Six

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(A/N: Knockoff Little Mermaid, by me.)

"I want this story tonight mama!" He tumbled into his race car bed.

"Again?"

"Again!"

"Okay baby." She chuckled. "Once upon a time—"

"Do the voice!"

"OnCe uPoN a tiMe, there was a mermaid who wanted to be human. She loved to learn and wanted so badly to see the mainland."

"She's pretty mama." He looked at the pictures with her.

"Shh. The mermaid was used to the sea, but yearned for a life on legs. So she went to a witch and asked for help. The mermaid was granted her wish, but cursed to live her human life alone as punishment for choosing to leave the sea."

"All by herself, the mermaid found human life to be different than she thought. Despite the curse, she found a way to enjoy all the earth had to offer even on her own."

"One day she met the prince and began seeing him in the city everyday. The longer they were together the closer their friendship became. The mermaid found that the curse had been broken long ago. For while she had been happily living her life, the twisted magic left her pure heart. She fell in love and married the prince, realizing that life as human was most beautiful when shared with the one you love."

He was drooling slightly on her arm, asleep. She smiled. Gently laying him down she tucked him in and turned out the light.

She muffled a pained cough and closed the door.

***

[Liam]

Not my problem, not my problem. I don't care. Yes I do. But she doesn't want to see me.

I put my helmet on and studiously ignore Brandon helping Evie into his car. Pulling out of the student lot, I head to Ash's. Only one person is sure to cheer me up after this day from hell.

In the lobby of Brookdale I pass the Asian Desk Lady who nods with a small smile as I board the elevator. I knock a few times and then push into Ash's apartment.

What a nightmare the day was. Lunch was awkward even though Evie wasn't even there, and the rest of the day was bleh.

"Hello?" I call out. Ash isn't home yet but he should be up any minute.

"Liam! Hello darling, perfect timing." Mrs. Gerrimonte comes into the foyer holding Audrey Rose.

I smile at the elderly woman and see her off. When I turn to look at the bundle in my arms, Audrey Rose is curiously reaching for my hair.

"Don't grown up, okay?" I fasten her into her high chair and give her an applesauce pouch.

"Mmm gah oo." She nods affirmatively.

"So glad someone understands." I sigh playfully. "You remember Evie? Well she had an accident and got. . . sick. I feel terrible about it, but I'm also mad."

Her big grey eyes just stare into my soul while she slurps away at her snack. I get some water and sit on the counter next to her.

"I think I'm just going to apologize first. The truth of it is, I guess I love her more that being right. I just don't want her to lie to me again. You know?"

She looks right at me and throws her empty pouch at my face.

"Okay girlie, we're done with that." I scoop her up and toss her around. "At least you're cute."

I put her down on her tummy and clean up her snack mess. When I walk away she follows, crawling like a super-baby. Using my leg she stands herself up. I just chuckle.

The door latch clicks and Camille walks in with Ash right behind her. Audrey Rose smirks at me and bursts into tears.

Donning a pitiful expression she wobbles over to Ash who of course picks her up and spoils her with attention. I gape.

"You little attention whore! Camille you saw that." I point at the offending baby.

"Liam don't call my sister a whore. We've talked about this."

He takes her with him to put his things in the office. I turn to Camille, blubbering.

"Don't look at me." She shrugs. "Between us, they both like attention."

I just laugh. "Have you heard from her?"

Not my business, not my business.

"Yeah."

"And?"

"You know, I'm gonna say this because at the end of the day I don't care what happens. She misses you." Camille puts her own bag down and sits criss cross applesauce on the rug.

"Really?" I raise a skeptical brow. I wouldn't put it past Camille to joke about this.

"Yes, Liam. I'm not going to tell you the whole story, but Evie's had a tough go of things. You were the first normal thing she's ever had."

"Oh."

"Enough about her though. She'll be right as rain tomorrow." She claps her hands together. "I'll do your gov work if you do my English."

"I already did my gov, Collins." I tease.

"Fine, I'll do your bleh, calculus." She says. "That's my final offer."

"You've got yourself a deal."

We switch worksheets and instructions and get to work on each other's homework. Academic dishonesty is kind of our thing.

***

At home, Sam and Ollie curl up on the couch and watch a horror movie. I lay in my nest in the dark, thinking only of her. Today was shit. Once again I didn't bother to check on her when I knew she wasn't feeling great.

I stand and grab my keys. I run down the stairs and startle Sam who screams when I flick the lights on.

"Chill the fuck out." I hush him. Ollie muffles his laughter.

"Where the fuck do you think you're going? Sneaky scary asshole." Sam fixes me with a questioning glare.

"I'm going to see her."

This makes Ollie sit up and look at me too. Puzzled he contests me. "Just like that? You're just going to see Evie? After a month?"

"Don't make my question it or I won't go." I tighten my resolve.

"I'm hiding the alcohol!" Sam calls after me as I go out the door. "If you accidentally sad drink yourself to death later I'll have to move."

How reassuring.

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