“Are you insane?”
Tvr’Kele doesn’t looks at her. Eshlin isn’t here, and his granddaughter is running Innsmouth now. She doesn’t look happy. “There was one garthak of a screw-up.”
“Gods below I would say there was!” She looks out of the window. Hermann is in the playground, paddling a little shyly with a hoard of children who run the gamut from entirely human to full Deep One and every stage in between. A short boy with gills is showing him the anemones. “Does he know?”
Tvr’Kele shakes his head, breaks in as Monica seems to swell like a puff fish in her outrage. “I asked for a transfer, but it’s not possible.”
“Who cares?” She snarls. “Fuck off back to where you came from, and next time choose someone without children! You swore that much fifty years ago.”
Tvr’Kele shakes his head again. She’s entirely right, he should be gone by now, but… but…
Hermann turns to look back at him, Tvr’Kele smiles and waves. He waves back happily, joins the boy in pulling out mussels. “I am- worried about him.”
“I would say so!”
“No that.” He looks at Hermann. He’s missing something, he’s seeing something he doesn’t understand happen and he has no idea what to do about it. “He seems- happier. It makes no sense. I’m making a complete futuo of the job, and-” He sighs, sags. “You have a child. What is happening? If I’m making it worse, I will leave.”
Monica frowns, sits down behind her desk, in the simple algae encrusted colonnade looking over the playground. The children have convinced Hermann to strip to his underwear and they are paddling in the pools. “Go one then, what in the world has managed to baffle a yith.” She spits the name as an insult.
Tvr-Kele lets it slide, not feeling up for a fight. He tells her. From beginning to end. The way Hermann hardly spoke at first, the empty cupboards in the kitchen, how he’d flinches when Tvr-Kele lifts a hand in his direction. The mad grateful love he lavished on Tvr’Tele for the slightest regard, the least smile.
He slumps in his seat, sips the slightly salty coffee. Monica is silent for a long time.
“When you came here, I was inclined to lock you up in a cellar until you returned the boy’s father to him,” she says finally. “But now-” She stops, joins him in watching Hermann tentatively trying to swim, the boy beside him slipping through the water like an eel. “I think you should stay.”
“Am I doing well?” He doesn’t know much about human rearing habits, but surely he can’t be much good at it.
“No. But I suspect his father set such a low bar even your kind surpasses it.” She pulls a face at him. “No wonder you were sent in- the man seems to lack all fatherly feeling, and I assume that’s what you scan against?”
Tvr’Kele nods. “What can I do?”
She huffs. “Try and be a parent- Cthulhu knows the boy’s never had that before. Just be there, make sure he’s fed and clothed and beyond that, there a book.” She huffs, “Humans have come a long way in child rearing recently, there are some very good books. I’ll write you a list to start you off.”
Research. Thank the forgotten ones. Tvr’Kele knows how to do research.
“What about when you’ll need to travel?” Monica continues. “I know your kind, you’ll be off in some forgotten jungle or out to a blasted waste within a week.”
“I- thought he could come with me?” His voice comes out wavering. Monica is only Seventy- barely getting her feet wet in Deep One terms- but she again seems to swell. “Or- maybe not?”
“I’m trusting you to do a risk assessment.” She says icily, “On whether an eight year old should go to Antarctica.”
“I was thinking of booking a tour. They have those nowadays.”
“Well,” She mollifies a little. “If you need to, leave your boy here. We can look after him for a few weeks, and he’s not the only one who goes to school in Arkham.”
It’s a relief, and a bit of a wrench. He’s grown to like his little helpmate over the last few weeks. “Thank you.” He bows.
“One last thing.” He pauses, turns back to Monica. She looks tired. “He believes you are his father. He believes he has finally gotten the father he’s dreamed of. Do not destroy that dream, yith.”
Tvr’Kele nods. “I promise.”