A/N: A short one shot. Honestly, I have no idea where this came from, but I blame Bayonetta. You know, the video game, I was listening to "In For The Kill" remix for the game. It's a wicked song-remix; La Roux. I'm sure it's on PS3 too; when I get the chance, I'm buying it.
Disclaimer: Do I look like I possess the genius to create The Boondocks? No, I didn't think so. Aaron McGruder owns it. For the record, I do not own anything by La Roux either. They're not mentioned in the story at all, but you never know. Because they're always watching...you know...*twitch twitch*...the lawyers.
To those who read this, I hope you enjoy yourself. Don't mind leaving a review, I need the advice. Happy reading!
Love is incompatible with fear
Following the custom of things, it started with a question.
In the middle, where the plot strengthens, the appearance of a jar was relevant.
The conclusion was concise, and the story ended with a lantern.
A paper lantern.
The night sky was a perfect shade of royal blue, and the air was warm against his skin that didn't make him curl in discomfort. The stars were scattered within the blue; they appeared to be little fires dancing in the sky, their presence known by the flowing glow of light that circled them. On the earth, on the grass where he sat, it was a pleasant view to take in. The temperature wasn't aggressive but tender, and the night wrapped him in an embracing hug that he, for once, accepted in silence. It wasn't often when he allowed the night to embrace him, and it wasn't often when he stared off into the distance with a melancholic grace in his eye. It was a challenge for him to sit motionless at times; at times he simply had to move, he was an impatient creature, and it was difficult to just not move.
Tonight, that night, he reveled in the tranquility of the planet. The blades of grass tickled his palm instead of irritating it; he dug his nails into the dirt, not caring that the dirt would undoubtedly get stuck in the edges. It was mushy, still muddy from a rain earlier that day, but it had dried for the most part. It had dried. His legs were stretched out on the grass, and he inhaled a fierce gust of wind. For once, the life of the world didn't hold the distinct odor of man made industry. It smelled fresh, it smelled clean, and it smelled pure. He inhaled one last time, stronger and longer that time, for reference. He wanted to remember the smell; he wanted to remember the feel of it all. By time the morning sun would tilt over the horizon, he would have to forget, push it in the back of his mind.
"Are you going to sit there all night?" A voice asked him softly, "Or are you going to help me do this?"
He wasn't lying down but wanted to. His afro could've been used as a pillow of sorts; he would never use his afro for something as that. He glanced up in a backwards notion, moving away from the night sky, and he directed his focus to a pair of darker eyes that were etched into a half hearted glare. He stared at them dubiously, indifferent and curious at the same time, but he refused to rise from his spot. Her glare turned hard, and she snarled at him before finally turning away, walking in the opposite direction.
"What are we doing out here?" She stopped half way and lowered her head. She opened her mouth to say something, anything, but she left it closed and continued on. She abandoned her cars
"What are we doing out here?" His words made her come to a brief pause, and her head rolled back to him, her eyes impassive and expressionless. He thought he saw her lips move to say something, but instead, they fell into a thin line, and she continued in the direction she was walking without disturbance. He frowned at that; his tranquil moment was reaching its end. He wanted to prolong the peace, he really did, but watching her walk away from him made a burning sensation inside his legs rise. The patience he was holding onto by a thread began to thin and tear. It was only a second after their brief exchange that he was pulling his weight forward, standing on his feet.
Her departing figure was in his view. Her feet were bare, her pants were loose, her hair was tied into a messy bun, and she went off into the night life without a care. He called out her name, called out to her, and she moved forward without looking back. Eyes darted to the night sky, and he was able to see the skeletal design the stars had unwittingly configured into. An arm, a leg, a neck, it was all there; he could see it.
He said her name again, but he realized that she hadn't stopped walking.
In her direction, he watched as she slowly disappeared down the hill, her footsteps silenced by grass and mushy dirt. Something inside his head must have told him to move because he felt one leg lifting itself, followed by the other shortly after, and soon he was trudging up he hill, making sure he kept her in his sight. His legs were stronger than hers, much stronger, and it didn't take him long to follow the rhythm of her silent footsteps. In a matter of seconds he was closing in on her figure, the heat of her body reaching his, touching his.
The frown on his face grew, and the agitation was sharper than it was before. "What are we doing here?"
Her response was curt. "I did not ask you to come."
"But I'm here," he didn't miss a beat, "and I deserve an explanation."
He didn't recognize the land; she had given the directions. It hadn't occurred to him to ask, although he probably would've if he wanted to, but he had the feeling that everything would unravel itself sometime after making it to their destination. It reminded him of the great hill that looked above Woodcrest with the old, large tree in the middle. The land they were on was softer, gentler, and it wasn't a hill. It was flat land, and there was a pond, but the tree-strong and dignified, reminded him of his former home.
But, it was the pond, the small form of water, that had gripped his attention.
"Again, I did not ask you to come." She stopped in front of the tree, "The bulbs are lively tonight."
His lips parted to inquire, but she lifted one finger towards the tree, and he was able to comprehend her meaning. They were quiet, but their defining glow wasn't able to conceal them. Branches on top of branches were lighted with fireflies, and if he hadn't known better, he would have compared it to a Rockerfeller Christmas tree. This tree was different from a Rockerfeller Christmas tree; it was brighter, dignified, and the naturally of it was welcoming. Come to me, it spoke to him with its dignified presence, and he simply stood behind her, his eyes glowing in reverence.
"A traditional custom in the Duo family," she explained. The lid of the jar she was holding was removed, and she kneeled onto the grass, finding a small pebble. "I did this many times with members of the city." The pebble flew from her hand a moderate speed, nicking the tip of one of the branches. It didn't appear capable of disturbing the peace, but that one pebble made the bulbs scatter in various directions. Starting slowly at first, the rustling branch forced them from a calm, and it set them fluttering from the branches, group by group, buzzing around them in a swirl of golden light.
"Did you do this often?" His eyes were glued on the fireflies movements; they danced in the skies, they curiously touched their bodies, and they zoomed across the fields, playing with their companions. One approached the tip of his nose, and he could feel the faint heat stemming from its bulb. It buzzed around, curious and cautious, and he raised one his hands, reaching towards it, ready to grasp it. Feeling the hand closing hand descending on it, the firefly buzzed and fluttered away, returning to its group in the sky.
She furrowed her brow, "No, not often. Every now and then. I had fun."
"Were jars always required to catch them?"
"No, not always," she shook her head, "but it makes the moment last longer when you have a jar."
He moved to her side, and he watch her struggle with the jar. A small hand was placed on the lid, and her tongue poked out of the corner of her mouth. "Need help?"
She didn't want to say she needed the help. She didn't ask him to come with her, but he was stubborn. He wanted to come. He wanted to know what she was doing at seven in the evening, but what did he think she would be doing? It didn't matter; he was there with her now, and it was hard to overlook or ignore him. It was especially hard to overlook or ignore him when he had no intention of being ignored. As she tried to open the lid, she realized that her upper strength wasn't at its full potential. He waited by her side, a smug look grin in his eyes.
"Fine." She threw the empty jar at him, "Hurry it up. They will be gone soon."
"Fireflies move fast." His snide remark earned a hearty glare from her. "Whatever."
In one swift, full rotated turn, the lid was off the jar. He threw back to her, jar and lid.
"Thank you," she replied frigidly, "I appreciate it."
He shrugged, "It was easy."
She said nothing of it. Holding the jar and the lid on both hands, she started to guide her way through the fireflies. With grace that appeared to be unnatural, she moved carefully and tenderly. On the balls of her feet she balanced herself to catch as many as she pleased, and he was left in silence. It wasn't a surprising display, but it was a display that deserved to be respected. Especially, if it happened too little to accurately remember it. When was the last time there was a peaceful time between him? He couldn't remember, and if he did, he doubted the accuracy of his memories. Their moments shared had become little and few; daily routines of career and responsibilities had kept them apart.
His masters in political science...
Her masters in linguistics...
The strain had grown. The strain was there, and it was devouring their world.
It felt good. It felt nice. It felt relaxing to watch her, like this.
"Get the lantern. The red one." She used her chin to motion to the lantern that was only a few feet away from where he stood, "Hold it still while I put them in."
The lantern was a bright red color. It was made of thin material, and he held it still as she tip toed, ensuring none of the fireflies made their escape in the descent. They poured out of the jar like aimless bubbles, and she used her hands to guide them inside the lantern. Like bubbles, they floated in, their glowing lights illuminating the entire lantern. A heavenly glow had fallen inside the lantern, and he watched it without flinching. It was a sight.
She narrowed her eyes, "I put too many in."
She nodded her head, not entirely paying attention, "I only wanted three, but you see-I have six."
He brought the lantern closer to his face, "Yeah I see it. But why do you have an exact number in mind?"
"Because," she explained, "the bulbs represent the souls we've lost."
"Souls?" It soon dawned on him, "Do you mean loved ones? The ones we've loved and lost?"
"Yes, I do." She sighed, "I always try to find three, exactly three, but they fall in too quickly. If I try to release them, then they will all leave. I do not want that."
The lantern felt warm in his hands. He looked into her eyes, "What souls have you lost?"
She couldn't find the words, not when he first asked her. Her nail brushed against the material of the fabric, and she felt her heart sink when she thought of her answer. The years had gone on for too long; she had almost forgotten why she had done what she did. The lanterns were made for special occasions, but she remembered...her teammates constantly made them, special occasion or not.
"Grandfather, Grandmother, and Ling." She was aware of the cringe at the mention of her grandfather but ignored it for the better, "My grandmother died some years ago, before my arrival to America."
"You remember my sister."
It had taken him some time to remember, but an image of a younger Chinese girl, hair in a short, pixie cut. Her onyx eyes glistened with vicious severity, and her lips were curled in a sadistic snarl.
"She's the team captain now isn't she?"
Half-lidded eyes directed their focus in the opposite direction, but she didn't have to tell him for him to know it was true. She placed her hands on top of his, and when she returned his gaze, it was hidden by a stone wall. "She has been captain for a while now. She has done well." He could feel the sadness in her voice, but there wasn't much for him to hold on to. Her words fell into oblivion, misplaced and forgotten.
"If the fireflies are inside the lantern and they represent the souls of departed ones, but what is the lantern?"
"What have you lost Huey?" Her counter caught him off guard, she knew, but he didn't show it. He didn't flinch, didn't respond, and she waited for one too. "Who have you loved, and who have you lost?" Her hands tightened on his, and she peered deeper into his eyes. He felt the blood inside his veins boil but not out of anger. Memories...good and bad...began to make their presence known. Submerged in the depths of subconscious by a storm of denial, he saw the faces of those he loved and last. Smiles, hugs, words of encouragement, and words of abandonment was all he heard, all he knew. The strings of his heart were strung incorrectly, and he felt his chest tighten.
But he didn't say.
He didn't open his mouth.
She was able to accept that. Although they were alike in many ways, more than they would like to share, she knew there was one thing they differed in. It didn't matter, not yet it did, she could wait. She was notorious for her patience, and she had all intention to use it on him.
"At least I am not one of them," she said with a grin, "and I do not plan on going anywhere."
"Fate has a path for all of us."
She countered his grim statement with, "Fate is entirely based on our actions."
Using one hand, she removed the thin piece of paper that held the fireflies in. One by one, tumbling upon the other, they danced out. Their wings fluttered, and their light glowed around them. As they departed, their nearly silent buzzing didn't wash away her words to him, "Three for me and three for you."
"Do you really believe that?"
Why did he always have to ask that? He knew the answer, always. He asked. He always asked. Of course she believed it. It was the reason why she went all that way. He handed the lantern to her, and she took it.
"Do I believe it?" She chuckled, "Do I really believe it?"
"I understand that it's tradition for you, but how can you honestly believe something like that?" He couldn't believe or accept it, "It sounds like a child's fairytale, hopeful and frivolous."
"Is it bad to hold on to hope?"
His deadpan was visible, "Hope is irrational."
"But we do need it. All people need it. Besides, fairy tales, true fairy tales, would not be considered for children's eyes today." She smirked, "I have read the Grimm Brothers' writings."
"They are only remakes of other folklore tales," he retorted, "they did their research and made it their own."
"That does not count out the fact they are quite vicious in their moral codes and meanings." She poked his chest playfully, "Someday, someday, we will reunite with those we have lost, either in heaven, hell, or in between."
He cocked an eyebrow, "Purgatory?" She smirked, and he felt the waves of a threatening, bellowing chuckle vibrate in his throat. He didn't know how she was able to do what she did to him. It was only her who made him feel the way he did, almost...he dare think it, light. An immense weight was shifted on his shoulders; it was still present, very much so, but with her-it didn't feel as heavy. She reached into his mind, tapped into his darkness, beat it, subdue it, and then turned around to find his light, which she succeeded on each attempt.
She had a habit of temporarily restoring his light.
Whether he was conscious of it or not, he was grateful to her because of it.
"It does not sound so bad when I think about it." Her hands fell into his, and she marveled at the coolness of his hands, even when the weather was warm. When hadn't his hands been cool, contradictory to the temperature of the air. Her nails searched his palm, tracing the lines on the inside, and her eyes traveled, reading them. The lantern had fallen softly on the grass, bouncing softly and rolling away. She would buy another one if needed to, but it wasn't a frequent occurrence of hers. There was no need to worry; it didn't stop her from chasing the lantern and clasping hard onto it.
"We're probably going to hell anyways," he quirked, "I don't think God is too please with me."
She scoffed, "I was raised a Buddhist. I am not far off."
A pleasant quietness was established between them. She stared at him. He stared at her. It all seemed too good to be true.
The strain had considerably lessened.
"Three for my losses, and three for yours," she said, "that sounds like a fair amount, am I right?"
He didn't answer her, and he didn't have to. His refusal was more than enough confirmation for her. The evening had descended into a new level, and the stars were brighter than they were before. The bulbs on the fireflies shined brighter due to their closeness. With her eyes wide, she stared at the sky, and her smile faltered. Her bare feet began to climb the miniature hill, towards their (his) car on the other side, but something held her back, and she stumbled. Her senses were alert, and she flinched at the sudden touch. When her eyes darted to her captor, she knew something was different, something strange.
His grip on her wrist tightened, but he didn't move a muscle. "Ming?"
He didn't think it needed to be said, but he said those words anyway. She wasn't like most women, most women would've beamed at the line and their hearts would fill with warmth, but she simply sighed and gave a slight nod (she suppressed her smile). Instead of departing to the car like she originally planned, she curled up next to him on the grass. One hand was wrapped around her waist, pulling her closer to him, and the other was behind his massive afro. She pressed her head against his chest, and his thumping heartbeat was a lulling rhythm that brought her to a peaceful slumber. Together they watched the fireflies dance and buzz around the old, large, and dignified tree, taking in the darkened sky, cherishing it.
In the light of fireflies, twirling and dancing, he saw a pair dance alone. In their world they danced and buzzed happily.
Their combined light shined brighter than the stars and their friends, brighter than the full moon itself.
A sudden wind blew the lantern away from her sleeping grasp, hurling it into the sky along with the fireflies.
It ended there, in the night, in the firefly lit sky.
They were satisfied with it.
All because it ended with a firefly lantern.
I will wait for you, until we meet again.
A/N: It's 12:36 A.M. here. I have no idea where this came from, but I do hope you enjoyed it. Please leave a review! Reviews, favorites, and any other feedback are immensely appreciated!
Have a great week!