His haggard appearance and his usual vacant eyes changed the moment he sent his most trusted ally away, a glimpse of sadness could be perceived, however his reasonableness didn’t change. It had been ten years, it was more than he deserved it was time to move out of their way although it meant be on his own from now on, he had made his mind the moment he understood he was just baggage, he could let his most precious people carry him around without knowing when was the last breath he would take or when would he close his eyes for the last time, freeing them now would also lift the weight of his life on them, he knew they could only stayed and watch from the side the least he could do for them was dying silently hoping it wouldn’t burden them.
“...You are free now… That’s all I can do for you “ His gaze sank a little contrary to his butler gaze which turned vicious, his head was spinning trying to process the nonsense his young master was spitting.
He had seen this cursed child struggle and grow on his own hiding his weakness pretending to be something he wasn’t and he regretted greatly that the only thing he could do for him was remaining by his side, he wondered many times if he could have done things better than he had, maybe if he told the Count about it Cale would had turned different, it was his negligence that brought all to this decadent state if his young master was telling him to leave it could only meant giving up on living, he was going to let it go in the worst way.
“I don’t think it is going to be possible, you see… I’m already attached to this place" An smile that could only be labeled as terrifying made his way up to the butler's face. It could be read as ‘You dare think I’m going to leave you?’
Cale couldn’t help but laugh, he was thankful to him but he had made his mind long ago and Ron being there only discourage his plans he was going to send him away either way and now a perfect chance had emerged, he knew he was being extremely selfish and ungrateful but he was done and didn’t want his friends to be there when it happen, a memory of him withering away was not how he wanted to be remembered.
“I’m going to be alright… besides he needs your help more than I do” Cale managed a bright smile. By this point he could act in the capital theater as his skills were unbeatable, however he couldn’t fool the man that had raised him.
“I beg to differ”
‘This old man sure is stubborn!’ His thoughts didn’t match his words; he said what the butler would need to hear in order to leave at ease yet he had no intention to fulfill his promise.
“If you are that worried… I… I’ll tell father about it.” Avoiding the avert gaze and holding his necessity to make a grimace instead he mustered a troubled expression. “Surely he won't let his own son die right?”
His way of talking made it look like he was talking of a stranger rather than his father but Ron understood how much courage he needed to come clean after nearly ten years of lies, he had made up his mind but facing his young master it seemed useless, he had been beside him for such long time and the same was true for Cale, he knew exactly what Ron wanted to hear and how he could shake his former conviction with mere sweet words.
“We’ll talk about it later…” Cale smiled inwardly while listening to Ron, he had succeeded however his smile was not one of achievement rather it was one of silent relief.
Both returned their attention to the sleeping boy on the chair, his position was uncomfortable enough to made Cale run his hand around his neck, nonetheless the blackhaired boy seemed to be comfortable as he was snoring soundly, it was his first proper rest after the nightmare he had gone through and Ron and Cale could see his somewhat frown eyebrows and his eyes running errant down his eyelids, clearly he was not having sweet dreams, knowing the sensation by mostly having nightmares when he wasn’t under the sleep coma, Cale decided it was wiser to wake him up, so he did.
When Choi Han opened his eyes his hands move to his blade out of reflex it wasn't until his eyes focus that he let go of it, the red headed was staring at his with a sort of awkward expression and remembering what he did last night he bowed his head down ashamed, he didn’t felt regret but he felt a strange uneasiness when he face Cale like he had done something wrong other than beating his father to pulp, he got the sensation that he was stealing something precious for the red head, maybe it was his well developed animal instinct because he actually was spot on even when he wasn’t aware of the conversation that was hold before he woke.
“I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have but before I noticed I had already beat him” Just as Cale had done with Ron’s gaze he was avoiding him.
Last night happenings were foggy for him as he was a bit high, to be honest when he watch Choi Han approaching he thought he was either dreaming or hallucinating, nothing unusual as on of the drug side effect was exactly hallucination, it kept him awake and productive but when reaching his limit he would started seeing things that weren’t there by now he was familiar with the sensation and didn’t surprise him anymore but when he sober up hour later he realize Choi Han was there and he heard what Ron told him and by the bloodied clothes it was rather obvious what had happened yet Cale couldn’t comprehend why he was apologizing out of the blue, he had said he beat someone and if he was as capable as he looked he probably beat that person to pulp instead of only beating it.
He looked towards the butler trying to figure out who was the poor bastard who got beaten, in the manor Chois Han only was acquainted with Ron, Beacrox and himself and he found it quite difficult to beat either of the father and son duo, analyzing Ron from head to toe he was unscattered so the same could be supposed for his son, in fact Choi Han was wearing baggy clothes that probably belonged to Beacrox so neither of them were the beaten on and as far as he could tell Choi Han was not the type to hit someone that didn’t deserved it, after all he was a guy that would barge in by thinking someone was abducted.
“Who did you beat?” He couldn’t help but ask.
Choi Han curled forward like a dog lowering his ears or a child being scolded, he did what he did in the heat of the moment and was not regretting his actions it was more like he was uncomfortable with the fact that such an awful man was his friend’s father, after contemplating what to say he only said two words, that sounded more like a pouting than anything.
“The Count” He didn’t say ‘your father’ or anything in that style because he didn’t think a man that neglected his family could be a father, not even in name.
However even when he would do it again, he expected a nagging from his friend yet he heard nothing, when he raised his head he saw a twisted kind of grin that showed his mixed emotions, on one hand he was guilty and on the other hand he seemed oddly pleased, almost as if he didn’t reckon how to feel, it was an internal turmoil he had every time his father was mention, he couldn’t say for sure what he regard him, Cale didn’t hate him it was true he resented him a little but it didn’t cross the threshold of despising him, when he was younger it was hard to avoid Count Deruth but as he grew older it almost was natural, the only time the share was the family dinner, now that he thought about it he had spend most time with Basen due to the successor lessons although they conversation was second to none it was undeniable and even sometimes Lily would check on him from the distance she was a mere child and his called hiding made it obvious she was looking for him.
Being taken aback by the red haired boy reaction Choi Han unconsciously tilted his head a sight was heard, Cale calmed down it was no the right moment to discovered how his weird relationship with his father worked, the main priority was to give his friend an alibi like he had never being there on the first place.
“Why are you here?” He needed to know everything, he had heard of Ron's background but he didn’t get to hear why his friend suddenly was there nor why he had beat his father.
Choi Han cleared his throat. It was going to be a long story, when he finished Cale felt nauseous and felt his heart being squeezed.
“So the Harris Village is gone” There was sense of loss behind his words, he was barely there and each time he woke to the worn out room meant he was closer to never waking up again but in ten years getting to have a safe space was a great deal for him and for such place to suddenly disappear... was tough.
Burying his feeling again he understood Choi Han purpose, he was a nice guy and instead of tracking the killers down his objective was get the people who had welcomed him to have a proper burial, Cale thought that this course of action fit him better than beating people around, after a brief nod he told him he would take care of it, he would talk his father about it later and would introduce the balck haired boy as a friend he met in one of his supposed trips.
While he was busy thinking what to do someone knock the door, it was a light noise, with that Cale could infire it wasn’t a maid or servant as they would rudely hit the door like they find calling him a burdensome chore and vent their frustration with the poor wood, Cale sign Choi Han to hide in the bathroom, he couldn't get caught quickly he heed the order and aside from physically hiding he cover his presence just in case it was a soldier or a guard. Once they were sure he was out of sight Ron opened the door Cale sat on the edge of the bed still wearing his pijama, the person that had come to see him was no other than the countess Violan.
The countess was known for being the perfect example of a dignified noble, perfect management, wardrobe and hairstyle nowhere near her current aspect with eye bags and messy hair told how a difficult night she just went through, her husband was attacked in his own office and the perpetrator was yet to be found their children were under lock and key for the time being as nobody knew if it was really over. The countess was the only one that was allowed to go outside as she was the count’s representative while he was recovering she entered hastily and Ron exited the room understanding the conversation she wanted to have with Cale, he was aware of what was happening because he was informed beforehand but as he was supposed to ignore the state of the county he start his innocent facade, his butler was playing along, so far so good.
The woman that was always straight and confident seemed somewhat shook he was holding fairly well, of course she was worried but right now she needed to maintain her preoccupations under control, she had to ensure the children were alright she had already had check on Basen and Lily on his way here, his older son was the only one left even when they briefly interact with each other the countess hold dear to the boy who she knew was trying to push the succession right to his brother and always attempt to gather all the negative attention towards him, for her is was another of her children, the one who gave most and receive less.
“What’s going on mother?” His eyes were trembling and his voice cracked as if he was terrified, mentally he was wondering if he was overdoing it but he had to make sure he looked as ignorant as possible.
After clearing her throat and swallowing hard, she spoke.
“Someone infiltrated the manor and…” She pause for a second and came closer putting a hand over his shoulder like she was comforting him“...They hurt your father”
Violan observed her son’s reaction which turned chaotic, his frowning how he was opening and closing his mouth like he couldn’t find the right words to ask.
“Ho...how is he?” His stutter let the countess know how shaken he was, after all in her eyes Cale always put his family first although he wanted to dissimulate it she could tell.
“Fortunately he wasn’t critically wounded, he is recovering just fine and we called for a healer so he should be okay soon, for the next days is better to stay home in case the attacker returns, of course I order to place more guards and strengthen the security”
Their conversation continued for a while, she used this opportunity and was digging on how his son was doing and reaffirming to him Deruth was going to be fine and that he needed some rest and would be as good as new.
Cale nodded in relive before lifting his head like he remembered something.
“Mother, I forgot to notify you, a friend wrote to me, he wanted to pay a visit but as things are right now I don’t think it would be a good idea but he told me it was an urgent matter” For the first time in years he sounded like a child pouting.
Violan thought he was cute and it was the first time he called someone a friend. She was intrigued by who he was talking about.
“When he told you he was coming?”
“He told me he will arrive between today and tomorrow, it sound pretty serious and he have to meet my father right away”
Later that evening Choi Han enter the manor like a guest still wearing Beacrox old clothes looking like a clueless villager who was stiff because all the guards movements, certainly the boy wasn’t started by the many men present he was more concern with the dialogue Cale made him memorize in order not screw it over. He looked around. Last night he couldn’t, said action ended the guard's suspicions and he was sort of welcome. After all he was a friend of the trash, that itself didn’t make his guest trash but it tilted the scale, not precisely in his favor. Walking down the hall he received doubtful stares wondering if the red head was used to them.
‘Probably he has it worse’ He thought, shaking his head.
He was guided to the countess study, being the cause of the count's absence he had to ask for the Count whereabouts, Cale emphasized he needed to sound natural and Choi Han was sweating bullets repeatings what has told all the time until he got to his destination, inside Cale and the countess were waiting, the red head greeted him with a nostalgic expression even when they had been talking few hours prior Choi Han put on an awkward grin that matched his stiffness, the countess however attributed it to him being nervous to enter the estate manor once the introduction was over it was Choi Han’s turn.
Cale held a sight his friend could fight but definitely he couldn't act.