Heero opened the front door and glanced down at the
paper thrown haphazardly onto the stoop. He was bending
down to retrieve it when he felt a nudge at the back of his
leg. A half-smile grew on his lips as it always did
whenever he looked at the fully grown, but still puppyish
“Good morning, Kirei,” he said softly, reaching down to
scratch the dog between her ears. She whined with pleasure,
her bushy tail thumping on the carpeted floor and her collar
tinkling as her entire body wriggled with the force of her
contented wags. Heero looked out towards the street with
the dog at his side. His thought about how lucky he was to
be standing there in his new house, listening to the sounds
of his husband making breakfast in the kitchen and of his
daughter’s radio as she dragged herself through her morning
After that whirlwind day, when their lives had been
summarily destroyed only to be suddenly but gloriously
restored, Heero hadn’t wasted a moment in laying the
foundations for their new life as an official family. Not a
week after the ink had dried on the permanent custody order,
Heero had bought a house and moved his loved ones from his
cramped apartment. The neighborhood was quiet, peaceful
and, above all, blissfully normal. There was no trash on
the street and no hints of hopelessness marred the freshness
of the recycled air. It was boring suburbia at its finest
and Heero loved it.
The puppy’s pleading whimper caught his attention and
at his nod, Kirei barked and went bounding out into the
front yard, her tongue hanging out in doggy happiness at the
prospect of exploring the myriad of scents that abounded in
the modest green expanse. She had been a gift for Laura,
bought only a few days after they’d settled into their new
home. Laura, who’s Japanese had been improving by leaps and
bounds under Heero’s careful tutelage before her enforced
absence, had taken one look at the golden ball of fluffy
that was the six-week-old puppy and had squealed, “Kirei na
koinu!” Heero and Duo had agreed that she was indeed a very
‘pretty puppy’ and the name had stuck.
“Heero, come and eat.”
He turned at his lover’s summons, leaving the front
door open for Kirei’s convenience. Another smile came to
his lips, as it so often did these days, while he watched
Duo set a platter of pancakes and sausages on the table
before retreating to the kitchen for a pitcher of orange
juice. Though Heero was still the main cook for the
household, the braided man had grown quite competent with
breakfast foods and had taken over that duty with relish.
Heero snagged a juicy link with a fork as he sat and spread
out the newspaper beside his plate.
A grunt from the dining room drew Duo into the room and
he saw Heero staring with unusual intensity at the something
in the paper. Carefully setting the pitcher on the table,
he went to stand behind his husband, kissing the other man
on the ear and bracing a hand unnecessarily on his broad
shoulder as he bent down to see what had caught Heero’s
interest. Duo gasped as he read the headline, a name he’d
hoped never to see again glaring boldly from the black
“Family Court Judge, Miles Hervé, Sentenced To Thirty
Years For Six Counts of Criminal Solicitation Of Minors.”
A twenty-year veteran family court judge, Hervé was
recently sentenced to colony prison for thirty years without
chance of parole after being convicted of soliciting at
least six underage prostitutes. Attention was brought to
the former judge’s sexual misconduct by newly appointed
Commissioner for the Family Court Board, Judge Trowa Barton.
According to investigators, Barton found an eleven-year-old
girl at Hervé’s home in the prestigious suburb of Romefeller
after going there to speak with Hervé regarding a recent
decision. According to a succinct statement by Barton, it
was clear that the Hervé had been engaging in improper
conduct with the girl. Hervé’s attorneys have declined to
comment and it is uncertain whether an appeal will be filed
in the case. Hervé has had a controversial record for
returning children to parents of questionable competence and
in an effort spearheaded by Commissioner Charles Sylvester,
the Board has stated that several of Hervé’s past decisions
will be reviewed and possibly redecided.
The two young men were interrupted from there perusal
of the story by Laura’s appearance in the dining room.
Heero quickly folded the paper, not wanting her to see the
article. Neither of them had any desire for Laura to ever
even think about the name “Hervé” again in life. Duo
reached out and tweaked her pert nose as she passed him,
smiling at her as she wrinkled the adorable appendage and
sat at the table. He took his own seat while she put some
food on her plate.
Heero mumbled a greeting around another bite of
sausage, not seeing the grave expression on his daughter’s
face until he saw Duo gazing at her with a look of concern.
Only then did he note the lack of her usual, cheerful
“What’s wrong, munchkin?” Duo asked. His
overprotective urges had been in high gear ever since her
return, as though he feared something might rip her away
from them again. His hand was half way to her forehead to
check for signs of an incipient fever when she finally
“I want to see my mom,” she whispered, her words
ringing loudly in the sudden silence of the room. Duo and
Heero stared at Laura for a long moment, as though not
comprehending her meaning. She fixed her gaze down towards
her plate, not wanting to see her fathers’ expressions.
But, when she looked up reflexively at a bark from Kirei,
she winced at the looks of confusion on Heero’s face and the
quiet hurt in Duo’s eyes. The braided man quickly arranged
his features into a reassuring smile but was unable to
completely hide his true feelings from her.
“W-Why?” he asked, distracting himself by taking a
forkful of pancake. Laura sighed at the slight hitch in his
“At my session with Une last week, we talked about
Delia and she asked me if I ever wanted to see my mom
Laura thought back to her last meeting with the child
psychologist, visits that were now only held every other
week instead of weekly. She had been surprised at the
question, her mother having been relegated to a dim, though
indelible, corner of her mind ever since the end of the
custody hearing. She’d wanted to forget how her mother had
looked on the last day of the hearing, drugged out of all
sensibility, unaware even of where she was. Thoughts of
Delia only brought sadness and Laura had promised herself
that, now that she had been given the chance, she would only
allow herself to know happiness.
But Une had told her something, which she’d thought
about almost every moment for the past week.
“It’s okay to be sad. Sadness is a part of life. And,
it’s okay to be angry. Being angry and sad helps us get rid
of all of the bad stuff that’s inside of us so that we can
experience true happiness.”
True happiness. That’s was Laura wanted more than
anything in the world. She wanted to bask in the love that
radiated from her fathers. She wanted to go to school,
daydream about her handsome teacher, Mr. Chang, and giggle
with her best friend, Marimeia. She wanted to anticipate
the day she’d finally get her black belt in karate.
What she didn’t want to do was think about the woman
who, according to Quatre, had been in the hospital for the
past few months, undergoing intensive drug rehab. That part
of her life was behind her forever, over with and done.
But, every once in a while, in the middle of the night,
Laura lied in bed and wept for the ruined travesty that was
her mother’s existence. She sometimes felt guilty for
living in this beautiful house with her dog and her doting
parents while Delia languished in the hospital, alone and
unloved. But then, she’d think about all of the terrible
things her mother had done to her and how grateful she was
to Duo and Heero for saving her and she’d feel like she was
betraying them with her thoughts.
This conflict had grown within her until she’d blurted
out her troubles to Une. The doctor had listened with
attentive patience as Laura spilled out her guilt and
anguish through her tears. But, as always, Une had put
everything into prospective with a few well-chosen words.
Yes, for happiness to exist there must be sadness. Else,
how could you tell one from the other? And to fully
appreciate her new life, Laura knew that she had to finally
put her old one to rest.
It was nearly the end of her session when she’d finally
told Une what she wanted to do. Une had smiled, telling
Laura how proud she was and how much Laura had grown up
since they’d first met over a year ago. At twelve, she’d
gone through as much as some people three and four times her
age. But, if she was truly going to reclaim her lost
childhood, she’d have to put it aside one last time.
Laura looked at her fathers with a poignant smile as
she answered Duo’s question.
“I just want to know if she’s okay. I want her to know
that I’m happy and that, even though I can’t be with her,
that I love her. It... It makes me sad to think of her
being all alone when I have the two of you. No one should
have to be alone. Even if they’ve done really bad things,
everyone should have someone who cares whether they’re alive
or dead. I want her to know that, even after everything, I
don’t hate her. I just want her to be happy, like I am.”
Heero stared at the young woman sitting at his table,
wondering where his little girl had gone. Surely this
beautiful, poised young lady wasn’t the same scared girl who
had cried in his arms when they’d taken her from that cold,
grey orphanage. Surely she wasn’t the child who’d been
afraid to sleep alone for weeks after finally coming home,
who’d been unwilling to let him or Duo out of her sight for
fear that they’d disappear when she wasn’t looking.
After exchanging a brief, speaking glance with Heero,
Duo slipped from his chair and kneeled beside Laura, hugging
her as he chokingly gave her permission to visit Delia.
Heero watched them silently until he was startled by a cold,
wet nose nudging his hand. Kirei placed her head on his
knee and looked up at him with her large, soulful brown eyes
which he swore understood everything they saw. He took a
deep breath and rubbed her broad head.
Everything would be alright. He and Duo had no cause
to doubt Laura’s love for them just as they could never
doubt theirs for her. If she wanted to see Delia, then she
would. Even if something happened and Delia did something
foolish and hurt Laura, they would be there to pick up the
pieces. Heero decided to tell Duo that they should
encourage Laura to make peace with Delia. If ever an ounce
of truth had been spoken by that bastard Hervé, it was that
a child needs her mother. If there was any way for Laura to
believe that Delia was there for her, even in some small
way, and loved her, that could only be a good thing.
Heero nabbed a sausage from his plate and fed it to
Kirei. He smiled as she whined in gratitude and licked at
his fingers. He glanced up at the two most important people
in his life and once again thanked the heavens that they
were there with him.
Delia sat quietly in the recreation room, which was
situated in an inconspicuous corner of the rehab ward. Like
every other day, she sat alone, staring out of the window,
trying to make sense of the broken pieces of her life. When
had it all gone so wrong? Had she been doomed from the
moment she’d first raised a hand to her daughter? Or had
her fate been written even earlier, in the leering grin of
her father or the ill-remembered face of her mother?
The questions and useless conjectures chased themselves
endlessly in her mind and, in the not too distant past,
would have driven her straight for the solace of her drug of
choice. But those days were long past. Not only did the
doctors and nurses keep a watchful eye over everything and
anything that entered her body, but she felt a deep,
personal hatred for her former source of comfort. It was
because she’d been high, lost in the false bliss of the
liquid death running through her veins, that she’d missed
her last chance to see her daughter’s face.
Everyday, she tried to think back to that final moment,
the instant of rage in that dingy bathroom that would be her
final memory of Laura. But, like so much of the past five
months, it was a blur, loss in a haze of nauseating color
and sound. She remembered waking up in some sterile
hospital bed the morning after the end of the custody
hearing. She’d been informed by a nurse that a Dr. Une had
brought her there and would return later to talk to her.
She’d waited patiently, or as patiently as her withdrawal-
ridden form could tolerate. And when, at last, the tall
doctor had come, she shattered Delia’s world with one, soft-
“Duo and Heero have been granted permanent custody of
That was the last coherent memory she had until
stumbling into that police station three months ago. She’d
sat quietly as Une had talked to her, telling her about her
options, courses of treatments, facilities where she could
find help. But nothing had penetrated the shrieking howl of
grief that had filled every corner of her soul. Laura was
gone and she didn’t even remember it happening. She vaguely
recalled Relena telling her that she’d won something, but
what that elusive something was, she had no clue. It was
obvious that she’d won nothing. Like so many other times in
her life, she was nothing but a complete loser.
That night, Delia had left the hospital, wearing the
fashionable suit which had been carefully hung in the room’s
closet. Clothes that belonged to some other woman. A woman
with hope. Something she’d lost and knew would never
return. She didn’t even remember wandering into the slums
of her old neighborhood. It had been less than seventy-two
hours since her last visit and her feet remembered the path.
Time blurred from that point. How long had she lain in that
alley, consuming her precious packets of heroine, giving her
body to any man that wondered past when she needed money for
But one morning, Delia had woken up, her lip split and
cheek bruised from the slap of some anonymous hand. At
first, she’d wondered what had roused her. But, the sound
of a child’s laugh quickly brought her all the way to
consciousness. A woman, poor by the shabbiness of her
clothes, was walking past the mouth of the alley, a young
boy’s small hand clutched firmly in her own. His tiny shirt
had been ripped and his shorts were threadbare, a ragged
pair of shoes barely protecting his tiny feet. But, the
child had laughed again, clearly secure with his place in
the world, and the joyful peal had brought forth and endless
torrent of tears from eyes that hadn’t cried in far too
She’d sat there for long hours, her once pretty suit as
foul as the refuse beneath her, and wept for the crimes
she’d perpetrated against both Laura and herself. All she’d
wanted to do was to be a good mother, but she’d failed.
Irrevocably and completely. All that was left to her was to
pray that, wherever Laura was, she was laughing just as
sincerely as that little boy.
After her tears had finally abated, Delia had dragged
herself to the nearest police station and begged that they
called a social worker named Winner. How she’d remembered
his name to this day remained a mystery. In quiet moments,
she sometimes called it a miracle. Amazingly, Quatre Winner
had come for her and, right there in the middle of the
station lobby, she’d begged him on her knees for help. In
the ensuing two-and-a-half months since he’d put her into
the rehab program, she’d never once asked him about Laura.
She knew that that chapter of her life was closed and to
revisit it could only bring pain.
So she was completely unprepared, as she sat in the rec
room, looking out of the reinforced glass onto the hospital
parking lot, when she heard the voice of the nurse on duty.
“Delia, you have a visitor.”
At first, she thought there was some other woman named
Delia in the room. Surely the nurse wasn’t speaking to her.
The only visitor she ever had, the one person in the world
who cared whether she still lived, was Quatre and he
wouldn’t have needed an escort. Warily, she turned towards
the nurse, only to freeze, her shock manifesting as
alternating streaks of hot and cold which raced through her
The girl standing behind the nurse had the endearing
gangliness of early adolescence, standing a head taller than
the middle-aged woman. Her brown skin was flawless, her
hair done up in an intricate twist of long braids. She’s
grown since I saw her last. The thought came unbidden to
Delia’s mind even before her consciousness recognized the
visitor for who she was. But the light-brown eyes gazing at
her with cautious welcome ended any confusion. She looked
into those eyes that were so like her own and clenched her
hands into fists, trying to scatter the dream while
fervently hoping that she would never wake up.
“Laura,” she whispered, afraid that the vision would
dispel if she spoke any louder. The girl smiled with a half-
hearted turning of nervous lips.
Delia could barely feel the tear that slipped down her
cheek. Her entire being was focused on the young woman who
thanked the nurse with polite words and waited until the
other woman left before sitting on the chair facing her.
Laura looked at her for a long moment before speaking again.
“How are you?” she asked, her question no more than
what one would ask a stranger saved for the slight tremble
in her tone.
Delia didn’t answer for a long moment. She simply let
her eyes soak in the long wished for but impossible sight of
her daughter sitting so near. She took in every aspect of
Laura’s appearance, the baggy jeans covering her long legs,
her fitted t-shirt, which emphasized her maturing bust, the
twisted twine of a friendship bracelet wrapped around her
It had all been worth it. The months of loneliness and
pain. The endless nights spent ignoring the siren’s call of
the drugs she was trying so hard to resist. The inner
struggle not to ask Quatre about her daughter, to let the
girl finally live her own life. For, at long last, Delia
had understood that, if she loved Laura, the best thing she
could do was to set her free.
It all came down to this wondrous moment, this
impossible miracle, this gift from God. Leaning against the
back of her own chair so as not to threaten Laura in any
way, Delia wrapped her arms tightly about her middle to hold
in her thundering heart. She smiled softly at the beautiful
young image of herself.
“I’m fine, Laura,” she said, truly meaning it for the
very first time in her not-so-long but infinitely sad life.
AN: OH MY GOD, I’M DONE!!!! I can’t believe it! When I
started this fic, I had no idea that it would be such a
journey. It’s been nearly two years that I’ve been writing
this story, and, though I’m glad it’s come to such a happy
conclusion, I am rather sad to see it end. I really
appreciate all of the wonderful feedback and comments that I
received while writing. And to both of my beta readers, I
couldn’t have done it without all of your terrific support.
Thanks so much! Mere words can’t express my gratitude!!
P.S. Look for a follow-up fic about Laura first date.
Should be fun! ^__~