[[This is him.<-This is your creator,]] staring at you from the other side of the table
[[This is you.<-This is you,]] waiting for him to say something.
This is the [[rain pattering on the roof]] too big a storm to allow either of you to leave.
So you sit, looking at your sworn enemy and drinking tea. He's looking at you again. Of course, he's never stopped. From the first moment you opened your eyes and saw the world around you, the pain of being borne of death and destruction, he was looking at you.
The look in his eyes, at least, has changed. No longer are you [[the monster of his nightmares,->This is you.]] but instead a curiosity. An uncertainty.
He straightens his cravat, then stirs his tea, full of sugar and cream so that it's hardly beige. You're not sure if he takes his tea so sweet, or if he's over-medicated it in a case of nerves.
Your [[tea is getting cold.]] Every time the two of you meet like this, Victor can't seem to take his eyes off you. Maybe it's fear of a thing that looks so human... And yet.
Or maybe it's your beauty. Victor took such care when building you. The freshest parts, as whole as possible, building a face that could walk gleaming into the sunlight, smiling at the people it was here to help.
Your face looks sallow now. Cold. Maybe it was the long voyage from the coldest lands of the world, the change of heart that lead you here. Maybe it's the draft that filters lazily through the room, sending shivers through [[your maker's reedy body.->This is him.]]
Your [[tea is getting cold.]]You've not seen it rain like this often in your short life, and it always brings a sense of awe, a sense of peace. A feeling that the turmoil inside is released in a cathartic burst of sound and light.
But you're still in the little house, the one on the edge of the Frankenstein estate. The one [[Victor->This is him.]] uses, unable to stomach the empty spaces left behind in the manor home at the end of the lane.
Your [[tea is getting cold.]] [[There he is.->This is him.]]
[[There you are->This is you.]]
There goes the [[rain pattering on the roof]], the storm still raging and billowing outside.
He glances at you, at the teacup half-empty in your hand. "Oh. You're empty." He looks up at you and away. You're pretty sure there was no intended double meaning there, but it sounded insulting, or at least a little brutish. "I'll, ah, I'll put some more on."
[[You keep this place so cold.]]Victor sits back in his chair, studying you with the eyes of a trapped animal. Funny, how quickly things will change.
"I meant no insult." He looks so small, or maybe it's the dimness of the light that makes him sallow. The storms in Genova are wild things, and this one rages against the glass as though the windows and frames insults it.
Victor is no storm. Not anymore.
[[Did you mean insult when you created me?]]
[[So you didn't mean cruelty. And yet.->I am not cruel enough to allow one to languish, ill and alone.]]Victor looks up, his face open with surprise at your voice. It's deep, rolling, and smooth. [[He's heard you speak before->about the bride]], of course, but never so casually.
"The mountain winds are harsh. There is only so much I can do about that."
You make a humming sound, reaching out for the teapot. He flinches, but you simply pick up the teapot and pour. He relaxes only by degrees.
"I didn't expect you to stay," he says slowly, feeling out the words before he says them.
[[I am not cruel enough to allow one to languish, ill and alone.]]
[[I did not expect you to change your heart.->Did you mean insult when you created me?]]Victor looks out the window, his face unreadable. You tap your fingers against the cup gently, impatiently, or at least, you try to convince yourself it's impatience. That the tightening in your chest has nothing to do with the solemn hurt on the man's face.
"Yes." He shook his head. "You... I suppose you were my last act of violence to the world. To God. To myself. After my near-death in my pursuit across the Arctic, I..." He stops, watching the rain slide, defeated, against the glass. "Whatever my intentions were in creating you, they've changed, now."
[[Don't believe him.->Call out his bullshit.]] Your hand tightens around the teacup. It's so delicate in your hands. It reminds you of [[her.]]
You loosen your grasp, reminding yourself of the promises you've made since those days.
"Do you really believe people can change so loosely, so easily? Do you think you're somehow a different person than what you were made to be? What your father and mother made you to be?"
At last, he turns to you. He shocks you with a look of sorrow, of patience. "Do you think the same of yourself?"
[[I've made my own path.]]
[[... Sometimes.->Believe him.]]She should have never suffered like she did. She didn't deserve to be caught in the midst of a broken man, and the man he made broken. You can remember the night of her wedding, the night you cracked the last vestiges of the man who was supposed to be a father, a guide.
It's maybe the one thing you truly regret.
Her hair soft on the pillow. Her smile so loose and gentle as she slept, the blissful ignorance of someone who was, ultimately, happy.
There is a little less gold in the world now.
[[He's still waiting for an answer.->Call out his bullshit.]] Your so-called "creator"'s jaw tightens. "I know you have. A path of destruction. I thought, though, perhaps you would understand that sometimes, change is... Not so easy to obtain. Sometimes, our learned conditions, our baser instincts, pull us along."
[[An easy thing to say.]]
[[I suppose I understand what you're trying to say.->Sit and listen.]]You look at him for a long moment, studying his face for trickery, for cruelty.
You only find sorrow, regret.
"... I do not think of myself as a cruel creature either. No matter what nature has made me."
He looks away. "I fear in many ways that it is my own nature that has made me this way. A need to prove myself, in some way, to justify my own existence in this world."
[[And that includes making me.]]
[[And yet, you chose to enact this little tragedy, while I've tried to forge my own path.->I've made my own path.]]Victor looked down, staring into the pool of his teacup. "You took everything from me, you know."
"And you stole away anything I could have had."
Victor pauses. "Yes. Yes, I did. I should have never made you."
[[No. No, you shouldn't have.]]
[[Sit and listen.]]Victor stares out at the rain. The world beyond the window is lost to them, cutting the rest of the world away in crystal sheets.
It's just you, your maker, and the rain.
"I try not to spend too much time on regret. I don't want to regret my life's work. The thing that should have changed my life for the better. I want to find peace in this world. In my work. I don't want to resent the thing I threw my life into for years.
[[I'll make it easier for you.]]
[[... Then don't.->next forgiveness path]]You look at him solemnly, but Victor doesn't answer right away. He swirls his cold tea in its cup, as though divining something before ever reaching the pooling leaves at the bottom. Then, he turns the cup up, drinking it down in a few gulps. He busies his hands with the next cup.
"I was foolhardy. Hungry for attention. I wanted people to think me a genius, more brilliant, more radiant, than God Himself. But I don't want to be God. I only brought... Destruction, death, you, upon my loved ones. That is a burden I should never have tried to bear."
[[next forgiveness path<-It is too late to worry about the past. We have each committed our cruelties.]]
[[No. No, you shouldn't have.]] You stand, and your shoulders bump the ceiling. Does Victor realize just how large he made you? How you were supposed to be the pinnacle of humanity, a peak that humanity itself could never reach, but could drive the path to a newer, better world?
His face, even in this moment, has traces of a grim pride.
"Thank you for the tea." Your maker may not have taught you manners, but you do know a little something about etiquette, at least. For a moment, as you advance, he shrinks away. But you made an oath after... After everything. Regardless of the purposes you were put here for, [[violence is no longer your motive.]]She was supposed to be beautiful. She was supposed to be yours. At least, that's what you thought back then, back when the pain of rejection was still so fresh and raw, a wound you just couldn't stop picking at.
"I want a bride."
No, you didn't, not really. You wanted someone to look at you with the same awe you looked at the miracle of other things that walked and crawled and swam and flew.
And the idea of that frightened your creator, so badly that he destroyed your chance at happiness. Just like you destroyed his.
You look back at the monster, and [[so does he.->You keep this place so cold.]]He winces, but he doesn't argue. He stirs his tea once more, and this time, he sips it. The wind blows gushes of rain against the windows, hiding the world from your sharp gaze and his. It's one thing you have in common, at least—a piercing, knowing eye for the world around you.
"I was not either, once upon a time. I've always been a passionate man, but... But I was not always cruel. At least, I'd like not to be so."
[[Call out his bullshit.<-Listen skeptically.]] He pauses. Then, eventually, he nods. "That includes making you. You were supposed to be the moment that changed my life for the good."
"I am sorry if I disappoint."
"No... No, you were perfect. You were always perfect. It was me. I made the mistake of creating you, of treating you, as I did. I put you on the path that led to the destruction of everything I've ever loved. I could have saved [[her]], and perhaps I could have steered you down a better path."
[[You look at him, then nod, listening.->Sit and listen.]]
[[I've made my own path.]] Elizabeth. Who could deny her beauty, her strong heart, her stronger will.
But she was not stronger than cruelty, nor hate. Victor mourned her even now, dressed all in black. He may never stop.
[[Hear Victor out.->Sit and listen.]]
[[You know I've made my own path, maker.->I've made my own path.]]Victor looks up at you, surprised once again. Maybe you should feel a little irritated that he seems so surprised by your kindness, but instead, you feel something a little more... Melancholy, maybe. Or, maybe just anger you don't want to admit to. Peace is a hard thing to come by.
"Perhaps I sounded harsh when I said I should never have made you." He stands, pacing, agitated by his own words, his own racing mind. "But I do not mean to add more cruelty to this world, to this house. I only wish I could undo the harm. But even if I were to undo you now, it would only be another little cruelty."
[[last forgiveness path<-I know.]]
[[I'll make it easier for you.]] You wait for him to look at you, and you motion for him to sit. Eventually, he stops, and he does so.
"You cannot undo this thing you have done. I am a creature of my own will, and I will not answer to your commands... But I wish no harm, just as you do. That does not undo any of the cruelties either, but..."
"But perhaps, we can at least prevent them?"
"And where does that begin?"
"I do not know. But it will."
You look outside. The rain has stopped.
[[Restart?->the beginning]]You lean forward, one hand on the table, the other squeezing the back of Victor's chair until it groans with the weight of you. Your face is inches from his.
"I would have called you father, in another life. Had you been one. But my path is my own, now. You may have created me, but I owe you nothing. No apology, no love, nothing. Goodbye, Victor. Do not hunt me again."
Victor has nothing to say. He watches, blank-faced, as you put on your heavy coat, your hat, and you step out into the pouring rain. It washes your heart as you walk from the little cottage and off the Frankenstein estate for the last time.
You are gone, and you can't <span class="strike">**go back.**</span>