roommates

His time was officially over. Duncan had gone through the few years in prison for property damage and was now free to live his life the way he always wanted to, with the guidance of a somewhat psychotic ginger who was appointed his watcher. He obviously didn't need her. The things he saw in prison were awful enough for him not to break anymore laws.

Unfortunately though, without any money leftover from when he won half a million on set of a reality TV show that landed him in prison, he was forced to live in a rundown apartment block in the dark alleys of the city. The ginger brainiac was still with him, and was also moved into the apartment as part of her contract.

Duncan had landed himself a job as a taxi driver, which may not have sounded so good upon first glance, but he quickly grew into with how he could cheat his customers into paying more than they needed. Plus, he got the car without having to show license. Don't know how that happened, but at least his flat mate didn't seem to mind.

In a couple days time, it would be his second month in the stingy apartment, and third month with the ginger lady, whom annoyingly enough, worked from home all day. Duncan didn't know what she did, but it didn't trouble him too much. Who needs to worry when you could ride in a sleek yellow cab?

Alas, another day on the job had ended and Duncan trudged up the many stairs he needed to climb to reach his room atop the sixth story, since the stupid apartment didn't have an elevator. Nevertheless, he was glad to be off the job now and walked into his shared apartment feeling ready to collapse on his bed.

Scarlett, the ginger who was assigned to watch him, sipped her tea as he walked in. "Good evening," she told him monotonously, setting her tea back on the dish. "I have some news for you."

Duncan piped an eyebrow, closing the door behind him and walked over to take a seat across from Scarlett, looking oddly dazzled. Once she saw that he was listening to her, Scarlett closed her laptop and looked at him dead in the eyes.

"The landlord called to say that we should be expecting another addition to our apartment," she informed him. "I'm getting a call from her later tonight and I would like you to start clearing out some space in your room for her."

This made Duncan cringe, but he quickly snapped out of it and turned to Scarlett confused. "Why is she going in my room?" She opened her mouth to say something but he quickly interject. "And do I get a say in this? Do I get to say yes or no for her to come live in my apartment?" It was obvious that he was getting frustrated, but Scarlett remained eerily calm.

She took another sip of her tea as the silence prolonged, the only sound being the heavy pants of Duncan's breathing and clink of the cup as it was placed onto the dish.

"She can't go in my room because I do not have enough space to accommodate for her. You chose the bigger room, which in term means that any permanent guests we have will be moving into your room. The sofa is well and truly unsuitable for anyone to sleep on, and if any of your future spouses gets angry at you, it's your place to sleep for the night," she told him stirring her teabag around in her tea. "Plus, you should know I don't like sharing with people. The apartment is an exception, but you work late so there's no worry for me."

Knowing very well that Duncan was getting impatient, Scarlett took another relaxing sip of her tea, watching his reactions closely as his eyes bore into hers angrily. She placed the cup back down on the dish and continued.

"To answer your second and third question, I got the call last night, and was finalising all the details today. From what I've been told, she's stressed for money and food too and was forced out of her home by her parents. I'd have loved to decline her application, but judging by the amount you and I earn, and the deduction of money used to pay rent, plus the extra money used to buy food and essentials every week, we were bound to go bankrupt in say, eight months. And I know for sure that you won't be giving up your cigarettes anytime soon, like I won't be giving up on my monthly Blood subscription either. The extra money we'll earn by having her live with us will extend the day of bankruptcy by at least another sixth months."

Duncan groaned and ran a hand through his matted black hair. "And what'll happen when we do go bankrupt?"

Scarlett merely smiled and held her cup of tea to her lips. "If things go accordingly, it won't happen." She took a sip and Duncan shut up, not wanting to even think about what creepy ways she could be planning to do whatever it is she does. Sighing heavily to himself, he got up from the table and walked into his room, slamming the door shut in frustration.

「*」

Life had seemingly gone downhill for Zoey after All-Stars. Yes, she may have gotten married to Mike and had a child with him, but since then everything gradually started to worsen.

Mike's therapist was not-so mysteriously killed and Zoey was there to witness when her horrified husband ran through the doors covered in blood. For his and her own protection, Mike turned himself into police and was later taken to prison where he was told he would spend the rest of his life in bars…or would have if he hadn't gone psychopathic and ran away into the unknown never to be seen again.

Though because of how Zoey's life began to go downhill, without Mike she couldn't stay in their lovely house anymore since he had already spent his million dollars not only on making sure the two could live happily, but gave the rest away to charity so Zoey had nothing left once he left, and was forced back into her parents house.

That didn't last long either, since Zoey's parents were very unflattering when she walked through the front doors with her bags and a baby in arms without so much of a warning. She was eventually kicked out by her parents, who were sick and tired of her baby's wails and the fact that she had become somewhat of a teen rebellion.

Now she stood in a phone booth on a rainy day, inserting her coins so she could stay on the line, as she waited for the landlord to get back to her. Her baby boy, Zachary John or ZJ as she liked to call him, sleep soundly in her arms as she rocked him softly, waiting for the landlord to reply.

The crackle was heard on the other end, and the landlord's voice echoed into her ear. "Alright, I've been in contact with the owners and we've been finalising some details. You're all set to move in around two days. With the money you've got the rent should easily benefit you, and getting a job wouldn't be too hard either."

The tension in her body eased and she sighed softly. "Thank you so much."

"My pleasure," the landlord chuckled. "Just doing my job." And then they hung up.

Zoey sighed again, putting the phone back and slowly getting out of the booth. ZJ was still sound asleep in her arms, and she leant her suitcase on her thigh as she stood aimlessly in the middle of the street in the dark of night. She looked at her baby's sleeping face and a small smile spread across her face as she rocked her baby in her arms.

Maybe things will go okay now…

「*」

"Duncan," Scarlett said as the taxi driver walked past her, reaching for the doorknob. He stopped in his tracks, and turned around to face her, readying himself to speak but was cut off immediately by Scarlett. "Our new roommate is meeting us tonight. Try and clean up a bit more."

The delinquent grumbled, running a hand through his greasy black hair. "Why didn't you tell me earlier?" It wasn't that he wasn't somewhat curious to seeing who his new roommate would be, but being informed with such late notice made him slightly agitated.

"You didn't ask," Scarlett replied, her attention not wavering from her computer. The response did not satisfy Duncan, and he clenched his fist looking for something to punch, but dropped it quickly. She may annoy him from time to time, but she was also intimidating at times.

With one final sigh, he turned around and exited their apartment building, slamming the door as he went.

「*」

Oh boy, Zoey sighed, standing outside the apartment she was told to meet at. Her maroon suitcase stood next to her, and ZJ was sound asleep in her arms, snoozing quietly. The dull light that hung over her head flickered ever so often, and if she stared at it for long enough, she could see the swarm of bugs that danced around the bulb.

She shuddered, averting her eyes back to the door. Maybe they didn't hear me... Zoey reached for the doorbell again, pressing it softly and hearing the soft ring from the other side of the door. There was no response. Or they went out...?

From the other side of the door, Duncan paced around back and forth, hearing the doorbell ring again. His hands were knotted in his hair and he tugged at his roots, stress consuming him. Scarlett sat on the couch in front of him, sipping from her warm cup of tea, waiting for him to cool down.

"They're here, they're here, they're here," Duncan mumbled as he paced. "I'm not ready, I'm not ready, I'm not ready."

"I could tell," Scarlett snickered, putting her teacup back on its corresponding dish, ignoring the other sets that surrounded it. "Open the door and then suffer the consequences of a dirty room."

Duncan glared at her, and shook himself out of it. "Oh sure, what are you gonna do? Throw me back in the slammer?" His hands trembled anxiously, but his sarcastic tone showed no signs of weakness. Scarlett on that other hand, remained completely stoic and stood up.

"If you won't open the door, I will," she grumbled, walking over to open the door. Duncan froze, the mental images of Scarlett have some sort of minion or servant to follow her every will to ruin Duncan's life even further flashed in his mind and he dashed for the door, blocking it with his body and getting between Scarlett.

"No! I'll do it!" he protested, hoping that beneath Scarlett's deadpanned expression she'll let him do it. "Just…I dunno, sit down?"

Scarlett rolled her eyes and walked back to her seat, sitting down and picking up her teacup again, sipping her tea. She watched him from the corner of her eye, daring him to open it with her gaze. He squirmed a bit, still not ready to introduce a new member to their dysfunctional home, but knew he had to do it otherwise she'd have his head.

He turned to face the door once again, just as the doorbell rang. Taking in a deep breath, he twisted the knob and opened the door.

There stood a petite redhead girl, wearing a crimson raincoat and cradling a baby. Immediately his eyes met her doe shaped ones and from where Scarlett sat, she could witness a spark between the two. The girl was the first one to react, and a look of recognition crossed her face.

"Duncan! I didn't know you lived here," she smiled, as if she'd known him forever. But even he, a lone taxi driver who's life had already crumbled, could see the pain in her eyes.

Unlike her, he did not smile when he saw her and instead questioned himself about the pain she wore in her eyes. Folding his arms, he stood in the doorway, preventing her from coming inside.

"What are you doing here?" he asked her, a bitter tone to his question. In front of him, he watched as the cheery expression she had faded away and was replaced by a look of pure misery.

「*」

Scarlett walked back into the room, her new cup of tea in her hands, as she sat back down on the couch. She blew gently on her tea before taking a sip, then looked up to meet the eyes of Duncan and the new girl.

"I wasn't informed you had a child with you. If I had known, we wouldn't have permitted you from staying in our estate," she told her, analysing the sleeping child in her arms. Zoey felt a twinge of pain in her chest, but ignored it and weakly smiled at her.

"It's okay! I can look after him myself," she piped up, forcing a big grin on her face. From where he sat, Duncan could see the pain she was going through just putting up this charade for Scarlett to see.

The ginger herself took another short sip of her tea and chuckled softly. "Do your best not to disturb me with your baby. I don't need anymore blood on my hands." Though it was meant to be a lighthearted comment, Zoey looked alarmed at her words. Before she could protest however, Duncan put his hand on her knee.

Scarlett yawned and sat the teacup back on the dish before standing up. She walked away wordlessly to the bathroom and closed the door, leaving Duncan and Zoey to sit in the room alone.

Zoey stared at Duncan's hand, her initial paranoia finally starting to die down and she closed her eyes, taking in a deep breath. As she did, ZJ stirred from his sleep, alerting the two of them. While Zoey's eyes were full of relief, Duncan's eyes were full of pure fascination.

"How old is he?" Duncan asked, breaking the ice between the two.

"Six months," Zoey replied, watching on as her son opened his eyes. "The same day Mike…left." She seemed hesitant, and her body tensed, but as she witnessed ZJ's puzzled expression, she let the tension leave her body. Duncan quirked an eyebrow at him as the baby made grabbing motions with his little hands.

For a split second, Duncan's eyes met those of ZJ's and in their short gaze, Duncan saw something oddly familiar. ZJ...he didn't look like his father at all, and instead had inherited most of Zoey's genes, right up to her brown doe eyes. If it had been Duncan's first time meeting Zoey, he wouldn't have had a clue on who the father could've been.

Once it had ended, ZJ began to wail and in a slight state of panic, Zoey hushed him to keep quiet, shaking it softly and bringing him closer towards her chest. Duncan watched on as she whispered sweet words into his little ears, and fought the smile that was eager to replace his stare.

He stood up immediately, removing his hand from Zoey's shoulder and running the same hand through his hair. "I'm going off to bed," he told her. "Night." As he walked off, Scarlett popped her head out of the bathroom and snickered.

"Be a gentleman and set Zoey's bed up in your room for her," she told him. "After all, she is sleeping in your room." Once she closed the door again, there was no mistaking the dark shades of embarrassment the two had on their faces upon hearing that.

「*」

"So this happened," Gwen mused, standing at the register as Zoey and Duncan stood together in line, buying the necessitates for the week. Duncan mumbled under his breath, head turned away from both girls as he impatiently waited to pay and go whilst Zoey chuckled awkwardly, ready to pay.

The goth was about halfway through their items as she made witty remarks about Duncan to Zoey, who was politely laughing and smiling with her. Zoey had left ZJ at home as they shopped, where he slept soundly on her bed, and was not used to everyone giving her somewhat lustful stares and glares.

"How's Mike?" Gwen asked her, scanning a packet of batteries. "He still nutty?"

"Um, well," Zoey frowned, not knowing how exactly to phrase it in public, and with Gwen and Duncan around to hear her. "We haven't really spoken for a while." Gwen nodded, finishing up the last of their groceries.

"That comes to twenty nine ninety five," she told her and Zoey handed her the correct amount of money. As she and Duncan grabbed the bags, Gwen chuckled and made her last remark. "You know, you two look nice together." The red hot embarrassment from their first night came back and the two looked away from each other, as they awkwardly walked back home.

「*」

Scarlett sat at her laptop whilst the two were out, typing at an extraordinary pace with a cup of tea in standby. As the rapid clicks of the keyboard echoed through the apartment, she was disrupted by the cries of ZJ in her next room.

Flinching at the sound, she tried blocking it out and continued to type. The only light in the room came from her laptop screen so it wasn't too hard to keep focused on it as she eagerly continued to hack into the system. As matters were getting close, her train of thought was once again cut off by the cries in the next room.

Gritting her teeth, she stood up and gripped something from underneath the table. She removed it and held it up for her to see the sharp blade of the knife she had hidden. In any case, it was for intruders who would come in but then again, a wailing baby that disturbs her works is just like an intruder.

Scarlett made her way into their shared room and stood over ZJ, who flailed around his limbs helplessly and cried like there was no tomorrow. She snickered, of course there was no tomorrow. What did this idiotic baby expect?

As she raised her knife into the air, his wails only got louder until…

…he stopped. Scarlett stared at the baby's innocent expression, and how his doe shaped eyes stared back at her. Her knife was still raised in the air, and she could end its life right now by bring it down, though she had hesitated.

"Was this some kind of elaborate trick?" she asked it, a venomous edge to her tone. "Are you trying to distract me?"

ZJ's reply was nonsensical, as he tilted his head and continued to stare back at her.

"You're wasting your time, you fool," Scarlett said bitterly. "I can still kill you. The knife is in my hand."

The reply she had was still empty and full of innocence and obliviousness.

"Children like you are the reason why I can never sleep at night. You're always stirring trouble and keeping others awake with your stupid desires."

He yawned now, and played with his fingers.

"Your pleas are nothing but wind in my ears. Your blood will stain my knife in a matter of seconds."

ZJ had rolled over onto his stomach now, and began slowly crawling around on the blanket.

"I don't bluff. Everything I say is backed up by facts and logic. You cannot outsmart me!"

The baby boy made his way over to where Scarlett stood and rested at her feet obediently. He looked up at her with a sense of interest and awe. Scarlett took a small step back, not wanting to get anywhere near him.

"Stay away, fool! Otherwise you will meet your end quicker than what you'd expect!"

And just out of plain happiness, ZJ began to giggle and smile at what Scarlett had said. She felt it strange, why would anyone be laughing at a cold and heartless death threat? Even her pets would cower away in fear just as the mention of blood and death, and here she had a child giggling and smiling at what she had to say. It was downright confusing.

"You're just psyching me out, aren't you?" she asked him, her tone soft and less threatening than what she was previously. She chuckled softly to herself and grinned. "I'm immune to your mind tricks. No matter my mental state, I can still kill you no matter what."

And the peculiar thing was that ZJ continued to giggle, and was now laughing in joy at whatever she was saying. The discomfort she felt from this was so overwhelming that she shuddered at the thought. She glared at the baby, urging it to shut up. Once ZJ was quiet enough, she squinted her eyes just to emphasis how serious she was.

And the lack of response she got was pleasing. "Ah yes, you have finally come to your senses. You are right, you should feel scared of me. Terrified. Mortified even, for I am fear itself." ZJ just cocked his head to the side and hummed lowly. Scarlett, who had finally give up, sighed and dropped her arm, still clutching the knife tight. "You're right, I haven't been sleeping well. But I'll promise you, next time we meet, things will be a lot different."

With one last glare at the child, Scarlett left the room and went straight to bed. ZJ just giggled and tried saying something for the first time. "K...Kill!"

「*」

After a long day at work, Duncan walked into his apartment to find Zoey preparing dinner and Scarlett glaring at the now one-year-old child on her lap, that was bouncing happily even though she was very much uncommitted. Duncan held back his snicker and walked into the kitchen to see what Zoey was preparing.

"Roast beef and salad," she answered for him, without Duncan even having to open his mouth. In a state of surprise, he grinned and looked at her from where he stood, just slightly behind and to the side.

"And you knew that was my question?" he challenged, folding his arms and wearing his signature smirk. Zoey chuckled and turned over the beef.

"I've been living with you for six months," she told him cheerily. "I can almost predict what you're gonna say, or do."

From behind her, Duncan moved back so that he was out of her sight, and feeling somewhat playful, he grabbed a fork from the cutlery draw. "Oh yeah? What am I holding right now?"

Without even a hint of hesitation, or even the time to think about it, Zoey answered, "Fork!" Duncan's smile disappeared and he looked confused between the back of her head and the fork in his hand.

"How did—"

"How did I know? Simple," Zoey put the tongs down and turned around to face him. "You used your right hand to get the forks from the right container. You didn't even look into the draw to choose what you go, and just picked out whatever you got." Seeing Duncan's somewhat miserable reaction, Zoey felt her cheeks heat up in a flustered embarrassment. "Sorry."

Duncan half smiled at her and waved it off. "It's all good, I just gotta work harder to be not so predictable next time."

Zoey smiled back at him, and tucked a piece of her hair behind her ears, before turning back to the stove to finish preparing the meat. And from where Duncan stood, he made it his mission to make himself as unpredictable as he could. With his fists clenched, and a determined grin on his face, he turned and walked away, eager to begin.

「*」

No matter what Duncan had did, Zoey seemed to always know exactly how he would do it. Every little prank or somewhat unpredictable stunt he had coming, she would avoid it like it was nothing and tease him lightheartedly about it. It grew to grate him a little, but the game he set was still not over.

As Duncan prepared another water balloon filled with some whipped cream, he heard sobbing coming from the next room. It didn't take a genius to know who was crying, since Scarlett was always so emotionless and ZJ would have wailed, but he was rather alarmed to know that she was crying.

He made his way to the room, hiding the water balloon behind his back and peeked in to find Zoey curled up on her bed, trying to keep her sobs to herself as she bawled her eyes out. His initial reaction was to drop the balloon on her head and run away, but deep down he knew that he couldn't. Walking over, he took a seat on the opposite side of the bed and remained silent as she continued to cry.

Zoey didn't notice him at first, but soon recognised his presence and looked at him with her puffy eyes, wondering to herself what he was doing. She didn't meet his eyes, but a small hidden part to her knew that he was watching her from where he sat. In fact, it was backed up when he sighed and looked up at the ceiling.

"Something happened?" he asked, resting his weight on his arms as he stared up. Zoey nodded slowly, and wiped her eyes allowing another choked sob to escape. Duncan almost read her body actions, despite not seeing her and said, "Wanna talk about it?"

After a few more minutes of sobs and silence, Zoey wiped her tears once more with the edge of her sleeves and grabbed one of her pillows and tucked it under her arms. Duncan remained staring at the ceiling, waiting rather patiently for her to speak.

"I didn't tell you about Mike, did I?"

The question caught Duncan off guard and he flinched, turning to look at her and acknowledging just how broken she did look. The once happy glow in her skin was pale and even the bright colours of her dyed hair looked nothing but dull. Even her eyes, those brown doe eyes that held so much curiosity, innocence and eagerness, were nothing but orbs now.

"I married Mike, a few months after we both turned eighteen. We were happy together, he spent part his million buying us a home, giving us the things we needed and with the leftovers, he gave it all to charity." Duncan noticed how pained she looked just talking about him, so much so that he felt her pain himself and almost urged her to stop. But the way she was right now, did she really want to keep it bottled up inside her?

"Almost two years ago, we were ready to start a family. I later found out I was pregnant, and the both of us were so happy that day. But I didn't know, that would've been the last day I'd ever seen him that happy ever, and knowing that now, it stings." Duncan reached for her hand, and gently clasped it rubbing his finger soothingly on that back of her hand. Zoey shuddered slightly, but calmed down a bit more steadying her breaths.

"Not even three months into my pregnancy, I learnt that Mike had been taking therapy classes. And not just for three months, but ever since All-Stars ended and he didn't bother to tell me. I don't know if it's because he didn't trust me, or because he wasn't confident enough to tell me, but he'd been taking them every week until," she paused, feeling a lump form in her throat. Though she pushed on, almost choking it out of her. "He was arrested."

The words sunk into Duncan and realisation set in. Mike was never like that, he knew for sure but there was only one reason why Mike would ever be arrested, and even he left a bitter taste in his mouth. "Mal," he whispered and an unsettling chill was felt by the both of them, and Zoey nodded.

"They discovered the therapist's body tortured and beyond recognition in the room. It was never realised publicly, but I was told all of it, because I was his wife. I planned to visit him one day, to tell the Mike inside of him that I would miss him and would always remember him, but that day, the prison was closed. Mal escaped and vanished from prison, and no one has ever caught onto him."

Zoey tugged at the hidden chain around her neck, and revealed to Duncan a golden ring, that glistened ever so brightly in the small amount of light shed. "I wanted to give it to him. I never had enough money to buy him a ring, so I wanted to give him mine so that he could remember me. But now, every time I look at it," she hiccupped, feeling the tears well up in her eyes once again. "I feel..." She couldn't complete her sentence, as the waterworks spilled and her state of misery returned to her.

Duncan watched from where he sat, still grasping onto Zoey's hand as she cried. He remained silent, but slipped his fingers in between hers and felt it as she gripped onto his hand tightly, even using her other hand and she sobbed and sobbed.

As her cries started to die down, Duncan used his other hand and put it under her chin, tilting her head up do the two were facing each other. "Do you wanna guess what I'm about to do?"

Zoey sniffed, wiping her nose with her tease stained sleeves. "Tell me to be stronger then leave me once again to cry?" He answer was not at all humorous in anyways, and Duncan had to ignore the little pinch her felt in his gut for having Zoey being so unfaithful in him.

Without another word, he leant in closer to her, and slowly met her lips with his and kissed her softly. The kiss didn't last very long, only being a second or two, but once he pulled away he was met with Zoey's heated face. Duncan himself didn't know the state of his own expression and stood up, offering a hand to the girl on her bed.

"Come with me, I wanna show you something," he told her. Zoey's eyes sparked with emotion just then, very faint but Duncan had caught it. It was a spark of curiosity and wonder, that was unmistakable to him. She reached for his hand and he pulled her up, hiding his smile as she did so, and led her out of her room.

「*」

Duncan and Zoey stood on the rooftop of their apartment building, staring out across the city and out to see the stars shining in the distance. Each star was bright and illuminating, and Duncan knew there was no faking the sparkle in Zoey's eyes as she examined each of them clearly.

He turned to look at the stars from where he was standing, recognising all of them on account for those astrology documentaries the prison warden would always make him watch. Even though he'd seen them multiple times, he was still oddly fascinated by the stories each of them held.

"Duncan?" Zoey said, breaking the silence between them. Duncan hummed in response, turning to look at his red haired roommate. She was looking at him now, her hands resting softly on the railing and a calm smile on her face. "Thank you."

He grinned and turned away to look back at the stars. "Don't mention it."

Zoey blushed, looking down at the ground. "I…I really mean it. Thank you, for listening to me and for taking me to see the stars and," she turned an even darker shade of red. "For kissing me."

Duncan cringed somewhat at the memory, and coughed to hide his reddened cheeks. Zoey turned to look at him, gaping softly seeing him struggling to hide the blush on his cheeks. She smiled to herself and walked over to him, standing side by side.

"I remember watching back when you were on World Tour, and you kissed Gwen in the bathroom confessional," Zoey explained. "And how that hurt Courtney but, when you kissed me, I felt...happy." She broke away her gaze from the ground to look at him, tears dropping from her eyes. "But, if the kiss meant nothing to you, then tell me! I promise I won't suffer from it, and I'll try to forget about it!"

Duncan turned to look at her, jaw open as he watched Zoey spit out whatever came to her mind. Tears fell from her eyes, but by her expression you could tell she wasn't sad, nor angry. In fact, she looked somewhat worried and rather determined to know what he thought.

"And if you never wanna see me again I'm okay with that. I'll pack up my things and go and you won't have to remember me and—" Zoey couldn't predict what Duncan was going to do when he lunged at her placing his hands on either side of her face and kissing her once again. She was shocked at first, but relaxed and kissed him back, letting her anxiety relief from her body.

He broke away the kiss once again and rested his forehead against hers, grinning ever so slightly. "It didn't mean nothing to me," he told her, tucking some of her hair away from her face. "You mean something to me, Zoey. I don't know what it is just yet, but I'm not ready to give up on searching just yet. So please," Duncan opened his eyes, meeting with Zoey's once again. "Don't leave me."

"I won't, Duncan," Zoey replied, closing her eyes and wrapping her arms around his chest, resting her head on his heart. "I won't leave you."

「*」

A few months had passed since the night Duncan and Zoey kissed. The two of them were a lot more comfortable around each other now, and even Scarlett could sense the happiness radiating from the two. Every once in a while, whilst Scarlett would babysit ZJ, she would make a rather suggestive comment about the two whenever they were in the room. The response was often the same, blushing cheeks and looking away from each other.

The pair weren't an established couple, since Zoey wasn't completely over Mike and Duncan wasn't ready enough himself to commit to another relationship either. And ever since they kissed, they hadn't been doing anything remotely romantic either. Then again, they weren't even sure what they'd call each other.

Today was the day that Scarlett had predicted they'd all go bankrupt. Fishing over the last of their coins to pay their rent, Duncan and Zoey both let out a miserable sigh. ZJ, who had just started to walk was leaning against his mother's leg and mimicked their sigh too, leading Zoey to pick him up and play with him.

"So what now?" Duncan grumbled, looking at Scarlett who typed away on both her computer and her calculator. The ginger brainiac didn't respond immediately and hummed a children's song quietly to herself as she checked all her data.

"If I'm not mistaken, it should be all good to go about..." she hovered her cursor over the refresh button on her email inbox. "Now." She clicked it and the page refreshed, and right when the four of them thought nothing would happen, a new email appeared in the inbox.

Scarlett quickly clicked the email and cheeked its contents, before a malevolent grin broke out on her face. "I did it…I really did it…"

Zoey chuckled awkwardly and looked at Scarlett, a little worriedly. "Did what, exactly?"

Scarlett pushed her glasses up her nose and began to chuckle softly. "Something far too incomprehensible for someone like you to understand. But very well, I'll explain," she swivelled around on her chair to face everyone and clasped her hands together. "You see, ever since the day we moved in here, I've been contacting a worker at a Dutch bank, who I've been blackmailing into giving money to me. It's taken a year a bit to fully complete, but now I have access to the whole bank itself, meaning that we have billions and billions of dollars in our possession!"

Zoey paused and scratched her temple. "Isn't that stealing?"

Scarlett shook her head and turned back to the computer looking through all the data she received. "It's not stealing. We are simply borrowing money from the Dutch bank. I've had my eye out on the local banks around here, and their security is much less sophisticated. What I'm doing is taking a large portion of the money from the Dutch bank, and in return I'll be depositing all the money from the minor banks around our area into their pool, leaving us as superior money owners and making the society around us crumble!"

Scarlett began to cackled loudly, spinning around on her chair. From where he was in Zoey's arms, ZJ began to laugh along with her but in a much less sinister way. Duncan and Zoey looked uncertainly at each other before turning back to Scarlett with matching frowns.

"Say, do you know who this person was?" Duncan asked. "The one who blackmailed?"

Scarlett halted her laughter and turned to Duncan with a smirk on her face. "A man by the name of Mal. An interesting fellow, I should introduce him to you all one day. Especially you, Servant." ZJ giggled childishly at the nickname Scarlett gave him and clapped his hands together. However, Zoey and Duncan turned to look at each other, Zoey with realisation and Duncan with a blank expression.

As Scarlett continued her monologue to an eager ZJ, Duncan and Zoey left the room and went into their shared one, looking directly at each other with an unreadable expression.

"So, he's been alive all this time," Duncan chuckled, rather bitterly. "And I take it you'll go back to him, the first chance you'll get?" Zoey remained silent, and looked down at the ground. Duncan ran a hand through his hair once again and did a slow loop around her. "I know you still have feeling for him, Zo. Once he comes back, you'll be all over him again, Mike or no Mike!"

The tone of his voice was now dripping with venom. Zoey remained silent fiddling with her hands and not wanting to meet his gaze.

Duncan chuckled once again, folding his arms and continued to walk around her. "You're so dependent on him. He won you over in the show, and once he won a million dollars he's showered you with all your wants. And once he left, your whole life crumbled, didn't it? That's why you can running here, because you can't take care of yourself."

He stopped at the door, holding it open and looking at her with a look of disgust, but mostly disappointed. "See yourself out when you're ready. I don't wanna see your face ever again." He turned away, not wanting to see for himself when she would abandon him.

"I'm not leaving."

Duncan snapped his head to look at her, his eyes wide and his expression confused. Zoey sighed, wiping her eyes and looking up to meet his gaze once again. Her hands were clenched and her tears were welling up once again.

"I told you I wouldn't leave and I will stick to my word. I'm not leaving, and neither are you," her tone was soft and not as commanding as his one was, but at the same time hers was forceful and daring. "Up on that rooftop we both promised to stay here, and that's exactly what we're gonna do, Duncan."

"Bullshit! You were always waiting for your chance to escape, and that's why you're going to leave!" Duncan fought back, with twice the amount of venom that he harboured last time.

"I'm not going to leave, Duncan," Zoey replied, her tone becoming louder. "I'm not going back to him no matter the conditions, because I will stick to my word!"

"And why's this, huh?" Duncan retorted. "You have the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome, and would run back to Mike no matter the consequences so why the hell would you stay here when you know he's somewhere out there?!"

"Because I love you!" Zoey shouted out, the tears finally spilling from her eyes. Duncan stopped, interrogating her with his eyes as he examined how she trembled. Her tears dripped onto the carpet below and her bottom lip quivered.

"I love you, Duncan," she repeated, her voice choked and almost muffled with sobs. "It took me so long to finally say that to you, but I love you, okay? Ever since I'd moved here, I felt something for you, a kind of hope that could help me through my depression." He watched in silence as Zoey continued on, her sobs becoming increasingly frequent. "And that night, when you kissed me, I knew it. I knew that I loved you, but I was afraid."

Duncan almost scoffed, but kept himself firm as he raised an eyebrow. "Afraid of what?"

"I was afraid that you'd leave me, like Mike did," Zoey answered, wiping her eyes. "So I never got too close to you. But I couldn't help it."

"So that's why you could predict my actions," Duncan said in realisation. Zoey nodded, laughing rather ironically.

"Funny, huh? I tried staying away from you so that I wouldn't get attached, but I still learnt about you. In fact, without realising it everything I did was about you," she said, trying to smile through her tears. "The meals I made were based off what you liked or disliked, I went shopping with you not to just pick out ingredient and foods but to get closer to you and even now, when I cry, it's for you."

Zoey wiped her eyes with her fingers, and chuckled as she tried drying her eyes. "Everything I did was for you, Duncan. It took so long for me to work it out, but it's all come together now." Duncan noticed how when she smiled, it was almost as if someone had rotated her smile around. No matter how wide or brightly she tried smiling, it was always a frown.

"Now what?" Duncan said, breaking the silence. "You're gonna stay here now, but now what?"

"I…I guess I have one question about it all," Zoey murmured, looking down at her feet. Duncan clenched his fists seeing her like this. He wanted to punch her, not to hurt her but to knock the sadness out of her. Seeing her cry, it didn't look right and even now he felt the urge to rid her of her misery.

"What?"

Zoey shuffled on her feet. "Well I was wondering," she said. "Even though all my actions were based around you,mr here was still one thing that was constantly on my mind." Duncan quirked an eyebrow, looking at her expectantly as she raised her head up to look at him.

"Why did you kiss me?"

Duncan paused, his uncaring expression vanishing as he heard what she had said. He opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out and his eyes were wide as if he'd been hit with a painful reality. But what she said was questionable, why did her kiss her?

He tried to remember the circumstances of the night he kissed her. He remembered seeing her crying in her room and listening to her as she told him the story about what happened to Mike. He remembered the way she looked as she told him the story, when she was pained and every word she spoke was another knife in her gut. He remembered how he held her hand to help her through her story and how she gripped it tighter when let her tears fall again.

Was it because she was hurting? he thought to himself. Or maybe because I wanted to be unpredictable? He told himself that both of those were the only liable choices that could answer her question, but deep down he knew that neither of them were close.

In fact, he couldn't remember what urged him to kiss her, though he could feel something echo in his heart when he thought of that. It was a familiar feeling, that he'd felt when he was younger and still in his badass state. It was the same emotion he felt when he kissed Courtney, and then again when he kissed Gwen, both for the first time.

Maybe he was lying to himself, maybe it wasn't the same feeling as those two. In fact, he was so reckless back then, he didn't even know what love was. So how could it have been similar unless...

"I…" the words came out of his mouth before he could even think about what he had to say. Though he already knew what he wanted to say, and it was forcing itself to come out. He looked at Zoey once again, examining her awaiting expression and almost sighed. Dammit, he thought to himself, knowing now exactly what it was he needed to say.

"I did it because I love you too, Zoey," Duncan whispered, and as the words escaped him, his whole body was relieved of all the tension and worry he possessed. As he said those words, it was like he had escaped.

「*」

"Mama," the now year old baby said, gaping his mouth to say more. "Dada?"

Zoey smiled to herself, rocking her child in her arms as she sat down on the sofa. Duncan stood behind her, looking his newborn son and how his pale blue eyes searched the room around him.

"He's so precious, isn't he honey?" Zoey said, turning to Duncan. The former delinquent just grinned and waved to his son from where he stood, making ridiculous faces that caused him to giggle and smile.

From where she sat, in her chair, Scarlett snickered as ZJ sat on her lap reading through the many issues of Blood that Scarlett had collected over the years. "I did warn you guys about the risk of not wearing a condom."

Zoey giggled and Duncan flushed red. "We know! But it's not like you seem to mind the extra company," he remarked, gesturing to the child that sat on her lap. Scarlett took one look at ZJ, who was excitedly flipping through the vividly descriptive images of gore of her magazines.

"I'll have you know that if it wasn't for Servant overcoming me in my nighttime rage, he wouldn't have been alive today. I still hate children you know, especially small ones but," she looked at the happy brunette that sat on her lap. "I've made one exception."

"If you lay a finger on Shannon, I will hurt you," Zoey warned playfully, turning to her child. "Isn't that right, Shannon?"

Scarlett rolled her eyes, and went back to entertaining ZJ with her magazines. Duncan sighed and turned back to his son and extended his arms to hold him. Zoey happily handed him over and stood up again, wobbling a little.

As Duncan rocked Shannon in his arms, he grinned happily. "He's got your eye shape and my eyes," he told Zoey proudly as she walked by. "He's gonna be a lady killer one day, just like his daddy." Zoey rolled her eyes and walking into the kitchen of their new home.

Life had gone rather uphill since the day they confessed their love for each other. They hadn't arranged a marriage as of yet though were now in an obvious relationship with each other. A few years into their romance, Scarlett had proposed they moved out of their apartment and they all moved into a nice home in the suburbs.

Whilst they lived there, the two of them had another child named Shannon, who Duncan named after one of his best friends, and ZJ was the happiest of the bunch when they introduced him to his younger brother. In fact, Zoey and Duncan were constantly reminded by ZJ that they even had a second child.

Scarlett was never caught for her schemes with the Dutch bank and ultimately became a nanny to ZJ, a rather psychotic and disastrous nanny, but still someone who Zoey and Duncan could trust ZJ with. She never managed to meet Mal and had lost all contact with him after the money was deposited.

ZJ had grown accustomed to calling Duncan "Dad" and even though they were related at all by blood, they sure acted alike. ZJ looked a lot more like Zoey, though only inherited his father's skin tone and regrettably his father's alternate personalities love for evil.

Zoey had gotten a job as a preschool teacher, and was also counselling for some students in the associating primary school. She was happy in her new job and all the children loved her. Her hair was still dyed red, and she would always wear her flower in her hair.

And Duncan had scored himself a job as a policeman, just like his father did. He never would have expected to enjoy the job so much, but the idea of chasing people in cars and going beyond the speed limit amused him and he was the towns most beloved officers. He'd cut his hair shorter, and would on occasions dye the tips bright green for nostalgic sake.

Together, the five of them lived in a very dysfunctional family. Some might say they were the oddest family on the block, and others would say they were the most beloved family. All in all, the five of them were happy with their lives and none of them would give it up for anything.

Until they got a letter from none other than Chris McLean.


Fun Fact: the word limit I had was between 1000-2900 words and I managed to almost triple that. The things you do when you're not in a writers block. xD

This was my Secret Santa gift to I'll Cover Angel and Collins, who requested Zuncan! I hope you enjoy this story, as much as I enjoyed writing this and also wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :D

- Blue