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It was late, and as all normal working staff and people with some semblance of lives had long since departed to take part in them, the halls of the Centre were silent save from the click click clicking of Angelo sorting his treasured collection of salvaged DSAs. He had no DSA player, so he never got to watching them, but the mere act of counting and recounting, ordering and starting all over again, was enough to give him solace on desolate nights like these. He knew she was here; he had felt her presence like a thunderstorm from the time he was a boy. He chose, though, to leave her brooding. There was something upsetting her today.
The footsteps were what alerted him, and he hastily crammed the boxes back into the vent and hugged his knees. In his mind he begged whatever cruel god there was to send the footfalls past him and his treasures, to hear him now where it never had before. Though his mind was a jumble and thinking clearly was still difficult as it had always been, he managed to throw a hasty prayer toward his imagined heaven just as she came into view.
She had been drinking, of this he was certain. Whatever it was that bothered her earlier still held sway over her thoughts and actions, and her mind was not on him. Seeing the cautions way he sat there, though, piqued her interest, and she stopped just before him looking down. Angelo hugged his knees tighter studying this too-familiar floor was more interest than it warranted. She stood silently over him, brooding, and he wished he could just melt into the wall. Her emotions assailed him from various directions, and finally he knew the significance of this day, why it was she was in so much pain. If he could have, he still would have said nothing, but he tried to meet her eyes.
They were haunted eyes, reliving a little girl’s nightmare that had taken place in this very hall, before his very vent, not so long ago as it seemed. He had been there, and felt her pain raw as he had the day it happened.
“I don’t even remember,” was what she said at last. “I know it hurt, but other than that…” Angelo gazed up at her in astonishment. Not remember? Why, now that he recalled the date it was as if he was living it again in him mind’s eye. But he had access to her emotions and it was true, she felt but did not know. Angelo felt a strong urge to help this once and future friend, at the risk of all he treasured, and knew this act of his would help them both. It was hard to think, so hard. He could not remember a day when he had though clearly, back as long as his photographic memory could recall. Yet he knew what he must do and that he must do it now or risk the future he knew they dreamed of. It was a future like the past without the Centre their to mar it, and he had been told he was part of the dream. He knew better. It would be their world, their life.
He hopped around on the balls of his feet without standing until he was facing the air vent and deftly pried it open. He reached for the box he knew contained that day. He had secreted it away long ago so his only family would not suffer for it any more than they had already, and he was removing it for the eyes of the one person who should fear it more than death or Judgment Day.
Angelo flipped through the tiny disks under a curious raptor eye until he found the one he was looking for, unmarked with date or content, and handed it to her. Digging in the dredges of his mind he struggled to force out the words he felt must be said. It took time, but she was uncharacteristically patient, as she had been before the day. Finally, he managed it.
“Miss Parker sad… Jarod sad… Angelo said too Angelo remembers. Jarod remembers. Miss Parker…shut it all away.” Seeing the tears welling in her eyes and not wanting to face the anger he knew must come with it Angelo ducked into the vent, gathered his boxes, and scurried away.
Miss Parker examines the silvery disk in her trembling hand.