It was no secret; the strangeness of the Langdon family constituted on a foundation of loss and love and pain. Constance was rather nice, as troubled as she was. Once you uncovered the soul buried deep behind the wall of illuminating heartbreak and suffering, she was a funny character, filled with pride for her children who were all strange yet charming and generally behaved, and care for friends. You knew something was… different about the family when the beautiful little boy disappeared and Michael, who looked so much like the boy, arrived. Constance could be cruel and had unusual punishments, but she would never, ever, abandon a child. The neighbors were extraordinarily odd, yet you still found yourself going over for visits, despite it not being required by your superiors in any way, all in which were usually polite and augmented with a sweet tone.
You’d met Constance’s family, save for her dear Addie, who she’d reminisced and mourned over, saying she wasn’t a good mother and that all the children she raised were monsters.
Tate was a troubled boy, but did his best about opening up to his emotions and finding happiness, as angry and mean as he could be.
Rose was blinded after an accident, but she, despite it, was sweet; a normal six-year-old little girl who liked playing with dolls and coloring.
Beau, even while bearing craniodiaphyseal dysplasia and a rather prominent mental disability, was the most playful and innocent person imaginable.
Then, there was Michael. Although he was her grandson, Constance still named him, claiming Mrs. Harmon didn’t love him, didn’t want anything to do with him. She named him after the archangel given the same name. He was a brat most of the time, but psychologically it was understandable; after watching him closely and evaluating him deeper than surface layers, he did care, and he did want to be good. You noticed his want for attention, his cries for it; he was an artist in melodrama and it was hilarious.
At times, he was the sweetest three-year-old, but as he’d aged into his young adolescence, he seemed to have been more aggressive, power coursed his very being, and without perimeter. Being close to Constance, she told you of how distant he was, how, despite his apparent physical age, he still didn’t understand right from wrong. You would have guessed him to be on the antisocial-personality spectrum, had he not felt so innocently sinister. He was smart, smarter and held more IQ than a normal boy should. A being of his power showed no limits, and he didn’t seem to want to find a stopping point. You didn’t feel anger toward him when he killed your cat, as much as you loved her; it was manslaughter on account of nature.
Upon asking for an example from her, Constance politely declined by changing the subject. You disregarded it as her not being completely comfortable with the subject and didn’t take it personally.
Clearly, you knew what they all were, it was hard ignoring it. The unaging, the sadness, the injuries, and consistent loss: the previously-living and never-born. But still, you found a deep-rooted attachment to every one of them. Even the less desirable ones. Such as Thaddeus and Charles, even going as far as the Rubber Man, who at times was his own being without Tate and Michael and had little regard to whether it was living or something other than, behaved relatively well; opting for stalking and generally leaving you alone, even in the face of its nature.
They all deviated from their original destiny at some point or another, and you wonder, had Michael had a stable home with a loving family, would he have been a different type of power? You knew he wanted to be good, but it wasn’t enough.
The attachment you had to them sprouted out of something you didn’t understand. Perhaps it was the individual innocence they all carried with them; an unknowingness of realms. You knew everyone appreciated not being treated as dead beings but as living ones with no differences; especially the children of Constance and some of which who just… didn’t know.
While some, like Ben, was very open about it, but others, like Tate at times, and Beau especially, hurt themselves when they remembered they were dead. You couldn’t exactly understand how they did, but it always had negative consequences on their psyche. You learned that even in death, mental health was as important.
There was a day in which an attachment finally settled around Michael. You sat on the floor, long legs folded underneath one another, his Aunt Rose sitting sweetly in your lap and Beau against the wall as you read a classic; One of the Magic Treehouse books. Tate had been listening and acting as if he wasn’t before leaving to do one thing or another, and then there was Michael, standing in the doorway. You looked up, smiling.
“Hello,” he responded quietly, watching predatorily. You knew he couldn’t help it and therefore threw caution aside to be held close to you with loose wrists.
“Did you wanna join us?” you asked hopefully, Rose hummed in appreciation and played with the hair at the nape of your neck. You were surprised when Michael answered by sitting down relatively close, scooting so he could see the pictures as well. The other offers of doing things with his family were always declined, rudely or politely, but you never judged his actions for it. He wasn’t comfortable with you yet, and you could understand it.
Rose reached for the book, humming with impatience.
You chuckled, “Alright, alright.” you said, continuing to read.
You ended when everyone, Michael included, indulged in sleep. You didn’t know such beings- spirits and otherworldly beings- needed sleep, but you supposed energy could be drained and needed to be replenished like most beings.
Constance smiled as she walked past you, you attempt to put the book down and carry Rose to her bed before she took the small girl clad in a yellow dress from your arms and put her in her room. Beau had been compelled to wake up his own, tiredly going off to his own space. All that was left was Him.
Being younger than you, even with his odd growth-spurts, his face kept its soft and boyish looks. His lashes rested on his cheeks and his breathing laid deep within his chest. He was closer than he was when you’d started, head resting on his arm, almost touching the outside of your thigh. You looked to him before pressing your hand to his hairline, gently dragging your thumb across his forehead. He was beautiful, and that’s when you acknowledged that he’d do something more with himself in the future, something large and drastic and dramatic.
“Michael, hey, kiddo, let’s get you to bed,” you said. His eyes opened gently, looking around then landing on you before sitting up slowly.
“How long was I asleep for?” he asked, voice small and wavering with misuse.
“Not long. A good twenty minutes maybe.” you smiled, standing up. The curly haired boy followed suit as you went into the kitchen, grabbing him a glass of water before looking to Moira. She, perhaps, was the only spirit that age. The first you saw her, being in a bad place, she was the carnage of desire. And now? A Crone, minus being deemed ugly. You greeted her easily, and she gave a snarky remark about how messy your button up was.
“Sorry, I don’t have an iron,” you replied with a smile, laughing a bit.
“Well then, let me wash your clothes! I apologize, but if I see one more wrinkle in a nice button up I’m going to lose it,” she complained, making you laugh a bit louder.
Constance had asked you to stay for dinner that night, her and Michael being the only living amongst the dead could be lonely. Of course, you agreed. Your superiors hadn’t put any suspension on how close you could get to them, Michael especially, so who was to deny you of the satisfaction of breaking through to this boy.
You cleaned up, sparing Moira of the aggressive words of Constance, while Constance herself headed to bed. Michael stayed, watching closely as he sat on the countertop.
“How long have you been able to see them?” he asked at one point, “The other people in the house, I mean.”
You smiled, drying a plate, “Always. Though, I think your father flipping me off really got my attention.” He tensed, “Sorry. I won’t talk about him again.”
He visibly relaxed and took the plates, putting them in the cupboard beside him.
“Can you see more than me?” he asked softly, and you nodded.
“Sort of. I can see their vibrations, their auras, even if they don’t want to be seen.”
Your smile grew slightly, a casual word thrown into a casual conversation meant to progress to you, especially when that progress sprouted from absolute distrust.
“I have to tell you something,” he spoke in his soft tone as if he were going to be in trouble,
“Hm?” you asked, putting cups up. You turned and his eyes were bleary, tear-filled, so absolutely upset as he wrung his hands together nervously.
“I-I uh, hurt your-your cat, a-and she’s-” he stuttered, trying not to sob, but his tears fell nonetheless when he looked down. You smiled lightly.
“Michael, I know.”
His eyes met yours in confusion, “Y-you do?”
You give a nod.
“A-aren’t y-you m-m-mad?”
You shake your head, “No. Because you told me the truth. I was upset, yes.”
He shakes his head, “I-I didn’t know what I was doing, I thought I was playing and-”
You hush him and bring his head to your chest, slowly, giving him the option of backing out; he opted to fit his head in your chest and hug you.
You sighed and wrapped an arm around him, soothing his back as sobs broke through him finally, your freehand preoccupied itself with petting his hair calmingly.
He later told you on the couch that you weren’t as bad as he thought, that he doesn’t think you’re wanting to hurt him or his family.
“Michael, I’d never wanna hurt you, not purposely at least.” you shrugged, “You guys are really the only thing I’ve got after work.”
“And what do you work as?” he half-asks. You know he already knows, suspects.
“I’m training to be a mental health therapist; I specialize in art and animal therapy.”
He nods like he didn’t know.
The two of you had gotten close, and eventually, he admitted to wanting his biological parents to acknowledge him, to wanting to be good even though he performed heinous acts.
So heinous, Constance didn’t want to live anymore.
That was 2017.
You made sure he was okay after the fact. But you knew he wouldn’t be.
Constance had given up, Ben had given up, and Tate claimed him a bastard. He’d broke, or he would soon.