She's smarter than her son thinks.

It starts out like this: a tidy neighbourhood of looming mansions and well-kept lawns on the edges of Solingen, a woman and her husband and son, and the beginnings of what the DVD description insists is a thrilling ride of love, loss, and betrayal.

They're sat side by side on the leather couch, she in the middle, her boys flanking her left and right. A bowl of popcorn sits untouched on the coffee table she bought in Rome, three unopened sodas next to it. It's not the family time that she so desperately wants, a small hour or two filled with joy and love and rapport that she doesn't feel is so much to ask for, but it's a start.

They're halfway into the movie when her husband grumbles next to her, "There's no point to this."

"What do you mean?" she asks. The woman onscreen is caught in the middle of a scream.

"This movie is pointless. It's obvious what's going to happen. He's going to save the woman, and they're going to marry."

"Yeah," Ulrich says. "Happy endings don't exist anyway." She doesn't miss the tightening of his fists as the woman's heirlooms-precious fans from the 1700s-are destroyed.

"Don't say that."

"Why not?" her husband joins in. "You can't go on sheltering him forever, Agathe."

"I'm not sheltering him!" she says. "I just want the best for him."

"You're suffocating the boy."

She glances over at Ulrich as if it will give her assurance that she isn't suffocating him. She only had nannies as child, so she'd never been taught how to raise a child correctly, but she thinks she's done a decent job. At least, she hopes so. He's disinterested in the humdrum of the family fights as always though and is furiously texting away.

She isn't the only one who's noticed. Her husband glares. "Put the phone away. We're having a family discussion here, young man."

"Maybe I'm not interested in the family discussion," Ulrich retorts.

"What did you say?"

"I-I...," he mumbles, face panicked.

"As long as you are under my roof, and you-"

"Klaus," she says quickly. "Ulrich's only been home for a day."

Wrong move. "Does the bank care if I've only been home for one day and haven't done any of my work? Does the government care if we're only one day late on our taxes? Would you care if I was one day late on your birthday?"

She doesn't say anything, mostly because, no, he wasn't one day late on her birthday last year. He was five days late.

Ulrich clears his throat. And she knows what he's going to say before the cursed words even come out of his mouth. "I've got to go now. My friends need me." Before she or Klaus can say another word, he slips on a pair of sneakers and runs out the door. She doesn't look at Klaus, and he doesn't look at her as they make their way to the window. She doesn't know when Ulrich will be back and she doesn't even know if he'll be back before next vacation, but she is sure of one thing. She's smarter than he thinks, because she knows that somehow, somewhere along the way, the chip of disconnect Ulrich has always worn around them has widened into a chasm she's not sure she can even shout across.

And as he walks away to God-knows-where, as the sun casts its final rays over the picket fences and cars parked parallel in their driveways and the shadows cover him until he's nothing more than what she can imagine, she wonders where she went wrong.

I've been pretty busy writing-wise lately, since I've been plotting a new story. I've also been attempting to drift back to Venire, and I have around a fourth of it written, but of course, as with the other three chapters, it's quite dialogue-heavy. I'm trying to move away from the dialogue and get into the thick of things, so we'll see. But anyway-aside from plotting and whatnot, I've had a million and one plot bunnies floating around in my head. I've also had a few ideas for drabbles, but nothing concrete. While I was half-awake though, I did sort of dream this up. Of course, it came out a lot better when it was in my brain, but what can you do. Thoughts are much adored, and thank you for reading!