We Were Children


dajan_icon.gif huruma_icon.gif

Scene Title We Were Children
Synopsis When Bravo's truck breaks down, Huruma and Dajan have an interlude about the past…
Date December 14, 2009

Somewhere North of Antananarivo, Madagascar

The last thing that you want to hear while driving through the Madagascar countryside is the telltale sputtering of your vehicle's engine. When you lump it in with worm-monsters and Vanguard, it's even worse. Regretfully this is the situation that Team Bravo finds themselves in. The reason they stopped is so very mundane it is almost absurd. They have either taken seats waiting on the truck or nearby it; most of the MLF men are piled still in the back, with Gabriel, Aviators, and an MLF man from the front seat testing things as they try to fix whatever it is. Anyone can hear the bickering going on between the two with their heads under the hood, but it just kind of fits so nobody says a thing.

Huruma has not quite wandered off- she has only stepped off the dirt road to take in something else besides watching them try to kick the engine back into working order. She could help, sure, but that would require effort on her part. Effort that she does not feel she has to expend today. When Huruma does get away from things, the Jungle, by itself, it feels quite welcoming. Even in the rainy season, there are things to be found instead of mud and running water; fauna continues on as if nothing were happening save for the same old human nonsense, and flora finds time to regrow and bloom under the shelter offered by more stalwart plants.

"You haven't said much since we left the village…" Dajan's voice is quiet as he walks up behind Huruma, and she can sense the trepidation emanating from him. "Everyone's been very quiet," his booted footfalls bring himself along the grassy ground underfoot, slick with rain. His eyes scan up to the twisting branches of a moss-laden tree, to the sounds of birds in it, "are you feeling alright?" His concern is, surprisingly, genuine.

There's a moment of space, afforded between question and answer, a space where Madagascar speaks instead in the creak of the tree branches overhead, in the rustle of leaves in the wind and the patter of softly falling rain everywhere around them. The cries of bird and animal together seem to overwhelm the noise of repair on the truck out at the road. It's like the world has forgotten humanity here, even as humanity is struggling to forget the world.

Huruma has her eyes turned to inspect the branches of a sapling, its leaves deceptively huge in comparison to its stature. Even before Dajan approaches her, she can feel him finally deciding to come- as it takes even a slight push of mental bravery to get up to talk to someone that you may or may not actually want to talk with. No matter who you are. Huruma keeps her shoulders facing him as he speaks, though her cheek does turn to signal that she is listening. Her eyes do not try to search out of the corner to find him. Not quite yet. A bird lets out an awkward wark-wark-wark from somewhere up above, possibly fighting another feathered creature.

"No." Huruma's answer is a surprise, to say the least. "It was bad news. They should be silent." Even Danko is, at least when compared with the fact he does not say much to the others at all.

Dajan is quiet in response, at least at first. One scarred hand sweeps over the damp back of his neck, head rolling from side to side to work out a kink in his muscles. "You looked scared…" It's not meant as an insult, "you an' that Danko both." His brows furrow, watching Huruma the way one might an unfamiliar animal, part wariness and part curiosity. "Did you know— I mean…" he looks away to the clearing beyond this twisted tree, towards the road and where the truck is parked, rain pattering off of its powder-blue roof. "Did you know what those things were?"

He turns to look back at her, eyes narrowed and hand sliding down from his neck to hang limp and tired at his side. "You both looked like you'd seen a ghost." He knows something about that too, that look in her eyes when the past comes back to haunt her. He is one of her ghosts, after all.

"Yes. We saw them in Angola, years an'years ago." Huruma's answer is yet again very to the point, chipping away at Dajan's starts and stops with a gentle punt. "As of late, I've seen many ghosts." When she finally does turn around to face him, her hands have obviously been going at the tree somehow, by the rustle she leaves behind. In her hands she cups something, which must actually be the reason that she didn't want to turn around. He caught her messing with something. In this case, it is a brilliantly colored lizard- a panther chameleon- of red, orange, blue and green. He seems bewildered, as all of his kind often do, but he has a reason to be now, stepping cautiously around Huruma's hand. What's going on here!? I wasn't climbing this tree a second ago-

"I hope we d'not find those things again."

Dajan's remorseful expression seems to echo his mother's sentiments, even if his words do not. "They will find us," Dajan says with a grave intonation, eyes downcast to the wet earth, then up towards the lizard cradled atop Huruma's hand. "Years ago?" That bit finally catches in his mind, dark eyes assessing more mother than lizard now. "You… and this Danko, you see to have…" he waves one hand in the air indirectly, "history?"

Footsteps take Dajan away from his mother, towards the tree more so than her, brushing caloused fingertips over the bark of the trunk, but not stepping out from the conversation, just restlessly moving with it. "Who is he?" That's a vague way to ask, "Rather, who is he to you?" And the implied subtext consists of the wonder of who he is to Dajan.
The chameleon is happily unawares of just about everything, heading in a line across this new tree's fingers. He must know that she is alive, as he keeps pausing to tilt his little swiveling eyes up at her. Perhaps he thinks it best to ignore her unless she makes a grab. Good idea, lizard. Huruma watches him as he coasts along, the genuine old sway of his species taking over as he calculates. She looks sidelong when he comes nearer to the tree, tempted to offer him a turn with the lizard. Not that it matters. But it is a rather pretty one. Unfortunately, Huruma is distracted now by the question- well, half of one- directed at her.

"To me?" Huruma squints aside at her son, lips finally parting in a mild grimace, eyebrows lowering a shadow over her gaze. "Ha. Hahah." It converts to a snide little laugh, directed at the thought rather than Dajan. "Oh boy. In what few things she can take delight in, this is surprisingly welcome, despite the actual subtext. "It was about a dozen years ago; I first met him there in Angola. W'were on the same team back then too, so t'speak, but we were there f'different reasons. Ended up that w'tolerate one another." Well, in a way. But Dajan does not need to know the specifics. "T'me, Emile Danko is a comrade from a war nobody knew about. That is all."

"He does not strike me as a man who makes friends easily." Dajan seems to take her answer for face value, surprisingly trusting of her answer. Maybe he assumes she has only up to go in his mind, and that she can't claw or chew her way down any further. "Nor do you." That part is offered a bit more coldly, dark eyes leveled up towards Huruma with intention behind them. That barb was less about Emile and more about their shared history — not Huruma and Emile's; no. Huruma and Dajan's shared history.

"While they are arguing about how best to fix that truck," Dajan waves towards where Sylar and Aviators are likely still bickering, "an' before we leave again, I want to know why you did what you did." There's no real tip-toeing around that question, and while he's angry, and rightfully so, he at least isn't judgemental. Maybe she has an explanation, maybe it will make things better; odds are it won't.
Huruma's mood dips again, matching Dajan's colder moment with one of her own. He knows that he can't say they are not alike in some ways. He continues instead of waiting for a return, bringing the conversation around to the type of thing he was warning her about days ago. Beside herself on the inside, Huruma has no trouble recognizing the lump in her throat or the knot in her stomach. They are nearly the same in height- so it isn't hard for her to look him in the face either. The hand that holds the lizard up wanders back to the smaller tree, fingers depositing the creature on a thin branch.

"Abandon you an'your sister? Rip you apart? Neve'come back?" Huruma's features hover there beside him, peering intently back. "You assume that I was mature enough t'not do so, t'fight what had kept m'alive while I was small." She speaks in a low volume, but somehow it is not threatening this time.

"Why." It's not even spoken like a question when it spills from Dajan's mouth, the demand of a child younger than Dajan is to know what made him the way he is, what turned his sister into what she has become. "Tell me why, not because you had to, not that it did happen. A'want to know why you thought you had to, or what made you." It's the demand of someone years younger, a child who cannot understand why he is what he is, and wishes nothing more than that truth of definition: Why am I?

The wind blows hot through the trees, over the rainy and wet rolling hills. The sound of Dajan's heartbeat is so strong in his ears now that he can't even hear Gabriel working at the engine up on the road, hear the conversation of their work with the truck. All he can hear is that pounding beat of blood behind his eyes and in his head, and feel the gnashing of his teeth, the tautness of his muscles, and the sound of his own breathing.

Huruma, physically, looks ready to meet Dajan with claws out by the time he finishes speaking his piece; nobody else is here to stop her, but all that she can bear now to do is contort her face angrily and raise her hackles. Her own heart flutters wildly too, the knot below trying to climb up her spine.

"I was a child." She spits back, the shadow that she makes falling further over Dajan as she tilts closer. "I told you- back in th'bunker. I thought it was th'only way t'help you both. A girl cannot raise two babies on her own on th'streets- Nigerian orphanages are worse- you'd'ave landed back there. In my mind it was m'only choice." Huruma's voice is able to skirt loudness, though only time will tell if it seeps out of the trees. "I grew up knowing tha'I was diseased, tha'm'brain was wrong- I tried. I tried t'be your mother. It was too much, an'm'world was too black f'me t'see any other way. If it hadn't'ave been back then-" She does not finish the sentence, but 'I could have done it' is written all over the front.

It's a tempest of swirling emotions inside of Dajan, a cacophony of feelings too multifaceted for Huruma to snag on to one or two at a time. His jaw tenses, brows furrow and eyes level squarely on the woman. Straightening his back up, he looks at her with a stranger's eyes at first, then, doesn't look at her at all, more the scars on his hands — some from her, some from what that living steam had done to him — then finally back to the truck. Dajan is silent, but his silence says so much more and so loudly. He does not, can not formulate words to reply to her, because the emotions inside of him are too sharp, too hot and too edged to offer anything but a barb.

But there is one thing, one set of words strung together in Dajan's mind, his eyes leveled on Huruma intently. There's not so much malice as pity in his voice, a weary tone tired of tracking this tale now that it has reached it's end. At first it seems like he may not say them, the first aborted sound of words swallowed as he turns his back on his mother, walking away from her towards the truck.

But then, in the susurrus of the rain, Dajan's reply is quiet, the fire in his heart cooling. "We were children too…"

This isn't the last they'll speak of it.

But it's all Dajan can handle for now.

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