Treating Miss Sweet (Sour Sweet and Dr. Anon)

Jan 15th, 2016
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  1. >You sigh as you stare at her
  2. >Such a sad look in her eyes as she gazed down at the medication in her hand
  3. >Reaching into your white coat, you pulled out your grandfather’s pocket watch and glanced at the time
  4. >You had been sitting here with her for well over an hour
  5. >It’s surprising that you haven’t lost your patience with her yet
  6. >At some point you would have simply left, grabbed Miss Nurseheart most likely and forced her to watch the patient instead
  7. >However, you felt that wouldn’t help the situation much at all
  8. >If Sour Sweet wouldn’t take the pills for you, it was unlikely she would have taken them for anyone else
  9. “Miss Sweet, it’s—“
  10. >”Please don’t call me that…”
  11. “Hm?”
  12. >Slowly her mournful frown transforms before your very eyes into an intense glower
  13. >”… Miss Sweet is my cunt mother’s name.”
  14. >Her hand clenches shut, smashing the prescription into dust
  15. >Sighing once more, you methodically reach into your pocket and pull out several bottles
  16. >As you tap out one of each of the bottle's contents into your palm, you begin to plead with her once more
  17. “I apologize. Sour Sweet, it’s been a long night and I’m sure you would prefer to get the day over with as much as I would. I’m afraid I must insist that you take your medicine.”
  18. >You stand up and walk in front of her as you present the tablets
  19. >”y-You don’t have to make me take them, I don’t want to—“
  20. “Again, I am afraid I must insist.”
  21. >Her face briefly flashed you a dark scowl before it crumbled once more into a devastated frown
  22. >Then, with little ceremony, she reached out into your hands and immediately swallowed all three of the pills at once, quickly downing the entire glass of water with it
  23. >You smiled at her as you laid a comforting hand over her shoulder
  24. “See? Now that wasn’t too—“
  25. >Oh blast it
  26. >Your eyes widen as tears begin to stream down her cheeks
  27. >God Damn it all
  30. >Sour Sweet began to break out into a sob as you stood there looking down at her in shock
  31. "Sour Sweet, please don't--"
  32. >"I HATE THIS!"
  33. >She startles you as she quickly rises to her feet with a dangerous tear-stricken glare
  35. >Your jaw drops, and for a moment you fear that she may become violent
  36. >But just as it seems she is about to become physical, her glare fades and she sits back down upon her bed
  37. >"I... I just want to go home..."
  38. >"Dr. Anonymous!"
  39. >The door burst open and a nurse steps in
  40. >"Are you OK? I heard--"
  41. "Yes I am quite alright Miss Redheart. That will be all.”
  42. >She looked somewhat offended by your curt response as she glanced back and forth between you and Sour Sweet
  43. >However, one of the last things you wanted was for a third party to interrupt your meetings with Sour Sweet
  44. >She did not trust any of the other people here quite like she trusted you, the presence of another person here would only complicate things further
  45. >Shooting Nurse Redheart a serious look, she left the room and slowly closed the door behind her
  46. >Sighing once more, you sat down on the bed next to Sour Sweet
  47. >Reaching inside your coat pocket, you brandished a handkerchief and offered it to her
  48. >”t-Thanks…”
  49. >Grabbing your handkerchief, she silently wipes her tears away as you lay a hand back onto her shoulder
  50. “Tell me what’s wrong. Talk to me…”
  51. >She sniffles for a few moments before mustering the strength to speak
  52. >”i-I just really don’t like taking these pills. When I take them, I don’t feel like I’m… me!”
  53. >Her pitiful frown upturns into a glare once more as she grips your handkerchief tightly
  54. >”I feel like I’m freaking dead. Like some kind of walking zombie or some shit!”
  57. “I know its hard at first, getting used to all these different medications. Nothing seems to have have had a very positive effect on you yet, but this time should hopefully be different. “
  58. >You put on a smile that you could only hope she found reassuring
  59. "We’ve given you a few different kinds of prescriptions this time, completely new. They should have a different effect on you then the last ones.”
  60. >She continued to sniffle as she stared up at you with a seemingly blank gaze
  61. >It was not entirely true
  62. >One of the prescriptions was the same as the one you had been treating her with for the past week, but the other two were completely different
  63. >It was a small detail that you did not wish to divulge
  64. >You could only hope that, given her recent responses to it, that she would start to react more positively to this new combination
  65. >After sitting with her another few moments, she appeared to calm down
  66. >She still had the same miserable look as before, but her eyes also flashed what appeared to be fear
  67. “Damn it…”
  68. >As you cursed under your breathe, you considered what course of action to take
  69. >Its not as if you had anyone waiting for you at home, and you were used to staying up late after hours anyway
  70. “Would it make you feel better if I stayed a while? Until the meds take effect?”
  71. >”i-I guess…”
  72. >Glancing about this barren room of hers, you wracked your mind for something, anything, to take her mind off of all this
  73. >You feel as if your minor in child psychology did not prepare you well for this
  74. “I uhhh… I understand your school recently had an important athletic competition recently. Did you participate?”
  75. >”y-Yeah, I was in a team triathlon. I did Archery…”
  76. “Archery? Interesting, how did it go?”
  77. >”Heh, I kicked ass. Would’ve won that one if it weren’t for this damn teammate of mine…”
  78. >She sounded quite critical, but if the smile was any indication her mood was slowly improving
  83. >You sat with her another half hour, listening intently to her discuss her role in what was called the Friendship Games, a a series of athletic contests held between her school and its apparent rival
  84. >It was actually quite riveting
  85. “Not many girls your age take such an interest in archery.”
  86. >”I have a lot of fun with it!… and I mean, it’s better than just sitting around all day.”
  87. “How did you get into such a sport?”
  88. >She scoffed at you before leaning back onto her bed
  89. >”My parents thought it’d be good for me.”
  90. >She always seemed to regard them with a bit of disdain, at least when she talked about them with you
  91. “I see… but you do enjoy it?”
  92. >”Heh, I guess….”
  93. >Although she dismissed it so readily, you felt that she cared for that sport much more than she was letting on
  94. >It was honestly a bit impressive to see a young girl like her take such an interest in a pastime like that
  95. >As you stared down at her, she opened her mouth and let loose a loud yawn
  96. “Tired?”
  97. >Yeah, just a little.”
  98. >Standing up, you loomed over her with a smile
  99. “If you are feeling better, then I’ll let you get some sleep.”
  100. >”OK then.”
  101. >You watched her slink under the covers of her bed as you stepped toward the door and flipped the lights off
  102. >Opening the door, you looked back at her once more with the same reassuring smile
  103. “If something is wrong, then feel free to ask specifically for me.”
  104. >Staring back at you, Sour Sweet’s lips slowly curled into a very sweet smile
  105. >”Thank you Dr. Anonymous.”
  106. >You chuckled at her
  107. “Please call me Dr. Anon. Dr. Anonymous is my father’s name.”
  108. >She chuckled back at you as you slowly closed the door on her
  109. >Then, as if her mania was contagious, your sweet smile fell into a soured frown
  111. >”Dr. Anonymous?”
  112. “Eh?”
  113. >Turning about, you laid eyes upon Nurse Redheart, one of your many assistants here
  114. “Have you been waiting for me outside this entire time?”
  115. >”Well… yes.”
  116. >You scowled at her as she somewhat nervously looked away
  117. “Miss Redheart, your concern is appreciated but I assure you that if I need your assistance that I will call for it.”
  118. >”y-Yes, I understand Doctor. It is just that you were gone for so long, and the patient…”
  119. >You sighed at her
  120. “What about the patient?”
  121. >Redheart rubbed her forearm in yet another sign of nervousness
  122. >Strange that she only seemed to exhibit such behavior around you, yet you did not care to delve into the minds of your assistants
  123. “Would you walk with me?”
  124. >”y-Yes, thank you.”
  125. >Shoving your hands into your pockets, you walked with her down the halls past various patients’ rooms until you eventually reached the utility hallways
  126. >”Dr. Anonymous, why is it that Sour Sweet is with us?”
  127. “She suffers from a mental disorder. We are attempting to treat her, just as we would any other patient.”
  128. >She scowls at you
  129. >”That is not what I mean. She is so young, and her condition is… peculiar.”
  130. “No one patient suffers the same condition, and as for her age…”
  131. >You looked away from Redheart as your frown hardened further
  132. “Her parents insisted that she stay somewhere close to home, and the patient herself was adamant that she remain somewhere close to where her friends could visit. I had suggested some alternative treatment centers in other areas of the country, but they apparently weren’t ever an option.”
  133. >Your fists shook as you stomped down the hallway
  134. “It was either our facility or one of the public wards, and I would not dare consign Sour Sweet to one of those hell holes.”
  136. >Nurse Redheart rubbed the back of her neck as the two of you stood in front of large wooden door
  137. >”Do you believe you will be able to treat her?”
  138. “Miss Redheart, it is not a question of ‘if’ I will be able to treat her. I MUST treat her, otherwise no one else will.”
  139. >Brandishing a key from your pocket, you unlocked the door and stepped inside
  140. “Good night.”
  141. >”Good night doctor.”
  142. >After gently closing, locking, and deadbolting the door, you hung up your white coat and stepped inside your home
  143. >A rather expansive room adorned with various old paintings and tapestries, you imagined that your quarters must have looked quite opulent to some
  144. >It suited you well enough, a bit archaic though you always fancied yourself as being rather old-fashioned
  145. >You walked straight into your abode and immediately made for your fireplace, where you started a grand fire to heat up the rather drafty room
  146. >After you had fed some logs into the fireplace and started the blaze, you made for your study
  147. >Rifling through your various papers, you took out a folder that held all the relevant information concerning your newest patient and began to flip through it
  148. “Sour Sweet… female, age sixteen… current diagnosis, a relatively mild but exceptionally sporadic Bipolar disorder… currently has resided here as a patient for just over a week…”
  149. >As you pored over these files, you became increasingly apprehensive
  150. >A girl her age would be at a critical point in her studies, surely just about to take her college entrance exams
  151. >And yet, she was here
  152. >Given her young age, you saw fit to examine her yourself rather than leave her to one of the other psychiatrists who worked within your institute
  153. >Sure, you had other patients who demanded your attention but Sour Sweet was a special case
  154. >Moreover, you wanted her condition to improve as soon as possible
  157. >Given the strange circumstances of her arrival here, you had initially assumed that she had been incorrectly diagnosed
  158. >You originally dismissed her medical condition as merely some combination of stress, hormones, and more than likely a sort of ‘teenage phase'
  159. >There was also the issue of her parents
  160. >They claimed that Sour Sweet 'had always been this way' with her psychosis being something that had affected her since the early years of her childhood, only having recently worsened
  161. >You were inclined to disagree, and to write off it all as a series of misfortunate understandings coupled with parental neglect
  162. >Or at least you would have, if not for the ‘episode’ that had occurred in school
  163. >You stood over your fireplace as you flipped through the binder to the notes that detailed the events that led up to Sour Sweet coming here
  164. >After a particularly stressful period in school, punctuated by trouble at home you imagine, Sour Sweet had turned physically violent
  165. >While during one of her more ‘aggressive’ spells, she had attacked several of her classmates
  166. >You did not care to linger on the details of the episode too much, other than to note that they involved Sour Sweet walking into school one day with a baseball bat and then proceeding to walk out after having made a mess of the library… and after having made a mess of two students as well
  167. >She was quick to claim in your private conversations with you that these two students had made… advances on her
  168. “Disgusting…"
  169. >The police had failed to ascertain whether any of these claims were true, but you were inclined to take her word for it
  170. >She never struck you as a liar, unlike some of your less coherent patients
  171. >In any case, the extreme situations she had recently been exposed to had left her mentally disturbed, and you were determined to help her any way you could
  172. >As you flipped through to the end of the folder, a small photograph fell out
  175. >It showed Sour Sweet wearing her school uniform alongside who you could only assume was the four friends she had mentioned in earlier discussions
  176. >She looked rather nice with her hair done up in a ponytail like that, and the confident grin she wore infected you with a similar smirk
  177. >You would have liked to have seen that smile more frequently from her, it was quite pretty
  178. >As you stared at this photograph, you felt a strange feeling come over you
  179. >Tossing aside the rest of the folder, you stared intently at the photograph of her as you walked up to your fireplace
  180. “She’s still so young…"
  181. >Granted, sixteen was generally considered the onset of early adulthood but to you it was difficult to reconcile this happy image of a strong and confident girl with the emotional wreck that you had just spent several hours comforting
  182. >It was maddening, unjust even, that such a terrible fate had befallen her
  183. >This was no place for a child
  184. >Sighing once more, you walked away from the raging fireplace and toward your cabinet, where you fixed yourself a glass of bourbon
  185. >Sitting back down in front of your fireplace, you began to wonder how you could raise this young woman’s spirits once more and help her along the road to recovery
  186. +++
  187. “Sour Sweet? Are you awake?”
  188. >You cracked open her doorway and stared down at the young woman lying before you
  189. >Her long pink hair was sprayed out against her pillow as she stared up at the ceiling
  190. >”Yes, I'm up.”
  191. >She replied back to you in sombre voice that betrayed little emotion
  192. “How are you feeling today?”
  193. >Sour Sweet shrugged her shoulders
  194. >”OK I guess…”
  195. >Stepping forward into her room, you loomed over her bedside and gave her a small grin
  196. “You weren’t planning on wasting the whole day in bed were you?”
  197. >”Why? Does it matter?”
  198. “Well, I was hoping you might join me. I had something of a… surprise for you.”
  201. >After ensuring that she was well-dressed from head to toe, you walked with her along the grounds
  202. >It was quite different to see her in something other than her patient’s uniform
  203. “Are you sure you feel warm enough?”
  204. >”Yeah, positive.”
  205. “Good, good.”
  206. >”Hey…”
  207. >Your peered at her as she regarded you with a small frown
  208. >”I’m sorry I kept you up so late a few nights ago…”
  209. >You cracked a smile at her
  210. “Think nothing of it. I had no special plans or anything. Besides I live right next door.”
  211. >”Oh yeah, I forgot you said you lived in the asyl— the ward.”
  212. >You let that remark about your institute slide as you carried on
  213. “I much prefer living alongside the institution. It allows me to keep a closer eye on my patients, should any sudden developments occur.”
  214. >”Isn’t it kind of… weird living right next door to all these… people?”
  215. “Hahaha…”
  216. >You continued to laugh as you stuffed your hands into your white coat’s pockets
  217. “I know it seems strange, but I greatly prefer it here. All my life’s work is conducted here, and I enjoy my work very much. The human mind is… fascinating to me.”
  218. >Sour Sweet regarded you with a bemused look
  219. >You didn’t expect her to understand, very few people could
  220. >Nonetheless, you took her polite silence as a sign that she was at least humoring you
  221. “Ah, we are here.”
  222. >You pointed over the hill as Sour Sweet gasped
  223. >”i-Is that an archery range?”
  224. “Why yes, it is!”
  225. >You laid a hand over her shoulder and smiled down at her
  226. “You spoke so affectionately about the sport, I thought the least I could do to make you feel a bit more at home was to allow you a chance to practice up on your hobby.”
  227. >Sour Sweet’s jaw dropped as she beheld the large circular targets and the bow and quiver of arrows lying yards away on the ground
  230. >”How did you—where did—“
  231. “I do not tell many girls this, but I am actually rather wealthy.”
  232. >You gave her a playful grin as you walked with her down to the field
  233. “I do not mind in the slightest spending a little money on my patients if it makes them feel more comfortable.”
  234. >That was again, another half-lie
  235. >On the one hand, you rarely ever spent money out of pocket on your patients
  236. >However, you truly did have no issue with spending money on Sour Sweet right now
  237. >Stepping forward, you gestured to the field with one hand as you glanced back at her
  238. “So then, would you care to give me a demonstration?”
  239. >Sour Sweet somewhat anxiously folded her arms over her chest
  240. >”i-I’m a bit out of practice. I probably won’t do all that well…”
  241. >Then, as she often did, she cracked a cocky grin your way
  242. >”… but I bet I can show you a thing or two.”
  243. >You chuckled at her
  244. “By all means, show me what you’ve got.”
  245. >She confidently raised up her head as she proudly strolled towards the bow and quiver
  246. >Folding your arms over your chest, you patiently watched her
  247. >You imagined that many other professionals in your field would have judged you harshly for arming your patient like this
  248. >Good thing you cared so little for your peers to begin with
  249. “Please, take your time."
  250. >The target had been assembled roughly fifty yards away across a relatively even surface
  251. >You really weren’t sure what to expect, and a part of you wondered if perhaps you had placed the target too far away
  252. >Your fears proved to be unfounded
  253. >As Sour Sweet pulled back her bowstring and raised the arrow, you watched her open fire
  254. >The narrow shaft soared over the ground and effortlessly made its mark into the center of the target
  255. >Your jaw dropped
  256. “Impressive!”
  257. >”Ha!”
  258. >She shot you a dirty smile as she pulled back her bowstring and prepared another arrow
  259. >”You haven’t seen anything yet.”
  262. >Your plea for her to put on a show did not go unanswered
  263. >It was truly incredible to watch
  264. >Nearly the entirety of her shots hit the target, with a great many hitting dead center up until the very end
  265. >Her aim was impeccable
  266. >”Well, what do you think?”
  267. “I think you’re a natural! I can see why your school always has you play archery for them. You’re amazing.”
  268. >”Awww that’s so nice of you to say!”
  269. >Her saccharine smile warms your heart
  270. >”Heh, I bet you thought I was all talk huh?”
  271. >And her snarky remark lets a chuckle escape from your lips
  272. “I will be sure to take your word more seriously from now on.”
  273. >Sour Sweet scoffed at you as she continued to grin whilst rolling her eyes
  274. >”You know, you’re a pretty funny man doc.”
  275. >You smirked at her as you folded your arms over your chest
  276. “Oh? I think you’re a pretty funny girl, Miss Sweet.”
  277. >Your eyes widen as the words fall from your mouth
  278. “Blast, i-I apologize. I know you don’t—“
  279. >To your immense surprise, she bursts out into a giggle
  280. >”Oh it’s OK Dr. Anon.”
  281. “It is?”
  282. >She put on the biggest smile you had seen from her yet as she folded her hands together and gazed up at you
  283. >”You can call me that if you really want~ It’s OK if you do it.”
  284. >This was another odd turn of events
  285. >You sighed in relief
  286. “Very well then Miss Sweet.”
  287. >Her grin quickly faded as she defiantly scowled up at you
  288. >”Just don’t push your luck!”
  289. “Haha very well very well!”
  290. >It was easy for you to see that her scowl was a half-hearted gesture
  291. “It is starting to get dark. Let’s get you back inside shall we?”
  292. >”Yes Dr. Anon.”
  294. >Your experiment went off without a hitch it seemed
  295. >Sour Sweet seemed quite grateful for the opportunity to finally leave her room for something other than another test or interview
  296. >She was actually quite lively, and was beginning to bounce back between her ‘aggressive’ and ‘submissive’ personas more frequently
  297. >You were unsure what to make of that, although it did make you quite happy to see her spirits raised
  298. >As long as she didn’t ever turn violent once more, you were confident that—
  299. >”Dr. Anon?”
  300. “Eh? Oh dear, my apologies Miss Sweet.”
  301. >”What was wrong? You looked a little strange… ha, like you were staring out into outer space or something.”
  302. “I often seem to lose myself in my thoughts these days. Nothing to be alarmed of.”
  303. >As your boots echoed down the cold white hallways back to her room, you could not help but continue to smile
  304. >Did your time with Sour Sweet do as much to buoy your own spirits as it did hers?
  305. >You frowned as you looked away from her
  306. >That would not do at all
  307. >”Thanks again so much Doctor! I really had a lot of fun!”
  308. >You put a smile back on as the two of you regarded one another
  309. “I am very happy to hear that…”
  310. >Her wide and vibrant eyes suddenly narrowed on you
  311. >”Sure as Hell beats being locked up inside this cell.”
  312. >With that, you also put on a frown
  313. “Yes, well I do hope that if you are feeling lonely that you do not hesitate to… call for me.”
  314. >Her dark look softened considerably
  315. >”I appreciate it.”
  316. >Nodding your head, you stepped away from her as you left her inside her room
  317. >After friendly waving one more time, you stuffed your hands back into your pockets and trudged back to your quarters
  318. “Not good, not good at all…”
  319. >As fantastic as it felt to see her mood improve, you could not help but worry that you were growing too attached to your patient
  321. >That evening saw you sitting alone again within you study, with a drink in one hand and a pen in the other
  322. >You were a consistently busy man, and preferred to micromanage much of the running of your institution
  323. >However, this night you found your work taking a bit longer to slog through than usual
  324. >Sooner or later, your thoughts always drifted back to her
  325. >You sigh as you set your pen down and take a long sip from your glass of bourbon
  326. “How silly…”
  327. >Perhaps you were overworked, and the somewhat sudden appearance of this newest patient had disturbed you too much?
  328. >A part of you was starting to think you should get away, maybe take a vacation
  329. >Somewhere a bit warmer, where you could attempt to relax for once
  330. >You couldn’t handle your work as effectively in this current state, and you feared what may happen should you allow this sudden fascination with your newest patient to develop further
  331. “Time away from here would do me well. I’ll simply—“
  332. >A loud banging noise interrupted your chain of thoughts
  333. “A visitor at this hour?”
  334. >You narrowed your eyes as you opened your drawer
  335. >Reaching inside, you pulled out an old service pistol that had been passed down through your family
  336. >You slipped on your white coat and stepped out into the hallway with your firearm
  337. >Looking down the hall to your front door, you wondered how anyone could have gotten onto the grounds past your property’s fence?
  338. >Then, as you heard the loud banging noise come again, you realized that the sound was coming not from your front door but from the door that led directly into your mental institution
  339. >Marching up to the door, you undid several of the deadbolts but left the chain-link lock on as you hid your weapon inside your coat and opened it up
  340. >”Dr. Anonymous, sir. Sorry to disturb you so late.”
  341. >Judging by the uniform he wore, he appeared to be an orderly although you did not recognize this one
  342. “What is it? What’s going on?”
  344. >”We have a… situation, with one of the patients running amok.”
  345. >You frowned at him
  346. “Running amok? Have you not restrained him? And why are you telling me this now, have you informed the nightshift supervisor?”
  347. >The orderly scratched his head as stared at you exasperatedly through the doorway
  348. >”It’s a little complicated, and we knew that you said if anything serious were to happen to Patient 209 that we were supposed to find you and—“
  349. “Patient 209?”
  350. >Your heart sank as you repeated the number, more to yourself than to him
  351. “Miss Sweet."
  352. >Slamming the door in his face, you quickly undid the last latch and marched into the hallway alongside him
  353. “Tell me everything. Leave nothing out.”
  354. >”We heard lots of loud noises coming from 209’s room. Sounded like banging and screaming. We tried to go in to calm her down, but she wouldn’t listen to us. Then when we attempted to restrain her, she pulled out a sharpened object on us.”
  355. “A sharpened object?! What was it?”
  356. >”None of us got a good look at it Sir. Probably a toothbrush that she filed I suppose.”
  357. >This was maddening
  358. >Could it be that taking her out today and spending so much time with her might’ve caused this?
  359. >It could have been all too much for her to handle at once
  360. “No…”
  361. >”s-Sir?”
  362. “I’m getting to the bottom of this.”
  363. >Rounding the corner, you saw several more orderlies standing outside Sour Sweet’s room
  364. >Without giving any of them much more than a glance, you immediately strolled up to her door
  365. >All was silent at the moment
  366. >Glancing through the glass peep hole on the door, you saw to your horror that the room had been trashed
  367. >The mattress had been tossed onto the floor, a flower pot had been smashed against the wall, and other signs of what almost appeared to be a struggle was laid out before you
  370. “Miss Sweet! This is Dr. Anon, and I wish to talk with you!”
  371. >No answer came, and as you glanced about the room you failed to catch any sign of her
  372. >Reaching into your pocket, you pulled out a keyring and brandished the master key to the patients’ rooms
  373. “I am going to come inside now, and I am coming in alone!”
  374. >One of the orderlies stepped up by your side and whispered
  375. >”Dr. Anonymous, are you sure you want to do that? Why don’t you just let us take care of her? With your permission, we could—“
  376. “I do not require your assistance.”
  377. >Brushing the man aside with a wave of your hand and a dismissive scowl, you unlocked the door and stepped inside
  378. >Gently closing it, you immediately caught sight of her sitting in the corner
  379. “My God…"
  380. >It was something of a terrible shock, to see her with such a terrified look on her face
  381. >She had the presence of a feral animal about her, with her clothes having been torn slightly and her long hair having become a tangled mess
  382. >You took a step toward her
  383. “Miss Sweet, are you—“
  385. >You recoiled as she rose up with a snarl, her hand clutching something behind her back
  386. >Just as her enraged look startled you, it quickly diminished into a panic-stricken whimper
  387. >”p-Please don’t come closer…”
  388. >You raised up your open palms and forced on a small smile
  389. “Very well. Whatever makes you feel comfortable…”
  390. >Your eyes briefly glanced about the wrecked room before resting back onto her
  391. “Miss Sweet, I am very concerned about you. You didn’t hurt yourself did you?”
  392. >”n-No, I’m fine… I’m fine…”
  393. “Could you please explain to me what happened? I wish to help any way I can.”
  397. >”m-My shadow…”
  398. “Your shadow?”
  399. >Sour Sweet began to tremble slightly, her eyes haphazardly glancing about the room
  400. >”i-I woke up earlier and—and I saw something that looked like me…”
  401. >She grit her teeth as her fist shook by her side
  402. >”But it wasn’t me! It was like a monster! i-It had this fucked up grin and—AND…”
  403. >Her explosive glare was washed away by the tears that flowed down her face
  404. >”I thought I was going to die, i-I didn’t know what was happening!”
  405. >Your heart sank as you watched her break down, falling again to the ground as she clenched her eyes shut
  406. “Miss Sweet, there is no one here now except for you and me. I promise you that no one is going to hurt you.”
  407. >She sniffled as she looked up at you
  408. >You took a step closer as you slowly tested the waters, resting your arms on your legs as you crouched down on the ground in front of her
  409. >Sour Sweet stared at you uncertainly with a pitiful gaze
  410. “I won’t let anyone or anything harm you. I swear…”
  411. >Her body tensed up as you reached into your pocket, but she slowly calmed down again as you offered her your handkerchief
  412. >Shakily reaching up to you, Sour Sweet took the handkerchief from your hand and began to wipe her face
  413. >You sighed at her as you wracked your brain for a course of action
  414. >It seemed as if the slightest misstep could send her out of control
  415. >You had to tread very carefully, for her sake
  416. “Miss Sweet, this… monster of yours this shadow, have you seen it before now?”
  417. >She shook her head as she sadly stared at the floor
  418. >”i-I never saw anything like that before, never in my whole life, but…”
  419. >Her gaze hardened as she stared intently at the ground
  420. >”i-It felt like something was watching me earlier.”
  421. “Watching you? When, where?”
  422. >”Here, right here a few days ago…”
  423. ”Which day?”
  424. >”The night I started taking those new pills, right before you walked inside. It felt like something else was here…”
  426. >Your eyes widened in shock
  427. “The medication…”
  428. >Of course, these new pills you had prescribed her
  429. >They had been causing her to experience vivid hallucinations!
  430. >But wait…
  431. “Did you say you felt like you were being watched BEFORE you took your new medication?”
  432. >She remained silent as she somberly nodded her head
  433. >How could the pills alone have been causing this if she was experiencing these symptoms before she had taken the medication?
  434. “Did you ever feel like you were being watched by this… thing, before?”
  435. >She shook her head
  436. >Then, could it have been that the mere prospect of having to take this medication, coupled with the act of actually taking them, was causing her to experience these hallucinations?
  437. >That would imply that this current episode was induced by some sort of aversion to medication altogether, rather than any specific side-effect of taking the medication itself
  438. >”y-You don’t think that, when I took those pills that I—“
  439. “Perhaps, perhaps not. In any case, I am taking you off all medication starting now.”
  440. >”r-Really?”
  441. >It might have been a rash decision, you should have taken a step back to analyze the situation further
  442. >There were many variables left unaccounted for, and yet…
  443. >When you told her you were taking her off all medication, her eyes lit up and you saw the semblance of a smile forming on her lips
  444. >You sighed
  445. “Yes, really.”
  446. >Her bottom lip quivered as another tear dropped down her cheek, which she was quick to wipe away with your handkerchief
  447. >An exhausted smile formed on your own face as you slowly stood up and offered her your hand
  448. “Now let’s get you off the floor.”
  449. >She reached for and grasped your hand as she slowly staggered up to her feet
  452. >As you stood there with her hand in yours, you slowly raised an open palm to her
  453. “Miss Sweet, I’m going to have to ask that you hand me whatever weapon you’re holding behind your back.”
  454. >Her face fell into a guilty frown
  455. >You quirked an eyebrow at her
  456. “You’re not in trouble Miss Sweet, but I can’t allow you to carry whatever it is you have there. Please, hand it over…”
  457. >She looked up into your eyes, and you saw again a faint trace of fear
  458. >”Please don’t be mad.”
  459. “Why would I be mad?”
  460. >Her arm twitched as she slowly raised her arm and dropped the weapon into your hand
  461. >Your eyes widened as you gripped the arrow
  462. “How did you—“
  463. >The archery field, she had to have pocketed one of them when you weren’t looking
  464. >You allowed her to take this, and threaten people with it
  465. >Sour Sweet grasped your hand tighter as you turned your head to look back at her
  466. >”I’m sorry, I was so afraid. I needed something to protect myself with, but I didn’t want people to think I was… that I was crazy…”
  467. >You shook your head as you pocketed the arrow into your coat
  468. “You are not ‘crazy’ Miss Sweet. You felt that you were in danger, so you took measures to protect yourself. Rather resourceful of you really…”
  469. >She stared up at you with wide eyes as you smirked down at her
  470. >”You’re not mad?”
  471. >Her eyes slowly narrowed at you as she took a step back
  472. >”Why not?”
  473. >You stuffed your hands into your pockets as you grimaced
  474. “It is my responsibility to ensure that my patients feel safe here. If you really felt that you were in such terrible danger, then I suppose I wasn’t doing my job. I feel… responsible for this.”
  477. “Miss Sweet, I implore you to tell me if you ever feel that you are in any danger again. I will take any measure possible to rectify the problem, but I cannot help you if you keep secrets like this from me.”
  478. >Her shoulders sagged as she looked away
  479. >”i-I just don’t want you to think—“
  480. “You are NOT insane Miss Sweet, and do not forget that.”
  481. >You stepped closer to her and placed a hand over her shoulder as she stared up at you
  482. “You are here so that I can help you, so please let me help you.”
  483. >She remained downcast for another moment before scoffing and smiling up at you
  484. >”Thank you Dr. Anon.”
  485. >Your eyes widened in shock as Sour Sweet suddenly wrapped her arms around your waist
  486. >”Thank you so much~”
  487. >Frozen in shock, you slowly chuckled down at her as you awkwardly returned her embrace
  488. >The two of you remained locked together like this for some time
  489. >Her touch filled your body with warmth, as if the stress and anxiety that had been gripping you all night had suddenly been wiped away
  490. >She slowly slipped from your grasp and giggled as she smiled up at you
  491. >Her gentle smile suddenly shifted into a slightly devilish grin
  492. >”Hey, what’s with that look?”
  493. “Eh?”
  494. >You grinned back as you folded your arms over your chest
  495. “It’s nothing.”
  496. >”You’re face is all red and shit.”
  497. >You scoffed at her as you turned away and gazed at her devastated room
  498. “I will have a new room prepared for you so you can get some sleep. It’s far too late for you to still be up.”
  499. >You turned your back on her and marched up to her door
  500. >Before you could reach for the handle, her hands gripped onto your arm
  501. >”Wait!”
  502. “What is it?”
  505. >You saw her bashfully looking away from you
  506. >”I… I don’t want to be left alone right now…”
  507. >Frowning at her, you turned about to face her once more as you placed a hand over your chin
  508. >You could stay with her for a while, as you did a few nights ago, but now that you thought about it you did not want to risk her waking up again and suffering another hallucination
  509. >She had to be closely watched, and as foolish as it might have seemed you did not exactly trust anyone else to take this as seriously as you
  510. “Would you like to room with me tonight? I could set aside a place for you to sleep and could keep an eye on you all night. Are you comfortable with that?”
  511. >Her grip over your arm tightened as she grinned happily at you
  512. >”I’d love to!”
  513. “Really?”
  514. >”Ha! You think I like sleeping in these shitty rooms?”
  515. >You rolled your eyes at her
  516. “I understand…”
  517. >Slipping yourself out of her grasp, you instead gently grabbed hold of her hand as you opened the door and walked outside with her
  518. >The orderlies stared at the two of you with wide eyes and open mouths, no doubt astounded that you had managed to calm her down without even receiving a scratch
  519. >”d-Dr Anonymous, do you—“
  520. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. The situation is now under control. You may return to your posts.”
  521. >With that, you began to walk past them down the hall as they continued to gawk at the two of you
  522. >”Sir wait, are you sure that—“
  523. “Please have Miss Sweet’s room cleaned up within a day or so. She will be staying with me until then.”
  524. >”y-Yes Sir.”
  525. >The two of you walked away hand-in-hand as you led her away from the patient dormitories and through the halls until you reached the reinforced door to your own home
  526. >You let go of her hand and opened the door for her
  527. “Make yourself at home.”
  529. >Sour Sweet gazed in awe at your quarters
  530. >”You weren’t kidding when you said you were wealthy!”
  531. “Ha! I take it you like it then?”
  532. >Her footsteps echoed around you as she stepped over the hardwood floor down the hallway into the foyer
  533. >After bolting the door shut, you joined her as she gazed around the place
  534. >”Heh, it’s ok…”
  535. >You grinned at her as you gestured around the large hall
  536. “My home is built like a castle. No one can hurt you here.”
  537. >”A castle huh?”
  538. >She raised a hand up to her lips as she giggled at you
  539. >”Would that make me like a princess then?”
  540. >You stared at her curiously as she smiled up at you
  541. “If you would like to think of it that way, then by all means…”
  542. >You threw your arm across your body as you gave her an exaggerated bow
  543. “Your highness.”
  544. >Her giggling exploded into laughter
  545. >”You’re such a dork!”
  546. “A dork? Me?”
  547. >You grinned at her as you straightened your posture and stuffed your hands back into your pockets
  548. “If you say so Miss Sweet.”
  549. >Her laughter echoed all throughout your empty home as she followed you into your living room
  550. “Are you cold?”
  551. >”It is kind of chilly in here.”
  552. “I’ll get the fireplace going then.”
  553. >She took a seat on one of your large couches as you laid down a few logs in your fireplace
  554. “I have a few guest rooms you could probably use, but I assume that you’d rather I be closer by in case you wanted immediate attention. Is that correct?”
  555. >She gave you a muffled, half-hearted confirmation as she laid back against your sofa
  556. “I thought as much. After the fire gets going, I’ll grab you some blankets and a pillow. You can sleep right there on the couch, and I will take the recliner over here.”
  557. >”y-You really don’t have to stay down here with me if you don’t want to…”
  558. >Her voice took a harsher tone as you threw a match over the fire and started the blaze
  559. >”I’m not that scared.”
  562. “I’m sure you aren’t, but as your doctor I must keep a close eye on you at all times until I am positive you are well.”
  563. >You stood up and walked over to her with a grin
  564. “So I insist.”
  565. >She smiled back as she rolled her eyes
  566. >”Whatever… thank you.”
  567. >You continued to smile as you shook your head at her
  568. >After laying down a blanket and a pillow for her, you brandished your pocket watch
  569. >After glancing at the time, you noticed how Sour Sweet had been staring up at you through half-lidded eyes
  570. “Can I get you anything else?”
  571. >She shook her head
  572. “Very well, I will see you in the morning.”
  573. >Turning your back on her, you strolled over to your recliner where you had already laid a blanket down for yourself
  574. >”Why are you so kind to me?”
  575. >Standing there silently as the fireplace crackled, you allowed her simple question to stop you dead in your tracks
  576. “Why am I so kind to you?…”
  577. >That was an excellent question
  578. >The proper response was that you were a doctor and she was your patient, but it became clear that you had gone a bit beyond the call of duty at some point
  579. >So why were you acting like this toward her?
  580. >Did you behave this way because you pitied her?
  581. >That seemed logical, although there was so much about her that you found endearing that you loathed the idea of attaching her with pity
  582. >Was it out of loneliness that you had started to act this way?
  583. >Had you simply latched onto her out of some hidden desire of yours?
  584. >No, you had never complained much about being alone before, you were fairly certain that this wasn’t the case either
  585. >So why were you treating Sour Sweet like this?
  586. >Why had you become so obsessed with her?
  589. >As you continued to mull over her question, you turned around and saw that she had fallen fast asleep
  590. >You stood there and watched as her chest slowly rose and fell with each gentle breathe she took
  591. >Her face betrayed a sense of confidence in that smile she wore while she slept
  592. >Sour Sweet could be so very pretty, and at the same time she could be quite strong
  593. >There was so much about her that you could admire
  594. >How fortunate would anyone have been to have such a fine girl as a friend, or as a parent, or a lover even…
  595. >Your eyes widened as you looked down at her
  596. “That is it isn’t it?”
  597. >You walked up to Sour Sweet and gently whispered down to her
  598. “I cannot believe it took me this long to realize it, but I think I have… fallen in love with you Miss Sweet.”
  599. >Brushing aside a strand of her hair, you leaned down over Sour Sweet and planted a kiss on her forehead
  600. >Stepping back from her, you felt overcome with a sense of joy you hadn’t felt in a long time
  601. >Moreover, she filled you with a sense of purpose
  602. >You would not rest until you had done everything in your power to help her overcome this disorder of hers
  603. >All your years of study and research, all the wealth and resources at your command
  604. >No expense would be too great to spare on her behalf
  605. “I’m not sure if there’s anything I wouldn’t do for you now.”
  606. >You leaned back onto your recliner and continued to watch her as she slept in the light of your fireplace
  607. >Slowly, you too drifted off into sleep along with her
  608. “You are in capable hands Miss Sweet, I assure you…"
  611. >Standing before a large window, you stare out at the grounds from your vantage point in your study as a light snowfall comes down upon the landscape
  612. >You lose yourself in your thoughts as you mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead
  613. >Raising a hand up to your chin, you notice how smooth your skin feels after having just shaved
  614. >With a clean coat and a new tie as well, you feel that you are at the very least aesthetically prepared for the day although you do wonder if the cologne you applied may have been a bit too much
  615. >You shrug your shoulders and sigh
  616. “Oh well…”
  617. >Turning away from the window, you walk over to a glass cabinet on the other side of the room
  618. >Opening it up, you lay your eyes upon a large recording machine
  619. >You slip a new tape into the machine, clear your throat, and turn it on
  620. “Patient #209, Sour Sweet. Log 8. Today marks just over three weeks since Miss Sweet has been committed to my institution. I am very happy to report that following her episode concerning the hallucination that she has not suffered another violent episode. At the time, it appears that my decision to remove all usage of medication from her treatment was ultimately beneficial.”
  621. >Quickly pressing a button, you paused the tape as you took a moment to collect your thoughts
  622. >Pulling out your pocket watch, you glanced at the time
  623. >It wasn’t too much longer
  624. >You turned the machine back on
  625. “As I have stated before in logs 5, 6, and 7, I believe that this vivid hallucination of hers stems from a lack of self-identity. I suspect that Sour Sweet has trouble perceiving her own personality. Thus anything that poses a threat to her fragile sense of self is regarded with the utmost revulsion. This is what I believe led to her having such an intensely negative reaction to her medication, and thus what caused this ’shadow’ of hers to manifest as a tangible threat.”
  626. >Suddenly, a knocking came at your door
  627. >You stopped the recording once more
  630. “You may come in.”
  631. >The door opened and in stepped a woman with light grayish hair tied up in a bun who wore a nurse’s uniform
  632. >”Hello Dr. Anonymous.”
  633. >You smiled at her
  634. “Hello Miss Redheart. Is everything prepared?”
  635. >”Yes Sir. Would you like me to bring her in now?”
  636. “Yes please.”
  637. >She nodded her head and turned her back on you to step outside as you returned to your machine
  638. >”Sir, has everything been well?”
  639. >You turned back toward the doorway to see that Nurse Redheart had yet to leave
  640. >She wore an expression that betrayed a sense of curiosity
  641. “Yes? Everything has been going very well. Why do you ask?”
  642. >She smiled at you as she folded her arms behind her back
  643. >”I only ask because you seem somewhat different as of late… but in a good way.”
  644. >You narrowed your eyes at her
  645. “I’m not sure I follow.”
  646. >She shook her head and blushed
  647. >”It is nothing Sir, I’m sorry. I’ll go retrieve Sour Sweet for you now.”
  648. >You scratched the back of your head as Redheart closed the door behind her
  649. >It was true that you had felt somewhat more focused as of late
  650. >You took to your work with a greater sense of passion, especially when it involved your newest patient
  651. >The more you thought about it, the more it seemed as if you were in something of a slump before she had arrived here
  652. >Simply going through the motions of life…
  653. >You sighed as you turned back to your recording machine and activated it
  654. “While I have already gone to great lengths to describe exactly how I think Miss Sweet’s hallucination represented her fears, today I hope to delve deeper into the root causes of her identity issues. As quant as it might seem, I intend to do so by taking a more… Freudian approach with Miss Sweet today.”
  657. >Turning off the recording, you took out the tape and slipped in a new one as you waited
  658. >Leaning against your desk, you anxiously tapped your fingers as you waited for her
  659. >Another knocking soon came at your door
  660. “One moment.”
  661. >You walked over to your recorder and turned it on before taking a seat behind your desk
  662. >Glancing at a mirror, you took a moment to comb your hair with your hand before calling out
  663. “Please come in.”
  664. >The door was held open by Nurse Redheart as your patient walked inside
  665. >Sour Sweet wore a bright smile as she stepped into your office, one that you felt only too happy to return
  666. >”Hello Dr. Anon!”
  667. “Hello Miss Sweet.”
  668. >What you noticed immediately about her as she entered your room was that her hair had been done up in a way you had not seen before
  669. >Her long hair, which normally stretched past her shoulders and was occasionally worn in a ponytail, was now fixed up into two small buns on either side of her head
  670. “That’s a different look from you.”
  671. >”Do you like it?”
  672. >As she stepped closer, you also noticed that she had applied a subtle amount of makeup to her face as well
  673. >You gave her a warm smile as she took a seat in front of you
  674. “You look very pretty today.”
  675. >Sour Sweet tilted her head as she blushed at you
  676. >Looking up toward Nurse Redheart, you gave her a small nod
  677. >She nodded back and closed the door, leaving you alone with Sour Sweet
  678. >”How’s your day been going?”
  679. “Oh I’ve been doing fairly well. Just another day is all, and you?”
  680. >”Pretty much the same as usual~”
  681. >Her smile fell as she rolled her eyes
  682. >”Another day in paradise.”
  683. >You scoffed at her
  684. “Try spending decades here.”
  685. >She chuckled back at you as her smile returned
  686. >“I’ll pass thank you.”
  689. “I heard that several of your friends came to visit the other day. How was that?”
  690. >Sour Sweet beamed
  691. >”It was very nice. I was really happy to see them!”
  692. “I’m sure you were. I briefly saw you speaking with the four of them as I was making my rounds through the dormitories. They look like fine young girls.”
  693. >She shrugged her shoulders as she looked away from you with a disinterested stare
  694. >”They’re alright…”
  695. >If she could speak at any length about anyone without dropping a few scathing remarks then they were clearly special to her
  696. >The worst she could say about them was that they were ‘alright’, which told you pretty much all you needed to know about her feelings for them
  697. “I think the friendship you share with those girls must be pretty special. They’ve all come by fairly regularly to see you ever since you first began staying with us.”
  698. >Her face fell for a brief moment
  699. >”y-Yeah, I know.”
  700. >Her voice had fallen to just above a whisper, and for a moment you feared that she was about to cry
  701. >Yet she did not, she simply stared back at you with that bright smile of hers
  702. >”I guess I’m pretty lucky…”
  703. >That smile quickly disappeared as she frowned at you while folding her arms over her chest
  704. >”Yeah, lucky…”
  705. >You sighed at her
  706. >There was really no easy way to broach this topic, but you felt that this was something you needed to address
  707. >You needed to know what caused her to reach her current mental state if you were ever going to help her
  708. “Miss Sweet, I would like it if we talked a bit more about your home and your family.”
  709. >Her frown became somewhat more permanent as she sighed back at you
  710. >”My parents haven’t come to visit in weeks…”
  711. >A deep frown had slowly etched itself onto your own face as well
  712. “Yes, I’ve noticed.”
  715. >It was a depressing trend you saw amongst many psychiatric patients
  716. >The longer many stayed committed to an institution, the less and less their supposed loved ones would come to visit them
  717. >There were people here at your own facility, men and women who had been your patients for many years, who had gone a very long time without a single visit from a friend or family member
  718. >The very prospect, the mere possibility no matter how unlikely, that something similar might happen to Sour Sweet…
  719. >”d-Dr. Anon?”
  720. >Your hands clenched into fists atop your desk as you were overwhelmed by a feeling of utter revulsion
  721. >”Dr. Anon?”
  722. >Your eyes widened as you lifted your head up and smiled, as if no dark thought had ever crossed into your mind
  723. “Yes Miss Sweet?”
  724. >She tilted her head, her eyes flashing curiously at you
  725. >”i-I was asking about you?”
  726. “About me? I am sorry Miss Sweet, could you repeat yourself?”
  727. >She chuckled lightly at you as she absently cracked her knuckles
  728. >”I wanted to hear more about your friends and family.”
  729. “My friends and family?”
  730. >You leaned forward over your desk as you planted a hand over your chin
  731. >It was not uncommon for your patients to ask questions about your personal life
  732. >However, having Sour Sweet ask you such questions gave you some cause for concern
  733. >As much as you would try to deny it, you did honestly care about what she thought about you
  734. “Well, I grew up with a rather close relationship with my parents and siblings. I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents as well when I was around your age. However…”
  735. >Your body suddenly froze, and you realized you were absently reaching for the cigarette case underneath your desk
  736. >Another gift passed down in the family, and something you made use of at times of great stress
  737. >You chuckled at yourself as you returned to looking at Sour Sweet, who seemed completely focused on your every word
  740. “However, I am afraid that they have all passed on.”
  741. >”o-Oh…”
  742. >You raised an eyebrow at Sour Sweet as she slumped back into her seat
  743. >Waving a dismissive hand, you continued to laugh lightheartedly
  744. “Now now, that is quite alright. That is all in the past now.”
  745. >Putting on a warm smile, you stared earnestly back at her as she slowly perked up
  746. “You’re free to ask me more if you’d like.”
  747. >At this point, you’d prefer it
  748. >”Uhm, Ok… so, anyone else? i-I’ve never heard you talk about having a… a—“
  749. “A wife? I’m afraid not.”
  750. >You continued to wear the same smile as Sour Sweet listened closely
  751. “I’ve always been much more concerned with my work, I suppose at the expense of my social life. It is quite alright though, my work is very important to me.”
  752. >”You must be really passionate about helping people…”
  753. >Your smile fell as you stared blankly back at her
  754. “Yes, you could say that. Well actually, there’s a bit more to it than that…”
  755. >You stood up out of your seat, and walked up in front of her as you leaned against your desk
  756. “I originally entered this profession not out of a desire to help people but out of my own fascination with the human mind. I was, and still am, greatly passionate about studying what makes people tick you could say…”
  757. >Perhaps to the detriment of your own patients you fear
  758. >You sighed as you folded your arms over your chest and stared at the ground
  759. >As you shut your eyes and considered all this, you suddenly felt her touch
  760. >You opened your eyes and looked down at Sour Sweet’s hand, which was now gently clenching your forearm
  761. >Lifting your gaze, you stared into her compassionate smile
  762. >”I’m sure you must’ve learned quite a lot. What you do and how you do it, I think it’s really cool.”
  763. “Cool?”
  764. >You chuckled at her
  765. >Psychiatry did not ever strike you as something a girl her age would find interesting
  766. >”Very cool. I mean, you make it seem cool.”
  769. >It would appear that she beome locked into her submissive, or ‘sweet’ persona for the moment
  770. >You wonder, just how hard is she holding herself back right now from saying something critical?
  771. >She must surely be making a very conscious effort… and on your behalf it would seem
  772. >You smirk as you pat her hand
  773. “That is very kind of you to say.”
  774. >She smiled back as she lowered her hand to her lap and you returned to your seat
  775. >That was rather odd, yet it left you feeling somewhat happier
  776. >Sadly, you had to focus again on the task at hand
  777. >This wasn’t supposed to be about you, it was about her
  778. “So, now that I’ve told you a bit about my personal life, or lack thereof…”
  779. >She giggled as you grinned at her
  780. “I would like to hear more about your own. Please, tell me more about your family.”
  781. >Her giggling ceased as she stared at you with a gloomy look
  782. >Sour Sweet did not seem eager at all to answer your question
  783. >You would have to try a little harder to get her to open up
  784. “When I met your parents, they were quite adamant about you staying here. It seemed to me that what they liked the most about my institution was how close it was to home.”
  785. >Sour Sweet broke out into a cheerful laugh, one that you could not help but feel was dripping with malice
  786. >”Oh that does not surprise me at all. They always want me somewhere they can keep an eye on me.”
  787. “Do they now? Is it not normal for parents to want to watch over their children?”
  788. >Sour Sweet’s eyes narrowed, flashing with anger
  789. >”They only told me I was coming here after they had already made up their minds, without asking me!”
  790. >You listened carefully to her speak as her voice grew louder
  791. >”That’s the way it’s always been, ever since I was fucking born. They love to decide every little thing I do…”
  792. “I see… do you resent all of their decisions for you? If I’m not mistaken, you had mentioned that your Archery hobby was something you started because of them.”
  795. >Sour Sweet’s rage subsided slightly, something you were thankful for, as she folded her arms over her chest and slumped back into her seat
  796. >“When I was younger, they also made me do ballet and horse-riding and a whole lot of other crap I hated. I feel like they were always dumping me off somewhere to do something, whether I liked it or not…”
  797. >You felt you were getting a clearer picture now of where her identity issues stemmed from, although the knowledge you gleaned left you feeling increasingly bitter as well
  798. >It was strange but it always seemed like you could emphasize with the emotions she felt, even as she fluctuated between them
  799. >As you mulled over this, you watched her bitter demeanor revert to a wrathful state
  800. >”I don’t think I miss them. I miss my friends, I even miss going to school, but fuck if I miss them breathing down my neck! Fuck them!”
  801. >You listened to her carefully and with a hint of concern as she let it all out
  802. “I’m very sorry you feel that way. Have you ever tried to tell your parents how you feel?”
  803. >”Ha! Like they’d ever stop and listen! Whenever they’re not ordering me around they’re either at work or going off to do some bullshit together without me!”
  804. >If that was the case, then could there be some truth to them believing that Sour Sweet had always been like this?
  805. >Does her violent mania stem from years of parental neglect?
  806. >Perhaps her violent outbursts are a sign that her frustration was finally beginning to boil over?
  807. >”Don’t you think it’s messed up? You said you were really close with your parents. They weren’t anything like what I just said mine were, right?”
  808. >You cupped your chin as you considered her question
  809. “The older I got the more my family encouraged me to make my own choices. I suppose one of the most important things they ever taught me was how to think for myself.”
  810. >Sour Sweet gloomily looked down as her rage failed her
  811. >”I wish someone could teach me that.”
  814. >Silence fell over the room as you frowned at her
  815. “Miss Sweet, I think that you are able to form such strong opinions and feel so passionately about such things is more than enough proof that you can think for yourself.”
  816. >She sighed as she continued to slump in her seat
  817. >”That’s… that’s very nice of you to say.”
  818. >You narrowed your eyes at her as you stood up from your seat and walked over to her
  819. “It is not simply nice words. I see it as an undeniable truth.”
  820. >You rest a hand over her shoulder as your expression softens
  821. “You should be proud of yourself, you are a very special person.”
  822. >Sour Sweet’s face flushed as your hand gently gripped onto her
  823. >Slowly, she tilted her head up and cracked a small smile
  824. >”y-Yeah, thanks. I guess...”
  825. >As you stood over her, Sour Sweet suddenly rose from her seat as well
  826. >”I think you’re pretty great too…”
  827. >You remained silent as her gentle smile transformed into a confident smirk
  828. >”You really ought to get out more though. Seriously.”
  829. “What?”
  830. >She giggled up at you as your jaw dropped
  831. >”I mean, I think it’d be great if you did.”
  832. >You shook your head as you chuckled
  833. “Fair enough.”
  834. >As you finished laughing, you noticed her staring up into your eyes with a peculiar look
  835. >Sour Sweet appeared calm, yet at the same time you knew she could shift at a moment’s notice, and reveal her hidden strength
  836. >There was much to admire in her…
  837. >”Dr. Anon?”
  838. >Your eyes widened, and you suddenly realized that you had been staring into her eyes for some time
  839. “y-Yes Miss Sweet?”
  840. >To your shock, her hands slipped into yours as she stepped close to you
  841. >You felt her warm breath washt your face as she leaned up closer to you, shocking you into inaction
  842. >”I think I…“
  845. >Your body jolted as a knocking came at your door
  846. >You tore your hands away from Sour Sweet and stuffed them into your coat’s pockets
  847. >Wrenching out your pocket watch, you suddenly realized that your session with her had gone on far longer than you had intended
  848. >A quick glance to your window revealed that it had become dark outside
  849. >”Dr. Anonymous? Sour Sweet? Is everything alright?”
  850. “Yes Miss Redheart, you may come in.”
  851. >The nurse opened the door and stared at the two of you as you attempted to stand next to a dumbstruck Sour Sweet as casually as possible
  852. >”Would you like me to escort Sour Sweet back to her room?”
  853. >You cleared your throat as you raised a fist up to your mouth and coughed
  854. “Was… was there anything else you wanted to talk about Miss Sweet?”
  855. >Sour Sweet glanced back and forth between you and Nurse Redheart before solemnly shaking her head
  856. “Then I think we can call it a night. I hope that—“
  857. >Your entire body froze up as Sour Sweet stood tall and leaned up to you
  858. >The whole world seemed to stand still as she planted a kiss on your cheek
  859. >”Thank you Doctor…”
  860. >Raising a hand up to your face, you stared in complete shock at her as she walked toward a similarly surprised looking Nurse Redheart with a bounce in her step
  861. >Nurse Redheart continued to gawk at you as Sour Sweet strolled past her
  862. >You gave her a shrug before turning your back on Redheart and stepping toward your window
  863. >”w-Will you be needing anything else Doctor…?”
  864. “No, I do not. Thank you Miss Redheart.”
  865. >As you stared at the falling snow, you heard Nurse Redheart close the door
  866. >Left alone once again, you allowed yourself to grin as you stood with your arms folded behind your back
  867. “Am I as special to you, as you are to me?”
  868. >Standing there and gazing out the window, you basked in the afterglow of her affection, even as the danger of it all bristled beneath your surface thoughts
  869. >Such passion…
  870. “Maybe I’m the one who’s mad…?"
  873. >A few minutes passed as you allowed all logical thought to be swept aside by your feelings for her
  874. >It was as if a fire blazed inside of you
  875. >Then, after allowing yourself this short respite, you focused again on the task at hand
  876. “So, is her family to blame?…"
  877. >After hearing so much about Sour Sweet’s relationship with her parents, you could not help but think that had she come from a happier and more supportive household that her violent tendencies would have never manifested
  878. >There were individuals who possessed disorders similar to hers that lived perfectly happy and functional lives, some without ever even realizing that they suffered from a disorder to begin with
  879. >The deciding factor was often not what condition a person was born with, but what background they were born into
  880. >It all could have been boiled down to a simple matter of nature vs. nurture
  881. >Knowing all this, you felt you knew what course of action to take
  882. >Turning away from your window, you marched up to your phone and dialed Sour Sweet’s parents
  883. >You cleared your throat and prepared to address them as politely as possible
  884. >The phone rang over and over, going straight to voicemail
  885. >You narrowed your eyes and hung up only to immediately dial the number again
  886. >The phone rang several more times, only to yet again go to voicemail
  887. “Bah!”
  888. >Hanging up once more, you dialed the number again
  889. >Just as before, it rang until it went to voicemail
  890. >You sighed and begrudgingly left a message
  891. “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Sweet. This is Dr. Anonymous, and I am calling you in regards to your daughter. I was hoping that we could have a dialogue concerning your daughter’s treatment. I feel that I have been making significant progress with her and I would like to discuss it all with you. Please call me back as soon as you can so that we can schedule an appointment. Thank you.”
  892. >You hung up for the third time and sighed
  893. “Two weeks without visiting your own daughter?”
  896. >Falling back into your seat, you planted a fist under your chin as you stewed in your anger
  897. >There was most definitely a possibility that Sour Sweet’s opinions of her parents may have been inflated to a degree, but the fact remained that they had failed to see her at all for two weeks
  898. “There is absolutely no excuse for that!”
  899. >You knew there had to be truth in what she had told you, but what truly frightened and infuriated you was that you believed there was a distinct possibility that it was all true
  900. >Standing up out of your seat, you began to pace about your room as you fiercely muttered to yourself
  901. “Completely inexcusable… absolutely disgusting…”
  902. >Was it hypocritical of you, a psychiatric doctor, to believe that some people should not be allowed to breed?
  903. >The blatant lack of responsibility had gotten under your skin
  904. >Just as you yourself felt you were about to boil over and suffer your own violent episode, you saw that your recorder was still going
  905. “Oh shit.”
  906. >You walked up to your machine and shut it off as you shook your head and sighed
  907. >Losing control of your anger would not help right now, and you could not afford to let others know of your true feelings
  908. >It would have been a dangerous and pointless waste of energy
  909. >So instead of cursing Sour Sweet’s parents or losing yourself in some rage induced fantasy, you sat and calmly thought about how you could fix things
  910. >You would have to speak with her parents at some point about this, and you would have to continue to speak with Sour Sweet and monitor her behavior
  911. >As for Nurse Redheart…
  912. >You narrowed your eyes
  913. “I hope you do not jump to conclusions Miss Redheart…”
  914. >The fact remained that you had never acted on your personal feelings for Miss Sweet
  915. >A part of you wondered if you ever could…
  916. “I am Miss Sweet’s doctor, and she is my patient.”
  917. >You could not afford to appear as anything more than that
  918. >Even to someone who had served you as faithfully as Nurse Redheart
  920. >Later that evening, you found yourself marching down the hallways of the patient dormitories toward Sour Sweet’s room
  921. >Walking up to the door, you peered in through the glass peephole and saw her sitting down with her back facing the door at a desk
  922. >It also appeared that she was leaning over facedown
  923. >Raising a fist, you knocked against her door
  924. “Miss Sweet?”
  925. >You saw her suddenly shuffle up out of her seat
  926. >It appeared that you had just woken her up, the special hairstyle and makeup from earlier now absent
  927. >She stared confusedly at the door only for her eyes to widen as she realized just who it was calling to her
  928. >Stepping away from the desk, she walked to the door and opened it up
  929. >”Hi Dr. Anon!”
  930. “Hello Miss Sweet. I was just coming by to check up on you. I am sorry to have woken you up.”
  931. >”No, it’s ok. Come inside!”
  932. >You nodded your head as you stepped into her room
  933. >”I wouldn’t have fallen asleep if not for this damn homework.”
  934. “Homework?”
  935. >You walked over to her desk and saw various books and papers strewn about it
  936. >She gave an exasperated sigh as she walked over by your side
  937. >”Yeah, my friends brought it over for me.”
  938. >Picking up one of the papers, you stared at the various mathematical problems scrawled onto the scratch paper
  939. >It would appear that she was only halfway finished before she had fallen asleep
  940. >Chuckling, you laid the papers aside as you grinned at her
  941. >You had already taken a strong interest in her personal happiness and her health, so why not her education?
  942. “Miss Sweet, would you like some help with this?”
  943. >”Really?”
  944. >You nodded your head as she began to smile as well
  945. >”OK I guess…”
  946. >Taking a seat next to her, you stared closely at her papers
  947. “Miss Sweet…”
  948. >”Yes Doctor?”
  949. “Your handwriting is atrocious. I can barely read this.”
  950. >”What?!”
  953. >Sour Sweet fumed by your side as you leaned away from her
  954. >”Who the Hell asked you?!”
  955. >You broke out into laughter as she stared daggers at you
  956. >A few moments later you saw her fierce expression soften into an exasperated smile
  957. >”Just tell me if I got it right or not.”
  958. “Alright alright…”
  959. >From there, you proceeded to wile away the rest of your evening assisting Sour Sweet with her schoolwork
  960. >Watching her slowly learn filled you with a strange sense of pride
  961. >She was only sixteen years old
  962. >You were eager to see what kind of woman she would soon become
  965. >Another week passes by
  966. >Sour Sweet’s treatment continues, and slowly but surely you feel that she is nearing a state of mental wellness
  967. >It wears on your mind that it has been almost an entire month since she was committed to your institution
  968. >Often times this is a very depressing milestone, a point where you and your patients begin to feel complacent in their residency here
  969. >You are determined not to let any lapse in Sour Sweet’s mental rehabilitation put her back, not when she has shown so much progress
  970. >So today you are intent on spending a little more off-time with her than usual, just to make sure that she is alright
  971. >Even as you tell yourself that this is solely another part of her treatment, you realize that you are somewhat eager to simply spend time with her
  972. >Despite the amount of effort you put into concealing them, you cannot simply deny that you have these feelings
  973. >”Will you be needing anything else doctor?”
  974. >You pause in the middle of throwing on your white coat and glance over to Miss Redheart, who waits patiently on the other side of your study
  975. “No, I believe that will be all. Thank you Miss Redheart.”
  976. >She nods her head and turns around to leave
  977. “Actually, there was one other thing…”
  978. >She pauses as she holds the door open and turns back to you with a polite smile
  979. >”What is it Doctor?”
  980. >You attempt to gather your thoughts as you shift the papers around on your desk
  981. “How do you feel that Miss Sweet’s rehabilitation has been going lately?”
  982. >She quirks an eyebrow at you as she slowly considers your question
  983. >”I can’t honestly say Sir. I haven’t been spending nearly as much time with her as you have.”
  984. “Yes well, I would just like to hear your honest opinion of what you’ve observed.”
  985. >Her expression fell, only for the briefest of moments, before she continued to smile at you
  988. >”I think she has been doing very well. When she first began her stay with us I honestly wasn’t sure what to think. Her mood-swings were very… problematic for us.”
  989. >She begins to fiddle with her hands as you stare curiously at her
  990. >”She’s much more polite to me and the other nurses and orderlies now. At first many of us were extra cautious around her, but not anymore.”
  991. >You smile back at her as you fold your own hands over your desk
  992. “I am happy to hear that. She has come a long way in a short time.”
  993. >Nurse Redheart nods her head, and silence falls over your study for a few moments
  994. >It looks as if she wants to say more, but she’s hesitating
  995. >”Doctor Anonymous?”
  996. “Yes?”
  997. >”How long would you say I’ve been working for you?”
  998. >Her question catches you by surprise
  999. “No less than ten years I would say. No wait, it will have been exactly eleven years by the end of next month.”
  1000. >She smiles, no doubt pleased that you had seemingly answered her correctly
  1001. “Why do you ask?”
  1002. >”Well, I ask because it just seems like you’ve been in really high spirits lately. I don’t think I’ve seen you this happy in all the years I’ve worked here.”
  1003. >Nurse Redheart chuckles at you, raising a hand up to her mouth as she half-heartedly hides her laughter
  1004. >”You’ve been much more polite lately as well, and I don’t remember ever seeing you smile so much.”
  1005. >You frown at her
  1006. >Have you really been acting so differently as of late?
  1007. >This is troubling
  1008. “Why do you think that is?”
  1009. >Redheart’s smile falters as she walks over and stands in front of your desk
  1010. >”When I first noticed this behavior from you I thought…”
  1011. >She hesitates once more
  1012. >You leaned forward as you listen to her with bated breath
  1013. “Yes?”
  1014. >”… I thought it was because you had found someone.”
  1015. “Found someone? You mean like—”
  1016. >”A woman."
  1019. >Your expression darkened
  1020. >It was as you had feared ever since she saw Sour Sweet kiss you
  1021. >She knew the truth
  1022. “Miss Redheart, are you—“
  1023. >”I’m worried about you.”
  1024. >Your eyes widened at her as you raised your head
  1025. “Excuse me?"
  1026. >She solemnly stared back at you as she nervously fidgeted with her hands
  1027. >”If something were to happen between the two of you, and word of it came out…”
  1028. >You stared at Redheart in shock as she trembled in front of you
  1029. >Her behavior was completely unexpected
  1030. “Are you really so concerned about me?”
  1031. >”Of course I am! You could lose your job, your home, your medical license you could even go to prison! I don’t want to see any of that happen to you…"
  1032. >Sitting in silence, you watched as she slowly lost more and more of her composure
  1033. >You sighed as you stood out of your seat
  1034. “Miss Redheart you are overreacting.”
  1035. >"EXCUSE ME?"
  1036. >She looked quite fierce as she leaned over the desk and glared at you
  1037. >You stared back into her narrowed eyes and immediately regretted your choice of words
  1038. “What I mean is, you do not have to worry about anything happening between Sour Sweet and I. My primary concern is to ensure that she is happy and healthy, nothing else matters to me.”
  1039. >”Nothing else?”
  1040. >Again, you regretted what came out of your mouth as she placed a hand over her forehead and sighed
  1041. >Walking around your desk, you placed a reassuring hand over her shoulder
  1042. >Her expression softened as you smiled down at her
  1043. “I am completely in control of my own emotions. There is nothing to be worried about.”
  1044. >She did not look entirely convinced, although her anger had seemingly failed her
  1045. >Now all that remained was a saddened frown
  1046. >”What if you aren’t as in control as you think you are, or what if she were to offer herself to you? Have you even thought about what will happen when it’s time for her to leave?”
  1047. >Your eyes widened, and you stood there over her as if struck by lightning
  1048. “Leave?"
  1050. >”Doctor, promise me that you won’t let anything happen between the two of you. I don’t want to see you get—“
  1051. “I am very touched Miss Redheart, I honestly never realized you cared so much. I am truly lucky to have you.”
  1052. >She began to nervously rub the back of her neck as she thankfully broke eye contact with you
  1053. >”t-Thank you Sir…"
  1054. >Putting on a smile, you wrapped your arm around her shoulder and walked her toward your door
  1055. “I promise that nothing bad will happen. In time, Sour Sweet will be healthy, and all will be well. I promise that too. Now is there anything else?”
  1056. >She solemnly shook her head
  1057. “Good night then.”
  1058. >”Good night Sir.”
  1059. >With that, you closed the door
  1060. >Alone once more within your study, you allowed the full force of what Nurse Redheart had said to hit you
  1061. >It had seemingly never crossed your mind that once you had successfully helped Sour Sweet, that she would be leaving you
  1062. >You wanted her out of here, and had thought fondly of her growing up and becoming a happy and healthy adult, by you had failed to realize that this future you envisioned for her seemingly lacked a place for you
  1063. “She would not longer have need of me…”
  1064. >Pacing around your room, you began to seriously wonder if you could simply let Sour Sweet go without letting her know just how much she means to you?
  1065. >Her presence here not only reignited a passion for your work, but for life itself
  1066. >You love her, but in the end what if she did not truly return your feelings?
  1067. >You sigh
  1068. “All that matters right now is ensuring that her health improves.”
  1069. >Shaking your head, you march up to your desk and reach inside your drawer
  1070. >Taking out a silver cigarette case, you quickly light up a match
  1071. >The cigarette burns brightly within the dim light of your study
  1072. >Raising it up to your mouth, you take a long drag before exhaling a puff of smoke
  1073. "If all that I ever end up being to her was her doctor in a dark part of her life, then so be it.”
  1076. >As you contemplated all of this, you felt yourself becoming increasingly bitter
  1077. >Just as your mood was hitting possibly its lowest point, you heard a loud banging noise coming from down the hall
  1078. >Snuffing out your cigarette, you march out of your study and approach the reinforced door that led into your institute
  1079. >Opening it up, you saw an orderly waiting for you
  1080. >”Sir, Patient 209 has been asking for you again. Said she needed help with her homework.”
  1081. >You smiled at the man as you momentarily forgot your woes
  1082. “Thank you for brining this to my attention. Tell her I’ll be down momentarily.”
  1083. >”Yes Sir!”
  1084. >After taking a few more minutes to compose yourself, you walked down through your institute and appeared before the door to Sour Sweet’s room
  1085. >Peering inside, you spotted her sitting at her desk with her back turned toward the door
  1086. >Just as you were about to knock on her door, she turned her head back to you
  1087. >Sour Sweet grinned as she hopped out of her seat and bounced over
  1088. >Swinging it open, she addressed you warmly with a smile that was exceptionally sweet, even for her
  1089. >”Good evening Dr. Anon!”
  1090. “Good evening Miss Sweet. Having more trouble?”
  1091. >Her smile faded quickly as she tilted her head over her shoulder and glowered at her desk
  1092. >”These fucking physics problems are driving me insane.”
  1093. “Oh no, in that case I definitely better step in.”
  1094. >Her smile returned as she giggled at you, eliciting a small smile from you as well
  1095. “Let me take a look…”
  1096. >Entering her room, you stood over the desk as she returned to her seat
  1097. >Various papers and books were haphazardly strewn about
  1098. >Spotting a sheet of paper with the least amount of scribbles and tears on it, you picked it up and examined it closely
  1099. “Well I can see your handwriting’s improved considerably…”
  1100. >Glancing down at her, you saw Sour Sweet roll her eyes
  1101. >”Not too ‘atrocious' huh?”
  1102. >You chuckled at her as you sat down on her bed with her paper
  1105. >The next hour or so was wiled away between helping Sour Sweet with her homework and engaging her in small talk
  1106. >It was very relaxing, and you continued to feel a small tinge or pride whenever you successfully assisted her
  1107. >The two of you fell into a pattern of sorts
  1108. >She would address you with a frown
  1109. >”This is fucking ridiculous…”
  1110. >You would examine her work and correct her mistake
  1111. “It’s really not that hard if you think of it like this…”
  1112. >Eventually, her eyes would light up
  1113. >”Oh! OK….”
  1114. >And at that point she would have easily gotten it, and would sail right through the rest of her work with a genuine smile
  1115. >”That’s way easier than the way the book teaches! Thanks Dr. Anon~.”
  1116. >The pattern was pretty predictable, yet seeing her light up with joy each time as she slowly learned never ceased to elicit a smile from you as well
  1117. >Sour Sweet was really quite bright, all she needed was proper instruction and positive reinforcement
  1118. “It’s fortunate that your friends are able to keep delivering your work to you. Once you return to school, you’ll be all caught up.”
  1119. >She grimaced at her papers
  1120. >”I wish I had better things to do than this crap…”
  1121. >You shrugged your shoulders and smirked at her
  1122. “Your education is important. It will help you get into the school you want and the career you want.”
  1123. >”I don’t even know if I want to go to a college or not yet.”
  1124. >Raising an eyebrow at her, you shoved the paper in your hand aside as you addressed her
  1125. “If you didn’t go for higher education, then what would you do after high school?”
  1126. >She shrugged her shoulders as she gained a wistful look in her eyes
  1127. >”I really don’t know yet.”
  1128. >Her eyes narrowed as she pouted
  1129. >”For all I know I’ll still be stuck here in this cell.”
  1130. >Your eyes narrowed as well as your own mood soured
  1131. “I highly doubt that.”
  1132. >She gloomily scanned over the rest of her papers, a finger of hers trailing through her long hair all the while
  1135. >”I think… whatever I’d like to be doing, I’d like to be traveling.”
  1136. “Travelling? Where to?”
  1137. >”Anywhere really. I just don’t want to be trapped around home for the rest of my life you know?”
  1138. >Under the watchful eyes of her parents you presume
  1139. “Yes, I think I understand what you’re saying.”
  1140. >To be away from home would likely bring her a sense of freedom that she’s been desperate for
  1141. >In your honest opinion, it would do her a lot of good
  1142. >Sour Sweet leaned back in her seat, tossing her notebook aside as she stared back at you with a small smile
  1143. >You smiled back at her, waiting to see if she had anything else to ask of you
  1144. >Now would have been an acceptable time to simply leave, yet you felt content to simply sit here with her
  1145. >Judging by the smile on her face, she felt the same way
  1146. >So the two of you end up simply sitting together for a while
  1147. “So when will your friends be coming by with your next batch of work?”
  1148. >”In three days.”
  1149. >Three days exactly would mark one full month since being committed
  1150. “Were you intending on spending time with your friends?”
  1151. >Her smile widened as she leaned forward, placing her head in her hands as her elbows leaned onto her knees
  1152. >”We were talking about spending the whole day together! Indigo was going to drive them all up, and Lemon Zest was going to bring over all her games and speakers. It’s going to be great!”
  1153. >You smiled back at her as you similarly leaned forward
  1154. “All her games and speakers?
  1155. >She nodded back at you
  1156. >“Zest is pretty big into music, and she owns all kinds of video games. Even some pretty old ones.”
  1157. “Well that sounds very fun, but where were you going to set up all of that? In here?”
  1159. >Sour Sweet’s smile faded away
  1160. >”Well, we thought about doing it in the commons but…”
  1161. >Her expression contorted further into a frown, yet she refused to speak
  1162. “But?"
  1163. >At first it seemed she was about to raise her voice and say something quite harsh, although you did not know what
  1164. >Surprisingly, she composed herself and addressed you rather neutrally
  1165. >”I just feel its kind of awkward to do that around all the other patients. Especially with some of them being… the way they are….”
  1166. >She twirled a strand of her hair as she leaned back in her seat
  1167. “Yes, I can see why you might prefer more privacy.”
  1168. >”Yeah, so I was thinking we could hang out in here. Sunny Flare said she had a small tv set we could hook up so we ought to be alright.”
  1169. >You grimaced as you looked around her room
  1170. >It was rather tight quarters, even just for the two of you
  1171. >For five people all at once, it would be rather ridiculous
  1172. “Have you been entertaining all four of your friends in here this whole time?”
  1173. >”Well, yeah I guess.”
  1174. >Closing your eyes shut, you let yourself become absorbed by your thoughts
  1175. >It would have likely been a breach of protocol to offer what you had in mind, although no more than what you had done already
  1176. “Miss Sweet, I have plenty of space in my home. A large living room, a tv set and an abundance of privacy. What if, when your friends came over, I let the five of you stay within my home?”
  1177. >Sour Sweet’s jaw dropped open
  1178. >”You’d let me and my friends hangout in your mansion for the whole day!?”
  1179. “Uhhh, well… the whole day, and nothing more I suppose. I have work I need to take care of within my study so as long as the five of you stay relatively quiet then—OOF!”
  1180. >The air was tackled out of your lungs as Sour Sweet crashed into you
  1181. >Her arms wrapped around your waist as she nuzzled her head into you
  1182. >”That would be AMAZING! Thank you Dr. Anon!”
  1183. “Hahaha no—no problem. It is my pleasure…”
  1186. >You shot a nervous look over your shoulder at the door, worried that someone may have been watching
  1187. >Your body froze as you stared back at her, and you became instantly aware that she was more or less straddling on top of you as you laid against her bed
  1188. “Miss Sweet, you can get off of me now…”
  1189. >Sour Sweet’s cheeks flushed as her jaw fell open once more
  1190. >Yet, she did not move an inch
  1191. >Raising your head up, you stared directly into her vibrant eyes
  1192. >Her body was shaking slightly,as her long hair draped over her shoulders onto you
  1193. >Those bright eyes of hers narrowed
  1194. >”w-What if I don’t want to?”
  1195. >Your heart skipped a beat
  1196. “Excuse me?”
  1197. >Suddenly, any semblance of confidence blazing in her eyes was snuffed out
  1198. >She quickly picked herself off of you and stood up, looking aside with more than just a hint of shame
  1199. >”i-I’m sorry Anon—d-Dr. Anon, I didn’t mean to—“
  1200. “No! I mean no, it’s quite alright…”
  1201. >As you slowly regained your bearings, you picked yourself off of her bed
  1202. >Stuffing your hands into your pockets, you glanced away from her
  1203. >Raising one hand up, you coughed into it
  1204. >You internally cursed yourself for having that cigarette before you came here
  1205. >It must have been disgusting for her to smell your breathe
  1206. “I should go.”
  1207. >”o-Ok…”
  1208. >Turning your back on her, you began to march toward her door
  1209. >Although you did not look at her, you could tell that she was following closely behind you
  1210. “Good night Miss Sweet.”
  1211. >You opened the door and—
  1212. >Her hand gripped onto yours just as one foot of yours stomped outside
  1213. “Miss Sweet?”
  1214. >”Dr. Anon…”
  1215. >Her hand felt so very soft…
  1217. >This strange feeling, as if all rational thought had become impossible
  1218. >All that had become apparent now, all that seemingly mattered to you, was how soft her hand felt within yours
  1219. >Her touch alone could stop you, it was all the force that was needed for her to stop a full grown man in his tracks
  1220. “How absurd…”
  1221. >Stepping back, you shut the door and pulled your hand out of her grasp
  1222. >You turned back toward her, and stared at her as she looked away with downcast eyes
  1223. >Her hands turned into trembling fists by her sides as she sneered
  1224. >”I’m sorry. I’m acting so stupid! You should just go, before I—EEP!“
  1225. >Wordlessly reaching outward, your grasped hold of her
  1226. >Gently pulling her back away from the door, you held her close with one arm draped around her waist and another sliding through her long smooth hair
  1227. >Before she could utter another word, you pressed your lips against hers
  1228. >Closing her eyes, Sour Sweet calmly pressed herself up into you as her own arms slid inside of your coat and clenched around you
  1229. >All the logic in the world became meaningless as you lost yourself in emotions you had never felt before
  1230. >Her warm embrace was unlike anything you had ever known
  1231. >You felt alive
  1232. >Locked together in bliss with her, time passed by in the blink of an eye
  1233. >It could have been years for all that you cared
  1234. >Eventually however, the two of you slowly broke apart
  1235. >You smiled down at her as you raised a finger under her chin and took in the breadth of her content smile
  1236. “You are so very beautiful…”
  1237. >”Heh, you aren’t too bad yourself…”
  1238. >Chuckling down at her, you slowly stepped away as your hands slipped into each other’s
  1239. >She continued to hold onto you as you reached over to the door and opened it up
  1240. “Good night Miss Sweet.”
  1241. >”Good night Dr. Anon.”
  1242. >You gave her soft hand one last tight squeeze before slipping out of it and gently closing the door behind you
  1243. “Until tomorrow then…”
  1246. >You consider it a blessing that Sour Sweet’s friends have chosen to come and visit today
  1247. >Instead of possibly spending the day lamenting that she had been a resident here for an entire month, she would be spending time with her friends
  1248. >”I still think this is very inappropriate Doctor.”
  1249. “How so?”
  1250. >Nurse Redheart pouts as the two of you stand on the edge of your foyer
  1251. >”Allowing your patient and her four friends to use your home like this? It looks bad.”
  1252. “Nonsense, this is merely another aspect of her rehabilitation.”
  1253. >”Dr. Anon~!”
  1254. >The two of you glance across the room to Sour Sweet, who cheerfully waves at you as she sits atop your staircase
  1255. >She wears a brightly colored dress, and her smooth rose-colored hair is tied into a long ponytail with a plastic bow that resembles a leaf with three red berries on it
  1256. “Yes Miss Sweet?”
  1257. >”I just got a text from Indigo! She said they’re only about ten minutes away!”
  1258. >At that, you quickly pulled out your pocket watch and grimaced at the time
  1259. “Didn’t she say that about fifteen minutes ago?”
  1260. >Sour Sweet scoffed, loud enough for you to hear from across the large room, as she scowled at the entrance doors
  1261. >”It’s this damn snow! They BETTER get here soon…”
  1262. >You smirked at her as you put away your watch
  1263. “Well you’ll have the whole day together, a few minutes is nothing to get hung up about.”
  1264. >Her scowl softened slightly as she leaned back against your steps with her phone in hand
  1265. >Turning your gaze back to Nurse Redheart, you could see that she was neither convinced nor amused
  1266. >”There’s no reason they can’t simply use the common areas.”
  1267. “There’s little reason they can’t use my home either. There’s more than enough room for them here, and they would likely disturb the other patients anyway. You know how girls Miss Sweet’s age can act.”
  1268. >”Do you?”
  1270. “Hmph, aside from Miss Sweet? I’m afraid not, so I suppose this will be a bit of a learning experience for me."
  1271. >Walking across the foyer with a reluctant Miss Redheart in tow, you made your way to the bottom of the steps
  1272. >Sour Sweet grinned down at you as she placed her phone aside
  1273. >”How do I look Doctor?”
  1274. “Very lovely. I’m sure you’re quite happy to be out of that residential uniform."
  1275. >Her grin became somewhat malicious as she leaned down at you
  1276. >”I wish I could burn that fucking thing.”
  1277. “Ha! Remind me when your stay here comes to an end and I might let you.”
  1278. >”Dr. Anonymous!”
  1279. >Nurse Redheart fumed by your side as you sheepishly leaned away from her
  1280. “Haha, Miss Redheart might need a bit more convincing I’m afraid.”
  1281. >Sour Sweet giggled down at the two of you as she rested her head atop her hands
  1282. >”I’m sorry Nurse Redheart, I wasn’t being serious.”
  1283. >You weren’t so convinced, though it was nice to see her attempt to console Miss Redheart
  1284. >Redheart sighed as she placed a hand against her temple
  1285. >”No, that is alright Miss Sweet.”
  1286. >You heard a vibrating noise which caused Sour Sweet to reach for her phone
  1287. >”They’re here! They’re just pulling in now!”
  1288. “Good! Tell them they can park right up front by the door, I doubt anyone else will be coming by today.”
  1289. >Sour Sweet sprung up to her feet and smiled excitedly as she typed her message
  1290. >It brought a grin to your own face to see how animated she was as she hurriedly typed away whilst walking down the steps
  1291. >Skipping past you, Miss Sweet waited just in front of the large oak doors to the driveway
  1292. >Stuffing your hands in your pockets, you strolled up just behind Sour Sweet along with Nurse Redheart and patiently waited to meet her friends
  1295. >No sooner had the door opened up had Sour Sweet rushed forward to embrace the very first girl who walked through
  1296. >It appears to be a petite girl with a short crop of neatly trimmed hair
  1297. >”Sunny Flare~!”
  1298. >”Sour Sweet!”
  1299. >She affectionately returns Sour Sweet’s hug while maintaining a reserved smile
  1300. >A stiff snow-swept breeze blows inside the room, along with the rest of her friends
  1301. >”LET US IN!”
  1302. >A girl with somewhat spiky hair barrels into the room next, knocking Sour Sweet and Sunny Flare to the ground along with herself
  1303. >You balk at the three girls lying atop your carpet
  1304. “Are you three ok?”
  1305. >Sunny Flare grits her teeth as she snarls at the new girl
  1306. >”Indigo!”
  1307. >”Indigo~!”
  1308. >Sour Sweet happily latches onto who you could only assume was the oft spoke of Indigo Zap, who chuckles as she graciously returns Sour Sweet’s hug
  1309. >”Whoa, you guys alright?”
  1310. >A girl with with a long mane of wild looking hair who wears a set of headphones strolls into the room and stoops down in front of Miss Sweet with a relaxed smile
  1311. >Still joyously lost in excitement, Sour Sweet hops over and hugs this new girl, who quickly and just as eagerly returns her embrace
  1312. >”Lemon Zest~!”
  1313. >”What’s up Sweet?”
  1314. >”Nothing! I missed you!”
  1315. >”You four should really get off the floor. You’re getting Sour Sweet covered in snow.”
  1316. >Glancing up, you saw the fourth and final girl enter and close the door behind her
  1317. >This one, a glasses wearing girl with snow-white hair tied up in long pigtails, beheld her friends with a seemingly aloof gaze
  1318. “I agree.”
  1319. >Reaching down, you gently picked Sour Sweet up off the floor by her arm before she bounced over to her stern friend
  1320. >”Sugarcoat~!
  1321. >Sugarcoat’s disinterested facade broke as she smiled and returned Sour Sweet’s hug
  1324. >Standing back with Miss Redheart, you contentedly watched as Sour Sweet reunited with her friends
  1325. >Despite her reservations concerning it all, even Redheart appeared to be touched by their display
  1326. >”You must be Dr. Anonymous."
  1327. >You glanced away from Miss Sweet as Sunny Flare addressed you, politely raising her hand to shake yours
  1328. “And you are Miss Flare I take it? Welcome.”
  1329. >She beamed at you as you shook her hand
  1330. >”Sour Sweet’s told us a lot about you.”
  1331. “Oh? Only good things I hope.”
  1332. >You heard a low whistle from Indigo Zap as she scanned your foyer with wide-eyes
  1333. >”Wow, all of this is your home?”
  1334. “Yes, that’s right.”
  1335. >”Man you must be loaded. OW!"
  1336. “Hm?”
  1337. >You watch as Indigo bends down slightly and raises her foot, conscious of the fact that Sour Sweet stands just beside her with that same bright smile on her face
  1338. >”i-I mean, it’s a very nice home uh Sir.”
  1339. >After briefly making eye contact with Miss Sweet, you grin at Indigo before turning toward Lemon Zest who absently stares out your window
  1340. “Forget something Miss Zest?”
  1341. >”Oh, uh yeah. We were kind of in a rush to get out of the cold, but I forgot to grab my gear.”
  1342. “Your gear?”
  1343. >”Yeah, my speakers and my xbox and my N64, all the games and controllers. It’s all in a box in the trunk. I’ll be back in a—“
  1344. “I’ll go take care of it, the five of you go make yourselves comfortable. Miss Redheart, could you please show them to the living room?”
  1345. >She flashed you a small frown before smiling at the entourage
  1346. >”It’s right this way.”
  1349. >Stepping outside, you could see that it was still snowing slightly
  1350. >From what you had heard it should only go on for another hour at most, yet it was still bitterly cold
  1351. >Procuring the somewhat heavy container, you shuffled back inside the foyer and carried it down the hall into your living room
  1352. >You had already started the fireplace shortly before they had arrived, which was now crackling loudly at the end of the room
  1353. >Expecting their arrival, you had set up your TV set nearby
  1354. >It was fairly big, and only several years old, but you normally had it stowed away as you rarely watched it and did not particularly care for how it looked within the room
  1355. >Laying the box down in front of the TV, you let Lemon Zest eagerly dig into its contents
  1356. >”Awesome, thanks dude!”
  1357. “Er, your welcome Miss Zest.”
  1358. >”Yo Indy, come give me a hand!”
  1359. >”Alright!”
  1360. >Indigo strolled over, dropping down onto the carpet beside Lemon Zest as they began to lay aside the various speakers and consoles
  1361. >”—really does look like the same mansion from the movie. It’s a little eerie.”
  1362. >You perked up over toward Sugarcoat, who seemed to be carrying on a conversation with Sour Sweet and Sunny Flare
  1363. >Grinning, you walked over to the three of them
  1364. “What do you think? A little bit better than cramming all together inside Miss Sweet’s room wouldn’t you say?”
  1365. >Sugarcoat nodded her head at you
  1366. >”You’re home’s pretty huge, isn’t it a bit too big for just you?”
  1367. “Yes, I suppose so. There are plenty of rooms that I never really use, but overall the place suits me.”
  1368. >”Well I think it’s pretty classy.”
  1369. >You smiled down at Sunny Flare as her gaze pored over the various paintings and bookshelves that adorned the walls
  1370. “I’m glad it’s to your liking. Feel free to make yourselves at home.”
  1373. >”Dr. Anonymous?”
  1374. >Nurse Redheart lightly tapped at your shoulder as you turned to face her
  1375. >She appeared to be effecting a polite but clearly forced smile
  1376. >”I should really get back to work now.”
  1377. “Ah yes…”
  1378. >Coughing once into your fist, you turned about toward them all and raised your voice
  1379. “I have to go take care of some paperwork in my study. The kitchen is just down the hall if any of you get hungry and the bathroom is close by. Miss Sweet knows her way around by now if you need help.”
  1380. >Sour Sweet bounced up to you with a wide smile
  1381. >”Thank you so much for this Dr. Anon!”
  1382. >Instinctively bracing up against her tackle, you held your arms aloft and chuckled as Miss Sweet embraced you
  1383. >You did not deign to see how the others reacted to this as you listened to Sour Sweet whisper up to you
  1384. >”I’ll make sure they don’t wreck up the place. Love you Anon~.”
  1385. “Haha I know…”
  1386. >The two of you awkwardly brushed each other off as she returned to her friends’ side and you backed away near Nurse Redheart
  1387. >Sneaking a quick glance at the five of them, you saw Indigo offer Sour Sweet a DVD case as she excitedly spoke about the movie in question, all while Lemon Zest happily finished tending to her various speakers as she hooked them up to her phone
  1388. >Sunny Flare caught your glance and gave you a polite wave before hopping down next to Sour Sweet, while Sugarcoat gave you a neutral stare before taking a seat as well
  1389. >”Are you coming Doctor?”
  1390. “What? Oh yes.”
  1391. >Shutting the door behind them, you joined Nurse Redheart as the two of you walked down the hall
  1392. >She regarded you with a cross expression as she stood directly in front of you and planted her hands on her hips
  1395. >”Sour Sweet should be much more careful, especially in front of others. If her friends got the wrong idea then—“
  1396. “Miss Sweet can be very affectionate at times. I’m sure her friends realize this better than anyone else.”
  1397. >”Don’t you think they might find it strange that she shows her more affectionate side to you?”
  1398. >You opened your mouth to speak, only for no words to come out as you considered her words
  1399. >Shaking your head, you regained your smile with little effort
  1400. “It was only a hug, nothing alarming.”
  1401. >”What did she whisper to you?”
  1402. “Just that she would make sure her friends wouldn’t make a mess is all.”
  1403. >Walking past her, Nurse Redheart continued to look more than a little upset as she kept pace with you
  1404. >”You know what else Doctor, I am NOT your maid. I didn’t have to be here for any of this.”
  1405. “No you didn’t, but I’m glad you did.”
  1406. >You placed a hand over her shoulder as the two of you stood outside of your study
  1407. “You are a good friend. Thank you Miss Redheart.”
  1408. >Redheart’s stony expression softened as she sighed
  1409. >”Your welcome Doctor…”
  1410. >After patting her shoulder a few times, you broke away and retreated inside your study
  1411. >She closed the door behind you and left you alone
  1412. >Taking off your coat and draping it across a chair, you fell into your seat behind the desk and sighed
  1413. >Despite how dismissive you were toward Redheart’s concerns, you could not lie to yourself and say that you weren’t a little worried
  1414. >You normally felt very in control of yourself, especially around others, but it was different when Sour Sweet was there
  1415. >Having her close by made you say and act more recklessly, more bravely in a way
  1416. >It made you quite happy, but whenever you left her side you couldn’t help but wonder just how much danger you were really in
  1417. “One single misstep, and this little dream I’m living can become a nightmare…”
  1420. >Sitting in silence in your study, you attempted to shrug off your worries by drowning yourself in paperwork
  1421. >Various financial and medical records as well as several reports given to you by your employees, you dived into just about anything no matter how tedious in your efforts to clear your mind
  1422. >It worked, but only for a short time
  1423. >When you next glanced at your pocket watch you saw that only about an hour had passed since you sat down
  1424. “What else… what else…”
  1425. >You weren’t scheduled to check on any of your patients today, and you’d rather not leave the home in case Sour Sweet and her friends had need of you
  1426. >Perhaps now would have been a good time to check up on them?
  1427. >Standing up, you tossed on your white coat and marched back into the halls
  1428. >The closer you got to the living room, the more noise you could hear
  1429. >The sound of some kind of rock music playing, the blare of gunfire which you sincerely HOPED was coming from the tv set, and the sound of their laughter
  1430. >You normally enjoyed the peace and quiet, but this time it was very refreshing to hear your home lit up with sound
  1431. >It made these hallowed halls of yours seem like a much livelier place
  1432. >As you stood outside the living room and placed your head near the door, you could very clearly hear Sour Sweet’s voice
  1433. >You could not tell exactly what she was saying, but with how well you had gotten to know her you were able to tell that she was saying something mockingly
  1434. >If the laughter that followed was any clue, you had been correct
  1435. >Shaking your head, you decided not to disturb them as you began to walk away
  1436. >Then, just as you were leaving them the room became somewhat quieter
  1437. >The roar of electric guitars disappeared for a moment
  1438. >Shrugging your shoulders, you continued to walk away only for you to trip over yourself as you heard the incredibly loud rumbling of drums followed by a symphony of string instruments
  1439. “Is that Wagner?”
  1441. >Wrenching the door to your living room open, your ears were assaulted by the roar of bombastic classical music
  1442. >It was like having front row seats at an orchestra
  1443. “What the Hell!?”
  1444. >Staring into the room you saw Sour Sweet and three of her friends standing back as they held their hands over their ears whilst Lemon Zest stood over your record player
  1445. >Sour Sweet’s voice shrieked over the deafening music
  1448. >You could clearly see that the various stereo speakers that she had brought with her were now hooked up to your record player
  1449. >How those tiny speakers could generate so much sound was beyond you
  1450. >Stomping inside the room with your hands similarly splayed over your ears, you marched up to Lemon Zest and tore the needle off your record
  1451. >”Oh heh, sorry Doc. I didn’t think it would be that loud.”
  1452. >You sigh, your ears still ringing from having walked up so close, as Sour Sweet and her friends join you
  1453. “I see you’ve found my old records.”
  1454. >Sour Sweet rubs the back of her neck, looking somewhat embarrassed
  1455. >”Sorry, I know you must be really busy…"
  1456. >You smile back at them as you shake your head a little
  1457. “I was taking a break anyway. Would you girls like to see some more?”
  1458. >Miss Sweet perks up as you point over to a nearby cabinet
  1459. “Take a look.”
  1460. >Lemon Zest bounces over to the cabinet and opens it up, quickly followed by Indigo Zap and Sunny Flare
  1461. >”Man, all of this looks ancient! I’ve never even heard of most of these guys!”
  1462. >You take a step forward, with Sour Sweet and Sugarcoat following closely behind, and squint your eyes at the record Lemon Zest is holding
  1463. “You’re telling me you’ve never heard of Tchaiovsky? What are they teaching you in school?”
  1464. >Lemon Zest shrugs her shoulders as she waves your record around
  1467. >Sunny Flare stares closely at the record before grinning
  1468. >”He composed the Nutcracker right? My family took me to see that when I was just a little girl.”
  1469. “Ah that’s right. It’s probably his most famous work, along with—“
  1470. >”Ah nice! I recognize this”
  1471. >You looked over to Indigo, who held up several different records in her hands
  1472. >”Zeppelin, Sabbath, Priest! Man you’ve got all the classics here.”
  1473. >You chuckled at her as you grasped the copy of Screaming for Vengeance from her hand
  1474. “I haven’t listened to these in a very long time. You’re free to play any of them as long as you promise to treat them carefully, and as long as Miss Zest turns those damn speakers down.”
  1475. >”Cool!”
  1476. >Indigo takes the records she has gathered from the ground and plucks the one from your hand before shuffling over to your record player
  1477. >Sugarcoat kneels down in her former spot as she raises a hand to her chin and scans your collection closely
  1478. >”A lot of these are really old.”
  1479. >You shrug your shoulders at her
  1480. “I’m an old man.”
  1481. >”You don’t look that old, you couldn’t be more than 40 at most."
  1482. >You feel a jab to your ribs as Sour Sweet steps next to you
  1483. >”You’re not that old silly~.”
  1484. >Her smile contorts into a frown as she places her hands on her hips
  1485. >”Don’t be so harsh on yourself.”
  1486. >You smirk down at Sour Sweet, knowing better than to argue with her about it
  1487. “Alright alright… Miss Zest, you better help me with these speakers before Miss Zap blows my windows apart.”
  1488. >”No problem man.”
  1490. >After making a few alterations to Lemon Zest's speaker set and after pleading with Indigo to be careful several more times, with some aggressive support from Sour, you are able to set your record player up
  1491. >”Man Sweet, why didn’t you tell us your doctor had such good taste?”
  1492. >Sunny Flare rolled her eyes at Indigo as she began to bang her head to the music
  1493. >”I’m picking the next record.”
  1494. >You chuckled at them before turning to see Sugarcoat and Lemon Zest fishing through the rest of your record albums
  1495. >”Hey~.”
  1496. >Glancing aside, you see your favorite patient beaming up at you
  1497. “Hello Miss Sweet. Are you having a good time with your friends?”
  1498. >”I’m having a great time! Spending time with them all like this… things feel just like they did before I ever came here.”
  1499. >You stand proudly with your fists folded behind your back as you smile back down at her
  1500. “I’m very happy to hear that. These girls seem like excellent friends, if a little odd…”
  1501. >She giggles up at you
  1502. >”Well, I guess no one here’s really perfect.”
  1503. “No, I suppose not…”
  1504. >The two of you fall silent as you begin to turn away from her
  1505. “I’ll be back to check up on you all in a little bit. Let me know if—“
  1506. >”Thank you Anon.”
  1507. >Glancing back at her, you see her gaze affectionately at you, almost as if she were on the verge of tears
  1508. >”This really means a lot to me.”
  1509. >You raise a hand up and rest it on her shoulder as you whisper to her under the cacophony of laughter and music
  1510. “You mean a lot to me,”
  1511. >There seemed to be nothing in the entire world that could rival the beauty of the smile she gave you as she lowered her head and blushed
  1512. >”t-That’s really cheesy… I feel the same way."
  1515. >”Dr. Anonymous!”
  1516. >”Hm?”
  1517. >You took your hand away from Sour Sweet as you turned your head and gazed down the open hallway
  1518. “That sounded like Miss Redheart.”
  1519. >Turning back to a bewildered Sour Sweet, your expression hardened as you backed away
  1520. “I’ll be back later."
  1521. >You coughed into your fist as you raised your voice
  1522. “If you’ll all excuse me…”
  1523. >Turning your back on them all, you marched out of your living room and into the hallway
  1524. “Miss Redheart? I am over here.”
  1525. >Redheart nearly charged right into you as she frantically emerged from a corner
  1526. >Her wide eyes betrayed a sense of genuine fear
  1527. “What is it? What has happened?”
  1528. >”It’s Miss Sweet’s parents. They just arrived.”
  1529. “What?!”
  1530. >You had not heard from either Mr. or Mrs. Sweet in weeks, even after repeated attempts to contact them failed
  1531. >”They say that you wanted to discuss the progress you’ve made with Miss Sweet with them. They were very adamant that they meet with you as soon as possible.”
  1532. >Folding your arms over your chest, you frowned back at Miss Redheart as you processed all of this
  1533. “I told them to make an appointment…”
  1534. >You were not fond of uninvited guests
  1535. >”What should I tell them?”
  1536. >Narrowing your eyes, you raised a finger up to Nurse Redheart whilst clenching a fist at your side
  1537. “Stall them for at least five minutes then escort them to my study. Under no circumstance should Miss Sweet be made aware of her parents until after I am finished with them!”
  1538. >Nurse Redheart nodded her head to you
  1539. >”Yes Doctor.”
  1541. >She turned away from you and briskly walked down the hallway to your institution as you marched down to your study
  1542. >Catching a glance at yourself in a hallway mirror, you could see that you were glaring quite intensely
  1543. >You sighed as you straightened your posture and fixed your tie
  1544. “I’ve been looking forward to this…”
  1545. >All evidence up until now indicated that the deterioration of Sour Sweet’s mental state was rooted in her relationship with her parents
  1546. >Sure, the catalyst for her violent outbursts was initially caused by the incident at school with those two boys, but you knew it went further than that
  1547. >It was a gross simplification to just say that Sour Sweet was born this way, you now determined that the problem lied largely in Sour Sweet’s home
  1548. >Scowling at your reflection, you turned back down the hall and marched into your study
  1549. “It doesn’t matter how much her mental state improves here if she just ends up going back to where this all started.”
  1550. >You sat down behind your desk and cupped your hands together as you waited for the arrival of Miss Sweet’s parents
  1551. “It is time for a change."
  1554. >A few tense minutes pass until you finally hear a knock at your door
  1555. >Forcing on a smile, you raise your voice and answer
  1556. “Please come in.”
  1557. >Miss Redheart steps inside, holding the door open as Sour Sweet’s parents enter
  1558. >Rising out of your seat, you stretch out a hand and welcome them inside
  1559. “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Sweet.”
  1560. >Mr. Sweet steps ahead and firmly shakes your hand as he regards you with a subdued scowl
  1561. >He is quite tall and broad-shouldered, wearing a suit that appears a little too small
  1562. >”I’ve been looking forward to speaking with you Dr. Anonymous.”
  1563. “As have I.”
  1564. >”It’s wonderful to hear our little girl has been improving~!”
  1565. “Hm?”
  1566. >As you release your grip over Mr. Sweet’s hand, you watch as Mrs. Sweet emerges from behind him and gently shakes your hand next
  1567. >She is rather short and slender in size, especially compared to her husband, and wears a bright business skirt
  1568. >Mrs. Sweet approaches you with an exceptionally wide smile as you calmly grin back
  1569. >”How has our daughter been? Is she ready to come home yet?”
  1570. “I was hoping we could discuss that today.”
  1571. >Mr Sweet gives a light scoff as he stands tall next to his wife
  1572. >”It has been over a month now. I would expect there to have been a great deal of progress.”
  1573. “And there has been. Will the two of you please have a seat?”
  1574. >You gesture toward the two seats in front of you as you sit down behind your desk
  1575. >As the two of them settle in, you look up toward Nurse Redheart who continues to stand by the doorway while staring at you with a concerned look
  1576. >You give her a reserved smile as you stare back
  1577. “Thank you Miss Redheart.”
  1578. >She gives you a perplexed look before nodding her head, closing the door, and walking over
  1579. >Nurse Redheart folds her hands behind her back and stands just behind you as you fold your hands together over your desk and lean forward
  1580. “Now, where to start…”
  1583. >Mr. Sweet cracks his knuckles as he leans forward in his own seat
  1584. >”Tell us how you’ve been treating her? What steps have you taken to make sure these outbursts stop?”
  1585. “Right, well early on in her treatment we focused on conducting various tests and medical examinations to determine what was wrong with her, and after we identified her condition as a form of Bipolar Disorder we began to medicate her.”
  1586. >Mrs. Sweet’s eyes widen as she taps a finger against her chin
  1587. >”Is there a special prescription we will need to start giving her when we take her home?”
  1588. >You smirk back at her as you shake your head
  1589. “That won’t be necessary. After trying various different prescriptions I determined that medicating your daughter was causing more harm than help. The medicine failed to induce the intended calming effect, and afterwards I discovered that she possessed a special… aversion for the medication in general.”
  1590. >Mr. Sweet’s eyes narrow at you
  1591. >”Aversion? Are you saying she was allergic to them?”
  1592. “In a sense, yes. Her body did not reject the medication, but her mind most definitely did.”
  1593. >”Hmph, so how have you been helping her if not with medication?”
  1594. “Well, I have taken measures to help reduce the amount of stress Miss Sweet experiences during her stay here. I have determined that her mental condition had been worsening largely due to living in a stressful environment.”
  1595. >Mrs. Sweet’s smile faltered
  1596. >”A stressful environment? It’s that school isn’t it? I was always worried that Crystal Prep would have been too intense for her.”
  1597. >Mr. Sweet rolls his eyes at his wife
  1598. >”She’s not stupid, Sour Sweet could always handle the course load before. It’s those girls she’s always spending time with, they’re a bad influence on her.”
  1599. >Mrs. Sweet continued to smile as she turned toward her husband, whereas Mr. Sweet maintained the severe scowl that had been present ever since he walked inside your office
  1602. >”Dear, those girls have always been good to Sour. Maybe if she’d have more time to spend with them then—”
  1603. >”She spends plenty of time with them as it is. Sour Sweet ought to be focusing on her grades instead of those screwy friends of her.”
  1604. >Your smile faded as you leaned back in your seat and stole a glance at Nurse Redheart, who seemed just as confused by this display as you were
  1605. “I can say with utmost confidence that your daughter is a very bright girl who has been keeping up with her studies fairly well. I can’t say that her friends have been a bad influence on her mental health, as they have been doing an excellent job supporting her in this trying time by visiting her so much.”
  1606. >The couple sitting in front of you cease their stare-down as they turn their intense gaze back on you
  1607. >Mr. Sweet scoffs once more as he folds his arms over his chest
  1608. >”Alright then, so if it’s not stress from school, and it’s not stress from her social life…”
  1609. >You smile up at Mr. Sweet as he glares down at you
  1610. >”…then what are you implying?”
  1611. “As I have stated, I believe that Miss Sweet’s mental condition has deteriorated from increased stress, causing her disorder to turn violent. I have determined that the majority of this stress comes from her relationship with the two of you.”
  1612. >Mr. Sweet’s glare intensifies on you
  1613. >”Oh yeah? And what makes you think that?”
  1614. “I’ve become fairly familiar with her schoolwork and her friends, so I’m confident that neither of those are the cause of this.”
  1615. >Mrs. Sweet gives you a cool grin as she clenches her hands over her lap and leans forward
  1616. >”Doctor Anonymous, it sounds like you’ve determined us to be the problem through process of elimination. How can you honestly say that we are to blame when you don’t even know us?”
  1617. >You turn away from Sour Sweet’s severe father to smile back at her saccharine mother
  1620. “That’s funny that you should say that. As I have seen much of your daughter’s schoolwork and how she tackles that, and I have met all of her friends and seen how she interacts with them. And yet, over the course of the past month in which I have spent with your daughter…”
  1621. >Your smile crumbles away
  1622. “… I have seen so very little of you two. Very odd wouldn’t you say?”
  1623. >Mr. Sweet rises out of his seat and steps over in front of his wife as he looms over your desk
  1624. >”We both work full time jobs so that our daughter can go to a good school and live in a nice neighborhood. How are we supposed to deal with Sour Sweet when she was born with this disease? We're paying YOU to deal with that!”
  1625. “I’m not interested in your excuses Mr. Sweet.”
  1626. >Sour Sweet’s father grits his teeth as glowers down at you
  1627. >”What did you just say?”
  1628. >You furrow your brow as you scowl back at him
  1629. “I told you what the cause of this is, now it’s up to the two of you to fix it. You need to take personal responsibility for your daughter’s health.”
  1631. >Mr. Sweet’s fist crashes down on your desk, sending several papers flying and knocking aside a glass of water
  1632. >Your fists shake by your side as you glare back at Mr. Sweet
  1633. >”d-Dr. Anonymous?”
  1634. >”Honey?"
  1635. >You turn your gaze away from Mr. Sweet as you feel Nurse Redheart’s hand fall over your shoulder
  1636. >She looks deeply concerned, even frightened you would say
  1637. >You sigh as your anger slowly recedes, only for it to lie dormant as you hear Mrs. Sweet scoff
  1638. >Scowling back at them, you see Mrs. Sweet standing in front of her husband whilst laying a hand against his arm
  1639. >Through it all she holds onto her smile, although you catch a hint of obvious disdain in that pompous grin of hers
  1640. >”I think we should hear what our daughter has to say about this.”
  1641. >Mr. Sweet sneers before pointing a finger as Nurse Redheart
  1642. >”Go. Bring her here.”
  1644. >Nurse Redheart narrows her eyes at Mr. Sweet
  1645. >”You can’t just—“
  1646. “You want to hear what your daughter has to say about this?”
  1647. >Rising up out of your seat, you scowl back at Sour Sweet’s parents as you stand in between them and Redheart
  1648. >Glancing back at her, you give Nurse Redheart a small smile
  1649. “You can stay here Miss Redheart. I will handle this.”
  1650. >”But Doctor, you—”
  1651. >”Well get to it then!”
  1652. >Narrowing your eyes back at Mr. and Mrs. Sweet, you walk around your desk and away from them all
  1653. >While you have seldom ever felt as infuriated as you do now, a part of you also feels excited
  1654. >You had a feeling it would come to this
  1655. >As you reach the center of your room, you turn away from the door and march up to your cabinet
  1656. >Opening it up, you reveal the antiquated audio recording machine
  1657. >Slipping a tape inside, you flip several switches and activate it
  1658. 'Patient #209, Sour Sweet. Log 8. Today marks just over three weeks since Miss Sweet has been committed to my institution. I am very happy to report that—'
  1659. >Mr. Sweet looks completely unamused as he stomps over to you
  1660. >”What the Hell is this?! I told you to—“
  1661. “I am giving you exactly what you asked for Mr. Sweet. Now please remain quiet and listen.”
  1662. >He scowls at the machine as the recording fills the room with your musings
  1663. >”What kind of game do you think you’re—“
  1664. >'Hello Dr. Anon!'
  1665. 'Hello Miss Sweet.’
  1666. >Mr. Sweet’s tirade ends abruptly as his daughter’s voice echoes out of the machine
  1667. >Glancing back at his wife, the two of them exchange odd looks as the recording goes on
  1668. >You maintain a deadpan stare as you turn your head toward Nurse Redheart, who uneasily gazes at you and your recording machine
  1670. 'Miss Sweet, I would like it if we talked a bit more about your home and your family.’
  1671. >Mr. Sweet stares coolly back at the machine as he hears her daughter sigh
  1672. >'My parents haven’t come to visit in weeks…’
  1673. ‘Yes, I’ve noticed.’
  1674. >Mrs. Sweet moves away from your desk and takes a few cautious steps closer to your machine as her husband stands still and listens to the recorded conversation between you and Sour Sweet
  1675. >You waited with bated breathe for what was coming next
  1676. 'When I met your parents, they were quite adamant about you staying here. It seemed to me that what they liked the most about my institution was how close it was to home.’
  1677. >Sour Sweet’s cruel laughter filled the room as it seemingly danced around you all
  1678. >'Oh that does not surprise me at all. They always want me somewhere they can keep an eye on me.’
  1679. 'Do they now? Is it not normal for parents to want to watch over their children?’
  1680. >Mr. Sweet recoiled from the machine as his daughter’s snarl tore through the air
  1681. >'They only told me I was coming here after they had already made up their minds, without asking me!’
  1682. >As Sour Sweet’s voice grew louder, you looked upon her two parents
  1683. >Mr. Sweet’s jaw fell open as Mrs. Sweet raised her hands over her mouth
  1684. >Your eyes briefly met Nurse Redheart’s as she stood over your desk
  1685. >Although you imagined she understood your ploy now, she still looked quite shocked
  1686. >You had to admit this was a very unorthodox tactic, but you were willing to attempt anything on Sour Sweet’s behalf
  1687. >'That’s the way it’s always been, ever since I was fucking born. They love to decide every little thing I do…’
  1688. 'I see… do you resent all of their decisions for you? If I’m not mistaken, you had mentioned that your Archery hobby was something you started because of them.’
  1689. >Sour Sweet’s voice fell as she answered you, her burning anger being replaced with a bitter sadness
  1693. >'When I was younger, they also made me do ballet and horse-riding and a whole lot of other crap I hated. I feel like they were always dumping me off somewhere to do something, whether I liked it or not…’
  1694. >Mr. Sweet stood in front of you as if he was struck dumb by a bolt of lightning, whilst behind him you could see tears beginning to stream down Mrs. Sweet’s face
  1695. >You tried very hard not to take pleasure in what you saw
  1696. >'I don’t think I miss them. I miss my friends, I even miss going to school, but fuck if I miss them breathing down my neck! Fuck them!’
  1697. >”THAT’S ENOUGH!”
  1698. >Mr. Sweet’s eyes flashed dangerously at you as he drew closer
  1699. >”Turn the damn thing off!”
  1700. “No! You need to hear this, both of you!”
  1701. 'I’m very sorry you feel that way. Have you ever tried to tell your parents how you feel?’
  1702. >'Ha! Like they’d ever stop and listen! Whenever they’re not ordering me around they’re either at work or going off to do some bullshit together without me!’
  1703. >At this point, Mrs. Sweet had broken out into a pitiful sob as she leaned against your desk and wiped her face with her suit’s sleeve
  1704. >As the recording carried on, Nurse Redheart emerged from behind your desk and stepped past a trembling Mr. Sweet up to you
  1705. >”Dr. Anonymous…”
  1706. >She stared in shock at the state Mr. and Mrs. Sweet were being reduced to
  1707. >You sigh as you look back at Nurse Redheart, your glare softening
  1708. “It is nearly finished.”
  1709. >Stepping past her, you walk up to your recorder
  1710. >'Don’t you think it’s messed up? You said you were really close with your parents. They weren’t anything like what I just said mine were, right?’
  1711. 'The older I got the more my family encouraged me to make my own choices. I suppose one of the most important things they ever taught me was how to think for myself.’
  1712. >You could clearly remember the miserable look on Sour Sweet’s face as she spoke these next words
  1713. >'I wish someone could teach me that.'
  1716. >With that, you paused the recording and looked back on what you had wrought
  1717. >While your back had been turned, Mr. Sweet had returned to his wife’s side and was now comfortingly holding her within his arms
  1718. >Gone was his glare, and gone was her smile
  1719. >Redheart nervously stood by your side as you raised your voice
  1720. “I hope now the two of you can understand my reasoning, and see that it is sound.”
  1721. >Mrs. Sweet continued to sob as her husband silently held her close
  1722. >You could not begin to imagine how devastating it was for them to hear their daughter speak of them like this
  1723. >It is easy for you to think of her giving a snide remark to either one of them, and you suspect that she has gotten into her fair share of arguments with them, but for them to be subjected to this…
  1724. >”She hates us! Our own daughter hates us! Oh God!”
  1725. >”Shush, s-She didn’t mean it like that…”
  1726. “I think it’s very clear what she meant by all that. If you are confused, I can play it again. Or perhaps you’d like to hear another tape next?”
  1727. >Mrs. Sweet’s wails filled the room as you coldly glowered at her and Mr. Sweet
  1728. >Leaning up to you, Nurse Redheart lowered her voice and whispered
  1729. >”I don’t think that’s necessary doctor…”
  1730. “Hmph, I suppose not.”
  1731. >Stomping past the two of them with Nurse Redheart following closely behind, you dropped down into your seat and watched the two of them
  1732. >To see Sour Sweet’s parents humbled like this pleased you greatly
  1733. >However, you also could not help but wonder if you were becoming something of a sadist
  1734. >Nurse Redheart was obviously concerned, and that was indication enough that you should be to
  1735. “That’s enough of that.”
  1736. >Standing up out of your seat, you sighed to yourself as you reached into your pocket
  1737. >Just as you had offered her daughter several times, you now reluctantly offered Mrs. Sweet your handkerchief
  1738. >She quickly snatched it from your hand as she wiped the tears off of her face
  1741. >”c-Can we please see our daughter now?…”
  1742. >Mrs. Sweet’s tear-stricken plea failed to move you, and yet you knew that it was an acceptable request
  1743. >Now might have been the ideal time for Miss Sweet and her parents’ to mend their relationship
  1744. >However…
  1745. “I will go and speak with Miss Sweet and ask her if she would like to speak with you. I cannot force her to meet with guests she does not care to see.”
  1746. >Mr. Sweet shook as he held onto his wife
  1747. >”y-You can’t just—“
  1748. “It’s not up to me. It is up to her, now wait here. I shall return shortly…”
  1749. >Turning away from them, you marched out of your study and toward your living room
  1750. >As you walked down the hall, you again caught a glance at yourself in the mirror
  1751. >Your scowl was still present, perhaps just as intense as it was before you had met Miss Sweet’s parents
  1752. >You felt very pleased with yourself, and yet you still appeared incensed
  1753. >Sighing at your reflection, you rubbed your hands over your face
  1754. “Most inappropriate…”
  1755. >Shaking your head a few times, you stepped away from the mirror and continued down the hall
  1756. >As you left, the sounds of Mrs. Sweet’s sobs and her husband’s attempts to console her were slowly replaced by the sound of music and laughter
  1757. >Standing outside the living room door, you felt a smile creep back over your face as you creaked it open
  1758. >Sour Sweet and her four friends appeared to be in the middle of playing some kind of video game together as your record player blasted music at them all
  1759. “Miss Sweet?”
  1760. >She apparently failed to hear you
  1761. >Stepping further into the room, you stood just behind her as she sat on the ground against one of your couches
  1762. >She was completely absorbed into the game, some sort of… first person shooter is what you think it is called?
  1763. >”God damnit Indigo! Stop screen looking!”
  1764. >”I’m not!”
  1765. >”Bullshit! How did you know I was behind you?"
  1766. “Having fun?”
  1768. >Sour Sweet looked away from the screen, her glare almost instantly transforming into a grin
  1769. >“Hi Dr. Anon~!”
  1770. >You chuckled at her
  1771. “Hello Miss Sweet, could I please speak with you a moment?”
  1772. >”Sure! Here Sunny., kick Indigo’s ass for me!”
  1773. >Stepping up to her feet, Sour Sweet handed off her controller to Sunny Flare, who grinned as she sat down in her spot
  1774. >You walked away from them all, your patient following closely behind you, as you returned to the hallway
  1775. “Miss Sweet, you—“
  1776. >”I wasn’t really getting angry. I just get super into the game sometimes, it’s not—“
  1777. >Chuckling down at her, you wave a hand dismissively through the air
  1778. “I’m not worried about that at all, I understand completely. I pulled you aside because you have visitors.”
  1779. >Sour Sweet raised an eye at you as her smile fell
  1780. >”Yeah, I kind of noticed.”
  1781. “Hm? Oh no, not your friends. Your… parents have just arrived. I have them waiting for you in my study.”
  1782. >A frown was etched over Miss Sweet’s face as she silently looked up at you
  1783. “I had a long talk about your improving mental condition, and what I believe should be done to continue to help you. I think it went very well, but now they wish to see you.”
  1784. >Sour Sweet scoffed as she folded her arms over her chest and leaned against the wall
  1785. >”So NOW they want to see me? What was wrong with coming to visit last week, or the week before that?”
  1786. “Yes, I am still quite upset as well.”
  1787. >”It’s bullshit.”
  1788. >You scratched the back of your head as you sighed down at her
  1789. “It really is… however, those two people in my office are still your parents. I think you should see them.”
  1790. >Sour Sweet struggled to maintain her glare as she stared down at the ground
  1792. >”I… I really don’t want to. I was having so much fun with my friends, can I just stay here with them?”
  1793. >You stuff your hands in your coat’s pockets as you sigh at her
  1794. “I won’t force you to go see them if you aren’t comfortable with doing so, but when you leave my institution you will have to go home with them.”
  1795. >”Don’t remind me.”
  1796. >Staring down at her, you struggle to come up with something to say
  1797. >Perhaps she has had her hopes for them raised up before, only to be disappointed in the end
  1798. “You might find that your parents will be more willing to listen to you now.”
  1799. >”p-Please don’t make me—“
  1800. “I won’t.”
  1801. >You take a hand out of your pocket and rest it on her shoulder
  1802. “If this is too much for you now, then they will simply have to come back another time. I will send them away.”
  1803. >Sour Sweet stared up at you nervously as you smiled down at her
  1804. “You take all the time that you need. Until then, you go have fun with your friends.”
  1805. >Miss Sweet slowly smiled up at you
  1806. >”Thank you…”
  1807. >You smiled back down at her as you gently squeezed her shoulder
  1808. “Think nothing of it.”
  1809. >Gently pressing her forward, you led her back into the living room before closing the door
  1810. >Marching back down the halls, the noise from your living room eventually disappeared and was replaced with a cold silence
  1811. >When you returned to your study, you could see that Mr. and Mrs. Sweet were far more composed now
  1812. >Nurse Redheart walked up to you and whispered
  1813. >”Is she coming?”
  1814. >You solemnly shake your head, eliciting a tired sigh from her as she places a finger against her temple
  1815. >Taking a seat behind your desk, you could tell by taking one look at them that they knew their daughter wasn’t coming
  1818. “I’m afraid the two of you chose to visit at a bad time. Your daughter was in the middle of entertaining her friends when you arrived, and she would rather not be separated from them just yet.”
  1819. >Mr. Sweet lowered his head as he gripped his downcast wife’s hand
  1820. >Opening up your desk, you reach inside a cabinet and brandish several papers
  1821. “This is a written copy of records I have been keeping on your daughter. It describes in great detail her mental condition, and the events that I believe have led to her disorder worsening.”
  1822. >You stretch over your desk and hand Mrs. Sweet the stack of papers
  1823. “I encourage you both to read over them many times, and to reevaluate how you’ve been raising your daughter.”
  1824. >Mrs. Sweet stares at the notes as her husband places a hand over his forehead
  1825. >You narrow your eyes at the two of them as you lean back into your chair
  1826. “If Miss Sweet’s condition continues to improve, then I may consider releasing her in the coming weeks.”
  1827. >Your two guests perk up at you, a faint glimmer of hope twinkling in their eyes
  1828. “However, I am not keen on sending her home until I know steps have been taken to ensure she won’t be returning to a hostile environment.”
  1829. >Mr. Sweet stood up and raised a clenched fist into the air
  1830. >”Things are going to change. My little girl’s voice is going to be heard from now on!”
  1831. >Mrs. Sweet stood up as well with a similar look of burning determination
  1832. >”I’ll take as much time off from work as I need to! I can plan trips for us, we could go on vacations! Wherever she wants to go!”
  1833. >You fold your hands together and stare coolly back at them
  1834. >Turning your gaze toward Miss Redheart, the two of you traded neutral glances before staring back at Sour Sweet’s parents
  1837. >Miss Redheart cleared her throat as she took a step closer to your desk
  1838. >”If the two of you are serious about this, then you should plan on visiting several more times before we release your daughter. We have visitation hours, and you can set up appointments.”
  1839. >You nodded your head
  1840. “Why don’t we schedule one a few days from now.”
  1841. >Mr. Sweet eagerly leaned over your desk
  1842. >”When’s the earliest we can come back?”
  1843. >From that point on, you went through the process of setting up a new appointment with Miss Sweet’s parents
  1844. >You even told them you would go to greater lengths to induce their daughter to meet with them, which you felt was more than what they deserved
  1845. >After taking care of the particulars, you personally walked with Nurse Redheart as you saw them out
  1846. >It was still snowing outside, and the bitter cold wind cut inside your institute’s lobby as they prepared to walk outside
  1847. >Just before they could leave, you and Miss Redheart silently shook each of their hands
  1848. >As they exited toward their cars, you began to feel more hopeful for the future
  1849. >Perhaps you really were able to reach them, and maybe now there was a chance that Miss Sweet could reconnect with her family
  1850. >Despite your low opinion of them, you sincerely hoped there was a way for them all to make amends
  1851. >Few things are more important in life than family, or so you believe
  1852. “Miss Redheart, would you care for a drink?”
  1853. >”Excuse me?”
  1854. >She planted her hands on her hips as she scowled back at you
  1855. >”I am still on the hour doctor.”
  1856. “Yes, well perhaps you would like to take a break with me? I know that I certainly could use one.”
  1857. >Redheart sighed
  1858. >”I could use one… and only one.”
  1859. >You smiled at her as the two of you walked back to your study together
  1862. >After fixing her a small glass of bourbon, that you had filled with plenty of ice at her request, you poured yourself a glass as well and sat down with her in your kitchen
  1863. “Cheers.”
  1864. >You clinked your glasses together and sipped your drinks
  1865. >She downed a bigger gulp of her drink than you expected
  1866. “How is it?”
  1867. >”Very good…”
  1868. >You smiled at her as you laid your drink down on your table
  1869. “I appreciate you staying with me through all of that.”
  1870. >”Heh, it didn’t really look like you needed me that much.”
  1871. “I would have been lost without you.”
  1872. >She stares at you oddly as you raised your glass and take another long sip from your bourbon
  1873. >You sigh contentedly as you lay it back down and stare at her
  1874. “If I didn’t have you standing over my shoulder, then I don’t think I would have been able to control my temper. There’s no telling what I would have said or done. Thank you.”
  1875. >Miss Redheart remains quiet as she leans back into her seat with her drink in hand
  1876. >”Your welcome Anon. d-Dr. Anonymous…”
  1877. >You chuckle at her
  1878. “There’s no need for you to always address me so formally Miss Redheart.”
  1879. >She scoffs at you, the ice in her glass sliding about as she looks away
  1880. >”You’re the one always calling everyone Miss or Mr.”
  1881. >You stifle a small laugh as you similarly lean back in your own seat
  1882. “That’s just the way I am I’m afraid.”
  1883. >She rolls her eyes at you as she continues to dig into her drink
  1884. >After a few moments, her gaze shifts to out the window
  1885. >”That snow is coming down very hard…”
  1886. >You turn toward the window as you lay your glass down
  1887. “Wasn’t it supposed to stop over an hour ago?”
  1888. >”I think so…”
  1891. >Standing up out of your seat, you walk over to the radio lying under your kitchen cabinets
  1892. >Turning to an AM station, you quickly learn that a snowstorm is coming
  1893. >”That’s not good.”
  1894. “No, and the sun is just about to set as well…”
  1895. >”How much longer were Sour Sweet’s friends going to stay here?”
  1896. >You sigh as you listen to the radio station whilst staring out the window
  1897. “Their parents will have to be notified.”
  1898. >The two of you exit the kitchen and walk down to your living room
  1899. >You opened the door to see that they were playing a new video game and to hear that a new record was playing
  1900. >From the sounds of it, Sunny Flare had gotten away with putting on one of her choice, as the music was much softer rock compared to what Indigo seemed fond of
  1901. >It was one of your 80’s rock albums if you weren’t mistaken
  1902. “Is that Huey Lewis and the News?
  1903. >It was a fairly catchy song, though you never really paid much attention to the lyrics
  1904. >Sour Sweet and her friends turned about to gaze at you expectantly as you announced your presence
  1905. “I’m not sure if any of you have noticed, but a blizzard is about to hit. You might want to call your parents and let them know that you’ll likely be spending the night.”
  1906. >Sour Sweet hopped up to her feet and beheld her friends with a wide grin
  1907. >”That’s wonderful!
  1908. >Lemon Zest cheered as she wrapped an arm around Sweet’s shoulder
  1909. >”That’s sick! The party keep’s on rocking!”
  1910. >Sunny Flare giggles as she stands out of her seat and walks up to her friends
  1911. >”We haven’t had a sleepover since we were little!”
  1912. >Sugarcoat’s normally reserved smile cracked wider as she raised her voice
  1913. >”I’ll call my parents right now and let them know. This means we can still have that movie marathon without having to rush through Zest’s games!”
  1914. >”Haha fucking nice!”
  1915. >Indigo hopped up, wrapping her arms around both Sugarcoat and Sunny Flare
  1916. >”I could use a break from morning practice anyway!”
  1919. >You and Redheart share a smile as you watch the five of them celebrate
  1920. “Well, just make sure you let your parents know that you’re safe. I’ll go grab some extra blankets and pillows for you all.”
  1921. >”Let me give you a hand. I suppose I’ll be stuck here a while longer as well.”
  1922. “I suppose so. Let me fix you another glass while I’m at it.”
  1923. >Nurse Redheart grimaced but did not protest against your offer as the two of you exited the living room
  1924. >Before you left them all, you turned about and stole one last glance from Sour Sweet
  1925. >While in the midst of celebrating with her friends, she met your gaze
  1926. >Sour Sweet affectionately grinned back at you as you slowly left her with her friends
  1927. >Nothing filled you with quite so much pride and joy, to see her so happy
  1928. >You knew that there really wasn’t anything you would not do for her
  1929. >Her happiness, was your happiness
  1930. >”Doctor?”
  1931. >Nurse Redheart tugged you along by your arm
  1932. “o-Oh, sorry Miss Redheart.”
  1933. >Turning your gaze away, you followed Miss Redheart out of your living room and began to make preparations for Sour Sweet and her friends’ overnight stay in your home
  1934. “I never imagined my home would see so many guests…"
  1937. >”Doctor, are you awake?"
  1938. “Hm?"
  1939. >You jolt in your seat as you look up at Nurse Redheart
  1940. “Yes yes, I am…”
  1941. >Raising a hand over your mouth, you lazily stifle a long yawn as Redheart patiently waits for you to finish
  1942. “…I am awake. Just a little tired is all.”
  1943. >She cracks a grin as she folds her clipboard under her arm and reaches a hand down to you
  1944. >After she pulls you up to your feet, you take a moment to shake yourself awake and crack your neck as your eyes scan the lobby
  1945. >”I see the girls kept you up all night.”
  1946. “Just until about four, I’m fairly sure they were asleep by then.”
  1947. >She rolls her eyes at you before looking down at her board
  1948. >”That’s ridiculous.”
  1949. >You shrug your shoulders at her as she scribbles away
  1950. “I stay up late usually anyway."
  1951. >”I hope that Indigo girl was awake enough to drive them all home safely.”
  1952. “She claims she gets up early with little sleep all the time, and I watched her guzzle down some kind of energy drink that seemed to wake her up.”
  1953. >”You could probably use one of those right now. Maybe some coffee?”
  1954. “I’d rather not.”
  1955. >”How about some tea then?”
  1956. >You sigh as you scratch the back of your head
  1957. “I suppose that sounds nice.”
  1958. >She looks up from her board and smirks at you before turning away and walking down the hall
  1959. >You follow closely behind her as the two of you enter the break room kitchen
  1960. >Redheart grabs an empty kettle and fills it with water as you steal a glance at your pocketwatch
  1961. >It was not even ten AM yet
  1962. “This will be a long day.”
  1965. >After drinking your tea, you and Miss Redheart started your work day together
  1966. >It began like most others, with the two of you making your morning rounds through the patient’s dormitories
  1967. >Of the hundreds of people committed here, you only personally oversaw a handful
  1968. >With how much work you put into running the facility, you could really only focus so much on psychiatric work itself
  1969. >However, that started to change a bit lately
  1970. >In the past, you normally sped through your morning rounds
  1971. >You would visit each of your patients and share a few quick words, ask them several broad questions as to how they felt, and then move on
  1972. >These days, you tried to stretch this part of your work a bit longer
  1973. >You found that you were learning much more about each of your patients and their disorders the more time you spent engaging them in casual conversation, much as you did with a very special patient of yours
  1974. >It might have simply been your imagination, but it also seemed like many of them were in higher spirits since you began this practice
  1975. >”Doctor?”
  1976. “Yes Miss Redheart?”
  1977. >”It’s almost noon.”
  1978. >You frown as you look at the time and confirm that you have been more or less conversing with your patients for nearly two hours
  1979. >In your tired state it must have been easier to lose track of time, or so you reason
  1980. >Redheart scribbles on her clipboard a bit more as you stifle another yawn
  1981. “Who’s left?”
  1982. >”Only Miss Sweet.”
  1983. >You smile at her as you march down the hall with a spring in your step
  1984. “Let’s see if she’s handling the morning any better than I am.”
  1985. >Nurse Redheart fails to respond as she flips through a few pages on her clipboard while keeping pace with you
  1986. >Standing before the door, you take a moment to fix your tie before you raise a fist to knock
  1987. >”Hold on Doctor.”
  1988. “Hm? What’s wrong?”
  1989. >”Look inside.”
  1992. >You peer into Sour Sweet’s room through the glass window and see that the lights are out
  1993. >Squinting your eyes, you can see she is still asleep
  1994. >Gently leaning your shoulder against her door, you take a moment to admire how peaceful and content she looks as she lies there under the covers
  1995. >”I told the orderlies to let Sour Sweet sleep in after I brought her back to her room.”
  1996. “That was very nice of you.”
  1997. >Redheart shrugs her shoulders nonchalantly as she tucks her clipboard underneath her arm
  1998. “She seemed quite happy last night, didn’t she?”
  1999. >”Yes Doctor.”
  2000. >You step away from the door and smile down at Redheart, whose stony expression begins to crumble away
  2001. “Things turned out wonderfully. Thank you again for your assistance Miss Redheart, I could not have done it all without you.”
  2002. >She sighs before smiling up at you
  2003. >”Just doing my job.”
  2004. >You fold your hands behind your back as you begin to walk away down the hall
  2005. “I’ll come back to check on her in an hour. I'm going to take care of some paperwork in my study until then. Let me know if there’s anything you need.”
  2006. >”I will.”
  2007. >Leaving Miss Redheart behind, you walk down the halls alone back into your home
  2008. >It’s a little strange to have the place be so quiet again after yesterday, though you only have to look around a little to see evidence of what went on last night
  2009. >Your living room is still a mess, with bedsheets and pillows and records all strewn about the place
  2010. >Although you realize you’re the one who will have to clean this up you can’t help but chuckle at it all
  2011. “Well, it’s not as if I was going to have any other guests soon.”
  2012. >Walking back into your study, you take a seat behind your desk and get started on your papers
  2013. >It’s not long after you’ve begun that an idea strikes you
  2016. >Shoving aside a few papers, you reach into your desk and brandish a brown mail folder
  2017. >Carefully opening it up, you slip out a few sheets and grin down at them
  2018. “A few weeks. Just enough time to bring your parents up to speed, and enough time for me to review everything.”
  2019. >You lean back into your chair as you raise the Patient Release Forms in front of your face
  2020. “I know you can’t wait.”
  2021. >Laying the forms down on your desk, you take out a pen and begin to sign the first sheet
  2022. >True, this might have been a little premature
  2023. >You wouldn’t be able to show her most of these for at least another few days
  2024. >Still, you were confident that it was only a matter of time now before she could go home
  2025. >She had come a long way
  2026. “You have no idea how proud I am of you.”
  2027. >Just as you were about to finish the first form, your hand freezes
  2028. >The pen hovers over a half-finished signature
  2029. “You have no idea how much I will miss you.”
  2030. >It had been a month and one day since Sour Sweet had come here
  2031. >When you first looked at her and saw with your own eyes how miserable she was, it became impossible for you to get her out of your mind
  2032. >You had to do everything you could for her
  2033. “That’s what love is isn’t it? Being willing and able to do whatever it takes to make someone happy?”
  2034. >The pen fell out of your trembling hand as you stared down at the release form
  2035. >Rising out of your seat, you stomp away from your desk and stare out your window as a myriad of anxious thoughts flood through your mind
  2036. >You wondered what the future would have in store for Miss Sweet after she left your institution?
  2037. “Does this future, have a place for me?"
  2040. >You knew this was coming
  2041. >Miss Redheart had even warned you of this yet you refused to acknowledge it before
  2042. >Now that this dilemma was staring you dead in the face, it was as if all your repressed fears had manifested
  2043. >A part of you was definitely worried that she might regress, that her condition would worsen without your presence in her life
  2044. >However, you were ashamed to admit that it was more than that
  2045. “What am I going to do without you?”
  2046. >You groan to yourself as you run a hand through your hair and begin to pace about your study
  2047. >Sour Sweet had become very special to you, so much so that you dreaded the idea of losing her
  2048. “Perhaps… no, no… Bah!”
  2049. >You are fully aware that you are muttering to yourself as you pace about, yet you carry on
  2050. >You’ve oft heard people say that talking to oneself is an obvious sign of mental instability
  2051. “What would they know?”
  2052. >Sighing to yourself, you take a seat back behind your desk as your eyes fall upon the release forms
  2053. >You wondered to yourself, what did you really want for Sour Sweet?
  2054. >If you were completely successful in rehabilitating her, then she would leave this place
  2055. >She would be able to mend her relationship with her family and return to school
  2056. >There would no longer be a reason for you to watch over her, or assist her with her studies
  2057. >In time she would grow up, perhaps attend a university and pursue a career of her own choosing
  2058. >She might eventually go on to be quite successful, or so you hoped
  2059. “Maybe you’d find love? Someone who cares about you as deeply as I do, someone that could provide for you. Someone younger…”
  2060. >You sigh again as you slump back in your seat
  2061. >Maybe you WERE going mad?
  2064. >Sitting there in silence for quite some time, you became lost in your depressing musings
  2065. >Then you began to wonder, could there be an alternative?
  2066. >A way for both of you to be together, and for her to still find happiness?
  2067. >But what could that be?
  2068. “Could you somehow stay here, with me?”
  2069. >Was it at all possible for her to remain with you?
  2070. “I could prolong your stay here, that would perfectly be within my power, but… that would be terrible! NO!”
  2071. >You slam a hand down upon your desk as your anger flares
  2072. “How could I even think of such a thing? What kind of monster would that make me!?”
  2073. >Reaching back for your pen, you force yourself to finish writing your signature on Miss Sweet’s first release form
  2074. >Then you instantly get to work on the one after that
  2075. “I will not keep you locked up in here. You deserve better than that.”
  2076. >The very idea of forcing her to stay here, of crafting some kind of gilded cage for her to live in, revolts you
  2077. "You deserve better than me.”
  2078. >Your course was clearer than ever now
  2079. >Miss Sweet would have to leave your institution, and it would likely be soon
  2080. >If she truly no longer had need of you after she left, then so be it
  2081. “Should you move on, then that is fine. Even if it is impossible for me to do the same…”
  2082. >A half hour passes until you are finished signing away on these forms
  2083. >There was still a fair amount you couldn’t sign away on until she was truly ready to leave, and there were parts she needed to examine as well
  2084. >This was far more difficult to take care of than you originally imagined
  2085. “I think I need a drink.”
  2086. >You step away from your desk only to stop yourself just before you could leave your study
  2087. >It was only the middle of the day, and you still had a lot of work to attend to
  2088. “It’ll have to wait.”
  2089. >Turning back, you sit down in your seat and glance over what work you had left
  2090. >It is then, that your phone begins to ring
  2094. >You sigh before putting on a smile and answering your phone
  2095. “Hello?”
  2096. >”Anon.”
  2097. “Miss Redheart?”
  2098. >”Anon, there’s someone here at the front desk who wants to speak with you.”
  2099. >Your eyes narrow as you press the phone closer to your ear
  2100. >Redheart was speaking just above a whisper
  2101. “Is something wrong? Who is there?”
  2102. >”i-It’s a police officer.”
  2103. >You feel your heart skip a beat as you fall silent
  2104. >The phone shakes slightly in your hand
  2105. “Come again?”
  2106. >”The officer says he needs to speak with you about a patient of yours…”
  2107. “I see…”
  2108. >You rise back up to your feet, clearing your throat so that you can force out a response
  2109. “Tell him I am coming right now. I should be there in just a few minutes.”
  2110. >”y-Yes Doctor…”
  2111. >You drop the phone back down and aimlessly stare out toward your door
  2112. “What have I done?”
  2113. >After shaking your head a bit, you step away from your desk and out of your home into the facility
  2114. >You almost feel as if you are walking to your own execution
  2115. “How?! How did they find out? Damn it all…”
  2116. >If this was about you and Sour Sweet as you feared, then this could truly be a disaster
  2117. >You might lose your medical license, your job and your home…
  2118. “What would happen to Miss Sweet?”
  2119. >You stop in your tracks as that single question shocks you
  2120. >What would this all mean for Sour Sweet’s rehabilitation?
  2121. >Her parents might move her out of your facility, put her somewhere else
  2122. >Somewhere less capable of dealing with her condition
  2123. “What if they disregard everything I told them to do. Then what?!”
  2124. >Your hands grip into shaking fists as you take in a sharp breathe
  2125. “I won’t let that happen.”
  2128. >You stomp down the hall as dark thoughts flash through your mind yet again
  2129. “They can’t prove anything without concrete evidence. Perhaps I could even buy a few of them off… maybe my name in the medical community might even help out.”
  2130. >Anything and everything was on the table
  2131. >You could lose it all, even be thrown behind bars for all you cared, but you refused to let anything at all interfere with Sour Sweet’s treatment
  2132. >Nothing else mattered to you
  2133. >After running through a number of scenarios and how you might be able to influence them all, you eventually find yourself inside the front desk lobby
  2134. >Behind the counter stands Nurse Redheart, who nervously glances back at you
  2135. >On the other side of the counter stands what appears to be a state trooper, wearing a brown wide brimmed hat and a pair of aviator sunglasses
  2136. >”Are you Dr. Anonymous?”
  2137. >With some difficulty, you force on a smile and walk up to him with your hand raised
  2138. “That is correct. Hello Officer…?”
  2139. >”Armor, Shining Armor.”
  2140. >He grabs your hand and gives you a firm handshake
  2141. >”I’m here to speak with you about a young patient of yours named Sour Sweet.”
  2142. >You grip his hand tightly as you give him a slightly intense grin
  2143. “And why is that Officer Armor?”
  2144. >He removes his hand from your grasp as he stares you down
  2145. >”Can we sit down and discuss this?”
  2146. “Of course. Miss Redheart?”
  2147. >”y-Yes Doctor?”
  2148. “Please help us set aside some space to talk in private.”
  2149. >”Right away…”
  2150. >You are able to maintain a veneer of polite friendliness as you walk beside the officer into a small meeting room
  2151. >”Has anyone else been playing a special role in Sour Sweet’s treatment?”
  2152. “Aside from myself? No, with perhaps the exception of Miss Redheart.”
  2153. >She shudders slightly as she stands off to the side
  2154. >”Then she should likely stay as well.”
  2155. >You chuckle at him
  2156. “Why is that necessary? Would you care to tell us what brings you here today Officer Armor?”
  2160. >It takes every ounce of willpower you have to keep up your calm facade, as powerful feelings of fear and anger bubble beneath the surface
  2161. >Then, just as it seemed your impatience might sooner or later get the better of you, something completely unexpected happened
  2162. >Shining Armor sighed at you and took off his hat as he laid his sunglasses down on the counter
  2163. >He stared at you with tired eyes, as if he had been up all night as well
  2164. >”There’s really no easy way to say this.”
  2165. >Your friendly expression fell as you stared at him with a blank look
  2166. >While you waited for him to continue, you realized how extremely surreal this all was
  2167. >Many things did not add up
  2168. >Sending a lone state police officer to accuse you of having a relationship with your underage patient, completely unannounced and without any prior warning at all?
  2169. >If he was here to arrest you, then he would not have come alone and he would have shown you a warrant by now
  2170. >Something was wrong
  2171. >Very very wrong
  2172. >”Last night during the blizzard, I was called on to assist in a car crash that occurred just over thirty miles away from your hospital here. A car slid off the road, and it’s two occupants suffered critical injuries when the vehicle crashed into a ditch. Because of how bad the roads were, emergency vehicles showed up too late to save them.”
  2173. “w-What? A car crash? What does this have to do with me or… Miss Sweet?”
  2174. >Shining Armor rubbed a hand over his head as you gaped at him in horror
  2175. >”This morning we were able to identify the crash victims as Mr. and Mrs. Sweet.”
  2176. >Miss Redheart gasped as you stood motionless in front of Officer Armor
  2177. >You felt as if you were struck completely dumb by lightning
  2178. “Sour Sweet’s parents are dead?”
  2179. >”I’m afraid so…”
  2180. >”Oh my God.”
  2181. >Your body shook as the full force of what Officer Armor just said washed over you like a tidal wave
  2182. “This… this is…”
  2183. >You placed a hand over your eyes as you sputtered in horror
  2188. >Everything had been going so well up until now
  2189. >You identified that Sour Sweet’s psychosis was linked with her relationship with her parents, and now it seemed as if you had managed to reason with them
  2190. >There would have been a serious effort to mend their relationship, and Miss Sweet would have been given a chance to go home and live a normal happy life
  2191. >Now she had no home to return to
  2192. “Dear God…”
  2193. >You now wished he could have been here to arrest you
  2194. >There could have been a way for you to fix that, but you know that no wealth or cunning can bring the dead back to life
  2195. >”Anonymous…”
  2196. >You felt Miss Redheart’s hand fall over your shoulder as you trembled
  2197. >Shining Armor sighed at the two of you
  2198. >”I came here so I could tell their daughter what happened…. I wasn’t really sure why she was here in the first place, but someone had to deliver the bad news. I’m very sorry.”
  2199. >Hanging your head, your body slumped as you slowly regained your composure
  2200. “i-I should be the one. The one to tell her…”
  2201. >The officer frowned at you for a few moments
  2202. >”If you think that is best.”
  2203. “Tell me everything, don’t leave anything out.”
  2204. >You collapsed into a seat as Officer Armor loomed over you and explained how it all went down
  2205. >It was difficult to pay attention, but you forced yourself to hear it all in case Miss Sweet asked you any specific questions
  2206. >Miss Redheart took a seat by your side and slipped a hand into yours, gripping you tightly as she whispered
  2207. >”Anon, are you sure you can do this?”
  2208. “I have to… I have no choice. It has to be me.”
  2209. >”But Dr.—“
  2210. “I know what it means—“
  2211. >You look away from her as you grip her hand back
  2212. “… to lose your family.”
  2215. >After all had been said and done, you steeled yourself for the task at hand
  2216. >You trudged down the cold empty hall with Redheart and Officer Armor following closely behind
  2217. >Your gaze was fixed toward the ground as your hands remained stuffed inside your pockets
  2218. >It all felt to you like a cruel joke
  2219. >A random and spiteful act of fate, perhaps a punishment from God or some such
  2220. >You sigh as you feel Miss Redheart’s hand fall over your shoulder
  2221. >The three of you now stand in front of the door to Miss Sweet’s room
  2222. >It is still dark inside, and when you peer in you see that she is still fast asleep
  2223. >She still has that same beautiful smile on her face
  2224. “Wait here.”
  2225. >You took out your keyring and slowly unlocked the her room
  2226. >Stepping inside, you gently shut the door and walked over to her
  2227. >You took a seat on the bed by her side as you tried your hardest to compose your thoughts
  2228. >How could you explain this to her?
  2229. >What could you possibly do to make this right?
  2230. >For the first in a very long time, you felt completely powerless
  2231. >You bury your face in your hands as you sit there
  2232. >”Morning Doctor~.”
  2233. >Her gentle voice greets you as she stirs and sits up
  2234. >You cannot bring yourself to look at her
  2235. >”Hey, Anon.”
  2236. >You feel the bed stir more abruptly as she sits up completely and reaches out to you
  2237. >”Dr. Anon? What’s with you?"
  2238. >Sour Sweet grasps onto your arm and shakes you slightly, forcing you to look at her
  2239. >Her stern gaze instantly softens when she looks into your eyes
  2240. “Good morning Miss Sweet."
  2241. >”What’s the matter?”
  2244. “Your parents’ car crashed on the way home from here last night. They’re dead.”
  2245. >Sour Sweet blinks at you a few times as she sits in silence
  2246. >She tilts her head and wipes a strand of hair from her face as she stares at you intensely
  2247. >”What did you say?”
  2248. >You can see fear flash through her eyes as she leans closer
  2249. >”i-I don’t think I heard you.”
  2250. >Her eyes narrow as she lays her hand back on your arm
  2251. >”Did you say my parents were—t-that my mom and dad…”
  2252. >You frowned gloomily at her, the intense expression on her face becoming more and more desperate
  2253. “I’m sorry… I am so very sorry…”
  2254. >Her eyes widen and her hand falls into her lap
  2255. >”t-They were j-just here yesterday. You said they came here to see me. There’s no way…”
  2256. >Her hands grip her sheets tightly as she grits her teeth
  2257. >”They can’t be dead! YOU’RE LYING!”
  2258. >In the blink of an eye, Sour Sweet pounces onto you
  2259. >Your jaw drops as she pushes you back, nearly pinning you down to the bed as she grasps you by the collar of your coat
  2260. >”WHY!? Why would you lie to me!? Did you think this would make me happy!?”
  2261. “Miss Sweet…”
  2262. >Her vicious glare falters as tears stream down her face
  2263. >”Tell me it’s a lie… it’s not true is it? y-You were just playing a joke right!? Or is this some kind of test?! I’m OK Anon, I’m not crazy see?! That means I passed! TELL ME YOU’RE LYING!”
  2264. >Sour Sweet shakes as she looks pleadingly at you
  2265. >It only it were a lie
  2266. >You clench your eyes shut in shame as she holds you close
  2267. “I’m so sorry.”
  2269. >Sour Sweet chokes back a sob as she releases you from her grip
  2270. >Her body quivers as her gaze falls downwards
  2271. >In one moment it appears that she is about to scream out in rage, and in the other it look as if she is about to faint
  2272. >”i-If I didn’t turn them away… i-i-if I was normal then—“
  2273. “No!”
  2274. >You lean closer to her with a look of determination
  2275. “None of this is your fault. You could never have prevented this.”
  2276. >”Oh God why!? FUCK!!!”
  2277. >You recoil in shock as Sour Sweet cries out, her hands reaching up and tearing at her hair
  2278. “Sour Sweet!”
  2279. >Reaching out, you grasp hold of her wrists and pull her hands loose before she can hurt herself
  2280. >As she begins to sob in earnest, the two of you wrap your arms around each other
  2281. >You hold her close as her tears fall against your coat
  2282. >”i-I never meant… I never meant those things I said… I can’t control myself, I—“
  2283. “Shhhhh…”
  2284. >You gently shush her as she lays into you
  2285. >Her body continues to shake as you gently hold her steady
  2286. “You have nothing to be apologize for. This… you don’t deserve any of this.”
  2287. >The two of you remain locked together, unwilling to part from one another
  2288. >When you had lost your own family, there was no one there to comfort you
  2289. >You will not leave her side, no matter how long she needs you
  2290. >As you embrace her, you shamefully think to yourself
  2291. 'Was this what I had wanted. To have you all to myself?'
  2292. >Fresh tears begin to stream down your own face as she continues to cry
  2293. 'If only I could have died instead.’
  2294. >”d-Dr. Anon…”
  2295. “Miss Sweet…"
  2298. while and… and they had an argument…”
  2299. >You sigh at Redheart, rubbing a hand over your forehead
  2300. >”Doctor, are you still feeling unwell? You look pale.”
  2301. “I am fine.”
  2302. >Before she can speak again, you turn your back on her and march up to the sobbing nurse
  2303. >She perks up and stares at you
  2304. >The young lady looks afraid, as if you were here to punish her
  2305. >As her hand rises over her bruised eye, you look down at her and sigh
  2306. >”s-Sir, i-I didn’t mean to… s-she just, I was so—“
  2307. “I would like for you to take the rest of the evening off.”
  2308. >The young lady freezes as you gaze down at her
  2309. “If you aren’t feeling well enough then you can take tomorrow evening off as well. I will see to it that you are still compensated.”
  2312. >”t-Thank you Sir…”
  2313. >Turning your back on her as well, you begin to march toward the hallway that leads to the patient dormitories
  2314. >Nurse Redheart quickly joins your side as you walk away
  2315. >”Anon, are you going to see her now?”
  2316. “Of course. I need to—"
  2317. >”Dr. Anonymous hang on!”
  2318. >You stop dead in your tracks as the orderly who had been comforting that nurse walks up and stands in front of you and Redheart, blocking your way
  2319. >He regards you with a serious and somewhat incensed frown
  2320. “Yes?…”
  2321. >”Dr. Anonymous. I know you’ve put special restrictions on how to handle Patient 209’s behavior but—“
  2322. “She is a person not a number. Call her by her name.”
  2323. >He grimaces as he folds his arms over his chest
  2324. >”Right… Miss Sour, I know her condition is ‘special’ and all, but she’s been such a handful lately and now she’s even started lashing out at us just like when she first got here!”
  2325. >Your hands clench into fists by your sides
  2326. “I am fully aware of that, I don’t need you to remind me.”
  2327. >His eyes narrow at you as he becomes increasingly exasperated
  2328. >”Well… I was thinking since her behavior was becoming more erratic, that you’d reconsider letting us apply sedatives the next time she—“
  2329. “No.”
  2330. >The hallways falls silent for a moment as you and the orderly stare each other down
  2331. >”Sir, how do you expect us to—“
  2332. “I EXPECT you to do your job. If you are incapable of physically handling a sixteen year old girl then perhaps you should consider a different line of work.”
  2333. >The orderly takes a step back from you as his arms fall to his sides
  2334. “Now if you’ll excuse me…”
  2335. >You stomp past him as he gawks at you, a stunned Nurse Redheart quickly rejoining your side
  2338. >Nurse Redheart remains silent as she gazes down at the ground, though you have the distinct feeling that she wishes to speak
  2339. “Something on your mind?”
  2340. >”o-Oh, no.”
  2341. “Do you agree with him?”
  2342. >She picks her head up and stares at you with a blank look
  2343. >Nurse Redheart takes a deep breath before speaking up
  2344. >”I think you know how best to handle Sour Sweet, but…”
  2345. >She stops you by placing a hand over your shoulder
  2346. >”I’m very worried about both of you. I’ve never seen you so—“
  2347. “I said I am fine. There is nothing to be concerned about.”
  2348. >With that you tear your shoulder away from her grasp and continue to march on toward Miss Sweet’s room
  2349. >”Bullshit!”
  2350. >You slow to a halt as Redheart’s outburst echoes down the halls
  2351. >Turning around, you are treated to a fierce stare from her as she walks up and gets into your face
  2352. >”You can’t just tell me you’re fine when you’ve been acting like this for over a week! Doctor I need you to talk to me.”
  2353. “What is there to say?”
  2354. >Nurse Redheart opens her mouth but stops herself
  2355. >She is clearly frustrated, though she is making a concentrated effort to keep herself from laying into you
  2356. >”Do you blame yourself for what happened to her?”
  2357. “That’s ridiculous. I am fully aware that there are matters outside of my control—“
  2358. >You stop to raise a arm over your mouth and cough
  2359. >Redheart takes a step back as you hack violently into your coat
  2360. ”I could never have predicted that everything would end up like this, but that doesn’t matter. I will pick up the pieces, and I will fix everything as best I can. That’s all I can do…”
  2361. >As you turn away once again and return to your solemn march, you hear Nurse Redheart mutter after you
  2362. >”You don’t have to do this alone…”
  2365. >You wonder to yourself, as you grow closer to Miss Sweet’s quarters, if you truly believe your own words?
  2366. >Is it really so unreasonable to think that maybe you could have done things differently?
  2367. >You knew where Miss Sweet’s parents had lived, you could have visited them on your own time and confronted them sooner
  2368. >Maybe if you had paid better attention to the weather, or perhaps if you had tried harder to have Miss Sweet meet with them…
  2369. >Was there anything you could have done differently, or were things destined to turn out this way?
  2370. “Is there really nothing I could have done?"
  2371. >You dwell on these thoughts so intensely that you fail to realize that you’ve walked right past Sour Sweet’s room
  2372. >Walking back, you stand before her room and knock against the door
  2373. “Miss Sweet, I would like to speak with you. May I come in?”
  2374. >Peering inside, you see Sour Sweet sitting atop her bed
  2375. >She stares down at the floor with an empty gaze, her long frazzled hair stretching over her shoulders while her hands lay folded over her lap
  2376. >Sour Sweet does not offer you a response other than a slow nod at the door
  2377. >You step inside the room and gently close the door behind you
  2378. >”Hello Anon…”
  2379. “Hello Miss Sweet.”
  2380. >Marching up to her, you take a seat on the bed next to her
  2381. >Sour Sweet lowers her head and stares downwards once more
  2382. >”I’m sorry…”
  2383. “Hm?”
  2384. >”The nurse. She was trying to be nice, but I blew up. I really didn’t want to leave my room and… a-and…”
  2385. >Lifting your head up toward her, you see that Sour Sweet has begun to tremble by your side with her arms hugging herself tightly as she shakes
  2386. >”i-I fucked up again, I can't—“
  2387. >You wrap your arms around her, silencing her for the moment and quelling her trembling
  2388. “You can apologize to her when you see her next, and then that will be the end of that.”
  2389. >Sour Sweet sniffles to herself, choking back a sob as she returns your embrace
  2392. >You can feel your cold body warming up from her touch as the two of you lock together
  2393. >For that brief moment where the two of you are together, it is as if everything is right with the world
  2394. >That feeling does not last long
  2395. >”d-Dr Anon, I was thinking…”
  2396. “Yes?”
  2397. >She releases her hold over you and shuffles back, her hands instead falling into your grip
  2398. >”i-I don’t want to hurt anyone again… m-maybe we should, maybe you should… prescribe me something?”
  2399. >Your eyes widen as you stare at her
  2400. “You want me to medicate you?”
  2401. >”i-If you think it will make me stop being like…. like this.”
  2402. >You stare at her intensely, and she almost seems to wither under your gaze
  2403. “I don’t think that would help at all.”
  2404. >”I promise I won’t freak out again, maybe you could even put me in a more private room, one where I can't—“
  2405. “Are you asking me if I should put you in a padded cell?”
  2406. >Your hands tighten around hers as your heart begins to race
  2407. ”No, none of that is necessary.”
  2408. >Sour Sweet falls silent as she looks down at her hands, which remain firmly locked in your grasp
  2409. “I will take other measures to help ensure everyone’s safety, but if I were to do the things you ask of me they would only hurt you.”
  2410. >”Don’t I deserve it?”
  2411. “What?!”
  2412. >She recoils from you, her hands breaking free and rising up to the sides of her head as if she were about to pull at her hair
  2413. >”I’m sorry! I just don’t want to be a burden to you too. I’m so sorry, I’m such a fucking—“
  2414. “I love you.”
  2415. >Her trembling ceases as she stares up at you with wide eyes
  2416. >You raise your hands up and hold onto her’s once more, dropping one back into her lap and lifting the other to rest against your cheek
  2417. “You could never be a burden to me.”
  2418. >She chokes back another sob as tears fall down her cheeks
  2419. >”I love you too.”
  2422. >You spend at least an hour with her there as the two of you comfort one another
  2423. >”p-Please don’t leave me.”
  2424. “I will stay here as long as you’d like.”
  2425. >She nervously runs a hand through her hair
  2426. >”Maybe I can spend the night at your place again? Just like you let me do before?”
  2427. >You stare at her with a blank look as her words bounce around in your head
  2428. >It’s easy to imagine what might happen were she to join you in your home
  2429. >Neither of you might be able to help yourselves
  2430. “I will stay here as long as you’d like, I can even stay here the entire night if you’d like, but I don’t think we should return to my home.”
  2431. >Sour Sweet looks somewhat disappointed as she sighs wistfully at you
  2432. >It was tempting you admit, but you could never forgive yourself if you took advantage of her right now
  2433. >”c-Could you maybe just stay until I fall asleep?”
  2434. >You smile at her as you continue to hold her hand
  2435. “Of course.”
  2436. >She smiles at you, and you are delighted to see her eyes flash a bit more intensely at you
  2437. >One of the first hints of cheerfulness she’s shown since you’ve joined her
  2438. >She wraps her arms back around your waist
  2439. >”You’re too good to me~.”
  2440. >You chuckle down at her and run a hand through her long hair
  2441. “You are a blessing to me.”
  2442. >Another hour passes by as the two of you quietly enjoy each other’s presence
  2443. >Eventually you lose track of time completely
  2444. >All concerns and duties of yours slip away
  2445. >If not for the gloominess of it all, you can almost imagine being with her in another time and place
  2446. >She always said she wanted to travel, it’s very pleasant to imagine taking her away somewhere and showing her the world
  2447. >You wonder, maybe she is thinking the same thing as you right now?
  2448. >The two of you, happy and free together, inside of your minds
  2451. >At some point, Sour Sweet peacefully falls asleep into your grasp
  2452. >Gently laying her down, you place the covers over her and shut off the lights
  2453. “Good night Miss Sweet.”
  2454. >The hallway seems completely devoid of life and as quiet as the grave as you step down through the dormitory and march back to your home
  2455. >A feeling of cold emptiness comes over you on your lonesome walk back until you once again step over the threshold into your foyer
  2456. >Shutting the heavy door and latching the bolts over it, you sigh as you walk through the empty hall
  2457. >You can clearly remember the night where you first led Miss Sweet through here and proudly declared how this home of yours was like an impregnable fortress
  2458. 'My home is built like a castle. No one can hurt you here.'
  2459. >'A castle huh? Would that make me like a princess then?'
  2460. 'If you would like to think of it that way, then by all means… your highness.’
  2461. >You sigh as the sounds of her amused laughter echo in your mind
  2462. “How much simpler things seemed then…”
  2463. >Shaking your head, you walk out of the foyer into your living room
  2464. >Bright embers still flicker within the fireplace as the last vestiges of the fire you lit hours ago begin to die down
  2465. >You can still see a few of your records lying about around your turntable, the remnants of a much happier occasion
  2466. >Stepping down in front of it, you decide on a whim to throw on some music
  2467. >You pick out a record and dust off the cover
  2468. “Johann Brahm’s Piano Concerto #1…”
  2469. >A small smirk forms on your lips as you drop the record into the recorder and play it
  2470. >The beginning of the song is somewhat loud and bombastic, at least compared to what comes after that
  2471. >There was a reason for that, or so you had heard
  2472. >Apparently a very close friend of Brahms attempted suicide just as he began to compose this piece
  2473. >If you recall correctly, that same friend of his was confined to an asylum soon afterwards
  2474. “How fitting."
  2477. >You sigh as you stand there and listen to the music for the first minute or so
  2478. >The roaring thunder outside rumbles along with the music, though when you glance outside you can see that the rain has become snow once again
  2479. “Make up your damn mind."
  2480. >When you’ve had your fill of this, you walk away from the record player and reach inside a cabinet
  2481. >Brandishing a bottle of bourbon and a small glass, you pour yourself a drink
  2482. >After filling your glass, you lay the bottle down and stare at the liquor in your hand
  2483. >It would be easy enough to drown yourself in this and yet the idea of doing so disgusts you
  2484. >The glass shakes in your hand as you grit your teeth
  2485. >You sneer at the glass as you let go of it and grasp the bottle instead
  2486. >Walking away from the cabinet, you glare down at the bourbon as you stomp toward your fireplace
  2487. “It would be so easy wouldn’t it? Just drink away all my problems?”
  2488. >Your eyes narrow as you glower at it in the dying light of your fireplace
  2489. “Like taking medication.”
  2490. >Sour Sweet’s tearful miserable cries for help haunt you even now, filling you with rage
  2491. >Raising the bottle up high, you toss it as hard as you can into the fireplace
  2492. >The bottle crashes into glass pieces while the bourbon splatters over the embers, reigniting the fireplace in a huge blaze
  2493. >Your face is lit up as you stare unblinkingly into the flames
  2494. >You raise a hand over your mouth and stifle another rough cough, using another hand to lean against the wall
  2495. “Never…. I’ll never give up on you.”
  2496. >Suddenly, a chill goes up your spine while you stare down at the flames, as if a cold wind had blown in
  2497. >Your record player stops as you turn your head and glance back
  2498. SPOILER "Who is there?” SPOILER
  2501. >With a sense of dread filling your heart, you slowly turn about and stare into the darkness of your living room
  2502. >In the light of the flames, you spot something odd within your shadow
  2503. “What in God’s name…?”
  2504. >You recoil in horror as a dark figure emerges out of your shadow and looms over you
  2505. >Eyes like shiftless storm clouds swirl above its fanged maw which is twisted into a monstrous smile
  2506. >Large seemingly gloved hands, almost like claws, extend from its tall black form by its terrifying face as it grins down at you with evil intent
  2507. “What the Hell are you!?”
  2508. >A malicious cackle resounds as the thing shakes in laughter
  2509. >As horrifying as it all is, its laughter forces you to stop and stare at it in awe
  2510. >It sounded so much like…
  2511. “Miss Sweet?"
  2512. >Your eyes widen as you drink in its appearance more fully
  2513. >You recognize the hair, or at least the likeness of hair, on its shadowy head
  2514. >It appears to be done in buns, very similar to what you saw Miss Sweet wear weeks ago when you interviewed her
  2515. “w-What are you? Answer me!”
  2516. >The creature continues to laugh at you, clearly finding whatever you had to say immensely amusing
  2517. >It’s mouth opens wide, exhaling a cool gasp of air upon you as it answers
  2518. >”I’m yours…”
  2519. “y-Your mine?”
  2520. >You grit your teeth, it’s mocking voice frustrating you
  2521. >”Isn’t that what you wanted Doctor? To have me all to yourself?”
  2522. >The figure slowly hovers towards you, its long hands stretched out open as if to embrace you
  2523. >You take a step back toward the fire as it comes closer
  2524. “Stay away!”
  2525. >The monster shrieks in delight, its horrifying laugh seemingly surrounding you
  2528. >You feel as if you truly must have gone mad
  2529. >There’s no other way for you to explain this
  2530. “I never wanted any of this!”
  2531. >The monster lowers its face down towards you and leers
  2532. >”Remember the things you told her parents, how happy it made you to see them so miserable!”
  2533. >You narrow your eyes as it raises it’s arm around you, its hand hovering over your shoulder
  2534. >”Have you been thinking about what their last moments must have been like? They died knowing they had RUINED their daughter’s life, and it was all thanks to you~.”
  2535. >Your body begins to tremble as you stare the monster down
  2536. “What’s the point of all this?”
  2537. >”My point is that you are an evil man doctor, so you might as well look at the bright side of things and be happy that you can have her all to yourself.”
  2538. “I’m an evil man…?”
  2539. >It nods its head at you, it’s sickly smile widening from from ear to ear
  2540. “Who are you—what right do you have?! No… NO!”
  2541. >The shadow backs away from you, its terrifying grin faltering
  2542. “I do not care what you think. I do not care what you are! I do not care if I am Good or Evil, all that matters to me is securing her happiness!”
  2543. >You stomp toward the shadowy thing as it continues to slink away from you
  2544. “Accursed shadow! She’s going to get better, and she’s going to be free from this place SO HELP ME GOD!”
  2545. >A flash of lightning crackles across the room and you gaze upon its full form
  2546. >It suddenly appears so much smaller and weaker
  2547. >You’ve had enough
  2548. >You reach inside your coat and shout
  2549. “I REJECT YOU!”
  2550. >You whip out your pistol and fire a deafening blast upon the monster
  2551. >It howls in agony as your weapon lights up the room
  2552. >And then it is gone
  2555. >The room falls silent, save for the crackle of your fireplace and the winds of the storm outside, as you stare down your smoking gun
  2556. >No monster or anyone else is here, just you
  2557. >You exhale a ragged sigh as you lower your family’s pistol
  2558. >Walking across the room, you spot a small hole in the wall from where your bullet had landed
  2559. >Wiping a hand over your face, you place the gun down on an adjacent bookshelf and take another deep breathe to calm your nerves
  2560. >Strangely enough, you feel better
  2561. >It’s almost as if a weight has been lifted from your shoulders
  2562. >You still must question the state of mind you are in for you to experience something like this
  2563. >Perhaps your terrible cold combined with all the stress you had been experiencing had caused you to hallucinate and your mind simply latched onto the concept of the Shadow that Miss Sweet hallucinated about before?
  2564. >Or perhaps it was all real, and there existed far more terrible things than you had previously thought possible?
  2565. >In either case, you had a feeling that whatever it was had fled
  2566. >You shake your head and smile
  2567. “I have nothing to fear.”
  2568. >Your heart stopped as a loud banging noise echoed over to you
  2569. >Grabbing your gun once more, you walked out of the living room only for you to hear a voice
  2570. >”Dr. Anonymous! Anonymous!”
  2571. “Miss Redheart?”
  2572. >You slip the firearm back into your coat and walk over to the padlocked door that leads into your institution
  2573. >Quickly undoing the latches, you open the door to see Nurse Redheart quaking behind it
  2576. “Miss Redheart, what is wrong?”
  2577. >Fate had for whatever reason decreed that she become something of a bearer of bad news as of late
  2578. >”i-I heard something!”
  2579. “Heard something?”
  2580. >”I was walking by and I thought I heard a gunshot!”
  2581. >Your eyes widen as Miss Redheart’s breathing slows down
  2582. “Perhaps what you heard was the thunder outside?”
  2583. >She groans as she rubs a hand over her forehead
  2584. “What did you think happened?”
  2585. >”i-I don’t know…”
  2586. >She heard a gunshot coming from your home as she was walking by, and she immediately began pounding at your door
  2587. >It was almost as if she thought…
  2588. “Oh, I see.”
  2589. >Her face reddens with embarrassment
  2590. >”I should go”
  2591. >She places a hand over her eyes and turns away from you
  2592. “Wait!”
  2593. >You reach out and lightly grasp her arm
  2594. “You said earlier that you wanted to talk right? I'd really appreciate the company right now.”
  2595. >Nurse Redheart frowns at you as she jerks her arm out of your grasp
  2596. >”So now you want to talk?”
  2597. >You sigh back at her
  2598. “I'm sorry for the way I’ve been acting lately.”
  2599. >After a few moments, Miss Redheart cracks a small smile and walks inside your home
  2600. “Would you like me to make some tea?”
  2601. >”Yes please."
  2604. >The next day rolls by and finds you strolling down the hallways of the patient’s dormitories
  2605. >After taking a good look at yourself in the mirror that morning, you went through a fair amount of effort cleaning yourself up
  2606. >You gave yourself a fresh shave, applied a little cologne, and wore a suit and overcoat that you typically reserved for the few occasions you went out
  2607. >Jovially walking through the halls with a smile on your face, you carefully cradled a small box under your arm
  2608. >Turning on a dime, you stood at attention before Sour Sweet’s door and knocked
  2609. “Miss Sweet? I hope you’re not still asleep in there. It’s half past noon!”
  2610. >You look inside and see Sour Sweet shuffle out of bed with a groggy look on her face
  2611. >The door slowly swings open and she stares at you curiously
  2612. >”g-Good morning Dr. Anon.”
  2613. >You chuckle at her
  2614. “Good morning Miss Sweet, how are you feeling?”
  2615. >”OK I guess… what’s that under your arm?”
  2616. “This? THIS is for you.”
  2617. >”Huh?”
  2618. >She quirks an eyebrow up at you before staring down at the box
  2619. >Without skipping a beat, you drop the box into her hands and step inside her room
  2620. “Go ahead, open it.”
  2621. >”d-Doctor! You didn’t have to give me anything!”
  2622. “No I didn’t, but I wanted to. Now come on.”
  2623. >She looks back and forth between you and the box before shrugging her shoulders and plopping down on the bed
  2624. >You spot the beginning of a smile on her lips as she opens the box up
  2625. >Her eyes widen as she reaches inside and takes out a winter jacket
  2626. >”Wow, this feels really nice!”
  2627. “I figured pink was your color, though I wasn’t entirely sure I got the size right. Try it on!”
  2628. >Sour Sweet’s smile grows larger as she stands up, tosses the coat on ,and zips it up
  2629. “Well?
  2630. >”It’s a perfect fit~!”
  2633. >You chuckle at her as she looks herself over and stretches her arms out
  2634. ”So I take it you like it?”
  2635. >”I love it~!”
  2636. >Her smile quickly fades as she frowns back at you
  2637. >”You really didn’t have to get me one though. This is too much.”
  2638. “Nonsense, I wanted you to have it so I got it for you. As simple as that.”
  2639. >Her frown disappears, replaced by a somewhat malicious smirk as she plants her hands on her hips
  2640. “Besides, this is part of your treatment.”
  2641. >”Giving me gifts? I think I like this new treatment.”
  2642. “Hahaha, not exactly…”
  2643. >You step away from her and walk toward her window
  2644. “I really enjoyed when the two of us went on walks together early on in your stay here. I feel like that is where we had some of our most productive conversations. Which is why I intend for us to have more of them.”
  2645. >”You mean, like right now?”
  2646. “If you feel up to it.”
  2647. >Sour Sweet stares at you uncertainly, her hand shuffling over her jacket’s sleeve
  2648. >”I guess now would be ok.”
  2649. “Excellent, then I’ll leave whilst you get dressed.”
  2650. >Stepping back outside, you gave Sour Sweet an ample amount of time to fix herself up and prepare for your walk
  2651. >After she came out of her room, you revealed to her that the two of you wouldn’t exactly be alone during your walk
  2652. >”Nurse Redheart?”
  2653. >Redheart stood by your side, somewhat awkwardly rubbing the back of her neck as she forced a smile at her
  2654. >”Good afternoon Sour Sweet.”
  2655. >”Uh, hi.”
  2656. “Well then, let’s get going while the skies are clear. Shall we?.”
  2657. >Leading the way, both Sour Sweet and Nurse Redheart followed closely behind as the three of you entered the grounds
  2660. >"Dr. Anonymous, I’m not entirely sure I feel comfortable with this”
  2661. >You tilt your head toward Nurse Redheart as she whispers up to you
  2662. “Well you said you wished to play a bigger role in her treatment, and I do believe it is good for her to socialize with more people.”
  2663. >”I don’t know if she really likes me that much.”
  2664. “Of course she does, you’re the only nurse whose name she even remembers.”
  2665. >Clearly unconvinced, Redheart sighs at you before folding her arms over her chest
  2666. >A loud gasp from Sour Sweet, who walks about ten yards ahead, confirms that she has found the second gift you had prepared for her
  2667. >”You set it back up!?”
  2668. “Yes! I wanted to see how well you could do if I put the targets back even further, and Miss Redheart here has yet to even see what you can do.”
  2669. >Sour Sweet giggles down at you before jogging out toward the field
  2670. >”I have yet to see what?”
  2671. >Nurse Redheart’s jaw drops as she looks upon the archery range you have erected
  2672. >Her expression darkens when she sees Sour Sweet pick up the bow and quiver of arrows you had left for her
  2673. >”Dr. Anonymous! You can’t give a patient of yours weapons!"
  2674. “Miss Sweet is very adept at archery, I assure you she would never harm us with such weapons. Whether accidentally or otherwise.”
  2675. >”Otherwise? Doctor she’s mentally unst—”
  2676. >”Dr. Anon! Nurse Redheart! Watch this!”
  2677. >You turn your gaze away from Miss Redheart and smile as Sour Sweet notches an arrow and fires it over the field
  2678. >Your grin widens as the arrow whistles through the air and lands directly into the center of the target
  2679. “Excellent shot! Did you see that Miss Redheart?”
  2680. >She sighs as Sour Sweet looks back and gives the two of you a smug smile
  2681. >”Yes… I saw that.”
  2682. >You cup your hands around your mouth and raise your voice
  2683. “That one was a fifty yard target! Do you see the one beyond it? That’s seventy five yards. Think you can hit it?”
  2684. >”Ha! Check this out!”
  2686. >Notching another arrow, Sour Sweet fires at the more distant target
  2687. >It sails over the air and lands just beside, but unfortunately not on, the target
  2688. “Close, but no dice.”
  2689. >Sour Sweet lowers her bow and grimaces over at the target
  2690. >You smile at her as you and Nurse Redheart walk closer to her side
  2691. >”It was the damn wind. Hang on…”
  2692. >Sour Sweet unzips her jacket and quickly tosses it over to you
  2693. >Nurse Redheart is not amused
  2694. >”Miss Sweet what are you doing?! You are going to catch a cold just like Anon.”
  2695. >”Hold on a second! The jacket messed me up a little, let me try one shot real quick without it.”
  2696. >Nurse Redheart shakes her head as Sour Sweet readies another arrow
  2697. >This time the arrow flies out and meets it’s mark almost directly in the center of the target
  2698. >She laughs as she joyfully raises a clenched fist
  2699. >”You see that!”
  2700. “Now that was something, don’t you agree?”
  2701. >Nurse Redheart actually looks a bit stunned as she stares out over at the target roughly seventy-five yards away
  2702. >”That was impressive.”
  2703. >Sour Sweet gives her an innocent looking grin as she giggles at her
  2704. >”Now please put your jacket back on.”
  2705. >”Yes ma’m~.”
  2706. >After laying down her bow and quiver of arrows, you help her put her coat back on
  2707. >”Thank you Anon~.”
  2708. “My pleasure. Now let’s see if you can hit that target with your jacket still on.”
  2709. >”You got it!”
  2710. >Standing back, you watch as Sour Sweet proceeds to fire more arrows out over the fields
  2711. >Stealing a glance back at Nurse Redheart, you whisper down to her
  2712. “Thanks again for coming along.”
  2713. >”Just doing my job…”
  2714. >Smiling back at Miss Sweet, you fold your hands behind your back and watch her with renewed interest
  2715. >One look at the smile on her face, one moment an overjoyed grin and the next a confident smirk, told you that there was still hope for her
  2716. >And perhaps hope for you as well
  2719. >Sitting just outside your foyer, you strike a match and light yourself a cigarette just to help keep yourself occupied
  2720. >Your guest wasn’t late at all, and you weren’t expecting any issues, but you were still a little anxious
  2721. >Over a week had passed since you had truly reinvested yourself in Sour Sweet’s treatment
  2722. >It would be a long and arduous road to recovery for her, but you were more determined than ever to make things right
  2723. >To that end, you had set several plans in motion
  2724. >After taking a long drag off of your smoke, you reach into your coat pocket and grasp a small velvet box that lies next to your pocket watch
  2725. >You pull out the box and let it rest within the palm of your hand as you stare down at it
  2726. >It was an awful risk you were taking…
  2727. >Suddenly, a knocking noise stirs you from your thoughts
  2728. >You smile as you shove the little box back into your pocket and snuff out your cigarette
  2729. >Stepping back into your foyer, you were delighted to find that the knocking did not come from the door to your institution, but from your front door
  2730. “Finally.”
  2731. >You adjust your tie slightly as you walk over and open up the door to find a blonde haired woman in a dark blue dress skirt and matching overcoat
  2732. >Meeting her stern look with a conservative smile, you usher her into your home
  2733. “Miss Harshwhinny I presume? Please come in.”
  2734. >She wipes a bit of snow off of her shoulder as she steps over the threshold
  2735. >”Dr. Anonymous, I’m glad we could finally meet.”
  2736. “May I take your coat?”
  2737. >”Yes please.”
  2738. >You helped her out of her overcoat after she set her briefcase down on the ground
  2739. “I’m glad you could find the time to come over.”
  2740. >”Yes well I’ve been having a rather difficult time sorting this out. There really hasn’t been a case quite like Miss Sweet’s in recent memory.”
  2741. “Well hopefully we will be able to work something out, for her sake.”
  2744. >After hanging up her coat, you led Miss Harshwhinny down the hall and into your study
  2745. >Miss Harshwhinny maintained a very no-nonsense demeanor as she quietly observed your study
  2746. >”This hasn’t been the first time I have had to deal with an orphaned minor, although it is certainly one of the stranger cases I’ve had to deal with since I began working in Child Welfare.”
  2747. “This has been quite a learning experience for me as well. Plenty of ups and downs you could say."
  2748. >Harshwhinny nodded her head before reaching for her briefcase and opening it up over your desk
  2749. >”As I have explained before, we have looked through a potential number of foster care homes in the area that could feasibly support Sour Sweet after her stay here is finished. However, transitioning her to such a home presents a number of issues…”
  2750. >Taking out a notebook, Miss Harshwhinny reclines in her seat and peers up at you with her pen ready
  2751. >”When exactly will she be healthy enough to be released?”
  2752. >You frown at Harshwhinny before similarly reaching into your own desk and brandishing a number of files
  2753. “I’m afraid it’s very difficult for me to say when that will be. Prior to this whole mess, it seemed as if Miss Sweet was on her way out. I had already begun filing the paperwork for her release. However, I only made such preparations in the expectation that she would return home to her parents…”
  2754. >Leaning over your desk, you offered Miss Harshwhinny a stack of documents
  2755. >”I would like for you to examine these records on Miss Sweet’s unique mental condition very carefully, and I believe that Child Welfare services should keep such documents on file.”
  2758. >She quickly flipped through each of the dozen or so papers
  2759. “I think you’ll find that my work has been rather exhausting as well.”
  2760. >”Yes, I’m well aware of that.”
  2761. >You continued to frown at her as you leaned back into your chair
  2762. “You will have to understand that I cannot in good faith release Miss Sweet from my institution until I've personally examined where it is she will be going after she leaves my care.”
  2763. >Miss Harshwhinny looks up from her documents and gives you a stern look
  2764. >”The problem with that is that we cannot exactly select a proper foster care home for her until we have some idea of when she’s going to be released.”
  2765. >You solemnly shook your head at Miss Harshwinny
  2766. “At this point, it could take months. I truly hate to think that it might take this long, but she could become an adult by the time she leaves here.”
  2767. >Harshwhinny sighs at you and places a finger up against her temple
  2768. >”That opens up a whole slew of other problems. All of this has been very unorthodox, I don’t care for it at all.”
  2769. “I don’t enjoy this either. All this time I’ve spent dealing with red tape could be better spent helping Miss Sweet. Which is why I would like to offer a simple and permanent solution to all of this.”
  2770. >You smile confidently at Harshwhinny as you stand up out of your seat
  2771. “I would like to take this opportunity to announce my intention to adopt Miss Sweet.”
  2772. >Miss Harshwhinny’s eyes widen and she remains speechless for several seconds
  2773. >”YOU want to adopt Sour Sweet?”
  2774. “I would very much like to, yes.”
  2775. >Miss Harshwhinny quickly regains what little composure she had lost and rises up to her feet as well
  2776. >”This is a very serious proposition you are making Dr. Anonymous. Are you fully aware of what responsibilities this entails? Have you any past experience in raising children?
  2778. “Well, I have sought advice from a few legal consultants and from what I understand I meet all the criteria needed to become her stepfather. I am more than capable of providing for her, both financially and emotionally.”
  2779. >Harshwhinny gives you a skeptical frown as you cooly stare back at her
  2780. >”I can see you’ve been thinking about this for a while then.”
  2781. “I am very serious about this. I sincerely believe this is the best way for me to look after her health.”
  2782. >”I see…”
  2783. >Harshwhinny sits back down and cups her hand under her chin, falling into deep thought
  2784. >You take a seat as well and patiently wait for her to make her next move
  2785. >”I suppose this would save us a great deal of trouble, though this is something that I personally would have to review.”
  2786. >Miss Harshwhinny places the documents you had handed her into her briefcase and then promptly digs inside
  2787. >Collecting several new documents, she begins to lay them out on your desk
  2788. >”In order to begin the screening process, I need for you to sign off on these release forms. First fill out these checklists so we can make sure that you really are legally capable of becoming her guardian. Then fill out these waivers so that we can can begin conducting background checks on you.”
  2789. >You grin at her as you lean forward and glance over these forms
  2790. “Of course…”
  2791. >After quickly flipping through these sheets, you fail to find anything that could pose a major issue
  2792. >Your financial stability, your clean criminal record…
  2793. >On paper, you are an ideal candidate for parenthood
  2794. >You speed through these documents and cheerfully hand them back to Miss Harshwhinny
  2795. >It’s evident that you caught her by surprise with your sudden announcement, but you remain confident that she will quickly warm up to all of this in time
  2796. >She sighs as she looks through these papers
  2797. >”So unprofessional… I will fax you several more documents that you need to sign off on."
  2798. “Of course.”
  2801. >There wasn’t much left to discuss after that
  2802. >You imagined that there was more she originally intended to talk about, but this new adoption prospect had laid these other matters aside
  2803. “You have both my phone number and my email correct?”
  2804. >”We will be in contact. You can expect a few more phone calls from us very soon.”
  2805. “Excellent.”
  2806. >You help slip her coat back on as you lead her out your door
  2807. “Have a good evening Miss Harshwhinny, and thank you again for your time.”
  2808. >”Thank you Doctor.”
  2809. >Closing the door for her, you chuckle as you walk back down through your foyer
  2810. “That’s that…"
  2811. >From what you had been told, it was going to be a long process
  2812. >This suited you just fine, as you imagined it was going to take a long time for Miss Sweet to recover anyway
  2813. “I know this wasn’t exactly what you would have wanted…”
  2814. >It was going to be a great change of pace for you all
  2815. >You were going to have to stop thinking of Miss Sweet in a romantic manner, and become something else entirely
  2816. >Stopping a moment, you looked at yourself in the mirror
  2817. >You sighed at your reflection before cracking a smile and walking away
  2818. “This wasn’t exactly what I wanted either, but it’s for the best. This way, you can have a family again.”
  2819. >Walking out of your foyer, you march through the reinforced door into your institution and head straight for Miss Sweet’s quarters
  2820. >When you arrive, you peer inside and see a welcome sight
  2821. >Nurse Redheart is still sitting with and assisting Sour Sweet with her homework, just as you had asked her to do
  2822. >You step inside and the two of them perk up and look back to you
  2823. >”Hi Doctor~!”
  2824. “Hello Miss Sweet, hello Miss Redheart.”
  2825. >Redheart gives you a warm smile as you walk over and look down at Sour Sweet’s desk
  2828. “My, this looks like a lot.”
  2829. >Sour Sweet scoffs as she looks back down at it
  2830. >”I’m not even close to being finished… it blows.”
  2831. >Redheart sighs as she stares back down at it all as well
  2832. >”It really is a bit much. I don’t know if I’m just rusty or if it’s because Sour goes to a private school but some of these assignments are just ridiculous.”
  2833. “I know what you mean. Well it’s been a few hours by now, I think that’s more than enough for today.”
  2834. >Sour Sweet exhales a puff of air and stands up only to immediately collapse on her bed
  2835. >”Ugh, thank God!”
  2836. >Miss Redheart shakes her head as she drops the book back onto the table
  2837. >Leaning back in her seat, she taps a finger against your coat pocket
  2838. >You look back at her in confusion as she nods her head
  2839. “I didn’t think you—“
  2840. >”Just this once, to clear my head.”
  2841. “Hmph…”
  2842. >You open up your pocket and brandish your cigarette case
  2843. >You’re careful not to draw Sour Sweet’s attention as she buries her face into her pillow
  2844. “You need a light as well?”
  2845. >”Nope.”
  2846. >She slips the cigarette into her breast pocket and stands up
  2847. >”Nurse Redheart.”
  2848. >She stops and the two of you look back to Sour Sweet, who lazily lifts her head up from her pillow to stare back at her
  2849. >”Thanks for helping me deal with all this.”
  2850. >Redheart smirks back at her
  2851. >”You’re very welcome.”
  2852. >She nods her head back at her before turning to face you
  2853. >”I’m going to take my break now Doctor.”
  2854. >You gently stop her and whisper into her ear before she can walk past you
  2855. “Actually, if you don’t mind I was hoping we could talk for a bit. Just the two of us?”
  2856. >”What about?”
  2857. >You smile down at her
  2858. “Well I—“
  2859. >”Dr. Anon?”
  2860. >You pause, and turn toward Sour Sweet
  2861. “Yes?”
  2862. >”Can you stay a little while, before you go?”
  2863. >Miss Redheart chuckles a little before whispering back to you
  2864. >”I’ll come over and see you after my break OK?”
  2865. “Heh, alright then.”
  2868. >With that, Nurse Redheart leaves you alone with Sour Sweet
  2869. >You take a seat on the bed next to her as she curls up
  2870. “What’s on your mind?”
  2871. >She smirks as she sits up against her wall, clutching the pillow lightly in her arms
  2872. >However, her smile quickly fades
  2873. >Sour Sweet adopts a wistful look, one that you had sadly grown more accustomed to lately
  2874. >”I haven’t been seeing you around so much, you’re a lot busier than usual.”
  2875. >Her expression darkens as she scowls down at the pillow in her arms
  2876. >You expect her to say something blunt, yet she curiously refrains from speaking at all
  2877. “I hope you don’t think I’ve forgotten about you.”
  2878. >You reach over and gently cup your hand over her cheek
  2879. >Her scowl fades as she closes her eyes and nuzzles her soft face against your rough hand
  2880. >You smile warmly back at her as she coos at you
  2881. “You’re never far from my thoughts Miss Sweet.”
  2882. >”I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately too. I’ve been thinking about… us.”
  2883. “Us?”
  2884. >She froze up and opened her eyes, revealing the same forlorn gaze as before
  2885. >It was beginning to unsettle you to see her like that
  2886. “What about us?”
  2887. >You drop your hand from her face, but Sour Sweet is quick to grasp hold of it before you can bring it back to your lap
  2888. >“Doctor, did you really mean it when you said you love me?”
  2889. >You lift your head up, taken aback by her question
  2890. “Of course I did. I meant it with all my heart.”
  2891. >Miss Sweet’s grip over your hand tightens just as her other hand clenches her pillow
  2892. >Her eyes narrow for a moment, but then she instantly relaxes and slackens her grip over both you and her pillow
  2893. >Something is clearly bothering her, and she’s making a monumental effort to keep herself in check
  2894. >You grip her hand back and lean closer
  2895. “Please talk to me Miss Sweet. You don’t need to hide anything from me.”
  2898. >”y-You really don’t love me, the way I love you.”
  2899. “Excuse me?”
  2900. >Sour Sweet begins to tremble as you hesitantly wait for her to go on
  2901. >Suddenly, her grip on you tightens and she snarls in rage
  2902. >”Nurse Redheart!”
  2903. “What?”
  2904. >Sour Sweet’s glare disappears and she looks up with you with an eerily blank look
  2905. >”s-She’s a very nice woman. Nurse Redheart is really patient with me, and I like her a lot.”
  2906. >Your jaw drops open as you see tears fall from her cheeks
  2907. >”y-y-You—you really like her a lot too, don’t you?”
  2908. “Miss Sweet…”
  2909. >Shuffling closer, you wrap your arms around her and bring her in for a hug
  2910. >You hear her barely hold back a sob as she quickly returns your embrace
  2911. “I meant it when I said I love you. You will always hold a very special place in my heart.”
  2912. >”b-But—but Anon!”
  2913. >You are surprised when she pushes herself off of you
  2914. >Grasping hold of your arms, she stares back at you with a desperate look
  2915. >”d-Do you feel the same way about me, as I do about you?”
  2916. >You tilt your head and stare intensely at her
  2917. >”I want us to be together Doctor.”
  2918. >Your eyes widen as you realize the deeper meaning behind what she is asking you
  2919. “I want us to be together too, but I don’t think…”
  2920. >Her look hardens as she sniffles and scowls at you
  2921. >”But what?!”
  2922. >It’s a struggle to find the right words
  2923. >This wasn’t what you intended at all
  2924. >”I’m too young for you, is that it?”
  2925. “No, that’s not it at all.”
  2926. >You frown as you stare down at her hand in yours
  2927. “You’re not too young for me, but I’m too old for you.”
  2928. >Her hand grips yours surprisingly tight
  2929. >”What the fuck do you mean? Isn’t that the same thing!?”
  2930. >You look up at her with a cold frown that briefly quells her anger
  2933. “I don’t think I can make you happy.”
  2934. >Sour Sweet quirks her head at you, clearly confused
  2935. “I’m too old for you Miss Sweet, you’d be happier off with—“
  2936. >”I’m going to be 18 soon! We can wait!”
  2937. “It’s not that simple!”
  2938. >Sour Sweet’s mouth fell open as she froze in shock
  2939. >Was this the first time you had raised your voice at her?
  2940. >You remove your hand from hers and turn away
  2941. >Burying your face into your hands, you think hard about how to reason with her
  2942. “When you get older, you’ll find other men. Younger and more cheerful people, and there’s no doubt in my mind that you will find happiness. That’s all I want for you is to be happy…”
  2943. >Internally scolding yourself, you try to hide your weak expression from her as you look away
  2944. >”Anon…”
  2945. >You cease your shaking as Sour Sweet wraps her arms around you from behind
  2946. >Her body saddles up against yours, filling you with a calming warmth
  2947. >You can feel her long hair fall against you as she brings her head up to you and whispers
  2948. >”You’re the only one I want to be with.”
  2949. “y-You don’t—“
  2950. >”You’re the only one who’s ever treated me like this. You always believed in me, you were always w-willing to forgive me when I slipped up…”
  2951. >You hear her sniffle once again as she holds you tightly
  2952. >”I only want to be with you.”
  2953. >Her words shake you to your very core
  2954. “I’m… the only one?”
  2955. >Raising up your hand, your run it through her long smooth hair and gently cradle her head
  2956. >You turn toward her and look up into her wide blue eyes
  2957. >Without saying another word, the two of you press your lips together and passionately embrace one another
  2958. >In that moment, you end up throwing aside all that you had convinced yourself was right
  2959. >Like her, this was what you truly wanted more than anything else and you know that she felt the same way
  2962. >When you finally leave her side that evening, after staying locked together for so long and after promising her several times that you would return soon, you did so with purpose
  2963. >Your footsteps echoed through the empty hallways, leaving you with merely your thoughts and your feelings
  2964. >The cold wind whips against the windows as the sun completely disappears
  2965. >Eventually you find yourself back inside your study
  2966. >Waiting
  2967. >You don’t need a cigarette to calm you, or alcohol to steel your nerves, because you know that what you are doing is what is best for all of you
  2968. “They say doing the right thing is rarely easy…”
  2969. >After a short while longer, the door cracks open
  2970. >”Hello Dr. Anonymous.”
  2971. “Hello Miss Redheart.”
  2972. >You smile back at her as she enters into the room and takes a seat in front of your desk
  2973. >She sighs contentedly as she reclines in her seat
  2974. “Long day?”
  2975. >”You could say that.”
  2976. >You chuckle as you lean over your desk
  2977. “I know how difficult Miss Sweet can be at times. You do really well with her though.”
  2978. >She briefly chuckles back
  2979. >”Yeah, I think you were right about her and I. She really does seem to like me.”
  2980. >With some effort, you maintain your cheerful expression while glancing away from her
  2981. “Yes, I thought so…”
  2982. >”Doctor?”
  2983. “Hm?”
  2984. >”What did you want to talk to me about?”
  2985. >You stare back at her with your faux smile
  2986. “Can I get you a drink?”
  2987. >”I’d love one.”
  2990. >You lead Nurse Redheart away from your study and into your living room, where you fix her and yourself a glass of bourbon
  2991. >”Thanks, I needed one.”
  2992. “Ha, I didn’t think helping with homework would take that much out of you.”
  2993. >”Well, it wasn’t all bad. I enjoyed it a little, It was kind of nice to be able to teach her and see her get things right.”
  2994. >You grin at her as you take a seat next to her on the couch
  2995. “I know exactly what you mean.”
  2996. >She smiles back at you before taking a sip from her glass
  2997. >You take a short sip as well before setting it down on the table
  2998. >”So, what did you want to talk about?”
  2999. “I’ve just been thinking about how great of a help you’ve been to me. Especially lately, with all you’ve done to assist me with Sour Sweet, but more than that.”
  3000. >Nurse Redheart sets her drink down and gives you a curious stare
  3001. “You’ve been working for me for a really long time, and you’ve… well…”
  3002. >You chuckle as you scratch the back of your head
  3003. “You’ve put up with a lot of my bullshit.”
  3004. >”Ha!”
  3005. >Redheart gives you a smug grin as she picks her glass back up
  3006. >”It’s taken you this long to realize that?”
  3007. “I’ll admit I can be a little dense.”
  3008. >”Yeah, you can say that… but you usually mean well.”
  3009. >You look up at her as she takes another long sip
  3010. >She wears a small smile as she stares down at her glass
  3011. >”You’re not all that bad, and I know I can be a bit much sometimes…”
  3012. >You frown at her for a brief moment before looking away
  3013. >This wasn’t going to be easy
  3014. “I’ve been a little worried about you.”
  3015. >”What? How come?”
  3016. “You just seem a bit more stressed out lately. I guess we all are.”
  3017. >Reaching a hand into your pocket, you forced yourself to carry on
  3018. “So, I’ve been thinking…”
  3021. “…maybe you should take some time off for a while?”
  3022. >Nurse Redheart stares back at you in a dull shock
  3023. >”Take some time off?”
  3024. “Yes, I’ve noticed that you have a lot of unused vacation time, and honestly… I was wondering if you might be interested in starting a different work schedule? You could start working a lighter shift, maybe free up your weekends…”
  3025. >”What are you talking about?”
  3026. >You scramble together a response as she scrutinizes you with an intense look
  3027. “While I’ve been watching you work with Sour Sweet, and when I’ve been thinking all about how you’ve assisted me over the years, it’s made me realize how great of a mother you’d be.”
  3028. >”w-What?!”
  3029. >Nurse Redheart nearly drops her drink as she blushes at you
  3030. >You chuckle as her shocked expression becomes an unamused scowl
  3031. >”i-I mean, I guess I’ve given it some thought before.”
  3032. “Well, maybe you’d like to consider going out more then? Maybe finding someone who you could… start a family with?"
  3033. >Your voice drops down to just above a whisper as the room falls dangerously silent
  3034. >”You think so?”
  3035. >Nurse Redheart replies back to you in a surprisingly sombre tone
  3036. “Yes, I really think so.”
  3037. >You can feel Redheart’s stare, though it is difficult for you to look back
  3038. >Redheart sighs as she turns away
  3039. >You gloomily watch as she raises her glass and finishes her drink
  3040. “You know, I appreciate everything you’ve ever done for me. You’ve always been a good friend, and it would mean a lot to me so see you happy.”
  3041. >Nurse Redheart lowers her empty glass onto her table
  3042. >”I feel the same way about you Anon.”
  3043. >Silence falls over the two of you yet again, a cold and empty quiet
  3044. >”Well, I should head home. i-I’ll think about what you said”
  3045. “Please do.”
  3048. >”c-Could I have another drink?”
  3049. “Another one?”
  3050. >You recoil from her as she suddenly breaks out into laughter
  3051. >”y-You’re right, one’s enough. i-I better go!”
  3052. >She shakily stands up and begins to walk away
  3053. >With a heavy heart, you also stand up and follow closely behind her as she marches back to your institution
  3054. >It is when you both reach the reinforced entrance that you stop her
  3055. “Miss Redheart.”
  3056. >She halts before the doorway, and slowly turns around to face you
  3057. >You cannot help but think how fragile her smile looks
  3058. >”Yes?”
  3059. >Without hesitation, you wrap your arms around her
  3060. >Redheart stands completely stiff as if struck by lightning while you wrap her in a hug
  3061. “Thank you.”
  3062. >She does not utter a reply, her only response being to slowly return your hug
  3063. >The two of you stand locked together like this for some time before you eventually slacken your hold over her and she slips away
  3064. >She slowly walks off back down the hallway out of your home as you close and lock the door behind her
  3065. >Stepping away from her, you return to your living room and collapse on your couch
  3066. >Reaching inside your pocket, you once again brandish the small velvet box
  3067. “We are better off this way, some day you’ll realize that."
  3068. >For what you hope will be the last time, you open up the box and wonder about all that could have been
  3069. >You still hadn’t been certain when you were going to ask her, or exactly how you were going go about it, but it did not take you long at all to choose this for her
  3070. >The ring shined a brilliant white gold that glistened even in the dimness of your living room, and at its center lied a radiant red Ruby
  3071. “I doubt anyone else could have chosen a more beautiful ring for you, but I know there must be someone out there who will love you more than I do.”
  3072. >You hung your head and solemnly frowned over the ring
  3073. “You deserve to be happy too."
  3077. >A few days pass by until you are ready to explain everything to Sour Sweet
  3078. >Its stopped snowing and the temperature has risen, so you decide that today would be a good day for the two of you to go for another walk together
  3079. >You cheerfully march down the halls of the patients’ dormitories and stop before her room
  3080. >A few knocks fails to get any response, and when you look inside you see that she is still asleep
  3081. >You scoff as you unlock her door and step inside
  3082. >Walking over to her bed, you crouch down and whisper
  3083. “Miss Sweet, it’s time to get up.”
  3084. >You put a hand over her shoulder and shake her lightly
  3085. >Sour Sweet groans as she turns her head towards you
  3086. >”Just another hour, please.”
  3087. “It’s beautiful outside, would you like to go for a walk?”
  3088. >Sour Sweet slowly lifts herself up to a sitting position, stifling a yawn with one hand while rubbing an eye with the other
  3089. >When she’s finished she looks over to you with a small smile
  3090. >”You aren’t too busy today?”
  3091. “Nope. I wanted us to spend the whole day together.”
  3092. >Her smile widened as she tossed the covers aside
  3093. >She certainly seemed to be awake now
  3094. >”I’ll get dressed!~”
  3095. >She hops out of bed and surprises you by shoving a hand down your coat pocket
  3096. “What are you—?”
  3097. >”Ah!”
  3098. >She tears out your pocketwatch and stares at the time
  3099. >Her smile falls apart as she grimaces back at you
  3100. >”You could have woken me up sooner…”
  3101. >You chuckle at her as you slip it back into your pocket
  3102. “I’ll remember that the next time you try to sleep in.”
  3103. >She scoffs at you as you turn away to step outside
  3104. >”Hang on.”
  3105. >You pause once more, and as you turn back to her again she gives you an even bigger surprise
  3106. >Standing on the tips of her toes, she reaches up and wraps her arms around you as she plants a kiss on your cheek
  3107. >”Good morning~.”
  3108. >Her kiss leaves you dumbstruck for but a moment before you graciously return her hug
  3109. “Good morning.”
  3112. >You stand outside her room and wait for only about five minutes before she comes out
  3113. >She’s fixed her hair up in a ponytail, slipped on a pair of boots, and is wearing the pink jacket you had bought for her
  3114. >When she joins your side, the first thing she does is glance around the hall
  3115. >”Is Nurse Redheart not coming with us?”
  3116. “No, just us this time.”
  3117. >You notice her perk up ever so slightly as the two of you walk down the hall together
  3118. >There’s a small bounce to her step as she walks with you through the halls, out the doors, and onto the grounds
  3119. >It’s still a bit cold out, with a brisk wind blowing by every so often, but the skies are clear and the sun is out
  3120. “Is that coat warm enough for you?”
  3121. >”Uh huh! I feel just fine.”
  3122. >As the two of you walk further away from the facility, Sour Sweet begins to saddle up closer to you and her mood seems to become more lively
  3123. >”This jacket looks really cute on me~.”
  3124. “Ha! I’m very happy you like it.”
  3125. >She nods her head happily before her smile fades away and she looks down at herself
  3126. >”I just wish I could get out of this damn uniform while I’m at it. These pajamas look so fucking lame.”
  3127. “Well I think you look very pretty today.”
  3128. >Her frown disappears as she giggles up at you
  3129. >”You’re such a sweetie~.”
  3130. >Walking by her side with your hands stuffed in your pockets, you quickly found an arm of hers wrapped up around yours
  3131. >Glancing back at your facility, you worried that someone might see the two of you
  3132. >Those worries of yours faded as the hospital drifted from view and Sour Sweet continued to nuzzle against your arm
  3133. >You sighed contentedly as you leaned over her
  3134. >It’s been too long since the two of you have gone for a walk alone
  3137. “Miss Sweet?”
  3138. >”Mhmm?”
  3139. >You pointed over at a wooden bench lying down the road
  3140. “Sit with me a while, there are some things I want to tell you.”
  3141. >”OK.”
  3142. >Sour Sweet remains comfortably latched onto your arm as the two of you take a seat together
  3143. >She looks as if she could fall asleep right by your side if you let her
  3144. >After a silent minute passes you by, she lifts open her eyes and smiles up at you
  3145. >”What did you want to tell me?”
  3146. “Well, there’s an important reason why I’ve been so busy lately…”
  3147. >Sour Sweet loosens her grip over you and sits up
  3148. “I’ve been speaking with Child Services quite a lot, and I was unhappy with what they had to say. So the other day, I told them that I want to adopt you.”
  3149. >You hear a gasp escape her lips as her eyes widened
  3150. >”Adopt me?”
  3151. “Yes. I want to make sure that when you are healthy enough to leave that you will be going somewhere you can be happy. But it’s more than that, I—“
  3152. >”You want us to be together?”
  3153. >You watch as a huge smile forms on her lips
  3154. “y-Yes…. more than anything really.”
  3155. >”Oh Anon!~”
  3156. >Sour Sweet nearly knocks you out of your seat as she enthusiastically embraces you
  3157. >”That’s wonderful! i-I didn’t want to think about what would happen to me after I left… w-will it work out? Can I really live with you when I’m better?”
  3158. >You shuffle back up as you gently grip onto her arms and smile down at her
  3159. “I’m in the screening process right now, but I think it will work out. I didn’t want to tell you until I was positive, but I felt you deserved an explanation.”
  3160. >”i-I thought that… oh this is so wonderful!”
  3161. >Her joyful grin alone is enough to melt your heart
  3162. >You knew she would be happy to hear this, but to actually see her reaction was something you were not prepared for
  3163. >Still, you feel you can’t just stop here
  3164. “There’s something else you need to know…”
  3167. ”What I had been thinking about lately, what I thought would be best for you, was if I could give you a family.”
  3168. >Her smile falters as she tilts her head and stares up at you
  3169. >”Give me a family? What do you mean?”
  3170. >You run a hand through your hair as a bitter wind blows by
  3171. “I thought I could help you best if I became like a father to you and… and I wanted to give you a mother…”
  3172. >Sour Sweet’s brow furrows as she looks away from you
  3173. >When she gazes back your way, you can see she is worried
  3174. >”I don’t understand. w-What do you mean by all that? i-I don’t love you like a father, and… mother?”
  3175. >You sigh as you steel yourself for what comes next
  3176. “I was going to propose to Miss Redheart.”
  3177. >Sour Sweet stares at you at first as if you had said nothing at all
  3178. >Then her blank face becomes transformed by dread as her jaw slowly opens wide
  3179. >”h-h-How could yo—“
  3180. “I was ashamed. I thought that my feelings for you were selfish, so I endeavored to give you something more.”
  3181. >”THAT’S BULLSH—“
  3182. “I KNOW! I realize that now!”
  3183. >You grapple onto her trembling body as she glares at you
  3184. “I was being incredibly foolish, running away with preconceived notions that only fed into one another. It was only when I spoke to you the other day, when you told me that you were afraid that I didn’t love you the same way that you loved me, that I realized I was lying to myself.”
  3185. >You lowered your head and whispered in as soft a voice as you could muster
  3186. “I could never be a father to you, because I feel exactly the same way about you as you do about me.”
  3187. >”y-You do?”
  3188. >You nod your head as her trembling calms down
  3189. “If I had gone through with my plans, it would have only made us all miserable. I won’t lie to myself anymore. I love you, and I only want to be with you.”
  3192. >A numbing pain fills your heart when you look down at Sour Sweet and see tears well up in her eyes
  3193. >Then her face suddenly contorts in anger and she snarls
  3194. >”You’re such a fucking idiot!”
  3195. “I—“
  3196. >She sobs as she wraps her arms around you and wails
  3197. >”Please don’t leave me! Oh God!”
  3198. >You return her embrace as you choke back tears of your own
  3199. “I’ll never leave you! I love you Miss Sweet, I love you!”
  3200. >The sound of her crying hits you hard, and the knowledge that you were responsible for it all is almost too terrible to stand
  3201. >If she was not here with you, if she had not made you realize just how terrible things were about to become…
  3202. >Were she not here with you right now, you would have fallen apart completely
  3203. >”i-I love you too… I love you Anon.”
  3204. >Those words alone sustain you, keep you from the brink of madness
  3205. >Her love is everything to you
  3206. “Please forgive me.”
  3207. >”I do…”
  3208. >The two of you hold each other close until your tears are dried
  3209. >You continue to embrace each other long after this heart wrenching pain passes you both by
  3210. >Silence falls over the landscape while the two of you huddle up against each other
  3211. >”So when I’m adopted, I can move into your home with you?”
  3212. “Yes, you can. Or we could move back into your own home. We could even get a new home together, some place that is close to my institution and your school.”
  3213. >”What about after school, and when I’m older? w-Will we be together then?”
  3214. “Of course.”
  3215. >You slide a hand behind the back of her head as you gaze deeply into her now gentle eyes
  3216. “When you are old enough, I will ask you to marry me.”
  3217. >She lets out a soft and joyful cry as she nestles her head against your chest
  3218. >You smile as you hold her close
  3219. >It feels as if everything is right with the world
  3222. >The passage of time becomes imperceptible to you
  3223. >You feel as if this moment, with Sour Sweet lying in your arms, could last forever
  3224. >It could for all you cared, and it takes only a small glance down at her for you to see that she feels the same way
  3225. >In time though, it must come to an end
  3226. >Your eyes widen as you perk your head up
  3227. “Miss Sweet? Sour Sweet.”
  3228. >You lightly jostle the young lady in your arms
  3229. >She might have actually dozed off in your grasp
  3230. >”What is it?”
  3231. >Your eyes narrow as you look down the path
  3232. “Someone is coming.”
  3233. >Sour Sweet quickly disentangles herself from you and looks up the path as well
  3234. >A figure comes into view and waves down at you
  3235. >By his uniform, he appears to be an orderly
  3236. >You don a friendly smile and wave back as the figure jogs down and meets the two of you
  3237. >”Dr. Anonymous!”
  3238. “Hello there.”
  3239. >”Sir, I think someone is here to see you. Some kind of social worker.”
  3240. “A social worker?”
  3241. >You steal a quick glance at a bewildered Sour Sweet before frowning at the orderly
  3242. “I don’t have a meeting with a social worker. Is it Miss Harshwhinny?”
  3243. >”I’m not sure, it was a woman in a dark blue dress skirt with blonde hair.”
  3244. “That sounds like Miss Harshwhinny to me… but why is she here?”
  3245. >You rise up to your feet and sigh down at Miss Sweet
  3246. “I’m afraid we’ll have to end our walk early.”
  3247. >”What’s going on?”
  3248. “I don’t know, but I’ll get to the bottom of it.”
  3249. >Sour Sweet frowns and grumbles to herself as she hops up to her feet and joins you and the orderly
  3250. >The three of you walk back to the institution, your mind racing all the while
  3251. “Odd…”
  3254. >When you return to the facility, you have the orderly escort Miss Sweet back to the dormitories, after promising to check up on her later, while you head over the front lobby area
  3255. >As you turn around a corner and approach the lobby, you spot her
  3256. “Miss Harshwhinny?”
  3257. >She turns toward you and instantly scowls
  3258. >You swear you see her mutter something under her breath as you approach her
  3259. “Hello? I was not expecting to see you today. What brings you here?”
  3260. >Miss Harshwhinny briefly bites her lower lip before taking a quick breath and properly addressing you
  3261. >”Hello Dr. Anonymous. I’m afraid I’m not here to see you.”
  3262. “You aren’t? Then are you here to see Miss Sweet?”
  3263. >”No, not exactly.”
  3264. >You narrow your eyes at her, put off by her strange behavior
  3265. “Would you care to explain to me why you are here then?”
  3266. >”I’m working on your case for adoption. I decided to come here personally to speed up the process as quickly as possible.”
  3267. “Did you have any more forms for me to sign?”
  3268. >”No, nothing like that. This is part of your…”
  3269. >You feel yourself becoming more and more frustrated the longer she hesitates
  3270. “Part of my what?”
  3271. “Your background check. You weren’t ever supposed to know that I was even here.”
  3272. >She mutters something under her breathe about this being ‘unprofessional’ while you balk at her
  3273. “Why all this secrecy then? How were you going to conduct a background check on me here without ever even seeing me?”
  3274. >”I am here to conduct an interview with a close confident of yours.”
  3275. “A close confident? Who are you… wait.”
  3276. >Your eyes widen as you suddenly realize what is going on
  3277. “You’re here to conduct an interview on whether or not I’m an acceptable candidate for becoming Miss Sweet’s legal guardian. a-And the person you’re interviewing… she must be—“
  3278. >You look behind you and see Nurse Redheart standing at the end of the hallway
  3281. >Your eyes lock with Redheart’s as the two of you stare each other down
  3282. >She seems confused, likely wondering why you appear so shocked to see her
  3283. >Then her eyes widen as she looks past you and sees Miss Harshwhinny by your side
  3284. >”Ah excellent. Miss Redheart! We will have to conduct our discussion in a more private setting. Please set aside a room for us.”
  3285. “Wait!”
  3286. >You turn around and face Miss Harshwhinny before she can walk past you
  3287. “t-This is— I find this rather ridiculous!”
  3288. >”Hmph, as do I. However, background checks are an essential part of this process. Now if you’ll excuse us…”
  3289. >You give Miss Harshwhinny an exasperated frown as she marches past you down the hall toward Miss Redheart
  3290. >As you stare back at Miss Redheart, you wonder if she even realizes what is going on
  3291. >You feel your heart sink as you watch Nurse Redheart give you one last nervous glance before Miss Harshwhinny drags her away
  3292. “s-She’s… the only one…”
  3293. >Your body begins to shake as you feel your breath quicken
  3294. “The only one who knows the truth about Miss Sweet and I…”
  3295. >This was something you had never foreseen happening
  3296. >Your original plans never accounted for this at all
  3297. >You never intended for her to learn about your plan to adopt Miss Sweet, at least not like this
  3298. “If—when Miss Redheart discovers what I’m trying to do…”
  3299. >It is all you could do to keep yourself from running down the hall after them
  3300. >You want to shout out for them to stop, to pull Miss Redheart aside and try to explain everything to her in the sincere hope that she would understand, but now it seems too late
  3301. “For the love of God.”
  3302. >Your footsteps echo down the hall as you walk away
  3305. >In your state of panic, you retreat back into your home
  3306. “Why did I not see this coming!?”
  3307. >You should have known this was going to happen sooner or later
  3308. >Conducting a background check on you would have entailed Child Services investigating you by interviewing those closest to you
  3309. >Miss Redheart was your only friend, it made perfect sense that they would have contacted her at some point
  3310. >You march aimlessly down your hallway as you ruminate over what will happen behind closed doors
  3311. >Miss Redheart was the only one who knew how you really felt about Sour Sweet, and after everything you had endured together you had become convinced…
  3312. “She loves me too, I’m certain of it.”
  3313. >Your anger at yourself heightens in intensity as you wonder how you could have known her for so long and never realized it
  3314. >She knew so much about you, she had served you faithfully after all these years
  3315. “HOW!? How have I only realized this now!?”
  3316. >Your voice carries out across the empty halls and rooms of your home as you storm into your study
  3317. >Stepping into the room, you grasp your head while looming over your desk
  3318. “I am a fool. An utter FOOL!”
  3319. >Your fist crashes against the desk as you shout in anger and horror
  3320. “Miss Redheart, what are you going to do?”
  3321. >Just after you ask yourself this question, you are startled by the sudden opening of your window
  3322. >A bitter wind breezes into your room, blowing several papers off of your desk as the chill barges inside
  3323. “Blast it.”
  3324. >You rise up to your feet and walk to the open window, closing it shut and tightening it against the wind
  3325. SPOILER >”Isn’t it obvious Doctor? How do you think she’s going to react?” SPOILER
  3328. >You twist around and gawk at your empty study
  3329. “No, not this again.”
  3330. >Your eyes scan all over the room as you hear a distorted voice echo around you in a snide laughter
  3331. >“What a cruel man you are, ignoring her all these years. Who could blame her for selling you out?”
  3332. “y-You don’t… you’re not real!”
  3333. >You grasp the sides of your head as it’s terrible laughter rattles around inside your head
  3334. >”Why are you angry at me? I’m not the one who’s about to reveal your dirty little secret~.”
  3335. >Glaring about the room, you try to find where this monster is only for your eyes to fall upon your desk
  3336. >Inside the cabinet, underneath a pile of papers, lies your gun
  3337. “No… you don’t really exist. It’s all just in my head. You’re. Not. REAL!”
  3338. >”When Nurse Redheart tells Harshwhinny how you really feel about Sour Sweet, that’ll be it! After all, if Redheart can’t have you then why should she let anyone else!? Much less someone so much younger and prettier than—“
  3339. “THAT’S ENOUGH!”
  3340. >You stand tall, your voice booming throughout the room
  3341. >A breath of hot air escapes your mouth as you glower
  3342. >It’s almost possible for you to imagine the Shadow standing behind you, whispering it’s evil words into your ears
  3343. “I won’t listen to this, I won’t entertain these fears anymore.”
  3344. >Your hands ball into fists as you stand proud
  3345. “Miss Redheart has always been a friend to me, has always been loyal to me. I know this time will be no different.”
  3346. >”If you think—“
  3347. “I KNOW this. I know Miss Redheart better than anyone else. These fears, this doubt… they will no longer hold power over me .”
  3348. >Calmly turning around, you see absolutely nothing behind you save your windswept window
  3349. >No inner demon to hound you
  3350. >You are alone once more in your study, the room so quiet that you can imagine your watch ticking inside your pocket
  3351. >Brandishing it, you calmly inspect the time
  3352. “This interview must surely be over soon…”
  3355. >You march back into your facility, feeling ready to confront anything that may come your way
  3356. >As you approach the front lobby, you spot a figure in the distance exiting through the front doors
  3357. >Judging by the dark blue clothing, you are able to identify Miss Harshwhinny
  3358. “The interview lasted just under an hour… hm?”
  3359. >You come to a halt as you see Nurse Redheart round the corner
  3360. >She comes to a stop, and your eyes lock together once more
  3361. “Miss Redheart.”
  3362. >”Dr. Anonymous.”
  3363. >When you meet her, its as if you could see a flicker of flame her eyes
  3364. >As she approaches, you calmly stare back at her
  3365. >Each footstep’s echo resounds around the hall while you wait with bated breath to hear what she has to say
  3366. >When she finally stands in front of you, the intimidating look in her eyes appears to be gone
  3367. >Your own gaze softens as well, and the two of you are merely left standing awkwardly with one another
  3368. “i-Is there… was there something you wanted to tell me?”
  3369. >”Yes. I just want you to know one thing.”
  3370. >She takes a step closer to you, such that you can feel her breathe against your own face
  3371. >Her voice drops to just above a whisper as she utters the words that would reveal your fate
  3372. “Go on then.”
  3373. >”Dr. Anonymous…SPOILER I hope you two are happy together.” SPOILER
  3376. >Your jaw falls open as Nurse Redheart stands back and regards you with a sombre frown
  3377. “Miss Redheart…”
  3378. >”I should get back to work. I decided I’m going to start using some of that vacation time, starting next week. I… I can really use a break from here.”
  3379. >You shake yourself out of your stupor and regain a small sense of composure
  3380. “I understand. Take as much time off as you need.”
  3381. >”Will you be OK around here for a while without me?”
  3382. “I’ll manage, you… you’ve done more than enough.”
  3383. >You wonder what else you could say or do for her at this point, but before you can think of anything at all it is too late
  3384. >She turns her back on you and walks away
  3385. >When she leaves your sight, you muster the only words you could have given her
  3386. “Thank you, my friend.”
  3387. >You turn around and walk down the hallway in the opposite direction
  3388. >Eventually, you find yourself back inside the patient dormitories standing outside Sour Sweet’s room
  3389. >You look inside and see that the room is lit up and your patient is awake
  3390. >A few moments later, her gaze falls upon the door and she spots you
  3391. >Grinning, she hops off of her bed and opens the door for you
  3392. “Hi Doctor~.”
  3393. >”Hello Miss Sweet.”
  3394. >You step inside and quickly close the door
  3395. >Her bright smile falters as she looks you over
  3396. >”d-Did it go OK? Is everything alright?”
  3397. “Yes, everything is more than alright.”
  3398. >You renew your smile and wrap an arm around her waist
  3399. “As long as we’re together, how can things not be?”
  3400. >She giggles as the two of you step aside away from the door
  3401. >”As long as we are together…”
  3402. >She wraps her arms around your neck as she leans up closer to you
  3403. >”Then let’s stay together, forever.”
  3404. >Cupping a hand under her chin, you lift her head up and press your lips against hers
  3405. >This moment you two share is pure bliss, and though it must end you are certain that nothing will stop the two of you from having many more like it
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