A/N: And the time skip sequel to "Stand up Strong" begins! Aren't you all excited? I sure am! I tried to change the way I write this chapter and I'm definitely very satisfied with how it came out, if proud even!
The Lightning tip
The charred house
The place where the sun light sprinkles
Those were just some of the names the old home south of Tazmilly received over the four years. One resident of the house gave it the name, 'the place where the sun light sprinkles' because every sunny morning, the sun would shine through all the damaged holes in its stand. He was sound asleep despite sun rays shinning in from all corners of the old wooden structure. It shone directly on his messy blonde hair and warmed his pale skin as he continued to sleep. The higher the summer sun rose up in the sky, the more it covered the eroding house and the young man inside.
"Cluck, cluck, cluck."
"Cluck, cluck, cluck!"
Chickens found their way into the room and their little claws tapped around the old damaged floor. They were gaining momentum to attempt flight to the soft platform where their owner slept. One smaller hen succeeded at her attempt and claw-gripped her way across the messy blankets and onto the bare back of Lucas. He rose up immediately while burying his fingers into the pillow he was once hugging in his sleep. He looked around when he heard the sounds of his chickens scattered about and felt the one pacing around on his bed.
He replied to the rude awakening with a disapproving frown; he still wasn't very capable of scowling no matter what was dished out at him. He checked his sensitive back for cuts or blood which it thankfully did not have, and carefully stepped out of bed. "I think I've slept in..." He murmured and tapped around the top of shelves and cases for his glasses. His fingers traced against smooth steel that meant he touched the top frame of his glasses, because the the handles and bridge of the glasses were bandaged to stay together until he could get himself a brand new pair. He placed them over his eyes and blinked to adjust; though still relatively blurry, he was able to finally see that he had indeed slept in.
"Oh gee, it's noon..." He sighed and pulled out the dresser drawer to find some clothes to wear outside. Unlike Claus, he didn't have the galls to walk around shirtless no matter how hot it was, neither did he feel like he had much to show off anyways. He came across sleeveless shirts that were all dark shades of colors made for heavy work. None of these were his, neither were the multiple pairs of cargo pants... "Oh. Right. I didn't do my set of laundry... whoops."
His cheeks flushed a deep red as he pulled out the dark blue pants and black sleeveless shirt. These were definitely not his colors or style choice, but it'd have to do, he had important tasks today; laundry could happen another day...or three. He was still taller than Claus, so the length of the pants were not a problem, but the shirt... so much was bared. He was hoping that no one would look at him for too long or ask why he was wearing Claus's clothes when he goes to town; this was hard enough as it was.
He looked at the fogged mirror and blushed even more, especially at the shade of his cheeks and his eyebrows crinkled with embarrassment. His birds pecked at his legs to hurry up, and he grabbed a large beige hip bag and fastened it on. He at least remembered what he definitely needed and walked out of his room. He ignored his growling tummy, grabbed for the chicken feed and hurried out of the house. The sun temporarily made his vision even worse when it glared into his obsolete glasses. He winced for a moment until the chickens pecked at the bag in his hold.
"Hey, I know I'm late! But behave!" He scolded and shook them off while ignoring their angry screeches. He went around the back side of the house where their fencing was and tossed plenty of grain into their bins before shutting the fence. Tying the bag up tightly and hiding it from any possible petty thieves or chimeras. He was now ready to go into town and to 'the old man's paradise'. On the way there he ignored the snooty glances of the 'sight see-ers' that often came to take pictures and talk about his eroding house and kept running north in a hurry.
"Lucas! What are you doing in Claus's gear? You're not muscular enough for his stuff!" Ritchie rudely shouted. The larger item shop was always the first thing seen from his entry to town, and always, Ritchie was there to shout at he and Claus. He wasn't one to argue and kept running to his destination. Not every part of Tazmilly was covered in fancy brick roads and brick buildings just yet, the east part of town was still very green excluding the new training ground where newly recruiting soldiers were trained at. To this day Lucas still couldn't fathom how Butch could sell the entire property to turn into some kind of noisy camping ground.
The thought crossed his mind every time he had walked past the place to where he worked, and where he spent his days at was just as depressing. The cold, poorly installed and wriggling doorknob he grabbed reminded him every single day. Upon entry, he would walk on wet, creaky floorboard worse than the one at his own home, moldy walls that had a lingering smell, and the saddened faces of the elderly strangers not even he could get to know. They were like shells waiting for somebody else that never came for them; some even developed a jaded sense of humor.
"Sarah, how about you go play hide and go sweep or pin the tail on the leak?"
Lucas didn't know the little girl personally, but he did at least know the name of her and the cold old lady named Margaret. He wondered what it was like having her as a grandparent, if he so much offered a cookie to the little girl, she would wince and say she couldn't take it, and do whatever 'play' she was suggested to do day after day. He shook his head and didn't see Nan who was likely with her growing daughter Alle, and if Linda wasn't downstairs, she definitely wasn't in at all. Ever since Mike's strange comment and her accusation of 'sexual harassment', she avoided going to the upstairs quarters.
Lucas had slowly been fixing up the upstairs part and it was a noticeable improvement compared to the wreckage downstairs he had yet to get to, but there was absolutely nothing that he could do about where the poor people laid their aging bodies for rest. Some were unfortunate to have springs poking through the mattress, so he croqueted them an extra layer to lay on. Eventually, he managed to make everyone their own colored layer for comfort, only a few expressed gratitude, but he didn't mind, as long as something was done about this. Neither did it net him extra pay he didn't care too much for, either. As urged as he was to continue his work, he was just so concentrated on something that involved old man Wess. He entered his room and saw him sulking at a table. Usually he was a very boastful and prideful man, but as time reigned on, his spirit diminished more and more.
"Salutations...!" Lucas greeted hesitantly. The man's posture was just so heart breaking to witness, he wondered if something else had happened for him to be this way.
He was caught by surprise, but straightened his posture and answered, "Salutations..." He cleared his mumbly voice and asked, "what brings you here?"
Lucas laughed, "you bring that up everyday, Wess, but good thing you asked yet again!"
"I'm going to investigate the where abouts of Duster! I've heard more rumors and they sound very promising. The description...the area where the river stops...it all adds up, Wess."
"...But why, Lucas?"
"Why are you going through the trouble? You're much too kind..."
"Oh, Wess! Please don't question it! Duster deserves to be found and you deserve to have some happiness! When I get him, I'll definitely bring him back to you right away! Don't dwell on it!" Lucas exclaimed and hurried out of the room. He didn't want to get into a silly argument, and he was eager to see his theories through. He didn't run for the exit, but a few rooms over where the old frog was. He thought it was strange how the pigmasks imprisoned every old thing in here, animals and people alike. The way the old frog stared at him day after day was as if it was trying to talk to him but couldn't reach out to him.
When he thought about it, that wasn't the only frog that intently stared at, or even followed him. He shrugged and opened the door to see his grandfather staring at anything but the happybox on his desk. On the ground was Boney on a specially made mat of his own.
"Hi, grandpa, hi Boney," Lucas greeted. He crouched down to Boney's level to pet him; he gotten even less active in his old age. It bothered Lucas how animals aged differently than he, thirteen years felt so little and yet Boney was always on his mat like the passed Scamp used to be in his bed. He winced at the thought of Scamp, he was sure that Boney had a few more in him. "Boney, wanna go on a walk with me today?" The old brown dog peeked an eye open in reply and mumbled. "C'mon, Boney, pleeeease?" The dog sighed and stretched as his yes.
Lucas did come by with treats often, pet him often, and made him that ever comfy mat to lay on. He could accompany on a walk.
A walk he didn't know that was going to be many, many miles worth.
When Lucas stood up, his grandfather was still staring at the wall motionlessly without a word to him. "Is he waiting for some kind of correct trigger?" Lucas wondered in his mind. Or was he waiting for Claus to come see him and call him grandpa? That young man grown to detest his existence and never acknowledged the fact he was recently moved into 'the old man's paradise'? He gave Alec a few seconds of hope of a reply before giving in and leaving with Boney. He quietly closed the door and made his way out of the staffless work place and back into the outdoors.
He recalled Wess stating that he restocked the back of the building with thunder bombs and though he didn't want to be resorted into using them, he knew he was likely going to have to when the going got tough. Inside were two thunder bombs in a little white box that was once wrapped closed with a silky red ribbon. The bombs made him think of Claus, they were certainly like him in nature; electrifying, explosive, kinda small but dangerous, the works. He smiled as he carefully pocketed them in his hip bag and hurried to town. Sleeping in today of all days was something he cursed himself for. If he hadn't he could've gone about this mission at his own pace, but now he needed to get as far as possible before it got dark.
His growling tummy also reminded him he slept past breakfast and was pretty much going through lunch time without a bite; he couldn't venture like this...! Stopping by Caroline's newly designed house and store hybrid, he stopped in front of the sliding glass doors that still amazed him somewhat. As pointless as they were, they were rather intriguing. Boney on the other hand hated these modern structures and rules; they all banished him. Oh how he hated the 'no dogs allowed' sign so much and how they said he was 'unsanitary'. How rude.
Inside, Angie was idly sitting down in her usually well mannered way in a pretty yellow sun dress that showed her matured body type nicely. She was always pretty when young, but she had grown up more beautifully than she gave herself credit for.
"Hello, Angie!" Lucas quickly gotten flustered when he saw her surprised, but bewildered expression. He had forgotten he was wearing Claus styled attire.
"Haha, Lucas, you look like Fuel in that. Are you trying something new? Trying to show off to single ladies or something?" She chuckled and made her way over to her good friend.
"Aha...no, it's just I forgot to do my chores and had to borrow an outfit of his..." He chuckled sheepishly. "Angie, I have several favors to ask."
"Oh? Go on," she encouraged.
"First, I need pen and paper," he said.
"Okay," she replied and and went to get the pen and paper. "I'm still in ear shot, by the way!"
"And can you, if available, get some doggy biscuits and plenty of nut bread or bread rolls!"
"Huh, really? Why?"
"Going on a trip, don't say anything for me? "
"Uhh, sure, sweetheart." She returned with a modern pen and some modern accented paper. Lucas didn't mind, he just needed to quickly write his letter and get going before things got complicated. "Thank you for all of this," he stated with a smile and began quickly writing his letter.
"Are you uh, going on a far trip...?"
"Possibly...I dunno, I'm just taking precautions," he answered truthfully.
"Lucas...you're not doing anything dangerous, are you?" Angie sternly asked with the carefully wrapped goods.
"Well it's not like I'm jumping into the face of dangers, I just know that danger is a possibility," he answered truthfully yet again. Lucas just didn't have a lying bone in his body.
"So why won't you take Claus with you? He's a tough, strong guy that can go through anything and you'll be safe," she sternly advised with a hand on her hip. "Nobody wants you hurt, or poisoned, or worse: eaten out there!"
"Oh, Angie! I'll be fine, I'm not a helpless person!" Lucas was on the verge of whining adorably, but this was a serious peeve of his. While he knew they cared, he was as much of a capable adult as the rest of them. "Please don't send Claus out after me, he's over worked as it is."
"I won't, but you should know he'll be hot on your trail the second he notices," Angie answered and shrugged.
Lucas couldn't help but chuckle at that statement because it was so true. He exchanged the neatly folded paper for the goodies that was able to fit into his bag.
"Thank you so much, Angie. Also, Fuel should be here soon for his usual break, give him that letter, please."
"Alrighty. Be careful, Lucas! Don't drop your glasses again, and don't think too much while walking that you walk into something again! Those flimsy things need to be replaced and should've been ages ago!"
"O-okay, Angie...B-bye!" He exclaimed and hurried out to escape the nagging. He had a doggy biscuit in hand and gave it to Boney. "Bon-bon, c'mon, it's time to go. I'll bribe you with this entire bag of doggy biscuits if I have to."
He had absolutely no qualms with this and agreed wholeheartedly.
Lucas knew he definitely didn't have the funds to take a train and get tickets to the D.C.M.C concert, so he had to do the brave thing and enter the the train tunnel with his ever loyal and hungry dog.