Blackboxes by planet p
Disclaimer I don't own Code Name: Eternity or any of its characters.
It must have been about four in the afternoon, the sky a cloudy grey, complete with icy cold sheeting rain, but all that Sibel Kirkland knew was that it was the end of the world: the end of her world. Her four-year-old daughter, her precious child, Ally, had just died.
She stepped out of the hospital and didn't get even to the sidewalk before she fell to the concrete, but she didn't feel any pain: the pain in her soul eclipsed all of that. A parent should have been able to protect her child, and she was the only parent Ally had known; she'd never known her father, he'd left Sibel before Ally had even been born. But Sibel had lived; she had lived, from that day on, for Ally; to be Ally's mother. And now Ally was gone.
It didn't matter that she was hardly dressed for the weather, that she wore a ridiculously bright summer dress, or even that she was, by then, soaked to the bone. She didn't even feel the rain. Hot tears streaked her face, not the rain. The rain didn't even exist.
Nobody stopped. Maybe it was the weather, the driving rain, maybe not. Sibel's tears continued; horrible, wretchedly loud, scene-causing tears, yet there was no scene, just a woman crying alone in the rain.
Crazy woman, hey?
To all of those people rushing about under their umbrellas, rushing somewhere - who knows where - Sibel knew she was nothing more than an unnecessary complication. Someone might have stopped, but no-one wanted the complication. Especially when it was raining as it was. Such an inconvenience.
It had started to rain sometime after four, which was when he'd last checked his watch. People were so predictable, so boring. He was bored already, and he'd only been at the café for twenty or so minutes. He hadn't touched a bit of his coffee, but he'd gotten it so as not to look out of place, so as to blend in. Stupid people, how easily they could be placated, how easily they could be assured that nothing was wrong.
Or maybe they knew things were wrong, all around them, everyday, but it was just easier to say, 'It's not my business.' Easier until it was there, in their faces, in their front yard, in their homes.
He didn't sigh, as someone might in thought, but merely continued to watch these people. He was not, after all, human. He wasn't really anything. He wasn't even really alive; not really.
Across the street, through the rushing cars, he saw a woman step out of the hospital, come down the steps, and fall to her knees. She was crying, he supposed.
Though people continued to pass, and to come up and down the steps, not a single person stopped to ask why she was crying, if something was the matter. If anything, they avoided her. Embarrassed, offended... he wasn't sure; he didn't care.
Silly woman, he thought. Get up. You're making a fool of yourself, can't you see? No-one is going to stop for you; you frighten them. Don't be so needy; if you reveal your neediness straight out like that, no-one's going to want anything to do with you.
Well, save perhaps for the cops, he thought, trying to suppress a smile. Why that was amusing, he wasn't sure. He was not a person, he was a robot, for lack of a better term, and a robot was not supposed to have a sense of humour, was it?
Still, why should he not smile? What a silly woman!
Sibel wiped away her tears, though more came almost immediately. Or perhaps that was the rain. With a sudden clarity, she stood. She knew what needed to happen now, what she had to do. For Ally. Ally might have been gone - they all might have said she was dead - but Sibel knew that she would never stop being Ally's mother.
"I'll be with you soon, my baby," she whispered softly, and the rain took away her voice.
She walked toward the road, and she began to smile. She would be with her child soon, then she would take her hand and they would face whatever came next together; as a family.
Then, she remembered Ally's favourite song, and she began to sing; so Ally would know it was alright, and not to be afraid.
As she drew closer to the road, to the speeding vehicles flashing by like colourful fish in a county stream, she even began to feel happy, to feel freer; her steps became lighter. She was so happy.
And then, there was Ally. Made of rain and smiling, holding out her hand. Just across the road.
He leant forward in his chair, narrowing his eyes. Now what was the woman up to? She was surely mad, he thought, look at her. Just look.
She was smiling now, and it made him wonder if she'd seen his amusement and was saying, 'Hey, stuff you, man - I get the last laugh, not you!' Robot, he felt like mouthing, but that wasn't likely given that she wasn't even looking at him. In fact, she was talking now. Or... singing.
Leaving his coffee untouched, he got to his feet. What was this about, then? Why was she singing? Was she really mad? How interesting.
He caught the direction of her gaze and looked there, too, but there was nothing there, no-one there, though, the woman was clearly looking there, right there.
"What are you looking at?" he asked, out loud, then wondered why he'd done so. It wasn't as though the woman could hear him from across the street, or as though, if she had been able to hear him, he would have been terribly interested to hear her reply.
He watched her draw closer to the road, walking slowly but meaningfully, with purpose and surety, but when he expected her to slow, or reach for the crossing button, she did not.
You really are mad! he thought, then he frowned, as though trying to will his thoughts across the space between them.If she killed herself, she'd ruin his whole afternoon. It had been uneventful, so far, that was true, but today, he'd been perfectly content with peaceful; he could live with the slight annoyance of that.
And really, she seemed fine. There was no reason whatsoever for her to kill herself, for her to throw her life away like that. If he'd been alive, he thought, he might have had a little more consideration for his mortality. Life was a gift, after all.
And a gift, it seemed, he was unworthy of.
And this woman was willing to throw hers away without a second thought.
This was the end; the credits were about to roll and she could even hear the ending theme, a pop song by Ishtar Alabina, she fancied. A bright, joyous song to end the whole show; to give the audience a glimmer of hope, of happiness.
She quite liked the song, actually, she thought. It was a good song. 'Can you hear it, too?' she wanted to ask Ally, but maybe Ally could. She was smiling; she wasn't in pain anymore, she wasn't scared anymore.
I'm almost there, Sibel thought, and stepped onto the road.
The woman flew back onto the pavement with a thud that might have been hard enough to knock her out, but, no, a second later, she was screaming like she was being murdered. Mad, he thought dryly. The mad woman then proceeded to struggle, trying to finish the job, he supposed.
A group of teens in colourful raincoats who might have been high school girls had stopped to watch out of mild curiosity.
He ignored the teens. The woman was pounding her fists on his chest as though she thought he might take offence and think, If this is what I get for my efforts, go ahead! He was already wet, so what was the difference if he got wetter. Because a bit of rain was such an inconvenience. Maybe to someone who was actually alive.
The woman stopped struggling, finally, and he almost sighed - wouldn't that have been anyone else's response?
The woman sunk her teeth into his arm, and, in the time it had taken him to frown, the woman had pushed him off her and was back on her feet.
The teens shook their heads at him: Oh, he was effective. That much was evident.
'What would you know!' he felt like hissing. 'I don't see you doing anything!' Or perhaps they were waiting for the woman to finish it; perhaps it was the spectacle that interested them, just like it drew people in droves to the picture theatres.
Isn't that sick? he thought, standing and seizing the woman around the waist, to much screaming and kicking and scratching.
Give it up, woman! he thought. He was tired of her antics, already. But he supposed he was the only one to blame that he'd gotten himself involved, and now he couldn't exactly let her go without implicating himself. 'Why'd you let her go, huh?' 'Ah, she was getting to be rather annoying; I thought, Just let her do her thing. Did I do something wrong?' 'Mmm...'
"Do you want to die?" he shouted. He didn't expect the woman to see reason, much less to listen to anything he had to say, but, for some reason, she froze. Is that it? he wondered. Can I go now? Has she seen what she'd really be throwing away? Has she scared herself enough, and now she's decided to back down; to take the humiliation but live?
The woman spun around, standing, now, too close, but things like that didn't get to him; he wasn't alive, he wasn't even human. He wasn't that easily intimidated. It struck him though, that her hair hadn't moved the way it should have; it was heavy with rain, shiny black. It was very long; she must have cared for it, for what it did for her image; how long did it take to keep it looking as nice as it did each day, free of tangles?
She didn't have an angry glint in her eye, and if she had any life there, any shine, that was just the rain. "Do you?" she breathed, and it was so without emotion that it felt... wrong.
Then she spun back around, slipping easily out of his hold.
The strangeness of it all, the sheer stupidity, perhaps, had finally gotten to him, and now, it had made him slack. If he'd just accepted it, if he hadn't tried to work it out, then he'd not have let her go; he'd have held fast no matter what.
One of the teens put a hand over her mouth, another turned away, one stared with wide eyes. If he'd had a heart, it might have stopped.
He reached for the woman, but she was out of reach.
Oh, shit! Those kids were never going to forget this, were they?
He reached again, and found purchase on her arm, yanking her back from the path of a fire truck just in time. (In this weather?
A real hero, huh? Thought I'd let her pull a trick like that, huh, kids? Couldn't let her hold up the authorities; there might be lives at stake.)
It may only have been a second - the teens must have still been freaking out - but suddenly she'd spun back around and it occurred to him that he might have grabbed her arm a little less harshly; he didn't want to knock them both unconscious, after all. Or just her.
Hey, there's an idea.
But he'd already reached out his free hand to grab her arm. Stupid, stupid, stupid! It's not a game, Dent!
Tears filled her eyes like magic; foiled again!
Perhaps he'd been the one spending too much time watching television, and it had subtly worked its way into his... software... but he leant closer and pressed his lips to hers.
It must have felt like she'd been slapped, but he felt exactly the same way. What the Hell?
He stepped apart from the woman in a flash, but didn't let go of her arms. Thinking fast, he said the first thing that occurred to him to say: "You bit me."
But he wasn't thinking about that, instead he was thinking, She's freezing cold. How can a living being be so cold?
The woman burst into tears, prompting him to hold her arms tighter. There was no way she was getting away again, he'd made enough of a fool of himself for one day.
One of the teens had strode over and was holding her cell phone out in front of her as though it was a weapon. "Do you want me to call the cops, lady?" she shouted. "What are you playing at?"
"Fuck off!" the woman sobbed.
The teen looked gobsmacked, then she huffed angrily. "No, fuck you, bitch!" she spat, crossing her arms and stalking back to her friends. "Crazy fucking bitch!"
"Come on, now," Dent told the woman. "You're causing a scene."
"Get the fuck off me!" she screamed, attempting, without success, to pull her arms from his hold.
"Bite me," he replied.
The woman laughed bitterly, choking on her tears. "You didn't get enough the last time, huh?" she hissed.
Obviously, that had been the wrong thing to say, he thought, kicking himself for having forgotten that already. If he'd been a person, it would have really hurt. "Actually, I find a certain aggression in a woman sexy."
"You sicko!" she spat; her disgust now written all over her face. The teary eyes made it worse.
"I'm the sick one, now? You don't see me throwing myself into the traffic for all the world to see, gore and all, but I'm the sick one?"
"My life has nothing to do with you!" she screamed.
"Now, that isn't true," he lied. "The moment I saw you, I knew you were the one. I knew you were my angel. I couldn't let you do it."
The woman tugged on her arm, to no avail. "Let-!" She scowled. "There's no such thing as angels, you lunatic!"
"If I choose to believe in angelic beings, I believe that is my choice, is it not?"
"Let me go, you idiot!" she growled. "I'm not going to do anything now!"
He'd have put a hand over his mouth, but he was holding the woman's arms. "How can I trust your words?" he asked, frightened by his tone and the smile that had crept up on him, turning his mouth suddenly in a smile.
The woman sniffed. "I'm tired," she whispered, too tired to shout, and sagged a little.
"It's raining," he told her, "and you're like ice." Don't say another word! Not another word! "I'm not surprised."
She fell against him. "I'm sorry. My daughter just died."
Let this be the end, he thought. Let me hail her a cab, and let it be over.
The woman gathered her strength to straighten and lift a hand to his cheek. "You, too," she whispered, and stood a little taller on tiptoes to press a kiss to his lips. "Thank you."
He took his hands from her arms and watched her step backward and duck her head for a second, looking to the ground, for only a moment. When she caught his eyes again, a small smile graced her features.
She passed him without another word, and he stood in the rain for too long, not daring to turn and look to where she'd gotten off to, not daring to say anything, much less, 'Goodbye and good luck.'
He closed his eyes, and when he turned around, finally, the woman was nowhere in sight, just as if she'd been nothing more than a dream.
He gave a heavy sigh, and smiled. Then he walked back to his car.