Disclaimer: Cyborg 009 belongs to me... not.
There was a soft click.
"In there?" asked a voice; its tone was small and unsure.
"Yes, you can go in, he is pretty harmless. Call me when you are done so I can come and lock him back." A second one answered with a casual tone, and then a pair of steps could be heard moving off.
A trembling hand reached for the door handle and turned it.
The sudden movement seemed to perturb the perennial quietness of the room; the curtains moved from the gust the heavy door had provoked at being open and the only window shook a little, along with the iron bars that protected it from the outsiders... or the insiders. But the only inhabitant seemed completely oblivious to the events.
She looked around; the morning light came in, bathing everything in deep, monotonous shades of gray, remembering her of the cold winter that waited for her outside the building.
The French sky was always gray in winter.
The place was almost empty, only the necessary was there, and maybe less than that; there was a chest of drawers rested against one of the white walls, also a single chair stood next to a small wooden table in the center of the room, and in the far corner there was a bed. He was sitting on it.
His back was bent, he was holding something between his wrinkled hands. It appeared he did not notice her presence, for he did not even look up when she closed the door.
She advanced forwards, slowly, but even her light steps perturbed the untainted silence, their echo traveled around the room, bouncing on the bare walls and returning to her. It kept ringing in her ears for some seconds before vanishing.
Was it really him?
She got closer and pulled that sole chair, placing it right in front of him and sitting on it. He did not flinch, he just kept looking at whatever he was holding in his hands.
"H-hi," she said with a timid voice, and then she decided to try again, after seeing how her call had gone unperceived.
"Hi." She repeated. There was no answer back. She sighed.
She looked at his worn out face; it was the same chin, the same cheeks, the same lips, the same noise. There was no doubt in her heart; it was him.
Or a shadow of him, she thought with bitterness as she clenched her jaw. She would not cry, not this time. Not when she had finally found him.
"Jean Paul." She spoke with a soft voice.
The name seemed to have some kind of effect on him, because he finally raised his head; deep purple rings adorned what --003 remembered-- were once his bright, joyous eyes.
"Jean, do you remember me?" she asked, although she had been warned about the uselessness of that question. But she didn't want to believe it. Maybe he would recognize her. After all, she was the reason of his state. Was not she?
'He doesn't know who we are, he can't recognize us, or anyone. Ever.' The nurse had told her.
For just a second, a light seemed to shine in his opaque blue eyes, but then, the moment was gone forever.
"I still have it..."
003 was startled, his response had caught her by surprise. Maybe not so the fact that he answered back, but the rasp tone of his voice; it was shaky and it almost appeared as if it hurt him to talk, as if he hadn't done it for decades. Probably it was that way.
"You still have what?"
Jean Paul apparently was interested in the chat, but it was developing in a different way in his confused mind. His eyes turned to the window.
"She forgot it when she left, but I kept it safe. How did she forget it? ...The silly girl."
"Uhm... who? Can you tell me?" 003 held onto the hope that he was talking to her, and not to some imaginary character in his head. He continued his rambling monologue.
"I told her to check over her luggage twice, so she wouldn't leave anything behind. I told her once and again, I told her."
Jean Paul started rocking, his white hair catching the sun rays for a second as he bent forwards, and losing them again as he went backwards. 003 suppressed the lump in her throat by trying to breathe deeply. After that she lowered her eyes to her lap, where her hands laid folded.
"...I remember, and I did it brother, just like you asked me to," she answered after regaining her voice, but still, it broke when it left her lips.
"She'll become famous, you know? She'll be the best ballerina of all times."
When 003 raised her head, she found his eyes fixed on her, but there was no sign of recognition. What could she do?
Nothing. At all.
"Really? She will?" she asked sympathetically.
"Yes. The greatest of all. It's the dream of my little sister."
Not any more.
003 felt like screaming out in frustration and grief. When she had found out about a certain Jean Paul Arnoul interned in a mental asylum in France, her heart gave a jump in her chest; her brother... Her only family in the world was alive! 60 years older than the last time she had seem him, but alive.
Now she wasn't sure if what he was going through could be called a life at all.
003 reached and grabbed one of his hands between hers, the other was clutching the mysterious object to his chest now. 003 noticed it was a piece of paper.
It looked like the sudden contact surprised Jean Paul greatly; his eyes went wide as he contemplated the slender hands holding onto him as if life itself depended on it. 003 wondered how long had it been since the last time her beloved brother had received a caress, a hug, any human touch. The dull pain that had taken her chest as a hostage increased. Her eyes started to water.
'He's been here for almost 55 years now, no one ever visits him, you are the first one.' She remembered the nurse's words.
Then, Jean Paul apparently was transported into another space and time as his face changed his serene, numb features, into a mask of despair. He clutched the paper closer to his chest, his other hand hung onto 003's with all its strength.
"I looked for her, day and night and day and I couldn't find her..."
003 joined her brows, her gesture matching his.
"I'm here Jean Paul, I came back." But he would not hear any of this.
"They said she never made it to the school, and the police looked for her, but she never was found! They said she died!"
"No no Jean, I didn't die! I'm here! Can't you see me?"
003 was now kneeling on the floor in front of him, holding his hand to her chest, her tears escaped her aqua eyes and dampened her pink cheeks.
Jean Paul's eyes looked in the verge of madness, his face was contorted in a painful grim.
"They told me to stop looking for her, but I didn't! She was alive somewhere and I knew it! How could I abandon her? How could I abandon my baby sister? She was going to be the best! The greatest ballerina of all times!"
"Oh J-Jean Paul!" 003 could no more, she wrapped him in a strong, desperate hug; her voice was drowned by her sorrowful cries. Her tears drenched his pajama.
"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! Forgive me, please!"
"...She didn't come back..."
"I did this to you! It's my fault!"
"...But I know she will, because I got it... She has to come back for it."
"I'm here! I'm here! Look at me Jean Paul!" 003 took her brother's face between her hands and forced him to look at her.
And then it happened; the light returned to his eyes, a feeble smile formed in his faded lips and a soft gesture took over his features. 003 saw this and she smiled back. The elder man then wrapped his arms around her and started stroking her back with tenderness, as if he were holding a small child.
He started singing at her in that rasp, old voice of his.
...Bonne nuit cher enfant
quand tu dors dans mes bras
le monde tourne en rond
et le jour reviendra
jours de larmes
003 held onto him even stronger, his hum making her feel safe and warm. It was the lullaby he used to sing to her.
Jours de peines
ou de joies.
Mais ce soir tu t'endors
comme un ange dans mes bras.
Bonne nuit ma belle Françoise...
She suddenly felt herself able to breathe normally; it was like if an immense burden had been lifted from her very soul. And then she let herself cry freely, like when she was a little girl and her brother would soothe her fears and make everything be alright just by holding her, like he was doing now.
"I still have it..."
And all too soon, the dream was shattered.
"What?" She raised her head from his chest. His hands were not holding her any more but were resting at his sides.
"She forgot it when she left, the silly girl."
"No... No Jean Paul, come back... Please..." She cupped his face, but her pleads were useless.
"I told her to check over her luggage twice..." his eyes were looking at the window again, but then they turned to the piece of paper he was still holding in his hand.
003 placed her hand over his and retrieved the paper from him, strangely, he didn't do anything to prevent it. 003 unfolded it.
The original color of the prints had vanished long ago, leaving in its place nothing but a blurry stain of browns, but it didn't matter; 003 recognized it right away.
It was the diploma that certificated her as student and new member of the Bennex Ballet Company.
"How silly of me... you're right, I forgot it, I... I placed it over the kitchen table so I wouldn't forget it when I left..."
For her, it felt like if it had happened yesterday. She closed her eyes and the remaining tears slid down her reddened face. Jean Paul just looked at the window, mumbling.
"She'll come back for it, I still have it... My little sister will be the greatest of all, just wait and see..."
003 just contemplated him; there was no hope, no rest, no closure. Nor for him neither for her.
She finally raised, a perturbing, serene masquerade had fallen upon her, but nothing would take away the asphyxiating pain that was piercing her heart.
She placed the diploma back into his hand and caressed his forehead, planting a kiss on it. Jean Paul did not register it.
"I have to go now, big brother."
"...Mom and dad would be so proud of her..."
"I'll come back and visit you."
"...I still have it. I do."
"...The silly girl forgot it..."
003 could not stand one more second in that room; she headed to the door and opened it, but she turned around before leaving.
"I love you Jean Paul."
She didn't really expect the answer that never came. At last she left the room and closed the door.
009 had been waiting in the car for almost half an hour. He had wanted to accompany 003, but she had refused. It was understandable.
He then saw her making her way through the snow in the parking lot; her head was lowered, her stroll was unsteady.
003 reached the car and opening the door, she got in, not saying a word, not even looking at him.
"003, are you alright?"
She only shook her head.
"Did you find him? Was he your brother?"
She nodded and a single tear sparkled on its way down her face.
"What happened Francoise?"
She burst, she just couldn't hold it any more.
"Damn! Damn him! I hate him I hate him!" she screamed as her fists smashed furiously against the dashboard. Drops of blood splattered the crystal as her knuckles hit the hard material.
"I hate him!"
009 knew she could feel hate for only one person in the whole world; Black Ghost.
He took her hands in his, preventing her from hurting herself any further and then he cradled her in his arms, caressing her head and whispering softly to her ear.
"S'ok Koishii... S'ok... let it go... I'm here for you... I'm here."
She let herself cry, she did not know for how long, and frankly, she did not care.
After a long, deep sigh, she separated form him at last and he planted a light kiss on her cheek, handing her a napkin for her swollen red eyes and puffy face.
"Wanna talk about it?"
"Will you tell me later?"
009 expected for her to say something else, but she did not. She just kept her head low as she held her arms around herself.
"Are you ready?" he asked, his hand on the car keys.
003 looked for a last time at the red bricked building and for a moment, she thought she saw a silhouette standing at his brother's window, but a second latter, it was gone.
She finally nodded and 009 started the motor.
The car drove away of the mental institution, but her mind couldn't get away from that white room and the man trapped in it. How could she ever smile again?
A/N: and this is what my last night insomnia turned itself into. I really hope you liked it. Please review and share your opinion with me.
I want to dedicate this fic to GoldAngel2 and Shary. I really appreciate you very much girls! By the way, English is not my first languaje so forgive any mistake.
The French lullaby says:
Good night dear child
when you sleep in my arms
the world turns in round
and the day will return
days of tears,
days of sadness
But this evening you fall asleep
like an angel in my arms.
Good night my beautiful Francoise.
I know that it is impossible for Jean Paul to be alive, or he wouldn't have been able to guide Joe to Fancoise on "Christmas Eve Mirage" So let's say this is an AU.
Also I am not completely sure about the time 001-004 were in cryogenic state, some say 40 years, some say 60. I took my chances with the 60 theory.