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“I went looking for a fight.”

“What the…Jesus, T-Bird…”

Tommy simply shrugged in response to his cousin’s exasperation, wincing as Carbone blotted the laceration on his forehead with an alcohol swab. He welcomed the lingering burn, the acid bite of sterilization beneath the skin…he was looking for pain, for something, anything to hurt him. Anything to help him ease the knot in his gut that he couldn’t let go of.

“I needed something to hurt, Bone. Something safe…something that’d hit back.”

“Getting yer ass kicked ain’t gonna help you grieve for her, man.”

“It might.”

“Whatever, idiot stick…just bear in mind that she was waiting up for ya.”

With a small smile that opened up his split upper lip again, Tommy turned to the baby seat on the coffee table, where Mayilia was safely ensconced, wide awake and watching her father with wide, placid eyes.

“Tell him what a jackass he is, sweet cheeks.” Carbone commanded with a grin, shaking a lock of blood red hair from his eyes as he reached for a steri-strip to seal the cut on Tommy’s forehead.

Mayilia answered by kicking her feet and squealing, making both men laugh.

“She’s gonna be trouble when she grows up, dude.”

“You kidding? She’s trouble now.” Tommy insisted, shooting Carbone a dirty look as he pressed too hard and made him flinch in pain. “I think Zee taught her how to manipulate my shit, she does those eyes. You know the ones.”

“The same ones Zee used to make me come to Vegas and shoot the band? Yeah, I know ‘em.”

Falling silent again as Carbone patched up his bloodied, battered face and body, Tommy fell back to watching Mayilia stare at her own hand. She flexed her fingers experimentally, then caught him looking and reached out…as if she knew, as if she felt his anguish.

Giving her his hand, he watched her tiny fingers wrap around just one of his. Her grip was impossibly strong, the soft sound of her coo a question.

It bathed him in pure energy as their eyes met…father to child, avatar to avatar, one newly made human being to another.

She knew, in her own innocent way. She wasn’t in pain, though, because she felt the same thing he did and drew comfort from it instead of guilt or sorrow.

And she loved him, loved him with a purity that obscured everything. She was an angel, perfect and unsullied…and all her faith, all her love, all her limited understanding of what was just, was all for him.

Ducking Carbone’s hands as he tried to turn Tommy’s head, he leaned over and into Mayilia’s seat, kissing her tiny cheek before resting his forehead against hers, letting the tears come.

Her hand touched his cheek and stayed there, feet kicking contentedly as he stared into her face, her tiny mouth working calmly while tiny, muted noises of contentment bubbled out of her throat. Her cherubic face was marred by a smear of red from the cut on his lip.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t save her for you.” He whispered with a watery smile.

The three week old infant beamed at him toothlessly…then moved the hand on his cheek to his nose, fingers curling with painful strength right into his nostril.

Wincing, laughing, and yelping all at the same time, he shut his eyes and gently detached her hand from his face with a little help from Carbone. It was what he needed, at least for the night…that reminder, that moment where it was okay not to be suffering. It was one instant of emotion set free, one second where, courtesy of an innocent newborn, it was all right not to grieve for her.

Zee was alive and well…because there was no doubt: Mayilia was unquestionably her mother’s daughter.

Muse: Tommy Karras
Fandom: Original Character
Words: 639

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December 2015

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