For @Theladyisugly’s commissioned prompt from the December Call.
Yngvi looked over his son – his only son, and likely to remain that way, and also, although he tried not to think about it too much, his nephew – and tried not to curl his lip.
They’d done a very good job of keeping in touch, up to a point. And then school had happened, the way it did, and the sweet teenaged boy he’d known had, like so many before and after him, vanished.
Vi wasn’t sure he knew this kid; worse, he thought maybe he did know him, from the dark places in his mind, from the monsters that had forced him to learn how to fight. From the mirror.
“So,” he said again, looking at the boy half an inch shorter than him, lean to his muscular, his hair cut short and fashionable. They could be brothers. The horns, of course, added to the similarity; Sigurd’s were twisted like corkscrews.
“So.” The boy’s smile was every bit as sharp as his horns. “You wanted to see me.”
“We hadn’t talked in a few years. I do try to keep up with my family.”
“I remember. Christmas and Fourth of July.” He pulled a small pocketknife out of his pocket, one of the first gifts Yngvi had given him. “And sometimes we’d go to the park. Do you want to go to the park today, Dad?”
Yngvi felt his shoulders tighten, looking down at his son. Sometimes, the animal inside took over, and then there were contests of will, butting heads. Sometimes, as his father had told him, you couldn’t have two strong men in the same room; it just didn’t work. Autumn was worst, and it was summer now.
He didn’t want to butt heads with his son. He called on every bit of his innate power, every ounce of knowing-the-right-words that he’d ever needed, and said, a little bit to his surprise, “the park would be nice, Siggie. There’s one right down the road.” He tilted his head. “It’s still pristine. These people keep their land pretty well.”
Something in Sigurd’s demeanor shifted, twisted, relaxed. “I’d like that,” he admitted quietly, and pocketed the knife. Ynvgi started walking, and, slowly, Sigurd fell in next to him.
“You came,” he said after a while. “I didn’t think you would.”
“It’s your birthday, Sig. I’ve never failed to show up for your birthday. I wasn’t sure you’d come, though.”
“I wasn’t sure I would, either,” he admitted. They had dropped their voices, until they were near-whispers, as if hiding this from someone. Who? Yngvi wished he knew. Next to him, Sigurd shrugged out of his leather jacket. “I wasn’t sure I’d get permission.”
Permission. Yngvi’s head whipped around so fast, his horns whistled in the air. Permission? Yes, by all the blasted returned gods, there was a collar around his son’s neck, small, leather, black to match the jacket.
“I thought you graduated,” he hissed angrily.
“I did.” The tightness was back in the boy’s expression. “I graduated in June. Earned my Name.”
Cautiously, Yngvi touched the collar, assuring himself it was there. It wasn’t, as pieces of wardrobe went, ugly, but it was a slave collar on his son’s neck. “Do I have to kill someone?” he asked flatly. “Who do I need to kill for you, Sigurd?”
His son looked, for a moment, frightened, and then something else. Touched? Worried? “I… I took this on, Dad,” he offered, very nervously. “I wasn’t tricked into it.” He was talking fast now. “I needed a favor, a couple little favors, and he’s a nice guy. We worked out a deal. Please don’t kill him? I kinda like him. Liked him before the collar,” he added hurriedly, stepping back as if afraid Yngvi was going to flip out.
Took it on. For a moment, Vi wasn’t certain he wouldn’t do something stupid. Then he found a calm place and, very carefully, hugged his son. “All right,” he murmured, as reassuringly as he knew how. “I won’t kill him. But I would like to meet him.”
Crushed against Vi’s chest, his horns brushing his father’s hair, Siggie sounded like a child again. “You would’ve? If I didn’t want this? If I was stuck?”
“Siggie, I’d move the world to help you or your sisters. I’d ruin the world for you.” Yngvi smiled faintly at his only son. “So.”
Sig smiled cautiously. “So.”
Siggie from another point of view – by Inventrix, at the beginning of his first year of school.
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