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through the tinted glass: original ch 13

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The orphanage turned out to be a subpar one. Not the worst orphanage in town, but no place for children. The child care seemed mediocre at best, and Yuri tried hard not to think about how he just as easily could have ended up in a place like this when he was younger. But he hadn’t and it was all thanks to his sister.

 

“What a horrible place,” Julian muttered.

 

Yuri nodded grimly. “Let’s get in and get out. I don’t want to be here any longer than necessary.” 

 

“E-excuse me, may I help you?” an employee asked. She looked nervous at the sight of two Secret Police officers in an orphanage.

 

Yuri gave her a friendly smile. “Yes. Where is the director of this orphanage? We have questions for them pertaining to an investigation.”

 

“I’ll take you to him right away,” she offered, leading them up to the director’s office. She knocked on the door. “Director? You have two visitors,” she spoke through the door.

 

Yuri heard a gruff voice reply. “You can’t handle it yourself?”

 

“Th-they’re Secret Police, Director. They said they have questions for you.”

 

The door swung open, revealing an old, balding man with glasses. His face looked pale. Does he know what this is about? But from his point of view, it’s just an adoption, right? No, Yuri was probably overthinking it. He was just nervous, just like this woman, because the Secret Police wanted to talk to him. It was a normal reaction.

 

Yuri and Julian let themselves in and shut the door. The director took a seat in his chair, and Yuri sat across from him. 

 

“Ya need a chair?” the director offered Julian.

 

“No, it’s quite alright,” Julian assured, leaning against the door. He met Yuri’s eye with a small nod. It was an intimidation tactic common among the SSS—the sight of someone pacing around and watching you like a hawk was a nerve wracking one.

 

“Thank you for making space for us in your busy schedule, Director,” Yuri said amiably, though he was clearly not busy. The office was a mess, papers scattered everywhere and even a few beer bottles littered here and there. It stank of cigarettes. What a pig.

 

He let out a noncommittal grunt. “S’no problem. What do you need?”

 

Yuri folded his hands in front of him and smiled pleasantly. It made him feel like a mastermind when he did that. “We’d like access to your records of a child named Anya Levski for an ongoing investigation.”

 

The director turned pale. Hm?

 

“Oh? Do you recognize the name?” Julian asked, intrigued.

 

He laughed nervously. “Rings a bell. That one was a real troublemaker.”

 

“Hmm. Well, the records?” Yuri prompted.

 

“I…” the director stammered.

 

“What’s wrong?” Something’s definitely up, Yuri thought.

 

“I lost those records,” he said, eyes roving anywhere but Yuri.

 

Fine. Yuri let the friendly cop persona bleed away, replaced by the stone cold SSS officer that lay beneath. “Do you take us for fools?” he asked calmly. “I know a liar when I see one. Now, I will say it one more time. Hand over your records on Anya Levski.”

 

“Okay, okay!” He slumped in his chair. “I… please don’t tell anyone I told you this.”

 

“What do you mean?” Julian inquired. 

 

“I was paid to get rid of my records on Anya Levski,” the director said in defeat. “And I did all I could, but I must have missed something somewhere if you’re here…”

 

“Who paid you to do it?” Yuri asked sharply. Lottie, probably.

 

“I dunno. A mysterious guy who wouldn’t show his face. He dumped a wad of money on my desk, more than I make in a year of work, and told me to erase Anya Levski’s existence.”

 

“So do you still have anything on her or not?” Julian asked.

 

“No. Burned everything I had.”

 

Julian hummed in displeasure, clearly mentally noting down the offense.

 

“We’ll have to conduct our own investigation to confirm that,” Yuri said. “But for now, can you recollect her appearance for us?”

 

“She had pink hair, I remember. And big green eyes.”

 

“Like this?” Yuri took out a photo of Chihuahua Girl.

 

The director nodded. “That’s her.”

 

Yuri and Julian exchanged a glance. Not to jump to conclusions until we perform a complete investigation here… but it seems quite likely that Chihuahua Girl is indeed adopted. And Lottie is trying to cover it up for some reason. Looks like I caught you in the act, Lottie. It’ll be over for you soon.

 

Yuri smirked. He was excited for where this was going.

 

“Thank you for your time, Director,” Yuri said, standing up. “We’ll send some officers over later to confirm everything you told us today.”

 

“Wait! You won’t tell anyone?” he asked desperately.

 

Yuri narrowed his eyes. “We will make no such promises.” He looked at Julian, who nodded. “But if you cooperate, we will do everything we can to keep your involvement anonymous.”

 

“You agree it was the father who paid the guy off, right?” Julian asked as they left the orphanage.

 

“Yeah. Lottie—er, Loid—tells everyone that his daughter is his blood. Since that’s an obvious lie and he knows it, it’s probable that it was him.” Yuri couldn’t help a subconscious grin.

 

Julian peered at him with a frown. “Why are you so thrilled to find dirt on your brother-in-law?”

 

“Make no mistake, I have no love for that snake,” Yuri hissed. Lottie was no brother-in-law of his! “He stole my sister from me and destroyed our family, and for that, I will never forgive him. This is only justice.” 

 

Julian looked worried. “But… this could tear your family apart, couldn’t it?”

 

“My only family is my sister, no one else.” Yuri glared at the ground, kicking a stray pebble. “Frankly, there’s nothing more exciting to me than the thought of getting her away from those criminals.” He grinned. And why wait when he could do it now? Tonight, he thought. Tonight, I put an end to this charade.

 


 

Anya woke up to the sound of shouting and yelling. Were Mama and Papa fighting or something? Oh no, did Mama find out Papa is a spy? she thought frantically.

 

She walked into the living room. “Mama? Papa? What’re you fighting about?” Anya stopped. “Unkie Yuri?” Why’s he here so soon after last time? What happened? 

 

Oh, good, the star of the show is here, Anya heard from her uncle.

 

“Well, Lottie?” Unkie Yuri turned to Papa, who was standing still, eyes wide and hands limp at his sides. Next to him, Mama’s brows were pinched and she looked a mix of confused, shocked, and worried.

 

Mama stepped forward. “Yuri—”

 

“No,” Unkie said. He grabbed Papa by the shirt collar and yanked him forward. Papa made no move to stop him. “Explain to me, Lottie,” he snarled. “Explain why you’ve told everyone, including my sister, the mother of your daughter, that Chihuahua Girl here is your daughter by blood, when my friends in city hall tell me she’s adopted.

 

“Wh-what?” Anya stepped back. How does he know, he must have investigated Anya, how could Anya be so stupid and think he would leave it alone—

 

Papa looked down. Anya couldn’t read his thoughts. They were moving faster than she ever heard before, so fast she couldn’t single out a word. Anya felt her head start to pound at the chaotic thoughts of everyone in the room.

 

“She’s…” Papa started.

 

“Yuri, that’s enough!” Has Loid been lying to me all this time? But why? No, either way, this is no way for the truth to come out! Mama thought.

 

Unkie Yuri released Papa’s collar and looked at Anya. “Okay, Chihuahua Girl. If your papa won’t talk, how about you tell me why he’s such a liar?”

 

Anya couldn’t think of a reply. There were too many thoughts in the room. Unkie Yuri’s sounded so mean and spiteful. It was hard to focus on what he was thinking—what anyone was thinking. But she was pretty sure if Unkie knew she was adopted, this was the beginning of everything crashing down. The house of cards will collapse on itself if even one card is slightly out of place. That was a phrase she heard from Papa’s mind before. Anya realized that was probably what was happening right now.

 

Anya squeezed her eyes shut. Mission compromised mission mission how to salvage got you now Lottie Sis Sis Loid what is happening Sis will divorce Anya Chihuahua Girl Anya Anya adopted spy mission Strix it’s over Lottie world peace how did he know Loid and Anya Anya crying secrets Anya Anya Anya Anya Anya Anya

 

Th-this was all her fault. She shouldn’t have tried to jump in on that mission. Shouldn’t have called Unkie Yuri. Even if Mama and Papa found out each other’s identities that night, it couldn’t be worse than this. Now, her uncle, a Secret Police officer, Papa’s worst enemy, was digging up their secrets. It wouldn’t be long until they knew Papa was a spy, if they didn’t already. And they were doing it in front of Mama, too. Mama might leave if she didn’t like the truth. Or even worse, Mama might be in danger too.

 

Strix need to come up with a lie Secret Police onto me could still run come up with a cover story how dare Yuri come in and do this to my family no I don’t feel bad for Lottie or Chihuahua Girl Anya is crying Anya is crying I hate seeing children cry how dare he make my daughter cry need to protect may be my brother but this is too far Yuri

 

All Anya’s fault… Her head throbbed. Will Anya be abandoned again because of this? Her heart lurched at the thought. No no anything but that please please anything but that don't leave me don't wanna go back to those scientists please please please let me stay

 

She's crying she's crying i s Anya okay  Yuri how could you my own brother m aybe I was too cruel no I can't feel bad now

 

Forget that Twilight Anya is the priority

 

Warm arms wrapped around Anya. She buried her face in the soft fabric of Papa’s sweater. “Anya,” he said softly. “Breathe for me, starlight?”

 

“Papa…” Anya felt a damp spot on his sweater where her face was. “M’sorry. Anya’s crying all over your clothes.”

 

“That’s the least of my concerns, starlight,” Papa said gently, stroking her hair. He carried her over to the sofa and sat down with her in his lap. “Do you feel my heartbeat?”

 

Anya pressed her cheek to Papa’s chest. His heartbeat was a little fast because he was stressed, but it was stable and strong, just like him. She nodded.

 

“Take some deep breaths with me,” Papa said, rubbing her back. He took a deep breath in, and Anya did her best to follow along. Then he held it for a few seconds and breathed out, repeating it as Anya did it with him. She felt her heart slow down. Unkie Yuri and Mama’s thoughts and talking faded away as she focused on Papa.

 

My little starlight you’ll be okay I won’t let anyone hurt you

 

Papa’s thoughts were clearer now. More focused. He was only thinking about her, and she felt warm in her chest as she heard what he was thinking. Smiling, Anya closed her eyes and leaned into Papa’s embrace, still listening to his heart. His arms wrapped her in a comfy hug. He was always so warm and safe.

 

Papa pressed a kiss into her hair. 

 

love you

 

“Do you feel a little better?” Yuri is still here and I need to come up with an explanation for him and Yor.

 

“Yeah,” Anya mumbled, nuzzling into his hug. “But Anya doesn’t want Papa to let go.”

 

His arms tightened around her. “Of course, starlight.” Papa stood up with her cradled against his chest, holding her comfortingly as he walked over to where Unkie Yuri and Mama still stood. Mama looked at them longingly. They look so happy together… Not the time, Yor! she thought.

 

“You’re right, I owe you an explanation.” Papa looked so tired. Anya knew from reading his mind that part of it was an act, but that was also how she knew some of it was real.

 

“My old wife… Emilia… and I. We wanted to have children, just as any loving couple would.” He kept stroking Anya’s hair idly. “But we tried and tried and nothing happened. We paid a visit to the doctor and found out Emilia couldn’t have children.” Papa looked so sad, Anya would have believed him if she couldn’t read his mind. Papa is a huge liar… but he lies to protect Anya.  

 

“But we were determined to have children. We went to the orphanage to adopt a child. We saw Anya, and we knew from one look at her that she would complete us.” Papa smiled lovingly at her. It wasn’t fake.

 

Oh, Loid… Mama thought.

 

“And you paid off the orphanage to erase her records? Why?” Unkie asked suspishushly. Anya could feel waves of guilt rolling off him. He felt bad for making her cry, and all that anger before was gone, but he still needed answers for the sake of his investigation.

 

One of the orphanages slipped up on the job, then. Should have been more thorough and made sure they followed through. You’ve gone sloppy, Twilight. Papa sighed and looked at the ground guiltily. “Well… you know how gender norms are. Emilia and I knew that people would certainly look down on her for being unable to bear children. Not to mention how they might look at Anya if they knew she was adopted. Since Anya looked the part anyway, I decided to make it ‘official.’ I know, that’s technically a crime, but I didn’t want Emilia or Anya to be treated any differently than everyone else.” Then, Papa’s face grew serious. He looked the most threatening Anya had ever seen him. “But, Yuri. If you think any less of Anya for being adopted, then you couldn’t be any more wrong.” He hugged her protectively and glared at Unkie Yuri. “Anya is my daughter through and through. She’s as much my child as any biological one, and she belongs in the Forger family as much as me, Yor, or—or Emilia.”

 

“Papa…” Anya smiled. He really means it, too.

 

“Lottie.” Unkie Yuri sighed. “I guess I can’t fight that.” He crossed his arms, avoiding eye contact. “Ugh… damn it. I guess… I’m sorry, Lottie. That—that was terrible of me to storm in and just… start pointing fingers. And Chihuahua Girl…” 

 

Anya lifted her face from Papa’s shoulder and blinked at him. “I’m sorry for making you cry. That was utterly despicable of me.”

 

“What does dispikable mean?” Anya asked.

 

“Huh?” 

 

Anya grinned, relaxing now that Unkie and Mama believed Papa’s lie. The mission was saved for now. “You’re not off the hook yet, Unkie Yuri. But… it’s okay for now. As long as you promise to buy Anya lots of peanuts.”

 

He snorted. “Okay. I promise.” Then he looked at Mama, who was kind of standing there awkwardly the whole time, thinking to herself. “I… sorry to bail after ruining your evening, but… you probably have a lot to discuss with each other.” 

 

Mama nodded. “Bye, Yuri.” She walked him to the door. Before he left, she gave him a scary look. Anya didn’t want Mama to give her that look ever. “I’ll be expecting those peanuts for Anya.” 

 

“Sis!” he squeaked. “Of course! All the bags she could ever want!”

 

Mama shut the door and looked at Papa and Anya with a sigh. 

 

“Yor, I’m sorry,” Papa apologized immediately.

 

Mama waved him off with a tired smile. “We can discuss this in a bit. For now, I’ll make some hot chocolate for us and we can watch some TV, okay?”

 

“Mama! You’re so nice!” Anya exclaimed.

 

Yor is so understanding, Papa thought happily. Then he frowned. “Hey, what’s with that smug face, Anya?”

 

Anya giggled. He shook his head fondly and kissed her hair. 

 

Little starlight, you’re safe now.

 

And she was.