“Oh, man. So many. So many that I can’t even tell you how many ‘cause I can’t count that high. ‘Cause nobody who exists can count that high. That’s how many.” 

  While Zero may be more mature in some ways, he isn’t in others. He may not be as childlike as her in mannerisms, but some of his internal thoughts and wants are childish, and it’s in his very nature to act like a stupid teenage boy half the time—but, like her, he’s very young. 

  Everybody knows the only real adult in this house is Liam.

  He presses a gentle kiss to Abra’s lips, giving her his biggest bear hug.

       ”But what about Grandfather? Could Grandfather count—that high?”

She doesn’t mind his childishness—if he were to be stoic and cold all of the time, Abra would get terribly wary of him. She adores him as he is, truly, simply wanting him to be near her and to love her and to play with her as she wished to be play with. It’s still so difficult for Abra to believe that he had such an impact on her with two single digits—the way he rubbed at her, kissed at her.

Oh, he’s too good to be true, she thinks. She squeals as he hugs her tightly, tightly, grabbing fistfuls of his shirt and leaning up to press a small kiss to his mouth.

       ”—I love you so—ardently. Probably more than—any girl even in. Novels or plays loved her—beau. More than that. Really.”


  Tired as he is, Zero smiles and lets out a laugh as Abra chirps and comes at him full force. Arms wrap around her and he kisses the side of her head, running his fingers through her hair and patting her back lightly. This is a part of her that’s always been there, even before all of this, and it’s always been incredibly prominent. Every word he utters is taken seriously, like gospel, and she catapults herself into his arms and mewls in a distressed manner that she loves him, loves him, loves him. 

  “I love you so many, too.” 

  And everything’s okay—just like that. Like two children, their temper tantrums complete, joined at the hip once more. 

They are like children in many senses of the word, though Abra never really knows the difference. They’re Abra and Zero, to her—husband and wife, not really how things should be, but good for them anyway because they love one another so much—don’t they? Abra coos sweetly, biting at her bottom lip and smiling as she feels him close, petting at her and promising his love to her. She wiggles her bottom slightly, knowing she loves him and wants to please him and also knowing that something would gnaw at her terribly if she didn’t at least try to understand.

And so large eyes raise to peer carefully at her partner, a kiss being pressed to his shoulder as she presses into him with a small mewl. She hides her face, nuzzling close.

     ”How many?”


  There’s a whole new level of guilt that comes along with her looking at him with those big, sad eyes and apologizing to him. Despite how frustrated he gets, he knows it isn’t her fault. None of it is her fault. She can’t help the way she operates, the way she behaves, the way that other people can. She’s caught, drifting in a sea of self-doubt and confusion, and she simply doesn’t know how to carry on in life without help. 

  She’s much better than she was before, has to take that into account. In a little while, she’ll be even better. She just needs someone to hold her hand for now, and he can’t be mad at her for that—he knows he can’t.

  “Don’t be sorry, Bunny. I was just bein’ the Big Bad Z for a little while—still love me?”

Oh, of course she loves him! Of course she’s never had another love like Zero—even before it all, she feels it, she knows that she never loved anyone like she loves Zero now. There was no room in her heart for another man—before the nightmare, she might have sought out men to fill different shoes, but at this point? All she wants is Zero.

There’s no room for anyone else—she needs him, desires him as a father, brother, husband. Such a strange notion to accept objectively—but Abra is anything but objective, immediately rising to her feet to scurry towards her partner. She hesitates for the briefest of moments, only to throw herself in the arms of her Zero with an uttered cry.

      “Of course—I do! Always I do—I’m sorry. I’m so—stupid I hate it. I hate being so dumb I just—want to make you happy, I’m sorry, even if you tell me not to be I—am. I love you. I love you so many.”


  A guilty and exhausted feeling always follows those little outbursts. It’s easier when he’s slipping into temporary insanity, because then it isn’t his own fault. It’s the trauma, it’s Hell, it’s everything that’s led up to his brain rotting to bits. However, when he doesn’t have that to fall back on, there’s only one explanation: He’s tempramental, impatient, and an all around terrible person, no matter how much progress he seems to have made. Those moments of devastating, ego-wounding clarity make him tired, and that’s the way it is now as he climbs the stairs and rubs his eyes, wondering if there’s anything left to this day other than sleeping. 

  The sound of his wife’s meek voice causes another wave of guilt to wash over him, thinking about the things he’d been hissing and grumbling under his breath just moments before. He wants to pretend as though he hasn’t heard, just so he doesn’t have to look at her and feel even more guilty, but he knows that would only make her feel abandoned and small.

  “Yeah, Abra?” he asks, appearing in the doorway and leaning against the frame. 

She’s quite glad he’s come to her—because there have been moments where she’s called to him and he doesn’t really give her much of a response, though, Abra tries to chalk it up to him being too lost in his own head. She doesn’t very much like blaming Zero for anything—so strong is her adoration that she hates being upset with him, only wanting to be close with him now despite her own sadness. When he appears, she’s biting at her bottom lip and shifting, sitting upright at the edge of their bed before thin arms raise to reach for her husband.

She wishes she were better and she wishes she didn’t need both a parent and a husband—it wasn’t his responsibility to teach her, and yet, he did his best—it was so frustrating, at the same time. She only wanted to understand what she had lost, but it seems that the more she tries, the more confused she gets. And he doesn’t feel very happy, either.

       ”…Please I’m—sorry. Sorry.”


  These are the moments the end up sending him into the basement. Moments of weakness, of psychosis, even those seem to be expected now—when he feels the blur, he gets immersed in it and he makes his exit to wait out the hellish few hours. But these moments, these moments where his restraint and attempts at doing what’s best cause Abra to decide she doesn’t like him anymore and retreat, gnawing frustrations jump from his stomach to his chest to his throat, and his fangs appear and split his lip. 

  His temper never could quite be quelled. Another one of those things that make him whisper curses aimed towards Micah under his breath, though wrath isn’t his sin—he needs somebody to blame. 

  Zero draws in a breath and doesn’t go after Abra, waiting until she’s in the other room before he goes downstairs and breaks something. He knows she can’t help it. He knows she only has the mind of a child now. All the same, he wants things to move quicker, and he grows frustrated, he grows angry and temperamental, wishing she would comprehend, wishing he could shake her and get his wife out of whatever corner of that brain she’s hiding in.

  He’s thinking things he doesn’t truly mean for twenty minutes before he’s calm again, and guilty again.

If she had known his anger, she would have run off on her own to be devoured by the forest—there was no denying that. She was such a tender girl, the mere idea of being unable to please her husband in any sense of the word is enough to send her world crashing down. She had only wanted to make him happy, yes, but she can’t help her own frustration at such cryptic explanations.

She’s hitting a brick wall, sitting on their bed with her white cat in her lap, hurriedly looking over cloud formations so quickly that she can hardly register what is a cumulus cloud and what is a stratus cloud. She thinks she might be like this forever, but she doesn’t want to be—she wants to be strong with a good head on her shoulders, not a head that’s hardly there—but what can she do? What is there left to do? She quivers faintly as minutes pass—she feels Zero’s presence being restored, unsure and anxious, biting at her bottom lip as she shifts and looks towards her bedroom door.  

     ”—.. .. Zero?”


  There is no escaping the awkward conversation. Zero does his best not to let out a distressed whine, running a hand through his hair and pausing for a moment to try to find the right words. He’s fairly certain he is not going to use the right words, but he’ll give it a shot—he’ll do the best that he can.

  “Y’know. I start feeling—uh, wanting. And then my thing. Gets. Stiff. Hard. You know.” 

  Yes, that is the best he can do.

  “Actually, you know what, you can ask Micah about these sort of things, because he’ll probably be better at explaining it and very happy to do it, just don’t let him… demonstrate anything.” 

  A pause.

  “But, you know, when people have sex, that’s how it starts off. If it’s a woman, they feel—like you did, and if it’s a guy, they get hard.” 

She feels upset that he doesn’t seem to want to talk to her about this, because she doesn’t want to ask Micah. She doesn’t even know how Micah would demonstrate anything but maybe she doesn’t want to know, anyway. Abra doesn’t look any less confused at his description, feeling tired and upset because she never understands anything anyway. Abra bites at her bottom lip, looking down and just giving a small nod of affirmation. Okay. Whatever. She didn’t have to fully understand cryptic words anyway. Zero doesn’t seem to want to talk about it, so Abra will shift on his lap before climbing off of him with a small nod.

        “Okay, then. I guess that’s. Okay. I’m going to look at—cloud formations in my book okay.” 

Fine. Whatever. Abra knows he’s doing his best but she’s upset anyway, because she feels very small and quivering whenever she stumbles across things that no one really wants to explain to her. Maybe she shouldn’t know them in the first place. She doesn’t know—her frustration wells up within her at the most random of times, though. Sometimes it results in broken glasses or torn up books. Abra starts off, anyway, disappearing from the dining room in a matter of moments.


  “Much better,” he says, smiling towards her and wrapping his arms around her frame. He doesn’t want her to feel badly or awkward, but he knows she probably does. He can’t imagine what it would be like in her position, confused and hazy about so many things, frustrated at the fact that she feels like she should understand things. 

  He doesn’t think he’d be able to survive that. The constant confusion, the lack of comprehension—he think he’d probably snap.

  Then again, it doesn’t take very much to make him snap.

She wants to make him happy. She’s always wanted to make him happy—she wonders if that would make him happy. Being able to sheath himself within her—being able to love her like a husband could. Only he could do it, Abra already knows—she responded well with the touching and rubbing, but only because it was with Zero. She wouldn’t have been able to allow anyone else to touch her like that—such ways were so sensitive, she could only have her Beau partake in these ways.

She bites at her bottom lip, peering up towards her partner and lightly brushing her palm over his jaw with a small sigh—her Zero. Her lovely Zero. Abra leans in, kissing at the side of his mouth.


Drawing in a slow breath, her hand lowers hesitantly, bright eyes raising to look towards him.

      “…What does it mean—to get. Hard.”


  “We’ve known him for a year and a half, and I don’t there there has been very many times in that period in which he hasn’t been angry at us,” Zero says. He pauses a moment, putting his jar of blood down on the table as he reflects, and then adds, “Or, at least me.”

  However, despite all that, Zero knows well enough that somewhere in that ancient heart, there is a lot of love for the both of them, so he can’t complain too much. After all, he’s helped them through plenty and given them a place to live—or, more than that, a home. So, the occasional British glares, grumbles, and door slams don’t effect the childe so strongly anymore, knowing well enough that the man is just old and grumpy.  

  Zero looks toward Abra and gives a small shrug, picking up his jar again and drinking it until it’s empty, and then proceeding to stick out his tongue at Abra in the most mature fashion to ever exist.

His tongue is stained red from the blood and Abra still doesn’t know how to act, because she’s uncertain. She doesn’t know if she should touch Zero tenderly or leave him be—he was afraid? That was probably realistic, all things considering things Abra didn’t want to consider but knew they existed anyway. She frowns at his tongue sticking, brushing her tiny hands at his chest before she’s leaning in to rest her forehead at his temple.

       ”—Do you. Feel better now.”

Because he finished his jar and Abra doesn’t really know what else to say, but she doesn’t want to stop talking to him. She never wants to stop talking to him. They don’t have enough time together even if their time is supposed to be endless—she presses her wane features into his shoulder, nuzzling into her partner’s neck.


  Zero does everything in his power to remain neutral, continuing to stare at the ceiling until the bitter end of the entire exchange when the door is slammed and locked. Then, of course, he can’t help but let out a laugh, doing his best to stifle it so that the elder wouldn’t hear, picking up Abra and throwing her over his shoulder again while he sips on the blood inside the jar. 

  “He gets more and more charming every day,” he says, plopping Abra back on the floor in the dining room. He takes a seat at the table, drinking down one of his drinks and wondering if, despite all that, he still might have to engage in an awkward conversation. 

  He’ll just not talk about it.

  And if Abra talks about it, then there’s probably no way to avoid it. But he’ll try avoidance for now, hoping that the answer to her question has been given and everything is as it should be.

  Things are rarely ever that easy, but he’ll give it a shot.

Abra still finds this all very, very difficult to understand—the idea of Zero actually doing that with her makes her very flustered indeed, and she tries hard to piece the situation together now that she has all the details she needs, but before she can open her mouth to ask Grandfather more questions—the door is slammed in her face and she’s getting thrown over Zero’s shoulder again. Why does he keep doing that! Abra doesn’t like it but she also doesn’t really like walking anyway and will sometimes sit down in the middle of the floor when she gets too lazy or tired to take another step so she guesses she’ll enjoy the ride.

She’s set on the ground, and Abra’s eyes follow Zero as he sits down, drinks his blood as though nothing had been said. She doesn’t really know what to say, it’s all still very confusing to her and she feels quite embarrassed, hesitantly trailing up towards Zero and sitting on his knee. Bright eyes watch him—she presses her palm to his chest before her other hand moves to pinch his neck sharply.

       ”You got him angry at us.”