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*Note* This fic is currently going rewrites, but will still be updated

I never really asked for much. Just one day with my father.
Haley's circus had just come to town and when my dad told me we were finally going to spend some time together. I was ecstatic. I was also lonely.
Ever since Mom had left us a while ago, there had been some distance between us. He no longer called me his little Princess or spent time with me altogether. I was thirteen then, I hadn't been to a circus since I was eight and couldn't wait to go.

I stood in line in the chilly late October air with my hands in the pockets of my 70's style denim jacket that my mom had given to me. I looked up at my dad and smiled. For the first time in a long time we were going to have fun. Once we got our tickets my dad bought me a bag of blue cotton candy. For the first half hour I was able to forget all about my worries. I finally felt like a princess again, sitting on the carousel with my light-brown hair dancing behind me.

By 8:00 we went inside a large tent for the show. I watched in awe as a man danced with fire in front of us, tossing around flaming batons and even lit a ring that he proceeded to use as a hula hoop, the flames barely licking his bare, tattooed torso. He reminded me of a young version of my father, when he was able to sweep Mom off her feet.

A woman with a snake came out next, dressed in thin layers of clothing like a gypsy. She seemed maybe in her early forties, but her movements made her seem younger. The snake slid around her body as the music played. I didn't even notice how my father's eyes lingered on her long after she finished her display.

Once outside the tent I caught sight of a dart throwing game. If you popped three balloons you would win a stuffed polar bear.

"Hey Dad can we-" I began, but then noticed that he was not at my side.

"Dad?" I called out for him, but there was no answer. I stumbled back through the crowd, until I caught sight of his jacket. I ran up to him and caught him by the sleeve.

"Dad! I found you. Wait till you see…" I was interrupted by a glare. I let go immediately. "Look honey," he said pulling out a small wad of cash. "Why don't you go have fun by yourself for while? There's something I need to check out."

Before I could reply he was once again lost in the crowd. Frowning, I made my way back to the dart booth. All of a sudden it felt much colder.

"Five darts, please." I mumbled to the red haired boy managing the booth. He gives me a small, sweet smile. He looked about my age if not older. He wordlessly passed me the darts and stood to the side as I started throwing. I thought about my father.

Pop. One down.

We were just beginning to have fun.

Clack. I missed.

Why did he have to give me such a dirty look? Did I do something wrong? The last time he gave me that look, I had to cover up the bruise on the side of my head for weeks.

Pop. I hit it right in the center.

I remember my mother assuring me it would never happen again.

Clack. I'm not even paying attention.

Mom… I sure did miss her. I wish he didn't have to drive her away. She wasn't perfect but she tried her best. He just made it too difficult for her. Like he's beginning to do with me.

I'm brought back to reality as the final pop of a balloon hits my ears. Oh yeah, I'd won. The boy hands me the polar bear and it makes me a little less sad. I smile and take it.

"Wow. Two straight through the board". He says looking at my darts with approval. I follow his green eyes. It's true. I had thrown the last two pretty hard. I was about to say something when he looks over my shoulder and his face falls. He clenches his jaw and looks down. I glance behind me and my eyes land on where his had once been.

My heart gets caught up in my throat. I don't know what to think because there is my dad, my father who had loved me and Mom for as long as I could remember with his tongue halfway down snake-lady's throat, hands roaming over her gypsy attire.

No...

I felt sick to my stomach.

I see him leaving concession stand now, two beers in hand. I don't like this. As I run up to him he shoves me off and I can tell the beer wasn't all he's had. I know better than to annoy him further as he gives me a look as if to say Not now, dammit and I see snake lady take a drink from his hand and lead him to a trailer.

Now it's almost ten and the circus is closing. I'm sitting on a bench outside of the trailer my father is currently in, white bear clutched tight. It's much colder now.

Don't cry. I look down at my feet. Don't cry. It's not working. Tears fall. I feel pathetic.

I hear footsteps and immediately try my best to dry my eyes and I look up.

It's the boy. The one with dark red hair and eyes like green crystals that currently look puffy. He's standing five feet away from me and I don't know what to say.

"It's after hours you know."

"Yeah I know I just…" my lip trembles and I look down. I hate crying in front of people. I don't know what to say. "You live here?" I ask.

"Yeah. With my mom." He says the last syllable like a swear.

"Oh. Well my dad is… in… there." I say without thinking. He's now sitting by my side his nails sink into the bench.

Oh god, he must hate me. I mentally kick myself for saying this. I'm about to say something else but he surprises me. "I'm so sorry. She's a fucking whore." He mutters, his voice giving a hint of sorrow but his face remains stoic and neutral. "I'm Jerome by the way."

"Elise." I reply.

I reach into my bag, withdrawing a pack of Marlboro Lights. Why the hell not? I swiped a pack from my uncle Tom's place a while back. A single missing from my old man, he'd know immediately. He's not a bad father, really. Of course he overreacts when I step out of line. It's not something that I usually did. I had only ever smoked four in my life. The first making my lungs burn, the second being better, the third leaving my feeling sick. The fourth was just fine.

I light one and it's only then that I realize how close he was sitting next to me. "Want one?" He shakes his head. For some reason I feel a little better now, with this strange red haired boy at my side.

[Jerome]

Tonight began as most nights usually do. My mother getting in the pants of the first man to smile at her. It still didn't make it any better when I was working the dart booth and saw her hands (and mouth) all over yet another man, making me forget all about the pretty girl in front of me. She was what made this night different than all the others.

I watch the soft-faced girl as she lets the smoke escape her parted lips and disappear in wisps into the night. We talk. Her name is Elise, just like that song by Beethoven. Classic and pretty. It was a name that suited her well.

We talk for what seems like an hour. She tells me about her life with her father and when our hands touch on the bench, I take hers into mine despite her blush. Her hand is cold. She leans her head on my chest, eyelids drooping. I want to put an arm around her but then her dad comes stumbling out of the trailer. She got what she wanted and sent him away, just like she always does.

Before anything else can happen he grabs her arm, muttering something incoherent before he drags her away from me. I want to go after her but my mother begins to pull me through the screen door. "My boy should stay away from girls like that." She says. "Now do the goddamn dishes."

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

It was because of her Jerome thought as he continued to intently scrub the blood from his hands. He remembered the last time he saw her, getting dragged away by her father. She had looked into his eyes until she vanished from his sight. His mother had beaten him that night.
The next day he looked for her, working the games longer than he needed to, just so that he wouldn't miss her if she came back. But she never did. God, he wanted to see her again so bad.

That had been nearly four years ago. Four years that he had tolerated his mother and her ever increasing drunken episodes.

All up until that one night.

He was sitting on his bed, a bruise welting on his ribs from his mother's 'lover'. The only other noise besides the sick scraping of the bed in the next room was that coming from the outside. An old turntable he hadn't regarded until now switched tracks. He tried to focus on the soft classical noise of piano. He strained to hear it better.

A jolt went through his spine. That smooth melody recognized in an instant.

Fur Elise… For Elise… Elise…

For the only person who had ever laid a hand on him without ill intent.

His mouth twitched into a maniacal grin as he retrieved the hatchet from under his bed.

[Elise's POV]

After my first two weeks in Gotham, I had already learned that you are never truly safe. Turning an alleyway, I arrive at my current residence. That being beneath the large bridge that I shared with a handful of other people my age who life had also not been so kind to.

Before I go to my designated spot, I slink behind a dumpster and drop to my stomach, dragging out a large beanbag. More than half of the beans are missing. This is where I keep various items like my comics and sketchbooks so they stay dry. A little girl named Ivy had caught me one day so we now have an agreement that she gets to have my old comics. That was fine by me, as long as she didn't want my old, stuffed polar bear I kept stashed at the bottom. Anyone who says they have no inner child deep down then they, (much unlike that my bag) were full of beans. *(I sincerely apologize for that joke)

I open the wallet that I had barely gotten away with, quickly stuffing the dollar bills away in my jacket, and promptly tossed it into the dumpster. I hear an upbeat chanting noise and see the school bus full of cheerleaders and jocks headed my way. As they passed me I catch a glimpse of my reflection. Becoming aware of my tousled hair and thin lips. I unconsciously run a hand through my hair in an attempt to comb it, but to no avail.

Shaking my head, I carry on.

It wasn't the gunfire that had first caught my attention. It was the screaming. Something was happening. Something bad.

Straight ahead of me the school bus of once giggling cheerleaders are now being held in some sort of hostage situation. Police cars whizz past me. This isn't good. I'm too close. The exit to the alleyway now blocked, my best bet is to turn around and take off, all of which I have every intention of doing. Trust me, I did. Until I heard a loud and insane, giddy laugh from the bus and the sound of a hose. What the hell is going on? This whole situation seems like some sort of sick joke. There are more gunshots. Now I'm running. Now I want as much distance as possible between me and whatever the hell was going on.

Jerome

Jerome jumped on to the truck, cackling as they sped off, doing a full 180 back down the alleyway. His heart was thumping with adrenaline. He was enjoying this, he really was.

I run the distance between there and the closest thing I had to a home. My ankle twists with a crunch but I don't let it slow me down until I slide to the place that I kept all I had.

The sudden exit these criminals has them coming my way now as the truck is now coming to speed past the spot where I am frozen, laughter echoing through the street.

It's been a week now and I'm trying to forget the little run-in that I had just witnessed days before. My mind is on more pressing matters: like what am I going to eat. I'm bent over a huge trash bin in the area where I was last week (it's mostly vacant now due to current incidents). A sudden noise causes me to be on my feet in an instant. A car screeches to a halt underneath the seemingly vacant alley. I peek over the lid of a trash bin as a pale, red haired boy in a police officer's uniform jumps down, bouncing on his feet as he lands. Just my luck.

"Well, that was a rush!" he drags a hand down his face, laughing. I squirm back and flatten myself, trying to inch underneath the dumpster. I think I'm safe until hand takes hold of my ankle, dragging me out and into the open. I'm forcefully yanked out and dropped to the hard ground. I'm on my feet in an instant, pulling out my only weapon – half of a pair of scissors.

"My, what did you find, Greenwood?" One of them lets out a sick chuckle. I make a quick dart to my side only to run straight into something tall and solid. I am grabbed by my collar of my jacket by the huge bald man and lifted as my legs dangle beneath me. This leaves my entire upper body useless as I grasp the back of my collar to prevent myself from being choked. My scissor hits the ground. A man with long, ratty hair joins the redhead and looks up at me in amusement. I give him a hard kick to the chest when his fingers graze my calf.

All of this just seems to elicit more laughter from the ginger as he grasps my chin, holding me at eye level.

"Pretty girls shouldn't be all on their own in places like this. There are some crazies around here, didn't you know?"

"Fuck you."

He cocks his head to the side, those eyes burrow deep into mine, as if he's looking for something. His eyes soften for a moment.

"How would you like to come with me, firecracker?" he asks quietly, the corners of his mouth twisted up into a smile.

"Fuck… You."

He sighs.

A cloth is pressed to my face and my vision turns to grey.

As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I vaguely remember someone holding me. I feel someone else's breath on my cheek before I lose consciousness entirely.

***
"We need her."

"Don't listen to him Mr. Galavan he just has blue balls for this chick!"

Greenwood's nose is crunched into his face, ensuring that he would not interrupt anymore.

"As much as I would love a new member, I have to be certain of her dedication to the Maniax. We're going to have to figure something out, Jerome. If she fails to cooperate this will not end well for her."

The decision had been made. Elise wasn't going anywhere. Jerome would be damned if they tried to take away the girl.

She lay in the room next to Jerome's on a small bed. He had carefully removed her jacket, thinking of how nice it had felt to have her warm body slumped against him as he carried her. He was entranced by her curves and the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed softly. No way in Hell was he going to lose her again. Pressing a kiss to her forehead, he exits, locking the door behind him.

Chapter Text

When I wake up there is a dull ache in my forehead. I look to my left and there is a glass of water and a bow on donuts on a night stand. Current events rush into my head and jolt up and out of the bed - only to yank on the cuff around my wrist attached to the bedpost. I scream in frustration as I tug on the chain until I hear a light chuckle from behind me.

"Oh good, you're awake. Glad we didn't hit you too hard. I'm Jerome by the way, we've actually met before." He says as he strides over to me. I recognize the pale man instantly.

"Yeah, I can see you're a real hit" I say, sarcastic as hell. This takes him by surprise as he bursts into hysterical laughter, rolling on the floor and popping up at the side of my bed.

He leans in close with an ear to ear grin. "Oh, we are going to have a lot of fun, gorgeous" He sits on the bed, crawling closer to me.

"Don't fucking touch me." I pull the blanket closer to me, prepared for the worst.

His smile falls. "Is that any way to speak to the person who saved you from the streets? I mean, you have to admit this is a little nicer than your old place, and a bit less of a dump." he chuckles at his joke. When I don't reply and he sighs.

He leaves the room soon after and for some reason I don't feel any better alone. I think about that last thing he said, however. Yesterday I had been scraping cans out of the trash for dinner

I hear footsteps and a woman's voice talking with the Jerome.

A few minutes later the door creaks open and in walks a woman much more attractive and graceful than I could ever be comes in and introduces herself as Barbra. I stay silent. She looks me up and down.

"Holy hell, kid you could use a shower." She releases me from the cuff. "Don't get any ideas yet, hon. I still don't know how I feel about you." She says, her eyes telling me what she was capable of, all while holding the same friendly smile.

She puts an arm around my shoulders and guides me down the hall. We pass empty rooms until we get to a grand bathroom. What it lacked in size, it made up for appearance. Glass doors to a shower with white, fluffy towels, a robe, and multiple shiny bottles of soap lined around it. She tells me she'll come get me when I'm done and clicks the door. I stand there uncertainly before I begin to peel off my clothes. Looking at the pile of my cut-off shorts, leggings, and a dark sweater and then to the mirror I realize she's right. I take advantage of all of what is in there. I hadn't been groomed in a long time.

When I get out I see that my clothes are now gone. I throw on the silky, navy blue robe and peek out the door. Barbara is sitting at a table reading a magazine. I go back to my room, unsure of what I was supposed to do. I notice for the first time a small closet in the room, along with the contents of what I had stored in my bean bag back in the street. I hadn't known they'd brought it. I get out my comics and reread them, not sure of what else to do.

After several hours I grow restless and peek outside the door. I catch sight of the hairy man that had found me (whose name was Greenwood I think) standing alongside the huge bald man who had me dangling by my collar. As soon as the shorter one caught me, he took his two fingers and tongue and make a lewd gesture my way, making me grimace. Once they leave I take a step out of my room just to come face-to-face with Barbara.

"Jerome's waiting in there by the way." She nods her head to a larger room at the end of the hall.

I don't want to but, seeing all the choices I was left with, I took a deep breath and walked to the door.

There he sat, clothed in pajamas and a maroon robe, looking at a newspaper and grinning. There is light music in the background and the room is very dimly lit. He gets up and in an instant he has an arm around me, holding up the paper to the front page. Pictured was the bus of cheerleaders he had nearly torched.

"Would you look at that?" he says, laughing as he sits back down on the couch and motions for me to come sit next to him. I do, reluctantly, sauntering over and taking a seat on the opposite end of the small couch. He has other ideas however, as he put an arm around my waist and sat me on his lap. Now I'm afraid again. I don't like the way he looks at me and I remember how fucked I must be. These people are murderers. God knows what he wants with me.

He reaches up and brushes a strand of hair back. I don't recognize the look on his face.

"You know, I always wondered what had happened to you after that night. I looked for you and I was worried about what had happened…" he stares off and when he looks back up at me he is back to his usual jokester grin. "But you're here now and that's all that matters."

I gulp, not knowing what to say.

He jumps up suddenly, pulling me up with him. "Would you like to dance with me, Elise?"

He uses a remote to increase the soft music ever so slightly and draws me nearer. My head is level with his chest and he pulls me a little closer so that I'm leaning on him slightly but I'm rigid against his body. We 'dance' slowly, with him leading me in small circles as I take small steps. After a while I'm able to relax and lean more against him. An almost sweet scent was coming off his collar. I was trying to decide if it was cologne or if he too had just taken a shower when all of a sudden my back touches the wall.

I tense up again. We are no longer dancing as his hand strokes my shoulder, the other wandering down to my hip, trying to reach softer skin. I'm reminded of my bareness under the robe and push him slightly. He doesn't budge. I lose my cool when he puts his knee between my legs and his tongue touches my neck. Something clicks in my head.

This is how it happens. One of your first nights on your own. First they get you to trust them, then the next thing you know he has you trapped and beaten and tries to take off your pants and you haven't felt this scared since your dad and oh god, is his friend just watching? You want to throw up as his filthy hands roam your body and he talks about how much he's going to enjoy 'breaking you in'… And then you remember your broken scissors and the next thing you know there's blood on you and holes in his belly and chest and face and now the role of victim is reversed now and you're reminded of that saying 'the hunter has become the hunted' or some shit like that and you've never felt this sick but he's the jackass who had cornered a scared animal…

I shove the heavily breathing man with all my might, so that he stumbles back and I pull my robe back together, tears pricking at the corners of my eyes. He was just like a child. Trying to take whatever he wants.

"I… I apologize." He says softly. "That was extremely *ahem* un-gentlemanly of me. Guess I just…got caught up in the moment…Forgive me?"

I don't reply.

"I won't do that again… I'm sorry." His green eyes had a look of guilt in them. I get up and quickly run back to my room.

Chapter Text

He'd planned on finding her ever since he got out, but who would have thought she'd be right there in Gotham? After all of the hysterical screams of those pesky cheerleaders, her face was so refreshing and beautiful. In fact, all of her was. And he was finally able to take her away. He would gut whoever attempted to separate them again.

He was a bad guy; he knew it, everyone else did too, but for some reason with her he wanted to be seen as something else. What that was, he wasn't quite sure. But his damn boyish tendencies had gotten the better of him. He hadn't expected it either, he had just had her so close. With her sweet smelling hair right beneath his fingertips… fuck, the things she did to him…

Once I was able to calm down, sleep came to me easily as if I had been wrapped in warmth. Now I wake up before the sun, confused momentarily by my surroundings until I feel the presence of another's body. My eyes widen when I am once again faced with his chest, a heavy arm over me. His sleeping face makes him look a lot younger, less intimidating.

Jerome… I did remember Jerome. I remembered that handsome redhead who had comforted me all those years ago. That night was one I've always remembered. I'd been fascinated with him when he stopped my tears and made me briefly forget my loneliness. Maybe I'd overreacted but sure as hell would not let him touch me like that. I regretted letting him see where my weak spots were. It was like he knew just what would get to me. I thought long and hard that night about what had triggered my attack. I was a killer. But was I like him?

A light touch of breath touches my cheek and I know he's awake. I remain silent, averting his gaze as I don't know what to expect with him in my bed. I grip the collar of my robe tighter around me.

"Feeling better?" he asks softly.

"You're in my bed." I respond in a flat voice.

"I thought you'd like the company." He says in his carefree tone.

"What happened to your circus games?" I ask, instantly regretting the snarky comment. I just let slip my recognition of him. I can tell it wasn't something that he expected me to say, but in an instant his grin reappears.

"I'd say the same thing that happened to your daddy issues, doll."

I wonder if he just thinks that this is all some sick game. After that I say nothing. He sighs and gets up, obviously annoyed with my lack of communication. Once he leaves, I relax and pull the blankets tighter around me.

I stayed right there in that room until the next night, wary of everyone in this house, taunted more with the laughter and clamor I could hear below. He told me the door would be locked whenever he would leave. What he didn't tell me was that he would be gone for nearly two days by the time he arrives I'm hungrier than I have ever been in my life. I want to cry with joy when Jerome invites (more like commands) me to come down and have breakfast. He nudges food toward me as if to apologize for leaving me for so long.

After consuming about seven donuts I begin to notice the way that Greenwood man is looking at me. How long has he been staring? He's eyeing me like I'm a piece of meat. He leans over, inhaling my scent. Jerome notices this and calls me over.

"Come here, doll."

I go to the other side of the table, allowing him to pull me onto his lap. He holds a possessive arm around me, resting his head on my shoulder. I can feel the smug look he is casting his way. A shade of pink crosses my cheeks at this display even though no one seems to pay any mind. Greenwood ultimately leaves, pouting like a child being denied candy.

Soon the rest leave and Jerome and I are the last ones at the table.

"Jerome?" I say timidly

"Hm?"

"Wh-What…happened?...With you I mean?" I say, not sure how to ask him what had been on my mind all this time. What happened to that boy I had met years ago? I ask this, knowing that the answer would no doubt be ugly, but I couldn't help but wonder what events had led him to this criminal organization.

Instead, he turns me to face him. "Let's go somewhere today, Elise. Just you and me." He says with a look of excitement in his eyes.

I'm caught off guard by his proposal. He's wants us to go somewhere? The idea of getting out of here takes my mind off of the previous question.

"Um….yeah." I say, "Yeah, where are we going?"

"Oh, we're gonna have fun!" he grins before disappearing out the door.

Ripping down the street in a car he no doubt stole, I couldn't help but chuckle at his live spirit. I had to admit I was actually enjoying myself. He swerves through the streets of Gotham until we arrive at an abandoned building. He unlocks the cuff on my hand and opens my door. Curious, I follow him all the way to the top until we are on the roof. He hands me a gun. "You know how to use this, right?"

The very fact that he would hand me a loaded gun when we were alone baffled me. I look down at the heavy revolver in my hand and click back the hammer.

He smiles. "Good. I want to see how good you are. Hit that balloon." He says, pointing at a yellow balloon tied down on the edge of the roof amongst five others. Steadying myself, I lock my eyes on the balloon. Had he really just handed me a loaded weapon?

Then he's behind me in an instant, pulling me hard against his body, trigger finger over mine. He helps steady my hand and fires twice. Two balloons pop. Show off.

He laughs when I miss.

Huffing, I shoot two more times hitting each target dead on. He rests his chin on my shoulder as he watches. Then his eyes light up.

"I've got an idea!" he unlatches a large brown crate, releasing at least fifty balloons up into the air, the sky a rainbow of colors. I start shooting up into the colorful mass until I run out of bullets. He steps in front of me, holding a large, heavy gun from god knows where and rapidly fires into the air until it's raining colorful pieces of rubber. I giggle at the sight of this trigger-happy maniac. For once I'm not scared. I'm actually having fun and for a second I feel like I'm thirteen years old again riding that carousel without a care in the world.

Later he lets me drive, which I take full advantage of, with what little experience I. He encourages me with every twisted turn. My driving however, catches the attention of a nearby cop and I begin to panic, casting Jerome a worried look. To my surprise he just laughs and says "You'd better go faster, doll."

I slam the pedal all the way down, ripping down an alleyway. Cackling, he leans out the window shooting behind us and all I can hear is a loud pop and the sound of a car whizzing off the road. That makes me laugh and go faster and I don't stop until we're far enough away. He grins at me and drives the rest of the way. If there's anything I hate as much as my dad, it was the police.

When we get back to the mansion he goes in before me, unlocking the door, letting me go in first. Nobody seems to be around but how can you really tell in a place this big?

I stop abruptly after we enter and climb up the stairs and we are back at my room. He notices this and throws me a questioning glance before realization falls over him.

He walks up to me and puts a hand on my wrist.

"C'mon doll, you can't be afraid of me forever. I know you like it here, anyway." I scoff at that, slipping my hand out of his grip.

"And what makes you think that?"

"Well for one, we were outside today. With people. I'm sure you could have at least tried to escape. Maybe you feel safer with me than you ever felt out there. Or maybe…" He brings his face closer to my ear "you find me exciting." His words hit me. He's right- I didn't try once to escape.

"Don't tell me you haven't missed me, Elise." He tilts my chin so that I'm looking at him. His voice is softer now. "Don't tell me you're not tired of being alone." I shudder at the feeling of his breath against my face. "I can give you the life you deserve. I know that's what you want, doll." He rests his forehead against mine and it's oddly calming. He travels downward, the tip of his nose grazing my cheek, stopping at my collar bone. He nestles there, planting a small, chaste kiss. "I know I scared you before. It won't be like that." Whether he meant it or not, I don't stop him. He continues to touch me with his lips, inhaling my scent as we back up onto the bed, where we lay peacefully, just like the night before.

Chapter Text

I wake up once again with the body heat of another against me. Only this time, I’m not the first one awake. I can see him staring at me out of the corner of my eye. I shift to my side to face him. “Sleep well?” he asks. I almost nod when I notice his hand resting on my hip.

I’m sick to my stomach again. “Don’t do that.” I say, my voice low but not threatening. He, of course, laughs it off.
“Are you telling me you don’t like being touched?” he says, testing my patience. His hand remains in its spot, lightly caressing in an up and down movement, sending chills up my spine. My hand catches his wrist in a death grip.

“I’m sick of people like you thinking you can just take whatever you want.” I say, now frustrated. He manages to wriggle his hand out of my grip, but keeps it at his side. I move the covers and bring my legs over in an attempt to get out of bed, but an arm grips my shoulder.
“People like me? Trust me doll, you’ve never met somebody like me.” I can’t tell if he’s smiling or not when he says this.

I whip around. “Yes I have.” I hiss. “People who see girls as nothing more than playthings for you to manipulate, to corner and try to take advantage of -”
“Have they?” he asks, cutting off my rant.

“…What?” I’m taken aback by his sudden question, the usually playful look in his eyes now turning serious. He looks at me, expecting an answer and I feel a tinge of regret for letting myself go off like that. Memories play through my head. No. I think. They didn’t because I fought back. Because people underestimate me. They always do.

“Has someone -”

“No.” It was my turn to interrupt. “Why do you even care?”
His eyes don’t leave me however, and he doesn’t answer. Looking into those eyes I knew I’d never be able to tell what was going through his mind. I’m sure my cheeks are turning pink with the frustration of the situation.

“Ok. Yeah. And you know what I did when he tried to fuck me?” I finally ask softly.

His eyes look up into mine and bore into me with a look I can’t decipher. I go on anyway, my hand lowering to his abdomen. “I took a broken pair of scissors…” I mumble before pressing the tip of my nail to his stomach like a knife. The muscles in his stomach tensed but besides that, his calm demeanor never left. Not breaking eye contact, I slash it across in one motion.

“I gutted him. I left him there to die. No way in hell was I going to let that happen to me.”

Images of my dad flash through my mind, giving me that push of boldness fueled by anger that I get when anybody puts their hands on me. I wouldn’t let another person hurt me for as long as I live. I couldn’t.
The man sharing a bed with me is silent. My eyes hold his wide ones until unexpectedly bursts out in laughter, burying his head in my side.


“Oh, doll,” he says happily. “I knew I wanted to be with you for a reason.”

I don’t know what to say to this. He runs his hand up and down my arm and chuckles. “What do you think happened to my mom, doll? We are both people who take charge. Life will fuck whoever it can, and most people just let it! But we don’t, do we? Elise baby, life had dealt us shitty cards, but look at what we’ve done with them! You got away, we were able to find each other! What do you think the odds were of that happening?” his tone is bold as he stands up and smiles down at me.

“I know you feel the same way, doll. How did it feel, hm? When you killed him?”

He leans in close enough for me to feel his breath against my neck. “Like you were finally in control of something in your life? Like someone was on your side for once?”
The deep tone of his voice makes his words echo in my mind, giving me goosebumps. And, for the first time, I didn’t feel sick to my stomach by the memory of what I’d done. I did nothing wrong, and Jerome understood that.

“Maybe… Maybe that’s why we’re here together?” I mumble, my voice getting quiet at the end. My cheeks redden once I realize what I had said and I hope he doesn’t overreact or make a joke about it. Even if I won’t admit it, I do like it here. And it’s not just the fact that I was living on the street before this. I felt oddly comfortable here in this mansion with the boy I had met long ago and six other people who were nearly strangers to me (although I was getting closer to Barbara and Tabitha). What I had told Jerome was enough to make any man run away. But as I already knew, Jerome wasn’t any man.
He just lets out a content hum that muffles into my lap. After a few seconds he brings himself up and looks at me, his hair once again ruffled but not messy in a way I could only describe as cute, although he is not looking at me. His face seems deep in thought.

“You’ve just given me an idea, gorgeous.” He says with a dark smile. “I’m taking you out again. Give me about… five hours? Then I’ll take you to the place we went the other day.”
All of this was giving me a sense of déjà vu. It bothered me when he didn’t answer my question. I wouldn’t protest to going out again, but something about what his voice implies that he has something more crazy in mind than last time’s target practice.

Chapter Text

Hey guys! I know it's been a while since I updated and I apologize for that. A lot has been going on, but I am happy to say that I will continue this story. I'll probably do some rewrites, but I really appreciate your encouragement and I really value all of your comments!