Impediment

By Karen Hart

Disclaimer: Xenogears and its related characters, settings, and trademarks are the property of Square Enix. I write these fanfictions for love the game, nothing more, and make no money off of them.



There's a murderer on the lawn.

This isn't unusual—the man is, after all, a friend of the family. But that doesn't make him any less of a murderer. Primera watches Bishop Stone cross the front yard, where he is ambushed by a half dozen children. He pats them on the head, inquiring about their health, and it's all very endearing. And sickening. That, too.

She's got better things to do than stare at the man, though, and turns to head inside. The soup will burn if somebody doesn't stir it. The door clicks shut behind her and she wishes it had a lock, but of course it doesn't—the orphanage is a safe place. No one, after all, would come all that way to intrude on their peace.

The soup hasn't burned yet. She gives it a good stir, the simple motion a good backdrop for her thoughts, which, whenever Bishop Stone comes calling, turns, inevitably and invariably, to her mother's death. By this time Primera's smart enough to have figured out that it was no accident. After all, Billy's not the only one to remember the bullets fired from his little practice gun, or the fall of their mother's body when the Reapers lunged at her. She is apparently, however, the first to realize that their savior's appearance is all a little too convenient.

It's not hard to figure out, even for a six year old. True, Reaper attacks aren't uncommon in that region; most people are lucky if they don't see one of the creatures ambling along the edge of their property every couple of weeks. It is, however, uncommon for an Etone Bishop to come flying through the front door, guns drawn, not four minutes after the Reapers have shown up, especially when the two children hiding behind the shelf have neither the opportunity nor the courage to send a message for help.

So it was all far too convenient.

She hums something tuneless and entirely unmusical. It's the closest thing speech that she's got. Well, that isn't quite entirely true, she thinks, her lips pressing tightly together. She can talk. She just doesn't really want to. That, too, is the murderer's fault—sort of.

Everyone always assumes that it was the shock of her mother's death (and how many times in the past ten minutes has she thought of that phrase?) that silenced her, and in a way, they're right—up to a point. It was silence that kept the two of them safe, until Stone had swept in. So, naturally, she would use silence as a form of protection, from the smiling, sinister Bishop, from the arguments (fights!) that erupted between her brother and her father. It's a useful shield. That, and speech is hard.

Primera knows how, of course, but the words seem to lodge themselves in her throat, and she doesn't really want to force them any higher than that. Everyone will, naturally, want her to keep talking, and she'd have to force more and more words out. It's not something she looks forward to. So it's simpler just to keep quiet.

The door opens, closes again with another click. Billy walks past the kitchen, to the back room, and Primera hears the telltale shuffling of Billy getting ready for what he refers to as "work." She turns the heat on the stove off and makes her own way to the back. Her brother's busy loading bullets into his revolver and looks up when he hears her knock on the doorframe. He smiles and puts the gun down, safety definitely on. "Got another job to do," he says, as if shooting Reapers were on the same level as selling Bizfruit on the Thames.

She frowns, and turns half about, looking toward the front of the house, in the general direction of where Stone had been. Body language and facial expression are her only real methods of communication, so she exaggerates them to suit her purposes. Still, it's an imperfect method, and most people misunderstand what it is she tries to say. Now is one of those times.

Billy's face softens. "I know you don't like me going off like this, Prim, but I've got a duty as an Etone. There's a ship that's probably overrun by Wels. You know I can't ignore that."

Primera scrunches her face up in profoundest frustration. "You're not paying attention!" she doesn't shout at her brother. "You shouldn't be doing anything for that man!" she also doesn't shout. Instead she clutches the edge of the doorframe as tightly as she can and looks down, sagging slightly. They've had this conversation before. Billy never gets it right.

"Prim, what's wrong?" Billy's voice is worried. A glance up shows that he's kneeled down to eye level, that "big brother is here" expression on his face that she finds equally reassuring and maddening. "Is something going on that I don't know about?" She shakes her head, and keeps looking down. "You sure?" Another shake. He sighs, and stands back up.

"I just don't get it," he says. She hears him lift another gun from the rack, and looks up, finally. "Listen, it's the work I do that lets this place stay afloat. I've got to take this mission. All right, Prim?" She nods; it's the easiest way to end the conversation. He smiles again. "Good girl. Listen to Sharon while I'm gone, okay?" She nods again, and straightens back up, tilting her head in the direction of the kitchen.

Dinner's ready.