And…we're back! Vermi and mine's second story in our series of collaborations. When we last left our utterly insane family, they were bringing Elizabeth home from the hospital and expecting to live happily ever after. And while that's all well and good, we decided we were not done torturing them yet *giggles evilly* We couldn't help ourselves. It's just our nature *smiles sweetly and tries to look innocent*
"You know, if I didn't know better, I would think you had a growth growing off of you or something."
James flipped Cooper off while keeping his eyes on the television. He, Elizabeth and Mindy were going through the Supernatural DVDs he owned because he was bound and determined to give Elizabeth a good taste in TV shows. "You can't call your sister a growth. She is not an icky growth. She is a sweet little angel and you will apologize this instant."
Cooper chuckled. "I was just kidding. Put the claws away Momma Bear." He got up out of his chair and walked over so he could kneel down by Elizabeth. "You know sis, if I didn't know better, I would think Dad was the one who gave birth to you instead of Mom."
"Hardy har har har," James muttered while Mindy laughed. "You're just asking for it Cooper. I hope you know that."
"Yeah yeah, blah blah blah," Cooper said dismissively. He got up to his feet and held out his arms. "Now come on, let me hold her."
"What?" James said in disbelief. "No. You've held her enough."
"I've held her twice since you've brought her home from the hospital. Now come on, I know this is difficult for you but we have to cut the umbilical cord a little bit."
"But…but…you can't hold her."
Cooper sighed in frustration. "Why the hell not?"
"Because you smell bad." That wasn't true at all, but he had to come up with some sort of excuse.
"Mom! Would you talk some sense into him?"
Mindy tore her eyes away from the TV so she could give James a stern look. "Come on Jamie, let him hold his baby sister. He loves her very much and you hog her from everyone but me."
"But-" James stopped when Mindy pouted her lips at him. "Fine," he sighed unhappily. He got up to his feet and very carefully placed Elizabeth in Cooper's arms. "You be careful with her. She's fragile."
"Dad relax. I know how to hold a baby." Cooper smiled down at Elizabeth as he held her, and she looked back up at him with wide eyes, reaching up with her tiny little hands to grab at his face. James watched the two of them carefully, not daring to look away until he felt Mindy's arms wrap around him.
"You know we'll have to leave her here with Julie and the others when we leave, right?" she reminded him. "Unless you changed your mind about any of the kids going-"
"No," James said. "They're not going there. They don't need to see that place."
In an effort to get rid of some of the emotional baggage he had been carrying around since he was a kid, he was selling the house he had grown up in as a child. He had kept it all these years because…well he didn't really know why. What he did know was that before he could hand it off to a real estate agent to sell it for him, he needed to clear out the stuff that belonged to his parents and his brother Jacob first. Mindy and Cooper were convinced that going in there himself and doing it with their help would be good therapy for him but he wasn't quite as sure about it. He just had a really uneasy feeling about the whole thing. Maybe he was just being paranoid but he couldn't help it. He hadn't stepped foot in that house for twenty eight years for a reason. The place was just all kinds of bad.
Mindy sighed and rested her head against his shoulder. "It's just a house Jamie," she said gently. "It can't hurt you."
"I know," he said with a sigh. "But tell my brain that."
"I will." She grabbed his head and pulled it down so she could speak directly into his brain. "It's just a stupid house and it cannot hurt Jamie. Stop telling him that it can."
James laughed and kissed her. "You're adorable Baby Doll."
"I know," she said happily. She kissed him this time just as the doorbell rang. "I GOT IT!" Connor yelled. He literally came running full speed out of the basement and tore through the living room, making James holler and flinch violently because he was sure that Connor was going to crash right into Cooper and hurt Elizabeth. Luckily he didn't do that, and he vaulted his way down into the hallway so he could let Tiffany, Kelly and a rather frazzled looking Julie into the house. "TIFFANY!" he hollered, picking her up and spinning her around as he hugged her. "You want to come play Wii with us? Me and Tryg are beating the girls-"
"You are not!" Thorn could be heard yelling. "Amber said you lost because you cheated!"
"I did not cheat! You take that back buttface!"
"Hey! None of that now!" James scolded as he stole Elizabeth back from a distracted Cooper. "You hear me Connor?"
Connor stuck his tongue out before carrying Tiffany down to the basement, Kelly hesitantly trailing behind him. Those two were in charge of the older kids while Julie looked after Elizabeth and Chelsea (who was upstairs napping). James shook his head at Connor's antics before looking down at Elizabeth, who was smiling at him. "Hey there Lizzie Bear," he cooed happily, not giving a damn that Cooper was snickering at him. "You don't want Daddy to leave, now do you? No you don't. You want me to stay here and watch TV with you." He kissed her forehead and looked at Julie, who was looking at him in amusement. "You know, you should go instead of me. I-"
"No no no Jamie," Mindy said firmly. "We've talked about this already."
James pouted and kissed Elizabeth's forehead again. He knew he was being irrational and stuff but he couldn't help himself. Elizabeth was his first baby daughter and he had to protect her.
"James come on, you know you can trust me with her," Julie said gently. "I babysat my nieces and nephews from the time they were like a week old. I can handle Elizabeth just for a couple of hours."
"Here, let me hold her for a minute," Mindy said. "It's my turn again."
James handed her off to Mindy, who kissed her lovingly. This was the first time either of them were going to be away from her since bringing her home from the hospital and while neither of them were really all that excited about it, Mindy was having an easier time at it than James because she had already had four daughters. "I love you Lizzie Bear," Mindy cooed. "I love you I love I love you. You be a good girl for Julie, okay?"
"Of course she'll be a good girl," James said, kissing Elizabeth one last time before she was handed to Julie. Elizabeth got a confused look on her face and she started getting fussy and Cooper had to literally drag James and Mindy out the front door to keep them from forgetting their plan and staying home with their baby.
"Come on guys," he encouraged. "The sooner we get this shit done, the sooner you can go back and be the overbearing new parents we all know and love."
The house James had grown up in as a kid was about as far away from the house he lived in now as it could get and still be in the same city. He and Annabelle had abandoned it twenty eight years ago when they had moved out after he had killed Caroline and they never looked back once. Just pulling into the driveway made James feel sick to his stomach. "Oh fuck me," he muttered as he got out of the car. The house loomed over every other on the block; nobody lived on either side of it or across from it. He had heard through the grapevine that people believed the place was haunted and it wouldn't surprise him if it was.
Mindy grabbed his hand and gave it a tight squeeze. "It's okay Jamie. I'll protect you from the scary place."
Cooper shook his head and took the liberty of leading them into the house. The overpowering smell of mildew and decay hit them as soon as they stepped in, making them all cough. "Jesus Dad, you should have sold this place ages ago," Cooper muttered as he started throwing curtains back so the sunlight could stream in through the windows. "Although with the state it's in, I don't think anyone is going to want to buy it unless it gets fixed up really good."
"I'd rather just burn it to the ground," James muttered. He walked forward hesitantly, going into the living room and staring at the moth eaten furniture in disdain. He had always hated this room…usually when he got stuck in his parents' drunken fights it was right in here.
"We can hire movers to get the furniture out," Cooper told Mindy. He set down the boxes he was holding and went over and grabbed the old television that was still hooked up despite the fact that it hadn't been turned on in nearly thirty years. "We can junk this or sell it at a pawn shop. Make about ten bucks from it."
"Okay honey," Mindy said absently. She was more focused on James, who looked ready to bolt right out of there. "Jamie?" she said hesitantly. "Are you going to be okay?"
James didn't answer her. He just walked out of the room and went into the kitchen. A lot of unpleasant memories were rushing back at him at once. All the times that he got tossed out the kitchen window, smacked with empty glass bottles, smacked with coffee pots that were usually full of steaming hot coffee, the one time Caroline had tried to burn his face against a hot burner when he was six…he had to stop and remind himself that all of that shit was in the past. If he let it keep affecting him like this, then Caroline was always going to keep winning the war with him. He had to fucking let this shit go.
James shook his head and forced himself to get his head back on straight. "I'm fine," he assured Cooper and Mindy. "Let's just get this shit done though, okay?"
"Okay," Mindy said quickly. She got up on her tip toes and kissed his neck. "Whatever you say Jamie."
While they were going through the stuff in the living room, kitchen and Jacob's old room, James felt somewhat okay. He wasn't doing great by any means but he was doing better than he thought he would. But things started going downhill when they got to Joseph's room. Just being in the creep's room bothered him and it didn't help that Mindy managed to find a stash of photos under one of the floorboards that showed off the girls Joseph had raped in that very room over the years…plus there was a photo of Annabelle in a bathing suit mixed in there that James hadn't even known existed until right then. "Son of a bitch," he muttered angrily. He took the picture and stuffed it in his pocket before throwing the other pictures in the trash pile. He had every intention of burning the whole lot of them when he got the chance.
"What the fuck was wrong with your father?" Cooper asked in disgust. He was standing protectively near Mindy, who was hugging James's waist.
"He was a sick bastard," James replied. He threw the rest of Joseph's stuff into the box and kicked it out into the hallway. "Sick fuck…" He looked at the room that was next and felt his insides go cold. It was Caroline's room and it filled him with a sick sense of dread. The last time he had gone in there, he had barely escaped with his life. Stop, he told himself. Just stop. You're being retarded. It's just a room. She's been dead for almost thirty years, there's nothing wrong with that room.
James blinked in surprise. "What?' he said. "What's-" He paused when he felt that his neck was bleeding. Without realizing it, he had clawed the shit at the wire hanger induced scar on his neck. "Mother fucker," he muttered. He wiped the blood away and opened the door to the bedroom, hating himself for the fact that he was being spooked by a memory that was forty two years old. "Just a fucking room…"
As soon as the door opened he felt something cold brush against him, which made him shiver and step back. Cooper started to ask what was wrong but the light bulbs in the hallway all exploded at once, making Mindy scream and him curse loudly. Before James could even begin to figure out what the hell was going on, he felt something literally push him forward so violently that he couldn't stop himself from falling into the room. "What the-" His eyes widened as the door slammed shut before Mindy and Cooper could come to his side and he jumped up to his feet, shocked when he found that it was locked and wasn't about to budge and horrified when he heard an all too familiar laugh coming from directly behind him. "Oh fuck…"