Author's Note: 1/7/12
As always I declare the grievous truth that I do not own this magnificent work. With that thought in mind, I give you a work that has consumed me for a while. I know that I have not written anything for a long time. Perhaps this work would explain what I could not.
The storyline is set during the years before our main characters in "Ties…" met. It is my take on what they were like before Fate tied their, er metaphorical fate, together. Hope it passes muster. Comments, suggestions and critics are more than welcome. – kuroren23
After much deliberation and since I am doing my level best to finally update "Ties…" I have decided to use this one-shot as a prologue of sorts to my story.
For those who has read this before under a different title, I hope you will enjoy some of the editing I've done. For those new to the story of "Ties…" I sincerely hope that you will find some entertainment in the world I have woven for you all.
"You don't love someone for their looks, or their clothes, or for their fancy car,
but because they sing a song only you can hear."
― Oscar Wilde
If being born without legitimacy denied some the chance to claim a name—he was born burdened with the desperate desire to unload and forget his. He didn't have the luxury of claiming to belong to an average family whose only fault lies in middle class obscurity to give his desire due cause. What he had was the suffocating burden of being born with expectations and duty carved into the very marrow of his bones before he even took his first breath.
His was not a regular kind of family name. He was born to a privileged pedigree—one backed by generations of wealth and accomplishment—a name envied, respected, renowned. From the very cradle he was told what he was—what he was destined to be—what he ought to do in his life to be deserving of the name he should bear with laudable equanimity and pride.
He was an Evans, scion to a name synonymous with one of the most sacred gifts bestowed by the gods to humankind—the ethereal and otherworldly skill for creating music. In a world dominated by talented people, the Evans family distinguishes itself by producing an impressive lineage of musical geniuses of unrivaled and unparalleled prowess. His given name was proof enough that their quest to take music to the highest level possible. He was bestowed the name Soul—the very essence of sound and the quest of every composer ever born—the chance to capture even the faintest tinge of music's elusive soul.
But even their excessive attention to detail and their hopes of nudging fate to take a hint couldn't dispel the fact that he was less than what they had hoped for him to become. He lacked the very thing they named him for. He was born with the Evans gift for music—that much was true—a talent nurtured by the expansive history and limitless wealth accumulated by generations before him. He was given every opportunity to hone his skill and he did all that he could to master the instrument of his choice. But even a family as blessed as his could not be exempt from the fickleness of Fate herself. He was nothing like what they prayed for. While their first born son made them preen, he made them cringe.
Childish naïveté soon gave in to a very adult realization that could no longer temper the harsh reality that came after each failed session...every discarded composition that soon found itself littering the floor in torn, shredded disgrace...
(Seven Years Ago, B.M.*)
He could no longer remember a time when he didn't live with the taste of bitter disappointment coating the insides of his mouth...Nor the pervading cold embrace of condemning silence that followed after every attempt at creation... the lingering stench of failure that soon grew palpable enough to occupy its own corner of the room…
He could no longer recall the first time when blood filled his mouth and covered his tongue after biting off angry words, finding the acrid taste of copper blood turning into the acidic burn of bitter bile as he learned from that day and every day after to choke back the cries of frustration and need that threatened to slip past his throat.
He forced himself not to care at first...to take the bad with the good and see the derision and contempt as his parents' friends, colleagues and even their own family members as a means of fostering strength in someone destined for greatness but even that illusion could not last for very long...he could no longer dismiss their chilling stares as anything but the disapproving taint for someone who couldn't cut it. It was a look he learned with painful clarity they bestowed to those they found unworthy. It was just as well since he could not recall the last time his parents looked at him with eyes unclouded by disappointment or disapproval. It got to be that he might not recognize them should they deign enough to give him any expression other than disdain.
'Why don't you just give them what they want?'
The voice was unwelcome as the ones that occupied the little room a scant half hour ago. He wanted to ignore this newer intrusion but he learned-like all his other lessons years ago-that his world and his wants would never be the same.
'What makes you think I haven't been doing exactly that?'
He moved to pick up another sheet of score and placed it carefully inside his battered portfolio. His hands brushed against the ivory keys quickly and carefully, hardly making any noise at all as he bent to pick up the scattered pieces from the carpeted floor. He did not turn around when his brother spoke once more.
'If I didn't know you any better, I would venture out a guess that what you do during these sessions were deliberate.'
He straightened with a sign and placed the filled folio on top of the piano. His crimson gaze did not sway a millimeter away from their intense glare of the shimmering onyx instrument that mere moments ago consumed his entire being. He heard his Wes move further into the room and settle on one of the wing-backed armchairs that serve as the music room's sole offering for guests.
'If you say it is so, then perhaps you are right. Far be it for me to argue with your findings. You are, after all, the greatest prodigy ever born to the Evans clan.'
'Give them time, Soul. Eventually, they would understand the beauty of your compositions. There is real magic in your works—I know it I hear it every time you play!'
He gave a short bark of laughter and for a moment it lighted the depths in his eyes to an alluring fiery vermillion. But once he stopped their flames were doused backed into smoldering embers as if some force blew out the light that once blazed in them. He closed his folio with a final thump and placed it on the shining ebony surface deferentially. He could feel Wes' eyes following his every move and knew that his brother could understand his reverence for the beautiful instrument.
'I doubt very much if your assurances would convince them...much as they worship at the altar of your genius they would not grovel for me to get your approval.'
'They simply cannot appreciate what you create...many composers suffered from the same fate yet gained fame and recognition—!'
He snorted in derision at his own older brother's naiveté. He cast a look down at the black suit their mother insisted he wear for every recital. His eyes fell on the piano once more and for once, he allowed himself to speak plainly.
'After they've suffered humiliation and despair and found death to be a much better master to serve than their fickle, selfish Muse that sacrificed them to the plebeian taste of an even more fickle public?'
Wes smiled at him and it irked him a bit to know the cause. Anger always reduced his speech to something akin to an 18th century novel-a failing he blames solely on the fact that there were no other children to be found in the Evans ancestral home. Only adults kept them company-many of those the effusive, literate ones that never seemed to consider their conversation should be a little less stuffy when speaking with a mere eight-year old. Wes rose to his feet and came closer to his perch on the piano stool. His hands, delicate and beautiful like always, stroked the satiny surface with something akin to hope.
'You simply need to wait-!'
'Wait? For what, exactly Wes? The one's you speak of? Other composers? You speak of dead artists Wes. Of fools who died poor, broken and disillusioned by a world that cannot see as they do. I do not relish the idea of trading death for understanding nor waiting for my corpse to rot before I get deliverance from their ineptitude and disdain.'
Wes smiled at him and he understood that his brother cared. His presence in the room spoke of his brother's support even if he, himself, could find times and occasions to resent it. He allowed Wes to pull him to his feet.
'You always were the more dramatic of us two.'
'And certainly the most tragic. If fate had not awarded such a ticket my way, I'm sure I could've been born an utterly despondent bored billionaire by now.'
They walked out of that room in companionable silence, never knowing that it would take nearly a decade before they would ever be in it together again.
Maka Albarn could've been anything she ever wanted to be in the world. Her mind was a powerful instrument and her instincts were in a class by itself. She could've been anything, anyone, achieved any level of fame in any world she chose to dwell in. It was a guarantee, a birthright that fairly radiated from the piercing fire in her wide, guileless viridian eyes. It radiated like a beacon with the fierce determination and strength of her soul –the very unique soul she was born with.
She could've been an acclaimed academician or even a titan of industry. She could've been a respected professional in any field and earned worldly acclaim and wealth. She could've had the world as her oyster and people at her beck and call.
Her formidable mind would've fashioned for her a privileged life few could match. Her methodical ways and conscientious nature would've given her access to unlimited possibilities, had she been born to any other place on earth, had she been sired by any other set of parents but her own, alas, Maka Albarn grew up knowing of only one destiny—one legacy.
She should've taken one look at her parents' chaotic life and took to running as far away in the opposite direction as fast as her nimble legs could take her. Anyone with half her brains would've spit fate in the eye and headed for the hills rather than share their bloodied, broken, destruction-laden path.
Instead, she brashly kicked the door open to theirs. She took one look at their lives and wanted fervently—completely and obsessively—to understand what they had and what they once shared. She knew well enough what other kids around her would say—knew and didn't care as she saw the pitying looks from her former friends morph into contempt and unease as those that once called her by name now barely exchanged two words with her without sneering. And yet to her none of it mattered to in the long run.
She wanted to do more than just match her mother's accomplishment. She wanted to prove to her mother that she made a mistake when she left her behind with her philandering father. True, she needed to study in Shibusen, at DWMA to become a full-fledged Meister like her mother but there were other schools—other ways, and means—actions that she could've taken or done—if only her mother wanted Maka badly enough, to be with her. She wanted, foolishly, perhaps to show her mother that she was worthy of being claimed as Kami's daughter. She would work towards her goal and wait for her mother's return and then maybe when that time comes, maybe then she would not be left behind.
She knew what she would become if she walked the path her parents did. She knew that sooner rather than later her hands—uncalloused and soft as they were now—would later become bruised, battered and bloodied beyond redemption. She knew and understood that while other kids that she once knew would pursue careers that would take them places and change their world and who they would be in the future-she would be walking slowly towards a career that literally would cause her to drop bodies around her, travel to remote areas in the world where no one is supposed to go and that one of the major downsides to her career is not simply a prospect of getting fired but getting killed in a relatively gruesome manner.
Yet she chose to walk the path that would take her ever closer to death's door using her own steam. She could do nothing to change her name or the expectation she had to live with, especially with her parents' circumstance but she could prove to be better than her combined progeny.
(Seven Years Ago, B.S.*)
She could recall every detail of the day when her safe comfortable world ceased to be.
It was another arid afternoon in the Nevada desert where Death City inconveniently located and she was on her way home lugging behind her the new books she had borrowed from the library. School let out students earlier than normal due to some much needed repairs in the ventilation and the director argued there was no sense keeping the students around when it was too hot. She was eager to get started on her reading when she saw something that piqued her interest. A pile of luggage piled near the front door and a cab idling on the curb.
The sight should've been harmless enough to anyone who saw it, but it Maka wasn't like anyone else. The image set a clarion call echoing inside her head and she ran straight up the stairs leading to the second floor landing of the apartment she called home since birth.
She remembered the look in her mother's eyes when she finally looked up from her packing. There was surprise there, but also the faintest taint of guilt, as if her presence there was something she didn't expect or wished to deal with at the moment. But when she saw her, she smiled like she always did—with warmth and an aura of deep knowing that never failed to comfort her when she was younger.
'Maka! Honey, what are you doing here? Did something bad happen in school?'
'No, the ventilation's busted and they let us out early. Mama, what is all this? What's going on? Are you going on a mission somewhere?'
Maka blinked and tried to smile back as she watched the wariness fade as if it was never there. She watched her mother efficiently finish folding several torn pieces pages from her mother's old battered travel journal into an even more battered folio that served as her wallet and storage du jour and stuff it inside the small case that she always carried with her whenever she leaves the house. Maka grew up seeing the bag come back from every mention covered in dust, mud and even darker stains her parents tacitly refused to explain.
'I've been assigned a post in the old Soviet block of countries. I will be there for some time so you will have to stay here. And if you're serious about wanting to be like us-!'
'I'm serious. Ma, I told you already—I have Meister blood in me. So I will be like YOU. I will be a Meister and I will attend DMWA as soon as school starts.'
'Good. Then you will stay here and attend school like you always wanted. Promise me you'd take care of yourself-!'
'I can take care of myself well enough. Ma, why didn't you tell me sooner? Why are you taking too many things with you?'
Her mother's normally bright, sparkling emerald eyes seemed to darken somehow, as if the light that once kindled behind them no longer existed. It sent a shiver of dread up her spine when she realized that unlike before her father was nowhere to be found in the apartment and his luggage wasn't among the ones waiting just outside their front door. Her eyes flew towards her mother's face and for once she saw the strain and tension that marked a face that normally looked so young. Her mother's usually soft, smiling lips were compressed into a firm line and there was an anguished air that wrapped all around her.
'Mama…what about Papa—he isn't coming with you is he?'
'I cannot take you with me… where I'm going is no fit place for a child. Much too far and it's really off the beaten path and far too dangerous for a child. You will be safer here…your father will protect you.'
'Mama, why isn't he coming with you? Is it because of the others…the other women that's always around him? Is that why you're leaving?'
Maka knew she hit upon the truth when her mother's slumped in defeat. It was as if the strings that held her together just snapped away and for once, Maka saw her brave, larger-than-life, beautiful mother lose her poise and appear vulnerable. Tears shimmered in the depths of her emerald eyes—eyes so like the ones that stared right back at her from the mirror every day. For the first time since she knew her mother, the bright, strong woman she called Mama faltered. Her hands—generally so still—fidgeted in agitation as she wrung the edge of her skirt with nervous fingers before clenching them together tightly on her lap. Her voice was soft and halting when she spoke.
'You wanted to be like us right? Since you were a little girl that's what you wanted to be. You need to attend school and you cannot do that while traipsing all over the world. All the more reason you cannot leave this place.'
'I want to come with you! Why do I have to stay and live with that philandering fool of a man? I want to be with you!'
'Maka Albarn you do not talk about your father that way, do you hear me? He is still your father and you will respect him.'
'Why can't you bring me with you? Are you leaving me because of him?'
The questions and uncertainty burned a hole into her heart and ate at her youthful confidence. She lived with the constant fear that the reason her mother was leaving her behind was because there was something inside Maka that was less than ideal.
'Maka, things between your father and I hasn't been the very best for some time. And as selfish as this sound, I need to be far from your father for a bit. But I cannot allow our differing opinions to intrude upon your education. That's the reason I can't bring you with me. I'm sorry'
Maka listened to her mother's harried goodbye echo in their once cozy living room and wondered if she would ever wake herself up from the nightmare that she found herself in. Her mother's answer stung but she didn't allow herself to dwell on it. Had she done that, she would need to accept that her mother's rejection did not sway her decision to also leave HER behind.
From that day hence, doubt and a quiet, nagging sense of self-doubt gnawed at her, eating away first, at her certainty that her father was a good man, then at her mother's claim of love, and then her own view of family and finally, it ate at her trust. As grief assailed her, she knew she could never give voice to the true question burning on her tongue: Am I not good enough for you? Do you not love me enough to stay?
As the door swung close with a final thud tears and the pain of rejection swept through her like a tidal wave as she tried frantically—desperately—to stop the flood of words that threatened to spill from her lips as surely as tears spilled from her eyes. She wanted to scream; she wanted to rail and punch someone, something like she saw Black Star do when someone said something mean or bad to him but the pain paralyzed her, spreading a numbing cold to bloom inside her. When her father walked in a few minutes after, she didn't meet his eyes nor did she spare him a single answer when he tried talking to her. She simply walked towards her room and closed the door silently and firmly.
Inside the shadowed sanctuary of her bedroom she slid against the door, her back leaning heavily against the paneled wood as her knees finally buckled beneath her and she found herself splayed on the floor, tears pouring still unchecked down her cheeks, her heart aching and her thoughts in chaos. She burned with shame wondering if perhaps her mother chose not to have her come because Maka reminded her mother too strongly of the fact that she bore her father's blood as well as hers.
When morning came, it was a very different Maka that opened the door to her father's frantic knocking. Wariness clouded her once-clear viridian gaze, a wounded depth that wasn't there before. Her voice became crisp-no longer cajoling, no longer weak. She had a mission to accomplish and she knew now that if she wanted her mother back-she would have to be the one to do it.
Note: B.M. = Before Maka
B.S. = Before Soul