Daz, now ten-years-old, had been called back to the family house by his father for an unknown reason. He calmly walked through the hallways of the mansion by himself as the servants and maids ignored him entirely.
'At this point, I wonder what that bastard wants? Can't he just leave me in peace with Maddy? I'll marry that girl, Aila, and endure his torture, but does he really need to make me come back here only to see him?' Daz thought with spite clouding his mind.
Lately, he had been experiencing emotions far more vividly than he did when he was still a toddler. Something about his time with Madison had opened his heart and allowed the dark emotions he harboured for his abusive father to obtain a firm grasp over him.
With soft footsteps, Daz entered the bedchamber his father had instructed him to go to in his letter. "You've grown taller, Darenzo."
'Is that all you have to say? It's been four years since we last met, and you can only comment on my height?' Daz stoically nodded his head and continued to play the emotionless child that he always was before he met Madison.
Daz's father turned his back to the boy and reached down into what looked like a crib. He faced Daz once more, except this time, in his arms, was a baby.
"This is your sister, Rose. She's of no use to me. You take her and raise her. It could prove to be a good learning experience for you," he said as he carelessly passed the sleeping child to Daz.
"Yes, Father. Thank you, Father," like a machine, Daz replied perfectly.
"One final thing before you go. Aila will be coming to Waterford next year to enter middle school with you, so prepare for that. That's all, dismissed," Darenzo's father stated. He then left the room callously.
Daz stood there and he stared blankly at the baby in his arms. "... You're of no use to that monster?"
He carefully looked at the cute face of his sleeping baby sister and a smile ebbed its way onto his lips. A smile full of tenderness and an unwilling attitude to allow his father to get his way. "I'll look after you, I promise."
As if she had heard his muttering, Rose woke up and looked around a bit. She noticed the grinning face looking down at her and she laughed before grabbing one of Daz's fingers and putting it in her mouth.
Some of the hatred fostering within Daz immediately left him when that happened. "Let's go, Rose. We shouldn't stay here any longer."
"Baby?" Madison asked with a curious tilt of her head as she gazed at Rose who was being cradled in Daz's arms.
"Yeah, my younger sister, to be exact," Daz replied calmly.
Madison sat down next to him and poked Rose's cheek lightly. "Soft. Cute. We, raise?"
"Yeah. Apparently, my father doesn't have any uses for her, that bastard. How could he just abandon an infant so heartlessly like that?" Daz felt enraged just thinking about it. Just what about this tiny life was so worthless that keeping and looking after it made it a burden?
Madison was staring pretty intently at Rose when she happened to notice something. "Legs. Like Jelly?"
"Huh?" Daz took a closer look at Rose's chubby and small legs. Indeed, they were kind of flopping around unnaturally. "How did I not notice that before? Maybe her legs don't work... Is that why he just threw her away?"
Madison cocked her head slightly and held her chin. "Where, mother?" she questioned.
Daz shook his head. "I have no idea. I've never met my mother and I've only ever spoken to her over the phone. As far as I know, Rose might not even share the same mother as me. Not that it really matters."
The young boy leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling of their apartment. "Maddy, how much money did we have saved up again? I need to take Rose to the doctor's and make sure she's had all of her injections and I need to confirm if there actually is anything wrong with her legs."
"Hmm... five-thousand?" Madison answered with a question.
"It should be enough... I think," Daz replied.
Daz left on the very same day and had an emergency doctor's appointment for Rose. Thankfully, it seemed like his father had arranged for her to have all of the necessary injections to ward off diseases. However, there was one very serious problem.
"She has some sort of disorder that affects the movement of her legs. I can't say for sure what it is. We'd need to bring her to a hospital and perform several tests... but worst case scenario, she has cerebral paralysis. That's unlikely as it would appear that she's perfectly healthy except for her legs. Only time will tell," the doctor said with a bit of a hopeless shrug.
"... I see... And how much would those tests cost, exactly?" Daz asked a bit pensively.
"Hmm, it's hard to say. It varies from person to person, but it could cost anywhere from two-thousand dollars to twenty-thousand. It depends on the severity of her condition and on insurance. I'm assuming she isn't insured?" the doctor asked with a mildly concerned tone.
"No, she isn't. Thank you for your time, Doctor Brown," Daz politely nodded his head and left after paying the receptionist the appointment fee.
'Fuck,' Daz cursed inwardly as he raced back home with Rose in his arms. 'It took me two years of pickpocketing to get five grand, how the hell am I going to pay for Rose's medical bills if she has something that needs constant treatment?'
This was a new type of stress for the young man. On most days, he only had to worry about getting money and turning up to school on time as he stayed alert for the men hired by his father, but now he had to worry about a defenseless child.
He knew it wasn't Rose's fault, no, it was all his father's fault. 'I'm going to need to get a wheelchair at least when she grows up and she'll need special facilities like a toilet and stuff... Fuck! That useless father... why couldn't he just give me some money to look after myself instead of pushing me in the gutter and sending goons to beat me up every few weeks?!'
Daz returned home and slumped onto a chair. "How am I going to give you the care you need, Rose?" he asked as he looked down at the smiling baby held between his arms.
It was in that moment that the door to the apartment clicked open and the young eight-year-old Madison walked in with cautious steps. She was holding an old suitcase that Daz had stolen from the city's skip site since it looked like it could be useful.
"Where were you?" Daz asked softly. Rare was it that Madison would go somewhere without him.
Madison dragged the suitcase behind her and hoisted it up onto the table. It landed with a loud thud that startled Rose. Just before she could cry, Daz put his finger in her mouth to act as a make-shift binky. Surprisingly, that worked and calmed the infant.
Madison looked apologetic but she continued by opening the case and showing Daz its contents. It was full to the brim with twenty-dollar bills. Daz calculated that there must have been at least thirty or forty-thousand dollars worth of money here.
"Where did you get this, Maddy? No, who did you steal this from? Did they see you? Do we need to run?" Daz asked in a rapid succession as his mind spun and made up several possibilities and solutions to this problem.
Madison shook her head cutely and said, "Altered. Machines. No one saw. No cameras. Promise. Safe."
Daz frowned. "What do you mean by 'altered'?" Usually, the young boy could easily decipher the meaning behind Madison's broken speech, but this was the first time in several years that he hadn't understood what she meant.
Madison looked a little bit panicked by Daz's cold attitude. "Explain. Don't know. Just did. You can't?"
If he had a free hand, Daz would have no doubt rubbed the arch of his nose between his fingers. "Why did you take this money? It could come back to bite us, such a large sum. That's why I only steal tiny amounts every day. It's to not arouse suspicion."
Madison seemed like she was seconds away from crying. She grabbed Daz's sleeve a bit roughly. "Baby. Needs food. Medicine. Money, no have. Sorry."
Daz sighed and urged her to come closer to him with his chin, Madison obliged, so he softly planted his lips on hers, a new tradition that they had picked up to show their affection after Madison read about it in several love stories.
"It's fine. You said you weren't seen, right? I trust you, Maddy. Just... Just don't do that ever again, okay? I don't know what I'd do if you were ever hurt or taken away from me..." Daz requested with some emotion in his tone.
"Mmm," Madison nodded her head and smiled beautifully. "Won't again."
She then peered down at the baby Rose that was happily sucking on Daz's finger. Madison grinned and stroked Rose's short and fluffy hair. "Pretty. We, parents?"
"I guess so... her biological ones don't give a shit about her, that's for sure," Daz replied stoically. His rage and animosity towards his father still burned strong, and one day, he would get his revenge on that monster.
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