Well, here’s Part Three! We see a bit of Mercy and Mercedes’ past in this part. Enjoy!
~ o ~
He was sitting across from me on his couch, the leather one that I like to nap on sometimes when he’s away. My computer was open to my Braille print program that I typed my journal on. Tonight, I was pondering my brother and everything he was.
Merceilious and I were born in Trieste, Italy, just on the edge of Slovenia. My mother, Genevieve, was a sickly and frail but no less beautiful woman who died giving birth to us. There were some rather severe complications. She lost her life and I lost my sight. Of course, the De Lucas always prided themselves on being better than the rest of the world, so the fact that one of the heirs to the family name was blind was somewhat of a running joke. Apparently not one I was in on.
I was a frail and sickly child myself. They all expected me to die in the first year of life. I was small, feeble and pale while my brother was strong and handsome. They had all rather hoped that I could be sent away to the house in the country or to America to live out my life with a minder and wouldn’t come to contest the rather large De Luca fortune. None of them quite counted on Mercy’s protectiveness over me. I didn’t die like they thought and once we were no longer babes but small children, we were already inseparable. Mercy watched over me like our mother was never able. Our father, Luca, died just two years after his wife and we were left in the care of our uncle.
Uncle Amadeo didn’t really care for children and he cared for me even less, I think. He left us to our nanny, Cecilia, who raised us along with her own daughter Anette. Even as small children, Mercy was incredibly protective of me. He insisted that I sleep with him in his room so he could make sure I was alright and was still breathing through the night. I was often sick and could be found in the care of our family physician as much as in my room.
Mercy always felt guilty then for always taking me with him outside and onto the board walks of Venice and the beaches because I always came back with some sickness or another. Then again, Mercy always seemed to feel guilty for something. He was broody sometimes when he didn’t think no one was watching. His ‘Holier-Than-Thou-Super-Jerk’ façade was just half-true. Looking back, I wonder if he felt guilty because I was the one who had lost my sight instead of him. After all, who was born first, which of us was affected by the complications, was all just a matter of chance. If I had been born just two minutes sooner, it would be me who was the head of the family rather than him. What a terrible thought. I never wanted that burden and never did. Mercy was the one with the head for business and, no matter how busy he was, he always found time for me. He used to read for me when we would go to bed at night. Whatever I wanted to hear he would read to me. It wasn’t until the strange trio we would later know as the Fates arrived that the world of communication and information was opened to me through Braille.
I paused once again, my fingers stilling on the keyboard. I could feel him looking at me.
“How was your job today, Mercedes?” He asked me lightly, as if to reach out and reassure himself of me and my presence in his life.
I gave him a smile. For all the pranks and the cruelty we displayed towards one another, I adored my brother and, I am not ashamed to say privately, I even envied him. Mercy had always had an ease with people that I would never achieve. Even in our tight little family now I was the odd man out most of the time. I was the strange little black sheep once again. I didn’t know how to relate to people. Mercy had never singled me out though. He protected me steadfastly, yes, but he also treated me more normally than anyone else ever had.
“It went very well. Perfectly executed as usual.”
He hummed in his odd version of a verbal nod. He seemed to be in one of his broody thinking moods. I grinned over at him.
“Will you read to me? The Tennyson book?”
I could literally hear him pause. It had been years since I had asked him to read for me. Not since I was able to read on my own using my Braille books. It was kind of a shame now that I thought about it. Reading to me really seemed to help him unwind. I felt a measure of guilt for taking such a cherished relaxation away from my busy twin. He was always working and doing what was best for the family. He always put us first.
“Sure. Why not.” My grin broadened as I heard him get up and retrieve the book of poetry from the shelf.
~ o ~
I was tinkering at my computer desk, adding some last minute updates and touch ups to my computers, fondly named Zero, when I heard him come in. I sighed and set my mouse down to roll away from the desk and meet my brother. I could hear him breathing a few steps away. Mercy took my hand and helped me up lightly. He was always looking out for me.
“What is it, Mercy?”
“What? I can’t come see my baby brother from time to time, hermitted away in his bedroom? I could’ve just called up, I suppose. A visit is sort of wasted on you anyways.”
I rolled my blind eyes at him, letting him know that I didn’t take his words seriously. My brother looked after me too much to actually mean the stupid things he said. I felt him looking me over with a critical eye but by now I was used to this. I’d had ten years to get used to it and learn to differentiate the difference between stares of pity or disdain or the stares given to me by a person who had only my best interests at heart.
Truthfully, there weren’t many of the latter. I was the black sheep of the De Luca family, an oddity. That never seemed to matter to my twin though. I had witnessed him outright scream at my uncle or other relatives for treating me less than him. He was arrogant, conceited, a master manipulator even at thirteen years old and ruthless when it came to business, finance and other people. But he always used those traits to further himself and me. He hired me a tutor personally when my uncle neglected to have me educated and I was now reading Braille at a college level.
“I am not hermitted, now kindly explain your presence, please. You never come into my computer room unless it is an important matter.” I said succinctly.
I was very well spoken for a tweeny bopper. He got up in a haughty huff at once as if he would make some smart comment. Perhaps the pause was just for dramatic effect. My brother was all about dramatic effect. Unfortunately, he was right. Most of it was wasted on me.
“You should get some posters on the wall or something. That’s what most kids your age have.” He said elaborately and I could hear him gesturing and walking about as if surveying my room like a piece at an auction. He was the same age as me!
“Why? Sounds witless to me.”
“Just because. It makes it look nice.”
My expression was as eloquent as my response.
He scoffed but instead of tipping me out of my chair or hurling back some half baked insult, he was quiet and a contemplative silence stretched between us.
“So what do you think about England, Mercedes?” He asked out of the blue.
Wow. That did surprise me. I wasn’t expecting something like that.
“It’s big, has a Queen and the people there eat fish and potatoes together.”
“That’s fish and chips, bat-boy.”
“Chips are made of potatoes, idiot.” I replied offhandedly, already running my hands across my desk for the new motherboard I was installing in my computer.
It was a good thing it had three more or I would have been in trouble. I may not understand much about people like Mercy did but I definitely knew computers. I didn’t even have to be able to see to use them thanks to accessibility programs and other technological advances.
“What would you think about living there?” Mercy said confidently, an excitement in his voice that belied mischief.
I turned to him at once, a frown settling on my face. Mercy may be a genius at business but he did some awfully stupid things sometimes.
“What did you do?” I demanded instantly.
I expected him to say something along the lines of ‘I dropped your Braille machine off of the third story balcony’ or ‘I dropped your cat down the laundry chute again’ or even ‘I burned uncle’s hair while he was asleep and he hasn’t noticed his newly acquired bald spot yet’. Instead I got this.
“We’re moving to London! We leave next week so start packing! I don’t trust those movers. Awful common sort.” That was all he said before he waved ‘ta ta!’ and left.
I sighed. Well it definitely wasn’t the worst thing he could’ve done. London, hm? Sounded…interesting.