You bestow the sword upon him at a young age. He seems eager and accepting; ready for the duties and responsibilities such an honour would require of him, but you're not.
You'd like to post-pone his training another year; allow the kid time to grow up and have fun and enjoy life for a while rather than beat this over-rated sense of maturity into him. It's not fair for either one of you, but it has to happen at some point. Can't send the kid off to be a hero without proper training.
He's a little confused as to why you brought him to the roof, but he'll understand soon enough. You drop down to your knee to meet him eye to eye. Your identical pair of shades blocks any direct eye contact, though you can still feel his gaze scanning your face. The swords you brought lay by your side and you turn away to pick one up and test its weight in hand. He gives you a quizzical look as you finger the sheathed blade, and you wonder for the briefest of moments how the kid who can't even hold his pencil right will be able to wield the blade as expertly as you.
It won't be easy. It'll be long and hard and nothing but an uphill struggle trying to teach him even the most basic of sword fighting forms, and he'll hate you for it in the end. You close your eyes.
You don't want to do this. You can't pass this burden on to him.
But you must.
Looking up, you gaze firmly into his eyes once again as he tilts his head, showing his confusion and apprehension. You'll have to force him out of that habit; he can't be allowed to show emotion anymore. It betrays too much. Makes you weak. A liability.
God, you don't know if you can do that. All of his old warm habits that you've come to love and appreciate will be abolished to make way for something colder and angrier. He won't be able to smile at you or run forward to give you hugs when you come home from a long night of work. Instead he'll learn to give you the coldest of shoulders and barely acknowledge your presence upon arrival. He won't be able to laugh at your jokes or clap giddily when you make him his favourite meal, instead learning to complain about all that you do; refusing full conversations with short, curt words.
The hearts he wears on his shirts will lose meaning. His love and adoration for you will be replaced with hostility and animosity. His childhood will be over.
He will hate you.
A bitter emotion wells up in your chest and lodges itself in your throat, bobbing along with your Adams apple as you try to swallow it back. The thought of losing forcing Dave to grow up is almost too much, but it's your duty as his guardian to make sure he is prepared.
"C'mere kid." You say, and he obeys, stepping forward into your outstretched arms.
You hold him tightly against you, clutching his head to your chest so he can feel how hard your heart is thumping in your chest. You love this kid so much, and it's not fair what fate has in store for him. He's only a kid and he has to do so much for everyone he loves, but not for you.
Where your story ends, his will begin.
All you can do is make sure he lasts long enough to see it through.
Exhaling with a sigh, you trail your fingers through his hair one last time, muttering how much you love him into his scalp. He's confused but likes the attention and remains still and calm, face planted against your chest with such blatant adulation that it burns when you pry him off.
A shaky breath wracks your form as you finally come to stand and present him the sword. His arms are outstretched with palms to the sky as you gently lay it in his hands. His feeble arms almost collapse with the weight as he nearly drops the blade and you can feel your heart bob as low as he let that thing fall.
"It's so heavy." He comments dumbly, looking from the sword to you with obvious respect for having carried two blades to the roof.
You can't bring yourself to respond as you step away from him and assume the position, raising your own un-sheathed sword against him. The mixed look of both confusion and fear he gives you makes your chest seize tightly because you know he doesn't understand. How could he possibly understand that what you're doing is for his own good? You struggle to contain a sigh, and your voice catches when you speak.
"Time to grow up, little man." You say, and his eyebrows arch high over his copycat shades. "Time to wake up."
You replace the twisted look of mournful remorse that passes onto your face for one more appropriate of the situation and affix your mouth into a grim, straight line.
"I said it's time to grow up, little man. Get ready, c'mon, make the big man proud."
He flounders, scrambling to unsheathe the sword at your command and cuts himself in the process. He immediately drops the sword and thrusts his bleeding hand into his mouth, light tears of pain trickling out from underneath his shades as he whimpers. He's too young; he's not ready for this. He looks so goddamn helpless.
"Pick it up!" you bark harshly.
He looks dismayed and upset and he might be crying from more than just the cut now. You hear him choke over a sob as his confusion and fear reach a critical peak.
"Don't yell at me, Bro." He says, and his voice is so pathetically small.
It seizes your heart in a vice-like grip and makes you feel so terribly awful to be doing this to him. You love him, but he has to be strong. You won't be able to rest easy until you know he can carry on without you.
"Then pick it up."
Your voice is stern but gentler than before, easing some of the pressure from his too-small shoulders. He sniffles openly and his whole body shakes as he bends to pick up the unhanded weapon.
He looks so awkward with it as he struggles to keep it upright in his weak arms and bleeding hand. His young body doesn't have the muscles yet to wield such a thing, but it'll get there with enough time and dedication.
You stare at him and he stares at you as you raise your blade again, charging at him.
His face fills with fear as you go to attack him and he flinches, taking several steps back to hide from your menacing onslaught. He cowers behind his outstretched arms as his sword once again clatters to the ground and fuck you cannot do this to a child. You stop and lower your blade, heart torn in two directions.
"Pick it up Dave." You say, your desperation with the situation creeping through into your tone of voice.
You can't help the slight shake that takes your body that accompanies the demand. He fervently shakes his head at your request, splaying freshly brewed tears every which way.
"No!" he shouts, and your reserve to do what you have to do dwindles away with each step he takes away from you. "Why're you trying to beat me up, Bro? Stop! Please..."
You can't do this. You know it has to be done sometime, but not today. Dave is young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
The sword you're carrying falls to the ground forgotten as you scoop his crying form up into your arms. He wails against your chest, fisting his cut, bloody hand into your clean white shirt as you whisper soothing shooshes into his ear. You pap his head lovingly and manage to pry his hand away from your shirt long enough to inspect the cut, and you're thankful in that it's not deep enough to require stitches.
You press a kiss to the wound and ruffle his hair before you carry him back down to your shared apartment to dress it. He sits sniffling on the counter as you clean the cut and wrap secure bandages around it. You go in to kiss it one last time, but he shrinks his hand away from you.
It hurts briefly, but you know this is only the beginning. He will grow colder towards you as he gets older; the first step has been taken, and it is only a matter of time now. His trust in you has been tarnished.
You hide your frown and smile weakly, standing up to lean forward to press a kiss to the top of his head instead.
"If there's one thing I want you to remember 5 or 10 years from now, Dave, when you're the Big Man in charge and you're thinking back on things like this," you murmur, lips pressing into his fair blonde hair, "it's that I want you to know that I hurt you because I love you, even if I start to deny it somewhere down the road. You're my sunshine, kid, and I'm not gonna let anyone take that away."