The raven girl heeded the advice carefully, flinching at the beams of red rays almost hitting her. Harmony’s heartbeat thumped loudly in her chest, how was this man so calm? Biting down on her lip, she turned to look at him, eyebrows creased at the look on his face when he turned his attention to the young girl across the way. ‘Suck it, losers!’ The girl seethed, Harmony flinched at her reaction. Almost surprised someone so young could be that competitive.
After her teammate reprimanded his daughter, she laughed lightly. “It’s okay,” She reassured him, tucking in her lips. “No need to apologize, I actually admire her ruthlessness on this field. I could never not be that fearless in combat games. Or.. any game for that matter.”
Harmony never liked the idea of grittiness. It was too hardcore and rambunctious for her liking, despite dating a previous football player for her college. She never did show up for Trevor’s games and didn’t like the idea of chaos. What brought her here, was the mere idea of trying something new.
At the other man’s reassurance, Harmony gave him a slow nod. A shy smile on her lips, she examined her surroundings once again and noticed two opposite teammates approaching from the second story. Quickly pointing them out, she looked at the man with hesitation. “Oh… Crap… We should probably…” Before even getting the sentence out, Harmony took her teammate by his forearm and guided him to completely different beam. “Being here could buy us time, right? I mean they can’t reach us from where they are, they’ll have to come down. We could, you know, ambush them at the stairs, right?” She asked eagerly, hoping her teammate agreed with her plan.
"Ah, well… If I let her run around calling people names, then the next thing I know she’ll be playing Call of Duty telling guys twice her age that she’s banging their moms.” Robert cringed. Lord, help him if she ever grew to say such things. He had one job, and it was to raise Madison as productive, well to do member of society. Bullying people on Xbox Live was not in any way shape or form productive or well meaning. Hell, he’d said it’s a sure sign of lazy parenting. ”I can’t have that. I won’t have that—”
A long pale finger jabbed past his line of sight. His icy gaze followed it, settling on two enemy combatants on the second story of the arena not far ahead. Brows furrowing in confusion at her words, Robert allowed the woman to manhandle and guide him, impressed by her forward nature and strength. He couldn’t help but wonder if she was the same way in bed, taking charge and telling him exactly how she liked it. Damn it, Robert. Keep it clean, you’re at an arena with children bobbling about near by!
Pushing away his lascivious thoughts, Robert nodded at her question, unable to help but grin at the woman’s eagerness. "That’s the best plan I’ve heard all day." He whispered back, trying his best to match the woman in enthusiasm. The brunette could have suggested attacking their enemies with the soggy left over slices of pizza from the cafeteria and he would said the same exact thing. Robert would do and say just about anything for a woman who took control of the situation. He couldn’t figure out why but, he always thought it was just… incredibly hot. He readied his gun. "Ready when you are, Captain."
Having an unpredictable and extremely flexible work schedule often forced Robert to either skip his daily jog or find a way to squeeze it into his ever changing routine. He did his best to find time, even if it meant doing so in the wee hours of the morning or a quick run in the afternoon. But today, he penciled in to work for a measly three hours. No new leads, according to his boss, so no real work to be done— for now. Why he didn’t even need to come into work until noon. So Robert found himself a little at a loss as to what he ought to do with himself, and after dropping his darling daughter off at school, he decided it was time to have a proper work out.
Changing into a pair of sky blue running shorts, and a fitted white tank top, Robert slipped his iPhone and wallet into a sports armband before strapping it on to his right arm and taking off for the park. For a good hour and a half he nothing but run, soaring past people, their pets, a variety of shrubbery, and hopping over any obstacle that came in his way. He made two rounds around the park, before collapsing to the lush green grass and doing several sets of lunges, pushups, and finally sit ups.
With one last sit up Robert let himself relax, splayed out on the grass, the muscles in his body prickling beneath his skin. The tinkering sounds of people going about their day in the park around him lulled the man to sleep, years’ worth of exhaustion catching up to him all at once. His work and his daughter took up all of his time and energy, leaving the man perpetually exhausted.
While sound asleep, a seedy man took notice and tiptoed his way to Robert’s vulnerable body. Testing how deep the investigator’s sleep was, he nudged at his ribs with his boot, eyes scanning the body to see what he could take. Robert didn’t rouse, and the thief kneeled down and started to pry the man’s belonging from his armband.
When Robert had first sowed their garden, three of every plant variety, he was expecting for most of them to meet and untimely fate at the hands of the awful bugs that lived only to devour them, as the internet had repeatedly warned him about during his research. He was not expecting to not have an infestation of creepy crawlies, and certainly not for all the fruiting glories to thrive and over produce. It had been nearly four months since he planted them all, and they were picking dozens of fruits and vegetables from their gardens ever since.
Normally, Robert wouldn’t mind, he even considered selling the food at the farmer’s market, but when he looked it to it, it seemed like far too much work for what they regularly harvested. Perhaps if he didn’t have to work, dedicated himself full time to homesteading, then he might have considered laboring through the mountains of paperwork and requirements the local government had wanted of him just to sell his goods at some damn market.
Deciding not to venture down that path that the investigator was fairly certain would only end with a migraine, the Falks looked into alternative ways to use their abundant fruits and vegetables. At first, they tried canning, making all sorts of sauces, and jams. But their little garden was producing far too much for them to keep up with, and when they ran out of jars, the father daughter duo decided to simply give the fruits of their labor to anyone who would take it.
With a great amount of strength, Robert carried two decent sized boxes to the door of his neighbor’s home, his daughter skipping along at his side with a small pumpkin in her arms. "Could you get the doorbell, Mads." He gestured with his chin. The boxes were heavy, containing a good amount of squash within them. He considered for a moment to simply set them down, but he knew that the moment he did, Jonathan would be at the door and Robert would have to pick them up once again. It was best, he thought, that he just held on to them until the man came.
"Mkay!" The girl grinned at him, her long blonde braids whipping around as she quickly set the pumpkin down to reach up and abuse the small little button beside the door. The doorbell chimed, cutting itself off and restarting its little tune with each press of the button. Robert sighed at his daughter’s antics, shaking his head, nudging her with the tip of shoe. "Mister Jon! We have zooninis and pumpkins for you!" The child called out, as if the mere suggestion would be enticing enough for the man to open his door.
No ambulances. Tennessee’s shoulders sagged in silent relief. No ambulances, no EMTs, no real medical staff to ask questions and prod at his injury. “Yes, mister, ‘m sure. I don’t wanna be a bother,” he replied, exasperated. Jesus, this guy was stubborn. And what the fuck was this about cops coming to the hospital? This was going from bad to worse to now up in Shit Creek without a paddle. Tired blue eyes narrowed slightly in confusion at the mention of guardians, then the answer came to him. He’d always looked younger than his actual age. “I don’t have guardians, I’m over eighteen.” So you don’t have to feel guilty about leaving an underage kid by himself, were the words unsaid, please don’t stay. "Tennessee," he said in response, mentally noting the man’s name despite the fact that he was probably going to forget it ten minutes later.
"I c’n use mine," the boy countered, pulling out his iPhone from the back pocket of his jeans. He didn’t want his house phone number saved on a stranger’s phone. The screen had cracked amidst the brawl, but the phone itself seemed to be working okay. His grandparents were probably sleeping, he mused, thumb hovering hesitantly over the green call button. He didn’t wish to disturb their sleep; he didn’t wish to let them know that he was hurt and angry and plain tired of the universe serving him shit on a silver platter. The black-haired man was right, though. He should at least leave a message. Tennessee listened to the ringback tone, doubting anyone would pick up, then zoned out.
The blond blinked in genuine surprise when an older woman’s groggy voice was heard from the other end of the line, thick with unwashed sleep. “Hello? Abuelita? Pensé que ya estabas dormida," he muttered, the language rolling off his tongue with little difficulty. Her hushed words—Granddad was fast asleep, he guessed—hinted at concern and distress. "Voy a llegar tarde a la casa, tuve un accidente. Sí, estoy bien." Tennessee threw a quick, furtive glance at the man. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what accidente meant—he wasn’t telling the truth. After offering her a few awkward reassurances, he ended the call, and turned his eyes back to the stranger.
Over eighteen, the vague response to his age had Robert’s brow climbing again. It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s tried lying about it, but typically they put for far more effort at concealing it than just a vague ‘I’m over eighteen’. "You’re not a bother." Robert sighed, pulling his hand back at the refusal. The boy clearly didn’t want his parents finding out just what had happened, adding to his suspicion that he might have been up to something not so legal with the men who jumped him. Deciding to shoot a text to one of the many fellows of law enforcement he kept on his books, Robert listened carefully to the kid’s conversation, slightly surprised at the switch in language.
The agent made no move to show he understood what was being said, and instead he pocketed his phone after sending the request for assistance, standing with his hands tucked into his pockets to watch the nervous boy assure his grandmother that he was fine. He could roll his eyes at that, but Robert didn’t want the blond to catch on to the fact that he knew what was being said. And he did, while earning his degree, he needed second language credits, and Spanish was notoriously known for its ease of acquisition so it was only logical that Robert take them.
The grandmother had answered, which meant that either his parents were either out of the picture or they were— tragically— deceased. Neither one were good, they both meant the boy had suffered trauma, had to drag themselves through life, doing everything on their own. Which meant that once they arrived at the hospital there very well could be a scene, with the boy insisting he’s fine and wanting nothing more than to forget the night ever took place. The call ended and Robert gestured towards his car, a black sedan— a Ford Fusion to be precise. "Spanish, huh?" He shot the kid a friendly smile, fishing his keys from his pockets again as they made their way to the vehicle."They going to meet you at the hospital?"
He hit the unlocking feature on the knob, pulling the passenger door open for the blonde. "Where are you guys from?" He asked, deciding on moving the conversation away from the attack and to something less sensitive. "My grandparents on my mother’s side are from Germany— East Germany." He moved around the front of the car, slipping into the driver’s seat as his finger found their way across the dashboard, engine coming to life with the slightest touch of the start button.
"My father’s father, I have no idea," he continued, pulling on his seatbelt as he spoke. ”But my grandmother— his mother, she’s half Native American— Mohawk, I believe.” Maybe speaking about their heritage would calm him down, build up some form of trust between them, so he could slowly work his way back to just what on Earth had happened to him. No matter what it was, whoever attacked the boy shouldn’t be left to wander the streets, to hurt other children they may come across.
707 Little Street
Another day on the job another home invasion. Well, he didn’t do this every day, but it was often enough that Robert was fairly certain he could this blind by now. The agency usually didn’t get rich snobs onto their watch list, though, so Robert found himself a tad bit more excited than usual. He always took a souvenir from the rich ones, typically their wines, occasionally some expensive food, but it was always something he knew they wouldn’t notice missing.
Carefully, the investigator entered the upscale penthouse, his gloved hands shutting the door behind him. Icy eyes took in the modern furniture, gaudy decorative back lighting to… whatever the fuck was going on by the fireplace, and the awful clash of warm and cool tones. Sadly, it seemed that no matter how much money you had, you simply couldn’t buy taste. He let out a disappointed sigh; this asshole was definitely not going to have any half decent wine he could confiscate for the evening.
Prodding the dry husk of whatever the hell plant that was, Robert began his careful investigation, rummaging through drawers in search of anything of intrigue, snapping photos here and there, before setting things back in place and moving on to the next room. The agent could already picture the notes he’ll leave on file: Contemporary decor clashes with overall design, possible attempt at being quirky and eclectic, fails miserably. Identity issues, indecisiveness, or extreme laziness. Possibly all of them.
He moved onto the bedroom, frowning at the sliding door it laid behind. "What the fuck?" Seriously, who designed this place because he was beginning to think they did it drunk. Because in no way, shape or form would any sober individual ever consciously design a place like this. Don’t drink and decorate. It needed to be a law, with a hefty fine for breaking it. Hefty. “Ugh.” Robert shook his head, pushing the door out of the way and entering the room to continue his snooping.
After a long day at work, Robert wanted nothing more than to come home and zonk out till the morning. Unfortunately, he had a five year old to feed and entertain to her hearts content, so getting to bed an unreasonably early time wasn’t an option for the agent. He stood in the kitchen, chopping the ingredients for their night’s meal, the door to their backyard kept open so Robert could monitor his daughter from where he worked.
"Hello little zoonini plant, I’m Madison." The blonde’s voice filtered in, tugging a smile onto her father’s face. The two had sowed seeds of various types of fruits and vegetables the week before, and little Madison had been delighted to see them sprout and grow. "Please grow big and strong and give me lots of baby zooninis."
Setting his knife down, Robert moved to the door, peeking out into the garden to find his daughter sitting on the edge of the raised beds. She moved from plant to plant introducing herself and cooing over their little leaves. Her father grinned, leaning against the door frame to watch her for just a tad longer. ”Hello little pumpkin plant!” She blew the grow seedling a kiss. “I’m Maddy and I love you! I hope you give me lots of pumpkins!”
He hoped so too, it was their first time planting any sort of squash, and after reading about all sorts of failed attempts, Robert had decided to plant three of each type just to be safe. If one failed then maybe one of the others would survive and gift them with delicious delights. Pushing away from the door, Robert returned to preparing their dinner, feeling lighter and a tad more awake than he did coming home.
Millie Anderson, one of Madison’s best friends, was throwing a sleepover party. The moment she was invited, poor Robert was bombarded with pleas for his permission to attend. Her first sleepover. Her first night away from him since he gained custody of the girl. He hated it, but what could he do? He wanted her to have a normal, happy childhood and depriving her of nights like these seemed cruel.
Upon arriving, Robert sat frozen in his car, eyes staring straight ahead. This was it, the moment he unlocked the doors, Madison would gallop away, into the home of a another family. All for a night. A whole night. He swallowed thickly, his grip on the steering wheel tightening as every minute passed. He felt like heaving, he felt like bashing his head against the steering wheel, he felt like—
"You look like you’re going to cry." The words snapped Robert out of his daze, brows creasing in confusion as he turn to face his daughter. "Your face, it’s the face cartoons make when they wanna cry." She explained, her own blonde brows creasing in a show of concern. Such an observant child, filled with so much love and concern for everyone and everything around her. How on Earth had he raised someone so sweet?
"I’m not going to cry." Robert said, giving the girl a sad smile. "I feel like crying, but I’m not going to cry."
"You feel like crying?"
"Yeah." He nodded, letting out a shaky breath. His throat hurt, his heart clenched, and his whole body screamed for him to turn the car back on and head back home. "I feel like crying a river right about now.”
"Please don’t, I’ll drown if you do."
Robert stared at her for a long moment, a smile spreading across his face as the words replayed themselves in his head. The mood had lightened with those words alone, and the thought of his daughter spending time with another family suddenly didn’t seem so bad. She always knew what to say to ease his nerves. Madison, his little Madison. His little beacon of hope and happiness. It wouldn’t do to hoard her all to himself. Let them bask in her sunshine for a night.