(This takes place in the same universe as the Rare Hertz series, so if anyone's curious check out Reaper and Cantus for the full deal, so Prozen is not actually OOC. Imagination? I have tonnes of it. I'm just a little spaced out right now with everything so I'm taking a break from Cantus ^^ I'm letting too many secrets out early.)
All I haveYou're all he has
Four words that ran through his head, four words that made his life hell.
Two months ago he would never have dreamed of adopting a child into his life, no matter what happened. He simply wasn't ready, too chaotic to provide an emotional rock to hold onto in the river of growing up. Yet for some absurd reason, a psychotic little turd holding a gun to his head amused him enough to take him from the battlefield. No one was supposed to die there, though he had long suspected that the boy wasn't from around the Wind Colony. No, that little dirt hole was as inbred as could be, and the child seemed bright, unnaturally so, and for a moment, standing there, he'd gotten an amazing sense of deja vu. Only he knew when the memory had occurred, only it was the other way around – he'd been the kid. Not with a gun, he'd been running in fear, and he'd almost escaped as well.
Escaped to what?
All he has…
As soon as they'd come back from the trip, he'd dropped the boy off to one of the foster family places in the vain hope that maybe he was doing something right. Instead, the boy had become feral, so he'd had to take him in under his wing, but the kid was so damn stubborn. And he'd started arguing with his teachers, and after that stupid fight with the other kids in the class…he had now run out into this stupid rain, was going to catch his death…
And he, like the fool he was, was running after him.
Gunther Prozen took a moment to catch his breath and tighten the collar to his coat to try and keep the cold droplets of water out, and the warmth in.
Why the hell did he call the lad Raven?
What did it mean?
Why did he care?
In some dark part of your heard, you give a damn.
Patricia Hardin had given him a thumping over that. She had every right to – the girl had lost her father at a young age and had to grow up just about supporting her weak mother and her little sister. She had a punch that could make the meanest soldier quiver in pant-wetting terror, and thankfully she hadn't been quite so vicious with him. But the bruise still remained.You're all he has
Funny how she gave a damn as well. But friends were like that, and made sure you didn't do stupid things, and Patricia was probably one of the best friends he had, apart from the emperor and of course, Hiltz. Now if Hiltz were here, maybe he could shake some sense into the little bastard. Hiltz was good with children, disturbingly good.
Ugh, this running was getting him nowhere. He was breathing in cold, dank air, and it wasn't going to do anything for his health, especially after the last time he'd pulled a stunt like this. That got the wheels turning – he remembered how he'd run off out of the palace after a verbal fight with one of his tutors over his history lessons. He'd ran then, ran out to…
You go there to reflect. It's raining, and the droplets make pretty patterns. Problem is, when your eyes are as weak as mine, you decided to jump…
He took a left and then a right, finally able to run over the road and down the pavement to the bridge itself, where people walked beneath umbrellas, and paid him no heed. No one really cared, or gave him a passing glance, even if he was albino and therefore different.
Or at least, they think so…
Gritting his teeth he set his sights on the boy walking alone, his head down, a picture of dejection.
No answer. Bastard was playing hard to get. He took a deep breath, inhaled some water but still sped up, whisking the boy off his feet as he darted past, sidestepped a romantic couple who squealed in surprise, and almost tripped over his boots. Raven didn't move, which was fine according to Gunther, made him easier to carry. The little sod was going to be in trouble after this.
Slowing to a trot, he reached the other side of the footbridge and looked around, finally realising that the art museum on the shores would be dry and the right place to take refuge and impart some advice to Raven along the lines of acceptance, responsibility, and why you shouldn't get your guardian out of a very important meeting to come and find you unless it is an emergency. He strode inside, plopped the boy down and took a deep breath to start ranting, but let it come out as a sigh when Raven didn't make eye contact.
"…Raven?" The boy wouldn't answer to any other name than that.
"Go ahead and yell at me." He muttered after a little silence. "Everyone else does. You do it a lot."
"Well, you never think about your actions. Look, I never asked to actually adopt you."
"Well I never asked to be abducted!"
"Abducted? I took you out of a war zone; you wanted to stay with me. You think that lot was going to take care of you? Republicans can't find their arse with both hands." Prozen straightened and ran his hands through his sopping wet hair to try and get most of the water out. "And if I recall you didn't fight very much."
Raven stamped his foot. "I hate you!"
"Well I hate you too. Now we're even." Prozen replied, calmly.
Surprised, Raven stopped mid tantrum and stared at him. "What?"
"You heard me. It's pissing down out there, and we're both soaked. Can we go home please, without another incident, or are you too into this whole 'run out into the rain' thing. That's so New Romantic. Maybe when you're older it'd work to get your love to come out after you, but not now, come on." He took his hand and tried to lead him away out into the cold again, but the boy wouldn't budge. "Come on."
"Y-you said you hated me!"
"Well, you started it." Prozen replied. "Excuse my Zoidian, but I get a lot of shit from work, and I get a lot of shit from people in general. You as well, it seems, have jumped on the bandwagon. So go ahead. Spew out your profanities at me. Everyone else does. I don't really care anymore."
"B-but no one's ever said that before!"
"This isn't a tiny research lab. This is a city. A big, dirty, filthy city, and you're in it. In the city everyone hates something."
Prozen gave him a funny look. "No one's ever said they hate you, have they? Looks like I'm the first then. People don't like being treated like dirt, me especially. I didn't have to take you in. I could have left you there. Who knows what would have happened, huh? I didn't know those people. They didn't know me. But somehow we get on in life."
"You killed them." The boy growled.
"I had my orders."
"How can you be so cold?"
"Because if I wasn't I'd probably kill myself over the choices I have to make. Raven, you're pissed off because people you cared about died. You're pissed off because you don't know anyone here. And most of all, you hate me because I'm the one who took you away from the carnage left behind before you could pick up the pieces. It's not my problem, it's over, and it wasn't personal. You on the other hand, are making it your problem, and you didn't even know them."
Raven's lower lip trembled.
"I'm not going to hold you and tell you it's all right. You asked to stay with me. I signed the papers. We have a guidance officer that comes around every Tuesday and Thursday to talk to you about what happened. We have social security people who drop in unexpectedly and see how we're doing playing happy families. All you have to say is how you don't want to stay any more, and you can go to another home. One that would take better care of you than I ever could." Prozen put his hands on his hips. "I lost my job because of you. But I still carry on. I still do the work I'm given. I can't run to the emperor like I used to do when I was smaller and had a problem. I just get on with things."
"Y-you still work…"
"But not in the field." Prozen closed his eyes. "I enjoyed working with Zoids. Now I can't."
Raven rubbed his eyes, to clear the raindrops from them. Or maybe it was tears.
"I don't like having a desk job, but I will make do. Because I know you need someone around. Raven…" He sighed, and held out an arm. The boy cuddled into him, and began to shiver. Prozen was fairly sure that the warm wetness now spreading over his shirt and pressing against his skin probably wasn't rain. Nuh-uh. "Raven, I don't really hate you. It's just sometimes I get really frustrated when you get upset at people trying to help you, and pull stunts like this. I can't do my work, and if I can't do my work, we can't eat."
"…But you have a good job."
"Mmm." He murmured in agreement as he stroked the boy's sopping mop of hair. "I'm not the fatherly type. All I can do is provide for you and hope for the best. Now…" Raven looked up at him. "Let's go home, okay?"
The boy nodded, and took his hand tightly, still shivering from the cold.
"Should have bought your coat. Have mine."
"No arguments. Do as you're told." He took it off and slid it around Raven's cold shoulders. "You're freezing, lad. Come on, sooner we leave, sooner we're home. I'll run you a hot bath to warm you up and set out your pyjamas. Dinner too. I'm not a good cook, but I'm pretty sure we can find something for you to eat."
"Cool." Raven padded outside with him into the wet, pausing momentarily when he saw Prozen shiver as the rain came down and soaked through his work shirt. He then allowed himself to be led down the steps and through the little lawns to get to the footbridge. On the way, however, he saw a mother leading her three children across the pavements, how one of them jumped into a puddle, oblivious to the rain pouring down the bright yellow of his raincoat. But somehow the boy slipped and fell, his face screwing up and his voice wailing at the tiny graze he had received.
He stopped to watch as the mother bent down to hug her son.
"Don't let me be like that." He whispered.
He pointed. "Like that."
Prozen blinked and stared, not quite understanding. "You're older than him. I think you're past crying over little scratches. Aren't you? I don't know."
Raven shook his head. "That's not what I meant. Don't let me be weak. I want to be strong."
"I want to know how to fight. How to do stuff and protect myself…so…so it won't happen again. I don't care what it takes, I don't want to be weak."
"Raven, I can't do that-"
"You can and you will. I'm pretty sure you need someone around who can go in and out of places and stuff, and get things done, seeing as you have to do your desk job now." Raven blinked his brilliant eyes and smiled. He had a nice smile when he was happy. "I want you to. I need you to. I want to learn."
The white haired man sighed. "The emperor has been asking for someone…Well…I suppose…If you think you're up to it. It's going to be hard, but I'll do what I can. Get you supplies and things. Teach you how to fire a weapon properly." That achieved a sad smile from Raven. "But you want to do this, even if it means working with Zoids?"
A strange surge of pain filled the child's heart. "I don't care. I hate Zoids."
"I know you do." They crossed the road and joined the crowds. "Raven?"
Prozen seemed to be a little smaller then, to the young boy. "I know what it's like. Being alone. I don't remember my mother, and I have hazy memories of my father…but both died when I was smaller than you. I suppose it makes it easier, but I can understand how bad you must feel." Prozen sighed. "The emperor took me in when no one else would. I was actually, believe it or not, a tax deduction. But he did his best to give me an education, clothes on my back and food to eat. I sort of went on from there." The rain made him look different, almost familiar, like a face Raven had seen before, but could remember. If he could have, with his hair plastered to his skull like it was, Prozen looked like Raven's father.
"…Are you trying to make me like you?" Raven asked suspiciously, as all children do.
"Not really. Can't go around liking people without respect for yourself."
"That's good." Raven held his hand tighter, thankful that the rain hid the tears that slid down his cheeks. He didn't know why he was crying. "'Cos it's going to take a lot more to make me listen to you. It's not like I care about you or nothing. I mean, you're not my dad."
Prozen felt sadness, even if for a moment. It was strange to him, but he let it go without questioning it. "Then why are you holding my hand so tightly?"
Raven smiled in a fragile sort of way, completely aware of the blank space in his mind that would take years to heal. In front of him was the only person he could look up to, both literally and spiritually. "Because you're all I have."
(This story is written in response to Midnight Ice's story, 'The Young Blackbird', and is dedicated to both the author, and to Vappa, who coined the childhood thing first of all, or at least, what led me to it.
To Midnight Ice: You misinterpreted what I said in my review. "Bad" was not a reference to your style or skill, it was a reference to how you were treating the characters. It was also a stab at the younger generation and how they review certain fics, or had done in the past.
When I asked you to think, I meant asking yourself: "Why would someone do this? What would cause someone to hurt another so badly? What would it take to harden a child like that? Because he is in shock, that might mean he would harden, but what else could it mean?"
I've often found that if you explore these areas the characters become more real and stuff. They will start talking to you in ways you haven't explored before and the story might start writing itself.
And I wasn't picking a fight. You haven't been here long, have you lovey? I'm one of the more respectful writers who tries to write constructive critiques and encourage people who have something to say. I certainly DON'T pick fights, never have done, never will unless it's really bad. Like Vappa, I too am lenient with people when they misunderstand what has been said, or are being extremely self destructive in flaming everyone over opinions in their fics. I'm not naming names, but I think some people remember that lot. *sweatdroplet*
There was no fight, so what is there to drop? Thank you for inspiring this ficlet. If you get confused with the references I made, read the aforementioned story/ies. Avoid Reaper actually, seeing as it's all sex, blood and violence. Violence! Yummy! Or email me, I don't mind ^^ I didn't have long to write this one, and I had another idea but I don't know. This sort of works. *Yawns sleepily* Okies, time for Plink-bed. Gah, should have reread this one and fix it up…*shrugs* Just another spin on the whole Raven-childhood thingo. The ending was too sweet, but I liked the picture that came into my head.
FELLOW AUSTRALIAN DWELLING WRITERS it was running down Adelaide Street and tweaking the bridge to the Southbank Campuses and the Queensland art museum in Brisbane that was primary inspiration.
Okay, I'm really off now. Night all.