Summary: (Scottie Socks oneshot) Persephone tries to make things better, but Siren knows it all went to hell a long time ago: a brief look at Siren's childhood after the death of his father. And hey, there's an unstated POV flip-flop! Oh my! Oh, and if you read this before SS… well, you'll spoil a couple things. Poo.
Belatedly she realized that perhaps there were some things seven-year olds couldn't handle, as she glanced over at the small glassy-eyed boy. His lip poked out as he chewed on it. He hadn't said anything since then, since she'd done that, and after that they'd packed up and left town.
She pulled into the service station, sticky McDonald's cups rolling around her feet as she stopped to pump gas. "You want anything from the store?" she asked. "A Coke or some chips or something?" she tried, but the boy didn't respond at all, so she slammed the door and went to pay for the gas.
When she returned, she yanked the door open and slid inside, dropping a bottle and a small bag of Doritos in the boy's lap. "I got you a Diet Coke—wouldn't want you to lose your figure." It was almost a joke.
She stared at him, her son—he looked so much like she had, ragged brown hair framing a pale, delicate face overshadowed by vacant chocolate eyes. He looked the same as he had all week, except there was one tiny tear drying on his cheek.
Gently, she put her hand on his shoulder. "Come on, baby. You've got to have something, don't you? You didn't eat your breakfast—aren't you hungry?" she asked sweetly, stroking the boy's hair with her other hand. "Come on, Siren…"
He finally cracked and jerked away, leaning his head out of the car window as he sobbed, heaving just a little over the side. "Why, Mommy? Why?" he asked weakly, turning to stare at her with red-rimmed eyes.
"Shut up," she growled, slapping his cheek and jamming the key into the ignition.
They spent that night in a motel. As his mother chatted up men in the restaurant next door, Siren lay on the single bed, his eyes blued to the fuzzy television.
"The bodies of the well-known Waters family have been discovered. According to the Waters' youngest son and the only surviving member of the family, Mr. Waters murdered his family in a rage—"
"Rage…" Siren mumbled, turning out the rest of the broadcast as a picture of a frightened little boy appeared on the screen. "Ray-geh. Raaaaaage… 'Rage against the dying of the light,' that was from a poem Mommy read me once… 'Mother is god in the eyes of a child'…"
The door opened and his mother entered, a drunken man following after her.
"Go on, into the bathroom with you," she told Siren, shooing him away.
"Oh, there's no need in that, sweetie," the man said, stepping closer to peer at Siren. The boy could smell his breath, heavy with alcohol and decay, and he took a step back fearfully. "I think maybe we could all have a little fun, huh?" he suggested with a smirk, running a hand across the boy's cheek.
A resounding smack filled the room; Persephone had slapped the man. "Leave him alone. He's only a child, and besides—I thought you wanted a woman." His mother leaned heavily into the man's chest, proving her point with her rather large breasts as she motioned for Siren to go. He quickly crept away into the bathroom, locking the door behind him. He couldn't stand the sight of himself in the mirror, so he sat in the dirty tub, pulling the curtain shut and holding his knees to his chest. The shower dripped coppery water onto his head, so he closed his eyes and tried to ignore it.
When the man was gone, his mother would want a shower, so she'd bang on the door until he opened it. It seemed like hours later when the expected sound finally came and Siren scrambled over the edge of the tub. Sliding across the dirty tiles, he tugged it open and the woman shuffled tiredly inside, crumpling to her knees in front of the child.
He stared, wide-eyed. "Mommy?"
"What can I do, baby? What can I do to make things good, huh?" she asked tremblingly, staring up at her son with an utterly lost look in her eyes.
He knew what would make things better—to turn back time and not kill his father, but that was hardly an option. Siren bit his lip and gawked at her for a moment before deciding. "We should settle down someplace… and you should get a real job. We should be like a normal family… as close to one as we can get."
"That's what you want?"
The little boy smiled, finally, for the first time in so long. "Yes."
"All right. I'll try for you."
It went well for a while. They traveled to a small city and Persephone got a job at the local diner and Siren went to school. It was simple, but it was the best Siren hoped for and he began smiling even when he didn't feel happy because his mother, his selfish mother, was doing this for him.
She began seeing a man—just one man, and just on the weekends—and he made her happy. Siren thought he was a bit gruff, a little dirty, but better than any of the clients she'd had in the past. They married a few months later, and while he was a poor replacement for Siren's father, he wasn't so bad. Sometimes he took them on rides around the countryside in his pickup truck and he'd stop in a convenience station and buy them drinks—water for his mother and a Yoo-hoo for Siren.
Sometimes they even went to church, a small, welcoming church. Siren felt that he and his mother were very out-of-place there, but he didn't mention it because life was peaceful and almost happy. In Yemen, women paint their feet for weddings—he learned that on a Wednesday night, but why that was important he wasn't sure. He made friends there, friends who assumed things about him that weren't really true, but that was fine. It was all fine.
He was different from Siren's father, though—he never told Persephone he loved her, never expressed his feelings for her. Siren couldn't tell whether he loved her or not. It was a big change from his own father, who had loved the woman deeply despite her transgressions and who had announced it several times a day. His father had loved Siren too, and he was always there to comfort the boy when he needed it… but not anymore. His stepfather wasn't like that, he asked the boy to be quieter when he cried at night. That man wasn't his father, and he never would be, but maybe it could work out… right?
But of course, in the end… in the end it was all wrong. Siren knew almost instinctively when things were about to sour, when the diamond in his mother's ring began to leer at him, when the glass bottles began to pile up in the trash can.
There was a knife in the kitchen, wood-handled, rather strangely shaped—the handle a three-dimensional ellipse; the blade almost rectangular, but not quite, good for cutting meat, he supposed, or at least that was what his mother used it for. One night ambulance sirens blared outside their house and a man missing a hand was carried away.
He'd seen it, that knife clutched in tanned hands, veiny wrists penetrated and sliced through, then pushed further, blood spurting and landing in the oddest of places, bones and nerves severed and a hand dropped like a leaden weight while the other released what it had held and small pale hands grasped the curling line of the telephone and dialed three frantic digits.
And then it was over.
"Clean the damn floor!"
His mother was upset, of course, her eyes puffy as she curled up on the couch. Siren stared mutely at the blood coating the linoleum, the red-handled knife, the droplets that rolled down from the counter… and he began to clean. He wasn't able to make it through without vomiting a few times, but when he finished, he walked to the living room.
"Mommy, why did Stepdad cut his hand off?" he timidly inquired.
"Alcohol," his mother replied, quiet, as he climbed onto the couch with her. She pulled him into her lap, taking his small hands in hers and tracing them softly with her fingers.
"It's going to be all right, Mommy. He never told you he loved you anyway."
"That was what I liked about him," she said.
Siren stared up at her, craning his neck. "Why, Mommy?"
She turned her face away. "I hate liars."
"Then… is that why you killed Daddy? You thought he was lying when he said he loved you?"
"Love doesn't exist, Siren," she told him and pushed him away as she stood.
"Shouldn't we go to the hospital and see Stepdad?"
"We won't see him ever again, Siren. I tried living this life for you… but I can't. No more Stepdad, no more restaurant. I'm going to do what I'm good at, what makes me feel safe."
"…Safe from love, Mommy?" he asked quietly. "That's silly."
She slapped him because she didn't have anything to say, then went back to her bedroom and slammed the door shut. The next day she donned her old clothes and stood on the street corner. It was what made her happy, and Siren be damned. She had her own life to live.
Her half-hearted attempt at bringing her son happiness had gone far enough, and she felt ready to excuse herself for her sins.
Siren just had to sew up his heart and continue on and forget the disembodied hand that had snatched his last hopes away.
AN: I am so mean to this poor kid. I love you, Siren! Anyway, please review because it makes Siren happy. Or something. W00t.