Ib shot up breathing hard and fastalmost to the point of hyperventilation. Her heart pounded in her chest and felt as if it was going to burst. Cold sweat dampened her face like morning due on grass, her hands clenched tightly, making my knuckles whiteit almost looked as if the bone was ready to burst through the skin. Franticly, her widened eyes searched the unfamiliar room at such a speed her brain couldn't comprehend anything within the room. Her entire body shook violently fearing this unknown place. A dizzy sensation fell over her, she almost felt like she was going to vomit or pass out again.
"Morning Ib, how are you feeling?"
Ib inhaled sharply, the voice had startled her. Her body froze as her eyes searched for the man who spoke. It was GarryOh thank heavens! Something familiar in this dreadful, mysterious place! She saw him peer out from behind a bookshelf before walking over to her. A gentle smile played on his lips as he kneeled down in front of her. She tried to smile back but her small, pale lips didn't let her. Her eyes began to water over, "I had a nightmare," She said in a shaken voice, her hands searched for something to gripa blanket? No
. She looked down at the long coat that had been draped over her petit body.
Garry frowned a little, "I'm sorry to hear that. However, I can't say I am surprised," He reached over and softly wiped a falling tear from her cheek, "It's all alright now, Ib. You have nothing to worry about now."
Ib shook her head, pulling her face away from the older man's hand, "It's not okay," she said, her eyes set down on the coat. Slowly she stroked the fabric of it, trying to flatten wrinkles in an attempt to let her mind stray her worried, "If we do get out
where will I go?"
Garry sighed, it wasn't harsh or impatient by any means; it was one of worry, maybe even sadness. He knew very well she was still worried about her parents and she had every right to be. She was a nine-year-old girl for crying out loud! This place was almost too much for him, a grown man; he couldn't imagine the toll this world must have been taking on a little girl no matter how strong she seemed. "Ah-um
D-don't worry! We'll find them soon and then we'll get out of this place, I promise you! This will all work out for the best; don't let this place break you."
He was wrongor at least had no idea what he was talking about. She quivered and felt more tears leak from her eyes. She couldn't let Garry see her cry anymore. She couldn't hide it without being obvious either. She pulled herself onto her knees and leaned over to him; swiftly she wrapped her arms around him and buried her face into his almost bare shoulder. Only the green strap from his loose wife beater shirt was there, "What if we don't find them," She murmured in a hushed voice almost as if she didn't want to ask or maybe just didn't want to hear the answer.
Garry was a little startled by the girl's action, but completely understood why. He could feel her warm tears drip onto his shoulder. One of his arms wrapped around Ib, his hand settled on the back of her head. He began to twist her hair between his fingers as nothing more than something to fidget with as he thought. His other hand was pressed against his thigh to keep him steady. He pressed his lips and sorted his thought for a moment. His lips parted and his mouth drooped open wordlessly. What if they didn't find her parents? On their journey they had failed to find anyone from the gallery aside from one another! Oh, how could he comfort this young girl who knew this fact all too well herself? At least if they got out of here he would have a place to go back too and a life to continue, however if they couldn't find Ib's parents she wouldn't, "Do you not have family you could go to?" He paused, what an insensitive thing to say! What if she didn't or maybe they didn't want to care for a child, "If not, perhaps then I could take care of you," He said slowly, "Yeah, I could
I might have to get another job at more hours at the very least, but that's no big deal!" There was pause before he spoke again, "I won't need another job thoughbecause we will find your parents! So turn that frown upside down and try not to be so glum."
Ib pulled away to look up at him, she tried to smile at his attempt to comfort her even if she didn't know that last word he had usedhowever, it was quite easy to assume what it meant. She uttered a small 'thank you' but Garry didn't seem to acknowledge it. He may not have heard it. He smiled back at the little girl and slowly reached out to wipe the wet trails the tears had traveled way from her cheeks. Ib didn't move, allowing Garry to brush his thumb delicately across her cheek as the rest of his hand cradled her face.
"Make me another promise," Ib said slowly, leaning a little into his hand.
"What promise would you like me to make, Ib?" He asked, still letting his thumb stroke Ib for it seemed to sooth the worried child.
"That even after we find my parents and get out of here I can still see you," She said, putting her hand over his to ensure he didn't move it just yet.
He blinked a little confused (or maybe shocked) but soon a smile was back on his face, "Of course, Ib. When we get out you can come over to my place whenever you want! Well, as long as your parents are okay with it. Maybe I could help you with your reading and sometimes take you to this local café I know of," He chuckled lightly, "Of course after we get out of here we can see each otherand we will! I promise!"
She closed her eyes and smiled, mouthing 'thank you'. She removed her hand from over his. He took that as a hint to stop touching her. He pulled his hand away from her cheek.
"Hey, Ib. Check in my jacket pocket, would you?"
She opened her red-rimmed eyes glanced up at him, then down to the ragged coat. She nodded a little before slipping her small into the pocket and felt around. Soon her hand wrapped around something tiny, round and hard. She filled it out and looked at what she had fished out. A small suck-candy. Lemon flavoured.
"You can have it. Feel free to eat it whenever you wish." He said with a smile. He then stood up and walked away, back to the other side of the bookcase.
Ib tucked the candy away into her pocket, she wasn't hungry right now (even if such a thing couldn't cure hunger).She then climbed to her feet and brushed herself off. Finally, she took the time to look around the room. A huge painting hung on the wall beside her and bookcases stood one-by-one next to each other in the center of the room. Breaking these bookcases up was a small table with a dull vase on it. This room felt safe. She couldn't pinpoint why, it was like plenty of other rooms in this dreadful placeeach more scary than the last. This one just seemed
She glanced over at Garry. She could see him through the gap between the bookcases were the vase was placed. His dark eyes moved steadily across pages off a book. Line by line. She just stood there watching the slender male just
read. She didn't understand why, but she enjoyed just looking at him. Just
watching. Watching press his lips together in thought when she asked him what something meant, watching him shift his weight from one foot to another sometimes whilst he talked, sometimes he even scratched his collarbone as he spokeshe didn't think he ever really noticed he had that habit, but nonetheless it was still strangely amusing to watch. She could admit that she had indeed grown a liking towards this mana liking that not even she understood. Finding (and saving) him was probably the best thing that had happened to herin this hellish gallery, at least.
She shook these weird thoughts from her head and gathered the coat off the ground. It was longer than her entire body. It was a dark black-blue and very tattered. Ib supposed that it was very old and Garry either didn't care or hadn't had enough money to get a new one. She balled the coat up in her arms to prevent it from dragging on the floor as she brought it back to Garry.
"Ah, thanks Ib," He smiled at her, taking the ragged coat from her arms and sliding it on. He looked back down at her. Still he saw a hint of worry and sadnessat least that's what he thought. It was probably because she had just been crying, though. He kneeled down to her height again, still smiling, "Try not to worry okay, Ib?" He said, ruffling her bangs a little, "Everything will be alright."
Ib nodded a little. Her face was deadpan and, in Garry's mind, unconvinced. He sighed before leaning over and tenderly pressing his lips against her forehead. Ib felt her eyes flutter to their widest and her cheeks heat up, the butterflies that lived in her stomach began to flutter about as her heart skipped a beat. A shiver shot up her spine reminding the girl she had to breathe. She just stood there, confused and paralyzed.
She finally closed her eyes and soaked in the moment, a wide smile crept up on her face, "Do you promise?"
He pulled his lips away from her and chuckled light-heartedly, "I promise."