Flesh and Blood
Summery: Liam's brother comes to Pandora after receiving the news that his younger brother is seriously injured.
Characters/Pairings: Liam, Martin, Liam's family
Comments: I freely acknowledge that this plays fast and loose with canon, specifically the exact timing of Leo's attack on Pandora. I've always wondered what Liam's family is like and why we really don't see them in the manga. It's also been some time since I've written something from the point of view of someone who's essentially an OC, though Martin, being something of dick, was rather fun to write. I hope you enjoy and please review.
Thank you to Eris for the beta.
Spoilers: for the most recent chapters and the Party arc
The letter came by Pandora messenger while they were still seated at the breakfast table. Martin knew that that it was a matter was of some importance when the messenger was shown into the dining room instead of a servant delivering the letter. The look on his father's face on reading the letter confirmed his suspicions a moment later.
"Is this true?" Earl Lunettes demanded of the mud splattered and tired looking Pandora man who simply nodded gravely.
"Grell, what is it?" his mother anxiously plucked at his father's sleeve and when he looked up at her with that expression Martin knew for sure.
"It's Liam, isn't it?" he asked, already annoyed. Who else could if be if it was Pandora?
In answer his father simply handed the letter down to him before standing to put a comforting hand on his mother's shoulder as she raised a shaking hand to her lips to muffle a sob. After all, any news brought by a Pandora messenger who thought it so urgent he rode instead of taking the slower option of a carriage could not be good.
When Martin read the first line of the letter he found that not only had he been right but it was worse than he'd expected. His brother had always had a talent for getting in over his head.
That very afternoon he was in a rattling carriage headed for Pandora Headquarters. It would take him almost twice the time it had taken the messenger to get to them, but his father had insisted that he take the damn thing. Better not to imply the Lunettes couldn't afford a carriage for their eldest son. He'd been thoroughly annoyed about that, a seeming lack of response to the news their youngest son was badly hurt would look worse in society's eyes than the lack of a carriage.
He carried with him a letter from his father with encouragements to his youngest son to regain health soon so that he could return to his important duties with a tentative note penned by his mother, no doubt along the same lines. Fools the both of them. Little good a note would do if Liam was insensible.
Or too feverish to think right. Or already… well.
'Seriously wounded during in the execution of his duty' the letter had said and that had been as far into the matter as it had gotten. Martin could only imagine. He knew full well his brother was no fighter, the stupid boy. After all he was the one who had tried to beat some idea of self defense into Liam's stubborn head before he was sent off the the Barma household. To this day he could still remember his tiny brother scowling up at him from the mud as Martin demanded he try to attack him "I don't want to hurt people."
Stupid, stubborn Liam.
Really what had he been thinking? Why on earth had he ended up doing fieldwork? He wasn't a fighter, who in their right mind would authorize a mission sending his brother into danger?
Martin cursed the miles between him and the Pandora Headquarters under his breath with words he'd learned from the lowest servants. He didn't remember it taking so long to pass out of their land and onto the main road. Perhaps it was simply that he had never paid attention to how long it took. But now that he was using the view out the carriage window it distract himself from speculating on exactly what 'seriously wounded' meant for his wayward brother it seemed to take an eternity to get anywhere at all.
Coloring this all was a supreme amount of frustration. Really, of all times for his father to worry about standing and appearance right now, with Liam possibly near death without a single member of his family nearby, it made Martin wonder exactly if he understood the gravity of the situation.
If he'd taken a horse and rode flat out like the messenger had he could have made so much better time, but not only had he been practically ordered to take a carriage but he'd had to waste precious time waiting until his father wrote up the letter he now bore. Even then he could have been on the road hours ago if he hadn't had to wait until the servants had found where his Pandora uniform had gotten to because Father had insisted he wear it if he was going to Pandora.
Personally, Martin thought there was little point in that, after all, he was a member of Pandora in name only. He had neither the requirements or the time to become a contractor anyway, if he hadn't been the heir to the Lunettes household he wouldn't have bother to join the organization at all, but the family had traditionally been members and Father had insisted.
It had been tradition as well that had sent Liam off at a ridiculously young age to serve the Barma household, since members of the Lunettes family had served the Barma family for generations. It was a little funny to him that his little brother, the supposed 'spare heir' had managed to gain more political and social power than him. A pettier man would be bitter over that, but Martin didn't much care for politics outside of the way they effected the Lunettes estate and had gladly wished his brother his fill of the lot of it. Political affairs were a right nest of vipers that he would gladly stay out of for the time being. He'd only ever taken enough interest to keep the Lunettes' at a moderately successful standing in society but Liam had always taken a keen interest in who had their hands on the power.
And look where ambition had gotten his brother, 'seriously wounded during in the execution of his duty'. No doubt this mission he'd gone on had been part of some foolish plan to further ingratiate himself in the eyes of those in power. After all, look how he had the Rainsworth girl's servant twisted around his little finger, not doubt the girl too was equally under his sway. Martin had seen that for the political move he knew it was, having Rainsworth allies must have been worth the years Liam had lived in the household of those terrors.
Maybe this had been a bid to gain a foothold in the Nightray house or even the Vessalius dukedom with that new heir no one seemed to be able to stop talking about. When that child had reappeared Martin had never been happier that he had a country estate to retreat to. The ridiculous rumors that were going around about the boy being some sort of reincarnated hero… well, Martin didn't believe a word of that nonsense.
Whatever Liam had been up to, whatever angle he'd been working, whatever plot he'd been put up to by Lord Barma, it had apparently backfired on him. Badly.
His stupid younger bother. With a sigh Martin rested his head against the palm of his hand and wished this matter already dealt with.
His arrival at Pandora some days later saw the organization still dealing with aftermath of some disaster or other that had evidently been part of Liam's wounding.
"I'm sorry, sir, that there is no one of the proper rank to greet you but you find us in a troubled time." The Pandora man was clearly flunkie, but at least someone higher up had thought his arrival warranted an acknowledgment by someone at a higher level than the servants who attended Pandora. All the same, as he didn't know this man it was quite likely that he was a very minor noble so it wasn't much of a compliment.
"I have come to visit my brother, not to meet with Pandora officials." his voice was flat and accompanied by a pointed look that made the Pandora man wince.
"O-of course. If you would follow me, Lord Lunettes."
Martin had to suppress the urge to roll his eyes as the man started down the hall, where else would he go? He'd come all this way to feign proper brotherly concern, obviously he wanted to see Liam before anything else, if only to get that necessary duty out of the way. Then he could pack his things again and go back to his estate, washing his hands of headquarters business before invitations for social events started arriving.
He would rather avoid being forced back into the social circle here since it wasn't one of the times he had to make himself present there. Thank the Abyss it wasn't the Season yet or he'd never have escaped.
The Pandora man paused at the door to what he presumed was his brother's room, glancing uncertainly at back at him. "I, um, don't mean to be impolite, sir, but how much have you been told about his injuries?"
Had this been a servant of his he would have simply scowled at the man until he realized how out of place his question was but as this man had the slight protection of being a member of Pandora he simply gave him a withering look. "I am fully informed." he said coldly.
The man blanched slightly under his gaze and fumbled his hold on the doorknob. "Ah, yes, well then, I'll just… in here, sir."
The room he showed him into was quite simple, had Martin not known better he would have thought it belonged to a servant instead of the son of an earl. Brow furrowed as he took in the unadorned walls, the cluttered desk, the complete and utter lack of ornamentation, he had always assumed his brother put up with Barma because of the rank it gained him. If that was the case then why was his quarters as sparse as an upper servant in the Lunettes' household's? Wherever those benefits came in they certainly weren't in rooming. Honestly Martin couldn't see the point.
Then again, he and his brother failed to see eye to eye on a number of things.
"Lord Lunettes?" the man's voice drew Martin from his thought back to the present with a start and he realized the he was staring at a blank wall with more intensity than was exactly appropriate. The man had opened an inner door and was gesturing through it. "He's in here."
At least his brother's rank was sufficient to gain him two rooms, a small luxury only higher ranked members of Pandora were able to enjoy.
But when Martin entered the bedroom he found that it was as simple and unornamented as the outer room, the only concession to privilege he could see was was the well stocked bookcase on the far wall. He could not have said exactly what he had been expecting but this was certainly not it.
The subtle clearing of a throat brought his gaze to the bed, which he realized he'd been purposefully avoiding looking directly at. From his place by the bedside the Pandora man looked slightly embarrassed, "I didn't mean to startle you, sir."
He waved both it and the man off as he came to also stand by the bedside. For the first time since he'd entered to room he looked down at his brother and stopped.
Why did he look so pale?
His brother was a man who had never been sick a day in his life, who had always put duty before himself, who had always been the epitome of health and a dutiful spirit. Never in his life did he remember seeing his brother lie so still. The sheets under his head held more color than he did, Martin would have thought him already expired if not for the rise and fall of his chest. That breath came slightly too quickly, he stepped forward to carefully put his fingertips to Liam's skin he found that it was clammy.
His eyes narrowed with sudden anger. Who had left his little brother alone while he was sick and feverish? Why wasn't there at least a servant here in case his condition worsened? Those very questions were on his tongue when he thought better. To ask them would cast negative implications onto the Barma Dukedom his brother served.
It had been sometime since he'd last seen his brother, he spared more than a moment to wonder if his brother's cheekbones had been so apparent last time they had… well, been attending the same social event, they didn't often actually speak. Perhaps it was simply the bandages that made his brother look fragile.
For the first time since the message had come to the Lunettes mansion Martin let himself consider the implications of 'seriously wounded during in the execution of his duty'. He smoothed a bit of Liam's hair where it had been ruffled by the bandage around his head down flat and suddenly he was eight years old again with his little brother dozing off next to him with his head resting on his shoulder. How many evenings had been spent in the Lunettes Mansion drifting off in front of the fire with only each other and a pile of books for company? How many years had it been before his brother had left for the Barma house and become someone he saw only across ballrooms?
His voice was softer as he asked, "How serious are his wounds?"
When the Pandora man replied Martin realized he had moved to the door -when had that happened? "Very serious. He has been unconscious since… the incident."
"And how exactly did this happen?" the renewed steel in his tone made the Pandora man snap to attention.
"There was a coming of age party that Mister Liam was attending on behalf of Lord Barma, he… there was an accident and fire and some rebels…" his voice trailed off and his eyes skittered to the side. "I can't tell you all the details, sir."
His eyes narrowed. So his rank at Pandora was not sufficient to gain access to that then? What exactly had Liam been up to at this coming of age ceremony? "I see." was all he said.
He might have added more after a few moments but thankfully the hasty entrance of another Pandora man, who was flustered and out of breath, cut him off before he could say something unwise. "They're attacking!" the newcomer cried.
Immediately the Pandora man snapped to attention. "The Baskervilles?"
The other man nodded. "There's a giant Chain in the sky, it's carrying a contractor with it! The higher ups are calling for our contractors to gather."
"Baskervilles?" Martin echoed, frowning at both of them. As far as he knew that red robed family was the thing of legends and stories mothers told disobedient children.
The Pandora man darted a nervous glance at him before saying to the newcomer, "I'll be there momentarily."
That appeared to be enough for him, the other man gave a nod and ran back out, presumably to find others to pass his message to others.
"I'm afraid you're going to have to come with me, sir." the Pandora man said. "If there's an attack going on then you'll be in danger here."
"If you are under the illusion that I would abandon my brother during an emergency for something as petty as my own safety than I am afraid you underestimate my family's honor." His hand settled on the sword he wore at his side. "I will stay here."
For a moment the Pandora man looked as if he might argue, but apparently the danger was very great because he simply shook his head and said, "As you wish." Turning on his heel the man did not quite run out, but it was a near thing.
Once he was gone Martin went to the windows, looking out he could see there was something… something massive in the sky. It's wingspan was immense, far outstripping the size of any bird he'd ever seen. The tiny man it held it its claw was dwarfed by it's mass, the beats of its wings as it came down to land made a wind strong enough to rip the leaves from the bushes.
There were figures running out of the building, toward the creature -the Chain- summoning their own Chains as they went. Red cloaked men were pouring up from the Pandora gardens, fighting the contractors they encountered and leaving bodies in their wake.
Martin stepped back from the window and looked over his shoulder to the door, the departing Pandora man had left it open. He went to close it, when the red cloaked men broke into the building it would offer some barrier.
Glancing over at Liam he thought he saw him stir, his eyelids flutter. He went to the bed, leaned over it, looked for any sign of waking. Up close he saw nothing, his brother was still pale, ill looking, unconscious, every bit as vulnerable as he'd been before.
The sounds of fighting were clearly audible now, it was clear the fight wasn't just outside but had spread inside the headquarters.
He squeezed Liam's hand gently, murmuring. "Don't worry. It's your brother. I'm here… I'll keep you safe."
Then he stood and drew his sword. Alone, he watched the door, waiting for the enemy to find them.