It didn’t seem fair to Cherry that she should lie awake, buzzing like a faulty circuit, when all she wanted was a few hours of shut-eye before Friday’s inevitable trials arrived. Certainly not while Lucas slept blissfully beside her, at least. She propped herself up on an elbow to watch the smaller boy happily snore the early hours of the morning away. What had he done to deserve the Sandman's blessing that she hadn't? She'd just endured the most eventful day of her life; surely it wasn't fair that he was happily unconscious after what was (for him) another day at the office, while sleep eluded her entirely?
No. It wasn't.
Armed with that ironclad logic, Cherry kicked him.
The inbetweener woke with a start, instinctively rolling away from his attacker and colliding with the bars of the crib beside him. He yelped like a wounded puppy, and when he turned she could see the bewilderment in his eyes. “What?” he asked uncertainly, massaging his side and pulling himself upright. He looked around the room for the source of his companion’s concern. “What is it?”
“Nothing,” Cherry admitted. She tried to hide a grin. “I couldn’t sleep.”
He stared at her. “That’s...that’s it?”
“And that’s my problem, how?”
“Do I really need to explain how my lack of sleep is your problem?”
The look on his face implied he had no idea what she was talking about. Seeing as Cherry was torturing the boy for nothing more than her own amusement, that was perfectly understandable. “I can't sleep, and I thought we could talk,” she went on, putting him out of his misery. “Keep me company, would you?”
Lucas frowned, but he rubbed the sleep from his eyes all the same. “I...I guess?” He glanced at the nightlight. “What time is it? Christ, Cherry, what – ”
“Dawn’s on our side,” the little practically sang.
That stopped the inbetweener in his tracks. “What do you mean, she’s on our side?”
“I mean she’s on our side.” Cherry paused a moment to collect her thoughts, figuring that it might be best if she started from the beginning and include all that she had discovered about Evelyn while she was at it. “Let’s back up a second, though...”
She spent the next minute filling the half-asleep boy in on everything that had transpired between her vacating his crib and being put back in it, noting with some interest that he appeared as shocked as she’d been at the revelation that his Mama was brewing certain substances beneath his feet. Dawn had known all along, but it was clear that Lucas had been genuinely unaware of Evelyn’s illicit activities. His reaction to Dawn’s change of heart amounted to little more than a sceptical "well, we'll see," but the revelations concerning Evie interested him considerably more.
“Meth,” Lucas echoed dubiously. It was only when he frowned that his face began to look its biological age. “You can’t be serious.”
“Why would I lie about something like that?” Cherry pulled her flimsy nightie around herself a little tighter, doing her best to ward off the chill. The temperature had dropped since her trek downstairs, and she hadn't been well equipped to deal with the cold to begin with. “Although admittedly, I’m just assuming that it’s meth. What other dodgy product can you make with gas?”
“Well...I don’t know.” For a long moment, his voice made it clear that he wasn’t sure whether or not to believe her. He hesitated as he mulled the thought over. “I guess it makes sense, though," he at last conceded. "She spends a lot of time down in the basement, and every second or third week she goes out for the night without explanation...and I guess those canisters in the garage do get a bit of turnover.” He snorted. “Man, it’s been right under my nose the whole time, hasn’t it?”
It certainly had. “And you never thought to question why that turnover might be happening?”
“Propane is barely a blip on my radar of weird things in this household.” He smiled his crooked smile. “In case it escaped your attention, she has a DVD that hits the undo button on potty training.”
Don’t remind me. “Yeah, well,” Cherry smiled back, doing her best not to think about the multitude of diaper changes she’d endured over the last twelve hours. “That’s a thing.”
“I guess.” His smile dropped a little, and he eyed her strangely. “You looked like you were ready to off yourself before I went to sleep, you know. Why are you so happy all of a sudden?”
Her own smile only grew. Wasn’t it obvious? “My sister’s back. What’s not to be happy about?”
“The meth dealer three doors down from us?” His smile shrank even further. "And besides, I'll believe it when I see it. And so should you."
He had a point, but nothing could diminish Cherry's delight. She could still feel Dawn’s arms around her, she could still see the way Dawn had beamed as they’d said goodnight. She could hear Dawn’s stammered apologies, she could taste her wayward tears. She didn’t trust her sister as far as she could throw her, but the few minutes they’d been together had been cathartic, for both of them. She’d waited so long to hear from her big sister again, and nothing could overshadow that. How could she possibly begin to verbalise how much that encounter had meant to her?
She didn’t know, so she left a very confused Lucas with a shrug and an idiotic grin.
They fell into a companionable silence for a long moment, until Cherry at last prompted, “Tell me something about yourself, then.” She wriggling about in search of a groove to sink her padded behind into. The mattress wasn’t the exactly most comfortable thing she’d ever slept on, and it was showing no signs of spontaneously becoming so. “I’m buzzing too much to sleep anytime soon, so...tell me about yourself.”
He hesitated. “What about myself?”
“Anything. You’ve seen me naked – twice – and...well, I hardly know you. Let’s fix that.”
For a second, Lucas simply stared. Then he laughed. "Well, that’s one way to put it. I honestly didn’t see much, though. I tried not to look.” He blushed at the memory and averted his eyes, as if her goods were still on display right there and then. “It was hard not to at times, but I tried my best.”
“I know.” Cherry ruffled his hair. "You did pretty well. Thank you.”
“Yeah, well." Lucas screwed up his face and abruptly moved the conversation away from his encounters with naked, older women. “There you go. Anyway, me. I always hated these things when we did them at school, you know. The class introductions, the what-did-you-do-over-the-holidays talks, the whatever. I don't like talking about myself."
"Well...I guess not." He hesitated as he collected his thoughts, shivering as he did so. Evelyn hadn’t bothered to find something for him to wear over his diaper, and without even a blanket to cover himself he was even colder than she was. He didn’t even have the little protection her nightie provided. "I'm not all that interesting, to be honest. I have two sisters, and obviously you know the situation with my parents."
All too well. "Tell me about your sisters, then."
“There’s not a lot to tell about them, either.” He shrugged. "Sarah's nineteen, and Ashleigh's two years younger than - no, wait. One year. It would have been her birthday not long after Evie showed up.” He nodded, mentally double-checking his maths. “She's fifteen now, and I don't turn seventeen for a few months still. She's a year younger than me."
“Were you close with them?”
“I was with Sarah. She was the coolest big sister anyone could ask for.” His face brightened at the thought. “She taught me to drive, you know. I couldn’t get my learner’s until a few months ago, but she’s been taking me out onto the backstreets and showing me the ropes for over a year now. She made me swear not to tell my parents. They’d have a fit knowing their underage son was behind the wheel.” He giggled like a little boy on cordial. “Man, I miss her. I wonder how she’s doing these days.”
Somewhere in the world, there was a single mum with two teenage daughters where once there had been a married couple with two teenage daughters and a son. Cherry felt her heart sink a little. Evelyn had a lot to answer for. "What else?” she asked gently, attempting to steer the conversation into happier waters. “Do you have a girl – a boyfriend?"
It was easy to forget just how young Lucas was when the fate of both her and her sister rested upon his shoulders, but it was hard to miss when he blushed the way he did at the thought of his love life. His silence was all the answer she needed. "You're not telling me you've never been in a relationship?” She playfully slugged his arm, grinning at the way he flinched. “A big, strong man like you?"
"I'm not really the type people are interested in," he admitted. His face went from pink to crimson, and he grew steadily more and more self conscious as he went on, "I'm not the sporty type, I'm not the social type. I'm not musically talented. I wasn't anything before Evie came along. I was part of the theatre club, and I liked my books. Sarah was probably my best friend, to be honest. How many nerds get the...um, guy?"
More than you know. "I wouldn't have picked you for a nerd, you know." Cherry shrugged. "Not that that's a bad thing, even if you are. Nerds run the world and all that. I think you're on the doom and gloom train again."
"I'm on the reality train. I didn't say it was a bad thing, it's just the way it is." His smile began to resurface. "It doesn't really bother me. I was the star of our school productions, and that was enough for me. I'll take a standing ovation as happily as I'll take a relationship." He shifted in place. "I guess that's me."
"I guess it is."
Lucas' smile developed into a full-blown smirk. "So am I allowed to see you naked now?"
"Only in your dreams, little man. I don't show off the goods to high school students." She wagged a reproachful finger in his face. "Besides, you've had your fill."
"You're right. I've seen enough naked grandma today to last me a lifetime." He giggled to himself and smiled to show it was all in good fun. "To be fair, though, I can say the same thing. You’ve seen my goods and I know nothing about you, either.” He grinned. “What do you do, when you're not taping on a diaper and infiltrating daycares?"
That was fair. "I'm an architect.” When he put it that way, she sounded a bit like Clark Kent...only it was a little girl named Tyra lurking in the wings rather than the Man of Steel himself. She grinned at the thought. "Me and Ray did a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture together. I work with one of the municipalities outside of Hearth, I do the blueprints for their public areas. Nothing fancy."
Lucas seemed impressed. "That sounds pretty fancy to the theatre kid who can't even make a sandcastle."
They call me Ms Sandcastle. Cherry repressed that memory as soon as it reared its ugly head. She shrugged as nonchalantly as she could. "It pays the bills."
"Do you work with your friend? Raymond?"
"Nah, he's a waiter. He hasn't had as much luck finding a job. Nowhere's hiring."
“Yeah.” She grinned. “His face doesn’t help things, though. I wouldn’t want to hire him either.” She giggled to herself, envisioning her roommate’s prospective employers taking one look at the photo on his CV, shaking their heads and throwing it straight in the waste basket. She’d have to share that image with Raymond the next time he was around. “He’d scare off the clients. I mean, he’s a puppy, but he’s one scary looking mother – oh!”
The urge to poop struck the little like a rhinoceros on a skateboard. One moment, Cherry had been discussing life with the resident baby, and the next she was on the verge of her worst accident of her life. She gasped out loud and jumped to her feet, rushing to the side of the crib and grasping the bars hard enough to whiten her knuckles. She had to get out, right now, or she was going to leave a hell of a present for Evelyn to clean up. Christ, where had that come from?
“I...huh? Cherry?” Lucas sounded alarmed. He looked up at her with wide, startled eyes. “Are you okay?”
Was her sister the size of a whale? "I’m - oh!" she repeated with considerably more vehemence as her stomach cramped yet again. Her eyes glanced up, following the bars as they stretched on and on and on above her. Could she get over the top without losing control? She’d climbed out with too much issue earlier, but...well, she hadn’t been in a state of emergency before. That, and Evie had locked the door on the way out before. That was the whole reason she hadn't bothered to ditch the crib already. What were the odds she could control herself while scaling a sheer vertical wall and somehow get through a locked door and get to the bathroom before she lost the fight?
You don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, girl.
She didn’t want to believe that. Cherry began to jig on the spot, and her hands flew to her backside. The plastic crinkled like cellophane. "I have to...” she groaned, doubling over in pain. “I mean...I’ve gotta..."
Understanding at last dawned in Lucas’s face. He watched her dance with growing amusement. "Welcome to my world." He shook his head, trying and failing to hide a smile. "Just...you know. Go. There's no point fighting it."
How could he be so blasé about it? "You're not helping," she groaned, feeling her control slip slightly. An incredibly un-lady-like sound escaped her behind. "I...I have to..."
"I know what you have to do. What do you want me to say?" Lucas shrugged. "I hate to break it to you, but you're wearing your toilet."
"It's not a toilet."
"No? Then I've been shitting in the wrong place for the last few months. Oops."
"But what if I...what if I leak?" She was running out of excuses to procrastinate. It had been one thing to wet her pull-up that afternoon, or her diaper on the stairs before. This was something else altogether. Her cheeks were burning and the balls of her feet aching as she repeated, "What if I leak?"
"Generally, whatever you're wearing over your diaper gets dirty," Lucas remarked. The corners of his mouth twitched no matter how hard he tried to stop them from doing so. "Which in this case, is your pretty little nightie. That's the way it normally works."
The battle lasted a further few seconds, and then she was helplessly messing her diaper for the first time in twenty years
She might as well have politely asked her bowels to behave itself, for all the good her attempts to control it achieved. Sphincter control seemed a distant memory as her diaper filled faster than she could blaspheme, and when it vanished it took the cold she'd been so horribly aware of all night with it. A horrific, muggy warmth radiated through her nightie and the plastic beneath, and Cherry violently unhanded her backside, disgusted at the realisation that she was literally cradling her own filth. She felt her facial cheeks grow as warm as their contemporaries down south. Peeing herself had been terrible, sure, but this...
The little tried to stop herself, gritting her teeth and choking the bars of Lucas' crib with a death grip that would shamed a chronic masturbator, but it was as if someone had surgically removed the muscles necessary to do so. In the end, she gave up clenching entirely and resorted to waiting for the ordeal to be over, hunched over and mortified and doing her best to ignore the accompanying soundtrack.
Lucas began to giggle when she at last looked up, glancing everywhere but in his direction. "Not what you expected?"
It was exactly what she’d expected, actually. "Shut up," Cherry muttered, red-faced. There was a very noticeable weight between her legs where there hadn't been before. She strode to the far side of the crib and forced herself to feel around the back of her diaper, surveying the damage and praying she hadn't leaked. It was bad enough that she was in a shitty diaper; she didn't need to be wearing a shitty dress too. Thankfully, though, it seemed that she had been spared that much. Her thighs were much cleaner than her backside was. She turned back to her companion, wagging a finger in front of a very red face. "Not a word, or you can stay stuck in this shithole till the day you die. Hear me?”
"It's always good to see someone that's not me go through that," The in-between managed to say between giggles. "I know that's horrible, but...well..."He smiled toothily."Sorry."
"Shut up," Cherry repeated sullenly. She stretched her legs as far as they could go, feeling the mess ooze around her unspeakables. She bit her lip. How did Lucas do this on a daily basis? “Do you reckon Evie will come clean me up if I call?”
“She doesn’t for me.”
“Well, yeah, but you have a penis. She has a phobia of those things.” There was no way in hell she was spending the night in a shitty diaper. She pressed her face against the bars of the crib, and totally mindless of the scene she was making, began to call for Ms Goldsworthy at the top of her lungs.
Evie arrived before long, rubbing her eyes and wearing only her nightgown. “Again, Tyra?” It was hard to miss the irritation in her voice, sleepy though it may be. “What is it, dear? You’re meant to be – ”
“Please change my diaper,” Cherry begged. She grasped the bars in front of her and bounced up and down on the spot to emphasise her distress. “Please.”
Evie stopped beside the crib, staring down at the two littles before her. Her nose twitched, and a small smile began to creep across her face. “Did you go number one or two, Tyra?”
She was beyond the point of mourning her dignity. “Two,” Cherry said in a rush. “Please, this is horrible, you have to change me, I’m – “
“I don’t have to do anything.” Evie bent over and took the hem of the little’s nightie in hand, pulling it up and over her head in a single sweep. Cherry’s breasts flopped free in full sight of her teenaged companion, but in light of circumstances, that hardly seemed to matter right then. She just wanted out of the diaper. “Turn around, Tyra.”
She did so, and then the giantess’ hands were probing the seat of her loaded underwear.
“I think it can hold a little more.” The hand patted her distended backside reassuringly and promptly disappeared. “Go back to sleep, Tyra. I’ll change you in the morning.”
“What?” The exclamation burst from her lips with enough volume to wake the dead. She spun back around, blushing furiously and hating herself for the words spewing from her mouth but powerless to stop herself from grovelling. The alternative was worse. “No, please, I’m begging you, don’t make me spend the night like this. Ms Goldsworthy, you have to – ”
“Stop telling me what to do, Tyra. You’re a guest under my roof, in case you’ve forgotten. Guests don’t make demands.” Evie stood back up, shaking her head as she did so. “Do I have to remind you that this is your own fault? If you hadn’t have gone snooping earlier, you’d be perfectly capable of sitting on the potty like a big girl would. You’re not going to find any sympathy from me.” She passed the nightie back to Cherry, who snatched it away and reluctantly began to re-dress herself. “If I were you, I’d be learning how to cope with a poopy diaper A.S.A.P, because that’s going to be a regular thing in your life from now on. If anything, I’m helping you by leaving you in that. No time to start learning like the present.”
“But – ”
“A rash will do you good. That’s my final say.” Evie shrugged with an apathy that made Cherry want to scream. “Goodnight, Tyra. We’ll clean your bottom first thing tomorrow.”
And with that, she disappeared back out the door.
“I told you,” Lucas offered from his corner of the crib. His joviality had dissipated markedly following Evelyn's cameo.
"What time did she say it was?" Cherry whispered, traumatised. She glanced down at the plastic peaking out from beneath her nightie. Maybe it was just her imagination - it was quite dark, after all - but she fancied that she could see the discolouration around her crotch perfectly well, even in the gloom. What was once a virgin white was now a muddy green-brown that reminded her far too much of...well, baby shit. "How long am I in this...thing for?"
"Unless I'm very much mistaken, she said it was about 3am," the in-between answered. He looked his companion dead in the eye before very deliberately and dramatically wrinkling his nose. "It's bad enough putting up with my own smell. Aren't girls meant to smell nice?"
She had another three or four hours to go till she got a change. Well, that was just grand. "Unless I'm very much mistaken, boys aren't meant to need rescuing from girls the size of a chihuahua." Cherry groaned and closed her eyes. Well, she hadn't wanted to sleep anyway. "I know I woke you up to talk, Lucas, but right now I can't think of anything I'd rather do less. Can we call it a night?"
"I think I've learnt enough about you tonight as it is," the boy remarked breezily. His shit-eating grin threatened to return. "Some would say too much."
Yeah. Me. "Goodnight, Lucas," Cherry remarked stiffly, and without further comment she carefully lowered herself onto her tummy and turned her head to face the wall. She wasn't one to sleep on her front...but this was a week of new experiences, after all. "Sleep well."
"You too." He knew as well as she did that that wasn't a thing that was going to happen. She could hear the smile in his voice. “Sweet dreams.”
"Shut up Lucas."
He resumed giggling almost instantly.