Escher woke up with tears in his eyes. He let them pool at the corner of his eyes momentarily, stunned. He couldn't remember the last time he'd cried. He remembered drinking, nursing a glass of vodka for roughly an hour. The thick glass felt smooth and comfortable beneath his hand. Escher tried to remember when he started drinking. It had been a few months into law school. Unlike most freshman, Escher did not drink to dilute the pressure that was so characteristic of this particular profession. No, people only drank for two reasons - to remember, or to forget. And Escher drank to remember. He drank every night to see Aida's face. Her gorgeous, rounded face. Her warm baby blue's and her quick little mouth.
Escher circled his forfingers on his temples. He looked over at the clock. He was feeling particularly apathetic today. Aida would not approve of his attitude or lifestyle, but so what? Du Lac probably wouldn't either. The small, sedentary smile that had begun to quirk at the corners of his mouth stopped suddenly. Escher frowned at the association he had made, at the line he had drawn. He had to be careful, or he would end up performing less than satisfactorily on this case and that would not be to the liking of the partners.
Escher glanced at the clock once more and sighed. It was time to go, and it was time to let her go.
"God Musiea, do you ever leave this place?"
Musiea glanced at Mana who was obviously bored beyond comprehension.
"Maybe if you spent less time here..." Musiea trailed off.
"Well fine," Mana huffed. "I see I'm not appreciated here!"
Before Musiea could issue a standard, offhanded apology, a blond head peeked at the door. Small, well manicured hands slid over the frame.
Musiea smiled, "Oh hi Vahti, how are you?"
Vahti Warrington, CEO of Warrington Inc. Musiea had fond memories of the first time she saw her. Vahti had been crying, and Musiea had approached her. Musiea was on her way back to orphanage, but Vahti looked so sad and lost that she sat beside her. Once Musiea did this, she started to feel small and stupid, because she didn't know what to say. She fumbled with her hands, wondering how to make the situation less awkward. Vahti solved the problem for her. She stopped crying, looked over at her and said,
"Are you lost?"
Startled, Musiea stood silent, wanting to ask her the same question.
"No," Musiea supplied. "But you looked sad, so..."
"Oh," Vahti said. She had a very kind, foreign face. "Yes, I suppose you could say that. I am very sad."
Musiea thought she was also very brave, to cry in front of strangers. But she still did not know what to say.
"Oh," Musiea said. "Are you going to be okay?"
Vahti looked at her strangely. "I don't know," she answered. "Sometimes, you are so sad that it seems like you're never going to happy again."
Finally, something Musiea could relate to.
"I know just how you feel," Musiea replied. "I lost a friend of mine a couple of months ago. I miss him very much and it makes me sad because I don't know if I'll ever see him again."
"It's terrible to lose someone you love," Vahti nodded. "I lost someone too."
Vahti sighed and looked up at the sky.
"I lost my baby."
At ten years old, Musiea wasn't sure if she meant that she had lost sight of her baby, or that she had misplaced him. But sadness was sadness, so she just sat in silence. They sat in silence for what seemed an eternity, but Musiea attributed that to the impatience of youth. Vahti stood.
From that moment forward, Musiea's life changed. Vahti had walked her to the orphanage and had immediately started the adoption process. As her ward, Musiea was introduced to wealth, prestige, and a superior education. Still, Musiea returned to the orphanage every weekend. It was something she never wanted to forget. She already felt fickle for forgetting the friend she had lost. She wasn't sure how it happened, or when his memory began to blur. She remembered the softness of his eyes and the harshness of his voice. He always meant well, but he was rough and cold. That was how he was raised, he was made to survive. The world was a cold, horrible place, and it had made him into something cold and equally as horrible. Still, for that small time that they were together, Musiea found him to be the kindest person she had ever met. And she had forgotten him.
But even that was somewhat of a lie. The essence of him lingered in her memory, much like her previous name. Musiea sounded more affluent than Aida, and who was she to deny Vahti that one request? Still, Musiea wondered if he would have found her if she had stuck with Aida. If he was looking for her.
Musiea turned her thoughts back to the present. Regrets were such useless things.
"Don't mind her, Mana," Vahti said kindly. "I've brought you something to eat."
"Thanks Mom," Musiea said without looking up from her paperwork. That particular moniker had been easier to swallow with the years until it became a natural progression between them. "I'm almost done here..."
Mana rolled her eyes at the same time Vahti did. They both knew Musiea was never done.
"Okay. Well I'll leave it here for you. Your father and I expect you for dinner sometime this year."
"Yes mom," Musiea said. She wanted to sound annoyed but couldn't bring herself to. She hadn't forgotten what it was like to not eat.
How could Escher Prince sleep easily knowing he was charged with bringing asunder something as harmless as an orphanage? If he succeeded, hundreds of children would go hungry. He was heartless. He was the reason that Musiea studied law. People like him didn't deserve to win. She was going to dig him into a grave so deep, no amount of money or bravado would get him out.
Admittedly, she didn't really want to take this case to trial. That was a waste of money or time. The last time she had seen him she had lost her temper. She wouldn't let that happen again. If she could breach a settlement with him, both parties would be satisfied and there would be no messy proceedings.
It wasn't the first time Musiea had swallowed her pride, but she swore it would be the last.
Du Lac was a vision sitting at his chair. She looked decidedly bored, impatient, and very, very sexy. Escher wondered if there was a chance he could bend her over that desk sometime.
"Is it customary for you to report to your office three hours late?"
Escher didn't like her tone, but he humored her.
"I see you skipped the class where they taught us that breaking and entering is a crime."
"I never skipped a class," Du Lac replied, snobbishly. "Besides - she let me in."
She made a motion behind him and Escher turned. Eluca was grinning at him from the lobby. That bitch. Escher would be sure to slip a laxative in her drink.
"It doesn't matter," Escher said, adopting a mask of nonchalance. "I told you I would see you again."
Du Lac stilled, as if she had been struck. She looked as if she had seen a ghost.
"W-what did you say?"
Escher paused, wondered why she was so afflicted by those words.
"Were you adopted?" she said, finally.
Escher stiffened. "No," he replied sharply. "Why? Is this some pseudo sob story to save your orphanage?"
"No," Du Lac seemed less vivace than usual. She turned her unscrupulous lashes downward and Escher couldn't help but think of Aida.
She smiled. It was the first time he had ever seen her smile, he just wished it wasn't that sad or that broken. She finally looked up at him with some of the ferocity back in her face, but it wasn't enough. The thought of Aida was thinning the air. It was difficult to breathe.
"No," Musiea whispered. The way she was looking at him would have broken his heart if he had one. "You just reminded me of someone I knew."
Hey, I'm not dead. I really want to see this through. Do you?