drugs decided to go for a morning drive.
"Em?"
Kevin's soft voice made Emily close her eyes. She had been praying that he wouldn't come today.
She should have known it wouldn't be so.
Right now, all she wanted was to be alone. She didn't want anyone right now. Not Kevin, not her grandmother. She wanted her mother and that was something that she wasn't going to get back at all, and so, for now, she just wanted to be left alone.
"It's going to rain, Kevin. You should hurry home," She winced at the thought of her having told Kevin to return to that horrid place. "I don't want you getting sick out here."
She had been holding back tears all day and all it took was one word from Kevin's mouth. All it took was him saying her name.
She must have looked so pathetic to him.
Reaching up, she rubbed at her eyes, slowly releasing the tears.
"I...I didn't want you to see me like this. It's so...just so embarrassing."
She rubbed faster, but now that they had begun they wouldn't stop. She stood from the swing, trying to put space between her and the boy that stood behind her, before plopping down in the dirt. The thunder sounded again but she ignored it, not ready to go home herself yet.
And then a strange scent wrapped around her. Strange, meaning new and comforting. Sandalwood and vanilla. She didn't know anyone who smelled like that but she did recognize the color patterns on the jacket as the arms hugged her from behind. It was Kevin, but something was off.
"Shh, shh, shh," The voice that reached her ears was feminine and soft, a british accent flowing smoothly. "It's all right dear. There is no shame in crying."
Emily pulled back, her face stern as she faced the one behind her. "You're not Kevin. Nor are you Dennis."
The way Kevin's body was sitting, straight and proper, made Emily self conscious. Her grandmother sat in a similar way and she would get scolded every now and then for not sitting like a lady.
Kevin's face smiled at her in a different way; more warming and assuring.
"No, I'm not. My name is Patricia. Kevin was at a loss and felt that a mother's touch was needed here."
Emily thought for a moment. "So...you're Kevin's new friend. Like Dennis."
Patricia felt her smile widen.
She had been called a friend.
"Yes, a friend," she nodded. "I'm afraid that Dennis didn't know what to do either, so...here I am. I hope you do not mind."
Emily snorted, rubbing at her eyes again. "I doubt he'd want someone crying all over him. I'm positive that he'd burn the clothes he's wearing."
There was a click of a tongue and Emily looked up again. She had to admit that Kevin now felt...feminine. Even those blue eyes of his seemed to be different now; from both Kevin and Dennis.
She had believed that Dennis was a guardian angel to Kevin but with a second one forming it had to be something else, right? Surely he was not the only one to have to endure something like this. Next time her grandmother was out, she would get on the computer. There had to be something there, right?
"Now, dear," Patricia had moved up beside her, an arm sliding across her shoulders in a comforting gesture. "What is it that ails you? Young Kevin couldn't tell me, I'm afraid."
Had Kevin or Dennis or anyone else she knew asked her that same question, Emily would have stayed silent, or asked to be left alone.
Not with Patricia. Something about this...could Emily call her a woman? Living in Kevin's mind, in his body, Emily was unsure. It was easy to believe Dennis due to him being male, but to be female? Was it going to be hard for her? Hard for Kevin or for Dennis?
How long had she been there? Clearly she hadn't been there during the day that she had spent with Dennis, but that had given only three days between then and now.
There were so many questions that Emily had and so many that she couldn't even begin to understand. Could a child even begin to comprehend things like this?
"It's...it's my mother," She found her voice choked with sobs. "This is where she died four years ago.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, dear," Patricia's arm tightened around the girl, pulling her closer.  "Cry all you want, dear. I'm right here."
Patricia's words made even more tears fall and Emily found her face being buried into the other's shoulder. Her voice was muffled against the jacket but she found herself telling Patricia everything about that day.
"And it's all my fault. If I hadn't been such a spoiled brat, if I hadn't demanded to go to the park that day, then she would still be here. Grandma would still have her daughter and the three of us would still be together but we can't. It's all my fault. If not for me, then mom would still be alive. It's...it's almost as if I killed her myself!"
She barely heard another click of a tongue before arms pushed her back. Those blue eyes stared into her, firm yet caring gaze.
"No more talk like that now, you hear? If your mother is as great as you believed, she would not want her daughter thinking such things now, would she?"
Patricia's words stung and part of her wanted to argue with her, wanted to still blame herself for that day, but the other part of her wanted to accept Patricia's words and stop the blame.
The hurt could never fully go away but at least not blaming herself could help eventually lay to rest the guilt she felt.
Patricia reached up and curled her hair behind her ear, the other trying to flatten what the wind had done to it.
"And I know that your grandmother and Kevin wouldn't like you feeling and thinking that way either. And I'm sure that Dennis won't either; nor do I. What happened is not your fault. You were not the one driving." Patricia grasped her face in her hands, her thumbs wiping her tears away. "Don't blame yourself for what happened; don't you dare." Their foreheads were pressed together. "It's hard, but you and Kevin have each other. Help one another. Neither of you are at fault here."
Emily gave a sad laugh, pulling back and rubbing her eyes again. "I feel terrible crying like this. Kevin's got it so much worse than I and yet I'm the one crying here. What a friend I am."
Patricia shushed her with a coy smile, the back of her knuckles brushing away the few remaining tears.
"Even angels need a shoulder, dear."
Emily chuckled, remembering that she had called Dennis an angel merely a few months ago. "Is that what I'm being called now?"
"To Kevin, can you blame him? What else could he see you as?"
She gave a fake, defeated sigh. "I submit. I-" Her voice faded as she felt something wet hit her head. "And here comes the rain." She grabbed Patricia's hand and dragged her up behind her. "Over here, quick." Dragging the other behind her, they climbed into a set of the plastic tunnels, both nearly too big to fit comfortably, and Emily began to giggle as the rain began to beat down hard.
"I suppose we're stuck here for the moment." Patricia commented, her smile still on her face; she was pleased that Emily had stopped crying. "I should have gotten you home sooner. I'm sorry."
"Why are you apologizing? I'm not sorry."
Emily went still for a moment, as if arguing internally for a moment. Patricia went to ask if something was wrong and gave a slight jump as the young girl's head was placed in her lap.
Eyes wide, Patricia stared down at the face that now had closed their eyes.
"Are you tired?"
"Mmhmm, but I promise not to sleep on you. Instead, let's talk. Dennis likes to read and clean. What do you like to do? I've only met Dennis once, so how often will I get to meet you guys? What happens to Kevin when one of you takes over? Is he listening now? Can you hear him or what he's thinking?"
Patricia covered her giggled with a fist, clearly entertained. "One at a time, dear. I'll answer all that I can."
With a soft hand, she began to run it over the auburn hair that was placed before her, settling her back against the plastic wall behind her. She found herself pleased now. She had calmed Emily down and in doing so both Kevin and Dennis were both calm once more, leaving her mind, or their mind, to peace.
"As for how often you'll see us, I'm not sure. Only when Kevin needs help, I'm sure. You've done so well in helping him these past few years. You should be very proud."
"Pride is a sin, according to my grandma," Emily opened her eyes and peered up at her. "But I can't lie and say I don't feel special. Kevin's my best friend. He means everything to me. If I didn't even feel a little pride in his trust in me, I'd be a fool."
Patricia's fingers slid into the strands, humming her amusement. "Yes, you would. I'm glad to see that you're a clever girl."
"You met me barely half an hour ago."
"Let's just say I can sense these things."
Patricia's nose wrinkled just like Dennis' would, but this time it was in a cute, feminine way.
Emily giggled herself. "If Kevin or Dennis give you any trouble for being a girl, just let me know and I'll take care of them. Kevin might just find himself getting pink jackets in the future if he's not nice." She glanced up again. "Though he might look good in that. I can see yellow being a good color; light tones and like a dark gold. Maybe a burgundy, too."
"Are you trying to plan out Kevin's wardrobe?"
"Maybe. That's not a crime, is it? Of course, I wouldn't put him in anything he doesn't like." She turned her head a bit. "What about you? What kind of clothes would you want to wear, if given the choice?"
Patricia fell silent for a moment, her mind thinking. "Something that I'm sure that neither Kevin nor Dennis would approve of. I do, however, like the thought of seeing you all dressed up, and not in these jeans." She tugged at the leg of the pants Emily wore. "You'd be quite the lady, I'm sure."
Emily shook her head. "I'm not a skirt or dress kind of girl but...if the need to wear something like that came, then I suppose I wouldn't be opposed completely. I'll be sure to keep you in mind if it arises."
Patricia smiled down at her, tightening her fingers in the auburn hair again.
"I'll be waiting."

Chapter Text

DID. Dissociative Identity Disorder. A mental disorder characterized by at least two distinct and relatively enduring personality states. Known to have trouble remembering certain events beyond normal forgetfulness. About 90 percent of cases involved childhood trauma, others from health problems and experiences linked to war.
This made Emily hate Kevin's mother even more.
Emily had been doing research on Kevin's condition just like she said she would, the results being more than she thought they would. Researching her friend's changes to find out that he had a mental condition due to his mother had made her cry. She had taken it to Kevin, at first afraid that he would be angry at her for prying, but he was quite the opposite. He was pleased to learn that he was not just imagining the duo in his head and was thankful for her to go out of her way to research. Kevin had come over to her house and he showed him everything that she had found which was, sadly, not a lot.
There was a lack of information on the diagnosis and treatment of DID, and further inquiration revealed that many did not believe that a split personality was even possible and that the patients were simply good actors.
That way of thinking had made Emily angrier than Kevin's mother had. She had witnessed these...these transitions in Kevin for the last six years. She knew very well that the condition was real, that Kevin wasn't just an actor. The air about him would change drastically, the posture, the accent, hell, even his smell would change and each time it was different when it was Dennis and different when it was Patricia. The thought of anyone thinking Kevin was a liar infuriated her and so she had become protective of him; more so than before.
For the last four years it had just been her, Kevin, Dennis, and Patricia. With only two alters, it wasn't too hard to keep Kevin's condition secret at school. There were a few altercations with Dennis when people would scare or touch Kevin and Patricia had shown she was a perfectionist and would always set about to do the best in everything when she had, as they now called it, taken the Light. She had kept Dennis from punching other students again since 4th grade but that had not kept back his cold stares at them or the menacing air of danger that would float around.
It didn't stop Patricia from being intimidating either. The way she spoke, Emily was almost sure that she was more menacing than Dennis was.
And Kevin was still Kevin. That adorable, timid boy that she had befriended in the park. She wouldn't change him for the world; ever.
The rest of elementary had gone well. They had been placed in the same classes for fifth and sixth grade and were together nearly 24/7.
As Junior high came upon them, they were given two periods of their own choices. It was no question that they were going to pick the same two classes. They decided to go with drama and Home Economics the first year.
Drama had been too intimidating for Kevin and he often ended up letting Dennis take the light. Emily knew that it was terrible to laugh but she couldn't help it. Watching one of the girl's try and get Dennis to recite a piece of Romeo and Juliet with her was just too comical. That stone gaze and firm frown. The crossed arms and squared stance as he just stared at her silently. Emily had to excuse herself to the bathroom before she exploded from laughter. Dennis had a few choice words for her afterwards but it had been worth it.
She was pleased to find that Kevin was great at Home Economics. In fact, all three of them excelled at it. She knew that Patricia liked to cook and Kevin seemed to be a master at maintenance, as was Dennis. She was happy seeing Kevin enjoy himself like he was and she was constantly making a silent vow to herself to always make it so. Watching him change as he grew was, in a strange way, satisfying. But Kevin wasn't the only one changing.
Having received her first menstrual cycle in fifth grade, Emily's body was developing and her mind was changing. She started feeling strange around Kevin, around Dennis and Patricia too, but she shoved them away somewhere, choosing to remain as she had always been with Kevin.
She had made a few friends over the years and Kevin would interact with them as well but he had stayed primarily closed off against anyone but Emily.
As eighth grade started, Emily would have loved to continue on with drama class but when KEvin voiced interest in an art class, she happily signed up for it with him, both agreeing to Home Ec. for a second year.
It was Emily's turn to be embarrassed now.
the fourteen year old could not draw to save her life. It looked like a 4 year old had drawn it; maybe even worse. She had tried something simple, a house, and it had just turned into something disastrous. She had gone to throw it away but Kevin took it from her and hid it, claiming he wanted to keep it. Infact, he had been keeping each piece that she had wanted to toss, a few he even asked her to sign.
She had punched him.
As they got older, they went to the park less and less, choosing to wander the mall or arcades instead. It was Emily's house most of the time, either watching movies, playing games or doing homework. Dennis was the one that asked Emily to read aloud anymore, but she didn't mind. It was a way she bonded with Dennis, she believed, and she enjoyed it.
Besides, she couldn't see Dennis enjoying himself with hair and makeup and nails like Patricia or enjoying the mall like Kevin with his OCD. She remembered how bad he had begin to twitch on their last trip before he had forced Patricia to take the light. She couldn't quite blame him though. The place was filthy. She was just pleased that he hadn't entered the food court.
Or the bathrooms.
If that had happened, she was positive that someone would have died.
Winter break was only a week away and the art class had two days left to complete their midterm. Emily had put all her focus into this watercolor piece. The assignment was to paint a place that changed your life. Emily instantly thought of the park, but for a different reason than she might have once thought of it. It showed the swing set, the slides and tunnels, even the merry-go-round.
While most had begun painting the first day, Emily had taken her time, thinking about every like to try and do the playground justice. She was proud of herself for the first time in art class. Even the teacher asked where she had been hiding for the first half of the school year and said she was eager to see the end result.
With only today and tomorrow left to complete the piece, Emily had to concentrate and move fast while not making mistakes.
It took almost 5 minutes to get her hand to stop shaking.
Watercolor was a tricky method. It was best used in working light colors to dark, meaning you have to be good at mixing and matching colors. Why she chose to go this route was still a mystery to herself.
Thought Kevin sat across the table from her, neither of them had spoken much after getting started. There was one moment where she had caught him twitching for a moment. He had excused himself from the room for a moment before returning with a large grin on his face and attacking the canvas before him, almost in a giddy fashion.
Had it been any other day, she would have been talking to him but she wanted this piece to come out good, perfect, and it needed all her concentration for that.
"Hey," Kevin's voice, about twenty minutes later, was a hushed whisper, eager and full of excitement as he tried to get her attention. "Hey, baby girl, over here."
Cocking a brow at a name she had never heard before, Emily looked over from her canvas to the teen that sat before her. Kevin had his head propped up in one hand on the table, staring at her with an amused, gleeful look on his face.
She instantly knew that Kevin no longer sat before her, the joyful gleam in his eyes being one that she had never seen before. Dennis would never look at someone like that and Patricia wouldn't be sitting like that.
Setting her brush aside, she glanced to see that the teacher was still talking to other students, and she leaned forward. She knew she should continue working but if this meant what she thought it did, it both worried and excited her.
She put on a pleasant face. "Can I help you?"
"What I need help with I'm afraid will have to wait until after class." Came the reply and then a laughter escaped as he took in how red the teen girl's face got. "Oh, it's almost as entertaining as teasing Kevin!"
Brushing the sleeve of her shirt against her nose, she tried to set a firm frown on her face but she doubted it worked; the grinning face before her told her that it hadn't.
She didn't even need to ask anymore, if this was another alter appearing before her. It was so painfully obvious. She hoped that Kevin was okay.
"So, do I get the honor of your name?'
A snort came out of his mouth so loud that made several students look over and the teacher glance up.
"Don't be so uptight, baby girl! I'm not Dennis or Patricia, you know. Call me Barry." He reached out and flicked the end of her nose. "And you're the pretty girl that I've been hearing so much about. I've been wanting to meet you." He told her eagerly.
Emily stared at him for a moment, unsure of how to reply, before picking back up her brush.
"I hope I live up to your expectations then, Barry."
He simply continued to stare at her with that smile on his face, his own work forgotten until their teacher came over to scold him.
As Emily continued to work, she found herself wondering about Kevin. What had happened to make Barry appear? Had his mother done something? Was he overly stressed from school? She had clearly missed something, but what?
Her painting wasn't finished by the end of class but she was confident that it would be tomorrow. Setting it off to dry, she took a final glance at it and smiled. The park was where her mother died, yes, but it was important for another reason too.
It was where she met Kevin. It help both good and bad memories and so she decided to focus on only one side of it.
There, on the swings were two faceless children of smoggy gray, catching the eye of anyone who walked by. There was another faceless form, seeming to pick up flowers by the tunnels and another form was sitting at the merry-go-round. She had made a final, last moment adjustment that she hadn't planned.
There, op top if the slide, was a fifth form.
After all, Barry was now a part of Kevin, he was her family now too.
"Come on, it's lunch time!" Barry's voice sounded in a song-like tune and before she could reply, he had grabbed her hand and pulled her from the classroom and past the other students. She was expecting him to let go once outside but his grip was Stronger, clearly not having that in mind. The warmth from his hand was welcomed and she found herself tightening her hold.
"Calm down, Barry," She told him, staring at the back of his head.
"But this is our first meal together' it's supposed to be special! I'd prefer it not to be in a school cafeteria, but fate seems to want to make it so."
He gave an exaggerated sigh and that made Emily giggle. Already the difference in personalities was noticeable. Kevin was timid and quiet and clearly that was not the case with Barry.
Barry brought the duo to a stop in the hall and began to scratch the back of his head as he glanced at her with an embarrassed look.
"You, uh, you think you can lead the way?"
Emily stared at him in silence for a moment before laughing. This answered one of her questions. Though they share a body, the mind was not the same. If Barry didn't know where they were or where to go, he didn't see any of the memories that the other three had. It was going to be like leading the blind.
"Okay, but only if you buy me something." She teased, pulling him down the hall to their left.
"Baby girl," She felt his hand tighten. "I'll buy you whatever you want."
Yeah, that nickname was going to take some time to get used to.
Settling down at their usual corner table with the cafeteria's signature spaghetti, she waited until his mouth was full to drop all her questions. Watching him slurp up the noodles, the sauce smearing on his face.
He grabbed a napkin as she giggled at him and wiped his face clean.
"Well, the name's Barry, obviously, and I'm in my 30's, though I'll deny that at any mention of the cursed number," Emily giggled again at the comment and it seemed to make his smile stretch wider. "And I have an eye for fashion, which," He glanced her over, his first look of distaste spread on his face. "You are in need of some dire help, baby girl. You need to add some color to your wardrobe!"
"I'm 14. Fashion's not exactly what I'm focused on or worried about at the moment."
Barry gasped as if she had slapped him.
"Oh, don't say that! That's like admitting cargo pants are still in!"
Emily snorted, her soda coming out her nose and being caught in her sleeve. Dropping her head on the table, she coughed, her laughter still coming out as she heard Barry's own laughter.
"I hate you."
She felt a hand ruffled her hair and she glanced up at the smile on his face. "And I hate those pants with that top, but we all must suffer at some point or other. Let's go shopping, you and I. I'll style you up in ways that will have men's jaws dropping to the floor."
She wrinkled her nose. "I don't think I want adults gawking at me like that just yet. Give me a few years, eh?"
Barry flicked her nose again and pulled back. "It’s a deal.” He pointed a finger at her. “No takebacks.”
Emily shook her head, unable to withhold more laughter. Things were already interesting with Kevin, Dennis, and Patricia, but with adding Barry to the mix, she had no doubt that more shenanigans were headed their way in the future.

Chapter Text

"It felt rushed to me."
"A tad, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good."
"I'm not saying it wasn't, but the book was better."
Emily giggled. "The book is always better."
Winter break was in effect. Two weeks of nothing but sleep, snow, and food. Emily's grandmother had gone to Washington with her church for some reason that the teen couldn't remember, leaving her in their house alone. Used to being left alone, her grandmother trusted her immensely but this would be the first time she would be alone for so long.
Her first Christmas alone.
Then again, alone wasn't quite the right word for it, Not when Kevin had been with her.
Since Kevin had been staying with her, she had to be sneaky. She had bought presents for everyone already, but with the arrival of Barry the week before she had to be sly while buying him things. She barely knew anything about Barry so far but she had secretly enlisted the help of Patricia in that aspect the last time the two of them spoke, the british woman promising not to say a word to the others.
Having hidden the presents in her room, she cursed herself silently for not wrapping them before now but there wasn't much she could do, not having known that Kevin was going to move in while her grandmother was gone.
Instead she had slipped up to her room in the middle of the night and had wrapped them as quietly as she possibly could.
She was pleased with her choices and hoped that they would all be too.
With Kevin, she bought him a new jacket, it had apparently become a thing over all these years, and it matched the new one she had bought, the yellow and black being their signature colors, apparently. It was funny, seeming as how both of them believed they belonged in Hufflepuff; and she bought him Hufflepuff pajamas.
She was cure he's look cute in them and was planning on sneaking a picture of him in them the first time he put them on.
For Dennis she had bought him copies of The Hannibal Trilogy by Thomas Harris. Not the usual choice for a 14 year old to read but she was able to order them under her grandmother's name, though granny didn't know, and was just as eager to read them as well. She had seen the movies but the books were always different. She had also bought him a large handkerchief. It was a golden yellow so he would have something to carry around with him incase he didn't want to touch anything.
So...usual.
For Barry, she bought the fashionista a large sketchbook and had Patricia's help in picking out a scarf for him. She felt bad that she couldn't afford a really good one for him seeming as how she only had so much money, but she made a promise to change that in the future.
As for Patricia, Emily would admit that this was the one that she searched hard for. Next to the shawl that she bought for her, she had wanted to get her something really special. As a woman stuck in a male body, she wanted to make her feel special and so had gone all over Philly to find the perfect thing. It ended up being a golden locket with an angel carved into it. She wanted to put a picture of her and Patricia in it but she would let the owner pick out what pictures to put in it.
She really hoped that they would all enjoy them and couldn't wait to see their reactions.
She began to wonder how exactly they would each open them. She supposed that she would find out soon enough.
Emily wasn't sure how her grandmother would react with Kevin staying with her so she hadn't mentioned it when she received check up calls every night.
Having Kevin with her reminded her of that time in the park when she had tried to convince him to hide in her bedroom and live there away from his mother. Now that she was older she knew that it was a foolish idea, but she had no doubt that she would have made it happen if given the chance.
Emily wanted to ask about Kevin's mother, fearful that she would get angry with Kevin gone for so long, but he decided against it. If Kevin wasn't worried about it, then she wouldn't be either. Instead, she would just enjoy the time spent with her friend.
They had dragged the queen size mattress that was in the guest room downstairs into the living room, shoved the couch out of the may and up against the wall by the stairs, placing the mattress in the middle of the floor before the television where the two had spent the last week, watching movies, playing games, and sleeping. Her grandmother had stocked the kitchen before she left and had left money for emergencies, but the two teens barely paid attention to the said money; until today.
For the first time in three days they left Emily's house, choosing to do something outside. It was Christmas in a few days, making the streets and busses packed. Everyone was running around making final purchases or couples were spending time together.
Emily had dragged Kevin to 20th street for a surprise. There was a place called the Secret Cinema, she had found it by accident during one of her ventures around the city with Dennis earlier that year. It was a theater that played movies at a discounted price; very discounted. The films would have been released earlier in the year or even the year before, so their showings weren't in high regard any longer and, just their luck, the third Harry Potter movie had been released over the summer, meaning that it had been moved to the Secret Cinema about a month ago. Taking the money her grandmother had left, she took Kevin there and loaded up on candy before enjoying the third of the films.
"Book six comes out in July," Emily commented, pulling her red beanie back on as they stepped out into the cold. "I've already got it ordered."
"Dennis will be happy to hear that. Just the other night he was cursing about the ending of the last book."
"Yes, he wasn't pleased at all. No one was, I believe. It made me cry!"
"I remember. He didn't know what to do. I'm surprised that he let you cry on him. He doesn't even let me touch him."
Emily hid her grin. Obviously Dennis didn't share the fact that her lap was always his pillow during their reading sessions.
If he hadn't shared that, then she wouldn't either.
The fact that Dennis didn't have a problem touching her made her feel special. It was like an accomplishment that she hadn't even been striving for.
Over the years, especially with all the research that had been done, she was getting a better picture of how the three Alters 'lived' in Kevin's head. The way Kevin explained it, the four of them sat in chairs in a white room, one chair in the middle. The one in the center was the one in control. The rest would either talk or, as they called it, sleep. The one in control could share with the others by choice or block them. It was all a mental choice.
Emily had started to call the white room Cerebro and make Charles Xavier jokes.
Apparently she was the only one to find it funny.
Idle chatter about the movie continued as they made their way to a fast food joint named BurgerFi. It wasn't far so they opted to walk, dodging people in the streets. The place was practically empty upon their arrival, meaning that their food was served early and Kevin decided to turn their conversation to school.
"We start high school next year." He spoke around his burger.
"What's wrong? Intimated already?"
"Disappointed, to tell you the truth."
She paused the hand reaching for her shake. "Why do you say that?"
"We've been able to stay in the same classes so far but luck won't always be on our side."
Emily frowned at him. "We've gone a year as such already, remember?"
"Yes, but that was one year and I was a child. Now we're looking at four years and I'm..."
"Still a child." She told him. "You're thinking too hard on it."
"Or perhaps you're not thinking enough." Kevin set his food down and grabbed a napkin. "I may have the body of a child but I assure you that my mind is not."
Emily crossed her arms on the table in front of her. Kevin...he had a point. He had three other people in his head and all three of them were clearly very smart. She didn't know how the trio knew so much about the world, but they did. Perhaps having them there did make Kevin's own mind...was older the right word?
"Even if we're not together all the time, it's not the end of the world."
"What if that's what it feels like?" She cocked a brow at him and he refused to look at her, his cheeks tinting red. "I don't like it when we're apart. It's...weird."
"Weird?"
"Yes, it," He paused, as if struggling to find the right words. "I want us together all the time. You're the most important person in the world to me. I don't like being separated."
She stared at him in silence for a few moments, her chin resting on her arms. He took in her silence before his blue eyes flitted over to her before quickly looking away again.
Her giggle made him look at her fully, a frown on his face.
"Why is that funny?"
"It's not funny; you're just so adorable sometimes, Kev."
If his cheeks weren't red before, they were now. His eyes had widened and it made her giggle.
"We made a promise, remember? We're going to take care of each other. If we end up in different classes, it'll be alright. You're the first person I'll come find after classes and outside of my grandmother, you're the only one that really matters to me; you all are." She watched as his face returned to normal, though his cheeks were still pink. "Kevin Wendell Crumb," She watched as he flinched at his full name being used but she had reached across the table and grabbed his hands in her own and squeezed. "Together until the end, remember? For you. For Dennis and Patricia and now for Barry. For all of you, no matter what happens."
Kevin was silent for a moment before rotating his hands and interlocking their fingers together. He squeezed back gently.
"No matter what?"
She nodded. "No matter what. Shall I get us promise rings?" She teased.
The boy shook his head. "No. If you're going to wear something like that...I want to be the one to buy it."
She blinked, not sure how she should take that. She felt her heart beating against her chest but shoved it aside, uncomfortable with it for some reason.
Giving his hands another squeeze, she pulled back and reached for her shake again.
"Hurry up and eat before I start feeding you."
Kevin grinned at her. "I wouldn't mind you feeding me at all."
Emily threw one of her onion rings at him, ignoring the heat in her own cheeks now.

Chapter Text

Winter was turning to spring. The expanse of school days between winter and spring always flew by and Kevin's birthday was coming fast. Sadly, this year, she was at a loss. She didn't know what to get any of them.
Written in the notebook in her desk at home, Emily had been keeping track of their birthdays. Kevin's was April 21, but she didn't know the others and so had decided to give them one on the days that she had first met them. Dennis' was September 28 and Patricia followed only a few days later on October 1, leaving Barry to present himself on December 12.
She hadn't said a word about that to any of them yet, wanting to make it a surprise when that special day came around.
She wondered if any of the trio would be jealous of Kevin getting presents on his birthday and not them. Should she tell them? With all the research done, with what little information there was on DID, each of them was their own person, they just shared a body. They deserved to be treated as such.
And she would do just that, even if she had to do it alone.

~I want to break free
I want to break free
I want to break free from your lies
Your self-satisfied, I don't need you
I've got to break free~

The phone in her pocket rang loudly, the Queen song making her want to dance. There was only one person that had that ringtone and she breathed a sigh of relief before answering.
"It's not a shiny, white steed, but a phone call will suffice for today, I suppose."
"H-Hey, baby girl," Barry's normal, happy tone sounded forced. "What you up to?"
"Oh, you know, just walking home from school; where you're supposed to be."
"And I'm so sorry about that but I'm afraid that...something's happened. It's why I'm calling."
Emily froze. That explained his voice. "What happened? Are you all right?"
"Could, could you come over? I need some help."
"I'm on my way."
The walk to Kevin's house felt so much longer than usual. She knew that she didn't have to worry about his mother being there, Barry wouldn't have told her to come over if she was. So many scenarios passed through her head at what it could be that had Barry acting like this. Had Kevin hurt himself? Broken a leg? Did he burn himself on the stove? It had to be something serious if he had stayed in that house instead of coming to school.
When Barry opened the door, she expected blood and broken bones. She found messy hair and hufflepuff pajamas.
Taking a moment to admire the said pajamas, she cocked a brow. "Did you just wake up?" She frowned. "It wasn't her again, was it?"
"It's just...just come look."
Barry ushered her in and she didn't even had time to set her bookbag down before her breath caught.
Her eyes grew wide at the catastrophe of the house. Crayon and marker all over the wall. Toys everywhere. A mountain of dishes in the sink. Cabinets all left open and just about every pillow, blanket, and sheet had been used to create a fort in the dining room.
Emily stared in horror.
"Are you trying to give Dennis a heart attack?"
"You think I did this?!" Barry ran his hands through his hair in a total loss. "I might tease him with a coffee stain here and there, but this? I literally woke up inside that thing," He pointed at the fort. "An hour ago. I do not have a deathwish!"
The image of Barry crawling out of that fort, still half asleep, was the most adorable thought she ever had, save for dressing Patricia up in a skirt and heels on Halloween last year.
"That's where you woke up? What was the last thing you remember?"
"Well, Kevin's mom...did what she does best. Dennis had control but I woke up to this and I know for a fact that Dennis wouldn't do this."
"No, he would not." Emily frowned. That man would rather jump off a bridge first. "Nor would Patricia." She moved closer to the wall.
"Do you think his mom did it before she left?"
"Only if she's as bad at drawing as she is at parenting."
Barry's laughter came out as a bark. HE then sighed and rested his chin on the top of her head. "I don't understand why I'm so tired. Perhaps Kevin did it? Poor thing."
Emily echoed his sigh and rolled up her sleeves. "Is it upstairs, too?"
"Sadly."
"Good lord," She rubbed her hands over her face. "We'd best get this cleaned up fast. If Kevin's mom returns, I don't know what'll happen."
"Yeah, neither do I." Barry turned to the stairs. "I'll start up there." He squeezed her arm. "Thank you, Emily. I'll get you something real nice."
She shook her head. "You don't have to get me anything, Barry. Helping each other is what we do."
Barry's bright smile returned. "You got it. Then, as a friend, let me tell you that those colors do not go together."
Rolling her eyes, Emily chuckled as she headed into the kitchen to start what she was sure to be the most thorough cleaning this house had ever seen. She said that because she knew, without a doubt, that the moment Dennis heard about this he would reclean everything, no matter what anyone said.
Wishing that there was a radio to listen to, Emily frowned at all the ripped open food and the empty soda cans. The cans made her wince. The sodas belonged to Mrs. Crumb. She was worried about what punishment awaited him when she returned. All of them had obviously promised not to tell Emily things like that and she understood why, but it was still frustrating.
Moving quickly, she placed things properly and made a mental note to go down to the corner store and replace the soda herself. She could at least do that for him.
Grabbing gloves and the solution that Dennis had created for the walls, she started gathering all the trash first, picking up the toys and crayons and markers. She found herself wondering if this was how her mother and grandmother felt when she was growing up.
It was almost like karma had come to visit her.
Putting all the furniture back in place, she began to break down the fort, still trying to figure out just what had happened.
She and her mother used to make forts all the time. She remembered the pink and white sheets strewn all across the living room and how she was always the princess. It was an old set of memories that she hadn't thought of in a while.
The sound of stomping overhead made her pause; it was like someone was running across the room. Had Barry found a spider?
The thought of that made her laugh.
"Barry?"
No reply was given as she pulled another sheet away when she heard a gasp from the stairs."
"What are you doing? Thop that!"
Glancing, she had time to watch Barry run at her and begin ripping the sheets from her hands.
"If you take down the fort, the witch will find me!"
"The witch?" She frowned as the teen began to try and rebuild the fort. "Barry, we have to take it down. Both Dennis and Kevin's mom will freak out when they see this."
The teen froze and turned to look at her. She felt her breath catch, like it had multiple times before around Kevin. Many times she had seen Kevin swap Alters, the expressions on their face, in their eyes, were always different. This expression, aura, it was completely new to her.
Barry's comment about Kevin's mother the night before came back to her mind.
Had his mother's actions created another alter?
As he looked at her, a frown tugged at his lips and his gaze turned suspicious.
"Are you working for the witch or thomething?" He shrank back from her a bit, as if afraid. "If you are, you thould run. Thergeant Thebathian don't take well to witcheth."
Emily almost squealed. She was right. Another Alter. She wasn't happy that another had been created, but what was done was done and she couldn't deny the thrill she felt in meeting a new one.
This one had a lisp and it was obvious that he was younger than the other three Alters and, glancing at the images on the wall, younger than Kevin, too."
The look on his face, paired with that lisp, was just adorable.
Placing a smile on, she stopped trying to tug the sheets away.
"No, I'm not a witch nor do I work for her. I'm actually a friend of Kevin's."
At the mention of Kevin's name, his face lit up and those blue eyes sparkled in excitement.
"You know Kevin?" He gave a gasp, as if realizing something. "You're that girl he's always thinking about, aren't you? Emma? Em? Emily?"
He knew who Kevin was, and obviously her, but how did Barry not know about this? Wouldn't they be able to tell when another Alter formed?
"Yes, I'm Emily. He's told you about me?"
"No, I head hith thoughtth. He thinkth about you alot, you know," He pressed his fingers together, as if embarrassed. "I thaw the otherth but didn't thay anything. I think the man with the thcary face thaw me, but I hid really fatht."
Emily had to think for a moment. The man with the scary face? That, undoubtedly, had to be Dennis.
“Aww, Dennis isn’t scary, I promise.” Emily assured him. “And neither are any of the others.”
He looked suspicious again. “Are you thure? How do I know I can trutht you?”
She thought for a moment. “Well, that’s something you’ll have to decide on your own. Let’s start with proper introductions. I’m Emily.”
He now wore the biggest grin. “My name’th Hedwig! I’m nine.”
He looked so proud saying that, his chest puffing slightly. Emily tried her hardest not the laugh. Not at just his adorable introduction, but because of his name. He had the same name as Harry Potter’s Owl.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Hedwig.”
“Did you come over to play? There’s more toys upthairth, thought I didn’t go anywhere near the Witch room.”
It looked like she didn’t have to worry about his mother’s room being touched. Now they just had to clean everything else.
“Well, if we don’t clean all this up then the witch will get mad. We don’t want that now, do we?”
“Yeah,” His smile fell. “But I don’t like cleaning.”
“No one does; except maybe Dennis,” Emily chuckled. “But if you help me clean up, the two of us can go out and go to the park. What do you think?”
His smile returned faster than it had left. “You promithe?”
She held up a hand. “I promise.”
“I’ve never been to the park before!”
At the sound of splashing water, Emily continued to collect the sheets as Hedwig scrubbed his creations off the wall. It was clear that his mind could not concentrate on one thing for a long while, leaving Emily to listen and answer as his questions and comments just bounced all over the place. She found herself wondering just how long the others could last with Hedwig going like this in their head. She had a feeling that Dennis would be the first to break.
“What the hell happened?”
Emily paused in her mission of scrubbing a dragon off the wall. Hedwig had gone upstairs to use the bathroom but he hadn’t been the one to return. An annoyed voice paired with that deep, Boston accent made Emily stiffen for a moment before she looked at the teen on the stairs.
At Dennis.
“Apparently your new friend got tired of cleaning with me and gave the job to you.”
“A new friend? What are you-” Dennis looked so confused, still mixed with the horrified looks at the walls, before realization dawned on his face. “That boy.”
“So you did see him.” Dropping her sponge, she removed the gloves and combed her hair back from her face. “You frightened him, you know. I had to convince him you weren't a scary man at all.”
“From all this, he needed to be more than just frightened.” Dennis growled, stomping down the rest of the stairs.
“He’s nine, Dennis. Be gentle and explain things, all right?” She reached out and grabbed his arm. “He-”
A hiss escaped his mouth and he jerked back, holding his right arm in pain. Wide eyed, Emily opened her mouth to speak again but the pained look on Dennis’ face silenced her.

~“Kevin’s mom...did what she does best.”~

With a frown, Emily reached forward. Dennis, refusing to look at her, tried to pull away but she caught his hand. Carefully rolling back the long sleeve of the pajamas he still wore, her brow furrowed at the large, angry burn that marred his skin. There were designs in the burn, like circles, telling Emily that it had been made by a clothing iron.
She didn’t even have to think if it was an accident.
Glancing up, she found Dennis staring back. Silence passed between them and Emily gave him a weak, assuring smile before locking her arms around him and holding him close. She had never hugged Dennis before and his body stiffening upon contact was to be expected. She was sure that she was going to be pushed away and scolded but his arms slowly embraced her back, his chin coming to rest on the top of her head.
No words were exchanged, but none were needed. All Emily could offer was silent comfort; support.
And at that moment, that’s all that was needed.

Chapter Text

It was official. Emily hated math. Math was the worst subject on the planet and it just so happened to be the one she was horrible at. It also turned out to be one of the subjects that she needed for college if she were to go for wildlife biology.
God really had it out for her, it seemed.
Her dream of working with wildlife hadn’t changed, though she did find herself drawn more and more to the big cats. Tigers were her favorite and so Kevin had set out to buy her everything tiger related the last two years. When he teased tiger lingerie next Christmas, she smacked him so hard with a pillow he was knocked off the bed.
The feelings that she had suppressed for what seemed forever were slowly starting to seep through the cracks. She had been denying them, but she knew what they were and it was getting harder to do so as she got older.
She had a crush on Kevin. She wasn’t sure if they were feelings of love, not when she was only 14, but she did know that as the days went on the feelings only got stronger. She found herself wishing that her mother was still alive, but for a different reason than just missing her. So she could ask her if these were the same feelings that she had felt with her father.
Whenever she asked about him, her mother’s eyes would gloss over with memories and the largest smile Emily had ever seen would appear. The stories that she was told about their times together...she was envious. When asked why her father left, the simple answer she got was ‘because he wasn’t ready’.
Emily knew that her mother was sad and hurt, but the look on the older woman’s face and informed her daughter that she still loved him.
Her mother had been so very strong.
But now it wasn’t just Kevin in the mix. There were four others now, and one of them was a nine year old. She loved spending time with them all but she found herself wondering just how they would react if she were to confess. She didn’t know what she was more afraid of.
Rejection or Acceptance.
Home alone, Kevin had come over to study with her for finals. He had complained about a headache earlier though and she had shoved him to the couch. He had fallen asleep but, soon after, Emily had heard the television turn on and the sound of a cooking show reached her from the other room.
Only one person watched that channel.
Leaving Patricia to her devices, Emily tried to concentrate on the math problems before her but ended up doodling pictures on the edges instead. She recreated Sergeant Sebastian falling into battle against a dragon and made note to show it to Hedwig in the future.
Emily had thought about telling her grandmother about Kevin’s DID, she might be able to help, but she felt that it was Kevin’s choice whether or not to talk about it. She had mentioned it once and the boy seemed quite nervous about it; nervous enough to hide and let Barry take over and the fashionista happily changed the subject like he always would.
It frustrated her, from time to time, when Kevin would run from her. She understood that she had to be careful with him, that she couldn’t press too far but sometimes it was just frustrating. She didn’t blame him, though. She didn’t think that he had too much control over it and that his body was just reacting to his feelings.
She wishes that there was more information on DID so she could figure out how to help him more. She had even considered turning to changing her sights to becoming a doctor and conducting her own research but there were two things that stopped her.

1. She felt that she would just be using Kevin as a sort of lab rat and that was the last thing that she would ever do.

2. Kevin had been talking about their future at the zoo together.

 

The duo went to the zoo at least twice a month. Sometimes even more during the summer. Emily knew that her grandmother got tired of just staring at the animals all the time and was thankful for the upcoming day when they would be old enough to be just dropped off and picked up.
No matter how many times she saw them, Emily just couldn’t get enough. She and Kevin had befriended a man named Clark. He was one of the men in charge of the Lions and upon meeting, Hedwig, who had control at the time, had asked if he was Superman in disguise.
Since then, every time he saw the two of them, Clark was come and talk to them and give facts about not just the lions but the rest of the animals in the zoo as well. When it was revealed that both of them wanted to work in the zoo when they were older, Clark told them that he would keep them in mind and that he couldn’t wait to get some fresh faces around there.
The memory made her smile.
“Mind wandering, dear?”
Patricia’s voice made Emily jump and her pencil dragged a line through the doodle she had been working on. Glancing up, she flushed in embarrassment at the accusing look on Patricia’s face.
“I can’t help it,” She crossed her arms and buried her face into them. “I can’t stand all these numbers and so I can’t concentrate.”
“Algebra is not so bad.”
“I’m barely passing right now. God only knows what’ll happen when I hit Calculus of Trigonometry or whatever the hell it is that waits for me, lurking in the shadows and ready to steal my soul.”
She heard the tut at the curse word that came out of her mouth but she ignored it as she gave another sigh.
“Let’s go egg Mr. Rodder’s house.”
Patricia covered a snort at the thought of egging the math teacher’s house and reached forward, running a hand over Emily’s hair.
“Everything will be alright. You’re just overthinking it and psyching yourself out, that’s all.”
“I know I am. Just let me continue to wallow in my self pity for a bit, all right?”
Patricia chuckled. “That’s not very ladylike, you know.”
Emily stuck her tongue out. “If you don’t accept me at my worst then you can’t have me at my best.”
“Just how spoiled are you?”
“Consider you’re the one that spoils me...kettle, meet pot.” The grin on Patricia’s face made her flush and glance away again. “You’re not helping.”
“I’m not here to help you,” Came a chuckle. “Come now, it can’t be that hard, can it?” Grabbing the workbook, Patricia pulled it to her and began to look it over. “Let’s see.”
Propping her head up, Emily watched as Patricia narrowed her brow as the silence dragged on. The way she wrinkled her nose when she came to something different or new to her, it was just adorable.
It took Patricia maybe thirty minutes to get the hang of the Algebra, resulting in Emily puffing her cheeks like a child, banging her head on the table a few times, and then allowing Patricia to show her what it was that she was doing wrong. It was both a good idea, and a bad one. It was good because Patricia turned out to be a wonderful teacher, explaining the rhythm in a way that she easily understood compared to her actual teacher, but it was bad because Patricia was a distraction in and of herself.
At first Emily thought that it was just Kevin that she had feelings for but moments like this with Patricia and Dennis and Barry were making her start thinking differently. She was at a loss with what to do, really. These were feelings much to complicated for a fourteen year old to have already so for now, she would act normal.
And try to focus on Patricia’s teachings and not on how close she sat to her.
It was difficult, especially when Patricia repeatedly patted her head every time she got a question right.
“See, if you remember that, then you should be just fine during the test.”
“If I don’t psych myself out of it.”
“Yes, that is something that we’ll have to work on but for now, concentrate on finishing your problems so we can watch tv together. Perhaps pick out a movie. What was the one you spoke of last time? Star Wars?”
At the mention of one of the best films on the planet, Emily’s face lit up. She and Kevin had watched Star Wars over and over before but Patricia nor any of the others had memory of it, meaning that it was something that Kevin hadn’t shared with them. There was something special, a feeling that she got when she introduced the Alters to something new. Why, when Dennis fell in love with the Hannibal Lecter series, she had never been more pleased before, perhaps. Dennis had the light for nearly a week, having asked Kevin for it after school so that he could listen to her read it. He also complimented Anthony Hopkins on how well he played Lecter in the Silence of the Lambs film, though he gave recognition to Brian Cox for his own role as Lecter in the 1986 rendition of Red Dragon, The Headhunter.
Patricia grinned, taking in the look of joy on the teen’s face and she couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Why don’t you hurry up and I’ll make us something to eat. There’s something new that I want to try.”
Emily nodded her head enthusiastically as she grabbed the workbook again. Whenever Patricia watched those cooking shows, she always wanted to try something new. She had cooked dinner for all three of them on several occasions, Emily’s grandmother included. If the elder woman noticed anything at all about Kevin’s...changes then she didn’t comment on them or treat him different.
It took her a few times to get it on her own but when she got it, everything seemed to flow together. She paused once when she heard something bang on the counter in the kitchen. Patricia gave off a curse, something about it ‘being crooked’, and Emily gave a snort. The British woman had a thing for cutting sandwiches perfectly diagonally. If she didn’t, she’d have to redo it.
On several occasions Emily had to sneak the ‘imperfect’ sandwiches right out of her hands and would then laugh as Patricia glared at her for it. She could tease Patricia all she wanted about her ‘Perfectionist’ problem, she could not, however, tease Dennis about his OCD. She had made the mistake of calling him a neat freak once and he didn’t talk to her for days afterwards.
Barry had thought it hilarious, though he had been the one that had to convince Dennis to stop being a prude and, as the fashionista told him, ‘take it like a man.’
There was more to that particular conversation, as Kevin happily told her, though none of them told her, not ever Patricia, and it left her to wonder just what kind of conversations went on between them. The trio were much older than her and Kevin, meaning that, without a doubt, the choice of words were more adult. Kevin obviously got involved and she found herself hoping that she would be able to join in on them in the future as well.
Tossing her workbook aside the moment she was finished, Emily ran into the living room and began to set the DVD player up. There by the window was a bookshelf that held books and movies. Her grandmother had decided to swap all her VHS’ for DVDs now as technology was changing, though said VHS’ were all in boxes down in the basement.
“So, as I recall,” Patricia’s voice joined her “You said there was a good and evil. The Rebellion fighting for freedom from the evil Empire, correct?”
“There’s more than that, but yes.” Emily nodded, putting the disk in.
“And I also recall that you side with this so called Empire, right?”
Emily snorted at that being what was remembered. “Much to the dismay of my grandmother and Kevin, yes. When I get older, I want a tattoo of the Empire’s Emblem...somewhere.”
“And mar such beautiful skin? Why would you want that?”
Emily turned to see that Patricia had joined her, sandwiches in hand, and taken a place on the couch again. She happily bounded over with the controllers and used Patricia’s shoulder as a pillow; as usual.
“What’s so wrong with that? Kevin already agreed to get the Rebellion Emblem in the same spot so we can match.”
“And be on opposing sides.”
Emily shoved her lightly. “Don’t spoil our fun.”
The older woman shook her head before holding one of the plates out to her. “I’ll try my best.”
Patricia continued to try and pry more information from her as the previews played but Emily refused, instead happily eating the food that had been provided.
“This is great!” Emily cocked her head to the side, glancing up at the other woman. “I mean, your food’s always great, but there’s something about this one.” She took another bite happily as the music to the main menu of the movie started.
Patricia smiled and took her napkin, wiping mayonnaise from the corner of Emily’s mouth for her. “Is it not to your liking?”
Emily flushed and turned her head again, reaching for the controller. “No, I do like it. It’s just...new. What did you put in it?”
Patricia’s smile was so large; she looked so proud of herself. “It’s got paprika in it.”

Chapter Text

It seemed that Kevin’s concern had been rightly placed. Out of the eight classes they had, only three of them were together. History, Math, and Home Economics. Whereas Kevin had chosen to continue on with art, he happily convinced her that it was okay to take another class and so she had returned to drama.
It was awkward without Kevin, yes, much more so than it had been in Elementary. Emily found herself more worried about him than anything during the first few weeks, but Kevin always assured her that he was fine when they met up for their together classes and for lunch. Well, lunch was more or less a meet up for twenty minutes in the hall. He had lunch right after her before she scaddled off to English.
She was proud of Kevin. Normally one of the Alters would take over whenever he got stressed out or afraid or nervous but so far nothing had happened in the four months since school started. Not that she didn’t want to spend time with the others, which she did when they were out of school, but it was a relief that he wasn’t...swapping in the middle of classes. It would have caused problems for Kevin and the others and that was the last thing that she wanted.
“I see that you didn’t come in with your boyfriend this morning.”
Emily glanced up from the picture that she was drawing. Ever since taking art class, both Barry and Hedwig had urged her to keep drawing, despite not taking the class. Barry liked to tease her while Hedwig was always impressed.
In front of her sat Mandi, her partner in biology. She had come from another junior high in the city, meaning that she had no clue who she or Kevin were, and neither did her twin, Michael.
“Kevin had to come in early. Something about his last piece before winter break or something,” Emily answers, her chin propped up on her palm. “I offered to come with him but he’s a stubborn shit.”
Mandi giggled. She had English with Kevin and was one of the few people that tried to talk to him. Getting Kevin to come out of his shell and talk to others was a bit difficult but Emily realized that if it was someone she talked to or introduced him to, it was easier to get him to do just that.
“Like you’re an angel,” Her friend replied. “What, no denying he’s your boyfriend today?”
“Considering how the answer is the same every day, I just got tired of trying to tell you the truth.”
Mandi shook her head. “I swear, you’re impossible sometimes.”
The fifteen year old gave a grin and mocked her. “And you’re an angel, right?”
“From hell, maybe,” The voice to her right announced that Michael joined the conversation, looking up from the book in his hands. “There’s nothing sweet and kind about her.”
“Shut it, Mikey.”
“See? Using that atrocious nickname. Such a beast she is.”
Emily giggled as the twins began to pick on each other. Both with strawberry blond hair and grey eyes, Mandi was the biggest tomboy that Emily had ever met while her brother was more effeminate than Barry was, if that was even possible.
“By the way, I heard that Adam was looking for you during lunch.” Emily gave a groan at Michael’s comment and the teen wrapped his arms around her and stroked her head. “Don’t worry, doll, I sent the crazy stalker off towards the track field.”
“You should give him a chance, Emily,” Mandi said behind her giggles.
“Hell, I want to give him a chance,” Michael grinned. “If only he liked di-” He had to gasp for air as Emily elbowed him in the side.
“I don’t even know who this guy is.” She told the twins. “Who is it again?”
“Adam is the junior that you hit in the face with a basketball on the first day of school, remember?” Mandi curled her hair behind her ear. “You know, the one that offered you that ride home in his truck but you blew him off for a bus ride with Kevin?”
“Which, by the way, has made you an enemy to most of the girls in his fan club.” Michael reminded.
“His fan club?”
“He’s the star of the basketball team; has been since his freshman year. How do you not know this?”
“Oh, she knows,” Michael hung over her shoulder, his chin propped up on her. “She just likes to pretend she doesn’t. Nearly every day she makes me distract lover boy so she can get past him in the halls.” He gave an exaggerated sigh. “I wish I could get him to pay attention to me like that.”
“If you want him, he’s all yours,” Emily leaned over a placed a kiss on the teen’s cheek. “He’d be a fool not to take you.”
“Right? That’s what I keep telling him.”
Mandi rolled her eyes. “I can’t believe you two.”
“What can’t you believe? That Emily isn’t attracted to a boy or the fact that I am?”
Emily laughed as the twins continued to banter back and forth.
Next to Kevin and the others, Mandi and Michael were the only two that she talked to, save for pleasantries used in classes. Her grandmother used to tease her for only having Kevin as a friend, which then led the young teen to teasing the elder woman with her only friend, Karen.
She was going to talk to Kevin about it first, but she wanted to invite the twins to go to the theater with them when the Chronicles of Narnia film came out. Hopefully he would say yes and the four of them could enjoy time together outside of school.
“So, there’s a camping ground we go to every summer. Do you think you and Kevin would be interested in going next year?”
Emily gave a slight frown as she thought it over. “We’ve never been camping before. I’m afraid we wouldn’t be much help.”
“We figured as much,” Michael sighed. “Don’t worry, Princess. We’ll make sure that you and the Prince will be taken care of.”
“Coming from another princess?”
“I’m a queen, not a princess.”
Emily couldn’t help but laugh at them, using the edge of her sleeve to wipe her eyes. “I’ll talk to Kevin about it. Camping would be nice; something new to do, you know?”
She found herself imagining the different scenarios with Kevin and his Alters. Hedwig would get lost in the woods, no doubt about it. She couldn’t even begin to imagine Patricia camping and Barry...oh lord, he would be in circles. PArt of her believed he’d be designing summer scarves for the deer next. And Dennis. Oh, Dennis, Dennis, Dennis. She wasn’t sure if he’d be into camping or if he’s be twitching the entire time they were there due to all the dirt and bugs and everything else out there.
It was a funny thought.
Kevin himself would enjoy it though, she just didn’t know how he would feel about being with other people.
The rest of the day went on as usual. History was their last class and they were watching a documentary on World War Two. She and Kevin were in the back corner of the room and Emily was thankful that this classroom had tables and not desks, making it easier for her to use her backpack as a pillow on top of it. Kevin was currently using her right arm as a pillow, his eyes intent on the screen at the front of the class.
“Want to go to Burgerfi after school?”
The hushed whisper pulled her attention from the screen and to the teen beside her. It had been a while since the two of them went to the burger joint, usually leaving that for the days they went to the theaters. Most of the time they just went back to Emily’s place and did homework till he left at night.
Now that he was getting older, he was staying at her house later and later. There was no more sneaking into her room through the window to stay the night like when they were younger, and she was both content and annoyed by that.
“Sure,” She replied with a grin. “The food here sucks anyway. I can’t eat it.”
“I know,” Kevin glanced at her. “Patricia made food for you but I ended up leaving it on the counter this morning when I left.”
She gave a soft smile. Emily had gotten sick the first week of school and since then, Patricia was making lunches for both her and Kevin to eat instead. Emily had told her not to but the older woman had insisted and would do so anyway.
“Ahh, feeling guilty, are you?”
“A bit; yeah.”
“Then you’ll just have to carry my bag home afterwards. It’s SO heavy with all these books, I’m afraid my arms will fall off.”
“If your arms weren’t so scrawny then it wouldn’t be a problem.” Kevin shot back with a grin.
Emily shoved him. “Cheeky bastard.”
“Ooh, I’m gonna tell Patricia you’re cursing again.”
“Don’t you dare.”
As the final class was released, Emily and Kevin went to their lockers to exchange the books needed for their homework that weekend. Kevin disappeared to the art classroom to pick something up, leaving Emily to stand there in the hall at her locker. She made a mental note to clean the damn thing out that next monday during lunch or some time, the pile of papers and god knows what else in the bottom of it was sure to get her a scolding from Dennis if the man ever saw it.
Good lord she could just hear him now.
“I finally found you.”
Emily’s hand froze on one of her notebooks and she gave a silent hiss as she continued to move. “Alan.”
“It’s Adam,” She turned to find the blond boy smiling at her. Dressed in jeans and a white button-up, his bag was slung over his shoulder and one hand was shoved into his pocket, his shoulders signaling that he was sheepish or nervous
She really didn’t have a problem with Adam. He was a cute guy, a real sweetheart from what she had seen, but she just didn’t...the only one that she wanted was Kevin and so trying anything else with another guy just felt wrong to her.
“Yes. Sorry about that. So many kids here, you know?”
Shutting her locker, she pulled her backpack on and readied herself for how awkward this was about to be. She felt terrible.
“So, the new Harry Potter movie comes out next weekend and I was wondering if you’d want to go?”
Emily inwardly grimaced. She felt so terrible. The awkwardness that she felt, the guilt. Barry told her that she was too nice, that she couldn’t even harm a fly, and she was beginning to believe that he was right. Even rejecting someone made her feel terrible.
“Adam, I’m sorry, but I already promised a friend I’d go with them.”
The smile on the teen’s face didn’t falter. “Kevin, right?”
She cocked a brow. “Yeah, that’s right.” Technically it was Dennis that she promised to see the movie with, but he didn’t need to know that. “Have you been asking around?”
He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “Yeah, something like that. You’re hard to track down, despite us all being in a school. I almost resorted to talking to him to get to you.”
“You’re also two years ahead of me. We don’t exactly have classes together.”
“But our lunches are at the same time. If not the movies then we can at least talk there, right?”
She almost snorted, despite the guilty feeling in her stomach. “Did you just ask me to lunch...at school?”
He continued to grin. “Yeah, I kinda did.”
If the ground would swallow her up right now, she would willingly let it. She did not do well with moments like these.
“Adam, I-”
“Everything all right?”
The Boston accent made Emily step back from Adam, her nerves just getting worse. Dennis had taken the light, those square framed glasses that he had acquired a year ago making the annoyed look upon his face more...frightful? Intimidating.
“Kevin,” Adam greeted him with a smile as if they had been friends for years. Emily cringed slightly as Dennis’ brows furrowed. “I was just asking Emily to join me for lunch one day, that’s all.”
Things fell silent for a moment and Dennis’ eyes were cold and calculating, as if he was debating what to do next. Emily felt her mouth go dry. There was something off about Dennis right now. She had been around him while he was angry but this felt different. If she didn’t know better, Dennis was about to launch himself as Adam.
Instead, he grabbed Emily’s wrist and pulled her behind him. “School’s over. Let’s go.”
She bit back calling out Dennis’ name aloud. Yelling a farewell to Adam over her shoulder she quickened her pace to keep up with the other teen.
“Dennis,” She hissed lowly as he dragged her along behind him. “Dennis, calm down.”
He kept pulling her past the emptying halls until they came to an empty corridor. Here, Dennis let go of her hand and grasped her shoulders, pressing her against the wall, his eyes closed as he pressed his forehead to hers.
Emily felt her voice, all train of thought, leave her. Dennis never acted like this; ever. And for him to take the light...had something happened to Kevin in the short time they were apart?
His breathing was heavy and his grip tight. The place where their foreheads met seemed to be on fire.
Reaching up with her own hands, she grabbed his forearms and squeezed. She felt him tense, like every time she ever touched him, before slowly loosening up. She could hear her heart in her ears, could feel the heat in her cheeks. It was different from when his head rested in her lap or when she used Patricia or Barry as a pillow or even held hands with Hedwig and Kevin. This was something entirely new to her.
“I’m trying to be good,” Dennis whispered from behind clenched teeth. “I’m trying so, so hard.” He got control over his breathing and his grip on her arms loosened.
“H-hey now, it’s okay.” She wasn’t sure what was happening, what he was talking about, but she knew that she had to keep him calm.
“Did he touch you?”
She blinked. Dennis’ eyes had opened, those blue hues seemed to burn like fire. Something told her that if Adam HAD touched her, Dennis would scrub that area raw.
“No, he never touched me.”
“Good, I…” He cleared his throat and straightened up, pulling back from her; her arms fell back to her sides. “I apologize for grabbing you like that.”
“Usually I would like a warning before being manhandled but since it’s you I’ll let it slide.” that would normally get a small smirk out of him but nothing happened. She frowned. “Dennis, is everything all right? Did something happen in the art room?”
Dennis pushed his glasses up further, his face softening slightly. “No, it wasn’t in the art room. When Kevin saw you talking to him…” He paused for a moment and fixed his stare on her again. “Who was he?”
Emily scratched the back of her head. “So, did Barry or Kevin tell you about the guy I hit with the basketball the first day? I ended up busting his nose and got blood everywhere?”
He frowned, clearly not like the idea of her having blood everywhere; especially not someone else’s. “They failed to mention that.”
“Considering it’s you, it’s not hard to see why.” She commented. “Well, Adam was the guy I hit. Apparently he’s been trying to,” She paused. Was telling Dennis that he wanted to ask her out a good idea? And what about Kevin? And the others? How would they react to it? Would they react at all?
“Been trying to what?”
She took a breath. “Apparently he’s been trying to ask me out. He invited me to go see the New Harry Potter movie with him next weekend, but I told him that I already had a date for that.”
The statement was Emily testing the grounds for a reaction. The surprised look that Dennis gave was enough for her; it was even better when he didn’t try to correct her by saying it wasn’t a date.
“When I said that he asked for lunch together sometime and you arrived. But what was it that...made you take the light? Did someone grab Kevin in the hall or something on your way back? Or…” An idea hit her and she gave a sly grin. “Or did Kevin get jealous?” She teased.
He gave her a stern look, the surprise now gone as if it hadn’t been there at all. “There is a difference between being jealous and territorial; and it’s not just Kevin.”
Emily opened her mouth to reply but nearly swallowed her tongue when Dennis grabbed her hand again, this time interlocking their fingers. It was the same hand as Kevin’s, as Barry’s and Hedwig’s and Patricia's, but there was always something different about how each of them felt to her when they held hands. She didn’t even have to see their face or hear them talk to know who would grab her hand.
It was the same hand, and yet Dennis’ seemed to envelop her own.
She felt him squeeze her hand and she returned it.
Was it possible for a heart to beat out of a chest? It sure felt like it.
“He said Burgerfi, correct? I shall take you there. He should be able to take over again by then.”
“Then lead the way, Specs."
Dennis gave her a look before pulling her along behind him again, this time more gently.
Walking from the school and towards the closest city bus stop, they began talking like they usually did. Emily almost teased him, saying he had to carry her bag too, but that would have resulted in letting go of his hand and, based on how firm his grip was, Dennis wasn’t ready to let go just yet, either.

Chapter Text

“There’s no point in getting a car. Then I’ll have to pay for gas and repairs and insurance. That doesn’t even begin talking about how much weight I’ll gain from not walking everywhere.”
“Honey, have you seen yourself? You’re practically skin and bones!”
“The watermelons I’m forced to carry on my chest say otherwise; as do my waistband.”
“There is nothing wrong with you, darling!”
“I was a size 10 last year.”
“And a size 14 is better; you need more.”
“I swear to God, Felicia, I will strangle you.”
“Oh, you and I both know you love me too much to actually do that.”
The Louisiana accent that came from the head resting on her stomach made Emily sigh again as she dropped her English book on her face.
“Why do I put up with all of you again?”
“Why, because you love us, darling. All of us know that and it can’t be changed.”
At her words, Emily lifted the book from her face and glanced down. “What did you say?”
Felicia looked up, not bothering to move her head or remove her smiled. “Oh, anyone can see it if they look hard enough. Smitten with Kevin, you are. Why else would you accept us all?”
“Maybe I’m just a nice person.”
“No one’s denying that, darling. I’m merely stating the obvious.”
Both went silent for lingering seconds.
“Is it that easy to tell?”
Felicia gave a gasp and sat up, excitement on her face. “So you admit it? Ha! I knew it! Ansel owes me money, that Russian-”
A slew of insults flowed through her mouth, leaving Emily to watch in a sad amusement.
Another year had passed and Emily was getting more and more concerned about Kevin. THREE new personalities had joined the others in Kevin’s mind. She knew that they formed to protect Kevin, when he was hurt or scared or things like that and it always happened when he went home, save for Patricia and Barry. If you count Hedwig, it was four Alters in a little over a year. It wasn’t wrong of her to be concerned.
Not only was she concerned, but she was a tad bit exasperated. With all these new Alters arriving she found the time she spent with just Kevin dwindling. There could be one day where it’s just Kevin and then she’d spend the next three days with the others. The longest she had gone without Kevin was nine days. She liked the others, liked them all, but Kevin…
Several times she had talked herself out of going to his house and giving his mother a piece of her mind. One time Barry had to drag her from the house before the woman got home, but all it did was make Emily despise the woman more. She never understood what would urge someone to kill another person but she was starting to see it now. If she could get away with it…
Kevin was getting old enough to just leave. Of course, leaving that house simply meant just moving into the extra room with Emily and Julie.
Emily had brought the idea up to her grandmother before and though she tried to be sneaky about it, she knew her grandmother could see right through her. She was also positive that the elder woman was aware of Kevin’s...changes.
Especially after Hedwig decided he wanted to eat dinner with them one night.
She took it in stride though, never asking or commenting. Had she thought Emily or Kevin were simply playing or was she aware of the others?
Either way, Emily wasn’t brave enough to ask her. She was going to push it away until there was nowhere else to go with it and then force herself to do so. Until then, she would keep moving on like she always did.
If she didn’t go crazy first.
Felicia was only one of the three new Alters that had arrived and she was a southern woman with a sharp tongue that liked to cook even more than Patricia.
She reminded Emily of Paula Deen, though she never said that to her face. She'd been the first of the three to arrive, right before Thanksgiving believe it or not, and then Goddard; Ansel had followed right after.
It was odd between Felicia and Ansel. Emily originally thought that all the Alters would just happily get along with one another.
That was apparently not the case.
The newest addition to this happy little family was, for some reason, a Russian figure skater and he and Felicia did not get along whatsoever. Hedwig was the only one that happily told her that the duo absolutely belittled each other inside Cerebro (that was now the name of their home in Kevin's head and it would never change) to the point where Barry and Dennis had to step in due to the fear of physical contact being administered.
How and why the two of them agreed to a bet in the first place was beyond her. It would have been amusing if that hadn't been so...Kevin.
Felicia and Ansel were both a handful. Loud. Very opinionated. Always wanted to be right. So very very different than the other Alter that slithered in between them. Goddard was the Alter that Emily felt resembled Kevin the most. A bit timid and shy, the only way Emily could physically tell that it wasn't actually Kevin was the Australian accent that came out when he spoke. At first she had thought that Kevin was merely teasing her after watching Crocodile Dundee, but when he started talking about his job as a toll booth worker she realized she was wrong.
She didn't fully understand DID still after all this time, but the idea of all these different people from all around the world being in one head it was astonishing. How did they form? How were their ‘rolls’ chosen? It was all a mystery to her. To Kevin. To everyone, apparently. The internet wasn't much help at the moment, so Emily was just left with her questions for now.
Giving another sigh, she turned back to Felicia, who had been watching her after her cursing of Ansel came to a halt.
“Can't the two of you get along?” She found herself asking.
Felicia gave her a deadpan look. “We'll get along with Hedwig turns ten.”
Emily felt her brow twitch. Out of all the Alters, she believed that Hedwig was going to get the worst of it all. As a 9 year old, he would be left out, would be given the Light less and less as Kevin grew older. She had talked to Kevin about it, to Barry too, but what could she really do about it?
“That’s not fair, Felicia.”
“Neither is sharing a body with seven other people, yet here we are.”
Everything went silent and the look on Felicia's face announced that she hadn't meant to say that aloud. Emily was still for a period of time that seemed to drag on before smacking Felicia with the pillow behind her as hard as she could. Repeatedly. Until the woman rolled off the bed in an attempt to escape the continuous blows.
Emily followed after her, unable to stop herself from hitting her. Originally it was going to be once or twice but her words had struck a nerve. It’s not like Kevin was wanting any of this, any of them. It was just happening. It wasn’t by choice so her reacting like that...it annoyed Emily. Then again, she didn’t know how it was. Would she think differently if she were one of the Alters? Was she just being foolish?
“Я даю! Я даю!”
The thick Russian accent that came from the body she was hitting over and over revealed that Felicia had given up the Light in an attempt to escape and, low and behold, her nemesis took it. Or did nobody else want it?
“I shoved that prissy man out of the way to get bludgeoned by your pillow? How is that fair?”
Emily gave a huff and leaned over to stare at the teen on her floor. The grin on his face almost made her return it but she refused to as she considered his words.
“You pushed Barry out of the way?”
Imagining the two of them fighting to grab the seat that sat in the middle was almost comical.
Ansel nodded his head. “He would have let you continuously hit him. I'd rather that not happen over another fool's opinion. Why should any of the rest of us suffer from her poor choice of stupidity? It's like scolding Dennis for Hedwig drawing on the walls again.”
“That would be a death wish.” Emily pulled back from the edge and set her pillow back against the headboard. She picked her English book back up but paused. “Wait, Hedwig drew on the walls again?”
It had taken her all day to remove those drawings the first time, even with the help from the others. She found out what had caused Hedwig to go crazy on everything, though. When you introduce a nine year old to Coca-cola for the first time, and then he drinks an entire case of it, he is bound to become hyper. Part of her wished that she had been there to see it. Hedwig was already adorable but she was sure it would have been even moreso.
“No, not yet. No after Patricia got a hold of him last time. I was speaking figuratively.” He gave a whistle after he hauled himself back onto the bed, arms locked behind his head. “That is one lady I do not want to get on the bad side of.”
“Oh, come now. Patricia isn’t that bad.” She shot him a teasing look.
Ansel gave a snort. “You only say that because you don't know. She's soft on you, and on Kevin. She's got a sinister side, believe me”
Emily has seen Patricia ‘lose her cool’ before, knew that she could be slightly intimidating when it happened, but sinister? She didn't think that was a fair word to use.
She recalled the woman’s smile last time she had let her try on her clothes and wear one of her dresses around the house. How happy she had been; how ecstatic.
No, sinister was not a fair word at all.
“With the way you check for grammar errors, you should consider being an English teacher and not a vet.” Ansel commented, glancing at her English book.
She was thankful for the change of subject and rolled her eyes at his comment.
“Just staring at my own grammar mistakes makes my eye twitch. I'd probably throw homework away and fail them all.”
He gave a fake sympathetic laugh. “Oh, how cruel of you.”
She rolled her eyes. “Just give it a while everyone will be talking in text and it'll just get worse from there. I fear what the future will look like.”
More laughter sounded, this time making her join slightly.
“I'm starting to think you spend too much time with Dennis. His OCD is rubbing off on you.” Those blue eyes looked up at her in curiosity now. “What exactly do the two of you do together? Next to Kevin, he's the one you spend the most time with.”
Emily felt her cheeks heat up as she avoided eye contact. She did spend a lot of time with Dennis. The most of it was her still reading to him though. Only Kevin, Patricia, and Barry knew about that. She didn't want to reveal anything that Dennis didn't want others to know.
“The indoor ice rink will be done with the remodel next week. It only took them nearly a year. The next time you're in the Light, you want to go? I can skate a straight line but that's about it. You could show me a few things. I’m sure I could learn a lot from you; and it would be fun.”
It was in January that she had first seen Ansel on the ice. Kevin was like her, he could skate in a straight line, but the moves that Ansel had been performing were so different. He had been dancing.
Glancing at his face once more, Ansel’s face made her inwardly curse. The smirk that he wore announced that he understood that she was, once again, making the conversation change direction, and that he was accept it; but only this once.
“If you're asking for lessons, I'm afraid you'll have to pay for them.”
“Pay?” She tilted her head to the side. “With what? Food? Money? A new pair of skates?”
Rolling over on his side and propping his head up in the palm of his hand, he stared at her in silence for a few moments, as if considering how to answer.
“Do you really want that answer?”
“I wouldn't ask if I didn't,” She replied. “If you-”
Her words were halted as Ansel moved again. He sat up and turned in place, his left arm stretching across her body and pressing into the mattress by her hip, locking her in place. His face was soon buried into her hair, goosebumps rising all over her skin as she felt his hot breath on her ear; heard the sound of him inhaling her scent.
“The others are all too afraid, but I'm not.” His voice hummed in her ear, she tried to pull back from his but his other hand cradled the back of her head, holding her in place. “We might be stuck in the body of a teenager, but do not mistaken us all for one.”
Her heart began to pound; she could feel it in her throat. This was similar to that moment in the school hall last year with Dennis. Where Dennis had tried to be good, however, something told her Ansel wouldn't bother to be.
“You should start being on guard around us, Kiska. Kevin can only hold us back for so long. Especially when he is also growing tired of restraining himself. I’m impressed he’s lasted so long, honestly. You're already practically legal. Two more years and you'll be an adult. Not even Dennis will be able to restrain himself then.".
For the first time with Kevin or any of the Alters, Emily was nervous. Afraid. Not afraid of them, no, but of what can happen. Ansel was right though. They were getting older and only Hedwig was too young to understand the tension that she, herself, could so plainly feel.
A gasp escaped her mouth as Ansel’s lips pressed down on the groove between her neck and collarbone. She went to shove him away but her hands gripped to the front of his shirt instead as he bit and sucked on her skin.
This Russian bastard...was he actually doing this? Was he really giving her a hickey? The thought of that made her feel...well, she didn’t know exactly how to feel, next to the twisting of her stomach. She couldn’t think of the right word to describe it. Her mind searched for it when her spine felt a tingle run down it as Ansel’s tongue ran along the outer rim of her ear before she finally regained her voice again.
“Ansel.”
“Yes, Kiska?” The tone of his voice was so pleased with himself. Such a smug...
“I want Hedwig.”
Ansell pulled back, surprise clear on his face. “Извините?”
She tightened her grip on his shirt and stared him in the eye as she tried to keep her voice calm.
“I said Hedwig. Give him the Light. Now.”

He tried to argue with her, his demeanor no longer reading amused, but she spoke over him, demanding Hedwig be given the Light. He gave in rather quickly; much quicker than she had thought he would. Emily had never watched the Light change hands before, never up close, but now she had a front-row seat of it.
It was interesting to say the least. And nothing like what she thought. She was expecting yells and pain, but what she witnessed. His back arched and his face was blank for a moment before that familiar goofy grin stretched across his lips and the blue eyes shined just like a child’s would.
“I heard you calling for me!” The excited 9 year old’s voice sounded. “Are we going to the park again? What time ith it? Can we eat? I-” Hedwig stopped talking when she embraced him.
Relief flooded through her. Her reactions told her that she wasn't ready; at least that's what she told herself. She'd never admit that she was afraid.
“Hey, are you okay? Did Anthel do something?” There was a loud gasp. “He didn’t hurt you, did he? Oh, the otherth are going to be tho mad!”
Pulling back, Emily covered the mark Ansel left on her, and placed a bright smile.
“I'm fine, Hedwig, I promise. I just...figured you'd want to...enjoy the weather, that's all. If you want to go to the park, then let's go!”
Hedwig's worried expression melted back into his signature goofy grin and he launched himself off the bed, scrambling downstairs to get his shoes. She chuckled to herself, hearing his voice reach up to her from downstairs as he talked about the swings and the slides. Perhaps it was best if he was kept as a child for the rest of his life. She just couldn’t see Hedwig being anything else; he didn’t need to be anything else.
Taking a moment to recompose herself, Emily decided to push aside what had just happened for now. She would talk to...one of them about it later, though who she wasn’t sure. Would it be Barry or Patricia that she saw next? Dennis? Would Kevin come back instead? That’s who she wanted to see. That’s who she needed to talk to about all of this.Mostly so she could apologize for punching him in the face if Ansel ever tried something like that again.

Chapter Text

Kevin had been furious at both Felicia and Ansel. It had been weeks since the incident and she hadn't seen either of them since. Barry explained to her that Kevin had… choice words for both of them. Apparently Ansel and him had a huge argument, though he didn't go into detail about it.
The duo were now only given the light at night and never around Emily. She felt guilty now. She would have to apologize to both of them the next time she saw them; whenever that would be. The others had told her not to worry about it, Patricia being the one most vocal of it.

Patricia had the light the next day and had shown up at her door before the sun had even risen and had immediately inspected the mark on her skin. The British woman said nothing but the air was chilly and the look on her face was murderous. Emily was glad that it was the weekend. All day they sat up in her room, Patricia running a hand over her hair as they watched movies.
She was quite positive that it was more to keep the older woman calm than herself.
Kevin had held the light for a while now. She hasn't seen any of the others in a week, in or out of school, and Kevin...she couldn't remember him being this happy. He got a job in a movie store over the summer and had kept it after school started, though working shorter hours now, so after school that's where he'd go.
Emily would happily bug the 16 year old at work. He’d even gotten in trouble for talking to her once. He happily reminded her of that for what felt like a year and had placed her on ‘suspension’ from the store until further notice.
When his shifts were over, Kevin would always come to her house, whether her was in the Light or not. Now that they were getting older, he was working harder to make sure that Emily and his mother never crossed paths. He'd asked her not to come around his house anymore.
At first she had been hurt but when he logically told her why he didn’t want her around, she couldn’t be mad at him. She tried to argue with him, wanting nothing more than to give that woman a piece of her mind, but she didn't want to cause Kevin any unnecessary stress. No, she was a place where he didn’t have to be stressed. So far it had worked...at least she thought so.
Their Junior year had just started and they had most this classes together, lunch as well, leaving both happy. Michael and Mandi were in several of those classes and the friendship that had begun in their freshman year had just continued after the camping trip had been a success. Kevin had only lost the Light during the trip when he had fallen asleep; she had been right about Dennis’ reactions.
Nearly three years and neither Mandi nor Michael had noticed a thing about Kevin and his Alters, save for one time that Michael told Dennis that he was too stiff when they went to the movies together the year before; said that he needed to get laid to cool himself off.
If it had been anyone else, Emily was sure that Dennis would have hit him.
It was turning to Fall again. The October air was crisp, the leaves changing.
It was her mother's anniversary again so she decided to skip school that day, like she had every year. Having left earlier, this time without her grandmother with her, she took daffodils to her grave; her mother's favorite flower. She had gone to the park, taking her usual seat on the swings as she always did, and watched as a few kids ran around and played as their parents or babysitters watched from afar.
She came back to the park on this day every year but she didn't cry anymore like she used to. Not after first meeting Patricia. She was still sad, still missed her mom, but she didn't cry anymore. Outside of sad endings to video games and movies she couldn't remember the last time she had actually cried.
“We might as well carve your name into that swing.”
Glancing to the side, she smirked as Kevin sat in the swing beside her. His dark hair was ruffled as the wind blew around them, the smile he was wearing bright and infectious.
“Ooh, someone’s skipping school.”
He shook his head, his smile never faltering. “I can't exactly caused the apocalypse when my top minion isn't around. Besides school isn't worth it if you're not there.”
She couldn’t help but giggle at his words. “Trying to woo me with words now?”

“Perhaps,” He gave her a side glance. “I had actually planned on going with you this morning, but Hedwig has a light when I went to sleep, apparently. At least that's what all the drawings littered across my floor tells me.”
Emily, unable to help herself, gave another giggle. “I'll get him another Sketchbook next time I go to the store.”
Already she was imagining what else to buy the nine-year-old while there. Last time she promised to get him a Marvel coloring book. She remembered seeing a few DC ones but she might have to search for a Marvel one, despite the movies that they were planning for in the future.
Kevin stared at her for a moment, his face readless. It made her frown as she glanced back at him.
“Kev, you all right?”
He didn’t even wait for the entire word to exit her mouth.
“Let's go on a date.”
She blinked, not sure if she had heard him correctly. He took the look on her face in and chuckled.
“No, you’re not hearing things. You. Me. Lunch. Maybe a movie afterwards. A date.”
She spoke carefully, still searching for a catch or something that would give his words away as a joke or a tease.
“And just what movie did you have in mind?”
Kevin moved some of the dirt at his feet with his shoe. “Well, I know that 300 is still showing at the Secret Cinema.”
A snort exited Emily's mouth as her feet kicked, setting the swing in motion.

“Let me get this right. You invite me on a date, a romantic date, only to take me to a movie full of muscular guys running around in what are practically Speedos? Am I the only one who thinks you're getting the short end of this?”
Kevin gave his own laugh, as if he'd been expecting her to comment something like that.
“How does making you happy give me the short end? I'd rather take you to see something you'd like. Besides, I know how much you like Scottish guys; especially Gerard Butler. He then pulled a face, as if remembering something foul. “You and Barry both.”
Emily gave an embarrassed giggle. Three years ago, Gerard Butler starred in a retelling of the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ as the masked man that lives beneath the opera house.
Him being Scottish was just an extra piece of pie on the plate.
Barry and Patricia had been the only two interested in the musical number, but where Patricia watched it once or twice, it was the movie Barry put in EVERY SINGLE TIME he got the Light. That's all he wanted to watch for 6 months straight.
Dennis had been furious. The fashionista apparently did nothing but sing ‘Music of the Night’ while inside Cerebro, driving the others insane. Dennis completely blamed Emily for it but all she could do was laugh? How could she not?
Especially when Hedwig would hum the tune while drawing.
“Honestly,” Kevin continued. “When it comes down to it, I'm not sure who you like more: Connery or Butler.”
She shot him a look. “You do understand that they're not the only ones, right? David Tennant is Scottish too, you know. So is Ewan McGregor and James McAvoy.”

Kevin cocked a brown. “McAvoy? Wasn't he that goat thing in Narnia last year?”
“Goat thing?!” Emily sound of appalled, stopping her swing immediately. “His name is Mr. Tumnus, and he was a faun, you ass! An adorable, fluffy little, faun!”
Kevin choked back laughter at her reaction. “You sound like you're in love.”
“Maybe I am.”
He gave her a blank look. “Its half-goat, Emily.”
“Not with the character, with the actor, you idiot.”
“Keep calling me names and I might just need kisses to make me feel better.”
Her cheeks heated up. “You...you’re serious about this.”
“I have never been more serious about anything in my entire life.” Kevin stood up and moved in front of her. “You. Me. A date. Today.”
Emily stared at him, excitement coursing through her more than ever before, the knots in her stomach returning to flutters. The sorrow she normally felt on this day was disappearing faster than she thought possible.
Neither moved for a moment before Kevin held a hand out to her.
“Do you trust me?”
She tossed her head back and laughed.
“Now we're quoting Disney?”
He grinned. “I would have quoted Beauty and the Beast, but the only thing that came to mind was ‘Be Our Guest’.”
“At least it wasn't ‘Try the Gray Stuff’,” Emily snorted. “If that stuff’s gray, you should see a doctor.”
Kevin's face turned beet red as the realization of her words hit him. He took one look at her smug grin before throwing his arms around her, pulling her face into his chest.
“You haven't eaten today, have you? Let’s go and take care of that before the movie.”
She grinned, snuggling her face into his shirt.
“It’s a date.”

~The day has come to an end
The sun is over my head
My polyamorous friend
Got me in a mess of trouble again~

They held hands as they walk down the street. Kevin was surprisingly talking more than she thought she ever heard before. Or perhaps she was merely thinking that way because it was now a date and not just some fantasy she would have during the days spent with him.
Talk ranged from the final Harry Potter book that had been released earlier that year in July, to the field trip that their history/science classes would be taking to DC to see the collection of museums of the capital of the country; the Smithsonian. The field trip was actually the main reason Kevin had gotten a job.
Their teacher had mentioned it at the end of their previous school year and Emily knew that Kevin wouldn't ask his mother for money to go. She was ready to stay at school with him like she had during the Zoo field trip when they were kids, but he assured her that he would be going. The trip was going to expand over three days due to the Museums being that spread out.
It was only three and a half hours from their school to DC and so they would be loaded onto several buses. It would be Emily's first trip out of the city so she was excited, especially now knowing that Kevin would be with her.
Now they just had to convince the teachers to let them share a room together in the hotel. Michael and Mandi would be going as well, so the four then just might be able to get away with it. Their teacher, Mrs. Spezzafaro, was a pretty chill teacher and knew that Kevin and Emily have been together since they were eight. If you add the twins to it it, they would be the one group of kids they wouldn't have to worry about at night.
Kevin took her to a cute little diner on the other side of the city. The walk they enjoyed truly made it feel like a date and not just another normal day that they spend together.
“I would kill for some pancakes right now,” Emily sighed as she pulled the menu to her.
Kevin chuckled. “It's a good thing this place serves breakfast all day then.”
“Oh, your choice of dining is so exquisite, Mr. Crumb. I've never been somewhere like this before.”
“And there will be more where that came from, as I will be sure to show you in the future; and even more after that.”
She shot him a glance over the top of her menu. “You're already assuming that there will be more.”
“I'm counting on it.”
Emily had to hold back a snort but the grin on her face could only grow wider. She had been dreaming of the two of them being romantically involved now that she was older, now that she understood what it was she had been feeling. She hoped that her way of flirting, teasing him mercilessly, came off the way she wanted it to. Then again, they had treated each other like this since they were kids. Things wouldn't change too much for them, would it? That did, however, leave one, main question that was going to torment her mind even after she got an answer to it, surely.
What did the others feel?

Well, she knew where Ansel stood, but what about the others? Hedwig was only nine. It was going to be weird. What if things were to progress the way that she wanted? She would have to restrain herself when Kevin didn't have the Light, it would just be hard. Especially when it came to Barry. The effeminate man was so handsy.
With their food ordered and served, Emily told Kevin about her grandmother leaving for the Christmas break again and that, once again, she was ready to pull the guest room mattress back into the living room and be lazy for 2 weeks. He claimed that they were adults now and didn't need the mattress in the floor. He would have to work over winter break but he promised he'd stay in the house with her so she wouldn't get scared.
“My hero,” She teased, setting her fork aside. “Whatever would I do without you?”
“Died of a mix of boredom and sorrow while your life would no longer have any meaning to it.”
The look in his eyes as he peered at her over the rim of his glass was playful. Her heart skipped and she shoved more pancake in her mouth.
This was no different than how they usually exchanged banter, but this time she just felt so...giddy. She found herself once again wondering if this is how her mother felt with her father. Feeling like this, it was a happiness that could barely be contained. Emily found herself comparing how she felt the characters from books or movies that she enjoyed.
Would Jack and Rose be a good comparison?
She frowned know that was a terrible example. Jack could have fit on that door too.
Besides, Emily wouldn't let Kevin die, even if it meant she died in his place.

Kevin excused himself to the bathroom as they waited for the check. Emily was left thinking to herself about her feelings again when the table across from them caught her attention. It was easy to see from the conversation they were having it was a young daughter with her father and uncle, and the trio were apparently going hunting for the weekend
It was sweet in a way, despite the fact that they are going to go hunt deer. Seeing a family together like that always made her a tad sad.
At least it used to.
Her mother was an only child and so she had no other family outside of her grandmother. Now that she was older though, she knew the family meant more than just blood relatives.
Her grandmother and Kevin were all the family she needed; and that included all of the Alters, too.
Kevin return as she giggled at the comment ‘Buck Fever’ and he raised his eyebrows at her.
“Something on my face?”
“Besides that adorable smile?”

His cheeks went red a bit but as he sat back down, there was a look on his face that she recognized.
He was nervous.
She was used to him being nervous but the amount of sweat that was now plain to see on his brow worried her.
“Kev, are you sick?”
“Mentally or physically?”
She fixed a stern look on him. “If you're sick, let's go to my place. We-”
“No, no, no,” Kevin reached out and grabbed one of her hands with his before taking a deep breath to calm himself. “I’m just nervous, and I'm trying not to give up the Light.” He told her honestly. “ Patricia is trying to calm them down, but they're all so loud.”
“You’re...fighting them?” She didn’t quite understand. Most of the time, Kevin would just willingly give up the Light. “What are you so nervous about? We've done this a hundred times already.”
“It's not the day I'm worried about. It's what I'm about to say. I was going to wait until after the movie, but I can't.”
He went silent for a moment, leaving her to watch as he struggled to find the right words to say. Lifting her other hand, she squeezed his, willing him take his time. Her patience had only grown over the years.
“I...I mean we...we've been talking, me and the others, and though I'm afraid, I'm going to tell you all of it.”
She barely chanced breathing, everything around them fading Into the background as Kevin took his time.

“Ansel was right,” He began, unable to look her in the face. “I was afraid afraid to ‘make a move’, as he puts it. I tried that one day before high school, but it didn't come across the way I wanted it to, and then that day in the hall when I saw you talking with Adam..there was just this... this is burning jealousy that took over and both Dennis and I. So much so that Dennis got to the chair before Barry when I pulled back. I had been hoping Dennis would punch him like he had Timmy in elementary. I'm sorry if you like Adam, but I...I don't want to think about you being with someone else; someone other than me. Not when I think, no, when I KNOW that I'm in love with you.”
Emily’s breath caught. She had been caught off guard when he asked for a date but to confess this?!
If her face had changed, he didn't react to it.
“You once said that you believed Dennis was my guardian angel. I no longer believe that's true. I believe that you were the angel sent to watch over me.”
She couldn't not comment on that.
“Kevin, I'm nothing like a guardian angel. I'm nothing but but an orphan you met in the park.”
“And that day changed my life. Before you, I only had Dennis after my dad left. For 2 years no one did anything. I couldn't do anything. My neighbors saw but did nothing. No one cared until you. You were always there for me and you push me to do my best and support me. And not just me. The others too! You learned I had a split personality and you accepted it. You accepted Dennis without a second thought and each time a new one just appears, you do the same over and over again. You treat us all like normal people; as separate people. You are an angel, to me, to us, and that's why...that's why I know that I want to be the one that you can count on as we get older for the rest of our lives.”
The way he said those words made Emily perk up. The look on his face, the way his blue eyes looked eager and nervous at the same time, already gave her the answer she wanted but...
“Kevin, don't decide that. You're still young . We're only 16. You can meet a girl in the next few years. You might want to move to London or something. You have your whole life ahead of you. You can meet someone so much better than me.”
“If it were just me there's still a very slim chance I'd choose anyone than you, but it’s not just me, Emily. It's Dennis and Patricia and Barry. It's all of us. We'd never find someone like you. Someone that accepts us all. Someone we all want.” He gave her a grin again. “Ansel was right. Well, to a point. Dennis refuses to admit it while Barry is, well, Barry.”
Emily almost rolled her eyes. The fashionista had happily announced that he didn't want to share his ‘lady’ with anyone else.
She chose her next words carefully.
“So I know where the four of you stand, but the others? Hedwig’s 9, for god sakes! And Patricia and Felicia are women. Surely they've got opinions on this.”
Kevin smiled as he moved their hands around, interlocking their fingers. “They’ll come around.”
“Come around? That doesn’t ease me at all.”
“So you’re not completely against it.”
“It’s...we're still teenagers, Kevin. You can change your mind.”
“I won't.”
“You could.”
“But I won't. I know I won't,” He assured her. “And I know you won't either.”
“Oh? And why is that?”

He squeezed her hands again, that grin plastered on his face. “Because all you're worried about is me. Me finding someone else. Me moving away. Me getting another girl, and that tells me that you feel the same as I do, just more timid. More guarded. More afraid. It tells me that what Patricia told me is true.”
Emily gave a slight frown. “And just what is it that she's told you?”
“That you believe you’re undeserving of love. That what you feel is an unrequited love, but it's not, and I'm sorry that it took Ansel attacking you to give me the balls actually move myself before I completely lost you to one of them.” He gave another squeeze. “I don't have a choice but to share you, but I refuse to let go completely.”
Her brow furrowed. “Excuse me, share?”
His grin was now a mix of sorrow and joy. “With my condition, it’s kind of going to be inevitable.”
She stared at him before laughter burst out of her mouth. “Mr. Crumb, are you offering me a polyamorous relationship with you and your family?”
He echoed her laugh, sounding relieved. “You already are my family, and yes, I am.”
“You do understand you’re basically asking me to be a whore, right?”
“Yes,” He continued to grin. “But my whore.”
“Only if I say yes.”
“When you say yes.”
“Confident are we?”
“Only when around you.”
Emily shook her head, sad laughter passing through her lips. “When did you get so so stubborn?”
“Again, only around you. Everyone else just makes me nervous.” He closed his eyes for a moment. “It’ll be ten years next year, Emily. They say that a friendship that lasts longer than 7 is a sign that they're meant to be together forever.”

“Oh, and who told you that?”
“Patricia did.”
Emily bit her tongue. Even Patricia was in on this?
She couldn’t deny that she was in love with Kevin but this...it felt like she was being unfair to the others. She didn’t understand what else it was she was feeling; what else could she be feeling?
“Give it a chance, Emily. Or do you not like me like that? Have we all been wrong?”
Panic hit at his words and she tightened her grip on his hands. “No that's not it. I just...why? We haven't even graduated yet. We're still kids”
“I have six adults in my head telling me otherwise,” He replied. “Is that what the problem is? Is it the others?”
She shook her head furiously. “It’s not that at all either. I just…” With a sigh,she gave up. What was she supposed to say? She didn’t know and now she was just left grasping for straws.
“Just what is it that you're asking me? What does this mean?”
“What this means is when the time is right, sometime in the future, whether it's two years from now or 20, I'm going to watch you walk down the aisle and then swear my soul to you and everything that comes with it.”
Her mouth dry, Emily refused to let go Kevin's hands and so leaned her head over to suck lemonade up through a straw. She swallowed and turn back to him. “And the others are okay with this? Ansel already made his answer apparent, but I’m pretty sure that Barry is gay, despite-”
“Pansexual,” Kevin corrected her. “And according to him that's your fault.”
She frowned at him as he just continued to smile. “Kevin I'm trying to be serious here. You can't just make a decision like this. You're not the only one who's involved. I doubt Dennis and Patricia want to spend the rest of their lives with someone like me.”
Kevin stared at her for a moment before pulling his hands back. She almost reached to grab them back but watched as he pulled something out of his pocket and placed it on the table between them.
She recognized the small velvet box.
It was for a ring.
Kevin watch her with a smile drinking in her shocked reaction.
“Dennis actually planted the idea,” He admitted. “I didn't even know what promise rings were, despite you mentioning them before, and some Patricia came up with the idea of connecting rings and Barry designed them before we went to the jewelry store and got them created.”
“Created?” She stared at the box, unable to reach out for the box. “You...you paid to have promise rings made for us? My god, Kevin. How much did you spend?!”

“Not enough. I was looking at a $1,500 pair but Patricia said you'd kill me.”
“She was right.”
She reached out for the box put paused just shy of touching it. Kevin watched her.
“The only one arguing is you, Emily.”
She was nervous but at the same time eager. All her emotions were, apparently, going to be shot by the time the days was up; all except anger, at least.
Grasping the small box, she pulled the top open and gave a sigh of relief. She was afraid to find a huge diamond or something inside. She didn’t like wearing rings but this...this was something that she could wear.
It was two silver bands, one for a man and one for a woman, and Kevin had been telling the truth about them connecting. The one meant for her was curved into a rose and, when slipped inside the other band, fit into the hole carved into the band and fit snuggly like a puzzle piece.
“Since Beauty and the Beast is your favorite Fairy tale, we decided to make something inclined to it.”
As she stared at the rings, she felt an emotion swell up inside her. It was a feeling that she wasn’t familiar with. It wasn’t a bad feeling, just unknown to her. She did know that she was still in shock though. These rings...he was practically asking her to marry him in the future. Accepting it...they’d be bound until something happened. Whether that something was Kevin moving on like she feared or them actually getting married in the future, right now she didn’t care. She still felt nervous about how all the Alters felt but perhaps it would be best to talk to them all separately when the time presented itself.
But for now...
“So?” He watched her, waiting for her to answer him yes or no. She was still for a moment, turning the rings over in her fingers for a moment before glancing at the black lettering printed on the inside of the box.
She gasped and covered her mouth with her hand.
“You went to Jared?!”
Kevin stared at her for a moment before shaking his head with laughter. Only she would be able to turn such a serious moment into something else.
Reaching forward, he pulled the rings apart and took her left hand, sliding the flower onto her finger before allowing her to place his ring on his own finger. Squeezing her hand, he lifted it up to his mouth and kissed the ring.
“I went to Jared.”

Chapter Text

"I told you not to move, Baby Girl!"
"You try holding this pose and then tell me not to move. My leg is literally trembling."
"That just means we need to get you to workout more! There's this cute gym not far from the school. We can go on the days I'm off."
"Are you calling me fat, Barry?"
An offended gasp sounded behind her. "I would never!"
Emily snorted and then tried to regain her pose as Barry continued to draw. He had claimed he needed a female model for a design that he was creating. She had a feeling that he just wanted to draw her for fun but what could she do?
The January air was cool but she had always liked the cold. The snow was beautiful to her, and so she wished that it was a year-round season, despite the others disagreeing with her.
It had been a little over three months since Kevin confessed...proposed, but nothing had really changed. She had feared that it would have but relief was a present delivered with a bow on top for her.
“How much longer until you’re done, Barry?”
“You’re just so impatient, aren’t you?” Came the fashionista’s disapproving tone as a tongue clicked. “What happened to the silent, sweet girl I met three years ago?”
Her reply was a snort and her arms dropped, the scarf she was wearing on her shoulders falling to the ground. “I don’t know which girl you’re talking about but I haven’t been sweet since I was 12 and that was well before you met me.”
“Oh, you’re just as sweet as ever, you just like to deny it, thinking it’ll get you attention from me,” He set aside his sketch book again and moved forward, picking up the scarf. Facing her, he tossed it around her shoulders and pulled on it, making her stumble forward. Her hands lifted and caught herself against his chest and he smiled wide at the look of shock on her face. “Was this what you were looking for?” Her shocked silence was all that he needed and he chuckled, placing a kiss on the tip of her nose before pulling back from her. “Tough luck, baby girl. I may be in Kevin’s body, but I’m still older. Let’s wait until you’re at least hit 18, hmm?”
As he turned from her, she was left in a daze for a moment before realization hit her and her face turned red.
“That’s...you...dammit, Barry!”
“Ah, ah, ah, no cussing.”
“You’re not my dad. I can curse all I want...dammit.”
Barry barely covered a snort before glancing back at her. “Quoting movies again, Em?”
“When have I ever not?”
Both smiled as the banter continued, Barry finally finishing his sketch and allowing Emily to collapse on the bed in her room, her face buried into the comforter. Barry tossed his legs across hers, his back pressed against the headboard as he began to sketch a new picture. They sat in silence for a bit, the sound of his pencil scratching was enough to lull her to sleep so she pulled out her phone to keep it from happening, picking up where she had left off the night before. At the discovering of the mobile internet on her phone she found herself reading more and more and discovering things she didn’t know before. To be able to look up anything with a few touches of a button, it was extraordinary. There was so much to learn, like about a train accident that happened almost 10 years ago. Only one man had survived that terrible ordeal and it said here that the reason for the accident had been a single man.
Such interesting things indeed.
She also kept a lookout for anything that changed on the DID sites but so far there had been no luck on change. It made her angry, sad too, that some people didn’t believe in what was happening to Kevin and others like him, but that just made her strengthen her resolve. She was going to help Kevin, even if others didn’t believe him.
It felt like hours before Barry spoke again.
“And what are we reading? Your attention is completely captured by your phone and not by me.”
“Well you were drawing,” Emily tapped the screen and went to the next chapter. “I had to entertain myself.”
“I swear, ever since your grandmother bought you that phone, you have had it glued to your face.”
“It's where society is heading I'm afraid. You’ll have to deal.”
Barry chuckled as he set his sketchbook aside, maneuvering around to lay beside her, trying to look at the screen with her. “So, what is it?”
“It's called fanfiction.”
He frowned. “Fanfiction?”
“Yes. It's where fans can take their favorite characters and write and draw about them.”
“But why would you write that instead of creating your own story?”
“Because how the hell am I going to create a character like Charles Xavier?”
At the name, Barry’s brows rose and her face turned red.
“I see. Still fawning over the bald man in the wheelchair, are we? I thought you'd grown out of that.”
She rolled her eyes at him, trying to keep her embarrassment under control. “Why would I want to? Stop being rude. You're just mad that he can rock the bald look and you can't.”
Barry frowned at her again. “Is that what you think?”
“Truth hurts, sweetie. Why else would you be so sour?”
“I am sour because my girlfriend would rather read about a fictional character than pay attention to me.”
Emily couldn’t help herself as she looked at the teen next to her. “But the romance between Roselyn and Xavier is just so cute!”
Barry’s hand shot forward, snatching the phone from her hands. “Romance? You’re already cheating on us?!”
“Barry! Give it back!”
Sure to keep the phone out of her reach, he began to read the text aloud.

“Simone’ rolled her eyes. “You and Scottish guys.”
“Can you blame me? Their accents are tremor-inducing and that’s putting it nicely.”

Barry turned his gaze back to her. “What is your obsession with scottish men?”
Emily’s cheeks flared again. “Stop making fun of me!”
“Just what is it that you find so fascinating about their accents?”
“You have no right to ask me that about your obsession with Gerard Butler!” She told him, swiping her phone back from him.
“He sang in an english accent; it’s different.”
“It’s no different at all! He’s scottish, Barry!”
Laughing to himself, he rolled over, burying his face into one of the pillows but then frowned as his sketchbook tumbled to that floor. He watched as Emily picked it up for him.
“You never cease to Intrigue me.” He told her.
“I'll take that as a good thing then,” She replied, flipping through his book. “That means you can't claim boredom and try to run from me.”
“We would run TO you, baby girl, not FROM you. You thinking otherwise just makes me worried.”
“You're such a worrywart, Barry. Stressing that will make you go bald, you know.”
“I thought you liked bald guys?”
“You, Kevin, Patricia; you’re all perfect the way you are, hair or no hair.”
He gave off a laugh that was stifled by the pillow. He went to make another comment but Emily didn't catch it, her attention on the page before her.
“Barry. Barry, what is this?”
It was a light purple fog almost, with blank spots filed in, shaped like heads. They gave her an unsettling feeling just looking at it for some reason. It was weird to get this kind of feeling from just something on a piece of paper but she couldn’t help it. Goosebumps rose up on her arms and she felt her stomach twist. She found herself counting the heads.
“There's twenty four of them,” Barry answered the unasked question. Glancing up, she found his blue eyes trained on the ceiling. “The assignment was to draw your mind.”
“So you drew twenty four heads?
“It was originally only the eight of us, but I suppose I just got carried away.”
“Twenty four is more than carried away, Barry. Why that many?”
“I can't say,” He answered truthfully. “But it felt right.”
She frowned, staring at the heads again. They held no faces but she could have sword they were all staring at her, despite the way they were angled. It they had eyes, she was positive that they would all be staring at her. “Felt right?”
Barry reached over and took the book from her hands. “Stop worrying about it. It’ll give your cute face wrinkles.” Emily shot her fist forward and caught him in the shoulder. “And doing that will make you a brute.”
That received another hit.
“Are you excited for the field trip?” Barry asked as she laid her head on his chest.
“Of course I am. I've never left Philly before, but I'm also worried.” She was honest with him, no point in hiding it. Patricia would be able to pull it out of her the moment she was in front of her next. “We’ll be taking a train. Are you sure Kevin will be alright?”
A train ride from Philadelphia to DC was a little over 3 hours. Kevin's father left on a train so it was a sore spot for the young man, He had never even gone to the train station before, as far as she knew. She was afraid that he would have a mental breakdown.
Barry was silent for a length of time, one of his hands playing with her hair, until he answered.
“We don't know if anything will happen. We won't know until the day arrives, but I do know that Kevin has worked very hard to be able to go on this trip with you. If Patricia or Dennis or the boy or I have to ride the train with you then we will. Kevin will be fine, so don't worry.” Barry turned his head and gave her a reassuring smile. “And he's got you, too. If you worry, then he'll definitely worry so don't, all right? For all of us.”
Emily gave in with an exaggerated sigh. “Fine, if it'll keep you from whining.”
He locked their fingers together and kissed the back of her hand. “Thanks, baby girl. Now, next week, Kevin has a doctor’s appointment so he won’t be there on Thursday and-”
Emily tried her hardest to pay attention, she really did, but her mind could not help but return to that drawing and the ominous feeling that those 24 heads held.

Chapter Text

She couldn't stop worrying. It was the day the field trip, the train being boarded and everyone checked in, but Kevin had still not arrived.

Emily felt foolish. She planned on him staying the night with her so they could arrive together, but he had called saying that his mother needed him and that he would see her at the station.
He hadn't arrived, sending her mind into a panic mode. Had his mother done anything to him? Had she been correct in thinking that a train would have been too much for him? Her mind was in a whirl with repeating questions and scenarios, like what was she going to do if Kevin never showed up? She really wanted to go on this trip, had been looking forward to it, but if Kevin didn't come, her worry would overtake her. Had his mother done something to him; that was the first question that would always pop into her head, and with that came even more horrible ideas.

“If you bite your lip any harder, you're going to bleed, Em.”

Turning her head, Emily sighed as Mandy scolded her. “I can't help it.”

“You know that I will beat you if I have to.” Emily gave a strange smile and shook her head. “He’ll be here, Em. Just be a little more patient.”

Emily tried to follow her friends advice, and though only a few minutes passed, it felt like hours. Her anxiety was rising up more and more. She just couldn’t help it. If Kevin didn’t show up-

She began to fiddle with the ring on her hand. She hadn’t taken it off since he had given it to her. There had been a voice of concern on outgrowing the ring, in which Barry had convinced her that they would get better ones. Of course if it came to that, she would NEVER get rid of this ring. It would, undoubtedly, be placed on a chain and never removed again.

“What in the hell took you so long, Crumb? You almost gave your princess here a heart attack.”

Michael’s words brought a halt to all of Emily’s thoughts and she turned to see Kevin giving Michael a smug grin before turning to a teacher, his bag over one shoulder.

When he turned and saw her, the grin widened, but it was not one that she was too familiar with.

“Did I scare ya?” His voice was light, teasing, and before she had a moment to think, she had been pulled into a death grip, a chuckle sounding in her ear. “I’ve been looking forward to this moment for months.” Kevin pulled back and gave a wink. “Nice to finally meet ‘cha.”

Emily blinked as the words and actions registered. She placed a hand over her eyes and gave a sigh mixed with a small laugh of her own as Kevin spoke to Mandi and Michael. She had been worried that a train ride would be too much for Kevin to handle, that one of the others would have to take over. She didn’t think that ANOTHER Alter would be created. How many did this make now? 8? 9, including Kevin himself. It just wasn’t fair. Why was he forced to endure this? She wasn’t wrong in feeling sorry for him, was she?

She knew that pity was the last thing that Kevin would want her to feel, knew that he would want her not to worry about it and just continue on like they normally did, but she just couldn’t? How many more Alters were going to appear? How many times was Kevin going to run away from things?

How much longer did she have with him before she wouldn’t be able to see him anymore?

The more Alters there were, the less time she could end up having with Kevin. She liked the others, appreciated them all and had grown to accept them and care for them, but Kevin was first; he always would be. How could she stop him from feeling any more of this...this fear?

“We’re boarding, Emily,” Mandi’s voice drug her from her thoughts and she turned to find the trio waving her towards the train.

“Coming.”

She tried to ignore the grin on Kevin’s face, the Alter clearly knew that their actions were off putting towards the other teenager, and stepped onto the train, joining in on the chatter with the other students that were already onboard. Bags were stored above and below seats, the only thing that Emily kept on her person was her phone and headphones but as Kevin was seated beside her, his hand reached out and confiscated it, that grin still on his face.

“Nah-ah-ah,” The tone was playful, yet nothing like Barry’s at all. “I demand all your attention today. I’ve had to deal with nothing but stories for a month now. I demand attention.”

Emily restrained her sigh. She didn’t like the thought of another Alter forming but it was already done and so she would treat this new one just like she treated all the others she had met so far. “I apologize that you had to wait that long. It’s nice to finally meet you…” She stopped, waiting to receive a name but he just smiled at her. “Do I get a name?” She finally asked.

“Hmm...no. Not quite yet.”

Emily blinked. This was a strange way to be introduced, no question about it. She went silent for a moment, not sure how to react. She tried to see it from the Alter’s point of view. They said that had been stuck with stories of her. What kind of stories? How much was known? How annoying was it to keep hearing said stories over and over and never be allowed to meet because the Light was in the hands of the others? She didn’t know how she would react but she could understand if this new Alter was a bit annoyed.

Mandi and Michael were placed in the seats in front of Emily and Kevin, the train only have seats by the set of two. ‘Kevin’ took this opportunity to use Emily’s right shoulder as a pillow as he stared out the window as their trip began. He chuckled, patting her head as the train lurched into motion at first. His left hand interlocked their fingers together and he held it, using his right hand to repeatedly trace the veins that he could see in her hand and up her arm. The touch tickled slightly, gave her goosebumps. Emily opened her mouth to speak but closed it again as ‘Kevin’ spoke first, the voice low as he gave her a greeting from Barry. The effeminate man was to be the one of the train this morning, but had been beaten to the Light.

“I’ll be scolded later by them all, no doubt, but I couldn’t stand another minute just hearing about you and not getting to meet you. Unfair, don’t you think? BT agreed with me and distracted Barry for me. I owe him, though, stupid muscle head.”

Emily tilted her head to the side to get a better look at Kevin’s face. “BT? There’s another?”

“I suppose you were never told,” ‘Kevin’ clicked his tongue before snuggling up closer. “How rude of them. Can’t trust boys with anything, can you?”

Emily had several thoughts added to those she already had in her head. First, was that there was not 1, but 2 new Alters. Was both because of the train? Were they EVEN due to the train, or had Kevin’s mother, in Barry’s previous words, done what she does best again?
Second, the words delivered made the young woman POSITIVE that the Alter that she was now talking to was female.

Emily was going to have to sit down and talk to Kevin about this the next time she got time with him. With all of them. If these two Alters had been around for a month, then they were being hidden from her. Whether or not it was because they didn’t want her to worry, she was not going to just accept that. That, and this was, in no way possible, fair.

“It seems that you cannot,” Emily agreed. Resting back in her seat, she leaned her head on top of Kevin’s, a silent sigh escaping her mouth. “We’ll just have to teach them all won’t we?”

There was a chuckle. “You got that right. Those two ladies, too.”

Her brow furrowed. “Patricia should know better.”

“She’s highly protective of you, you know. They all are.” The fingers reached over and grabbed her left hand, gently turning the ring on her finger. “It’s because of this. To be honest, when I heard about it, I thought they were joking. Jokes on me though.”

Not sure what else to say, Emily stayed silent until the sound of a camera went off and a flash made her close her eyes.

“Aww, look at the cute couple! I’m submitting this to the yearbook.”

“Can’t you two wait until we get to our rooms at least? Mandi and I can happily let you have the place to yourself while we go check out the pool.”

Rubbing her eyes, Emily lunged forward, trying to grab the camera from Mandi’s hands but the other teen was ready and held it out of reach. While it was true that the Teacher had allowed Kevin and Michael to share a room with Mandi and Emily, their room was connected to another that would be with several teachers. Anything like that being overheard would result in the connecting door being forced to be left open and that was the last thing that any of them wanted.

“If you give that to the yearbook, I’ll murder you!”

“But it’s a great picture, Em! You look absolutely adorable!”

“We should show it to Adam.” Michael teased and a sound that resembled a screech left Emily’s face.

Since that event in the hallway with Dennis, Adam had refrained from asking her to lunch or movies anymore, but had been the sweetest person towards her. He opted not to talk to her in front of Kevin anymore but he didn’t act rude or mean towards her.

“Mandi, I swear to God-”

Emily’s words were cut off by weight as ‘Kevin’ draped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her down into the seat again.

“You should have waited. You could have caught this picture instead.”

Lips were pressed against her right cheek. Heat shot through her as Michael whistled and Mandi tried to take another picture but the teen had pulled back before she could.

“Now that’ll be our little secret. No yearbook for that one.” ‘Kevin’ chuckled, locking their fingers back together.

Emily couldn’t help but laugh as Mandi begged for another picture like that before her brother was able to distract her with something on his phone, leaving the two teens behind them to their own devices again.

“Now she’ll be stalking us for the next few days, trying to catch us in the act. If I wake up to her standing over me in the middle of the night with that camera, I’m blaming you.”

“If you’re handing out a type of punishment, I’ll happily take it from you.” Was her answer, making Emily chuckle.

“Why don’t you tell me more about BT and yourself? I’m quite interested.”

“At first I thought you’d be a brat, but I was wrong,” The female smiled at her. “I seem to be doing that a lot today, but don’t think it’ll happen often afterwards.” She squeezed their hands. “You can start by calling me Jade, and why want to know anything about BT when you have me right before you? All he is is a-” A slew of profanities were delivered that made Emily’s mouth drop open. Kevin NEVER cussed like this. When he did let one slip, he would always flush in embarrassment. This Alter...they just let them fly out like water.

Jade turned to look at her, a bright smile on her face. “It’s nice to finally meet you. I’ve no doubt they’ll let you meet BT now, so let’s forget about the others for now and focus on what’s important now. You and I.”

Emily couldn’t help but laugh. “What a charmer you are.”

“That’s what I keep trying to tell them but no one believes me.” The woman sighed.

“Well then, Jade. I am all ears to everything that you want to tell me.”

“I guess we begin with me being 17 and having type two diabetes.”
Emily blinked, not sure she had heard her right. “Excuse me?”

“You heard right. Remember that doctor’s appointment that Kevin had about a month ago? That was for me. It’s weird though; I’m the only one that needs the insulin shots. What a load of shit, am I right?”

Emily’s brow furrowed. So, Jade had been around even then? Barry...well, he hadn’t lied to her, but he still knew and hadn’t told her anything. It’s not like they needed to tell her every little thing, but them not telling her about this...it made her sad; disheartened.

Jade seemed to read the look on her face and gave a grin. “When you get ahold of the next one, I’ll be sure to be rooting for ya. Scold their asses good. Except Kevin. Kevin doesn’t deserve it. The others are all yours though.”

The teenager gave another smile and squeezed their hands again. “I’ll be gentle with Kevin; I always am. Hedwig too. Dennis, Patricia, and Barry, on the other hand…”

Jade’s laughter was addictive and Emily echoed her.

“You’re not so bad after all,” Jade told her. “I’d like to say that I would be spending all of this field trip with you but sadly I am sure that the first chance they get someone else will take the Light so I just ask you to be ready for me the next time I show up. I’ll steal you from class or something and we’ll have our way around the city. We could go shopping or boy gazing or-”

Emily gave a snort. “Boy gazing?”

She bumped her shoulder. “Hey, just because you said yes to one flower doesn’t mean that you can’t gaze at others, ya know. It’ll be another little secret of ours.”

“I have a feeling that you’ll be wanting more than just a few secrets between us, won’t you?”

“As many as you can keep. You’re good at that, aren’t you? Unlike BT. I swear, that muscle head just let’s everything flow out of his mouth. EVERYTHING. We should place him at the child’s table with the other one.”

“Hedwig’s not that bad. You just gotta be patient. He’s the youngest of us all.”

“Yes, yes, but that doesn’t mean I have to be nice about it.”

Emily gave her a frown. “I’ll scold you on that later. For now, let’s just enjoy the trip.”

“Ooh, a scolding. I’m getting excited just thinking about it.”

It was very clear that Jade had no problem saying what she thought either. Her mouth was loose without a second thought about being cautious with her words and it, once again, got her thinking about what caused her ‘birth’. Was it because Kevin couldn’t speak his mind to his mother? The more she thought about it, the more Emily believed that to be the case.

All this did, however, was make Emily more and more confident in her previous thoughts.

She needed to get Kevin AWAY from his mother now that he was older. As soon and as fast as possible. She was going to have to convince him of just that the moment they returned back home but for now, for these next few days, he was going to make sure that ALL of them had a great time. No one deserved it more than they did.

Chapter Text

Have you ever thought about cutting your hair?

Shave your head bald and I’ll cut my hair.

Your obsession with bald men is highly concerning. Right up there with your obsession with scottish ones.

And your obsession with teasing me over them is just as concerning. Don’t think this is a one way street. It flows both ways here.

Glancing up from her phone as the bus came to a stop, Emily hurriedly stood up and got off, heading towards the park that she and Kevin were supposed to meet at. Another School year had ended, summer was here again and with it came changes.

Emily had kept true to her word. The very moment that Jade gave up the light on the field trip, Kevin had taken over. Though she was gentle, her words had taken root inside him and the moment another Alter formed, she was informed immediately.

All four times.

Four more Alters had been created in the expanse of five months, confirming her fears. Kevin needed help. She didn’t know what to do. They were appearing at a rapid rate, it just couldn’t be normal. While around her, Kevin would smile and act chipper, but she had seen the facade fall several times before and beneath it was nothing but exhaustion. She had tried to convince him to see a doctor, even to join a chatroom online, but he merely thanked her for her concern and went about his way.

It was frustrating and with school starting again in a few weeks, it would only get harder. Though she and Kevin would have lunch together, the only class they had together for their final year was history. She had a feeling that she would be seeing more of Orwell there than Kevin.

Orwell was the tenth Alter, and the only one that she had actually witnessed ‘being born’. Though Patricia had ‘been born’ that night in the park, Emily had not watched it. With Orwell, she had seen everything.

It had actually happened at the Smithsonian. It was the second day and she and Kevin had gotten separated from their tour guide and right in the middle of talking, Kevin had clutched at the back of his neck and doubled over in agony. She watched the pained expressions cross his face, watched as the light in his eyes changed. Listened as he seemed to know everything about the Exhibit they were in before complaining that Dennis’ glasses made his vision worse than before.

Then came the next trio.

Norma, Rakel, and Kat. So far, they were some of the rather surprising of the Alters. Rakel was a sweet guy, but she called him a surfer dude because ALL he could talk about was the Ocean. Kevin had never even seen the ocean and yet surfing was all Ian could talk about. He also had a taste for hip hop that led to dances that even Emily was embarrassed to watch.

Kat was next, and she was sure that she was someone that Jade would happily use for her own entertainment while inside Cerebro. Kat was, to put nicely, a moody goth that could not STAND the yellow jacket that Emily had bought for Kevin and always got into fashion fights with Barry. According to Jade, it was her favorite form of entertainment and the teen girl would purposefully begin an argument between the duo. Emily scolded the other teenager but secretly wished she could watch the arguments, due to being sure they were comical.

Then there was Norma. A kind, soft southern woman and the first Alter that announced to Emily that she didn’t like her. The young woman had to ask for her to repeat herself. None of the Alters had ever announced that they didn’t like her, and if they did it wasn’t straight to her face during a walk through the park. It had caught Emily off guard and she hadn’t known how to react. The rest of the walk had been quiet, save for Norma humming a tune. Kevin had apologized for Norma, as had all the others, but it was still something that Emily just couldn’t get out of her head. One of Kevin’s Alters not liking her? How could she change that?

It was getting more and more...frustrating how limited she was able to do to help him. The more time went by, the more she realized how little she was capable of.

As soon as summer hit, Emily had found a job at a pet boarding facility, resulting in the time she and Kevin spent together growing even shorter. Kevin had recently bought a cell phone of his own though, their bills for texting each other all day, every day, being extravagant, but both of them merely laughed about it and continued. If they weren’t together, they were texting, even his Alters when they were in the Light. Some of the cutest texts had come from Hedwig when the 9 year old boy tried to figure out how to use the cellphone. Not one message was erased.

It was nearly 7, Emily’s shift having just ended, and Kevin sent a text, announcing that he was waiting for her at their park, her coffee going to waste as he waited on her. Work was, maybe a 45 minute bus ride away so she wasted no time, eagerly teasing him over the phone as he did the same to her. With their final year of school starting, Emily found herself getting nervous. This was her chance to get a scholarship, to be accepted into college for the wildlife biology courses that she wanted. She was going to have to concentrate her hardest to accomplish what she wanted. She was shooting for a college close to home but some of the courses that she needed were found further away by multiple hours.

She hadn’t told Kevin yet. If she had to move away for College, she didn’t know how he would react. Would he be okay with it? She didn’t want to tell him until she was positive that she was going to get into the school and so kept it secret. The two of them had been together since they were eight. Ten years was a long time. There was a saying that said that if people were together for seven years, you’ll be together for life.

Kevin, nor his Alters, were people that she wanted to lose, ever, and even the thought of it made her sad.

More texts flew between them until she reached the park. Kevin was already on the swing set, their coffee cradled against his body with one arm, his free hands hurriedly tapping away on his phone screen.

“Wow,” She hopped onto the swing beside him, a grin on her face. “Whoever she is, she’s gotta be important.”

“The most,” His reply came as a chuckle as his phone was put away and the coffee was handed over. “Salted caramel mocha, as always.”

Emily happily took the frappe. “You’re a monster for getting me hooked on this.”

“Yes, but you love me anyway, so therefore it’s your fault.”

“That’s like blaming Belle for loving the Beast. It’s not plausible.”

“So if I were to be cursed into a Beast just like the Prince, you’d still stay?”

“If you can’t answer that on your own, you deserve punishment.”

“You really need to stop talking to Jade. She’s such a bad influence on you.”

“You’re ALL bad influences. Even you, Kev.” She moved the swing sideways, bumping his shoulder with her own as sunset fell further down behind the buildings around them.

Every chance they got they would spend time here in this park. It was the start of it all. Where they first met. Their first promise. The first time they had seen each other cry. Many things. And he found that he wanted to keep it going. He wanted them to partake of many first things together as the years went on, whether in this park or not. He wanted to...

“Emily,” Kevin’s voice was soft, dragging her attention from the half-devoured frappe’ in her hand.

She stopped chewing on her straw, a habit that she had acquired while thinking, and watched as Kevin stood up. She gave a slight frown. “Is something wrong?”

“No,” he shook his head. “I just...close your eyes for a second, okay? There’s something I want to try.”

She raised a brow at him but gave a shrug and closed her eyes. Had she been younger then she wouldn’t have thought twice about it but she wasn’t. She was positive that she knew what it was that Kevin wanted to ‘try’, and it made her heart pound in her ears as her cheeks grew red. She had no doubt that Ansel or BT or even Barry had been whispering in Kevin’s ear about kissing and though she was nervous, she didn’t have a problem. It was Kevin after all. It’s not like the thought of kissing him hadn’t come up to her mind before. In fact it was one of Jade’s favorite subjects and often she offered to let her practice with her. She-

As Kevin’s lips pressed to hers, all train of thought was cut off. She swore her heart skipped a beat and she was frozen for a moment before pressing back, unsure herself what to do. She had only seen kisses in movies or read about them in books, that stunt Ansel pulled on her didn’t count.

She had no doubt in her mind that the scene was awkward, Kevin’s nervous look as he pulled back made her giggle. Soon he joined her, pressing his forehead to hers as he stood over her.

“Was it that bad?”

“Like I have anything to compare it to,” She teased him.

“It’ll take practice,” He decided to reply, laughter exhaling out of him. “As long as you’re okay with that.”

She gave a hum, her hand reaching forward to grab one of his. “I’ll have to think on that. I’ll get back to you in a few days.”

Another chuckle sounded from him as those blue eyes of his opened again, locking with her brown ones. “Emily, I-”

“KEVIN WENDELL CRUMB!”

Now any trace of romantic atmosphere was destroyed, leaving nothing but disaster in the air.

The moment was broken, Emily jumping up from the swing as Kevin pulled back from her, though she still gripped his hand, squeezing it as she felt her heart go faster. It was their first actual kiss and it just HAD to be ruined by the mistress of Satan herself. Out of all the years the two of them had been hanging out at this park, the only time his mother appeared was now.

Mrs. Crumb looked furious, her hair in disarray and bags under her eyes from several sleepless nights, it seemed. Emily didn’t want to say Kevin’s mother looked like a drug addict, but there wasn’t much else she could say.

“How dare you ignore me! How may times have I told you not to hang around her!”

Emily blinked, letting the words register as Kevin began to stutter, trying to calm his mother down. Mrs. Crumb didn’t want Kevin around her? Was there a reason? It’s not like she had ever talked to the older woman before. Was this a...possessive thing? Another problem wrong with this woman’s head?

“You march straight home, Kevin Wendell Crumb. Right now!”

Kevin went to move to his mother’s orders, not even giving Emily a glance, but her brow furrowed. Letting go of his hand, she placed herself between the mother and son. For the last ten years she had watched the aftermath of Mrs. Crumb’s wrath. For the last ten years, Kevin and the other had done their best to make sure that these two women wouldn’t meet, but it seemed the time had finally come and there was no way that Emily was just letting him leave like this.

“Kevin doesn’t have to listen to you.”

The older woman went silent, her eyes seeming to bulge out of her head as she thought of a response.”

“Emily,” Kevin’s voice was soft, full of worry, as he tugged on her sleeve. “Em, it’s okay. It’s late anyway, and I-”

“No, it’s not okay,” Emily spoke over him. “It’s never been okay.”

“Kevin is my son and as long as he lives in my house-”

“I didn’t know being an abusive quack qualified you as his mother!” Emily’s voice was full of anger as she cut Mrs. Crumb off. “In no way do you have the right to call yourself his mother after all you’ve done to him!”

“How I discipline my son-”

“Discipline? Discipline?! If that’s what you call discipline then it’s no wonder your husband never came back!” She felt Kevin’s hand slip from her sleeve but ten years of disgust for this woman finally had its chance to release itself. “The only thing he did wrong was not taking his son with him. Anywhere else would have been better as long as it was away from you!”

Kevin felt numb. Useless. This was what he had been trying so hard to avoid for years now. With Emily’s personality as bold as it was, there was no doubt in Kevin’s mind now that she was going to unleash every thought and feeling on his mother.It made him feel weak. He had thought that he was getting better, stronger, but something always seemed to stop him train of thought, whether it was his mother or a new Alter forming.

As words were still thrown, Kevin had other voices that were dragging his attention further and further. The echoing sound of the Alters in his mind made him grip at his head, as if in pain.

Jade, BT, and Ansel were cheering Emily on, the rambunctious trio having bonded and become more vocal than before. Norma, Goddard, and Orwell had decided to distract Hedwig together, mostly out of fear of the nine year old getting too excited and taking the light from Kevin during this event. Felicia, Kat, and Ian seemed unphased as they carried on with their own conversation as if nothing was happening.

That left Kevin to turn to the last trio of the thirteen voices in his head; all which were terrifyingly silent.

Barry’s grin was replaced by a worried expression, his bottom lip subjected to the horror of being chewed between his teeth furiously. Dennis’ stone-like expression was the same as it always was, but the tight fists his hands had curled into were hidden beneath crossed arms.

That left Patricia. The British woman was closest to him, eyes wide with a mix of anger and fear and something else. A possessive look, perhaps? Kevin didn’t know how to explain the look of it, other than it struck a moment of fear in him, not that different from the one his mother made him feel.

“Kevin,” Barry’s voice dragged his attention from Patricia and to the man that had moved closer to him now. “We need to separate the two of them before it becomes more than just words.”

His eyes widened at the thought. “You don’t think it’ll come to that, do you?”

Jade gave a laugh. ”Let it! Emily can take that bitch!”

”It’s not like the Ведьма doesn’t deserve it.” Ansel hissed, his lips curled up in amusement.

“That’s not the point!” Barry frowned at them. ”If Emily were to get hurt in any way-”

Barry’s next words were cut off by the sound of Mrs. Crumb calling Emily a whore, followed by a screech and a splatter as Emily tossed the remainder of her frappe’ into the older woman’s face.

A sinking feeling, mixed with shock, disbelief, and fear took over the numbness in Kevin’s body. This was normally the feeling that struck him when he gave up the Light, but now there was another feeling. He felt like he was a coward, leaving someone else to take care of this mess.

It seemed one of the others were aware of these feelings and as Kevin began to lose the Light, he felt a soft hand against his cheek as he faded into darkness.

”Leave it all to me.”

Emily’s hand had moved on it’s own, though she would not have changed the end result for anything. The moment Kevin’s mother had called her ‘Kevin’s little whore’, her drink had left her hand. The force behind it was strong, as it exploded from the plastic cup upon contact with the older woman’s face. The satisfaction Emily felt was spectacular, though barely enough after all the abuse Kevin had put up with over the years.

Taking a step forward, ready to unload more of her mind on the horrid woman, Kevin grabbed her and pulled her back. It didn’t stop her mouth though.

“If you EVER lay a hand on Kevin again, I’ll be the one thrown in jail!”

Curses followed afterwards that were only silenced as Kevin’s hand grazed over the top of her hair in a soothing motion, a british accent sounding in her ear.

“Shh, shh, shh, calm down now. It’s all okay.”

Emily felt her shoulders fall. She didn’t have to urge to argue with Patricia but her anger was still smoldering, this time at herself. Kevin had run. The very thought of her being the reason why he gave up the Light this time made her feel sick.

“Patricia...” She was surprised, however. She had been expecting Dennis or Barry to take over, but for it to be Patricia...it gave her both relief and made her nervous.

Patricia smiled down at her. “Thank you,” She told her before placing herself between the teen and Kevin’s mother. “But allow me to handle this now.” She didn’t face her again. The British woman kept her posture straight, hands folded behind her back like they always were, and stared at the woman that had made Kevin’s life miserable. “Run along home now, little one,” Patricia’s voice was calm and smooth, but firm, leaving no room for argument of any sort. “Let me know when you make it there. I’ll be along in the morning.”

At any other time, Emily would have argued, but the tone to the British woman’s voice told her it wasn’t the best idea at the moment.

“Fine, but if you don’t reply to me before midnight, I’m coming back for you.”

“Duly noted.”

Emily gave Mrs. Crumb another glance before turning and moving away from the park. Already she missed Particia; and her frappe.

Patricia waited calmly until Emily’s footsteps were no longer echoing back to her. Kevin’s mother was growling at her, angry at everything that had transpired, but it fell on deaf ears as Patricia gave her a chilling smile.

“Let’s head home as well, shall we?”

Chapter Text

Patricia had kept to her word, sending a text to bid her goodnight before midnight, but that was all. The texts that went on well into the early morning, usually by Jade or Barry, were not found that night and so, as always, her mind jumped to the worst scenarios and resulted in a restless slumber that made her even more tired than before.

Not having work that day, Emily didn’t bother changing out of her pajamas before joining her grandmother downstairs. Julie, in her late seventies, had the signature curly white hair of the elder women and pale green eyes that were focused between the television and the sewing in her lap.

“Didn’t sleep well?” Julie’s voice held a teasing tone. “Or have you already decided being an adult is just too much trouble?”

“Everything is too difficult,” Emily replied. “But stating the truth won’t change that.”

Julie tried to cover her laugh and failed. “At least you don’t try and make excuses.”

“Why make excuses over something as small as that?”

“Ask other kids your age.”

Emily rolled her eyes before pulling her phone out. She wanted to see a message from Kevin from any of them, but there was no luck. She couldn’t help but feel anxious. There wasn’t a possible way that she couldn’t feel like that and all the seconds that went by seemed to pass slowly, dragging on and on.

Small conversations passed between the two of them until the clock struck ten and the doorbell rang. Emily glanced up, still for a moment, before standing. Draping the throw blanket from the chair around her shoulders, she opened the door. Kevin stood there but from the way he held himself she knew that it was Patricia.

Not bothering to wonder why it was Patricia that still had the light, she immediately dove into her chest, gripping her tightly. She waited for a wince, for a sound or a flinch from her touching a new marking or bruise on Kevin’s body but received nothing. She wasn’t sure what worried her more.

“Are you all right?”

“Never better,” Patricia’s voice was soft as she began to pat Emily’s head. “I told you I’d come.”

Emily nodded and pulled back after a moment, and spotted the duffle bag that sat at their feet and the backpack Patricia wore. She took a step back. “Are you sure you’re alright?” She frowned. “Did she kick you out?”

Patricia shook her head, her smile showing her amusement. “Is your grandmother home?”

“Grandmother is right here.” Julie’s voice appeared behind Emily and Patricia immediately dropped her posture, her body slouching like Kevin’s did.

“Good morning, Miss Julie.” Her british accent was gone, replaced by Kevin’s usual tone and smile. “Sorry for showing up unannounced.”

Julie watched as the duffel bag was kicked half-heartedly. A small smile spread across her face. “Care you join us for breakfast?”

“I would love to.”

The trio made their way into the kitchen, Patricia leaving her bags by the front door, and the chatter and air was the same as it always was. The three of them had shared so many mornings like this over the ten years and though Emily wanted to bombard Patricia with questions but she couldn’t do so in front of her grandmother.

Everything was just an enjoyable moment and as plates were cleared away and Julie sat back on the table, Patricia retold the story of the night before. How after Emily left and they went home themselves that ‘Kevin’ and his mother fought and she had kicked him out of the house.

“I know it’s not ideal but...you two are the only ones that I have. If I could stay here for just long enough to get my own place. I will find somewhere as fast as I can. I just...I don’t know where else to go right now but I can’t go back to that house.”

“Of course you can stay here,” Emily spoke first, setting her glass of milk down. She was expecting her grandmother to agree happily, like she always did when Kevin asked to stay the night, but she received no words and turned to look at the older woman. “Right, grandma?”

Julie folded her hands on the table, an amused yet serious look on her face. “”Tell me...who am I talking to?”

Emily swore that the world stopped. She had to force herself not to look back at Patricia as the British women stared at her grandmother, locked in a staring match.

Emily cleared her throat. “Grandma, what-”

She stopped as Patricia patted her hand. “It’s all right,” She had reverted back to her normal way of speech, the air of acting like Kevin gone. Her posture returned and she cleared her throat softly, as if readying herself. “You may call me Patricia.”

Julie smiled and nodded her head. “It’s nice to finally have a name for the one that constantly uses my kitchen. Calling you Kevin just seemed...impolite.”

Patricia gave a chuckle, her smile true as Emily was stuck in a silent shock. “You’ve known for a while then. I had a feeling.”

“I was a nurse for nearly fifty years. I’ve worked with all kinds. It’s not hard to pick up on certain things. That, and Emily didn’t know how to erase her browser history when she was a child.”

Another chuckle left Patricia’s mouth as Emily dropped her head on the table. She didn’t know whether to be embarrassed or relieved. If her grandmother had known, and for a while, then she had simply been waiting for one of them to talk first.

“How many, if I may ask?”

“How many are you aware of?”

Emily wouldn’t call it a showdown, but it was very obvious that Patricia and Julie were sizing the other up. Feeling things out. Both wore the same firm smile, their eyes not leaving the other. It was strange, watching as some silent battle happened between them. It had to have been an older woman thing. She didn’t know what else to do and so stayed silent as questions and answers were exchanged. She wanted to speak but she left Patricia handle it. The British woman knew what she was doing, she was smart. It was entertaining the longer it went on; until her name was brought into it.

“And where do the rest of you stand with Emily? Kevin gave her that ring with future intentions. Did you all agree to it?”

Patricia gave a large smile. “Of course we did. It was a mutual decision. Just like Kevin holds her dear, so do the rest of us. Life would have been much harder without her.”

Emily flushed, unable to look at either of them. “You make it sound like I’m a superhero or something. I didn’t do anything.”

The British woman shook her head. “You have done more than you realize.”

Julie watched as Emily shoved the other with her shoulder before she smiled, sipping from her cup. “If I let you stay here, there is just one condition that I will ask; two, actually.”

Patricia straightened up more, Emily’s breath caught. Julie watched her for a moment. “While I am impressed that you have gone this long on your own, conditions like this...it can be cared for easier with a professional’s help. I would like you to meet with an old friend of mine. She could tell you more than the internet can. At least then you won’t feel like the entire world is against you all.”

Patricia was silent for a moment, as if discussing everything with the others before she gave a nod. “And the second condition?”

The old woman gave a teasing grin; it mirrored Emily’s entirely. “You must keep bedroom doors open by at least three inches when together.”

Laughter left Patricia’s mouth as Emily began to screech at her grandmother out of embarrassment and disbelief that she would suggest anything would happen. “We have an accord.”

Julie continued to smile. “You may have the guest room for as long as it’s needed. You’ve practically lived here for the last ten years. I’m shocked you waited so long to ask; but I also understand.”

Emily gave a breath of relief and jumped from the table with an excited squeal. “See? I told you she’d be fine with it! We should have asked ages ago!”

Patricia watched as Emily continued to dance around happily before turning back to Julie. “On behalf of us all, I thank you. We won’t be a burden.”

The older woman nodded before leaving the kitchen. “You never have been.”

The moment Julie was gone, Emily pulled Patricia into a hug, her excited words running over each other. The other Alters that were awake were talking all at once too, but Patricia blocked them for now, their conversation able to wait until later.

“I’m so glad,” Emily was now breathing into her ear, a deathgrip on Kevin’s body. “You’re safe now!”

Patricia squeezed her, a sense of peace now settling in her before she pulled back. “I’m afraid that we didn’t have much to bring with us.”

“We’ll just get you new things. I don’t want you to wear ANYTHING from that wretched place anymore, understand?”

“That was the plan for most of us, anyway.”

“How’s Kevin?” Now that they didn’t have to worry about her grandmother hearing something that she shouldn’t, she could talk freely in the house now. “Is he okay after…”

“He’s still asleep, but he’ll be fine. He always is, especially after seeing your face.”

Emily flushed and shoved her shoulder. “Let’s go get you settled in.”

Patrica gave a silent chuckle as they moved to grab the bags and head down the hall. She didn’t need help settling in, knowing this house like the back of her hand, but she enjoyed watching how happy the teenager was. The chatter continued happily until they reached the guestroom. Patricia had only a moment to take in the floral patterns of the bed and drapes before Emily turned to face her, all smiles and laughter gone, the door closing behind them.

Patricia gave a small grin at the sight of the small gap of the door left open. Emily was such a good girl; always had been.

“Where is it?”

The British woman gave a sigh, not even bothering to question what she was looking for. “It matters not.”

“But it does matter,” Emily grabbed the end of Patricia’s shirt and began to pull it up, searching for any markings that had been left from the night before. “It matters a lot!”

“Emily,” Patricia grabbed her wrists, trying to stop her. “Emily, calm down. It’s all right.”

“I’m sorry, I just...when i think about her touching him, touching any of you, I-”

Dropping her wrists, Patricia embraced the younger woman, making her arms immobile, less she search for new bruises again. She moved backwards, dragging Emily with her until her legs hit the bed. Turning, she fell onto it sideways, Emily falling with her. She closed her eyes as she held her, the scent of the fresh, flowery fabric softener from the sheets beneath them putting her at ease.

“Such a big heart you have to care so much,” Patricia smiled, enjoying the feel of the other body. “We all thank the Heavens for the day you and Kevin met. Who’d have thought that meeting a child in a playground could change the future this much? Fate works in mysterious ways.” She felt a tremor pass through the young woman’s body and she gave a smile. “Yes, I suppose it is a tad bit funny to be thankful for...this.”

She felt something wet through her shirt and Patricia realized that Emily wasn’t laughing. She was crying. The sobs were muffled against her chest, making her heart ache. Lifting her hand, she began to stroke Emily’s hair.

“It’s okay now, little one. No need to cry.”

“It’s not fair,” Came the muffled voice. “It’s never been fair.”

“No, it hasn’t.”

“You’re not going back there. Ever.”

Patricia nodded. “No we won’t.”

“And you’re never getting hurt again.”

“Never.”

“You’re all safe now. Safe here.”

She gave a smile. “Yes, little one, we are.”

“She’ll never be able to hurt you again.”

Patricia went still for a moment before her smile returned and she placed a kiss on the top of Emily’s head.

“That’s right. Never again.”

Chapter Text

Julie Thompson believed herself to be a simple person. No extreme hobbies or likes. No rambunctious activities. Now that she had retired from her days as a nurse, she spent her days with teas, books, the occasional movies, and sewing.

There was one thing, however, one guilty pleasure that she took part in and always would. Spoiling her granddaughter. Emily was the only family she had left in the world. Her husband had died before the child was even a thought in her mother’s head and then Julie’s daughter had been taken from them both far too soon.

That night, when her daughter had been rushed to the ER during her shift...the moment she had realized that it was her daughter that clung so desperately to life, to her hand, she thought she had lost it all. It wasn’t until another nurse, who had choice words for her, announced that her granddaughter had been left with a security officer in the waiting room for three hours. The moment she approached that little girl all the child could repeat over and over was how sorry she was. It was in that moment that she swore that she was going to give this child everything that she could ever want.

Despite that, Emily had not become spoilt. The child had grown up just like a normal kid. Nothing bratty like she had seen before in other children her friends had or on the television shows that played nowadays. She never complained or whined or forced her own way. She even got her own job, wanting to go to college and make a living of her own instead of living off of the inheritance that she would get in the future.

Emily’s heart was big, just like her mother’s was. Both would try their hardest to help those they cared for, but that had been her daughter’s downfall. It was normal for her to be nervous of it being Emily’s downfall as well, right? She adored Kevin, truly, but without proper help, Julie feared the worst.

She wanted to keep that from happening.

The fidgeting from the teen beside her brought Julie from her thoughts. Tearing her eyes from the window of the bus they were riding, the streets of Philly passing by, she gave a small smile.

“It’s going to be okay, Kevin. No need to be afraid. Karen’s a nice woman and a dear friend of mine. She’ll just ask a few questions and anything that will happen after that, will happen.”

Kevin, uncomfortable on the bus, found his eyes trained on his shoes. It had been a month since Julie had allowed them to move in, a month since Kevin’s secret had been revealed, but he still felt nervous around the older woman. He had agreed to go see this doctor but wasn’t sure how it would turn out and the more he thought about it, the worse he got.

“I’m not afraid, just...nervous.”

Julie nodded. “It’ll be over before you know it. We will get back home before Emily and can surprise her with dinner.”

Kevin nodded at that, a smile lifting his lips slightly. Emily had taken a double shift that day, having left for work before the sun even rose. Dennis had woken up and went with her, riding the bus to and fro to make sure she was safe in the early hours before Kevin took the light back, making good on the promise that had been made.

He had never been alone with Julie before, Emily was always with them, but he saw the same kind of bright personality in her that her granddaughter had. It set him at ease, made him trust her, but he could not shake off the strange feelings that he had. It wasn’t from Julie, no, but from the others.

Barry, Dennis, and Patricia had been cross with one another. Dennis would normally talk to Kevin but as of late the older man had just been silent, hiding in his room and away from the others. Patricia had been spending more and more time with Hedwig, while Barry had been on edge for some reason, but would tell no one the reason why. He would give his nervous laugh like he always did and busy himself with drawings. Even Emily had commented on Barry being different but neither of them figured out why. Jade told Kevin not to worry about it, before trying to give him some pointers on ‘treating’ Emily, and the young man had to endure her speech until Ansel and BT came to his rescue.

Norma still worried him. No matter how many times she was asked, she never gave a complete answer as to why she didn’t like Emily. He wanted to know why, she had done nothing but help them all, so what was the reason?

They walked a block after the bus, Julie’s attempts to keep him calm with idle chatter worked to an extent but what little ease he felt disappeared as they entered the building they were looking for. The stairs seemed to go on forever; never ending.They were intimidating.

“Just a little further, dear,” Julie placed a hand on his shoulder, giving a comforting squeeze. “After this, when Emily gets home, we’ll all go somewhere to eat, all right?”

Kevin nodded his head and took the first step. Not because she offered him dinner or because he was now living with them and promised that he would. He did it for Emily. He wanted to get a hold on his condition for her. To thank her for all that she had done for them. The least he could do was try.

The steps went by faster than he thought that they would and when they neared the top, a voice reached his ears.

“No, George, that’s not how it goes. It goes by age. First is’ Dalv, then it’s me, and then you.” There was a pause. “You’re mentally the youngest. Have you heard yourself talk?”

Julie gave a smile that caught Kevin’s attention and he followed her as she approached the young boy that sat there on the bench outside of a large, white door.

“Cole, it’s so good to see you again.”

At the older woman’s voice, the sandy-haired boy looked up, gray eyes reading suspicion at first before a small smile spread on pink lips.

“Good afternoon, Miss Julie. Mother and Miss Karen were waiting for you.”

With a nod of her head, Julie left Kevin to take a seat on the bench beside the boy and entered the room. He felt his palms getting sweaty and his leg began to bounce in anxiety. The boy had gone silent, a mumble here and there as he looked through a book about the Solar System, before a loud -

“George, I said stop it!”

The outburst turned the boy’s face red as he buried it in the pages of his book, trying not to look at Kevin. The teen couldn’t help but smile, his nerves settling down a bit.

“There’s no need to be nervous or afraid,” Kevin smiled at the young boy.

The child, Cole as Julie had called him, peeked over his book with wide eyes, studying him for a moment that seemed to drag on forever, his book finally lowering completely.

“You mean...you can hear them too?” The boy asked.

Kevin continued to smile. “Not yours, but I have a few of my own.” He tapped the side of his head.

The child’s eyes lit up. “You do?! You mean I’m not the only one?!” He scooted closer to Kevin, book now forgotten. “What are their names? How many are there?”

The teen was caught off guard by the boy’s eagerness but he understood it. To find another with the same condition as he...it was almost relieving to know he wasn’t the only one.

“There’s Dennis, Barry, Jade. Patricia.”

He swore the kid’s eyes were going to pop out of his head. “You...you got girls?”

“Five of them.” Kevin grinned as the boy began to exclaim in shock and awe.

“Five girls and there are even more? I can barely stay sane with two of them. I can’t imagine how you’re doing it.”

The teen chuckled. Sometimes he wondered the same thing, but Emily’s face ran through his mind. “I have someone dear to me that’s been helping me do so.” He took a moment to swallow. “Can I ask what their names are?”

“George found me in New York, not long after…” The Boy went silent before his smile came back. “And Dalv appeared in Transylvania.”

It was Kevin’s turn to have his eyes bulge. “T-Transylvania? You’ve been to Transylvania?!” He wished that Emily was here. She would be demanding answers from the boy and picking apart his brain.

“My mother adopted me as a baby. She took me two years ago.”

Kevin couldn’t even go on a field trip a few hours away without an Alter being created. This kid had flown to an entire different country and back and only received one. He was impressed.

“Does your mom also see Miss Karen?”

He shook his head. “No, she works at the insane asylum!” Cole clapped his hands over his mouth almost instantly. “She said it’s proper name is a Mental Institute. She’s a doctor.”

A doctor like Julie’s friend, then, seeming as how she was here. Kevin found him thinking Cole lucky. Things would have been much different, had he had a professional from the beginning.

“Well, give George and Dalv my regards.”

Cole gazed past him for a moment, leaving Kevin to wonder if he wore a similar look on his own face when he spoke to the others. The boy then covered a snort with his hands and it made Kevin smile.

“What did they say?”

“Well, Dalv bids you a good day while George, well, I’ll just keep those words to myself.”

“I see. He’s quite the charmer, then.”

More talk about Kevin’s personalities happened until the large door opened again. A woman with red hair stepped out, dressed in a black skirt suit, heels, and slinging a bag over one of her shoulders, black frames pushed up into her hair. She wasn’t surprised to see Kevin there. She gave him a bright smile, her green eyes mesmerizing for a moment, before holding her hand out to Cole.

“Let’s go, sweetie. We’re going to cut it close for the movie.”

Cole jumped up happily, book tucked under on arm, before waving at Kevin and grabbing his mother’s hand and following her down the stairs. Kevin watched them for a moment before turning his head back to the door. Julie stood there, smiling at him.

“Are you ready?”

Something about talking with that boy made his nerves leave him. He wasn’t shaking anymore and he felt confident in about to talk to someone about all the personalities that he now had.

“Yeah,” He stood up and moved towards the door.

“Do you want me to stay?”

Had it been Emily, he would have said yes, but it wasn’t. Julie had already helped him so much by bringing him here. He had to do the rest of this on his own.

“Thank you, but I’ll be alright.” He assured her with a smile.

“I’ll be right out here then.”

As Kevin stepped inside, the first thing that caught his attention was ensnared by all the books in the room. He could feel Orwell stir in his mind and had to stop himself from going to look at them. A closed off section obviously led to the rest of this woman’s home, leaving him to turn to the desk and the large, velvet red couch.

Standing at that desk, waiting on him, was a woman about Julie’s hair with curly white hair and glasses, dressed in grey and white, a large smile on her face.

He found his footsteps disappear. “H-Hi.”

“Hello. Julie’s told me all about you. My name is Karen Fletcher.”

“Kevin Crumb. It’s nice to meet you, Miss Fletcher.”

“Doctor, if you would. As a potential client, it’s only best to keep that boundary.” The old woman corrected him and he nodded. She motion towards the couch. “Have a seat.”

Kevin understood completely and took a seat. He rubbed his hands together, his nerves starting to shake again. Things were silent for a moment, Fletcher watching him with a smile, before she finally decided to speak.

“This session is free so we may talk about anything that you wish to. School. Work. Anything that you feel like talking about. Anything that makes you comfortable.”

 

“What makes me comfortable?” Kevin repeated. “US comfortable?”

“Yes. Anything that makes you all comfortable.Perhaps a happy memory?”

Kevin thought about it for a moment before a smile spread across his face. “There’s this little ice cream place, down the road from my house...my mother’s house. My father used to take me there whenever my mother...got into one of her moods. It’s where most of my happy memories took place before he left us.”

Karen nodded, her hands folded on the desk before her as she listened. “Why else is that place special?”

“It took us right by the park that I would meet Emily in the future. It’s actually where we were heading when we spoke to her for the first time.”

“We, meaning…”

“Dennis and I. Dennis was the only one I had at the time of meeting Emily.”

“So Emily has been involved with all of them? May I ask how many there are?”

Kevin began to count off names in his head. “There are 14 of us. Dennis...Dennis is the oldest. Since I was 3, he was the only one that was there with me.”

She nodded again. “Tell me more about Dennis. What’s he like?”

The more Kevin spoke about the others, the more his shoulders felt lighter. To get this all off his chest, not to hide it from others anymore, he prayed that the more he spoke about it, the better all things would become.

That’s what doctors were for after all, right?

Chapter Text

“She’s been dead for four months?!”

“That’s what we were told. Said it was a heart attack.”

“How’s Kevin?”

“He’s been...quiet.”

“I’d be shocked if he wasn’t.”

“I can be happy for him.”

“Emily, that’s terrible.”

“She was terrible. I kinda think she got off too easy. I suppose she’s suffering in hell now, though.”

“I thought you didn’t believe.”

“I don’t, but just this once I will so I can imagine her burning over and over for the rest of eternity.”

“That’s evil.”

“She was evil. She deserves it.”

Mandi sighed from the otherside of the phone. “And Kevin’s been living in your basement for how long?”

Emily snorted. “It’s our guest room and it’s been about four months? She must have died not long after he left. He’s technically still a minor but since he turns eighteen in a few months and he’s staying here, the cops aren’t putting him into foster care.”

“Can you imagine? That would be retarded and embarassing. Your grandmother is so nice. Do you think she’ll let me and Michael move in too?”

“Why? Chaos in your castle, princess?”

“Mom and dad got into another fight about Michael the other night. He’s dating some older guy and dad still can’t accept that his son likes boys. Michael plays it off like no big deal but I know better.”

“People are annoying,” Emily sighed as she stopped outside her house. Mandi had left messages on her phone while she was at work and so she had called her back on her way home. Tomorrow was Sunday and she had the day off, thankfully. She had some homework that needed to be done.

Earlier that week the cops had shown up at Emily’s house, looking for Kevin. There had been a complaint from a neighbor about mail piling up and the landlord had found her in her living room in a chair in the living room. Barry, of course, had taken over for the last few days, Jade and Norma and a few others as well, until that morning when Kevin had appeared to have breakfast with her before he went to a therapy session.

He liked Dr. Fletcher and this would be his fifth session with her. She never asked what was discussed, but she could tell that it was helping him. He had gone almost two weeks without an Alter showing up. He had been so happy.

And then the cops had shown up.

“Well, I’m starving, so I’m gonna head inside and eat something before crashing.”

“I’m gonna do the same. I’ll bug you for math homework Monday before class so you’d better have them.”

“Just for that I’ll make sure that they’re all wrong.”

“You’re a monster.”

Laughing as she shoved her phone away, she searched through her bag for her keys. She really didn’t feel bad for Mrs. Crumb at all. No sympathy; not after all she had done to Kevin. Now he was free; physically. He had to free himself emotionally now, and she didn’t know how long that was going to take. She did know that she would be there every step of the way, however.

Slipping into the house, the October air getting colder and colder, she hung her coat by the door. Her grandmother was on another one of those trips with her church this week, leaving just her and Kevin to the house.

The house was dark so perhaps Kevin had already fallen asleep. Tiptoeing to the kitchen, she almost gave a shriek of fright when she flipped the lights on and Kevin was sitting there at the table.

“God fucking dammit, Kevin!” Leaning against the wall as her heart felt likely to jump out of her chest.

Kevin didn’t more or greet her, only stared with his arms crossed and a firm look on his face. For a moment she thought it was Dennis, but his black frames were nowhere to be seen and the rest of his attire wasn’t the man’s choice, surely.

He was in a golden flower print skirt with a burgundy, sleeveless turtleneck, a familiar golden shawl tightly pulled around his shoulders.

Patricia’s shawl.

She hadn’t seen Patricia since the day she and her grandmother had spoken, since Kevin had been allowed to move in. She had actually gotten into an argument with Barry about seeing her and Dennis, or lack thereof. Four months without either? It was...very, very different, especially after ten years of nearly daily exchanges.

 

Normally she would have pounced, giving the British woman a hug, but she sat across from her instead, her eyes trained on the familiar clothes she was wearing.

 

“You’re late.” Patricia’s voice was stern.

 

“Yeah, I had to wait,” She swallowed. “You...you went into my closet.”

 

“I’m afraid that I could not find my other clothes. Jade, more than likely, hid them.” Patricia paused, taking in the expression on Emily’s face. “Are you feeling alright? Have you eaten?”

 

“I'm okay,” Emily’s voice was soft for a moment before it strengthened again. “It’s just...been so long since I’ve seen someone wear that..”

 

Patricia immediately felt like someone punched her in the chest. Now she understood why she had never seen Emily in the dresses and skirts that were shoved in the back of her closet; why they were a tad bit larger than Emily’s other clothes.

 

These, undoubtedly had belonged to her mother.

 

Patricia now felt extremely awkward, guilty. “I’m sorry, Emily. I will go change and-”

 

“No,” Emily dove across the table, grabbing her hand. “You don’t have to. It was just a surprise, that’s all. I...never had the courage to wear them myself so it’s...nice to...too see them again.” She gave a smile. “If you...if you’d like, you can have them. I’d rather them be enjoyed than just serve as a reminder in my closet.”

 

Emily’s words seemed genuine, no trace of dislike nor lies and Patricia felt her shoulders relax.

 

“As long as you are sure.”

 

Emily nodded her head and pulled back. “Sorry to keep you waiting like this. Austinm had car trouble and I couldn’t leave until he got there.”

 

“It’s quite all right, Little one,” Patricia smiled. “You must be hungry. Let me make you something.”

 

Knowing better than to argue, Emily let the British woman do as she pleased.

 

“I feared I had done something to upset you,” She began. “I haven’t seen you nor Dennis for weeks; Hedwig, either. I didn’t, did I?”

 

Patricia paused for a moment at the counter before moving again. “Of course you haven’t, dear. I apologize, but I did not want to wake you. You look so peaceful when you sleep.”
Her cheeks flushed. “Creeper.”
There was a chuckle. “You wound me.”
A plate was soon placed before her, a pb&j as always, and she happily devoured it as Patricia ate across from her, watching with a smile. Idle chatter was exchanged, mostly Patricia checking on her schoolwork as if she didn’t talk to the other Alters anymore. There was something a bit off about her, concerning, but she didn’t ptry.

 

“Can we watch a movie?”

 

Patricia smiled at her. How long had it been since she had enjoyed a film with the young woman? “I didn’t have anything else planned. What did you have in mind?”

 

About an hour later, both of them now in pajamas, were sitting on Emily’s bed and watching the screen. The young woman had picked out a horror film and it was obviously a bad choice. Emily had a deathlike grip on Patricia’s arm, half of her face buried as the other eye peeked at the screen as the monster broke out onto the screen.

 

"I can't."

 

Patricia hald a hand over her mouth in an attempt to cover her giggles.

 

"You're the one who chose the movie, Em."

 

Emily buried her face into Patricia's arm even further. "I know, I know. Sue me."

 

Another shriek sounded from the screen and Emily's body jumped. Clicking her tongue, her grin no longer hidden, Patricia moved her arm, allowing Emily to immediately snuggle closer, her arm around her shoulders.

 

"Why horror movies if they scare you so?"

 

"Because I like being scared," Came the muffled reply. "I like the thrill of it," Then came a giggle. "And the cuddles. You and Barry give the best. But don't tell the others I said that."

 

Patricia restrained from making a face. She didn't dislike Barry but when she was spending time with Emily, she wanted to be the only one thought about.

 

Leaning over, Patricia placed a kiss against her temple. "That's because you deserve the best."

 

Resting her head on top of hers, Patricia reached out with her free hand and gripped Emily's as the teen peeked at the screen again, giving a light squeeze to the other woman's hand.

 

Patricia's attention was no longer on the movie, however. It was now honed in on everything that Emily did; every breath she took, every movement. Patricia drank in every jump, every shift. The warmth of their bodies pressed together was soothing to her. But she wanted more than just warmth.

 

What started out as just a way of watching over a child had adapted into feelings that a woman her age should not be having about a girl Emily's age.

 

And yet she did have them. All of them did. It had to be some kind of transfer of Kevin's feelings for Emily, that was the only explanation, but to Patricia, something told her that it was something more than that.

 

She had felt it for years, even before Kevin announced that he was in love with her. The only one that she ever really talked to about it was Dennis, though the man in question had been rather silent towards them all as of late.

 

It was a desire that Patricia felt, and a dangerous one. One that had reared its head four months ago when Emilyl and Kevin’s mother had finally met.

 

One that not only frightened Barry, but herself as well.

 

The more she ignored it, the more confident she was in thinking that one day this passion she felt would explode, and all for the wrong reasons.

 

She wanted to be content with how they were now, with their current contact, but it just...wasn’t enough. 

 

It started with her hair. Patricia's fingers began to comb through the auburn locks. She felt the tremble that grazed her scalp and couldn’t hide the grin that spread along her lips. There was no other reaction as she continued to play with her hair, at least until their hands tightened simultaneously, Patricia's thumb rubbing the back of the other.

 

Emily's other hand slid out from beneath her and curled around behind Patricia. The woman froze as the hand cupped at her hip. Her tongue darted out, wetting her lips as she dared to move again.

 

Slowly, her hand moved from her hair to her shoulder, her fingers tracing small circles. She felt the goosebumps rise on Emily's skin; it made her heart beat louder.

 

Emily jumped from the movie again, her face buried into the other woman’s chest as she cursed at the scene of the movie. 

 

“Such a scared one you are tonight,” Patricia teased, kissing the side of her head again. “It’s rather adorable.”

 

“Take that adorableness and point it at yourself. You AND your sheep pajamas.” She flicked at one of the animals on her thigh.

“Nothing is more adorable than the look on your face when you are caught off guard.”

“Off guard, huh? I’ll show you off guard.”

And then it was Patricia's turn to jump.

Emily had moved closer, placing a playful bite on the side of Patrica’s neck. The British woman froze, her mind not sure how to react. Alarms blared in her mind, warnings of this not being a good idea. She could feel the other Alters shifting. They couldn’t see, but they could feel that something was happening; that something was off.

She felt, wrong, like she was betraying Kevin but at the same time, this was what she wanted, right? Her feelings for the young woman had developed and it was getting harder to ignore them.

So very, very hard.

Her body moved, the hand leaving her shoulder and cupping the side of her face before Patricia pressed their lips together. She had seen Kevin kiss her in the park just before his mother had arrived and had been envious. Now she didn’t have to feel that way anymore.

Part of Patricia had been afraid that Emily would pull away, that she would start panicking over the touch, but it was quite the opposite response. Emily pressed back, gripping her tighter. The hand that had been holding Emily’s moved, pressing into her hip as the kisses continued before she decided to be bold and slip it up Emily’s shirt, her hand connecting with the warm, soft skin of her stomach.

And then it was almost like a force had slammed into the side of her head. Patricia didn’t have to think hard about which of the Alters had done it; she could see his enraged face very clearly.

It was Dennis.

His anger was felt and it brought the British woman to a stop. The others didn’t know what was happening but from the man’s anger, she was sure that he knew.

Patricia pulled back from Emily almost instantly, catching her breath as she pulled her hands into her lap. It felt almost as if Dennis was staring down at her, his judging face shaking her.

“Am I that bad?”

Emily’s joking made Patricia glance back at her and she gave half a laugh. “No, it’s not you. It’s…” She searched her mind for an excuse, not sure how to tell her that Dennis had been the one to frighten her away; for now. “Despite being in Kevin’s body, I’m still much older than you. It seems...improper to continue further.”

Emily watched her for a moment, the movie forgotten. “Ahh, so you got cold feet. How cute.”

The British woman pressed her lips together. “I did not get cold feet.”

“Sure you didn’t,” The teen teased before setting back against the other woman’s shoulder and settling her eyes on the screen again. “We’ll just have to try again when I’m older. Say...after graduation?”

Patricia went stiff. “This is not a joking matter, Emily. I could have-”

“I’m not stupid, Patricia. I know exactly where it could have gone, but that’s fine by me. I don’t want us to rush into anything. We’ve all already decided that we want to be together. We don’t have to go any further until we’re all comfortable.

“I…apologize,” Patricia backed away, looking guilty. For some reason, she felt like she had been betraying Kevin with the lewd thoughts that she held in her head. That was the last thing that she wanted in her mind.

Emily giggled, reaching out to interlock their fingers together. “Why apologize?” She glanced back at the screen. “Did you know what while Curry was dressed up as Pennywise, the entire cast and crew avoided him? Said that it was too creepy to be around him for long. Kinda dickish, if you ask me. Just jerks.”

Patricia wasn’t sure how to respond with how quickly the subject was changed, but she was grateful. She could still feel Dennis lingering over her, the others having settled down quite a bit, but she ignored it all and went back to enjoying her time with Emily.

Chapter Text

“Oh, they just grow up so fast.”

There was a moment of silence and Jade looked at the woman beside her with a look of disbelief. “Are you actually crying?”

“Oh, Jade, how can you not?”

“Because I’m not a pussy?”

“Oh, but Jade, it’s prom! She looked so beautiful!”

The teen rolled her eyes. “God, Felicia, you’re such a baby. I’d rather hang out with Hedwig.”

Felicia scoffed and used a tissue to dry her eyes. “So rude, Jade. You need to learn some proper manners.”

“Oh, I have manners, just don’t see the point in using them.”

It took power for Felicia not to roll her eyes before smiling. “You did a good job, Jade. I will admit, I was anxious at first, but you proved me wrong; all of us wrong.”

The teen let a grin spread. “You don’t need to tell me; I was there.” She gave the older woman a glance. “What about Barry?”

“He’s absolutely devastated. When he’s done with BT and Samuel, I’m positive that you’ll catch an earful.”

“Good. It’s been too quiet in here. I’m tired of it.”

The place in Kevin’s mind where all the Alters ‘lived’ was suffocating to Jade. She had named it the Enclosure because she felt like a caged animal, but Emily happily referred to it as Cerebro. It was from some comic book series that she and Kevin enjoyed, but she never understood it.

Cerebro was like a crossroads. There were four hallways formed like an ‘X’, each hall having doors on either side, giving everyone their own private place when they weren’t in the Light. None of them understood why Kevin’s mind had formed this way but it had and the more Alters that appeared, the more doors were created.

Hallway One held rooms for Kevin, Dennis, Hedwig, and BT.

Hallway Two was for the ladies; Patricia, Felicia, Jade, Norma, and Kat.

Hallway Three held Orwell, Ansel, and Goddard.

Hallway Four belonged to Samuel and Barry.

Poor Barry had felt alone for the longest time and, when not in the Light, had invaded other’s rooms for social activity. Dennis’ room had apparently been his favorite for that is where the other man always found the effeminate persona, sprawled out on his bed after leaving the ‘Light’, his sketches scattered all over the place. He returned to even find Barry sleeping on his bed a few times and freaked out over pencil shavings in his sheets.

Barry had hidden in Kevin’s room for days after, it felt.

All four hallways met in a large, circular room. With a cluster of chairs, each designed for their Alters, as in Kat’s was a dark, cushioned throne that looked like it belonged in a vampire film as Hedwig had a large, red beanbag chair, they surrounded a large, leather recliner where Kat currently sat, her having taken the Light from Jade about an hour ago.

The months passed, January bringing with it the end of their final High School year and something Barry, Jade, and Felicia were excited for.

Prom.

Kevin’s nerves were easily jumbled when the idea of Prom was brought up. He and Emily had never gone to any school dances, always enjoying sleepovers or movies instead, but Barry and Jade had convinced him into asking the girl to the dance and she had accepted.

Barry had been so excited to help her pick out a dress but Jade had taken Emily out on their day off that morning and picked out a dress for her. Only Felicia and Patricia were aware of Jade’s intent with the dress and had distracted Barry from the Light. All three women had been laughing about it for days.

Jade was in her room, shades of pink and blue all over her bed as posters of bands she liked on the walls. A typical teen girl’s room if you forgot this was a place created in someone else’s mind. Everyone’s room was in the image of each Alter, just like their chairs, and so all were different.

Felicia had entered her room to speak about the prom dress and started crying over it, making the teen retort harshly.

Jade sat on her bed in jean shorts and a white tank top, her dark chocolate hair pulled into a ponytail, strands currently being twisted by her fingers as her attention went back to the magazine in her hands.

Felicia was in her early 40s, her light brown hair in curls as she wore a red and white flower print dress as she clenched a handkerchief in her hands.

The real reason that Jade had taken Emily out to shop for a prom dress was to gather information. No one else had bothered to ask the young woman her plans for after graduation and so she had taken it upon herself to do so.

She wanted to give Emily the chance to tell her first before she decided to go snooping through her things. Jade had been able to drag everything out of Emily. Everything that involved college and their future.

The answer was, more or less, what Jade thought it was going to be.

Emily had received an acceptance letter to a college for zoology, like she wanted. Unfortunately, it was to a college nearly five hours away. It was somewhere that Kevin and the rest of them could not not follow.

 

They could not follow because at the beginning of the summer.. Kevin had accepted a job at the Zoo already. He had kept to his promise. Their Home Ecs teacher’s brother worked at the zoo as manager and was willing to train him. Kevin had taken the offer, so completely ecstatic when he had told Emily. Emily had hidden the letter from him, unable to bring it up.

Jade understood. She didn’t know how the other would feel, how Kevin would feel, but she understood her dilemma. She wouldn’t know how to bring it up, either. Some will be excited for her, others would be against it, but Kevin...she didn’t have a clue on how he would react.

Would another Alter be born due to it?

Most likely.

“JADE!”

The sound of Barry’s voice rang from outside the room and the teen nearly dropped the magazine she held.

“Sounds like I should leave,” Felicia gave a grin and stood from the bed.

Jade sighed as the other woman left and only had a few moments before Barry’s face was in her doorway.

A middle aged man, Barry’s light brown hair was fashioned into a messy side sweep with a pair of dark eyes. Dressed in high tops, black jeans, and a white shirt with a sweater, he looked furious.

“You have some explaining to do, young lady.”

She could not hold back her scoff. “What are you, my father?”

Barry was usually the calm one of the group, anger clearly not a feeling he radiated often and it left Jade feeling a tad bit intimidated.

“You knew that I wanted to help her pick out a dress. I have been looking forward to it for months! And you use some round about way to steal it from me!”

“I felt a woman should be the one to help Emily pick out a dress. Besides, you can’t keep a secret to save your life. Kevin would have seen the dress and the surprise would have been ruined.” The man glared at her a bit longer before he gave a sigh and took a seat beside her. Jade set her magazine aside and placed a hand on his shoulder. “I did you proud, Barry. Trust me.”

He gave a groan and tossed himself backwards on her bed to stare at the ceiling. “I will, but if I don’t like it, we’ll be having a talk.”

Jade giggled. “If Patricia approved of it, then you’ll adore it.” At the mention of the British woman, she noticed the furrowed brow and frown. “You’ve been acting weird around Patricia for weeks now Barry. Around Dennis, too. Was there an argument between you three or something?”

He glared above. “Not an...you shouldn’t worry about it. Just...be careful around them.”

Jade blinked. This was really, really weird. Barry, Dennis, and Patricia were the oldest. For him to be acting like this, it made her worry. Everyone had noticed it, even Kevin.

“If you’re suspicious of anyone, it should be that girl, not one of us.”

Jade rolled her eyes at the voice that passed by her room. “You can take your ‘Anti-Emily’ club and go jump off a cliff, Norma,” Jade flipped the older woman off, despite knowing that it wouldn’t be seen by anyone but Barry. “Stupid bitch.”

“Emily has done nothing wrong.” Barry sighed. “I don’t get why Norma doesn’t like her. She never gives a real answer. I am beginning to think she hates her because everyone else likes her.”

“She doesn’t quite strike me as a contrarian, though.” Jade dropped her chin into her palm. “I feel a tad bad for Hedwig. Poor guy has to deal with both her AND Orwell. And sometimes it’s at the same time! I offered him headphones but he declined, saying it was rude.” She gave a snort. “Maybe now that Kevin’s mother is gone, we won’t be woken up to Sergeant Sebastian all over our halls anymore. Can you imagine Julie’s reaction?”

Barry pulled a face. He remembered waking up in that fort and seeing the wall for the first time years ago. He would hate for that to happen in Julie’s home. “Well, the witch isn’t around anymore, so he should be all right.”

Jade was silent for a moment, something about Barry’s tone making her frown. “What are you hiding, Barry?”

“Don’t we all hide things?” The man replied. “Why should I tell you anything?”

She pouted at him. “Stingy brat.”

“Hi Kettle, name’s Pot. Have we met?”

She snorted and stretched her arms over her head. “You-”

“Barry!”

The distressed voice rang down the hall. It was BT’s voice, making the duo on the bed exchange a look. BT NEVER sounded like that.

Jumping up, Jade followed the man out into the hall to find that the other Alters were all poking out into the halls. Even Dennis, who had locked himself up in his room for the last few days, peered out of the first room of Hall One.

Kevin was no spotted, announcing that he was still asleep and was not aware of what was happening. IIt was both a good thing and a bad thing, depending on why BT was yelling.

 

Kat was no longer in the main chair, but in Patricia’s grasp. At first, Barry thought that the British woman had forcefully removed the other from the center chair, but upon a closer glance he saw that the goth was crying, clinging to the older woman. Without another word, Barry jumped into the center chair himself, leaving Jade on her own to figure out what was wrong.

“What the hell is going on?” Jade glanced at the man that stood off to the side.

BT with blond hair and blue eyes and dressed in khaki shorts and a tank top, shook his head as he stared at Patricia and Kat.

 

“I’ve no clue. She just jumped out of the chair, and started crying. Patricia had been on her way to Hedwig’s room, I think, and was the first person she saw, so she latched onto her.” The man combed his hair back from his face. “You don’t think anything has happened to Em, do you?”

Jade smacked him upside the head. “Don’t say stupid shit like that until we know what’s going on. Do you want to cause a panic?”

“It seems like one of us is already panicking enough!”

Ignoring them, Patricia stared at Barry as he took over the Light, her questions directed at the young woman that was crying against her. “What is it, dear? What’s happened? Is Emily safe?”

It took a moment for the goth to catch her breath and answer. “It’s Julie, Patricia. She’s...she’s…”

Patricia didn’t need to hear anything else, the answer plain and simple now. The moment the name had left, she knew, leaving Jade and the others to hear the story as she gazed towards Barry again.

When Jade and Emily had left the house that morning, they had just assumed the elder woman had been sleeping in.

It was now apparent that the older woman had actually been dead.