This is a complete Re-write of my Original 'Memories' piece, as I wasn't completely happy with it and having Re-read it I was even less happy with it. Anyway here is the Re-write, if you read the original I'd appreciate any comments as to whether or not it is an improvement on the original and whether there are any mistakes or anything, would be greatly appreciated. Oh and you might notice that I kept most of the dialogue from the original as I quite liked it. Anyway I hope you like it :D
Gears of War and its characters belong to Epic Games Studios
"You'd better go and relocate you're belongings Lieutenant" Hoffman said gruffly to the blonde woman standing beside him
"I still have a few more days to do that Colonel...I want to make sure everybody is organised here first, there are so many civilians to move" She replied adjusting her stance so that her booted feet were more comfortable
Hoffman gestured a nod in greeting as a Gear heavily laden with materials and belongings trudged past them with a small family in his wake, the Colonel gave a side glance to the Lieutenant before he continued speaking to her.
"Everything is in hand here...go and sort out your belongings...don't make me turn it into an order"
Anya sighed and unfolded her arms, reaching up with one hand to push some hair from her face "Fine...I'll go, I won't be too long though, and I'll have my earpiece on if you need me"
Hoffman just nodded as she turned and walked away.
Walking at a comfortable pace, Anya headed towards her sleeping quarters which she shared with two other CIC officers, though she wasn't sure that's what she was anymore. She'd worked as a communications officer for the end part of the Pendulum wars and for the entirety of the Locust/Human war, now however she was edging her way onto the frontline, trapped in-between what she was and what she was becoming, it scared her just a little, but it also exhilarated her.
She found the shared quarters easily and noted as she opened the door, that both of the two women she shared with had already gathered their things, and left to settle in to their new quarters on the Raven's Nest Carrier. Closing the door behind her, the blonde woman stalked into the room and grabbed her neatly folded piles of clothes and put them into a duffle bag. The clothing she was packing couldn't be any more varied; there was her standard and familiar CIC officer's uniform, then there was her light weight fatigues and casual tops, more out of place still was the COG armour that she scooped up to pack in a separate bag. Somewhere amongst the clothes packing she'd found her black pumps, she chuckled when she had picked them up, she remembered how long it had taken her to get used to wearing them and actually walk in them without almost falling over, now she wore the more practical shin high laced up combat boots.
After about ten minutes Anya had two duffle bags filled with her clothing, both old and new and including her armour. She glanced about the room and remembered that she had put some things in the small cabinet beside her cot. Placing the two duffle bags on the floor beside the door she walked over to the cabinet and opened the little door and smiled a little when her eyes beheld a shoe sized box, without hesitation it was removed from the cabinet and was placed on the bed. While glancing around the room thinking of anything she might forget, as she was sure she would forget something; Anya couldn't help the fact that her eyes kept falling on the small box, maybe it wouldn't hurt to have a look...she had some time.
The box itself meant a great deal to her, over the years despite relocations and attacks and other dangers, she had somehow managed to keep a few belongings; it was considered an amazing feat in a world at permanent war, she was silently proud of herself. Sitting beside the box and crossing her legs she lifted the lid off of the box carefully and put it to one side, immediately she was greeted with the painful sting of memory. On the surface of the collection of items lay a few old and tattered photos, these ones in particular beheld images of her childhood, family and friends many of which weren't alive today, either lost during E-day or the years that followed. Though one face in particular and probably the most important had left Anya before E-day. Her Mother. With deliberation the photo was removed and held in ever so slightly shaky fingers; though Anya didn't notice it, she looked a lot like her Mother, only people such as Colonel Hoffman and Bernie Mataki really knew how much she looked like Major Helena Stroud, more so now that she herself was adorning armour. While she gazed at the photo, Anya's mind was filled with fond memories and sad ones, her Mother's death still plagued her now especially in her sleep, it was a painful and vivid memory, after all she had called it in having to continue with her work regardless... for the sake of the Gears she was giving precious information to.
Eventually her mind pulled away from the hurt and she wondered what her Mother would be doing if she was still alive today, often times she wished her Mother was still alive, despite the wreck that Sera had become, Anya was certain that Major Stroud would have known what to do. Anya took the remaining pictures from the box, and put them together and laid them on the lid so that she could further investigate the items she had preserved through the years, though her mind still lingered on the memories that she had encouraged to the surface. Moving some things to one side, she discovered a small red velvet covered box no larger than the palm of her hand, slowly she grasped its sides ready to pull the lid up and look at what was inside...she knew what it was, just as she was about to lift it however, she was startled by a soft knock at the door.
Rolling her eyes slightly at the interruption she got up from the cot small box still in hand, and tugged open the door. She raised her eyebrows in surprise as she saw that it was Marcus Fenix standing before her, deep down she was pleased to see him.
"Hey Marcus" Anya greeted quietly, she was still a little preoccupied with her thoughts, though she did notice that he was out of armour for a change, but that was only because it was the only thing she ever seemed to see him wear these days.
"Hey" Marcus replied smoothly, though he was looking over her shoulder into her room "Need any help moving anything?"
Anya glanced over her shoulder into the room, she knew what belongings she had to move but for some reason she checked anyway
"No, I've only got a couple of bags and a box"
She turned to the room and walked further in simply with the intention of gathering her things and heading to her new quarters on the naval ship, but she noticed that Marcus had followed her in closing the door behind him. Anya glanced about the room double checking, and gestured towards him.
"So...Where's the armour?" She asked in an attempt to trigger a conversation, some days it was easy for her to get Marcus into a conversation, other times it was challenging, though today she had resounded herself to the fact that if they were going to have trouble talking today, it would be on her account...she didn't feel like talking right now, even if it was to Marcus.
Marcus frowned a little slightly bothered by something, she didn't have the patience at that moment to try and decipher the expression.
"I've been helping move some of the furniture and reusable stuff" He said roughly his deep voice grating deep in his throat, it gave Anya chills though she didn't show it. "Armour can be a bit restrictive" He added rubbing the back of his neck with a scarred hand.
She just nodded, silently noting that the COG liked, no needed, to take as much material as possible with them when they moved and relocated, they could put all of it to good use, and in a world where technology had been thrown in reverse, it was essential.
Marcus looked at her thoughtfully as he dropped his hand back down to his side, she still hadn't moved from where she stood and she seemed distracted, even though she was glancing about the room, he could tell that she wasn't really looking for anything in particular.
"Anya...Are you okay?" He asked though the gravel in his voice seemed to ease slightly
Marcus raised a sceptical eyebrow, he knew her well enough to know when something was bothering her, and it irritated him knowing that she knew him just as well, but that was only because he couldn't hide it from her.
"You don't fool me" He said firmly earning a frown from her features; that was just confirmation that there really was something on her mind.
To start with Anya didn't answer him she was still a little preoccupied with her memories and was beginning to become a little frustrated at the fact that she was having a hard time keeping her emotions under control. Until now she had been avoiding his eyes but she chanced a look at her long time friend's face and was instantly met with his cool blue eyes, for a few moments she was trapped there intrigued by their uniqueness before she swallowed and took a deep breath tearing her eyes from his. She managed at last to find some words to offer him.
"I...found some things that's all, I'll be okay in a minute"
This spiked Marcus's curiosity, what could Anya have possibly found that could distract her? She was always so focused. He kept his eyes on her as she continued to peer around the room, though as she looked around they made eye contact again and he could see that she stumbled if only slightly.
"What's wrong?" He asked again, her expression was really starting to concern him, he could tell she was upset and that she was trying to keep it from him. In a way that relieved him, he didn't have the first clue how he would try to help her with whatever it was that was bothering her, he had a hard enough time dealing with his own emotions.
Anya didn't answer him just kept her gaze on him, normally her eyes would betray her when she looked at him, every now and then moving to look at him overall, his general physique with and without armour, the scar on his face, even the way he walked and carried himself...though right at this moment she focused her eyes completely on his. Without speaking or looking away she stretched out her arm and turned her hand palm up to reveal the small box she had been about to open before Marcus had knocked. Marcus peered at it carefully and glanced at her clearly asking whether or not he should take it to look at. Anya unlaced her fingers from around the box and held it out closer to him, with some delay he took it from her, drowning it in his large hand.
There was something about the box that seemed familiar to Marcus though he couldn't work it out, now with his eyes on the box he opened it up slowly so that he could see what lied within and what was affecting Anya so much. Involuntarily he blinked a little faster when he finally saw what it was and he realised why the box had seemed so familiar, inside on a raised cushion sat a star shaped medal. An Embry Star. It would be familiar, he had collected one himself along with Dom and the woman stood in front of him. He knew exactly who this star was awarded to, in all technicality it was awarded to Major Helena Stroud for her actions during Operation Leveller, though Anya had been the one to collect it seeing as how her Mother had died during the Mission. Now he knew precisely what was upsetting her.
Stiffly he closed the box and glanced at her to see that she was examining her feet, fiddling with the sleeves of her jumper and her now short cropped hair had fallen forward to obscure her face, he wished it hadn't. Marcus held out the box for her to take back and she finally looked up from her feet and seeing her now glazed and water filled eyes triggered something in him, but he forced it back down, albeit to his surprise and almost discomfort with some difficulty. He wanted to say something to her, but he didn't know what, he clenched his jaw uncomfortably as he sought to find the right words for her. Aspho had been a painful experience for them both and to his frustration he really couldn't seem to find the words to comfort her, he just kept drawing up blanks. To his relief Anya spoke as she took the box from him.
"What do you think my Mum would have thought about everything that's going on...you know with the Locust and Lambent and everything?" She asked shrugging her shoulders.
Marcus thought carefully for a few moments, he was determined to try and make her feel better somehow, even if offering comfort to people even to those closest to him, didn't seem to be his prowess. He flicked through his memories, dodging the painful ones in his determination not to stir up his own painful emotions. Major Helena Stroud as he remembered was a formidable woman, full of determination and always straight to the point, and she even scared the largest of Gears, but the most striking characteristic was her ability to motivate them, to make them feel invincible, it was her aura. Marcus thought that in her own unique way Anya had that too, if it hadn't been for her voice in his ear, he wasn't sure he could have completed some of the missions he had been tasked to do.
"She probably would have scared the grubs off to be honest, she didn't take any crap off of anyone...she certainly wouldn't have taken it off of them" He said carefully though his face was almost a smile
Anya smiled at his comment, and she even laughed a little, a genuine pure laugh, something no-one heard enough of anymore from anyone. The sound was beautiful and Marcus's smile finally edged its way to his features easing the frown of his face.
"I think you might be right Marcus" she said still amused
Marcus just shrugged and grumbled something, clearly not knowing what else to say but he didn't really need to, Anya started speaking again.
"Sometimes I wonder what she would think of me becoming frontline now after so many years in CIC" Her voice had dropped again and the bright smile had suddenly faded, once again she found that her feet were of great interest to her.
Marcus was dismayed at the loss of her smile and he edged closer to her, compelled by his want to comfort her in some way, he didn't like seeing her upset. Standing so close in front of her that she wouldn't even need to reach out to touch him, he gently ran his fingers through the loose tassels of her platinum blonde hair, guiding it slowly away from her face and tucking it behind her ear.
"I think she would have been proud of you Anya..." His voice was almost a whisper
She looked up slowly and met his eyes, she marvelled at how soft his gaze had become, he continued to surprise her with just how expressive his eyes were, they weren't always cold like many would suggest, you just had to really see him rather than the front that he held up the majority of the time.
Anya smiled softly "Thanks Marcus"
Marcus stepped back suddenly "Yeah...Well...I..." He stumbled, tripping over his words as he realised just how far his barriers had really come down, how did she always manage to do that?
She smiled up at him obviously amused by his sudden lapse, though as she shifted her stance something caught Marcus's attention. Edging past her carefully, he made his way over to the bed and bent over to get a better look at what he had seen in the box. In disbelief he scooped up a piece of paper that bore his image, as he held it he realised that it was a larger folded piece of paper. Slowly he unfolded the square of paper and found that it was actually an article from the Jacinto Sentinel, it was an article detailing his trial and subsequent sentence. He tightened his jaw painfully, grinding his teeth slightly as he read the title.
'Hero Marcus Fenix sentenced to Forty years'
Finally he found his voice which had somehow retreated whilst he had been gazing at the article
"Anya...why do you have this?" His voice was quiet and rumbled deep in his chest
Whilst Marcus had been investigating her box of keep sakes and his finding, Anya had remained fused to the spot, the light amusement she had gained from talking to him exchanged for an edgy nervousness at what he had discovered, though she too finally found her voice after some delay.
"I kept it because it had your picture" She said awkwardly "I...I didn't think I was going to see you again..."
Marcus focused on her eyes for a second, he could see he had stirred something in them, they both knew that there was a little more between them than either could find to admit, but it seemed Marcus had stumbled on those feelings, despite how carefully he usually trod around the subject. He tore his eyes from hers and re-focused on the article in his hand though he chose to ignore the writing and just examined his picture. It was in fact a picture that had been taken of him when he had been awarded his Embry Star, if he looked closely he could see Anya and Dom somewhere behind him. He remembered that day, he'd managed to avoid most of his painful emotions by concentrating on keeping the press and camera's away from Anya, Dom too was helping, both of them knowing that she wasn't ready to handle their prying questions detailing the fact she had had to report her own Mother's death and continue working after, though it wasn't that she wasn't ready...they were just the sorts of questions that she should never have to answer.
Marcus kept pondering on the fact that Anya had felt the need to keep a picture of him, he wished it was something he could deal with, he just didn't know how to respond to things like this. Slowly he refolded the paper ensuring that his image was on the top like it had been when he found it. He turned to her and noticed how worried she looked and before he could say anything, she had already started talking.
"Marcus...I'm Sorry..." She whispered quietly as if frightened that he might be angry
He raised his eyebrow curiously, in truth the article had unsettled him slightly, it was a part of his life he was continuously fighting with, but she had no reason to apologise, not to his mind anyway.
"Why are you Sorry?"
"I...thought I might have upset you" She said embarrassed
"No...No I'm fine, you don't need to apologise Anya...just a shame they couldn't of used a better picture" He said with a smirk, trying to show her that he really was okay with it.
His comment had given the desired affect and Anya noticeably relaxed, giving him a small smile which he returned with one of his own. Marcus held out his hand to her gesturing for the small Embry Star box that she still had, Anya gave it to him without hesitation and he took it from her, turning back to the shoebox, Embry star in one hand and his picture in the other. Just as he was about to replace the items he noticed some other things she had kept, there were her badges that she had attained as her rank had increased, though obviously she wore the Lieutenant ones. Marcus also saw sadly that there were also a couple of COG tags in there, probably from friends of hers that had been lost to the war.
Replacing both of the items he held in his hands and also the pictures he noticed that were on the bed, a sudden thought flashed across his mind. This little box was full of life, everything in this box had a memory and a story to tell, in its own way it preserved the life and time that had come before...he wanted life to continue to be preserved and he felt that he wanted to add something to the box, something from the present to ensure that life would continue. Marcus slipped his hand into one of his side pockets and pulled out a small square of black material, it was one of his bandannas; he always kept a spare with him in case something should happen to the one he was wearing. Slowly he placed the Bandanna on top of the other items, giving something of his own to her small treasure chest of memories, in his own way he was giving her a piece of himself and he hoped that she would understand what he was doing without him having to explain, because in truth he didn't know how to describe how he was feeling and he didn't really want to.
Finally he replaced the lid and picked it up tucking it under his arm, turning back to face her he was greeted by a pair of arms wrapping about his shoulders. The impact had startled him and he had almost made to throw the person off before he had realised it was Anya, her sudden display of physical affection overwhelmed him and he tensed up to start with before he began to relax, the initial shock wearing off. However he was no closer to knowing how to respond to her behaviour.
Anya started to pull away from him, she had felt every muscle in his body tense up when she had put her arms around him but she didn't care, she wanted to make sure that he understood how much his actions had meant to her. Not only had he tried to comfort her over the memories of her Mother, but his actions just now had meant even more, she had understood the symbolism of it, and she knew that he had a hard time expressing himself in any shape or form. She relaxed her arms around his shoulders and was about to step back when she felt one of his hands against her back, tugging her ever so gently closer to him and he tucked his face against her shoulder closing his eyes tightly. Anya responded to his sudden affection with a little surprise though she tightened her arms around him, closing her eyes as well.
After some time Marcus relaxed further, slipping his hand from her back and she took it as an indication for her to move away, she did, however before she completely stepped away she tiptoed and planted a soft kiss on his scarred cheek.
"Anya...I...I'm" he stumbled blinking madly
Anya just pushed a finger against his mouth to silence him "It's okay Marcus...you don't have to say anything"
They looked at each other then holding each other's gaze, when Anya suddenly heard Hoffman's voice in her ear, Marcus heard it too and he smiled a little as she rolled her eyes slightly and raised a finger to her ear to activate the little ear piece.
"I copy Colonel...I'll be there in about twenty minutes...I've just got to take my things to the Raven's Nest Carrier"
There was silence as Anya listened to the Colonel's reply and then the radio fell into static and she switched off the outgoing.
Neither of them had looked away from each other during the interruption, both of them aware that something had changed between them, between them they had managed to open another door, it would still take time to open any more, but Anya was contented that Marcus was opening up to her a little more, even if it was just a small piece at a time.
She gestured to the door "We had better get going...Hoffman's going to yell himself hoarse if I'm late back"
Marcus nodded and followed closely behind her as she opened the door and made to pick up the duffle bags she had placed there earlier, however Marcus stopped her taking hold of her arm gently and handing her the shoebox. Anya watched as Marcus picked up both bags, swinging the armour filled one over his shoulder.
She smiled softly "Thank-you"
Marcus smirked "No problem"
Anya left the small room, and Marcus walked with her to the Raven's Nest Carrier, carrying her bags for her, even if it was just an excuse to spend just a little more time with her before everything went to hell.