The Largos sat around the dinner table, dead quiet. They had long since finished their meals but not a single one of them made any effort to get up or even move. But despite their motionless exteriors, wars raged on inside of them. Questions, complaints, what-if's, and a million other thoughts, theories, and memories whirled around their minds. Just a week ago, they'd buried their father, Rotti Largo. He had been a selfish, evil tyrant, but he had also been their constant companion and teacher, even if his methods were cruel and unusual. Rotti was abusive, no doubt, but he was still their father and they had all lived together their whole lives. To lose Rotti now was to lose a massive piece of themselves, even if this loss was for the better.
"Do you think he ever loved us?" a voice finally asked. The voice belonged to Amber Sweet.
"Who the fuck cares?" replied the eldest, Luigi, his voice was lacking its usual fury and that was how Amber knew he didn't really mean what he said. Rotti's second son, Pavi, was silent. For once, he wasn't gazing at his reflection in some mirror.
The silence returned, but when it was broken again, Pavi was the one to do it.
"Perhaps he did-a love us," he said, his trademark Italian accent ringing true. "But that-a was-a once upon a time-a," Pavi shook his masked face.
"Once upon a time doesn't exist," Luigi grunted, still too sad to force himself into a more aggressive temper.
"But if it does, it was a long, long, long time ago," Amber grumbled.
"But it-a still existed," Pavi said. His siblings looked at him, waiting for him to go on. "I-a mean that-a perhaps-a Papa loved us once and although that time-a is-a long time passed, it-a still existed," he explained.
Something like hope shined in his dark eyes. His siblings didn't shoot that hope down. They didn't do it out of kindness, though. They did it simply because they knew that, deep down, Pavi was trying to comfort himself with the idea that perhaps their dad, in whatever afterlife he resided in, had forgiven them for being the failures they were. As unrealistic as it was, Luigi and Amber knew they were hoping the same thing.
"But where the fuck did it go?" Luigi asked, a flash of old spirit returning as he slammed his fist on the table. "What the fuck did we do to deserve his hatred? Did we not follow him to the letter? We all tried so hard to be like him but nothing we ever did was enough! Maybe he was a shitty parent! You ever think of that? That he really was nothing but a geezer? Maybe if he'd given more a damn instead of just always being pissed off at us, we might've been better!" Luigi snarled, but his voice began to crack. Amber and Pavi knew Luigi didn't really think any of that. They knew he had, no matter what he said, loved Rotti. Rage was just his coping tool.
"It doesn't matter if or when he loved us. All that matters is that his love has been long dead," Amber said. For once, she was sober and, for once, she was the downer of the three. "I can't even remember what that love might have felt like," she added with a longing sigh. It was true, though. Amber had been only about 5 when Rotti's cruelty began. Luigi and Pavi, being several years older, did remember while Amber could not.
"Maybe he was a shitty parent," Amber sighed again, sounding too tired to care. It was a new voice that her brothers weren't sure they liked. "Or maybe I'm a shitty daughter…" Luigi and Pavi flinched. They'd never heard Amber criticize herself before.
"Mi sorella," Pavi began slowly. "You-a don't-a think-a that."
"I do," Amber whined, her face scrunched into an ugly pout. "I know I've been a slut, but it's not my fault. It's the way I am. I don't get why the fuck Daddy didn't try and help," Pavi opened his mouth, probably to console Amber again, but Luigi interjected.
"Pop was a fucking geezer. He never helped me either!" Now Luigi was the one on the receiving end of a strange expression. It was, however, not his words that surprised his siblings, it was his voice. For once, it wasn't riddled with rage. It was almost sympathetic. "Dad only helped himself and this is what that did to us."
The three sat in silence for a little while longer before slowly moving to their feet, intending to cry themselves to sleep again. But of course, they would never admit that to each other.
"It's not that fact that he didn't help us that bothers me," Amber said before the three left to bed. "It's the fact that I can't feel nothing at all because I never learned how…" her brothers nodded sullenly. Despite being older and more used to Rotti's rare affection, they had still long since forgotten the lesson of love and nobody had bothered to help them relearn it. They understood their sister's fear well because they were equally afraid and the question she would soon pose would be one they'd asked themselves many times before…
"Do you think we can love?" …but they never had the answer to. They still didn't either.
AN: I'm not excusing the behavior the Largo children display in the film. I'm just explaining why it might exist. Emotional abuse can be a terrible, subtle thing.