Chapter Nine - The Vendor
About twenty years—give or take a few—passed, and the boys of Delta Squad ended up appearing to be about sixty. After the war's end, they raced off to the edge of space to avoid getting enslaved to the new Empire, so they were basically on the run for a good long time. They eventually came to rest on a peaceful little world on the Outer Rim that was home to simple people who lived in simple houses and shopped in simple, open-air bazaars. It was quite relaxing for them to wander through the marketplace, smelling all the curious new smells and seeing all the strange things there were to see. It was easier now for them to walk around in public, for they all wore civilian clothes and looked simply like four old men who'd been together since birth (which, truth be told, was as accurate a statement as could be). They still thought of Sarah Maria often, though they had long since decided never to return to her homeworld to look for her. They wanted her to grow up normally, but they did miss her "somethin' fierce," as Scorch often put it.
It was on one such day in the market that they discovered a new vendor who was selling various fruits and other luxuries such as candy. Their money heavy in their pockets, they decided to splurge a bit and buy some treats, which they did. But they noticed that the whole time they were conducting their business with the vendor, she kept casting strange glances at them. She never said a word except to inform them of the total amount of their purchases and to wish them a nice day, but as they turned to leave, it was as if a light bulb suddenly went off in her head. With a trembling voice, she hesitantly called out to them.
"It's 'Scorch,' isn't it? Sierra-Charlie-Oscar-Romeo-Charlie-Hotel?"
The Deltas stopped dead in their tracks and turned slowly to find themselves locking gazes with a pair of the brightest blue eyes. They sparkled like stars in a night sky, and while the rest of them stood there, staring, for a minute, Scorch inhaled sharply with recognition.
"Sarah . . ." he breathed, rushing over to her.
The two clasped hands, tears streaming down their faces. Sarah Maria threw her arms around Scorch's neck, hugging him. Not a minute later, the others raced up and joined in as one large group hug. After they pulled away, Sarah Maria stood in the midst of them, drying her eyes.
"I never thought I'd see you all again," she whispered. She reached up to lightly touch their graying hair. "You all look so . . . old . . . now."
"War does that to people," Boss chuckled.
Scorch hugged her again, and Sev and Fixer clapped her on the back as a little girl, not more than two, toddled out of the building behind the kiosk. Her curly blonde hair resembled Sarah Maria's, who stooped to pick her up. The little girl reached out for a minute to the Deltas, who smile broadly at her.
"Mommy, who's this?" she questioned, her big eyes shining curiously.
Sarah Maria turned and grinned at the Deltas, tears shimmering in her eyes again. She bounced her little girl slightly, pushing a golden ringlet back from the toddler's eyes.
"These, sweetie, are the four best men you'll ever meet."
The Deltas grinned wider than they ever had in their lives as they reached out and embraced Sarah Maria again. Boss just reached over and tousled the little girl's hair.