Author: Annwyd PM
An encounter between Sumeragi and the Ptolemy's newest crew member teaches Sumeragi something about the different ways people approach God.Rated: Fiction K - English - Sumeragi & Soma - Words: 1,093 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 5 - Published: 09-20-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6338843
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Sumeragi went to the far observation room to be alone with the stars, and she always had; the problem was that this time, someone else got there before her. The new girl—Allelujah's girl—Marie. She stood with her palms pressed to the glass, gazing out into space.
That was good. It meant she hadn't noticed Sumeragi come in. As quietly as she'd come, Sumeragi turned to go.
"Don't go," Marie said. Her voice was very soft.
"I wasn't even here yet," Sumeragi said, summoning up a smile she didn't feel. She should have felt it, with Allelujah back among the crew. She'd felt it when she saw him in the picture transmitted back from Cherudim. But now the weight of protecting him and his new happiness with Marie weighed on her. She had never proved very good at protecting people's happiness.
"Then come in," Marie said. "Please?"
"I don't want to disturb you," Sumeragi said. "You came here to be alone, didn't you?" She couldn't think of another reason for Marie to separate herself from Allelujah.
"No," Marie said. "I came here to be with someone."
Sumeragi looked around automatically, as if Allelujah could somehow have managed to hide himself. But he hadn't. There was no one there. "That's a little odd," she said.
Marie smiled. "I didn't mean Allelujah. I meant God. I'm praying."
Sumeragi had been tentatively moving closer to Marie. Now she stopped suddenly. The memory of the last time she had prayed, over four years ago, fumbling her way back to a lapsed faith long enough to beg God to bring Lockon back safely, opened in her like a wound.
"I'm sorry," Marie said. "I hurt you."
Sumeragi smiled again, because she was good at doing that even when she didn't feel it. "Don't assume things like that."
"I'm not assuming," Marie said. "I felt it. I felt your heart twist up until it broke itself open."
There was no denying it. Sumeragi looked down, instead, and changed the subject. "I didn't know you were religious," she said. Of course, there was a great deal about Marie she didn't know.
"I don't know if I'm religious," Marie said. "I just know that praying was the first thing I learned to do in my life. When I was in the dark and alone."
"You must have had a lot to pray for," Sumeragi said.
"For?" Marie said. She was silent a moment, then she shook her head and smiled, just like Sumeragi had, but also nothing like Sumeragi had, because her smile was genuine. "You misunderstood me. I wasn't praying for something. I didn't even know what it was I wanted. I wouldn't, until Allelujah came to me."
"Then why—" Sumeragi looked away. "I shouldn't ask private questions, should I?"
"It's okay," Marie said. "I prayed to thank God for making me."
"I didn't mean to be funny," Marie said.
"That's not what it was at all," Sumeragi said. "I was thinking about how different you and I are. I'm a very selfish person, Marie. I've always prayed to ask for things."
"Do you want to change that?" Marie turned away from her, but only to look at the stars. "You can always change."
"Not yet," Sumeragi said. "I'm not ready yet to thank God for making me."
"I'm sorry," Marie said. "I don't know what that's like. But I think the other half of me does. She doesn't want to have been made."
"Tell her," Sumeragi said, "I know how she feels."
Marie nodded seriously, which only made Sumeragi feel a little awkward, because she wasn't sure how serious she had been when she said that.
"I'm the one who should be apologizing here," Sumeragi said. "I interrupted you, and now I'm just being depressing."
Marie shook her head. "I want to know."
"There isn't much to know about me," Sumeragi said with an off-handed shrug.
"I want to know what you'd pray for," Marie said, "so will you join me for a little while?"
Sumeragi prepared herself to shrug the request off, maybe with a little laugh, but she found herself choking on the laugh instead. Marie was too sincere, her words too heartfelt. "I haven't prayed in a very long time," she said instead. "I'll be rusty."
"I've been praying long enough for both of us," Marie said, "so it's all right." She held out a hand. "I don't mind if the way you pray is different than mine."
Sumeragi drifted forward, then despite herself, took hold of that hand. She wondered what she should pray for. There seemed to be too many things that needed God to fix them, and too few that He could possibly do any good for. But she looked down into Marie's eyes, and that was when she knew.
They stayed there in silence for a little while. Finally, Marie asked, "Is it all right if I ask what you were praying for? I'd like to know—since I don't pray for things. Since it's different, to me."
Sumeragi smiled at her, this time for real. "I was praying that you and Allelujah find happiness together," she said.
Marie started; a little blush rose on her cheeks. She hesitated, for the first time seemingly not knowing what to say. "Thank you?" she finally ventured.
"Don't look at me like that," Sumeragi said, touching her gently on the shoulder.
"I'm going to leave now," Marie said. "Goodbye, Sumeragi."
"Are you going back to Allelujah?" Sumeragi asked.
"Yes," Marie said, "but that's not why I'm going."
It seemed right to play along, so Sumeragi did. "Why are you going?"
"To leave you alone," Marie said. "So that you can pray for yourself this time."
There was nothing, nothing at all, that Sumeragi could say to that, save for protests that she shouldn't be selfish, and those didn't seem to fit the air between them. So she only watched Marie go, and in the lonely silence that followed, she pressed her hands to the glass, just like she had seen Marie do. She thought, uncertainly, of praying for something that had never occurred to her before: the desire to praise God for making her.