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Gen Three- Chapter Thirty Seven

Sensitive topic matter addressed this chapter

Waking up this time could not have been more different than it was this morning. Yesterday morning? There was no way to tell the time as my eyelids slowly fluttered open. The unfamiliar room that held me offered no windows or even a clock to let me know how long I'd been out. Dread consumed me from the instant my consciousness hesitantly returned to when I lay there in a gentle daze working through the pain exacerbating the headache I'd had. I went with the routine of wriggling my fingers and toes before moving onto my wrists and ankles before daring to move my legs, arms, waist, back, and neck. Movies and video games were bad proponents of the concept that a person could be physically knocked out without any consequences. No matter how one did it there would be injury in some way, and depending on the type of hit one could face internal bleeding, clotting, or stroke. My lone relief flittering inside my chest was that Timber had clearly done some kind of research. He'd gone for one of the safer spots to take me out. The headache flared over every inch of my skull, but everything else seemed to be working fine.

Gen Three- Chapter Thirty Six

My eyelashes fluttered, and the sun creeping up through the window flashed light into my vision. I stirred, blinked several times before deciding to keep my eyes closed, and wondered of the weird angle of the intrusion. The sun never struck me right like that.

     "Good morning." Arbor mumbled a lazy, whispered, slurred greeted as his arms gently wrapped around my core embraced me a little tighter.

Oh. Right. I wasn't in my bedroom.

     "Have you been awake long?" I asked, my voice no more eloquent than his.
     "Not too long. About fifteen minutes, I think. I've just been enjoying this."

He snuggled closer still as if he was a young child and I his teddy bear, but it made me smile.

     "Do you know what time it is?"
     "Somewhere after nine."
     "It doesn't look that late."
     "We're high up, so I guess the sun hasn't hit us as much as normal."
     "Makes sense." I yawned.

Neither of us said anything more. I'm sure thoughts of mentioning that we should get up and get going danced in the back of Arbor's brain as it did mine. However, neither of us wished to give up the freedom we'd claimed. Even with sending out parents warnings, they likely wouldn't be pleased at the vague answer and delayed return to our homes. Arbor and I had to soak in what we had while we had it. With a few more hours to go before we had to check out, I saw no reason to prod us up. In truth, I also needed time to contemplate as the two of us lay there, skin on skin, the exhaustion of the previous night still clinging in the deep parts of my muscles. I felt and probed for a difference. Logic told me there was nothing about being with a person that should have any affect on who I was, and that logic was right. The only change I could find was that my embarrassment at being exposed to Arbor was gone. The night left me falling deeper in love, and with that the boundaries that caused hesitations on being close were shattered.

Gen Three- Chapter Thirty Five

(NSFW material)

Heading down the stairs towards mom and dad's room for the forth time reminded me of when I used to babysit a younger Mint. It was as if mom was a toddler who forgot every word I said the second I moved out of sight, but in this case the whole thing was obviously intentional. Mom, throwing her own temper tantrum in a way, adamantly refused to come upstairs despite promising the last time I came down that she'd be up in a minute. With all the 'minutes' I granted her, a half hour had now passed.

     "Mom, you're thirtieth minute is up." I spoke with lighthearted warning after poking my head into the room.

Having been absentmindedly skimming through a book on her dresser, she jolted with a start to search for something to pretend to clean even though she'd long since cleaned everything and lost every excuse she had to delay.

     "I'll be right there." she answered, unable to glance my way.
     "That's what you said the last three times."
     "I just have a few things I need to do down here first."
     "No, you don't. You're lying to avoid helping us pack because you don't want to face the fact that Gilly and I will be leaving in a few weeks," I stated the truth hoping to break her out of her stubbornness, "Hiding down here is not going to stop that from happening."
     "I know." mom snapped, but her tone was too sad for me to feel hurt.
     "Well, okay then. I'm not going to keep coming down here, so I won't force you to help even though you promised. I'll just remind you that your time with us is limited. You're throwing away a big chance to spend quality time together before we go by hiding down here instead. If that's what you think will help you be more comforted once we're out of the house..."

Gen Three- Chapter Thirty Four

I cringed as Branch glanced at me. I'd done it again.

     "That makes twenty two." he added to the tally that'd begun once we set foot inside the comic and cafe shop.
     "Aagh," I whined, "I can't help it."
     "Sigh all you want, Dia. If you make it to forty, I'll buy you a cream scone." Rich promised.
     "I'm not counting to annoy her. I'm counting to distract her." Branch explained.
     "And I do appreciate it," I shook my head and grinned back, "But I think you're getting a little too much glee out of annoying me."
     "I have no idea what you're talking about."
     "Look. That smirk right there."
     "What smirk?"
     "Seriously..." I sighed, "Wait-"
     "Twenty Three."
     "Damn it."
     "In any case," Rich rolled his eyes in amusement, "Are we actually going to study?"
     "It's been half an hour. I suppose we can start." Branch teased.
     "Just remember, you're the one who needs the help with the test- not us."
     "Yeah." Branch pouted, unable to even joke about it.

He gave me a light punch of the arm when I chuckled. All in all, despite the light irritations of the friendly goading, Rich and Branch were doing well at keeping me distracted. Goodness knows my brain was on the verge of exploding from a week of intense stress.