Fourteen-year-old Danielle Alouette wandered through the safehouse, wondering where on earth her pal Emil was. She’d been looking for him all day, and couldn’t find him anywhere and it was getting frustrating. Finally, she got fed up and telepathically tried to contact him. ‘Where are ya, Red?’
The reason Danielle was unable to locate Emil was the fact that the red-haired twenty-five-year-old wasn’t at home. Having decided he was bored to tears at home, he went for a walk to get out of the house for awhile. He heard her question and thought back to her promptly. ‘Eatin’ ice cream.’
Danielle took that to mean he wasn’t at home and went looking for him. She found him sitting on a bench near a Baskin Robbins store, eating what would prove to be his sixth ice cream cone in a couple of hours. Emil’s biggest weakness was ice cream. Danielle sat beside him and he smiled at her around a scoop of Neapolitan as he caught a drip that threatened to fall on his jeans. "Hey,"
"Hey. Lemme guess. You’re bored out of your skull."
Danielle was wearing a tank top and a pair of shorts that looked good on her 104-lb frame. She was small, but didn’t look under-nourished. "Seen any good eye candy?"
"Few." He sighed. "None dat would look twice at me, t’ough. It’s like I’m wearin’ a big sign dat says ‘GUILD THIEF! CAUTION! DO NOT APPROACH!’ or somethin’ like dat."
Danielle notices quickly that since she sat down, teenaged boys have appeared out of the woodwork and it disgusts her. She shudders, "Do I have guy magnets on me or somethin’?"
Emil chuckled at her. "You’re a beautiful girl, Danielle. Of course dey’re attracted."
She’s indignant even though for the most part she’s kept her sexuality a secret from most of the people in her life. "But I don’t like dem!"
Emil just shrugged and finished his ice cream. "Can’ help you dere, kid. Sorry." A beautiful woman chose that exact moment to walk by. She was tall and elegant and smartly-dressed. Danielle nodded. "Now dat’s what I like."
Emil agreed. "Yeah, but do you notice dat she doesn’ look twice at either of us? To de normal workin’ class people, we’re scum."
Danielle sighed in defeat. "Yeah..."
Emil voiced an opinion he’d had for quite some time in regards to relationships. "Remy’s lucky. He got to have girlfriends; first Bella Donna, when we were kids, an’ now Rogue, if dey’re even still together. I dunno. I’d give anythin’ to have one girlfriend, even if it didn’ last."
Danielle started singing softly. "One singular sensation, ev'ry little step she takes..." Emil just sighed and got another ice cream. He was normally a very upbeat person, but he couldn’t muster any good feelings and he didn’t quite know why, just that he was lonely.
At that moment, a beautiful young woman with auburn hair pulled back into a ponytail and sparkling green eyes walked by, going over her lines. "One thrilling combination, ev'ry move that she makes."
Emil just raised his eyebrows and watched around his ice cream as Danielle continued with the young woman, and the stranger did a few dance steps as she walked. The stranger was about five-foot-six, and quite beautiful as far as Emil was concerned. She was an out of work dancer on her way to an audition, but neither Emil nor Danielle knew that. "One thrilling combination, ev'ry move that she makes. For de girl is second best to none, son. Oooh! Sigh! Give her your attention. Do I really have t'mention she's de one?"
Emil couldn’t imagine being in the same league as this girl and he couldn’t take his eyes off her as she continued down the sidewalk towards wherever she was going. He thought privately to Danielle, ‘She’s beautiful...’
‘Dat she is.’
Danielle got the impression Emil was attracted to the stranger and mentally nudged him. ‘Go on! Follow her!’
‘Go. On. What can it hurt?’
‘Okay, okay...’ With that, he got up, tossed the rest of his ice cream and stealthily followed the pretty stranger to her audition. He waited outside the hall as she went in and leaned against a tree, waiting for her to come back out.
Forty-five minutes later, she reappeared, a look of disappointment on her face. Yet again, she didn’t get the part she was trying out for. Emil sighed softly, sharing her disappointment, having figured out that she didn’t get the part.
She walked back to her one-room apartment, her steps not nearly as light as they were on the way to the audition. She was unaware that she was being followed, and wouldn’t have really cared if she did know. She was still unemployed, barely making her rent payments and she knew there was a huge stack of bills on the table in her apartment that she still couldn’t pay.
Emil followed her all the way to her apartment and slipped right up to her window so he could hear her if she said anything to herself out loud. He watched her look at the stack of bills and then look in the cupboards; he saw for himself that she was low on food and felt bad. He heard her say with a sigh, "No money, no food and no boyfriend."
Emil was a professional thief, and some people would probably think he was a mean-hearted criminal because of it, but in reality he was as soft and kind-hearted as they come. He liked helping people, and more importantly, he found himself really attracted to this stranger. He smiled to himself and slipped away from the window, a plan hatching in his head.
He went to a grocery store nearby and went around with a shopping basket. He bought milk, cheese, bread, peanut butter and several other necessity items. He also got a piece of paper from the cashier, and borrowed a pen quickly. He wrote a note that simply said "From your Secret Admirer, who thinks you might need it more than he does." Then he took his package to her apartment and very quietly put it on her step, with the note attached. He knocked on her door and dashed into the shadows, so he wouldn’t be seen but could still watch her reaction.
The stranger opened the door to find the bag of groceries. She read the note and a bright smile lit up her face when she did so. She looked around, trying to find him, but was unable to. Before she went inside with the food, she whispered, "Thanks, whoever you are."
As another plan formed in his mind, Emil smiled from his spot in the shadows.
Danielle’s voice appeared in his head. ‘Havin’ fun, Emil?’
For the next two weeks, Emil went back to her apartment everyday. And everyday, he left a different gift on her doorstep, with a note "From your Secret Admirer". The Thieves Guild had never had much money, but the elders made sure the younger thieves never went without, and never felt that they were lacking. Emil was poor and he knew it, but he felt very rich being able to get things for the stranger, who obviously had less than he did. Most of his gifts consisted of food, but he also bought her flowers, candy, jewelry and other such things. He didn’t even know her name, but his attraction towards her grew every time he saw her and his gift-giving was his own unique little way of courting her.
Finally after the end of the second week, Emil decided it was time to show himself. He was having a lot of fun being her secret admirer, but he wanted to get to know her. He went to the flower shop and bought a single red rose and got the florist to put a white ribbon on it. Then he went back to the stranger’s apartment and stood on the doorstep. He was nervous, but didn’t back down. He knocked on the door and waited, a smile on his pale face.
The stranger opened the door and smiled softly when she saw him. She somehow knew he was the one who had been leaving her all the gifts. "Hello."
His smile widened. "Hi." He held out the rose to her, his blue eyes sparkling and shining.
She took the rose and smelled it. "Thanks. Come on in."
He followed her inside, looking at the small apartment. The single room is divided between a kitchen and a bedroom; she shares a tiny bathroom with the upstairs tenants. It baffles even him that people can live in places like this; when the thieves lived in the tunnels, each clan had more space than this.
Finally she spoke. "My name is Allison, but my friends call me Allie or AJ."
"Dat’s a pretty name." Emil found himself unable to take his eyes off her, and when she looked up at him, a connection was made that he didn’t think possible in such a short time. "I’m Emil."
A faint blush rose in her cheeks and she smiled. "Nice to meet you."
"Likewise." He felt like the smile was glued to his face.
Allie was amazed. She already thought he was one of the nicest and most caring people she’d ever known, and now she thought he was handsome on top of all that. ‘He’s better than I could have imagined.’
Emil was a little nervous that she felt his gifts were out of pity. "Nothin’ I’ve given you was out of line, was it? It’s hard to know what’s appropriate an’ what’s not sometimes..."
Allie smiled again; her heart fluttered in her chest. She thought already she might be falling for him. "No...not at all."
"Good...I was worried ‘bout dat."
The next month sped by. Emil spent as much of his free time with Allie as he could. The rest of the Guild noticed quite a change in him. He was very quickly falling in love with Allie and it was evident in everything about him. He was happiest when he was with her, and when he wasn’t, she was all he talked about and all he thought about.
For her own part, Allie fell in love with him the moment they first met. She looked forward to spending even a few short minutes with him and enjoyed every moment spent with him.
Even with the assassins now living at the safehouse, Emil knew there was room there for Allie as well, and he wanted more than anything for her to move in with them. He hated the idea that she was stuck in that hell-hole of an apartment with all those bills and hardships. He lived in a huge house with at times fifteen people who were slowly learning to live with each other; each one of them had a private bedroom and there was still room for more to join them. With that in mind, he asked his housemates for their opinion and approval, got it, and went to Allie’s apartment and knocked on her door.
Allie opened the door and smiled when she saw him. "Emil..."
He smiled, his eyes filled with love and adoration for the beautiful young woman in front of him. "Hey. I want to ask you somethin’."
"Well, I’ve been talkin’ to de others an’ dey all say it’s okay...dere’s room over at de safehouse an’ I was wonderin’ if you’d be interested in movin’ in dere an’ gettin’ out of dis money-suckin’ place you’ve been callin’ home."
The smile on Allie’s face widened. "I’d love to."
Two days later, she was officially moved into the safehouse. Emil had asked the guild patriarch, his cousin Remy, who only lived at the safehouse part-time, to take care of Allie’s bills. And Remy, who had made quite a bit of money when he went back in time for the guild once and was quite rich, obliged happily and willingly, glad that his best friend was truly happy for the first time in his life.
Over the next several months, the pair worked on building a strong relationship. Their love deepened everyday, and neither could imagine living life without the other. They were radiant and happy, their love shining through every action, every word, and it warmed the hearts of the other guild members; they were given hope that if one of them could find such a deep, true, respecting love, then they all could.
On the eve of 2002, the guild was celebrating at home, watching the big New Year’s Eve party on television and enjoying just being together as a family.
As the guild counted down the last seconds of the old year with the crowd on TV, Emil pulled Allie into his arms and kissed her. After several moments, he whispered, "Happy New Year."
Allie smiled and whispered back, "Happy New Year." Then she inched up and, so only he could hear, said into his ear, "I’m pregnant." Tante Mattie had told her that morning that she was expecting a baby, and she waited all day to tell Emil.
Once the initial shock wore off, a huge smile lit up Emil’s face. He was thrilled with this news, as he’d always wanted a family, and now he was getting one. It amazed him, especially when he thought about how a few short months ago he had felt he’d never find love. He hugged her and whispered "Dis is awesome..."
Three days later, Emil went on a secret shopping trip and returned with a small package in his pocket. He went looking for Allie, who was sitting in the living room listening to music after having finished a dance routine. He smiled went he saw her and joined her on the couch. She was positively glowing, and it showed, warming his heart. "How are you doin’?"
"I was a little queasy earlier, but I’m okay now."
Emil nodded, glad she was doing better. "Good. Uhm...I’m not really great at speeches, but..." He handed her the small black box that was in his pocket and waited for her to open it.
A look of shock crossed her face when she opened the box to find a simple but elegant diamond ring; she looked at him questioningly and he smiled.
"I’ve always been de joker ‘round here...an’ dey don’ usually take me seriously. But I’ve never been more serious ‘bout somethin’ in my life. I love you wit’ all my heart an’ I love our child...I want to do what’s best for us an’ for our child...I want us to be a fam’ly...will you marry me?"
Allie’s face lit up with a bright smile as Emil spoke. "Yes!"
Emil hugged her and slid the ring on her finger as he did so, his heart bursting with happiness. Everything was so perfect, even if Tante Mattie and Allie’s doctors refused to tell them the sex of the baby. It was fine though, because Allie didn’t want to know, and Emil only partially did. It was going to be nice to be surprised.
Allie and Emil were married in a quiet ceremony nearly two months later. Allie was three months pregnant at the time of the wedding, and she was just starting to show, which thrilled Emil. He was with her through every moment of morning sickness and discomfort, and he would continue to be by her side through the rest of it, for the rest of their lives. He pledged as much in their vows on the beautiful sunny day they were married on.
When they returned from their week-long honeymoon in Jamaica, Allie got a phone call from her doctor. She turned visibly pale during the brief conversation and hung up the phone.
Seeing the change that came over her, Emil was instantly alarmed. He went to her side, scared that something was wrong with the baby or with Allie. "What is it...?
Allie looked up into his face, fear and uncertainty in her eyes. She spoke the words softly, almost scared to voice them. "I have bone cancer..."
Emil blinked in shock and wrapped his arms around her, held her close as she sunk against him; he worked hard to not let on that he was shaking in fear. "We’ll get t’rough dis...we’ll be okay...if your doctor can’ help, we’ll find someone who can…I promise."
Allie started treatment immediately. The cancer stopped spreading, which was good news for her and Emil, but Allie was disappointed that she couldn’t do the one thing she loved the most, dance, as the cancer was located in her tibia. She was scheduled for several surgeries, the doctors taking special care with her because of her unborn baby.
Each procedure went smoothly. Allie was left weak and tired constantly from the treatments and surgeries. Emil was by her side the whole time, taking very good care of her. He loved her and did everything he could to help her and look after her and they were eventually given the good news that her cancer was in remission. However, their worst fears were coming true. The treatments were starting to take a toll on the baby, and seven weeks before the due date, Allie had to go for an emergency C-section or they’d lose the child.
Emil had never been so scared in his whole life. More than anything in the world, he wanted this family and it was ripping him apart that he didn’t know if his child was going to live or not. He paced the waiting room while Allie was in the operating room, praying to God that both his wife and their child were spared. He didn’t want to lose them and he was scared that his happiness was going to be taken from him after such a brief period of time.
Finally after the surgery was over, one of the nurses told Emil which room Allie was in and he went to her side just as she was waking up. The baby had yet to be brought in; Allie still hadn’t even found out if she’d given birth to a boy or a girl. Emil knew. He had coaxed the information out of Tante Mattie the night before. As he sat by her side and took her hand, Allie whispered,
"I am too. Dey wouldn’ tell me anythin’..."
Tears welled up in Allie’s eyes. "It’s so early...I’m frightened..."
"Me too," The knowledge that he had been born a month early and ended up fine wasn’t a lot of comfort for him. Four weeks was quite different from seven. Would the baby be okay?
After what seemed like an eternity to the new, worried parents, the nurses rolled in an incubator setup with a very tiny baby inside it. The child was smaller than any baby Emil had ever seen and it nearly broke his heart. He went over to the incubator and looked in, wishing he could even just touch his child. He couldn’t. And it hurt. The tears spilled over, out of his control.
Allie was crying too. "Our baby..."
Emil nodded. "So tiny...but perfect."
Allie figured he knew the sex of the baby before the surgery. "I can’t tell with all the white. Boy or girl?"
Emil smiled through his tears, his heart melted as he looked at his new child. "You an’ I are de parents of a little boy."
A smile crossed Allie’s face. "So what are we naming our little bundle of joy?"
Emil spoke softly. "I was thinkin’ it would be nice to name him after our fathers..."
"Alexander...I wish he was here." Allie commented softly.
"My father’s name was Francois. He was my best friend in de world, even more’n Remy is. I miss him so much. So..." He smiled. "How does Alexander Francois Lapin sound to you?"
Allie smiled back, looking adoringly at her son. "I like it."
Emil sighed. "I wish we could hold him..."
"I know...but I guess a little while longer won’t hurt. We’ll have plenty of time to hold him soon enough."
Several weeks later, after the doctors were satisfied that little Alex was healthy enough to be allowed to go home Emil and Allie took him back to the safehouse. They loved him, doted on him, and above all else, wanted him to be happy and healthy and comfortable. He had quickly become the single most important person in their life and everything they did, every action they took, was for him.
Not long after they were allowed to take him home, they had a conversation about children and how many they wanted. Both of them were already thinking they wanted to expand their family...they wanted Alex to have siblings to play and grow up with.
Emil started the talk. "I know it’s soon an’ all…but how many children would you like to have?"
Allie smiled as she sat beside him, Alex in her arms. "I’d like at least four."
Emil reached up and lightly ran his fingers over Alex’s smooth red hair with a smile. "A woman after my own heart. I was an only child…I’ve always wanted a big fam’ly. Five would be nice."
Allie watched her husband with their son. "I think Alex would like a sister next."
"I’m sure that could be arranged, but we should prob’ly wait for awhile b’fore we get goin’ on dat..."
As Emil sat there with his family, he reflected on how lucky he was and how blessed he felt to be allowed to have a perfect little family. He was determined to be a hands-on dad and be involved with every aspect of his son’s life as well as the lives of any children that come later. He honestly believed that it was fate that arranged for Allie to walk past him and Danielle on that day a year ago, and fate that told him to listen to Danielle when she encouraged him to follow the auburn-haired dancer to her audition. He was very glad that he had thought to play secret admirer for two weeks and looking back, if he was given the chance to do it all again, he wouldn’t have changed a single thing.