Characters: Mother, Dee
Setting: Before the manga.
Summary: Mother knows that Dee is leaving for the Police Academy in the morning…
Word Count: 794
Written For: The Remix Challenge at fic_promptly, remixing my ficlet ‘All Grown Up’, which was in turn written for Suzume’s prompt ‘Author’s choice, author’s choice, they mark their children’s heights somewhere in their home and say, “Look how much you’ve grown!”
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Mother Maria Lane stood in the doorway, as yet unseen, watching Dee studying the marks on the wall, one for each year of his life since his second finding day. The heights of every child who had ever passed through her doors were charted on these walls, along with their names and birth dates. They were measured the day they arrived, making them feel that they had a place here, then on every birthday, always excited to see how much they’d grown.
She remembered them all.
Dee had been here longer than any of them. Other children had come and gone, either taken in by relatives or adopted, but for some reason Dee had never been chosen. Perhaps it was because no one knew who his parents were, or if some day someone might show up to reclaim him. He’d grown so much over the years, from a tiny baby only a few days old at most, to the strapping young man she saw before her now, and though she loved all of her children, she’d always had a special place in her heart for him. He was like a son to her.
She smiled to herself, memories of his life here flitting through her mind. He’d been a trouble magnet, always getting into scrapes, and at times a troublemaker, indulging in petty crime, but she’d always known that deep down, he was a good boy. Tomorrow he’d be leaving her care, going out into the world to make his mark. She couldn’t help worrying, and she prayed he’d be alright. Raising the money to get him into the police academy hadn’t been easy, but it was Dee’s dream to be a police officer and she would willingly have done anything in her power to make his dream a reality. Despite her worry, she couldn’t have been more proud of him.
Approaching quietly, Mother came to stand behind him.
“You’ve grown so tall! I remember kneeling to make that first mark; you were so small. You’d been here two years.”
Dee turned to smile down at her. “You’d have to stand on a chair to mark my height now.” There was a teasing light in his startlingly green eyes, but his words told her what he needed her to do.
“Then that’s what I’ll do. Fetch a chair, boy, let’s do this properly.”
He jumped to obey, fetching the chair and kicking off shoes and socks to stand straight and tall against the wall, heels pressed to the baseboard. How much taller was he going to get? He must already be getting close to six feet, towering over her own five feet two inches.
Levering herself up to stand on the chair’s seat, Mother reached above Dee’s head, flattening his unruly black hair to mark the wall as accurately as she could.
“There. My word, look at that! You must have grown a good two inches since last year! Help me down, dear.”
A strong arm reached to help her balance as she stepped down off the chair. Ruefully, she realised she wasn’t getting any younger. Not that fifty or so was old or anything. She looked up at the boy who was almost a man.
“You’ve turned into a fine young man, my boy. But never forget, no matter where you go, you’ll always have a place here if you need it.” She patted his arm fondly and he bent down to hug her.
“I know, Mother. Thank you, for everything. I’ll write, I promise, and I’ll visit whenever I can.”
“I know you will; you’re a good boy, Dee.”
“I try to be.”
There was so much Mother wanted to say to him, but she couldn’t find the words. She was going to miss him terribly, eighteen years was a long time and she was so used to him being there, complaining whenever she asked him to do something but still helping her with the younger children, acting as occasional handyman, and lounging about in the untidy way that only teenaged boys seemed able to manage. The place was going to seem empty without him, but she couldn’t let him see how she felt. He was ready to fly the nest, had been for a while now, and he had his whole life ahead of him. But as he looked back at the marks on the wall, the whole of his life up to this moment marked out for all to see, she knew that he would always find his way home.
When he left tomorrow it wouldn’t be goodbye, just farewell. She’d done all she could to prepare Dee, now the rest was up to him, and she could only pray that whatever happened, God would always keep her boy safe.