After a few days of reading through the local news, only to reach another dead end, Blanche finds herself once more in the woods...but this time, she's looking for somebody. A ghost, in particular. After heading towards the last place they met, it wouldn't take Blanche long to find a flickering light in the distance. Somebody had made a campfire!
Blanche has not exactly had the best day, but then, isn't that more reason to go hunting for someone you can do a good deed for? Or stab, but stabbing a ghost is problematic, and stabbing is a kid is just wrong. Still, she ends up in the woods, dressed normally for her, and puffing on a cigarette as she makes her way toward the fire, ensuring that her sunglasses get slipped on before she gets closer to the fire.
Huddled around the fire, Blanche would be able to make out a man roasting a marshmallow, sitting in a camping chair with an open beer can in his arm-rest. Behind him is a fairly large tent that's zippered all the way up. Lying on the ground beside the man is Julia, drawing something in a book. Her legs were kicking, and she was using Kirby as a pillow to hoist herself up off her belly enough to draw. Bobby was posing inside the fire itself, being a goof.
Blanche pauses outside the range of the fire. If it was just Julia and Bobby? That's one thing. But the man who's probably the dad? That makes things trickier. She simply watches them for a moment before she circles the campsite, so she can try to get into the line of sight for either of the children, living or dead.
Eventually Blanche manages to catch Bobby's eye, and he waves to her. This prompts Julia to look up, but unlike Bobby, she can't quite see into the darkness, having been so close to the fire. Bobby tries to get Julia to get up and go look, but she gives him an annoyed look and goes back to drawing. Fed up with her attitude, Bobby tries to move towards Blanche, but trips over himself when he gets to the edge of the treeline. So close, but yet, so far! The man pulls the marshmallow off his stick, eats it, and replaces the puffy white treat with another.
Blanche gives Bobby a sympathetic look when he hits the end of his invisible leash. She considers a moment, then motions for Elisa to move forward. She may not be able to get closer for fear of the dad seeing her, but Julia can see ghosts, and maybe Elisa can get her attention and help her realize /why/ Bobby wants her to get up. After all, Elisa wouldn't be here without Blanche.
When Elisa moves into Julia's view, her eyes go wide. She finally realized why Bobby was getting so excited. She almost leapt straight to her feet directly after seeing Elisa, dropping her pencil and getting dirt all over her book. Her sudden movement had the man look over at her with a questioning expression, as chill as ever. "Gotta pee! Be right back!" Obviously she's wise in the ways of bathroom excuses, and her dad simply turns back to his marshmallow. "Alright sweetie. Don't go too far this time. Mom will have my head if you wander off again." If only he knew. Julia, carrying Kirby in her arms, moved past the light of the campfire and into the darkness...right up to Blanche, Bobby in tow. "Hello." She whispered.
Blanche's lips twitch a little at Julia's reaction, and she watches the girl approach. Of course when she replies it's in a whisper as well. "Hi Julia, Bobby. Are you two enjoying camping?" she asks as she moves back a little, just to make sure Julia's dad doesn't overhear the whispering. Sure the sound of the fire will help, but it won't cover everything.
Julia replies with a rapid nod, tossing her blonde tangle everywhere. Bobby throws Blanche an enthusiastic thumbs up. "Hell yeah we've been having a good time!" He yelled out. Mostly because he could without alerting the dad. In a much quieter tone, Julia whispered back, moving further into the trees as she did. "Did you find him?"
"Not yet, no. But I'm still looking into the matter, I promise," Blanche assures Julia with an apologetic smile. "However, I did want to ask you a few things," she adds, looking to Bobby. "Like about that," she says, pointing at the Kirby. "Where did that come from? What's the meaning of it for you?"
Julia nods rapidly once more with big eyes. Blanche must be her hero! Bobby leans on a tree. He's probably leaning on an actual tree in Twilight. "What, you mean Kirby?" Bobby asked. "She's the first present I ever received! When I was alive, I'd go to sleep with her as my pillow. I've never gone anywhere without Kirby! I even had it when the Fuzzy Man took me. Tried to take it, but I held on tight."
"Was it given to you by someone you loved, then?" Blanche asks curiously. "Do you...are any of the people you cared about when you were alive still alive, or in the area?" She's trying to be sensitive, honest!
Bobby thinks for a moment, still leaning against the tree. Julia spoke up before he did. "Bobby's parents are still alive! He told me so himself!" Bobby flashed Julia a look of death, his eyes narrowed. "Why you gotta go and tell her more stuff!?" He hollered, throwing his hands up into the air.
"Bobby...haven't I proven that I'm not here to hurt you or Julia?" Blanche asks him, brows arching. "I'm simply trying to learn more so that I can help you. Because that's all I want. I promise, on everything I hold dear, that I do not want to hurt either of you."
Bobby's shoulders slump and he shakes his head. "Yeah...Sorry." He says apologetically, Julia staring him down with her hands on her hips. "Yeah! Shame on you Bobby." She even pulled out a finger wag, shaming the ghost even further. "I'd like to show Bobby his home too! I wanna take him a bunch of places, but he's worried about his parents. My parents won't let me go though!" She seems to pout a little bit, and Bobby narrows his eyes at her one more time, but doesn't say anything.
Blanche cocks her head and looks between the two kids for a moment before suggesting, "If that's what you want, Bobby, and Julia would be okay with lending me Kirby, I could take you home so you can at least see your parents. It's the least I can do, especially until I find the Fuzzy Man."
Julia beams at Blanche, hopping in place. It's readily apparent that she agrees with the idea, even if Bobby would have none of it. Even as he speaks, his eyes betray him however, going wide with anticipation. "No! I won't have it. I can't go far from Julia! What if something happens and I'm not around?"
"She is with her parents. I don't know that it would take long, unless you would want to spend a great deal of time there," Blanche points out. "And Julia seems happy to do this for you, Bobby."
Julia thrusts a finger towards Bobby. "Yeah! What she said!" Unfortunately, she got a little too heated, and her father heard her in the distance. "Sweetie, if you're done, you can talk to your imaginary friend over by the fire." Bobby and Julia looked back towards the campfire, and then to each other. Bobby was once again about to protest, before Julia smirked. "Here you go!" She said as she tossed Kirby at Blanche, before going to give Bobby a hug. She couldn't really do it, but she did her best to pretend, before running back to the campground. Bobby was stunned, and couldn't really do anything but call after his friend.
Blanche is surprised but catches the Kirby, blinking as she watches Julia. After a moment her head cocks and she looks back to Bobby. "What do you say? You want to go see your parents again?"
Bobby looks almost as if he is about to cry, before he remembers Elisa and Blanche are right there. Sniffling, he nodded. "Yeah. I do." He was clearly distraught, even though his desire was clear.
Blanche gives him a gentle smile. "We'll come back. She'll be okay while we're gone." Elisa gives him a warm smile too, before they turn to start back toward civilization. "So where do your parents live?" Important information, that.
"I hope so. She's my best friend in the world! You bet you're cracka-ass we're coming back." Bobby said as he thrust his hands forcefully into his pockets. Walking alongside Blanche, Bobby continued on. "We live in a nice house in Hanging Hills." It didn't take long for him to recite his address as he'd been taught, the location pointing towards a calm suburban home across the street from a Starbucks.
Blanche nods as she hears the address. "I know she's your best friend. And that she feels the same about you. That's why she wanted me to take you to see your parents. I'm just sorry taht I can't let you hug them one more time. It would make things more difficult for them."
"I guess..." Bobby kicked some dirt listlessly as he trudged along, still upset that Julia gave him to Blanche. As time moved on, the trio eventually made their way to the suburbs in Hanging Hills, to the address Bobby provided Blanche. They stood outside a small pastel-yellow home with a lush green lawn and old-fashioned mail-box. There was one red Volkswagen in the driveway. "That's my pop's car!" He hollered, clearly excited despite his separation.
Blanche smiles a touch at his excitement while she studies the house. "I'll get you close, as close as I can, so you can see them, even get close," she whispers, moving toward the house, but being as sneaky/stealthy as a sluagh can be. Which, to be fair, is pretty stealthy. No need to have his parents catching her, especially not with his toy in hand.
"You...ain't so bad lady." Bobby said as he started sneaking up to the house on his tippy toes. He didn't have to, but when he saw Blanche sneaking, he figured he would too. His dad could be heard the moment they got to the window, sounding almost like a chainsaw. How Bobby's mother manages to stay asleep beside the snoring man is a mystery. As soon as they get right up against the building, Bobby pauses just outside his home and looks at Blanche. "Thanks." And he phases through the wall and begins creeping into the home.
Nothing wrong with shared sneaking! Blanche moves right up against the house, keeping Kirby between her and the building to give him every inch possible. She gives him a faint smile and nods. "Thank you. And you're welcome." She falls silent then, letting him slip into the house to say goodbye or just watch them all creepily. Whatever.
As Bobby snuck deeper into the house, despite the triviality of the action, he turned to look at his father sleeping on the couch, cradling his mother in his arms. There is static on the television, and there is a small shrine set up in the corner of the room to honour their son. Bobby of course, doesn't notice this; he's staring too intently at his parents...when he looks back towards Blanche, tears are running down his cheeks, and he begins to dissolve right then and there. Before he does completely, he waves goodbye to Blanche.
Blanche had to have had an idea of what would happen if Bobby saw his parents. It had to be part of why she offered. Sure, Julia was his best friend, but life as a ghost isn't good for a kid. Even a dead one. Still, sorrow and happiness both shine in her eyes, and as he waves she gives him a tender smile, her own eyes going damp. She lifts a hand, returning that wave solemnly, watching until he's disappeared completely.
Bobby dissolves into nothingness, Kirby's head falling limply against Blanche. No longer could the bird plushie be animated by his force of will. He moved on to a better place, and Julia would be happy for him, even if they were best friends. When Bobby was gone, all that was left was a teary-eyed Blanche, standing outside some random person's window, waving inwards to a sleeping couple, stuffed ostrich in hand.
Blanche remains just a moment more after Bobby is gone before she slips away from the house, holding Kirby tightly to her as she starts to make the bittersweet trek back to the woods. She can't just /not/ tell Julia what happened.
By the time Blanche returned to the campground, the fire had burned low, and the father had passed out in the chair, head hanging awkwardly backwards off the back of the chair. He'd wake up with a kinked neck for sure. Julia had a sleeping back out at his feet and had burrowed her way into it, curled up like a kitten or a puppy.
Blanche watches Julia for a moment from the shadows before making a motion to Elisa. The ghost moves closer, and though she can't touch the girl, she can speak loud enough to be heard without waking up the girl's parents. "Julia. We're back."
Movement. A ripple in the sleeping bag. A hand bursts forth! Julia is mildly awake. "Uugngnrnrmmmm..." The hand gets sucked back into the bag before it begins to wriggle around. Eventually a blonde tangle explodes out of the bag. "Hmm?" When she peered up through her hair at Elisa, Julia smiled. "Shh!" She said, a finger coming up to her lips, before she caterpillared her way away from her dad, not leaving the warmth of her sleeping bag. Eventually she came to the base of Blanches feet, mostly by happenstance than actual navigation.
Blanche watches Julia approach, again easing back to be out of earshot. She gives the girl a sad smile and offers Kirby back. "Did you know what was going to happen when you gave me Kirby?" she asks quietly, watching the girl's face very closely. Sure she wanted to help Bobby, but hurting Julia isn't a fun thing to do.
Julia looked up at Blanche from her sleeping bag. "Nope! But seeing as how he's not here...I guess that worked! You're nice." She said joyfully, despite lacking her friend. "He's happier now. That's all that matters." Obviously Julia was far more mature than the bulk of children at her age. Even if she was acting like a caterpillar.
Blanche smiles and nods, reaching out to brush a hand lightly over the girl's hair. "He is, yes. Seeing his parents let him move on. And I'm glad you're so happy for him. You do also have Kirby, so you'll always have that as a memento, to remind you when you need it."
Julia beamed up at Blanche, especially when she brushed her hair out of her face. Did her hero just /touch/ her!? That was even better than an autograph! Julia's hands popped out of her sleeping bag, reaching upwards, fingers curling and uncurling rapidly.
Blanche blinks down at the grabby hands and opts for the safer of the possibilities for them. She gives Kirby to Julia. She touched hair, that's enough physical interaction for one night...right? "Will you be alright then? I don't want to stay too long, in case your parents wake up, but I don't want to leave before I know that you'll be okay."
Julia latches onto Kirby, bringing the ostrich close and squeezing it. "Yup! Don't worry about me. I'm a big girl! Bobby was my knight, but I was his too! I'll grow up to be like you one day, and I won't have parents holding me back!" She had dreams apparently. She crawled out of her sleeping bag and stood up, looking up at Blanche. "What's your name?"
Names. Dangerous things. But the girl seems surprisingly mature, and a first name won't hurt much, right? So Blanche smiles a little and nods. "I have no doubt you'll help people like I do. I hope I get to see it. I'm Blanche, though. And this is Elisa," she whispers, motioning to the ghost.
Julia nodded to Blanche and Elisa. "Cool!" Julia smiled once more, swinging the stuffy around. "You'll definitely see it! But I gotta go now. Bye!" She picked up her sleeping bag and moved back towards the campfire, pausing for a moment to turn around and wave. "I'll remember you both!"
Blanche can't help but smile again at the girl's enthusiasm. "I'll remember you too, believe me. Good bye Julia," she whispers, and once the girl is out of earshot, she adds, "I hope you have an amazing life." Yeah, okay, the girl got to her, okay?!