To The Beginning

By Kayu Chen

Drama / Scifi

[the now] so...good night

It’s late, and she should really be getting to sleep; but for some reason it does not come easily tonight, not even with Mr. Bunny tucked safe and sound, and her brother’s eyes already half-closed.

“‘Ey, you two squirts should’ve been asleep an hour ago…” he sighs as she remains sitting up, fluffing her pillow for the umpteenth time.

“But tou-san, the sun’s not even sleeping yet…” She points to the purplish sky that is still tinged orange around the sun, and he has to admit she has a point. The airship Alex Logan now crossing the Arctic Circle as it continues its path across the sky, giving the occupants the rare experience of a ‘midnight sun’ for the next few days. Even though the clocks read five minutes past midnight, it just doesn’t seem so.

He has to turn away so she doesn’t see him secretly grinning, because sometimes she just says the darndest things.

Like another person, who used to do it all the time.

“Well yes, that may be true but I don’t think the sun needs much sleep, unlike you,” he chides firmly as he closes the curtains, blocking out the remaining glow. A chorus of disappointment rings out from both children as the sun disappears.

Tou-san! But it was so pretty…”

“Isn’t it supposed to be a rare event?”

Now both of them are wide awake, and from the looks of it, neither of them are going to settle for sleeping unless they can see the sun. Most of the time he can handle the two of them; but other times, like right now, he just wishes that once again he doesn’t have to handle it all alone.

It was easier when she was still around. Would no doubt be a lot easier. But she isn’t, and no amount of griping is going to change that. Rubbing his temples, he stands his ground anyway, despite their looks of dismay.

“No, because if I leave it open, then neither of you’ll get any sleep, and tomorrow morning I’m going to have two very grumpy, very sleep-deprived kids on my hands. Besides, the sun’ll still be like this tomorrow, ’s not goin’ away anytime soon.” For some reason, he is struck with the memory of the first time Sio saw such an event happen on the A. Logan; she’d only just joined, the newbie of the team still and the phenomenon fascinated her to no end. She’d even braved the high winds on the outer decks with that crappy old phone of hers, taking pictures until he was sure she’d run out of memory.

‘Look, Jack-san! Have you ever seen anything like it?’

‘Eh, this isn't the first time it’s happened…’ he tries to act nonchalant, though he has to admit her enthusiasm is rather infectious, as he feels a grin creeping up his face.

‘Still…it’s so beautiful! All the colors like that…and how the sun doesn’t actually set…’ At this point she’s just leaning against the railing, the colors washing over her face and is it just him or does she seem much more mature all of a sudden?

‘Oy, watch yourself on that edge, squirt…’ he pulls her back a little; not that she can’t handle herself, but sometimes he worries about her clumsiness. To his surprise, she laughs. ‘Tch, what’re you laughin’ about…’

She tries to muffle her giggles in her sleeve. ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it…but just…you're actually a pretty nice guy, aren’t you?’

He feels his cheeks flushing and he hopes she will think it is just the sun’s rays. ‘Wh-what’re you talking about? I better not hear you spreadin’ weird rumors about me…’

But secretly, he wishes that she will keep smiling like that.

There were many more midnight suns after the first one, and yet each and every time she reacted the same way, as if each one was a moment to be treasured. Eventually, he began looking forward to them as well, not so much because he cared about the sun but because it gave him an excuse to see her so happy, so carefree.

“Aww…fine…” Sighing, the two reluctantly tunnel under the blankets again, although he has a feeling that sleep is the last thing on their minds. Especially his daughter, who looks like she’s about to cry.

“Oy oy, what’s with the tears? Don’t tell me you really want sleep with the sun shining in?” Next to her, his son is already handing his little sister a tissue. He’s always taking care of her–from the moment she was born, and though he was but barely three at the time, has somehow instantly assumed the extra responsibility of caring her for without their mother.

“Well yeah, she was looking forward to this event all week you know, ever since Auntie Jess told her about it,” he states matter-of-factly, wiping his sister’s face.

Great. Now he feels like a terrible father; one that punished his kids for no reason. “All right…I’ll keep ’em open. Didn’t know you were lookin’ forward to it so much…” Though in hindsight, he shouldn’t have been surprised. She takes so much after her mother there are times that it feels almost more like a curse, a grim reminder of his failures, rather than a miracle. He crosses the room in two strides, and once again he is greeted with those shades of orange and purple. “This better now?”

“Uh huh…” She nods slowly as he pats her head and gives them each a hug.

“No more crying, ’right? An’ you two better get some sleep, or else tomorrow, I’m shutting the curtains.”

Nee, tou-san, tell me a story?” He’s not even halfway to the door before she utters her request.

“A story? Whatever happened to sleeping?” Still, he supposes he does owe her for being insensitive earlier. “What about your brother? Isn’t he tired?”

“Yeah, but I like stories, too.”

Why is he not surprised. Then again, it isn’t often that he has the time anymore to indulge them like this, to act like they are a proper family; one that is not tied up with the likes of EIOs and DOGOO and e-genes. “Which one?”

“Hmmm…how about, the one where you and Mummy met for the first time?” Both of them nod rather enthusiastically at this choice.

“Again? Haven’t I told you that story…countless times now?” He blinks at the two in disbelief; surely they’ve memorized it, given the number of times they’ve requested it.

“But, it’s my favorite one…it’s just, the way you and Mummy met…it’s so romantic!” She clutches Mr. Bunny and pretends he’s a princess so she can sweep him off his feet.

He’d hardly consider ‘getting stabbed by an Invasion Object and then one-upped by the girl he would eventually fall in love with’ romantic. Still, if it was that story they wanted…

“All right…well, you know at the time, Mummy was still a student and so they went on a class trip to Taiwan…”

“Kaohsiung, right?”

“Yes, that’s right; see, you guys already know this story!” He mock-complains to the two.

“But it’s not the same as hearing it from you! Pleeaaassseee!!” Argh, a double puppy-dog eye attack…there’s no way he can resist that. So he tells them, of how the schoolgirl-turned-national-hero came about, all because he was foolish enough to dive in headfirst into a wave of Objects, not even waiting for backup. He’d been much brasher then, always preferring to charge straight in and not even thinking about the consequences. The recklessness of youth…to an extent, Gandhi and Newton joked that he still had it, and it was their job to keep an eye on him; but certainly having two kids whom depended on you, needed you to stay alive…it did curb his rash tendencies. Somewhat. He unconsciously rubs the scar that’s now become a permanent fixture, having been ripped apart again and again. The last time it happened, Hunter had warned him that it was likely he’d suffer permanent nerve damage, the scar tissue simply having been torn into too many times.

‘Yeh’ll probably be in pain fer the rest 'o yer life…not constantly, but it’ll flare up…time t’ time…’

“And then Mummy became Nobunagun, Japan’s ‘Second Rising Sun’!” They both cheer a little when they get to the part where Sio's bestowed one of the greatest honors in her home country, by the Emperor himself, no less. He smiles at their spirit.

“And you’re England’s ‘Dark Angel’, right tou-san?” He cringes a little at that…whimsical nickname the press quickly bestowed upon him after learning about the truth behind Jack the Ripper, that he was nothing but a phantom front for a certainly heavenly nurse, but he supposes it is better than ‘infamous killer’ or ‘murderer’.

“Yeh…let’s not talk about that. In any case, you two,” he eyes their yawning mouths and blinking eyes, “look like you’re about to fall over any second now.” He makes sure they’re both tucked in, kisses each one on the cheek, (and for her, an extra one on the forehead and wiping away any last traces of tears). “Now get to sleep; I’m serious, the two of you’ll be tired as is tomorrow morning.” Surprisingly, they both seem to fall into a slumber, even with the unusual glow.

“…Good night, you two…”

“Good night, Daddy…”

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