*Warning: Bad language. Hmm, it feels like it’s been a while since I needed one of these. XD
Spring. It was acknowledged by all as the season of love; of growth and new life, of happiness and peace. It was the season flowers bloomed, birds grew more colourful, and strange inexplicable garden ornaments appeared as if from nowhere only to disappear minutes later.
It was not the season of fighting. And yet, that was exactly the way the season started in the Marquel-Everhart household.
It was a familiar routine that always ended in the same way. Mireille stormed off to her room, slamming the door shut behind her. Blaise stalked off to the outside, venting his frustrations against the wooden training dummy. Reagan would contemplate why Mireille had to be so difficult, and Lyra would sigh and wonder if there was anything they could do to curb Mireille’s behaviour.
But nothing helped. Mireille was simply like the wind, unable to be tamed or held down. She exploded at the first thing to test her temper like a destructive whirlwind, and minutes later she’d be a sweet angel, showering her family with love and displays of affection like a whimsical breeze on a hot summer’s day.
At school she was always in the centre of attention, surrounded by friends and queen of her court. She obtained straight A’s, but frequently got detention for talking during class. She excelled in sport and debate, but constantly got in fights for flirting with other girls’ boyfriends. Not a day went by where Blaise or Lyra didn’t get a call from the school, informing them of her deplorable behaviour.
Grounding didn’t help. She simply snuck out, and when the police brought her back for being out after curfew, she’d shrug indifferently and listen to her parents’ lectures with a bored expression on her face.
Extra chores didn’t help. She simply didn’t do them, letting the laundry and dirty dishes piles up until Reagan or Lyra decided they couldn’t handle it anymore and did it themselves.
Time out didn’t help. She simply ignored it, sneaking away the minute they took her eyes off her, and the next thing they knew an angry neighbour would be calling, informing them that their daughter had egged the neighbours’ house.
They were completely at wit’s end. They’d tried talking, lecturing, cajoling, and even pleading, but Mireille simply didn’t care. The only thing their continued efforts had done was to drive her to spend all her extra time away from the house.
In bars, clubs and pubs.
To make things worse, she never went alone. Joined by the hip as they were, she dragged her cousin with her wherever she went, and neither of them returned home until long after curfew.
“I don’t know what to do anymore,” Arienne complained to Lyra during one of their monthly sibling get-togethers. “Lucinda doesn’t listen to us anymore, and nothing except grounding seems to help anymore, and that only for a couple of days before she starts misbehaving again. I don’t know what to do.”
“At least grounding still helps,” Lyra pointed out with a grumble. “Grounding does absolutely nothing for Mireille. Nothing helps with Mireille. She’s come home in a police cruiser a couple of times and she still just doesn’t care. If I knew how to get her to stop misbehaving, believe me, I would’ve done it ages ago.”
“Give the girls some responsibility,” Renard suggested. “Maybe a pet, or something. It worked well enough with Alexis.” Lyra gave her brother a disdainful glare. She had never heard of Renard’s daughter giving any problems like that, so what would he know?
“We already have a cat,” Lyra pointed out irritably. “And if we get any more pets it won’t be Mireille looking after them. It’ll be Reagan, or me.”
“Then give her something to do,” Renard gave another suggestion, boredom colouring his voice. “She’s probably just bored, or she wants attention, and she’s thumbing her nose at you because she’s getting attention, even if its negative. The more time you actively spend with her, the less time she’ll have to get into trouble.”
Lyra’s temper flared at the subtle accusation.
“Are you saying I’m not spending enough time with my daughter?” she snapped at him.
“I’m saying,” he interrupted, “the more someone keeps an eye on her the less she’ll get in trouble. At the end of the day, that’s something we all desire, isn’t it? Mireille stays out of trouble, Lucinda will stay out of trouble, and I won’t have to arrest either of my nieces for underage drinking or heaven forbid, underage sex.”
Lyra blanched and snapped her mouth shut, sickened by the implications. The girls were fourteen. They were far too young to be thinking about sex. Then again, they were far too young to be thinking about drinking and Lyra already knew her daughter was going out doing just that. It didn’t matter that there was no respectable barman who would sell the girls drinks, because in the first place, there was no such thing as a respectable barman in the places the girls frequented, and secondly, Mireille was pretty and she knew how use that to her advantage. If things continued like this, it wouldn’t be long before the girl did end up warming somebody’s bed.
“So that’s it?” she asked in frustration. “Your advice is to just ‘keep an eye on her’?”
“My advice,” he stated after he swallowed, “is to make sure she’s too tired to want to go out, and when she does want to go, go with her. Take her to Mike’s. It’s got all the thrill and fun of an ‘adult’ place, but it’s respectable, and there’ll be more than enough people to keep an eye on her.”
Lyra mulled over the idea as she sipped from her coffee. It was worth trying, at least.
Mireille leaned on the railing, watching her dad pound the wooden dummy into oblivion. It was kind of mesmerizing to watch, and just a little bit cool. There was a sense of control and purpose in her dad’s movements that just looked so cool. She wondered, not for the first time, what he had been like when he lived on Howell Island. He had to have been one of the fighters, like Reagan’s dad.
She was even willing to bet he’d been a far better fighter than Reagan’s dad. The photo in Reagan’s part of their room just seemed so…unimpressive. There were days she wondered if the man had even really fought on Howell Island, because nobody that scrawny could be any good at fighting.
But her dad…yeah, she could believe he had been a fighter.
“What was Howell Island like, dad?” she asked curiously, idly kicking at the floor planks. “How often did you fight?”
“I fought as often as was necessary,” her dad declared. “No more, no less. Why do you ask? Think fighting’s ‘cool’?”
Mireille gave a half-hearted shrug.
“Well, yeah, a little,” she admitted. “It looks cool. But to be honest, I can’t see what’s so fun about fighting against a wooden post.”
“Fighting isn’t about fun, or being ‘cool’, Mireille,” her dad admonished. “It’s about protecting, yourself and others. Your first reason for fighting should never be because it’s ‘cool’ or ‘fun’.”
“Yet you and mom constantly fight. For fun,” Mireille pointed out, referring to her parents’ daily sparring sessions.
“We’re not –“ Her dad sighed with irritation and rubbed his forehead. “We’re not fighting for fun, Mireille. We’re sparring. There’s a difference.”
“So…you’re not ‘sparring’ because it’s fun?” Mireille correctly sweetly.
“We’re sparring because it’s a way to keep our skills sharp,” her dad argued. “It’s about being in control. It’s about being challenged and pushed to our limits, so that when the time comes we have to fight, we can. Come here.”
Mireille eyed her dad suspiciously, but obeyed his order without complaint. To her confusion, when she stood in front of him, he turned back to the training dummy.
“Have your mother ever told you how her dad died?” he asked her softly as he started fighting the dummy again.
Of course her mom hadn’t. Her mom never talked about him. It had been years before Mireille had even found out her granddad had died when her mom had been just a teen.
“It’s not really my story to tell, but it’s one I want you to know.” Her dad seemed to know the answer, as he continued speaking, falling into an easy rhythm against the dummy. “Your grandfather was a peaceful man. He loved his family, and he adored his children. He was not a fighter, but when they were in danger he fought to protect his family. As a result, he saved those precious to him,” he stopped moving and allowed the dummy to spin in place, “but in the process, he lost his life.”
Mireille blinked in surprise. Her granddad had died fighting? She’d always thought he died from illness, or some kind of freak accident. The man in the photo on her mom’s bedtable looked so gentle. She would never have guessed he had died in a fight.
“If your grandfather had possessed even a tenth of the skill your mom does today,” her dad continued, “he would not have died that day. He would’ve gone home to his family and save them from years of endless grief. But he didn’t have the skill or the experience, so he died and his family was torn apart. And he’s not the only one. Even Reagan’s dad died because he went into a fight, unprepared and out of practice.”
He placed his hand on the nape of her neck, his calloused hand warm and firm against her neck, but strangely gentle.
“Fighting is not about having ‘fun’ or being ‘cool’, Mireille,” he repeated softly. “It’s about protecting what you care about, and about walking away from a dangerous situation, alive. Do you understand?”
Mireille nodded, understanding his point, even if she didn’t agree with it herself. Not all fights were about life or death. She’d been in quite a couple of fights, and there was nothing dangerous about them. It was something she did to blow off steam, because it was…fun…
…but that was just it, wasn’t it? It wasn’t supposed to be fun. What kind of person did that make her, that she enjoyed picking fights? What did it say about her, that she enjoyed hurting others for no reason?
Her side of her dad’s mouth quirked up in approval.
“Good,” he approved. “I can teach you how to fight, if you want to learn. But if you do, I want you to promise me that you will never use the skills I teach you for the wrong reasons. Can you promise me that?”
She should’ve jumped at the chance. Her father was a good fighter, and if he taught her, she doubted she’d ever lose a fight again. But she was no saint, and she was well aware of how short her temper was. She didn’t want to make a promise she couldn’t keep.
“…but you don’t think you’ll be able to keep that promise,” her dad finished. His tone of voice was neutral and understanding, but at the same time Mireille could feel the weight of his disappointment on her shoulders, and she didn’t like it.
It was the first time it mattered to her that she had disappointed her dad.
“…yes,” she admitted, utterly ashamed of herself.
“I see,” her dad said, and wordlessly turned back to the dummy, filling the air once again with the sound of flesh hitting wood. Mireille walked away without another word, feeling like her relationship with her dad had taken a big knock.
It surprised her when she realised her cheeks were wet with tears.
Reagan sat on his bed, studying the mementoes of his life that was proudly displayed in his half of the bedroom he shared with Mireille. Disregarding the photos of his parents, to any other person the stuff in his room probably looked like a bunch of junk, but they were all precious to him nevertheless.
The geode had been the very first gem he ever found, back in elementary school after he had just joined the boy scouts club. The luminorious gem had been a gift from Mireille, and the diamond had been a lucky find on the riverbank. The sunstone he had searched long and hard for still missed its moon-variant, but he was going to find one. He’d been looking for one for ages.
The water beetle on his shelf lived in the cage that used to hold the cockroach that had been the very first insect he’d ever caught. He could still remember Lyra’s absolute revulsion when she’d seen the insect, but she’d never forbidden him from keeping it. The butterfly on his bookshelf had been the very first thing he’d transmuted with magic.
The broken statue had been a little puzzle he wanted to solve, but he’d never found the final missing piece. The deceptively light meteor had intrigued him since forever. It was just mind-boggling that something so large could be so light.
They were all so very important to him. Funny to think that soon, he’d have to leave them all behind. Today had been his very last day at school, and tomorrow…tomorrow he’d be off to university, where he was going to study to become a doctor.
He was still a little bit in disbelieve. He hadn’t really thought he’d gain admission, but he’d been accepted. He’d made the cut. Now, he could start on his dream of helping those in need, and making others happy. The future just seemed so bright and full of opportunity. He couldn’t wait.
His eyes lingered on the photos of his parents for a moment, studying the familiar faces. They’d been looking over him for as long as he could remember. As a child he’d gazed long hours at those photos, searching for his own features in those faces and wishing so hard that they could’ve been there.
He wondered what they would think of him, if they could see him now. Would they be proud of him? Probably. But it didn’t matter anymore. There was someone else he knew was proud of him, and it didn’t matter one bit that they didn’t share blood. Blood didn’t make a family. Love did. Memories did. The people in the photos in front of him were nothing more than what-could’ve-beens, and he wouldn’t change his what-has-beens for anything.
“Reagan! Dinner time!” Lyra’s voice called out from the kitchen, and Reagan easily tore himself away from the photos.
His last night at home was bittersweet. It wasn’t different than any other night, but the knowledge it would be the last time gave him that homesick feeling.
But all too soon night arrived, and early the next morning, before the sun even rose, it was time to pursue his dreams and the rest of his life.
“Thanks, Lyra,” he gratefully hugged his mother-in-all-but-blood, his eyes stinging with tears. “For everything. I’m really going to miss you.”
“Hopefully, not that much,” Lyra laughed at him, patting his back. “We’ll see you soon, won’t we? Before you know, you’ll be done with uni and you’ll be back here in Moonlight Falls, right?”
“Right,” Reagan laughed, a little sheepish. It felt like good-bye, but really, it was just a temporary separation. He knew he’d always be welcomed back home.
“Have fun at university, Reagan,” Lyra wished him, her eyes soft and gentle. “And don’t forget to call, okay? We’ll be waiting.”
“Of course,” Reagan promised earnestly.
“Now go,” Lyra sniffed, her eyes suspiciously wet, “before I start crying. Take care, okay? We’ll see you soon.”
“Okay,” Reagan agreed and gave her a farewell hug. “Bye, Mom.” He whispered the words softly, more to himself than Lyra, giving in to that little wish of his. He always wanted to call her his mother, but he’d always been a little afraid.
She must’ve heard him, because her arms tightened further around him, and he was pretty sure he felt his shoulder grow wet.
“Bye, sweet-heart,” she returned thickly, and soon it was Blaise’s turn. If it had been difficult saying good-bye to Lyra, Reagan knew it would be ten times worse with Blaise. Blaise had always been the one who understood him best.
Blaise gave him that familiar half-smile of his and pulled him into a one-armed hug.
“Take care, son,” he murmured and pulled away from the hug, but Reagan felt his heart swell with happiness. Son. How badly had he wished to hear that word from the man in front of him. “We’ll see you soon.” He gave a brusque nod and Reagan knew that was the only good-bye he’d get.
But that was fine. He didn’t need anything more.
Mireille looked around the room. Her room. Reagan was gone now, so that meant the entire room now belonged to her. All his little knick-knacks were still in the room, sitting on his dresser and on his shelves, but the dresser was emptied of clothes and the bed was stripped bare of his familiar purple bedding.
It was, to be honest, just a little bit lonely.
She forcefully shook off the melancholy. Her room now. Hers. Now she could have friends over, or prance around naked if she wanted. There was no risk of her pseudo-brother walking in on her anymore, and she no longer had to knock before entering.
She twirled around in front of the mirror, winking at the sight that met her. Perfect. She critically tugged the front of her dress down just a little bit before smiling in satisfaction. It was time to paint the town red.
The house was dark as she quietly slipped out of her room, tiptoeing past her parents’ room and praying that the floorboards wouldn’t squeak and alert them of her intentions. She cautiously glanced around the dark living room before smirking. The coast was all clear.
Lucinda was already waiting for her at the place they’d agreed to meet at. Varg’s Tavern was one of their old haunts – it had all the things a young girl with a thirst for partying needed. Dim lights, loud music, games galore, bartenders who didn’t ID…what more could a girl want?
She could feel the eyes on her the moment they walked into the pub. She loved being in the centre of attention. There were even a couple of faces in the crowd she recognised!
Tonight was going to be good.
And it was. She didn’t have to buy herself a single drink, as there were more than enough guys who wanted the attention of a pretty girl. She flirted shamelessly where she could, and when she got the attention she wanted she’d them the cold shoulder and go to dance on her own.
It was so much more fun than being at home. And interesting. There were a lot of things she was curious about, and some of them she might even get answers for.
Like kissing. She was kinda curious about the whole kissing thing. She wasn’t like all the hopeless romantic saps in her class who were ‘waiting for the one’ or freaking out because ‘it’s my first kiss!’ or sentimental crap like that. She was just curious. She just wanted to know what it was all about.
Why would she want to deprive herself of such an interesting activity? Even if the pick-up lines were dumb. Okay, maybe she secretly enjoyed those stupid pick-up lines. They were funny.
By the time the pub closed and kicked everybody out, Mireille was buzzed, mellow and happy.
Lucinda smirked at her, equally as buzzed.
“That was fun,” Lucinda declared with sparkling eyes. “Are we going home now? Or are we gonna check out some other places?”
Mireille tapped her chin, seriously considering the question. She didn’t really want to go home yet, but…it was getting pretty late, and her dad was a ridiculously early riser. She did not want to get caught.
“Nah, I think let’s stop here,” she suggested. “We can always check out some other places tomorrow, right?”
“Sure,” Lucinda agreed easily. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
And that was that. Who knew where they’d end up tomorrow?
Mireille couldn’t wait to find out.
Turned out, they ended up somewhere boring. Mike’s. It had been one of the first places they’d checked out, and they’d both very quickly agreed that Mike’s Karaoke was boring. Only old people went there.
But apparently their parents had decided to have a night out with family and they had to go with. So there they were. Stuck.
“Think we’ll be able to slip away, sometime?” Lucinda whispered to her cousin. Mireille contemplated the idea, but the hawk’s eye her dad kept on her made her seriously doubt the possibility. She regretfully shook her head.
“Not while they’re here,” she decided. “Let’s just ignore them and try to have fun, okay?”
Lucinda wrinkled her nose at the suggestion, but knew that was the best she’d get.
They tried to have fun. Really, they did.
It was just all so boring. No drinks. No cute boys to flirt with. No kissing. Just…old people and boring music. Why would anybody come to this dump? It certainly wasn’t to have fun. There was nothing interesting going on.
“Hi there,” a voice chirped up from behind Mireille. “Want to play some pool? We can split the cost.” She looked up at the speaker over her Spline Reticulator (virgin, ugh), eyebrows raised questioningly. It took her about half a second to recognise the speaker. Jeanne Mattell, class nerd and bookworm, teacher’s little pet. Also, the girlfriend of the guy she flirted with last week. The guy she made out with last night.
Territorial little bitch. Wonder if she knew about that?
“Oh wait,” Jeanne immediately backtracked, her voice filled with dislike, “it’s you. Never mind. I don’t want wanton little slags joining my game anyway.”
Mireille tilted her head and smirked, eyes glinting dangerously. Oh, there was no way she was gonna let that one go.
“Really?” she asked, voice dripping with sugar. “I guess that means your boyfriend can’t join either, considering he was all over me last night, like a wanton little slag. You know, he’s got this interesting little thing he does with his tongue that’s– “
With a shriek of rage, Jeanne launched herself at Mireille.
It was a good, satisfying fight. The bitch totally deserved it. Their screams echoed all over the venue as they scratched at and tugged each other’s hair, yelling insults and derogatory terms all the way and attracting the attention of everybody else in the karaoke bar. Lucinda and a couple of other guys their age cheered and egged them on, and Mireille used the opportunity to get rid of all her pent-up frustrations.
That would teach the bitch.
Her glee was short-lived when strong hands firmly pulled the two teenagers apart, breaking the fight. Mireille tossed her dishevelled hair across her shoulder and gave the other girl another hateful glare before she took note of who had broken the fight apart.
Her face blanched, draining of all colour. She didn’t think she’d ever seen her dad so angry.
A/N: And Mireille can’t even let her parents have one night of peace. XD
But oh gosh. Mireille is fun. She's constantly pulling the most amazing expressions. I blame those eyebrows of hers. XD