Father and Son [Baccano! AU]
Summary: As an immortal hitman and an all-around madman, Ladd Russo isn't exactly cut out for fatherhood. However, he finds himself the legal guardian of eight year old Graham Spector after a terrible incident leaves him with no memories of his past and only his name, age, and a giant monkey wrench. Despite his warnings of him only being a temporary guardian, Ladd soon finds himself drawn to the boy. However, when a man claiming to be Graham's uncle appears, and more and more information about the boy's past resurfaces, Ladd is soon faced with the prospect of losing the boy forever. He vows, however, never to let that happen, at any cost.
The Boy in the Bushes
Ladd Russo lived alone, and that was how he liked it. There was no one to bother him, no one to cause trouble, no one to make him do things around the house. Since he lived alone, he could let the dishes pile up in the sink, only wash his clothes when he had one outfit left, and only take the trash out when the bags piled up around the trashcan. Honestly, he was much happier now that he lived without his Uncle in close proximity, and without any kind of significant other to worry about. He reveled in his solitude, embraced his loneliness, and explored his newfound bachelorhood with gusto. His days of being alone were about to come to an abrupt and unfortunate end, however, much like how most of his victims' lives did.
When he stepped outside of his apartment building and stood on the sidewalk in front, Ladd didn't find anything peculiar or out of place at first. His eyes then traveled over to the bushes, where the loud rustling and screeching of a large vulture came to his ears. Annoyed at the scavenger's audacity and noisiness, he went to shoo it away. As it squawked again and took off in a flurry of black feathers, he saw what the vulture had been so interested in, and at first he found himself recoiling away from it, but then inexplicably drawn in.
Lying there, curled up in the bushes was a boy no older than ten, his body curled tightly around a rusted, oversized monkey wrench. He had long, slightly wavy blonde hair, and was wearing what appeared to be some kind of white pajamas, stained with dirt and grass. He was so still that Ladd thought he was dead at first, until the shallow rise and fall of the boy's chest told him that he was alive.
Now that he was faced with this strangely delicate situation, Ladd wasn't sure what to do exactly. There wasn't anyone around who looked as though they could be the boy's parents, so his first thought was that he was a runaway, and he should take him up to the police station. There hadn't been any reports of missing children for a while though, and the pictures they'd shown didn't match the boy. He figured that, at this point, he'd take the boy to the hospital and let them figure out what to do with him.
After he took the boy and his wrench to the hospital, Ladd wanted to leave right away, but the doctor kept him there to ask him about the boy.
"There's no question then, this is the missing boy from the family that was killed two days ago," the doctor, whose name was Maiza Avaro told him.
"A family was killed?" Ladd asked. There was no shock in his voice, only curiosity, as to be expected by a man such as himself.
"Yes, about twenty miles from here. No one knew about the boy, though, except for a few investigators. I have a close friend on the team who was able to tell me about this boy."
"So what're you gonna do with him?" Ladd asked, glancing over at the sleeping boy. He'd been severely dehydrated, so there were a few tubes in his arms, but otherwise it looked as though he'd simply decided to take a nap there.
"Probably keep him here until he'd fed and hydrated. An investigator will probably talk to him. Then, if no one wants to keep him, he'll go to the orphanage." Maiza's voice almost held a hint of a question, and Ladd frowned.
"Are you tryin' to get me to take care of the kid?" He asked, and although Maiza didn't say anything, his silence was enough. "No, no way, I don't like kids, count me out." Ladd crossed his arms and turned his head as though he was rejecting any further offers, but Maiza was persistent.
"Just until the investigation is over, I'm sure someone will want to take him permanently once the case gets out. He'll be in and out of your place in a few months." Ladd sighed heavily, his fingers tapping lightly on the side of his arm. "I just don't want to see this poor boy go to an orphanage. I'd take him, but I'm afraid my line of work doesn't allow for much time to care for him."
"Just for a few months, right?" Ladd asked, turning his head to look at Maiza. "Just until the case gets out and somebody takes him?" Maiza nodded, and Ladd put one hand on his head. "Alright, I'll do it. But I'm not keeping him for any more than four months." He spoke almost as though the boy was a stray dog that someone was trying to get him to take. Internally, the hit man was yelling at himself. He'd gotten too soft, he told himself, too human. It had been almost a year since his uncle had called on him to do anything. Ever since the incident aboard the train when he'd almost gotten himself killed, his uncle had been reluctant to call upon him. It pissed him off, but he had to lie low. Since he'd become immortal, he didn't take to killing mortals anymore, and he was only needed when someone who was an immortal started causing trouble.
Lost in his own thoughts, Ladd almost didn't notice as the boy stirred in his bed. As the boy blinked his wide, dark blue eyes, Maiza slipped into the room to talk to him. Figuring that he had to at least try to figure out what he was in for, Ladd stepped in after him, shutting the heavy wooden door.
"Where am I? Who are you?" The boy asked the doctor, pulling the thin hospital bed sheets up to his chest.
"You're in a hospital, I'm your doctor, Maiza Avaro." The boy relaxed a bit, now tucking his knees up to his chest and holding them there. "What's your name, son?"
"Graham Spector, eight years old," the boy recited, as though he was speaking from a script. "How did I get here? Where's my wrench?" Graham looked around frantically, as though looking for the tool. Setting one hand on the boy's tiny shoulder, Maiza pulled the discarded wrench from under the bed and gave it to him. Graham's eyes lit up and he clutched the wrench tightly as if it were the last thing he had. It crossed Ladd's mind that perhaps it was the last thing he had left, if he really was the missing boy from the family who was killed.
"You were found outside of an apartment building," Maiza told him, and Graham pulled the wrench closer. "Do you know how you got there, Graham?"
"I was running," he answered, his voice lowering. "For a long time. I was tired, so I curled up in the bushes like a cat. They're always safe there, I thought I'd be safe too."
"What were you running from?" Maiza asked again, his expression darkening.
"The bad man, the bad man who killed them," Graham whispered. "My mama, my papa, my sister…the bad man killed them all. And that's all I know."
"Do you know what the bad man looked like?"
"No, no, I don't know! That's all I know, I don't know anything else, nothing!" He wasn't yelling, but it was quite obvious that the boy was I quite a bit of distress. It was obvious now, at least to Ladd, that something truly terrifying had happened to the little boy. Something so bad that it caused him to lose most, if not all of his memories. "So what's gonna happen to me? Am I gonna go to jail?"
"Oh, no, of course not," Maiza laughed, patting the boy's head. "You'll be staying with someone temporarily until we can find someone to take you permanently." The boy was quiet, and Ladd could see that the weight of what had happened was now pressing down on the boy's shoulders. His eyes filled with tears, and Graham pressed his palms to his eyes as his tiny body shook.
"I-I just wanna go home," he whimpered, and then Ladd found himself by the boy's side, leaning against the hospital bed.
"Hey, if you're gonna stay with me, kid, then there's no cryin' allowed, alright?" He said, and Graham looked up at him, dark blue eyes still shimmering with unshod tears. He looked at Ladd as though he'd just brought him the moon, and Ladd knew instantly that this kid really liked him. It was a shame, really, and Ladd shuffled his feet a bit. "No cryin' until I tell you to."
"Oh, yes sir," Graham answered obediently, and Ladd swore he could see Maiza smile as he left the room.
Ladd had no idea what he'd gotten into, but he had a feeling that he'd regret it soon.