Note: If you're wondering what the heck did I update, go back to the previous chapter. I added a chapter prior to this one. -
Ma Petite Mort – Epilogue
A harsh winter breeze raced through the streets of downtown Brussels, a heavy carpet of snow covering cobblestone roads and gothic buildings. Christmas decorations hung over every door and window, green, red and gold painting the gray avenues with the joy of the holiday. Beggars dressed in filthy rags reached out pleading hands for money as a jolly Santa Claus jingled a bell for donations. The year was AC 197, a year of peace nearing its end with the cheerful ringing of Christmas bells.
Masses of people roamed the city squares and gardens, caught in the holiday shopping rush. Plastic bags full of goods rattled loudly as the crowds swarmed past decorated stores. Holiday music drifted out of every door, swallowed by the murmur of the crowds.
Among the hectic wives and annoyed husbands, excited children, and couples in love walked a lone woman, dressed in a red wool coat and tall black boots. Her high heels tapped loudly on the pavement as she strode through the hordes of revelers. Strands of red/green hair escaped the heavy brown scarf that covered her head. Her features, slight, thin, and pale were hidden behind a pair of large sunglasses which reflected the cloudy skies. In her arms was a hefty paper bag full of groceries.
As she entered the slums the crowds thinned, and alone she walked towards her shabby apartment building. Entering the poor lobby she removed her snow covered scarf and sunglasses. She shifted the grocery bag from one hand to another, and began the long climb up the stairs.
When she reached her door, Adèle stopped, surprised to see a small, long, cardboard package sitting on her doorstep. Frowning, she reached out a hand, and picked it up. She keyed herself in, and made her way through the messy apartment, flicking the lights on. Warm colors coated the room in a sharp contrast to the gloomy winter raging outside.
Clothes and glasses of liquor lay everywhere, along with a pile of clean laundry on the beanbag in the corner of the room. A figure lay on the bed, hidden by heavy covers. It stirred when she entered, but otherwise remained asleep.
Adèle placed the shopping bag on the kitchen table, and turned back to the package in her hands. She shook it, and listened, trying to figure out what it was. Carefully, she sat down and opened the box.
A slow, wily smile spread across her lips as she reached into the box and retrieved an expensive bottle of brandy. As she pulled it out, a small piece of paper fell onto the table. Puzzled, she read it:
'Ma prof, ma putain, ma petite mort. Tu as gagné. Merci. Heero (My teacher, my whore, my little death. You won. Thank you. Heero).'
She flipped the note over, and her smile widened. The note was actually a small photograph of Heero along with another handsome, braided young man. It was a small black & white photo-booth picture. They were both seated crammed together in the small space, arms thrown over each other's shoulders, smiling at the camera. Smiling. It suited Heero.
Adèle snorted, and rolled her eyes. "Je savais que ça pouvait être que ce que lui (I knew it had to be the guy)," she muttered, and reached for the brandy bottle. She opened the cork, and inhaled the bittersweet liquor, closing her eyes to indulge in the scent before she poured herself a glass. Looking at the photo, she made a silent toast, and downed the drink.
On the bed, the figure stirred, moaning softly. She turned to watch the figure with glinting eyes, silently waiting for him to awake. The figure sat up, and the covers moved, curling around the small, slender body of a young boy. He was about five or six, dressed in dirty rags. His little face was streaked with mud, and his long, filthy blond hair seemed hard as straw. The small street urchin yawned, and rubbed his eyes.
Adèle smiled softly, her features glowing with a kind, motherly radiance.
"Bonjour (Good morning)," she greeted him kindly.
The boy turned to look at her, wariness and distrust in his dark green eyes. She had picked him up off the street but a few hours ago on the way back from a nightly client. The boy had been sleeping alone in the same park she had encountered another, teenaged, boy almost a year ago. The child had been shivering in the cold, and unconscious. She had cradled him in her arms, and, for the first time in years, felt a spark of... something, anything, whatever it may be, in her heart.
"Ne fais pas ton timide (Don't be shy)," she added reassuringly, and rose from her chair, "Viens, je vais te préparer quelque chose (Come here, I'll make you something to eat)."
The child followed her with a wary gaze, watching as she moved to the small refrigerator. Using a magnet, she hung the photo on the refrigerator door, and then pulled out a couple of eggs and a pack of bacon.
For a while, the boy on the bed remained unmoving, until he finally rose and padded towards the kitchen table. Adèle served him a large meal, and stroked his hair as she sat down as well. She toyed with the brandy bottle, moving her fingers up and down the bottle's neck. The child ate silently, devouring his meal.
Unconsciously, Adèle's hand moved to rest over her lower stomach, touching the fabric that hid her ugly scar. A warm feeling grew inside her as she watched the child's small face. He looked up at her, scowling, and then clasped his arms protectively around his plate, pulling it closer to his chest. He hunched towards it, and continued eating hurriedly, as if afraid that she would take it away from him. Adèle only smiled, and took a long sip from her brandy.
She then glanced at the small photo on the refrigerator, studying the smiling faces of the two young men who were so obviously in love. She raised the bottle, gesturing towards them as she made a toast.
"Aux malheureux." She whispered, smiling.