A/N: Content warning: Mental illness, emotional distress, and abandonment (applies to this and the next chapter)
It was a cold winter night and the twins knew something was about to change.
Jonathan Lachlan and Milena Jovovitsch-Lachlan weren't a happy couple they used to be. It was obvious to everyone around them, even more so to themselves – but unlike Milena, Jonathan's heart just wasn't in it anymore.
They met on a summer night at a dinner gala; he was a young divorcee celebrating another success on the expansion of his business, and Milena had been a beautiful young woman whom helped her friend to organise the corporate's event. To some, they would say it was a love at first sight for them. Others who envied the woman who managed to capture the wealthy and influential man decreased it to lust or being a gold digger.
Whichever they were, everyone could agree that they were a perfect match.
They dated for a year, and the rest was history.
People knew he was also a workaholic; he was married to his job first and foremost, and while Milena knew that, she believed her husband would come to see their family the same way too.
But he was the kind of man who would discard anything that crossed him or made him lose his interest – and in this case, it was their marriage. If it didn't benefit him, he would cut his losses.
She didn't think he would decrease their family to be just that – a business.
He argued that he had tried to balance his work and marriage, but Milena didn't think he'd tried hard enough. After all, how could a man disregard his family over work? She believed family should come above everything else.
The change came slowly. It started with late night calls in the study, strict tones on business matters, declining family dinners and weekend outings, until eventually, they ceased conversation.
For a long while, it had been perfect for this family of five. Despite the cracks here and there, she tried to hold onto their little family; her husband's son which she adopted and came to love as her own, Parker, and their twins Pierre and Pierce. She thought she had been understanding enough, but apparently, it wasn't enough to hold them together.
"I can't do this anymore, Mila." He said one night as he came home late. He had used the nickname he had for her. One would expect a pleading look on his face, but Jonathan had long made up his mind and he just wanted to get through this. Like a business transaction that was pending.
Parker was away, having been enrolled into boarding school a few miles away from their home, because Jonathan thought he should learn to be independent. But their nine year old twins hadn't been sleeping well as they believed them to be.
"What do you mean, Jon?" Milena said in confusion. She had just finished the dishes in the sink when her husband stood against the counter and said that.
She turned to face him, tucking a lock of brown hair behind her ear as she wiped her hands clean on a cloth.
Jonathan looked haggard, as was his appearance almost every night. She didn't want to have suspicions that her husband was cheating on her – she had faith in him, and there were no stains or fragrant smell on his shirt either –but he had seemed weary.
Yet, he also looked determined.
"You should sit down first." He tried to stall. As much as he was already decided on it, breaking this to his wife wasn't easy. He knew he was about to break his wife's heart, and despite trying to treat it as a business matter, he didn't it was. But he had to, because if he wanted to go far, there simply could not be more room for anything else.
He loved her, but he also loved his work.
"Mila, I think we should get a divorce."628Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡO61RmSprbq
Upstairs, the twins were roused from their light slumber by the growing noise of their parents' voice. Despite going to bed an hour ago, Pierre Konstantin Lachlan and Pierce Maksimillian Lachlan would stay up at least a little while longer. It was a friendly competition on who could stay awake the longest, by making up stories or thinking up what they would want to be when they grow up.
But this time, the twins had fallen asleep the moment their mother put them to bed.
Pierce woke up first, sitting upright on his single bed opposite his brother. He rubbed his eyes blearily and scrunched his face at the sound of people talking, before their voice grew louder.
He was frightened by the yelling from their parents downstairs. They both knew their parents didn't get along well these days, but they always hoped everything would be alright eventually. It usually did.
"Pierre…" Pierce whispered in a small voice, hoping not to alert their parents that he was awake. He said it again, in an urgent whisper this time. "Pierre! Wake up."
"Mnnh…what is it? Why are you whispering?" They spoke in their mother's language.
Pierre leaned up on his elbow, his hair dishevelled as he faced his brother who looked like he was going to cry. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and squinted at Pierce.
At nine years old, Pierre showed traits of being a protector, always ready to defend his brother and anyone who messed with them. While he tried to put up a front that everything was alright, Pierce had always been expressive, unguarded emotions, and easily shaken up.
He didn't like how scared and small it made his brother seemed. He wondered why his brother was trembling until he heard his parents arguing downstairs.
"I'm scared." Pierce whispered, clutching his blue woollen blanket. "Can I come over to your bed?"
Pierre nodded and patted his bed, scooting over to let his brother in.
"Why do you think mama is yelling?" Pierce scrunched his face as he looked up at the ceiling.
Pierre wondered the same thing too. He wasn't naïve, despite being a little kid, and he knew Pierce weren't too because they had caught their parents having disagreements, and sometimes not talking for days. But this was the first time that they heard them fighting without any care.
"Maybe she is angry because papa didn't eat with us today." Pierre yawned a little but tried to enlighten him, covering both of their small bodies with the thick blanket. "Let's go back to sleep. When tomorrow comes, they will be okay again. Like they always are."
Downstairs, Milena's nose reddened as she tried to keep her sobbing at bay. Her husband's words had shocked her because this was the last thing she thought could ever happened to them.
"You're leaving me and the children because of work? How could you?!" She threw the dish cloth at him, satisfied that it hit him in the face, even though he turned his cheek swiftly.
"I love you, and our children but the company has suffered terrible blows and I need to fix it. Do you know what I have sacrificed to build an empire? Be understanding –"
She slapped him, aghast at what he just told her. "Understanding? Sacrifice? I have been doing that and more! Do you understand what you just said? You just told me that your work is more important than your children, your family!"
Jonathan's face darkened and he flexed his jaw. He didn't liked his decisions being questioned, even from the woman whom he loved and thought could understand his passion for work.
Milena was crying now, her face scrunched in despair at the family she worked hard to hold, only to be torn apart by the man she loved. She tried to salvage this mess, but her mind went into every possible reason why her husband would want to divorce her. They were happy, and despite some strains, they made it work. She simply didn't believe work was the only reason.
She grasped helplessly at her husband's shirt, pleading him to tell her the truth.
"That's not the only reason, is there? Is there another woman? Am I not enough? Please don't do this. Don't." She shook her head vehemently as she pleaded with him, her voice croaked brokenly, her tears wetting his shirt.
Jonathan felt a mixed of emotions. He was mostly sorry that in that moment, the woman before him wasn't the one whom he married; strong, confident and passionate about careers. As much as he cared for her, for them, he truly thought she would understand his decisions, that his work always come first.
It was what drew them at the start of their relationship, an agreement they had when they were first involved with one another.
He thought she was different from his ex-wife.
He pried her fingers away from his shirt and wiped her tears. He said to her calmly, "Mila, there is no other woman. I am not cheating on you. I just cannot focus on work and family at the same time. If I could find another way, I would but I simply can't leave these work to someone else."
She looked at him, scanning his features for something more earnest; love, regret, something that told her he didn't want to do this, but there was nothing else. He was really willing to cast his family aside.
Jonathan was determined, of that she knew. She could see it in his eyes and she felt disheartened. Crushed.
It had been an appeal she saw in him once all those years ago. But now…
Everything sounded like an excuse to her.
She shook her head, fat tears dripping as she sobbed. Lies, she thought brokenly. He simply doesn't trust anyone else but him to do the job. He doesn't love us enough to stay together.
She felt drained, confused that just moments ago, they were the happy family. But now…now, everything was falling apart.
And then she felt angry. Angry for not acknowledging the signs that her husband had been too immersed in work than them, angry at herself for letting him get his way all the time, angry…that she loved him too much.
She wiped her tears and tried to hold her chin up. She didn't want him to think that she had lost her pride. If he wanted a divorce, he would have it. Even if it killed her, she would persevere. As long as she have her babies with her.
He had taken away her love and stomped it all over, and he had also destroyed their marriage.
Milena didn't think he would take any more from her that night, but she was proven wrong.
Pierre was trying to pull his brother back to bed. The argument had been going on for hours, in their mind at least. They shouldn't be eavesdropping. Their papa hated people listening to any conversation, said it showed how much integrity or less – whatever that means – a person have.
"Pierce, stop putting your ear against the door." Pierre told his brother with an exasperated sigh. His brother was too curious for his own good sometimes.
His eyes widened, in fear or excitement, Pierre couldn't tell – probably both – but Pierce nodded in understanding. "You're right, maybe we should go and sit by the stairs." And with that, he slowly but quietly twist the doorknob open.
Not wanting them to be caught, and they most likely would, Pierre quickly scrambled off the bed and took hold of his brother's arm before he could blow his cover.
"If you must go, at least wait for me." Pierre muttered in resignation. He tried to set an example, but he couldn't deny that he was also curious.
They crept down the hallway silently and sat on the top step of the stairs, trying to be quiet, so quiet that their parents didn't notice them.
Nothing. For a moment, Pierre was worried that their parents knew they were eavesdropping on them, but then he heard them arguing again. This time, though, it was out of control and it frightened him.
"No! You cannot do this to me! My babies…" His mother's voice rose and fell until he couldn't hear her. He then heard his father, soft and distant murmur. Whispering? Comforting?
Pierce looked up at Pierre, his lower lip trembling. "Why is mama crying? Do you think we should go down?"
It was a dilemma that tore at the nine year old's mind and heart. Should they? On one hand, he desperately wanted to see what was wrong, to console his crying mother. She used to sing a lullaby to comfort them whenever they woke up from a bad dream or get hurt, and he wanted to do the same. He also wondered what his father did to make her cry.
He told them that men shouldn't make women cry, so what was happening?
On the other hand, Pierre didn't want to risk his father's anger on them if he caught them listening to an adult's conversation. What was he to do? Brotherly duties, and being a good son had him trapped.
Pierce was already tearing up and whimpering. Alarmed, he put a finger on his lips to hush his brother.
He stared into Pierce's eyes and opened his mouth to tell him that they could just peek a little at the corner by the wall. But before he could, he heard footsteps nearing the stairs. Not wanting to risk them both getting found out, Pierre pulled Pierce back to their room, making sure to close the door softly.
Jonathan was trying to comfort his wife – he wasn't very good with weeping women, yet he tried – but the woman didn't want to listen to reason. He was going to let her keep their home, and he thought they could still share custody of their children. Milena didn't want to listen to any of it.
"You've already taken a lot from me! You cannot have them. Who are you to separate a child from his mother?" She screamed at him. She wanted to throw things at him, to do him damage just like he did her. But Milena couldn't resort to that – what would her children think of her?
Jonathan pinched the area between his eyes, already annoyed with this situation. He wanted to go to bed after a long day at work, but this situation wasn't settling down as easily as he thought it would.
"I'm not taking them away from you! I'll give you the house and some money but I ask that you let the boys stay with me in Scotland for a year."
"Why, are you going to send them to those fancy boarding school too? Like Parker? Do you know how miserable he is over there?"
Jonathan barked. "Don't question my decisions, Mila! Parker is my son and he knows this is for his own good. I'll let you see the boys on their vacations." He sighed before adding, "They'll still be coming back to you. In the meantime, you could start a business. Didn't you say that you wanted to be a florist?" He tried to smile, to placate her.
She stared vacantly at him. She told him that? Maybe. It did sound like her dream back then, years ago. Not anymore. Now, her whole life was her children and she couldn't bear it if this man – this stranger – she called her husband took her children – her precious babies – away from her too.
She shook her head resolutely and stared him in the eyes. "You will not be taking them from me. You want a divorce, you'll have it, but my boys will stay with me. If you want, you can come visit them."
Jonathan's nose flared in anger. He had given her an easy solution. Why was she making this difficult for them? He paused in thought, thinking over her words. She was giving her terms, and while he would have considered it, Jonathan Lachlan wanted his sons to be with him and he would get his way.
This tug of war was going to end – he wouldn't be gentle this time.
"And how are you going to support them? Everything in this house has been supported by me. You're supported by me! You've got no job, which you could have if you had agreed to my offer. And if you want to take this to court, which I assume you will, how are you going to pay for it? They will consider both of us and agree that I'm a fitter guardian for them."
Milena felt suffocated. Offer? The bastard! How could he? It was true that she had nothing much to her name, and compared to him, she was practically penniless but she couldn't believe he had thrown all of that in her face! They were true but painful and unnecessary.
She shouldn't have to go through this. She shouldn't have to consider separate custody of her children with him.
They were making it work, weren't they? How could he be so cruel as to divide them like this?
Still, Milena would fight for her children – she would even if it took every strength from her.
She could not let him have his way this time – Parker had been at the boarding school since he was ten. And the only time he came back home was over the break every year. Sometimes, the boy acted as though he was a stranger in his own house. She wouldn't put it past Jonathan to treat Pierre and Pierce the same.
"I will fight for them. I'm their mother, and I know something will be done."
Jonathan gave her a wry smile. "You're right, something will be done. I'd rather not see you scrape everything you have to fight me on this case, Mila. Tell you what…"
In their bedroom, every sound heard through the walls sounded ominous. Cupping his ears with his hands, Pierce was trying to block out the yelling and screaming of his parents out of his mind. He was already crying but he remembered that Pierre told him not to make a sound, and so he didn't.
Pierre on the other hand was on the verge of it. He wanted to bawl. Why were their parents fighting so badly? He thought they were happy. At the first sound of hiccup and sniffling, Pierre took hold of his brother and hugged him tightly.
They heard words here and there but they couldn't fully make it out. Taking someone? Where? Who was going away? His mother mentioned something about babies… was it them?
But they are little boys, not babies anymore.
Having spotted some of the stuffed animals in their room, Pierre got off and grabbed a teddy bear – Pierce's stuffed bear – and gave it to him. He knew his brother could calm down when he held his stuffed animal.
Not this time, however. His crying was getting louder and Pierre hated seeing him cry.
"Shhh…don't cry. This is just a nightmare. When we wake up, they will not fight anymore." He said urgently, rubbing his heaving brother's shoulders soothingly. He remembered their mother used to do the same for them too.
"Hic…b-but…what i-if hic…they are st-still fi-fighting?" Pierce was almost bawling now but he buried his face in his brother's shoulder to muffle the sounds.
Pierre was silently crying too but he rubbed the tears away. Pierce already saw it and he was at a loss. His brother always tried to be the strong one and it shaken him to see that Pierre was crying. It means whatever problem they were having right now was out of control that not even Pierre could fix it.
Pierre knew he had to do something. He thought of stories…from the books or ones that his parents used to tell them. He couldn't think of anything.
He had to say something however, and after putting on a false bravado the nine year old had mustered, he said, "Listen. Everything is going to be okay. Trust me. Uncle Vasily said grownups always have fights. It is normal."
"I don't want to be a grown up." Pierce cried.
Pierre nodded vehemently. "Me too. But we all grow up one day."
"It's scary." Pierce whispered, although he had stopped his bawling but was hiccuping.
"I know." Pierre whispered, though he was glad his brother wasn't crying anymore. Growing up was scary, but the nine year old didn't want to care about that. He wanted to be a little kid for as long as he could, the both of them.
"Pierre?" Pierce whispered, the hiccups slowing down.
"What?" He whispered back. Just like his brother's hiccups, the fighting downstairs seemed to stop too. He wondered if they had gone to bed.
"We will always be together, right?" Pierce looked up from his brother's shoulder, blinking the tears away and wiping his face dry from it.
A little frown creased between his eyes. "You're my brother. Of course I will always be with you. Why do you ask?"
Pierce always had trouble catching up to his older twin. Even though they're of the same age and stature, their personalities were different; Pierre had always been the outgoing one, brave and optimistic, he was more liked by the teachers and other children, even his father seemed to favour him more.
But if someone would have asked Pierre what he thought of his younger twin, he would have so many wonderful things to say about him too; Pierce was gentle and patient, not brash and always considerate. He liked that his brother was curious and sometimes cautious too. He liked them having adventures together. Their mother doted on them both, but he knew she was always delighted by Pierce's politeness. He would usually get reprimanded because of his stubbornness but he hadn't minded it.
It was a shame none really knew what they thought of each other in that moment.
"Nothing." Pierce shook his head, his dark curls mussed by sleep. "I'm just scared that one day I won't see you again."
Pierre shook his head and grinned at him. "That will never happen. We're twins and Mama said we must always stay together. I'll never leave you behind."
"Promise?" He looked at him with hopeful light blue eyes.
Pierre nodded with a warm smile. "Promise."
Then an idea came to mind, and Pierre's hazel green eyes lit up by the bright moonlight in the sky.
"We should really sleep now. Mama used to sing to us, but I will do it this time. Okay, sleep." Pierre patted the pillow as he got comfortable too.
Pierce laid back on the bed, his stuffed animal tight in his arms even though he was nine years old and his father tried to get him out of that habit. His fears forgotten, he now anticipate what his brother would sing. Pierre didn't have a melodious voice like their mother did, but he could hold some tunes, unlike their uncle Vasily.
Pierce giggled softly at that thought.
As the two brothers laid comfortably beside one another, Pierre started the first tune of a lullaby his mother sang to them. It was a whispered tale of brave cubs who stayed strong when they're afraid and lost in the woods, and never gave up until they found their family of bears.
It was lilting; a tale woven in words, a story that was catchy and easy to follow. Pierre may not have his mother's impeccable talent for singing, but his brother was lulled by it all the same.
He sang the same verse until his eyelids became droopy, until he knew Pierce was deep in sleep and then he drifted off to dreamland, where he met his brother again, running into their parents' warm and welcoming embrace just like the cubs did.
They slept, with Pierce tucked against his side – neither knowing that this would be the last time they would sleep beside one another again.
It was 1:30 in the morning.
Milena hadn't been able to stop crying. Since her husband had broken down the news of their divorce and threaten to take her children away.
Jonathan was sitting on his bed, head hung low as he rubbed the back of his neck tiredly.
He had proposed to her that she could take Pierce but leave Pierre and Parker to him. As expected, Milena had thrown a fit, but he couldn't relent this time.
"Why do you treat him so differently than the rest? He is your son too!"
Jonathan didn't bat an eyelash. "Are you not happy that you have one of them with you? Do you want me to take Pierce too?"
Milena paled. She couldn't bear it if he really did that. She didn't liked separating her twins – they had always been glued to one another. Not having her children with her was agony.
Still, one…was better than none.
Oh, he was such a cruel man to do this! To corner her like this.
Jonathan's ego and stubbornness stopped him from relenting – he had to have his firstborns with him. Alongside Parker, he needed to mould Pierre into the next heir of his companies. Pierce could do anything he wanted, it didn't matter to Jonathan.
The house was quiet saved by his wife's occasional sobbing. She couldn't believe he was going to threaten a restraining order against her. Because of her brother's illegal gambling. Because she had been too emotional. He could just twist the words against her – do anything to take her boys away from her.
She wanted to scream in frustration.
He was really an evil man.
In the end, she had to acquiesce. There was simply nothing that she could do in that moment. She had no support, no wealth, no…nothing, but her one son now. She couldn't stay there with him, couldn't bear to look at him.
She was going to go crazy. But she couldn't ignore the threat that he would destroy her family if she pursued him. Vasily had no one to support him, and although he hadn't gambled in a while, she hated him in that moment for being a liability. But he was her brother.
She couldn't do anything right now for her babies, and knowing that tore at her.
Later that night, when the weather grew cold and the moon shone bright above, Milena quietly opened the door to her sons' bedroom.
The scene before her broke her heart even more. Pierce was tucked safely against his brother, Pierre. Both of them holding each other in their arms. So young, naïve, and innocent. They didn't deserve to be in the midst of their parents' spat.
Jonathan leaned against the door, his silhouette illuminated by the light in the hallway. He masked his expression well for her to not know how he feels.
But she didn't need to.
Milena went over to Pierce's side and woke him up gently. "My baby, moya luna, wake up." Pierce stirred from his sleep, frowning as he whined about getting to wake up so early. He had just fallen asleep an hour ago.
Milena smoothed his curls down and spoke to him in gentle tones, as he looked on blearily at her. He recognised his mother and before she could tell him, he smiled sleepily. "Mama, you're not crying anymore?"
She stiffened. Were the children awake when they had a fight? She was crying inside but tried to put on a brave face, something she knew her eldest son took after.
Milena glanced with a heartbreaking longing at her adorable sleeping son, tucked away in his dream world, without knowing what was happening. Her eyes roved across his features, trying to remember everything about him and how he look in this moment.
When she was certain the picture of her son was etched clearly in her memory, she looked at her youngest and said, "Maksimillian, we're going away for a little while."
It killed her to say this, even more so when he looked up at her, not understanding why.
His little face scrunched confusingly up at her before he broke out into a wide smile. "Are we going to go on a holiday? Let's wake Pierre up too." Before he could shake his brother, Jonathan interrupted.
"Don't wake him." He said sternly before glancing at his wife. "We had a deal. Take the boy and go if you must."
She narrowed her gaze hatefully at him before smoothing her features and looked at her son. She whispered in hushed tones, "Pierre cannot come..." She choked before getting herself together. "He cannot come with us this time, my love."
"Why?" He was wide awake now.
"He…" She stopped and glanced at her husband defiantly. She could not bear to lie to her baby boy in that moment. But when Jonathan raised his brows with that arrogant look on his face, she was reminded of the threat hanging in the air.
Heartbroken and with a shuddering breath, she looked at Pierce and said with a watery smile. "He has to go to school there." As if she knew what he would say, she added hastily, "We thought it would be best if you learn to be independent first. Develop your own interest. It's just for a while and you can see him again."
Pierce's eyes became blurry with unshed tears, and his lips trembled. He didn't liked this. He looked on helplessly at his still sleeping brother.
"No." He shook his head and tried to get out of his mother's grip. "He promised. Pierre promised we'll always be together. I don't want to leave him."
"Pierce!" His father's stern but controlled voice boomed authoritatively and he stiffened in fear. "Behave yourself. You have been clinging to him all the time. Like your mother said, this will be a good chance to develop your own sense of self and preferences. We'll come back again to visit you."
Come back? What did he mean by that?
He turned to his father. "What do you mean, papa? Where are you and Pierre going?" He was alarmed, and scared. Why are they leaving?
Milena couldn't bear to stay there any longer. As much as she loathed to leave her other son, she was suffocating with longing and hate. Hate at her husband who was pushing her to do this.
"Hush now. We'll go to your tetya Yelena's house for tonight, alright? Pack something quick."
Pierce was crying openly now, though at the look at his father's face, he swallowed the sob and did as was told.
Milena went over to her son and cuddled a still sleeping Pierre tightly. At the movement, he woke up, but he was wandering between dream and reality, too sleepy to wake up fully. Pierre whispered in a thick sleepy voice. "Mama, why? What is happening?"
Milena couldn't help the tears. She hugged and kissed him tightly, lovingly, achingly on his head and forehead. Not wanting to say goodbye to her precious boy whom she had to leave behind. She kissed him like a mother was afraid to send her boy to war.
"Moye solntse. My sun. I have to leave tonight but know that I will come for you again. I love you, Konstantin. Now go to sleep." She whispered achingly. The boy nodded and fell back into bed with a sleepy smile without realising anything was amiss.
And with that, she took hold of Pierce's hand, gathered their belongings and cast one last longing look at her boy. As she walked past Jonathan, there was fire in her eyes.
"I will never forgive you."
As she darted past him, Pierce's last look at his brother shifted towards his father. His face void of emotion. But even then, Pierce thought he looked sad, eyes downcast, dull.
He couldn't help but to cry out helplessly, struggling to get out from his mother's grip.
"No! I want to take Pierre with me too! Papa, do something! Don't leave me al-"
He cut off with a hiccup at his father's glowering look. Before Jonathan close his son's door, he cast one last look at a crying Pierce and said to him coldly:
"Be quiet and behave yourself, Pierce. And be good to your mother."
A/N: That...was a quite a ride, wasn't it? >.<
It wasn't easy writing it and I even teared up in the process of it. The translations are as below:
Ty zhazhdesh' drat'sya? Pochemu ty skazal eto imya? - Do you crave a fight? Why did you say that name?
Moya luna - My moon
Moye solntse - My sunns 126.96.36.199da2