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A Heart, A Home

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The clock on the wall ticked softly. Evening light shone in the windows, and a gentle stillness lay over the Avenue A apartment. Anise didn’t remember falling asleep—she had lay down on the couch, curled up to wait for the medicine Siva had given her to kick in. She had her long hair pulled back into a ponytail, but it still tickled her cheeks and got in her mouth. She groaned and pushed it out of her face, and realized that a light fleece blanket had been placed over her.

She blinked in the soft natural light enveloping the room, and spotted one of the twins, seated at the table with a book in his hand—Siva? He glanced up at her. “Feeling better?”

Siva, she confirmed silently.

Anise sat up, the blanket falling down around her waist, and stretched her arms. Her cramps had subsided, but she was still sort of lethargic and sleepy—typical for her at this time of month.

“Yeah, much better. Thanks, Siva.”

He looked at her for a long moment, then nodded, eyes returning to his book. It seemed like a small gesture, but Siva was definitely looking out for her. The medicine, the blanket—and just his presence. One could argue that he was simply sitting in his usual spot, unbothered by the sleeping girl in the room, but Anise thought it was more than that. He had chosen to stay close, because even if they were still getting to know each other, he cared about her.

Anise smiled, and pulled the blanket closer up around her chest again.

Roy loved the way Anise clung to him as the werewolf on screen terrorized the streets of London. Her hands bunched up in his sleeve, and her hair, now cut short, tickled his neck just slightly when she buried her face in his shoulder. She smelled lightly of talcum powder and gentle bath soaps; a familiar scent by now, and one that had become a favorite for him.

“You’re scared of werewolves?” Roy teased her, as she hid her face for a third time.

“Don’t make fun of me!” Anise protested, “It’s a frightening scene, anyone would be scared!”

He loved to see her get riled up like this, but he definitely wasn’t complaining about their closeness that resulted.

She peeked at the television screen again when the sound of gunshots rang out, and little tears shone in her eyes. Roy felt himself choke up a little, watching the heaviness of the final scene play out before them.

A single tear rolled down Anise’s cheek while the upbeat music in the credits abruptly changed the tone. She quickly wiped it away, and Roy smiled lightly, blinking back the slight wetness in his own eyes.

“It’s sad, isn’t it?” Anise asked, once the TV filled with static. “David had to go through so much.”

Roy got up from the couch to turn off the TV, quieting the static. “I thought you’d be more sad about Alex.”

“Well, sure, it was sad for Alex too… she’ll have to live on without David. It’s too sad. David didn’t ask to be a werewolf, but he was still punished for it.”

“It isn’t fair, is it?” Roy asked. “But that’s how life is. It punishes you for the good and the bad.”

Anise frowned at him. “That’s too sad,” she repeated.

Roy crossed his arms, standing in front of the couch and looking down at her. “Sad or not, it’s awfully late to walk home now. Are you staying over?”

Anise quickly perked up. “Is that alright?”

“Sure. You can take my bed, I’ll bunk with Jake—”

“No, no, you don’t have to! I’ll take the couch. I don’t mind.”

Roy smiled a bit, amused. “You won’t have a nightmare about werewolves, will you?” He ducked to avoid the couch cushion Anise chucked at him, then laughed as he scooted out of the room. He pulled the quilt off his bed and returned to throw it over Anise, burying her in the fabric.

“Hey!” Anise cried out, writhing around until she found the quilt’s edge to pull it off her head. Roy laughed again, sitting once more on the edge of the couch.

“Make sure you come find me if you have any bad dreams,” he told her, a note of sincerity beneath his teasing tone. Anise softened slightly, pulling the quilt up closer around her chest.

“…Yeah. You too.”

The evening had been exciting, spent with Levine and his friends from the dojo. Jake couldn’t remember ever having so much fun—even with Roy. It left a heavy sense of guilt hanging in his gut, mingling with the remaining blame he knew was unfair to hold over his brother.

He unlocked the door and stepped into the dark, lonely apartment. He hung the keys beside the door and sighed heavily.


It was strange for the cat not to be at his feet, rubbing against his legs after he’d been away so long, but she was nowhere in sight.

Jake walked in further and turned on the kitchen light, then finally spotted the cat perched on the couch, staring at her master from where she lay wrapped up in Anise’s arms. The girl lay across the cushions, her wavy, grown-out hair splayed out over her sleeping face. Jake felt a heavier guilt pile onto what was already within him.

He had definitely been neglecting Anise. They both knew it, and it wasn’t fair to her. Anise was important to him—they had been friends as much as she and Roy had been, but it was different. Especially now, without Roy’s presence among them.

She was a painful reminder of what was missing, but another part of Jake knew that he was trying to put his old link to Roy on Levine now, instead. He liked to think he was growing, being himself this time, but it was so much easier to be someone else instead.

He tried to give himself more credit—he was growing. He had to be. But isolating himself from Anise wasn’t a good sign. He owed it to her to try just a little harder.

Ellie meowed at him, and Jake paused to pat her head, gently enough not to cause Anise to stir. He pulled the old fleece blanket from the back of the couch, and unfolded it to place over her, then removed himself from the room.

He’d try harder in the morning.

The apartment was all but empty—most of the boxes had been packed up and moved to their new condo, leaving only the furniture in a barren, lonely-looking home.

But it isn’t lonely, Anise thought, from her seat on the couch, watching Cipher and Siva—no, Roy and Jake—throw the final remaining knickknacks into a single miscellaneous box.

It felt right, for the twins to be moving on from this place. They were all growing together, so there was no need to worry. Watching them, her heart felt full.

Roy plopped down onto the cushion beside her, sighing tiredly. “I think that’s it, until the moving truck comes tomorrow,” he announced.

“Everything but the sheets on our beds,” Jake corrected him, and Roy frowned.

“But we’ll need to sleep on those tonight.”

Jake shrugged. “Yeah, you’re right.” He took the seat on Anise’s other side. Her heart swelled more, her elbows brushing theirs on either side.

“It’s really happening, huh?” Anise prodded, a wide grin on her face. “It’ll be different, but I think that’s a good thing.”

She felt both boys look at each other, and Roy snorted a small, lightly embarrassed laugh. Cute. “Yeah, it is a good thing.”

Jake removed his glasses and leaned back into the couch, closing his eyes with a tired, content smile on his face. “Definitely a good thing,” he agreed.

Ellie meowed and jumped up into Jake’s lap. He adjusted his arms so she could lay down, but instead of doing so, she stepped over and settled in Anise’s lap instead. Jake opened his eyes, peering down at his cat in betrayal. Roy laughed loudly, his shoulder leaning more heavily against Anise’s.

“Guess that means you’re in this for good, Anise,” he said, warm mirth filling his voice.

“I thought that was already settled!” Anise protested, whacking his knee with an open palm. “I’m not going anywhere, whether you like it or not!”

Jake chuckled with his brother. “It’s a good thing we both want you here, then,” he offered.

Stroking Ellie’s warm, silky fur, Anise’s heart filled up with all the love she had felt it lacked in the past year. They were all home, now, no matter what physical walls housed them.