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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.”

Chapter Text

It's totally unreal, to sit here, on top of the city, looking through the spotless glass at the galaxy of lights, alone. Well, he is not actually alone, there's some guy from security at the entrance, but they won't come in unless he needs them and, right now, Legolas has no actual idea what he needs. Aside from all this never happening, but that just… Yeah.

Maybe he should have asked Melu to come and stay with him this first night. But that would have been torture for the other youth, because it would have meant no sex – he's not in the mood, absolutely not, so… Yeah. Although, maybe he should be in the mood – it's not like there's somebody stopping him from it. And Melu really wouldn't judge, or think he shouldn't do it. Or refuse whatever, since… yeah, why would he refuse? It could still be possible, it's not like they go to bed early at the club. He could call and… no, it turns something in his stomach, no.

He could just go to Lothlorien, just to watch a show, he could ask for a bracelet saying clearly he's not to be disturbed, so he wouldn't need to be bothered by offers. Brr, no, that is a place where he honestly doesn't want to go without Thranduil.

Legolas turns from the window and seats himself on the huge white couch – and thinks again of Melu, because he would have never chosen this on his own. Yes, well, he wouldn't have chosen this place alone either, the twins did it for him. And Thran paid for everything. Can he be alone, in a place chosen by others, decorated by others, paid for by his… father?

He doesn't know why he accepted the offer to have his own place – he could have well stayed at Greenwood, it's not like the place wasn't big enough for both of them. He snorts to himself – it wouldn't have been an issue, until the first time Thranduil would have brought somebody home to fuck. Yes, there is that.

He turns on the huge TV screen on the left wall – not having any idea what he wants to see, but hating the quiet. It's nice here, on top of the world – but it's so damn… cold, and the lights are too harsh. Maybe he should have asked for a small house in the forest. Or a big house in the forest. Which would have been too much like Greenwood, and, just like Elrohir said, would have made him not want to go out of it.

Yes, it would be easier to leave this crystal cage – why doesn't he do it, since he's restless and has no idea what to do, anyway? Yes, he could do that.

He messages Elros to prepare the car and goes to change his clothes – he'll go to a club, there's no other option at this hour – and it will be weird as fuck, going alone to such a place. Legolas is almost backing out – and then he wonders why. If he doesn't like one, he can go to another, and then he can come home. What could happen? He's not gonna cry in a public place, like he did after telling Thranduil he wants space – damn it, stop thinking of the man. Yes, he has to decide what to feel about this whole madness – but it's not necessary to do it tonight.

He's not really in the mood to look very special though – so just jeans, a silver shirt, a leather tie for his hair – braiding is too complicated right now. Yes, it's enough, no jewelry. Whatever. The Mercedes is waiting – maybe the Centenario would have been more impressive, but… impressive for whom? Exactly. They leave and very soon he's at Glorfindel's club – fuck, he should have told them not to bring him here, but… He's here, so he should come in.

Legolas goes directly on the dance floor – he won't be given a drink at the bar, unless he has Elros buy it for him, and doesn't want that right now; doesn't want one more thing to remind him of his impotence, his uselessness. Sure, he could also ask for Glorfindel, he's sure the man would tell somebody to give him all he wants – and then he'd ask how is Thran faring. No, better to avoid this.

The music is a bit hypnotic right now, and the lights too, so he can't really see the people around, see their expressions too clearly – which is a very good thing. It's better if everything around is a blend of shadows, fits his mood. Yes, it's weird to dance alone – but before he's really sure on his moves, there are two girls coming close – so he smiles and sways a bit, trying to match their rhythm. There's another guy approaching soon – and it's clear this one knows how to dance, and how to insinuate himself so very close to the brunette girl.

The blonde looks at him expectantly – but Legolas knows he only wants to dance a bit, and that's it, and has no clear idea what she wants anyway. So he keeps swaying – and soon she starts looking around, and another guy comes. Yeah, he should let them be – and there's a guy now trying to flirt with him. Maybe he's good looking, but right now Legolas really doesn't care.

Ugh, why did he come here? Alone? He shakes his head at the guy, and drifts a little on the floor, maybe if he is in a larger group, they'll leave him be? No such luck, it seems – fuck, he really needs something to drink now. Yes, Elros is still around, he wants a… what does he want to drink? A cocktail is plopped in front of him, on the heavy wooden counter, and there's an older guy, maybe 40 or even 50, something, smiling at him – making him sigh. The guy has a tablet in hand now – seriously? Oh, it writes: “let's just talk, no pressure”, making him laugh. Yeah, well, why not? But on his terms, this time.

He makes a gesture to the man, showing he wants to write – it is actually a good idea, not to shout over the mayhem – and he's given the gadget, so Legolas writes and then shows it to the barman, surprising the man. Still, they check and the answer is fast – a woman server signals him to follow, just after he deleted the message and gave the tablet back – so he picks up the glass – no idea what it contains, but still, it looks cute, all blue – and looks at the man, nodding at him to follow. The guy is a bit bewildered, but comes with them, until they finally get to one of the VIP tables – where they could actually talk, because there's shelter from the sound on three sides.

“So what should we talk about?” Legolas starts, settling himself, after he asked the woman for some water too.

“I'm not so sure right now,” the guy answers, “you looked a little lost, but I can see you manage quite well.”

“Yes, I happen to know the owner. Long story, anyway, if we are to talk, at least here we don't have to type.”

“Should I say I'm honored?”

Legolas can't help but laugh at this.

“Why would you say that?”

“You know important people and all.”

“It's nothing, really, I didn't want to attract attention – but I don't know why I kept doing it.”

“You surely know how you look, right?”

“How do I look?”

The guy stops for a moment, clearly measuring him – wondering how to say it, right.

“Very attractive,” he says at last. “For both women and men, though I'm not sure which you prefer.”

“Tonight, I'm afraid neither,” Legolas answers, honestly. “I am only willing to talk, no more. Well, I would have danced more, but… not sure if I’d enjoy a slow one.”

“Rough break-up?”

“You could say that, yes.” He'd say more, but… his thoughts are quite jumbled, and he doesn't really know what to choose. Oh well, maybe he should remember his manners?

“I'm Legolas, by the way.”

“Cliff, nice to meet you. By the way, you can try the drink, I didn't spike it or something.”

“What is it, anyway? I don't have much experience with alcohol, I'm afraid.”

“You're not 21?”

“Nope. Nobody will say anything if I drink though, remember, friends with the owner? Just… I don't do it too often.”

“It's called Blue Angel,” the man sighs, “you do look like one, you know, gracing us mortals and all.” He moves in the chair, quite self-conscious. “I suppose I'm starting to overstep my welcome, right?”

“I just hope it's sweet,” Legolas answers, “I'm afraid I'm not much into drier drinks.”

The guy – Cliff – mock groans at this.

“So let's get this straight – are you flirting with me or not? I have to know how to tone it.”

“Definitely not flirting – but I'm not subtle in general, from what I've been told. Just saying what I think.”

He tries the drink then – it's not bad, really, although he can't say he's very impressed. Before he has to say more though, of course there's Glorfindel coming by their table.

“Blue Angel? It suits you,” he says by the way of a greeting. “But where's the devil?” he smirks, and just then seems to notice Cliff – and it's clear the guy catches the reference too well.

“We are no longer together,” Legolas says, wondering how many times he'll have to say this, and then Glorfindel looks pointedly at Elros, who's watching them from a shadowed little place near the wall.

“I'd rather you'd speak to him to explain,” he says, very saddened altogether, because yes, nothing makes very much sense and, well, the guy is Thranduil's friend, not his. Yes, maybe he exaggerated asking for preferential treatment, after all.

“I'll call him,” the blonde says, quite decided, “meanwhile, enjoy yourself, Rita will bring you all you need.”

“Thank you,” he manages, before Glorfindel is already at the next table, where there's quite a loud group. Damn, he knows that woman, she's the daughter of one of Thranduil's clients, and he really doesn't want to get caught in a conversation now, fuck!

“What is it?” Cliff asks, seeming concerned.

“I know too many people here, I shouldn't have come,” he answers, honest once again – and then looks at the man, realizing it's really not polite. “I'm sorry, it's just...”

“Too recent?”

“Yes. It's the first time I go out alone, and keep forgetting that not everybody knows, and...”

“I'm sorry. It's very hard at first, especially if it was… special.”

Legolas is laughing now, maybe too loud, maybe a bit hysterical – can it get more special than what happened with them? He's inclined to think not, but of course the guy has no way of knowing and… yes, it's totally not fair.

“You don't have to put up with my melancholy. I will understand completely if you just want to get up and look for somebody more… suitable.”

“Honestly, I wasn't looking for sex. Things get lonely sometimes, and somebody to talk with is more needed. But tell me if I annoy you, please.”

“You don't. Yes, somebody to talk with sounds good, I'm just not sure what I want to talk about.”

“Well, definitely not ex-partners, I get that. I'm not keen of speaking of them either right now. Maybe tell me if you liked the drink? Where did you get that shirt? What kind of music do you listen to? That kind of thing.”

“The drink is OK. I'm not sure if I’d want more though – it looks very cute, but the taste is not memorable.”

“I'm glad you are not offended I gave you such a cute thing,” Cliff laughs now.

“Left to my own devices, I'd have ordered a hot chocolate – so it would be weird to complain. What are you drinking, by the way?”

“Gin tonic. Do you know it? Oh, but it's not really sweet.”

“Nope. And don't think I plan to, in that case. Maybe I will get a hot chocolate...”

“Don't let me stop you,” the man smiles and pauses while Legolas manages to order, to resume after the waitress leaves. “Although I have to say, it did match your eyes – the drink.”

Sure, the guy still tries to compliment him – but there's a painful image of hauntingly loving ice-blue eyes now, in his mind, making him squeeze his own shut for a few moments – he doesn't need that.

“Blue eyed lover?”

“Yes, blue eyes, long hair, silver blond… all that.”

“Tall and slim, too?”

“Taller, yes, not as slim. Yes, we've been told already we were too similar, like… brothers” he decides to say, because he can't yet say out loud the other word. Not for some time.

“Maybe I should actually behave then. It's strange though, most beautiful guys like to be told that.”

“If he doesn't say it, what does it matter?” Legolas blurts, and then he's really sorry. “I'm being beyond rude, I should have stayed home.”

“Some would say, I should have learned what not to say, at my age, but some things we never learn,” Cliff smiles, wistfully. “One last question – which you don't have to answer, and I promise I'll find a very neutral subject, OK? First love?”

“Yes.” First, only, last… no, these are not good thoughts.

“OK. So are you from the city?”

Yes, well, normally very neutral subjects indeed – and then he'll ask about parents, school, fuck! No, he can't do this – as rude as it is, no.

“I'm sorry, Cliff, I just can't do it. I'll...”

“It's OK. I won't ask for your number, will just go back to the bar – you don't have to leave because of me. Take care, OK?”

He just nods, because… yes, somebody will take care, somehow. And he will not cry, not here. He's breathing now, trying to compose himself – he should leave, yes, so he should signal Elros – damn, there's Glorfindel again.

“I'm sorry,” he says, sitting in front of him. “I won't press, just wanted to say, you are still welcome here, anytime. Thran… he said not to worry, he's not planning to come around for a while, and he will let me know when he does, the guards can coordinate everything out. If there's anything I can do, just ask, OK?”

“Thank you. I'll leave now because… Everything is great, I'm sorry, I just...”

“It's fine, leave it be. Just come back when you feel better. No, don't worry,” he says, when Legolas wants to settle the tab, “it's nothing, OK?”

Again he just nods – but there's a wild spark of anger inside, because now he could fucking buy the place, with the money put into his own account, and he gets things for free; and when last he was alone and needed a damn piece of bread, something not to starve, it… No, this is so very unfair. He leaves, it's all he can do, but really doesn't want to go to the penthouse – so he has Elros just drive around town, stopping to get gas after a while, and it's dawn already – but he couldn't sleep anyway.

Yes, they should stop for some food though, of course – although the sandwich tastes like ashes. He forces himself to eat, drink some water, throw some cold water on his face at the toilet. Yes, they should be back, because even if he doesn't want to sleep, the man surely does. He can sulk enough going back, and then in the grand bedroom, maybe he'll just fall asleep. Yes.

Chapter Text

Having nothing to do makes one very prone to overthinking things, and especially, in Legolas' case, to remembering events or conversations. Right now, that means he keeps going through the discussion he had with Thranduil, after they went to the bank to arrange everything about his personal account. Yes, he was quite reeling after seeing the amount of money deposited there, so even if it was weird, he had wanted that discussion. Mainly, to understand what did he do to deserve having 20 million dollars. Just for shopping or something, because the penthouse was paid for separately (no, no need to think how much that cost to buy, either), and the cars were already bought, and the security guys were paid by the company, as usual.

“It's what you should have had for a long time, I'm afraid,” an almost scowling Thranduil answers.

“You mean you gave this to your other lovers?”

“No! It means I would have given such to my son, as soon as he reached an age where he was able to understand dealing with money and…”

“So if you knew about me, what, you would have just given me such money since I was 10 or what? And what if you do have some more children?”

His father shudders at this, and breathes, and decides they should go have lunch at Greenwood, if they are to talk at length. There's a wall between them, both are fidgety and uneasy, and in some ways this is way worse than… Or not, fuck.

It's even good they have lunch in a smaller room – well, at least for Thranduil's house. The table is much smaller, not the huge one in the dining room, and close to the window. It's really a beautiful day outside. And yes, Legolas doesn't think they used this room while he was living here. At least he has things to look at, while they sort of eat. It's, as always, something delicious and Mrs. Baggins will surely be annoyed that he doesn't eat much, but well. Like that is new.

“It is quite doubtful I could have other children I don't know about,” Thranduil starts, after the food was brought, “because, well, you remember Amanda, right? You imagine someone like her, the moment she would have gotten whiff of the possibility of having my child, not trying all things under the sun in order to get as much money as possible?”

“So you say that what, you would have given it that easy?”

“I wouldn't even try doing anything different. I mean, yes, it might sound old fashioned, even insulting to some, but I do believe a child should have at least one parent committed only to take care of them, at all times, until maybe they reach the early teens or something. I know how much I appreciated my mother being there at all times, even if my father had to leave town for work, or work late, things like that. And let's face it, I'm not the type to be the one staying home and doing that, while my partner works, so it should have been the mother.”

“So if you knew about Nana...”

“Yes, it is no question that I would have tried my best to provide for her to stay home and take care of you. I… well, of course at first I didn't have all this money available, so it would have been more low key and all, maybe even she would have stayed with my mother for the pregnancy, maybe even the first year while you grew up, because it's quite trying for a new mother and all, but again, I can't even imagine doing things differently.”

It's painful to hear all this, and not even because he thinks Thranduil lies. It's just… all that he lost, all that his mother lost, because… Because of his fucking grandfather.

“This amount still sounds absurd to me.”

“It would, of course, but it's something you should get used to.”

“Why?”

“Because you are my sole heir, and you'll need to learn to deal with much larger sums.”

“How much larger?”

“I have a net worth of around 2.5 billion dollars,” Thranduil states simply, and at first Legolas' hand just doesn't listen to him, so he drops his fork with a clank, and then, when he manages to breathe and see, he wants to throw the plate to a wall, to throw the table too, to…

“I am not sure I hear right,” he manages to say, and just looks at his father, lost.

“I think you did,” the man sighs, “but it is indeed difficult to understand why you had to suffer all you did when… Yes, I didn't have such an amount until way later, but I was well off already, as I told you, when I thought of coming back. Believe me, it hurts a lot to think I was able to afford diamonds and custom Harleys and all when Aleena had to just scrape by, but I don't think there's a way for me to expiate that. All I can do is offer you now what you should have had from the start.”

There's silence for a while, and Legolas realizes he's twisting the knife into his own heart, really, but he has to keep asking questions.

“And how would you have raised a child, if you knew you had one?”

“I don't know that much about raising children, aside from the fact you have to provide them with things and love. I don't know either if I would have been that good at the love part, but one thing I know I'm good at is at providing things – shelter, food, clothes, good schools, all that.”

“So… sort of like Gil has?”

“Gil, Elrond's children, yes. And yes, if the mother would have also died, from whatever reason, or wouldn't have been able to do certain things, of course there is always the option to hire somebody to be there and take care of those – anything would have been better than… I'm sorry, I still want to kill your grandfather.”

“Then do it,” Legolas hears himself growling, “burn his fucking house and church to the ground.”

“Are you sure?”

The pain in the man's voice just breaks him, and he gets up, somehow not upsetting the table, but grabs the vase in the corner and throws it savagely at the window, with all his force, shattering it, and then follows with the chair, breaking the glass this time. He might have screamed, too. And then he realizes that the pretty vase might have been very expensive, and all.

“Don't worry, it doesn't matter,” Thran says, dismissively. “It's an object, objects can very easily be replaced. If it makes you feel better, you can break anything and everything in the house, whatever.”

“Seriously?”

“Once again, I'm very good at making money. Well, that and killing people. But that's not relevant, I just want you feeling good, however you need to get there.”

“So what, you'd take me killing somebody?”

Legolas can't help but laugh when the other chair and the table somehow end out the window too, after the man just kicked and crushed them to pieces, and seriously, Thranduil looks mouth watering so angry. Yeah, not a good thought, not at all. But everything is better than the cold, distant wall the man projects lately. When he doesn't look close to breaking to pieces for some moments.

“I'd really like to be able to give you only the good things, Legolas, not the mire. You already had to take a life, and… and yes, I behaved like an idiot and even pushed you to do more, but it's really not something I wish you'd do easily and without purpose. Yes, some people deserve it, and I really do appreciate that you had the inner strength to do what was necessary to stay alive, but this is one thing I would appreciate if you didn't do. If you wouldn't be like me in this regard.”

“So you'll keep me away from it?”

“Realistically, I know I can't keep you away from it completely, although I’d wish it. No, I… what I want to say is that it would be better if you'd give yourself time, to get over this hurt, to be able to think normally again. If, after all, you decide you'd want to be a part of that half of my life, I will tell you way more about it and, if you do want to go on, I'll do my best to prepare you for it. Just… do take that time away we discussed about, heal, and then let's talk about this, OK?”

Legolas is sighing, because of course this makes sense, but… What, indeed, doesn't make sense is why his grandfather did all this shit. And…

“You know, I can't imagine confronting grandfather and getting a good, reasonable explanation for what he did. Whatever he'll tell me, us, will be just some bullshit, something he preached all these years, a stupid, mean thing. I know I asked you to hold your hand and all, hoping that we could have a talk, we could… But can you imagine a good reason for all this?”

“No, I can't. Still, given what I've done, too, I just can't honestly judge right now, Legolas.”

“So you'd say you two were equally guilty?”

“I don't know if equally, I don't know how you divide such level of guilt, really, it's just… he is your family, as you said, and we are both way too angry right now.”

“Well, one difference I see is that, the moment you found out what happened, you immediately decided to change things. How long it took, after you realized what happened, and changed your behaviour, 5 minutes? He had me there for 10 years, day after day, and didn't change anything. Until he fucking threw me out on the street to starve! Not to mention the previous years, when Nana was alive!”

It hurts so much, the anger and pain want to just rip his heart to pieces, and it's hard to breathe, and so very hard not to cry, not to just beg Thran to hold him, to make him forget! But Thran… yes, Thran is so damn quiet right now, and Legolas just hates the expression on his face. So he keeps breathing and trying to calm himself, and there's silence again, thick and ugly. Until he has an idea.

“How hard it would have been, for grandfather to find you, in town?”

Clearly, the man is startled by the question, and, maybe he wasn't clear enough.

“When they found out Nana was pregnant, and you weren't calling, because you were in the hospital and all. If he really wanted you to know, and take responsibility.”

“Ah. Well, really not hard. I mean, I did leave the dorms when I decided to drop out of school, but that was quite some time after I called, and he told me to leave her alone. Until then… well, yes, they knew exactly where I was studying, and surely even what dorm I was actually staying in, I probably bragged with that at some point. Your… Aleena did know the name of the coffee shop I was working in, I think at least two or three of my other friends remaining in Anduin knew it also, and probably she discussed that with her other friends, after all, it was never a secret. It wasn't as easy as it is today, to just google it, obviously, but damn it, there were still phone books around and shit.”

“So, if he would have come to town...”

“Well, Martin hated traveling, I have no clue why, but sure, he was an adult, he damn studied in a bigger city and all, so I'd say yes, he should have been able to find me. Also, PIs were available, too, if he considered it too complicated. And he wasn't that poor, damn it, I don't know exactly how much he was making and all that, but he had a reasonable income, of that I am sure. And yes, I will have a huge bill, because I wanted answers in two days, for things happening almost twenty years ago. For any PI, to find my address then would have been a breeze and they would have probably charged something like two hours of work at most.”

Thranduil starts pacing now, frowning a bit, his hands abruptly squeezing into fists.

“The fuck, yes, she was even underage, he could have fucking called the cops, said it was rape, and they would have brought me back in chains, yes, it makes no sense to be anything else but the fact he didn't want me to know.”

“No, he would have never done that,” Legolas states, softly, once again trying so hard not to cry. “The woman is always guilty in such cases, because she was a whore and provoked everything.”

Thranduil just screams now, clearly so enraged that words fail him, and this didn't help at all, did it?

It takes quite a while until both of them can play at normal, and it should end, because it doesn't help, so Legolas just takes his leave. And on the way back, all he can wonder is why, after all, when she left Anduin, his mother didn't try to look for him. Yes, his grandfather is a piece of work, but… But then, what did he tell her, what did he do to her? She never spoke of this to him, obviously, he was too young to… To anything. And he always listened to the man, didn't he, and believed all the shit he spewed. Of course she did, too. Yes, they were both useless and good only at doing what others told them. So this brings back the damn issue: what is he to do now?