Disclaimer: This is a fan fic for entertainment purposes only, mostly mine, it’s my first. I own nothing and claim to own nothing. All things in this story are fake, except spelling and grammar errors; they’re very real. I repeat I do not own Gundam Wing.
Deep inside, the persistent nagging feeling kept saying get out. Even though the building was the site of a horrible massacre, empty and desolate not another sole save this one child, he could not leave. Duo grew up on the streets and could quickly return, but he couldn’t force himself to leave the Maxwell Church. Arguing with the feelings to go, pushing aside the knowledge of danger, he stayed, kneeling next to the dead body of Sister Helen, still holding her hand. He had no fear of death, he had grown accustomed to it, he had seen it too many times. At any moment the federation army would come looking for the mobile suit, the one he stole. Somehow he made it through the shower of bullets to retrieve the suit, only to return and find his efforts a waist. In his eight-year-old logic he thought if he’d been back earlier it would never have happened.
“The rebels said they only needed one suit, they said they could do it if I brought back one suit. I did it. Why, why did they have to show up here, everything was fine? Why did it have to start again?” Duo thought, he couldn’t understand why so many had to die. Two hundred forty-five people died that day, many of which were children and people who had no desire to fight. The federation didn’t care who they killed; they must crush the rebellion no matter what the cost.
'Get out' the feeling said again, Duo once more pushed it aside.
‘Please, get out’ again that feeling, but no this time it wasn’t just a feeling it was an audible voice. Duo arose from his kneeling position near the silent nun. With great caution he made his way through the chapel and surrounding rooms. Each door he opened posed the hope of a friendly face or the danger of an enemy. The only sound to reach his ear was the soft patter of his feet as he maneuvered around the ruble and overturned furnishings. The expedition into the chapel and adjoining rooms turned up fruitless, no other living person could be found. He returned back to the sister’s side.
‘Get out, please, you must get out’ the voice spoke again.
Duo heard the voice but showed no signs of doing what it asked. Duo believed in a god because the strong faith of the priest and nun, but inside felt that God didn’t believe in him. So many times in his life he had stolen things. Everyone he cared about died, Solo, many of the other children he knew. Now again everyone he loved was taken away from him. Duo couldn’t start over again, he couldn’t find friends again, he couldn’t care anymore, he saw that there was no point, it would all be taken away, again.
‘Get out you must get out’
“Why should I? There’s no one else. Who cares if I live or die.” Duo said.
‘I do,’ the voice responded, just two simple words and they brought comfort. The same comforting feeling he felt at the times when life seemed roughest, a presence he had felt before. The voice sounded familiar, it was soft and warm, full of so many emotions. He knew the voice, it’s sound and tone, his mind could not recall hearing it but something told him he had. He had heard it before the sound now brought memories back, memories he only half understood.
A stout nurse walked into the bare hospital room and handed a newborn baby to the woman propped up on the bed. She was a young woman in her mid twenties with soft fair skin and a shining smile. Her cheeks, usually pink with a rosy glow, looked ashen after the many long and painful hours of labor. Carefully the new mother removed the tightly rapped blanket from around her baby’s arms and counted one, two, three, four, five fingers. She counted five more fingers on the next hand and five toes on each tiny foot. She looked at the small white hospital bracelet and examined his name printed next to hers. In her arms she held the sleeping baby with his tiny hand clasped around her index finger, gently she stroked the chubby pink hand. She turned her head and spoke to the towheaded man standing next to the bed.
“He’s so perfect” though she spoke no louder than a whisper her voice filled the room. “He’s so small and sweet, like a little angel. My little cherub.”
“Perfect like his mother.”
“I’m not perfect.” She shot him a quick glance and turned her attention back on the baby, “I can’t believe he is finally here and he’s ours. We can take him home.”
“Yeah, It’s amazing what kinda people they let take home babies.”
“Hey, I can’t be that bad.”
He looked at his wife admiring her, thanking the higher powers that brought her into his life. She smiled, she knew even in a hospital bed with her hair in disarray and her face flushed her husband still thought she was beautiful. He smiled his wide boyish grin, bent down and kissed her delicate lips. As if on cue the little angel awoke and started to fidget. The couple laughed at the interruption, as the baby started to cry. They had tried for three years to have a child, they tried everything from old wives tales about placing statues and idols around the bed to changing diets and consulting various doctors.
“Hello, little one, we’ve been waiting along time to meet you. So what do you think.” Immediately the sound of his mother’s voice made him stop, he stared at her with his blue eyes then looked up at his father, who responded by making faces. He focused his eyes back on her face, she laughed and said “I know he is a bit goofy, but he’s the best I could do and you get used to it after a while.”
“Well I’m sure there were other choices,” he said indignantly.
“I know there were others, and I got the best,” he had a boyish charm and a great sense of humor that was why she loved him, “and I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Her little one began to wiggle and fuss, sensing their attention wasn’t on him. “And I got the best of you too and I wouldn’t want you any other way.” She leaned over and placed a soft kiss on his smooth pink cheek.
Duo came back to the real world, still trying to make sense of the thoughts flying through his mind. In an instant he knew he must leave the Maxwell Church, he took Sister Helen’s hand one last time and pressed it gently to his heart. He stood, fighting with all his might not to cry but only succeeded in causing the burning sensation in his chest to become more intense and painful. With his remaining strength he opened the cathedral doors and ran out into the street. He ran to an abandoned old storehouse and slipped through a small crevice near the boarded door. The walls were bare with no insulation, rusted pipes stuck out, and large piles of boxes and crates cluttered the floor. Exhausted Duo sat leaning against the wall in one of the corners. He pulled his legs close to his body hugging them tight and then resting his weary head on his knees soon fell asleep. At night, in the colonies, temperatures drastically decreased, inside the storehouse this was no exception. With no insulation the building lost heat fast, but that night Duo felt only warmth. Someone was watching over him, keeping him safe and caring about him. He felt comfort in her presence only half remembering who she was, not sure if the memories were real.
Duo awoke very refreshed, which was surprisingly odd considering the events of yesterday and the position he slept in. He stretched his legs across the cement floor arched his back and raised his arms high over his head. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes and taking a quick glance around his natural curiosity got the better of him.
“I wonder what’s,” Duo began but was interrupted when his stomach growled and echoed off the walls. “Must be time for breakfast.”
He slipped through the same entrance he used the night before and walked toward the market district. Duo strolled casually down the street of shops both arms behind his back. An outdoor fruit stand presented itself to be the easiest place for breakfast. The tables near the stand were place close enough that the plump vender could not fit through. It was early in morning so the streets had very few people on them, Duo figured it would be the perfect time, no chances of being caught. Two women stepped out into view, blocking his quickest means of escape. They looked a little flustered and seemed to be in a hurry, so Duo, not one to give up, decided to wait it out. He remained hidden watching them and listening to their conversation.
“Beth, what makes you so sure we should do this,” the first woman said skeptically, “the others we sent couldn’t find him.”
“I’m not sure. But I won’t give up until I’ve tried.” Beth knew her sister was only trying to protect her from heartache, “I’m going, I need to do this and I want your help.”
“It’s been six years since she died and the last search was over four years ago. The information we have is weak and may be wrong. What if her son isn’t even alive.” It was a possibility neither of the women wanted to face, one that haunted both their minds and she was the first to give voice to this great fear.
“Oh Anne, He is alive, I feel it, I just know it.”
“Beth, your still so hopeful” Anne loved her sister dearly, but could never understand her cheery look on life. Ever since the death of their sister Anne wore black, she seldom smiled and never let hope into her heart. Beth, unlike her sister, was attired in a pastel colored yellow flower-print dress. It hung loose on her feminine figure, yet it accented her shape and gave her a youthful appearance. Anne’s black slacks, white blouse, and black suit jacket made her look many years older than she was.
“Anne, what’s on your mind,” Beth asked with concern.
“I can’t help thinking if she had stayed it would be better. Somebody would have been there. She’d still be alive, she didn’t have to die.” Anne fought the tears; she never showed emotion to anyone, she saved all her tears for her pillow.
“But she lived her fairy-tale, her perfect ever after. I don’t think she would change anything to have her life back.”
“Yeah but our baby sister always had trouble admitting to being wrong.”
“I think that’s because she ate too much raw cookie dough as a child.”
“But you’re the one that always licked the bowl.” Anne shot back.
The women picked up their coffees and turned to leave. Duo saw his opportunity to seize a meal; he waited for them to pass the last table. Within seconds several apples and oranges were stashed into the folds of his oversized shirt. The vendor noticed nothing as Duo speed around the corner with his loot. Smash, Duo rammed into the women clad in yellow; he had turned his for a quick glance to checked that no none had seen him take the food and in doing so didn’t see the two women looking into the shop window. The fruit fell from the large black shirt and Beth dropped her purse to the ground. Duo bent down and gathered the fruit hoping the accident wouldn’t cause trouble for him. Anne swooped up her sister’s purse and one of the oranges; she held it at a distance from her body for the boy to take. Duo didn’t pay attention to Anne’s actions, his concentration on Beth. He stood staring at her with an unbroken gaze; his eyes focused on her face. Her eyes were a strange pale green he’d never seen before but the rest of her face he knew, something about the shape and tone of the skin was familiar. Beth smiled, it lit up her face and made her eyes shine. Duo knew that smile, he even knew shinning light in her eyes as the grin spread.
“Aren’t you going to take the orange?” Anne asked breaking the eerie silence.
Duo said nothing, still staring in awe at Beth’s face. Duo broke from his trance and looked at Anne, then back at Beth.
“Go on, take it.” Anne spoke soft and moved her hand closer to him. Duo grabbed the orange and walked away. Both women watched him take a few steps then Anne faced her sister and asked, “What was that about?”
“What?” Beth replied with a puzzled air, still watching the retreating Duo.
“You were staring at him. You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Beth shook her head as if trying to shake off a dream, “For a second he looked like someone. I can’t figure out who, but it can’t be.”
“I think I know who.” Anne said, “Should we go after him?”
“No, it’s nothing. I’m seeing things. I’m only imagining the resemblance.” Beth’s voice trailed off as she watched Duo disappear.
Duo rounded the next corner and found himself on a deserted street. Seeing no other people he figured it was safe to slow down and eat. He pulled an apple from his shirt and bit into the thin red skin. As he continued to walk while eating the juicy apple he passed a tall building with tinted windows. Stopping and looking at his reflection in the glass he thought about what Beth was saying as he left. His large cobalt blue eyes, which always had an inquisitive look, hadn’t changed. The long braid of thick chestnut brown hair hung down to the small of his back, only a few stray hairs stuck out. His face was smudged with dirt and his arms had several small scraps but that was normal. No one had ever said he looked familiar and nothing he could see in his reflection had changed. Duo wondered why anyone would say he looked like someone; to him he looked like himself no resemblance to any other person.
“Who do I look like?” Duo pondered out loud.
The voice from yesterday answered “You look like your father,” but he couldn’t hear it. She looked at her reflection next to his, an image only she could see, and placed her hand on his shoulder. Duo shuddered he felt someone touch his shoulder, he quickly turned his head to look, but saw nothing. He turned back to studying his reflection, he saw her in the glass, only for a second and then the image vanished. For a moment the fleeting image brought the longing to see it again, Duo wanted to see her, to know her, to hear her voice again, like yesterday. He tried to bring the picture of her face out from the back of his mind, but memories wouldn’t come. Now he wanted the memories they wouldn’t come, what seemed clear yesterday was now a blur. Her face grew fuzzy in his mind and he wondered if he looked like her. She sensed his thoughts and spoke hoping, maybe, he could understand without hearing.
“You have his nose, his chin, and his boyish smile. Your eyes are exactly the same, dark blue shining eyes, full of life. The eyes and smile I fell in love with.” She fell into an old world, her world, her memories of the first time she saw those cobalt blue eyes.
“Bye Daddy,” the girls chimed as they slide out the car door he held open for them.
“Bye, darlings, have fun,” he replied, “and you be careful.” This last statement was directed at the younger of the two girls.
“Careful of what Daddy, I think I can handle high school boys, it’s only a dance.” She said with a playful smile.
“I wasn’t concerned about you, I’m worried about the boys. You two are bound to be heart breakers.”
Both girls giggled and gave him a peck on the cheek. Daddy was a tall man, slender and handsome, with streaks of gray hair on top his head. His gray eyes shone with admiration for the youngest of his three daughters, he believed she was the cause of his graying hair, her boisterous personality at times very nerve wrecking. As a younger man he desired a son, but now that he had three teenage daughters the thought of having a son seemed absurd. The thing he feared most was the day when one of them would bring home a man. It happened once and he dreaded that it would happen two more times.
The girls could fell the gaze of their father as the walked toward the school gym, they knew without looking he was watching them, it was what he always did. They walked arm in arm and from the back in the dim light a person could not tell them apart. Even from the front one had to look closely. There was a years difference in age and half an inch deference in height, but the color of there skin, the hue of their cheeks, and even their facial expressions were the same.
“Have fun and you be careful.” The older sister said pointing her finger at the other and doing her best impersonation of their father.
“Oh, but Beth, how will I ever become a heartbreaker if I’m careful.” She said, batting her eyelashes and putting her hand over her heart to emphasize the point. They both laughed at their little scene amused with the way their father acted.
Beth wore a red dress, a long silky gown with a v-neck, capped sleeves, and a slit on the left side ending just above her knee. She had curled her honey colored hair into tight ringlets and on each side a silver butterfly barrette held the hair away from her face. Her pale green eyes shone with excitement, Beth loved life, enjoyed dances, and parties, any social gathering. She could always be found surrounded by a crowd of people, one of the most popular girls in school. She seldom argued with others and rarely showed a bad side.
The sound of their pumps clicking against the pavement echoed in the night, as they approached the door the music became louder. Inside the gym couples were dancing, small groups of talking people were scattered throughout the room, a bunch of guys hovered over the punch bowl, and a large crowd of girls gossiped in the corner. Beth and her sister moved to the group of girls nodding their heads or waving to friends as they passed. They received a warm welcome and immediately joined in the conversation about: who showed, what guys were the hottest, who they planned to dance with, and what boys were to shy to ask. The girls all shared fashion tips, make-up hints, and pointed out who wore the best cloths. One girl jokingly thanked Beth for not dressing like her sister making it easy to tell them apart, the entire group laughed at this comment, and even the two sisters found it amusing.
“Come on, Beth, let’s dance.” Gary, the cutest guy in school, said as he took her sister’s hand and dragged her to the dance floor. He always mixed the two girls up, never stopping to pay attention to the differences, they were both beautiful that’s all he cared about. Gary came from a prestigious family and most the school assumed he would pair up with either Beth or her sister, both girls found the idea ludicrous. Even Beth hated the idea of being anywhere near him. During the walk to the dance floor she wished the heel on her shoe would break or maybe she would slip and sprain her ankle, but no such luck. They reached the floor and Gary put his hand on her back, she placed hers on his shoulder and they began to dance.
“Damn it,” she thought “ why couldn’t I have lied, told him I promised my first dance to some one else? Because then I’d have to think who.” She continued, answering her own question.
She came from a posh family, but did not care for the fineries; material possessions held little importance. As a child she enjoyed playing with the other children, older or younger, boy or girl it didn’t matter she would join in what ever they were doing. To the mortification of her mother she had learned to scale the walls and climb into the window of her second story window by the tender age of seven. Even now she was in high school she would still climb out the window to go play with the children, joining in their games when she should have been studying. She loved to listed to them and found adult conversations dull and tedious. The neighborhood children told her anything that was on their minds, with a simple honesty, they viewed her as their favorite playmate even though she was more than twice their age.
She loved dancing, moving to the beat of the music, and wasn’t particular about who she danced with, but Gary was not her ideal partner. As they danced he kept pulling her body closer and she kept pulling away. Then she felt the hand on her back slowly moving lower. Her blood began to boil, her anger rising, she needed to think of something fast, she didn’t want to make a scene. She had to make a snap decision before his hand reached its final destination. Her mind rapidly went through the potential solutions, judging which ones would draw the least attention to her. She stomped on his foot, as hard as possible, applying all her strength, then she rushed to the bathroom. Gary, too macho to let anyone see he was hurt, flinched then quickly tried to keep a straight face.
On her way to the ladies room she passed a towheaded boy. A new face to the school, something made her slow down. He was talking with a group of guys she knew, joking and laughing, they all laughed at what he was saying, but she only noticed his. The sound filled her ears and echoed through her mind, it sounded free and honest, not the fake laughs others gave to be polite when they heard jokes, or the embarrassed laugh some used to cover their mistakes, but a burst of joyous sound. She made her way through the crowd and into the bathroom, she shut the door and started washing her hands. Beth, who saw her sister rush away from the dance floor, followed and seconds latter she walked through the doors.
“I need a shower, yuck.”
“He only touched your dress. And it looks like you’ve washed you hands enough.”
She looked down at her hands they were red from scrubbing. “Okay, Beth, can I just burn the dress?” She said being very serious about the request.
“No, I don’t think the principal would be very happy if you started a fire on campus.” Beth answered hoping to lighten the mood as she watched her younger sister pace.
“Oh, I just want to..” frustrated she raised her arms making her hands into tight fists, clenching until her knuckles tuned white, then she released them with a quick flick.
“Are you over it yet.”
“Just about. Umm, Beth, who was that guy out there?”
“Which one? There were lots of guys out there.”
“The new guy with the yellow hair.”
“I think he is one of the teacher’s relatives. He just moved here.” Beth shared what little information she had and asked; “you ready?”
“Yeah,” she stretched her arms, smoothed her dress, shook her head and added, “let’s go.”
They walked out of the bathroom past the group of talking guys and back into the gym. Leaning against the wall she focused her mind on enjoying the rest of the evening, Beth seemed to be having fun, so it was only natural that little sis could do the same. She watched the yellow haired youth and quickly turned her head if he glanced her way. The group he was talking with dispersed and he headed her way, she panicked. His long legs made large strides and the distance between them was closing fast. He was handsome with broad shoulders and large cobalt blue eyes.
She thought, “What if he thinks I’m weird for staring at him,” as she tried to avoid eye contact.
“Would you like to dance?” he held out his hand to escort her to the dance floor.
“Quick, think of something to say, stop staring.” Her mind said. “Yes.” Came the answer.
“You wanted to punch him, didn’t you?” he asked when they started to dance.
“That boy you were dancing with, you wanted to punch him.”
“Yes. How did you know?” she thought her earlier actions went unnoticed. How could he know what she was thinking, he didn’t know her, they had never met before. She smiled a weak nervous smile as the rose color of her cheeks darkened.
“I was watching you.” He said answering the question plaguing her mind.
“Really. Why?” she asked, relived that he, too, was watching.
“Because I think you’re the prettiest girl here and you’ve got a great smile.”
She smiled and said, “I think you need glasses.” Immediately she looked at the floor, she couldn’t believe she said that, she wanted to bang her head on the walls. It just popped out, the comment was not meant to be hurtful, but it was rude. She stared at the pointed toes of her black shoes, at the strap around her ankle; she watched the skirt of her dress sway as they danced. She saw nothing wrong with the way she looked, she could not deny that she was beautiful; she simply believed that so many of the other girls were prettier, more glamorous.
The gaze of his cobalt blue eyes penetrated her every thought. He was looking at the chestnut brown hair she had twisted into a bun, two free curls hung at the sides of her face and small ringlets covered the back of her neck. He watched the loose curls slide down her cheeks and neck as she lowered her head. The midnight blue dress she wore came down to her knees, its sleeveless top followed the curves of her body and extended into a fuller skirt at the hips. The creamy white smooth skin of her hand in his made his skin seem dark.
He chuckled, “Maybe I do, but I still think you’re beautiful.”
When she looked up at him, her brown eyes meet his blue eyes, and she could see his compliment was sincere. It was strange he observed things about her that other people never mentioned. He somehow knew what she was thinking and could predict what she wanted to do. They talked and danced the rest of the evening, sharing thoughts and opinions they would never tell others. He told her about his old home and she shared stories about her childhood. She felt like she had found a sole mate, he knew he had found his best friend, they clicked like they fit together. In his arms she felt safe and with him she was the most beautiful person in the room. That night she lost her self in his eyes, inside her grew the hope that she would see them every day of her life.
She came back from her reverie, still deep in love with him. Happy in the memories of their life together, even more overjoyed that her son looked like him. Duo would never know this; he could never hear her tell him. At times he could feel her presence but he could never see her there beside him.
Duo finished examining his reflection in the tinted glass, shrugged his shoulders and dismissed the events of that morning. He turned and walked down the street returning to the storehouse he was using as shelter. Duo quickly reverted back to life on the streets, adapting to the changes with great ease. His natural survival abilities helped him find other places for shelter and blankets for warmth. Many times he shared his sanctuary with other war-orphaned children, helping them and teaching them what he knew. Occasionally he would return to the building with the tinted windows hoping he would see her in them, she haunted his dreams. In them he could see her brown eyes, her soft creamy white skin, her chestnut brown hair, and rosy cheeks, she always smiled at him but he could never reach her. Sometime she had pale green eyes and honey colored hair, her face was always the same, always smiling, but when he woke up and tried to remember the face that was so clear in his dream it was gone. After a night when he had her in his dreams he always felt better, safer, and stronger, able to take on any challenge.
Every morning Duo made his usual rounds, stopping here and there to pick up a few items or listen in on a conversation, the colonist became accustomed to seeing him roam the streets. The morning was going the way it normally did, he stole food and avoided being caught, but around the next bend Duo spotted a group of federation soldiers. They never bothered the people in the market district before, the venders and storekeepers were there to make money, not cause trouble, but nothing the federation did made sense to him. Eager to avoid an encounter with any army members, he made ready to go a different direction. When he looked again something caught his eye; a small girl, about four years old, was trying to get past them. The soldiers paid no attention to her, only pushing her aside when she got in their way. Her pallid face was smudged with dirt; tearstains ran down both her white cheeks. The bare skin on her legs was bruised and scratched, her arms bore the same markings.
Duo rolled his eyes, let out a big sigh and tuned toward the crowd; he knew what she was going through. He walked up to the little girl smiled at her and held out his hand. She took the hand he offered her; unsure about what was happening. The young boy with a long brown braid wearing oversized funny cloths seemed to be helping, but she was still scared. Duo led her away from the soldiers, and then he stopped and got down on his knees to be at eye level with her. He dried the tears streaming down her face and gently spoke to her.
“Hi, my name is Duo what’s yours?”
No answer, he tried again, speaking soft and slow.
“Do you know where you mom and dad are?”
Still no answer, she looked at the ground. As her head went down Duo saw the terror in her face. He then knew she couldn’t tell him where they were. The girl had no where to go and didn’t know were to go for help. She was another war-orphan just like him.
“Come on,” he turned around still squatting close to the ground, “piggy-back ride.”
This boy was offering her a ride, she didn’t know him, she’d never seen him before, but he was willing to help when others passed by. She paused looking at him with questions in her eyes. Duo turned his head, giving her a wide grin as if to say, it’s okay I know how you feel. All fear of him vanished, she threw her arms around his neck and he picked her up. He carried her back to his modest dwelling, making no more stops along the way. When they arrived, he gently placed her down on a pile of blankets and shared what little food he had with her. She finished her meager meal in silence staring at him, watching his every move. Duo wrapped a well-worn blanket around her slender body and then sat on a crate near the little girl.
Duo listened to her rhythmic breathing and watched her chest slowly rise and fall. She watched him not wanting to miss a thing, her heavy eyelids dropping, begging for sleep to come. Quickly she opened them every time they shut to make sure he was still there. He read her thoughts and gave her a reassuring smile, mouthing ‘I’ll be here’. With the reassurance that he would stay she fell asleep.
As he watched the sleeping girl Duo wondered what he should do. He had been taken care of by other orphaned and homeless children when he was her age, but he knew she needed more. The hope that if he could get her to talk was the best chance for finding her help, if he knew her name maybe he could find a family member of friend. Her sleep became shallow and uneasy; she tossed and whimpered as horrible images filled her dreams. Duo knew the images that filled her mind, scenes of violence and blood shed, he wished again that no other children would need to go through that. Slowly he walked to her side, gently he touched her arm and tried to wake her, it didn’t work. He brushed the thin black hair off her forehead and tucked them behind her ears. Speaking softly he calmed her troubled dreams and her sleep turned peaceful.
Sitting back on the crate Duo dozed off, his sleep was light, not deep enough to dream. He was awakened by the presence of a small girl crawling into his lap. She looked into his now open eyes, peering into the cobalt blue orbs, seeing the kindness that shone in them. Duo was shocked; amazed at how fast she became comfortable in his presence, how quickly she learned to trust him. The girl rested her head on his chest, feeling his heartbeat. She felt secure and safe there in the lap of her new idol. Confused at her actions Duo froze, arms limp at his side, staring at the tiny figure in his lap, he wasn’t used to the affections of a young child.
“Uh, hi.” He finally said, a long pause followed.
“Thank you.” Her voice was quit and airy but full of admiration.
“It’s okay.” Duo said as he placed his arms around her in a sweet embrace.
“My names Sara.” She said answering the question he asked earlier.
“Hi, Sara.” When he said her name she looked up at him, the same friendly understanding smile adorned his face, she tried to smile back but couldn’t.
“Duo, I’m scared.” She confessed; tears filled her eyes as she placed her head back on his chest.
Duo hugged Sara closer to his body as she began to cry, he wiped the tears away and told her it would be all right. She took the tip of his braid and ran the hair over the back of her hand. Stoking her hair and holding her close he started to hum a song, the soothing melody put the both at ease. Duo thought it was strange, the only songs he knew sister Helen taught him, but the song wasn’t one he learned. This song he knew without learning. He hummed the song through one more time to make sure it was real, every note came as easily as it did the first time. Sara looked up at Duo, his eyes seemed to see things from a faraway place, she touched his face with the tips of her tiny fingers.
“I like that song,” she said softly, she glanced down at the braid she was holding and asked “does it have words?”
He looked into her face, it now seemed so calm and unafraid, slowly he shook and answered “I don’t know, I can’t remember.”
Duo closed his eyes and he thought hard, the song was in his head somewhere. He wanted to bring it back; he needed to know where it came from. The melody was fresh in his mind but he couldn’t recall the lyrics. The more he thought the more he was sure the song had words. He now knew where he heard it, the memory was at first vague and dim but it grew stronger. He kept his eyes closed and let his mind replay the last time he heard that sweet melody.
The walls were a soft bluish-green, a teal mat with pictures of small yellow fish cover the tile floor, matching towels hung from the rack and a wood framed oval mirror hung above the white porcelain sink. A dish with small shell-shaped soup sat on the tiled counter top, on the opposite side of the counter stood two toothbrushes in a coral colored holder. A brown-haired, brown-eyed woman was sitting on the floor, her bare feet tucked under her bottom. Leaning far over the rim of the tub she caught the squirming toddler’s grimy hand and gently cleaned the dirt from the little fingers. She proceeded to wash the remains of his dinner from off his face, between his toes and out of his hair.
“There all finished.” She said as she let the child loose in the tub sat up and continued to watch him play in the water.
“Mom!” the blue eyed toddler in the tub shouted.
“Yes.” She responded, he stuck out his tongue and squinted.
“Mom” He yelled again.
“What?” she asked, he made another funny face at her; “Did your dad teach you that one?”
He shook his head yes, his father had died five months earlier but his mother still talked about him. She never sounded sad when she spoke about her husband but he knew she missed him. The toddler remembered the many face his dad used to make, and could mimic the expressions with perfection.
“Yes.” She said, he puffed up his cheeks and pulled on his ears making his father’s famous monkey face, “That one’s really cute. Can you do any more?”
The smiling child shook his head from side to side spraying water from his thick chestnut brown hair; she smiled back at the adorable toddler. She pulled the clip from her hair letting the large mass fall down on her shoulders. It still held some of the shape she had it pinned up in, she shook her head unwrapping the loose twist of hair. This made her hair puff out on each side of her head; the boy laughed at his mother’s absurd hair-do.
“Oh, you think that’s funny do you.” She said as she splashed him, she grabbed a brush from the counter and combed through her long chestnut brown locks.
“Come on time to get out.” She said when she finished.
“Nooo,” he screamed in protest, scooting to the far side of the tub.
“Come on, your getting pruny, look at your hands.”
He looked at his wrinkly fingers and announced “Eww, deer icky.”
He stood up; his mother wrapped a warm towel around him and lifted him out of the bath. She put him on the rug and dried his soaking body; she rubbed the towel over his head and dried his dripping hair. His hair stood on end, strands going in all directions; she combed the unruly mess despite his protest. Then the brown haired mother carried her squirming toddler into the next room and dressed him for bed.
“Time for bed.” She told him.
He ran away from his mother, screaming no. In the living room he hid behind the boxes and furniture, trying to avoid the emanate. His peels of laughter could be heard throughout their home as he changed hiding places and she pretended not to see him. She came up behind him, without getting his attention, grabbed his ankles and picked him up.
“Oops, your upside-down, what’cha going to do about it?” she asked, holding him higher so their faces were level.
He was caught, he knew she wouldn’t play anymore so he changed the subject. “Story?” he asked pleading with his eyes.
Turning him over and placing him on her hip she walked to the bookcase, a thin four shelved cabinet with books piled all over. He picked out a thin paper bound book from the shelf that held his books. The other shelves held text books, novels, atlases, and many other large books he liked to play with color in and tear pages out of but he thought the stories in them were boring. He knew that more books were packed in boxes along with the other things he liked to play with. They were moving back to his mother’s home colony to live with her family, he didn’t understand why, he liked it here. She explained why many times, in as many ways as she could but he still didn’t understand.
She carried him to the sofa, they sat down and she turned on the lamp. With him on her lap they began the nightly ritual of reading a bed time story. As she read he looked at the vibrantly colored pictures and played with her loose hair. She read slow and clear, changing the tone of her voice as different characters spoke, stopping before she tuned the page to let him see the pictures. He wrapped the chestnut brown tresses (that matched the color of his own hair) around his fingers; he brushed the tips across his cheeks and hands.
“The end.” She finished and closed the book. She looked into his cobalt blue eyes and asked, “What do you think?”
He looked back into her brown eyes; she always asked him that after the story. She never talked to him in baby talk and always asked him question, listening with interest to his answers even if the made no sense. He stood on her legs and brought his face close to hers he placed his hands on her cheeks and held her face. Then he wrinkled up his nose and curled his upper lip causing it to reach the tip of his nose.
She saw the sore face he was making and said, “So I guess that wasn’t one of your favorite stories. Now off to bed.”
Hands on his hips, he was about to argue with her when she tickled his stomach. Still tickling him she carried him to bed, lied him gently down and pulled the covers over his body. She sung a soft sweet lullaby as he closed his eyes, holding her hair back she bent over him ruffled his hair and gave him loving kiss on the cheek. Thoughtfully she watched him; leaning in the doorway she turned out the lights and wished her child a good nights sleep. She left the door open and returned to the boxes in the living room.
As she sorted through her family’s belongings she sang her favorite songs. Her heavenly voice filled the apartment with melodious sounds, in the next room her son listened to the music, wide-awake enjoying every pure note her voice hit. The phone rang interrupting his serenade, she stopped what she was doing and answered it. He couldn’t hear what was said on the other end but when she replied he could hear the concern in her voice.
Quickly she rushed into the bedroom turned on the light and picked up her child. He only had seconds to wonder what was happening before they were at the front door of the apartment. She picked up a prepared emergency bag near the door and speed out, not bothering to shut it behind her. The small backpack was stuffed with food, extra cloths, and identification for both her and her child. Her husband was leader of a pacifist group of students, teachers, and scientist, after his death she continued to participate giving information, and hiding members. She knew her activities with the group were dangerous but she wanted the people of the colonies to have better lives.
She ran out of the building only stopping to knock on a few doors and set of the fire alarm. Her movements were too fast for the toddler in her arms to figure out what was happening. He didn’t have time to cry, trying to understand what they were doing, why they were out past bedtime. They made it out of the building and only a few feet into the street before the blast. The force of the blow knocked her to her knees, sending her sliding across the pavement, scraping her naked legs. She cradled the child close to her heart, protecting him from the falling ruble with her body. Slowly she stood up on her bleeding legs; she walked away glass and rocks cutting at her bare feet.
The building had been demolished but some one would be back to make sure there were no survivors, she needed to leave before they came. Exhausted and in great pain she made her way through the deserted streets. When she found a safe place she stopped and slowly lowered her self to the ground. She examined the child in her arm, making sure he wasn’t injured, she let out a long sigh when she discovered he wasn’t hurt. He looked at her, seeing the pain plainly in her face, the color drained from her cheeks. His mother was hurt, he knew she was getting weak, he started to cry. Tears flowed down his face; she gently wiped them away and kissed each cheek.
“Don’t cry,” she said, barely able to make the words come, “We’re safe now, it’ll be all right. I’m okay.”
He didn’t believe her, even at his young age he knew something was terrible wrong. She managed to smile at him, knowing what was on his mind. Pulling him closer she held his head close to her heart, he listed to the soft patter grow weaker. She tenderly rested her head on his, kissing it as she lifted her head to see his face.
“Baby mine don’t you cry,” she began to sing his favorite lullaby,
“Baby mine dry your eyes,
She finished the fist verse and continued to sing,
“Little one when you play,
He took a strand of her hair and played with it the way he always did when she held him. The long smooth hair tickled his soft skin as her brushed it along his arms. She continued to hum the song until he fell asleep.
“Rest you head close to my heart,
Never to part, baby of mine” with her last breath she repeated the lines of the song to the child cradled in her arms, quietly her lips near his ear. A tear rolled down her cheek and fell onto his head as her spirit left its body.
Author's Note: What do you think, is it okay, or should I never put pen to paper, finger to keyboard. Should I burn all pens and paper in my house?