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Don't Take Him Away (jp: Cuylar, Darrica [NPC]) 5/6


Aaron
 

Darrica smiled weakly, a little unnerved by this declaration of complete love for her son. “Have you had much experience with babies?” she asked tentatively, well-aware that they did not just cooperatively look adorable for a great deal of the day.
 
"That friend I told you about, Cremsden – he's got an infant son less than a Turn old. I won't say I've had the full fatherly experience, but I've changed dirty nappies and soothed screaming and the like," said Cuylar. He noted the tentative nature of the smile and was somewhat disheartened. He had been so sure this was the right thing to do. But Darrica seemed less convinced. He supposed she had far less of a reason to be. To Cuylar, this was a no-brainer. The boy was his family, whether he was truly his son or not.
 
And he was protecting his parents, too. Both of them. But mostly his father. For all his faults, Cuylar loved his father.
 
"You're worried. I can tell. And I would be a fool to expect anything else. This doesn't even have to be permanent. If you decide that you want to come back here, I will bring you back. I will take you anywhere you want to go. If… if you want to come to the weyr, and you want me to leave you and the boy alone after that. Then… OK. I'll accept it. You're in control here. I'll make that promise to you."
 
It was clear from his expression how much it would hurt if she did choose that.
 
"And I will always say yes if you change your mind again and decide you do want me to be his father."
 
“I don’t want to come back!” That came out quickly enough to be nothing but earnest. Darrica had more than had her fill of a place which had judged her the moment her belly started rounding. “Just--” She hesitated. “Just-- don’t steal him off me. I haven’t got anyone else.” And Cuylar seemed so very keen on parenting him that a possessive part she hadn’t known she had was suddenly rearing up.
 
Cuylar's eyebrows climbed at the outburst. Steal him? How could he ever–
 
But then again. Was that how his birth mother had felt? Did she really agree to the arrangement his parents had struck with her?
 
Cuylar wondered whether she might want to see him.
 
"I won't. You are his mother, and you always will be. I will never separate you, and I will do everything in my power to keep you together. If you decide you don't want to work somewhere that will keep you apart for some of the day. You could work in the creche. You could always be there with him," Cuylar suggested.
 
"And. Well. It's not true. That you don't have anyone else. You have me. If… you know, if you'll have me. I want us to be friends. Please?"
 
Darrica’s smile was hesitant. “You don’t even know me yet,” she pointed out. “You might not even like me when you get to know me.”
 
"Maybe not," Cuylar smiled back. "But that doesn't change anything. I mean. Like I said. You can always tell me to take a hike. I will never take back what I give you," he assured her.
 
"But for as long as you want me in Cuyric's life, I will be a good friend to you, too. Even if by some strange twist of circumstance I find some way not to like you." He grinned there. "I have to say, I'm happy that my son's mother cares so much about protecting him."
 
“It’s not that I don’t want help.” Darrica looked at her son as she spoke rather than Cuylar. “It’s just that-- everyone already seems to know what I should do better than me.” Only a few sevendays in and she had already encountered the parenting expertise of everyone who had ever so much as looked at a child once. “And I know that-- that I have a lot to learn, and I’m not a Healer or anything, and-- and I was a bit stupid to get myself pregnant but-- but--” How to explain the feeling that everyone you ever met wanted to give you advice, usually contradicting the last lot of advice, and then complain if you failed to follow it. “I know I’m probably doing it all wrong but if people keep telling you what to do all the time it’s really hard to work out how to do it right.”
 
Cuylar listened and nodded along as Darrica spoke.
 
"We can learn together," he offered. "How to do it right. Or if you decide you don't want me butting in, there's… there's so many people at the Weyr who can and will help you. And I won't withdraw my support for you, even if you decide I don't get to be his father. I want you to feel like you have the support you need to make the best decision for you and for him."
 
“You sound a lot like your mother,” Darrica admitted, glancing up at him. “She says stuff like that. A lot.”
 
Cuylar smiled from ear to ear, and his eyes misted.
 
"That might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me."
 
“She kept standing up for me,” Darrica talked quietly, her voice soft enough that it took effort to listen to. “People kept -- a lot of people kept telling me the kindest thing would be to get him fostered somewhere.” Which maybe explained a little of the possessiveness.
 
"That boy needs you," said Cuylar. "And I want him to have everything he needs. He'll have no foster. He'll have you. And you'll have all the help you need. I…" Cuylar had a habit of becoming intense like that when he truly believed in something. Like protecting Candidates from abusive teachers. Or protecting single mothers from abusive neighbors.
 
"I won't let you fall through the cracks. Not… not like… I'll make up for what my father did to you. I swear it."