The New You
The Atkinson cottage home was like a golden palace to Yakusoku. When he walked inside the warm air hit him like a kind and snuggly hug- no, wait- that’s an actual hug. Yakusoku looked down to spot Tsukiko gripping his waist like it were her favorite stuffed animal from home.
“Tsukiko...” He said warmly, kneeling down. “I’ve missed you.” Squeezing the girl tightly, he even rocks her back and forth a bit; Ai always loved to be hugged that way.
“I thought you were dead.” Her already tiny but thick with under-use voice sounded even softer as it fell muffled into his chest.
He’s unfortunately still wearing his patient clothes. Maria had the nuthouse attendees burn the clothing he’d showed up in just to spite the woman who aided him. He felt ashamed having the girl leaning into him with these sullied clothes on, and he swiftly shoved her from him.
Speaking, while he uses his hands to sign, he says. “I’m sorry, but I don’t want you seeing me like this.”
“It’s okay.” The girl signed back. “Where were you?”
“...Just... not here.”
Maria seemed to like that reply and she left them alone to wander into the kitchen. “I’m gonna make some stew.” As if an audio sample were included with that statement, a pot clanked against another when removed from the lower cabinet. “I hope you like caldo verde; I’d found a bag in the grocery store when I went shopping last week. Can you believe all you have to do it put the bag in boiling water then dump it into a large serving bowl? It’s amazing what people think of.”
Hardly listening to the girl’s babbling- though it’s kind of hard when it’s coming directly to his brain as though they’re his own thoughts, but in female audio- Yakusoku turned his attention back to the young girl. “Lucian didn’t hurt you while I was gone, did he?”
She shook her head, becoming suddenly very quiet and pale.
“Did something happen? You can tell me,” He looks over his shoulder to the kitchen, moving them to a farther side of the room. “what happened here?”
“Miss Maria took Lucian outside, and he didn’t come back in with her.”
“When was this?”
She thought it over. “When you left.”
Yakusoku felt a chill run up his spine. She couldn’t have... Wouldn’t have... He felt his hand tremble on the girl’s tiny shoulders when he gripped them. “You’ve been looking out of the windows? Did you see anything?”
She shook her head.
Maria, watching and understanding none of it, cocked her head thoughtfully. She’s wondering when Yakusoku got good enough to keep from thinking while he’s talking. Looks like being out of the house did change him, in more ways than one. He’s angry, she can tell, but not at her. It seems like he’s angry at himself and the orderlies, at someone she just can’t pinpoint.
Turning his head, he’s momentarily shocked to see Maria standing there watching them. Then, strangely, he puts on a very handsome grin before standing. “Maria,” Walking over to her, he wraps the girl tightly in his arms. “I’m glad that it’s finally just the three of us now.”
Blinking, shocked, Maria raised her arms to hug Promise back. “You really don’t care that Lucian is dead?” And she searched his face after her very blunt comment.
“No. That lunk manhandled me, and was possessive over you.” He said very snarkily. “I hated him.”
Maria laughed hearing that. “I love how serious you are!” She hugs him tightly giving him a happy pat on the back as well.
“I understand you now... all you want is a good life with someone like you.” He swallows the bitter taste in his mouth. “I’m that someone. ...Unfortunately, it took being attacked by that fucking prick Dan to understand. You should have seen his face- heard him- when I shoved him off me with my mind. It was frightening and beautiful... I can’t explain it.”
“I know exactly how you feel.” Turning out of the hug, she walks back into the kitchen to the stove. Grabbing the wooden spoon she left on the countertop Maria stirs the soup briskly then taps it from the excess liquid, to keep the counter clean.
Cocking a brow, Promise asks. “I thought you just let the bag boil in water to cook that?”
Maria chuckled. “Not for my honey and child.” She tastes test it. “Mm. I’ll turn this off, we’ll eat, and then I wanna give you a bath.”
‘I wonder what they’re saying, Jenny.’
Yakusoku turned his head to see Tsukiko trading mock psychic conversation with her stuffed giraffe. ‘Don’t forget the reason we’re here is to stop that, Yaku.’ He says to himself.
“Idiot. I still say we shouldn’t be here at all.” Mamoru yammered in the background.
‘I know what I’m doing. And if you’d stop trying to take over my life, maybe I would let you be the one to train me.’ He says back. “A bath sounds good.” He replied. “I could really use one.”
“Boy do I know it!”
It was how she’d said it that made Yakusoku sniff under his arm. Low-tide! He already knew it, but she was right to use the inflection upon it as she did. He hasn’t had a proper bath due to flailing during hydrotherapy, and the massive fear in the showers brought on by being surrounded by a bunch of fucking nuts and head-cases.
“I’d actually like to get clean first, then eat.” Looking at the little girl, he says. “Do you mind eating alone, Tsukiko?”
“Atsuko.” Corrects Maria.
“Atsuko.” But he signed: Tsukiko.
The little girl suddenly looked terrified of him; nodding painfully mechanically to reply. Clutching Jenny to her chest, she frowned at the new Yakusoku standing before her. He wanted to say something- to mouth it- but Maria came up behind him, placing her hand on his shoulder as if he were in her way and she needed to tell him that by giving him a little shove.
“Go on to bed now Atsuko,” She says to the little girl. “she had dinner last night, it's... six fifteen now.” She lowered her watch wearing wrist; grabbing the remote from the coach cushion she set it on the coffee table. “Watch Nemo if you’re not tired. We’re going to a bath.”
“Mm.” Replied the girl. Carefully going upstairs while keeping an eye over her shoulder to watch the couple who are coming up the stairs behind her.