Duncan sat on the couch and stared across the room. He felt so bad for Rylan. That girl had been through way too much for any seventeen-year-old. He remembered joking with her that he had spent nights staying up and reading her file and knew everything about her. He realized that he didn't know anything about her. Looking back he realized that Rylan looked a lot like her mom. He should have at least noticed that they had the same copper hair and light brown eyes. The phone rang pulling Duncan from his thoughts.

"Hello?" he answered hoping he had gotten it before the ringing woke Rylan.

"Hey, Mac," Richie answered rather distractedly. "Can I talk to Rylan?"

"I'm fine. How are you?" Duncan joked.

"Mac, it's kinda important. Is she even there?"

"Yes, she's here. But she's asleep. What do you want?"

"To talk to Rylan!" Richie exclaimed.

"What's wrong?" Duncan asked.

"I just need to talk to her."

"Richie, I'm not going to wake her up, just so you can tell her about some girl you met."

"Mac!" Richie's annoyance was evident in his voice. "This isn't about something stupid. It's important."

"Too important to wait until Monday?"

"Yes," Richie insisted.

"What is it?" There was a pause. "Richie?"

"Just keep an eye on her tonight, would ya, Mac?" Richie asked softly. "This is kinda a hard time for her. If I had realized I wouldn't have left."

"Richie, what are you talking about?"

"Just promise."

"I will," Duncan promised. "Are you going to tell me why?"

Less than five minutes later Duncan was downstairs bypassing the West Side Orphanage computer security. He typed in 'Fisher, Rylan Elizabeth' and her files came up. He scanned for what he was looking for. Richie had been right; today was the eleventh anniversary of her father's death and the second anniversary of her brother's. Tomorrow was the day she had officially been given up for adoption. No wonder Richie felt so horrible for not being with her, this was the first year he hadn't. They had been together on this night every year since she was four, but this time Duncan had to be the one to comfort her. He hadn't the slightest clue what to do. Richie told him that they usually stayed up all night talking, or if they wanted to sleep, they slept together. Duncan couldn't do the later, but if she needed he could do the former he decided. He went upstairs to check on her.

She was quietly sleeping having found her way to the center of the bed. Her hair had half fallen out of the rubber band she had tied it back in. Duncan sat down in a chair and looked at her. She looked so peaceful on the outside, but he could almost hear the emotions battling inside of her. She shifted, rolling onto her stomach, and a large chunk of hair worked its way free of the band and fell across her face. Even though she seemed unaffected by it, Duncan got up and lightly brushed it aside. She mumbled something and continued sleeping.

"You seem to be okay," Duncan quietly observed.

"Uh-huh," she sleepily agreed.

Duncan smiled and decided to leave her alone and went out into the living room, keeping an ear open in case she needed him. Duncan wasn't sure how much time had passed, but he heard Rylan exit his room and go straight to her's with a quiet sniff. He got up and went to the kitchen deciding to heed Richie's advice before checking on her.

Rylan was sitting on her bed leaning against the headboard with her knees pulled to her chest when Duncan pushed the door open.

"You look like a girl who could use some hot chocolate," he said handing her a mug and sitting on the edge of her bed.

"Sorry about falling asleep like that," she mumbled staring down at the brown liquid.

"You were tired."

"Today is when my dad died, Skylar, too," she said quietly after a minute.

"I know." Duncan looked at the small girl sitting in front of him. Suddenly he realized that she wasn't a younger female Richie, she was a completely different person. She shared some of his qualities and personality traits, but she was different. Richie had taken more convincing to gain his trust, and he still didn't offer up information as easily as Rylan did. Richie was a grown-up who just needed a little guidance, Rylan was a little girl who still needed parents, somebody to hold her and promise her everything was okay. She needed to be told that she wasn't the reject. "Do you want to talk about it?" he offered.

"No," she answered softly.

"Do you want to cry about it?"

"Yes," she said as she let the first tears fall.

"Do you want me to leave?" he asked starting to stand.

She reached out and grabbed his hand. "No," she told him. "Will you stay?"

"Of course, Rylan." He got up and moved to sit next to her and gently pulled her to him. She leaned into him and cried. He took the mug from her hands before she could spill it into his lap; the last thing she needed right now was to learn about immortals. She put her arms around his waist and hugged him with strength that surprised him. Then he remembered what Richie said about Rylan liking to work out. He decided to start getting her to go to the gym with him once her ankle was better. The bonding would do them both some good. He looked down and discovered she had fallen asleep again. He started to get up, but she held onto him tightly and he resigned to a night of uncomfortable sleep.

. . . . . .

When Duncan woke up Rylan wasn't there. He stretched and breathed in deeply not overly concerned; her crutches were in the corner and he could smell bacon. He stood up and decided that a hot shower would be good for his stiff back. He walked to the kitchen and found that Rylan had dragged a chair in front of a stove so she could kneel on it while she watched the bacon and eggs.

"Smells great," Duncan greeted putting a hand on her shoulder.

"Thanks, nothing fancy, but it's the only thing I know how to make."

"I'll teach you how to make French toast tomorrow, if you want," he offered getting glasses down from the cupboard.


"Are you feeling better today?"

"Yeah, although I feel a little stupid having cried like I did," she admitted.

"Everybody's entitled to a good cry sometimes. And you had more than enough to cry about." He put two glasses of orange juice on the table. "You going to do your homework today?"

"Of course," she sighed. She began spooning eggs onto two plates, then added the bacon and cinnamon toast and handed the plates to Duncan.

"Do you want to go with me to get Tessa and Richie tomorrow?" Duncan offered.

"Don't they get back in the middle of school?"

"Well, yes. But I've been thinking about that. Do you have any tests tomorrow?" Rylan shook her head. "Anything really important that's due?" She shook her head again. "Then why don't you take the day off. We'll just say you're ankle was really bothering you and the pills put you to sleep."

Rylan grinned. "That would be a lie," she said matter of factly.

"Since when do you have a problem with lying?"

"I thought you did."

"Nope," Duncan shook his head and grinned, resolving never to be in charge of Rylan again. She made him go soft and all he wanted to do was make her happy.

"Then it's fine with me."

"But you still have to get all your work today. And you have to get all your makeup work done, too."

"Deal." They shook hands.