A Barter for the Sake of Old Memories

Chapter 4

Samuel Byrne.

"Dad?"

Dom wasn't sure at first if he had heard her right. She never spoke of any family members.

Her hand rand across the rough materal and over the stiching. She had no memories or anying of her father. Now his old duffle bag serfaces with a few of his belongings . She felt the bag's weight, very light.

Sam looked up at Dom. "I want Col Hoffman to be here when I open the bag. My father served with him at Anvil Gate. I think he should be here."

Dom nodded. "Okay."

She hugged the bag to her chest and closed her eyes. Was this the scent of her father? What was in here?

Whatever was in this bag, it belonged to her father and that's all that mattered.

A soft knock woke Col Hoffman from his light sleep. He got up on his elbos and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Beside him, Bernie slept soundly, the bankets pulled tightly around her slinder frame.

"Hold on." he called out quietly.

Crossing the small room, he opened the door to see Delta Squad stading there.

"Is everything alright?"

"Yeah." Sam held up the bag."I think you will want to see this."

He immediately reconized the bag. He alwao reconized the name.

"How did you get that?!"

"What's going on, Vic?"

He opened the door, letting everybody in. Nobody was really suprised to see Bernie laying there.

"Bernie, you might want to see this."

She sat up, pushing her hair out of her face. Today Bernie seemed more like an old lady than normal to Baird and that worried him.

Sam sat down at the foot of the bed and gently set the bag down between them as if it would break. She could feel the old bed sagging under the strain of her weight.

Bernie knew the name right away. A name she hadn't thought of in many yhears. She shivered, suddenly cold and pulled the blankets up around her once more.

"How the bloody hell did you get that?! Supposedly it had been stolen."

Sam sighed. "A barter."

Bernie and Hoffman gave her a funny look.

"She found out that I did Dom's tattoo and asked me if we can do a trade. I do her tattoo and she'll give me something worth my time. So I did her tattoo and she gave me this."

"I haven't seen that bag in so many years..." Hoffman's voice had gotten relly quiet.

Something baout Hoffman had changed. He seemed sad, and also looked much older. It's strangehow the years and war can suddenly catch up making a person look much older than they seem.

"I wanted you to be here." Sam said. "I knew you served with him so it's only right that you two be here when I open his beg."

"Thank you, Sam." Hoffman was honored that she wanted him to be here. He considered her to be like a daughter.

She took a deep breath and slowly began to unzip the only thing she physically owned that linked her to her father. She didn't even realize that she was holding her breath until she became light headed.

All eyes were on the bag.

Slowly she reached in, her fingers wrapped around the first thing she touched. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

Sam felt her heart pouding fiercly in her chest. Her breath was now rapid, causing her lungs to burn. She had no idea what thsi bag held, but she was surrounded by friends who will always be there for her.

The first item was a simple rason. The once clean shaver was now completely rusted and the handle almost completely sun bleached.

Her father's rasor. It was a simple rasor to anybody who laid eyes on it, but to her it was a prised possession. She turned it over in her hands, memorizing everything about it. She could picture her father standing over a sink to shave with it.

"Sam..."

Baird was cut off when Cole slapped his hsoulder, almost knocking him off his feet. He couldn't understand what was so special about a cheap plastic rasor.

He crossed his large arms over his chest and frowned.

"Hm."

Again she reached in this time pulling out a few items. A comb that had some dark hairs in it a mirror and a very old and pale bottle of shaving cream which was of course empty.

Was this hairs from her parents or did somebody else use these things. Her hopes were on that they belonged to her parents.

In the far corner of the bag she found som metals that her father had recieved. One of them was the Embry star, the highest metal that one could recieve.

"He got that for dying at Anvil Gate." Hoffman said. "I tried to talk to him into going with your mother but he wouldn't leave his fellow Gears to die whil he gets away. Your father is a true hero."

Tears filled her eyse and she quickly wiped them away with the back of her hand.

Bernie sat silently as she watched Sam pull things out of the bag that looked as if it's seen better days.

Sam pulled out a small leather notebook. As she quickly skimmed the pages, she realized that it was her father's were newspaper clippings and photos of places that he's been.

One photo fell out, falling face down on the bed. When Sam picked up, she noticed the faded writing on the back.

Sam,

This is the happiest dy of my life! Here is a picture of us so you will always have me with you when we are apart. That way you will always have me with you no matter where you go. I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART ALWAYS AND FOREVER.

Love always,

Sheraya Byrne

The handwriting even though was faded had been written very neatly by her mother. Sam flipped it over to get a better glance at the couple. They looked so happy together. Samuel wore his military uniform, his hair neat, s and a small smile on his face. Beside him, Sheraya sat in a simple dress, her hair framing her face beautiful and a big grin on her face.

Sam stared at the picture, studing their face. They looked so happy together.

"He really loved her. Would do anything and give up everything for her. They were in love, head over heels in love."

Hoffman nodded. "It still haunts me, the fact that he didn't escape with your mom and ended up dying there. He shouldn't have stayed. he should have just gone like I told him to."

She scanned the pages, looking at the different dates. She quickly read through a page about the wedding and a few others about the unborn baby.

Before she knew it, a single tear slid down her cheek all the way down hewr chin. When one that escaped it gave way to another and then another until she couldn't stop them.

"I'm sorry, I just can't stop..."

Bernie placed a hand on her knee. "You don't have to apolise and you really don't have to continue if you don't want."

"No. I'm fine really.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah."

Carefully she placed the book on teh bed and went back to searching the bag.

As she searched the bag, her fingers ran across a paper and gave her a paper cut.

"Ouch!" She put her finger to her mouth and tasted blood.

"You alirhgt?"

"Yeah just a papercut."

Carefully she pulled out a long rolled up piece of paper and carefully unrolled it. It took her breath away.

It was a beautiful water panting of her parents on their wedding day. Samuel Byrne stood wearing his COG uniform, beside him stood his very beautiful new bride. Sam, her father had an arm wrapped around her lovingly, as the city of Kashkur streached out behind them.

"That's..."

"I remember that day." Hoffman said. "Our superior officer was a painter and the day your parents got married, he panted them as a wedding gift. "

Sam's dark eyes scanned the panting, memorizing everything she could about her parents. It was once a very vibrent color painting of a desert homeland, but the color had faded greatly.

"That is something that I haven't seen in a many long years."

"It's beautiful." Anya said quietly.

Hoffman smiled "He was a very talented artest. We use to go to the top of this hill just so he could sketch and paint."

She ran a finger across their fading faces.

"I wish I met my father. All I ever grew up on was the stories my mother told me."

"A true hero." Bernie whispered.

Hoffman slid a hand under the covers, took Bernie's hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze. In return, she squeezed back and gave him a gentle smile.

In the sort time they all had spent crammed in that tiny room, they had become much closer. It was a barter, for the sake of the old memories that was just so worth it.

THE END