April 29, 2016

In Which Isidro Lays Down the Terms

January 1, 1200

"And would you mind telling me exactly how any of that is my problem?" Question or not, Isidro didn't give his father any time to answer. The more chance he gave Domingo to speak, the more likely he was to lose his own edge. He was fucking sick of giving in. "You blew your own damn fortune. You ruined your own damn standing. You got kicked out of your own damn castle. Don't come crying to me as if I owe you a damn copper."

"I don't want to take any money from you. I just need a place to stay, and a means of getting some money for myself."

"Well, you're not staying here." It was a damn lucky thing Nato had had the sense not to let him stay the previous night. With Domingo safely at the inn when Isidro and the rest of the family had returned, he'd had the time to brace himself.

"I don't expect that either. I'm an old man with nothing left, and I just need a quiet place to die in peace. From what I've heard, you have enough standing in this godforsaken place to work something out there."

"First off, only people who know and love this country get to call it 'godforsaken'--and secondly, half the reason I ended up here is that you told me not to bother going back to Galicia. In a sense, I traded you for that standing." That, and a far better family than you were ever capable of being.

"I'm not denying that. Look, I'm getting up in years--and I realize that nothing I can say will ever make you forgive me, and maybe it shouldn't." Domingo sighed. Isidro had to squint at him; it was quite possibly the humblest phrase that had ever leaked out of that mouth. But too little, too late. "If you'd prefer never to see me again after today, then fine. But if you can find it in your heart to put me up somewhere, I'd go to my grave appreciating it."

"Don't. Your appreciation means nothing to me." If Domingo was even capable of appreciation, or any other feeling that half-acknowledged any other person. In that sense, Isidro supposed he pitied him--but he couldn't let that pity get the best of him.

But, was he really any better than Domingo if he let a man go homeless out of sheer hatred? "I can arrange to have you put up in a small farmhouse on the outskirts, but I have some conditions--and if you even think about breaking any of them, I can just as easily have you evicted."

Domingo shut his eyes, a sharp breath of relief freed through his nostrils. "I'm listening."

"Firstly, you are not to approach or contact me or Riona or any of my children or grandchildren, or nieces or nephews. If Riona or my adult children seek you out on their own, then I suppose that's their choice--but you're not allowed to initiate contact. As for Riona's siblings and stepparents, I suppose there's a chance you might interact with them on some professional capacity and that may not be avoidable, but if that happens, you will treat them with the utmost respect. Got it?"

Domingo nodded, though not without a wayward glance to the floor. Isidro gritted his teeth and continued. "Next: keep it in your pants. If you absolutely have to relieve your urges, then you can pay for it at one of the brothels--and you will pay full fare, with tip, and you'd better be the best-behaved, most respectful client any woman who services you has ever had.

"And as for your conduct among the general populace, you will be a model citizen. If you must drink, tell the innkeeper not to let you have too much. Don't pick fights--and if someone tries to pick one with you, walk away. Don't try to haggle down the price of any good or service you purchase, and if you employ any farmhands or household staff, pay them fairly and on time and don't act as if you own them. Understood?"

His father's mouth formed a flat line. Not one of those behaviors would come naturally to him--but, if he was as desperate as he claimed, then he was in no position to negotiate. "All right."

"And don't think I won't hear of any violations of my terms. Very little happens in this kingdom that Lord Severin doesn't hear about, and he won't hesitate to tell me anything he learns concerning you."

"I'll keep to your terms, Isidro."

"Be sure that you do. I'll send someone to the inn to speak with you tomorrow." His in-laws were hosting a New Years' Day banquet tonight; he'd iron out the details with Lord Severin and Lady Leonora then. But for now, he didn't want to give Domingo one more second of attention than necessary, even if he was bound to do exactly that over and over again in his own head. "Now, leave; I'd much prefer it if the first day of the new century didn't end up being entirely about you."

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