Written for the Pyunma Challenge at the cyborgfiction livejournal community, which I shall shamelessly plug. The challenge was to write a short fic involving Pyunma before August 20th, his Birthday. This was my first (completed) Cyborg fanfic, so be nice to it.
Disclaimer: None of the characters/events/plots from Cyborg009 belong to me… Darn.
The Perfect Birthday
You could say one thing for the people of Muamba; they sure knew how to throw a party when the situation called for it.
After years of slavery under a dictatorship followed by months of drought and hitting bedrock in the mines, his homeland hadn't had much to celebrate in a very long time. They'd never given up, however, and finally their efforts had been rewarded when the geologists had found a new vein of Metal X. Almost as if to truly confirm their luck was finally beginning to change, on the same day the sky had reluctantly given up the first shower of the rainy season. It hadn't been much, but to the starved people of Muamba it was a welcomed blessing.
The clouds still hovered threateningly overhead, though it was difficult to tell against the night sky. Every light sprinkle of rain was just met with more enthusiasm from the gathered crowd, and it looked as though the festivity would last all through the night. It was as though years of suppressed emotion had come to the surface, and each and every person was determined to release it by partying as hard and as long as they could.
They deserve it, Pyunma though fiercely. We deserve it.
He glanced around from his quiet perch on the fringe of the campfires. Most of the people he was unfamiliar with, but intermixed with the villagers he could pick up the faces of the rebels he had worked with before Black Ghost. Even more obviously, he could see his fellow cyborgs mixing and mingling with the crowd, standing out by virtue of the red and gold uniforms. He was pleased to note that they weren't being treated like outsiders, but mingled easily with the people of Muamba.
"So this is where you've been hiding." Pyunma blinked in surprise at the nearness of the voice. He glanced up to see Kibori smiling down at him. The former leader of the rebels sat down beside him, sitting shoulder to shoulder in wordless companionship.
After a minute, Pyunma broke the silence. "I'm not hiding. It's just… it all seems so surreal, y'know? Like any moment I'm going to wake up and it won't be true."
Kibori grinned widely. "I don't think you need to worry about that, my friend. This is as real as it gets."
As if to punctuate his sentence, the sky opened up once again, letting forth another shower of life-giving rain. The bonfires hissed in displeasure, but the people cheered, stretching their hands towards the heavens and not caring at all about getting wet. Pyunma felt a trickle of water run down his neck and allowed Kibori's contagious smile to find its way onto his own face.
Scratching his chin with exaggerated casualness, Kibori glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "This is for you, incidentally," he said offhandedly, handing over a simple, well-worn wineskin. "Happy birthday. I hope you didn't think I'd forgotten."
"You never told us it was your birthday, 008." Francoise piped up, having been close enough to hear the comment. The pretty blonde looked slightly scandalised, "We could have organised something for you."
"You should have given us a bit more notice," Chang said, looking equally upset. "I would have stocked up on more food for a proper feast."
"It's not necessary, really," Pyunma tried to say, but the others weren't having any of it.
"Of course it is!" GB, seemingly appearing from nowhere, dropped down on Pyunma's other side and put his hand around the aquatic cyborg's shoulders companionably. "What kind of a family would we be if we didn't throw you a proper party?"
"A less embarrassing one," Jet muttered from off to one side, and Pyunma began to wonder if the other's had some kind of innate sense that let them know when an interesting conversation was going on. Out of the corner of his eye he noted that Geronimo had settled himself against a nearby tree so he could listen in, and even Albert had come out of his self-imposed solitude to join them. He shared a brief look with Pyunma that clearly said, better you than me. Pyunma made a face at him and received a smirk in return.
"I think it's a great idea," Joe put in, having come over to see what all the fuss was about.
"We'll need a cake," Chang mused, already mentally listing the ingredients he'd need. "A big one… and I could probably whip up an extra special menu of African dishes…"
"Decorations," Francoise said, nodding firmly. "You can't have a proper party without those."
"Don't forget presents. Everybody needs presents on their birthday."
Finding himself uncomfortable being the centre of attention, Pyunma kept his head down while the others planned and plotted about what would be best for a birthday party. The sounded like they were having fun, and he didn't want to interrupt them to say that he didn't need a party because he already had everything he wanted. Black Ghost was gone, Muamba was free, and he was surrounded by people who obviously cared about him and who he cared about in return; he didn't need anything else.
He suddenly noticed a face in front of his own, and he looked up to meet Joe's earnest crimson eyes. "You don't mind, do you?" Everyone else had fallen momentarily silent to hear the answer. After all, it wasn't much good planning a birthday party if the person they were planning it for didn't want one.
Pyunma looked up at his team mates, surprised by the varied emotions he found there. Jet's pretended disinterest, Albert's open amusement, Geronimo's quiet acceptance, Chang's enthusiasm, Britain's excitement, Francoise's hopefulness and Joe's sincerity. They all wanted to do this for him, but Pyunma knew all it would take was one word and they would obligingly back off and leave him alone without any hard feelings. His heart squeezed painfully with the depth on an emotion he couldn't name.
So this is what it means to be family…
"I don't mind," he managed, choking on the words only slightly. The relieved smiled he received was far more rewarding than any of the presents GB had been so happily suggesting, and after a moment the conversation resumed where it had left off.
Kibori chuckled quietly, leaning in close so he could whisper in Pyunma's ear, "I can't say I blame you for staying with them. Looks like you've found something truly special here, my friend."
"I know." With the continuous shower from above, the trails of water dripping down Pyunma's face could be easily excused as rain instead of tears of happiness.