|Tales From Seal Beach: Bitterness and Sweet
Author: Xazz PM
He wasn't excited about the baby. In fact when his mother told him he was furious. He hated it. He didn't even give it a gender, or a proper pronoun. To him it was an it and he hated it and wished it never existed and would just go away.Rated: Fiction M - English - Altaïr & Desmond M. - Words: 7,778 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 36 - Follows: 6 - Published: 04-21-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8046263
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
'Nother commission, this one from djanissa over on Tumblr. Holy wow writing this sucked the life and joy out of me.
If you'd like to commission me you can find all my info here: tinyurl. com/6ljzxxq
Altair was excited when his mother told him she wouldn't be going on her trip to South Korea. In fact he'd never been more excited, especially when she said that she'd be staying home for a while. When she told him why though he felt his stomach drop and then ball into a tight, hard, knot of anger and jealousy. His mother was pregnant.
It wasn't fair!
His parents had never been able to have children, that was why they'd adopted Altair when he was a little boy. He loved his parents, he really did. But they were so busy. Busy making sure Altair had everything he wanted or needed and made sure he had a home to come home to when he got out of school each day and had food in the kitchen and someone who would be at home with him when they were away. Really his sitters were always really nice. That had been when he'd first been adopted though and now he was old enough to look after himself.
But now his parents were having a baby. A real baby. Not someone they'd adopted and he saw the expanse stretch out in front of him. As it was he did everything he could to get his parents to pay attention to him, to make them proud, to love him. He knew they loved him, even if he didn't see them often. But they were busy people and his father was an important man in the Navy. It was okay when they were away. Altair was a big boy, he could take care of himself. If his parents had a baby, one that was really theirs, it would just make it that much harder to get their attention.
He wasn't excited about the baby. In fact when his mother told him he was furious. He hated it. He didn't even give it a gender, or a proper pronoun. To him it was an it and he hated it and wished it never existed and would just go away.
His mother was happy though. And she was home. She was home more then she'd been since he was a little boy, still trying to learn Spanish while his mother tried to make sure he continued to be able to speak Arabic like he had in Morocco. So he resigned himself to it. He would accept this addition, but that didn't mean he had to like it.
His mother, Kaley, and he were in a Home Depot. His father was stationed at some naval base along the east coast of the the United States. They'd moved in the middle of Altair's seventh year from the Philippines. He liked being back in America. People spoke English in the Philippines, or some people did, but he was awful at filipino. Kaley was looking over color swatches. They were going to paint its room soon, before her tummy got too big.
Altair was leaning against the cart making faces at another boy down the aisle who eventually gave him the finger. His mother scolded him and Altair grinned and looked away. "What do you think baby?" she asked him and held out a few of the little color chips. Altair didn't want to be here. Not in Home Depot at least, though he enjoyed being with his mother. He loved her and she was beautiful with long brown hair that was just a little bit curly and had cheerful hazel eyes that were almost always smiling. He only ever saw his mother in a bad mood when her boss told her she couldn't go on such or such trip and her article was canceled.
She was holding out a rainbow of colors and he wrinkled his nose. "I don't even know where to start," he said with a huff that no thirteen year old should make. He knew his mother said he acted older then his age but… he sort of had to be. "Pick a color and then decide on the shade," and he leaned against the cart again, swinging one leg out behind him.
She smiled, she was always smiling. "Well, it's a boy," she put her hand on her stomach. She was sixteen weeks along. Altair didn't go by months, he went by weeks. He didn't know why pregnancies were weird like that. Why not just months? Or months and weeks? It was silly. "It should be blue."
"I don't like blue," he complained.
"Well it isn't your room Altair," she said. He swallowed his words. It was his room. It was going to be staying in his room because they only had two bedrooms in this house, as they'd moved in before his mother knew she was pregnant and since his father was away on tour they couldn't really move till he came home. He clenched his jaw and looked away, feeling his eyes burning with tears he refused to shed. He wouldn't cry in front of her. If he did his mother would be upset. He didn't want that. He loved his mother, he would do anything for her.
He looked up once he'd mastered himself a few seconds later. "What about yellow?" he asked. He liked yellow. It was such a pretty color. It was also important. When he saw yellow he saw something that had to be done.
"Hmmm," she mulled it over. "Yes. And that way, if the ultrasound is wrong it will be okay with a girl. You're such a clever boy Altair," and she gently ran a hand through his hair. He perked up and beamed at her, basking in her love. "What sort of yellow though? There are so many!" she cried in exasperation.
Altair went to stand up next to his mother at the wall of color swatches. There were all manner of hues, tints, and shades and it sort of made Altair's eyes hurt. How did you choose with all this? He narrowed his eyes a little and some seemed to stick out more then others. He plucked those deftly out with his quick fingers. "How about these?" he asked.
Kaley took the swatches from him and examined them. "I think this one for the walls," she said after several long moments. When Altair looked he saw it was the one he'd liked the most, the one that had stuck out the most from the other yellows. "And this one for the trim?" where the wall color was a more vibrant yellow the other was paler, like the color of custard to the wall's sunflower.
"Yes!" he said with his own smile.
"It's settled then," she put the other swatches down. "I'm so lucky to have a good boy like you to help me with these things," she sighed a little even as she looked at him fondly.
"Or you would have been here all day," he said in a sort of sing song voice.
She laughed, "Yes, probably," she agreed and they went to find an employee to mix the paint.
Shopping for things was a lot less fun when it wasn't for him. Babies needed a lot of things: lots of clothes, lots of toys, lots of stuff. With his father out at sea Altair was stuck helping his mother with everything. Not that he minded but he had trouble with things, especially since his mother was about twenty six weeks along and her belly was bigger now and he had to do a lot of things or lift things or push things around since his mother couldn't because of her stomach. He didn't like looking at her stomach. It made him feel sort of sick. Because that was where all his fear came from, that was where everything he was afraid and nervous about came from. Would his parents still love him with a new baby? Their baby?
She sometimes asked if he wanted to touch it and he would just shake his head. He didn't want to touch it. How something that wasn't even alive yet could terrify him so much was itself sort of scary. He didn't like it. He doubted he ever would.
He was doing his best though, as he always did. Today they were in Sears looking for cribs and swings. They were so small and Altair stared down at the swing as his mother browsed the cribs further down the aisle. This one was royal blue and had bright yellow ducks on it.
He wondered if he'd ever had anything like this. He doubted it. His birth parents had died when he was barely more then a toddler and he'd had no other relatives. His parents had adopted him and he was a citizen of multiple countries because of it. He was a citizen of his birth country; Morocco, and of the one he'd been adopted into; Spain, where he'd so far lived the longest in one place which was three years, and he was also a citizen of America, obviously as his father was a soldier. His mother had a green card when she married his father. It was all sort of confusing in some way that made perfect sense to him. He was from three places, but he didn't really… belong anywhere. They'd moved around so much since they'd left Spain when he was six to the point he'd just stopped keeping track. The only good thing was that he could speak, read, and write in three languages fluently: English, Spanish, and Arabic. His teachers always complained though since sometimes he wrote entire test answers in Spanish. He couldn't help it, English was hard, Spanish and Arabic came easier for him. Once he'd had to write an essay for his English class about people who had influenced his life. He'd written the entire thing in Arabic because he thought it was easier. His teacher had not been impressed and he'd gotten detention for it.
He'd written all the rest of his assignments for that year in Arabic afterwards.
"Altair," his mother called and he looked up and around, she wasn't in the aisle.
"What is it mom?" he called back and quickly went to find her on the aisle over.
He padded over to her where she stood next to the cribs. "This is going to be your brother's crib," she said resting her hand on a large box with a picture of a crib on it. "Write down the number for me," since he had the notepad. It was better if he kept it as his mother was a bit scatter brained at times. She was a very focused and driven individual but at the same time she could be sort of forgetful. He quickly jotted down the serial number. "Did you find a swing?" she asked.
"Uh… yeah," he said almost hesitantly and licked his lips. "I need to go write it down, be right back," and he left to go write the serial number down for the blue one with the yellow ducks. It was already getting things he never had. It just made him dislike it more.
The next day the crib, a changing table, and the swing were delivered to the house. Altair was tasked with putting it together as his mother couldn't. So he took all the crib pieces out of the box and laid them on the floor. His mother read him the instructions as he worked, she remained sitting in the comfortable rocking chair.
When he banged his thumb with a hammer he felt tears spring to his eyes and whimpered, having to stop. He was glad his mother was there though, because she jumped to her feet and ushered him into the kitchen and ran it under cold water as he sniffed back tears. "It's all right Altair," she cooed and put ice on his hand, one arm wrapping around his skinny shoulders in a hug.
"Do I have to build this dumb crib?" he's sniffed.
"Then where will your brother sleep?" she asked and reached up to brush her thumb across his cheeks, just under his eyes, catching the slight traces of water. He swallowed his words again. He didn't say that he didn't want a little brother. He didn't say that he didn't want to share his parents, that he loved them too. He didn't say that he thought he was enough for them, wasn't he? He didn't say that he hated his little brother, and he wasn't even born yet. He didn't say he didn't care where it slept, so long as it wasn't in his room. He didn't say any of those things. "Oh baby," she pressed her lips to his hair, "I know you hit yourself on accident but that's no reason to give up."
A strange, blinding, angry moment suddenly overwhelmed him for a heart beat. He shouldn't have to do this! He was just a kid. Why wasn't his father here helping his mother? Why wasn't he the one putting this crib together? He squeezed his eyes shut as the feeling faded and he felt sick. How could he think that? He was an awful son! He pressed into his mother's chest, feeling ashamed, though didn't say anything of it.
Before the day was over he'd put together the crib, the swing, and the changing table.
A man in a pair of fatigues showed up at his door one day when he came home from school. His mother hadn't been home and the car way gone. He tried to think if he'd forgotten she had a doctor's appointment. He remembered all of them though, so he didn't see how he had forgotten this one. Even if she did have one it wouldn't have taken so long she wouldn't have been home when he got home from school. So he'd worried until Corporal Brown had shown up.
He was a younger man with close cropped hair and a serious face. "Altair, your mother's in the hospital," he said and for an instant he panicked before Cprl Brown continued. "She went into labor this morning, she wanted me to come get you."
"Oh," he said stupidly and then remembered seeing his mother's bag, the one she'd wanted to take to the hospital with her, in her room still where she'd left it since week thirty-two. "Just a second," and he left Cprl Brown at the door and got his mother's bag, and his own smaller one and shoved his feet back into his sneakers. "Okay," he said, appearing back before the Corporal. He'd just nodded as Altair had locked the door behind him and followed the sailor to a car in the driveway and climbed in next to him.
It was a silent ride to the base hospital and Altair did his best to sit still. It was hard though. He kept worrying. His mother had been a bit sick the last few days and earlier in her pregnancy she'd had low iron and a drop in white blood cells. He'd, of course, read up on all the things that could go wrong during pregnancy. He'd had nightmares of his mother dying while having it and it made him sick to his stomach. A few nights he'd woken up from a nightmare filled with blood and screams and wouldn't be able to sleep again till the sun was almost rising. His mother always said he had an active imagination, like that was a good thing. All it did was let him imagine the most awful and terrible things that could happen to her.
The hospital was clean and an unoffensive temperature for mid March and Cprl Brown led him to the elevators and up to the maternity ward. Now he fidgeted, playing with the strap of his mother's bag across his shoulder as anxiety licked at his stomach. The elevator stopped and he followed Cprl Brown out and down the hall. The door was closed but he could hear pained noises coming from inside, his insides shrank and he felt his stomach cramp in fear. Cprl Brown knocked and then stuck his head in briefly.
When he retrieved his head he said to Altair, "They know you're here. You can wait here till they say you can come in," he motioned to some chairs. He unslung the bag from his shoulder and set them both down and sat. When he looked up again Cprl Brown was gone and he was alone in the hallway. He brought his knees up to his chest with a worried frown and stared at the door.
Time passed. A lot of time passed actually. Several hours and nothing happened. Sometimes he'd hear pained noises, other times it would just be silence. Eventually he managed to calm his anxiety and he pulled out his iPod and listened to some music and played Metroid on his DS to help pass the time. Apparently there were other kids in the hospital too, probably bored or worried like him and he found some on pictochat. He didn't know who they were but he smiled for the first time it what felt like days when a multi message picture of a dick was drawn on the screen.
At some point a nurse found him, still sitting there, and asked what he was doing. He told her his mother was in that room. She asked if he was hungry. Honestly he hadn't even noticed. He was though, as he hadn't eaten since lunch that day at school. The nurse said to come with her to the cafeteria, but at his reluctant look at the door she'd just smiled, told him he was a good son and would go get him something. He had a ham sandwich for dinner with a fruit cup and a bottle of chocolate milk. Still his mother nor anyone came out of the room.
He was too nervous to sleep though, even as the hours ticked by and his normal bed time came and went. He might have dozed a little, but not really slept. Then he was instantly alert when the door opened and the midwife stepped out. "Ah, hello there Altair," she said nicely. "You've been out here a long time haven't you?" he nodded. "Why don't you come in? We're done," she said and he scrambled to his feet, grabbing his mother's bag, and his smaller satchel and followed the midwife inside.
It smelled in the room. Like blood and sweat and other fluids he couldn't name. The nurses were bustling about, cleaning up, putting things away. He barely saw any of it and floated over to his mother in the bed. She looked like she was sleeping, a blue swaddled bundle clasped to her chest. "Mom?" he asked.
Her eyes opened, a radiant smile lit up her face. "Now there's my big boy," she said, glowing. She managed to wriggle a little higher up on her pillows. "Your little brother didn't want to come be with us," she said and he peered over the hood-like blanket. Now the baby was no longer an it, it was real and had a gender and his mother was holding it and looking at him with such adoration he just wanted to sit there and cry. It wasn't fair!
"I brought your bag," he blurted out to stop himself from feeling like this. He should be glad his mother was happy. He shouldn't be upset!
She smiled at him, "Such a good boy, what would I do without you to remember everything?" she asked him.
"You'd loose your head," he said wondering if his voice sounded as tight as his throat felt.
His mother laughed tiredly, "My editor says the exact same thing," she agreed. "Come here," she beckoned him close and he leaned forward. She wrapped him in a one armed hug and kissed him on the cheek. He pressed his face into her shoulder and swallowed several times before pulling away. He didn't even look at the baby in her arms.
The ceiling was still white, even if the rest of the room was sunflower yellow. Across the room from him the baby fussed. He knew the baby had a name, his name was Desmond, but some part of him couldn't even bring him to call it that. The baby's fussing had woken him. Usually by now his mother came into the room to take care of him, feed him, or change him, and then rock him back to sleep. He knew Kaley had never done that to him, he'd been too old for that, but he liked to imagine his birth mother had done that to him when he was a baby. He rolled over onto his side, facing away from the crib, towards the wall.
The baby continued to fuss, getting more upset, and he could imagine it's face puckering and turning red, little eyes clenching as if in fury. He grabbed his pillow and pulled it over his head. It wasn't his problem. It wasn't his problem. Then it started to cry and he just wanted to scream.
That's when his mother came in and tended to him. Altair pretended to be asleep. He hated his little brother. Because of him he couldn't sleep, because of him his mother had even less time to give him. He hated the little poop and snot and vomit factory and he'd only been alive a month.
He was crying silently when his mother left the room, the baby back asleep in his crib, and he didn't know if it was from anger or sorrow. The tears tasted the same as always.
It was three months before Altair held his little brother for the first time. William had finally come home. His father had been angry about having missed his son being born but he was happy to finally meet him. Altair had refrained from holding Desmond all this time by saying he didn't want to hurt the baby, that he was afraid he'd drop him. Kaley would just laugh and say he was being silly, but wouldn't push him to do so.
But since William had come home it was even worse. With the two of them around you'd think there would be more time for him. There wasn't. It wasn't that his parents didn't spend time with him, they did, but it was never just with him, it was with him and Desmond. Still, William was home and baseball season had started since Desmond was born and Altair played on his school's little league team, and his father came to every game and practice. He wasn't a very good hitter, nor was he a good thrower. But he could catch anything. Seriously, he could catch anything and so squatted behind home plate, catching every shitty pitch the pitcher threw at him, and the good ones too.
Altair loved baseball. It was a time when he could be proud of something he could do well. He did well in school too, even if his English grades were always just above failing, but this was something he enjoyed and that his parents could see him do. He could do this and make them proud of him and listen to them cheer him on. Though sometimes his mother wasn't in the stands because the noise upset Desmond.
It was three months though when William decided to take Kaley out. She'd been basically stuck in the house for months and he'd only been on land for about a month. He said they deserved to do something without the kids. Altair had just stared at them from over his DS trembling when William said that Altair could watch Desmond, he was old enough and despite his protests he did know how to change a diaper and feed his brother, just to give his mother a break from the baby. He hadn't said no. Even if he had he knew he'd be ignored. He was just a kid and his parents did what they wanted, he knew that.
So his parents left for the night and Altair was left with Desmond. The baby was in his swing in the living room when they left and Altair camped out in front of the TV to keep an eye on the little poop stain as the swing went back and forth, back and forth, as he sucked on his pacifier. Altair did his homework and then pulled out his PS2. He didn't have any friends to call to come over, well, he had friends, but they were school friends. He'd only lived here nine months, and most of those were during vacation time. So he didn't really have good friends. That was besides the fact that he never stayed in one place long enough to make real friends.
At one point Desmond started to fuss, Altair ignored him. Then he managed to get his pacifier out of his mouth and started crying. Altair paused his game, stomped over to the swing and popped the pacifier back in before going back to his game. He hadn't even sat down when Desmond had spit it out again. He glared at the baby but it didn't do any good and the crying was started to make his head hurt.
He got up again and went over to the swing, unbuckling him from the swing and clumsily picked him up. He'd never held his brother before but he'd seen his parents do it, and his mother had had to instruct his father on how to hold the baby so it couldn't be that hard. He got it pretty quick and checked to see if he was wet. Oh gross. He was.
He took the baby to the changing table in their shared room and, trying not to gag, changed his brother and rebuttoned up his onsie. He sighed looking down at the infant with a frown. Why did people think babies were so cute? They were just little screaming, pooping, crying monsters who kept you up at night and distracted your parents. Eventually he picked his brother up and brought him back to the swing and buckled him in and shoved the binky into his mouth and started it up again before going back to his game.
Half an hour later Desmond was crying away. With a groan Altair dragged himself back to the swing. He couldn't be wet but he checked anyway. He wasn't. Hungry then? Grumbling he grabbed his brother up and went into the kitchen and made up some formula. Holding Desmond in one arm was a bit difficult but he managed and realized this was why people did this sitting down. So promptly he sat on the kitchen floor and fed his brother.
He leaned against the floor cabinets and closed his eyes as Desmond slowly emptied the bottle. As he did he squirmed and when Altair looked his brother was kicking his legs. He frowned. "That isn't going to work," he informed the baby who looked like he was doing his best to look cute. The baby kicked a few more times before going still, as though he understood, and looked up at Altair with his light brown eyes as he suckled on the bottle. Altair stared back and then the baby stopped sucking, he was full and to a bit of Altair's amazement blew a milk bubble with his mouth. Then he giggled and Altair felt a sort of bewildered smile spread across his face. "What did you just do?" he asked. Desmond just laughed again and kicked his legs. Altair felt something unimaginably tight in his chest loosen ever so slightly.
Desmond was fussing again. Altair's eyes snapped open tiredly and he turned to look at his clock. It was four am. He groaned softly and hoped one his parents came soon. Desmond continued to fuss and whine. With a sigh Altair sat up and looked across their yellow room at the crib he'd built. He waited another minute for Kaley or William to to appear and comfort his brother, but then he heard the breath catch he always did before he started crying and he lurched out of bed.
He lowered the crib gate so he could reach in easily and picked his brother up and bounced him before he could start to cry. It had been a few weeks since he'd first watched Desmond and since then he found himself helping more. His brother wasn't nearly as bad as he'd first thought he was and he found that if he didn't try to fight the fact that he was around he enjoyed spending time with his parents a lot more. This wasn't the first time he'd woken up in the early morning to get his little brother out of his crib.
He shushed Desmond, bouncing him a little and checking to see if he was wet. He wasn't. Well that was good since he didn't think he could change a diaper at four in the morning. Hungry then? He left the room, walking past his parents' still closed door and into the kitchen where he grabbed one of the already made bottles and zapped it a bit in the microwave. Yawning he walked back to their room, the nipple of the bottle in Desmond's mouth and sat on his bed, his brother in his lap.
He didn't remember falling asleep, but when he woke up he was sleeping on top of his covers, a half empty baby bottle on his bed stand and said baby next to him sleeping peacefully, with Altair's forefinger in his mouth. He couldn't help it, he smiled and pulled Desmond closer to him and dozed until his mother came to get Desmond for breakfast.
When Desmond was six months they moved again. It was really one of the longest times Altair had stayed in one place at fifteen months, so more then a year. This time they were moving to Guam. So he said goodbye to their sunflower yellow room and hello to his own eggshell white room. He was happy to have his own room back, one that didn't smell constantly like diapers, baby powder, and fabreeze to cover the smell of dirty diapers before they got thrown away. He missed having his own room and he reveled in it.
The first night of being in their new house Altair felt himself wake though he didn't know what had woken him. He listened for sounds to tell him why he'd woken up but there was nothing. Then he turned over to look at his clock. Oh. It was four am. Desmond always woke up at four am and needed a bottle. Why wasn't he fussing?
He blinked stupidly.
Oh right. He wasn't sharing a room with Desmond anymore. He had his own. Still, he was awake now, because he was just used to waking up at four am. He should really just go back to sleep. Instead he rolled out of bed and crossed the hallway into Desmond's room. He could stand up now and when Altair came into the room he recognized him when he turned on the light from where he was standing at the crib rail "You want your bottle Des?" he asked as he picked his little brother up, bouncing him a little in his arms. Desmond gurgled at him and patted his little hands against his chest and they went into the kitchen and got Desmond his bottle before retreating back into Desmond's room. He sat in the rocking chair by the crib to feed his brother.
A few minutes later his Kaley appeared in the doorway. "Oh, Altair," she said, dressed in her night gown. It was just them again, William was back out on tour. She was surprised to see him, as whenever he woke up at four, she didn't, because he was always calmed his brother down before she heard. She smiled at him, he didn't smile back. "You're such a good big brother," she told him, walking over to him and running a hand through his hair. Now he looked up at her. "Do you want me to take him? You go back to sleep."
"No," he said. "It's fine."
"Okay sweetie," she leaned down and kissed his forehead before leaving him and Desmond to go back to sleep. He frowned after her a moment before looking away at Desmond who was contently suckling his bottle. He never saw anyone more happy or at ease then his little brother when he was nursing.
He leaned down and pressed his forehead to Desmond's gently. "You know," he said softly, "Before you were born I hated you. I thought you were the worst thing that had ever happened to me," he licked his suddenly dry lips. "I don't think that anymore," he said softly, like a secret, nuzzling against Desmond's soft, downy, hair. The baby knocked his little fist against his cheek. He smiled and kissed his brother on the forehead, like his mother did to him.
"Mom!" he yelled, probably startling his mother from where she was working on her computer, talking with her editor. She wanted to start going on shorter, or closer, trips for stories. It had been over a year since she'd really been on one of her trips and she was getting restless.
"What?" she called back, she did sound a bit annoyed at having been interrupted.
"Desmond's walking!" and there was a thump and hurried feet as his mother rushed into the living room. Desmond was standing in the middle of the room, having stopped when their mother appeared, and looked very confused. "C'mon Des," he added enthusiastically and beckoned to him. "Show mom you can walk."
Instead he just fell over onto his butt and back, losing his balance. There was a second of silence before he started crying. Kaley jumped forward and scooped him up, cooing and shushing him gently as she rocked him back and forth. He just cried and Altair looked at him sadly. He had been walking. He had been. Then their mother had appeared.
Their mother went on her first story trip again when Desmond was fourteen months old. He wasn't talking yet, but he could walk now and liked following Altair around the house. Their mother was going to be gone for a few days, but she'd be back so that meant it was just Altair and Desmond. Altair was playing a video game as Desmond sat in his lap, back against his chest, sucking on his binky, and in general being quiet for once.
He was distracted though. He remembered the first time his mother had gone away for an article he'd stayed with her sister in Spain. They'd just adopted him about a year and a half before then but he'd adapted amazingly quickly to his new life and family. But after that she'd started going on more trips for the magazine she worked for and he stayed more and more at his aunt's. It was where he learned to swear in Spanish as his uncle didn't have a filter, and his cousins were all older then him and knew all the dirty words. Kaley hadn't been impressed when she'd come home to her son swearing. But that wasn't why he was distracted. He was distracted because she was leaving again. She was starting to get into her routine. He knew that eventually she'd be gone for months at a time, just like she had been before Desmond had been born. He hunched over a bit, curling around his brother who made an angry noise at him.
If she was gone and so was his father then he'd be the one who had to take care of Desmond. Him. Maybe they'd get a nanny, since Altair had school but…
A crippling fear suddenly squeezed his chest and he looked down at Desmond as the car he'd been driving crashed into a wall. He didn't notice. After a few seconds Desmond looked up, blue pacifier in his mouth. He remembered he'd been so jealous of his brother, he'd been afraid his parents would love Desmond more then him. But they didn't. They loved them the same, he knew that. Because they loved them the same they had no problem leaving them alone. His mother had left those few days because she knew Altair would take care of his brother, and his father left them because he knew their mother would do what was best for their boys. He knew they loved them both. But a sick thought came to him. They loved him and Desmond, but not the way they maybe should. You could love an idea of something as much as you could love something for real. His parents loved the idea of having children, but when it came down to it, they really didn't seem to actually want children.
Desmond pulled his binky from his mouth. "No no," he said quickly and grabbed the binky from Desmond's hand to put it back.
"Altear," Desmond said with a little frown and Altair froze. Desmond had never spoken before now. Not 'mama' and definitely not 'dada' (how could he? William had been on tour most of his infancy), nothing, he'd been a bit worried since usually babies started talking at nine months at least. Desmond was fourteen months and not a peep.
"Altear," he said again and tapped his cheek.
Altair swallowed and felt every emotion crash down onto him; he couldn't really name what he was feeling. "That's right," he said softly. "I'm Altair."
"Altear," and Desmond tapped his cheek again and now smiled. That big big smile of his filled with his baby teeth.
Altair suddenly sniffed and realized his eyes stung. Desmond's first word was his name and with that thought he was suddenly crying and couldn't stop. He hugged his brother tightly. "Altear?" Desmond asked, not understanding what was going on or why he was crying.
Altair sniffed, wiped his eyes and his nose but didn't let his brother go. Desmond said his name again and he smiled. He couldn't help it. "Desmond," he said gently, holding him tight. "Our mom and dad will probably be away a lot. They're busy, important people," his volume dropped to almost a whisper. "But I want you to know that no matter what I'll take care of you, cause I'm your big brother and I won't let anything happen to you and you'll never be alone as long as I'm here. Okay?"
"Altear," Desmond said. Altair smiled painfully and kissed his brother on the forehead.
The words on the book in front of him blurred as his eyes crossed and he looked up at Malik who was sitting across the table from him. They'd locked themselves in one of the small study rooms in the library at school to help do some last minute cramming for a test they had next period.
"Malik," he said and his boyfriend looked up. He had deep circles under his eyes from having trouble sleeping. He had been since Altair had told him the news and he felt terrible about it.
"Yeah?" he asked and nudged his foot against Altair's.
"You know how my parents are moving?"
He saw Malik wince, almost recoil. He didn't like being reminded. Altair didn't usually repeat it after the first time he'd told Malik that William was being reassigned to a base in Germany. It had hurt to tell him, that he was leaving in three weeks. They'd been going out for over a year and Altair had been so angry when William had told him and that he'd have to leave Malik and all his friends behind. There had been yelling and swearing and more then a little screaming and Altair had left in a furious storm and driven down to the beach and picked a fight with Dean when he found him on the beach with his surf board waiting for Sam to show up so they could go surfing together. He and Dean had beaten the shit out of each other, but in the end he felt better, though Malik had scolded him, Cas had scolded Dean and Sam had scolded them both. He hadn't cared though and had blurted out then that he was moving to Germany because of his dad. Malik had been stunned into silence at that and then Altair had stalked off the beach. He'd slept in his car that night and turned off his phone. He'd effectively dropped off the face of the earth for two days before a squad car pulled up next to his Volvo and brought him home. He hadn't spoken to William since, and that was over a week ago.
"Yeah," Malik said thickly and looked down at his notes.
"I'm not going with them."
Malik looked up quickly. "What?" he asked, startled.
"I'm not going to Germany with them. I decided. I'm eighteen, I can live on my own," he said.
Malik blinked at him before his brain caught up with what he was hearing. "Where?"
"I'll find a place," he said.
"I would say you could stay with me—
"I know," Altair said. Mr. al-Sayf had not been happy when he'd found out Altair and Malik were going out. He'd threatened Altair with a gun and grounded Malik pretty much indefinitely. Malik didn't care though and still left the house, which just got him in more trouble with his dad. As it was his car had been taken away and so had his allowance and his laptop and the TV in his room. Basically everything modern or convenient had been taken from Malik, even his phone, all because he was in love with Altair. "If it came to it I could stay with Mike, or the Winchesters. You know their house is huge."
"Yeah," Malik said dumbly, he was having trouble processing all this still as Altair had just blurted it out then.
"But I have enough money from work and allowances over the years to pay for a place too. I'm sure I could find something cheap out here," Altair continued.
"If you need help-
"I know," he smiled slightly and bumped his foot against Malik's. "You'd help me in a heart beat."
"Of course I would," Malik said, his heart on his sleeve. He didn't want Altair to go any more then Altair did.
There was a pregnant silence as Altair wanted to say something else and Malik waited for him to say whatever he'd wanted to say. "D-do you think… if I tried I could get custody of Desmond?" he asked.
Malik looked floored, he found his voice quickly enough though. "I'm sure you could ask Harvey," he said. "I mean, he is a lawyer."
"Yeah," Altair said and leaned back in his chair and folded his arms over his chest. "I… I can't let them take him with them," he said softly.
"They are his parents Altair," Malik said gently.
"And I raised him!" he snapped. "Not them. Me.Do you know how often I'm with him and people go 'oh you have such a well behaved son young man'?" he demanded. "They're awful parents," he scowled.
"Talk to Harvey," Malik said. "I'm pretty sure it'd be a custody battle, though I don't know how it'd work. But if your parents are shown to be negligent you'd probably be given the title of caretaker," he said.
"I hope so," he said softly. "I would die if he went to Germany and I stayed here, Malik. I would die."
His boyfriend leaned forward across the table, "Then lets make sure he doesn't go with them," he said and reached out to untangle his hand from where it was folded across his chest to squeeze. "You'll get to keep him Altair. I know you will."
He smiled faintly, "I hope so."
"You'll always have me," Malik reminded him.
Altair leaned against the table, "Thank god for some things then," Altair agreed and kissed him, Malik's hand came up to cup one side of his face. "I love you," he said when they parted, Malik's hand still on his cheek.
"I love you too," Malik said. "I'm glad you aren't leaving."
Altair smiled, "Me too," and they both looked towards the door when the bell rang. Without speaking they packed up their books and left the study room, Malik reached out and grabbed Altair's hand as they left the library for their next class and everything felt, in one of the few times in Altair's life, that everything was going to go his way and he'd be able to keep everything he wanted.
It's seriously dusty in here /wipes eyes