Johnny waved back at Todd as the boy boarded the schoolbus. He sipped his black cherry-flavored coffee and picked up his paintbrush to continue his painting. It was a nice day out on his apartment balcony, and it was his day off; he had a painting to finish by tomorrow for an exhibit at the art festival.

He drained his cup and absently thought back to the past month. Todd had a few nightmares for the first week in his new home that Johnny had to help him through, but they made it through, night by night. Todd enjoyed his new school and it's advanced reading and writing classes, and even made friends.

Johnny had taken a second job at a music store, which seriously tested his homicidal restraint, but it - thankfully - held. Todd was worth it.

At noon, he decided tot ake a break and go into town for some groceries and more supplies. He drove to the arts and crafts store to browse and picked up some new paints, then headed to the grocery store for something other than roman, knowing that Todd needed good, nutritious food. After buying some things Todd liked, he back in the car and began to drive home, and nearly slammed on the brakes when he saw someone sitting on a bench on the bus stop.


He took a few turns and drove up to the bus stop to make sure. It was. She sitting on the bench with a duffel bag, looking at her watch. Johnny held his breath as the drive right next to her. "Hey," he said, leaning out the window. "Can I give you a ride anywhere?"

"Oh, no thank y- Johnny?"

Johnny gave her a half smile. "...Yeah," he replied. "Um...you going my way, by any chance?"

Devi looked at him for a moment, then grabbed her duffel and walked over to the car. "I suppose, she replied. Johnny unlocked the car door and let her in, then drove back to his apartment in time for the bust to drop Todd off. They got out of the car and Johnny waved Todd, who waved back, then saw Devi.

"DEVI!" He ran up to her and hugged her around the middle. Devi hugged him back. "Devi! You came to visit?"

"Yeah," she replied, petting his head. "Just for a few days, at least." She glanced over at Johnny, who was getting Devi's duffel bag for her. "You want to show me where you live?"

"Sure!" Todd grabbed her hand and raced up the stairs to the fourth floor, Johnny trailing behind them with the duffel and groceries. Todd went into the apartment and Devi looked around. It was well put together, clean, and of course filled with paintings. They werent as good as the one she still had in her possession, but they were still very good. The kitchen was clean and stocked. Todd's bedroom was filled with books, notebooks, and a typewriter. Shmee lay contently on his bed.

There was a small balcony that was was pleasant and covered, with a table and two chairs. Devi was surprised to see that lying peacefully on the balcony were two black cats. When the door opened, the cats darted inside and onto the couch to stare at her with pretty yellow eyes.

"I see you've met our two tenants," Johnny said, putting the duffel and grocery bags on the kitchen table. "Devi, meet Edgar and Vargas." The cats only mewed and licked themselves. "Little freeloaders. Anyway, this is it. Our home."

"It's great," Devi replied. And it was; it had more personality than her own home, anyway. The clsoest thing she had to a pet was Tenna. She petted one of the cats, who purred.

"What's for dinner?" Todd asked, taking off his backpack.

"Chicken, broccoli, and rice," Johnny replied. "Go wash up and start on your homework."

"'Kay," Todd said, taking his backpack to his room. Devi turned to Johnny.

"You seem to be catching onto this parenting thing really quickly," she commented. Johnny smiled and turned to the kitchen.

"I know," he replied, getting out what he needed. "It came pretty naturally, to be honest." He sighed. "I just want a better life for him. Better than I ever had."

Devi understood what Johnny was saying. She didnt have the best of childhoods, either. She watched Johnny make the dinner in silence for some time.

"So, where are you staying for this visit?" Johnny asked. Devi shrugged.

"I dont know, " she said. "A hotel, I guess."

"I dont think so," Johnny said, not even looking up from his cooking. "You're here to visit, so visit. Stay here. There's plenty of room. Todd's got Friday off from school, and I can easily get three more days off. So stay."

Devi blinked. "I dont want to intrude -"

"It's not if you're invited."

Well, who could argue with that logic?

"...Okay. Until Sunday."



-'She'll stay forever.'-

Todd smiled at Shmee, closing his notebook.

"I know, Shmee. I'm counting on it." He left to go set the table and watch his new fate unfold.

Back in another city in a decrepit house, a lone solitary figure painted a wall with blood from a body on the floor. All of a sudden, he dropped the brush and clutched at his head.

Visions. Every night. EVERY night, he had visions from Squee - visions of freedom and happiness. Proof that Moose hated him and wanted him to be miserable.

Right now, he could see a little domestic scene - a parental figure asking his kid how his schoolwork was. The kid chatting away about a story writing contest. The parent smiling interestedly and gazing over the table at his apparent love interest, whose war-hardened and over-cautious heart softened and told her that THIS was finally IT.

Mr. Fuck glared at the Wall, his pupils contracting at the sight of it. He almost had his freedom. But still - forevermore - he was a slave. A slave to a damned WALL!

"I hate you..." he growled to the Wall. He threw the paintbrush at it and turned to stumble out of the room. "I hate you...I hate you..."


Of this story, anyway. I have a sequel planned that will be entitled "Bye Bye Beautiful", so watch out for it! Thanks for your reviews!