There For You (Modern AU)

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June 2007

Tolbert paced the floor, waiting for Ran'l and Sally to return from the police station. His baby brother, who was only four, had gone missing. Tolbert had gone to the bathroom and the laundry room and had left Bud in the living room with Toy Story on the TV, as it was the boy's favorite movie. Somehow within the few minutes, he was gone, his brother completely vanished. The front door was open and the toy Bud had been playing with was completely abandoned.

Tolbert had called Sally, who told him to call the police and inform them of what happened. So he did.

Police officers now surrounded the McCoy home. They were searching the living room and trying to get a fingerprint off of the doorknob. But there wasn't one. There wasn't the slightest bit of evidence that could help the case.

Ran'l and Sally came through the door then, Sally grabbing hold of her fifteen-year-old son and pulling him into a tight embrace.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I didn't — he was fine, and then I come back and he's-he's gone. I'm so sorry," Tolbert sobbed.

"Hey, shh... it's okay," Sally cooed, her throat constricting as she tried to force her unshed tears back. "It wasn't your fault. It's alright, everythin's gonna be alright."

Tolbert clung to his mother, tears rushing down his face. Sally rubbed the boy's back, shushing him and trying to assure him that it would be alright; that they would find him and everything would be fine. Tolbert wasn't sure that he believed that, but he silently nodded anyway.

The officers left, leaving the family alone. Tolbert wished that he never would have left the room. He wished that he would've stayed and watched Toy Story for the umpteenth time. He leaned against the wall, tugging at the hem of his sleeve.

"Don't you worry none," Sally spoke softly. "Yer sure he ain't in the house nowheres?"

"If he is, I didn't see him," Tolbert whispered, sniffling. "I looked everywhere, Mama. He's-he's  gone. He's not tall 'nough t' reach the doorknob. I honestly don't think he could twist it on his own. I'm so sorry."

"It ain't your fault," Ran'l spoke up, placing a hand on his son's shoulder. "What happened is not your fault. We're—we're gonna get through it. Bud will be back home soon."

"I shoulda stayed with him. I shouldn't-a gone t' the laundry room. It coulda waited."

"And what if it happened while you were in the bathroom? Ya can't control these things, Tolbert. Who's to say if you had been there that you wouldn't've gotten hurt?" Sally pointed out.

"I don't know, I don't know," Tolbert mumbled. "'M sorry. 'M so sorry."

"It's alright, Tolbert. Ya ain't lookin' so good... why don't ya go lay down a bit? Breathe a little."

Tolbert nodded. He'd rather be by himself anyway.

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Tolbert hadn't left his room for three days. Sally had finally had enough, deciding that she would try to get him out of his room on her own, as the insistent pleas of his siblings did nothing to deter him from staying where he was.

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