{ Written with assistance from the lovely Mouse. }

Honestly?

"I'm not sure. My mother has a house in Edinburgh, and my grandparents live in Inverness, so I might look into something in between both, or... maybe even the Orkney islands. I know Peter wanted to visit Scotland and we made all these crazy plans, but it's too much for him. And besides," 

There's another pause as Alistair sucks in a quiet breath. 

"He has you and the kids, Victor, and Hamlet, and all those other people to keep him distracted. He'll never notice I'm gone anyway."

A sadness washes over the boy as he scruffs a hand through the thick coils of auburn hair fluttering around his oval, earthy speckled features, those baby blues revealing the darker flecks of black around the outer edges of his irises a little more predominantly now. 

"As much as I'd love to stay, I will never will feel welcome, and that's sad because I was trying. I did want to make friends. But... It appeared like everyone was too busy worrying about the fragility of Peter to worry how I might be feeling too. He's not the only one suffering!" 

He'd promised himself he wasn't going to cry, but the up and down shuddering of his shoulders and the shakiness of his breath as he spoke, the glassiness of his eyes and the overpowering smell of salt as tears welled became evident that the boy, no matter how strong or confident he might've been in public, was still quite a mess. 

"I--I'm sorry Mouse. You shouldn't have to deal with all of that. It's not your problem."

"Alistair, of course he'll notice you're gone!! He loves you!!"

Taking a moment, Mouse watches the boy try to hold back the tears threatening to break free and fall. 

"I--I'm sorry I didn't think to ask you."

The witch had considered Alistair to be a friend. Her friend. Someone she wanted to help, but helping something that may or may not already be lost brought another irregular jumping to the boy's aching heart. Poor thing.

"No one ever does." 

Alistair sniffled self consciously as the smaller witch wrapped herself around him. No one bothered to ask how he was doing. How his mother was doing. As selfish or uncaring as it might've sounded, that's exactly what had come out of him physically spending time in the Red Sun. Did he have some sort of sign above his head that screamed "STAY AWAY!!!" to everyone he'd met? Because that's how it felt. 

He wasn't important enough to have friends. It was clear the day he tried speaking with Peter and Mouse and that other guy was there. He hadn't done anything wrong and he'd been made to feel like his words, him just being there, was going to severely damage Peter in some way, so of course he left and that just made things worse anyway. Still, no one cared to come check on him. Breathe in. Breathe out.

"It's not your fault. Peter is priority. I'm too much like my father to ever think I could fit in here. Please tell Valentine and Rosa I'm sorry for not saying goodbye."

One final sniffle and Alistair's peeling himself away from the witch, hands wiping his eyes as he goes about regulating his breathing once again. 

"I--I should get back to tearing this eyesore down." 

He's jabbing a thumb at the half-assed shelter behind him. 

"Do... Do you want to talk about him?" Mouse's eyes dart to Alistair's face. "When someone dies, people either ask too many or two few questions. In this case it was too few. No one is priority, Alistair. I care about you as much as I care for Peter, and sometimes I wish I had tried to befriend your father as I have you. He was a good man."

Mouse's tone softened drastically.

"What is there to talk about? He died. I'd barely known him a month before he passed. What else is there for me to say about him? Mom knew him longer than I did. Peter knew him longer than I did and yet I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't truly understand what's happened."

He's watching her with an uncertain tick of his brow. Alistair was growing so fast and his childhood was over in the blink of an eye, his father was dead, his mother was in Scotland as far as he knew, and he's left here wondering whether or not there's a reason for him even existing at this point.

"I thought I'd be able to handle it better, but no one really wants to talk about him. Everyone speaks like they're walking on egg shells around me and its frustrating. I just don't know what else to do, Mouse. You have everything here. Peter has most of what he has here. I have my mom and even she's checked out half the time. I talk to plants because I can't make friends or people just don't want to know me because of him. What did he do that was so awful? Surely you must know because I don't. I don't know anything."

"People cannot handle death," Mouse spoke with empathy lacing her words. "And  your dad? He's gone. And maybe i it is because people never gave him a chance that they avoid you? Perhaps you remind them too much of the chances lost to connect with something wonderful. Alistair, you're a good person. A great person. You didn't do anything wrong." 

Maybe it was something he didn't understand. Maybe, biologically, Alistair was too young to truly understand loss and what it meant to grieve. And maybe, just maybe, he didn't understand friendships and emotional connections like other people because of what he was. 

"If that's the case then why does it hurt so much?" 

His knees wobbled. He hadn't even spoken to his mother about how he felt let alone anyone else. The plants, maybe, but they never responded with more than a fluttering of their leaves as if they knew what he was talking about. And maybe they did, or maybe they didn't, either way, Alistair was at a loss at what to do and where to go. 

"I--I can't rely on Peter to be there all the time because he's not my father. He's my godfather, and even then we can't seem to get a break without people looking at me and criticising my every action." 

It hurt. It always hurt. No magic in this world or the next could heal the gaping hole in his heart that his father had left behind. 

"I just want my family, Mouse. I just want my mom and my dad and the cottage and for Peter to stand up and be the best godfather he can be without doubting himself all the time. He won't even make the effort to contact mom. He keeps saying he will and he never does."

The boy is sobbing now. He cannot stop the tears from cascading down his freckled cheeks, and he can hardly keep himself upright either. His knees buckle from underneath him as he goes crashing to the ground in a crumpled, sobbing heap. Never had the boy shown this much emotion before and it's outward burst was a little unexpected. 

A part of the witch's heart breaks for the hybrid, and when he collapses, so does she. Maybe it was her motherly instincts kicking in or maybe it was just the immediate reaction of another human being that had her wrapping her arms around Alistair's shoulders. Either way, the witch allowed the boy to lean against her as she pressed an open palm to his back and began moving it in calm, soothing circles. 

"I understand, Alistiar. You just want your family, and some friends, and for Peter to be a better godfather. That isn't asking for too much. Listen, I'll have a talk to Peter, and we'll go from there. Is that alright?"

Alistair sobbed. 

He sobbed and he sobbed into Mouse's shoulder, his knuckles dragging in the tall, sweeping blades of wheat grass as he sagged against the smaller witch. There was too much pain and heartache for the boy to contain his emotions any longer. Those baby blues of his glistened against the sunlight as beads of warm salty water descended from his tear ducts and journeyed their way through the earthy constellation of freckles adoring his puffy red cheeks. 

Tears for days.

"M-Mouse, I--I'm sorry. I'm s-so sorry." 

The witch shouldn't have to deal with the boy's uncontrollable emotional state. It wasn't fair for her to see him like this; so vulnerable and broken. Like Skye. The way Skye had toppled to her knees at the water's edge and poured her heart out to the ocean. It must've run in the family. 

The sobbing has slowed, but not by much, and after a moment Alistair's able to raise a shaky hand to use as a makeshift handkerchief. That deep-pitted feeling of guilt washed over him as he pulled away from Mouse and sat back on his haunches, both hands covering his face now. It was hard, once started, to keep everything in check, especially for someone who had been taught to show emotion up until the day his father was pronounced dead. That was the day everything was bottled up and forced behind the painless smile.

Mouse offered no judgement to the boy as she cranes her neck back to gaze at the sky, letting herself momentarily drift away with the breeze. She, like Alistair's mother, was eclectic in her own way. Perhaps that is why he felt so comfortable around her? So vulnerable? Who knows.

"Why don't you come up to the farmhouse with me, I'll make us up a pot of tea, and you can... you can let out whatever it is you need to let out, hrm?"

Mouse rose to her feet and extended a hand to Alistair, offering him a warm, understanding smile as she waited.  

"That... That'd be nice, yes. Thank you Mouse."

Alistair claimed that outstretched hand and pushed himself up so that he was standing beside her. All six feet three inches of him. Nodding, he followed the witch back towards the farmhouse. Deep breaths in, and out again. 

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