Dying Embers

Shoulders slumped, Ernest trudges over to where Adam is waiting. Another search turned up fruitless.

Not that Adam is surprised. He knows it's pointless, he just hasn't told Ernest that.

Ernest's eyes are downcast as he mumbles, "He's not here."

They leave town not long after, ready to move on to the next one.

Ernest repeats this ritual at every town they come to. And each time he does, Adam feels a little guiltier.


Indirectly, he supposed, it could be seen as Victor's fault. Though if Adam wants to be fair, the blame falls squarely on his shoulders.

It had started innocently enough. They were sitting together in companionable silence, Ernest busy stargazing while Adam tended the campfire.

"Do you think I'll ever find him?"

The question threw Adam for a loop. "Who?"

"Victor, my brother."

Adam tried not to sputter.

"I know he's out there somewhere," Ernest was still gazing at the stars. "I just have to have faith that I'll someday find him."

"You won't," Adam said softly, unable to hold the words back any longer. "No matter how hard you look, you'll never find him."

As Ernest finally tore his eyes away from the stars, Adam proceeded to tell him just what had happened to Victor, and the events that led up to it.

Starting with his creation.


The occasional sniffle was the only disturbance to the quiet night air.

Ernest picked up a rock off the ground, tears silently running down his face as he raised it above his head, as if he was about to throw it.

His intended target gazed placidly back. Adam wasn't going to make a move to stop him.

A tense silence reigned as the two remained in a deadlock, neither of them budging a muscle.

The silence gave when Ernest, choking back a ragged sob, let the rock fall to the ground.

"…why?" he said softly. "Why?" he continued more forcefully. "Tell me! I deserve to know why!"

Why?...

Because he had wanted to get back at Victor for abandoning him. Humanity for spurning him. And the world for allowing a monster such as him to exist in the first place.

Because if Victor were to feel the same things he did, then he would no longer be the only one. Wouldn't be alone.

Because it meant he was doing something. And doing something was better than curling up in a corner and doing nothing at all.

But…

Looking at Ernest, none of those reasons seemed good enough anymore.

"I can't say why I did it. I can only say that I'm sorry that I did."

And knowing that wouldn't be enough to placate Ernest, Adam turned around in an attempt to escape his accusatory stare.

But that didn't mean he couldn't still feel Ernest's gaze on his back.

He said he was sorry. He wasn't foolish enough to ask for forgiveness.


A cold silence was the only greeting Ernest offered him the next morning.


Ernest had not eaten a thing all day.

Concerned, Adam slowly approached where Ernest was brooding. Setting down a loaf of bread, he quickly retreated.

It was only when Adam turned away that Ernest slowly took a bite and chewed it, staring thoughtfully at the loaf of bread.

Within a few minutes, the bread was gone. And Adam is left to wonder if the only reason Ernest hasn't run off yet is because he thinks he needs Adam to survive.

Doesn't he realize it's the other way around?


It is a week before Ernest speaks.

His face is carefully neutral as he approaches Adam. "Help me built a grave marker for him?"

Adam, for his part, says nothing, daring to only give a tentative nod in response.


They stand in front of Victor's grave for a while in somber reflection.

Adam is the first to speak. "So… does this mean you've forgiven me?"

"No," Ernest replies, his voice controlled. "But," here a hint of warmth crept into his voice, "I do think I understand you. And that's the first step towards forgiveness."

He sports an unholy grin. "Besides, if it's true that my brother created you, then doesn't that make you my nephew?"

Adam snorts. "If you think I'm going to call you Uncle…"

"I'm not asking you to." There's a pause, before Ernest softly adds, "You're more of a big brother to me anyway."


Curling up by the campfire, Ernest cheerfully calls out, "Goodnight Adam!"

It is not until Ernest is asleep that Adam, tossing a couple of logs into the fire, whispers, "Goodnight little brother."


AN: I want to thank everyone who's taken the time to read this through to the end. This is the longest fic I've written to date, and I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. Please note that it's been a while since I've read the book, so blame any inconsistencies you may find on that.