All He Wants


badrani_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title All He Wants
Synopsis In the middle of an operation to Madagascar, Huruma reconnects with her grandson as he confides a secret to her.
Date February 14, 2021

Despite all else, Huruma has learned what it means to Show Up. Even if she lives overseas, she makes time. Of late less so, but to her it is justified in the larger picture. So this trip to Madagascar? It couldn't have been better timing. By the end of dinner on the first night, everyone seemed far more adjusted than at the start. Growing pains linger, but if nothing else the clan is a hospitable one.

The afternoon finds the timely return of clouds on the horizon, and when Badrani's football match comes to a close, it is none too soon; the clouds are quiet when they start drizzling, a precursor to later downpours. Awnings and water collection devices are commonplace along most streets, and offer shelter for those on foot.

"Have you given any more thought to what I mentioned?" Huruma and Badrani are two of those, the former alongside the latter; her arm is hooked through his, an image of 'attached at the hip'. "I do think some travelling would do you well… I've been considering a little myself, perhaps with a friend along."

Despite all else, Huruma has learned what it means to Show Up. Even if that also means taking her time.

Terrain Synthetique Talatamaty

February 14th
3:17 pm Local Time

Badrani squirms against the linking of arms, though knows better than to fight it as they walk through the concrete-lined hallway below the stands. Badrani casts a spurious look up at his grandmother, then wrinkles his nose and looks ahead to the glare of sunlight on the other end of the hall.

“I don’t know,” he says with the noncommittal shrug that is so much his father’s. “I have school, and this,” he indicates behind them with a tip of his head, “when do I have time? Aba would lock me up and throw away the key if I failed my classes. I have to keep them up or I can’t play on the team, and that’s…”

All he wants, Huruma can tell. Not just out of far-reaching empathy, but also a mother’s intuition. This grandchild hasn’t fallen too far from the tree. His father was driven by wants for a future too, but Dajan’s required so much more bloodshed to achieve.

Her cruel affection won't last forever, but for the time being she just solidifies against the squirm he responds with. Even with Badrani's evasiveness, Huruma is content to listen, pale eyes on him as they go.

"When you're on semester break, silly boy. Just for a little." Huruma's hopefulness is a truth; she has two homes, and he's never seen the other. Or, her chosen people who have only been there. If she had her way her lives wouldn't be so apart. C'est la vie. "I am happy that you have something you can put your heart to, like this…"

Badrani makes a non-committal noise in the back of his throat, hanging his head a little. He’s quiet until they exit the stadium, pushing through the double doors out of the cool hallway into the bright heat of the parking lot. Once outside, Badrani slips out of Huruma’s grasp and walks backwards ahead of her, hands shoved in the pockets of his shorts.

“Do you think football will be big in America?” Badrani asks with a tip of his chin up at his grandmother. “When they have sports again?” He clarifies. It’s an honest question, but it is an attempt at masking the presence of needling anxiety in the pit of his stomach.

The teenager is subjected to a minorly intensive study as he steps away; his body language is something anyone can read, and her own seeks no conflict- - although of course she keeps following him. Huruma's mouth twists to one side in a tight smile.

"Far more than it used to be, I would say." American Football as a dynasty is pretty much- - dead and gone, as far as dynasties are concerned. She never paid too much heed to it. "They look to the rest of the world, now." In many ways. "Some places more than others… here for example."

“Are you… going to be visiting more?” Badrani asks, almost as if he hadn’t really been listening to what his grandmother was saying about American sports, and she feels a tremor of uncertainty with the question as plain as day. He’s preoccupied, anxious, afraid. He’s probing her for answers about the future because something about the prospect of Huruma being around more is making him uncomfortable.

Huruma has been a student of the human condition long enough to read her grandson like an open book. And Badrani, while now a young man, is still too young and naive to truly reckon with the power his grandmother possesses.

Even if she had no secondary perception, a teenage boy can only control his anxieties so much. As it stands, Badrani's open book is just that. Huruma watches him as they walk, and for the span of her thoughts she turns more inward; she can see his family in him, all forces of nature in their own respects. Maybe one day he'll be the same- - if he isn't now. Coming back to the present proves difficult as her thoughts brush against even further memories, pressuring her to physically look away to gather them back.

You know, sometimes it still feels strange.

"Perhaps… I suppose we will see." Huruma's gaze returns to Badrani, jaw working slightly while she debates her next step. So many things about him stop her in her tracks, and it isn't the first time she's held her tongue. But this- - it's different. She reaches out to beckon him, calm exuding from her presence. The hand at his shoulder is light, albeit orderly. Casual, in the way of an unquestionable authority.

Huruma's other hand reaches to pop open the door to what looks to be a maintenance corridor. "Come with me."

Bardani pauses, glancing back at the brightness of the parking lot, then to the door Huruma opened in the stadium exterior. He breathes in a slow, steady breath and sets after her. “I thought we were going to get dinner?” Her asks with a hitch of nervousness in his voice that he tries—and fails—to hide. But he is also still her grandson, and he does what he is told.

Hopefully they still are. Afterwards. Huruma chooses not to answer, instead closing the door behind them, remaining sentinel in front of it. The exit lamp above her head and the recessed lights down the corridor are just enough to go by, the former keeping Huruma's features awash with a tinge of 'EXIT' red, inky shadows under brows and razor cheekbones.

"Badrani," she starts, a soothing nature to his name which lingers in her words to follow. "You know that I love you." Huruma's already low voice takes on just enough depth to change her tone to something- - else - -

"You have nothing to fear from me.. And God knows I am usually respectful of your boundaries…." But. The inhale of her breath fills her lungs and exits in the smooth sound of a sigh through her nose. Huruma's jaw tenses as she speaks, teeth marking edges in her words. Ultimately, however, she does not lose the film of care. "The other night I felt something. And now. Whatever it is that you've burdened yourself with, I hope that you unburden yourself sooner than later."

Not the first rodeo, not the last.

There’s tension in Badrani’s posture. His jaw sets. Tears starts to form in his eyes. When he finally meets his grandmother’s gaze it’s with an outburst of anger. “They wanted to destroy our country!” Badrani says, one arm thrashing in emphasis. “Your American friends!”

“Assassinations, coups, they wanted to steal everything from us!” Badrani continues, tension in his voice and anger behind it. “They tried to kill aba!

Prime Minister Botani Musawa’s assassination in 2011, Badrani would’ve been just eight years old. It was a miracle that Dajan survived the attack. It had all been orchestrated by Humanis First, by Mitchell, General Moritz. The cabinet of shadows that assumed control of the United States and led the entire nation to Civil War.

None of what is Madagascar today would even be standing if it weren’t for Dajan and others physically removing the US Military from the nation’s borders. But none of the sociopolitical machinations of the last decade are what’s really at play here. It’s a boy’s hurt, a boy’s fear of losing his father, of losing his homeland, and a long-simmering resentment to the country he blames for it all.

Impassivity is a quality hard-earned, and even now Huruma exercises it with skill in the face of Badrani's pain and fear; he finds her hand coming down against his gesturing arm, palm against his bicep. With the gesture comes a mitigating warmth, the flaring of anger tempered by a caress of the empath's ability. She will not take it away, but she can make certain that he is of mind to hear her, and not the blood in his ears.

She knows that feeling all too well.

"We hate the same people, ry tiako," Badrani knows what Wolfhound is- - a hunting party. She has made a life out of that. Huruma's opposite hand lifts to alight fingertips on her grandson's chest, her expression creased in a new strain of sadness; it's not about his words, it's about the force behind, and she can feel it as easily as putty in her palm. It squirms there, a hot coal. Familiar.

The world being gray is not a new concept; that's been both of their lives from start to finish. But as a child, Badrani knows his own life best, and it defines all else. Even if Madagascar's own history felt a similarly feral grasp on its workings, he was too small to understand more than destruction.

And that he Lost.

"And by we, I mean those that I trust. I have fought too many wars to offer my blind allegiance to … anything." Huruma's invisible grasp remains around what feels like a mirror, heat and flame buffered but reflected all the same. With this touch on Badrani's anger, her voice is a hush. "I love you. Please, talk to me."

Huruma feels the flush of anger in Badrani, sees it twist his face until he swallows it down. She can still see it there, even if not in his eyes. “They’re the same people,” he says with a quaver to his voice. “That man you work for, I know what he did. When he was here, when he betrayed papa, his friends.

Badrani looks away, brows knit in an expression of strain and hurt. They weren’t his friends, it wasn’t his memories, but he feels for them as if they were. Not in the way Huruma does, but in the way someone who has had to live in the shadow of trauma feels for the traumatized.

“All over the world, people like him…” Badrani says with a flippant wave at a wall as if to indicate the world beyond, “they still plan to put us in cages, or in the ground.” These aren’t his words, aren’t the way Huruma would imagine her son would articulate this point. “They are afraid of us. Want to step on our necks and tell us we should be grateful.” She knows this rhetoric. She knows what poisoned soil tastes like, feels under her feet. She knows who Badrani is talking about. It isn’t just Americans.

It’s people without abilities.

Grandson though he may be, Badrani's venom towards her people earns a visible bristling, not often seen in regards to him. It lingers, too, an increasing miasma of her own frustration darkening the pale circles of her eyes. The strain in her voice is less about him, and more about her own inner tug-of-war.

"Oh, do not worry, I know exactly how afraid of us they are." Huruma's jaw works tightly, her features creased by the slight rankle of her nose. "More than you could ever imagine." While she contests the degree of the boy's rhetoric, she can't make herself deny it. Because she knows it to be rooted in the truth. "I know where I stand, and it is above. But, I cannot condemn the unfortunate, and I give dues where they are deserved."

"That man I work for has earned his place and my respect time and time again. As have the others." Hounds, SESA, hard to tell until she says the rest. "I did not side with them and the Ferrymen out of convenience, Badrani. I was shown what you speak of and I remained… I did not always care, despite whatever it is I feel about our place. The world is gray, even if we wish it were black and white."

"Zaza-ko, I see you…" The empath's voice is weary, if only for the length of her words. "Never mistake that."

Badrani looks down at his feet, awkward and guilty. A queasiness twists in the pit of his stomach, and he looks up to his grandmother with the trusting eyes of someone who has every faith in her. Much the way Huruma would look at Etana in a younger time.

“They say everyone will turn on us eventually,” Badrani confesses, and the they slithers like snakes under Huruma’s skin. “That when the time comes, nowhere will be safe. That we can only trust people like ourselves. That we—” Guilt, again. Overflowing. Shame.

“I’m scared.” Badrani admits with a furrowed brow. Finally, his words and his heart are aligned.

"The ones who matter won't turn on you." And you will have them, she means to say; his dark eyes staring up at her make it too difficult. Huruma lifts her hand to Badrani's neck and pulls him close enough to put her head to his. "I have met just as many of us who I could never trust, and even a few who perhaps I should not have."

Badrani has always known the empathic touch of his grandmother, yet this time it's something more; while it does not pack a punch, Huruma impresses on him the fullness of her worry and love, echoes of his own fears. He can feel it only for long enough to know it for what it is, without it sticking to his own- - like feeling the back of a whale rise and fall under your rowboat, eerie and impossibly large.

"Even if we lack all else, the one constant in life is fear." Huruma leans back to meet his eye again, pupils pinning despite the warmth of the corridor light. "It is nature. A person may tell you that they have none, and you can know this to be a lie. It will never leave. We learn to embrace it… or not. That is your choice to make."

In a long-winded fashion, many words to simply say 'me too'.

And that's alright.

Badrani twists inside, his eyes fixed at his feet, shoulders rounded. The brazen confidence of youth gone. “Then… how do I know who to trust?” He asks with a child’s voice, looking up to his grandmother for guidance. “Papa trusted the Americans and they tried to kill him. I don’t—” His voice hitches, she can feel fear shifting back into anger. She knows what he was going to say.

I don’t want to die.

Huruma's smile is just for him, small and knowing, though a clear sadness settles in her gaze all the same; it seems to permeate her words when she leans back, a more primal ache in her expression. Still- - pride.

"You are the latest in a long line of survivors." Her heart is torn, but not when it comes to Badrani. "Your best ally is yourself." It's not what he wants to hear, she knows this. "If trust were easy, the world would have more of it."

It’s with a small nod that Badrani acknowledges his grandmother’s words. The look he finally gives her is an equally small one that makes him look his age, not the young man he tries to be so often. “Don’t tell papa,” he says in a small voice, shoulders hunched forward as if in defeat.

But Huruma knows it isn’t. There’s still a tempest inside of him, a whirling cyclone of conflicting emotions: shame, guilt, anger, confusion. There is a yearning to belong, for purpose. Huruma may have won a battle for the boy’s heart, but that war is long from over.

"I won't. " Huruma murmurs, a brow arching back at Badrani. "I will leave that for you to do in your own time." If she can be certain of something, it's that Dajan will at least listen. She lifts an arm around Badrani's shoulders, the touch of palm briefly on the surface of his chest before she reaches out to get the door. "Thank you. For being honest."

Badrani looks up at Huruma, tears in his eyes, and steps in to her as she moves for the door. He brings his arms around her waist and presses his face to her shoulder and closes his eyes. There are no words, not because he can’t express them, but because Badrani Dunsimi knows the truest way to communicate with his grandmother. He feels deeply and she knows all she needs to know. He loves her.

And love is a powerful thing.

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