Fandom: The Last of Us
Characters: Ellie, Joel, Tommy, Maria, OCs
Warnings: Underage [please see A/N of doom in Chapter 1!]
Word Count for this chapter: 5483
Rating (for fic as a whole): R
The only thing that brought Joel more peace than holding Ellie in his arms like this was holding a sleeping Ellie in his arms, the gentle rhythm of her breathing a lullaby of sorts. He had thought she might fall asleep on him here, but unless she could somehow play with his arm in her sleep, she hadn't yet. "You tired?" he murmured into her freshly-brushed hair.
"Not at all," she replied. "You?"
"Mm. I've got some sleep to catch up on. You know I don' sleep as good when you ain't next to me."
"Good. Let's keep it that way," Ellie said cheekily.
"That's the only reason I keep you around," he teased.
"I knew it!" She chuckled a little. "Seriously, though... I'll sit with you all night if you want."
"I know you would." He shifted a little so he could see her face, then gave her a quick kiss. "Thank you."
Joel had actually been quite impressed with Ellie's ability to be absolutely silent, the first time they'd sat like this. Then he wondered why he was surprised; yes, there were times she talked a blue streak, or just had to make her opinion known, but there'd always been times when she respected his need for silence -- in fact, it was mutual, especially earlier this year when she'd become more withdrawn than he'd ever seen her. Now that she was part of a community, and had become involved in things, met new friends... she didn't get like that too much anymore. But she did appreciate quiet time; there were still times that they sat on the couch together -- him whittling, her reading -- companionably silent. He found he didn't long for solitude the way he used to. And now that they were... the way they were, there were also times when she distracted him from the whittling.
She was good at distracting him. Too good, sometimes. He was kicking himself for being so careless in public. He'd been so excited to see her that it felt like they were the only two people in the world when he finally had her in his arms -- and he'd indulged the feeling. At least they hadn't been making out in the moonlight. The only evidence they'd been doing anything at all was Ellie's hair, if the kid couldn't see them in that dark shadow (her hair could have been messed up by the wind, he thought... if Ellie hadn't sounded like she was pulling something out of her ass, the way she'd said it). And, of course, what Clicker had overheard was pretty incriminating. Hopefully, they'd smoothed that over adequately enough. Joel hoped that when Clicker thought about it later, he would decide that the idea of Joel and Ellie being sexual was just absolutely ridiculous, and doubt his own recollections of that night.
It was already pretty late, and Ellie needed to get to bed, so he figured he'd best get on with telling her what had happened. "So... today," Joel began.
She stirred a little. He still had his arms around her, but she was sitting more upright, her head lifted so he could talk to her face to face. Maybe steal a kiss once in a while. She let her hand fall to rest on his chest. He would have to try not to notice she was wearing 'his' shirt... the one he'd discarded that she had appropriated for a nightshirt. Her actual flannel nightgown, which was thicker and much longer, was down at the farm.
"What was your favorite subject in school?" he asked her.
"What?" Naturally, Ellie was taken aback by the question. It was a bit out of the blue.
"Jus' seems like somethin' I oughta know about you that I don't."
"Okayyy... are you trying to not tell me about today, or what?"
"Answer the question an' I'll tell you."
Ellie didn't have a ready answer. Was he the only person to ever ask her that? It was such a stock question for an adult to ask a kid in ordinary conversation. She knitted her brow... the way she did when she was thinking hard about something. "Um... history, I guess? I liked learning about how people lived. Different cultures and stuff."
That made sense. He could've guessed as much about her. "Social studies, more like."
"I guess you could call it that. We spent a lot of time on the shitloads of wars that happened, but it was cooler to learn about how things... got invented, and stuff like that. It's funny how the books make it seem like normal things are so old-fashioned. Like using horses for transportation. It's the easiest, fastest -- well, maybe not fastest... most reliable way to get around, cuz even if you can find a car that sort of works, it'll die on you, and horses don't."
Sad but true. Joel was accustomed to not driving anymore, but he sure did miss it sometimes. And he hadn't had the unique thrill of riding a motorcycle since... he couldn't even remember. "Right. Well, maybe in your lifetime, cars will make a comeback."
"Train cars first! Without even having to jump, you mean?"
Joel chuckled. "Hop. You hop a train, if you're sneakin' on."
"Whatever. We're gonna do that someday."
Enough people had claimed to see freight trains in operation that Joel believed it was true, and some of the railroads they'd encountered on their cross-country journey did appear to have had some restoration work done. They hadn't seen any actual trains, though. That lowlife Max had planted the freighthopping idea in Ellie's head. "We'll see. So did they make you memorize a bunch of dates... names an' shit?"
"Yeah... I don't see the point of knowing all that about wars and presidents and stuff... not like it's useful at all. But I liked learning about how the world... got to be the way it was. Before. In your time, as you like to say."
"Most of what you learned was before my time, kiddo."
"You sure about that? Cuz we spent a lot of time on dinosaurs..." She grinned.
"Ha. That's right... I almost forgot -- I did have a pet dinosaur as a kid. A T-Rex."
"You did?" Ellie played along. "Cool. What was its name?"
It made her laugh, at least. "Very creative, Joel."
"I never said I was good at namin' things."
"Okay so I answered your question, now tell me about today!" She poked him in the chest.
The playful conversation wasn't the best segue into the heavy shit... but what would be, really? "I thought you were out there today. Outside. In the woods."
"What? Why would you think that?" Ellie seemed a bit affronted. "I told you I wouldn't go out there without you again."
"I know. That's why it did seem strange to me." He told her about Tommy coming to get him, and about the search... and the end of the search. About Buffy and Boo. The mix-up with the names. All of it. He just left out certain details, like discovering the bodies... what he was feeling... some of those dark thoughts he'd had. She filled in some of the blanks, of course; she knew him pretty well. Hell, sometimes she knew what he was feeling even when he didn't know exactly. And she said he'd picked the right direction, as far as looking for her. If she had been out there, that's exactly what she would have done -- tried to find him. Even if Jackson might have been a little closer. Some other time, when he was in lecture mode, he might re-examine that and try to get her to see that sometimes it made more sense to take the safer or shorter route. To follow logic rather than follow your heart.
But he wasn't up for that now. Not after he told her about the infected boy... how the kid had wanted to run off, that he was scared to die... how Joel might have just shot him to end his suffering, but he couldn't. She got a little teary-eyed at that part, even though he didn't explain why he couldn't. "God, that poor little guy," she said sadly. "And you left him with Tommy? Do you know what happened after that?"
"Not sure. I meant to check in with Tommy or Maria durin' that time I was tryin' to hunt you down, but then I..." ...started to worry again? He'd heard from the guards that Tommy had made it back before he did. He was just more inclined to find Ellie than to check in with him. "I can't believe I didn' remember to check that back room... jus' took people's word that you weren't around..." Was she blushing a little bit? She was. He'd asked her where she'd been all night when they were walking home, and the moonlight hadn't let him detect her face changing color... she had seemed a little flustered. Interesting... I wonder what they keep back there...
"Okay, so what was the plan?" she prompted.
Right -- he didn't want to get derailed. "They were gonna quarantine him an' talk to his parents... see what their wishes were, in regards to... how to... I think Tommy was gonna see about givin' him something to make him sleep, an' then... then maybe he wouldn' really... you know, feel it, when he..."
Ellie understood. "And they'd risk getting infected... to be with him. Right?"
"If they choose to, yeah, but I reckon they'll take some precautions. Maybe get someone else to... be around, when it's time to... when he starts turnin'." Joel could have volunteered to help with that... with whatever was decided upon. He could have, but he didn't, and Tommy didn't ask anything of him -- probably realizing that Joel wouldn't be willing to spend another day away from Ellie, at least not after the day he'd had.
A tear slid down Ellie's cheek. Joel caught it with his thumb. Kissed her. I bet she's thinking about either Sam or Riley right now. Maybe both.
"Would you be able to do it for me?" she asked.
"If I wasn't immune... and I was going to turn... could you kill me?"
Not a question Joel wanted to contemplate. "That's never gonna happen--"
"But could you? If you knew I was gonna turn any minute... and I wanted you to do it..."
He sighed. As much as he liked to believe that there was nothing he wouldn't do for Ellie, he didn't know if he had that kind of strength. "I don' know. I honestly don't."
"I don't think I could do it to you." She swallowed... like she was swallowing the rest of her tears, Joel thought. It was rare that any of them ever escaped those big green eyes of hers, so she'd already exceeded her daily limit. "No, I know I couldn't," she decided. "I'd prob'ly let you kill me instead, because I couldn't do it, and you can't infect me, so..."
He wanted to tell her not to think about shit like that, that no good would come of it, but sometimes it was better for Ellie if she did talk about things. "I wish you wouldn'. Assumin' I couldn' do it myself..." He figured he'd have to do it before he started actually turning. That the required mental faculties would fly out the window the second the virus affected his mind.
"You couldn't do it yourself, because I wouldn't let you. I would want every last minute with you... every second you had left. You can't... do it early." Her eyes were downcast now, but Joel saw another tear escape.
He kissed her forehead. "I'd want you to shoot me, Ellie. You know that. If not before, then as soon as... you see it startin' to affect me."
"I know. I know, just... it would be so hard... I don't think I could."
"Well, hopefully Tommy would be nearby. He'd do it in a heartbeat," he said lightly.
"No he wouldn't!" But she smiled. Lifted her head back up a little.
"Sure he would. Motherfucker would prob'ly enjoy it."
"Pfff. Whatever. You guys get along great now."
"Uh... hardly." Better, sure... but not great.
"So... today. Did you guys find the rest of the Infected out there?"
"We found some." Joel had felt pretty confident that Ellie never left town after the little Eli/Ellie mix-up on the log. Even so, that niggling little voice in his head had made him ask Tommy to get someone to track down Gavin and confirm that he'd meant Eli, not Ellie, when he'd written down the names, and Joel hadn't left Tommy's side until that was confirmed. Tempted as he was to go find her irregardless, Joel chalked that up to simply missing the hell out of her. Theo had gotten the feeling he was on the right track earlier, but then ditched that path when he'd heard Joel's gunshot. The two men joined forces and found two small groups of them. There was plenty of ground yet to cover, but more people could go out searching in daylight tomorrow, if desired. Joel thought it would probably be all right if the regular patrols were just beefed up a little... but it wasn't up to him. "Hopefully we got all of 'em. Two Clickers an' six Runners."
"Jesus. So... there were nine of them, with the dead one... are you okay?" She looked at him with fresh concern.
"I'm fine, see? Not even a scratch." His worrying over Ellie notwithstanding, the toughest part of the day had been seeing the body of Earl's boy. Or maybe it was knowing that little Eli would soon suffer a worse fate. "I ain't the one that... shit, that poor kid... both kids..."
"Yeah. And Buffy... man, you must be her hero now."
Joel scoffed; he hadn't done anything heroic. "Her dad took her home. He can be the hero."
"But you're the one who found her. You must've been..."
Joel waited, but she didn't finish the thought. "Been what?"
"I bet you were thinking of Sarah. Or... me, maybe."
"Both of you. Yes."
"Like... as daughters?"
"Her, of course. You... yes... an' no. But... yes." It was funny that she'd brought that up. He'd actually been wondering if he would be in dad mode when he saw her again. He had expected to be. But... well, it was obvious that that wasn't the case, once they'd started kissing. "Why?"
"Nothing... just... thought you might."
"When I was worried about you... lookin' for you... both out there and in here, I wasn' really thinkin' about... kissin' you, or... anythin' like that. I jus' had to know you were safe. That's all I cared about. And in that way, you were my little girl, not my..." They still didn't have a label for what they were to each other. Unless 'everything' counts as a label...
"Even though I'm not little."
He smiled at the familiar protest. "You'll always be little to me."
"Even if, like... I grow a bunch more inches and gain a ton of weight -- all muscle, of course -- and I'm actually bigger than you?"
Joel chuckled. Leave it to Ellie to ask a question like that so deadpan. "You jus' try an' make that happen. Then we'll talk."
"Okay. But, you kissed me, not like a dad, so... that feeling went away," she presumed.
"It never goes all the way away. But... yeah, I s'pose."
"So... remember when you told me you'd feel protective of me no matter if I was fifteen or forty-five?"
"Did I say that?" Shit, she remembers what I say better than I do.
"Yeah. Why can't it just be like that? Like... how you feel protective of Tommy, or Maria, or anyone you care about. Or... not Tommy, cuz I think you were being sexist at the time... -but that's fine -- you can think of me as a woman then. I mean, that's kinda the whole point."
Joel recalled the conversation now. "Right... it's jus' different, though. The way a father feels about his daughter."
"Which I'm not, even. Your daughter. Repeat after me."
"Which you're not," he said dutifully. "Of course you're not. I thought part of you liked that idea, though. Didn'tcha?"
"No, I've always wanted to have sex with you, since the moment I met you," she said, trying (and failing) to sound sincere.
"Well, damn, I didn' know I was so..."
"Sexy? Oh, you are. It's really cruel of you to... deprive me of your... whatever." She kissed him... a giggly little kiss.
"Mmm. Well, maybe it's time we do somethin' about that," Joel said before he could censor himself. ...actually, this time he wasn't sure he wanted to censor himself.
Her eyes got real big. "What? Shut up."
"All right. Subject closed. We were talkin' about... what was it..."
"No, don't shut up, you know I meant--"
"Too late. That ship has sailed."
"Nooooo no no no no!" She straddled him, balled up the straps of his tank top in her fists, and rocked back and forth a little. Joel could only assume she was trying to simulate a collar-grabbing, get-in-your-face sort of maneuver. Only she's too cute for it to be effective. "You can't do that! You can't!" she wailed.
"I think I can do whatever I damn well please," he drawled, pulling her in for a kiss. Then he quickly pivoted to the side... moving both of them this time. Instead of shifting her off his lap like he normally would, he lay on top of her, pinning her to the couch. He smothered her squeals of delight with another kiss... one that was deeper, more insistent... a couple more kisses like that and somehow his groin was grinding haphazardly against hers. He was glad he'd put on his jammy pants, because... What the fuck are you doing, you perv? You're supposed to be TALKING.
Before he could start to ease off of her, she snaked her arms around his neck and pulled him in for more. She freed her legs... and when she curled them around him, their crotches lined up perfectly. He put his hand on her thigh, to push her leg back down, only... damn... it felt so good, even through clothing, to just...
"Just tell me what to do," she whispered between kisses.
Shiiiiiiiit. He sort of... growled and laughed at the same time, and lifted himself up a little, despite the way she was trying to pull him down. "We're not gonna have sex right now, Ellie. Not that I don't..." God, why does she have to be so pretty? And when she looks at me like that... He knew she wanted it. Wanted him. He groaned, removed every part of her that had a grip on him, and rolled off of her -- right smack on to the floor.
"Joel!" Ellie scolded, rolling off the couch herself to lay on top of him -- though he immediately scooched her down to lay next to him instead. "You're already gonna be sore tomorrow, thanks to me, and now you're making it worse!"
He hugged her against his side. "I'll live," he said again. Pain could serve as a good distraction sometimes. Even just a small amount of it. And you do need to distract yourself, motherfucker.
"You better," she growled, kissing his neck, his jaw, his cheek, and finally his lips. She was so... snuggly. Yet sexy at the same time. The way she drew her bare leg up over his... that somehow made his hand run itself up her thigh before he even realized it was moving. And that goddamn shirt... his eye was drawn to the 'v' of it... I ain't in nearly enough pain for this.
He closed his eyes... but he could still see her, in his mind. "Ellie..."
"What?! I wasn't even doing anything!"
He chuckled at how outraged she sounded. "That wasn' a Ellie-Ellie, jus'... I don' know."
"Wanna move to the bed?" she suggested sweetly. "Just cuz it's more comfortable, I mean."
"Well, it is!"
Maybe not the best idea, but it was late... and it was more comfortable than that cold, hard floor. "You go on. I'll lock up."
She scrambled to her feet, then offered him a hand, which he took, groaning theatrically for her amusement as he stood up. She kissed him once more before scampering into the bedroom.
He did his bedtime routine of checking that the door and all the windows were locked, hoping that somehow, if he took a little extra time and let his thoughts churn a bit, he'd find the clarity he felt he should already have, instead of continuing to be of two minds about the sex thing. But unfortunately, the only clear thought that dawned on him was shit, ants in the kitchen again... I'll deal with that in the morning.
"On or off?" she asked when he appeared in the bedroom doorway, her hand poised by the lamp.
"Off." He certainly didn't need any more visuals.
They assumed their usual pre-sleep position of Joel on his back with Ellie in the crook of his arm, her head on his chest. He began stroking her hair the way she liked. Ellie sighed happily. "I'm gonna sleep so good tonight. If I ever get tired, I mean."
I know a way I could tire you out, girl...
Joel's thoughts did tend to be a little more... impure, when he was in bed with Ellie. He could ignore them, for the most part. Or talk back to them. You're too tired for that yourself, old man. Right. Just like that. "Me too. Except I'm already tired... you'll get bored watchin' me sleep an' the boredom'll help you out."
He expected her to reply with either a snarky remark or a cutesy one (she liked to tell Joel how adorable he was when he slept), but instead she gave no reply at all. She was silent for a few moments. "Joel?"
"That whole... daughter thing..."
"I know you ain't my daughter," he reassured her.
"Right, but... I think I get why you wouldn't wanna... do stuff, you know, after... well, a day like today. It's cool. I mean, it's okay."
"...'it's cool'?" he parroted. Is this another backpedaling thing? Maybe I scared her a little...
"Yeah... I know you were freaking out, thinking I was dead or hurt or lost or something, for... what, like, hours? And then Buffy and her dad... and... that other stuff... Being together is all that matters. Really. Sex totally isn't important."
"It ain't, huh?" Joel was surprised to hear that come out of her mouth. Especially when he hadn't actually been thinking along those lines himself, the way she seemed to assume. He'd been thinking more like... well, quite the opposite of that.
"No. Not in the big picture. Like... I'd rather have the... thing that makes you freak out. You know, the... love, or whatever... that's why I'm with you. Why I want to be with you. I know we can have both -- when you're ready -- but, like... uuggghhh, I thought I knew how to say this..."
He squeezed her. "I hear ya, kiddo." But did he? Maybe she's realizing what I've thought all along -- that SHE'S not ready...
"I'm sorry, Joel. I've been too pushy. I'll try not to be such a dick about it."
Joel chuckled. "I'd hardly say you've been a dick about it. Actually, I think you've been extremely patient with me."
"Really? You think that?"
She sounded so pleased that Joel couldn't help smiling a little. "Mmhmm. Must be hard for you when I... well... act like I want to, then slam on the brakes, an' you're jus'... waitin' for the time when I don't..."
"That's not hard. It's fun. Which is what you always say, too... is it harder for you? Like, you're lying about the fun part?"
Oh yeah. It's rock-hard. "...No, I ain't lyin'. I jus' don' wanna do anythin' that'll make you... uncomfortable. -An' jus' 'cause that ain't happened yet don' mean that it won't," he added in response to the protest he knew she would make.
"You really do worry too much, you know."
"I can't help it."
"I know. It's part of your charm." She craned her neck up a little to kiss his cheek. She only got his beard the first time, so craned a little more to plant a second one on his actual cheek. She was just so adorable... and he was just such a ... "But you need to relax," she continued. "Whatever happens, happens."
Joel snorted. "You jus' said sex wasn' important."
"Yeah but who said I was talking about sex right now? You have a dirty mind." She giggled. "Okay, so I was talking about sex."
If Joel lived by that 'whatever happens' mantra, they would have had sex long ago. My dick would have a field day with that logic. "Even though it ain't important to you."
"No! Not to me-- I mean..."
"I know what you meant. I'm jus' teasin' you." Joel let out a big yawn. He was ready to fall asleep and hadn't even said all he'd meant to say.
"Okay. So... I guess what I'm saying is... I can wait." She chuckled a little. "A whole lot of words just to get right back to where I already was, huh?"
"... ...You're gonna be asleep in like five minutes."
She was quiet a few moments... then, another tentative, "Joel?"
"Yes, baby girl?"
"I'm cool with waiting, and I'm not trying to be pushy..."
"Well... before you left, you did say that when you got back, we could... um... maybe... take another step. A forward step. Remember?"
"I remember." He knew she was waiting for him to elaborate, and he couldn't resist torturing her a little by leaving it at that.
"...and?!" she prompted when she realized he wasn't going to say anything further.
"Well, I was wondering... is that still... did today change that, or...?"
Joel chuckled and kissed the top of her head. "You're cute. Miss 'I can wait.' "
"I can! I will! But just so you know, I'm still very much interested in... steps... and taking them... with you..."
"Mmm. You wanna know if the offer still stands," he finally acknowledged.
"Yeah. Does it?"
"You don' even know what I was thinkin' of."
"Well, whatever it is... whatever you wanna do... I wanna do it, too."
Joel laughed softly. "Ohhhhhh Ellie. You shouldn' say things like that. You should always know what you're agreein' to before you agree to it." Whatever I wanna do, huh? Pick one of a hundred naughty things...
"With people, maybe, but not with you."
Such blind trust... and at the moment, he didn't feel he deserved it. "Believe it or not, I am a person." A person who's imagining ripping your underwear off right now...
"No, you're not. You're my Joel."
"Aww." He liked it when she called him that. And you're my sweet baby girl... I just can't seem to take advantage of you that way, no matter how much you -- or my dick -- want me to. Not that he hadn't already taken many advantages -- like the one he was taking right now. Like he did every night. Feeling her in his arms, breathing in her scent... fantasizing...
Ellie innocently babbled on. "Yeah, so... whatever this step is that you're thinking of, I know it wouldn't be anything that would hurt me, or like... wouldn't be fun for me. That's why I can agree to it without knowing what it is. I trust you."
"I know you do. Problem is, you trust me more than I trust myself."
"That... makes no sense."
"It makes perfect sense. Dirty old man, sweet young girl..."
"Arrggghhh, no -- you're not dirty, or old, and I'm not sweet. Or young."
"Oh yes you are." And you'd rethink the not-dirty thing if you knew--
"A young woman, yeah. Not a young girl. A young girl would be like, three or four years old. On the girl scale, I'm like, ancient."
Joel had started yawning again, but it turned into a laugh at that explanation. "However you wanna look at it -- you're young, all right?"
"Okay so can you answer the fucking question already?"
"...what was the question again? -Ow!" She had actually smacked him that time. Not hard, though. Tired of taking my shit, huh? My little spitfire...
"Are we or are we not taking a step now? And 'we'll see' is not an answer. And no maybes. Yes or no. Please, just... so I know, either way."
Joel hadn't had anything particular in mind when he'd put that on the table. He'd reckoned he would have a couple more nights without her to mull things over, and that by the time he came home, he'd have more of an idea. But today... Ellie's 'it's not important' sentiment was on the opposite end of the spectrum of what he was thinking. Now it felt more like, 'why the fuck are we waiting?' Ellie had more than proven that this wasn't just some passing infatuation on her end. And he had no doubt that his own feelings were the permanent kind.
She'd been very mature about the whole thing. They joked around about it and all, sure, but she was very respectful of Joel's reservations -- and that couldn't be easy for her when she so vehemently disagreed with them. She hadn't tried to pull any stunts... aside from the Sophie thing -- which was immature, granted, but that stemmed from her jealousy and insecurity. No stunts like sneaking into the bathroom when he was showering, or walking around naked herself... she wasn't shoving her hand down his pants, or trying to make him touch her. He'd braced himself for such things, and pondered how he should deal with them... all for naught. At least, so far.
He reckoned some of that was due to modesty. Ellie wasn't a particularly shy girl, generally speaking, but she was young, and inexperienced. Maybe she wasn't doing all that stuff simply because she didn't know how to go about it, or what would be effective at pushing him over the edge -- in the way she wanted, that is, not in terms of pissing him off. Except, there was the bed thing... when she'd decided it was wrong of her to give him an ultimatum about them sharing it, and nearly equated it to rape, for fuck's sake... Joel had gotten a kick out of that, but she'd been so earnest, so sincere, so... ready to back off because she felt she was making him uncomfortable. She was just... mature. That was the word he kept coming back to. And compassionate. Unselfish.
"It's okay to say no," she said quietly; he must have been thinking too long. "I won't be mad, I promise."
Was she just reading my mind? It was a simple question with a simple answer. But after the intensity of the day he'd had, Joel had actually been thinking of saying something along the lines of "fuck the steps, let's just go for it." And now, after spending a little time with her... he just couldn't be certain he wasn't thinking that for selfish reasons. Because of some... need that he had, something dormant or latent... a need he'd suddenly been made acutely aware of. Something he'd only very recently come to believe that sex with Ellie -- or, truly, making love to her -- would fulfill. And not only that, but that it would be to her benefit, not just his own. That it was... okay. That it would be an expression of love, not lust. That there was nothing perverted or wrong about his desire.
It was probably just my dick trying to fool me: she's FIFTEEN, for chrissakes. A mature fifteen was still fifteen. If any other man had such fantasies about his little girl, he'd kill the sick son of a bitch. The hypocrisy weighed on him.
Although he knew he shouldn't treat the matter as 'rewards for good behavior' or anything, hadn't she earned... something? Not intercourse. But something. As long as he kept things from escalating too quickly, maybe it was time... maybe he could give a little on that constant, rigid "NO." Take a step, see how she responded to it...
"Joel?" she tried again.
Joel held her really tightly for about five seconds, then relaxed. "Yes, baby girl. Not tonight, obviously, but... the answer is yes."
~Continue to Chapter 11~