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Fan Fiction

Black and White
Posted By: Mainevent
Date: 20 January 2006, 4:09 am

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--Author's Note: Though it doesn't have a direct Halo tie-in during this chapter, later chapters will make its position in the Haloverse much clearer.--

Chapter One

"Yes, honey?"
"Why do you kill people?"

"Daddy doesn't like to baby, but it's what his job is."
"But why is it your job if its not nice to kill people?"
"Well sweetheart...some people just can't be allowed to live."
"How come daddy? What'd they do?"
"Oh, they did a lot of bad stuff honey. A lot of really bad stuff..."

      He couldn't help but remember the conversation. It was the last he'd ever had with his daughter. The entirety of the situation surrounding it was clear to a T in his mind.

      She wore a light pink dress covered in flowers with a bright red belt, trimmed on the fringes with white lace. In her curly, reddish blonde hair was a red bowtie that matched her belt, and on her two tiny feet were black shoes that showed off her pristine white socks; the ones with the ruffled edges at the tops.
      Her skin was a creamy rose tint that accentuated her large, sapphire blue eyes. It was her birthday, so her nails were painted a bright cherry red to match with her outfit and her eyelashes had been curled for effect. She was still dragging Teddy, her favorite doll, behind her, and he'd had to tell her several times already to make sure and pick him up, or else he'd get dirty.
      The sky overhead was pristine, not a cloud for miles. A flock of milk-white birds soared in unison above. Dark green grass had been neatly trimmed by the maintenance crews to a uniform height of one and a half inches. Sunlight shimmered off the light ripples from the park's lake onto the few large black and white geese splashing around in it.
      Under the polished white marble pavilion at the center of the park was a white stone table covered in gifts. Big gifts, little gifts, rectangles, and spheres of all sizes. There was even a little piñata with her favorite cartoon character dangling from the ceiling. It was Scrappy McDougles, the crime fighting super pup. There were giggles and chirps and children yelling all around.

"Yes honey?"
"Why do you kill people?"

"Why do you kill people?"
"Why do you kill people?"
"Why do you kill people?"

      He shook his head to get the question to go away. But it wouldn't. He let go of her too-small hand and watched as she dropped her doll and ran to her gifts. The man shook his head with a cockeyed smile and picked the old toy up, carefully brushing the dirt off without harming the loose threads. His cell phone rang and he slid the small gray device from his coat pocket with one hand. The display was an unknown caller so he flipped it open and then closed it again to hang up. d*mn telemarketers. It rang again. Same number. He flipped it open and pressed it to his ear.

      "Mr. Black..." It was an all-too-familiar voice. The voice of the devil.
      It couldn't be. How had they...
      "I, I'm sorry, you have the..."
      "No I don't, Mr. Black. The stunned look on your face tells me that."
      His face went pale as his mind struggled to process it all.
      "Daddy, can I open my presents?" His daughter interrupted, almost distantly.
      "In just a moment, sweetheart."
      "What's the matter Mr. Black, thought we'd never find you? We have a lot of vested money in you, you know."
      "No...I knew you'd find me, eventually." He answered, hesitantly.
      "But Daddy, I want to open a present!" She insisted.
      "Fine, open a present." He turned to scan the buildings across the street from the park. The buildings, the cars, the windows, everything. But his normally perfect eyes couldn't find anything strange.
      "What about this one, Daddy?" She asked, picking up a small rectangular package covered in wrapping paper.
      "That's fine honey, open whatever you want," he answered without turning; never noticing the paper he hadn't bought.
      "What a good father Mr. Black, letting her open up a present on her birthday. I do so like that present myself, but then again, I bought it."
      His world stopped.
      "Honey, don-"
      "Goodbye, Mr. Black."
      The force and heat of the explosion hit simultaneously before he could turn around. His body was tossed like a ragdoll twenty meters before landing haphazardly on top of a car, denting its thin aluminum roof in several feet. Glass shattered out of storefronts and cars for a city block around the park's pavilion. The only thing that remained of the rock and granite structure was a large hump of metal reinforcing rods and stone powder atop the hasty funeral pyre his daughter was buried under. His eyes were leaden as they quickly faded to black.

"Yes honey?"
"Why do you kill people?"

"Daddy doesn't like to baby, but its what his job is."
"But why is it your job if its not nice to kill people?"
"Well sweetheart...some people just can't be allowed to live."
"How come daddy? What'd they do?"
"Oh they did a lot of bad stuff honey. A lot of really bad stuff..."

"Like what? What did the bad men do?"

"Shh. Let's go see mommy first and then we can open presents. I'm sure she'd have loved to have seen how pretty you are today. How about that sweetheart?"
"Ohkay. But..."
"Yes, what is it honey?"
"Daddy, I miss mommy."
"I know honey, so do I... So do I."

      He woke up in a familiar setting: the hospital. A thick white bandage was wrapped around his head, with a small red circle just left of center on his forehead. His arms were wrapped with even more bandages; one was covered with a cast. Needles were gouged deep into his muscular forearms and wrists to get intravenous fluids into his system. It felt like an elephant was sitting on his chest, and it was hard to breathe. His vision was blurry, but the smell of disinfectants were distinct. Rhythmic chirps emanated from the cackle of machinery around him: heartbeat monitors, blood pressure indicators, and a million other tiny and useless readings all scrolled in electronic ink across their displays. The floor was heavily polished and only highlighted the standard white and black tiling familiar to every hospital he'd ever been in.
      The room was bathed in an ugly baby blue color that was worsened by a checkerboard red and olive border. To his left was a viewing station and tray, on which his breakfast, lunch, and dinner would be served until he was well enough to leave. On his right dangled the remote control, wired to the bed to keep people from losing it, and slightly larger than normal because of the built-in speaker for the news monitor.
      The sun cast irritating beams through the window in front of him, and he had to squeeze his eyes shut to avoid the glare. His hand reflexively depressed the large red 'Nurse' button several times. Five minutes later the heavy, metallic looking door swung open before gently stopping against the wall. The room was meant for two people, but the other bed was gone, and both of the separating curtains had been left open. His nurse, a young and vivacious young lady with a gorgeous smile walked in quickly. Normally, he'd have thought himself blessed to meet such an attractive woman, but there was no such joy today. She seemed to notice the problem before his single finger shakily pointed to the window blinds, which were quickly closed.
      "I'm glad to see you're awake today. We thought you too weren't going to make it for a while."
      The pain relievers were working, he was groggy and slow to comprehend.
      "Yea, I'm...I'm fine. Really. I just need..."
      "Go on, I'll get you whatever you need." Her smile was inspiring with its kindness, and she came closer to prop up his pillows.
      "I just want to see my daughter and go. I've...I've got to get out of..."
      Her smile faded almost instantly at the word 'daughter'. His mind realized almost immediately that something was horribly wrong, but it was still too disjointed to put the pieces together.
      "Mr. Black," the nurse said quietly, kneeling down beside him, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but your daughter didn't make it."
      Tears welled up in his eyes and his mouth curled into a vicious snarl. He wrapped his good hand around the bed's side rail until his knuckles were white, breaking the metallic rack off easily. The IV poles swayed from side to side as his arm jerked violently in anger and frustration before falling to the ground with a loud clatter. The young lady jumped back quickly, startled by his violent and extremely powerful reaction; but she refused to call for orderlies. Heavy sobs bellowed deep from within his chest before slowly fading into weak whimpers as he ran out of tears, and the ones he'd already shed dried up; leaving behind salty, stinging reminders as they evaporated. She gently stroked his forehead and gave him gentle sips of water from a cup.
      With infinite patience she moved to the fallen equipment and stood it back upright, carefully replacing the needles which had been jerked out during the tirade. He offered no resistance, nor did he flinch, as she reinserted the thin metal shafts into his veins. With a damp washcloth she dabbed his forearm before kneeling to the floor and getting up the thin line of spattered blood that had jetted out with the needles.
      "If there's anything you need Mr. Black, just push this button and I'll come as fast as I can to help you. Alright?"
      She placed the remote firmly in his hand. He nodded absently while staring into space and time and a million other places inside himself. The nurse slowly made her way to the door before turning back with a sorrowful glance and closing the door.

      He thought back through himself. Through his life, and his wife, and his daughter. Through the pain and the joy and the sorrow and the million other things he'd gone through. He'd wondered what the spooks would do when they found him, and often expected it to be gruesome, but this was beyond anything he'd ever dreamt of. There was no more black and white, or even shade of gray. There was what must be done; and that's all there was. They'd failed to kill him once, but like all of the pirates and space rats he'd killed before had gruesomely found out, once was all he needed to get the job done.