So, this is the second part to my story, except it's mostly just how I envision Mao's family history and early life. I was going to put it in my fanfic "A Wasted Opportunity," but I felt it told too different a story. Hope it's half-decent and not too cliche...
This will be in multiple parts. The second part is more C.C.'s involvement and how she finds Mao.
As the warm spring sunlight shone into the bedroom of the Chinese imperial bedroom, a poor, strange woman woke up in the arms of the emperor of the Chinese Federation. She puzzled for awhile, trying to remember why she had come here, and wondered if she would ever regret it. She was only a commoner and a runaway, who had come to the palace seeking food and shelter. When the emperor found her, he almost turned her away, since only nobles were allowed inside his palace without special permission. However, when he saw how pretty she was, he changed his mind, on the condition that she be his mistress until further notice.
Meanwhile, the Chinese emperor had a terrible thought. He couldn't remember if he'd used any birth control. The woman he was sleeping with never did; she didn't know what birth control was. Last night, he had been called out on business as he was washing up to prepare for sex, and had left the condom pack he usually used on the floor. And now he wasn't sure if he'd gone back to get it.
Unfortunately, he hadn't, but it wasn't until several days later when he realized it, at which point it was too late to get any emergency contraceptives. Not that the woman he slept with realized she was pregnant until many months afterward; she didn't notice the irritating nausea, or the first skipped period; it took her actually feeling her child moving inside of her to realize what was going on. Even then, it took some persuasion to convince her of exactly what the sudden taps inside of her meant.
Sometime in late fall, when she was around six months pregnant, the emperor brought her some interesting information. "The eleventh prince of Britannia was born last night," the emperor shared his newspaper with her.
"That's lovely," said the woman, touching her stomach, which was beginning to stick out prominently. Her child squirmed inside of her, as though nervous. "It says here," she read, "That he was born... five weeks premature?" Suddenly she turned pale.
"Why... yes," said the emperor. His woman had begun stewing in her own panic. What if her baby was born prematurely as well? What if premature birth was contagious? It took much time to suppress that fear.
"Do you know if our baby's a boy or a girl?" asked the emperor casually.
"I don't know," replied the woman. In truth, she had made a special point not to ask the sex of her baby. She knew that the emperor wanted a daughter very much- although she suspected that he was being at least partially influenced by other factors.
"I want a daughter," the emperor said, for the millionth time since he had learned about her pregnancy, "But," he added hastily, "I would be happy with a son."
His mistress wasn't so convinced. "Is there any chance we could get married?" she pressed.
"There may be," said the emperor, "But I can't promise you." He was facing tremendous pressure at the time to marry a rich lady, very different from this relatively poor woman, who was scarcely more than a prostitute. And if their child wasn't a daughter... Those untrustworthy eunuchs were convinced that a girl would be less willful and easier to mold than a boy, so that would count against him as well.
"Do you want to come to bed?" asked the woman, sitting down on the bed.
"I... no, I can't stay with you tonight," said the emperor.
Much later, when the woman was almost nine months pregnant, her lover gave her a one-of-a-kind necklace made from gold and jade. Its pendant was a small jade cat. At this point, she could only move slowly, since the baby was so heavy inside her; and she frequently found herself pressing her lover's hand against her swollen belly to feel the baby kick. She spent a lot of time deliberating where to take her child home to once it was born, but reached no real conclusions about whether to stay in the palace or leave.
One morning in the last stretch of winter she went into labor and gave birth to her son, who was healthy in all ways, and weighed over ten pounds.
But it was a boy, and the emperor had wanted a daughter. When the emperor came to call, she nervously clutched the baby as close to her as she could. He was disappointed, she could tell, in their little boy. Nevertheless, she still loved the little boy, which she named Mao; and the emperor, to her immense relief, agreed to help support them, on the condition that they leave the palace and take up residence elsewhere.
The mother noticed something unsettling about her child: once all the blood and other disgusting goo had been cleared off of him, she noticed that his skin was very, very pale; and he had a faint line of white hair on top of his forehead. She had expected her child to have more color, and to have black hair. Did this mean her baby was ill? She called for a doctor at once to check on her baby, but the doctor reassured her that her son was just fine. His pale skin and white hair were the result of albinism, a simple melanin deficiency, not any dangerous illness.
The mother was not relieved. Albinism sounded scary. Some sort of genetic mutation, maybe? And didn't mutations leave people mentally retarded or sterile? And then she got a terrible thought. She had had a cousin whom she had never met, but who was born with albinism, and who had died at the age of twenty from muscle dystrophy.
Actually, she had begun a relationship with the emperor around the time of her cousin's death. That was the reason she had run away from home rather than going to her family's funeral. She didn't want to be contaminated by the albinism, so she went elsewhere. Her adventures ultimately led her to the emperor's palace, where, cold, hungry, and thirsty, she had knocked on the door.
As it happened, Mao was a rather difficult baby to look after. He liked to be cuddled and nursed all day for the first few months of his life. He wailed incessantly every time he wet his diapers, or experienced any discomfort at all. He needed to be held every night until he fell asleep, because he was so scared of the dark. So convinced was his mother that he would become mentally retarded as a result of his odd white hair, that her heart skipped ten beats when he began speaking early, saying his first small words before he was even a year old. He also readily picked up on the toys and games that encouraged development of cognitive abilities, especially those that involved building things, or putting them together.
Meanwhile, the emperor was experiencing greater difficulties. He had neglected to tell his court about his mistress and their son, and so they placed more and more pressure on him to marry a certain noble woman. Eventually, the pressure became insurmountable, and by the time Mao turned two, his father had gone out of his life forever.
His mother quickly became just as estranged to him as his father. There were long periods where she neglected him in their home, and came back smelling like smoke and bitterness. He himself was never allowed to leave the home. She forbade him from going to school for fear that he would infect others with his mutation, which, she was sure, her cousin had somehow infected him with. She didn't bother to teach him how to read or write or count. By the time Mao was around five, she learned that his condition was perfectly harmless, both to him and those around him; but she still treated him like a freak of nature, continuing to isolate him and even going so far as to consider giving him procedures and cosmetics to darken his hair. On several occasions, she even forgot his name, referring to him as simply "albino."
At around this time, trouble was brewing for China. Britannia was mounting an imperialist attack on the country, and the imperial city of Beijing where Mao and his mother lived became a hub of violence. Mao and his mother spent most of the time indoors for their own protection, going nowhere and seeing no one else. Mao was relieved to see that now that they had only each other, his mother appeared to warm up to him a little. She would smile at him and hold him, telling him not to worry, because soon it would be over. She would occasionally sing him songs, or tell him stories. She even started to call him by his name more than she called him 'albino.' Yet it seemed as though there was a sort of repressed fury in her, that Mao recognized but at his young age didn't know what to make of. Every affectionate gesture on his mother's part seemed oddly stiff and forced, as though her fingers were pushing him away or scratching him, no matter how close to her they brought him.
During a period of deceptive calm, Mao asked his mother if she would let him go outside, thinking for sure that now that they had spent so much time together, she would start being nice to him. Unfortunately, she adamantly refused to let him leave the house. "You're staying in here where you belong, you albino," she said.
"But why not?" Mao demanded. "I've never been outside in my life!"
"Well, it's better that way," said his mother, "Nobody wants to see a freaky little albino running around."
"Shut up!" said Mao, "Why do you always call me that?"
"If anyone saw you they'd do just the same thing, if not worse," his mother continued. "Go out into the world, and you'll see: everyone's got brown or black hair. White hair is just plain weird, and nobody will ever let you forget that."
"I don't care anymore!" said Mao, almost in tears, "I don't wanna stay here! Let me out, you meanie!"
His mother continued to refuse until Mao was forced to give up. However, sometime later, she was out of the house, and Mao was all alone. Now big enough to move the door handle by himself, he walked over to the door to their apartment and tried to force it open. It didn't budge right away, but by fiddling with the little dial in the center of the knob, Mao was able to unlock it, and walk outside. Feeling excitement building inside him, he ran down the stairs of his apartment building and out into the big world.
At this point the sun was setting, and the longer the child walked, the more he realized how dark and scary the big city looked. Scary-looking animals, and equally scary-looking people, glared at him from dark alleyways; the cars and buses zooming around him made so much noise it completely frightened and disoriented him- he was used to the quiet of the little apartment room where he lived. As the night wore on, he got hungrier and hungrier, having eaten nothing at all since the morning; but he could find no food.
That was when another attack on the imperial city began. Some very strange-looking battle machines flew overhead, dropping projectiles from above. Mao could only run for cover as objects began to explode around him; however, somehow he made it back to his apartment building, where he ran up the stairs to his room. He knew his mother wouldn't be happy with him, but anything was better than the noise and explosions! He ran back to his apartment room, but it was locked, so he knocked on the door furiously. Finally his mother opened it. "Mao!" she shouted. "Where have you been?" Mao winced, expecting a beating; but his mother appeared too shocked to be mad.
Just then the whole building gave a shake. "Oh, no!" she said, "Mao, we have to get out of here immediately! Come with me!" And she grabbed his arm and pulled him roughly down the stairs. Once outside, she screamed: "Go on! Run away! Now!" Mao did as he was told, running farther and farther away just as he heard a tremendous explosion behind him.
Eventually he was able to take cover by following many more groups of people down into a small area underground. Down in the shelter, he saw people crying, hugging one another, and screaming for their family members. Parents held their children close, trying to comfort them, an act which inspired Mao to look for his own mother. He shouted for her, but nobody replied. Everyone around him took one look and went about their business again.
Mao lost track of time quickly there, sitting or pacing on the hard ground. Occasionally someone brought him food and water, but nobody else paid him any mind. In due time, he managed to calm down enough to occasionally fall asleep, and wake up some nondescript time later. He didn't see his mother at all in that time, and whenever someone asked where his mother was all he could reply was "I don't know."
After quite awhile, a man made an announcement: "It is now safe to leave the shelter. The enemy has been driven back, for now!"
Once Mao wandered back outside, he couldn't believe what he saw. Dust and rubble were everywhere, and some still-standing buildings were splattered in dark red. After walking all day, calling his mother's name, he came upon a pile of rubble, in which something gleamed. He approached the object, picked it up, and began dusting it off. It was a gold necklace, with a green cat hanging from it. He recognized it as the necklace his mother always kept close, and his heart began racing. "Mother!" he called, "Are you in there? Mother?"
He began digging through the rubble until his hands bled, and at last he saw a hand he recognized as his mother's, and began pulling on it. It wouldn't budge. He kept digging, trying to uncover more and more of her body. Eventually, he managed to uncover her head and neck. But she felt very, very stiff; and her head was covered in blood. "Mommy!" he protested, "Please, wake up and get out of there!" But to no avail. She was dead, and he had no idea what to do about it. He had never seen anyone die before. "Wake up!" he pleaded, again and again, to deaf ears.
He was still by her side, crying his heart out, when night fell. He had never liked his mother, but never before had he felt so utterly alone. She wasn't going to feed him anymore, and their home was completely destroyed. "Why me? Why me?" he cried. Eventually, he cried himself to sleep, and woke up the next morning so hungry that he could not stay with his mother's body any longer. He dragged the necklace a few paces before throwing it on the ground and stomping on it. After having another cry, he left the area.
Within an hour after Mao had left that spot, a strange green-haired girl would find the necklace lying on the ground, and begin asking questions.