Chapter 38: Her, Part II

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 1088



For all the times Lance had seen the orphanage's outside, he never expected it to have such a big room. No walls protruded out and created sections; the only furniture was a colorful, short dining set that was currently occupied by a group of four-year-olds. A particularly fast kid caught his attention, and he turned with the boy, noting the grin on his face was absent of more than a few teeth. A woman—presumably one of the caregivers—stepped into his path, stopping him with both hands on his shoulders. Lance watched her mouth move, listening to words that were indistinguishable over the room's noise, while the kid continued to rapidly bounce on the balls of his feet. Losing interest, Lance spun around in search of Zidane. He spotted the crossbreed behind him, standing by the hallway's entrance. Without any thought as to why, Lance found his attention going to parts of Zidane's hair, realizing that these parts were a little shorter than the rest.

"Kazuo tried to cut it. I didn't let him."

Well, yeah, Lance returned in a thought. I wouldn't either. The guy's been bald for years. He probably doesn't know how to.

A grin broke out on Zidane's face, erasing the stoic expression. He looked to Lance, the darkness in his eyes gone.

"Will you shut up? I'm trying to speed things up here."

Still smiling, Lance shrugged the reply off and looked away. Just saying.

Kazuo caught his eye. The caregiver was staring at Zidane from the other side of the room, a quiet apprehension about him. He met Zidane's stare and without breaking it, motioned with his head, urging him to step further into the room.

Zidane looked back, staring out into the playroom with more uncertainty and fear than Lance would've ever guessed. But then again, this wasn't a normal situation. To Zidane, every single living thing in this room was an entirely different species. One that he knew very little about, save for what he could gather from their textbooks and years of observing them through the eyes of a criminal.

Naturally, nervousness wrapped around Lance's gut, clenching it. Zidane stepped into the room, then took another. He looked around, eyes scanning the children playing with toys on the floor before snapping up to a bit past head-level. The same kid who'd been running around before darted past him; Zidane stepped back, missing a collision and watching as he sped past, the caregiver chasing after him.

Zidane's eyes moved as if suddenly spotting something across the room. For the first time, his eyes brightened to an ice blue. Lance turned around, seeing two girls sitting across the room. One of them stared back at Zidane and, instantly, Lance felt that same bolt of energy. It lasted for only a moment, but in that single space of time, he knew this girl was Zooka. He knew it was her without hearing any explanation from Zidane, without speculating on it or trying to get his brain to work well enough to form thoughts. There was something in the power of that shock, a heavy bolt with a magnitude that was fading, that told Lance he would have known it was her without Zidane telling him before. He would've known how significant she was.

He didn't notice the other girl she sat with, barely registering how she leaned forward, pushing on Zooka's arm.

"Why don't you ever talk?"

She moved, short finger prodding the upper portion of Zooka's arm. Those big green eyes finally broke away, looking to the girl who had called her attention.

"Why don't you ever talk?"

Zooka's stare dropped downwards, picking up a raggedy doll from the selection of toys in front of her. She started tending to the red hair with her hand, combing through the thick strings of yarn again and again despite there being no tangles. Something told Lance she had done that hundreds of times.

The girl in front of her sulked, crossing her arms and huffing loudly. Her short, light blonde hair bounced a little at this motion, but really Lance was staring at the red scab on her chin directly below her mouth. Already he knew this girl was going to be a nuisance.

"If you don't talk, I don't play!"

Zooka didn't seem to mind the protest. She kept her attention downwards, still tending to the doll's hair. Her thumb and forefinger wrapped around the thick strings of yarn, acting as a temporary hairband. She didn't look around for something more permanent, the action being more of an observation, a fact that she could indeed hold the doll's hair like that. Her hands released, and she began combing through the doll's hair once more.

The blonde hair girl leaned forward. "Hey!" She reached out, shaking Zooka's arm. "Hey, listen to me!"

Zooka looked up, raising her eyes without lifting her head much. Her hand stopped combing. The girl's frown shook, her lower lip protruding out more as her expression began to crumble, a new emotion taking its place.

"Why won't you listen to me? Why won't you?"

Her hold on Zooka's forearm tightened; instantly Zooka looked down, alarmed as she quickly pulled away. Her arm was released, the speed sending her off-balance and backwards. Her hand dropped the doll, reaching behind to catch herself with a hand flat to the floor. Her stare, however, never left the girl, who was now reduced to a curled ball that shook with sobs.

A caregiver rushed over; another woman, different from the one that had been chasing the boy. She was crouched down beside the girl, one hand on her back and another on her shoulder. She looked to Zooka.

"What happened? Is she okay?"

Zooka offered her a glance before looking back to the girl. Lance realized it wasn't just panic she was feeling. It was fear. It was a deeply rooted fear—and she was confused on how to deal with it.

Poor thing. The thought passed through his head without question, pity and sadness fueling it as he looked back to the other girl, watching her stand with the caregiver's help and be led away with promises of hot chocolate and a movie later on. They passed by Zidane, who barely gave them a glance before looking back to Zooka. She was still alarmed, still staring in the same spot the girl had been as if she'd never gotten up and left. As if he had somehow just gotten her attention, she looked to Zidane.

He looked back, eyes brightening a little more. As if nothing was out of the ordinary, Zooka grinned, her smile one of the happiest Lance had seen.

"Let's play, Mr. Snuffalup!" she exclaimed, holding out her doll for him to see.

With eyes a little darker, Zidane looked to her, then the toy. He slid one foot behind himself, ready to step away. Lance didn't blame him for the caution.

He looked towards the wall Kazuo stood at, seeing the caregiver looking at Zooka with one hand over his mouth and a large smile crinkling his eyes. Most of the adults in the room had similar expressions.

The confusion Zidane had been feeling finally reached his face as he stared at Kazuo.

"First time she ever spoke," Zidane said, speaking into Lance's mind.

"Mr. Snuffa..." Zooka held the doll to her chest, mouth lowered against its head and muffling her stretched out whine of "Let's play..."

Zidane looked at Kazuo again. The caregiver only glanced to the girl, eyes holding for a moment in a silent urge to follow through with her request. Zidane turned back, eyes turning brighter once again as he focused on Zooka. Slow steps brought him towards her, and as he sat down with his shins underneath himself, Zooka grinned into her doll, squirming slightly in happiness. She lifted her head up, letting her voice ring clear. "Let's play! This'll be fun!"

In the next moment, she had placed another doll in Zidane's hand. He looked down at it and adjusted his grip, holding the doll by two fingers and letting it swing from the leg. Like an umbrella caught against heavy wind, the bottom cloth dress it wore flipped up, exposing nothing but a line of stitches holding the lower-half of the plush doll together.

"No, not like that! You're hurting her!" Zooka reached out, moving the doll upright and gently pushing it into both of Zidane's hands. As she did, her fingers touched the back of his hand, brushing along the skin where the thumb and forefinger met. Lance felt the electricity like a livewire had just popped and sent a bolt of fire up his arm, striking lightning into the center of his being. Warmth began to radiate from somewhere deeply far away, radiating like sunlight. But Zidane wasn't pulling his hand back because of this massive spark; the extreme brightness of his eyes told Lance this much. He had jerked his sleeve-covered hand away because of the Razalek marking she had gotten too close to.

Submitted: December 04, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Meaghan Kalena. All rights reserved.


Add Your Comments:

Facebook Comments

Other Content by Meaghan Kalena