Word Count: 1,064
Genre: Character Study, Drama
Summary: Cyrus-centric. Do you think he was ever a happy child?
Disclaimer: Pokémon isn't mine.
Author's Notes: Originally written 15 May 2010. Shiva is the Hindu god of death and rebirth. This is the first fic of three.
His ears are still ringing.
"It's not good enough," the other man says. "Don't you know that?"
His father's sweaty palms smear the 92 scrawled in the top right corner. "If you've got time to play with those stupid machines," he says, "Then you've got the time to be getting hundreds. Do you understand?"
Cyrus says nothing.
"Get out of my sight. Worthless," he mutters, tossing the test at his son's face; it falls short and drops onto the floor. From here, the paper looks like it's bleeding.
The young man turns and walks upstairs to his room. He does math problems until he can't hold the numbers in his head anymore, and the lump in his throat dissolves.
He leaves the house quietly, four in the morning, before his father wakes up. School doesn't start until eight. He spends the free hours on the seashore listening to the silence in his head, walking, sitting, standing still.
His stomach mumbles pitifully. He ignores it.
Instead, he watches the sun rise. The sky stains rose and the sea spray brushes his face, and the ocean whispers soothingly against his ears.
He doesn't feel anything.
His father doesn't subscribe to any of the stereotypes. He's not a drunkard or a drug addict; his wife is very much alive. He's a fine, upstanding citizen, always doing community service, the president of the PTA. When he's out in public with his family, he wraps an arm around Cyrus's shoulders, and smiles, and everyone admires him and his outstanding son, top of the class, so brilliant and handsome.
His mother looks happy, linking arms with her husband. Cyrus's lips curve upwards, but he never smiles. His father beams all the harder for it. No one seems to notice; everyone believes the lie—except for him. He's the only one who knows.
He's the only one who understands.
"Where have you been?" his father growls. He doesn't respond, but his guts twist in that old familiar way, and his pulse accelerates. When he looks up, his father's hand cracks across his face.
He stumbles into the table, but rights himself quickly. His father hates to see weakness and beats him harder when it shows.
He stands and stares his father in the face. His mother closes her eyes.
"You better show some respect," his father says. "You're a piece of garbage, you know that?"
The sun has set by the time he retreats to his room. His body aches. He leans against the door, but soon stands; he has no time for useless behavior. If his father wanted to enter the room, he wouldn't be able to stop him.
He crosses to the mirror and sees a strong young man, with hair turned a premature silvery blue and eyes that burn in his pale, gaunt face. There are no marks; his father is too careful for that. He's got an image to uphold.
Cyrus stares, and his reflection stares back, silent and inscrutable.
He doesn't care.
He doesn't care.
He closes his eyes, and his stomach growls again. He hasn't eaten all day, but he won't be able to steal into the kitchen until his father goes to sleep, hours from now. His mother stopped slipping him food when he was six years old.
He sticks his head under the bathroom faucet and drinks until his belly stops pleading.
He's graduating today.
"You must be so proud," a teacher says, and his father squeezes his shoulder.
"No one has ever been prouder of their son," he says. "Cyrus is the light of my life."
"He's such a fine young man," someone else says, beaming at him. He tries to smile back, and can't.
"The finest," his father says.
"Piece of trash," his father says.
"What are you planning to do after graduation?" someone asks him. "University?"
"Sinnoh State," his father announces. "Early Decision!" The others shower him with praise.
He's learned how to stop caring, but he's never learned how to stop feeling hate.
When he was a child, he wanted to be a Pokémon researcher. He believed in things like justice, kindness, goodness. And truth.
He goes to the seashore one last time before he leaves. His mother has packed his bags without saying a word. His father hovers everywhere, always a threat.
Something lifts from his shoulders when he sees the ocean, and he stills for a moment until the feeling is gone. He continues to wait, and soon the flock of Wingull appears, the same one that visits him every morning. They squawk cheerfully upon seeing him, landing on his shoulders, his arms, even his hair. He feels their soft feathers brush against his cheeks, and he closes his eyes.
One of them nibbles on his hair. "I don't have any food," he says instead.
I'll never see you again.
"This is the last time." They cry out in distress, agitated feet clutching at his clothing: don't go, don't go.
I'll start over.
"I can't waste any more time. I've got better things to do." The one on his right shoulder cocks its head curiously, fixing him with a beady, one-eyed stare.
"Don't you understand?" he says.
You have always been the only ones.
His muscles tense. "I don't care about you. Any of you. You're just animals. You're nothing." His voice is dispassionate, the words dropping from his lips like stones. They squawk, confused but unafraid.
Get out of here.
"Get out of here," he says quietly, but they ignore him. One tries to untie his shoelaces.
"GET OUT OF HERE!" he roars, lunging forward. He kicks the one by his feet, sending it flying into the water with a shriek. At his sudden motion, the others explode outwards from him in a cloud of white, squawking in terror. The one he's kicked floats to the surface and rights itself, limping onto the shore. It gives him a wounded look, and his heart breaks.
That's ridiculous. He knows better.
"You're worthless," he whispers, and the Wingull takes flight, its voice a sad cry.
Cyrus graduates summa cum laude, but by then, he doesn't need school anymore. He's already started to gather his army.
He finally knows how to make the lying stop.
Soon, everyone else will know.