The Beginning, the End

XXX

Red. Gold. Fire. Heat. The roar of a monster caught within the melting pot; the sickening smell of burnt flesh and hair; the sight of his home, his family destroyed.

He stood there in silence, numb, unmoving as he stared up at the remnants of what had been his house. Duran had stumbled blindly out, crying, yelling, babbling incoherently about things Rex could scarcely comprehend at that point in time. His lips parted, but no sound emerged; his eyes stung, yet no tears came; his legs, trembling and as heavy as lead, impossibly continued to support his weight.

His mother; his father.

Meenya.

Tilting his head back, he stared skyward—and screamed.

To that day, the horrific events still plagued his mind. Rex dreamt constantly of it; the images came so clearly, so vividly, he could almost taste the ash. He could remember Duran's face, the fear and distraught look in his eyes, every crease in his forehead. There were times when he feared sleep; but no matter what, there was always remembrance. It came in the form of dreams, of memories—even the townspeople.

He hated the patronizing looks he was given; the segregation that was forced upon him because of his orphanage, as if the murder of his family had been his fault.

Rex smiled wryly, shutting his eyes as he lie against the side of his new home. Perhaps it would have been better if he, too, had died. Perhaps then he wouldn't have suffered such persecution—such nauseating pity. If he abandoned the town, if he were mauled by monsters, no one would know.

And no one would care.

"Heya, Mister?"

He flinched, eyes snapping open, scrambling to his feet at this sudden interruption. His eyes flickered right, left, up—down. Down into the eyes of a small, wide-eyed little girl.

Eyes just like Meenya's.

The corners of his mouth twitched, unsure of how to handle the situation. He could mock her, make her cry; anything to send her away. What business had she with him, anyway? He was the outcast. The orphan. The "unnecessary".

He finally settled for a sneer, his words tumbling out in a low rasp.

"'The hell do you want?"

The child looked up at him in wonder, tilting her bobbed head to the side. She wasn't much shorter than he was; she could have been the same age. He was surprised that he hadn't noticed her more quickly in all her mismatched clothing.

"Have you seen my mommy and daddy?"

Rex scowled. "No, I haven't. When the hell was the last time you saw them?"

She hesitated, counting on her fingers before looking up at him in accomplishment. "It's been a whole year!"

He froze. A year, she said. No self-respecting parent would ditch their kid for any amount of time that long. She had to be living with someone. "Do you have any family?"

The girl shook her head vigorously, pointing down the road and around the corner. "Nope. Mama and Papa are all I have. I live down there." She flailed her index finger enthusiastically, as if nothing were wrong; as if she didn't know she was completely alone…that her parents probably weren't coming back.

As if she wasn't the same as him.

Rex struggled to breathe past the lump in his throat. Another, just like him; a kid with no family, no connections, and only an empty house to her name. A child so naïve, so unaware, that she couldn't come to terms with the possibility that she would never see her parents again.

Was she stupid?

"T…tell you what…" he murmured, "you stick with me for now, and we'll find your parents soon. All right?" He bent down slightly, forcing a smile. "I'm Rex."

She beamed, taking hold of his hands tightly. "I'm Tia! Nice to meetcha!"

Rex soon found that her happiness and enthusiasm were infectious; in time, he found himself listening and contributing to her animated conversations more and more. He learned of his dreams for the future, and she of his; he described his family and how she reminded him so of his little sister, Meenya. They laughed together, they cried together; there was scarcely any one thing they didn't share. He caught himself thinking that, no, perhaps she wasn't stupid.

Perhaps she simply had the courage to hope.

XXX

And thus, my first Avalon Code fic comes to an end! This is all the Tia x Rex I'm going to do for now--until I get more inspiration and ideas. xD Hopefully it didn't bore you to death too much.