Friday, October 10, 2014

Chapter Forty-Five - A Friend in Need

October 19th, 2022

"He hasn't come out of his room in two days. This can't be healthy for anyone. Has he eaten?" Annabelle stood in the living room with Kelly and Scarlett. The former, who was talking to the others, occasionally looked off at random things while talking. "I mean, he just seems so... depressed."

Scarlett lowered her head. "I feel this whole thing is my fault. He's been this way since watching that video of his parents, and I practically convinced him to watch it. I'm worried about him."

"We're all worried." Kelly replied, "But he needs time to absorb what he saw. He also needs help from his friends and family. He has to let us in at some point. I just hope it's sooner rather than later."

"Perhaps a more assertive approach is necessary in this case." MIKE's voice suddenly echoed into the conversation, startling the three women. 

"WHAT THE F-" Annabelle caught herself, then turned around to look for where MIKE was. "Where is that tin can thing?"

"My body is currently outside the domicile, absorbing sunlight through panels built into my outer chassis so I can retain energy. While it is offline, however, I am patched into the house's communication and surveillance systems. I can currently see you through a variety of hidden cameras John had set up before your group left for Starlight Shores."   

Annabelle was taken aback by what MIKE had said. "Wait a second, John never told me about any hidden cameras!"

"He set them up to increase security and, in his words, 'forgot about them'  in lieu of other projects to work on." 

Scarlett laughed, "Yup, sounds like my husband."

Kelly, trying to spot the cameras, looked up at the ceiling. "So I take he told you to patch into the network to keep an eye on the place?"

"Yes. The only places I that do not have cameras are bedrooms and restrooms. If need be, anyone in the household can tap into the cameras from any computer in the house using a specialized program John installed into the network."

Annabelle shrugged, "Well as long as the creepy emotionless robot can't watch me sleep, I'm perfectly okay with increased security."

"You are?" Scarlett asked.

Annabelle nodded and clasped her hands together. "Think about all the times I've been kidnapped, and the house has been attacked. We need some sort of watchful eye over us. If not for us, then Keera."

"True." Kelly said, she then thought back to reading about the proposed hidden camera initiative she read about while on the way to the police station, "ERA" and wondered if MIKE could hack into those cameras. She didn't want to think of all the moral issues that could come about from something like that, and realized she and MIKE could use them to track the Vornek if they were still around. Pushing that thought aside, Kelly spoke up without turning back towards the other two. "This whole MIKE thing is well and good, but what about our cousin?"

Scarlett shrugged, as did Annabelle. The latter then suddenly remembered something as she looked around. "So what did you mean 'assertive approach', MIKE?"

The robot's voice rang through the speakers of the nearby stereo. "I believe we should smash his door open, remove him from his room, and force him to have a pleasant demeanor."

Annabelle scratched her head nervously. "Yeah I don't think that would be the best approach." She then took a paper out of her pocket and scratched the words "smash door down" out of a list of ideas. Pocketing the paper again, Annabelle sighed. "I'm actually gonna go try and talk to him."

Scarlett nodded affirmatively. "I do think you would be the best choice considering your relationship with him. Which is admittedly more on and off than the entire contents of a light switch factory but eh, you gotta take what you got."

Annabelle didn't want to argue because she knew it was true. Her relationship with Tom hadn't been the most stable thing in the world. With the arguments, the jokes, as well as the seeing of other people such as Tom having a relationship with Andy, it had been a roller coaster of doubt. It was because of that doubt that Annabelle couldn't admit her true deep-down feelings to Tom. Sometimes, she even doubted her future with him, just as she knew he did the same with her.

Annabelle silently waved at Kelly and Scarlett and walked upstairs. What felt like hours later, she found herself outside Tom's door, wanting to knock. However, her arm felt numb every time she tried to lift it. Something was stopping her from knocking and going in, though she didn't know quite what that was. Feeling defeated, she turned around and walked away.


Annabelle sadly strolled through the upper floor of their house, not looking where she was going. As such, she walked right into her brother who was standing in the hall while looking at his cell phone. Annabelle, not looking where she was going, smacked hard into her brother, nearly breaking his glasses. Annabelle stumbled back, as did John, and both of them stood there, dazed.

"Sorry, Annie. I was a bit preoccupied." John said as he picked up his fallen cell phone, but not before nursing his hurt head. "I was researching ideas for this new project I'm working on. I'm not entirely sure if I can pull this one off."

"No problem, John. I was a bit preoccupied myself at the moment." She turned around to look at Tom's door and frowned. "Still am."

"Still not coming out of his room?" John asked.

"No. And I'm at the end of my rope! I just want to talk to him, to help him through this. But I need a neutral party, someone who can talk to him now so I can try and talk to him later-" When a revelation suddenly sparked into her mind, Annabelle turned around and smiled at John.


"Hey bro, wanna do something for me?"


John walked up to Tom's door and knocked on it. He turned around and noticed that Annabelle tried to be gone, but he could spot her fairy wings as they phased through the wall she was hiding behind. He chuckled to himself as he knocked again. The door creaked open slightly and John let himself in. Inside, the room looked dark, as there seemed to be only one light on, and Tom stood against the back window which had been covered by a curtain.

Tom's appearance, as John could make out from the lack of lighting, was disheveled. It seemed clear that he hadn't showered or shaved in the three days since watching the video.

"Hey bud." John said, his tone of voice carrying a not-so-hidden worried angle to it, "What's up?"

Tom didn't respond as he looked over at him. John asked the same question again, this time with a clearer, more friendly tone. "What's up, Tom? You okay?"

"I don't remember them. They loved me so much, they cared for me so damn much, and I never remembered them. Is that fair?" Tom wiped his eyes with his coat jacket and turned around. "Is that fair, John, to not remember the people who loved you? Is it fair that they left me and went on a dangerous treasure hunt? Is anything fair anymore?"

"Maybe they didn't know the danger. If they had, I seriously doubt they would have gone in the first place."

"Maybe..." Tom replied. As he looked over, he noticed John was wearing a red necklace. "I take Scarlett gave that to you?" He asked, changing the conversation.

"Made it, actually." John smiled, "It even has my name: 'J.M. Jonathan Michael'. She was going to add the 'Kethrin' but didn't have the room. This was a wonderful present from her, and I'll be carrying this chain for the rest of eternity."

Tom cracked a small smile, the first one in a few days, and sat on his couch. "Don't worry about me, John. I'll be okay, I just need a few days to sort things out, decrease the surplus emotions I've had since... since..."

"I know how you feel, though. Though I'm not the one who can empathize with you right now. I know who can, and I'll see if she can talk with you later today." Tom silently nodded, and John continued, "In fact, I'll send a few people up, one at a time, every hour on the hour unless more time is needed. Expect, I don't know, three people today."

"John, I'm not really in the talkative mood, if you've noticed."

"I know, and that's why I'm going to send others up." With no more words, John walked out of the ruoom, leaving Tom to continue sulking.


One Hour Later. . . . 

  For an entire hour, Tom had sat on his couch, thinking. He was thinking of his past, of his present, and his future. Growing up, Tom had heard from a variety of different people that what one does in the past affected the here and now, and what one did in the here and now affected the future.

Tom kept looking at the clock and as the little hand reached the 1:00 PM mark, he realized that the first of John's "foretold visitors" would be showing up at any minute. As predicted, there was a knock on the door moments later, a soft three-tone knock so light and peaceful that it reflected a quiet personality.

Tom knew, from just the knock, who was on the other side of the door and pulled one of his heavy curtains down so she could feel more at home. He was happy to see the blue sky brightly shining on the other side of the window but had to adjust his eyes to the sudden light. The quiet knock was heard again, and Tom walked over to the door to open it.

"Hey Tom," Kelly said as she stepped into the room, "When I walked past him in the hall, John asked me to come up and talk to you." She shut the door and walked over to the bed, standing near it. "Though to be honest I wasn't sure if I was the best one to do this. I'm not sure what to talk about."

"Me neither, really."

The two silently stood in place for a few moments before Kelly spoke up to break the awkwardness. "We've had decent conversations in the past, it's just this particular one that I feel like a deer in the headlights. I don't know what to say to make you feel better! Then again I have more of an idea than that robot that's walking around the house."

"Yeah I was going to ask you about that. MIKE, right?"

"Yeah, long story. Anyway I would like to talk to you about something... weren't you feeling this exact way about four years ago, in Sunset Valley?"

Tom nodded. "When we went to see their graves that one day. I seem to recall you coming with me."

"I did," Kelly replied, "I tried to help you out then as much as I'm trying now. I just hope one of your past enemies shows up randomly asking for forgiveness, like Deacon did."

"Well I did forgive him. Not sure if I would do the same with MegalomaniJack."

"Interesting nickname."
"I came up with it on the spot. I like to improvise."

"You always have," Kelly replied. "Don't you always come up with jokes on the spot, when you see something or something happens?"

"Yeah, Annabelle doesn't really like them but I do what I have to do." The two shared a small laugh, but Tom's smile disappeared when he walked over to the uncovered window.

"Annabelle. I'm wondering what's she's doing right now when I'm in here."

Kelly shrugged. "Worrying, like we all are. Then again, Annabelle's always worried about you."


"Annabelle's always worried about you. She sat by your side for-"

"Wait-wait a moment." Tom turned around and stared her in the eyes, "I didn't say anything about Annabelle just now. I thought it, but I didn't say anything about her out-loud. What's up with-?"

"I don't know." Kelly shrugged again, "I honestly do not know. This thing I-I just heard in my mind-I hear things I don't know why."

"You hear peoples' thoughts?" Tom asked, trying to wrap his head around this news.

"I've only told a few people?"


Kelly quickly paced the floor for a few seconds, an anguished look on her face. "Can I tell you something?"

Tom stood in place. "Go ahead."

"I don't want anyone to think I'm a freak. I don't want anyone to call me a mutant or some sort of oddity! Random thoughts from others keep popping into my head. They have been since I touched that glowing sphere in the hidden library chamber back in Starlight Shores, maybe even longer!"

Suddenly, Tom started laughing. From her reaction, Kelly didn't seem to know what was going on with him at the moment. When he finally stopped, he walked over to his cousin.

"Kelly, you are living in a house with four alien-human hybrids, three of which are genetic clones if not outright copies of the other one. We all know magic, and there's a robot living here. No one in this house would call you a freak for being able to read thoughts. Not one damn person. And if anyone outside this household had a problem with it, they'd have to deal with me."

"Thanks cousin, that means a lot to me."

Tom, realizing that other things were honestly too important, put the thought of what Kelly just told him out of his mind and stepped back. "Now please, continue with what you were saying. Sorry I interrupted you."

Kelly wondered how he could take her being psychic so well, then realized he'd had seen stranger things. "No problem. What I was saying was that Annabelle was by your side the entire time you both were in the hospital after that explosion. She kept asking the doctors if you were alright, even when she herself was bruised and broken."

"No matter what the doctors told her, she refused to go back into her own bed. She just kept standing there, or sitting, making sure you were doing okay. For days, nights, weeks on end she would just be there for you, ignoring her own pain."


March 16th, 2018
B. Goth Memorial Hospital
Bridgeport, New York

Kelly stood in Tom and Annabelle's shared hospital room, keeping an eye on the latter, who was standing across the room next to Tom's bed, leaning back and forth.

"Are you sure he's going to be okay?" Annabelle weakly asked the only doctor in the room as she stood in obvious pain. Kelly noticed that she was looking nervous, despite numerous warnings to keep calm and let the medicine she was on take effect. "Are you positive? He did a lot to protect me. He saved me, he needs to be okay."
The doctor, a man named Jeremy Landon, nodded assuredly as he overlooked Tom. "He took a nasty fall, and so did you, but he'll be okay. He just needs rest. So do you, Miss Kethrin."

Annabelle shook her head. "I can't rest. Not now. Look at him!"

"Look at yourself, Annie." Kelly said, her voice cracking, "you need to sleep. You've been up for too long!"

"I-I am perfectly okay." Annabelle said, her voice stretching, "Perfectly fine, perfectly okay."

"No you're not." Dr. Landon said, "Your heart rate has been elevated for the past two hours. If you don't rest soon, I'll have to give you a sedative."

Annabelle made a small whimpering noise, silent enough for Kelly to hear. She didn't know if Annie made the noise because of pain or because of the slightly confrontational tone the doctor was speaking with, but she knew she had to do something to fix the situation. Within seconds, Kelly walked up to the doctor and whispered into his ear.

"Let me talk to Annabelle, please? I don't want her to feel any more uncomfortable than she already is."

The doctor nodded and walked out, taking his charts with him. Kelly felt a wave of relief wash over her when the door shut, and she stepped in front of Annabelle, briefly blocking her view of Tom while gently holding on to her arms.

"Annie, you have to get some sleep."

"No! He needs me! He needs me to watch over him! I told him to take me to the library! I suggested that we both went, and when we got there, some masked psycho tried to blow us up! It was my fault! It was my fault! If I had gone alone, he wouldn't have been injured,"

"And you'd be kidnapped by that masked psycho," Kelly responded. "He made sure that didn't happen, so you need to be there for him when he wakes up, okay? And the only way you can make sure of that is to get some rest yourself."

Annabelle nodded, then took a deep breath. "Thank you, you'll always be my friend."

"Yeah, I'll be your friend, that's what you need need right now." She had a tinge of disappointment in her words, one that Annabelle didn't pick up on, and the latter climbed back into bed and covered up, quickly drifting back to sleep.

"Sleep well, Annabelle, I'll keep an eye on Tom while you rest." Kelly whispered.


"After she went to sleep, I kept an eye on you to make sure you were doing well. It was somewhat of a promise I made to Annie. And now you two are here, safe."

"I'm starting to think we'll never be safe..." Tom replied, " long as people like Jack Toomes are out there."

Kelly shrugged. "People like Jack Toomes will always be out there. You can't worry about those kinds of possibilities. Besides, you've stopped Jack twice, and people out there know about it. They'd be an idiot to try and come after us."

Tom chuckled, "Yeah, then again this world has its share of idiots." Kelly humorously nodded in agreement, then Tom continued talking. "There is something I want to ask you to do, though."

"What's that?"

"Tell everyone in the household about your... special... thingy you do. Your mind-reading prowess, so to speak."

Kelly lowered her head. "I didn't want to tell anyone except my parents and Mirabelle until I knew precisely why I can do it. It's been happening ever since our little trip to the library in Starlight Shores, perhaps even before. But yeah, I'l tell everyone. But you have to do something for me. Come out of this room, mingle with the people who care for you."

Tom shook his head and walked halfway over to the window. "I'm sorry, it was great talking to you but... I can't. I don't know why, I just can't. I just want to be in here, where I feel... ... safe. I feel like I'm hiding from ghosts of my past that are trying to hurt me."

"Safety isn't about this room, or out there, it's how you feel in your heart, Tom." Kelly replied as she turned to the door, "And if you can't feel safe anywhere else, then you can stay here. But you have to understand that these things that you're hiding from, these 'ghosts of your past', they are what they are."

With no more words, Kelly shrugged and stepped out of the room, leaving Tom once again alone.


Tom stood in his dark room again, having put his curtain back against the wall. As he did so, he contemplated what his cousin Kelly said just moments before she left his room about an hour before. Just as he was about to come to a decision, he heard another knock on the door. Tom opened it and saw his other cousin, Scarlett, standing in the doorway.

"Yo. Whassup?"

"Hey, Red. I take John asked you to come up and talk to me too?" Tom and Scarlett walked away from the door and into the room proper.

"Yup, he asked me, and I am here and present. I hear you talked to Kelly earlier."

Tom nodded. "I spoke to her for a bit. She seems concerned about me, as I'm sure you are, but don't worry! I have things under control."

"You haven't come out of your room in three days. I don't think you have things 'under control' as much as you'd like. Why are you in here anyway?"

"I don't even know." Tom replie, "I told Kelly it's because I feel safe in this room, but I'm not entirely sure that's even the case. I just feel lost. I thought I could handle watching that video of my parents because of how watching yours helped you, but I couldn't handle it at all."

"So you're in a period of mourning."

Tom nodded. He knew that Scarlett went through this exact same situation a few months before and came out stronger, while he himself had fallen into a depressive state. In his mind, Scarlett was stronger than he could ever be. "Exactly. I'm trying to get all my thoughts together, mostly about my parents. I didn't even know them! I never figured out why they left me! Why did they go on some damn trip that they knew there was danger involved?! Why leave me behind when there was even a chance they couldn't come back! They left me, Scarlett!"

"I am sure they did whatever they could to ensure you had a good life. And you have, haven't you? Barring any psychos and supervillains, of course."

"Yeah, I guess." Tom shrugged and walked over to his dresser. "But it's just the surrealism of it all. Annabelle's a fairy, an actual fairy, with two different clones. How many other people can say they live with someone who was born on a different planet?  Much less..." Tom had a brief smile flash his face, but it quickly faded before he finished his thought. "...never mind."

"Tom, your parents loved you. They wouldn't have left you with Uncle Elliot and Aunt Mei if they didn't think you'd be in the greatest possible care in the slightest chance of their death on their trip abroad."

"I suppose. I just--I... I don't know. I don't know what to think right now. This whole thing, it's got me worried about everyone I give a damn about. Would they miss me if I was gone?"

Scarlett nodded, but didn't know what to say. Suddenly, a thought came to her and she walked over to Tom's computer, typing in his password and gaining access to it.

"How did you know my computer's password?" Tom asked as he walked over to her.

"Oh come on, everyone in the household knows it's 'T0M&Anni34Ev3R'."

He nervously scratched his head, "Everyone? Tell Annabelle it's just a... just a placeholder... yeah. Anyway, what are you doing right now?"

Scarlett smiled as she looked at a file on Tom's computer dashboard. "This." With that, she clicked on the file which brought up a series of squares, each one labeled a different room in the house. Upon clicking on the square labeled "Living Room", a live feed of the living room downstairs showed up on the computer, In it, Tom could see Mirabelle and Kelly talking while standing near the couch.

"What the- can they see or hear us?"??"

"Well no, we are invisible to them, John placed these well-hidden security cams around the house before we left for Starlight Shores, and we have access to them from every computer. Now listen..."


"Tom come out of his room yet?" Mirabelle asked. and Kelly simply shook her head, prompting Mirabelle to continue "The fact that he hasn't interacted with anyone before today is making me worried and upset."

Kelly nodded. "Me too, he just needs time. That video he watched really, really upset him. I could see it in his eyes."

"You're saying that he found out about your little, you know, secret and asked you to tell everyone?"

"Yeah, but I'm still not sure. He feels pretty confident that no one, even the new people we picked up back at Starlight Shores, will make a fuss out of it, but I'm worried."

"Well Tom trusts everyone to do the right thing. Him asking you to reveal it is his own little seal of approval."

"I suppose. I'll tell everyone tomorrow. Hopefully by then, Tom will be out of his room and all this will be behind us."

"I still think it would be necessary to take his door down and force him to be happy." MIKE's voice said as it rang through the speakers.


Scarlett stopped the feed. "What secret are they talking about?"

"It would be better if she told you herself. Any more feeds? Any of... you know, Annabelle? I want to see how she's doing right now, if she needs anything."

"Nah, Annie was taking a nap when I walked up here. The cameras aren't in the bedrooms. However, there seems to be a bit of activity in the basement. Let's see..." Scarlett clicked on the basement square and the two watched a live-feed pop up again.

This time, Cassie and Gabriel were playing a racing game on the Maxoid system downstairs, with Gabriel clearly falling behind. Scarlett and Tom didn't know if he was truly bad at the game or deliberately falling behind to let Cassie win.


"Yeah!" Cassie yelled out as her car crossed the finish line. "That's three out of three! I am the victor!"

"Wanna go again?"

"Yah." Cassie smiled as they started playing once more. Suddenly, Keera stepped into the room and walked up to them.

"John just asked me, to ask you two, if you want to go up and chat with Tom. I told him I'd talk to you guys."

"Uh what about?" Gabriel asked, "to be honest, he seems nice but I don't really know him. We haven't interacted much since I moved in with you guys."

Cassie chimed in, "Yeah me neither, even less so now considering he won't even come out of his room. What am I supposed to talk to him about, the color of his hair?"

"I dunno," Keera replied, "Just... stuff. Tom's a nice person to talk to, he's truly a great guy."

Cassie shrugged. "I'll try to chat him up later. Right now Gabe's got his losing streak to increase on this game."

Keera sighed and walked out of the room, leaving the two behind. When she was gone, Gabe frowned as he leaned back, dropping the controller on the floor in front of him. "I just don't know what to say to the guy."


Scarlett shut off the basement feed and looked up at Tom, who had a frown to match Gabriel's. "It's true, I've been ignorant to their needs. I've been so focused on wanting to know what's happened to Annabelle that I've forgotten about them. Gabe's technically my son! My own flesh and blood, and I've barely had a two minute conversation with him."

"I can try another feed..."

"No, just... no. These people care about me, and I've treated them horribly. I've let my ignorance and want get in the way of what's truly important. How can I face anyone now?"

Tom became enmeshed in his depressive state even further as he sat back on his couch. Scarlett let herself out, worried that her actions, with all her best intentions, had driven Tom even further away. Entrenched in the shadows of his room, Tom watched as Scarlett seemingly faded into the darkness of the doorway.


Annabelle opened her eyes and stood up out of her bed. Silently, she walked out her door and up the stairs. Taking a deep breath, she silently opened the door. An hour had passed since Scarlett left, and now Annabelle was there, standing before Tom as a recognizable figure in the dark room. Tom opened his eyes and noticed her standing in front of him, and stood up to face her.

"I'm sure you're here to chat, but you don't need to say anything." Tom said as Annabelle silently nodded. "I've done wrong things, I know. I didn't listen to you when you tried to tell me about Andy and her connection to Nightmare, letting my feelings for her get in the way. I've made jokes at you, I've ignored you, I don't want to do that anymore. In the future, I will never make a single joke."

Annabelle had a puzzled expression on her face, and Tom continued. "Okay, I'll make some jokes, but not truly mean ones. Look, I care about you. I know that, you know that, and I'm not sure if you feel the same way. Yeah you've said it but things have been so topsy-turvy for me lately that up is down and blue is green. Don't tell Kelly that, she'll end up looking like you."

Annabelle silently laughed, and let Tom continue talking.

"I've tried to figure things out. I've been mourning my parents' loss, but at the same time I've been so worried about you and the wings and the everything, and I don't want people to feel that I've lost my way. That's why I've avoided everyone: I want to be strong for everyone, but I am not sure if I can be. But I'm willing to try. I just want to tell you something that I've never felt brave enough to say, and now seems like the perfect time."

"I love you, Annabelle Jade Kethrin. I've always loved you. I am pretty sure I always will. I know you might want to leave now that I've said this but... please... you don't have to say anything, just know how I feel."

Annabelle's eyes widened when she heard Tom's confession, even though she literally already knew. However, when he leaned in to hug her, her eyes became filled with worry, even when she didn't know why they did. Tom pulled away from the hug and smiled, prompting her to return the smile.

Suddenly, Tom felt a bit woozy. "Whoa, I feel... ugh, long night without sleep. I think I'm going to take a nap." With that, he turned walked over to his bed. Annabelle stayed in the room and sat on his couch, watching him to make sure he was doing well as he slept, just as she wanted to many years before.

Tom opened his eyes and found himself in the living room. Beside him stood Annabelle, and she smiled, but suddenly she was gone. 

He ran into the foyer to look for her, and watched as Kelly sadly walked into a dark corner, only to vanish as well. He yelled out, as loud as possible, and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he found himself in the cold city center of Hidden Springs, and was left with an even colder thought that he was all alone under a sky as red as blood. 

"IS ANYBODY HERE?! SOMEBODY? ANYONE? Help... me." Tom screamed out in terror at the thought of being alone, no one there to help him or answer his calls. Suddenly, he spotted someone in the distance. While running up to the person, the snow began to fall heavier and heavier until he looked around and found himself in the graveyard of the town, next to a large statue of the grim reaper. 

With no one around him in this desolate, empty graveyard, Tom fell to the ground came to a horrible realization. 

"I'm gonna die alone."

Suddenly, the world around him grew soft, and he slowly sank into the snow. No matter how much he struggled...

No matter how much he screamed...

The world slowly took him into it's cold embrace beneath the shadow of the reaper's statue.

"I'm gonna die alone."


Tom opened his eyes again and found himself back in his warm room. Annabelle was still on the couch, but was asleep, and Tom looked at the clock only to find out that it was 6:00 AM the next morning.

"I slept for that long?!" He whispered to himself, and stood up out of his bed. Refreshed, Tom walked over to the door and opened it, stepping outside for the first time in a while. Just as he did so, he saw Keera walking into her own room and stopped her.

"Keera! Keera I am so sorry I didn't talk to you! I'm so sorry!"

"It's okay," Keera replied, "I understand more than anyone how it is to feel shut out and alone. But you should know that you are a part of this family, and everyone loves you."

"You're right!" Tom smiled, "I'm not alone, and I never will be! I should... I should do something! A nice breakfast! I should cook a great breakfast for everyone!"

Keera nervously chuckled, "Are you SURE you should cook, Tom? You don't have the best track record. I'm up for cooking, I got to bed early last night."

"Nah, I don't want you to get anywhere near a dangerous source of heat. Hmm... It's 6:00 AM, right? Here, take some money and call that large place downtown, tell them to deliver the largest breakfast pizza they've ever cooked and tell them to bring it fast. I want everyone to get some food."

"Okay, and Tom... it's good to see you again."

"It's great to see you too." Tom smiled and walked over to the window. Off in the distance, the rising sun began to gently reveal itself behind the mountains across the lake, turning the dark sky into a beautiful bright pink one. The temperature had also risen overnight, causing the snow to begin melting off the trees.

"I am so glad I didn't miss such a beautiful day."