Two practice pieces about a couple who lost their son, one from each pov. (Yes, this is set in the Doom universe <3)
I think it's very sad, but I'm also super emotionally invested in it xD Their chronological, and one of them's a lot longer than the other, bc,, context. Kinda TW for vague suicidal implications.
Ranir had felt hollow for days now, mechanically going through life, caring for herself, for her husband, for their home. Accepting words of comfort and sympathy from their friends and family, smiling blankly and nodding, all while the dull ringing in her ears drowned out what they were trying to say.
She had lost her son. Her baby, just as he was about to graduate into a fully-fledged Sentinel. He would have worked with his father, would have stayed close to his family in a way neither Ranir nor Valen ever had the opportunity to. He was going to be with them for the rest of their lives.
It had been a terrible death. His heart torn out as demons raided his camp, killing him and his team. He never would have had a chance to fight back, pinned down and brutally shredded alive, the screams of his brothers ringing in his ears along with his own. The reporting Sentinels had tried to withhold these details from the heartbroken couple, but Valen had overheard them talking to the king, and when he came home, he was pale as a sheet and shaking, holding his emotions in check just long enough to close the door. Ranir had held him as he’d choked out the story. The news had broken them both, and now, they felt they could get no lower.
It had been three days since then. Ranir hardly spoke, lost in her own haze, but through the fog that clouded her mind, she worried about Valen. He was listless, his eyes blank and glazed with shock, moving sluggishly and apathetically through life. Ranir had asked the king to let him stay home, and he’d granted it, sharing in their sorrow.
Ranir had been up for a few hours already, but Valen was still in their room, though Ranir doubted he was still asleep. Sleep was a rare luxury for them now. But as the day wore on and he failed to appear, Ranir began to grow more conerned, finally walking down the hall and gently pushing the door open.
“Valen?” she asked softly, her voice rusty with lack of use. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, head buried in his hands, on the ground before him, their son’s letter of acceptance into the Order. Ranir felt her heart crack. They’d been so proud. So excited. If only they’d known it would lead to this.
She crossed the space between them, sitting next to him and putting her arm over his shoulders. She rested her cheek on his arm, knowing there were no words to say. His hand found hers and gripped it tightly, his whole body trembling with suppressed grief. Ranir closed her eyes, her own anguish reaching a tipping point, tears spilling down her cheeks.
“It’s okay baby,” she whispered, wrapping Valen in a hug. “I’m here. You can cry.”
He turned towards her, engulfing her in his own hug, a sob catching in his throat. Ranir ran her hand up and down his back as he cried, letting out all the sorrow and misery he had been building up the last couple of days. She cried with him, burying her face in his neck, trying to block out everything except how it felt to be held in his arms, breathing in his fire and metal scent, the battlefield ingrained into his skin. It was so familiar, so warm, bringing back all the memories of their life together, before their son, during his childhood, the happiness they’d felt gone now in one sudden, crushing blow.
For what felt like hours, they didn’t move, holding as tightly as they could to each other, trying to find comfort in the embrace, a comfort that hovered just out of reach, no matter how long they stayed there. It was Valen who finally fell backwards onto the bed, bringing Ranir with him, as if he didn’t have the strength to hold himself up any longer. Ranir couldn’t blame him. She pulled him to her chest, resting her chin on the crown of his head, staring blankly at their wall as they lay together, giving up on the day. There really wasn’t any point in getting back up. What difference did it make if they were in their room, or out in the rest of the house? The pain wouldn’t fade either way.
Neither of them kept track of the time, the drawn curtains keeping the room dim. Instead they focused as much as they could on each other, trying to ignore everything else. Maybe trying to sleep, but Ranir doubted sleep would come. It hadn’t before, why should it now?
It was finally a knock on the door that roused them, a hesitant tap that already sounded apologetic. Neither of them moved for a moment, and then Valen rose, silently offering Ranir a hand up. They went together to the door, neither one willing to let the other go. They had to stay together, or everything would fall apart.
Valen opened the door, and the two of them tried to look as though they hadn’t spent the entire day in bed, but Ranir knew they looked like a mess. Valen had shadows under his haunted eyes, and his clothes were wrinkled and disheveled. She knew she looked no better.
Neither of them had expected king Novik to be at the door. They hastened to kneel, but he stopped them before they could, reaching out wordlessly, first hugging Ranir, then Valen. When he let go, Ranir found she was struggling to contain tears again, and Valen, who’d never been good at hiding his emotions around his closest friends, had looked away to compose himself.
“I came to see how you two are doing,” the king said, his voice kind and gentle. “You two shouldn’t be so isolated from your family. Everyone’s worried about you.”
Ranir dropped her gaze, muttering an apology. The king shook his head.
“Don’t apologize, sister,” he said quietly. “None of us can imagine the pain you are going through, but we have sons and daughters of our own. We would not have it for you two to be alone in this. Come back home. Let us take care of you for a while. You’ve done enough.”
Ranir looked at Valen, taking his hand. Maybe it would help if he had his brothers around. It certainly couldn’t hurt. He met her gaze, a silent agreement in his one golden eye. She gave his hand a squeeze, and turned back to the king.
“Thank-you,” she said, unable to raise her voice above a whisper. King Novik nodded, giving her a sad smile.
“Take your time getting ready. We have transport waiting, but we have no rush,” he said. He took Ranir’s hand and met her gaze squarely.
“We will not let any sister of ours suffer alone,” he promised. “A mother should never go through this. He should have grown, made you proud and served beside us. I will promise you, he will not be forgotten. He was too young. But he will be honored.”
Ranir dropped her gaze, simply nodding. She couldn’t make herself say anything for fear of breaking down, but she squeezed his hand, struggling to regain her composure as king Novik turned to Valen. He took Valen’s face and rested their foreheads together, Valen closing his eyes as a few tears escaped and ran down his cheeks.
“You of all men did not deserve this,” Novik said quietly. “But you will not go through it alone. Your brothers are here with you, and you know they would do anything for you. Have courage Valen. Don’t give up hope, for the Wraiths look down upon us even now. You who care for all those around you, let us return the favor. When you suffer, we suffer too. Your family is with you.”
With that Novik stepped back, and Ranir could have sworn she saw tears held back in his eyes. And then he looked away, gesturing down the street to the Nakoth machine set in the middle of the square.
“When you're ready, that will take you home,” he said. “We’ll be ready for you, everything has been arranged. Wraiths be with you, and your son.”
He began to walk back the way he’d come, using the machine to create a portal to Sentinel Prime, stepping through with one last backward glance. Ranir took Valen's arm, guiding him back inside, closing the door behind them. The two stood still in the entryway, Ranir letting her shoulders slump again, staring at their mess of a house. Valen wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to his chest and resting his chin on top of her head, letting her lean silently on him. Moving was an exhausting prospect neither of them wanted to face, but king Novik’s offer was too enticing to ignore.
But packing could wait. For now, they just stood, finally able to find that little bit of comfort they’d been seeking from each other. At least they were still together. Nothing could change that.
Moving helped. Getting out of the house where so many memories of their son lingered, stepping back into the lively atmosphere bustling around Sentinel Prime, Valen found it a little easier to shake off the dull panic that had gripped him ever since hearing the nature of his son’s death. It was a restlessness, a horror, a vivid imagination of Boa, demons overpowering him, clawing his chest, gouging out his eyes, tearing him limb from limb. Valen could almost hear the screams, raising in pitch, becoming more and more ragged and distorted, finally ending in a choked gurgle as the blood filled his lungs, pouring out his mouth and nose, the life fading from his eyes-
He jumped slightly, blinking and focusing on Ranir, who’d put a hand on his shoulder. She stared at him in concern, and he stared back, unable to focus on anything except the redness of her eyes, the deep shadows, her face completely void of joy. He realized he’d forgotten what her smile looked like.
He’d forgotten what his own smile felt like.
“Are you okay?” she asked, and he tore his gaze away.
“No,” he said.
She didn’t answer, just taking his hand, holding it comfortingly. Valen stared out the window of their room, watching Sentinels Prime go about it’s business on the streets below them. He should have been there. He could have saved his son, if only he’d been there. He would have protected him. No matter what. He imagined himself, ripping through the demons with his bare hands if he had to, pulling them away from his child, splitting their heads open as he raged through them. He would have fought them all off. Then he would have carried his son home, held him close, never let him leave the house alone again. He would have done all that and more, if he’d only known. If only he’d gone with them that night.
Boa would still be here.
It was too much. Everything hurt, every thought, every action. Living hurt.
“I can’t do this Ranir,” he whispered, not even sure what it was he couldn’t do. It was everything and nothing, all at once. Simply breathing felt overwhelming, the act of existing exhausting. “I was his father. I should have protected him. I failed.”
“No, you didn’t,” Ranir said quietly, squeezing his hand. “You were an amazing father. No one could have foreseen this. No you, not the king. Not the commander with them who lay down his life for them, just as you would, just as our son did. It was his duty. You know that.”
Valen looked away, but he knew she was right.
It didn’t make it hurt any less.