Father's Day

By Someone with Time On Their Hands

Summary: It's Father's Day on Crucifixus. Rotti Largo is celebrated in media splendor. Nathan Wallace is respected quietly. And one father is left in the cold.

"And on this looovely June evening the prestigious Amber Sweet and Largo Brothers celebrate their first Father's Day without the passed Rotti Largo. However it's plain to see that while they still desperately mourn their father, these strong siblings have taken a cue from the south and are determined to live up the dead! Tonight Sweet and the Largos are sponsoring a massive festival in the name of all their father's caring endeavors—everything from the Gene Co Orphan Foundation to the renewing of Repo-Legalization is being promoted amidst the food, fun and bright culture of the fair. The event is aptly nicknamed the, 'Rotti Rave,' and is sure to be a delightful romp for you dads and everyone else! So don't miss the party at the heart of Crucifixus, tonight only--."

Click.

Shilo set the remote on top of the TV and rolled her eyes. Of course the family of sociopathic prima donnas would go such a route. For some reason it was in the Largo blood. Relative dead? Throw a party. Groundhog Day? Throw a party. Change of weather? Throw a party. The girl—woman now, she supposed, eighteen and all—got off her bed and shambled out onto her tiny balcony. Far away and down below was the Rotti Rave, glowing like a rainbow fire in the center of the city. Shilo saw that the tents, balloons and banners weren't the new Amber, Pavi and Luigi-centric ones seen since the hellish opera night, but the exact same ones used on the night of Rotti's death. She cocked her head to one side and furrowed her brow sympathetically.

"That's actually pretty sweet.", she thought aloud. It was a small gesture, but definitely a genuine one. The TV host hadn't even "accidentally" point it out either the way the always "accidentally" revealed "embarrassing" donations and help programs the siblings set up. Almost intuitively the floating screens flickered and switched from their respective commercials to reveal Amber Sweet in her newest appearance with her brothers flanking her. The head of Gene Co was decked out a long fall of wavy red hair, her formerly oval mouth replaced with plump Cupid's bow lips and her C's had grown to D's. All three of Rotti's kids were wearing black, but were glitzed up with the mandatory sequins/leather/metal/parts missing/streamers/belts/bling/more parts missing.

The TV Amber then went on to solemnly explain how they wanted to use the nostalgic tents and props of Rotti's last night to enhance the ambience and bring a little more of his memory back and et cetera. Shilo happened to miss the rest of the woman's speech what with her slamming the window doors shut and yanking her hair in frustration. She paced her room agitatedly, crossing her white arms and grousing. "Those publicity-glutted, murder-mongering, snakes-in-the-grass, sons and daughter of--! Urgh…" Her angry eyes landed on a photo and her fuming turned into mortification. It was one of the few pictures of Nathan Wallace and his little girl ever taken. She picked up the frame and ran her thumb over the glass. This one had been taken when Shilo was a mere five years old, with her sitting on his knee in one of her finest little dresses and him in a suit. It was taken just before they ventured into the Wallace tomb for her to lay a flowering tree on her casket. That had been on Mother's Day.

Now here she was, without so much as a daisy to lay on her father's coffin in the Wallace tomb. In fact she had entirely forgotten the significance of the date until the Rotti Rave special flashed on the TV. She hadn't even dressed up and had been loafing the day away in her white nightie. "Guess I'm not one to talk, huh Dad?" The photo said nothing. "I'll think of something for you. I promise." She set the picture down and started pacing again, no longer annoyed but pondering. While flowers seemed appropriate for Mother's Day, she doubted her father would be much of a flower person, alive or otherwise. Maybe a memento? Something they had both had a connection with in his living days.

Shilo looked around her room. Her stuffed animals, skeletons and insects all stared back at her, silently claiming they would be stupid picks. On her vanity sat her mostly unused cosmetics, brushes, mirrors and her long-since-useless wig. She didn't know exactly why she still kept the thing around. Her fingers played satisfyingly with her own lightly bobbed hair. Her natural locks had turned out to be a sandy brown that kinked up in small waves that didn't have half the sheen of the wig. While regrettable she still preferred her own hair and supposed the wig was kept mostly to keep her butterfly bust from being bald. And it reminded her of Nathan Wallace's Famous Scalp Shaves. Her hand reached out for the fake head, "Maybe…" A plastic head as a Father's Day gift? "No." She drew her hand back and twisted a strand of hair.

Shilo straddled her piano seat, lifted the key cover, thumped her head on the keys and groaned with the strings. The only things her father liked that she could recall were his "doctor appointments" and spending time with her. "Hmm. Well, I can at least give him that." She got up to eyeball her reflection in a hand mirror and grimaced. Her hair was a frazzled mess, there was eye crud lining her lids from yesterday's mascara, and she was still clad in nothing but her nightie. "But not like this." One thorough shower later and she was pulling on one of her father's favored outfits. It still smacked of the Victorian era, complete with Marni's cameo, but was almost entirely white. He'd always liked his little girl in white.

After scrubbing off her black nail polish and applying a bare minimum of mascara, Shilo made a small midnight snack to pseudo share with her parents. And just for tradition's sake, she took a white lily out of the vase on the kitchen table. Whether he liked it or not, he was getting a damn flower. Stowing both the mini meal and the flower in her satchel, the daughter slunk carefully down the secret tunnel to the Wallace tomb. She had a hell of a time avoiding the loose dust and webs as she went too. "Had to like white, didn't you Dad? Just had to like white.", she grumbled through the tiny smile on her face. For all the sour memories it held Shilo couldn't help but enjoy the eerily dungeonesque quality the path held. Although the girl couldn't know it, the feeling was similar to how most kids felt when hiding in secret bushes or behind trees in a park. Secret fun.

Finally she found the sliding portrait door and she pushed it aside. There was the tomb, identical to its form on the opera night in all ways but one. Oh, the bluish moonlight was there, so were the stray leaves and cobwebs and Marni Wallace's casket itself. However, in addition was the late Nathan Wallace's coffin sitting to the right of Marni's. Shilo imagined that was how they'd shared a bed in her mother's living days. She tiptoed around her father's stone coffin and set her bag down, taking out the lily to hold it in both hands. "Happy Father's Day, Dad. How are you and Mom doing?"

"…", said Nathan's casket.

"Sounds nice. I know you're not a flower kind of guy, but you're getting this anyway." Shilo smirked as she spoke and laid the lily on the casket lid proudly. "So there."

"…", said Nathan's casket.

Shilo sat on the steps and took out her sandwich and fiddled with the Ziploc. "I'm sorry I don't have anything too good. Don't get me wrong, I have the money, but you never really specified what you liked outside of 'the job' and, well, me."

"…", said Nathan's casket.

She bit her lip and began to open and reopen the baggie, searching for something to say. "You know Rotti's kids are doing some big publicity party for their ass of a dad? Well, they are. Don't get me wrong, I think on some really weird level they do miss him. But the way they exploit the whole Father's Day thing and make him out to be this big martyr it's just--!" Shilo flung her hands madly and before planted her fists in her lacy lap. "Yeah, I guess you'd know better than me, right? …Right. So anyway," she squished the pb and j over and over between her fingers, "I just want to hang out down here for a while."

"…", said Nathan's casket.

"Okay?"

"Sounds fine to me, kid." Shilo Wallace jerked a good two inches out of her skin at the sound of the man's voice. The deep voice then erupted into laughter behind her and she turned to see the owner's pasty face pressed against the bars of the window. The Graverobber in all his manic glory.

"You!?"

"Me!", he shouted back. "S'been a while, kid. Are you gonna' let me in or what?"

"Umm…" A montage of memories bounced in her head, including, but not exclusive to, the Graverobber showing up in her kitchen eating her food or bumping into him to and from errands. Said "bumping" was usually due to him posing as an average joe—ha—just finding his lost girlfriend/daughter/niece/gerbil/whatever threw off the pursuing Gene Cops. And of course his help on the opera night. She had just grabbed the door handle when she saw the telltale flash of Gene Cop searchlights.

"Lockdown! Repeat, graverobber sighted, commence lockdown!"Two pairs of dark eyes bugged open in unison as the locking mechanism whirred to life inside the door.

"Pull kid, I'll push!" Shilo obeyed on impulse and pulled with all the strength in her sticks of arms. Graverobber's practiced arms rammed into the other side and muscled past the mechanical lock. The door cranked open angrily until it cracked wide enough for the criminal to slide his bulk through. It nearly slammed shut on his jacket before he yanked it out of harm's way like the long dead actor and his hat of Indiana Jones fame. The duo pressed themselves against the door's wall as men in black suits charged past, guns and lights swerving in search. They passed in insectile waves like wasps until they grew weary of the cemetery and moved on, some idiot yelling they'd seen Graverobber dash into an alley.

Once the buzz of aircrafts and car tires trailed away, Shilo released her breath and Graverobber whistled. "Gets funner every time. They never seem to get smarter though, gets boring sometimes. So how has your night been going?" Shilo gawked up at his easy grin and had to wonder how he managed to keep the matter of his life and death so light. She'd put money on him playing hacky-sack with his still-connected heart if given half the chance. And he would too.

"Uh, okay I guess. I was just talking with Dad…" Shilo watched as the man stooped down and snatched up her peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He scooped the sandwich out of the baggie and engorged half the thing in one bite. "Sure, you can have it.", she said dryly. He flopped down on the steps while Shilo settled between her parents' coffins.

He gulped. "Thanks. You looked like you had too much food and I was happy to help." The remaining half was vacuumed in and he licked his fingers clean of peanut butter and raspberry goop. In the process he also sucked of the accumulated graveyard dirt of his evening work. Shilo made a tiny "urp" noise in the bottom of her throat and felt her appetite shrivel in her stomach like a sponge in the desert.

Shilo nudged her satchel to the dirty man's side. "You can have it."

"The bag?"

"The food in the bag. I'm not too hungry and you need it more than I do." He yanked the bag into his lap with a greedy smile. The first thing Graverobber brought out was a bag of potato chips which he popped open and shook a wave of yellow flakes into his maw. They went down with two mighty crunches and a swallow.

"Well, aren't you the little hostess tonight? What's the special occasion anyway?" The girl tucked a swirl of sandy hair out of her face and raised a brow. Was the nosy, drug-dealing, dumpster-dwelling, all-but-omnipresent corpse-defiler himself out of the loop?

"You seriously don't know?"

"I'm thinking it has to be some holiday or other for Gene Co to throw one of their overblown extravaganzas. I'd find out from Miss Sweet later tonight, but," he reached back and tugged on the door's handle, the door staying put with a stubborn metallic sound, "it seems we're bunking here for the next hour. Lockdown rule for the Gene Cops' procedure." He popped another chip in his mouth. "So what day is it?" The girl's eyes boggled as she got up from the stone floor and checked the portrait door. Locked. "Well?"

"Locked and it's Father's Day. You're sure this only lasts an hour?" Graverobber patted the remaining flecks of potato chip into his mouth and nodded with a smile. He patted the space next to him and Shilo sat with cringing compliance. Every little hair on her back stood at attention as the man hooked his log of an arm around her shoulders and dragged her to squish against his side. Upturned soil, crypt air, decomposition, sweat, blood and the always constant stinging stink of Zydrate stampeded every pore of Miss Wallace's senses. His glove left dusty, dirty handprint on her right arm and his trenchcoat left a similar print on the white of her dress.

"Yep, every time. I remember one time there was a glitch in the locking mechanisms and the tomb doors kept slamming open and shut over and over again for an hour straight, and it drove old Rotti crazy--."

"Quit it! Let go, you're staining Dad's dress! Let go!", she shrilled as she beat her hands against the man's chest. The fact that Shilo didn't want to be held finally registered in Graverobber's mind and he released her. The girl's hands scrabbled against her messed left side, taking smears of brown and translucent blue off on her palms. Perhaps it stemmed from her own seclusion, but Shilo could never comprehend the touchy-feely-gropey tendencies of the public. Everywhere she went there were men and women rubbing against each other, licking, petting and grasping each other, even flat out strangers. Especially flat out strangers. She'd lost count of how many times she'd been accosted in a grocery store or shopping for clothes.

On a few occasions she'd been rescued by merely brushing the friendly individual off—one had to say "individual" due to the infrequency of specific genders—and on two or three sexually threatening romps Graverobber himself had beaten surgically enhanced faces in. Not that that stopped him from giving her a few pets around the head and shoulder with a few rib-splitting hugs thrown in. The sad thing was that not counting the late and great Nathan Wallace and Blind Mag, he was the most respectful of personal space in her small array of acquaintances. "Your Dad's dress? He was a crossdresser? Ow! Sorry, sorry." Graverobber rubbed the hit spot on his head as his hostess crossed her arms.

"No. I mean this was his favorite of my dresses. He liked me better in white." She looked pointedly at the spread stain on her side. After a few seconds Graverobber took the hint and stared at it too.

"…Oh. Sorry." Shilo nearly commented on the gripping sincerity in his voice when she looked up at his looming white face. His eyes were wide and dark blue, nearly black. The shine in them spoke of a childish mentality of "I am more important than you," despite his implausible assistance from time to time. Apologies of any sort were a rarity with him, let alone sincere ones.

"It--. …It's okay. You didn't mean it." Shilo planted her hands in her lap and stared at the twin marble caskets before them. Mr. and Mrs. Wallace stared stonily back at her from their resting places and their pictures. "Not like either of them can really see me, right?" Oh no. Oh no she was not. Crap, she was. There was the first inkling of moisture and soreness in her eyes and there went one thin black line of mascara down her cheek. Shilo hitched in a breath and hoped he hadn't noticed. She wiped the black line away just in time for Graverobber to notice her wiping it.

"Aw no. No, no, no, no, no, don't cry, kid. Please don't—c'mere, kid. C'mon." For a moment the drug dealer was stuck between respecting the white rule and stifling the waterworks.

"I'm not crying. I'm fine, I'm okay. I'm just getting a little sentimental is all. I'm okay." Shilo punctuated this by dragging her fingertip along the bottom of her eye.

"You don't look okay, kid."

"I am okay."

"Little girl, I have spent the majority of my life around women in the throes of supreme depression and supreme euphoria. You're not on the second team."

"I said I'm fine, Dad!" They froze almost comically for a second and nothing but a stray spider moved in the tomb. "I'm sorry, it slipped I—I didn't mean--." And there went the geyser. Tears spurted from her eyes and there was no stopping it. Graverobber promptly threw the white rule out the window and pulled the girl to him, his arms latched unyieldingly around her tiny frame. This time Shilo hugged back. Her hands clung to his back and the dirty-rainbow hair dangling there. She planted her face in his broad, odorous chest and sobbed, hardly noticing when she was manhandled into the criminal's lap. Before she knew it was happening Shilo was being rocked like a baby by the drug dealer, complete with her still uncaringly crying her eyes out into his shirt. They stayed that way for a few minutes, the girl's sobs winding down into silence and a semi-consciousness.

Graverobber still didn't set her down and Shilo didn't particularly mind. The hold wasn't laden with fondling nor was it even close to sexual , something the young woman hadn't expected. With any and everything female she'd seen him with he exchanged at least a passing grope with them, but all she ever got was a pat, a pet, a bear hug and the occasional kidnapping. He was practically chaste with her. Even now one hand was resting on top of her head, stroking her brownish-blondish mane methodically. Shilo snuffled and turned her red face out of his chest, searching for something to steer out of the current awkwardness. "So, um, do you…do you deal with this kind of stuff often?"

"Kind of." Shilo felt his gloved thumb wipe the twin trails of mascara from her face. "There's usually more makeup and the crying fits revolve around physical and monetary problems rather than daddy issues. But hey, it's not a crime, kid. From what I've heard you spent your life revolving around him," he pointed at Nathan's grave, "and it's reasonable to assume you'd get attached to him. Maybe. A little." The girl choked out a strained giggle. "But at least you had seventeen whole years together. I get next to no time with my daughter."

Shilo sprang up in his lap and gaped at him like a fish. "You have a daughter?"

"Yeah. Pretty sure I have plenty of other kids I don't know about, but she's the only one I'm aware of. She was the only pregnancy I ever kept track of—her mom was an interesting one and I figured I should keep an eye out." Graverobber raised his brows as Shilo nuzzled her head back into his chest. His black lips grinned and his hand planted itself cozily on her shoulder.

"Who are they? I'll bet the mom was a celebrity."

"Ehh, depends on what you define as a celebrity. She was an important lady in her day."

"What do you mean 'was?' Was she busted for Zydrate or--?"

"Nah, she's dead.", he said blandly. Shilo blinked.

"Oh."

"She lived a colorful life though. Especially colorful love life. She was in all kinds of tabloids with people claiming she was just a pretty gold digger marrying some rich old nut for his money. Ooh, she's a gold digger! Ooh, he's an old pervert! Ooh, they're both so sick they deserve each other and blah, blah, blah. Boring soap opera shit. But I had a feeling she was a little deeper than that and sure enough, I was right. Not one night after Blind Mag's first concert and bam she's being seen with this volunteer doctor. Still a little older than her, but not nearly as old fartish or loaded as the rich man. The three of them kept up the friends charade until she left the rich fossil standing at the altar. Because the pretty 'gold digger,'" Graverobber enhanced this with finger quotes, "left him to be with the low income doctor.

"Naturally the media went berserk with that story too. All the pictures showed happy pictures of the new couple. The woman smiling, the doctor smiling, kisses on the cheek, holding hands, the whole romance deal." He twirled a lock of red in his fingers and stared blankly at it. "I think I was the only one who ever saw her break down. You see, this woman was putting up with harassment from her ex-lover, paparazzi attacks, and a whopping dose of depression she'd skillfully repressed for most of her life. Now on one fateful night she was throwing her bachelorette party near one of my Zydrate alleys. She told her girlfriends she was going out for some air when she was really going out for a private mental breakdown. When I saw her she was crying and raving and failing at beating up a brick building."

Shilo moved aside as Graverobber dug into his coat and pulled out a little glass vial of Zydrate, the blue light illuminating their faces. "She didn't even have to see this to know my profession."

"You don't hide it well."

"I--."

"At all."

"I'm telling a story here." Shilo stole the man's smirk as he sulked. "She was going into mental meltdown and she didn't give damn if Satan himself was in the alley, she needed someone to latch onto—preferably someone that wouldn't be a reliable source for the media. Now this lady didn't look a thing like the usual scalpel sluts, just a pretty woman outrageously conservative clothes and running eyeliner. So there I am, sitting on top of a dumpster with some semi-famous chick bawling into my neck, raving about her ex and her fiancée and her future and all that touchy drek. I wouldn't put up with a second of that sob story bull from a…" he swirled his hand in the air to hook the right word, "…customer today. They know better than to pull that shit on me, and use nothing but credit coins and favors to pay. But I was younger then, and my soft spot hadn't died yet.

"So I heard her out and by the end of it, she had me feeling all uh, it's an S word…"

"Sympathetic?" Graverobber nodded and handled the girl into sitting on his knee, her head still leaning into his shoulder. By now her white dress had gained a glaze of filth. Soil and splotches of pale red and blue peppered it without the young woman's notice. She readjusted the hem of the skirt and pressed her legs together reflexively. "What did you do?" Shilo knew what happened of course—what with the whole daughter thing—but how did it reach…that point?

"I offered her a free hit of Zydrate. Don't give me that look. Zydrate gives users a high, but the other side effects are a gamble. Some people can resist an addiction after a hit, some people go temporarily insane, some zone out and some get very friendly. Very, very friendly. Had taken Zydrate in her younger years which was how she met the ex and she was strong enough to quit after a bare three times. Her theory was that if she took it just one more time, for just this one bout of the depressing crazies, she would be fine. I gave her one of my cleanest hits and for a minute or so she was alright. A little loopy, but happy."

Shilo cocked her head as the man's ran a hand over his hair with a bizarrely pleased look on his face. He gave her conspiring glance and grinned lecherously. "Then she got friendly. We were both friendly for twelve minutes or so." Graverobber flicked his tongue and rolled his dark eyes up gleefully. "Eeeww! Don't be so graphic!"

"Oh come on, that wasn't graphic. This is graphic." He lifted his hands palm up and squeezed his fingers in groping motions while flapping his tongue wildly and grunting. Shilo blanched and scooted herself off the man's lap while he giggled. "Anyway, that's how my little girl wound up in her mom. Of course when she sobered up she could never admit to her new hubby what she'd done, without even being asked. Still, her pregnancy went without a hitch with mom and bogus-dad all sunshine and lollipops." The black-lipped leer melted into a solemn line that Shilo had never seen on the drug dealer's face. It was like hearing a hyena cry instead of laugh. "Then baby's birthday came and mommy didn't make it. So another man was left to take care of my kid, a baby girl he had nothing to do with, for the rest of her life."

"Without you ever seeing her."

"It was kind of hard to justify visiting what with my profession and what I'd have to say to see her. Hi! I'm the corpse-defiling, drug pushing hobo that fucked your wife and made half the girl you thought was your daughter! Could I borrow her, some food and money?" Here Graverobber struck a goofy, bug-eyed smile with a dimwitted blink thrown in for good measure. Shilo sniggered behind her hand.

"I see how it might get a little awkward."

"Just a little. That and the fact that, well, what if the secret was blown, like there was a blood test or something. All it would do would ruin the poor kid's life and the doctor's. First of all, both of them would go into the whole dramatic reveal of, 'hey, you're not my dad,' and 'hey, you're not my daughter.' That would come first, then who knows, the kid might be booted from a life she'd always known. She could have been disowned without the home and food and support and, well, love her fake daddy provided. Not to mention her name would be thrown everywhere, talking about how she's a bastard child of a criminal and all that tabloid wet dream garbage."

He popped his neck and leaned back on the steps with his hands behind his head. Shilo watched him watch the ceiling patiently. Were they going glassy? No, just a trick of the moonlight. Probably. "I'm sorry, Mr. Graverobber."

"I'd say I am too, but she was taken care of her whole life and she and imposter dad loved each other up until he croaked too. She lives on her own now, takes care of herself nicely. Never touched a single fashion operation or drug in her life, and never will if I can help it. I drop in on her now and then. I like to think she sees me as a friend, if not, a well-meaning rabid dog that won't leave her alone." The girl frowned and inched back to the malodorous man's side and her hand flitted back and forth between touching his shoulder before she tugged at her tan hair edgily.

"You shouldn't be so hard on yourself. You've been around me for a while and I consider you at least well-meaning crazy adopted uncle level. She should too."

"I appreciate it kid, but like I said, I'm not sorry she doesn't know who I am. As long as she doesn't develop some crazy Electra complex or something I'm happy she doesn't get the connection. I…aw, shit." Graverobber slid his hands from under his head pushed himself up into a hunched sitting position. "Of course I want to tell her. I never wanted to go in for that sappy family bull, but here I am, moping over some girl who only knows I exist because of the occasional food theft or abduction. Ugh. This is what I get for skipping my insomnia—nothing but contemplation without cynicism." There was silence in the tomb, as was more appropriate, but it seemed to stuff the stone walls like cotton. Shilo fiddled with her soiled dress hem and scooted until her hip touched his, neither looking at each other.

She muttered something unintelligible and Graverobber tilted his head up a bit. "Say again?"

"So you never had a Father's Day?"

"Everybody has the holidays, kid, but no, I've never been able to celebrate. Why?" An answer came in the form of an onyx satchel flopping in the man's large lap. "What's this?" Shilo shrugged as pink rose on her face.

"I'm not sure what else to give you. It's a strong material and I haven't gotten a single hole in it in five years. I bet it would be good for carrying some of your equipment." In fact the man seemed to need the bag above all else—his current luggage had worn paper thin with use and had a few too many rips in it for an expert's taste. Graverobber held the thing in both hands and rubbed it between his thumbs.

"Thanks. Sooo, what is this?"

"For a know-it-all, you're good at avoiding the obvious. Happy Father's Day. What? What's so funny?" The criminal was biting his lip in a tremendous effort to keep from cackling. "Look, if you don't want it just say so--."

"No! No, I like it! I really do, it's just –snerk—just what you said about avoiding the obvious. Nevermind—heheh!"

"I'll —hey, do you hear that?" From behind and far in front of them was the whirring of gears. There was one final, monstrous clang and the doors were open. They had wasted away an hour with the Graverobber's story. "Woo! We can leave!"

"Woo! I can deal Zydrate!" Graverobber got to his feet and yanked the young woman to hers with a tug. "Thanks for the bag, little girl. A lot." As he said this he creaked the metal door open and set one foot outside. He was held back by a small hand holding a tress of his brown mane. Sure enough, there was Miss Wallace.

"Who was the mother? You never said." Graverobber didn't move, just stared over the girl's shoulder, dark eyes unblinking. "Hello?"

"The name escapes me at the moment. And as for my daughter, I plead the Fifth. But, really, thanks again, kid.", he pointed to Mr Wallace's casket, "He was lucky to have you. I'll let you know when I remember her name. Bye."

"Happy Father's Day, Mr. Graverobber. But if I were you, I'd tell her before too long. The longer a lie lasts, the more it stings when it's revealed. I should know. The sooner the better. There's no telling if she'll move, or get married or something, or if Amber Sweet finally just out and out holds you prisoner in her bedroom. Anything can happen so, just spit it out. Ignorance isn't always bliss and--."

"Geeze, kid, are you an after school special or what? I get it, I have to tell her sooner or later, preferably sooner. I will." He locked eyes with his tiny companion and ruffled her hair with one tarantula of a hand. She squirmed under the assault and swatted his hand away half-heartedly. "Tonight, I swear. In fact I swear a lot.", he nodded. "See you around, kid." Finally he was on the other side of the door with Shilo backing inside for him to shut the door.

"See you around, Mr. Graverobber. Take care of her and yourself. Goodnight." She turned her back and heard the metal door shut with a solid echo of metal. The young woman was halfway to the portrait door when she heard a rapid knocking on the metal door.

"Hey! Hey kid, I just remembered her name!" Shilo turned around with a shake of the head. He could be so dramatic sometimes. Her lips had just parted to say something—maybe to ask what the name was, perhaps to tell the man not to have a conniption when she was ultimately muted by one word: "Marni."

Author's Note: The original title was going to be, "How to Murder an OTP." I'm as disgusted with myself as you are.