43800

43800

1x1 between iCat and SleepingInTheGardens

1,064 readers have visited this universe since SleepingInTheGardens created it.

Introduction

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A young, single father to a five year old girl had been managing to get by. Ever since his wife left him and their daughter five years ago, it's only been the two of them. He works as a full time photographer, doing everything he can to give his little girl the life she deserves. After many months of desperation, heartbreak and struggle, he's finally living comfortably once again. His and his daughter's relationship would be envied by many parents, and their future looks bright. However, all that changes with one single word.

Cancer

A life sucking illness had taken over his little girl's body, with little hopes of recovery. The doctors estimate she's got about a month left before it's too late. The only chance of survival is a very costly, very complicated operation with no guarantees that it will turn out well. Many doctors have tried and failed. Only one doctor, among them all, has ever succeeded with the surgery, making him the little girl's last and only lifeline. The only problem is, said doctor hasn't been seen for years. Rumor is, he quit the medicine field, though nobody knows why. But the younger father is determined to find him, and do whatever he can to save his little girl's life.




CHARACTERS

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The Story So Far... Write a Post » as written by 2 authors

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be

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A lot of the time, Ben felt like he didn't fit into this small town. On the surface, he did. He fit in with the peace and quiet exactly. He got up, went to work, sometimes went for a drink with his co-workers, more often went for a drink by himself, then went home. He had a routine, a place. He was the quiet guy in the bookstore, the one who specialised in academic books, the one who drank alone and who people knew not to question.

But he also had secrets, more secrets than felt right for this quiet, peaceful place. Everyone else he knew seemed to live a peaceful life. He wondered if he'd ruined the peace just by showing up. From the first moment he'd asked for a job and had been vague about his last job, he had started tainting the town. He knew they'd all seen the shake in his hands, how it worsened when someone mentioned it or when he was stressed, how even the whiskey he nursed at the bar did nothing to ease it. He knew they knew he had secrets. He knew that people were curious about him. But they didn't want to disrupt the peace, and so they left him to his whiskey and his books.

He wondered if anyone missed him back home. His family had been the only ones he'd even told that he was moving here. They were the only ones with any clue of where he was. To everyone else, he'd just disappeared. Sometimes he'd log into his old social media accounts and see the messages from friends asking him if he was okay, if he was alive, talking about rumours they'd heard. Apparently a popular one was that he was actually missing in action in Iraq, presumed dead, but that everyone had just kept it covered up.

There were nights like this when he longed for some excitement, for something to break him out of his mundane life. Had he not already been drinking, he might have travelled a few towns over and found some handsome stranger to distract him for a night. But the bus had stopped running and he wasn't enough of an idiot to want to drive. So instead he drank and challenged himself to practice suturing on a piece of cloth. If he could do something this simple, maybe there was still hope for him.

His hand slipped and ruined the near perfect stitching. He stopped practicing and started drinking even more.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】
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"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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【 AUTUMN ✧ SONG 】
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"I have the best dad in the entire world"
pre-schooler ✧ #00FF00 ✧ outfit
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"Appa..." the sound of Autumn's delicate voice traveled down the narrow hallway into the living room where Jacob had been all of his daughter's belongings into the suitcase she had decided to use. His brows scrunched in frustration, pondering on how he would explain to his little girl that she either needed to take less clothes or choose a bigger suitcase. "Hmm?" it was silent for a couple of seconds until tiny footsteps could be heard against the polished wood floors. The young father lifted his head to the view of Autumn walking into the living room, small white chihuahua in her hands. He already knew what she would ask even before she spoke. "Where is Chloe going to go? Does she fit in your bags?". Jacob let a wide smile spread on his face before kneeling down in front of his daughter and freeing the small dog from her grasp. "Chloe is staying with aunt Jazz for a few days." The disappointment immediately shows on the small girl's face, but she doesn't argue. Instead she takes a few steps over and places a gentle kiss on the dog's coat. "Don't worry Chloe, we'll be back."

After much needed rearranging and negotiating, father and daughter finally agree on leaving a few items behind, and fitting a few into Jacob's own luggage so that Autumn could keep her favorite suitcase. After all, Jake had no way of knowing how long they would be staying in England. As long as necessary, that was his current resolution, however that was easier said than done. England was a large country, and Jacob had not a single clue where to start looking. When he'd spoken to the doctors, they had been very vague. No one knew where this infamous doctor had ran off to. Most didn't even know if he was still alive. Jacob had barely managed to get a tip from an anonymous family member about his being somewhere in England. So here he was, bags packed and a pair of one way tickets to London, his starting point. Maybe it was a reckless move. Maybe he'd be wasting his time and money for nothing, but he wasn't going to sit back and wonder what if. He would find this doctor at whatever the cost.

Autumn slept most of the flight, while Jake watched her. One month. He had one month to find this doctor before Autumn's condition got out of hand and too extensive to operate. The thought of losing his one and only daughter, the most important thing in his life, brought a heavy feeling to his chest. He closed his eyes, letting his head rest on the back of the seat, and swallowed down the lump in his throat. He was going to cry. Not while there was still hope.

Somewhere along the flight, Jacob drifted off to sleep. His dreams in the form on memories combined with nightmares. He woke to the sound of Autumn's voice calling for him as she pointed out the small window to their left. Jake blinked the sleep from his eyes, just in time to hear the captain announcing that their would be arriving shortly. Suddenly, all the nerves he had been pushing back jumped into his stomach. What if he couldn't find the doctor? Or what if he did find the doctor but the man refused to help them? What if the doctor was physically unable to operate now? All the doubts clouded his head, muting everything around him to the point where he missed the first few times Autumn called him. "Appaaa, are you falling asleep again? We're here!" The man looked from her daughter to the seat belt sign that had already been turned off and immediately got to his feet. He could see Autumn squirming in her seat with excitement ad he pulled their bags down from the overhead compartment before extending a hand for her to take. "Let's go!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be

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"The government," David said, startling Ben out of his reverie. He looked at David as he reached down to grab a book from the pile by his feet. "What?" Ben asked, frowning. "You used to work for the government. That's why you're so vague about your past and why you came all the way here to hide from it. You were like the American James Bond." So close and yet so far. Ben shook his head. "Nope. I'm flattered, though."

This was a game his coworkers liked to play with him. Try and figure out who he used to be. It was a game they could easily end by just looking him up, but they seemed to enjoy it too much to just try and find the easy answer. He wasn't convinced that none of them had ever tried searching him, but either they weren't clicking into the news stories, or they weren't saying anything. Either way, he was glad for it.

"I'm going to get you really drunk one night, and I'm going to get you to tell me then," David declared, and Ben just smirked. "Good luck with that, Dave."

That night was a rare disruption in Ben's usual routine, and an oddly welcoming one. He'd been dreading the event- some children's author launching their book and throwing a party for the local kids to promote it. The author herself was charming and had the children enraptured the whole time, while the adults enjoyed their complimentary glass of bubbles and the staff laughed at Frank and Suzanne, who had drawn the short straws and who now had to dress up as some of the children's characters. Ben had a tendency to volunteer to take the photos for an excuse not to be in any of them- but the local paper had sent a photographer, meaning that Ben inevitably got dragged into some of them. He forced a smile and simply hoped that the local paper was so obscure he wouldn't be seen or noticed. He didn't realise that the author herself tweeted a photo of her and the staff, making him just that little bit easier to find than he would have liked.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】
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"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—

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【 AUTUMN ✧ SONG 】
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"I have the best dad in the entire world"
pre-schooler ✧ #00FF00 ✧ outfit
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London wa
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London was much quieter than Jacob expected it to be. Perhaps it was the time of day, the season, maybe the fact that it was in the middle of the week instead of a weekend, but he and Autumn had virtually no trouble making it to their hotel room. Save the few minutes they had to stop for ice cream because the girl simply could not go on without it. Her over dramatic gestures and facial expressions often reminded him of his mother and as much as he didn't have feelings for the woman anymore, it certainly still stung a bit.

"Izzy, you hungry?" he asked, eyes flicking over tot he toddler who was sprawled out on the hospital bed playing some sort of game on Jacob's phone. She nodded enthusiastically before sitting up. "Let's get McDonald's!" Jake chuckled, pulling out a new pair of clothes for her to wear after her bath. "McDonald's? We can eat that at home. Don't you wanna try something else?" the girl brought a small hand to her chin as if pondering his offer, a frown very visible on her face. "But...what f it makes my tummy hurt like last time?" Jake's lips pressed into a thin line, a small lump forming in his throat as he recalled the terrible night they had just a week or so ago when Autumn woke up crying in pain. How was he to explain to her that her stomach ache wasn't because of something she ate? There was really no point. "I'll find you something good, I promise." he responded with a somewhat forced smile before handing her the clean clothes. "Now hurry up, the water is going to get cold!" he watched her take off towards the bathroom, reminding her to call for him when she was finished. Once she was out of sight, Jake sat on the bed, PC in his lap and pulled up every search engine he could think of.

He had a name, Benjamin Chapman. And somewhat of an idea of what this man was supposed to look like. Perhaps if he just type in his name in every search engine and hoped for the best, something would come up. And the man came up indeed, except not with the information she needed to know. All articles talked about how this doctor had vanished into thin air, so to speak. There were many that claimed he had died, but the family member Jake spoke to assured him that he was very much still alive. Time and time again, the same information came up. Jake could feel his resolve slowly crumbling to nothing as he stared at the articles. There was a high possibility that he would never find this man, and that alone made his insides turn in fear. Just as he was about to give up, he come across a local news page. There was some sort of book launching party for a children's book at a store about an hour away from their hotel. But that's not what caught his attention, it was a picture of the bookstore employees. One in particular stood out. "No way..." a huge part of him told him not to get his hopes up. As much as the man matched the description he had been given, it was also a bit of a stretch and there was no way in hell he had found the doctor that easily. Still, the optimist in him lead him to look up cab fairs and possible ubers that would be willing to take him that far.

"Appa, I'm done!" Jake quickly took down the bookstore address and shut the laptop before rushing over to get Autumn dressed. He decided to skip his shower all together. If he wanted to make it to the place before it closed, he would need to hurry. He just hoped he didn't look too rumpled from the flight. The last thing he needed was to scare off this man that could possibly be his little's girl's saving grace.

In the end, they stopped to get McDonald's on their drive over. Needless to say, Autumn was thrilled. She ate her meal in a happy bliss and spent the rest of the time playing "I Spy" with the cab driver. The young dad kept his gaze glued on the passing scenery. Every mile adding more to his doubts and fears, until eventually they made it. The cab parked across the street, where Jake could see the book store and the bustle of the parents and their children. At least he'd be fitting right in. He helped Autumn out of the car, payed his fees, and immediately made his way over to the place. He continued to tell himself not to get his hopes up, but that didn't do much good. The moment they stepped inside, Autumn gave a little gasp as she took in the scene. If the doctor wasn't here, at the very least Autumn would have something nice to remember.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
Image
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be


Hanging with the grown-ups had originally seemed like a more preferable idea to hanging with the children, but now one of the single mothers had taken to flirting with him, and didn't seem to be able to take a hint that he wasn't interested. He was relieved when he saw somebody entering the store and was able to excuse himself, making his way over to the newcomer and grabbing some of the goodie bags on his way. "Hey there. You're just on time, I hear the good fairy Suzie is about to start telling a story. Run on over to her there, there's still a few beanbags left for you to sit on," He said, dropping to the little girl's height and handing her a goodie bag. He straightened up to look at her dad. He was the type of person that Ben might have once bought a drink if he'd encountered him in a bar. He was the type of person Ben would still consider buying a drink.

"There's a goodie bag for you too if you want one," he said, raising an eyebrow. "We packed loads, so don't worry about some poor kid going without. Some kids have already wrangled two out of David, he's a sucker for puppy eyes. There's also some grown up snacks over here if you want them. And, more importantly, grown-up drinks. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic, we're aware you're still supervising your kids and might have to drive." Apparently the publishers had sponsored the event and had spared no event. Ben just hoped they'd let the staff keep the excess.

"Oh, and I'm Ben by the way. If you need or want anything, just ask," he said with a smile.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】
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"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—β€—

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【 AUTUMN ✧ SONG 】
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"I have the best dad in the entire world"
pre-schooler ✧ #00FF00 ✧ outfit
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For a good minute, Jacob's eyes were focused on his little girl and the way her eyes sparkled at the abundance of treats, fairy costumes and other children. He smiled subconsciously, the sight of her being happy was all he needed. He'd been so caught up in the sight that he didn't see the man approach them. "Hello there-" Jake lifted his gaze just in time to see the man kneeling in front of Autumn. She watched him in amazement, and so did Jacob, but not particularly for the same reasons. "A fairy?" Autumn lifted her hopeful gaze to her father as if asking for permission, to which he responded with a smile. "Go on!". With Jacob's encouragement, the small girl took off to join the crowd.

The man then turned his attention to Jacob. Maybe it was his strong will, his delusional mind, he desperation to save his daughter, but one look at the man's face and Jake knew it was him. This is who he was looking for. "There's a goodie bag for you too if you want one," The man continued to speak, and though half of Jacob's mind was listening, the other half couldn't stop wondering "what if". What if it's not him? What if he's just desperate? Or what if it is him but he doesn't want to help? The man paused for a moment, and Jake thought about asking him right then and there, but he decided against it. If this really is him, if it really is the doctor Jake is looking for, then he has to approach the situation with caution. There's got to be a reason why the man vanished the way he did, and is hiding out here so far from home, on his own. Perhaps the best move was to figure out why first, though Jake had no idea how he would go about it.

"Oh, and I'm Ben by the way. If you need or want anything, just ask," Ben...Benjamin. There's no doubt in his mind now, it has to be him. Jacob didn't mean to stare at the man, but his mind attempted to match what he was seeing with what he remembered from the photograph and the descriptions he was given by others. Once he realized Ben was waiting for his reply, Jacob returned a dimpled smile with its usual warmth. "I'm Jacob, or Jake." he said, gently shaking Ben's hand before gesturing towards Autumn whom had already made a couple of friends among the children. "That's my daughter Autumn." he added with a fond smile before turning his attention back to Ben. The nervous feeling settled into his stomach and made a home there, but Jacob managed to continue as if nothing. "We're actually not from around here." Jacob's lips pressed into a thin line as he tried to think of the best way to explain why he was here without giving away the actual reasons. At least, not yet. "Autumn and I are taking a little vacation and she wanted to explore." though that wasn't the main reason they were here, it also wasn't a lie.

"I haven't been able to eat anything though...maybe later you could show us a good place to eat? If it's not too much trouble" he asked, adding in a polite smile. He could hear Autumn's voice coming from behind Ben, her little laugh still his favorite sound in the entire world. He kept his face neutral, so as to not tip off the doctor, but if the man refused his request Jacob would have to start from square one and think of a better way and time to get the man alone so they could talk about what brought him here. A room full of people, half of them being children is most definitely no it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be
There was a moment where the man stared too long, and Ben thought he saw a spark of... something in the man's eye. But then he recovered before Ben had much of a chance to dwell on it too long. He had a nice smile, one that made Ben's own smile widen a little more and feel a little more genuine. Ben returned the handshake, suddenly paranoid that Jake would somehow be able to feel the slight shake in it. Instinctively, he folded his arms. The shake wasn't something he exactly liked being brought up in this type of conversation.

There was something about this man, something that Ben couldn't quite put his finger on. He was hiding something, but Ben sure as hell couldn't judge him for that. He also wasn't going to pry. If Jake was running from something or trying to hide something, then the last thing he wanted was total strangers questioning it. Coming up with lie after lie was hard, so it was easier to just not be asked.

Ben barely managed to cover his surprise when the man asked him if he could show them somewhere for dinner, and then had to mentally chastise himself for jumping to conclusions. "Absolutely. There's a nice place not too far from here, there's always families with kids there as well. Are you staying in town this evening?" Ben asked. Inside, he had so many questions about this man and his adorable daughter. Why was he here? Was he hiding from something? Did he just want to disappear, just like Ben had? Or was he really just here on vacation with his daughter? And had there actually been anything to that offer of dinner, or was he genuinely just looking for somewhere to eat while also being friendly? Ben didn't know why he cared- realistically, Jake would probably move on to somewhere else tomorrow or the day after and forget all about Ben. Or maybe that was exactly why he cared.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

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"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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At this moment in time, Jake had no idea how he was going to bring up the subject of his daughter in a casual conversation. Granted, there was absolutely nothing casual about it. His little girl was having the life sucked out of her, bit by bit. That was as far from casual as it got, but bringing it up here, and talking about Jacob's hope that this doctor would help them, was not the best idea. Not to mention, he didn't want to scare off the man before even getting the chance to properly talk to him, and telling him that father and daughter flew all the way from San Francisco to here just to find him might do just that.

"Are you staying in town this evening?" Jake glanced in Autumn's direction, who was very occupied with the costumed characters and new friends, and nodded slightly. "I didn't plan on staying long but it looks like Autumn might have other plans." he almost chuckled, and added. "I know she'll be hungry again soon." Jake thought about Ben's suggestion, wondering if it would be a good place to talk. Would it maybe be too crowded? But how could Jacob tell him he preferred somewhere with less people without explaining why? This was proving to be a lot more difficult than he originally planned on. He would just have to make do with what he got. "Thank you for the suggestion, oh, Um- and I'm sorry." he almost muttered, coupled with an apologetic little smile. "You're obviously working and here I am asking you for favors and wasting your time. Don't mind me." he ran his hand through his dark hair, gently scratching at the back of his hair. It was a nervous habit he'd picked up over the years when he wasn't sure what to say or what to do with his hands. "I'll just wait over here for Autumn. I mean, she would love the company but....I don't want to trouble you. I'm sure we could find the place on our own."

As much as he needed to talk to this doctor, he realized that asking a man he'd just met all of two minutes ago to join him and his daughter for dinner might have seemed a little odd, or maybe even given Ben the idea that Jake had other intentions. Though he silently hoped the man would insist on showing them. Not only would it save him the trip back to find him later, but it would also give Jacob and Autumn their much needed company. Not to mention the fact that Jake found the doctor to be very handsome, but that was neither here nor there.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
Image
BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be

xxx
xxx
xxx
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”I didn’t plan on staying long but it looks like Autumn has other plans.” The amount of love that was evident in just that one glance at Autumn spoke volumes about Jake to Ben. Some of the parents here treated their kids like burdens. Even when he’d been working as a doctor, he’d seen the frustration parents treated their kids with when the kids were genuinely sick and unwell. Most of them showed genuine concern, but it was always the nasty few that stuck in your mind. And the ones like Jake, the ones who Ben got the impression would do anything for their kids.

Then Jake seemed to catch himself and realize where they were, apologizing for taking up Ben’s time. Ben shook his head as Jake said they could probably find their way there. β€œNot at all. I like talking to you. Between you and me, Rose over there has been trying to flirt with me since the moment she came in, and she really can’t seem to take a hint that I’m not interested. You’re much nicer ,” Jake said, lowering his voice and smirking a little. β€œAnd honestly, if you guys are okay with having me tag along, I’d be only too happy to come along. I live a very boring and lonely life,” he added, shrugging.

Part of him wondered what the hell he was doing. The more people he let in, the more questions he was susceptible to, and the more answers he’d have to give. Jake wasn’t even going to be sticking around for a while. He’d be gone, and things wouldn’t have changed in the slightest for Ben, but there would be another person who knew his face, knew his name, knew where he was. He didn’t want to make room for two more people only for them to leave another gaping hole in his life.

Because that was it, wasn’t it? He was so desperately lonely that he saw one pretty face, one caring soul, and something in him wanted to let it in. He wanted to break the monotony, to have something and someone different in his life for once. He’d never been terribly good at letting his head choose instead of his heart. But now he had to. It would be dinner, and that was all. They’d move on and he’d stay here, go back to normality and everything it entailed. Loneliness was better than the alternative.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

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"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Much to Jacob’s surprise, and delight, Ben insisted on accompanying them to dinner. There was a minuscule feeling of hope in the pit of Jake’s stomach that this man was the kindest person he’d ever met and would agree to helping Autumn. However, a lot of factors tied into that so, as he’d been doing, Jake pushes all of his hopes down and focused on simply having dinner. At least for the time being. His smile grew a bit as he nodded at the doctor’s answer. ”Well in that case, we’d be happy to be your decoy family.” he joked, sparing a glance in Rose’s direction. It looked like Autumn and her son had become good friends.

For the duration of the time, Jake sat back and watched Autumn play around with the other children, every once in a while stealing a glance of Ben who was busily doing his job. There was still that uneasy, nervous feeling in Jake’s stomach anytime he thought about what was to come, but he managed to remain calm and wait patiently. A couple of single moms that noticed his lack of spouse took to flirting with him, asking if he and Autumn would like to go to dinner afterwards. Thankfully, he could now say he already had plans without the need to lie about it. Eventually the customers began to leave, bit by bit and Jake guessed the event was nearing its end. Autumn and Ben had already become fairly acquainted w0ithout the need of his input which was a very good start. Unfortunately for Ben, Rose still hadn’t gotten the not so subtle hints he’d been giving her.

Jacob took a moment to asses the scene before approaching the two, giving Rose a warm smile. ”Hello.” jacob wasn’t sure how Ben would react to his joining the conversation, but judging by the looks on the man’s face and how hard he’d been trying to get rid of this woman, Jake guesses he wouldn’t mind too terribly. As if on cue, Autumn also joined them the moment she spotted her dad, happily grabbing onto his hand. ”Appa are you going to play with me too?”. Jake crouched down to his daughter’s eye level, removing a string of hair from her face. ”Actually I was going to ask if you’re hungry.” The small girl squealed in excitement as she nodded, taking hold of her father’s cheeks with her glitter adorned hands. ”Can we have some ice cream?” The young father chuckled and gently tapped her nose. ”Sure, but food first.” He got to his feet, running a sleeve over his face in an attempt to wipe away the glitter he knew had been left on his face, and turned to Ben. ”We’ll wait for you by the front desk.” It's not that Jake was in any hurry, he'd gladly wait for Ben as long as needed. He just thought he'd give the man a little help in hopes that Rose would get the hint.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be

xxx
xxx
xxx
xxx
xxx
Ben would have happily stayed and talked to Jake all night, but unfortunately duty called. He managed to avoid being roped in to Suzie's reading to play the Young King, but instead was collared again by Rose as he just tried to restack the tower of books that had been knocked. No matter how busy he tried to look or actually was, she just didn't seem to get the hint, and persistently followed him around, her flirting becoming more and more blatant as time went on.

Eventually, the children started getting tired and grumpy, and the store started to empty out. Some parents seemed glad to escape the place, probably afraid that if they stayed any longer, their children would become glitter-covered, sugar-fueled monsters. He couldn't blame them, to be honest. Some parents were hanging around, probably not wanting to deal with the glitter-covered, sugar-fueled monsters their children had already become. One parent was notably still hanging around. Rose. And now she nearly had him cornered. His patience had almost snapped when suddenly, Jake appeared with the adorable Autumn. Autumn even managed to distract Rose for a second, giving Ben a chance to shoot Jake a grateful smile.

The interaction seemed to make Rose finally hesitate as she looked between Ben and Jake. Her hesitation finally gave Ben the chance to escape. "I'll be there in a minute, I just need to grab my jacket," he replied as Jake said where they'd be waiting. Ben turned to Rose. "Lovely talking to you this evening, Rose, but I've got to run, I'm afraid." She still seemed to be working something through in her head as Ben smirked and headed to the cloakroom to grab his jacket and quickly check he didn't have any glitter on his face.

"Thanks for that. Jesus, that woman is persistent. And completely oblivious," Ben said quietly as he caught up to Jake. "Hey, honey, did you have a good time? You wanna go get some food?" He asked, again ducking briefly to Autumn's level. She was adorable, and seemed like a sweet kid as well. She was easy to spend time with, much like her dad. "It's just about five minutes away, and it should be quiet this time of evening," Ben said, straightening up again. "So, what about you? We didn't bore you out of your mind, did we?"

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

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"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Jake watched as Ben managed to slip away from Rose’s grasp and traveled over to the coat room. He couldn’t help but show an amused smile. It’s amazing how oblivious some people could actually be. Either that or Rose truly just had her sights set on the doctor and refused to give up. After a few minutes, Ben returned to the two, thanking Jake for the interruption. He was glad the man was grateful and not annoyed. ”I thought you could use the help.” he chuckled quietly and watched as the man interacted with Autumn for a few moments before returning to him. ”Oh not at all.” he said in response to Ben’s question. One hand tugged at his scarf to move it into place while the other held Autumn’s small hand. ”Actually I was kind of enjoying watching Rose chase you around the place.” he teased, sparing a glance in the woman’s direction who seemed to have finally given up.

Jake thought about asking for a taxi, or asking if Ben had a car, but given the place was so close They eventually settled on just walking there. It wasn’t terribly cold, and the city that surrounded them gave a very nice view to enjoy on the way there. ”It’s really beautiful and peaceful here.” he almost muttered, more to himself than anything else. He thought about coming back with Autumn for a vacation, maybe in the summer time. Sometime during the following year… but his thoughts led him to think about the what if’s yet again. What if she didn’t make it past the end of the month? There were still so many places he wanted to visit with her, so many things he had to show and teach her. Subconsciously his hand tightened around his daughter’s, successfully calling the little girl’a attention. ”Appa, are you okay?” her voice pulled him back to reality only to realize both her and Ben were staring in his direction. It took him half a second to recover and he immediately responded with a bright smile. ”Yeah of course! I just got distracted by all the lights. he said, gently rubbing her head before taking hold of her hand again. His gaze caught a restaurant up ahead with a name resembling what Ben had mentioned, or at least similar, and he gestured towards the building. ”Is that the one?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be
Ben rolled his eyes at the mention of Rose following him around, glad that he’d finally escaped her. And judging by her reaction, she’d finally gotten the hint as well. He was glad for the walk, the cold air clearing his head a little. It was cold here, colder than he’d been used to back home. During the winter, in the pouring rain and howling winds, he often missed the place he’d called home for so long. But nights like this, clear, dry, crisp nights where he could look straight up and see the stars, he felt like he never wanted to leave.

It seemed that Jake had the same sentiment, making a comment about the peace more to himself than to Ben. There was a moment when the other man seemed lost in his thoughts, only startled out of it by Autumn asking him if he was okay. Ben cleared his throat at the question, looking up at their destination. β€œYeah, this is it. After you,” he said, holding the door for Jake and Autumn.

They were quickly shown to a table, it being blissfully quiet as Ben had expected. He spent many an evening at the bar. There, he could drink in peace, knowing it would stay quiet and that he wouldn’t be surrounded by people. The waiter seemed to recognize him and gave him a small smile as Ben nodded, sliding into his seat and pulling off his coat. β€œEverywhere here is quiet. Peaceful. Good place to escape to, if you need to,” Ben said, mostly in response to Jake’s earlier comment. He couldn’t shake the feeling that Jake was hiding something too, and just wondered at what exactly this man and his daughter could be hiding. Ben could feel the shake in his own hands as he picked up the menu, and wondered if it was even his place to know. But if Jake was looking for somewhere to escape to, he’d picked the right place.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Much to Jake’s delight, the place Ben took them to was very quiet. In fact, much quieter than he expected it to be. They were quickly seated at a table and Autumn was quick to start coloring in the kid’s menu she was given with the provided crayons. Jacob watched her for a moment before turning his attention back to Ben, who explained what peaceful and nice of a place this was to live. Jacob believed him of course, from what little he had seen it was already evident. Much different than the bustling city he and his daughter lived in. ”Good place to escape to if you need to.” somehow the comment caught Jake off guard, though it shouldn’t have. Of course it was a good place to escape to, that’s why the man was here. Jake couldn’t help but feel guilty about not telling him the entire truth, but his insides still twisted at the thought of mentioning Autumn’s condition out loud. Not only did he have to face the possible decline from the doctor, but it also made their situation that much more real. And once again, he swallowed down the urge to blurt our his reason for being here. He’d bring it up soon, just not yet.

”Well, That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.” he said with a thoughtful grin, folding his arms over the table. There was a moment during which Jake and Ben’s eyes met and the former was hit with an irrational wave of fear. There was still a very small possibility that this man wasn’t even the one Jacob was looking for. Then it would be back to square one. ”This is actually our first visit abroad, we usually just travel within the states.” the young father admired, deep down hoping it would lead to question that would almost force him to finally speak about Autumn. ”I really like it so far, but I won’t get ahead of myself, it’s only our first day.” he added with a soft chuckle. Soon enough, their orders were placed and shortly after brought to them. Jake watched Autumn take the first bite of her macaroni and cheese and smile in delight. ”How is it?” Jake asked, directing his attention towards his daughter for a brief moment. Her mouth was too busy to produce a response, so instead she gave both Ben and Jake enthusiastic thumbs up. Jacob returned the gesture before taking a bite of his own food. The talk could wait a bit longer, right now he just wanted to enjoy the meal with his daughter and handsome doctor.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
Image
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be
Ben found himself wondering if this was what his life could have been like. If he'd taken one of the comfortable teaching jobs, if he'd let himself live a life of normality and luxury. Just getting dinner with handsome men he met by chance, maybe even letting himself stay around for more than a night or a few days. But instead, he'd decided to go for a challenging job, something a little bit different. And oh the mess that had made.

"I was the youngest of five kids so I get that. My family didn't exactly have a whole lot of money to go carting us to exotic destinations. A holiday anywhere was a treat." He'd been so determined to travel after that, when he had a good job. Ben smiled as he said he liked it, shrugging a little. "It's pretty quiet here, so if that's what you're after, it's great." They placed their orders, chatting as they waited for them to come. For the first time in months, Ben felt normal. He wasn't waiting for a suitable point to leave or wishing he was at home. He was actually having a nice time. There was a little part of his brain that just felt sad, because he knew this wouldn't last forever.

Autumn's enthusiastic thumbs up at the mac and cheese made Ben laugh. "Good to know it lives up to your expectations. How long are you guys planning on sticking around?" He asked. His own ravioli was really good, and he was glad he'd decided to come with them instead of just eating whatever leftovers were in his fridge. Again, that pang of sadness came back as he wondered how long it would last. How long it would be before they either left or started asking questions that Ben couldn't answer truthfully. Even if he did, it wasn't like it would make a difference. They probably barely wanted to stick around as it was. They certainly wouldn't want to stick around once they knew what a mess he was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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For a good while, Jacob ate his meal in peace. He enjoyed the doctor's company and Autumn was very much enjoying her food. There was some casual banter for a bit, and Jake had almost forgotten his initial reason for being here. That is, until the doctor asked him how long they would be staying. There was no possibly way he could give a concrete answer without lying, because the length of their stay truly depended on Ben and how he would react to Jacob's request. "I'm not sure yet..." he replied, deciding it was high time he got to the point. He hesitated a moment, setting his fork down on top of his finished plate of food, and wondered if it would have been easier to just ask him the moment they had met. Now, Jacob was much more anxious than what he had been all day. He took in a breath and met Ben's eyes for a brief moment. There was something in them that resembled sadness. It almost made Jacob want to rethink his decision. Almost.

"Actually...there's something I've been meaning to tell you all night, but it just hasn't been the right timing." Jake stated, nervously pressing his lips together. He glanced over at his daughter, whom was still occupied with her food, and thought carefully on how to word his next few sentences without worrying his little girl. he could tell his words had put the doctor on his toes, but there was no turning back now. He had to do this, for Autumn. "We...didn't just come here for a vacation." he continued, his heartbeat rapidly increasing as he got closer to the truth. "We came to look for someone..." he had a feeling the man had already caught on to where this was going to go, but still he continued. "Doctor Benjamin Chapman to be exact." the young father exhaled softly, stealing one more glance at his daughter as if giving Ben a silent signal that the reason they needed to find him was because of her. "I had very little idea of what he was supposed to look like, but...based on what i was told, I'm positive that it's you." An apology was written all over Jake's face, mainly for not having brought this up sooner, but also for any wrong ideas he may have given Ben. "We just...really...desperately need your help."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be
"Actually...there's something I've been meaning to tell you all night, but it just hasn't been the right timing." Ben knew from the tone that it wasn't just something about having found Ben's wallet on the street and trying to return him. He put down his own fork, meeting Jake's eyes. The eye contact didn't last long, Jake's gaze moving back to Autumn.

And then he said something that Ben hadn't heard in a long time and hadn't wanted to hear. Doctor Benjamin Chapman. It felt like somebody had kicked Ben in the chest and stomach at once. So that's what all this had been about. Trying to get him to come back. Ben was paralyzed, frozen. He didn't miss Jake's glance at Autumn either. So it was the kid. Ben felt his heart shattering, the helplessness come clawing back in.

He was silent for a few seconds, trying to form the words. He picked up his glass of water and sipped it, barely even aware of the shaking in his hands. "I can't help you," he said, a little too quietly, his voice a little strangled. "I'm- I can't-" He took a deep breath. "I can't. I'm sorry, I- I'm really sorry." Suddenly, it all became too overwhelming. "I'm sorry, I can't do this." He bolted out of his seat, out of the restaurant, only realising once he was outside that he'd left his jacket behind, and that he'd left Jake to foot the bill. Part of him felt bad, but mostly he just needed to get away. Wrapping his arms around himself, he just started walking. Of course none of it had been real. They probably hadn't even seen the person, just the doctor. He wanted to be able to help. Autumn was an adorable kid. And if they were looking for him specifically, then it was bad. Probably real bad. But it wasn't that simple. And honestly it was probably just easier if he walked away rather than having to explain his whole sob story. He felt vaguely like the pressure in his chest was moving up to drown him, suffocate him. It felt like his whole body was shaking at this point. Or maybe that was just the cold.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Jacob held his breath, awaiting the man's answer for what felt like the longest ten seconds of his life. And then, the man said those words that pierced through Jake like a sharp knife. "I can't help you," He felt his insides knot, his chest and throat tightening slightly as he looked for a response. Yes, a small part of him expected the man to reject his request, but the optimist part had convinced him that it was all going to be alright. It was wrong. Jake opened his mouth in an attempt to speak, but Ben's words cut him off. "I can't. I'm sorry, I- I'm really sorry." And as much as Jake knew this could happen, he never expected the man to react the way he did. His words came out sounding exactly how Jacob felt right now, like the wind had been knocked out of his lungs. Once again, Jake attempted to get another word in, but his hopes, or what was left of them were shattered for the second time as Ben got to his feet and dashed out the door, not wanting to hear any more of it.

For a good while, Jake only stared at the door in a trance, almost missing Autumn's voice coming from beside him. [color=#00ff00}"Appa...is he okay?"[/color]. The moment Jacob turned to look at his daughter, a wave of helplessness took over his entire body. The young father swallowed hard, drowning all of his emotions under a fabricated smile, though this time it lacked its usual charm. "Yeah, of course, he just forgot he had to go back to work." he replied, once again feeling like the worst father in existence for lying to his precious daughter. Jacob knew, sooner or later, he would have to explain to her what was going on. But how?

"Is...everything alright?" his eyes lifted up at the sound of the voice to find their waitress staring back at him, concern very evident in her light blue eyes. Jacob simple nodded, followed by a pause, and a slight shrug. "I sure hope so." he muttered before deciding to shift the subject of the conversation. "Can I get this all on one bill please?" the woman didn't appear to be convinced by his first answer, but opted to just do her job and nodded. "Of course sweetheart." It wasn't until the check was brought and payed for, and father and daughter had their coats on ready to leave, that Jake realized Ben had left his jacket behind. He eyed the piece of clothing for a moment, wondering if the man was still near by. It was highly unlikely, but still he took the coat, draping it over one arm, and headed out the door with Autumn. A minuscule hint of hope still hung, making him take a few glances around in hopes of spotting the owner of the garment, but no such luck. It was late, and Autumn was getting very sleepy. The only thing he could do is walk back to the bookstore to leave the coat and call it a night.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
Image
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be

xxx
xxx
xxx
Ben walked home, barely even feeling the cold as his thoughts raced and swirled, dragging him down. He spent the rest of the evening drinking until he fell asleep, doing anything to try and quiet his racing thoughts. Even when he slept, he slept fitfully, waking constantly, and having nightmares every moment his eyes were closed. About what had happened, about all the people he couldn't save, hadn't been able to save, how he couldn't save Autumn-

It seemed that his coworkers could pick up on his bad mood the moment he walked in to work. Or maybe it was just how obviously exhausted he looked. Either way, he seemed to be let do the easier jobs and the ones with the least customer interaction. He was doing his best not to dwell on what had happened, but it was hard not to. And it hurt every single time, a double edged knife. It hurt because it was a very obvious reminder of how damaged he was. He hadn't even been able to calmly explain that he wasn't practicing due to medical issues. He'd just bolted, leaving them with no answers and probably a bad impression of him. Usually, he wouldn't have cared.

But that was the other edge of the knife. He'd let himself believe that Jake was just being friendly or maybe even a little more than just friendly. He'd hoped for a friend, maybe, or even just someone to break the monotony. Instead it had all been just... just to see if he'd help. Just trying to reel in the infamous doctor. Ben felt so bad about not being able to help Autumn, knowing that if Jake had been desperate enough to try and find him, that it was bad. But there was a bubble of anger there at how he hadn't been upfront, he'd just let Ben make his own assumptions. But could he blame him?

It was almost unusually quiet, something Ben was both glad or and cursing. Glad for the peace, cursing the time left to his own thoughts. He just kept turning it over in his head. As if there was even anything to do about it. Jake and Autumn were probably on a plane already, tracking down the next miracle worker.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Maybe it was his crushed hopes and the pang of guilt he felt for not having been upfront with Ben, but Jake couldn’t get himself to walk back to the bookstore. Not right that second. It was late, cold, and Autumn was visibly exhausted. The young father took hold of his daughter’s hand and called for a taxi. He would have to spend the night in town at whatever hotel had a vacant room. It was too late to go back to London. Not to mention he had to return Ben’s jacket, and apologize for whatever he said or did that brought such a reaction out of him. The look of heartbreak on the man’s face was etched into Jake’s mind. It wouldn’t feel right leaving like this. Luckily he had packed some extra clothing for himself and Autumn, just on the off chance that something like this would happen.

The cab driver was able to locate a nearby hotel, about a ten minute drive from the bookstore, with a few vacant rooms. He only booked the room for the night, planning on heading back to London after returning the jacket. And then, well…at this point he didn’t know. He was out of ideas, out of hope, and just about out of time. The moment Autumn’s head hit the pillow, she was out like a light. Jacob on the other hand, spent the better half of the night staring at the hotel room ceiling. All kinds of thoughts raced through his head, with one reoccurring. The moment Autumn’s life ends, so will his.

The next morning Jacob looked as exhausted as he felt. He had slept in later than he’d meant to, to the point where Autumn had to wake him up to tell him she was hungry. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he got to his feet and got himself and his daughter ready within the hour. They had breakfast at the hotel and another cab was called, this time taking them back to the bookstore. Jacob stood in front of the door, hesitant to go inside, while Autumn questioned why they were there again. Jacob simply explained the situation with the forgotten jacket before stepping inside. It was silent, and almost empty save the employees. A complete contrast from what it had been the night before. Jake’s eyes searched the area but no sign of the person he was searching for. ”Can I help you, sir?” a voice asked from behind the counter as Jacob approached it.

”Maybe. I’m just…looking for Ben?” he asked, hoping there wasn’t more than one Ben working there because Jacob wasn’t even sure the man still used his own last name, and he didn’t want to be the one to mess things up for him. Luckily that wasn’t the case, because the man behind the counter immediately pointed to a few bookshelves over. ”Ilse 6” he explained. Jacob thanked him and followed his direction while Autumn stayed behind with an employee to explore the picture book section. Surely enough, there he was. And for a few short beats, Jake almost changed his mind.

”I…thought you’d want this back.” he said, extending the coat towards him. ”Also…I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to surprise you like that, I just-β€œ for a moment Jacob wanted to blurt out all of his thoughts. Why he’d been so desperate to find him, How autumn was his entire world and the only thing he had left, how he’d do anything possible and impossible to save her, but Ben had already made it clear he wasn’t going to help. There was no point in wallowing. Instead, he swallowed the knot that had formed in his throat, quickly blinking away the tears that threatened his eyes, and continued. ”I just needed to say that before we left. Autumn quite likes you…and so do I. It didn’t feel right to leave without an apology,” he added a smile, small and tired, but a genuine smile nonetheless in hopes that the man would believe him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
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BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
Image
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be
Ben was in a world of his own when the familiar voice suddenly startled him out of it. He turned to look at Jake, his heart already in his throat. He couldn't freak out again. Not here, when there was too many eyes to see and ask too many questions. So instead he wordlessly took the coat, not quite able to make eye contact. The apology sounded sincere, and somehow that made him feel worse.

"No it's-" He stopped himself and forced himself to take a deep breath, slowing his racing thoughts and heart. "I'm sorry for... freaking out on you guys like that. But there's a reason I'm not- there's a reason I left. And I felt like it had all finally caught up with me and... I'm not in a place to deal with it all right now." He wanted to give as honest an answer as he could while also not giving the whole story. The store was so quiet, he could hear Autumn chatting away to Dave even from where they were standing. He went to put another book on the shelf but almost dropping it with the shaking in his hands. Instead, he just shoved his hands into his pockets and leaned against the shelf.

"I'm pretty fond of you guys too," he said, smiling a little, without even really thinking about it. Then he sighed. "It's bad, isn't it? If you came all the way here looking for me... I wish I could help. But I can't." He wasn't sure if this conversation was making it better or worse. Would the clean break, the disappearance have made it easier to deal with? He felt like it would have been. Instead, Jake was being so nice about it. Ben couldn't have blamed him for just disappearing and trying the next thing. But was there even anything else? If they'd come looking for him, it must have been their only chance. But what could he do? He certainly didn't trust himself with a scalpel at the minute, he'd barely be able to keep the incision straight, let alone do the delicate surgery.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

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"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Jacob couldn't tell if his apology was making things better or worse, but he couldn't have left without it. It would have bothered him way too much. Ben attempted to explain why he left the medical field, but it was obvious he didn't want to give details. Whether it was because he didn't want to give them to Jake, or simply because he didn't want to give them right now in the middle of the quiet bookstore didn't really matter, and didn't make it any more of Jacob's business. As curious as he was, and as much as he wanted to ask why? Why couldn't he held his little girl? It wasn't his place to do so. Ben had his reasons, just like Jake had his reasons for coming here. "I get it..." he said almost too quietly, watching Ben as he let go of a book he had set on the shelf and shoved his hands into his pockets, which Jacob had noticed was a reoccurring habit. "I mean, you don't have to explain anything to me. It's none of my business." he added, hoping Ben didn't feel obligated to share his past. Jacob opted to ignore the question about whether Autumn's condition was bad because, in all honesty Ben had to have figured it out by now. If it wasn't, Jacob and Autumn wouldn't be there right now.

"Anyway, I was hoping you could do us one last favor." he said, pausing for a moment to listen to Autumn's distant chatter with the bookstore employee. She really did have a knack for making friends, just like her father. "Would you be willing to join us for lunch? If it's not too busy." he asked, the last part of the sentence almost as a joke, considering the bookstore was all but deserted right now. "Just...to make up for last night." he added. There were no other intentions behind the offer this time, no avoided subject that Jacob was reluctant to bring up, no favor waiting to be asked. He truly just wanted a nice, quiet lunch with someone he'd become quite fond of within just a few conversations. "No secrets this time, i promise." he let a soft smile grace his lips, wide enough to form dimples, as he waited and hoped Ben would believe him and accept.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
Image
BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
Image
Image
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be
The question of one last favour made Ben worried than felt right. After all that he'd learned, he wasn't even totally sure what to expect. A referral to somebody else that could help, an answer as to why he was so reluctant to help, anything else they could do. He was so sure that Jake had no personal interest in him that the request of lunch took him aback and he was left momentarily speechless. The joke about him being busy made him smile out of reflex more than anything as his brain still processed what he was going to say.

Part of him wanted to say no, to let the whole thing end here. He didn't want to get too involved, didn't want this hurting any more than it absolutely had to. Because Jake's grace about the whole thing just made him like him more, made him want Jake to stay around longer. He could have been angry. He could have demanded answers. He could have blamed Ben for letting his daughter die. But instead he wanted to bring him out for lunch to apologise for upsetting Ben with the request.

The refusal was on the tip of his tongue- and then he looked at that goddamn smile. "Sure, sounds nice. I'm on lunch in about an hour, if that suits you," He said, without even really thinking. He'd gone so long without making any really bad decisions, and now here he was. He felt like this couldn't end well. Because now he knew Jake would be leaving, and probably soon. The more time he spent with them, the harder it was going to be to let them leave. He hadn't realised how much he had grown to dislike the monotony of his life until this handsome man and his adorable daughter had arrived and shattered it. But it wasn't like he could just go back to his old life either. He was trapped, stuck in this dull routine, the only place where it felt safe.

"You guys can just chill in here for a bit if you want, read a book or something, I think we'll all appreciate the company.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

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【 JACOB ✧ SONG 】

Image
"When you've got nowhere to go,
I'll be your home"

photographer ✧ #228B22 ✧ outfit
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Somehow, Jacob expected Ben to reject his offer. There was a look on his face that told Jacob maybe he shouldn't have come. It was present for most of the time he'd been talking, and then as if a distant dream, it vanished and Ben accepted the invitation. "Sure, sounds nice. I'm on lunch in about an hour, if that suits you," The simple answer made Jacob smile just a tad wider as he nodded. "No worries, we can wait. Autumn had a big breakfast." he confirmed.

Ben suggested sticking around until his lunch break, and Jacob nodded in agreement. It's not like there was anything else they could be doing, and by the sounds of it, Autumn had made a solid friend. For a moment, Jake hesitated on what to do. He didn't want to be in Ben's way, but he also wanted to continue talking to him. To keep himself busy without giving Ben the obligation of having to keep him entertained, he turned to look at the books behind him. He eyed the titles and covers, having never heard of any of them. It's not that Jake disliked reading, but rather he never had the time to sit down and do it. As he was about to pick one up, his ears caught tiny footsteps getting closer until Autumn's face appeared.

"Appa, look!" leaving the book behind, Jake turned to look at his daughter, kneeling down to her eye level. She enthusiastically opened the first page of a pop-up book with a jungle scene as her small index finger pointed to a family of Pandas. What looked to be the father, mother, and baby. "That's you." she giggled, pointing to the largest panda before moving onto the smallest one. "That's me" he said and then added a sad smile as she pointed to the last one. "And that will be mom whenever she comes to visit." The last statement felt like a sharp knife to Jacob's chest, not because he longed for the woman to visit because at this point in his life he couldn't care less for her. What made his heart ache was the sadness in Autumn's face and voice as she said this, as if she knew her mother would never be visiting.

Opting to change the subject, Jacob pointed to a lonely money hanging from a branch in the corner of the page. "And who's this?" Autumn seemed to give it a few seconds' thought before giggling mischievously. "That's Dave." Jacob chuckled, assuming that Dave was the employee she had just been chatting with. "And this!" she continued on her own as she pointed to a grizzly bear on the following page. "This is Ben." Jacob raised a brow, switching his gaze from his daughter to the man stacking books. "It does look like him, doesn't it?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ben Chapman Character Portrait: Jacob Song

0.00 INK

#, as written by iCat
Image
BEN CHAPMAN
the doctor- #bbc89c - outfit
Image
Image
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xxxi feel so damn worthless
xxxanother day is gone
xxxand all my faces are alibis
xxxand me, I'm half the man I wanted to be

xxx
xxx
xxx
xxx
Ben actually rather liked having Jake near by, just for the company. Even if they weren't speaking, the shop was so empty that just another human being's presence was welcome. And now that Jake wasn't looking, Ben didn't feel as self-conscious about the shaking either. He managed not to drop any books, and so managed not to draw attention to himself. He was actually starting to feel calm again, which was nice.

Hearing Autumn's voice made him smile without even thinking as she started chatting away to her dad about one of the books. Ben was only half listening, especially when Suzanne came over to ask him about some academic book someone had been looking for. It was only when he heard his own name being mentioned that he turned back around, grinning.

"If only I was as big and scary as a bear," He laughed, bending down to her level to see the book. "I'd be able to roar and scare off all the scary things, and give adorable little girls rides on my back," he said. "I'd be a nice bear, not a scary bear." He went back to stacking the books, this time listening to them a little more closely. The only time he'd really interacted with kids outside of work was some of his nieces and nephews. The last time he'd seen them, they'd been toddlers, just about able to walk and talk. For the first time in months, he let himself wonder how they were. How all of his family was. He was still in contact with them, but perhaps not quite as often as he should have been. He was afraid that they'd start asking him to come home, to ask why he'd left in the first place... or even that they might ask him to tell them honestly how he really was. He didn't exactly want his mother to know about the drinking or the nightmares or any of the other stuff he had to try and deal with. Let her wonder and worry in ignorance.

After a while, he glanced at his watch, realising that he was probably due to start lunch. "I'll be right back," he said, more to Jake but also to Autumn. After checking with John, their manager, that he was good to go on lunch and grabbing his scarf from the coatroom, he returned, wearing his lost coat. "You wanna go get food? What kind of food do you like?" He asked, bending back down to Autumn.

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