Disclaimer: I may be Australian, but I don't own the movie, or the characters.
Summary: See previous chapters.
I Can Say Your Name – Drover
I stagger the familiar path to the Territory, barely aware of my surroundings. It was as though someone had torn a gaping hole in my heart, just like when my wife died.
Sarah. She was supposed to be safe at Faraway Downs. The last words we spoke had been an argument, and I know I broke her heart when I didn't try to argue when she told me if I walked out of the gate, not to come back.
Muggari had yelled some sense into me, though I refused to listen at the time, and I had been thinking of the best way to apologize when we drove into Darwin, only to find it in flames, and the news that Sarah had been working in Headquarters. The first place that the Jap Bombers had hit.
Hysterical, I had fought my way through three soldiers, and nearly punched my own brother in the face before he pulled me away. I don't know what I will do next, and I can barely think as I hear whispers of Sarah's voice, taunting me with memories.
But right now it's raining. I told her that I wouldn't move in and settle down, that Droving was who I was. She knew that, accepted it, and would never ask more than I could give.
It's different now. We've got Nullah. Her argument when I accused her of trying to control me. Nullah and I filled a void in Sarah's heart. Nullah said that Sarah healed Faraway Downs, but we healed her. Until I walked away, because I was too scared to call them family.
She deserves a drink like any man. Too bloody right. Crikey. We got off to a rocky start, but Sarah won my respect and affection during that first drove. A Lady, fresh from England, with no experience. But she didn't let it stop her from droving the cattle across the Never-Never, fighting all odds to save her station.
Ivan barely even winced as I entered, despite the fact that my presence usually heralded a brawl, and only put up a token protest before allowing my brother inside and pouring drinks. "I saw her this morning, before she went to the work. She was so happy. She was going to get her little boy, and go south."
It was probably unintentional, but Ivan's words only tore my heart deeper. So Sarah had been right when she said that Nullah had been taken by the Missionaries. What had happened to him? "What about the children on Mission Island?"
"The creamies?" Ivan could match me for lack of diplomacy. "They are left out there. Safe in the hands of God. They say the Island was hit first. They say no one could have survived."
Despite my words, Nullah was as close to a son as I would ever have. Sarah would have done anything to find and rescue Nullah, and I could do no less. "They say a lot of things." That doesn't make it true.
Decking Bull as we helped Brother Frank steal a boat was perhaps a bit too enjoyable, but certainly a great stress-relief. It did all of bloody nothing to calm my nerves as we sailed to Mission Island, but.
The first thing we saw on arrival was not promising. The dormitory was in flames, smoke rose from what had probably once been the watchtower, up on the hill, and there was no sign of life.
I directed Muggari and Ivan to search the rest of the area, just as something caught my eye. A row of child-sized shoes, shoes like the ones Sarah was forever trying to make Nullah wear, now ragged and black with smoke.
Tears filled my eyes, though now was not the time to let them fall. A twig snapped, a bush rustled, and I swung my gun to point toward the noise, only to almost drop it as a small, dark face looked out, and a young boy stepped out, followed by several others. A few more made their way out from behind the dormitory as I knelt before one of the older boys. "Where are the others? Are there any other boys?"
The boy shook his head in confusion. "I don't know?"
Oh, God, please let Nullah still be alive, and hopefully nearby. I am just looking around for other possible hiding places when an achingly familiar voice calls to me. "Drover? Drover!"
I turn around so fast that I nearly fall over my own feet. Only a few meters away, pulling himself out of a ditch was Nullah. Before I knew what was happening, I was running toward him, incapable of coherent speech. As exuberant as ever, Nullah threw himself into my arms. "I knew you come! I sing you to me!"
Beyond words, I could only hold Nullah as close as possible, thanking God and anything else that he was safe. Unfortunately, that only made it harder when Nullah greeted Muggari, and then asked the one question I wished I didn't have to answer. "Mrs. Boss come too? Where's Mrs. Boss?"
Sarah had comforted Nullah when his birth mother had died, and now it was my turn to do the same. "We can't say her name anymore, little mate."
I couldn't make Nullah laugh with a horrible singing voice, but I had to do something as his young face turned to the ground, filled with heartache. "Hey, now listen to me, I need your help. We gotta get all these fellas off the island. Now I need you to be strong for me, can you do that?"
Nullah nods quietly, and I breathe a sigh of relief. "Good boy. All right, go get your little mates down there." Nullah coaxes several young boys up, while Ivan runs into view with a few in their very early teens. I gather them all around. "All right. Boys, we're gonna have to swim. We gotta be real quiet, like a turtle. Now I'm gonna take you home on a ship. It's over there, you see it?"
I point to where we left the ship, only to see the beam of Japanese search lights sweep across the water. Running through a mental stream of curses, I settle on a slightly more kid-friendly one. "Oh, Crikey."
Time to go. Ivan and the older boys run to the boat, while Muggari and I herd the younger ones down to the wharf. Some of the boys are from inland, and have probably never swum in their life. I carry one in my arms and search for something floatable to put them on. I had just found a broken portion of the wharf when a flare went up, and we all froze. My brain went into overdrive, trying to think of a way to get us out of here, as Muggari stepped past me, speaking in his native tongue. "Take the children and go. Take this mob walkabout."
He's planning to distract the Japs while we swim to the boat. Is my brother insane? "You'll never make it!"
Muggari sends me a swift glare. "Well you gotta make it. You got family now! You gotta drive this mob home, Drover."
There is no use arguing as he pushes past me. The boys who can swim make for the boat, while I convince the younger ones to grab onto the driftwood. "Good luck, brother."
The sun is rising over the ruins of Darwin as we slowly sail into the harbor. Nullah is playing his harmonica again and the familiar tune of Somewhere Over The Rainbow drifts over the water as I pull in the sails. Knowing what the song means to both of us, I kneel down beside him as Brother Frank rouses the other boys, drawing them into a rendition of Ave Maria.
I smile sadly, thinking of the first time I heard that song; Sarah's very off-key attempt to keep Nullah's mind of his dead mother. Nullah counts the night that he saw The Wizard of Oz as one of the best nights in his life. He saw it on the same night that Sarah first told me she loved me.
Suddenly, Nullah stops playing, rising to his feet and peering into the smoke. His face breaks into the largest smile I have ever seen, and he starts waving madly and shouting. "Mrs. Boss, Mrs. Boss!"
He shouts over and over as we pull up to the wharf, and my heart breaks again, believing that he is only seeing an illusion, and that we will soon have to face a life without Sarah. There is no time to ponder this, however, as Nullah jumps off the boat and dashes up the stairs, still calling out.
I move slower, herding the other boys with me. I lead the way up the stairs, only to stop dead in my tracks. Nullah is smiling his cheeky grin, pointing at me from his safe haven in someone's arms. A familiar blond head turns to me, even as a slender, lithe body straightens from its crouch.
I am barely aware of my body's movement as I struggle with the once-seemingly-impossible hope that now stands before me. Sarah. In a flash, I can move again, and I am running toward her. "You're alive!"
Then she is in my arms, holding me as if she will never let go, a situation that I have absolutely no problem with, and Nullah is wrapping his arms around us both.
Right now, I don't care if the Japs come back and blow us all to Kingdom Come. I have my family back, alive, and nothing else matters.
A/N: Well, Drover's chapter is up, and I Can Say Your Name is complete, unless people want to see Captain Dutton as well. I hope everyone enjoyed reading it.
Also, Happy ANZAC day to everyone! It is a few days early, but I didn't want to hold off posting.
In an interesting note, the first official ANZAC commemoration was on April 25, 1942, two months and six days after the bombing of Darwin.