“You’re the next best thing.”

“There you are. Thought I’d missed you.”

“I’m leaving. Please don’t try to stop me.”

“Leaving won’t fix anything, you do know that, right?”

“I can still try.”

“Please, don’t do this. Stay here. Let us help you. I know you’re going through a whole lot of pain right now, but we’re here for you. Always.”

“I’m not as strong as you, Con. I’m not as strong as any of you…”

“It doesn’t matter how strong you are… When you find a note like that on your daughter’s bed, it puts your heart in a blender.”

“I’m not your daughter.”

“You’re the next best thing.”

“….”

“Please don’t cry.”

“Your fault.”

“Does that mean you’ll stay?”

“I make no promises.”

“I’m not asking for promises. I’m asking for a chance to help you. Please, Madam, let me do what I do best–let me protect you.”

“…heart in a blender, huh?”

“Felt like the floor dropped out from under me.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too.”

“Could you get my suitcase? It’s kinda heavy.”

“Of course, Madam. Let’s get you back inside.”

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