Reyes Appreciation Week: Fanfiction Prompts
Day 1: The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye
Reyes sat at the swing, both his feet planted firmly on the ground. He didn’t feel like moving; being stationary, safe, motionless soothed him somehow, gave some kind of constancy to his life. At this hour, the playground was empty. Normal people living on the Citadel probably were eating breakfasts or taking showers or maybe still sleeping in their warm beds.
The eight-year-old wished briefly that he was one of them before he chastised himself for being silly.
Suppressing a yawn, he blinked a few times to give his bleary eyes some respite. He probably would have dozed off if it weren’t for his grumbling stomach, loud like exploding bombs. Dad had one of his drunken episodes last night, so Reyes knew better than to return home. He wasn’t too worried though. Not the first time, not the last, he’d be fine. If there was one thing he was really good at it was surviving. An hour or so and the marketplace would open, giving him a plenty of opportunities to steal some food. Last time he grabbed a whole pineapple, which sustained him for a whole day. The memory brought a smile to his face and a deluge of saliva into his mouth.
Realistically, he probably should aim for something more nutritious. Fried chicken, that would be nice. Or some bacon. Yum…
Reyes shook his head, chasing these thoughts away. If he kept that up, he would drool all over his shirt. He forced himself to divert his attention elsewhere, away from his empty stomach.
Someone was actually approaching the playground. A young human woman with dark hair as he noticed, pushing a stroller with two babies inside, twins from the look of it, maybe a year old or so, he wasn’t sure. Their big blue eyes were open wide as they babbled something not even resembling proper words.
The woman gave Reyes a long look, as if assessing if he would be any danger to her children. It was only fair, since he gave her an identical once-over. Silently, they gave one another a benefit of the doubt. Somewhat reassured, the woman sat on a nearby bench. She reached into a bag hanging from the handle and fished out from there various plastic containers. Reyes observed her curiously. And once he realized that they were full of food, he groaned inwardly.
The babies got a chunk of apple each. The boy promptly tried to put it into his nostril, the girl threw hers at her brother with a joyous squeak. The mother sighed with exasperation and gave her a biscuit instead. Then she took out a sandwich and began to eat herself.
Reyes gawked at her so intensively as if he wanted to burn a hole in her chest. He had learned by now that the universe hated him, but that was just cruel.
Finally, the woman seemed to have noticed his gaze and stared back at him. Reyes quickly turned his head away, shifting uncomfortably. The hunger was starting to get to him, a black hole inside of him threatening to swallow him whole.
He observed warily as the woman, after a moment of pondering, packed her things and started to push the stroller with munching babies towards him.
Reyes jumped off of the swing, ready to bolt. Nothing good ever came from adults coming too close to him.
“It’s okay, I don’t want to hurt you.”
Reyes gave her a look far too cynical for an eight-year old. He didn’t relax his stance. If anything, he tensed even more.
She stopped in her tracks, changing her tactics.
“Are you lost?” she asked, her voice sounding kind and caring. Reyes wanted to believe that she wasn’t faking it.
“No,” he replied carefully.
“Where are your parents?”
The honest answer – my mother left and my father is lying in a puddle of his own puke, sleeping off a rowdy night at the bar – wouldn’t do.
“They went shopping, will pick me up soon,” he lied smoothly. He was good at it, but the woman didn’t seem to buy it anyway. Even the twins cooed loudly in unison, as if seeing through his deception. Not good.
The mother hesitated, but then grabbed one of the boxes and extended it towards him.
“Are you hungry?” she asked with a smile, clearly hoping to encourage him. “I think I’m full already, shame for it to go to waste.”
Reyes wanted to say no, but the rumbling in his stomach answered for him.
“It’s okay, take it. Really.”
Ugh, he knew that he shouldn’t accept anything from strangers. That was a horrible idea, one that could cost him a kidney or his life. But he was so hungry, it was maddening.
Step by step, like a frightened animal ready to escape at any rapid movement, Reyes came closer to the woman. He took the box agonizingly slow, still quite unsure how this all would end. Carefully, his gaze flickering from the container to the woman, he opened the lid. And gasped, his eyes widening.
It was a feast worthy of a king – two chicken sandwiches, an apple, banana, chocolate bar, a few candies in a wrapper and a small bottle of orange juice.
Even if the food turned out to be poisoned, hell, it would be worth it.
“Thank you!” he said eagerly and without any delay, in case she changed her mind, shoved one of the sandwiches into his mouth, swallowing half of it almost without chewing. The taste was heavenly, he had never eaten anything tastier. Greedily, he finished the sandwich and bit into another, wolfing it down. He was only vaguely aware of the woman’s gaze on him, a strange mixture of joy and sadness.
He was far more aware of the giggle and a weak tug at the edge of his shirt. Reyes looked down and saw that the boy grabbed a fistful of his clothes, looking up at him expectantly. The baby babbled something in a language only he himself understood. Or maybe he didn’t.
“I think Scott wants to say hi,” said the mother anyway, stroking fondly the boy’s head. In that one gesture Reyes saw more love than he had ever experienced in his entire life.
“Hello, Scott,” he replied, not sure what he was feeling right now.
The baby giggled. An infectious, joyous, carefree laughter of someone who was still so full of life, so innocent.
Reyes smiled at him, genuine for the first time. And then he offered the same smile to the boy’s mother.
Today the Citadel seemed a little brighter.