Chapter 25: Don’t Cry.
The sound of the wind filled the air. A little cold for the upcoming autumn season, the fresh feeling was what Rick needed to come back from his stupor. Blinking, he looked around and found himself completely lost in the middle of a forest. He looked back and didn’t remember from what direction he had come. He looked in front of him and found every direction exactly the same. He was dumb enough to scare to death his only chance to get out of that place, but running after them in an unknown territory was plain stupid.
Lost in the woods, literally, Rick tried to clear his thoughts. He scratched his head trying to decide where he should go. Sighing, he remembered the little girl, who he thought at first was a boy, and followed the direction she had taken. He decided to walk straight and hope that he found something or someone eventually, even angry parents of scared children. He just needed to get out of that place.
“Great, I lost in the air, and now I lost my Veritech…surely Claudia will laugh a great deal about this,” he murmured to himself. Rick tried to concentrate on the almost nonexistent road, but his mind rumbled in other directions, in the direction of the little girl’s face. He wondered if he was sane, if after so many years crying over Lisa’s disappearance he was finally going mad and was losing his senses. Maybe the girl was similar to her, but she wasn’t her.
Rick finally sighed and tried to concentrate on getting out of the forest before it became night and the situation turned worse.
Sarah ran and cried angry tears until she finally reached her exhausted friends.
“W…What…happened?” asked Peter breathing hard.
“Are we safe?” asked Samantha scared with Paula standing next to her.
“Yes, I think we are,” said Sarah cleaning her face from tears, ashamed.
“Who was that?!” wondered Gregory sitting on the ground.
“The pilot, obviously,” said Peter sitting next to him.
“I don’t care! He’s mean and I hate him!” said Sarah with an angry red face. Her friends looked at her in awe.
“Did he do something to you?” asked Paul worried.
“No… he just screamed at me,” said Sarah catching her breath and sitting on the ground with Samantha sitting next to her and Peter on the other side.
“What are you going to do? What are we going to do if he tells our parents?” asked Gregory, already knowing he could forget about his video games if they found out.
“I don’t think he will…he’s lost, he just needs to take that machine and fly away,” answered Peter.
“I hope he does,” answered the redhead.
“Why don’t we tell our parents first? He is a stranger,” said Samantha.
“NO! We don’t!” said Sarah. She knew her mother was probably going to be scared to death if she knew what happened and she didn’t want her mother to be worried about her. “Peter is right; he will never come out of the forest.”
“But what happens if he dies there?!” asked Paul worried.
“I don’t think he is that stupid, he just needs to jump in that machine and get the hell out of here,” said Sarah and stood up, cleaning her jeans. “I am going home, I hate this day and I want to see my Mom,” said Sarah already walking away. The others stood up quickly and followed her back home.
Sarah entered her home and ran to the bathroom to clean her face before she saw her mother. A little pale, but looking acceptable, she came down the stairs and went to see her mother in the kitchen.
“Hey Mom,” she said a little worriedly. Lisa immediately noticed the different tone of voice.
“Hey…how are you?” she said eyeing her daughter, knowing that she would have to wait for her to talk. Like her father, she didn’t like to be bossed around.
“Fine. Sorry I am late, we went to the…err…pirates cave to play,” explained Sarah looking at her feet.
“Aha,” said Lisa, turning around to clean the dishes and pretending not to notice the change her daughter was so desperately trying to hide, “Are you hungry?” she asked.
“No…I…I am going to do my homework,” she said and started to walk away but stopped in the middle of the room, turned around and walked to her mother again and hugged her before running to her bedroom.
Lisa saw her go away and raised an eyebrow, “Something is not right here…” she said and acting like her old self, she concentrated on the best way to approach to this new problem, the smartest way.
Rick walked for an hour until he finally reached the end of an old road. With a smile on his face, he decided to follow it. The road was deserted and he felt a strange feeling, like an inside warning. He stood away from the road and decided to follow it, but staying behind the trees. After some time, he finally reached what looked like a small town. From his position he looked around. It was like a town stopped in time. It was obvious that everyone knew everyone else because they talked on the streets and hung out in a very friendly way. Rick didn’t want to come out of hiding. He watched around for some sign of the RFD there, but there wasn’t any. No base, no nothing. He couldn’t stop feeling like an intruder there.
Feeling like a spy, Rick walked around looking at everything and trying to find the children he saw earlier. He was especially interested in finding out about the little girl who kick him and whom he had scared. He told himself he just wanted to apologized to her parents about the incident, but he knew deep down that he wanted to see her again and find out if he was going mad or not.
Some hours later, at 5 PM when everybody was obviously going home, Rick saw a blond man walking out from a store carrying a lot of bags full of metallic pieces. The man was tall, with blue eyes and very attractive, but he had the air of a scientist or a mechanic of some sort. Following his instincts, Rick followed him and realized that he walked just a few blocks away from downtown, to a small but nice grey-white house of two floors.
The blond man with an athletic body stood outside the house and looked up to the second floor smiling. Then he put the bags on the ground and shouted, “Saraaaah! Come here”.
“Sarah…” murmured Rick frowning for a second. He was still hidden behind some trees watching the scene.
After a while, the front door opened and a girl ran with all her speed and jumped into the man’s arms. Rick couldn’t listen to what they said, but they were laughing and when the man put the girl back on the ground, she took the bags and started opening them as if it they were Christmas presents.
Rick noticed that the girl was the same girl he saw in the field. He didn’t know why, but he felt a sudden pain in his chest when he saw them both hugging so close. Rick felt sad and he didn’t know why.
“So that’s the father…” murmured Rick and kept watching the scene as the little girl took the hand of the man and pulled him inside the house.
Rick felt even sadder when the door closed, because something closed in his heart too. He looked around the surrounding areas; the small house, with a small garden, the trees, the nature… it was indeed a very nice home.
Rick sat down and listened to the wind moving the leaves of the trees. The air was cold but nice against his skin. He was physically tired from walking and running and he hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast, but his mind was wondering about hypothetical situations. He pictured himself being the one walking home and being welcomed home by a child. He pictured himself holding that little girl and coming home to Lisa, to his family. Rick felt his heart shrink at the picture in his head, because Lisa once told him what really happened that day, 10 years ago, when he stood her up for Minmei and she waited and waited for hours. He remembered when Lisa told him, eyes on the floor and ashamed, how she pictured themselves holding their baby instead of Max and Miriya. He remembered perfectly well how a single tear escaped her eyes with the memory of that time, when he hurt her so badly.
This time a single tear escaped from his baby blue eyes. He cleaned it with the back of his hand and stood up, trying to recover his calm. He thought about the man of that house, who looked like a mechanic. He probably had a radio or something like that he could use to contact the nearest RDF base. Taking a big breath and looking around, Rick stood away from the trees and walked to the house.
“Michael!” said Lisa smiling and welcoming the blond and attractive man.
“Hey Lizzy,” said Michael helping a very excited Sarah carry in some bags. Lisa looked at them in wonder.
“What’s that?” she asked.
“These are the parts that don’t work in the laundry machine anymore. We had to change the complete engine of it…I wonder WHAT happened?” he asked looking at Sarah who smiled widely, looking innocent.
Lisa chuckled and watched as her daughter, a mechanic freak, took the pieces as if they were the most precious item in the world.
“C’mon Mike, let the genius work, I have some laundry that I am sure Jo is missing like crazy,” said Lisa walking to the kitchen with Michael following her.
“You bet! Imagine, her clothes, my clothes and Peter’s…and no machine at all! It was easier when I was a Zentraedi, we didn’t care about that sort of thing,” he complained frowning.
“I imagine, but that’s the price of marrying a human,” said Lisa folding the shirts as Michael matched the now clean socks.
“I know, and it’s worth it… all these little things are worth it every time I see Jo. I don’t know why, but she is so… so… I don’t know if there is a word for it, but whatever it is, it’s worth it,” said Michael with a face of love for his wife that Lisa found lovely. She remembered the way Rick used to look at her, at least the last month they were together. Before tears came to her eyes, she changed the subject.
“Geez, I forgot Peter’s socks, they are in the dryer… I’ll be right back,” said Lisa quickly and went to get them.
Sarah was already playing with the parts and trying to find how she could make a plane when someone knocked at the door. Smiling, she thought it was Peter but then she remembered that Peter didn’t use doors, he found it more amusing coming from any open window. Then it was probably Jo, coming with the dessert she knew she loved.
“Aunt Jo! Is it strawberry or peach pie this time?” said Sarah opening the door and freezing in her tracks when she saw the stranger, the same stranger who had ran after them on the forest. All the colors of her face were drawn and for the first time in her life, Sarah felt no energy, she could not to move, she could not shout. She was paralyzed.
Rick once again was taken off guard by the similarity of that little girl’s face and Lisa’s. He couldn’t talk either for a moment, until he realized the girl in front of him was pale as a ghost and was probably going to faint from fear.
“Hello. Please, please…I am not going to hurt you…are your parents home? I need help,” asked Rick in a hurry, trying to make Sarah react, but the only reaction of the girl was to step back.
The unknown voice brought Michael to look in the hallway and see who it was. He was immediately taken back when he saw a complete stranger at the door. Then he saw Sarah’s face of panic and he almost ran to get next to her.
“Who are you?!” asked Michael holding Sarah as the girl held against him for protection. Rick felt really bad for causing all this trouble; it was obvious that the girl told her parents about the incident in the forest.
“I am sorry. My name is Rick Hunter and I am a Captain of the RDF, I am lost and I need some help to get back to the nearest RDF base…” he tried to explained when he noticed how suddenly the man in front of him turned pale.
“Oh My God…” was all Michael could say and he just looked at Rick up and down, not believing his eyes. He knew who this man was, he knew perfectly well.
“I think these are all the socks, I matched them so…” said a very familiar feminine voice coming from the hallway.
They saw each other, after eight years of absence. Their eyes finally met in a lasting longing they both felt in their souls. Blue eyes grew wider, not trusting the vision in front of him, feeling that he was finally and completely mad. He didn’t blink, because he felt that if he closed his eyes, the vision was going to fade in the air. It was a vision, a magnificent vision of his reason to live, his reason to keep going.
Green eyes saw the same, saw the man she left for his own safety. She shook from head to toe and dropped to the floor what she had in her hands. Her lips trembled too. She secretly hoped for this to happen some day, but she knew the cost… she had to protect Sarah…
“Lisa,” murmured Rick and stepped toward her, not bothering to look around. He extended a shaking hand to her, trying to find out if this was a vision or not.
Lisa stood there, and the tears came from her eyes. It was him- it was Rick.
“Rick,” she said back and was unable to move.
“Mom? Who’s is he?” asked Sarah watching the weird scene in front of her. Michael was holding her shoulders in a protective way as he watched the scene.
Both Rick and Lisa looked down at the little girl, but both for different reasons. Rick was echoing the voice of the girl in his brain “Mom…Mom…” then he looked at Michael and then back to Sarah, mouth open. Lisa looked at Sarah and the fear took over her senses. If Rick was there, Jake could be there too. She knew Rick was a target, and wherever he was, Jake would somehow have an eye there too.
Both eyes starring at her in shock scared Sarah, who looked to her mother for an answer. She never saw fear in Lisa’s face and she felt that she did something wrong.
“Oh my God…Sarah, Sarah….we have to go, now!” said Lisa suddenly breaking the spell and running to take her daughters hand. Michael let Sarah go and Lisa grabbed her hand hardly.
“Mom!! What are you doing?!” asked Sarah in fear and ran next to her mother who was moving her to the second floor.
“Lisa wait!” shouted Michael trying to put some sense in the situation. Rick just watched the scene with a numb brain.
“I can’t wait! We are in danger! We have to get out of here!” said Lisa to him and Sarah looked from one to another.
“NO!! MOM! TELL ME WHAT IS HAPPENING!” asked Sarah with fear. Just then Lisa noticed the state of her daughter.
“Sarah, baby…we have to get out of here, its not safe anymore,” said Lisa kneeling next to her daughter.
“Why?? What danger?? Mom you are scaring me!” said Sarah with tears in her eyes.
“I am sorry darling, but we are in danger,” Lisa tried to explained.
“Who is this man, is he dangerous?” asked Sarah looking at Rick who was frozen in his place.
“No, he is not,” answered Michael sadly, walking behind Sarah and putting a hand over her shoulder.
Lisa looked at Rick and didn’t know what to do or to say. Rick’s brain only processed the words “Mom” and “daughter” and felt a pain in his stomach when he looked at the man next to them, probably the father of the girl. He felt betrayed, he felt completely empty.
“I… have to go…” said Rick and felt his legs numb and his head light. He held himself next to the next wall for support.
Lisa ran over to him and helped him stay up; Michael took him from the other side.
“Don’t touch me!” screamed Rick and pushed Lisa and Michael away. He felt dirty, he felt sick…
“Don’t touch me, don’t…you…you were here and had a life while I was dying everyday looking for you and worrying about you!?!” shouted Rick, feeling how the anger was growing inside him and even while he was dizzy, he tried to focus his blurry eyes on her.
“You were here!!! YOU HAVE A DAUGHTER?! I DIDN’T KNOW IF YOU WERE ALIVE!!” he shouted and stepped toward her menacingly. Lisa stepped back and Michael held his arm.
“Is not what you think…” said Michael trying to put some calm in him, but Rick moved his arm away hard and looked at him with hate.
“Is not what I think? Then what?! I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR HER ALL OVER THE WORLD AND NOW I FIND BY MISTAKE THAT SHE HAS A PERFECT LIFE!! WITH YOU?!!” he said and then looked and Lisa who was shaking, pale and feeling her knees go weak.
“I…I…” she murmured.
“YOU WHAT?!” said Rick and Michael held him by the arm again.
“MOM!” shouted Sarah and ran in front of her mother and looked at Rick with hate in her eyes.
“GET AWAY FROM HER! LEAVE HER ALONE!!” screamed the girl protecting her mother. Lisa finally fell to the floor and held the little body of her daughter for support, her heart jumping fast. Sarah turned around horrified by the view of her mother on the ground. She tried to hold her, but it was in vane; Lisa hit the floor, breathing hard.
“MOM MOM!! Don’t die!!” said Sarah crying “AUCLE MICHAEL MY MOM!...” shouted the girl in panic. Michael ran next to Lisa and held her head, but Lisa fainted.
Rick saw all this and felt his heart shrink. He kneeled next to her too, but Sarah pushed him away with all her force.
“LEAVE HER! GO AWAY!!!” she said and hit him with her fist, pushing him in frustration. He held her little hands to stop her.
“I HATE YOU! GO AWAY!!” she cried.
“STOP YOU TWO RIGHT NOW! LISA NEEDS HELP!” said Michael taking her in his arms and moving her to the living room, to the couch. Rick and Sarah followed him.
“Is she dead?” asked Sarah shaking.
“No, she is not…she just fainted, don’t worry,” Michael assured her. Rick kneeled next to her again and for the first time touched her.
“DON’T TOUCH MY MOM!” said Sarah pushing him away but Michael stopped her.
“Don’t Sarah, you don’t know what you are doing,” he said holding her little wrist.
“Let me go! I HATE HIM,” said Sarah.
“Shut Up!” screamed Rick back to her angrily.
“JUST STOP YOU TWO!! YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING!” said Michael trying to put some sense in this.
“Then what is going on?! TELL ME!” said Rick to him standing up and facing him. Michael looked down, ashamed.
“It is not for me to tell,” was his answer, but Rick thought a different way, he grabbed his shirt and pulled him against him. “TELL ME!”.
Sarah looked scared about the situation, her mother on the couch unconscious and Michael fighting with this man. She cried and knelt next to her mother, moving her to wake her up.
“You are scaring the girl, Rick,” said Michael trying his best not to fight him.
“How do you know who I am? Tell me what the f**ck is going on here!” he demanded.
Michael looked at him and sighed, he needed to finish this. He looked at Lisa on the couch and silently asked forgiveness from her.
“What is happening is that Lisa is in this town hiding from Jake…she has been here the past three years with her daughter, Sarah…She is hiding, Rick… She wasn’t safe, she is hiding to protect her daughter,” explained Michael with sincerity in his voice. Rick let him go and stepped back.
“Hiding? Why she didn’t come back for me then?” he asked dumbly, Sarah listening and looking from one man to the other.
“She couldn’t, it was too risky…Jake would know about Sarah and he doesn’t yet, apparently. If you are here, then he will know,” answered Michael. Rick looked from one way to another and locked his eyes on Sarah’s. Angry again he looked at Michael for answers one more time but Michael closed his eyes and moved his hands to stop him from speaking. The tension was high and Michael opened his eyes and looked at him, with an unexpected answer.
“Lisa had to protect her daughter from Jake, because she could be a powerful weapon for him against you and her,” he said softly. Sarah eyes grew wider.
“For me?” asked Rick and Michael nodded.
“Yes Rick. For both of you… That girl over there, Rick… that girl is your daughter.”