By a Different Star
Ahh…the annual Christmas fic that lets everyone know that I haven't dropped off the face of the planet. (Kinda. This is majorly late, I know. Blame it on exams—er, the Grinch).
This year's fic is an AU, in which I've switched the origins (German and Roma, respectively) and used the shortened names of Yamato and Taichi (Matt and Tai) for the general purposes of the storyline. Such will be clarified as the story progresses. Oh look—it's a reindeer! It's Santa! No—it's a flamingly gay yuletide Taichi/Yamato! Oh come, all ye slash fans, joyful and addicted…
Ahem. Set in 1951, this story is of two boys who helped each other survive a terrible war, and how they eventually find each other despite all odds. The chapters are told from Danika's POV (original character).
Disclaimer: I don't own Dejimon Adobencha and am making no profit from this fiction whatsoever, nor do I claim to be a PhD specialist in the Holocaust. But I do own a lot of DVDs and books about both…
Warsaw bustled with people more than six years after the horrifying war that everyone hoped to forget—at least, they hoped to forget how much sin and hatred a human heart could hold…no one ever wished to forget the victims. Remembrance was key, they believed—the key to moving on and letting the souls of the dead rest in a beautiful peace everyone so achingly wanted.
At the naïve age of 14, I knew nothing of war and hatred and destruction. My family had escaped to America in 1938 when my Slovak grandmother "had a feeling" that something evil was brewing in Europe after the horror of Kristallnacht. The great melting-pot could never replace home, so in 1950 we moved back to Poland where "we had roots." My grandmother died shortly after, leaving my mother at a loss for a babysitter when it came to me and my nine year old brother, Casmir. (I had tried several times to convince her that I was without a doubt old enough to watch the both of us, but she'd never listened).
She found a solution in our neighbor, a man named Matt (not Mr. Weiss, he sometimes reminded us; that made him feel old). He couldn't have been older than 26 or so, but something in his eyes was much, much older—in other words, I knew that he had a grand story to tell. As much as I wanted to find out, my mother took care to remind me not to.
"Now my dear star," she'd always say before we'd leave for school (my name means "star in the morning" and comes from my Grandmother's homeland), "be good when you go over to Matt's house. Don't track in any mud—you know he's a bachelor and it's hard to find a good maid these days. Go there right after school—no trips to the theatre! Do what he asks of you. And for goodness sakes, don't ask him about the war!" She'd then usher us out of the door and wait for our father to drive her to her job at the publishing company.
Things changed in the icy December of 1951. School had been let out for the holidays a week early because of the ice storms, but our mother still trudged to work, leaving us with Matt. After the usual entertainment subsided (my mother didn't allow Matt to let us watch too much television, it was too cold and rainy to go outside, we'd read all our books, the radio was boring), my brother and I resorted to board games, a bad idea from the start.
"Cas, stop cheating!"
"I'm not cheating!" He avoided my gaze in the way I knew meant that he was lying.
"Oh yeah? Then how'd your knight end up so far along? He decided to take a walk while I went to get some water?"
"Like this!" he cried, and chucked the glass figure at me. I threw my bishop at him, which started all-out war. Just as Casmir's king catapulted in my direction, I heard Matt's usual groan.
"Can't you guys find something else to do other than destroy my house?!" He deftly caught the figure and placed it back on the chess board.
"It's her fault!" cried Casmir. Traitor.
"Is not! Act your age, Casmir!"
"I am! You act yours!" I was going to retort when Matt put a hand on my shoulder.
"Hey, hey, hey—let's make a deal. If you two can be civil for at least five minutes, we'll…go on an adventure. Yeah, an adventure."
This definitely caught Casmir's nine-year-old attention. "Where?" Matt hesitated as he wracked his brain to fill the gaps.
"What! There's nothing in attics but smelly old clothes and bats." Casmir pouted and stuck out his tongue. His brown hair was still tousled from the "battle."
"Yeah, that may be true. But there's a story in everyone's house. Find something interesting and I'll tell you the story behind it." Matt rolled up the sleeves of his gray sweater. "So, what's it going to be? Are you coming or not?" Casmir looked over at me.
"I am! I'm not afraid to go," I said, playing along. I knew that Cas was probably right, but it would be interesting to see what Matt had planned. Besides, Matt never told us anything about himself, save for things about his university studies and the kinds of music he loved.
Minutes later we were all armed with flashlights and on our way through half-lit staircases. The dust and fading sunlight created an eerie glow on our faces, and Casmir took every opportunity to make faces at me. The attic door opened with an obstinate groan and spiders scurried out of our way. Matt flipped on a light and led us further into the room, warning us to watch our steps. Casmir went straight for the boxes of old games and toys, while I dug through piles of old journals (his father's—he'd passed away years ago), military memoirs (his grandfather's, from the first World War), and comic books (some in English, some French, some German). The sun began to sink below the window and I still hadn't found anything that would tell me more about our hauntingly sad neighbor.
A well-wrapped faded, threadbare jacket fell out of a box and startled me. "Hey, what's this?" Casmir looked up from Matt's collection of airplanes and Matt blanched. There was a black triangle sewn on the front.
"It's—It's just—nothing. Put it back. It's nothing." I had never seen him so lost and somehow feeble, like Cas whenever he got separated from us in town.
"Wait—didn't people have to wear these during ha-shoah—the Holocaust? Because Hitler said so and all?" Matt took the jacket from me and held it gently in his fingers. He didn't say a word.
"Oh yeah! Palti's uncle had a yellow triangle because he's Jewish and he says that those filthy Germans—"
"Casmir!" I warned. Matt had begun to look a little seasick. Or heartsick, maybe.
"They're not all 'filthy Germans,' you know," Matt said quietly. "You can't judge a whole race like that." Casmir mumbled an apology, embarrassed, and Matt sighed and ran his fingers over the fabric. "After all, I am one of them." He sat on one of the sturdier boxes and Cas and I settled on the floor around him.
"You don't have to tell us anything about it if you don't want to." Casmir made a whiny grunt beside me so I elbowed him. A sad smile broke out on Matt's face, and definitely didn't belong there.
"He and I had to wear these in the camps. The black triangle means 'gypsy, or asocial.' It was given to a large group of people just because the Nazis needed ways to classify them all. I had to wear a red triangle, for 'political prisoners.'"
"He? Who? Your brother?" Casmir twirled the propellers of the airplane.
"No, my…friend. My closest friend." There was a long silence, and I almost thought that he wouldn't continue. To my surprise, he crossed his long legs on top of the box and began his story.