"Gaius is ashamed of his family," Julius screams, and the Six can't imagine. "Even his accent. Stupid bastard actually changed his accent. Would you believe that?" Gaius shouts at him, a litany of abuses, the cost of care, the third nurse in a row that he's chased off just for this: for the moment when his son actually looks at him.
"How much it costs. That's all he cares about now. Not the way he was brought up, I can tell you." She listens carefully to Julius, considering him. Considering who this Gaius might really be. "But he don't like to think about that. No, he don't like to think about living on the farm and doing a day's hard..." And Gaius attacks. The smartest man in the Twelve Colonies beats at an old man with a newspaper, lamely, weakly, desperate to shut him up. Desperate to hear anything but this old refrain: that school isn't work, science and art aren't work, not like the farming men do, with their pints and fistfights. The voice he leapt into the sky to leave behind. Gaius begins to weep; the Six begins to weep.
"I'll break it down for you, Dad! You're an obnoxious, spiteful, cantankerous old git, and you're frakking lucky you're not living on the frakking street!" Julius laughs at him, triumphant. "Big man, cursing his father. Makes you feel important, does it?" Desperate to connect. The Six looks at him and sees only his need; she falls in love with the old man, just a little. "Gaius, maybe we should..." He lashes out at her too, and sends her away. "I'm sure that the driver can see you to your home," he says, calling on his money once again to draw the line of what's allowed and what can't happen. She goes, and at the door she turns and waves goodbye to Julius, touches Gaius's arm tenderly. The only thing worse than your father's strength is his weakness. You can't outrun it. Gaius closes the door behind her, hot tears in his eyes.
She answers the doorbell in her robe and pajamas, smiling nervously. The officers outside are faceless in the bright morning sunlight. Their names are Stephanie, and Sean. Sean has a kind face, but you can't see it yet. She lets them in, after a long fearful silence, and looks at the window as they sit down. Stephanie is going to say "We're so sorry," she thinks. And another piece of the world will fall down.
"We're so sorry," Stephanie says, and Laura jumps a little bit. An accident, in the night. Both sisters and her father, killed by a drunk driver. Nameless and faceless all through the night, until the casualties could be named, identified. Their bodies lay in the morgue for hours, until their identities could be verified. Getting colder in a cold room. Niece, or nephew. Laura stands up, so still and so quiet. The other driver is in stable condition. She holds herself up, against a side table; the gravity's getting stronger. Sean stands up, suddenly, as though he can save her from this. He can't. He stands back awkwardly; she asks them to leave.