"My mother only had me because she was in love with my father, and my father didn't love us because he didn't know how to, me. . . I had enough love to spare for the three of us, and yet. . . that didn't seem to be enough."
~Alaire Matsuo Delacroix
When I was born, it wasn't out of love; wasn't because I was needed, cared, or out of curiosity.
It was because my mother loved my father, and she wanted to show him that she would give anything to him. Even if it meant that she didn't once love me.
"Akio! Where are you!" Irene whined, one hand holding her phone to her ear, and the other cradling her newborn son, a swaddled infant that screamed; and cried, and whined.
Irene scowled as she hastily rocked the newborn, brow twitching as she tried to keep her focus on the love of her life's voice over the line. But the baby screamed; and wailed as if his life depended on it, tiny limbs flailing, and fat tears sliding down his pudgy pink cheeks.
Irene snarled as she clutched her cell phone, she had just gone seven hours of labor; she was sweaty, exhausted, irritated, and sullen over the fact that Akio hadn't visited her while giving birth. But here she was now; speaking to him, and all she could hear was the infants screams in her ear. It was annoying and irritating.
"NURSE!" she screamed, holding her cellphone to her shoulder, and glaring at the nearby Nurse who jumped. The women were old; about 50, with salt and pepper hair, and blue scrubs. She had a kind look on her face, and she furrowed her brows as she made her way to Irene.
She fumbled when the infant was thrust into her arms, Irene hissing seconds later "Keep him quite won't you! I'm talking to my boyfriend." then she was back on the phone, whining and pouting about how lonely and exhausted she was.
The old women huffed as she rocked the infant, the child instantly calming down but only enough that it was bearable for Irene, "Shush shush young one, wouldn't want to get your mother angry do you? shhh shhhh," the old woman lightly hushed, rocking the infant to her bosom like a granny would to her grandchild.
Six minutes later and Irene was still pouting over the phone, waving away any nurse who tried to get her off, or talk to her. The old woman continued to rock the child who was giggling by now, small limbs gripped onto his hospital given blanket.
It wasn't long before the Doctor finally showed up, clipboard in hand after being called by the Nurses about Irene, "Madam Delacroix, I'm going to have to ask you to get off the phone please." he said politely.
Irene huffed and sent him a glare "I'm with my boyfriend."
The Doctor sighed "Yes, that's what I was told, but you need to sign these papers, it's for your child's certificate." he explained.
Irene scowled "Can't I do that later."
The Doctor shook his head "We need a name for him, Madam, you can fill out the certificate later, but we need a name."
Irene glared at him "Than you name him."
The Doctor blinked in surprise "I'm sorry?"
Irene pulled the phone down to her shoulder and waved him away "Name him yourself, you, nurse, give him a name." she ordered the old woman before going back to her call.
The Doctor stumbled and the old woman stuttered "But Madam-"
"I'm. On. The. Phone." she hissed.
The Doctor sighed and finally nodded, what a frustrating woman. Turning to the Nurse he could only nod "Only the first, we'll leave the last name to them, alright."
The old woman nodded and watched as the Doctor walked off, a few of the Nurses walking after him. Probably annoyed by Irene's fussing and hissing.
Rocking the infant lightly, the old woman glanced at the pouting woman before silently walking towards the window of the room, cooing down at the child "Now now, what sort of name should I give you?" she wondered. It wasn't a little while later did the woman finally come up with a name "How about Alaire, it means happiness, just like you are. It was also my father's name, isn't it beautiful." she smiled. The baby boy in her arms merely cooed and blubbered as he stared out of the window, watching the flashing lights of the city, and full moon.
"Alaire, what a beautiful name."
But I didn't mind -didn't see that I was merely a tool for something she had her eye on, something that had nothing to do with me. She was a woman that kept me out of sight if it meant father would love her more.
"Remember sweetheart, not until I say so, alright." gorgeous, its what Irene was called, tall, slim, beautiful, she was a seductress and nobody could escape from her clutches when she clamps onto you. Alaire though, he saw her as more of the animals he had watched on Tv, peacocks if he remembers correctly, what a pretty bird.
"But Mommy, can't I see the party." He never got to see the parties, not ever, even when a guest was over, Irene was quick to hide Alaire in his closet, out of sight, and out of reach from prying eyes. Not even the maids complained about this; how could they, they were paid to serve, not to accuse and give out opinions, it wasn't in their pay grade.
Irene sighed, giving the small 5-year-old a shove towards his closet. It was at the end of the hall, in the shadows, a tall shelf was placed to the left of it so no one could see the door that was located between it; and the wall, "I told you, not today, maybe when your older." of course that was a white lie, she wasn't sure if the boy would live to see an age past 10, or if she would someday forget about him; accidentally starve him when she placed him in his closet. You could never know. It's not like she would ever show him to the public anyway, not when Akio hasn't proposed yet. And Alaire wasn't really on the top of her 'to care' list.
"But mommy-" he was cut off when the door across from his closet creaked open, and out stepped the one man he was always excited to see. "Papa!" he squealed, dark eyes like his father's shining as he tried to step around his mommy, only to come up short when the women held him back with a hand to the chest, her movements were quick; steady, as if wanting the boy to disappear once her own eyes set on the love of her life.
Alaire idolized his father, looked up to him; and if he could, would follow him as if the man could teach him to be just like him. Sadly, he wasn't given as much attention as Alaire craved for, all of that was given to his now dubbed older brother Kauru, or as his father likes to call him, his protege. He didn't mind though; even more than his distaste, he was fine with sharing his father's attention, and love. He just wished that his father would smile at him like he does Kauru.
Akio blinked as he closed the door, and adjusted his black tie. Briefly giving Alaire a glance, he merely 'smiled' at Irene and walked off.
"Eeep! Akio! wait up, please!" Irene yelped before she was shoving Alaire into the closet. The boy landed harshly on the pile of blankets placed for him on the floor and quickly scurried to escape the hiding spot he's known all his life "Mommy! please." he begged, small voice high and pitchy like a child his age should be.
Irene scowled. Swiftly taking a glance down the hall, she kneeled down and roughly took her 5-year-old son by the shoulders, firmly staring into his eyes.
For the first time in a week, she got a good look at her son. He had always looked like Akio even when she left his looks alone. His hair- since birth, had never once been cut; leaving it in ringlets and curls that sat messily on his head and laid behind him like a waterfall, ending just below his shoulders, they were black; just like Akio's, a perfect mix of charcoal and her dark red hair. His face was plump and dirtied from a lack wash today, he had Akio's milky pale skin, unblemished and perfectly rosy as if he had a fever; small freckled dots made a constellation map across the bridge of his nose and cheeks. And his eyes, they resembled so much like Akio, rounded and lidded as if he were giving her an eyed smile, but unlike Akio's, Alaire's was so full of life; and hope, and love, as if all the years that she hid him away; kept him away from prying eyes, and her lover, had all been just for him, in a way, yes, it had, but it was different from how Alaire saw it.
"You love me don't you?" Irene frowned, leaning so she was eye to eye with the boy.
Alaire sniffled, and swiftly nodded "Yes, of course, I love you mommy." he was naive, Irene had thought; so small, and meaningless. So stupid, he took everything she gave him; and made them sound like it was out of love. Even the clear distaste for him, it was as if he couldn't grasp it.
"Then stay in the closet until I say so, got it." she punctuated the order with a squeeze of his small shoulders, nails digging through his shirt, and making him wince.
Alaire stared at her, and then nodded. Head a little down, and shoulders slightly hunched, defeated.
Irene smiled "Good, your a good boy, you know that. Such a good good boy." she lightly tugged on a lock of his hair and stood up "You know the rules, right."
"Good, you can come out when the party's over." it was unlikely, really, sometimes she'd forget over her tipsiness; sometimes when she went to bed early, or after the party when she was still hyped. The maids would unlock the door after morning.
And Alaire knew that. He nodded and gave his mommy a smile "O.K... mommy-" he was cut off by Irene shushing him, and then just like that, there was darkness, the door locking not a second later. Then he heard his mommy's heels moving away from the door, and she was gone. The only thing Alaire could hear was the loud music from the party; bits and pieces from conversations here and there, and the occasional laughter.
Alaire turned on the light and was met with the familiar space of his closet. His older brother once commented that this room was small, but to Alaire, it was big, it had to be. In the corner was his pile of blankets and pillows; a makeshift bed, on the other side was a shelf with books, a picture frame of his parents, lights, small trinkets, and his 'tools'. Near the edges of the wooden walls were stuffed animals, and toys, all neatly mounted atop one another from the last time he was in here -3 days ago-, then there was a small cooler near the door, filled with food and drinks in case he got hungry.
Other than that, it was home, a room he's known since he turned 2. At first he was scared of the small space, it was constricting, dark, and lonely.
But his mommy said it would make her happy, and Alaire loved it when she was happy, it made him smile, feel giddy, and he thinks he could do anything after that. It only took him three days to relax in the closet and a year before he found the small room comforting.
The 5-year-old stared up at the big door one last time as if hoping, believing, that his mother or father would open the door for him; and for once, allow him into the parties that he always heard, but never saw.
They never did.
He decided to focus his attention on his drawings, pulling out crayons and finishing the picture he had paused on since three days ago.
He wasn't let out, until tomorrow morning.
My father though, he was a man that did give me attention, listened to me; and spoke to me unlike my mother who kept her sentences short, and brief. But it was cold, calculative, and a last thought sort of thing, as if he just spoke so I wouldn't have to stay long.
7-year-old Alaire giggled as he ran into their lounge, it was grand, big, with fancy French sofas, glass windows framing the side of the wall, with flowers upon flowers on tables and shelves and walls. Alaire had always liked this room, it was like the garden out back, but inside.
There, lounging on the sofa with a book in hand was Akio. He had that 'smile' on his face like always, and when his eyes turned to stare down at his 7-year-old son, that smile seemed to get faker, as if the mere presence of the small boy was like looking down at a project that he had gotten over years ago.
"Alaire?" his name was said as if Akio was talking with a stranger, a no one. Alaire might as well have been a stranger and a no one in the eyes of Akio.
"Look look! The gardener planted the new flowers we got today! look how pretty they are!" The small boy giggled, holding up the Red Spider Lily that he nabbed before the gardener could plant it. The new flowers would be positioned out back, around the gazebo, and stairs leading up to the back door. Akio had never understood why Irene was so fascinated with the flowers, and sadly enough, it looked like Alaire took the same liking his mother had over them.
". . Yes, it's very nice." The answer was blank and uncaring, but the very thought of Akio taking notice to it made Alaire smile; not even knowing that Akio said it just to keep the boy going, to bother someone else while he read. Kauru should be almost done with the studies he gave him a week ago, it would soon be time to move him onto something else.
Alaire's smile faltered as his papa's eyes clouded over, and moved over him than into space. He always did that when his mind went somewhere else when Alaire knew that he himself, faded from his papa's brief attention. "Papa?-"
"Alaire, why don't you show Irene the flower, she'd love it." Akio cut off, snapping out of his thinking to stare down at his book, he even waved his hand a little like shooing an annoying puppy.
Alaire stood there, flower slowly being pulled to his chest where he could stare at the pretty bright red petals alike spider legs. He had picked out this one because it was bigger than the others, brighter and prettier. He had seen Kauru bring his papa flowers before, the ones near the pond, and in the fields in the forest out back, and he smiled, and Kauru smiled. And Alaire wanted that smile, he hoped- the 7-year-old hoped, that his papa would smile at him too, tell him that it was nice and that he liked it, the same way he said to Kauru, and at least acknowledge it like he did Kauru's flowers. He didn't.
Looking up to stare at his papa, Alaire finally moved, slowly going around the couch to the other door, where he knew his mommy would be. She yelled at him for interrupting her during her 'beauty time' and threw the flower out the window, Alaire never bothered to show his parents his flowers again.
He was a man that so easily left him and his mother without a second thought, or hesitance. Just walked out in the middle of the night, saying nothing to mother, and only sparing me a glance. His protege at his heels.
10-year-old Alaire yawned as he made his way down the stairs from his bedroom. It was on the top floor, near the end of the hall, so it took him more than seven minutes to get to the kitchen. And when he finally did, he grabbed the cup of water he came down here for.
Usually, the maids would put a pitcher of water near his bed so he wouldn't have to come downstairs whenever he got thirsty, but it seemed like they forgot this time. It wasn't the first time they forgot, they always did it the next day anyway. Still, he didn't like coming down here at night, it wasn't only a bother, but scary too.
Setting the cup down on the counter, Alaire wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his pajamas and stepped off his step stool, making to go back to his room.
He paused though when he spotted two familiar figures exiting the study room. Kauru had on his black shorts, and green vest over a black t-shirt, silver hair pulled back with clips. He would usually wear that outfit when going out, saying that it was easier to move in than the fancy clothes Irene had gotten him when he moved in. The teen had on a backpack and a satchel. His papa, Akio, was dressed the same, white buttoned dress shirt tucking into black dress pants, and a black coat over his frame, still as fancy as when he walked around his home. Alaire rarely ever saw his papa in something less than that, and that was when he was going to sleep.
Stepping out from his hidden place behind the pillar Alaire finally spoke, voice small and curious "Papa? Big brother?."
Both named subjects blinked as they paused at the entrance of the french decor mansion, the door opened and let the moonlight stream in.
His papa once again merely glanced at him, stared into his wide eyes of curiosity, and then looked away -like always, walking out of the house with Kauru on his heels.
Alaire was quick to follow them, grass replacing concrete stone as he looked around from his front yard, eyes wondering every which way as he tried to find the two figures he's known for 10 years. But they were gone, disappeared into the night without a trace, it was as if they hadn't existed in the first place.
He was gone in less than a second, never to be heard of again.
My mother was devastated, waking up without her lover beside her she practically tore the mansion apart looking for him. It wasn't until I stepped up, did she finally stop, she broke down, and screeched, and yelled. Profanities leaving her mouth without a care.
The maid was quick to lead me off before I could go and comfort my mother, I was placed in the closet again, a place that was kept from Irene's destruction. And I couldn't tell if it was for my own protection, or for Irene's anger.
Since that day Irene seemed colder, harsher, eyes always quick to glance away from me when I was present as if the very sight of me was either detested or sorrowful, i wasn't sure. But Irene stopped giving attention, stopped speaking to me altogether, had even opted to pretend as if I hadn't been a part of her life, as if afraid of just the sight of me, would cause her to breakdown from the loss of her lover.
A few months later, I woke up without a mother, from what the maids were gossiping about, she had apparently ran away in the night, just like my father. I never saw her again.
The years went by in a blur after that, and I learned many things by the time I turned 11.
I found out that my father wasn't an average man, and so was my so-called brother, apparently, the guy that I had been calling Akio Matsuo, was in fact, The Reaper, a well-known assassin in the underworld and was at the top of the food chain. Kauru, however, was indeed my father's protege, for as long as I could remember, the teen had always been my older brother because I thought that Akio had another son before me, apparently not. But even then, even with all the lies, I still saw them like family, because how could I not love my father, he's the only father figure I had, no matter that he paid me as much attention as he would any person that he found noninteresting. And my older brother, Kauru, he might have not been my older brother by blood, but he was in my life since the day I was born, the teen that took me flower picking when I asked, and the brother that would spend some of his free time with me, even though he didn't have to.
Surprisingly I managed to get into school, being homeschooled, I never got the chance to make friends, or even see another kid my age while I grew up, so I wasn't surprised I didn't make many friends while I grew into my new life. In fact, I only had three during those 10 years, now though, it's pretty easy to get anyone to trust me.
I later met a nice old woman, or at least, I thought she was nice, she fed me and took me in, it wasn't until I sat down at my first dinner with her, did she bluntly tell me that she was an assassin. It was actually pretty funny with how I reacted to that news, it was as if she was telling me the weather. She then told me that she would train me, she saw the 'fire' i had in my eyes, the potential, apparently, I was a natural born assassin in waiting, it was a surprise that my father couldn't tell, and yet this woman did.
I became an assassin after that, The Crimson (Spider) Lily, isn't that a pretty name? my grandma certainly thought that; right after she laughed in my face at how painstakingly weak it sounded, I ignored her, of course. Though the profession was more of a hobby than a full-time job, I only did the missions when I needed the money, otherwise, I mostly worked around, either with people; communication, or just nature in general, anything that could keep my hands moving.
In a way, my life had changed, for the better, others might say that the path I walked down was a badly chosen dirtied road. But I confess that yes, it might have been badly chosen, but I wouldn't change it for the world.
And so life moved on for me. I lost, I cried, I loved, I smiled, and I was happy.
Then I met HIM. It was an average night when he came to me, different in both appearance and personality. It wasn't a surprise that I didn't recognize him, and he too hadn't been surprised all that much, a little bit dramatic yes, but not surprised.
You wouldn't believe that he came to me through my window, waving a limb at me as if it were a long-awaited reunion. I did the first thing that came to reflex when seeing a stranger perched on my windowsill, and tried to cut him down with my katana. It didn't work, surprisingly the thing was fast on its limbs, easily dodging my swift and practiced blows.
It wasn't until he actually began to explain did I calm down a bit.
I still couldn't believe that he actually remembered what my favorite flower was, and the request he asked of me after his explanations.
"You. . . want me to be your assistant?" I had asked, delicately arranging the Spider Lily in a vase on my nightstand.
I glanced behind me and blinked when I found my father had mysteriously brought out a tea arrangement, lightly sipping on whatever brand he had managed to find in my kitchen. I still wasn't used to his speed, I was surprised when he easily dodged my blows because not even a bullet could escape my attacks. I might be swift in blows, but that doesn't mean that I'm as fast as Mach 20, not possible for the human body, but that doesn't mean I couldn't land a blow.
"Nufufufu~ Yes, it's just for the end of the year though, nothing big, just an assistant to help with the students," he explained.
He had earlier told me what had happened to him over the two years he had disappeared. I had noticed when he had up and just vanished, never to be seen again, i had thought him dead or just decided to quit his life as an assassin. Imagine my surprise when he had actually been captured by a big organization that experimented on him for the last two years of his life. Now here he was, finally having escaped with a new personality and appearance, and not only that but his determination to-
"You want to become a teacher, right? is there any reason?" I asked.
My father shrugged "Just a. . . promise I made to someone." he merely said, face turning a little blue.
I frowned, a promise, huh, when I was younger he would have never kept his promises, not even with the simplest of requests. Can you imagine a father that would lie to you at the age of 3, how devastated I was when he said that he was working; that he had no time, or had forgotten when he promised something to me no matter the day, or the fact that all he did was read. The most simplest thing as just taking me out to pick flowers was a thing he had never kept his promise on.
"Right. . can you tell me why?" I asked, head a little tilted as I tugged on one of my long curls.
My father blinked and tilted his own head the same way, it's amazing the similarities we have, wonder what else we have in common "Why'?" he parroted.
I nodded, leaning against my desk, with my arms crossed around my chest "Out of anyone capable of the job, why me? there must have been someone more capable?" I wondered out loud, it wasn't that I wasn't capable, I had worked with many children during my life. I was just curious why he didn't simply choose a dedicated teaching assistant, rather than a man who jumps around jobs and kills without thought.
My father slumped a little, and even though he looked a little down now, I couldn't tell what he was thinking since his face always had that wide grin and rounded small eyes, but with the simplest of furrows from his brow, I knew that the look on his face was guilt. Guilt, huh?, I wondered, a little curious, it was the first time I ever saw my father with a look of guilt on his face, even when he was leaving my family behind, he had never shown guilt, just moved on like he was moving houses.
"Alaire, I know that I left you and Irene a long time ago, and even though I didn't feel much back then, I do now, and I'm sorry for how I just left you behind."
I blinked, a little taken aback by the apology, out of all the things I could have imagined coming from him, an apology was not one.
"But I'm here now, and I feel guilty for not raising you as I should have, I feel guilty for leaving you behind, I hope you and Irene could forgive me. I came here to take back all the years I've spent without you, and to spend what little time I have to see how you've grown. So, I ask you, can you be my teaching assistant." it was. . . the most cheesiest thing I have ever heard, sure it was heartfelt and honestly the one thing I had always wanted to hear come from him, but it was ridiculous.
I couldn't help but laugh, especially when his own look of offense crossed over his face at my rude approach to his apology.
"Sorry, it's just, you've never been this dramatic before, it's a little cheesy, don't you think." I giggled.
My father huffed "Well I have changed a bit since two years, it isn't bad is it?" he asked.
I shook my head with a wave of my hand "No no, I was just a little surprised is all, and about your apology, I've already forgiven you."
He looked surprised, and I didn't judge him, I had never been the hateful type, when my father left, I thought it was because he was unhappy, because he had other things to do, and sure, I might have hated him, might have cried and screamed, and cursed at him. But I forgave him a long time ago, I became an assassin not to seek revenge on him, but because I wanted to feel what my father felt on his jobs, and in all honesty, it wasn't half bad.
"You . . . . forgive me?" it was more of a question than a statement.
I nodded, picking up a small water can to water the plants on my windowsill, the sun was barely coming up from the horizon, and from my view on the top floor, it was beautiful how the orange light hit the city of Paris "a long time ago, you don't need to worry, I did at a time detest you, but I forgave you a long time ago, sure I want nothing more than to slice your head off for what you did to mother-" my father chuckled nervously "-but it's all in the past, I still love you. So yes, I'll be your teacher assistant" and honestly, it's a little surprising how I turned out despite the fact that I grew up with two uncaring parents.
"Oh, Alaire~" I blinked at the blubbered sentence, glancing behind me, I deadpanned when I saw my father let out a sob, tears leaking from his beady eyes and falling down his face like waterfalls. From somewhere he pulled out a white handkerchief and dabbed at his eyes.
I deadpanned "Papa, your ridiculous." I sighed.
The only thing I got in reply was another garbled sob, this one more intense than the other, honestly, if he hadn't told me about a few of my personal experiences than i wouldn't have recognized him from the man he used to be 9 years ago. "Will you stop crying! your going to wake up Grandma."
"B-But your the b-best son i-i've ever had!~"
"I'm your only son! and stop crying, your getting it all over the floor!"
"I said stop crying!"
Honestly, I was a little surprised at the turn of events. When I imagined meeting my father, I had dreamed of us tearing each other apart, him because he wouldn't have a shred of love for me despite the love I had for him, and me because I had no choice. But in all honesty, if I did, then I would have kneeled before his feet and allowed him to cut me down, I could never hurt my father, even if he didn't do the same for me. Instead there we were, sipping tea with each other, and talking about the years since he's left.
You couldn't imagine how shocked I was when I found out that he wouldn't live past March, which was probably why he seemed so sad that he only had a year to get to know me.
I smiled, it didn't matter that he only had a year to live, because the hour we spent together now, was the best thing in my life. It was more than he ever talked to me when I was a child. That small time together, I will always remember this, and a year.
Well, who I am to tell how my father should spend it, a teacher though? I wasn't expecting that.
I had smiled once my father left, a teacher assistant, huh? it's been a long time since I took up that job.
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