A/N: It's been a while. Let's see if I still remember how to do this.
She has no idea why she is here.
She is sure that she had a reason, in the beginning, but now… it just seems silly. She sits on the back of a worn bench in a dry park, watching children chase each other over the burnt, yellowish grass.
What is she doing here? What does she think she will find, will gain? She doesn’t remember this day. Didn’t even remember the address. She had to look it up in the phone book and then wait and lurk in order to… to get here.
And now she’s here.
She’s here in 1989 in a park in a Los Angeles suburb, watching children play games whose rules she forgot thousands of years ago. “Shit,” she mutters to herself. “Shit.”
A child, a red headed boy of maybe six, stumbles and falls, managing to skin his knee on the only patch of gravel in the entire playground. His mother rushes to his side, fussing over him like he is about to lose his leg and setting him off. His wails rise to the heavens and she runs a hand through her hair, thanks several deities that she will never have kids and wonders why she is here
Another body disengages from the gaggle of parents and nannies and turns in her direction. Her face, framed by dirty blonde curls, painted in pastel blue and pink, is achingly familiar in an entirely unfamiliar way.
Unbidden, a word rises to Sun’s lips. Mommy
. She swallows it with a shake of her head. Her mother is nothing but dust and a faded memory. Besides, she’s too old to cry in Mommy’s lap.
The woman treks around the perimeter of the playground, sidling ever closer until she’s standing in front of Sun, eyeing her critically but not malevolently as most mothers in this area would.
In tight, ripped jeans and a faded band shirt, her hair streaked in rainbow colours, wearing cheap silver jewellery and cheaper plastic bangles, she looks like she belongs anywhere but in suburbia. She also looks painfully young, as evidenced by the fact that an elderly lady started harping on Methos the other week for robbing the cradle. It didn’t help when they both cracked up.
But Sun enjoys losing herself in fashions and stereotypes, in becoming a face in the faceless crowd of youth. Sometimes simply being herself seems like too much work.
The woman hesitates a moment, then seems to convince herself that the blonde on the bench is unlikely to knife her to death in broad daylight and asks, “Do I know you?”
Sun blinks at her expressively and whimpers inside her head. It’s me, Mommy. Your baby girl.
“It’s just that, your face. I could have sworn I’ve seen you before. Do you live around here?”
She shakes her head. “Sorry,” she finds herself offering without reason. What is she apologizing for? For not being there when you died alone in your living room from… from… what’s gonna kill you Mommy?
Right. She has to get out of here. Now.
“Never mind,” Joyce Summers says and smiles awkwardly. Sun fumbles for the pack of cigarettes in her back pocket, slaps one into her palm and lights it with hands that are steady despite the end of the world inside her head. She makes no move to leave.
“I…,” Joyce blushes under her tan and fidgets a bit before turning to check on her daughter by the swings. The child is happily oblivious to anything but higher higher
and she turns back, saying, “The hell. Can I bum one of those?”
Sun, startled into laughter because here her not mother is bumming cigarettes off her like a teenager, nods and hands the other woman one, followed by her lighter.
“I shouldn’t,” Joyce says after the first drag, “Stopped as soon as I found out I was pregnant and never started again but sometimes…”
Sun nods, “I know the feeling.”
She doesn’t, actually, because her metabolism flushes out drugs faster than she can keep them coming, but it’s all the same and nothing matters. The older looking of the two women sits next to her on the bench. Sun slips down to sit properly and for a few minutes they smoke in silence.
Then, “Which one’s yours?” What did I look like, Mommy?
Immediately, Joyce points, notices that she’s waving about her borrowed cigarette, lowers her hand and raises the other. “The dirty blonde girl, by the swings. She’s eight.”
Sun follows the outstretched hand and finds herself in pigtails and a pink My Pony shirt, finds herself across a gap of several thousand years and wonders, for just a moment, what would happen if she stood up right now, walked over there and touched herself. Maybe the sun will crash and the world implode. Maybe the universes will collapse into each other and this will all be over.
She drops her cigarette, grinds it into the dust with the heel of her shoe and makes herself sit still. Joyce imitates her and asks, “What about you? Here with a sibling?”
Sun’s mouth opens and the lie rises to her lips, automatically, smoothly. She’s just visiting. Her parents live down the road. She used to play here. She’s hiding from her boyfriend. Anything. Everything. All lies. And they stop, right there, trapped behind lips and teeth.
She can’t say it.
She can’t lie to Mommy and finally she understands why her kind is usually not born. Why they are always changelings, foundlings, never born as flesh from flesh, never blood related to anyone.
Joyce misinterprets her silence, hastens to apologize. “Oh, I’m sorry. Do you have a kid of your own? You just look so young but I shouldn’t be making assumptions and I…”
“No,” Sun cuts across the other woman, smiling mildly. “No kid. I’m just…” looking for you, trying to remember who I am, chasing my past, wanting to understand, killing myself very slowly by looking at you and not remembering what you’ll look like in ten years, how you die, what your favourite colour is.
“…just sort of… wandering.”
Joyce laughs. “And you landed in a playground?”
“I don’t remember having been to one as a kid,” Sun says, tries to stop the words, fails. She never should have fucking come here. Where’s Methos when you need him? “I mean, I must have, but I can’t remember. I think I was happy then.”
Could she sound any more pathetic? Not if she tried.
There’s a hand on her shoulder suddenly, warm and solid and so, so familiar. She might whimper but she’s not sure.
“I’m sorry,” Joyce whispers, her voice barely audible above the shrieks coming from the see-saw.
“Not your fault.”
The hand remains for a minute longer and then withdraws, slowly. “Are you sure I don’t know you from somewhere?” she asks again and Sun keeps her mouth tightly shut because if she doesn’t, she’ll answer and it’ll be the truth. Why does she do this to herself? How could she be so stupid, coming here, thinking, pretending…
“God, woman, you’re hard to find.”
Methos’ hands land on her shoulders like a warning, heavy and more real than the woman beside her, or maybe less. The other woman jerks around, unlike Sun, who simply slumps and doesn’t look at him at all. “Thought you were going to spend another week in Paris.”
She can feel him shrug before he lets go of her and steps over the back of the bench and sits down on it, his knees on either side of her. Automatically, she leans into him. Joyce watches the interaction with a curious expression, obviously taking in their differences, casually but expensively dressed guy in his mid-thirties, rebel girl no older than twenty, snuggled together in old familiarity.
“What are we watching?” Methos asks quietly.
Sun fixes her gaze on a black haired boy in the sandbox and makes herself not say a word. Joyce smiles awkwardly and doesn’t know whether or not to answer the question obviously not meant for her.
What are they watching? A girl that isn’t her, a mother that’s not Mommy but enough of her to make her heart scream in her chest, a memory that was forgotten before today, a child in the glare of the afternoon heat that looks nothing, moves nothing, is
nothing like the Sun. The past. The future. Memory and hope and dreams that are nothing more than faded charcoal sketches in her mind. Look what I made for you, Mommy!
They are strangers, her and that girl by the swings, have nothing in common. Sun wants to say something important, something meaningful. She wants to give Joyce a clue, a warning of the future, something to make it all better. If she could only remember what killed Mommy. But she can’t and there are no words for this.
“Nothing,” she says, laying her head on Methos's thigh and closing her eyes.