Author: Useful Oxymoron PM
Long after the events at Kamakura, Lucy lives the life of a reclusive hermit. One day, however, she strikes up an unlikely friendship.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Drama - Lucy / Nyu - Words: 6,818 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 16 - Follows: 3 - Published: 05-17-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6999198
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This story has been sitting on my harddrive for a long time now, mostly born out of a desire to give Lucy a form of happy, if bittersweet, ending. I'm probably contradicting the manga, but if I have to be fair, I've never paid much attention to it anyway. I'm also playing around with the lore a little, mostly with things which were never explicitly stated, though I did do my best to not contradict the Anime.
Anyway, I hope you like it.
Lucy's vectors lashed out and found their target without mercy. She found a proper footing and increased the pressure on her target. Lucy felt the sweat form on her brow as she grunted and yanked with all her strength.
Unfortunately, it did not budge. With axe and vectors, she had managed to turn the great majority of the old sick tree in her backyard into firewood, but the stump, with its elaborate root-system, remained firmly in place. Five times she had tried today, five times... without success.
"Dammit, Lucy," she hissed to herself. "You lifted a boat and threw it at soldiers. You can do this."
Lucy sighed and withdrew her vectors. She regarded her nemesis for a while and then shook her head. "Alright, stump," she shook her head and crossed her arms. "You win this round."
The stump remained silent, ever defiant.
The backyard was only a part of her small Japanese house in the middle of forest on a mountainside in the middle of nowhere. For Lucy, it was the perfect place – nobody around for miles, just herself, her thoughts and the silence of the forest. Her house was tiny, but it afforded her all the comfort she required. Out here, she had finally fulfilled her greatest wish – to be left alone.
This place had been her home for many, many years now. She stepped over to the well where the bucket was still hanging from this morning's haul. Lucy splashed some water in her face to cool herself. The water in the bucket rippled for a moment before its surface regained its rest. For a moment, Lucy saw her own reflection staring back at her: A horned woman with long dark-pink hair and red eyes in her late twenties.
She looked away. At some point in her past, she had just stopped aging. The tragic events in Kamakura city happened almost seventy years ago now. So long ago. Though Silpelits had a decreased lifespan, Diclonius Queens appeared to have a dramatically increased one. Lucy considered this to be one of the many jokes the universe had played on her.
Lucy decided to leave the stump for now and focus on some of other chores around the house. The roof needed mending before the next rain spell or she'd risk her tatami mats floating away. In fact, if she had removed that damn dead tree sooner, its branches wouldn't have come crashing through her roof in the first place. Thankfully, she had all the materials for a quick fix there at hand.
But first, a break. She'd been struggling with the dead tree all morning and she didn't even have time for some tea. Lucy went inside, quickly prepared a pot and went outside again to sit on her porch and enjoy her solitude.
All alone. Nobody else around for miles. Just sitting there, enjoying a delicious cup of green tea on her very own property.
It took a moment for Lucy to register the sound coming from the fence she had put up to keep the wild animals out of her crops. Her brain processed the sound and decided it sounded remarkably like the cheerful young voice of a human child coming from behind her.
Startled, Lucy twisted around and, indeed, saw a happily smiling young boy about six years of age leaning over her fence slightly.
She never got visitors. Never ever. Which is why she had chosen this place to live in the first place.
Appearing much like a deer in the headlights, Lucy simply stared at the boy in stunned silence until she suddenly remembered where she was. She acted on instinct and grabbed the nearest object to try to hide her horns quickly. Unfortunately, it was a small burlap sack she had used to contain the dirt she had swept from her porch earlier. Lucy coughed as she found herself covered with sand, twigs and soot.
The boy giggled in joy at Lucy's antics. The bag was dropped to the ground as she stepped to the well.
"Why'd you do that?" the boy asked.
Lucy, embarrassed to the bone, fought the urge to twist the boy's head off then and there. "Because… I… wanted… to," she hissed. Lucy dipped her hands in the bucket and splashed water in her face to clean off the mess.
Despite the anger aimed at him, the boy remained friendly. "Whatcha doin'?"
"Look!" Lucy narrowed her eyes. "This is private property! Go away!"
The boy cocked his head. "No," he said defiantly. "This is the forest and it belongs to everybody!"
"Figures you'd be a mini-lawyer."
"Why are you so angry?" the boy asked sincerely. "Aren't I nice?"
"Because you startled me! You shouldn't sneak up on people like that! It could get you killed!" Lucy snapped. What if she had lashed out with her vectors on instinct? What if she would be staring at this poor boy's decapitated corpse right now? What if...
The boy ignored both the subtle threat and Lucy's contemplation. "I'm Reji from Tokyo."
"Good for you, Reji from Tokyo," Lucy repeated while shaking her head to remove the dust from her hair. "Now, what are you doing all alone in the middle of the forest? And, more importantly, why the hell are you bothering *me*?"
"I'm here with my mummy and daddy! We're here on vacation! And now I'm exploring."
"Ugh," Lucy grunted. These days, it was fashionable for families living in densely populated cities like Tokyo to go out into the woods to 'roughing it in nature', far away from the fast-paced city life. Apparently, the parents had set up camp near her house. It was inevitable, she supposed. Just bad luck.
"What's your name?" the boy asked.
Lucy could barely contain her irritation. "If you must know, it's Lucy."
"Lucy?" the boy let the foreign name roll over his tongue. "That's not Japanese, is it? Is it English? Are you from America? You don't look American. Though you could have an American mommy or daddy. Do I talk too much? People say I talk too much. I don't think I talk too much."
"Lucy is not my real name," Lucy shrugged. "It's just the name I use. And you *do* talk too much."
"What's your real name?" the boy asked innocently.
Lucy was about to growl an angry response to him, but simply couldn't. I was a simple question, which had no easy answer. "I don't remember," she responded. An honest, if painful reply.
"You're a Diclonius, aren't you?"
Lucy sighed again. "Yes," she replied. "I would think the horns are a dead giveaway."
"Make something move with your vectors!" the boy cheerfully asked.
"What?" Lucy narrowed her eyes. "No!"
"Awwww, come on!"
"Look, I am a person and not a performing circus-bear!"
The boy sniffed and looked at her with sad eyes, making Lucy shake her head in defeat. "Okay, but if I do, you need to promise me to go back to your parents. Is it a deal? I amuse you for a few seconds, then you bugger off."
"Promise!" Reji nodded.
Against her better judgment, Lucy reached out to a piece of wood with one of her vectors and made it float in front of the boy. "There," she said. "Happy now?"
"Can you juggle those logs with your vectors?" Reji asked eagerly.
"Are you high? NO!" Lucy narrowed her eyes. "Now, keep your promise. Go back to your mommy and daddy and leave Lucy alone."
"Okay," the boy seemed a little deflated as he turned to leave and Lucy was feeling immediate relief.
"See you tomorrow!" Reji waved back before running into the forest.
"Crap," Lucy whispered to herself. But she had no time to dwell on it - it was time to go mend the roof.
The next morning, Lucy had gotten a lucky break. When she had checked her snares in the forest, she found that she had caught two rabbits. The rabbits were hanging above the porch awaiting their date with a lovely stew for dinner later tonight.
Still, it would be a busy day. Lucy had to tend to her crops and finish mending the roof, since the branches which had fallen off the sick tree had done quite a bit of damage to her house. She put the ladder to the roof and climbed up. Her toolkit and the replacement tiles were still there so she could continue immediately.
From the roof, she had a lovely view of her life's work – it had taken near constant upkeep, but she had several small fields at the east side of her house where she grew her own crops. Combined with her snares and the occasional hunting trip in the forest, she could sustain herself and be mostly self-sufficient.
It wasn't until she managed to procure one of those small portable home-microfusion reactors some odd forty years ago that her house actually got any power. Hers was an older model and it wasn't attained 100 percent legally, but this was so far out in the sticks nobody'd ever find out. It was nice to have lights on at night, or warmth from an electric heater and blanket in winter, and, most importantly, to have a small computer for entertainment and internet access.
But, no time to dwell too long. There was work to be done. She took a mouthful of nails and started placing the new tiles.
Lucy did manage to keep track of what happened in the rest of the world and was mostly interested in the plight of the Diclonius. Thankfully, Diclonius were no longer mistreated. About 5 percent of the world's population were Diclonius now and rather than killing them at birth or locking them up for heinous experiments, they were sent to special schools to learn them to control their urges so they could live among humans peacefully. Today, Diclonius were able to shape their own destinies. Though they were especially valued in areas such as construction or security, every field was open for them – they could be teachers, engineers, scientists, even politicians. It pleased her greatly that the Diclonius of this day and age had so much more opportunities compared to the past.
Some twenty years ago small group of silpelids with a keen business sense had decided to start a company which hired out Diclonius bodyguards for VIP's and special events. With success. Today Diclo Security was a worldwide corporation which employed tens of thousands of Diclonius. And for good reason - few people had the courage to start any trouble when there were Diclonius guarding the premises. This was just one of the many examples of Diclonius making their way in the world.
Of course, just like humans, some Diclonius turned or crime or suffered from insanity. There were locked up in a facility not unlike the research center she had been a 'guest' in, and only rehabilitated if it was deemed possible. Lucy supposed it was necessary, but it still left a bad taste in her mouth.
"Miss Lucy!" sounded from the edge of the fence. "Miss Lucy! Are you here? Miss Lucy!"
"Ugh," Lucy closed her eyes and counted to ten. "Reji!" she replied. "I'm up here."
"Whatcha doin'?" Reji looked up and stared at Lucy on the roof.
"Making sure my futon doesn't get wet when it starts raining," Lucy called down.
When push came to shove, Lucy simply wasn't used to being around strangers. Other people made her feel uneasy. About three of four times a year, Lucy would make a trek into town some miles away to pick up supplies she needed or to trade her surplus. To the outside world, she was just another crazy hermit… but then again, she wasn't the only one in these parts who had withdrawn to the depths of the forest to disappear. No questions were ever asked.
"Watcha doin'?" Reji asked again.
"Didn't I just tell you?" Lucy frowned. "Hey, make yourself useful and put some more of those tiles in that bucket over there."
Reji climbed over the fence and found the bucket. After putting some more wooden tiles the bucket, Lucy used one of her vectors to lift it off the ground and put it on the roof. Too late, she realized what effect that had on Reji.
"AWESOME!" Reji raved. "I so wish I could do that!"
Lucy continued fixing the roof. The work was finished quickly and Lucy jumped down. She would use her vectors to get the left-over tiles and the tools later as she didn't want to encourage the boy any further.
"You know, nice people offer their guests a drink," Reji hinted.
Lucy grumbled and stepped inside the house.
"Do you have coca cola? I love coca cola. My parents won't let me drink coca cola because it's too sugary, but I love coca cola. Boy, I sure could use a can of coca cola right now. Hm, coca cola is so yummy."
"I have a pot of tea," Lucy called back out. "That's all I ever drink."
"Awwww," Reji pouted, but took the tea.
Lucy sat in silence while Reji drank his tea. Every so often, the boy look up to her as if expecting a response, but Lucy was not forthcoming.
"Why do you live here all alone?" Reji asked.
"Because I like it here. It's private. And quiet," Lucy replied. Reji didn't get the non-too-subtle hint.
"Don't you get lonely?"
Lucy looked away. "I don't need other people."
"Doesn't your family miss you?" Reji asked.
Lucy closed her eyes. "I have no family."
"Nobody who likes you? Or someone you like?"
"They're either all very old or dead," Lucy shrugged. "And he was better off without me anyway."
Reji cocked his head and regarded her oddly. "My mother says it's not nice to tell lies."
Lucy grimaced. Was she really that transparent? "And I'm telling you it's not nice to accuse other people in their own home!"
"Sorry," Reji offered a smile. "You just seemed very sad for a moment, that's all."
"I guess I really am that transparent," Lucy muttered to herself, earning herself a weird look from her young guest.
"What's transparent mean?"
"Not important, kid," Lucy sighed.
Reji held up his cup for another fill. After Lucy had poured him another cup, Reji's endless questioning continued. "What do you do all day?"
"Oh, there's always work to be done. Sowing, plowing, taking care of the crops, hunting, setting snares, upkeep for the house, feeding the chickens…"
"No, I meant for fun!"
"Got a computer in there," Lucy shrugged. "Can download everything I need."
"Don't you ever go play outside?"
"Hah!" Lucy smirked. "Why should I want to when I have the internet?"
Reji frowned for a moment. "Okaayyy…"
"Okay, pipsqueak," Lucy said. "Time for me to ask *you* some questions for a change."
"I'm thinking! I'm thinking, don't rush me! Okay, I got one… What to kids play with these days?"
"Baka-baka Laserbot Hamster MegaSquad Bomb action figures, of course! They're awesome!" Reji raved. "It's the coolest anime ever!"
Lucy rolled her eyes. "I'm sorry I asked now. Do you have a lot of those things?"
"Yeah, I even got my sister to play with them. She likes dolls more, but I think dolls are dumb," Reji shrugged.
"Are you nice to your sister?" Lucy asked.
"Always! She's always so nice and funny and cool. Even though she's a girl and has cooties!" Reji said resolutely as he crossed his arm.
Lucy snorted for a moment. "You know, that's just a myth. Girls don't actually have cooties."
"Of course *you*'d say that! You're a girl yourself!" Reji stood up and pointed accusingly. "You have cooties too!"
"Ouch," Lucy laughed. "And here I thought these horns on my head were my only problem. Now I'm stuck with cooties too?"
"Yeah!" Reji nodded. "Because you're a girl!"
"Does your mom have cooties? She's a girl."
"Of course my mom doesn't have cooties. She's mom!" Reji stated defiantly.
Lucy snorted again as she leaned back in her rickety old chair on the porch. "Can't argue with that logic. So, why don't you bring that sister of yours with you next time you come around?"
Reji looked distant for a moment. "Yumi nee-sama… isn't with us. I, uh, I think I gotta go. Mom might be worried." And as quickly as he had appeared, the boy was gone.
Lucy frowned for a moment, then shrugged. She still had food to prepare, after all, and rabbit stew didn't fix itself. She deftly started skinning the two rabbits with her vectors and prepared to remove the innards.
Suddenly, she was overwhelmed with what could have been if she had only walked through that gate on that fateful day so long ago. She standing next to Kouta at the Christmas tree. Love allowed to flourish. Laughing with friends and family. A first kiss in earnest. Deepening love. Spending their first night together. Marriage. Beautiful children. A peaceful, happy life. What could have been.
Lucy supported herself on the side of the well as her body wracked with involuntary sobs.
Lucy wiped the sweat from her brow as she worked in her field in the hot noon sun. Turnips, collards, even some wild strawberries, were doing quite well. She had to keep her field free from weeds which was one of her daily chores. After that, she checked the larder for any sign of vermin out to eat her hard-earned meals. Self-sufficiency was gratifying, but utterly time consuming.
And then there was still the matter of the roof. To completely close the hole, she would have to apply tar to the newly placed tiles. Unfortunately, she didn't have tar on hand and would have to get some in the nearby village. It was a trip which she was utterly dreading.
But then there some the unfinished business about that annoying stump.
Lucy got to work and used a shovel to loosen the soil around the stump, hoping that she would be able to dislodge it this time. She braced herself, extended her vectors and clamped them around the stump, pulling with all her mental might.
The stump didn't budge.
So Lucy pulled harder... and harder... and harder.
"Gaaaaaarrrrrrrgh!" Lucy groaned in frustration and fell forward onto the stump, utterly exhausted. She panted and remained lying on the stump, deciding that she had earned a rest.
Two-nil for the stump.
And where was the boy?
She thought it was odd as Reji-kun usually turned up much earlier than it was now. Lucy briefly wondered if something had happened to him. This forest had some pretty dense parts, after all. It was easy to get lost.
And there was the occasional bear and wild pig. Not creatures a young child would want to mess with ever.
Lucy was getting slightly concerned for Reji at this point, and wondered if she should go look for him. Over the years, she had become a good tracker and she knew these woods better than anyone.
Just as she was about to get up, she heard a familiar voice coming from the fence.
"Miss Lucy! Miss Lucy!"
She let out a sigh of relief. "You're late," she spoke.
"Resting," Lucy sighed as she raised herself from the stump. "Can't you tell?"
"You are lazy," said Reji.
"You have no idea," Lucy smirked. "Cup of tea?"
"Miss Lucy still hasn't got any coca cola?" Reji asked hopefully.
Lucy laughed shortly. "Sadly, my well only produces water, not cola."
"Sucks," Reji pouted.
A few moments later, they sat together on the porch, each relaxing with a cup of green tea.
"I have pictures!" Reji said, taking a small pad from his backpack. The pad was a small computer which could display holographic 3D images. Reji pressed a few buttons and soon appeared a hologram of himself and his family. "This is us at the zoo. That's a panda."
"I know what a panda looks like, you know?" Lucy smirked.
"And that's a wolf!"
"No, that's a kangaroo."
"Hm? Are you sure?"
"I'm pretty wolves don't have legs and long necks like that," said Lucy. "Oh, do you have any pictures of elephants? I love elephants." She smiled at herself - one of the few decorations she had in her house were wooden carvings of elephants.
Reji punched at the pad and produced a photo of an elephant used at the zoo for kiddie rides. The gentle giant was unperturbed by his passengers, two children. One child Lucy recognized as being Reji, the other was a slightly older girl with distinct red eyes. The girl wore a nice frilly dress and a purple bonnet covering most of her head. Both children were really enjoying themselves on top of the elephant.
"Is that your sister?" Lucy asked.
"Yeah," Reji looked crestfallen. "That's Yumi nee-sama."
"She looks happy," Lucy said.
"I, uh, I gotta go," Reji said. "See you tomorrow!"
And then, as suddenly as he appeared, Reji was gone again.
"Was it something I said?" Lucy told no one in particular.
But there was no time to dwell on things. In fact, she had so much work to do she would be busy until far into the afternoon, and after that, she headed towards town.
After a somewhat long but enjoyable walk through the forest, Lucy arrived at Sotoba. Sotoba was a standard Japanese farming village, small but populated enough to warrant the presence of all matter of shops.
She wore a long brown raincoat with a high collar and a floppy hat which covered her horns quite effectively. Though Diclonius were more accepted now, Lucy wasn't about to take any chances.
The sun was setting already and most villagers had already gone home. Even though the streets were clear and her passage was barely noticed, she felt very nervous. Her gaze shifted from left to right whenever she heard or saw something odd.
At times like this, she could still feel the Other crawling in the back of her mind, begging her to kill and destroy. The Other was always with her, in some form or another, but she kept the Other firmly under control. She was no longer a weak and confused child to be manipulated by the Other. Now, she forced the Other into submission and pushed it back into dark deep recesses of her mind.
She had often wondered if the Other really was a manifestation of the Diclonius manifest destiny to destroy mankind, but now that she had learned that it was perfectly capable for Diclonius to live in harmony with humans, she had come to believe that the Other simply was some form of madness given shape due to mistreatment in her childhood, much like Nyuu was.
Lucy finally arrived at the general store and ended her macabre train of thought. Though the store was already closed, she had emailed the shopkeeper before leaving. Since he lived above the store, it was a small matter for him to let her in.
After ringing the doorbell, she had to wait for a few moments till Kanazu-san opened the door for her.
"Lucy-san," he smiled. "So nice to see you again."
"Thank you," she said, almost a whisper.
Kanazu-san was middle-ages, slightly overweight and always smiling. Lucy didn't trust him, but then again she didn't trust any human. However, he had always given her a fair price for her surplus and treated her well.
"I have your tar right here," said Kanazu. "Are you sure you don't want me to bring it to your place? Uhm, if I can find your place, that is. It's really heavy."
"I'll manage," said Lucy. As soon as she was out of sight of the village, she would use her vectors to lift the heavy bucket as if it were as light as a feather.
She bid her goodbyes to Kanazu, eager to leave Sotoba behind and return home. But before she left, she turned to him one more time. "One more thing..."
With a sigh of relief, Lucy switched off her computer. She'd spent her morning watching a rather mediocre American science fiction film which had been horribly dubbed in the Japanese language. While mourning ninety minutes of her life which she would never get back, she decided to start the working day by once again trying to remove that stump from her yard.
Like two days ago, she stood with her back against the wall of her house and reached out with her vectors. The vectors mercilessly cut into the wood for a firm grip and soon enough, Lucy was trying to rip it from the ground.
She grunted from the sheer pressure, but even her powerful vectors were no match for the stump. Though admittedly, she was making progress as the stump had been lifted at least an inch from the soil. Encouraged by this success, Lucy increased the pressure, causing her body to shudder.
A sharp pain in her forehead followed. Lucy reached her hands up and felt blood gushing from both nostrils. A nosebleed like that was always a sign to stop using her vectors for a while.
She cursed under her breath and rushed inside to get a rag and some paper to clean up. Lucy wiped a rag across her forehead and watched her hands.
Hands covered with blood. Her own blood.
Reji's continued visits certainly had brought old memories to the surface. Memories she'd prefer to have kept buried.
Back to that night… on the bridge. Lucy remembered just standing there, facing a firing squad of special forces. She had been fully prepared to die there. The soldiers were afraid she would attack and fired wildly. Most bullets missed, but she could still feel the hot lead shredding through her flesh.
The soldiers threw everything they had at her. An explosion, the sensation of weightlessness and then slamming into the water below. The next thing she remembered was waking up in terrible pain. Somehow, she had survived the ordeal and had washed up on the beach some miles away from the bridge.
Lucy had spent the next moments in agony, tearing bullets and grenade shrapnel from her flesh with her vectors. Her injuries were terrible – a normal human would not have lived through the night. Fortunately, Diclonius heal quickly. Despite everything, Lucy was just grateful for not having regressed into being that brain-damaged twit Nyuu again.
Severely weakened, but alive, Lucy made her way back to Kaede house. She almost walked through the door, her beloved Kouta was mere meters away, almost close enough to touch. At the last moment, she decided to run away.
She had caused them enough trouble. The men who were after her, would find her there. And then her friends, her beloved, would be in danger. So she did the only thing she could – she left town.
The next few years she lived off the grid. Kurama had been right about one thing – the only reason they had found Lucy in the past was because she had left a trail of bodies behind her. Without such a gory path of breadcrumbs to follow, they had much more difficulty finding her.
So Lucy traveled aimlessly across the country, surviving on doing odd jobs for kind people who had some yen to spare. She lived this way for almost 3 years until she came across an abandoned house in the middle of a dense forest. It seemed like a nice place to live and, after making sure it was truly abandoned, she decided to squat it. Fortunately, the place even came with a set of moldy how-to books.
It look her long time to repair the house and an even longer time to learn how to hunt and grow the crops to be self-sufficient. It had meant that she had had to go hungry very often in those early days, but she persevered and rebuilt the lovely home she had now with her own two hands… with a little help from her four vectors.
Even though she learned that, over time, the Diclonius were less and less feared and more and more accepted into society, she opted to remain a hermit. The world belonged to the younger people now, and too much had happened to her to ever fit in completely.
"Miss Lucy?" sounded Reji's voice as he had suddenly appeared in her yard.
"Hm?" Lucy started. "Oh. What did I tell you about sneaking up on people?"
"Don't do it?"
"Exactly," Lucy cocked her head sideways and smiled slightly. "So, coca cola?"
Reji gasped. "You have coca cola?"
"Well, uh, I had to be in town to, uh, pick up more roof fixing stuff," Lucy replied quickly while heading into the house. "And I happened to come across a convenience store and… look, I just happened to be in the neighborhood, okay? It's not like I did it for *you* or anything!" Lucy looked away from Reji.
Lucy tossed the eager Reji a can while cracking one open herself. The two sat down on the porch and enjoyed their cola together.
"Aaaaah, this is great!" Reji smiled.
"So, why do you hang out with an old lady like me?" Lucy asked. "Wouldn't you rather be playing?"
Reji looked away sadly. "I want to play with my onee-sama. We always played outside when the weather is good."
"That's twice you've brought up your sister. You're not getting away from me this time. Where is she now?" Lucy asked, but immediately regretted asking the question when she saw the look in Reji's eyes. "Oh, she's not… dead, isn't she?"
"No, no," Reji shook his head. "Yumi nee-sama… she's. She's like you. With horns."
Lucy closed her eyes and nodded. "Ah. I see." Suddenly, Reji's continued visits started to make sense.
"Yumi nee-sama wasn't any different than me at first. She just had horns, nothing special. We always slept in the same room and she let me have the top bunk. Then one day, she told me she could do something cool… and she made a pencil float."
Lucy nodded. "Her vectors awakened."
"It was our secret for a while. Then one day, we were eating dinner and she said she could do a trick. Then Yumi nee-sama moved the plates around without touching them and giggled all the time. Then my mom got really scared and called someone on the phone. Some people came to our house next day and talked to my mom and dad. And a few days later they took her away to some sort of school. Now we can only see her a couple of times a year. She says likes it there, but she looks so sad and she misses us and we all miss her. They give her pills that make her sleepy all the time," Reji sniffed. "Only because she has horns."
Lucy hesitated for a moment, but then placed a hand on Reji's back. "Reji," she started. "It's a good thing that she's at that school."
"They'll learn her things. Important things. You see, we Diclonius. We…" Lucy searched for the words. "… we tend to do before we think. And when you have the power to kill people with a thought, that can be very dangerous. Your sister has to learn to control her powers. So that she won't hurt people. That's why they give her pills. It makes it harder for her to use her vectors."
"Yumi nee-sama would never hurt us!" Reji protested angrily.
"Reji," Lucy said softly. "If we… if she were to get very, very upset, she could lash out and kill the people she loves without meaning to. She'd regret that for the rest of her life. And then she'll be taken to a very bad place."
Reji looked up at Lucy for a moment, searchingly.
"Miss Lucy?" Reji asked. "Did you ever hurt someone?"
The question hit her like a sledgehammer to the gut. "Yes," she answered honestly. "Yes, I have."
"Were they bad people?"
"Some of them."
"Did they take you to a bad place?"
Lucy closed her eyes and before she could stop herself, her mind assaulted her with imagines of what happened to her at the research facility – being tied to the research table, seeing the metal ball heading towards her face, being sprayed with a hose, the researchers taking what seemed to be an endless amount of tissue samples, scalpels cutting into her flesh. Smell, sounds and sensations came back as if it happened yesterday. "Yes," she whispered. "Yes, they did."
Lucy cracked open another can and took a sip. "When I was younger, I was a person with so much anger inside of me. And people I loved paid the price."
Despite of herself, Lucy smiled and ruffled Reji's hair with one of her vectors, making the boy giggle. "In a few years, your sister will come home. And she'll never hurt you, or anyone else out of anger. Then your Yumi nee-sama can do with her life whatever she wants, and she'll have people who love her. Luckier than I was at the time."
"You can't be a bad person," Reji stated.
"You didn't see me back then," Lucy closed her eyes. "My anger destroyed me and everything I loved. Fortunately, I'm now only angry at that goddamn stump over there."
Reji watched the stump for a moment. "Idea!"
Lucy watched on when the boy ran to some left over boards, picked them up and lay them on the stump. After arranging the boards, he turned about to Lucy. "See? Now the stump is a table. And now you don't have to be angry anymore!"
Lucy shook her head and smiled. "Kid, you're alright."
Reji beamed with pride at the compliment.
"So," Lucy started. "I have a particularly awful space movie on my computer. Want to watch it and make sarcastic comments with me?"
The next day, Lucy was hammering some nails into the stump to keep the boards permanently in place. She'd still have to topcoat the boards to protect them from the weather, but for now, it would serve as a particularly adequate table.
"Miss Lucy! Miss Lucy!" sounded coming from the gate. Lucy looked up and saw Reji and an older woman standing next to him, undoubtedly Reji's mother. Lucy's old insecurities came back and instinctively moved to cover her horns.
"This is my mom!" Reji announced.
The woman was holding a small wrapped gift and bowed politely. "You must be the Lucy-san my boy has told so much about. I am Takada Megumi. Reji-kun never speaks of anything else for the past days."
Lucy nodded in response. "He's a good kid," she said and used her vectors to open the gate for them. Takada-san seemed startled by this for a moment, but it passed.
"I wanted you give you this small gift to thank you for talking to Reji-kun," Takada-san said as she passed through the gate.
"Oh, thank you, but it's not necessary."
"I beg to differ," Takada-san said. "Your words have been very important to him and to our family."
"Ah," Lucy nodded. "It's because I'm a Diclonius, isn't it? Like your daughter?"
Takada-san closed her eyes. In the background, Reji had started an intense examination of the table Lucy was building. "Yes," she said. "Reji-kun's been trying to make sense of it all and... well, there's not many Diclonius living in our neighborhood and those that do keep to themselves."
"We knew we had to put Yumi-chan in that special school at some point. And Yumi nee-sama and Reji-kun were so close. He's been taking it very hard."
Lucy watched Reji as he inspected the new table. "I can't imagine you took it easy as well. Reji-kun told me you are loving parents."
"It's hardest for Yumi nee-sama. Our little girl. They say she's a Queen."
Lucy nodded. "I see. Queens are still rare. I imagine people have been trying to contact you about it?"
"Indeed. Research institutes, hospitals, some weird private companies I've never heard of. Some universities even want to give her a scholarship in advance. I mean, she's just a little girl! It's bad enough she's away from her family and she's probably frightened and confused enough as it is."
"They should shield her from all that at the school. Other Diclonius teach there. They know the drill. That's why they contacted you - the parents – instead," Lucy said.
Takada-san sighed. "Don't get me wrong. It's tempting. I mean, we don't earn all that much money, and a scholarship would make sure Yumi-chan would get a wonderful education. I just don't like the small print. I'm so scared they'll put her in a horrible place like they did sixty years ago. People say those kinds of places don't exist anymore, but..."
Lucy nodded. A few years after she had escaped, an investigative reporter had infiltrated into the Kakuzawa research facility and had secretly taped the atrocities performed on the young girls being held captive there. The footage found its way to the internet and the public eye.
She remembered what a scandal it had been when the Diclonius research facilities were revealed to the public. International pressure forced Japan to close every single one of them and a humane solution to the Diclonius problem became an international top priority as a result. Lucy wasn't naive enough to think Japan had been the only country with secret research facilities, but she was grateful for the end result - the suffering of those poor girls, and herself, had not been for nothing.
"The first year is the worst," Takada-san continued, interrupting Lucy's train of thought. "They'll allow her to come home more and more more often in the following years, but… it's still hard. If I may ask you an impertinent question, how did you parents deal with you, uhm, being a Diclonius?"
Lucy snorted. "Dunno. They abandoned me in a field with a packet of diapers to entice my next owner to keep me."
Takada-san blinked. "Oh my god, I'm so sorry."
"No worries. Not your fault," Lucy shrugged. "Not your fault. Besides, I was adopted eventually, when I was nineteen."
"Come again?" Takada-san blinked.
"Long story," Lucy shrugged. "Sounded funnier in my head just now."
"Anyway, I just wanted to thank you."
"We're going home tomorrow," Reji pouted. "I won't be able to visit you anymore. But we'll be back next year! And then Yumi nee-sama will be here as well. And we can both visit and you can meet her and play with us and have lots of fun!"
"Yay," Lucy hissed through clenched teeth. "Two little brats to contend with. Wonderful," she said, winking to a smiling Takada-san.
And so Lucy's first visitors ever left, leaving her to her solitude. And for the first time, the forest around her seemed deafeningly silent. Too silent.
'You know, Luce?' Lucy told herself mentally. 'You really *should* get out more.'