Author: Mazula PM
"It's rude to gape at people, you stupid-jerk." Were the very first words he said to Nuju when they first met. If only the circumstances were better, maybe then he could look back on that moment and laugh. But he can't. WARNING INSIDE! Rating may change.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Hurt/Comfort - Matoro Inika/Mahri & Nuju Metru/Hordika - Chapters: 3 - Words: 12,715 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 03-17-13 - Published: 02-05-13 - id: 8982174
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N~ Well you all HAD to see this coming. Yep, the origin story I have been DYING to write, the story of my take on how Nuju and Matoro first met and he became Nuju's apprentice. Granted it's not really a canon theory, but more of the story of how it would have happened in my verse! So please enjoy and give constructive reviews!
And like my 'Never Forget, Forgive, Forever' fic, this is going to be angsty later on. So fair warning, but it's mostly going to be a bit humorous in the beginning! Enjoy!
Song inspiration 'Prodigal' by 'One Republic'
Pr-ah-di-gall: Wastefully or recklessly extravagant; one who is wasteful; a waste.
Universe: AU, Humanized!Bionicle.
Characters: Matoro, Turaga (all), mentioned other Matoran.
Genre: Angst, humor, hurt/comfort.
This chapter takes place AFTER Matoro's death.
WARNING! For future usage of drugs and underage use of alcohol. You have been warned.
I'm on the road,
To who knows where?
Look ahead, not behind,
I keep saying,
"There's no place to go
Where you're not there,"
On your rope, I hold tight,
But it's freeing,
And I take everything from you,
But you'll take anything,
~Prodigal, One Republic.
Moving. It was probably one of the top ten most hated things for Nuju. And that's saying something, considering his lengthy list of dislikes. Granted it was considerably shorter than most people would think, but it was still a bit lengthy.
It was always such a hassle, and at least eight out of ten times, when he's unpacking, he's missing at least three or four items. And during the middle of packing, he needs to use something, but it turns out it's taped up and lost in a pile of boxes somewhere. Though surprisingly, the heavy lifting was no problem, considering his mask power. That was the only easy part about moving in his opinion.
But, easy or hard, it didn't exactly help his emotional state of mind like he thought it would…
'And here I thought packing would take my mind off of it…' Nuju thought. He sighed.
Of course it was never that easy. If it was, his life would be infinitely easier. He wished the fable that Ko people could turn their emotions off at will was true. If it was, then he could just turn his depression and anguish off like a switch.
But now, he had to live with this deep, throbbing ache in his heart. It made him wish he was as heartless as some made him out to be. But then…if he was heartless, he wouldn't be able to remember that boy fondly.
Nuju scoffed to himself. He wished he was heartless to get rid of this mourning pain, and yet he had no desire for it lest he forget that which was precious to him. He didn't know what he wanted anymore…
Nuju frowned to himself as he pushed another box aside to reach his storage closet. No, that was false too. He knew what he wanted. He wanted things to go back to the way they were. He wanted to see his boy again. He wanted…he at least wanted to say goodbye to him…
'The dead do not come back…' he had been repeating these words in his head for the past few days now. Since the day he had been told that he was dead…
So why couldn't he believe those words?
Startled, Nuju veered his head around to look behind himself. He sighed when he caught the sight of a familiar dark red jacket and faded red hair. He was at first confused as to why Vakama was here, but then he remembered the fire Turaga had offered to help him pack for their move back to Metru-nui. Of course, Nuju had declined; he knew Vakama was only using it as an excuse to watch him like a child during his time of mourning.
'Honestly, does he think I'm going to slit my wrists?' he thought. Although he wouldn't admit out loud that the thought had more than once crossed his mind…
Nuju sighed, "What is it Vakama?"
Tip-toeing over scattered boxes, both empty and full, Vakama stopped in front of his colleague, shifting his staff to his left hand.
"I was merely coming up to check on you. You've been awfully quiet…" he said.
Nuju resisted the strong urge to roll his eyes. Yes he was quiet, of course he was quiet. Did Vakama really expect him to be making much noise? He's putting crap in boxes, not dancing…
"I am fine Vakama…" he said curtly, turning back for his storage closet.
Vakama seemed to take on a dejected look, and Nuju was almost inclined to feel a bit guilty for his clipped tone. Almost.
He sighed again and rubbed his forehead, "I'm sorry…I'm just…"
"No, no, it's fine Nuju, really," Vakama said, waving a hand dismissively, "I'm not exactly expecting you to be your usual jolly self after something like this."
Nuju wasn't sure whether he should be insulted or amused by the statement. He chose the latter and cracked just the faintest smirk, tapping the handle of the closet with his index finger. Catching the telltale amusement, Vakama chuckled quietly to himself before nodding to the closet.
"What do you have in there?" He asked, hoping a subject change would lighten the mood.
Nuju shrugged, "Not a clue. I haven't seen the inside of this thing in years. Not since I first found…"
His words trailed off, as if his mind had wandered into a distant memory. And quite frankly, that's probably where it was, or so Vakama thought. He knew the look Nuju wore quite well. He always got that strange, hazy look in his ice-core eyes whenever he was remembering something about his lost translator…
The ice Turaga shook his head and turned the knob, opening the door…
And was then nearly pummeled by a rather large box on the top shelf.
"Gah!" he cried in surprise as the surprisingly heavy block of cardboard and tape slammed into the meet of his neck and chest, briefly winding him, and knocked him over.
"Nuju…!" Vakama startled, just as surprised from the avalanche of a box and other, smaller, items.
The icy Turaga growled in irritation, now leaning up against the hallway wall with the box sitting innocently in his lap. He scowled down at it, as it he expected it to apologize. Which it did not. If he was an any lesser being, he would swear it was mocking him actually.
Vakama wordlessly shoved away some of the junk and empty boxes waiting to be packed up so he could kneel beside Nuju.
"Are you alright? Nothing broken?" he asked in concern.
"Just my pride…and my patience." Nuju hissed, glaring at the odd box.
He raised a brow at it. It was a faded black, almost a dusty grey in color. It wasn't too heavy, but it wasn't exactly light either. It had a top lid instead of the four flaps of cardboard he was expecting, the lid itself old held onto the box by a piece of twine.
Blinking once, Nuju frowned curiously at the box. He in no way recognized it, nor did he recall ever keeping such a peculiar box. But then again, it's been ages since he last saw the inside of the closet it was kept in, so maybe he did use it at one point. It had a weight, so there was obviously something in it.
"Nuju?" Vakama inquired, a bit puzzled by his friend's curious expression.
Nuju ignored him and sat up straight, moving to sit on his knees and place the box in front of him. He reached out and un-twisted the twine on the lid. Once freed from the box, he brushed it aside and took the lid off.
He felt his breath catch in his throat.
Of course…now he remembered…
Vakama watched in slight astonishment as Nuju's once curious expression quickly fell and flitted through various other emotions. Shock, sadness, anger, remorse, and then settling firmly on a blank mask.
His orange eyes watched as Nuju's hands slowly, carefully, reached into the box and slipped under the folded black fabric he was able to make out inside of it. Gently gripping it, he lifted it up and out of the box. Vakama blinked in surprise at what was lifted out.
It was a black long coat with various dark blue belts and loops, a few of which ran across the chest. It was quite weathered and torn in various places, as if it had seen battle. But there was something oddly peculiar about it. It not only was not something Vakama would picture Nuju wearing, but he imagined he wouldn't exactly be able to get an arm into one of the sleeves anyways; it was far too small. It looked like it was once worn by a young Matoran, perhaps a teenager or youngling. A very skinny Matoran now that he was looking at its waistline.
Now curious himself, Vakama looked up at Nuju's blank face with a questioning gaze.
"What is this…?" he asked, a bit uncertain.
Nuju didn't answer right away. Instead, he turned the jacket around so he was looking at its back. Vakama felt himself hitch in a breath.
The back was completely in ribbons, and despite the dark color, Vakama would swear he could see blood on the tattered shreds. What exactly was this thing? Why did Nuju of all people have it in his closet? Wheredid he even get it!?
"Nuju, where in the name of Mata-nui did you-?" Vakama paused when he caught a glimpse of Nuju's eyes from behind his light glared glasses.
If one were to pay close attention, and if they knew Nuju for a certain amount of time, you can easily read the emotions he tries not to express reflected in his eyes. Try as he might, Nuju could not fully hide himself behind a stony facade. His eyes would always be his undoing if he did not catch himself in time.
Just like Matoro's eyes…
And right now, he could see something breaking in those eyes. Something small, almost insignificant, but to Nuju, it was obviously something dear and precious. It was warm and gentle, and yet, it was cold and harsh. It was being distorted by his bitter emotions, like a disease, a plague spreading across a single body as it writhed in agony trying to preserve itself. Trying to fight the stain upon its being…
And yet, it seemed like it was facing a losing battle. It was as if nothing, not even Nuju could fight against the disease known as grief. It planted itself into his fragile heart and rooted itself to his very soul, slowly growing and consuming all he once was. It would continue to grow and fester, until there was nothing left of the Nuju he once knew…
All that would be left was an empty shell.
Vakama felt a shiver run up and down his spine like a Jacobs Ladder. The mere thought of Nuju eating himself alive from the inside out with his own emotions was frightening. Thinking about what he could become in the end was even more terrifying though.
And all because he lost the one person who kept such seeds of despair out of his heart. The gardener that tended to his fragile emotions, who tore down the thickets of emotionlessness, and bravely tore away the thorns of doubt that would creep and crawl around his icy heart. But he was gone, and it seemed his death was nothing but fertilizer for all of the sadness and despair now festering in Nuju's body.
The once beautiful garden that was painstakingly, yet lovingly, cultivated in Nuju's heart would have been ravaged by those weeds. And yet, for some reason, this odd jacket was both bringing the old Eden back to life, and yet it was also fueling the dark and twisted flora trying to consume him.
It was baffling to Vakama. A simple, unknown article of clothing was making Nuju feel so many things all at once.
But…judging by its size, the torso length, and the waistline…
"Is…" he started hesitantly, "Is this…Matoro's?"
The sudden flash of cascading emotions in his eyes nearly made Vakama jump. He was honestly quite a bit concerned by all these feelings flashing in and out of Nuju's eyes. All brought on by either simple words or the jacket.
But it was obvious it was tied to both Nuju and Matoro. Nuju would never hold any other emotional connection to any item unless it was tied to Matoro, or his lost mentor, Ihu.
Releasing a shaky breath, Nuju lowered the torn jacket until his elbows were aligned with his waist, his face unchanging but his eyes expressing so much.
This time, Vakama did in fact jump a bit. He was astonished and worried, if not a bit startled now. It was extremely rare that Nuju would just outright talk! Since when did he start talking like this out of nowhere? Did the memory tied to that jacket really run so deep?
Was…was he really this distraught…?
Vakama dry swallowed as he tried to collect himself. He was somewhat torn between getting Nuju away from his little memory lapse in fear of him suffering, but he also wanted him to hang onto those unknown memories. Heaven knows he needs just a bit of hope in these times, despite the circumstances. Nuju needed something he could draw comfort from; and if he didn't want it from Vakama, the fire Turaga was not going to deny him getting it from painful reminiscing.
Although…he had to wonder…
"I never ah…" He started, uncertain, "Saw him wear it before. It doesn't seem like something he'd wear, actually…"
It…really wasn't, honestly. Vakama couldn't recall a time Matoro ever wore so much black or dark blue. He was such a bright, light hearted little thing, always donned in soft, light colors of white and light blues that matched his eyes. But this…the black, the dark midnight blue, all the buckles and chains; he could only imagine some street punk wearing it. And the torn hole in its back…
Nuju shook his head, "I'm not surprised," he started, "This is what he wore before he met you and the others…"
The icy man's eyes seemed to cloud over again, this time with a very indistinct haze. It was like he was looking into limbo, his very core at a stand-still with time itself.
"Before I brought him up to Mata-nui to join the others…"
Vakama felt a very strange sensation course from his stomach and up into his throat. It wasn't so much as a sick feeling, or an uncomfortable one, as much as it was just…strange. Almost uneasy, like he had just narrowly avoided something. It was quite a bit disconcerting.
'Wait, before he brought him to Mata-nui to join the others…?' he thought, eyes narrowing in confusion.
"You…say it as if he wasn't up here with us during the-"
"The move from Metru-nui to Mata-nui," Nuju interrupted calmly, "And you're right…"
Again, that odd feeling arises in Vakama's throat, and he can feel a small sense of impending dread rise within him.
"Are…are you saying Matoro wasn't with the Matoran we rescued?" he asked, now quite a bit uncomfortable, if not confused.
Nuju shook his head, "No, he was not," He said, then fixed Vakama a slightly unimpressed look, "You didn't notice how he just seemed to pop up out of nowhere when I first brought him around?"
Vakama was unsure if he should be relieved Nuju was acting like his old snarky self, or take offence. Though at the same time, he was contemplative.
Yes, Matoro did in fact kind of come in out of nowhere. When Nuju first introduced him to them as his translator and apprentice, he and the others were shocked to find he knew Nuju's language right off the bat. And yet, none of them could ever recall Nuju saying, or even hinting, of teaching anyone in the art of the bird language. The few times they have gone to his home, there was no sign of Matoro, or any hint of Nuju even looking for an apprentice.
At first they all thought nothing of it. Nuju was a very discreet man after all. For all they knew, he had been tutoring Matoro from the start and they just weren't paying attention.
But now that Nuju brought it up…
The mental image of a cartoon character hitting himself with a giant mallet with the words 'oblivious idiot' labeled on it suddenly came to Vakama's mind…
Next came the mental image of the mallet having the words 'wake-up call' on it. But he wasn't about to acknowledge that one.
But now Vakama was frowning in obvious confusion at the new information. They never questioned where Matoro had come from in the first place, and Nuju had openly admitted he wasn't in the ranks of Matoran they had rescued. This raised a question.
"Where was his pod then?" he asked.
Nuju quirked a snowy brow at him, unfazed, "I never said anything about him being in a pod."
If the fire Turaga gave any outward show of just how shocked he was by this, Nuju didn't say so. Although Vakama had a very sneaking suspicion he was doing a very good job in making himself look like an idiot. No self-respecting Turaga should ever experience this much shock and outwardly show it in the span of under an hour. It just wasn't proper!
Vakama suddenly startled a bit – this shock cannot be healthy – when Nuju suddenly sighed and stood up, setting the jacket into the box before picking it up in his arms. Without averting his gaze from it, he expertly weaved through the maze of boxes and items towards his living room. It took a moment for Vakama to process that he was, in fact, now alone sitting in a hallway before he got up and followed his colleague with much less grace.
If Dume were here, he would spit on how un-Turaga like he has been asking in the past twenty minutes…
He no sooner found Nuju sitting on the lone couch in what used to be a very pristine living room. The large den was mostly dominated by piles of boxes, a few propped up pictures and other wall décor, and of course the lone dark blue couch. The small coffee table that sat in front was piled on with only a small fraction of Nuju's vast collection of books. The rest took up the back wall in a surprisingly colorful array of book spines and titles.
Currently, whether subconsciously or not, the books on the table were being lifted telepathically and set down on the floor in stacks. The dark box was set onto the polished wood, other smaller items having been produced from it and set out. Sad to say Vakama was, once again, a bit disconcerted about the contents and…
Was that a gun?
'Since when has Nuju ever kept a gun!?' he thought a bit frantically.
"Ah…Nuju…?" he started a bit hesitantly.
"Hm…" was his distracted response.
"Can you please help me sort out the sudden chaos that is now my brain?" Vakama asked with a slightly clipped tone, "I am seriously a bit lost by all this information, or more lack thereof."
A moment passed where Nuju did nothing but just stare at the contents of the box now laying on the table. If Vakama wasn't so focused on the gun, he would have noticed the knife, the lighter, the rolled up case holding unknown items, the small metal case, the half of what was likely once a crowbar, and the few empty bullet shells now scattered on the table. But no, he was too focused on the damn gun.
A slow blink of ice-core irises later, and Nuju seemed to gain back some semblance of awareness. He was still holding the jacket in clutched hands as his head lifted to lock onto the back wall. He gently lowered the jacket into his lap, his hands still tense around it, but the rest of his body seemingly limp.
"Vakama…" he started, startling the other.
"In the cabinet behind you, there's a decanter and a few glasses," Nuju said calmly, leaning back into the couch, "Bring them here."
Vakama took a very brief moment to contemplate telling Nuju to get off his lazy ass and get them himself. Although, judging by the very discreet and very narrow gaze he was fixing that poor wall, this probably wasn't the time to be offended. Because if he decided to be stupid and voice this, that gaze would lock onto him, and then his head could possibly explode!
'I need to be doing other things besides hanging out with Matau on weekends…' he thought dejectedly.
None the less, he found the named cabinet with glass doors, all but some glasses and a single decanter packed up elsewhere. He grabbed two glasses and brought the decanter back to the table. He eyed the gold liquid inside of it with a raised brow. Nuju wasn't exactly one for alcohol, he rarely ever drank to begin with. He would have the occasional glass of wine at celebrations or events, but outside of that, he wasn't a drinker. Vakama couldn't ever recall a time where Nuju was buzzed, let alone drunk. It was making him wonder just how old the drink was, and therefore how potent it would be…
Well, if he didn't get answers, maybe they could at least get a bit buzzed and relax a bit.
He now wondered what kind of drunk Nuju would be…
Without saying a word, Nuju picked up the decanter, removing tis glass stopper, and filled one of the glasses. He tossed the first one back into his mouth, causing Vakama to wince slightly, before he filled it again along with the second. He motioned for Vakama to sit down as he crossed one leg over the other.
"Only Dume, the Rahaga, and I know of what really became of Matoro before he was brought to Mata-nui." He said, sipping his drink at a much more sedate pace.
Vakama cautiously sat beside him and picked up his own drink. He took a tentative sip and nearly choked; wow, this stuff was potent! He near felt like his throat had been burnt raw. How the hell did Nuju toss back that full glass and not pass out?
"What do you mean?" Vakama asked once he regained his bearings, "And why would they not tell us? Why would you not tell us?"
Nuju swirled his glass between his hands, his wrists perched his knees and over the jacket. He seemed to stare off a bit before he answered.
"Because Matoro made me swear not to tell you all…" he said quietly, "He was afraid you would treat him differently…and he was ashamed…"
Vakama blinks, "Ashamed? Whatever for? The boy was an angel, why would any of us ever look at him as anything but?"
Vakama could almost swear he saw a brief shudder run up Nuju's back. But it was gone in under a second. Nuju shook his head with a rueful smile.
"Oh if only you knew…" he said, shaking his head.
Vakama frowned slightly at the oddity of Nuju's expression, setting his drink down.
"I would like to know…" he started carefully, "What exactly happened? What is all of this anyways?"
He gestured to the items on the table with a sweep of his hand. Nuju followed his hand dazedly before fixing on the rout iron bar beside the box. He picked it up carefully and stared at its curved end.
"You know, he never went anywhere without this thing," he said, before he chuckled mirthlessly, "I can't tell you how many times he's nearly took my head off with it, intentionally or otherwise. Though usually it was on purpose."
Vakama felt like he had stepped into some other worldly dimension. It took every ounce of mental power for him to imagine Matoro wielding a weapon, and even more so in a threating way. He was not…no, scratch that, Matoro was incapable of seeming dangerous. Not possible. If Vakama couldn't see it in his head, it can't be done. And this was Matoro they were talking about, right? Or did they somehow get off track and were talking about some brutish Po-Matoran?
"Nuju, I would honestly appreciate some clarification here, as well as some sense," Vakama said, feeling a slight headache coming on.
Although the throbbing instantly vanished with the look Nuju fixed him with. It was a look one gets when they are plotting another person's death, and the fact that Nuju was holding a piece of a broken crowbar was not helping in his discomfort. It was probably worse that he didn't even turn his head to look at him, he just turned his eyes while his head remained looking ahead. It only made the look more intimidating…
"Um…" he started dumbly, "I did not mean-"
"You honestly want to know?" Nuju suddenly asked.
Vakama blinked, his expression openly stupefied; he looked like he had just been slapped. He was asking this now? After all of the obvious confusion, Nuju had to ask Vakama if he honestly wanted to know?
'Either the drink is stronger than I thought, or he doesn't want me to know about this.' He thought.
"Honestly Nuju, yes, I do want to know," he said, "But if it is something private…"
Nuju shook his head, "No…no, it's not so much as private as it is just…personal…"
"Isn't that all the more reason I shouldn't know?" Vakama inquired with a raised brow.
Nuju did not answer, instead he set the bar down and looked down at the jacket draped over his lap. He ran a finger over the torn and tattered collar, his other hand smoothing down one of the belts across the chest. His face suddenly became sullen, heartbroken.
It felt like the air had gone thick. It was a bit harder to breathe now, and a harsh weight was bearing down on Vakama's chest. And he didn't even know why! Is this what Nuju felt every time he saw something that reminded him of Matoro? How is he still in one piece?
"Nuju…?" he probed gently, now quite concerned for Nuju.
Biting his lower lip, Nuju clutched at the jacket.
"Matoro…" he started, "Matoro was…a very, very different person before I found him. He was…he was very hurt."
"Hurt?" Vakama inquired, "Like he was injured?"
"No," Nuju said, "Although, he would rather a thousand physical injuries to his body than the turmoil he went through."
The odd sensation Vakama had felt not even ten minutes ago once again washed over him. He was starting to wonder if Nuju had some other kind of power besides telekinesis. Like mental and emotional manipulation. It would explain a few things…
But as it stands, this was obviously something very deep, and therefore very personal to Nuju. Matoro may be dead now, but that didn't mean his memory had to die with him. Good or bad, he deserved to be remembered. And maybe it was his selfish curiosity, but he needed to know just what was playing out in Nuju's mind.
"Tell me what happened." He said quietly, but with a sense of finality.
Nuju gave Vakama an uncertain look. But the determination and sense of willing in his orange eyes seemed to give him some form of strength.
Drawing in a deep breath, Nuju sat back and recounted his tale…
To be continued…
A/N~ Ugh, first chapter. Took me a damn week to write this thing. And I STILL don't like how it came out! It seems to choppy to me, and it doesn't seem to flow as smoothly as I had hoped. Bah, whatever, the juicy stuff is to come later! XD