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WHAT'S A LIFETIME WARRANTY?

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“Are you ready for this, Thranduil?”

"As ready as I'll ever be. Do you know of a way to make it less painful?"

"No, I'm sorry, I don't. Did the PI confirm it, too?"

"Yes, just like your test, there's only one explanation as to who's his father. The guy is actually very resourceful, he employed so many others I am actually thinking of offering him a management position."

"I imagine the bill is humongous."

"Yeah, but you know how it is, there are a million guys out there who could have the resources, but don't know how to use them. Still, nobody in town ever saw her with another man, or heard she was interested in anyone else; her parents blamed me openly, and she never denied; and, of course, the date and your test - he is my son, 100%."

Elrond sighs, loudly.

"This is too fucked up, having a son should be a reason for joy, not…"

"Yeah, not this clusterfuck. Still, please send him here while I manage not to drown myself in alcohol; I seriously fear this, and you know I don't fear much."

"I will bring him there and wait, in case you need help."

"Once again, I am in your debt, for whatever that's worth."

"Actually, it could be worth a lot, but don't worry about that now; we'll be there in an hour, tops."

It's the longest hour in Thranduil's life, and the shortest, too, because he has no idea what the fuck he should say, and dreads Legolas' disappointment more than he dreads death right now. He actually has some coke available, among other things, and is sorely tempted to take a little, but fuck it, the boy deserves more. The alcohol is also a great temptation, but he hangs in there, pacing, snarling to himself, compulsively passing a hand through his hair, pulling at his clothes. Yep, nobody would recognize this wreck as Thranduil Green, iceman. What a fucking sick joke.

*

“Welcome,” he says, torn between wanting to hug the boy breathless and being scared to death of the rejection he'll feel from him, after. He doesn't even dare to look at him much, besides the rapid check to see he looks just fine.

“God, Thran, are you still feeling bad?”

Of course the boy would worry for him.

“I'm fine, I… we have to talk though, please come in. Thank you so much Elrond, it was wonderful of you.”

“I'll wait a little, if you don't mind?”

Of course Elrond too fears what will happen, and he remembers now he said he'll stay to help. The man is a saint, and Thranduil is really beyond grateful.

“Sure, do you want to wait in my study or… I'll call Galion to bring you something.”

“I think I'll stay in the kitchen, maybe Mrs. Baggins will give me something good.”

“Sure, as you wish. Are you hungry too, Legolas?”

God, it's so hard to look at him! His hands are sweating, fuck, he wasn't so scared since… Breathe, damn it, you can't fall apart now!

“No, I'm fine, what do you want to talk about? I hope I didn't… well, I'm sorry if I did something...”

“No, I have to tell you some things, you didn't do anything wrong, please, let's just go to the library and talk.” Breathe, yes, he will get past this somehow.

They reach the library and again he can't sit, there's too much terrified nervous energy coursing through him. Even his forehead is sweating, and that never happens.

“Please, I need you to listen to me and try to interrupt me as little as possible at first. I… I want to apologize from the beginning, because what I did is… I… fuck!”

It's way harder than speaking with Elrond and Celeborn was, harder than resolutely dodging Boromir and Galion these past two days. Of course it is, they are all still strangers, but the boy...

“Thran, what happened to you? You are scaring me, and really, you don't look well!”

“Yes, well, that's not relevant now. OK, I'll stop being a coward, so, let's start like this. So, OK, I… I'm sorry I behaved like that the previous day, and scared you and didn't explain things; please, from the start, know that in all this mess you didn't do absolutely anything wrong, OK? Nothing happening is even remotely your fault, in any way, and whatever happens after today, I will do all I can so you are well taken care of, OK?”

“I'm sorry, but you don't make much sense, Thran. I understand you were sick, and it's fine, you don't have to apologize that you didn't want me to catch it, I was fine at Elrond's, there's no need to worry. The baby is a sweetie, as always, and staying in the gardens with Arwen was just perfect. Well, I would have loved for you to be there too, but really, it's fine. And the twins were fun as always, you know.”

“No, I don't mean that, OK, I do but… Damn, I'll stop beating around the bush, you are right, I don't make sense. OK, I wasn't sick these days, not physically, anyway; this was a lie we concocted, to keep you from worrying until we found out several things. Please, let me go on, OK?”
The boy nods, unsettled, and he ploughs on, because if he stops he can't resume, surely.

“I was shocked when I saw the picture of your mother, you see, because I knew Aleena, we… we grew up together, since I was 4 or something, in Anduin, and we were supposed to be married.”

Legolas makes a surprised sound and his eyes are huge, of course he couldn't have expected that.

“And that wouldn't be a problem, really, just… just that…” Fuck, man up, you moron! “that we slept together, 9 months before you were born, and I was so afraid then, so I had to check, to know for sure, although I knew it then, it makes sense, and it's true, the test and the detective confirmed it, I… I'm so sorry, I'm your scoundrel of a father, Legolas, I'm more sorry than I can say, just… “

The boy is gasping now, looking at him with disbelieving eyes, unable to speak, of course. He can sympathize, it's such a blow that he needs time to recover, at least a bit, so he keeps quiet, waiting for him to calm a little. Legolas' breathing calms after a while, but he's still tongue tied.

“I'm sorry,” Thranduil repeats, “and I know this is worthless now, but please believe me, I had no idea, until you showed me that picture, I didn't even think that was possible! I should have done some things differently, and I take full responsibility for that, but I didn't want to abandon her, to abandon you, I… I loved Aleena, please believe me, if I would have known then, I would have done anything to be together!”

“How… how you didn't know?” Legolas manages to ask.

“OK, yes, I'll tell you.” Good that he rehearsed this part in his mind, he's sure he won't leave anything out now. “OK, so, we were sweethearts, your mother and I, she was a year younger than me, since she was 15 we were dating, and we were good friends before. We were decided we'll marry, but after we finished school, because we wanted to be responsible. Just, my father died the year I was 17, he just had a heart attack, so it complicated a few things, mainly, our financial status – mine and my mother's. She was a housewife, and dad had taken care to save and invest, conservatively, but well, college just got a bit more complicated.

Anyway, I had a scholarship, paying for the tuition in full, I had tried hard to do it even when I thought there would be enough money, because I always wanted to be the best, but there were still costs – rent, food, all that. So, since my mother was from Maine and we just came to Anduin for my father's job, there was no reason to stay there after his death, we just remained for my last year of high school. My mother was moving back to her hometown, to be close to her sister, and to save money, too, and I was to come to the city as soon as possible and find a job, to make enough money for all the expenses.

I was proud to be an adult, really, and Aleena was supposed to come to the same college the next year; we knew it would be hard to be separated, but since we were good kids, we would make it work, right?” He has the overwhelming need to shout and rant and collapse, thinking back to all this, but he has to go on.

“Your grandfather never liked me, I have no idea why to this day, but I never thought… Anyway, let's keep things ordered, so I got a job, in a cafe. It wasn't much, but the owner was used to employing students, so it would have been easy to have a flexible schedule and, during the summer, I could put in a lot of hours, to save money for the times when I would have to study a lot and such. So I started working long shifts, not doing much else, because I didn't know anybody in town anyway and everything cost money.

I kept in touch with Aleena just by phone, and I think we both hated it, but well, it was all for our future. Soon, after about a month I think, one of the customers at the cafe turned out to work for a modeling agency and said he could get me some gigs, and when I heard how much they paid, I jumped right in; we were both very excited I could actually save a lot of money now, probably, in a year enough so, when she would come to college also, we could rent a small studio and be together faster, so I worked all the time, at both jobs, and barely managed to speak with her once a week; still, I don't think she realized she was pregnant until way later, because she didn't say anything, believe me, I had no idea!”

“You slept with her and grandfather didn't say anything?”

“No, you see, he didn't know, we just did it once and...”

“Just once? But you said you were together...”

“Yes, we were together for two years, but I wasn't how you know me now, I was very far from this; I was a good boy, really, we met at my parents' house or at your grandparents', we went out with friends, saw movies, ate at the dinner or had lunch together in the school cafeteria, but we just kissed and made out, nothing more. I mean, we knew there was more, we knew the physics of it, but neither of us pressured for more, it just wasn't something you did that easily in that little town, especially with such a nice girl like your mother was. And we didn't have the place, also, it happened when it did because your grandparents were out of town and I was to leave in a few days, and we were to be parted for months.

I… I wasn't strong enough to do the right thing, I'm sorry, when we did have the opportunity I was thrilled to have her, to make her mine, and we did use protection, we didn't want her to get pregnant so young, but of course protection is not 100% safe, so…

Oh God,” he says, realizing how this can be interpreted, “please don't take this to mean I don't want you, OK, it's not like that, it's just she must have been through so much with this, and it's not your fault in any way, OK?”

The boy looks pained, and Thranduil wants to comfort him, it breaks his heart to pieces to see him so, but how? To touch him now… no, don't fucking go there!

“But she must have realized after a time, no? Why didn't you… I don't know… do something?”

“Yes, of course after a time she must have realized, but remember, well, you were in shock then, so you might not remember, I told you I was attacked at gunpoint?”

“Yes, what does that have to do with Nana?”

“No, of course it doesn't have anything to do with her. No, the idea is that happened after about 3 months or so after I came to the city, and I was in shock and hurt and… Well, I didn't speak with anyone much, I didn't tell even my mother all of it and until I recovered a bit, other couple of months have already passed.

When I called back again, your fucking grandfather told me she was seeing somebody else, a better guy than me, so I just thought it was best to let her be, if that was her choice.”

“Just like that, you loved her and you just let her go?”

Thranduil sighs and paces. He doesn't really want to tell Legolas the whole story of what happened to him and how dirty he felt, how unworthy of the angel that was Aleena, but he also has to explain to him, somehow, why he didn't do more.

“No, it wasn't just like that, but it wasn't simple either. I was very shocked by the attack, by the recovery I needed also, I couldn't stand to feel so helpless, it was just not how I was used to see myself. So, because it so happened that the three guys who attacked me were members of one of the gangs in town, I received an offer from the rival mob family – the Feanorions – who appreciated the fact that I killed them.


I liked the idea I would have power, that I'd be able to defend myself in the future and that they'd protect me, so I started working with them – and that work meant, among others, beating people up and killing on command. It wasn't the best thing to do, and I knew it, so when I thought of what would sweet Aleena say to know I was drenched in blood, I realized I no longer was the person she had fallen in love with. And if she had already decided to give up on me, maybe I could do at least one good thing and let her be happy, with a regular guy.”


There's silence again, and he's torn between spewing more excuses and letting the boy… - fuck, his son! - process all this.


“You are serious, this is not a joke or something?” he finally asks.


“No, I am very serious, and I am not drunk or high or anything else. We did a paternity test – that's why Elrond took samples from you, because we had to be sure, in the very unlikely event that she would have slept with somebody else too. I also had the PI who checked on you at the beginning do a real job now, not the half-assed thing I had him do then, and this is something that is really my fault, and I'm sorry.”


“I don't understand,” Legolas says again. “What didn't he find then that he found now?”


“I didn't have any idea who you were at that time, and really, didn't care much. All I wanted him to check was that your story was true – that you were just a boy having problems with his family and ending up in Azog's clutches, and not a spy. Also, that you were actually of age, so when he told me that yes, the grandson of pastor Melchior Robertson left the community after turning 18, and that there wasn't any known connection with any mob family and such, I told him to leave things be and closed everything.”


“Did you really care about me being of age?” the boy interrupts.


“Yes, of course I did! I don't fuck children!” Thranduil answers, outraged, and then there's a huge wave of nausea, because this is way worse. Luckily, he hasn't eaten yet today, so there's nothing to vomit, but he needs a few moments to recover, very happy to be near the table, planting a hand on it to support himself, because he's swaying on his feet.


“Yes, you don't, of course, but you say she was 17! And didn't you wonder, at least a bit, when you heard his name?” Legolas asks, angry now.


“I was barely 2 months passed 18 then, yes, she was 17, but I… We were both children, in a way, fuck, yes, this sounds so stupid and skewed, I am an idiot, I’m sorry.” He sighs and again passes his hand through his hair, pulling a little, to try and calm down the pounding headache. “Also, Aleena's father was Martin Robertson, an accountant from Anduin, Wyoming, born in that town, just like his father and grandfather. Why would I think he changed his name and became a pastor, in another state?”


The boy's anger seems to fizzle at that, and he slumps on his seat.


“I registered the last name, but you know it's such a common one, I just chalked it up to coincidence. I know I pride myself on being thorough, and I should have checked more, but there didn't seem to be a point then, I sincerely didn't care who your family was, and since they treated you so bad, I assumed you didn't want to keep in touch anyway. I'm sorry I assumed that, please believe me.”


“It's true, there was no reason to keep in touch with them,” Legolas says, dejected. “They never wanted me anyway, I bet they are happier now.”

*

There's silence now, tense and cloying and raw, but what more is there to say? Yes, he could list all swear words he knows, applying them to himself, and it won't be enough to express how worthless Thranduil feels, but… would that help even one tiny bit?

“And what happens now?” Legolas steels himself to ask, and Gods, he's so strong and beautiful and no, Thranduil doesn't deserve any of it.

“I really don't know. I mean, I did speak to Celeborn and we'll sign some papers, as soon as they are ready, to try and settle your legal situation, but it's not very simple to acknowledge you as my son, after… after all the public displays of idiocy I made.”

“OK, I'll sign what you want, just… what happens to us?”

“What would you want to happen, Legolas?”

Once again, there's silence, and of course it's normal, after such a blow, how else can things stand? Yes, the boy could have just started clobbering him with something, it's true. Fuck, how he wants to kill somebody for this!

“I was thinking to go clobber fucking Martin Robertson to death, after he explains why he did all this,” he grits, squeezing his fists so hard, because it's not fair, the man wasn't the only one to blame, but…

“Don't, or, you know, not just now,” Legolas is saying, “he's still my grandfather and… I'm not yet sure I want to know why he did it, can you please...”

“Sure, absolutely, please tell me what you want and don't, Legolas, just… Well, you know how I tend to react.”

There's a very small smile on the boy's lips now, and it so breaks Thranduil's heart. OK, he'll have to reign himself in. Fine.

“What can be done, about us,” Legolas asks now, in such a lost little voice.

“I would wish so bad to be able to tell you I'll be a good father, but that would be such a horrific lie. I… I have no clue how to do that, and after what I did to you… I will try, honestly, to offer all I can, just, I don't know if you'll stand just looking at my face. And that would be fair, too. But I'm babbling, again. OK, once again to what I know – you have to decide if you can remain here – please, let me finish! OK, so, obviously I would never throw you out, please, as much of an imbecile as I've been, don't ever think that. You are welcome to stay here for the rest of your life, that will be put in writing, too. I can leave the house, if it's too much to have me around, just say the word and I'll go to the first hotel, no matter. Or I can get you a nice place, to have it for yourself, and be able to breathe and think.”

“Ah… a whole different place? So… so we wouldn't share a bedroom anymore...”

It's so hard to try to remain calm at this, so hard to… He doesn't know if to cry, or yell, or throw up, or just cut his damn heart open, but this is too much!

“That would be horrible to keep doing, now that… now that I know. I have the slightest excuse in not knowing what I did before, but, Legolas, you do know parents abusing their children are the lowest of scum, don't you?”

Yes, there's hundred of knives of hurt in the crystal blue eyes, and… he is scum, he is, just, maybe, if he doesn't hear it from the most beautiful lips in the world, he can go on. Somehow.

“I think I should move out, have some space to think,” said lips say, crushing him with the sure hate this must mean, so deserved, and lifting him too, because he will not have to… Shove it, imbecile!

“But I have no clue where, so… I suppose I should just go to my room and… I'll try to think, I...”

“Anything you need, Legolas, please, just ask, OK?”

There's a listless nod to this and…

“Are you OK, do you need something now?”

“Just need to cry it out, I suppose. No, nothing else, I just can't.”