Title: son of Cain
Disclaimer: not my characters
Warnings: spoilers for Joshua; future!fic for Devour
Point of view: third
“I don’t know what happened,” Brad admits at his first meeting with his court-appointed shrink. “It all just… spiraled out of control, out of nowhere. Lily, Abby—” His voice breaks when he finishes with, “Mom.”
Back at the beginning, when he’d been charged with child abuse and blamed for Abby’s breakdown, he’d considered rolling over and pleading guilty. Just taking everything and waiting it out, to start over when his sentence finished. But then he thought of Ned, completely unaware and unprepared, and poor Lily, helpless in the presence of a monster.
There was only Joshua’s testimony and that incident in the park to back up his claim. His genius explained the drawings and expert manipulations, and so Brad was released; however, he couldn’t be alone with his children and he had to see a shrink.
“Josh was always such a quiet kid,” Brad says now, glancing down at his hands. “Sharp and quick, you know? Smarter than me, I think.” He clasps his fingers and twists, relishing the pain. “I don’t know where I went wrong with him. What I messed up so horribly.” He looks at the shrink—Dr. Grey, if he recalls correctly, young and earnest, dark blond hair and huge hazel eyes. “I never abused him, Doc,” he says, infusing every ounce of betrayal and hurt he feels towards Joshua into the words. “Not until that day in the park. He just kept pushing, kept—”
He’d been framed by an expert, he knows now. Maybe if Josh had a little more real-world experience, he’d have gotten away with it.
Dr. Grey jots down a note and then nods. “I think that’s enough for today, Mr. Cairn,” he says. “Your son—some people are just born wrong. Can’t be helped, can’t be predicted.” He raises his head to meet Brad’s eyes. “Go on home, take a long bath. Rest under the water until you forget everything: your wife, your parents, your brother-in-law and your daughter. Until you forget Joshua.”
Brad wants to demand an explanation, but his body is rising without his consent, walking to the door.
“Mr. Cairn,” Dr. Grey calls before he steps out. “You are a good man. After, I’ll let your family know.”
Brad is screaming inside as his body catches a cab home, as he undresses, as he turns on the water and sinks down to rest on the bottom of the tub. Brad screams inside his mind as the water covers him, as he lowers his head beneath the surface, as he runs out of air.
He keeps screaming until he can’t anymore.
When Joshua gets out of school on the Monday after his father commits suicide, Uncle Ned isn’t there. He glances around and then starts walking in the direction of Uncle Ned’s house.
He’s happy, he thinks. That must be what he’s feeling, here with just Uncle Ned and Lily. Uncle Ned worships him and Lily doesn’t cry anymore. Mommy and Daddy are gone, and Grandma. No one pesters him or tries to manipulate him.
Part of Joshua(a small part, and growing smaller all the time) wonders if he should feel guilt or remorse or regret for what he did. Framing Daddy, pushing Mommy into a breakdown, helping Grandma on her way to Heaven—all the books he’s read say he should. Should confess, get help. Daddy even told him he was sick, but not sick in his body. Sick in his head, in his soul.
“Hey, kiddo,” a voice calls. “Joshua.”
He turns. A man stands there, in jeans and a green shirt, dark blond hair and hazel eyes. “Who are you?” he asks. Uncle Ned and Daddy both gave him the talk about strangers.
“I’m Jake Grey,” the man says, smiling. “We need to talk.”
Joshua looks up at him, head cocked to the side, calculating all of the possibilities. “Okay,” he replies, and walks side by side with Jake into the park. Jake ruffles his hair.
Joshua takes his hand.