After the series of letters [here] and a visit to Cya’s son Vidrou, Enion (Cya’s father) attempts to make amends with his daughter via letter. Eventually he succeeds well enough that she decides to try talking to him one more time.
She packed a bag.
She didn’t need to; she was teleporting to the area, and returning, she assumed, within a few hours.
But there was a certain feeling of parallel that she couldn’t ignore, and so Cya packed a go-bag. Clothes, easy to hand-wash and line-dry. Medical supplies. Two days’ food. A source of fire, an emergency blanket… pencils and a notepad.
On a day over a hundred years ago, she had packed a very similar bag. She’d done so countless times since, for herself, for children and grandchildren and great-great-great-great grandchildren, Kept and students and friends.
But in September of 2000, she’d packed a bag, and her father had sent her away to Addergoole.
She’d given him a year to stew — a year after she decided he might actually be capable of change, three years since he’d visited her son and his wife, more than that since she’d sought him out and realized that the father she’d remembered was every bit as self-centered and not nearly as impressive as she’d remembered. It had been a good year, full of growth for her burgeoning empire and bright improvements in her Academy and her University.
She almost hated to ruin it by visiting him.
But, on the other hand, if she didn’t track him down soon, he might bother another of her children — possibly one of the less-sweet-tempered ones. Certainly one of the less sweet-tempered ones, since of all her children, Viddie had always been the most mild. (What that said, then, about the fact that Viddie had been angry after dealing with her father…)
“Let’s go.” She held out her hand. Wischard — her teleporter this decade — set his hand in hers and they both closed their eyes.
There was a bit of a twist – Wischard was rather new, and not used to homing in on her Finding yet — and then they opened their eyes to a shabby-looking inn.
Cya recognized the area. It was maybe a five-day trip from Cloverleaf, a district she had visited but not had much luck bringing into the fold: a hive of scum and villainy, creeps and thieves. It, she thought, likely suited her father quite well.
“One hour,” she told Wischard. “Thank you.”
“You sure? I don’t mind sticking around, in case…”
Wischard was only three years out of Addergoole. She could guess many of the in cases that he could be thinking of.
She had great-great-great grandchildren his age, although she was almost entirely certain that he wasn’t one of them. She was fairly certain she could handle most in cases.
“I’ll be all right, Wischard. He’s my father. That eliminates at least one sub-set of danger.”
“You’re the boss.” He didn’t look too reassured. She didn’t fault him, knowing what she knew — about both Wischard’s father and her own. “One hour.”
She had a feeling that, while he might be popping away now, he’d be within screaming range for the next hour. That was fine; she hadn’t brought Leo because she wanted a chance of her father talking to her, but she didn’t mind the back-up. She was not on her home territory right now; she was on very shaky ground indeed.
She walked into the bar as if she owned the place anyway, her chin up, her shoulders back, her stride a swagger as if she was armed with grenade launchers.
The conversation stopped, paused at least. She was — to all appearances — a beautiful woman in her twenties, clean and well-dressed. That sort of person wasn’t very common here, not if they weren’t selling themselves.
She walked past all of them as if they didn’t exist. She wasn’t here for the grifters, the drifters, the bandits, the thieves. She wasn’t here for the scroungers, the bullies, the hunters, the veterans.
“Doomsday,” someone whispered. Cya smiled. “Doomsday,” someone said, louder this time. She smiled more widely. Soon they were all saying it. Soon they were all getting out of her way.
Everyone but him. He looked at her. She looked back at him. She found she was grinning. She found he was looking a little bit worried. She raised her eyebrows at him. “Dad.”
The bar was silent again, a heartbeat, another heartbeat. Then he said, carefully, as if was balancing on a knifeblade, “sa’Red Doomsday.”
She pulled up a stool and perched, her smile relaxing into something that felt more comfortable. Someone cleared his throat. Someone else ordered a drink. Slowly, the sound of the bar returned.
“Are you here to kill me?” His shoulders were tense, and she could tell he was double-checking all his exits. He’d taught her that. Always have an exit strategy. “Your son, he seemed to think you’d want the honor yourself.”
“Viddie wasn’t wrong.” She let him sweat a moment. “But I’m not here to kill you. Your letters — they got me thinking.”
“Yeah?” He leaned forward a little, then seemed to realize he was doing it and straightened up. “I’ve been thinking, too.”
“Don’t strain anything.” She smirked faintly, then wiped her hand across the space in between them. “That wasn’t kind, I apologize. It’s clear you’ve been thinking. Viddie said he… well, what Vid said was that he thought there were things you hadn’t considered before.”
“That is — yes. I imagine they make me a bad father. No.” He took a long swig of the rotgut he’d been drinking. “I was a bad father. But-“
Cynara held up her hand. “I’m not here because you were a bad father, or to let you fix that, make up for it. No.” She paused, gathering her thoughts and letting him stew. “I’m here because that doesn’t matter at all anymore.”
He rocked back a little. He opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again to take a drink. “What do you mean?”
“You were a bad father in, what, 2000? 2002?” She twitched her shoulders. “It’s too late to even be a decent grandfather for most of my kids. There’s no chance for you to be a father for me anymore.”
“I’m still your father.”
She smirked faintly. “It is still a truth that your seed helped create the child I was. It is still truth that you named that child and raised her to the age of sixteen.” She needed her own drink. She flagged down the bartender & paid him with a bill bearing her own face. “That’s it.”
His chin went up. She recognized the expression. Sometimes, she still saw it in the mirror. “I’m your father.”
“Enion, Loophole, I don’t need a father right now. I haven’t needed a father in quite a while.” It felt both wrong and good to say. “And it shouldn’t bother you that much.” She was a bit bitter, still, she had to admit. “You didn’t need a daughter for a hundred years.”
He finished his drink and flagged the bartender down for another one. “Then why are you here?”
“The same reason as last time.” She twitched her shoulders. “I give people — certain people — too many chances, at least according to Leo. So. I want to see if you can see me. Because…” She finished her drink. “Because you matter, dead gods curse you.”
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