"Dey're underestimatin' us, y'know dat don'cha?" Genard Alouette said, flopping down on the blue comforter on Emil's bed and looking at his friend with a sigh, his brown eyes troubled. His wavy blond hair formed a nice contrast to the dark blue of the comforter, but neither he nor Emil noticed.
"Genard gimme a break. What's to underestimate?" Emil Lapin, red-haired, obnoxious and cocky, replied, turning away from his computer and spinning around in his chair until it was up as high as it could go.
"Oh gee, Emil, I dunno." Genard was sarcastic. "Maybe de fact dat I'm a quiet little bookworm an' you couldn' stand up to one of dem if your life depended on it."
"But dey know you can fight, so what diff'rence does bein' quiet make?" Emil asked.
"I don' like violence, Emil. Dey know dat. 'Sides, I openly announced I was takin' time off from Guild activities for de next three years to start raisin' Jean-Pierre. Dat makes me vulnerable."
Emil shrugged. "Papa did de same t'ing after I was born an' nothin' ever happened to him..."
"I know, I was dere. But t'ink 'bout it. De two Guilds didn' live in de same place back den. Dey didn' have access to us as much as dey do now. An' dey don' know dat if dey push me far enough I will kill dem. Especially where my son is concerned."
"Genard, lissen." Emil stopped spinning and looked solemnly at his friend. "Even if Bel or Gris, or even Questa, t'ought 'bout doin' somethin' to you or JP...Fifolet an' Singer wouldn' let dem an' you know it. Jus' like you wouldn' let anybody hurt dem or Cheryl. Whether de three of you know it or not, dere's some kind of unspoken t'ing dere b'tween you. You're parents. You won' let anythin' happen to each other or your kids."
"Yeah you're right." Genard agreed. "But what 'bout you?"
Emil raised an eyebrow and kept spinning. "What 'bout me? You said yourself I can' stand up to dem an' I didn' disagree wit' you so..."
It was Genard's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Don' fool yourself, kid. You know as well as I do what I said isn' true. B'sides, we bot' know how Bella Donna an' Gris-Gris have been threatenin' Theoren lately..."
Emil stopped spinning again very abruptly, his normally sparkly blue eyes clouding over darkly. "Theo an' I might not see eye to eye on mos' t'ings, but I swear if dey hurt him..."
"See, dat's it right dere!" Genard exclaimed. "Dey t'ink you're terrified of dem when you're really not."
"Sure I am." Emil replied with a shake of his head. "But...I guess...it's kinda de same as if dey threatened Jean-Pierre. You'd freak...show 'em a side of you dey never saw b'fore...b'cause he's de person you care most 'bout in de whole world. An' if dey hurt Theoren..."
"You'd freak too, I can see it in your eyes." Genard chuckled. "But what 'bout Jackie?"
"Jackie can take care of herself, she don' need me to freak over her." Emil replied. "I ain' worried 'bout her. She'd be more likely to protect me anyways."
"Theo can take care of himself too t'ough..."
"It's diff'rent wit' him...he's diff'rent. I've had a few visions 'bout him in recent months, G. He ain' as strong as he wants us all to b'lieve. I'm worried 'bout him."
Genard sighed. "So's Mercy, but she never admits it. Is dat why...?"
"Why I'm tryin' real hard not to be annoyin'?" Emil finished. "Yeah. Well, dat...an' I really am scared to death of Gris-Gris."
"I t'ink Gris' bark is worse den his bite. An' I don' t'ink you're as scared of him as you lead everyone to b'lieve." Genard observed. "But maybe I'm wrong."
Emil sighed. "I dunno. But did you t'ink maybe if dey're underestimatin' us, we're also underestimatin' dem too?"
"Oh yeah, for sure." Genard nodded. "We might all live in de same house now, but have you noticed we only really interact wit' each other when it's necessary or when Remy or Bel make us? I mean de only real reason I know Fifolet an' Singer as well as I do now is b'cause of our kids. De three of us are de only parents in de house, we ain' got no one else to bounce ideas an' frustrations off."
"We don' know dem any better den dey know us. It's no wonder we still don' get along even after two years of unification. You guys're lucky b'cause of your situation, t'ough, b'cause you have a reason to bond wit' each other. De rest of us don'."
"Don' you t'ink Tante Mattie dyin' hurt dem jus' as much as it hurt us?" Genard asked.
Emil stared. "Some of 'em, maybe..."
"It hurt all of dem, Emil. I can see it in deir faces when dey t'ink no one's lookin'. You've got her empathy now...I'm surprised you never realized it...even Gris was hurt very deeply when she died...dat's why he takes off so much an' is so snappy when he's here. He's hurtin'. Dey all are. Jus' like us."
"Oh I picked up on dat, but I didn' t'ink it was real, y'know? I didn' t'ink dey could feel anythin' but hatred an' stuff...well except for Fifolet an' Singer for obvious reasons..."
"What makes dem so diff'rent from de others? T'ink 'bout all of 'em. Tell me what you figure out." Genard suggested. "I've been talkin' to Remy 'bout dis, actually."
Emil was silent for a few moments, allowing his mind to focus on the emotions and feelings from deep within the minds of the five assassins. He sighed. "Dey're jealous...scared...all of 'em. Jealous of us...of us?...oh...b'cause we know how to live life an' care 'bout each other an' stuff like dat. Scared of openin' deir hearts an' lettin' anyone in...scared of gettin' hurt an' bein' alone..." Emil stopped for a moment and looked at his friend. "Dey're jus' as vulnerable as we are."
"I know." Genard replied. "Dey're really not all dat diff'rent from us. We've all been brought up to see de diff'rences an' dat makes it harder for us to see de similarities."
"Maybe de rest of us should follow your example an' start to get to know dem a little better...stop bein' afraid of dem..." Emil said.
"Or maybe we could start by havin' a fam'ly meetin' an' sharin' what we all remember 'bout Tante Mattie. I'm sure each side has stories dat de other side doesn' know."
"Yeah...let's go ask Bel to call a meetin'." Emil agreed.
Genard nodded and hopped off the bed. "Hey Emil?"
Emil paused at the door. "Yeah?"
"Theoren'll be okay."
"I know." Emil smiled. "We all will."