Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing.
“You’re the kid from the TV!” he heard from behind him as he was folding the last of his clothes into his dresser drawer. He turned around in the small room and looked at a little red headed boy of about nine years. He nodded slowly and then turned back to continue unpacking. Why he was unpacking he couldn’t say and it seemed ridiculous to him to be doing so. He didn’t seem to stay in one place for long really. “Wow, dude, you look beat up, too,” the kid continued. “My name’s Jonah, but I’m not like a whale or anything. The kids call me that, but Annis saids I am too skinny to be a whale and they probably’s named me wrong.” Daniel looked over at the child now sitting on one of the bottom bunk beds of the three sets in the room.
“I’m Daniel,” he told the child. “Do you sleep in this room too?”
“Nah! I sleeps with the younger kids in the room next door,” he answered as he casually leaned back onto someone else’s bed. He pulled down his striped blue shirt as it rode up from leaning back against the quilt. His khaki pants were riding high on his ankles as well and Daniel wondered if he chose to wear clothes too small or if they hadn’t taken him shopping for new ones yet.
The last of his clothes fit neatly into the only drawer he was given and he closed it shut with a bang. “So, anything I need to know about this place?”
“Well, food is served at six, twelve, and six. If you’s don’t get there in time, then don’t be surprised to not eat. I heard the budget sucks right now and so eating three meals isn’t a priority for everyone. I suggest not screwing off in class before lunch, because I know I hates loosing lunch because I was held back by the professor,” Jonah laughed and straightened up. “Also, don’t try and fight for any’s of it. The bigger kids got bigger for a reason.” He smiled suddenly, “Though I don’t knows what kind of fight you been in, but I hope you won and the other guy looks worse!” He laughed a high pitch squealing giggle and ran from the room.
Daniel sat down on his bed, the bottom bunk in the back of the room by the window, and thought about what the other child had said. He looked at his watch. He had three hours before meal was served for supper. After supper Annis, the woman who ran the home for needy and discarded children, said that he would get his assignments for the week. The assignments were chores and such that children did in places like this between the class’s three professors came in to teach six times a week and between meal times. He reached down into his jeans pocket and pulled out the brochure on the place that Alecia had handed to him.
“I cannot place you in another home right now. I need you to go to this place instead and wait for a home to open up for you. It’s like a boarding school for orphans. I think you’ll be safe to heal there and get a good education as well,” she had explained.
Daniel sighed and threw himself back onto his own quilt. A place full of other children and it sounded like it was mostly take care of oneself and hope to survive. His ribs screamed in protest as he sighed harder. His hand once again came up and rubbed along his only possession from before his memories disappeared. Who had given it to him?
Jonah hadn’t been joking about the wolf mentality of the children in the place. First meal was like being thrown into a cage of twenty children and only one bowl for everyone. His left arm protested as he reached quickly for a biscuit before a larger and older child could get it from the main plate in front of him. Someone had placed multiple serving dishes out with food in the center of the table and then Annis had opened the main doors to the dining area and left the room; as soon as she had shut the doors behind her the chaos had emerged from the quiet children. No one screamed or shouted at each other, but the hands grabbed frantically at whatever they could get onto their own plates and as fast as they could get onto their own plate. Daniel, in a lot of pain now that he had over extended his broken arm and pushed against the table with one of his bruised ribs, had only been able to grab one biscuit and a scoop of mac’n’cheese from a large bowl before everything had been taken.
He looked around at all of the kids in the room. Everyone was ten or older in this room; Jonah was probably in with the younger kids in the other dining room next door. He quickly ate what was on his plate and saw other kids doing the same. There hadn’t been enough food, though. He realized that even his frantic grabbing had been just about the same as everyone else. Meager portions had been served on them all.
As he downed the last of his water glass the doors opened again and a hand bell rang. Everyone stood up and walked towards the large bathrooms down the hall to wash their hands and faces and then to start on their evening assignments. Daniel walked to the door and waited next to Annis as she watched the boys and girls go their separate ways. “Follow me Daniel and I will set you with some assignments,” she said in a gentle but firm voice. They walked down and passed the bathroom doors and into a small office.
One side of the office was a wall of books. Old books from the looks of them and Daniel wondered who even ever read papered books in this day. Even the poorest of poor was able to get a second hand reader from a thrift store now for about thirty dollars and borrow books from the library on it. He had a reader that Alecia had given him to have his school texts downloaded onto no matter where he went. Annis followed his gaze as he casually looked over the titles of them all. “They are antiques. If you want to read a title we can have it downloaded onto your reader for you,” she answered casually. He smiled a bit and nodded. Taking his seat in front of the large desk he noticed more around the room. Her vid phone, her computer, and her own personal note pad were all on standby on her desk. She went around her desk and turned on her note pad. “I think this week I shall put you in on kitchen duty. Do you know how to scrub and clean properly?” she asked him. He nodded and remembered Mrs. Snow and her kind lessons. She stood back up after typing quickly on the touch screen lying on her desk.
Daniel stood as well and followed her out of the room. They passed by the bathrooms again, this time Daniel could see in both of them as kids cleaned them and some kids walked with large push brooms down the hall passed them shoving dirt and dust down to the end. He could hear a vacuum somewhere up the stairs and above him. They passed the two dining rooms and into the kitchens. A huge machine with steam coming from it was being loaded with plastic crates full of dishes. Two older kids were rinsing the plates and such in a large sink and loading the crates as another child put them on the conveyer belt to be shoved into the washer. Another child was taking them from the end of the machine and stacking them to dry in a corner. The kids all looked up as Annis walked in. “This is Daniel, everyone. He will be on this assignment this week with you all. He will go in with your rotation. Daniel, this is Marie, Annie, Mike and Bryan.” Marie and Bryan were rinsing the dishes, Annie was loading the dish washing machine, and Mike was stacking the crates at the end. “Daniel I think it would be best if you swept floor and washed it after everyone is finished with the dishes. After you sweep, while you’re waiting for the dishes to be done, it would be best if you grabbed a few towels and dried the dishes and put them away. The others will join you as soon as they are finished with their current tasks.” He nodded and went and grabbed a large broom. Annis walked out of the room.
No one seemed to talk much as they cleaned up the large kitchen. Daniel liked that just fine. He didn’t want to make any friends here. He knew that soon enough he would be moving on to another home and hopefully soon his real family will come for him.
He was correct in assuming he would be staying very long. Two long weeks of barely eating enough to fill him in any meal and Alecia showed up and told him to pack his bag again.
His new family was again a small dwelling. A woman and man and a younger boy, a seven year old foster child, stood on the porch in the crisp afternoon to great him as he slowly brought himself from his social worker’s car. The woman wore baggy jeans, a large sweater, and a kind smile. Her hair was cut shorter than Daniel’s and was a touch lighter in its brown color. The man was of a larger built. He wore a nice fitting sweater vest over a dress shirt and blue dress pants. His blonde hair was cut in a professional way that made Daniel think of a lawyer like the ones he had seen on daytime television. The other boy was of an Asian decent and had slightly long hair brought back into a tight pony. For some reason Daniel thought it looked vaguely familiar. Like this child reminded him of someone he knew and he felt a giddy feeling come over him as he smiled brightly toward the child. He didn’t know why but he could feel a wonderful sense of joy come over him.
They guided them into a wonderfully decorated house. Flowers adorned the mantle, knickknacks of miniature houses were on shelves high toward the ceiling and surrounding the living room area showed a sense of taste for lovely things. Portraits of paintings of people who could have been family members of past were hanging on the walls around him as he sat on a plain white couch. The carpet was wonderful under his socks and soft in color and feeling. He could see into the dining room where a large table with an old fashion candelabra type chandelier hung above. Later he would find out that the bulbs inside the chandelier even flickered like candles and made eating a wonderfully relaxed feeling. The pictures on the wall in the dining room were of old fashion settings of the United States during the colonial times with horse drawn carriages and streets full of people in older clothing.
There were only two rooms on the second story. The master room was closed off and Daniel was told that he was not allowed to enter in there. He would share the other bedroom, not terribly small, with the little boy, Chia Xiao. There were two twin size beds in the room and a large picture window with a bench in front of it.
Kira and Justin Mack seemed like the perfect family for him after the Hell he had been through the last few times. The adults left Daniel to unpack in the dresser, telling him he had the top two drawers of the four drawer dresser. Chia sat on the bed covered with a cartoon character comforter. Duo placed his bag on top of the other bed, one with a generic brown and red patterned comforter.
“Chia, what should we do before supper is served?” Daniel asked the little boy who sat quietly across from him on his bed. Chia smiled shyly from the other bed and pointed to the closet door. Daniel stood up and opened the door. Inside were shelves full of board games. “You like board games, huh?” Chia nodded. “Okay,” Daniel reached up and pulled down Guess Who? “How about this one?” he asked the little boy. Chia finally smiled bright enough to show off his teeth, including the fact that he was missing a top front tooth. Daniel smiled as well and they both sat down to begin their game.
~*~ Tsuzuku ~*~