Ellie Carvour-Mega had been scared before. It scared her when a storm rolled by their small home, a trait her dad always told her that she inherited from him. It scared her when Margaret woke up screaming from nightmares, their dads rushing in, Curt almost always having his gun drawn thinking it was an attack. But whenever she or her twin sister were scared, Curt and Owen were there. But not anymore.
Ever since he had returned a couple weeks ago Curt had been cold to his daughters, even to his mother. He wasn’t mad at them but he couldn’t bring himself to put in the effort to be kind. His spirit was broken and his family was the last thing on his mind. He spent most of his days in the living room, he often slept in there too, but only when he could get himself to sleep without the constant nightmares and visions of Owen falling. He couldn’t step foot in he and his partner’s old room without breaking down. He stayed almost exclusively in one place, a glass or bottle pressed to his lips as he stared straight ahead.
That was the new thing Ellie was scared of.
It was a particular Tuesday when things reached their peak. It had been officially a month since Curt returned alone without Owen. And things had been quiet since. The day was cold and rainy, an occasional rumble of thunder only making Curt jump slightly as he stayed put in his chair, watching the rain pelt down against the grass in their very small yard. He had a bottle in his hand, half empty, and another three that were empty by his side. He was trying to keep himself drunk to numb the pain, to forget the face that was burned into his mind. But his moment of silence and wallowing in self pity didn’t last. He heard soft giggling from upstairs and a small commotion on the stairs before his daughters came careening into the room, chasing a white and ginger cat into the lounge room before they both stopped still. Oleg was not ungrateful for his escape from the two girls as he dashed into the kitchen. Curt silently turned to look at his daughters who had stopped just short of the living room, staring at him. They almost appeared fearful, they didn’t know if they were even allowed in the same room as their own father anymore.
“What do you two want?” Curt asked softly, taking yet another sip, hoping to drink himself to death still. Ellie coward slightly, something about the cold way he stared at them unsettled her.
“Are you okay dad?” Margaret asked softly. Even she should have clearly been able to see the answer. Curt almost laughed but he looked away again, staring out the window.
“Do you think that I’m okay? Do I look fucking okay?!” He raised his voice ever so slightly, causing Ellie to jump, putting an arm out in front of Margaret, suddenly becoming braver than her twin. Curt saw those first two tears on Ellie’s face fall and he started to feel his own eyes well up.
This is what he was now. He was a monster who frightened his children, Owen’s children. He had sworn to protect them, to look after them, to be their father even though they were biologically Owen’s. And now his twins were crying, staring at him as his knuckles turned white from his grasp on the bottle in his hand. He just dropped it to the ground, breaking down into sobs again. That was the other thing that had become common since the death off his partner. Before this only two people had seen Curt Mega cry, and one was gone now. But now his daughters would only grow up hearing their father sob and scream and beg to join the man he loved. Curt was disgusted with himself. He was hurting everyone around him, especially his daughters. Who now though that they were wrong for stepping near him and for asking if he was okay. He was awful, he didn’t deserve the life Owen left behind. He wanted to switch places with his lost love more than he had before.
There was only one thing that broke his unending cycle of thoughts and self-loathing. And that was the small amount of force from two arms wrapping around his torso, hugging him tightly before a second pair joined them. His tightly shut eyes opened slightly, though they were clouded by tears, he could make out blonde hair and then his two daughters holding onto him. He could see tears rolling down Ellie's cheeks and Margaret trying to get closer to him. They had lost as much as he did, if not more. And that's why he had to stay. That's why he couldn't join Owen. He had killed Margaret and Ellie's father, he had no choice but to stay with them and to protect them. To make sure they wouldn't have to grow up without any parents, to make sure they had someone to protect them so they would never meet a fate as brutal as their fathers. But it still hurt to see Owen each time he looked at them. But it didn't matter, he'd go through all the pain and torture in the world for his girls. They may legally be Margaret and Elliana Carvour but they were as much his as they were Owen's and he owed it to them, and to him to stand by his girls. He then heard Margaret's voice break his train of thought once again.
"Are you okay dad?" She looked up at him, eyes wide and teary. He could see the fear that he'd yell at her again, but for once he could control himself. He gently scooped Margaret up, putting her on his lap before doing the same with Ellie.
"I'm okay girls, dad's okay. And I promise, I'll protect you." He smiled gently, hugging them both close, his smile was faint but there.
“Are you going to leave too?” Ellie asked softly. That was the other thing, she was afraid of losing her other dad. Curt immediately shook his head, making up his mind on the spot. He couldn’t go back out into the field and die; he couldn’t leave these girls. They needed him. And he couldn’t carry on without Owen. Owen would want him to stay with them.
“I’m never leaving again.”