My deep brown eyes fluttered open, stubbornly attempting to adjust to the bright overhead light shinning into them with such a fierce force and unexpectedness my thin body began to tense up to prepare for what normally followed my waking.
How long had I been sleeping? I've endured these long rests so often it surprised me that by now I still could not tell the difference. However, they had rarely been voluntary.
My tired arm rose to cover my eyes from the glaring light which continued its blinding onslaught regardless of my adjusting eyes. I became quickly aware of my naturally pale skin that obviously had not seen sunlight for some time proving my suspicions about my unconscious time consumption.
The light was pushed aside, by a long lanky arm, and cleared my vision so I now stared at the simple, plain white roof with a small black dot fading in and out of the corner of my eyes. I kept my lips shut tight in a solemn straight line, my awakenings never changed, and neither did their rules - the rules I created to avoid the agony that paired alongside them.
A woman's face, caressed in wrinkles of maturity and age, appeared in my line of sight. I wondered if the set of her kind, baby blue eyes and friendly, welcoming smile were a mask of fear or a sincerity I had not once witnessed in my long, prolonged life.
Her smile grew larger as her painted lips began to open, to speak to me with words that bared no hostility. No, these lips, this face, would not be capable of the familiar contempt and anger I had been raised among. She slowly brushed back some of the brown locks framing her face behind her small ear and placed the same hand tenderly by my own.
"I've been waiting a long time to meet you, Milly." Her words, certainly masked in a good-natured tone I was not well known too, instantly broke the walls of the first barrier I had put in place. The shock clearly painted across my features, catching the woman off guard which surprised me further.
Humans were such difficult creatures to comprehend - at least, the normal ones.
"You're looking well... Are you feeling lethargic?" Her hands already searching for the answer to her queries; one holding on to the tiny flash light, the other prying my eyes wide open with a careful touch.
"How long?" My question, instead of matching the same perfectness of the elderly woman's tone, croaked out of my throat, scarring the edges. Silence was a hard habit to break and such a burden to my body.
She smiled again, seemingly happy with my ability to speak - I could disagree - and picked up a clip board that was apparently laying patiently on the stainless steel table, undoubtedly sterilized, to await its use. Her gaze traveled from the clip board, to me, to the clip board again, each time jotting some kind of information about my status.
"Not very long, about roughly... oh, I'd say about... four years." Her unfocused words hadn't surprised me. I had expected longer. "Little Darcy, however, was woken from hibernation 4 days ago." These are the words that shocked me from my resolve, what drove me to lurch off the soft cot I had no intentions, previously, to get up from.
My little Darcy, my little boy I had only spent, as little, as one week with, was with them. For four days he had gone unprotected and this appalled me to the extent my heart almost leaped out of my chest in plain ugly, hostile fear. I had forgotten about him, and my guilt added to the storm of emotions inside me.
The woman bounced back. Finally feeling the reasons to be afraid of me her eyes had widened to an unnatural size with an abnormal gasp and it worried me that I had frightened her to that length and the idea of her collapsing to the hard floor and hurting herself worried me even further.
Her hand fell over her chest where I was sure her heart was beating as madly as my own and her expression change to one of exasperation as she sighed in relief. 'If you're not careful, girl, you could give someone a heart attack."
Her eyes had finally closed over; yet, mine took over the void and were suddenly wide again with concern. I tried to place my hands on her shoulders, to see if I could somehow calm her, though I stopped halfway, my hands flinching back towards me incase my touch would only create more fear inside her.
My head bowed shamefully, I hadn't meant for this to happen, at least not to her. "I'm sorry." The whisper barely audible above her rushed breaths.
"Oh, Milly, no need to fret, you made a mistake. It's perfectly human." She now attempted to comfort me, and it felt wrong. Not her actions, but her words. Human... I wasn't human. A tear streaked its way down my dry cheek, feeling moister for the first time in four years; this realization was interesting, almost humorous.
The woman must have noticed my reaction to her choice of words and her wrinkly face filled with gilt which didn't belong.
Funny; how our emotions seemed to be dancing, taking turns between one another.
"Hmm... We're digging a bigger hole for ourselves, wouldn't you agree?" She bent over, once more placing her face between my line of sight; she wore a smile, full of an apology that was not necessary.
If her question was intended for an answer, I didn't privilege it with one; instead my focus was back on Darcy. "I really need to see him," I was sure she understood, either by the desperation in my voice or from plain expectation. There was no puzzle on her face to suggest otherwise.
"Of course, however, you may want to put something on before I take you..." She reached behind her mid sentence for a relatively comfortable looking robe and that's when I looked down noticing I was wearing nothing at all. My bare arms shot across my chest and pelvis and I felt my cheeks heat up as the woman's soft chuckle left her lips about the same time my gasp had. I quickly took the robe she offered and turned around to put it on.
I still felt rather exposed even from behind but as I glanced behind to see if she was still watching, she only laughed harder at my embarrassing situation. It reminded me of why hibernation was such an unwanted pain.
"We're all women here, Milly. I've seen everything before." It didn't help that she still continued to laugh.
Once suitably covered - I tied the knot extra tight to avoid any extra unwanted exposure - the woman, who finally introduced herself as Doctor Tracy, lead me through the corridors of the familiar building, though I still found my sense of direction misleading. I tried to focus on my strides, in my hurry I hadn't noticed how fast I was going, and not knowing my way around, finished up resulting in me being more confused from when I started. They were also larger than Tracy's small portioned steps. How she managed not to rush in such an important situation amazed me.
"Darcy has been well taken care of; you truly have no reason to fear for his safety."
It was hard to find consolation in her words because I knew the truth. I wasn't exactly everybody's favorite.
"He's like a delicacy, something we've never come across before, nobody would ever dream of harming him. He's like a dream come true." She continued after she received only my silenced.
I felt rage race through me, my eyes slanting as I gazed at the moving floor. "My delicacy..." I whispered under my breath, the last thing I needed was to terrify my Mother like that again.
Mothers were weird on their own. Human right down to the core, yet their high desire to comfort and love and heal was something rarely seen in most humans, especially since they used their professions for a species that wasn't their own. I hadn't met one in years, my first one had abandoned me after one day, and wasn't used to their care. My new Mother seemed different from the previous, I was sure, no I hoped, she read my record before she chose to work with me.
We passed few in the empty hallways; none of them spared me a glance, though they had spared time to say a quick greeting to Tracy before they moved on. I was used to that sort of treatment. Something I could respond to.
"He is very interesting indeed..." She trailed off making me unsure of whom that statement was directed too.
"Has he..." The question struggled to leave my mouth, speaking still grazed the inside of my throat. "Has he asked about me?" I braced myself for the harshest answer possible. Would I be able to persevere if I knew he no longer wanted me?
Tracy seemed to read me like an open book and put on the tone that put ease to the tight set of my shoulders. "We can't tell. He's still too young to start speaking on his own." She turned to face me, the same smile plastered on her pink lips. "Perhaps you should consider teaching him? It would be great fun, and quite a challenge."
I turned my eyes from hers to think about her suggestion without her reading it from my face. Mothers, I mused, they knew everything. But thinking about actually getting the chance to teach Darcy something as precious as the ability to speak seemed so special to me I made it my duty, one more extra thing I promised to my Darcy.
"Ah... it seems you can smile." I flinched in shock, my desire to keep my thoughts hidden from Tracy failed as she recognized the traces of a smile on my own lips. "I'm glad I could produce that, its great progress after being awake for only such a short time." Though a different satisfied smile layered her face, she still jotted notes down on the clip board, I had a sudden feeling she carried around everywhere. She was precise with her work. Perfectionist, maybe?
"Mothers are all the same." The words were quiet, but they carried to Tracy's ears and an interesting "hmm?" questioned my statement. I didn't dare look up from my toes. "Nothing." She hadn't minded my obvious evasion; she truly was an intriguing creature.
We rounded a corner; it looked exactly the same as the last. Just more confusing lines that created a shape, I guess. We had walked about 30 feet when the faint sound of childish laughter reached my ears, I could never forget that familiar voice, no matter the little time we had had together. He was a part of me and that was all the reassurance I needed. I knew my face had brightened and that Tracy would be glad and she didn't rush after me as I rushed ahead to find where the giggles originated from.
Each step, the laughter got louder and louder, and he got closer and closer. Just the fact that he was near bought me to cheerful tears; he was the normality I needed. I laughed, almost hysterically, in excitement.
I turned the next corner and stood straight in front of the open door of where the small child stood, grasping onto one of the colourful plastic toys, his face red from all the joy he felt and my life seemed to level itself out in that one moment.
His gaze locked with mine and the smile already there, somehow, evolved into a larger one, as if he knew exactly who I was without a single clue.
I raced forward than, laughing and crying - I missed him so much, regardless if I had been sleeping or not - and my arms opened wide for the embrace of my lifetime at the same time he did, taking the largest baby steps he could made me laugh harder. He was so cute.
I bent down and locked my arms around his tiny waist lifting him so I could spin him around in joyous circles. He seemed to enjoy this and he laughed right into my ear and I cried into his shoulder, burying further into the deep chocolate of his hair. He had changed, but I still knew it was him. I knew it in the bottom of my soul, in spite of not having one.
His little arms were tight around my neck and even when I lowered him down, to study him further, he still fought hard with me.
I was only slightly aware that there had been another soul in the room, apart from Darcy's - he had one, I was positive of that much - and I turned to inspect the room, to see if our little reunion had gone unnoticed, however, I only saw their fleeting back passing Tracy out the door as she patted them caringly on the back. I didn't bother about depicting that exchange, I suppose it was another Mother, watching over my little Darcy while I was gone.
My eyes finally rested on him, now at arm's length, his rosy red dimples and few growing teeth smiled back at me. How he knew who stood in front of him was beyond me, like many unexplainable questions that would go unanswered. He absent mindedly brushed back some of his chin length hair, the same dark chocolate I remembered, with a miniature hand I felt compelled to hold, palm up, against my moist cheek. His hair was so long! It kept falling back over the grey colour of his eyes and I brushed them aside to avoid him having to drop the plastic toy.
I leaned into his hand and my hand rested on his shoulder, it fit perfectly. We stared at each other silently for minutes more until I gave up and forced him into another tight embrace, he didn't seem to mind that.
"I missed you so much, Darcy!" My eyes closed tightly, taking his sent in. Lavender and honey. It suited him.
"He's grown quite a bit." Tracy's voice filled our pleasant silent void.
"Yes." I answered plainly. Darcy pulled away from me and searched for my hand. I held it out for him and he clutched tightly to my index finger with his spare hand. He dragged me towards a little foam mat.
"Mamma!" He said excitedly and I couldn't help the surprised, giddy feeling that traveled through me. What that one word could do to me astonished me and I found myself edging forward to where he lead, my voice filled with pleasure answered him with enthusiasm. "I'm coming."
Once I sat exactly where he wanted me to he let go of my finger and the pang of hurt washed through me almost just as fast as the giddiness had, but he turned around with a teddy, he chewed carelessly at his furry ear and shoved it into my chest. "Teddy." He said and I was shocked.
I twirled around to see Tracy watching intently, again jotting notes down. "I thought you said he didn't know how to speak yet?" I felt betrayed; I thought that I was my gift to him.
She shrugged, to interested in mine and Darcy's exchange to pay me any more mind. "As far as I knew he couldn't, maybe you unlocked the ability in him. The bond between mother and child creates miracles."
My eyes slanted in protest, anger pooling inside them - my emotions were all over the place - she observed this as well and sighed.
Was she already giving up on me? Like so many had beforehand.
"I could speak to his... care taker for you? Perhaps he had taught him a few things? Hardly anything to get worked up over, Milly. Concentrate on Darcy for now, and later work out the finer details."
I watched her cautiously for a few seconds, trying to understand her. She seemed too preoccupied with the clip board than anything else. I wanted to know that I could trust her, if I could trust the man that had been taking care of my son I was never suppose to have. However, all the questions gnawing at me for answers would have to wait.
"He seems younger, younger than how old he should be." I clarified. We had been asleep for four years. I hadn't seen my reflection yet, though I assumed I appeared somewhat older then the nineteen year old girl I used to be. I wondered silently if that irresponsible, hated girl was now gone.
I doubted it.
"His aging was slowed down to fifty percent, you; however, we're at the normal rate." As I suspected. Half four years and that made Darcy two.
I turned to face him and smiled; glad I hadn't missed out on so much. He sat with his legs spread and dragged a tiny toy train in circles on the foam mat. I reached my arm out and brushed his cheek with my finger tips, he was too busy with his train to look up. "I'm sorry." I whispered quietly, enough to ensure Tracy's ears wouldn't hear.
"You'll be staying here, in the patient wards, with Darcy. You'll find all his things and bed are in the next room." Tracy gestured to an open door to a dark room adjacent to the room we currently stood in. Darcy already wondered the two rooms, littered with colourful toys and other things to entertain him, laughing with excitement. I gathered he hadn't been in here beforehand.
I turned to face where Tracy stood, careful of my expression. "How long are we required to stay?" My words were thick with vigilance.
Tracy mistook my tone for tiredness. "Only after you've finished your refresher courses." She smiled at me as if I was oblivious to what the outside world was like. She would never understand what it was like. She'd hear all the stories, but they never did anyone justice.
"That could take weeks." I was careful not to let my panic show through my words. "I've taken these courses several times before, I've remembered my teachings." I kept my tone reasonable, but my persuading was to no avail.
"I understand that Milly, however, these are the conditions you have been woken by-"
"Who decided them?" I interrupted, too impatient to wait.
"You're very lucky to be allowed the amount of freedom you have already been given, try not to push your luck."
My teeth clenched together and I shut my eyes briefly. Tracy must have been new at Mothering, she seemed ignorant to a Renegades' behavior. "Who decided them?" I repeated, more slowly this time, after my eyes had opened. I hated using intimidation to get what I wanted out of silly humans, but as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.
Tracy stumbled back a step, finally aware that my reputation did deceive me. "Father did. He decided the terms and I was simply ordered to follow them." She practically blurted out, showing very little of the same calm control she had held previously around me.
Of course it was Father; how could I have not realized that beforehand? He never loved me like he loved the others. I was the problem child, because I didn't behave properly. My brows furrowed in anger. I didn't want to stay here, I wanted to get as far away and raise Darcy the way that a normal human boy should be.
Tracy must have notice the dark look that crossed my features and, once again, mistook them. "Listen Milly, just get some rest. Your refresher courses start tomorrow. We'll take care of Darcy while you're in training and then you can spend time with him in the afternoon." She tried to reason even despite her voice trembling.
After a minute of silence I sighed, arguing with her was useless. If I wanted to get anywhere on that front I'd have to go higher up, but I was exhausted and night had crept up while I wasn't watching. I turned around and walked over to where Darcy sat chewing on his teddy's ear. I reached down to pick him up; he held his arms open to welcome the gesture. He held his arms loosely around my shoulders, dangling the teddy but never letting go, and I stopped just inside the doorway that led to his cot. I flicked on the switch and stared down at the blue carpet. "I'll go to training," I sighed in defeat and listened as Tracy closed the door behind her leaving me alone with Darcy.
He pulled back from me and I stared at his grey eyes - darker than the bright silver that belong to me, representing who I was, a Renegade - and a half smile formed on my lips. "I guess we'll be here a little longer than I expected." I told him softly. I placed him down in the cot and watched him get comfortable. His eyes closed over as if he already understood that it was bed time.
Looking back, I realize how silly it was, but I stood over him and watched as sleep claimed him and envied the peaceful expression that became of his face.