Okay everyone, I hope this works. I'm going to try the scheduled posting tool and see if this posts on it own. I'm a touch busy today, so I'm relying on you Blogger. *points finger*
If you are reading this, then that means I have been successful! Voila! Aren't you proud of me? :D Alrighty, this is the last segment of this story and I hope you like reading it as much as I liked writing it. This story was something very different for me and I had a blast! So thanks for all the love. I'll be posting the full thing to My Stories sometime today with a blurb and links for you to enjoy. Thanks guys! Have a good day and stay cool. Damn, is it hot already. Phew. Haha. Ta ta!
XOXO NIGHT TEMPEST
ALMOST HUMAN (PART 3)
Amid the stars of space, Pin watched the station come into view. A round ring above the stormy clouds of the Fray, the station was enormous, housing millions of beings from different species. Cities, government departments, homes, schools—he and Jemma would be lost amongst it all. Dread built in his chest. Holding onto Jemma’s resting form, his eyes twitched back and forth out the window.
They were coming to a dock of some sort outside the station, a large divide in which hundreds of crafts zoomed in and out at many different levels. A beep sounded inside the cab, Five Star slowed down as a large barrier shot down to block them from entering.
Two large guards dressed in black—with shielded helmets—stood to either side of the free-floating entrance, their weapons very visible.
“Now entering City North, please scan your correct proof of registration.” A female droid’s voice came over the craft’s speakers.
Scarlett made a noise, rolling his eyes before fetching a card from the dash. He swiped it through a scanner in the middle console. The windshield flickered to life—a droid appeared scanning their information before the window shield turned green.
The droid wavered in and out. “Are you carrying any foreign cargo on your craft, 61349-JL?”
“No, we’re not. Get on with it,” Five Star huffed. “Like we would tell you anyway you bag of bolts.”
Scarlett looked around nervously, the guards leaning forward with their rifles at the ready.
“I am sorry, 61349-JL. Did you wish to make an inquiry? If so, please press the red button located on your console for the help desk.”
“No, we’re just fine here!” The top hatted trader laughed with shady eyes. The guards took a step closer.
“Welcome back to City North, number 61349-JL. Please drive within city standards and have a happy holiday.”
“Thanks ever so much, doll face,” Scarlett quipped, giving a cheeky smile to the guard out the window with a little wave.
The barrier lifted. Five Star put a foot on the accelerator—leaving behind two yelling guards in a haze of smoke. The craft blended into an interlocking system of free floating highways and high rise buildings.
“Welcome to City North, Pin.” Scarlett turned around and smiled. “Or should I say, welcome home.”
His face was a mask of evil. Pin shuddered, clutching Jemma to his chest. The craft dipped off at an exit, his stomach dropping again. Oh, Lawry he frowned. I am so sorry. I should have tried harder, should have listened better. But no amount of guilt could save him from these men. What would they do now?
Five Star pressed a button above him, entering a number into the touch board that now covered half the windshield. A few seconds later an obese man with a shock of bright yellow hair and glasses frowned back at the drivers.
“What is it now, you idiots? If you’re being chased by the Alliance, count me the hell out. You still owe me 5,000 Unis from the last time I bailed your worthless asses out.” The man’s voice vibrated around his body, deep and scratchy, not jolly like the overweight man Pin had seen in the holiday media.
“Now, now boss man. We haven’t forgotten your kindness. Have we Scar?”
“Nah, we actually have a proposition for you, something that will fetch a hell of lot more than 5,000.”
The boss sat back with beady eyes narrowed behind his shiny glasses. “I’m listening.”
“Come on up here, Pin.” Five Star cocked his head in invitation.
With no other place to hide, Pin scooted forward until the man wavering on the screen sat forward with a curl lipped smile.
“Well hello there, gorgeous.” He bellowed a laugh. “Well done, boys. What do you want for him?”
Pin stayed quiet. He was too frightened to say anything. He knew that he had to protect his Jemma from the bad men, so he did nothing to provoke them.
“We’ll discuss price when we get there, but count on our debt being erased and a commission of his wages on top of our finder’s fee.” Five Star shrugged.
“No more than 10 percent commission of what he earns and you have a deal.” The boss grinned as the drivers looked at each with twin smiles.
“Deal,” they chorused.
Pin scooted back until he hit the wall of the craft. He could feel Squish in his bag to his side, a small consolation for his troubles. His wages? Finder’s fee? Commission? What did this mean? Pin tried to let loose that emotion again, but he couldn’t figure out what he was supposed to do. Instead he buried his face in Jemma’s hair and clung to the tiny Pigme for comfort during his overwhelming confusion and pain.
Aurora ran inside, slamming the door and kicking off her heels. Running as fast as her bare feet could carry her, she headed for the basement. She had to save Pin. He was too important. He meant too much to be lost to the world that would be cruel to his innocence, to his growing heart.
“Lawry!” She yelled as she passed the men in the hallway.
Immediately sensing she was onto something, the Chief followed with Otis hot on his heels.
The basement door flew open, Aurora taking two steps down at a time. Her body was aching, her skin shimmering back to her natural petal pink with the turmoil of her emotions. Halting with a gasp in front of Lawry’s mainframe station, she turned to the men—not even trying to hide her original blue gaze from Otis.
“Aurora, your eyes, your skin…” Otis took a step forward.
“Aurora,” Lawry whispered in horror. The Naja was in trouble, her true identity coming forth.
“I can’t control it any more. My emotions are too much to hold it back for much longer. I am sorry to put more stress on you, Lawry. This form is making me…” She bent over coughing, gasping for another breath.
“Pin needs you. Squish…” She breathed in, a tremor running through her body. She knew this would happen eventually. The coughing, the tremors, the aches—it was almost time.
“Aurora, tell me what I should do. How can I help you?” Lawry grabbed her arms, helping slide the Naja into a chair.
Her hair began to bleed to a brilliant violet, her eyes glowing blue. Aurora was losing control over her form completely.
“She is Naja,” Otis whispered. “You knew? Lawry, my Gods, a Naja in the house this whole time!”
Lawry turned to his friend. “Shut up! Would you care to alert the entire house? Help me, damn you.”
“I thought I had more time, but I’m afraid I do not.” She shuddered, her breathing slowing. “We have to find Pin, now.”
“Tell me how I do that, Aurora. Help me, so I can help you.” Lawry knelt before her.
“Squish,” she repeated.
Otis shook his head to get over his shock. There would be time for questions later. “What about Squish?”
Aurora wiped her teary eyes. “I gave him to Pin for a reason. In case something like this happened. I didn’t think this would happen exactly, but in case he wandered off. He loves that stuffed toy. He would never leave him behind.”
“What is so important about Squish?” Lawry stood confused.
“There’s a tracking chip inside of Squish,” Aurora confessed.
“Oh Gods, you blessed woman!” Lawry kissed her forehead. “Show me.
Turning around in her chair, Aurora took a few seconds to compose herself. Slumping over the touch pad, she pulled up the device’s program. A 3-D grid appeared. Nothing showed for a few moments. Then it happened. A red dot blinked, moving at a fast rate through one of the station’s cities.
“City North?” Otis made a face. “But that’s not where we were headed. That’s the…oh no!”
“Fucking traders!” Lawry slammed his fist down on the table. “That’s underground territory. Nothing good comes from that part of the station. Where are they headed?”
“Got off at the Hersch exit, headed for the North Strip,” Otis said. “I’ll go fire up the craft. Send back-up to the house for Chief Moore. Report this, Lawry. I mean it.”
“Of course I will. Do you think I want to work side by side with a rapist?” Lawry growled.
With a nod, Otis darted upstairs, leaving Aurora and Lawry alone. “Tell me what I can do for you, Aurora. You look…”
“Like death?” She weakly lifted her head to him. “I know, because I feel it.”
“Is it that form that was making you sick?”
“Lawry…” She coughed. “I have…I have not been completely honest with you. Actually, I have told quite a big lie.”
“What do you mean, Aurora?” He looked around, suddenly feeling very paranoid in the basement with her. Her voice was chilling, like death itself was speaking on her behalf.
She gripped the table and stood. “I am not as young as I say, among other things.”
“Women lie about their age all the time, Aurora. It’s not a big deal.” He laughed nervously. His emotions were about to go haywire.
“Not this much they don’t. I am two thousand and forty three.”
Lawry turned his slack jawed face towards her. “Two thousand! That would mean you…you knew him didn’t you?”
“Yes. Gepetto was…he was my husband.” She brushed her violet hair away from her face, the wrinkles around her eyes becoming clear. “Pin…Pin was to be ours. I could not have any of my own.”
“By the Gods,” Lawry whispered, trying to plant himself in a nearby chair.
“Did you not wonder how I knew to find his memory card in the main frame or hook him into the system at night, or even how I set up a tracking device? I designed his appearance to look like Gepetto when he was younger, but…but when he died and I could not save my husband. I could not look at Pin’s face without seeing my fallen husband. I did not know what to do. It has been a long time since I saw inside that box.”
“This isn’t real. You are not real.” Lawry’s hands shook in his lap. He was sitting across from the person that knew Gepetto the best in life and death.
“I promised my love that before I died to this world, I would give Pin the heart that we always sought to give him. I had heard of your brilliance even on my own planet and I came to the Fray in search of you personally. Don’t you see Lawry? Not only were you the perfect match for my Pin in more ways than one, you gave him his heart. You have fulfilled our dying wishes.”
“Aurora.” Tears came to his eyes. Not only had he been given the world’s most precious piece of history, he was being given the gift of love, from someone who had experienced so much loss. “You are dying, aren’t you?”
“Yes.” They stared at each other for a few eternal seconds.
“Then why can’t you save yourself? I thought all Naja could give life with their blood? Can’t we call your sister to us?”
“Lawry, that is a myth created by rumors that trickled down from the truth. Only in death can we bring life.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that when I die, I will give my life force to the person of my choosing.” She stood, gripping the table for support.
“How do you give your life to someone?” Lawry grabbed her shaking arms for support. How had he not noticed her frail limbs, her uneven breathing?
Her blue eyes flicked to him. “You will know soon enough.”
“But, Aurora I can find you the best of care. We can help you! Please, don’t just give up. I need you, Pin needs you!”
Her thin fingers smoothed over his cheek. “My boy, you are only scared of things you have never felt before. You don’t need me to tell you that death frightens you, that being responsible for someone you love scares you. You will make a beautiful life together, you will be happy. You will know the greatest kind of love in all the Universal. You do not need me for that. I have already known that love myself and it is time that I join him again, to rest, to be together with the man I love.”
“But, I will miss you.” His eyes wavered, the tears spilling over.
“And I will miss you.” She brought his head down to kiss his cheek. “Now let’s go find my son.”
Gently, Lawry hugged Aurora to him. “I will make you both proud, Aurora. I promise.”
“I know. That’s why you’re the one.”
A bright neon sign surrounded by obnoxious flashing red lights read Land of Toys. Two large men in tight red suits manned the door, checking in patrons for a night of fun. Five Star parked the craft out front, nodding to the men. Getting out of the craft, Pin held Jemma tight—the two fearful of their destination.
“Ah don’t look like that way! It’s gonna be loads of fun!” Scarlett laughed, clapping Pin on the back.
They were guided inside, a dark red curtain being drawn to each side before they entered the glitz of the club inside. Men in donkey masks sat around tables, hiding their identities while young men in shiny red shorts with matching suspenders danced above them. Small hats on their heads covered their eyes in the darkened room, but it didn’t hide the way their bodies moved to the beat of dark music wafting from everywhere around them.
“What is this place?” Pin whispered in fear to Jemma.
“A bad place,” she whispered back. “We have to get out of here Pin before they do something bad to you.”
Jemma knew what the traders meant for Pin’s future. Even half in and out of consciousness in the craft, she’d heard the words wages, commissions, dances, men—they meant to sell Pin for work as a boy toy. Lawry would die if he knew where they were, what was about to happen. She had to get them out of here, but she feared for Pin’s fragile state, his confusion. Would he understand what this meant? Would he let them touch him just to stay alive? Then again, he wasn’t alive really, but still he was a person to their tiny family. They had to get out.
“You here for Mr. Candlewick?” A hulking man in a red suit and dark shades approached their group.
“Ah Romeo! Just the man we’re looking for.” Five Star grinned, pushing Pin forth. “We got his merch right here, you see. Can’t be kept waiting now can we?”
“Whatever you punks. Don’t test me, merch or no merch, I’ll throw you on your asses if you get lippy with me. You understand?”
“Aw Romeo, baby! Don’t be that way. You know you missed us terribly,” Scarlett pouted.
“I miss you about as much as I miss my tramp of an ex-wife. Come on, you’re interrupting the entertainment.” Romeo turned, guiding them through the club.
Soon enough, Pin found himself in front of a red door covered in glitter, sparkling here and there from the emergency lights above them. Opening the door, Romeo stepped aside, letting them through.
“Play nice or you know what happens. Remember last time, Scarlett, baby?” Romeo asked sarcastically.
Sticking his tongue out, Scarlett slipped past, pulling Pin behind him.
The door shut and Pin stared into the beady eyes of the man from the windshield touch board. The fat man rose from his chair with a squeak, his breathing heavy like he couldn’t breathe at all. His grubby hand ran over Pin’s arm, a smile on his face.
“I’ll give you twenty thousand and ten percent of his wages. Take it or leave it.” Candlewick grunted as Pin pulled away. “And what the hell is this Pigme? You didn’t say nothin about her.”
“Comes with the package you see. He won’t let her go or that damned bag. So take it or leave it.” Five Star shrugged.
“We have had a request for something smaller.” He grinned. Both Jemma and Pin shuddered. He wasn’t so confused that he didn’t know this man was bad.
“What…what do you want with us?” Pin asked.
“Where in the Universal are you from boy?” Candlewick laughed, his whole body shaking with it. “Why I’m going to make you dance and give our customers a good time of course.”
Pin cocked his head. “But I don’t dance. I wouldn’t know the first thing about being a dancer.”
“You know how to undress?”
“Yes.” Pin nodded. He didn’t like this, something was wrong.
Candlewick pulled him closer. “You know how to kiss?” He licked his lips.
“Yes, but I’ve never done so.” Pin looked around at the others. Their mouths were open, shock clear in their eyes.
“Then you mean you’ve never had…you’ve never had sex before?” Candlewick gasped. Dollar signs floated through his eyes.
“Jemma, what is happening?” Pin had that feeling again. The one where he needed to express an emotion beyond fear, but he couldn’t.
“Look, you jerk. He is innocent and he’s going to stay that way! The Chief is coming for us, you’ll see. Then all of you will end up where you belong, the Alliance Prison! Shipped off into space and never heard from again!” Jemma couldn’t take it anymore. The thought of this man touching Pin’s unused body, scarring the droid for life made her blood boil.
“The Chief you say? Which one? Moore I bet. That fool is in here every week!” The boss chuckled. “Trust me little one, he won’t have any problem with my services.”
“No. Not that Chief.” Jemma smiled wickedly.
“Where the fuck did you pick this up, you idiots?” In the first stages of paranoia, Candlewick started to flit through the reigning Chiefs and which one this boy could’ve come from. Most of the Chiefs were married, not a lot of them into men, but…
“Well you see. We may have been running taxi on the Fray earlier and…” Five Star clasped his hands behind his back with a grin.
“You what!” Candlewick went red with rage. “The only Chief that lives there is Kladah you fools! That is the President’s nephew.”
“Exactly, so if you don’t return us right away, Chief Kladah will have your heads,” Jemma spat.
Candlewick shook his head. “If I return you, he’ll know where you’ve been, who you’ve seen and I can’t have that little one.”
Turning to the traders, Candlewick growled. “Deal’s off. Get the fuck out my club and never show your faces here again. Bring this shit to my door.”
“But we had a deal! We were supposed to…” Five Star shouted.
“No, we did have a deal until you stole from one of the most powerful men in the Universal. You know what? I’m sick of these situations you put me in. Romeo!”
“Yes, sir,” Romeo bellowed from a speaker on the desk.
“Take this trash out for good.” Candlewick pushed Pin into a chair, blocking him from the traders.
“No, you can’t mean that.” Five Star backed into Scarlett, the two bumping into the wall.
“Oh I do. We’re done here.” Candlewick narrowed his eyes as Romeo burst into the office.
A red light gun pointed at the men, Romeo shot off a few quiet rounds until the traders slid against the wall, red painting the grimy cream brick behind them. Pin started to shake, lights flashing in his vision—too much to look at, too much feeling, too much everything. Convulsing so badly he couldn’t think, he slipped from his chair. Jemma screamed, trying to steady his body before he blacked out.
A gentle whirring noise was all that sounded. Pin shut down completely.
Ignoring the freshly dead bodies in his office, Candlewick crouched over Pin. “What the hell is this?”
When Jemma did nothing, but sob over Pin, Candlewick shook her. “I said, what is wrong with him!”
Turning her shimmering eyes to him, she sniffled. “He…he…oh Gods, he shut down. We have to help him!”
“Shut down?” Candlewick backed up with fear. “You mean to tell me that boy is a droid?”
“Yes,” she whispered.
Candlewick grinned from ear to ear. His day was looking up. “Romeo, get the craft ready. We’re going on a trip.”
After many attempts to keep himself calm, Lawry gave up. His grip on the seat’s arm rests was knuckle white. His eyes were narrowed, his skin was flushed. Those traders had his Pin and somewhere out there his love was under the impression that he wasn’t wanted, that Lawry didn’t love him back. Pin was probably scared, confused. Hopefully Jemma would be a little comfort for the droid…er man. Damn it, no she wouldn’t be, she was just as skittish as Pin was. The two of them would make quite a pair in this situation.
“Can’t you go any faster!” He barked to Otis. “They could be doing anything to him by now.”
“I have the sirens and the flashers on Lawry, but with this kind of traffic there’s only so much we can do,” Otis assured him.
“Damn you, Otis this is Pin we’re talking about. Fuck the rules.” Lawry pressed the red button on the dash. The help desk wavered into view on the windshield. A smiling female droid lifted a hand in greetings
“Chief Kladah, greetings.”
“Yeah hi, whatever. I need an escort to City North immediately.”
“Lawry!” Otis hissed. “If you do that then you they’ll know about…”
“Shut it, Otis.”
Turning back to the shield, he scanned his identification card through when prompted.
Another person popped up on the windshield. His uncle, the President was his next in line of emergency. The ID card would have connected him directly. The graying man sat forward with concern.
“Lawry, what is it? What’s happened? Are you alright?” President Cane sat forward. Lawry’s mother’s brother was the closest family he had after his parents had retired.
“We need an emergency escort. Traders have taken a member of my household and it is imperative we reach City North immediately to catch them.”
“City North? Traders and who have they taken, Lawry?”
“My…my…oh Gods! They have taken my lover. Please, Uncle!”
President Cane’s eyes softened without a word. His fingers moved over a keyboard in front of him. “Your escort will be there immediately. I will meet you there. And Lawry?”
“I am glad you have found someone.” His eyes were still full of concern, but a small smile tilted his lips before the windshield went back to normal.
Lawry could barely breathe. A smidgen of hope bloomed in his chest and he turned to the back seat where Aurora lay in her cloak. She didn’t have much time. That much was obvious—her skin becoming paler by the minute, the pink fading to an almost gray.
“Hang on, Aurora. We’re almost there,” he whispered.
Loud sirens pulled up next to their craft within minutes. The traffic parted, allowing Otis to maneuver above the flow and out into open space. Four crafts surrounded them—all of them Government officers that his uncle had sent. Otis gave Lawry a smile before pressing a button, landing them all against their seats. City North just a few miles away, and at this rate, only seconds separated them.
“What are you going to tell them when they find out about Pin?” Otis broke the silence as they pulled into the security barrier of City North.
“Nothing and let’s keep it that way alright?”
“Whatever you say, L.”
The barrier lifted for the fleet of government crafts. No guard would dare question them without a war going on or something of that nature. City North buzzed around them. Overpopulated, dingy, dirty, filled with crude service chains and criminals, this was not the place to be. Pulling out his tablet, Lawry monitored Squish’s chip.
“Hersch exit, right there,” he instructed. “Take that down to the strip.”
“Where on the strip, L? That’s five miles.” Otis huffed.
“Five blocks out at…oh my Gods, Land of Toys? Step on it, Otis!”
Lawry started to think of all the things he would do to those traders once he got his hands on them. Moore might have caught him off guard, but it didn’t mean he was weak. He would beat those fools into oblivion and dance on their dead bodies.
He pressed the speaker button, connecting himself to the other crafts in their party. “This is Chief Lawry Kladah. Our destination is Land of Toys. Once we arrive, I want the place surrounded, weapons drawn, and no patron is to leave that building.”
“This is officer Ryne and your message has been received, Chief Kladah.” A voice came back in recognition.
Land of Toys had no idea who they were fucking with. Not one clue.
Romeo pulled Pin against him, trying to stop his flailing arms. “Stop fighting me, you damn fool!”
“He doesn’t know you! The Chief always wakes him up. He knows you’re an asshole!” Jemma growled. They had used his pajama cord to reboot him in the office, but ever since then, Pin would not stop fighting the large bouncer.
Jemma was tied to a chair against the hall wall. They were getting the craft ready to take them somewhere. But, she knew the moment they left this place they would never be seen again. Pin was valuable. They would sell him and probably kill her.
Pin howled. Something was ripped from his back, a sharp pain somewhere along his spine. His eyes opened, he didn’t remember coming here. Jemma? Where was she? He struggled to turn around, but large arms pinned him in place.
“Yeah, you heard me. He’s alive I tell you! Well, I don’t know. Hold on.” Candlewick put down his communicator as he approached Pin and Romeo. “Hold him tight.”
“What are you doing?” Pin shuddered. The front of his pants was unbuttoned by Candlewick’s large fingers. His undergarments were pulled down. Pin turned his head with a sob. “Jemma!”
“I’m here, calm down Pin. I’m right here.” She tried to relax him, but how could she? That fat bastard had his paws where they shouldn’t be.
“Well I’ll be damned, he’s got the goods here. Turn him around, Romeo. Bend him over.” Candlewick grinned. “Gotta make sure for myself.”
“He has that too! Stop scaring him!” Jemma almost knocked her chair over with her violent thrashing. She couldn’t take watching this anymore.
“Are you lying to me girly?” The boss peaked around Romeo. “Cause if you are, it’ll make your death all that much sweeter.”
“No, I promise you. Now right his clothes or he might shut down again.” Jemma settled back as Romeo began buttoning Pin’s pants. The droid was shaking, averting his eyes from anything—probably wishing he was never awoken in the first place because he had never been born technically.
“Jemma,” Pin sobbed again. Why were they doing this to him? What had he done wrong?
She shushed him gently. “It’s alright, Pin. They’re done now. It’s all over.”
“Yeah right. I just sold him to a Kerogg official. This boy just made me rich!”
“The Kerogg? Oh my Gods.” Jemma thought of all the things those terrorists would do to him.
She shuddered. She hoped Lawry was trying to find them. In fact, she was sure he was. He loved Pin. Anyone who had been around could have figured that out. Now it was a waiting game. Would he find them in time?
At that moment, shouting began in the front of the club. Both Romeo and Candlewick looked at each other with fear. Government officers announced themselves out in the club, shots were fired, the sound of broken glass echoed through the hall.
“What did you do boy?” Romeo growled at Pin. “Are you wired?”
“What does that mean?” Pin tried to back away, but the large bouncer held him place. “What did I do wrong!”
“He isn’t wired, please stop this.” Jemma tried to get their attention, but she didn’t have to.
Government officers busted down doors from every possible which way, aiming red light guns at the criminals and Pin. The poor droid started to shake again seeing the red dots dancing across his body. Violence, such pain, he couldn’t take it anymore.
“Christopher Candlewick, you are under arrest by the Universal Alliance for kidnapping, attempted trafficking, prostitution in an unauthorized zone, underage staff performing sexual services, the use and sale of illegal substances.” One of the officers read off a screen attached to the end of a red light rifle. “Also wanted in Gweerah, for suspected Naja kidnappings and murder, trading, trafficking, and possible drug trade.”
“Gentlemen, boys, I think there’s been a mistake. I’ve no such things. I’m a simple business man.”
Candlewick laughed—showing his hands to the officers like it was all a misunderstanding.
The officer continued. “Consorting with terrorists, plotting against the Universal Alliance, treason, the sale of Alliance made goods to Kerogg officials, murder, sexual assault of a government employee….shall I keep going?”
Candlewick backed up. “What? Me? You’ve got it all wrong!”
“Pin!” A man’s voice made the droid squirm out of Romeo’s embrace.
Sucking in air, his eyes yearned to create something for the man before him, but unfortunately he couldn’t. Instead he settled for running into Lawry’s arms as fast as he could. He didn’t watch as Romeo was stunned to the ground and handcuffed, or as they beat Candlewick senseless when the doors closed behind them. He only focused on burying his face in Lawry’s neck as he was lifted off the ground and away from this place.
Lawry could only think about getting Pin back home. All of his dreams of torturing the criminals floated away like a breath of air with Pin finally in his arms. Otis carried Jemma behind them to the craft. No one said a word. It felt as though time was wasting around them. Almost as if something important was supposed to be happening. Their boots raced against time, out to the craft to some semblance of safety.
As the craft doors opened, more officers arrived on the scene.
“Don’t worry about them, L. Let’s get these two home where it’s safe. Just hold on,” Otis said once they were inside, but Lawry wasn’t listening.
He was busy looking at Aurora as he held Pin. Her hand slipped to the ground, her breathing more of a wheeze than an intake of air. She really was dying and there was not a thing they could do about it.
“Lawry?” Pin trembled in his guardian’s arms. “I am so sorry; so very, very sorry. Please forgive me.”
His voice was a little more than a murmur. The words were clear enough though—Pin thought this was his fault. “Pin, this is my fault, not yours. Will you forgive me?”
“No. I left you when I knew it was wrong. I was not supposed to leave. But I did and those men, the big one, he…” Pin sobbed because he could not think about it. Lawry pulled him into his lap, rocking the droid back and forth.
“Shh, it’s over now my love. It’s all going to be okay. You’re safe now,” Lawry whispered into Pin’s ear.
Over Pin’s shoulder, Aurora stared at them together—a small smile on her lips. Her eyes flickered blue before she closed them to rest a little. The moment her eyes shut, the craft lifted into the air. City North swept past them as Otis and the escorts zipped out of the barrier and into open space.
Emotionally drained, but still awake, Pin tip-toed to Aurora’s room. He had been cuddled in Lawry’s bed for a few hours, loving the feeling of his guardian’s strong arms hugging him close. But he wanted to check on Aurora so badly, the need strong in his chest.
After making sure the halls were clear, Pin rounded the corner to her room. A soft blue light glowed from under the door down the hall. As he neared, the glow grew brighter.
“Aurora?” He called softly. When he didn’t get an answer, he turned the knob.
On the bed, the glow pulsed around Aurora’s body. Her hand reached for him. Her eyes were wide.
“Pin, don’t be scared,” she encouraged him. “Please…”
Cautiously, he approached the bed. “Aurora, what is this?”
“It is the end and the beginning, my sweet boy.” A tear slipped down her face. Her hand found his. “You will listen to Lawry, let him help you, love you fiercely okay?”
“Okay.” He nodded, his chest clenched with some unknown emotion. “What’s wrong, Aurora?”
“Nothing is wrong, Pin. It is just time for me to go.” She coughed so hard, the glow rippled around her.
Immediately he dropped to her side, clutching her arm to him. “Please don’t go. I need you, Aurora.”
“No, Pin. You don’t need me anymore. You have Lawry and he loves you so much. But, I will give you something to remember me by.” She threaded her fingers with his. “So you will know how much we loved you, how much your papa wanted for you to know what it was like to live, to smile, to be free.”
He leaned down to make sure he wasn’t hearing things. “My papa?”
“Yes.” She pulled the scarf from around her neck, pulling off her necklace. Not only had it held Pin’s key. It held something else very dear to her. The square locket Gepetto had given her on their wedding day. “This way, you will never forget us.”
Tears rolled down her cheeks as she placed the locket containing their pictures in his palm. “Aurora, please. I will miss you too much. Please, don’t leave me.”
“I will always love you…my Pinocchio.” Her head fell back against the pillow, eyes wide. One last gasp breached her lips before the room exploded into a brilliant blue.
Able to do nothing else, but hold onto her hand, Pin was frozen in place. Looking out the window, the moon sliced through the stormy clouds of the station. Something special was happening to him. His body tingled, his stomach felt funny, his mouth was dry. He became sleepy, but it wasn’t nap time. How was he sleepy?
Falling to his side on Aurora’s bed, he noticed she was gone, but the glow still remained. Like a dream, a blue butterfly sat on his chest—wings glittering in the pale moonlight. Aurora…he thought before he fell fast asleep.
Lawry lazily opened one eye in the almost pitch room. Barely able to do that, he figured it was just Pin settling back against him. That is until he felt the blanket lift completely. Pin was getting back into bed. Where had he been?
The other man slipped on top of him, legs spread to either side of Lawry’s thighs. Lips pressed to his chest, scorching kisses that left Lawry helpless. Where was this coming from? Oh Gods, it felt so good.
“Pin, what are you doing? You can’t get worked up. You know what happens…”
His words were cut off with a mouth to his own. The droid wasn’t wearing his pajama top, his bare chest rubbed against Lawry’s. Immediately under Pin’s spell, he wrapped his arms around the droid’s back, flipping them over.
“Why are you doing this? You know we can’t…” Lawry stopped as he saw tears sliding down Pin’s cheeks—real tears, real emotion, a confident smile on the boy’s lips. “What is this?”
“I’m not sick anymore, Lawry,” Pin whispered.
His fingers traced the moisture along Pin’s soft face. His other hand glided down the droid’s needy body. But, he wasn’t a droid anymore, was he? He was real, the tears proved that. “But how?”
Slowly, Pin sat up. His lips found Lawry’s one more time before he bowed his head a little. “I found my heart,” he murmured.
Lawry knew what Pin meant. His eyes drifted towards the door—they were watery knowing that Aurora was already gone. Turning back to Pin, he pressed his lips to his lover’s. “Indeed you did. I love you, Pin. I love you more than anything I could ever imagine.”
Pin sighed with a shudder. The words struck him so deep. So long had he waited to hear that, to be wanted, needed, to be loved. “I love you too, my Lawry.”
Their lips sealed together. Lawry burrowed his lover back into the covers to show him another kind of love they could share.
One Year Later….
The doorbell would not stop ringing and Jemma ran as fast as she could. Lawry and Pin had taken a walk through the far gardens. Otis was in the basement toying with Simon—she rolled her eyes with a grin—and Malek was off with his fiancé, Violet Redstar, leaving her to handle things for a few hours.
“I’m coming!” She yelled, grasping the hook she used to open the door for she couldn’t reach it normally. “Ah there.” She sighed with relief as the door slowly opened.
Looking up in awe, a long golden cloak pooled around the stranger’s feet. Tassels in beautiful colors hung from the cloth all the way up to the petal pink face that was revealed from under a hood. Two Naja warriors stood to the female’s back, bowing to Jemma slightly.
“Hello there, little one.” The tall graceful woman crouched to Jemma’s height. Her lavender braids ran over her shoulders to the ground. “I am Jesta, sister to Aurora, and Queen of the Naja people.”
“Hello…” Jemma stared in her big blue eyes.
She couldn’t believe this. After the Keroggs were imprisoned to their own planet for trying to wage war on Gweerah and the station last spring, the Naja people had gone into utter seclusion—no more sanctuaries or witness protection, they had all, but disappeared. Now here she was looking into the face of their queen. The most beautiful female she had ever seen, besides Aurora of course. Aurora…
Jesta chuckled, the sound like a song. “I am sure you are overwhelmed with my presence and are wondering what I’m doing here.”
Jemma nodded, her mouth still hanging open.
“I have been summoned to come and see my sister’s son, my nephew…Pinocchio.” She smiled warmly. “Do you think he would see me? I have waited so long to meet him.”
Pin would be thrilled. He’d always wondered what it would be like to have his mother and father alive, but his mother’s little sister would be just as grand in his eyes—a real family member.
“Of course, of course, forgive my manners your highness.” Jemma bowed a little.
Jesta stood with a laugh. “Non-sense, you gorgeous little creature. Do not bow to me. We are family.”
Jemma smiled, her little eyes sparkled. Family? She put her little hands under her chin with a sigh. This was true happiness, related to a queen.
The Pigme held up her tiny hand. “Come along, I know just where they are.”
They were almost to the house. Lawry couldn’t seem to keep his lips off of Pin’s neck or his hands off his waist. Stealing a kiss from his partner, Chief Kladah pushed Pin into a tree—a moan escaping him.
“Lawry! What about dinner? I’m hungry.” Pin laughed, his stomach rumbling.
“You are always hungry. Ever since you were able to eat, it is nonstop with you! Chocolate this and chocolate that. Now hold still so I may eat you.” Lawry nibbled at Pin’s jaw.
Giggles turned to full on laughter as the two slid down the tree and onto the damp ground. “Now you’ve done it. My clothes are going to get wet.”
“Wet you say?” The Chief waggled his brows, earning him another laugh from Pin’s lips. He loved to hear him laugh. He’d never done that as a droid. But he was real now. He lived, breathed, ate, slept in Lawry’s bed, other things…
A small gasp from Pin startled Lawry, a soft jingle sounded from the locket around his neck as he moved to his knees. The man’s eyes were wide, his finger pointing at something.
“What is it?” The Chief turned around and mid-air, were two blue butterflies—actual butterflies like in books. How could this be? “By the Gods…”
They danced together, a twirl of shimmering blue and black—a trail of blue dust in their wake. By magic they appeared, but they left by flight—into the treetops and past the fog, leaving a tiny blue trail in the air. When the two men looked back at the house, a woman stood there—a petal pink woman with long lavender hair, a Naja woman.
“That is…is it really, Lawry?” Pin whispered excitedly. “I know it’s her. It has to be!”
“Happy Birthday, Pin.” Lawry kissed his partner’s cheek.
“You did this?’ He turned around in shock.
Lawry pulled Pin close. “For you, I would do anything.”
Blushing, Pin kissed Lawry slowly. “I love you, my Lawry.”
“Forever and always I will love you, my Pinocchio.”