Pairing/Characters: Carnival+Hasp [claim → main party]
Spoilers/Warnings: AU. Discussion around, and the aftereffects of, child abuse. (Wait... no profanity?! But Carnival's in it!) Spoilers.
Summary: it's not always easy to overcome.
Hasp rested the heavy side of his jaw on his fist and watched his niece doing the dishes.
She’d been getting into trouble more often lately—her mood swings and penchant for violence again—and he’d had to remind the school board, again, that what she’d been through in her childhood didn’t make for the most civilized student. It might not excuse her savagery, but it at least explained it.
At least the excuse for today’s fight wasn’t anywhere as bad as the last ones—someone had been bothering her friends. It was better for Rebecca to attack people for the sake of others than because she just wanted to see blood—if she was going to attack people at all, anyway.
But at least for now, she was doing the dishes like a good girl. Hasp had long since accepted he’d never civilize her; to civilize Rebecca would involve turning back time and taking her away from her father at birth. She had it too stubbornly ingrained into her that she was an angry freak of nature now (it still bothered him so much that she never answered to anything but “Carnival”)—and yet civilized or not, she was still a good girl.
He didn’t get along with most of his family at the best of times, but Ulcis—he had to wonder where his brother had hidden the evil he’d always pushed onto his daughter.
Hasp stood up, and pushed his chair in. Shrugging his shoulders and wings, he stepped forward and reached out.
Her sudden shriek was unintelligible, if there had even been words in it to begin with. Swiping his hand away, she jerked violently back, flattening herself against the drawers in the counter. The plate she’d been holding spun hard onto the ground, shattering with a colossal crash, and then the only sounds were the rush of the water from the faucet and Rebecca’s harsh breathing.
She didn’t shy away or try to run—she just stared at him, frozen, her eyes white with terror.
Hasp let his hand rest at his side and backed up a step; stray pieces of the plate crunched under his shoe. He didn’t take his eyes off Rebecca—he just watched her carefully, concerned but knowing by now it was best not to approach her when she was like this.
Gradually, her eyes regained some color and her heaving chest started to settle. Very deliberately, she ran her hands through her hair, then shook her head slightly and resettled her wings. She glanced at Hasp, then away.
Hasp stepped around the smashed plate and turned the faucet off with a squeak. When he turned around again, his niece was crouched down, sweeping up the jagged chips of ceramic with trembling fingers.
“Stop that, you’ll cut yourself,” he said sternly, letting a little irritation creep into his voice. “We can get the dustpan out to clean it up instead.”
Rebecca lifted her chin to smile at him wryly, her eyes back to their usual shade of soft charcoal. “Wouldn’t want to mess up my pretty hands,” she said simply, raising them and turning them over to display the webbed white scars over the backs and the palms.
Hasp crouched, too, and didn’t take her hands in his so much as he brushed his fingertips over them. “Exactly. I don’t want my favorite niece to lose her pretty fingers or break her pretty nails over a plate.” He said the words plainly and honestly, offering them so that there was no way she could misconstrue them as sarcastic. Tone mattered with Rebecca as much as anything else.
“I’m your only niece.” The joke creaked, and her smile twisted.
Because she wasn’t all right yet—but was pretending to be so very well—Hasp patted her head, then softly ruffled her black hair for good measure. “You go sit down and breathe, Becky. I’ll take care of the plate. It’s just a plate—and it’s my fault for startling you.”
Her wings bristled and her brow furrowed, making the scars on her face contort. Hasp patted Rebecca’s head again and stood up, ignoring the crunches under his feet as he went to find something to clean the floor with.
He heard a soft sound and looked over his shoulder to see Rebecca standing, clutching at her chest with her right hand, her eyes covered with her left wrist, biting her lip for all she was worth.