Title: Red Door, Red Wall
Summary: A sequel one-shot. What if Moses had done something rather daring, in defiance and selfish and just before events that would have been unforgivable? One can wonder.
Warning: A sequel to Something That Never Happened, alteration of a 'what if' moment, as well as some rather obvious fluff that I had no wish to add, but was somewhat needed in this.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, I simply write for the pleasure of writing. I make no money from this.
Dedication: To Benny Jude Road for enjoying this fics predecessor and coaxing me into writing a sequel. I confess that I wouldn't have bothered if somebody hadn't managed to convince me otherwise, but I suppose STNH needed a better ending anyway.
"What was silent in the father speaks in the son, and often I found in the son the unveiled secret of the father."
- Friedrich Nietzsche.
"…But when I see the blood upon your door, I shall pass over you. And the plague shall not enter…"
The land of Egypt was still dark and hazy with endless night where the Egyptians resided; around the palace and no doubt even within Pharaoh's rooms.
There was something Moses desperately wanted to do before the sun fully set where the Hebrews lived, before the next plague came in like the crashing of lightning over mountains that would tomorrow morning echo cries of sorrow and mourning like thunder. He felt like he needed to do it, not as a Hebrew, not as a messenger of God, but as…
Looking back on the home of his brother and sister, where he and Tzipporah were staying until the Hebrews were free, Moses felt a gentle, silent wind pass over him and the small collection of things he had hidden from the others when he told them he was going to the palace to see something. He had not specified and they had not asked.
The wind curved over him again and in his turning back towards the palace, eyes clear and body so tired after all of the events that had happened thus far, the staff he carried with him—always—pulsed gently under his palm, almost like the beating of the heart of that lamb he had killed earlier before it had passed (quickly, he didn't want it to suffer).
He took the first step and carried onwards towards the palace after that, resolved.
When Rameses woke in the morning, it was not to the bouncing of his son coming to wake him up to tell him the day had started without him, Ra was already in the sky; it was to the sounds of a thousand weeping men and women.
The air was cold on his back and he rose from his bed with pure fear in his heart.
Rameses removed himself from his soft linens and pillows slowly, taking in the sounds but not fully comprehending just yet the magnitude. The realization that another plague had no doubt swept itself into Egypt by Moses was becoming apparent, but he just stood looking out his balcony for a moment. He saw that it was still dark, as it had been for a while now, and could just barely make out some forms crying in the streets holding…children?
Jolting, Rameses spun on his heel at the sound at his door. Standing there was Hotep and Huy, both with grave faces; the taller of the two had his head bowed and his hands hugging his waist, the smaller and fatter with large and disparaging bags under his eyes. They were no longer presenting the smugness they had exuded when Rameses was a child; they seemed old now.
Rameses collected his crown from the bedside statue of a large lion he had placed in his bedchambers since becoming Pharaoh, put it upon his head and replied, not truly wanting to know the answer, "What has happened?"
Hotep wiped the sweat from his palms on his rather pronounced stomach and coughed into a fist, no bluster and no feeling coming from his voice, "Another plague has come about; in the dead of night apparently. It…"
Rameses frowned at the obese man when he did not continue, prodding Huy to finish; there was liquid in the lining of both their eyes.
"Your Majesty," Huy tried, a light choke in his voice, "All of the first born children died during the night."
There was something in how calmly this was said that allowed Rameses not to react for just a split second. Just one single fraction of a moment in time—one that he would never get back.
He immediately cried out and slammed bodily through the both of them, heading—hoping against hope, please don't let this horror have come upon him, please—to his son's room. He didn't even pay any attention that his crown fell off as he turned the corner in the hall, skimming just around a pair of tall, broad and weeping guards, and hitting his hip on the marble wall as he nearly crashed around a large pot with glyphs and figures and such. Never mind that he looked incredibly human like this, white eyed and with no sandals like some slave—he just needed and hoped to know that his son…
Five feet from the room he had tucked his son into last night ("He's your brother, maybe you should listen to him," repeated over and over in his head) Rameses felt all of himself—his blood, his muscles, his very bones and soul—freeze, along with his motion and will to breathe.
There were streaks of blood all along the top and sides of the entryway. Broad and wide and with some of the red dried to almost brown in the heat from the morning; a small brush made of a piece of wood and a catch of dried hay lying on the floor in an awful mockery of a child's forgetting to put away their utensils for writing.
'Please, please, I'll do anything, just not my son,' Rameses pleaded to the universe as he moved again, forward and into the room.
There was also blood along the lining of the entrance to his son's balcony, but that was not what Rameses saw on entry. It was his son in bed on his side, one arm wrapped around one of his fluffy pillows and the Pharaoh couldn't tell if he was breathing or not.
Moving to the bed, slowly, slowly, Rameses just sat on the edge of the fluffed up pillows and begged every god he knew—even the one Moses worshipped—that when his hand touched his son, his skin would not be cold.
Fingers touched down lightly on Sef's palm, open and taunting anyone to attempt anything, free of worry and content to just be. Rameses first took note that his calluses were so different from the so soft skin of the boy's, and the second was that the skin was warm and the Pharaoh could feel a beat on the underside of the flesh.
Without hesitation and without any kind of restraint in him—what should he want for restraint, his son was alive—he pulled the young, small, living being to his well toned and hard chest, arms around the other's middle, hand to the back of the young one's head and ignored just how he must have looked should anyone have walked in at that moment; his eyes were red and tears he didn't know of or feel ran down his face in pure and pure and purejoy. If this made him a foolish Pharaoh than fine; all the former Morning and Evening Stars could frown on him forever in the afterlife while looking down at him from the pitch black skies at night. He would and could no longer care.
"Father?" The first born son of the Pharaoh asked, tentative, but still, holding his father's big middle that he couldn't even get his arms all the way about.
"Oh, Sef," Rameses whispered, lips gently laying a kiss at the very crook of the boy's hairline before bringing his face up to look at him; a little voice in the back of his mind trying to get him to say, ask, do something aside from look upon the tired, but awake and innocent form of the boy, "You're alright. You're alive, thank…"
…God…a little voice, not in his head, but some sort of memory and coaxing reminder from all that was or would soon be answered for him; fitting and like a shot of lightning to the chest that made him cool and warm all at once.
"Did you think about talking to Moses?" The young prince questioned, innocence showing as he shrugged one of his father's arms away as it was starting to suffocate him with too much love that he appreciated—though he was too young to really, really appreciate such a thing; love—and looked strangely up at the tears that were drying upon the Pharaoh's cheeks, along the still red lines of his eyes.
His son's hand comes up and questioningly prods a finger downwards along the lining river crest of a tear line on his father's face and Rameses snapped out of himself. What was this quiet, grateful nothing in his head cleared instantly. Whether it was from his son's question or his son's touch, he didn't, would not, know.
Hugging the little boy to himself again, surge in and surge out of gratitude and revelation of how his son had survived and all other first born had not and just his pure love for his son—for his brotheras well, for how else could this protection of red be put in place with that blood and that dismissively dropped, not at all pristine brush on the floor that could not possibly belong to anyone not a Hebrew—Rameses nodded, his head perched atop Sef's; affectionate and not ever wanting to let him go, ever.
"Yes," Rameses coughed up after a long moment, voice hoarse from total emotion, "I think I will have that talk with him."
He sat atop one of the large statues—his hiding place that no longer really worked, now that Moses had come back—with Sef sleeping in his lap. Five hours since morning had passed, though he could not truly know that for sure as the sun still did not shine. No shining Ra looked down upon his people, even to give comfort to them in their mourning for the children.
Sef, thank all, did not really have any friends to mourn, not truly, not really. He did have friends, with servant children, but none of them were first born. None at all, and so there were only short tears for the whole of the event, of the Plague, which had tired the young boy out and made it easier for Rameses to coax him into coming with him to the dark, frightening temple to await Moses. The man would come to Rameses as he always did before; solemn, but not unkind like priest or their father Seti before his death and in his life.
He strains his ears to listen and—there it is. The tapping of strong wooden staff against hard stone with each slap (faint though it is) of straw and leather sandal in step. His walk isn't nearly as quick in pace as it was when they were young; to the contrary, it is slow and drawn, as though he might be an eternally old man walking the Earth only because his God wills him to do so.
When the sound stops, Rameses can hear his breathing, drawn and shaky. Just as Moses used to do when he cried during the night in their youth after an awful nightmare involving the Egyptian god with the crocodile head snapping him up while bathing in the river, or drowning in blood. Rameses had no doubt that Moses had cried that day. None at all.
"Rameses?" Moses called out gently, not hearing the Pharaoh pick up his son and slowly slide off of his seat on the statue's knees to drop on down to the other side, in the shadows where nothing could be seen. He sounded choked. He had most definitely been crying.
"Ah," Rameses answered, cradling his son chest to chest, one arm bracing beneath the other to hold him up and Sef's head settled in the crook of his neck, just upon the white of the Pharaoh's crown, "I was wondering when you were going to show up."
He did not mean for his voice to seem so cold, but he could not help it. Though, he did regret it instantly. The sight of the other man—brother, brother, oh why was it so hard to forget that—was enough to make him flinch inwards at him like a snake from a mongoose. The way he was clutching with both hands upon the staff to hold him enough made the other want to cry and hug him like he had hugged Sef to him that morning. Comfort him.
As Moses went to ask, nay, plead for Rameses to release the Hebrews now, the elder brother interrupted him with a hand placed upon Moses' dark one clutching the staff; gently and kindly speaking again, all malice all steel gone from him to be replaced by a quiet understanding that he was only just feeling at the corners of his consciousness.
"Before I answer any questions, or requests you have for today," Rameses started, pausing only to shuffle Sef upon his knee and then over to his hip to keep the child from falling to the cold floor, "I have a question for you."
Moses blinked; dark brown eyes that had always been more kind and clever than Rameses a little confused before looking upon the boy and then saying, croaking really, "Yes?"
Rameses, here and for the time and, hopefully, longer than even that, allows a small smile to greet his brother in question, though he already knows, "Was it you who saved my son during the night from the Plague? That blood on the door was from one of your sheep, was it not?"
"…He is my nephew," Moses finally answered, after a fashion, looking from Rameses, to the boy and back again, compassionate and true as he ever, ever was, "I could not stand to let him die. Even if it takes another plague and it is selfish…I could not…"
"I'm glad," Rameses stopped the other, an internal sigh that he didn't know he had welling up being set loose, "Because, for what you've done, I'm going to do something that father would have killed me for if he were still alive."
Moses seemed to inflate from the bent position he had been in since entering the temple, hope and oh, something even better glittering in his eyes like the evening and morning star Ramses was supposed to be but hated in the being so, coming up from the pit of him. Something like looking at the other's soul.
Bringing his hand away from the dark hand he had been carefully holding gently, Rameses brought it behind Moses and nestled it into his hair at the back of his head. He tugged him forward, his own head following the motion and both felt…something inexplicable and unexplainable when their foreheads met and they were still looking at each other, eye to eye.
It was a thing that was so much more powerful than romance between lovers; love for a brother between a brother was always more than romance could really ever be.
Rameses states in a quiet voice, still smiling and it brakes and mends his heart when the sentence is done and his brother is crying with tears and in joy he never thought he'd ever see again and drops the staff, long, wiry arms wrapping around both the brother and the nephew, strong.
"You and your people have my permission to go."