A/N: This is my first Equilibrium story so hopefully my facts are correct. I know in the movie Father refers to Preston's wife as "the mother" but I still think that people in the Equilibrium universe are averse to calling someone Mother or Father since they are terms of endearment. So that's what I base my fic on: a mother's desire to hear her child call her mother. Please enjoy, and don't forget to review!
Lisa felt someone move into the bedroom. She opened her eyes just enough to see that it was Viviana, her female guardian. What could she be doing here? Lisa waited silently in the dark. Then she heard a muffled sniffling. Was she crying? Sense Offense! But she waited. Viviana was a good law abiding citizen, surely there was a reason for this illegal activity. Then from the darkness came a soft whisper.
"I wish- I wish I could tell you how much I love you both. My children. My beautiful children. I wish- I thirst to hear you call me Mum or Mother, not Viviana. You may not be of my flesh and blood. But the birthmothers gave you to me. You are my own. I love you, Lisa. I love you, Robbie. I love your father too, but he must never know."
This commentary, this monologue, was confusing to Lisa. Love? What was that?
Viviana was a Sense Offender. That Lisa could tell. She should tell John. But Lisa's curiosity got the better of her.
She started. Her eyes filled with both fresh tears and defiance.
"Yes, my darling?" she dared to respond.
"What is love? Is it a feeling?"
"It is a feeling more powerful then any other."
"Then you are a Sense Offender!" Lisa stated, confirming her earlier suspicion.
"I am," Viviana affirmed quietly.
Shock. Strong and powerful like waves hit Lisa. But again, the seven-year old's curiosity overtook the shock. She asked, "What does it feel like?"
Viviana sat on the edge of Lisa's bed and said, "It is when you do not think you can survive without someone. When you care for them so deeply that it does not matter what happens to you. You only wish that they could be happy for a little longer."
Lisa did not understand. Her words, and the emotions they brought, were foreign and most importantly, illegal. But again her curiosity overcame her shock. It even overcame the nagging voice that was telling her to wake up John and tell him that Viviana was a Sense Offender.
"You love me? And Robbie?" she asked slowly, testing the new word.
"I do. So very much."
"What about John?"
Viviana smiled bitterly. "I do, I love him with all my heart. But in this world, loving one's husband is a crime punished by death."
"But why do you want to love John? All you need is someone to help you look after me and Robbie. Surely there is no need to feel anything."
"If there was no need to feel, would we exist?" Viviana said, primarily to herself.
Again, Lisa did not understand.
Viviana stood up. "Well, why don't you get some sleep, my love. You can tell John about my Sense Offense tomorrow morning."
"Good night, sweetie."
Lisa decided not to tell John. John was a Grammaton Cleric, First Class. He lived to continue the great society that they lived in. He would have immediately apprehended Viviana and had her summarily incinerated. Surely Viviana was allowed one mistake. After all, in school they were allowed one mistake before being sent to the Quiet Room for questioning.
She found herself watching Viviana more often. Lisa noticed things that she'd never looked hard enough to see before. For example, Viviana folded laundry slowly and deliberately. She'd make an excuse to comb Robbie's hair with extreme tenderness. She'd place a hair tie in Lisa's hair and give her a small smile. But her eyes...they seemed empty.
Around John though, Viviana was different. She was so insensitive that no one could ever suspect her of feeling. But in her stoicism, Lisa saw something else. Something bad. A feeling that was eating up at Viviana. Lisa did not know the name of such a feeling nor would she ever in the current state of Libria. But she could guess: pain. Viviana felt pain. Again, Lisa could not understand. If Viviana professed to love everyone she was around, how could she be in pain? Did she hurt her foot, her arm? What was this pain? Lisa did not understand. Feelings were confusing. Libria was obviously better off with no emotions. But still, Lisa could not report Viviana. Some unknown connection held Lisa back.
She decided that one day when John was working and Robbie was at the monastery, she would ask Viviana about the pain.
Lisa was sitting quietly at the kitchen table doing her schoolwork. Viviana was slowly folding towels and putting them in the linen closet.
"Viviana?" Lisa said softly.
Viviana put her hand on a towel and stopped, her back to Lisa. "Yes."
"Why are you in pain?"
She saw Viviana tense. "Why would you say that Lisa? You do not even know the meaning of the word."
"Isn't pain when you get hurt? Like when you trip? Or if you are hurt by a gun or a knife? Like with one of John's weapons?"
Viviana turned slowly and sat down at the table. She took her time before answering.
"That is one type of pain. That is a superficial pain felt only by the body."
Lisa was confused yet again by her guardian's words. "What other kind of pain could there be?"
"Pain in you soul...your heart, your mind. Like an ache inside you that never leaves."
"I do not understand."
"I know. As long as you take the daily intervals you will never understand. That is why I feel this pain. Because you...Robbie...and John, will never understand."
Lisa said the obvious thing that came to her mind, "Why don't you just start your intervals again?"
Viviana laughed lightly, "Pain and love make my life worth living. Without them, what do I have? I become nothing less than a mindless drone: living in order to live."
"But if it hurts, why not take the Prozium?"
"Feelings make us human. Pain makes me human. I cannot let it go. I know that none of you will ever feel anything for me, but I still love you. I want to be with all of you. At least you will let me speak openly, but I never know, maybe one day you will tell either John or Robbie of these meetings. We both know that they would turn me in and incinerate me themselves... I wish I could kiss Robbie and tell him that his mother loves him. I wish John would hold me in his arms through the night, whispering words of comfort and love to me. But that will never happen. And so I am in pain. I am also content though, to live close to all of you in unfeeling proximity."
Most of what Viviana had said was completely alien to Lisa. So many ideas that she had never heard.
"What is "kiss"?" Lisa asked.
"A kiss is...let me show you."
Viviana leaned over and kissed Lisa on the forehead.
"What is it for?" Lisa said.
"It is...it is a sign of affection. It says that 'I love you and care about you.'"
Lisa nodded, though she did not comprehend.
They heard the door open and a pair of footsteps entered. A moment later, Robbie and John were in the room as well.
"Good afternoon," she said in the usual fashion.
They both nodded.
Robbie sat at the table.
"And how was your afternoon?" he asked.
A couple weeks later in the middle of the night, Viviana came to her. Lisa had not been able to fall asleep and sat up when she heard Viviana enter the room. She could not see her in the pitch-black room, but still she knew where Viviana was.
"Wh-" she started to say.
"Shh," Viviana said softly, putting a finger to her lips.
"Lisa, my beautiful daughter," she started. Her voice quivered a little, but it was steady again when she started to speak.
"I have a feeling that I will be arrested tomorrow."
Lisa looked into the darkness ahead of her questioningly. "How can you know that?"
"I do not know it. It is just a feeling. Something is off. I've been a Sense Offender for a long time. They have to find me soon. I cannot believe John has not figured it out yet. He is legend among the clerics. Maybe- " she stopped, looking wistful.
Lisa waited in the silence for Viviana to finish her thought.
"Sometimes I wish and hope that the reason I have not been found yet is because John loves me and will not let them investigate me." She sighed, "I know that's not true, but it is nice to dream."
Viviana turned in the darkness to leave. "I just came to say farewell and that I'll always love you. Even after they burn me and my ashes litter the gray floor inside the Palace of Justice, I will still love you. Remember that. Remember me."
Lisa blinked. She did not understand, and for the first time...she really wanted to.
They came the next day. They broke through the door with their black coats and big guns. But something happened then that Lisa did not expect. John killed one guard and another one was being held at gunpoint within mere seconds.
"Cleric, don't shoot. This is a lawful entry. We have a warrant for your wife's arrest. She's charged with Sense Offense," Lisa heard a guard say.
Lisa looked at Viviana and felt...felt? Felt what?
Viviana was held near the wall by two guards. As John lowered the gun, a shocked look covering his face, Viviana broke free. She ran to John and kissed him hard. Lisa would always remember that moment. Viviana's hand on John's neck, the other on the side of his face, her body pressed close to his, kissing him with all her might. This was different Lisa thought, than any kiss Viviana had given Lisa.
Robbie was standing next to her.
"What happened?" he asked quietly once the door was shut and Viviana gone.
"Viviana is a Sense Offender."
He did not respond.
Lisa looked up at him. His face revealed nothing.
"I wish I could have kissed her goodbye..." Lisa whispered.
Lisa turned around leaving John and Robbie, and went to her bedroom. Whatever love felt like, her mother had wanted it so badly she was willing to die for it. Lisa wanted to experience that. To love Robbie. To love John. No, not Robbie and John, her brother and father. She wanted to love her brother and her father.
And so the next morning Lisa did something so courageous, many search for a lifetime to be so strong. She hid her first missed interval and hoped she could learn to love like her mother.