I Cannot Offer You Freedom

~*~

2:00 am. He yawned and stretched his arms as high as they would go over his head. His back cracked and he flexed long, nimble fingers tiredly. How did it get so late so quick?

Barely glancing at the screen, Michael stood up and yawned once again, rubbing eyes bluer then the sky; time to get some sleep. He walked out of the room and did not look back at the glowing screen, on which the picture of a smiling woman was displayed.

***

Politely covering her mouth with one petite hand, Robin yawned as she stepped out of the elevator. Glancing around, she was surprised to find that Michael was nowhere to be seen; ever since she had started working at the STN-J, Michael had always been hard at work long before her or any of the others. Of course, that was mostly due to the fact that he never left the building, the computer being his only link to the outside world.

The blonde-haired girl walked curiously over to said computer, her skirts swishing gently as she went. I wonder . . .

Sitting down in the chair that Michael usually occupied, she turned and focused her attention the screen. Inara Lee. A loud gasp escaped her lips as green eyes read the words displayed by the picture still on the monitor. Michael's . . . mother?! Quickly she scanned the article and discovered it was an obituary, and an old one at that. Reading the date, she noticed it was over three years ago and a choked sob escaped her lips. Poor Michael!

The woman in the picture had flaming orange hair, much like her son's, and she was smiling as if she shared a private joke with the cameraman, one that only they would understand. Her eyes were an alluring green; they danced and sparkled with an inner light that made Robin want to smile. She brushed her fingertips against the flat screen and sighed, sitting back in the chair. I never knew . . .

Startled at the sudden sound of footsteps she glanced up to find Michael walking slowly into the room, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Glancing up, their gazes locked for a single moment and Robin almost gasped again as she noticed the piercing blueness of his irises. It was rare to see Michael without his glasses and when you did, his eyes would catch you off guard with their brilliance. Almost like his mother's . . .

But as soon as their eyes fell, and Michael slipped his glasses back on, he let out a strangled noise and lept for the keyboard. Startled, Robin jumped up from the chair just as Michael hit a key and the screen before them went blank. Breathing harshly through his nose, he did not look at her.

"Michael." His name hung in the still air between them, humming with the silence. But still, he did not look at her even though she continued to watch him with eyes that could set a man on fire if she wished it so.

Sighing, he finally glanced up at her and she caught the flare of anger in his azure depths. "Michael," she said again.

"I don't want your pity!" His voice was loud, almost a shout and Robin took an involuntary step backwards. Her face twisted into a mask of perplexity but he failed to notice. "Just-"

But he was cut off by the arrival of a yawning Doujima. "Wow, we're actually on time for once," the hacker muttered under his breath, finally turning the screen back on, but quickly hiding his mother's obituary.

With one last glance, Robin turned and left him alone, wandering over to Karasuma as the brunette walked in; she was the only one of them that actually looked awake. Michael followed her slender form with stormy eyes, wondering just how much his coworker had seen. Sighing, he brought up the obituary once more, and the anger faded from his eyes, only to be replaced with a depthless pain.

Mother . . .