Thorn Fae Chapter 16: New Meetings, Old Feelings

“Goodnight my love.” I cooed at my son. Hawk had picked up a crib from the secondhand store a few days ago, and I was extremely grateful. It felt nice to have actual baby things for my baby. The whole father thing was getting easier, it was a huge adjustment but I was getting the hang of it.

As I put Aspen down for the night, Hawk entered the room apprehensively. “Uh, hey Thorn, can we talk?” He asked.

My heart jumped into my throat. Was he going to ask us to leave? Were we too much of a burden? Could he not stand to have us around anymore? My mind was racing and my anxiety was spiking. “Sure, what’s up?” I tried to act as cool as possible, I wanted to keep a little bit of my dignity.

“You might want to sit down for this.” He gestured to the bed, and I took his advice.

“What’s up?” I asked as soon as I got comfortable.

“Well, I wanted to wait until you got settled and comfortable here before I told you this.” He looked nervous.

“What is it?”

“I found your father.” He told me. “When I moved here last year, I heard a rumor that he lived here and I managed to track him down. I’ve been talking to him, I’ve even gone to visit him a few times. I’ve told him all about you.”

“Oh my god. Oh my god, he’s alive?” I asked, half-shocked and half-excited. My dad was alive, and in Bridgeport! I was right!

“He said the same thing about you, when I told him I found you.” He chuckled.

“D-does he know I’m trans?”

“He does, I hope that it’s okay that I told him.” He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “You’ve never been shy about it so I figured it was okay.”

“It’s perfectly okay, I’m not hiding anything. But…” I hesitated, unsure of whether or not I wanted the answer to this question. “Does he accept it? Does he want to meet me?”

“He’s absolutely thrilled to have a son, and he would love to meet you.” Hawk told me, trying to suppress a smile. “He’s a very cool, accepting dude. He has absolutely no issues with it.”

“Oh my god.” I said again, I felt like I was dreaming, like my wildest fantasies about my father were coming true.

“He wants to meet you, if you want to meet him.”

“Absolutely, I’ve been waiting for this my whole life.” I nearly started to cry, I never thought this day would come.

“Well, I’ll go call him. Maybe I can set something up for the morning.”

“Thank you. Thank you so much, Hawk. I can’t believe this. This is the greatest thing anyone has ever done for me.” I was so overwhelmed with emotion, I felt like I was rambling. But I didn’t know what else to say. How do you thank someone for bringing your long lost father back to you?

“You mean the world to me, Thorn. I want to do whatever I can for you. I’ll go call him right now.” He smiled, pulled out his phone, and left the room.

It was possible that in less than twenty-four hours, I’d be meeting my biological father. It was so surreal. I had no idea what to expect, or what to think.

I was nervous, excited, and scared all at the same time.

The next morning, Hawk drove us to the house my father lived in. It was a large house, two stories and it looked very nice. My father seemed to be doing pretty well for himself.

Now that I was here, my heart was pounding. What do I talk about? What do I say? My life wasn’t exactly the nicest, I doubt he’d want to hear such depressing things. Do I ask him about his life? What if he doesn’t want to talk about it?

“It’s okay, you’re gonna do fine.” Hawk reassured me. He knew me so well he could tell when I was starting to freak out.

“I hope so.” I took a deep breath. On the other side of that door was my father…

“Ready?” Hawk smiled at me reassuringly.

“Ready.” I reached up and knocked on the door, and instantly it swung open.

“Oh my gosh, hi! Come in.”

A bright, cheery older woman quickly ushered us inside. I recognized her, she was the woman I found on social media. I was right, she did know my father.

Behind her, the man I assumed to be my father rolled up in a wheelchair. He looked the same age as my mother, though a little more worn down. He looked a lot like me. Same skin tone, same eye color, same wing color. He was without a doubt my father.

There was a man standing next to him, who looked older and way more worn out than either Honey or my father. He had the same skin tone and hair color as me, there was no doubt in my mind that we were related.

“Hi.” I said shyly. “I’m Thorn.”

“Oh Thorn, we’re so excited to finally meet you.” Come, lets all sit.” Honey gestured for us to follow her.

We all took a seat in the livingroom, and I glanced around awkwardly. I didn’t know what to say, I was a little overwhelmed.

“I’m so happy to finally meet you, son.” My father told me, it was the very first thing I’d ever heard him say. I started to cry slightly.

“I’m so happy to finally meet you too, dad.” I had been waiting my entire life to tell him that.

“I want you to know that I didn’t abandon you. I didn’t have a choice, your mother…” He trailed off.

“She’s a complete garbage person, I know. You don’t have to censor yourself around me.” I chuckled.

“She had me committed to a mental institution. I mean, I did have a psychotic break, but she made it incredibly difficult for me to get out of there. She practically made it impossible for me to get the help I needed.” He sighed. “My dad,” He gestured to the man in the chair next to Hawk, “He had to spend a lot of time and money to get me out of there.”

“Well worth it, though.” The man who was just revealed to be my grandfather smiled. “I’d do anything to get my son back.” He beamed at my father, I could tell he really cared for him. “I’m your grandfather by the way, I’m so incredibly excited to meet you.” He smiled at me.

“Me too.” I smiled back at him.

“I didn’t even know you existed for a long time. I didn’t know she was pregnant when I had my accident. I wish I would’ve known, maybe things would’ve been different.”

“I don’t blame you. I never have. I’ve always known my mother was a bad person, I always figured she had something to do with it. I’m sorry she put you through that, you didn’t deserve it.”

“Thank you. I can’t imagine the hell she’s put you through either. I’m sorry.” He looked down at his lap sadly.

“It’s okay, she’s out of my life now. And you’re in it. So that’s a damn good step in the right direction.” I smiled at him. I was so full of happiness, none of what happened with my mother even mattered anymore.

“That’s such a great thing, Thorn. I’m so happy you’re here.” Honey chimed in from across from me.

“When I first met Lake, all he could talk about was that he had kid out there that he’d never met, and all he wanted to do was meet them. But when we heard you went missing, he was so terrified he’d never get the chance to meet you. And when we met Hawk here, he helped your dad so much. None of us knew if you were alive or not, so the best we had was the stories Hawk told us about your life. And boy, did he have a lot of stories! This kid is very fond of you.” Honey laughed, and I could see Hawk starting to blush.

“When Hawk called us and told us he found you alive, Honey and I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never been so happy in my life.” My dad told me.

“Me too. I mean, when he told me you were alive, accepted me, and wanted to meet me.”

“Well of course I accept you, how could I not? You’re my son.” He furrowed his eyebrows.

“Well my mother didn’t.” I sighed.

“Ah, I wondered why she kept calling you by your old name on the television. I’m not surprised, she really is a wicked woman.” My grandfather chimed in.

“At least some good came from her not accepting me. She’s been dethroned because of my absence.” I laughed.

“That is a good thing. My brother is a much better king than her or Aloe could ever be.” My father smiled, but it dropped a few seconds later. “Where did you go?”

“Um, I was homeless, living in a park with other trans kids.” I looked down at my hands, I could feel my face getting hot.

“And where are they now?” Honey asked apprehensively.


“Can I hug you?” Honey asked, with tears welling up in her eyes. I nodded, and she jumped up. “I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. But you’re safe now. Both of you. Hawk told us about your son. You’re both safe. You have your family now, and we’re going to take care of you.” She comforted me in a hushed tone.

“Thank you.” I managed to say, despite the fact I was fighting to keep myself from crying.

“Of course.” She squeezed me tightly. “I want to meet this son of yours. Next time you come here, he better be with you.” She laughed and pulled away.

“Absolutely. I’d love that.” I beamed at the idea of having such a personal relationship with my family. It was what I always dreamed of.

“Speaking of Aspen, we should probably head out soon. I don’t want to leave him with the sitter for too long.” Hawk chimed in. He’d been worried about leaving the baby with a sitter. He didn’t trust anyone else with my son, it was cute.

“Ah, okay.” I sighed, slightly disappointed. It felt like we’d just gotten there.

“Thank you for bringing him to us, Hawk. You’re right, he is absolutely amazing.” Honey smiled at both of us. He started to blush even harder than earlier, and consequently I started to blush as well.

“Of course.”

I let go of Honey and walked over to my father. “I’ve been dreaming about meeting you since I was a kid. I’m so happy we finally got to meet. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better. I’m so excited to finally have you in my life after all these years.”

“Thorn, I’ve been dreaming about this too. You’re so much better than I could’ve ever imagined. You’re so handsome, so strong. I can’t wait to get to know you and your son. Please come back soon.” My father smiled up at me.

I bent over to give him a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be back soon, I promise.”

“I love you, son.”

“I love you too, Dad.”

As soon as Hawk and I left the house, I threw my arms around him. “I don’t even know how to thank you for this. You’ve given me such an incredible gift, you gave me a family. I don’t know how to repay you.”

“You don’t ever have to repay me. Your happiness is payment enough. All I’ve ever wanted is for you to be happy. I’m glad I could make that happen for you.” Hawk rubbed my back comfortingly.

“Thank you.”

“Hey, so Aspen is finally down for the night.” I came out of the bedroom exhausted. He didn’t seem to like the sitter, and he’d spent a few hours screaming about it. It took forever, but eventually I was able to get him to sleep. “I just want to thank you again, Hawk. You gave me such an incredible gift today.”

“Thorn, you don’t have to keep thanking me. It’s my pleasure.”

“I care about you so much, Thorn. I always have.” He sighed.

“I’ve always cared about you too. You’ve always been my best friend.” I smiled at him. He looked so pained, I couldn’t figure out why.

“I know. But I’ve always cared about you differently, Thorn. You know that.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, my face starting to get hot again. Suddenly I remembered the moment by the pool, shortly before I ran away. When he told me he was in love with me.

“I know you’ve been through a lot recently, with losing your boyfriend. And I’m not trying to pressure you into anything by saying this. I just needed you to know, since you’re still alive and you’re here.” He took a deep breath. “I’ve always been in love with you, Thorn. Always. Ever since we were little kids. I’ve always known I liked boys, and I’ve always known that you were the boy that I liked. Those feelings have never gone away. I don’t think they’re ever going to go away, even if I wanted them too. But I don’t want them to. I love you, Thorn Fae. And that’s never going to change.” He took another deep breath. “I don’t expect you to love me back, especially not now. I just needed you to know.”

Well, shit.


Thorn Fae Chapter 15: Safe Now

Hawk. Hawk Hook. My best friend throughout the majority of my life. My best friend, the guy who’s heart I broke. The guy who must think I killed his mother.

As soon as I realized who he was, I quickly searched around me for somewhere to run. I needed to get away from him before he started yelling at me and accusing me. But I wasn’t fast enough.

“Thorn? Is that really you?”

“Y-yes, I’m so sorry, I’ll lea-” I started to say, but was abruptly cut off.

“I’m so happy, you’re alive! All this time, I thought you were dead. You have no idea how happy I am to see you.” He ranted as he threw himself on me for a bear hug. It felt like he was holding onto me for dear life.

“You’re… happy?” I was confused. I assumed he hated me.

“Of course, Thorn! You’re my best friend.” He smiled at me.

“Really? After all this time?” I smiled, maybe I wasn’t so alone after all. “After everything…” I let my voice trail off. I didn’t want to mention it.

“Absolutely. You mean the world to me, Thorn. I was so worried. I thought you were dead, or hurt somewhere. It killed me that I couldn’t trace you down.” He pulled me into another hug. “I just can’t believe you’re really here.”

“Me either.”

“When did you get here?” He asked.

“Not long ago. Like, today.” I chuckled.

“Do you have a place to stay?” He pulled away from the hug sheepishly.

“N-no, but it’s okay. I’ll figure something out.”

“Nonsense. You grab…” He looked over at the baby on the bench.

“His name is Aspen.”

“You grab Aspen and I’ll drive you both back to my place.” He offered.

“No, it’s okay. I can’t put you out like that.” I felt bad, just randomly stumbling into his life. I had so much emotional baggage, and a baby. I didn’t want to burden him with it.

“Nonsense. You’re family. Both of you. C’mon, let’s get you back to my house. You can clean up, and we can catch up.” He glanced briefly at my still bloody hands. It was so gross, but I couldn’t get myself to wash them yet. It was all I had left of Pepper.

“Okay. But I promise I won’t stay long. I don’t want to be a burden.”

“You’re never a burden. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if you and your son were out on the streets.” He smiled sadly.

“Okay.” I smiled. It would be nice to be in an actual house, with electricity and working plumbing.

I put Aspen down for a much-needed nap on Hawk’s bed, then came out and sat down on the couch with him. It was slightly awkward, it had been so long since we’d seen each other, and so much had happened. I knew he had questions. I did as well.

“When did you move to Bridgeport?” I asked to break the awkward silence. I couldn’t stand it anymore.

“About a year ago. I came here to go to school. And to get a fresh start. I needed one.” He wrung out his hands nervously.

“I’m so sorry.” I hung my head.

“I know it wasn’t your fault. Aloe was a creep. I’m assuming he tried to hurt you, and my mother sacrificed herself to help you. Is that what happened?”

“Yea… Exactly, actually. How did you know that?”

“I know you. I know you wouldn’t shoot my mother. And I know Aloe. He’s definitely capable of something like that. And I knew my mother. She loved you as much as she loved me, she protected you like you were her own son. I knew she would die for you, and that’s exactly what she did. I’m glad she did.”

“You’re glad?” I was slightly taken aback.

“Of course. I’m glad her death was meaningful. And, I’m glad her death wasn’t for nothing.” He placed a hand on my knee. “I’m so glad you’re alright.”

“I wouldn’t say I’m alright.” I laughed, I must’ve sounded like a crazy person to him.

“I can’t imagine what you’ve gone through. It must’ve been hell. But, you’re safe now. I’m not gonna let anything bad happen to you here.” He let go of my knee and he smiled at me. “I really missed you, Thorn.”

“I really missed you too.” I felt like I was about to cry, but I stopped myself. I’d had enough of that.

“You don’t have to tell me what happened to you. You don’t have to say anything you don’t want to. But I want you to know I’m here for you. I really care about you.” He averted my eyes and looked down at his hands. It sort of looked like he was blushing.

“Thank you.” I stood up, prompting him to as well. “That means more than you’ll ever know.”

“Of course.” He wrapped his arms around my neck. We stood there for a few moments, just embracing each other. It was such a nice feeling. I missed him so much.

“Are you tired? I bet you’re tired.” He said, with his face still squished into my body.

“I’m exhausted.” I laughed. “It’s taken me days to get here, and I’ve had to watch Aspen the whole time.”

“You can go crash on my bed if you’d like.” He offered kindly.

“Are you sure? I’m pretty disgusting.” I admitted. Suddenly I was very self-conscious about how I smelled. I probably smelled awful. My face burned with embarrassment, I didn’t want to look like such a mess in front of him.

“That’s okay, I’ve slept in that bed smelling much, much worse than you.” He laughed.

“Now, go get some rest.” He pulled away from our hug and smiled at me.

And rest is exactly what I got.

When I woke up, it took me a few moments to get my bearings. I was disoriented, I slept so much I forgot where I was and how I got there. But soon I remembered everything. I remembered that there was supposed to be a baby in the bed next to me, but he wasn’t there.

Panicked, I checked under the bed and around the room. He was nowhere to be found.

“Hawk have you…” I burst out of the bedroom to find Hawk holding Aspen in his arms. Hawk had this wide, dopey smile on his face. It was kind of adorable.

“Hey, sorry to scare you.” He looked up at me. “Aspen was crying, you were in such a deep sleep you didn’t hear him. I hope you don’t mind, I’ve been caring for him today.”

“I don’t mind at all. How long have I been out for?” I smiled and walked towards the couch to sit next to him.

“About twenty-four hours now.” He chuckled.

“Oh wow. Sorry, I don’t mean to just dump him on you.” I sighed.

“Don’t even worry about it. I love babies, and he’s a great baby.”

“Yea. He is.” I smiled sadly at Aspen. I wished that Pepper was here to see how adorable his son was.

“How are you doing? This couldn’t have been easy for you.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, confused.

“Y’know, having a kid. I can’t imagine pregnancy was easy for you.” He told me. I realized that Hawk thought Aspen was my biological son. This was going to be tricky to explain.

“Oh. Um, well. wasn’t pregnant.” I bit my lip. I was worried what he would think.

“Then who’s baby is this?” He asked me gently, though his eyes looked absolutely terrified.

“My boyfriend’s.”

“Oh.” He responded. It sounded as if he were sad. I couldn’t imagine why. “Where is your boyfriend now?”

“H-he’s dead.” I squeezed my eyes shut to keep myself from crying. “He died in childbirth.”

“I’m so sorry Thorn.” That must’ve been awful.” I gave me a sympathetic pat on the knee.

“Thanks.” I responded awkwardly. I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond to that.

“Well he’s still your son. And he’s beautiful.” Hawk smiled at Aspen. “He’s very lucky, he’s got an amazing guy for a dad.” He looked at me.

“I wouldn’t say that, really.”

“I would. You’re a great guy and you’re gonna make an amazing dad.”

“Thank you.” I smiled sheepishly. His comments were making me blush lightly.

“Of course, Thorn. I mean it.”

I really hoped I wouldn’t screw up.

Thorn Fae Chapter 14: How Did I Get Here

I don’t know how long I stayed there for. I don’t know what I was doing, or waiting for, but I just needed to sit by him and cry. I thought about everything that died with him. Our son having a father, me having a husband, us giving Aspen the best childhood we possibly could. I lost growing old with the one that I love. I lost everything.

Someone had to pay for this. Pepper didn’t deserve to die like this. He was a great person, he deserved to live a long, happy life with me and our son. Someone had to pay for this, and I knew exactly who. This was all his fault.

I don’t remember exactly how I got there. The last thing I remembered was putting on a pair of pants, then the rest is blank due to rage. I’m not sure how I knew exactly where he lived, but as soon as I reached the house I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. There was garbage and scrap metal all over the dead lawn. The place was a dump, its exactly the kind of place you’d expect the scum of the earth to live.

“Hey Hemp, you motherfucker!” I burst through the front door faster than my mind could process what was happening. I instantly regretted it. This man was dangerous, he had raped the love of my life and murdered one of my closest friends. It was too late now though, so I was probably going to die here.

Jean and her little girlfriend were laying on one couch, watching TV. Hemp was passed out on the other couch, it looked like he’d been shooting up.

“What the fuck, Thorn.” Jean sat up and faced me.

“Shut the fuck up, Jean, this doesn’t involve you.” I snapped at my former friend. I still hated her for how she betrayed all of us.

“Don’t you fuckin talk to my wife that way.” That stupid woman next to Jean squealed. She had one of those annoyingly high, squeaky voices that just pierce your brain. It made me even angrier.

“Both of you, just shut the fuck up.” I yelled. Hemp started to stir.

“The fuck is going on?” He mumbled as he sat up.

“I’m here to fuck you up, that’s whats happening.” I came towards him. He immediately stood up.

“What the hell, Clementine? What are you doing here?” He sounded more confused than angry.

“I’m here to make you pay, you fucking asshole! You raped Pepper, you got him pregnant. He just fucking died while giving birth! This is all your fucking fault!” I screamed at him. Tears were streaming down my face. I shoved him hard in the chest. He stumbled backward a little bit, I caught him off guard.

“Fuck you, you liar.” He swung at me, but luckily my arms took the majority of the blow. “I never touched your little friend. There’s no way there’s a baby.”

“Oh yea? Then what do you think this is?” I shouted as I shoved my bloody hands in his face. “This is his blood. It got here when I was helping him deliver, you fucking idiot.”

“How do I know you’re not lying to me? How do I know you didn’t just murder her and now you’re trying to shove the blame on me?” He yelled back.

I punched him. As hard as I could. He struck a nerve with that. Misgendering Pepper, and accusing me of killing him, made me want to kill Hemp. I wanted to bash his face in.

He wasn’t expecting me to be so strong. He wasn’t expecting my punch to knock him off his feet.

I guess anger and grief really can give some people superpowers.

Before he could even realize he’d fallen over, I was on top of him. I grabbed him by the shirt and pulled his face close to mine.

“You’re a piece of shit. You are scum, garbage. You are nothing, and I hope you fucking die.” I spat in his face, before punching him again.

And again.

And again.

I was completely blinded with rage. I was taking all of my anger out on his face. Rightfully so though, he was the reason I was completely alone in this world. He’d taken everything from me, and I wanted to take everything from him. Even if that meant taking his life.

“Thorn, stop! Don’t kill him!” Jean’s voice snapped me out of it. I looked down at his face, which now just looked like a bloody mess.

The reality of what I’d done sunk in. My chest felt heavy and tight, and I felt like I was going to puke. I had beaten a man within inches of his life. He was breathing, though it was heavy and I could hear him gurgling on his blood. If they didn’t get him to a hospital soon, he’d probably die.

He deserved to die, but I wasn’t going to stick around and watch.

“Fuck you.” I spat on his body. “Rot in hell, you piece of shit.” I turned to Jean and her wife. “And fuck you too. This all happened because of you. We were there for you when you had no one, and now Rose and Pepper are dead. This is on you.”

Jean’s face dropped, her eyes started to water. “Fuck you.” She said softly.

“Fuck you too.” I told her.

I spun on my heel, and flew out of there as fast as my wings could carry me. I didn’t want to see any of their faces ever again.

And I never did.

The walk back to the house was long and terrifying. I took backstreets to avoid being seen, just in case they had called the police on me. I doubted it, considering all the drugs they had in that house. But still, I was extra cautious.

I had to drag my feet up the stairs. I didn’t want to go back up there, but I didn’t have a choice. Aspen was up there, I couldn’t leave him. I’d already left him alone for too long. Maybe I wasn’t cracked up to be a father.

I came up the stairs and collapsed into the armchair. I started to sob. How did my life get like this? How did I get here? I’d lost everyone I’d ever loved, I owned nothing, and I was homeless. All I had was me, and now this baby.

For a moment, I figured it would be easier to drop him at the hospital. Let him get adopted and have a good life. And me, well I’d just go jump off a cliff. I’d be better off anyway.

My suicidal thoughts were pushed aside when Aspen started to cry. That cry awoke something inside of me, it gave me hope. Maybe things weren’t so bad after all. I mean, this baby was half Pepper. I still had a little piece of him to hold close to me.

I gently picked him up off the bed. My fingers were still bloody, with both Pepper’s and now Hemp’s blood. I tried my best not to get my fingers on Aspen’s body. I didn’t want to get him sick or anything. My knowledge of babies was minimal, so this was going to be an adventure.

“Shh, it’s okay.” I pulled him close to my chest. He immediately stopped crying. My heart soared. I felt like he loved me. I loved him, and I wanted to give him the best life possible.

Which is why we had to get the hell out of there.

It took a few days to get to where I wanted to go. I’d been saving up some money to get something nice for Pepper and the baby when he was born, but I didn’t need that anymore. I used that money to get a subway pass. It was very useful, I had to take a million different trains to get from the valley to Bridgeport.

I picked Bridgeport because this town is where my grandmother ended up after leaving Sunset Valley. It was also the town she met my grandfather in, and maybe, just maybe, this is where my grandfather and my father were living now. Bridgeport is also a town known for its entertainment business, and I assumed I might be able to find a job and a place to stay here. It was worth a shot.

I was exhausted. I’d barely slept in days. I was more focused on making sure Aspen was fed and dry. I needed to rest for a while. Across from the subway station was a park. When I arrived in Sunset Valley, I ended up in a park. That was where I met Pepper. Out of nostalgia, heartbreak, and exhaustion, I decided to rest in the park, just like I did back then.

Gently, I put Aspen down on the bench. My arms were sore from holding him for days. I sat down next to him, put my face in my hands, and started to cry. I’d been crying on and off on the Subway, but only in little bits when I absolutely needed to. I hadn’t given myself a chance to actually cry.

It felt so good. It felt like all of my emotions were bottled up, and now I was pouring them out through my eyes. I still felt completely devastated and heartbroken, but at least I had a way to get those emotions out.

“Hey, are you alright? Do you need some help?” A voice pulled me from my sobbing. A voice that sounded so… familiar…

I looked up and my jaw dropped.

“Oh my god, Thorn?”


Thorn Fae Chapter 12: Really, Truly

“Thorn, what are we doing here?” My boyfriend, Pepper, latched onto my arm as we walked out to the beach. It had been a few days since we found out he was pregnant. He was understandably upset, he’d been in bed for days. So, I decided that getting him out of the house for a bit would be beneficial. Though he didn’t seem to be very enthused by it, I still knew it was good for him.

“We needed some fresh air, love. And besides, its so nice out tonight.” I could only take him out in the night time, it was the safest time for us to sneak in and out of the house.

“Are we safe out here?” He asked warily. Pepper nervously scanned the beach, turning his head to look behind us as well.

“It’s the middle of the night, and this is the good part of town. No one will even know we were here.” I knew what he was thinking. He was worried about Hemp finding us. But I don’t think he’d ever even set foot in the good part of town. We were fine.

“If you say so.” He sighed and pulled himself closer to me. “Why are you doing this, Thorn?”

“Because you haven’t gotten out of bed in days. You can’t stay cooped up in the house forever.” I explained softly.

“No, I get that. I mean why are you staying with me? We haven’t been dating that long, you don’t have to stay and have this burden put onto you.”

“Pepper, we’ve been friends for years. You took me in when I was scared and traumatized. You gave me a family. That’s something that I never had.” I smiled softly, remembering all the good times we had with Rose and Jean. “It’s just us now, but that doesn’t change anything, we’re still family. And this baby? This baby is our baby. No one else’s.”

“I love you.” He whispered so softly I almost missed it over the gently lapping of the waves.

“I love you too.” I told him. My hands found his head and I crashed our lips together. It felt like no matter how hard I kissed him in that moment, it wasn’t hard enough.

In that moment, I knew I really, truly loved him.

“Pepper.” I pulled back slightly, to breathe a little.

“Yea?” He sounded just as out of breath as I felt.

“We’re gonna get through this. You’re strong as hell, you’re gonna make an amazing father and we’re gonna give this baby a great life.”

“You’re gonna make an amazing father too.”

“I don’t know about that. I never really had a good father figure.” I smiled sadly.

“So? You’re an incredible man, you didn’t need a father figure to get you to this point. You’ll be great.” He told me, though I wasn’t so sure he was right.

“Sit.” I let go of his face and plopped down into the sand.

Pepper laid down between my legs and gently kissed me on the lips. “I don’t think I’d be able to get through this without you. I don’t know what I’d do.”

“Well thankfully we don’t have to think about that.” I squeezed my eyes shut, I didn’t want to think about how he wouldn’t be in this situation if it weren’t for me.

“Thank god. I need you by my side.”

“I’ll be by your side until one of us dies. But that won’t happen for a long time.”


“I promise.”

But some promises are impossible to keep.

I had tried to cut back on spending time in the library, but Pepper insisted that I go and try to find my father. All I had to go on was a last name, a description, and the fact that I knew he was alive.

Surprisingly, there were a lot of people with the last name Fae. It took me a while to go through the phone book website, research each person and cross them off the list when I found that they weren’t my father.

After going through quite a few of my distant relatives, I finally came across a woman named Honey Fae. At first I wasn’t looking up any of the women, but I thought it might be a good idea since they could know my father somehow.

When I came across Honey’s social media accounts, I found a picture that immediately piqued my interest. It was of a woman, who I am assuming is Honey, sitting on the lap of a man. He had orange hair, and the same bright green eyes as I did. From what I saw on the television, this man had to be my father.

This woman looked like she was close with him. She had many pictures of him on her profile, I could only assume that this woman was his girlfriend or wife. My father didn’t have a profile himself, he wasn’t tagged in anything but I found out his name through her posts.


My father’s name was Lake.

Immediately, I scribbled Honey’s number down from the phone book website. I had to call this woman, my father’s name wasn’t in there so this was the closest I was gonna get.

My body carried me to the library phone faster than my mind could think. I hesitated when I got to it, though. Was I ready for this? To finally talk to my father? Did he know about me? Did he want to know about me? Would he want me in his life, or was he not around for a reason?

My hands started to shake as I contemplated. I looked down at the phone number, scrawled messily across a scrap of paper. This number could change everything.

Was I ready for everything to change for me?

I folded up the piece of paper, stuck it in my pocket, and left the library.

“Find anything interesting at the library today, Babe?” Pepper asked as I crawled into bed next to him.

“Nothing really.” I lied. I couldn’t tell him yet, I was too cowardly to reach out and I didn’t want him to think less of me.

“That’s a bummer. You can always go back tomorrow.” He replied, cheerily.

“That’s okay, I’d rather spend the day here with you.” I nuzzled into his chest with a smile.

“You’re such a cheeseball.” Pepper chuckled to himself. “But really, you don’t have to stay here with me. Actually, both of us should be out there. We need to find jobs.”

“Let’s not think about that right now.” I sighed, “Let’s just live in this moment.”

“Okay.” He pulled me closer to him and sighed happily. “I could live in this moment forever.”

“Me too. There’s no place I’d rather be, than here in your arms.”

“Thorn, what do you think of Starlight Shores?” He asked after a few moments of silence.

“I think it’s the hub of all things media. Music, film, television, video games. All of it. It sounds like an awesome place to visit.”

“Would you want to live there?” He asked tentatively.

“What?” I shot up with surprise. He sat up next to me and smiled at me.

“Would you want to live there? I know its expensive, but if we find your dad maybe he could help. You could go to school and become a video game developer like you wanted. I could grow a garden, sell the excess, and raise our baby. It would be perfect.” He looked away from me nervously.

“Babe, that sounds perfect.” I gently touched him on the back. “I would love to move anywhere with you.”

“Aw, really?”

“Of course.” I pulled myself into a sitting position at the headboard. “You mean the world to me, and Starlight Shores would be an amazing place to raise our family. It’s a dream come true.” I smiled as he laid on my lap.

“Being with you is a dream come true.” Pepper grabbed my face and pulled me down to look at him. I rolled my eyes at his cheesy-ness.

“You’re such a sap.”

“Oh, and you’re not?” He laughed.

“True, true.” I smiled back at him.

“I love you, Thorn.”

“I love you too, Pepper.” I told him softly before kissing him.

I really, truly loved Pepper Mattison.

Thorn Fae Chapter 11: I Won’t Leave


Pepper fell asleep not long after we finished. I dressed him while he slept, he was so exhausted he didn’t even twitch, let alone wake up. For myself, I dug through the old dresser and found a sweater to wear with my boxers.

He looked so peaceful in his sleep. It was as if every problem in his mind was washed away when he closed his eyes. I was glad. Pepper deserved to have some peace. The past twenty-four hours were stressful. I hoped he wouldn’t regret what we did. It was emotional, and kind of a heat of the moment thing, but it meant so much to me. He meant so much to me. I couldn’t stand to lose that now. He was all I had.


My thumb traced his cheekbone softly. I wanted to protect him. So far, I hadn’t done such a good job of that. Because of me, Hemp was able to do awful things to him. I wouldn’t let it happen again, I wouldn’t let him get away with it.

“I’ll make him pay.” I whispered softly.


“I’m gonna make that fucker suffer, for you and Rose. I promise.”

And I meant that.


Life with Pepper as my boyfriend was amazing. Even though the house had no electricity, we had to sneak in and out, and occasionally hide when someone came, it was perfect. We were living in domestic bliss. He cooked, I cleaned, and it was paradise. Sure, sometimes we had our moments where we broke down and cried, considering everything that had happened the past few months. But things were good right now.


Pepper was an incredible cook. He made me all sorts of things, things he grew up eating and things of his own creation. Cooking was a passion of his, second only to gardening. He had to leave his garden behind at the park so he threw himself into cooking for me. I hoped someday I could give him a huge garden, one he can only dream of right now.

“Y’know, its a little creepy that you just sit there and watch.” Pepper teased.

“Ah I can’t help myself, how can I tear my eyes away from my hunky boyfriend making me food?” I smirked at him.

“Ah shush, I’m not that hunky.” He blushed slightly.


“You shush, you’re hunky as hell. Like those underwear models, but better.”

“How am I better?” He turned to me and gave me a confused look.

“Well, you’re here and they’re not.” I teased. Pepper rolled his eyes at me. “And you’re real, not photo-shopped.”

“I’m not man enough to be like one of those models.” He sighed to himself and resumed his cooking.


I got up from my chair and came up behind him. “Don’t say that, that’s not true at all. You know that. You’re as much of a guy as they are.”

“It doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes when I look in the mirror, it’s like there’s a stranger standing there.” He explained as he leaned back into my body.

“I know. I feel the same way sometimes. But it won’t always be like that. We’re gonna do this, and we’re gonna do it together.”


Pepper spun around while still wrapped in my arms. “You’re amazing, you know that, right?”

“I wouldn’t say that.” I half smirked at him. “I think you’re the amazing one here.”

“Oh shut up.” He laughed before kissing me softly.

“I mean it, Pepper.” I pulled back after a few seconds. “We’re gonna do this. You and me, against the world. We’re gonna transition and we’re gonna be happy.”


“I promise.” I smiled against his lips.


Occasionally during the day, I would go to the library and do some research. Some days it would be trans related things, but other days I would be looking for my father. One day, after about three months of living in the house, I found something.

“Pepper, babe guess what!” I yelled as I ran up the stairs. I turned to the room and stopped dead in my tracks.

screenshot-9003 screenshot-9007

“Pepper?” My handsome, perfect boyfriend was sitting on the bed crying. “Pepper what happened?”

“P-please don’t be m-mad at me.” He said between sobs.

“Babe, what could possibly make me mad at you?” I approached the bed slowly, so I wouldn’t set him off. “Can I sit?”

He nodded and pulled his knees closer to his chest.


“Talk to me, please. I’m here for you.” I sat across from him and gave him a supportive smile. I was getting better at this comforting stuff.

“Y-you know how I-I told you about h-how Hemp d-did things to me?” He averted my eye contact by staring at his knees. My heart wrenched. How could I forget?


“He-he raped me.” Pepper whispered, so softly I would’ve missed it if a car drove by. Pepper had implied it, but to actually hear him say it was something else entirely. I felt a rage burn through my chest.

“That fucker.” I cursed under my breath.


Pepper squeezed his eyes shut. “Please, please don’t get angry.”

“I’m not angry at you, love.” I softened my voice despite the fire of hatred coursing through my veins. I was going to make this man pay, no matter what.

“I think he m-might’ve…” his voice trailed off and got even softer. “I think he might’ve gotten me pregnant.


Oh fuck.


Pepper wouldn’t say much to me after that. He just sobbed. Deep, soul crushing sobs. I told him I’d run to the store and grab him a test, so we could be sure. I went as fast as I could without looking suspicious. Though it had been a while, and my mother had been thrown from her throne, I still had to look out.

As soon as I got back to the house I gave him the box.

“Will you stay with me?” He asked helplessly. He reminded me of a small child in that moment and there was no way I could refuse.

“Of course babe.” So I sat on the floor of the bathroom while he took the test.


I had to admit, I was terrified. There was no way we could raise a baby here. There was no electricity, we could be found out any day, it just wasn’t safe. But we had no money. There was one place we could go, but I’d have to run that by Pepper first.

Also, I was worried about Pepper’s mental health. How would he feel, raising his rapist’s baby? Could he do it? Would he want to do it? Or would he want to give the baby up? Would he be able to handle being a pregnant guy? I wasn’t sure if I could handle something like that, it seemed like it would cause too much dysphoria.


I watched Pepper as he sat there, staring at the little plastic stick in his hand. Tears still ran silently down his face, but he wasn’t sobbing anymore. From what little I knew about pregnancy tests, I knew it wasn’t showing results yet. He was just staring at it, and it was impossible for me to read what he was thinking.

“Thorn.” Pepper’s voice was hoarse, from all the crying. “It’s positive.”


“It’s positive! I’m fucking pregnant.” He started to cry even harder than he had been. “What am I going to do? It’s been months, it’s too late now to abort. I can’t raise a baby. Not here. Oh god. What am I gonna do?”

“Hey, Pepper. You’re not alone in this. We’re gonna figure this out.”

“You’re not gonna leave? You’re gonna stay with your boyfriend who’s been knocked up by another man?”


I stood up and gently pulled him off the toilet. “Of course I’m going to stay with you. You’re strong as hell and we’re gonna make the best damn dads.”

“We can’t raise a baby here, Thorn. We don’t even have enough money to support ourselves, let alone a child.” He clutched onto my shoulders for dear life.

“Do you remember how I came up the stairs, saying I found something?” I reminded him of earlier.

“Yes. What did you find?”


“I found out my father is still alive. I saw him, in a video. The coronation of the new kings, he was there and he’s alive.” I told him what had excited me so much earlier in the day.

“Oh my god. Thorn that’s amazing.”

“We can find him, maybe he can help us.” I offered. It was the best I could do in this moment.

My boyfriend was going to be a father, and I was about to find mine.

Thorn Fae Chapter 10: Bloody Valentine

A/N: Slight nudity at the end, read at your own risk.


Jean and her girlfriend tailed me for a while, but weaving in and out of backyards and trees helped me lose them. It didn’t take me long to find the house Rose had been talking about not long ago. It had probably only been an hour, but it felt like a lifetime had passed.

The house was a shabby two story, surrounded by disgusting muck filled ponds. All the lights were off, so I figured there was no electricity. It was perfect. They wouldn’t look here. They’d look for a ‘dream home.’


The old, warped door was unlocked and easily swung open with one push. As soon as I was safely in the house, I fell to my knees. It was too much. Too much had happened in such a short amount of time. My brain felt like mush trying to process it. I couldn’t think straight, the only things playing through my mind was the sound the knife made as it left Rose’s body, and the fear in Pepper’s voice as he yelled for me to run.

One of my closest friends was dead, killed right in front of me. The other… I had no idea. There was no way to know if Pepper would make it out alive. Hemp could be doing things to him… terrible things. I didn’t want to think of all the possibilities.


All I wanted to do was sleep. My body was drained, both physically and mentally. The stairs were too far away and too much of a task while in this state. The closest thing was a chair. I barely had enough strength to get myself to it. When I pulled myself into a comfortable sitting position, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander.

Pepper, he had saved me. He sacrificed himself, for me. He willingly let that creep have him, so I could get away. He put himself in the arms of a man who killed the only other person who meant something to us, all to save my life. He was my hero.

As my eyelids started to droop, I realized something.

I was starting to fall for Pepper.


“Thorn, Thorn wake up. It’s me.” A soft whisper pulled me from my sleep.

“Pepper?” I mumbled, still trying to pull myself out of my rest.

“Yea, it’s me.” His voice was shaky, but I could tell he was trying to hold himself together for me. When I opened my eyes, I saw him. His face was beaten, bloody and broken. His hands were covered in blood.


“Pepper, what happened?” I asked gently, not wanting to upset him. Unfortunately, his entire face crumbled.

“It was awful.” He sobbed. burying his face in his blood-stained hands. His shoulders bounced up and down, and I didn’t know what to do. I never really had to be the comforter before.

“D-do you wanna talk about it?” I hesitated, hoping I was saying the right things.

“He did t-things to me. To me, a-and Rose.” He managed to choke out between sobs. What he was implying shook me to my core, and I knew I didn’t need to hear any more.


Somehow, I managed to drag us both to our feet. I wrapped Pepper in my arms, and just let him cry. He gripped me tight, his bloody hands clutching my t-shirt as if it were the edge of a cliff. We pulled each other as close as physically possible. Any more and we would’ve been conjoined.

“Where did they go?” I asked. The blood on his hands scared me slightly, I wondered if he’d done anything to them.

“After they were finished with me, they left.” He whispered into the crook of my neck.


“And the blood?”

“Rose’s. I-I tried to save her. When they left. But s-she’s gone.” He balled my shirt in his hands. I shouldn’t have asked.

“I’m so sorry. We’re in this mess because of me.” I sighed. My royal blood ruined everything.

“But there’s no one else’s arms I’d rather be in right now.” He mumbled so softly I almost missed it. My heart fluttered for a second, but I scolded myself. Now was not the time.

“Pepper, lets go to bed, okay? We need some sleep, we can clean you up in the morning.” I suggested. We were both exhausted from the stress.

“Okay.” He nodded as he hesitantly pulled himself away from me. I felt the same, I didn’t want to leave his arms either.


It was still dark when I woke up. I wasn’t sure if it was because it was still dark outside, or because the grimy windows wouldn’t let light through. But I didn’t mind either way. We didn’t have any obligations right now. And, it felt really nice to have Pepper in my arms.

Him sacrificing himself to help me get away made me realize that I had feelings for him. He was always there for me, he was sweet, charming, easy to talk to and easy to relate to. How could I not have feelings for him?

I smiled to myself, reveling in the thought of the two of us together. I must’ve moved or something, because Pepper started to wake up. As soon as he realized he was clutching onto me with his still-bloodied hands, he freaked out.


“Oh god, I’m sorry.” Pepper pulled himself away and sat up quickly. “I shouldn’t be touching you, I don’t want to get you dirty.”

“It’s okay.” I smiled lazily at him, still half dazed from our cuddling. “I don’t mind.”

“I’m still sorry. Did I make you uncomfortable? With the, y’know?” He gestured to the bed, referring to the cuddling.

“Not in the slightest. But, you should go wash up. You don’t want any of your cuts to get infected.” I told him.


“I’ll go see if this place has running water.” He jumped off the bed and made his way towards the bathroom. “Will you be okay here alone?” He asked me, the concern in his voice apparent.

“I’ll be fine, don’t worry about me, wash up.” I shooed him away as nicely as I could. I got a slight smile from him as he made his way to the bathroom.


“Hey.” My breath hitched in my throat when Pepper exited the bathroom. While he was in there, I found a candle and now the light was illuminating his body in the best way. My heart felt like it was about to leap of of my chest.

“Hey.” He responded softly. He looked sad, which was unsurprising considering what just happened.

“How was your shower?”



“I’m so sorry.” I got off the bed and pulled him into a hug. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“Yes I did. If I hadn’t, you would’ve gone through so much worse.” He squeezed me tighter. “I don’t want you to have to go back there.”

“Thank you.” I whispered. How did I get so lucky to have such an amazing person just walk into my life?

Pepper pulled away slightly and looked me in the eyes. “You know I’ve always had a thing for you, right?”

“I-I did not.” I responded. There I went again, not realizing when someone had a crush on me.


“You can be so dense sometimes.” He chuckled, before pushing his lips onto mine. It was the best kiss of my life, though I didn’t have much to compare it too. He was soft, his lips moved so nicely with mine. It was as if it were meant to be this way.


Without breaking our lips apart, we moved to the bed. He sat down and I stood between his legs.

“Thorn,” He pulled back slightly and whispered against my lips, “I-I don’t want to be touched, but I can do things to you if you’d like.”

“That’s perfectly okay with me.”


And perfect it was.

Thorn Fae Chapter 9: Survival Mode

Trigger Warning: Transphobic/homophobic/bigoted language used. Violence, weaponry and blood are also in this chapter.


The cold weather was fast approaching, so Pepper, Rose and I were trying to make the most of the few days we had left to sleep outside. When it started to grow colder, we’d have to move our bags into the bathroom to stay warmer. The floors in there were disgusting, so we’d try to prolong it as much as we could.

Things were tense between all of us though. Rose was going out tomorrow to start doing sex work, and Pepper was not happy about it. He didn’t want her to get hurt. I was neutral on the situation, I knew it was dangerous but it felt like our best shot at getting out of here.


“So, guys,” Rose chimed in after a few moments of silence. “I found this great little swamp house, its kind of a mess. But its super cheap and in a few months we’d be able to afford it. What do you think?” Rose bit her lip nervously.

“A swamp house?” Pepper wrinkled his nose. “You mean that abandoned shack a few blocks over?”

“Yea, that’s the one.” She smiled, as if she were talking about a large mansion on the beach.

“That place is a dump, Rosie.” He half-frowned.

“I know, but at least it’s a roof. It’s better than freezing our asses off out here.” She retorted.


“She has a point, dude. A shitty roof is better than no roof.” I offered. Sure, it didn’t sound like a castle but it would be much warmer than this.

“I guess, yea. Is it safe? Like is there mold or anything? And will we have time before someone wants to buy it?” Pepper asked, rapidly firing each question like a gun.

“It’s safe, yea. I checked it out the other day. And it’s not exactly being bid on.” She giggled cutely.

“Alright, I’m in.” Pepper agreed reluctantly. I could tell he wasn’t thrilled with the idea, but I think we all wanted a roof over our heads.

“HEY!” A gruff, male voice boomed from the other side of the park, interrupting our conversation.


“Where you at, Clementine?” He yelled angrily. “I know you’re here.” The man taunted. I looked nervously at my friends, unsure what to do. “Come on out, Princess.”

“They usually sit behind the bathroom, Hemp.” A familiar voice informed the angry man. Jean.

“Thanks, doll.” The man named Hemp thanked her, his tone reminding me of my step-father. There footsteps quickly approached our hiding spot behind the building. My heart pounded, my body froze. I had no idea what to do.


Rose whimpered, which broke me out of my frozen state. I jumped up, fists balled, ready to take on whoever was coming over here. My mind told me I was no where near strong enough to take on anyone over the age of twelve, but my adrenaline rush made me ignore it. I had to protect my family.


“Well, well, well.” The man named Hemp finally came into view. He spoke slowly, tauntingly. Like a predator playing with it’s prey. Behind him, Jean stood with her arm draped lazily over a pretty girl’s shoulders. Jean had a sly smile on her face, and I instantly knew this was her doing.

“Oh my darling, Clementine.” The man smirked. The use of my old name made me ball my fists. I’d always hated that name, but it sounded even more vile coming from his lips.

“The fuck do you want?” I spat.

“Mmm, you haven’t heard? You’re a very wanted woman.” He knew he was pushing my buttons, I could tell by his amused expression. My fists were balled so hard, my nails digging hard into my palms. I thought I’d draw blood, but I wouldn’t let him see how his words effected me.


“Yea, I know I’m wanted.”

“Do you know how wanted you are? The person who returns you to the queen gets five million, and your hand in marriage.” My face dropped. I didn’t know this. He knew I didn’t know this. That sick fuck was enjoying every last minute of this.

“Oh yea? Good luck getting me back there. I’m not going without a fight.” I balled my fists harder, though I felt like a toddler trying to fight a tiger.

“Mm, that would be a problem, my darling.” He smirked, pulling his shirt up slightly to reveal a knife strapped to his pants.


“Fuck off Hemp. Leave him alone.” Rose jumped up and flung herself in front of me. “He’s not going anywhere with anyone but us. If you want him, you’ll have to get through me.”

“Shut the fuck up, Rock. You couldn’t fight me if you tried. You’ve always been a little sissy ass bitch.” He smirked, he really got off on using our dead names.

“Oh really? Did you think I was a sissy ass bitch when you fucked me in the locker room in eleventh grade?” Rose retorted. Hemp’s eyes flashed with anger, and I knew this wasn’t going to end well.


“Fuck you, queer! That shit never happened.” He screamed as he lunged towards Rose. His fist connected with her face, a loud thud echoing through the mountains around us.

Rose landed on the ground, her hands taking the brunt of her fall. “Never, once was enough. You’re too small for me.” Rose spat something out on the ground, it looked like a tooth covered in blood.


“You little faggot!” Hemp pulled his knife from his waist and crouched down over Rose. For a split second, she looked up at me and we made eye contact. Her expression was urging me to do something, but I knew she didn’t want me to help her. She wanted me to run.

But I couldn’t, I was frozen on the spot.

Rose looked back at her attacker, not a single trace of fear in her face. “Kill me if you want, but just know you can’t enjoy five million dollars while in prison.” She spat at him.

“I won’t go to prison, dumbass. No one cares about a queer like you. You’re nothing. Besides, I’ll be a fucking prince. I’ll be above the damn law.” He gave her that creepy little smirk, just before plunging the knife into her stomach and twisting it.


“I. Will. Fucking. Kill. You!” Pepper raged from beside me, pulling my eyes away from my dying friend.

“What’re you going to do about it, Pansy?” He pulled the knife from Rose’s side with a sickening squelch. He stood over her body carelessly, as if she weren’t even a person.

“I’ll fight you, motherfucker. To the death, if I have to. Though, I’d prefer if it were your death.” Pepper taunted back. I’d never seen him like this. He was so fierce, so protective. It ignited something in me.


“Mmm, maybe not.” A creepy smile slowly slid across his face. He dropped the knife, it bounced off Rose and landed somewhere in the grass. “I’ve got bigger plans for you, Pansy.”

“Fine, take me. Let Thorn go. I’ll do whatever you want.” He dropped his tough guy demeanor. I had no idea what he was doing, and it scared me. Part of me knew he was about to do something stupid. But, on the other hand, my heart soared at the fact that he’d sacrifice himself for me.


Hemp pounced at Pepper, swinging his large arm towards my friend’s face. Pepper was faster though, and was able to duck. But in some freaky, martial arts looking move, Hemp swung Pepper around and grabbed him roughly by the waist.


“Thorn, run!” Pepper yelled, while fighting against his attacker.

“Wineberry, Jean, don’t let her get away!” Hemp screamed as I started to fly off as fast as I could.

“Find Rose’s dream house, Thorn! I’ll meet you there.” Pepper screamed after me. I didn’t exactly know where I was going, but I was about to find out.

I just hoped that both of us would make it there alive.