dolevalan: (surest way to a man's heart)
[personal profile] dolevalan
Title: Pity the Child
Fandom/original: original
Rating: PG for a smidge of language.
A/N: An AU fic that I actually worked on for a fair amount of time! Woo! Ritter is adapted from [livejournal.com profile] rougen's character of the same name for AU purposes. No prompt; I just wrote this one. Crazy.


Yuri lay on the floor of his room, feeling the cool, polished wood against his back. It was hot outside, and his room was a bit of a refuge, though the air still felt thick and heavy. His artist's charcoals were discarded, as were his wooden toy pistols.

He knew he shouldn’t be listening, but it was hard not to, when everything was so still. Their house wasn’t big enough for the sound to get lost between rooms; rather, it was almost amplified, it seemed.

“I told you. From the beginning, I told you what sort of man I was.”

“That’s an excuse,” his mother retorted, her voice lower but clear and even. “Fair warning. You should have had me sign a legal waiver, so there would be no confusion.”

Yuri could tell his father was angry, though he was trying not to let it show. “Gods damn it, Stella, I have tried. I care about you, about both of you, I just –”

“Just not enough,” she completed for him. “Well, I suppose no court would blame you. After all, she does have the prior claim. And your little girl to boot. Tell me, how much did I remind you of Miss Ernstein when we took up together?”

Now the anger was a bit clearer. “Damn it, I never – you deserved better than me from the first. I don’t know why – ”

“Not very complimentary to her,” his mother said, cold and pitiless. “I’m too good to be saddled with a wretch like you, but she–”

He cut her off. “This is not about who deserves anyone.”

There was a pause. Yuri held his breath without meaning to.

His mother finally said, “No, I expect not.”

“Don’t.”

“Don’t what, Wilden? Don’t fight for you? Just step back and let you run away like you’ve wanted to since the day –”

His father’s voice was low, as he cut her off. “For the love of the gods, he’s right upstairs.”

“Yes, he is.” There was a pause, then she added, “Do you plan to visit him, after you’ve run to your proper family? Or is it giving you too much credit, claiming you’re running to anything?”

There were no more words for a minute, but Yuri could hear things thudding, like they were being shoved and dropped and wrapped up to be taken away.

“Are you going to come back for the rest, or shall I have them sent somewhere?” Yuri knew that tone of voice from his mother. She was good and deeply angry now, her voice frosty and crystalline.

“Do what you like, Stella.” It sounded like Yuri's father picked up the bag. “I’m –”

“If you say you’re sorry, I will strike you, so help me gods.”

There was silence, then the sound of the door closing.

Yuri didn’t move until nightfall, and his mother didn’t come looking for him.

--

The afternoon felt tense in more ways than one. Yuri could feel the electricity in the air heralding an approaching thunderstorm. He resisted his initial urge to roll his eyes. How bloody melodramatic, he thought.

His mother had declined accompanying him, which was no surprise. It really had very little to do with who he was meeting, and more to do with the fact that she never seemed at ease these days anywhere other than in her laboratory. To her credit, she generally seemed happy when Yuri visited her there; still, leaving was almost out of the question now.

Perhaps, he mused as he walked down the semi-deserted cobblestones, it was better this way. Now even if his step-mother came along, there would be little reason for dancing around topics best avoided.

He wished Adalyn would come. Though he barely knew his half sister, Yuri liked her. They’d both been born bastards, both had to live part of their childhoods without their father. Besides, she was both sensible and charming, a rare combination.

The truth of it was, alone with his father, Yuri hadn’t the slightest idea of what to talk about. No – not entirely true. He hadn’t the slightest idea where to begin. For the game he had in mind, Yuri would need reliable contacts, and if merely a third of what he’d discovered about his father’s past turned out to be true, it could be enough. Even old contacts were valuable, if the contact was a good one. He knew what he wanted to talk to his father about.

(Incidentally, digging into his mother’s past had led to a fake name and then a large blank. He might ask her about that, some day.)

When he walked into the tavern, his father’s hat was easy enough to spot. Ritter was nursing a drink, seated at a corner table and watching a nearby card game with amusement. Watching him for a moment, Yuri felt a small pang, but he forced his way past it and moved to meet his father.

“Well,” he said as he sat down. “Just you and me today, then, it seems.”

“Yeah, Emi decided to take the day for herself. She sends her regards, though.”

“And mine back to her, of course.”

The rain began.

--


“Mother.”

“Hm.” Stella didn’t look up from the slide.

“I’m going to move.”

Yuri watched his mother make a small note. Then she straightened. “You’re getting a new flat?”

“No, I mean… I’m leaving the country.” He looked for any sign of surprise in her, but in vain. He didn’t know why he bothered.

“Work is scarce here, then?” She was as calm as if they were discussing what to have for supper.

“I just… I need a change of scene, eh? Something new.”

She arched an eyebrow. “You really are your father’s son, aren’t you. Very well. Do you need any money?"

“No.” He shook his head. It felt close, the air dead in the laboratory. The smell was clinical, a bit metallic. “I just came to say goodbye.”

“Ah. You’re leaving now, then?” She removed her gloves, and offered a hand.

He briefly though how surreal it was to wish his own mother goodbye with a handshake.

“Write, if you like,” she said. “And do try not to get killed.”

“Mother, I – ”

Stella shook her head, releasing his hand. “It’s alright. I understand.”

He wondered if she’d be upset later, alone. Or if she really was just this cold. He thought of how pathetic it was that he didn't know.

But he couldn’t spend his life wondering. He turned, letting the door click shut behind him.

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Estelle

January 2012

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