Why would Kenny The Ripper know anything about childcare? Furthermore, why would anyone trust Kenny The Ripper with their child? He had no idea, but that was what was happening.
"Are you kidding me?"
"I wish I was." Uri looked up calmly from the stack of papers on his desk. "Rod has a conference in the capital and we need to take care of Frieda. The other children are staying with their mother, but they haven't got a spare room for her. She's going to stay with us."
“That’s such a bullshit excuse! Can’t they double up?”
“You’re asking Rod’s children to do something generous, what do you think? And Frieda seems weirdly in love with you.”
It was true. She’d hang off his arm whenever they saw each other, begging to hear stories about the Underground. She seemed under the impression he’d been pulling off heists or non violent crimes, which was for the best, in both Kenny and Rod’s eyes.
“All we have to do is read her a story and make sure she sleeps well.” How he could remain so serene was utterly beyond Kenny.
“I know it’s not ideal, but it’s one night and she is my niece. She’ll be sleeping in my room and I’ll take the couch.” Uri said this as though the King of the Walls sleeping on the couch was a regular thing. It was, he slept everywhere, like a cat, but that wasn’t the point.
“You’ll take the couch over my dead body. I’ll sleep there.”
“You have to be on the upper level in case something happens to Frieda.”
Kenny exhaled through his teeth. How come, he could seduce anyone, anyone, but this tiny little saint? How come the idea of sharing a room, let alone a bed, with him made him blush slightly? Kenny The Ripper did not blush. Nor did he take care of children, but he was doing both now.
“She’ll be arriving at seven.” Uri said, like it settled the matter.
The bell rang at exactly seven, scaring the both of them out of their skins. Kenny already had a knife halfway out of his pocket and Uri was already frantically waving at him to “FOR WALLS SAKE, PUT THE KNIFE AWAY!” when the door swung open to reveal Freida, who looked delighted to see her new dads, and Rod, who looked like he was reconsidering every life decision that had led him to this point. Kenny smiled. Rod’s lip curled. “She eaten dinner, just take care of her. I’ll be back in the morning.” And with that, he left his unperturbed daughter with a titan and a former serial killer.
“Hi Frieda! Would you like to see you room?” Uri took her hand and led her upstairs, hissing at Kenny to “hide your weapons NOW.” Kenny did a last sweep of the house, even emptying the cutlery draw. By the time Uri and Frieda were clattering down the stairs, every sharp object was under the couch, behind the bookshelf or in some forgotten cupboard somewhere.
“Ok, storytime! Kenny, can I talk to you?” Uri announced somewhat shrilly. He led Frieda towards the sofa and she snuggled in a corner while Kenny was forcibly marched from the room. “For what reason was there a sword under my mattress?”
“... To defend yourself with?”
“Frieda was so excited, running about the room, threw herself on the bed and a sword fell out. What fresh hell would we be in right now if she was impaled? Nevermind, I don’t want to know.”
“To be fair, it was a dagger and it wasn’t all that sharp. I’m really sorry, I must have missed it in the search.” Kenny The Ripper didn’t apologise. Except to Uri Reiss.
“Just make it up to her and read her a story.”
They’d selected a book on the ocean and its creatures because, as Uri put it, “Whatever! She’ll just eat me and know one day anyway!”
They made their way back into the sitting room where Frieda was waiting, book in her hands. Uri sat down and began to read. Kenny was slightly aware of his head nodding as a loud thump hit the door like a rock had been thrown at it. Uri went pale. He got up and opened the door to reveal a dirty, scrawny cat, pieces missing from his ear. “Ripper!” Uri scolded. “You stay out until morning, remember!” Now, Kenny The Ripper did not have a soft spot for animals. No way. Vermin, they were. But Ripper had followed him like an assassin all the way from the underground to the Reiss land and Uri’s little cottage on the outskirts of the palace grounds. He had to admire the cat’s enthusiasm. Eventually, Uri had relented and let Ripper stay for a while, on the condition that he got lost whenever they had company. In response to Uri, Ripper spat a dead mouse onto the carpet. “Aww!” Frieda didn’t seem to mind. “Look! He thinks we’re hungry!”
“Thanks Ripper, we’re not anymore.” Uri picked the dead leaves from the moggy’s coat. “Kenny can you help me - FRIEDA, DON’T TOUCH THAT!”
A few well-scrubbed minutes later, everyone was beyond ready for bed. Frieda was sent upstairs to get changed and the two men collapsed on the sofa, Ripper happily sandwiched between them like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. “You sir,” Uri said, elbowing Ripper.”You are in such deep trouble. Rod is going to make you into a very mangey rug.”
“I’m ready!” Frieda called.
“Okay, we’ll be up in a minute!” Uri responded.
Kenny got up. Knowing what was coming, Ripper made a break for the stairs before being throw unceremoniously out the door. Uri held out his arms and Kenny pulled him upright. For a split second, they were nose to nose, blue eyes meeting grey.
“Can Ripper have a sleepover?” Frieda shouted.
Uri broke the silence to reply “Absolutely not!”
The moment was gone.
They both began the long trek upstairs.
Uri was already in bed by the time Kenny arrived. He looked so peaceful in the pale moonlight. He looked… beautiful. Kenny The Ripper didn’t have beautiful things. Except Uri Reiss.