When: Later after his talk with Juli
What: Ziggy gives MOMO a present, then the two talk
He had gotten up, and was feeling mildly better than earlier. Still, he couldn't help but feel disturbed and upset over Juli's past with Yuriev. Not wanting to disturb Juli from her work, he made his way back to where he had left the bag. Picking it up, the first thing he saw inside, was a book Junior had left him for some reason or another. He didn't remember why or how, exactly. But inside, just under the cover, was the picture that MOMO drew for him some time ago. He smiled slightly, looking over it. Then, he reached in and pulled out another object, the bear that the little girl on the Foundation gave him. With that, he made his way to MOMO's room. He knocked on the door. "MOMO?" He asked, hoping he wasn't disturbing her at all.
MOMO had been reading one of the very few books she actually owned, when she heard the knock at her door. Marking the page she was on, she set the book down then hopped off her bed and made her way to the door. She smiled brightly once she saw Ziggy, even though her sensors had told her it was him beforehand. "Hi! Welcome back! Um... even if it is a little late to be welcoming you back..."
He gave her a nod. "I'm sorry, I wasn't feeling well when I came home." There was no use troubling her with his issues. "I'm feeling better now, so I wanted to give you the present I told you about." He held the bear and the book behind his back. He figured he would give the book to MOMO since it seemed like something she'd like. Maybe that was why Junior gave it to him, he figured.
She shook her head slightly, clasping her hands behind her back. "Oh, that's okay. If you weren't feeling well, then it's important that you lie down for a while." She rocked back on her heels. "You know, you really didn't have get me anything, though. I'm just glad you're back home again." Regardless, her curiosity was getting the better of her, because she stood on her toes, trying to look around the ex-cyborg.
He gave her a nod and then stepped into the room. Then, he handed her the book first, making sure to keep his bandaged hand hidden for as long as possible. He knew MOMO was aware of his careless angry outbursts when he was upset by something. He really didn't want MOMO to know that there was something wrong. Although, he was sure it would only be a matter of time before she saw it. Nothing gets by a 100 series observational realian. "Open it up." He gave her a grin.
The realian's stepped to the side as he came into the room. Though she had told him it wasn't neccesary, she couldn't deny the fact that she was curious... She nodded slightly, then smiled even more as she took the book. "A book?" She laughed a bit as she traced her fingers over the title. "It couldn't have been very easy to find a book like this. Thank you, Daddy!"
He grinned, still holding something else behind his back. "Look under the cover."
She canted her head slightly, but quickly turned her attention back to the book as she opened it. "The picture I drew..." She looked at him again. "I didn't know you still had it."
"Of course I'd keep it. It was in my room on the Durandal the entire time." He patted her on the head with his free hand. "I have one more thing for you, but you have to close your eyes." Though, he knew that wasn't going to do much. She had sensors after all.
"Aww..." MOMO pouted slightly, but did as she was asked and closed her eyes. She had an awful habit of ignoring her sensors at other times. It was surprising at just how hard that was to do, when she actually wanted to be surprised.
"And don't use your sensors either. Cheating isn't a very admirable practice, young lady." He grinned, and then kneeled down to her level, taking her small hands in his. He placed the bear with limbs covered in foil in her hands. "Okay, you can open your eyes now."
At first she wasn't sure just what it was in her hands; the foil threw her off. As soon as he gave the okay, she opened her eyes and looked at the teddy bear. "Oh, it's so cute!!" She giggled and hugged the bear to her. "Thank you!"
"You're welcome. There's a story behind that bear. Would you like me to tell it to you?" He couldn't help but smile at her. It was much-needed therapy from earlier.
She nodded. "Uh-huh. I'd really like that. Um... as long as you don't mind, that is."
He shook his head. "I don't mind, otherwise, I wouldn't offer to tell you." Still kneeling on the floor, he shifted his weight slightly so he'd be more comfortable. "There was a little girl on the Foundation who was lost. I came across her when I was working there. So... I helped her find her way home. While we were walking, she told me that the other children at school mistreated her because she didn't fit in. I wasn't sure what to tell her at the time, but I gave her some advice because I know all too well what it's like. The next day, when I walked by her house, I saw her again, and she gave me this."
He pointed to the bear. "I suppose her parents told her what I was, because when when I saw her again, she said, 'This is my favorite teddy bear. When I'm sad or lonely, I hug it. But I think you need it a bit more than I do.' So she put the foil on him and gave him a new name." He pointed to the tag that was attached to it. "'His name is Teddy Bear 8 now', she told me."
"There were times, when I was on the Durandal and I missed you very much. I... I have to admit that I kept the bear nearby." He found himself blushing slightly, and he looked away until the moment passed. "I want you to take good care of him, okay? Give him just as much love as you gave me back then." He smiled at her, feeling especially cheesy after that last line.
As she listened to his story, her smile grew softer and she looked down at the bear in her arms. Teddy Bear 8 It was a cute name for the bear, and the story was a sweet one. "Oh, thank you, Daddy, but..." She trailed off, before looking at him again. "But are you sure you want me to have him? Teddy Bear 8 sounds like a very special bear; especially since that girl gave him to you. Are you sure you don't want to keep him yourself?"
He shook his head, and then sat down on the floor. "I don't need him anymore." He told her. "I'm not lonely anymore, and I've found the happiness that I lost so long ago. I want you to keep him, until you find your happiness one day. Also, I want you to remember who I was back then. Even though, I'm still me, a part of me will never be the same. I suppose it's a good thing, but..." His voice trailed off as he looked down at his bandaged hand. "MOMO, I just want you to remember me, always."
Her smile faded at his last statement, and the realian knelt down on the floor as well, setting both the book and teddy bear to the side. "Of course I'll always remember you... I could never forget you. Ever! Not after... everything you've done..." She looked down, only to start once she noticed his bandaged hand. "Ziggy..." Old habits were hard to break, and she found herself calling him 'Ziggy' again whenever she was upset or concerned over something. "What happened?"
He cringed, realizing she had noticed. It was harder to keep secrets from her. Not that he wanted to do the same to Juli. "I was upset earlier, and I... wasn't thinking. I punched the ground and hurt myself." He told her in a sheepish voice. He couldn't look at her, feeling ashamed of himself.
She frowned a bit, even though she knew it wasn't the first time he had done something like that. "Ziggy, you have to be more careful now... You can get hurt a lot easier than you could before." She took his hand in both of hers, looking at the bandage closely, as well as trying to figure out just how much damage he had done. After a few seconds, she closed her eyes and focused on casting a quick Ether Medica. It didn't appear to be too bad, especially when compared to some of his previous injuries, but the least she could do was to aid in the healing process.
"I know, I'm sorry." He felt himself relax as she casted the Ether on him. What bit of it that was still throbbing seemed to go away, and it didn't feel as swollen anymore, at least from under the bandage. He looked up at her, finally. "I need to stop being so careless, don't I?"
She opened her eyes to look at him again. "We're all careless sometimes, it's... It's human nature to get angry sometimes." She smiled a little. "That just proves how human-like we can be." The realian paused for a moment, looking over at the book he had given her. "Um... by the way, how is everyone, if I may ask? The people that you saw when you were at the Foundation, I mean. Were they okay? Did one of them say something to upset you?"
He nodded at her. He was more human now than he had been in more than a lifetime. "Everyone's fine. Junior's been busy since Gaignun has been feeling ill. Mary and Shelley appear to be doing well. Alby has gained a few pounds from what Junior told me. Other than that, not many people recognized me." He said. "But... Yes, someone in peticular did say something that upset me. That's why I reacted the way I did.
"That's good... I'm glad that everyone's fine. I haven't gotten to talk to them for a long time; I feel kind of bad about that. I hope Gaignun starts feeling better, too." She smiled, though it faded once more at his last statement. "Oh, I'm sorry... What did the person say? Was it something about you having been a cyborg?"
He shook his head. "I got used to those kinds of comments a long time ago. I'd have no reason to be upset by it." He scooted back slightly and leaned up against the wall, pulling one leg closer to him. "There's... few things in this world that can get me that upset." He averted his gaze then, realizing that he probably made her worry more.
Her frown deepened. "Then... what was it? What did this person say? Who was the person who said it? It's not right for them to say something to hurt you..." She tried to think of who she knew at the Foundation who could've possibly said something to upset him, but she wasn't coming up with very many possibilities. Most of the people there were really nice; and she couldn't think of anyone who'd want to purposly hurt him. Especially since most of the people on the Foundation knew that he was a friend, and former employee, of Junior and Gaignun.
He shook his head. "They... didn't say anything to hurt me. It's... what they're doing, and what their past involves that upset me. I lost control for a moment." He found himself hugging his leg a bit tighter than before, feeling slightly insecure. "I'm just worried about them, and someone else important to me, that's all."
"Ziggy..." What aren't you saying..? Who are you talking about? She wasn't going to push it; she knew far too well that there were some things people simply didn't want to talk about. But that didn't mean she wouldn't worry about it. "I... I'm sure they'll be okay. Things will be okay."
He shook his head. "I wish that were true." He leaned forward, and rested his head on his knee, sighing heavily. "But... there's not a thing I can do. And that... scares me." I don't want to loose anyone else, especially to him. "I feel so powerless."
MOMO crawled closer to him, before sitting back again. "Don't say that... There's always something you can do; no one is ever completely powerless. And you're the strongest person I know... I'm sure you can do anything you wanted." She looked down and picked at the seam of her skirt, falling silent for a moment. "Who... who is it? Who's in trouble?"
Somehow talking about the situation was making him feel less anxious and upset. Perhaps it was that he needed to tell someone, but he knew he couldn't tell Juli. There was no telling what she would do if she knew that her daughter, or rather, clone, was going after Yuriev. "I could do anything I wanted easily, but... to do that would mean risking what's really important. I have responsibilities here that I have to take care of. I just can't go putting myself in danger again." He shook his head and then pushed a stray strand of hair out of his eyes. "I... probably shouldn't tell you who it is."
Just who could it be? Junior? No, she was certain he would tell her if Junior was in danger. And it couldn't be anyone else from the Foundation; surely there would be no need to hide that. Who else did that leave? Mommy? She shook her head. If Juli was in danger, she doubted Ziggy would be this collected about it. Maria? She sat up straighter and tensed. Had he run into Maria? Again, she shook her head. No, no... why would Maria be at the Foundation? "But protecting the people you care for is important, right? And... you wouldn't have to be alone. If it's someone important to you, then... I'd like to help you protect this person, too."
He looked up at her. "This person asked me not to. They wanted me to stay here. They... told me to forget about them." He bit his lip and then pulled his other leg up to him. "Before I met you, I could've easily let them go. But now, why can't I do it?" Is it because she's a clone of the woman I'm going to marry? Is it because she reminds me a bit too much of myself? "MOMO, I don't know what to do. I think this is the first time in a long time that I've said that."
Forget? Amber eyes widened and she tensed again. It is Maria, isn't it? It was too much to be a mere coincidence... Still, Maria had asked, or rather told, her not to tell anyone that she had been there. She swallowed, then looked down at her hands. "I don't know what to do, either," she replid quietly after a moment. "Sometimes... sometimes you can't just forget about someone, even if they ask you to."
His eyes narrowed at her reactions. "MOMO?" What's wrong with her? He dropped his leg and leaned forward to place a hand on her shoulder. "Is something wrong?"
"I-it's nothing." She shook her head, though she continued looking at her hands. "I'm just thinking, that's all. Don't mind me. It's just... difficult to do what people ask you, sometimes, you know?"
He shook his head. "I know it is." Then, he settled back down against the wall. "I'm glad I can talk to you like this, MOMO. You and your mother are so important to me. I just... know that if I were to help this person, I would be risking a lot. I can't do that anymore. I don't want either of you to suffer for my carelessness. You two have suffered too much."
The realian took a deep breath. She really hated lying... especially to people she cared about. "I'm glad we can talk, too. And, you know... I'm not as good a fighter as you or Junior, or any of the others, but I can fight." She looked up at him slowly, and gave him a very slight smile. "So, if you really want to help this person, then, I'd be willing to help you, too. And Mommy... if you were to explain that this person was important to you, then... I'm sure she would understand."
He shook his head. "Even though I know you can fight. I can't put you in danger, MOMO." He leaned forward again and put his hands on her shoulders. "I... I don't know what I'd do if I lost you or Juli. I'd... I'd probably revert to my old ways. Only now, there's no programming to keep me from--" He cut himself short, realizing the sensitive ground he was about to tread upon.
Just like that, the smile was gone. The encephalon dive came back to her; or, more specifically, she remembered the gunshot that signalled Jan's suicide. MOMO shook her head, then pushed herself forward, wrapping her arms around him. "Don't say something like that, Daddy! Mommy and I are fine. Even if we have to fight sometime in the future, nothing will take us away from you."
He started, feeling her tiny arms wrap around him. Slowly, he found his arms wrapping around her too. He felt so helpless at that moment, not knowing what the future would bring, or if he could even do anything about it. "I just want to make things right, MOMO. But... I'm not as strong as I used to be." He closed his eyes and held her tightly. "I wouldn't want to be any other way, but... Sometimes, especially when things like this happen, I feel scared."
"And there's nothing wrong with that." She drew in a deep breath and closed her eyes. "We're not machines or tools... So, being able to feel and understand an emotion like fear is perfectly natural. I get scared too... When the others went to Gedalya to take care of the Gnosis, I was scared... And I'm scared now too. You want to hope for the best, but you can't help but think of the worst... It really is a scary situation."
He nodded slowly. "There's always consequences to your actions. When you let myself grow close to you and your mother, I opened myself up for this possibility. I've seen too many people who have lost their lives. It hurt so badly, that I wanted to close myself off from that feeling forever." His embrace tightened, but not enough to hurt her. "It's the reality of the situation that is scary, and painful. But... I want us to get through this, all four of us. For that, I'm willing to risk feeling pain." Without him realizing it, he had inadvertently answered her question.
For a long moment, MOMO remained completely still and quiet. All four of us..? So he was talking about Maria... Somehow, knowing that Maria talked to him as well made her feel a little better. Even though it was easy to guess that the topic of discussion hadn't been very pleasent... "I want that too... For us to get through this, I mean."
Ziggy sighed, and he felt himself relax. For several moments, he sat there quietly with MOMO in his arms. It was these quiet and close moments that he treasured the most. Then, finally he spoke up again. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to burden you with this." He patted her on the head and let go of her. Then, he placed his unbandaged hand on her cheek. "Cheer up, MOMO. All right?" He smiled for her, hoping it was reassuring enough.
She smiled slightly, but shook her head as best she could. "No, don't apologize; you're not burdening me at all. I'm really glad we can talk like this." She smiled again at his smile, then nodded. "Okay... I'll do my best." Even though cheering up was hard to do once you considered everything that was going on. Still, she was going to do her best to remain optimistic about it all. "You cheer up too, Daddy. I like seeing you and Mommy happy."
He smiled again. "I'll try my best as well." Then, he gave her another hug, the smile not fading at all as he did so. He was still feeling guilty about scaring her with his hand, and dancing around the idea of ending his life again. Thinking of a way to make it up to her, or at least make himself feel better, he began to tickle her sides.
She started to say something, but before she had the chance to, he started tickling her. "Eeep!" she squeaked and started laughing. "N-no fair! Daddy!" She giggled and squirmed, trying to get away from him. "You're... y-you're... cheating!" The last word probably sounded more like a squeal than anything else.
He grinned. "I don't cheat." He wrapped an arm around her so she couldn't escape, and he tickled her harder, trying his best not to hurt her. In all the time they had been together, he had not actually been playful with her. It was a bit awkward, but he realized after forgetting about comfort zones and barriers, things like this came more naturally. He chuckled a little, watching her reactions.
The realian giggled and squirmed even more. "You do!" she squeaked. She couldn't remember a time where they had been playful like this in the past. She realized that, given the fact that he had formerly been a cyborg, maybe he had been afraid of hurting her. It was nice to be able to play around like this now... And two could play that game! So, with a grin on her face, she started tickling him as well.
He jumped slightly when MOMO began tickling him back. "I'm not ticklish, MOMO." Ziggy said, trying to keep his voice flat, but it was hard. He continued tickling her, while trying to block her hands with his arms. Although he knew he wasn't ticklish in the past, he knew his new body was still overly sensitive. He wasn't sure how he'd react if he let her get to him.
His reaction made her laugh even more. Even though he denied being ticklish, that didn't stop MOMO. It was easy to deny something, but that didn't neccesarily make it true. It was difficult trying to tickle him while also trying to block him, especially since he was bigger than her, but she wasn't going to give up so easily. She had a stubborn side, too.
"Ah, not there!" He jumped again, feeling MOMO tickle his sides. He started to squirm slightly, but she had found his weakness. He tried hard to block her hands again, but there was little he could do from where he was. "Ah! Stop it!" It started as a tiny chuckle, but within a few seconds he found himself trying to stifle a full-blown laugh that was rising within him. He was sure if he opened his mouth it would come out.
She laughed triumphantly, having found his weak spot. "You are ticklish after all! I knew it!" It was really nice getting to hear him laugh like that. She giggled and continued to tickle his sides; not giving in now that she discovered that he really was ticklish now.
Ziggy couldn't keep it inside anymore. He opened his mouth to say something in response, but what came out was a laugh. "Please... I'm begging..." He squinted his eyes as he laughed so hard, his ribs began hurting. He could've easily gotten up and left her, or picked her up and taken her off him. Yet, he didn't want to. Instead, he kept tickling her. He tried hard to take in a breath, but they were far and few between. He couldn't remember ever laughing this hard. By this time, there were tears in his eyes and he was lying on the floor.
His reactions made her laugh harder. She'd definitely have to remember that his sides were ticklish, for future references. She finally stopped tickling him in favor of trying to keep him from tickling her. "Eeep! Okay, okay! I-I'm sorry!" She'd only seen him cry a couple times, but she never imagined she'd see him laugh so hard that he cried.
He fell limp as the laughter subsided, and he managed to breathe again. He looked at her, and then wiped at the tears that had been forming in his eyes. "That was a first." He said, rolling over onto his side, grinning. "I wasn't ticklish before, but I guess you've got me."
She grinned and laughed, though it was much softer than her previous laughter. "I did get you! And I'm going to remember that, too,"she stated, matter of factly. Then, she giggled again before laying down beside him and looking at him. "So you better watch out."
He reached for her and ruffled her hair with his right hand. "I'd better be careful then. What would everyone think if they knew I was ticklish?" He chuckled again, returning his hand to himself. Then, he sighed and closed his eyes. "Thank you, MOMO."
"Well, it can be our little secret," she replied with a wink. "I won't tell anyone else... Though for some reason, I'd just love to see Junior's face if he were to find out." She smiled, then exhaled slowly before continuing. "And... you're welcome. I don't think you have anything to thank me for, but still... you're welcome. Thank you, too."
He opened his eyes again and nodded. "You'd better not tell him." He said, putting his index finger on her nose. "He already had a good laugh because of that Teddy Bear." He dropped his hand again and grinned at her. "I thanked you for making me laugh like that. I really needed it."
The realian went cross-eyed for a couple seconds, before she closed her eyes and shook her head slightly. "Aww... not even Junior?" She grinned as she opened her eyes again. "Okay. Since he laughed at Teddy Bear 8, I won't tell him." Although it was still tempting... She wished she could hear Junior laugh again, or at least see him; it seemed like it had been a long time since she last spoke to him... "Oh! Then, yes, you're very welcome. I love hearing people laugh. Well... the people I care about, I mean. It makes me happy."
"I don't care, tell him if you really want." He smiled at her again. "I used to not like hearing people laugh, but, I enjoy it now. Especially coming from you and your mother. It makes me happy too." Ziggy sighed, and closed his eyes. The laughing had tired him out, and he felt content just lying there for a few moments talking to her.
She shook her head, but smiled nonetheless. "No, that's okay. You said not to tell him, so I won't tell him. I don't mind." She closed her eyes again before rolling onto her back and resting her hands on her stomach. "I really like to hear Mommy laugh, too. I really like when she's happy. She deserves to be happy... You do, too."
His eyes fluttered open again after her last statement, making him remember his earlier conversation with her. His heart sank a little, and the smile on his face faded. "Yes, she does." He too, rolled onto his back and rested his head on his uninjured hand. "I'll... be the best husband and step-father I can be."
She smiled, keeping her eyes closed. "You already are the best... You're the best step-father..." She shook her head, and her smile fell slightly. "...any kind of father I know." It was okay for her to say that, wasn't it? She hadn't ever known Joachim Mizrahi, after all... She would always know him as the man who created her, of course. But Ziggy was... the one who had been there. "I can't really speak for Mommy, but... I know she likes you too."
The smile on his face slowly returned. "You're the best daughter too, you know that? You're also the best friend I've ever had." He stretched himself and gazed up at the ceiling. "Maybe it seems kind of strange to say it, but it's true. You and your mother make me realize how important life is. I just hope that... I help the both of you."
Her smiled returned as well, and she turned her head slightly to look at him. "I don't think it's strange. Not at all. In fact, I... I feel the same." She looked up towards the ceiling again and sighed. "And you've already done more than enough to help us, you don't have to worry about that... I want to help you too, you know? And Mommy too, of course. I don't want to do something to disappoint either one of you."
He smiled and then tilted his head slightly to look at her. "I'm looking forward to a time when we won't have to fight anymore. Then all of us can live together as a family." He sighed and then looked back at the ceiling. "Somehow, I feel that the fighting isn't over yet. Perhaps... maybe it's just beginning."
"That will be nice." MOMO smiled, though it faded slightly at his last comment. "With... the way things have started up again, it really doesn't seem like everything's over..." She trailed off for a moment, then took a deep breath. "If it is the beginning, then I'll be willing to fight when the time comes... I won't be afraid..."
He rolled over again and nodded at her. "Then, I'll protect you with my life. But until then... I'll make sure I take care of what's important here. For one, it's past your bedtime." He grinned at her.
Though the idea of him protecting her 'with his life', as he put it, made her feel more worried than comforted, she didn't comment about it. Instead, she simply put on a pout. "Aww... I was hoping you wouldn't notice." She giggled and pushed herself up into a sitting position. "Alright, I'll go to bed now."
He also sat up. "Not until we've had desert. Perhaps if we're quiet, we can sneak past your mother and she won't notice." There was a glint of mischief in his eyes.
She blinked a couple times, before catching on. "Oh!" She giggled again, though this time she tried to stifle it behind her hand. "I don't know, Daddy. Sneaking past Mommy won't be very easy."
"I've had to sneak past tougher opponents." He smirked, as his stomach growled. "I think there's more of that cake left in the refrigerator. Maybe there's some ice cream left as well."
"I guess that's true." MOMO grinned and bit her lip before giving a short nod. "Okay! It's impossible to pass up cake and ice cream. Let's just hope Mommy doesn't catch us."
"Right." Ziggy nodded, standing up. "Let's go then, and... be on the look out. We must retrieve and eat the dessert at all costs." With that, he led her out of the room.