A oneshot born from the fact that the Imperial Dark Brotherhood Murderer really sounds like Lucien at times. Either it's deliberate on the voice actor's parts, or it's recycled dialogue from an early game development where Lucien didn't die. In any case, they're very similar.

That, and I just wanted to write about the Imperial Murderer. Aw, he's so cute.

Disclaimer: Oh, come on. Really? Really?


Distorted Reflection

It takes her a while to recover from Lucien's death, but she does. The teachings of the Brotherhood remind her that the beloved of Sithis do not die, but ascend. And despite the way in which Lucien met his end, she knows with absolute certainty that he now sits at the right hand of his god, intact and dignified. The thought puts her mind at rest.

She's still trying to re-build what's left of the Brotherhood with Arquen's help, although she isn't too sure what to think of that. Arquen seems calm and even gentle on the surface, yet she also tortured and mutilated Lucien – ate part of him, if rumours are to be believed. And so while she is humble, attentive, the Listener wonders if she is in fact filled with bitter loathing at serving someone she considers beneath her.

But Arquen is really the least of her troubles right now – it is the new recruits. Nervous, twitchy things, in awe of her and terrified of her at the same time. More specifically, it is the male Imperial with ever-wide blue eyes and a name he won't share. Even more specifically, it is the person he reminds her of.

He isn't Lucien. She knows this, she does not need to remind herself at all times. He's too timid, too submissive to be anything like her former Speaker. But there are certain things he does or says that are so frighteningly similar that she finds herself doing a double-take: like the fact he never takes his hood off, or the way he pronounces Night Mother. How can two people who are so different be so alike as well?

It's not good to compare them, and she avoids doing it; not once has she told him You remind me of someone, or requested Say 'Listener' again, like you did just now. But she does find herself wondering if his hair is as long as Lucien's, or what he might look like in the robes of the Black Hand.

It's favouritism, really, but she finds herself talking to him more than the other murderers. They're still frightened of her, and so is he, but there's something more – a blush that dusts his skin, even as he pales in her presence. Fearful and enthralled. He always seems astonished that she's talking to him, even though she visits the sanctuary every week, and approaches him as soon as she's done with Arquen. And in those weeks, he opens up, like nightshade petals slowly unfurling in the dusk. He doesn't talk about his past, and she doesn't pry; she too held her silence when the sanctuary was her home. His stutter is fading, she realises, and wonders if he'll have a raspier voice when he grows older.

His hair, as it turns out, is shoulder-length and inky black. She reckons he can be persuaded to let it grow longer.

When months have gone by, he's still shy but somehow quietly confident as well, although the advances in rank have probably helped with that. His voice is a little throatier, his eyes not so wary, and he's taken to wearing his hair in a ponytail. She's starting to wonder if he's supposed to be Lucien's replacement, if Lucien should be replaced at all. It's when he finally tells her his name that she suspects divine intervention.

"Lukas."

A different branch from the same name. Similar, but not at all, just like its bearer – like some unreal, distorted reflection. He isn't her Speaker, but he fits the empty space perfectly.

Either Sithis is being very cruel or very kind. Knowing him, she thinks it's probably both.