You've fired off the necessary shot. The enemy Gundam is disabled; now you can assure yourself of the Colonel's well-being. It's new to you, putting concern for others above the call of battle, but for the first time in your blank life, you need to know you're not alone.
But as you reach out to open your cockpit, something strikes you between the eyes, and for a moment you're somewhere else, somewhere that glitters. Somewhere without anything separating you from your enemy. You see him, naked and golden-eyed and drenched in blood, and a terrible recognition flickers in you for just a moment.
He throws back his head and laughs. It's a distorted sound. He's fading out. Dying, perhaps. "I always knew it was you! Allelujah, he never had a clue. Good thing, too. He'd never have fought you."
"Who are you?" you demand of him.
"You know who I am," he says. "Better than I do. And you're still being an interfering bitch about it. First you give me this name I never asked for, and now you might as well have killed me." His grin is mean, but you can see a certain need in it too. "Our Marie, to the end. Even if you are inferior to us."
"Soma," you say, even though you're not sure why it's so important to clarify this. "My name is Soma Peries, and I am the true supersoldier here!"
"Yeah, right," he says. "Believe that for as long as they'll let you. Maybe if you do, he'll be able to stand up without you or me someday. He'll need to."
You wish you had a gun to point at him, but here there is nothing separating you and your enemy--and he is coming closer.
"I need to do something," he says. "Before I leave that pathetic Allelujah alone. I can't give this to him--even if I could talk to him anymore--" He's flickering. So is his voice. "He made me carry it, because it hurt him. That's why he's pathetic without me. I don't care if it hurts you. You're my Marie, too. Take it. Give it back to him when he needs it."
His fingers brush yours, and--
It's over, but now you have something to remember when it's needed.
For as long as he could remember, Allelujah Haptism had wanted only one thing: to be reunited with the person who had named him and given him a reason to live. He had had other goals, of course, or he would never have joined Celestial Being. He had intended to change the world so people like him would never be created again. But if anyone had ever asked him what he wanted, and he'd been forced to answer honestly, all he would have said was Marie, Marie, Marie. Of course, no one had ever asked him. He'd made himself into the sort of person who didn't get asked things like that.
After the fighting was over and he had Marie again, he did not expect anyone to ask him what he wanted now. But of course, she did, because she saw that he needed to be asked. That was the sort of thing Marie knew.
At first, he wasn't sure how to respond. He still had the same goal that had first brought him to Celestial Being, and now the additional one of keeping Marie away from violence as long as she lived. But what did he want? Was there anything he wanted, now that he had Marie? Yes, there was. In her time away from him, Marie had formed another life outside of him, and sometimes he still saw it in her eyes. He wanted to be able to match that, piece for piece. He wanted to know what his life before and beyond her had been. He wanted to know his past.
With information Tieria had gleaned from Veda, they set off for Kazakhstan. Allelujah remembered nothing about the place, but according to this information, it was where he had been born and where he had been separated from his parents. There he would search.
And search he did, for months on months, all the time finding nothing, until one day he emerged from his tent to see Marie silhouetted in the light of the sunrise. Her gaze was distant, fixed on somewhere far away from him. Not for the first time, it occurred to him that even in his time without Hallelujah, his dependence on his other self had not vanished. But it was another facet of that dependence he was thinking of now. With Hallelujah always there to accept whatever he didn't need to think about, he hadn't ever had to wonder what other people wanted. So long as he was quiet and pleasant and did his job, they needed nothing more from him. He never needed to ask what they wanted.
Marie had asked him what he wanted. He had never returned the favor. He had never asked her what she wanted. He had assumed that he would be enough for her, just as the thought of her had once been enough for him. But now that they had more than the thought of each other, they could want other things as well. She had known that, and she had waited for him to understand it as well. It was time.
He approached her from behind, and he took her hand. "Marie," he said, "what do you want?"
She turned to smile at him, proud that he'd finally understood. "I want to prove that people like us can exist in this changed world, Allelujah," she said. "I want to prove we can create as well as destroy."
It was difficult, with his quantum brain waves so damaged, but sometimes he had moments of perfect understanding with Marie. This was one of them. "Marie," he said, "I'm a little frightened of being a father."
"It's all right," she said. "We don't have to do it yet."
"No," he said. "I'm frightened, but I'm ready."
You share your child's dreams as he grows aware enough to have them. It is only a semi-familiar experience. Being insensate in the dark, that you recognize, but for the boy growing inside you, something is different. He is never alone, and he knows it. He can feel your thoughts soothing him. Towards the end, he can even feel the fractured remnants of his father's thoughts, glittering with concern and tentative hope for him.
You turn over every stone in your mind looking for simple stories to tell him in images. You tell him about an almost-father who loved you, even though that was another you. But some corners of your mind remain darkened. You cannot reach them quite yet. It's all right, though. You will be there enough for your son. The sense of peace you feel from him within you is proof enough of that.
In the end, they returned to Celestial Being because by the time Sergei was two years old, they couldn't handle both searching for Allelujah's past and raising their child. It wasn't what Allelujah had expected. He'd expected to find what he needed to know before their child was born, then name the new life after the heritage he'd found. But it wasn't so bad in the end, because Marie had a name from her own past to give him.
Sergei was not an intentionally mischievous child. Even before he was born, he'd sensed too much of his parents' old pain to knowingly bring them more, or so Marie explained to Allelujah early on. But something about growing up around Allelujah and Marie had made him insatiably curious. He learned to talk fast so that he could explain why to Allelujah.
"You are so wrapped around Mama," he said. "She is so wrapped around you." He stuttered a little as he spoke, his mouth still not developed enough for all the words he wanted to say. "I want to see a bigger world."
Later, Marie said to Allelujah, "He's very good at communicating. But words are slower than he's used to."
"I wish I could..." Allelujah began, and then he trailed off, because Marie was looking away sorrowfully, guiltily. "Marie, please don't," he began.
She looked back up at him, forcing a smile. "Someday you'll be a part of it, Allelujah. Someday, you'll have that ability back."
Then they had to stop talking in private, because off in the next room of the small family suite they'd been given on the Ptolemy, there was a series of slow crashes. Sergei had pushed his experiments with low gravity too far. In a panic, Allelujah ran to rescue him, while Marie followed, secure in the knowledge that her family here was safe. Allelujah envied her that certainty, but not too much, because she tried her best to share it with him.
"I'm sorry," Sergei said gravely as they finished picking up the fallen shelves (which Allelujah would have sworn were secured very tightly to the walls of the quarters; he wasn't sure he wanted to know how Sergei had managed to detach them), "but soon I'll have to do this more."
Marie looked up sharply. "Sergei--"
"It's the only way," he said, "to keep you when there's another one."
Allelujah blinked. "Marie!"
"I was going to tell you soon," Marie said. "I'm pregnant again."
They ate dinner that night in puzzled silence, save for Sergei's occasional plaintive, fumbling apologies. It was easy to forget how young he was when he spoke, with that strange understanding he had, but sometimes it was just as easy to remember. He hadn't meant to let loose a secret.
"It's a girl, isn't it?" Allelujah asked later that night. "We still don't know anything about my past. You'll have to name her Holly."
"I don't have to," Marie said, with a spark of something strange in her eyes. "Allelujah, it's a boy."
"Then what will we name him?"
"I don't know yet," she said. "We'll find something."
You dream of something you have forgotten.
You dream of blood in space, and a hand touching yours even as it fades. And you remember what he passed on to you, the thing that hurt Allelujah so much that he forced Hallelujah to take it.
There's a tiny boy, smudged with dirt and bruised with effort, trapped in a rush of people, all fleeing something. He isn't fleeing. He's only trying to hold onto a hand. But he can't do it. His mother's fingers slip out of his bit by bit.
She's left with only time to call out his name before they are parted forever.
Allelujah woke immediately at the sound of Marie crying something. He couldn't tell exactly what it was--he'd been asleep--but somehow, he had the feeling it was familiar. "Marie! What's wrong?"
She turned a luminous smile on him. "Nothing is wrong, Allelujah. I know our next son's name."
"I named you Allelujah, but before that, you had another name," she said.
"I don't understand," he said. He didn't. It occurred to him now that Marie had said so that his original parents must have given him a name, but he could not conceive of it. He could not imagine being anyone other than the person Marie had named and given life to. Besides, how could she know?
"I'll explain," she said. "I think I can, now." And she reached for his forehead, brushing fingers across the scar--
--and somewhere inside him, something unlocked. A few stray fragments reassembled themselves. A voice grumbled, Don't disturb me now, and then was gone. A woman's face floated into his mind, silently mouthing something as she disappeared from view.
"Even as I killed him," Marie said, "Hallelujah thought of me and you. He gave me this memory until I could give it back to you. Allelujah, I know the name of the you that never was."
"Who was I?" he whispered.
"You were wanted," she said. "You were desired. That's what Tlegen means. That was your name."
Allelujah couldn't speak. The memory of his mother's face still overwhelmed him, and now to learn that his parents had wanted him--it was too much. He needed Marie to keep talking. She understood what it all meant.
"The first Tlegen never had the chance to live," she said. "He became Allelujah."
"I don't mind," Allelujah said, "because I met you." She held his hand tightly in the dim light, and now he understood. "This Tlegen will have the chance I didn't before I was Allelujah, won't he?"
"Yes," Marie said. "Even if we both have to fight to protect him and Sergei."
"We won't let the world take them from us," Allelujah said.
"There's something else," Marie said. She touched his head again.
"What is it?"
"You'll be able to hear this one," she said softly. "I'm sure of it."
You sleep again, and this time you do not dream. Instead, a voice echoes inside your head--distorted, but not as fragmented and distant as it once was. Its owner is healing, as they all are. "Why the hell did you tell him that? You could have just given him the name!"
"You were once Tlegen too, Hallelujah," you say. "And you'll be his father as well."