Rolo wasn't home. Roxy double checked all the rooms just to make sure she hadn't missed him, even bursting into his room without knocking. He wasn't there. She could tell her parents were worried as well but they tried to brush it off. Rolo had come home late before, sometimes even after getting lost in the forest. Roxy felt that something was different this time. She felt that something had happened to Rolo. As the sun set she grabbed a flashlight and wandered around the town, asking and searching and shaking. No one had seen him since that morning when he had passed through with Luka.
As far as she could tell Mr. Nuncreed was the last person to have seen Rolo, and that was only in passing. Roxy even passed by all the spots Luka frequented on the off chance the two boys were hiding there. No luck. Her last option was the tree where Luka's dad was buried, and when she saw no one, she broke down. For all Roxy said, she loved her brother to pieces. He was probably the most important person in her life. Fitz found her there, crying against a tree root.
"You want to talk?" she asked, sighing when Roxy shook her head.
Without another word Fitz slid down next to Roxy and embraced her in a hug. The two sat there in the near darkness as Roxy's whole body shook. Fitz held tight as tears and snot wetted her shoulder.
"Do you feel better?" Fitz asked.
"No," Roxy still shook, from crying or adrenaline Fitz couldn't tell.
"You get like this every time Rolo is home a little later. I'm sure he'll come back at some ungodly hour saying he got lost and you'll berate him and then give him a huge hug and not let him out of your sight for the day, just like always," Fitz assured, rubbing Roxy's back.
"It feels different this time."
A brief image shot through Roxy's head, a hazmat suit, green goo, her brother. It was enough to hurt her head.
"Well, you aren't going to find him in the darkness. Go to sleep, get some rest. If by some chance he's not home in the morning you can go ask Luka. Those two are inseparable."
"You always give the best advice," Roxy laughed, wiping the emerging tears from her eyes.
"I try," Fitz held out a hand that Roxy took, holding the entire way home.
As Roxy got ready for bed she replayed Fitz's words in her head over and over. Just like always. This was going to be just like always. And then it wasn't.