kirsteena: (Harry with skull)
[personal profile] kirsteena
Written for [ profile] fanfic50, xposted to [ profile] dresdenfic

Title: Unconditional Love
Fandom: The Dresden Files bookverse
Word Count: 1072
Rating: G
Spoilers: Set during White Night
Summary: Some things are unconditional for Carlos
a/n Written for the [ profile] fanfic50 challenge, prompt 49, Insecure. Unbeta'ed, all mistakes are my own.
Disclaimer: Carlos Ramirez and The Dresden Files belong to Jim Butcher, ROC Books, and Orbit Books. No profit is being made, nor is any copyright or trademark infringement intended.
Table: Table found here

From my earliest memories, I could always remember one sensation. Touch. As a baby, I was picked up, hugged, kissed. As I grew older, the lifting stopped, but the hugging and kissing never did. It was part of the family. I’d come home from school, full of some story, and my mother would laugh at me, and place a huge kiss on my forehead. Even after I nominally moved out (Dad had built an extension to make a small apartment for me after we figured out what being a wizard would mean – I had the privacy, but they were close by), I’d always have the option of wandering into the main house or down to the restaurant, and there would be someone there, smile on their face, a hug at the ready. It was just the way my family worked.

I guess I just picked the wrong time to look for it when I needed it most. After I got back from New Mexico I felt drained. Getting everyone home safely was a massive effort with the amount of people involved, and the things I had seen... Part of me wanted to curl up in a corner and just shut the world out for a while. The other part needed company. So, when I arrived back in Los Angeles, I did the one thing guaranteed to help – I headed for the restaurant.

Unfortunately, I got there at a busy time. There were at least three large parties there, and everyone was working flat out. I got looks of relief from my parents when they saw me, but they were just too busy to pay much attention. The kitchen was full of people shouting in Spanish, trying to get orders out as quickly as possible. It was all too much. I made my apologies after a few minutes, waving at some family members, and left the chaos, heading back home.

I staggered through the door to the apartment a few minutes later, worn out. Without stopping, I headed for the fridge. Beer. That’s what I needed. Making my way back into the main room, I reached my battered old sofa, bottle in hand, and slumped into one corner of it. I’ll freely admit it, I was brooding. What I’d seen, what had happened, had shocked me to the core. And there wasn’t a soul I could tell. I didn’t even realise till now how much I missed the physical contact.

There was a noise at the main door, a gentle tapping. “Pasa,” I said, not really wanting to be disturbed, but instinctively knowing it wouldn’t stop till I answered. There, when the door opened, was my paternal grandmother. Five foot nothing of formidable woman. I’ve seen her take on the worst possible customers at the restaurant, and have them apologising to her within thirty seconds. And that was nothing compared to how she ruled the family. “Yaya,” I said, knowing I was indulging myself by using my favorite pet name for her.

“Carlos,” she replied. “Can I come in?” Oh brother, she was speaking in English. That was never a good sign. I merely nodded my head. I watched with some concern as she shuffled over to the sofa.

“Are you...?” I started to say, putting my beer on the small table I had in front of the sofa, standing up to help her. She waved off the help.

“I’m fine, just a little stiff today. Old age, remember.” I grinned at her. She was eighty five in a few months, and she never let us forget it.


“Carlos, will you stop fussing?” she said, amusement very evident in her voice.

“Yes, Yaya,” I replied automatically, sitting back down.

She walked the last few steps, and sat down, looking at me. “You’re upset,” she said. No preamble, straight to the point. I considered making up some excuse, but I knew she would see straight through it.

“It’s been a difficult few days,” I said quietly.

“Tell me.” I paused. I knew that she had guessed what I did when I went away for days or weeks at a time, but telling her about what happened... I couldn’t do it. I shook my head, and stared at the table where I’d placed my beer. “Carlos,” she said gently. There was no mistaking that tone with her. I looked at her, and caught her gaze for a second before I moved my eyes away, scared of starting a soulgaze.

“Two kids died,” I said quietly. “Sixteen years old. They were too young, just too young.” I closed my eyes at the memory of the mutilated bodies of the Trailman twins.

She didn’t say anything for a moment, but looked at me. “Did you do everything you could have?” she asked finally.

I nodded. How many times had I gone over this in my mind in the last day or so? “Yes. I can’t see how we could do anymore. We tried to get them back but...” I ran my hand through my hair. “Too young.”

“Let me ask you a question, little one,” she said suddenly. She hadn’t called me that for years, since I’d started high school. I’d been a scrawny kid back then. I looked at her, curious. “The job you do, do you think you are too young?”

“No,” I replied, shaking my head. “I don’t.”

“Carlos, you are twenty five.” She put her hand up to stop me when I started to protest. “What was it you told me when you were promoted?”

“Regional Commander, Western United States. The youngest ever,” I said, in exactly same tone of voice as the day I first told her.

“You were twenty three, Carlos. To have such a responsibility on your head at that age...” she paused. “I worry about you. That you are too young.” It was the first time she had ever admitted that she was worried. I sat there for a moment, not saying anything, then reached over, and hugged her, planting a kiss on her forehead, revelling in the contact, feeling all my fears drain away.

“I couldn’t do any more for them,” I admitted. “We couldn’t have seen it coming.”

“Then you did your best, and that’s all that matters.”

I sat silent for a moment, taking it all in. “I love you, Yaya.” I’d said it often, but it was something worth repeating.

“Love you too, little one.”


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February 2017


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