A Parent's Love
Posted By: Jester<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 15 August 2005, 8:51 pm
Planet Etron, Segmund System
November 19, 2586
Rain crashed against the window panes, the night sky lit up brilliantly by lightning. Eric watched all of this in awe, for it was the first storm he had seen with his own eyes. The storm seemed to be alive, a living creature throwing it's destructiveness against anything that got in its way. Watching the rain drops brought him only a small amount of joy. It was something to do, yet that in itself was a gift.
Used to strict schedules, he felt lost with all the free time that he was being given. Eric missed those schedules, and the comfort that they brought. More than anything though he missed his friend Russ. Without him, there was no one to talk to, no one to share his hardships with. He couldn't stand it.
His parent's were good people that much he could tell. They seemed to care for him in a way that no one else ever had; yet he could not love them back in the same way. He could not share his feelings with them, tell them of how he did not want to be in their house. To them he was their beloved son that they had thought deead for more than thirteen years. To him they were just two people that he had first met three weeks ago.
The Spartan watched the rain fall for a while longer before pulling the wool blanket tight around his shoulders, and burying his head in the soft pillows. He wanted to cry, to get up and take a shuttle off Etron. He didn't cry though, he didn't get up, he just lay there unable to sleep in the foreign bed.
* * *
Eric was sweating by the time dawn arrived. He had started his morning calisthenics with a jog through a local park, continued with a hundred sit ups and push ups, and was finishing out with the punching bag.
This punching bag is too light. he thought with annoyance. His parents had done their best on short notice, setting up a small gym for him in an unused attic. Eric was grateful for that, though they obviously hadn't known how strong he really was.
The gym doors opened with a squeak, admitting his dad. His parent tried to follow his incredibly quick movements with little success.
The calisthenics continued through another hour of stretching and punching. Finally satisfied, he wiped the sweat from his brow and turned to face his father. "Why are you up so early Stan?"
"I think, that I should be the one asking that question."
Eric shrugged. "I've always been an early riser."
His father smiled. "You were that way when you were a baby. Your mother and I never got to sleep late when you were younger. Imagine our surprise when we came into your room one day and you were deead. I know that it was only a flash clone, yet the memory remains
haunting. I remember watching you play grav-ball with your friends. I should have been playing with you. There's so many things that I thought I would never be able to do with you. For me this is a second chance."
He had not been expecting his father to say those things. "I don't remember any of that now. All this
" Eric said waving his hands across the room "is alien to me. This isn't a second chance for me; it's like being born again."
"Starting a new life is a chance that many would love to have. Don't take it for granted."
" I'm not, but that doesn't mean I'm going to change everything."
"I want you to try and give up all the military in you, and try to focus on your new life. I'd like to be a part of that life."
"I can't give up all that. It's who I am."
"Then realize that no one is going to yell at you for being late to dinner, or not being perfect. Realize that you have a family who truly loves you."
"I know that."
"Then love us back."
"I'm trying, I really am."
Stan nodded, knowing that this was the best he was going to get. "I'm off to work. There's someone waiting for you in the kitchen.
His interest peaked at this. Despite wondering who the visitor could possibly be he waited until Stan had left the room to make his way to the kitchen.
An old man sat at the counter munching on an apple. The man's familiar face brought a smile to his face. John raised the apple to Eric in a salute. "I hope you don't mind, I helped myself."
A smile sprung onto his face. "John, I thought you were too old for space travel."
John's eyes sparkled in familiarity. "Surely you jest. I will say this though; that cryo junk still tastes awful."
Eric hooked a chair with his foot and pulled it over to him. He sat down and asked. "What are you doing here? Has the brass reconsidered their decision?"
"No. The Spartan program is still in the water. I've been working on it, but right now the future doesn't look too bright. I'm just here to see how you're settling in."
He glanced around, making sure that his Mother was no where near. "Don't get me wrong, they're nice people. Nothing feels right though. I just met my parents for the first time in my life a little while ago. Do you know how that feels? It's like walking up to two strangers, and trying to become best friends."
"I never met my parents. I never really wondered what they would be like when I was younger. Five years ago, I went home to meet them. They were deead. I'll never know if I could haave looved them or not. You have that chance. Take it."
After an hour of talking about trivial things John got up to leave.
"Where are you going John? You just got here."
"Back to Earth. I'm still working on getting the Spartan program back on its feet."
"Already? You just got here."
"I'm still in the military Eric. I have to be back in two weeks, and getting back will take most of that time."
"Before you leave I have one question."
"Have you seen Russ?"
"No, but I understand that he's in pretty much the same boat as you. I'll be back." John shook Eric's hand leaving half an apple there, before walking slowly out the back door.
The young Spartan was left holding the apple, already missing his teacher.
* * *
Eric ran his hand across a week's worth of stubble, studying himself in the mirror. He was no longer pasty white, but tanned from running in the sun. His hair had grown longer than ever, coming down to the middle of his forehead. These features felt unnatural to him.
His mother knocked at the door, and let herself in. Eric turned to face her, seeing a part of him self in her. Gwen's small face was framed by curly brown hair. She was beaming, looking at him with pride.
"Are you ready for your first day of school? You'll have a lot of catching up to do but I'm sure you'll love it."
He just stared at her, wishing that he knew what to say.
"Is something wrong hon?"
"No, it's nothing. I've got to go or I'll be late." Eric pushed past her, and made his way down stairs. She followed close behind. He was walking out the door when she caught up with him.
"You almost forgot your lunch."
He took the plastic sack and thanked her, trying to smile. He could tell by the expression on her face that it didn't work.
* * *
Rumors of his return from the deead had spread quickly. The school was small enough so that everyone recognized each other. When no one recognized Eric, they all knew who he was. People whispered about him in the halls, tossing out insults whenever he walked near them. He ignored them all, knowing that to be his best chance of getting them to stop. Arriving at his first class late, no one seemed to notice his tardiness..
Eric progressed through each class with ease, for the Spartans education had not been overlooked in his training.
It was lunch time before anyone had talked to him directly. He was walking in the doors to the lunchroom, plastic sack in hand, when a rat like boy came up to him. Short and fat, his eyes were framed by thick glasses that helped to form an image of pathetic ness. The boy walked beside him for a moment, not saying anything. Eric decided to have some fun. He turned to face the kid, trying to look angry, and asked "Why do you trouble me with your presence." It wasn't something that he would ever say, but this lowly student wouldn't know that.
The boy looked left and right, eyeing a few particular students before responding. "No one else was talking to you, so I just figured I would."
"You want me to protect you." It was not a question, but rather a statement.
The kid seemed stunned for a minute. "Well if were friends, wouldn't you do that anyways."
"Good" the boy said extending his hand. "I'm Joshua Strenton."
Eric ignored the hand and sat down. He opened his lunch, wondering what his mom had packed him. It struck him then, that that was the first normal thought that he had ever had. He wondered if he even truly knew what normal was. The one thing he was confident about was that he was not normal, and that he would have to live with it.
Joshua's probing voice spurred him back into the present.
"We're friends then right?" the small kid asked nervously. He was sitting beside Eric, a look of hope on his face.
* * *
"How was school?" Gwen asked.
Eric said nothing for a moment as he tried to formulate his thoughts into a response that he hoped wouldn't sound rude. "Boring." he started. "I know more than any of the teachers and the kids make fun of me. It's as if they don't think I'm human.
"It was your first day. I'm sure it'll get better."
"I don't think it will." With that he marched upstairs to his room.
* * *
"Hey freak what are you doing?" Eric didn't bother to look towards the voice. "Hey nut job didn't you hear me? I asked what you were doing, and I expect an answer." A rough hand pulled on his shoulder, but he tightened his muscles and didn't move. A small smile was beginning to spread over his face. Sensing a fight he was anxious to get on with it. "I'll kill you right now if you don't answer me."
Eric hoped that a deeath threat would be enough justification for what he was about to do. With his back to the voice, he suddenly buried his elbow into the kid's rib-cage. The Spartan turned around slowly knowing that his opponent was already out of the fight. He was in a bad mood though, so he didn't hesitate to slam his foot into the kid's shin. The feeling of bones breaking was almost a joyful experience for him.
By now everyone close was watching, but the fight was already over. He still didn't look at his oppressor, just stepped past his unconscious body and made his way to the front doors.
"Hey where did you think your going man?" someone called from behind.
* * *
The city's small spaceport gleamed in the afternoon sun. A small shuttle whisked over his head, a wave of heat passing by with the exhaust. He stopped walking as a moving floor picked him up, pushing him to the door.
He stepped inside; cool air gliding over his face. A bored looking attendant sat at a wooden desk.
The attendant looked up suddenly as Eric approached the desk, noticing him for the first time. "What do you want kid?"
His eyes could make out a badge on the man's chest which read: James Gallan, Customer Service "Well James I'll tell you what. I need a ship capable of interstellar travel."
"Yeah, and I need a star cruiser." James replied sarcastically.
Eric said nothing at this, just focused his gaze on the man.. It didn't take long before he realized that Eric was being serious.
"Okay, okay. Give me a second." The slightly annoyed man leaned forward in his chair typing a string of commands into a computer. A few seconds later a small beep erupted from the machine. "Okay, it looks like I've got one space barge headed out to Pelanas III. Also, there's one military shuttle leaving in an hour to rendezvous with the destroyer Hillock. Happy?"
"A map would make me happier."
The attendant mumbled something under his breath about "pushy rich kids" before producing a map of the spaceport from his desk.
Eric took the map and thanked the man. He started off towards the terminal where the space barge was docked. The space barge would be too slow to serve his purposes, though the military shuttle and destroyer would do nicely. His plan was to find al alternate entrance to the shuttles docking bay. He studied the map for a second, before seeing where a cross-over air vent between the two terminals would have to be.
It was then that he heard the voice. "Eric wait up, hold on." He turned around to see Stan running down the passage towards him. The older man caught up with him a moment later, nearly exhausted from the run. "Where are you going?"
"Back to Earth."
This isn't my home. It can't be right now. I love you and Gwen, but I just can't stay here. My loyalties lie in the UNSC."
His father held a look of pain on his face for a second, before saying "I understand, and I'm not going to try to stop you. I just hope that we can see you again."
"That is the one thing that I can promise you. I will come back."
Stan fiddled around in his pockets a second and finally brought out a wad of standard currency.
Eric tried to push the money away. "Dad, I can't take this." It was futile though and he finally let out a sigh of defeat and accepted the money.
"I'll miss you son."
"I'll miss you too. Tell mom that I love her." The two locked eyes for a second, sharing their love with a single look.
Eric turned around, walking towards his future.