Chapter 1: Beck & Family
"Mom!" Beck yelled down the hallway.
"Yes?" two voices yelled back, both giggling when they heard the other.
"Which one of us did you need?" Nelly asked from the couch where she'd been reading.
"Either one of you guys. I wanted to know if I could go out."
"Out where?" Ilona asked, leaning against the wall.
"Oh! Did you make some friends yesterday?" Nelly asked, now against the wall as well.
"I, uh, guess I did," Beck said, looking down at the wooden flooring.
Unbeknownst to her, her mom's shared a look. They'd been so worried about Beck during the move. It was hard enough to move, even harder to move somewhere they didn't know anyone. Beck wasn't the most social of people, and yet here she was, only a day in and she'd already made a friend.
"Just make sure you're home in time for dinner," Ilona told her, "It's my turn to cook. It'll be an adventure!"
"It would be less of an adventure if you looked at the end result before you started the recipe," Nelly sighed.
"It's no fun like that," Ilona teased.
Beck smiled, tying her shoes as her moms lovingly bickered. It was a new place, but it felt much the same as their old home. Books littered around everywhere along with crafts Beck had made when she was younger. And now she had made a friend. Maybe things wouldn't be as bad as she had originally thought.
Chapter 2: Pride
"Morning Rolo," Luka replied, before shaking his head a little, "Why are you wearing all those pins?"
"It's Pride Day! I wanted to support all the flags!" Rolo spun around a little as if to show off the sheer number of pins that had been added to his overalls.
Luka tilted his head a little, "You do know most people just wear the flag that represents them?"
Rolo seemed to deflate at that, "Oh. But what if I don't have one? Can I just be all of them?"
Luka couldn't help but laugh, "I think some of the flags contradict each other but there certainly isn't anyone stopping you from trying."
"Alright!" Rolo bounced, "Now I just gotta figure out what they all mean."
Chapter 3: Big Sister Love
Rolo is missing, and Roxy isn't happy.
Is this me projecting myself onto Roxy a bit? Yeah. I understand her reaction in the demo to Rolo going missing. It's every big sister's fear.
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.
Chapter 4: Fire
“Rolo, don’t touch the fire,” Roxy said, staring directly into her seven year old brother’s eyes.
Rolo nodded excitedly before dropping his coloring supplies in the center of the living room. With a bright smile he started drawing something on the paper and Roxy couldn’t help but smile as well. She settled herself into a chair and started on her cross stitching. She’d found a flag for lesbians, women who liked women, and she couldn’t help but like how the term felt. She was still sort of unsure about it, but she wanted to make a cross stick anyway. Plus, it was a good simple design to practice with.
“Rolo, what did I say about the fire?” Roxy asked, not looking up.
“Not to touch it!” Rolo replied proudly.
Then he seemed to realize one of his hands was reaching towards the fire, and took it back. With a little hum he was back to his drawing. It wasn’t long before Roxy realized she was missing a color for her stitch. With a glance to Rolo she went upstairs to find the box full of thread. She got as far as looking through the box when she heard a scream from downstairs. Roxy nearly fell down the stairs in her rush to Rolo, finding him crying, with blackened fur on one hand. Grabbing his non-injured she dragged him into the kitchen, shoving the blackened fur under the faucet and turning it on. Rolo whimpered the entire time, and Roxy hated that there wasn’t anything else she could do.
“I’m going to call the store,” Roxy said, “please keep your hand under the water.”
After getting a confirmation nod Roxy rushed over to the phone and dialed the general store where her parents had said they were going. They both rushed over as fast as they could, and soon Rolo’s hand was bandaged and he was assured he was going to be ok. That night the two of them snuggled together on the couch, far from the fire.