Amusement parks. They were supposed to be fun places, a place to try deliciously unhealthy food, try rigged, impossibly difficult games, best them, and nearly lose your kids at, apparently. Dante was all for amusement parks, even ones that took place at night. But the almost losing his kids part was a scare he could have done without. Especially at night.
Carrying his youngest child, he sighed heavily as he walked through the park. There were scores of people all over the place, with children dragging their guardians along and the smells of food wafting through the air. Sounds of shrieks, ride mechanics, and more simply permeated the entire locale, and nearly every sound was audible to his inhuman hearing, despite how he tuned most of it out.
The child in his arms made a whimper, large, electric-blue eyes closing while her head rested against his. "Patty...Hallen," she sniffed, arms tightening around his neck.
He rubbed his head against hers, his lips spreading into a small smile. "I know, Shy, but I had to go after you when you ran away," he gently reminded.
His daughter sniffed again, her head rising as she looked around. "But...shiny," she urged, lips pouting and giving a little tremble.
A soft exhale escaped him. This all started when she saw "something shiny" and ran off into its direction, nearly disappearing into a sea of people. He almost lost his mind on the spot and went after her. Her little legs dodged and weaved through people until he caught up without nearly trampling over someone in his haste. But that meant they lost Hallen and Patty in the park, somewhere.
"Well, Shy, I don't know what you saw, but please don't ever do that, again, okay?" he said sternly, bringing her attention to him. His gaze lessened upon seeing her teary eyes, but she understood.
Her head bobbed as she nodded, tussling some of her white locks into her face. "Okay, Daddy. I'm sowwy," she said, bumping her head against his.
All the severity melted from his demeanor. It was impossible for him to remain angry at her when she did that, "speaking her age," as her mother put it. She knew darn well what she was doing, and Dante let her do it every time, willingly wrapped around her little finger with duct tape for extra measure.
He kissed her little nose, and she in turn giggled before kissing his angular one, causing him to softly chuckle. "Now," he said, turning back to look into the crowds, "let's find your sisters."
It wasn't going to be hard to find them, despite the amount of people. He could sense they were still in the park and roughly where they were; it was all a matter of possibly retracing his steps in their direction or maneuvering his way back to them. They would be found in no time.
As he walked, he didn't miss how his daughter kept looking around, her head snapping this way and that. She was still looking for "the shiny". It did cause him to wonder what she saw. The glint of an eye? There were other Inhumans in the park, some of which they passed, but they acknowledged him with a respectful nod and were with their families, as well. They were no threat.
Perhaps she saw a Vital Star, or a White Orb, somewhere? She didn't seem too keen on the idea, simply calling it "the shiny". More likely than not, it meant she had no idea what it was, and her curiosity was rubbing onto him. If only he could pry the color of the item from her...
"It's shiny!" she said.
Smiling, he nodded, which then devolved into him shaking his head with a soft laugh. That wasn't very helpful.
Soon, they were nearing Hallen and Patty. Dante caught sight of the long white hair belonging to his eldest daughter near a concession stand of some sort and began to near what he could make out to be his older daughters eating as they waited.
Just as Patty waved upon seeing him, several pats on his back followed an excited gasp. "There, Daddy! Daddy! The shiny!" said his youngest, pointing at something behind him and leaning forward.
He glanced back, and then beckoned Patty and Hallen over. As they approached, he turned around. "Show me, Shy," he said.
From what he could see, there were many "shiny" objects that stood out in his vision. Earrings, rings, other jewelry and items...The little finger pointed in the direction of someone who had some of those things on her person. "The shiny" turned out to be more than one "shiny".
The woman was maybe in her early 20s, with short blond hair in a pixie-cut and a small boy by her side. The majority of the shiny objects were on her messenger bags: enamel pins, by what he could see. That would explain it; at only two years old, his youngest daughter had never seen enamel pins, before.
"Those are pins, Shiloh. They're decorations you wear on things. Is that what you mean?" he asked, unfocusing his gaze to look at her.
Rapidly, her head bobbed up and down, though her brows furrowed. With a little huff, she urged, "Daddy, the shiny!" Her legs began moving impatiently against his chest. A particular pin must have caught her eye.
"What's up, Dad?" Hallen asked, following her father and baby sister's gazes as she and Patty approached.
Noticing Shiloh was antsy, Patty reached up and grabbed her little sister's attention with a churro. "Are you hungry, Shy?" she asked.
Gasping, Shiloh nodded before taking it into her hand. "Thank you," she said happily, beginning to munch on it. To her sisters, she then said, "I found the Shiny and Daddy can't see it."
Blinking at her, Dante's lips quirked a bit. Yes, he wasn't trying hard enough, so he gently passed Shiloh to Hallen before focusing his gaze back on the woman several feet away.
Small and stature and curvy, the woman wasn't anyone familiar to him. The child at her side looked to be her son or possible relative, with dark blond hair and currently sucking on one of those absurdly large lollipops. They stood in line for food, the same churros that Patty and Hallen were eating, at ease and happy.
Dante then focused back on her bag. There were only a few, simple pins he recognized: an ice-cream cone, a starfish, a CD, a violin...There were so many.
"Do you see it, Daddy?" Shiloh asked him eagerly.
He hummed, "What does it look like?"
She put a hand to her temple, curling all her fingers but her index. "Horns!"
He sighed, ignoring the other pins to look. "Why didn't you say so befo—" His breath suddenly caught in his throat, all but choking on air when he saw it.
"What?" Hallen demanded, her arm darting out to bring Patty to her side, ready to react. Likewise, upon seeing such a reaction from her father, Patty startled, watching him closely.
Their father look a step forward, his jaw dropping while a kaleidoscope of emotions flittered upon his face. Happiness. Surprise. Anger. Confusion. It was impossible to gauge what he was feeling.
Hallen frowned, beginning to worry. "Dad!" she called urgently, snapping him out of his trancelike state.
Wordlessly, he took another step forward. "Stay here," he said, his voice low and almost monotone with indiscernible emotion. He then moved forward into the woman's direction, walking just under a casual pace.
The sound of his heartbeat drowned out half of the noise in the park. His flamboyant, flippant, devil-may-care words escaped him. How was he supposed to restrain himself after what he saw? But he had to remain calm. There had to be an explanation, some good reason. But...could there be one?
Why was a human carrying a pin of his family crest?
Not the old Alighieri crest belonging to the entire family, but the new one created specifically for his family branch after his parents married.
The Inhuman Alighieri family crest.
It had been centuries since he saw it, but he remembered it clearly. All he needed was the old Alighieri crest in his mind from the time he saw it in the possession of the Lowells to recall its form. It was a marvelous, pointed shield-like shape with a bat-like motif, an inscribed 'A' at its center below the family crest: two long, curved horns that protruded over the shield with two red gems for eyes between them, and a long, oval-shaped black gem amid those. Below was a banner in demonic text, and now that he looked upon it, he could see the shine of magical energy that thrummed upon it.
It was the real thing. An old thing.
How in the Nine Spheres of Hell did a human get their hands on such an artifact?!
Abruptly, he stopped, shutting his eyes. Before continuing, he had to calm himself. Taking a breath, he exhaled deeply, letting the tension ease before opening his eyes and continuing forward. Rationalizing a way to begin speaking to the woman, he put on his game face, managing a languid smile despite his warring emotions.
Before he could manage anything, however, the pitter-patter of footsteps caught his ears, and he turned around just in time to see Shiloh run past him and up to the woman, poking at her bag.
"Shiloh!" he called harshly, yet while doing so realized this was a better way to start conversation.
Both the woman and the boy looked at the girl, blinking, just as she said, "Excuse me, Miss, but why do you have that pen?" she asked, pointing at the family crest.
"Pen?" the woman repeated, confusion clouding her face. She then looked at what Shiloh was pointing to, adjusting her bag. "Oh, pin! This pin?" she asked, and her expression suddenly changed.
Dante was right behind Shiloh in a moment, and he scooped his daughter up into his arms. "Sorry about that," he said, not exactly sure he was telling the truth. Now that he was near the woman, he felt the soft tremble of energy coming from the pin, and wondered how he never noticed it before.
"...It's okay," the woman assured, her expression softening from the sudden defensive one it had been a second before. She slightly moved the boy, who was staring at Shiloh, ahead of her.
"But, Daddy, it's ours, isn't it?" Shiloh asked aloud, frowning at the woman.
"Well..." Dante resisted the urge to bark questions, then smiled at the woman and said, "If you don't mind me asking, where did you get that pin from? I'm...intimately familiar with it."
A blond brow rose as the woman looked him over, moving a bit in the line. "It's mine," she said easily, her eyes slanting with what he could still see was defensiveness.
"So, you're familiar with the Alighieri family?" he asked, brows furrowing with the beginnings of a frown.
Surprise overcame her face, but she tried to hide it. Very poorly. She fumbled with her bag, turning it away from him. "I am part of the Alighieri family. And you?" she asked hastily.
The world seemed to halt as the realization dawned on him. He almost took a step back, causing it to look as if he staggered, and his eyes widened, his mouth hanging open. But no words came out.
"You're related to us?" Shiloh asked curiously. "We're Alighieris, too."
Looking between father and daughter, confusion overcame the woman's face. "...Must be...another Alighieri. It's not that uncommon a name..." she muttered, and the boy looked up at her with a frown of his own.
"But that's ours," Shiloh insisted, pointing back at the bag.
Just as the woman was about to open her mouth to speak, Dante shook his head and quickly said, "Sorry, I think we got off on the wrong foot." He held out his free hand, exhaling his words. "I'm Dante. Dante Alighieri. Evangelina Alighieri is my...ancestor," he managed.
This piqued the woman's interest, but only for a moment before her expression turned defensive again. She once more pushed the boy in front of her as the line moved a bit, eyeing Dante's outstretched hand. "I know of Evangelina," she said coolly. "She was the older sister of my ancestor, Isabelle Alighieri."
Dante's heart jumped to his throat in awe and pleasant surprise. But he didn't just stand there with his hand out; he lowered it, moving to hold Shiloh more comfortably. He smiled widely. "Well, then, I suppose this is a bit of a family reunion," he said with cordial charm.
"I don't think so," said the woman. "How do I know you're telling the truth?"
His smile faltered by a bit. There were plenty of ways he could prove it...but one would have to know of Inhumans. As far as he was aware of, his aunt Isabelle's descendants were completely human. Normal. So painfully normal.
Glancing away momentarily, he considered his options. Telling the truth was not one of them. "I can't. Not so easily, anyway," he admitted. "Regardless, I know we're related, if distantly. So, let me ask you a question." He looked towards the bag. "How did you obtain that pin?"
"I found it," said the boy. He looked and sounded around six years old. "I thought it was cool."
"Jacopo!" she hissed. She then looked at Dante. "Really, this isn't the right time to talk about this," she began.
But Dante wasn't giving up so easily. Not when he finally found more of his biological family. "I completely understand. But this is important to me. Whether you believe me or not, that is my family's crest. I even know what the words on the banner say and mean," he explained.
She blinked, making a motion as if about to look at the crest, but caught herself. "You...Really?" she asked, her guard lowering by a bit. She looked at her bag. "...I always thought...that was just rubbish."
One of his eyes twitched, but Dante remained calm. "...No. It's a language. A very real, very meaningful language. You fancy languages?" he asked, trying to appeal to her.
She shrugged a bit. "Passively," she admitted.
"Then, if nothing else, we can talk about that, alright? For starters?"
She considered, looking from him to her bag. "...Alright." She held out her hand. "Noemi. Noemi Alighieri."