CHAPTER THIRTEEN – Father's Past, Son's Future
"Hey dad?" His voice was shaking as he closed the front door behind him. This wasn't a conversation he had ever anticipated having with his father. His head was still spinning from the events of the day. Something like this actually happening… it didn't seem real. It was like one of those things that people brush off. Just dirt on their shoulder that they thought would never affect them. He suddenly remembered his dad's critical face the first time they'd discussed what would happen if anyone were to expose the Lamina's to a… normal person. There was always something more in his eyes. It went deeper than a warning. Almost a tangible fear, a caution from experience.
Hawkin had sensed he'd once had a close brush with these same consequences; but he never asked about it. The distance in his dad's weary glance frightened him away from the truth.
Now it was time to face the monsters beneath his bed.
"Dad?" He peeked into the kitchen. "I need to talk to you… It's…" he swallowed, "It's very important."
Modo came meandering down the stairs tiredly. He cleared his throat, just once.
"Hey son. Is it something that can wait? I'm swamped with work." His eyes were shot through with red. It was obvious he hadn't been doing a lot of sleeping lately. Between his job and his still AWOL son, things had been pretty stressful. The last thing Hawkin wanted to do was to add to that stress, but it seemed there was no other choice.
"Uhm, no." He answered. "Th-this is pretty… pretty important."
"Alright." Modo looked down at the stack of papers in his hands, then tucked them politely under his arms before looking into his boy's eyes. "So what's going on?"
Faced with the moment, Hawkin wasn't sure just what he was going to say… or how he was going to say it. Hey dad, you know that big family secret? Well, I sort of blew it to this girl, and she completely flipped. That didn't exactly sound right.
"You might want to sit down. This is gonna be a bit more than a chat." With that, Hawkin took his own seat nervously at their Cherry-wood table. He'd never really paid any special attention to it before. It was just a table. Now he couldn't stop studying the dark swirling grooves churning within it. Anything short of meeting his father's eyes.
Modo gave him a sideways glance of concern. To Hawkin's relief, he didn't ask any questions. He simply sat sown, a weary crease dimpling his forehead.
"Sooo… what's going on?" He asked for the second time.
"Uhm. Well, first, I just… Dad?"
The crease grew tighter. "Yeah?" Modo busied his hands with a pencil that had been left dormant on the table. Suddenly Hawkin was wishing that he had something to distract himself with too.
"Whenever we talked about distracting… I mean, uhm, exposing the big… Lamina secret… well, you always had this, this, uhm… look on your face."
A cornered light crossed through his father's eyes. He suddenly looked so small. It seemed like it would completely crush him if Hawkin finished the question.
But this wasn't something that could be ignored anymore.
"Dad, you said that they kill people who… you know. So… did you, were you involved in something like that? I mean, did you e-expose it? Were you almost killed or something?"
The closed answer he received took Hawkin off guard. "No. I wasn't. Look son, I never exposed anything. I don't know where you're getting these crazy ideas from but forget about it! This wasn't important enough to waste my time. I need to get back work." He got up angrily from his seat, grabbing his coffee cup with him.
At that pint, it was obvious to Hawkin that something was plaguing his dad's thoughts. Something he dreaded even giving breath to.
Talking about it would make it that much more real.
"Dad, please! I'm not done. It's more than that."
Without sitting down, Modo sighed and looked at his son. "What else is there then?"
"Dad, something happened today, but I want… I want to know all the facts before I say anything. Please, t-tell me. What happened with you and the Lamina secret?" The question came out as more of a plead.
For several long and bloated seconds, Modo just looked at his son, facing what seemed to be a violent internal conflict. It seemed, for a fraction of a second, that he was just going to walk away; but in the end Modo sunk back into the chair, a broken shell of himself striking his usually grim face.
"I… I really didn't expose anything Hawkin." He began heavily. "It was another family in this area. Th-they didn't listen to me. I told them… over and over again that it wasn't a good idea. They didn't want their son to know what he was. That he was a parrot Lamina. Finally, I just… I never should have but… but I just left them be. There didn't seem to be anything else I could do about it."
He looked up with distant glossy eyes.
"They wouldn't even listen to their leader. But I should have known better. I should have insisted that they tell the boy. Think about what could have happened if he discovered his animal identity in front of… more than…"
Hawkin looked to him, a silent urge to continue. He felt sick as his dad went on, but it was something he needed to know.
"Next thing I know, I get this urgent call from headquarters. They needed me at the elementary school. Said… said something happened. I got there, and there's that same little boy. And, and his teacher. She was an outsider. She didn't know about us, but that…"
There was a long pause as Modo fought back the hard and painful knot in his throat. For a moment, he couldn't speak, could hardly breathe.
"…that boy, he shifted in front of his animal form, for the first time in his life, in front of her. It must have been terrifying for him! To suddenly morph into something inhuman. Something impossible!"
There was another break, as he gathered his thoughts and prepared himself to say his next words.
"Hawkin, son, do you remember what the punishment is for exposing us?"
His reply was a sickened whisper. "Death?"
Modo could only nod gravely. "But Verine didn't make any exceptions. She decided the parents were at fault, and so was their seven-year-old son…"
"What!?" How was it his fault!?" Hawkin's fists were at his side, balled up angrily, and there was a loud clang behind him as the chair he had sprang out of clattered against the ground.
"Look! I don't know! Okay? But I couldn't fight her decision! That was just it. There was no discussing it. Believe me, I tried!"
"So?" Hawkin spluttered incredulously, "So what, they were just going to kill the little boy?" His voice wavered. There was something deeply wrong with that. Was he really a part of a society that would do something that inhuman?
Modo pinched the bridge of his nose. "Yeah," he replied lifelessly, "that's what they did. The boy and his mother. That was Verine's decision. She punishment as well. I should have been more careful, more serious. I was ordered to…" He shivered, a silent sob racking through his body. "I was supposed to be responsible for their murder."
Hawkin jerked back. "You didn't! Dad, tell me you didn't!" The familiar bolt of pain hit him, hard and relentlessly. "Ow!, Dad, please! Say you didn't kill them!"
"No! I could never. I would never…" But there was still an indescribable pain in his eyes.
"Then what happened?" He demanded.
Remorse, guilt, anger, confusion, all infused themselves into Modo's stricken expression. His eyes were pressed shut, regret trickling out in thin, pitiful streams. Unable to hold his head up anymore, he dropped it into his dark hands.
"I left Mr. Vordic to do it. I just left. And then… there was two loud… two loud…" he coughed, choking on the weight of the final word, the word that ended two lives.
The sentence hung darkly between the son and his father. The father's shoulder's shook as he re-lived a shameful past. The son's eyes widened as he realized a frightening future. His mind went immediately to Madolin.
"Dad?" He said shakily, terrified of the answer, but just as terrified of not having one. "Dad, what happened to the teacher?"
With his head still in buried in his hands, and in years of blame, his father answered. "They relocated her."
"Relocated?" A note of panic crept into his question.
"They explained everything to her and found her a place with the Laminas. Somewhere they could be sure she wouldn't spread anything."
"Like a prisoner?"
Lifelessly, Modo shook his head. "No, not like that. She-she had a place, they just gave her a home closer to headquarters. Set her up with a job nearby. Now they monitor her to make sure she's still handling the shock okay. Look, Hawkin, I really don't… can't talk about this anymore. What exactly brought it up?" His voice was choked.
Hawkin barely heard his dad. His mind was still stuck on something Modo had said earlier.
What if Madolin had to be relocated? Monitored? Given a new place? Life? School? Moved around and messed with like a puppet? Like the Lamina's personal puppet… All because of me?
"Dad. I-I-I-I… I did something really, really stupid today."
Wow guys, sorry for the wait, and for the way I've been ending these chapters lately! XD The next one is my favorite so far! But you'll have to wait...