Note: I do not own or have rights to Twilight or its Characters!

Chapter 21


Mathew and I walked together through the morning crowd that buzzed in the Commons. For whatever reason, he felt the need to point out places of interest; some of them, like The Golden Bhuda, Fitzgerald's Coffeehouse, and Sound Design music store I was already familiar, others I had yet to visit. We ended up on the south west end of the Commons on a broad pedestrian avenue that dead ended at the gates to an Amusement Park; it would seem that the Colony had its very own version of Six Flags. The little bistro he led me into was called simply Calvin's. After settling me at a table where we could "people watch" the passing crowd he darted off to place our order. When he returned fifteen minutes later, he had two steaming mugs of coffee and two baskets, each containing the most delicious looking ham and cheese bagels I'd ever seen.

"Prepare yourself, these are works of art," he informed me as he placed my mug and basket before me. "I kid you not; the first time I ate one, it was like a religious experience."

I couldn't help but laugh

"Amazing; she laughs," he teased as his grin spread once more from ear to ear. "I was beginning to wonder about that. Actually … I was very much afraid."

"Afraid of what," I asked as I took a sip from the steaming mug.

"Well, you seemed so … distressed … when you, uhm, ran into me," he paused to sip from his own mug before continuing, "and you continued to be distressed, for a healthy chunk of time thereafter. So … I was kind of afraid that this place might have made you … you know, come unhinged, or something. I've seen it happen a time or two since I've been here."

"And just how long have you been here," he looked very young to me.

"Going on four years now," he smiled at me then, and I knew what question was coming next, "And you?"

I dropped my gaze to the plate and sandwich on the table before me, "Not long … a couple of months maybe."

"That figures, I haven't seen you around." He replied before taking a healthy bit of his bagel.

"There are like, a gazillion people here," I insisted as I gestured towards the milling crowed, "Just because you haven't seen me before doesn't automatically qualify me for Newbie status. Maybe you just didn't notice me."

"Trust me Lillian" his tone dropped and he sounded deadly serious, "if I'd seen you before … I wouldn't have missed noticing you … nor would I have forgotten you."

His comment creped me out a little, so in an effort to shake it off, I picked up my sandwich and took a bite. When the complex smoky, cheesy, buttery flavor hit my tongue I moaned involuntarily.

"AAHHH … what did I tell you," he gloated, "it's enough to make you want to weep."

Unfortunately, he was right. For a time we were both content to enjoy our meals in silence, but that didn't last for long.

"So, are you going to tell me?" he asked after wiping his mouth with a napkin.

"Tell you what," I had an inkling about what he meant, but I was evading the question.

"Nice try, but no dice … that was an epic fail" he smiled warily as he wagged his finger at me, then he asked again, " are you going to tell me about the … whatever it was … that had you spooked like a school girl lost in a cemetery on Halloween night."

I kept silent for a few more minutes as I thought of a response, for some reason I didn't really want to mention my fear of Caius to him. "Hobgoblins," I finally replied in the most serious tone I could muster.

For a second he just looked at me and blinked; then he burst out laughing … he howled like it was the funniest thing he'd ever heard.

"Hey, what's the joke Mat-man?" a male voice asked. I nearly jumped out my skin as I turned to see who was speaking.

A couple was approaching our table; the young man was lean with shoulder length dirty blond hair and a scruffy beard, he kind of reminded me of Shaggy from Scooby-doo. The woman was of medium height, but still taller than me, with long raven hair, copper skin, and beautiful high set cheekbones; she could pass for Pocahontas.

"Hey Spider," Mathew greeted the young man when he finally stopped laughing. "It seems that the Colony is under siege by Hobgoblins."

"Oh great, just what we need … more freaks to join the sideshow," Spider grumped. "Why not just invite ever Troll, Demon, and Hellhound to the party … sheeesh, the class of monsters you run into around here these days has really gone to the crapper."

"Yea," the dark haired girl took up, "This used to be such an exclusive little corner of hell, now the Three Brothers Grim will let almost anything in here."

Mathew was laughing like an idiot again and I was confused.

"Forgive me," Mathew apologized when he could speak again. "Lillian, this is Spider and his girlfriend Zoe; they're two of my best friends, and they're good folks," he added soberly, "you can trust them … Ok?"

Instead of nodding and keeping my mouth shut, in typical Lillian fashion, I decided to stick my foot right on in. "Is Spider your real name?" the question fell from my lips before I could catch it.

I expected anger or at the very least mild annoyance, but instead Spider just chuckled. "Where did you get her," he asked Mathew, "She's funny."

"She kind of … ran into me … literally," he replied. My face turned beet red as I thought about how I'd slammed full on into Mat in the hall; this elicited another chuckle from him.

"No," Spider answered my question finally, "my real name is Archibald … never, ever, ever, call me by my name … or Archie; God, I hate that name! It's Spider or just Hey You … understand?" I chose to nod this time.

Spider and Zoe excused themselves to go inside Calvin's and grab something to eat; when they returned they pulled another small table over to ours and settled in.

"So, Lillian," Zoe began, "what's your story?"

"No, no, no," Mathew purred softly. "She can answer that one a little later … after she finishes telling us about whatever the hell it was that had the shit scared out of her earlier."

"I told you already; Hobgoblins," I answered indignantly.

"Yeah, right," Mat sneered, "and I'm really Elvis … Try again munchkin."

For that remark, I punched his arm … not very hard of course, "No short jokes," I chided, "we prefer to be referred to as the vertically challenged … not munchkins."

"Funny and feisty," Spider observed, "nice, I'm liking her better and better by the minuet."

"You can trust us Lillian," Zoe insisted and I felt her take my hand in hers, "we won't laugh …"

"Much," Spider interrupted. This earned him a kick under the table from his girlfriend. "Ouch," he complained but otherwise remained quiet.

"As I was saying; we won't laugh, or judge you," Zoe took up again, "we want to help."

"But we can't do that," it was Spider who spoke this time, in an uncharacteristically serious tone, "If you won't let us into your world."

I sighed as my gaze traveled from Mathew to Spider to Zoe; what did I really have to lose by telling them? After a couple of deep cleansing breaths, I related my tale. I began with my arrival and subsequent lock down period that resulted from my temperamental behavior. Spider was both amused and impressed with my hurling of small desk furnishings at Aro; he wanted to give me a suitable new nickname in honor of it, but couldn't quite decide between Xena and Eowyn. I went on to tell them how Aro eventually lifted my punishment after my first collection as well as how I spent my first day in the Commons. Then my tale turned dark as I told them about Frank and his friends.

"So it's Frank that's got you spooked," Mathew interrupted thoughtfully. "I'm not surprised, he's a real piece of work that one. You're not the first woman he's taken advantage of, but I'm glad he's finally been caught."

"Amen," Zoe seconded the notion.

"I'm scared of Frank, that's true enough, but," I paused as I fumbled with how to go on. "He isn't the source of my biggest fear … that … that would be Caius."

"Crap, man," Spider muttered, "who isn't petrified of the Ghostly Grim … one look from him can turn any man's blood into ice water."

"The Ghostly Grim?" that was a name I'd never heard before.

"Ghostly Grim, Gangster Grim, and Gloomy Grim; collectively they are the Three Brothers Grim … that's as in Grim as in Grim Reaper by the way, not the medieval story telling Brothers Grim." Spider announced in a tone reminiscent of my high school history teacher. I guessed Gloomy Grim must be Marcus; that was pretty obvious. Gangster Grim was likely Aro; he did look like the Godfather.

"Why do you call Caius, Ghostly Grim?" I couldn't make the connection.

"White skin, Platinum blond hair, glowing devil red eyes," a shiver made Zoe's body quake as she spoke, "He's practical the poster child for specters and spooks … all he needs to complete the look is a set of chains like Jacob Marley's ghost."

"How come you're running scared of Caius," Mathew asked in an effort to refocus the conversation.

I took a swallow for my mug of now cold coffee to steal my nerves before answering. "After the incident with Frank, I was brought before the court … for their version of an informal interview. They wanted to hear my side of things I guess; anyway … throughout the questioning, Caius kept glaring holes in me. His expression shouted, in no uncertain terms, that he would LOVE the opportunity to slowly kill me. Since then I've been having nightmares about him doing just that; I imagine him sneaking up behind me and snatching me, or worse, running into him when I'm out of my apartment.

"The fear is so strong that I really don't want to leave my apartment … and when I do, I have panic attacks. The last time it happened, Carlisle found me sprawled on the floor in the corridor leading to the Commons, and I spent a few days in the infirmary. I'm on meds now, but he said they would take time to reach 'Maximum effectiveness' in my system."

"You don't seem too scared right now," Spider pointed out casually.

"Yeah, I know," I scratched my head as I answered, "When I'm with someone, the fear isn't so bad. Not that it would matter a whole lot; if Caius showed up with you guys around, he'd have me and you couldn't really stop him. But I guess it's a mental thing. It would be another ball game all together if he messed with me when my owner was around."

"Damn, you're Private Stock, Lillian," Mathew asked seeming a bit surprised. "When were you planning on telling us that … or were you planning on it?"

"Sorry, I didn't think it was important," I replied shyly. I hoped that my oversight didn't make me lose my three new friends.

"Who do you belong to," Spider asked curtly.

Before I could answer, Zoe pulled up the right sleeve of my blouse. "Freakn' shit!" she exclaimed as she saw my brand. "She belongs to Gangster Grim."

All three of them fell silent as they looked first at each other and then firmly fixed their collective gaze on me. An explanation was clearly in order, but what could I say.

"Aro is my owner," I admitted in a low voice. "At first I felt like I was his cow or something and I hated him … I wanted to find the nearest door and run like hell. I guess I'm getting used to it now; Carlisle said the sooner I accept my new situation, the happier I would be … I'm trying to take his advice."

They continued to stair wordlessly at me, judging me for my crime. I could completely understand why they wouldn't want to hang around with one of Aro's 'pets', what if I were a spy or something … I deserved it if they never wanted to speak to me again.

"Part of the ship, part of the crew …" Spider slowly began to chant a line that I recognized from one of the Pirates of the Caribbean all three of them were chanting it.

When they fell silent, Mathew spoke, "Lillian … we've decided to adopt you into our motley little group, and that means we forgive you for not telling us that you're Aro's privet stock. But to be a part of our group means trusting us … just like we have to trust you." Then he held out his hand to me, "do you think you can do that?"

I looked at his hand; stretched out towards me and waiting for my acceptance. Slowly I reached for his hand, until I felt my fingers and palm grip his. "I haven't had friends in a long time … since I ran away from home a few years ago," I admitted. It was hard hearing those words tumbling from my lips; before Grant I had lots of really good friends both in and out of school. "I might not be very good at this … please don't hate me if I mess up?"

Zoe caught my chin lightly and turned my face so that our eyes met; my brown ones locking with her hazel. She held my gaze, reading me like a gypsy fortune teller from one of those creepy traveling carnivals. "You've been hurt … really badly," she finally commented, but her eyes continued to hold me, "You'll have to tell us about it sometime." She let go of my chin and released me from her stair. "Listen Lillian, we all have a past here … and we all make mistakes. If you mess up … then you mess up, it's no biggie. You say you're sorry … and mean it … then you move on and try not to make the same mistake again. It's really just that simple."

"Thanks Zoe," she smiled at me, but said nothing.

"So, have you been to the Amusement Park yet," Spider asked. When I glanced over at him, he had a goofy grin plaster on his lips.

"No," I answered shyly, his expression had me a little nervous. In unison my three new friends shook their collective heads.

"An oversight that must be rectified," Mathew announced. "A day in the Amusement Park with Lillian it is then."

"I hope you like coasters," Spider added, "cause I plan to take you on 'Bloody Murder' … it will blow your mind."

Actually I hated roller coasters, but I didn't want to tell my new friends that; instead I just sighed and went back to eating my breakfast.


So now Lilly has some new friends to hang with. I wonder how this dynamic is going to play out; will Aro approve of them or will he be jealous. What will THEY think of Lillian's attachment to Carlisle and Esme or her growing feelings of connectedness for Gangster Grim ... Hmmm ... we'll have to see.