title: cracks in the foundation
fandom: Ergo Proxy
characters/pairings: Raul, Pino, Kristeva, Tasha
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Raul Creed, snapshots
notes: spoilers for episode 17, which still has me reeling.
in ep 10, Raul refers to 'coming to terms with Tasha's death.' i'm assuming that 'Tasha' is his wife; it could be the child they had just been given, but i doubt that.

Kristeva brushed down the shoulders of his jacket. He smoothed his hair down, a bit irritated by way the curls were laying on his shoulder. Kristeva pushed his hands away, and brushed down his back.

"You're nervous. Heart rate has elevated by 7%. Do you require sedation?"

He chuckled, and lifted his chin. "I think that would be rather poor form, don't you? No, I'm fine. It's a natural flaw in the human construction. You don't need to continue to monitor my vitals today."

"As you say, sir," she replied.

He half turned, examining his profile in the mirror. "Is she really the right match?"

"I have calculated it to a 0.001% probability of error," Kristeva reminded him.

He turned to her, and touched her cold, mechanical face. "It's almost a pity I can't marry you, Kristeva. I love your efficiency."

"Don't say such foolish things," she replied, in the same tone of voice she always did.

He deleted the pictures slowly. One by one, he watched them pass by on the screen, he selected delete, and he selected 'ok.'

It was all gone.

He opened the door to the house, and stood in the doorway for a moment, just listening. In some ways, it was egotistical. After all, it was a perfect reproduction of the way he played it, right down to the flagging B flat, and the slight off tempo to the eighteenth measure. He liked the way he played it, though, and he liked that she had learned it so well. He took pride in teaching her.

The piano abruptly stopped, and the little girl at the bench jumped off and ran to him. "Papa!" She opened her arms, and threw herself at him.

He caught her, and lifted her up, so she could wrap her arms around his neck. "Pino! You've been practicing. Good job!"

"Pino loves the piano!" she declared happily, and he chuckled.

His wife stood up slowly from the couch. "It never ceases to amaze me, how an auto-rave can make you so... human. Though, when I look at you like this, I can't help but think that you'd make a wonderful father..."

"I am a wonderful father," he corrected her sharply. "Isn't that right, Pino?"

"Papa is the best!" Pino declared, and he let himself smile. He kissed her cheek softly. He liked the skin they used for companion types.

She sighed. "Have you resubmitted the form for applying for a child? Did you check it over? What do you think our chances are?"

He frowned, and looked around the room. "Did you dust today?"

"Pino mentioned it! Pino offered to help, but Mother had guests today, and then she had to nap," Pino said, her little mouth drooping down into a pout.

He patted her on the head.

Pino wriggled out of his arms. "I'll go get Papa's coffee!"

"Good girl, Pino," he said, beaming with pride.

His Pino.

Tasha sighed, and sat down heavily. "I could be a good mother, to a real child."

He wanted to tell her that Pino was real. Real enough to touch, real enough to hold, real enough to teach... He patted her on the shoulder, a bit uncomfortable with that much contact with a real person. The heat of her body disturbed him. "I know, Tasha. I'm doing well at work. I feel good about my chances of promotion. If I'm made the Director-General, there's no way the application would be refused."

She smiled up at him, and reached out to take his arm. He pulled away.

Pino came out, carefully balancing his coffee cup. "Papa! I have your coffee!"

He smiled at Pino. "Thank you... Pino." He had the urge to call her darling, but that wasn't the action of a perfect citizen.

Pino beamed, and hugged his leg.

He couldn't move. He couldn't breathe. This. This couldn't be happening. It couldn't... they were model citizens, a perfect Adam and Eve in paradise, better than Adam and Eve, because they never strayed from the path.

He couldn't breathe.

Kristeva was shaking him, her mechanical hand digging into his chest until it hurt, but he couldn't hear what she was saying.

This couldn't be real.

He didn't want to wake up. If he woke up, there'd be another day. There'd be more meetings before the councilors, and more endless, painful work. More of everything.

He longed to sleep, sleep away it all.

Something tingled in the back of his mind. A sound... he listened... it was the piano. Someone was playing...

He shot out of bed, and ran out. It was their apartment, not his apartment, in the living room, their living room, the piano in the corner...

"Pino!" He called out, and he knew his heart rate was up and he knew he was reacting too much... she turned on the bench, and smiled at him.


He rushed over to her, grabbed her, pulled her into his arms. As tightly as he could hold onto her, she held onto him just as tightly.

He could laugh. Really laugh.

"Papa... Papa is crying?" Pino asked, worried.

He smiled for her. "Papa had a bad dream. They... they took Pino away. Papa was all alone." He clung to her, clung to her tiny frame. She was perfect, the perfect child for the perfect citizen. And she was all right. He could breathe again, because she was all right.

He heard someone behind them, and he turned suddenly, but it was just Tasha. Still, he rubbed Pino's back, assuring himself that she was still with him.

Tasha shook her head at him. She had the baby in her arms. What had they named that child? "Really. Look at you and that auto-rave. I think you'd be happier if you were an auto-rave."

"Don't be crass," he said sharply. "This is just how a perfect citizen behaves."

"Papa is a good boy!" Pino declared firmly.

He smiled at her.

"Is he? Director-General!" Tasha called out.

He furrowed his brow. Why would Tasha...? "What?"

"Director-General!" she repeated, but that time, her voice sounded like... "Director-General!" She was being more insistent, and her voice definitely sounded like Kristeva. He clung to Pino.

"Director-General!" A hand reached out, and shook his shoulder. He opened his eyes.

He wasn't at home. Pino wasn't playing the piano. This was his office. It was Kristeva, not Tasha, who was at his side. "Director-General! It's time for the funeral service. Have you really slept here all night?"

For an entourage, she could sure sound disapproving.

He stood up slowly. It was another day. And he still couldn't breathe. "It's nothing to be concerned about." He sighed, straightening out his cravat. "I don't suppose I can get out of this..."

"A model citizen's wife and child were slaughtered. It's a time for public grief," Kristeva reproached him.

He wanted to tell her that Tasha was a model citizen as well, the perfect wife, just as Kristeva has anticipated. "Children," he said instead. "My children were destroyed."

"It would be unwise to say that to the public," Kristeva said, her tone implying it was unwise to say that to her.

He knew that. He knew that it was. But... his Pino... He slipped on his jacket, and sighed. "How do I look?"

She brushed off his shoulders.