Chapter 16: Awoken

He lay on his back, his legs draping at an awkward angle over the fat arm of the couch. His head ringing and his hearing partially numbed, he might as well pass out right then and there, but alas, the soft vibration along the wooden floor kept his every nerve conscious and alerted. She was here. Somehow, she was here, at his place. The haphazard manner in which his heart was jumping around only worsened when a face he’d been longing for entered his field of vision. Clear ruby eyes peered down at him, causing him to gulp involuntarily. For one long month, that doll face had been haunting his mind.

She squatted down beside him, a look of concern in her eyes. “Garry, does it hurt?”

His spine bulged against the hard floor as he craned to lift his torso. Pain stung the back of his head, making him scowl and hiss. He brought a hand to the burning bump and carefully rubbed it in hope to ease the sore. Sometimes, he just wished he carried better composure.

“… Yeah,” he muttered with gritted teeth, the bone at his elbow grating on the floor as he pushed himself out of the uncomfortable position, and more importantly, away from her.

Garry kept his gaze elsewhere but her in order to prepare himself, yet as soon as he looked at her, actually looked at her, he unconsciously held his breath in admiration. He was convinced his memory could never fully capture her naïve charm. She had no doubt been dressed up by her mother’s fashionable sense. Worn over the silky mass of her hair was a white ski hat with tails styled just so they resembled drooping rabbit ears. She looked so damn cute. Together with the ivory-white hoodie over her turtleneck she was no different from an adorable bunny, just begging to be picked up and squeezed. Actually, fuck that. He just wanted to strip her of everything and ravage that innocent flesh underneath.

How he yearned to just drag her onto his bed and teach her the fun of love and bodily pleasure. Many times, he had stroked himself, imagining it was her young hands running up and down his length, her body naked… his seeds stringing down her fair skin.

“Garry?” oblivious to his desires, she tilted her head.

He snapped out of his daydream, inwardly cursing. This was really not the time to be distracted with such thoughts. “… Can’t say it doesn’t hurt,” he mumbled and resumed the rubbing behind his head.

The girl stayed silent for a moment before raising a gloved hand. Alarms immediately went off in his head, and he blocked her by the wrist before her fingers could touch his hair. “W-what?” he asked with a smile masking his apprehension.

“I want to help pat the pain away,” she answered without any hesitation, blinking as though asking him if she was doing something wrong.

He stifled a sigh, brushing her hand away as gently as possible, all the while inching away from her. Didn’t she realize how cute her words were? “No need…” he said dismissively and stood up to his full height. Noticing her expression, however, he hastily added. “Thanks… though…”

She kept staring up at him, her face unchanging, and he realized he couldn’t read her quite as well as he remembered he could. It had been a while after all. He couldn’t blame her if she had closed herself from him, especially when he was the one building this wall between them. However, her guarded eyes made him more nervous than he was supposed to. He really didn’t want to accidentally create any more misunderstandings for her. She didn’t need any more of his bullshit.

At the thought, he turned away with a sharp spin on his heels, hiding his frown.

As to how Ib was here… he could only think of one reason. Scarlet must have forgotten to lock the door when she left… again.

“So,” Garry started with an awkward cough as he pretended to be busy with fixing his clothing. “Why did you come, Ib… sweetheart?” realizing that his tone was somehow harsher than intended, the endearment was added in hope Ib wouldn’t notice.

“Well… I rang the bell, but you didn’t answer,” she answered in a small voice. “The door wasn’t locked so I just came in… Are you mad?”

So he was that spaced out. “No, hon. Not at all,” he flashed a friendly smile over his shoulder before striding towards his room. Garry wasn’t sure what exactly he was going to do in his room, he just… needed to have a reason not to face her.

However, the sound of her footsteps patting after him could be heard, inducing a discreet shake of his head. They were in a ‘conversation,’ of course Ib would follow him. Just… He really wasn’t ready to be with her just yet. Not to mention her sudden visit had caught him completely off guard. “But why did you come?” he stressed the question without really meaning to.

“B-because… it’s been a while…” Ib lingered in the doorway, waiting for Garry to turn around, but he didn’t. He went straight for the dresser opposite of his bed and started rummaging through his things there.

“… Yes?” he nudged in the soft voice she had gotten used to hearing, but somehow it felt distant.

The little girl reached for her skirt, scrunching up the fabric as a habit when tensed. What was it that Garry was looking for? Wouldn’t he turn around soon? She had never been good with facing people, but talking to their backs was even more nerve-wracking. Worse yet, she had this hazy feeling that Garry was keeping his back to her on purpose.

He was acting strange – not that he hadn’t been all this time, but still… This entire situation wasn’t what she had expected before coming here. He was supposed to be delighted to see her regardless of her reason for visiting, he was supposed to let her pat him – and hug her shortly after, he was supposed to compliment her clothes, he was supposed to… he was supposed to just look at her. She didn’t care if she was being selfish or self-centered. She just wanted Garry to look at her, talk to her, smile at her like before. Just what had changed? Their proximity, why did it feel like so long ago?

Had he really gotten tired of indulging a troublesome child like her? Was she a bother to him?

The rims of her eyes started to sting.


Garry continued to go over the very few things in the dresser’s locker aimlessly. He frowned at the silence steadily growing in the room, wondering why his little friend wasn’t saying anything. ‘Friend.’ Now that word felt really awkward. He didn’t want to be her ‘friend,’ and really, she shouldn’t have a friend as fucked up as him.

Another deep breath, he stepped to a side and took a peek at her reflection in the mirror.


“I-Ib?” he spun around in shock.

She had a blank expression, but her brows slowly drew together in the slightest to form a pained look so delicate he didn’t think it was possible for a child. The look on her face gripped at his heart, leaving him dumbstruck. As tears threatened to spill, the girl hastily hung her head to hide them. She grabbed handfuls of her red skirt, head sinking between shoulders that were trembling vulnerably. Another stab of chest pain woke him from his stupor, and he took a dazed step towards her. “Ib?”

She didn’t reply.

Don’t just stand there.

What was he doing really? Making her cry… watching her cry. He had to stop her tears. But how?

Do something.

He mentally shook himself and approached the little girl.

“H-hey, what’s wrong?” he asked despite pretty much knowing the answer, kneeling down in front of her. She moved to turn away, but he kept her still. He tried to lift her face to him, but she resisted fervently. With a sigh, he relented, opting to bend his tall frame to meet her eyes. Although he could win the tug-o-war easily, he didn’t want to use any force against her.

Ib was crying. So many times, he had dreamt of her crying face and weeping voice; so many times that he’d lost count, yet experiencing her tears first hand was still utterly devastating. “Shhh,” hands cupping her cheeks, he carefully wiped her tears away. “Don’t cry, hush dear. Don’t cry… please,” his voice was almost pleading at the end.

She sniffed once, keeping her head down.

Garry was at a loss of what to do. Comforting her… hadn’t it been so easy before? Why couldn’t he seem to think of anything to soothe her now? He held back a groan and lowered his gaze to her skirt, where she was clutching tightly. “Now Ib,” he took on a slightly chiding tone, letting go of her face.

Her hands suddenly shot up and slapped over his, startling him. As he blinked in confusion, she glanced up at him, eyes beseeching. She kept his hands pressed to her cheeks, small fingers curled around them in a tight grip. His heart rate slowly increased – he didn’t like where his thoughts were headed.

It was getting harder to breathe normally. Just what kind of sick bastard would get aroused in a situation like this? Him, apparently. Using every bit of his willpower to clamp down at his overactive libido, he tried to focus on the riddle that was her.

“I was lonely,” she said unceremoniously, much to his surprise, her voice breaking. “Don’t ignore me, don’t leave.” He could only stare wide-eyed as she continued, not really believing he was hearing the confession from her. Sure, it wasn’t any surprise, what she was feeling. But the fact that she was pouring her heart out, and even demanding his attention so straightforwardly, was so out of character he was inclined to think this was another lucid dream of his – another one of his laughable attempts to shake his own resolution, perhaps. He knew better than that though.

This was reality, and… he had hurt her. Words couldn’t describe the guilt that engulfed him as he watched her cling to his hands as though he would shove her away any moment.

Something in him melted then.

Ib adamantly held onto him, yet, like a frightened little bunny, she flinched when he touched his forehead to hers.

“Silly girl, I’m not going anywhere,” he crooned, pinching her petal soft cheeks. Slowly, he slipped his hands from her loosened hold and moved them to her wrinkled skirt. “I just wanted to take a look at this pretty skirt of yours,” with a joking chuckle, he gingerly smoothened the material. “Didn’t Ma and Pa buy this for you? Treat it with care, okay?”

Garry looked back up at his little girl, giving her an assuring smile. He ran his thumb over the hint of dark ring under her eye and brought his face close to hers. “What did I tell you, dear? Crying is a disservice to your beautiful face,” he whispered before craning to place a long, tender kiss over her closed eyelid. Pulling back, he placed his hands on her shoulders, fingers brushing the curve of her jaw, “Smile for me?”

She showed no sign of heeding his request, brows further scrunching up as she clutched the sleeves of his jacket. Oh dear, it seemed he had made her crying worse. She took a step into his outstretched arms and wrapped her own around his neck. As she buried her face into his chest, he could feel her taking a deep breath.

“I missed you,” she whimpered between sobs.

“… I’m sorry.”

He was an idiot. He was an idiot to have pushed her away, to have wanted more. He was so important to her. She loved him so much, just what more could he ask for?

Like this was fine.

Looking down at her small head, he pulled her tighter against him.

Yes, like this was fine.


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