A New Hope
You do not know the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan never told
you what happened to your father...
He told me enough! He told me you killed him!
"Dart Vadar! He's Dart Vadar!" Vicky jabbered excitedly
at the television screen even though she had seen the movie for the
umpteenth time. In retrospect, Bobby decided that introducing his
six-year old daughter to Star Wars wasn't a very good idea after all.
Vicky was tugging at his shirt, trying to draw an acknowledgement
for her astute observation. "His Daddy's Dart Vadar, right? Bobby?"
"Yep, he is, he is. See -," the movie moved to the startling
revelation, "you've got it right again." Vicky subsided
and Bobby managed to coax her to sit quietly in his lap once more.
Emma walked into the room, a slight crease between her brows. She
glanced at the screen to see what the commotion was all about.
"Haven't you watched that movie to death? It's ridiculous -
the way both of you get so excited over something you've seen hundreds
She turned her back to retrieve a coaster from the table. Father
and daughter took one look and began to make gagging motions like
the ones Darth Vader's victims make when they had their throats crushed
out of them. Vicky giggled and Emma turned around.
"C'mon, Em," Bobby came to his daughter's rescue, "it's
a great show. Come over here and join us."
Emma was on the verge of refusing when she hesitated. Finally, she
went over to join them on the couch. She felt Bobby's arm slip familiarly
around her shoulder as she settled down beside him. Bending down,
Bobby whispered to Vicky, "That's one you owe me, kid."
Vicky placed both hands on his head and messed up his already unruly
Vicky was tired. She didn't perk up during the last battle between
the Millennium Falcon and the Star Destroyers. She didn't even spend
much energy cajoling Emma for a little bit of hot chocolate, a request
denied because she had brushed her teeth. When the credits began to
roll, the six-year old was yawning uncontrollably.
"Better tuck her in, Bobby. It's long pass her bedtime already."
"Can't I stay up a 'lil longer?"
Vicky protested sleepily as Bobby hoisted her up and planted her
on his shoulders. "Sorry. No can do, kiddo. Now give your mommy
a goodnight kiss before we deactivate you."
"Deactivate," Vicky repeated, chortling. "I want to
She bent down from Bobby's shoulders to hug Emma.
" 'Night, Mommy."
"Goodnight." Emma received the gesture of affection with
a smile. Inwardly, she was uncomfortable with it, a mother who rarely
saw her daughter except during the holidays. It was Thanksgiving's
Eve and Bobby had brought Vicky down to Massachusetts for a visit.
The both of them tried the best they could to give the girl the semblance
of a family life but Emma knew she was not doing her part.
She remained behind, clearing the coffee table as Bobby tried to
run up the stairs two steps at a time with Vicky shouting encouragement
from his shoulders. The woodwork shook with the movement. God,
they're like a pair of elephants! She thought in amused exasperation
as she tidied up the copies of the Time magazine.
Silence reigned. Then she heard the faint stirring of guitar notes.
Putting down a magazine, Emma felt herself led to the source of the
playing. Quietly, she stopped outside the door, hearing every word
that went on.
"C'mon, Vicky. I mean, I promised we'd go swimming in the biosphere
tomorrow. Be a good girl and close your eyes - I've counted your toes,
they're all there - no monster's going to get them. Just sleep tight
"But why can't you sing me that song? I just want that song."
"Not here, okay? Think of something else?"
A breath of silence. And then Bobby's sigh, "Oh, alright, alright.
Just that one, promise?"
Emma wondered how Vicky managed to get what she wanted. She smiled
to herself, thinking about the ease at which the little girl could
slip into her father's heart. But at the same time, she felt a sense
of sadness as well. Many times, she found that she could not understand
what they were talking about. She was a stranger to their special
code of language, to their world, comprised of things they both knew
The guitar notes stirred, a soft brush of melody that played on the
When I asked your mother for you,
She told me you were too young.
Now I wished I'd never even seen your face,
Or heard your lyin' tongue.
It was a delightful little piece. Emma covered her eyes with her
hand, amused that her daughter would want Bobby to sing a love song.
Trust children to have the most incongruous of tastes.
So Saturday night I got married,
Me and my wife settled down.
Now me and my wife are parted,
I'm gonna take another stroll downtown.
She frowned. She was more than a little irritated over the fact that
Bobby would teach such a song to Vicky. What was he trying to do?
There was no need to drag the child into something that was between
the both of them. It had been resolved so long ago. It had been, she
insisted. She was thinking about all this that it took her some time
to realise Bobby had stopped playing.
"Can we just sing this part the way it is?" He asked, not
expecting to get any compliance to his wishes. Emma could imagine
Vicky shaking her head empathetically. As much as she was disturbed
by the song, she wanted to hear more about it, wanted to know why
Bobby was so hesitant about singing the next part. Another brief silence
and Bobby began to sing again, this time very softly, so softly Emma
had to strain her ears to listen.
Emma goodnight, Emma goodnight,
Goodnight Emma, goodnight Emma,
I'll see you in my dreams.
His voice trailed off with the last words. The strings stirred and
"Thank you, Bobby."
Emma heard the click of the switch and the lights went off. Bobby
came out of the room and saw her standing there. He looked away. Closing
the door softly, he stepped aside to keep the instrument in its bag.
Anything rather than talk to her. Slinging the strap on his shoulder,
he walked in the direction of his room - the guestroom.
"I heard everything," she called out softly after him.
Not wanting to disturb Vicky.
Bobby stopped. He half-turned around and shrugged, staring at the
ground. It was a gesture that Emma had learnt to read in so many ways.
But for some reason, she chose to read it different from the way Bobby
intended it to be. She chose to become angry.
"Is that what you have doing it all this while? Telling Vicky
about us?" Bobby looked at her for a while before turning back
to go to his room. But Emma was not ready to let him go so soon.
"So the whole thing boils down emotional blackmail? When the
time comes for you to tally the score, when you finally press down
on that lever, am I suppose to change my mind about all this? Is that
the kind of edge you want to have over me? Don't you understand, Bobby
Drake? There can be nothing else between us; harping over what we
had doesn't make it any easier!"
That last part came out as a shout. She couldn't help it. She ran
a hand through her hair, an uncharacteristic gesture that revealed
how unsettled she was.
Bobby was expressionless. Then he strode quickly into the room to
put down the guitar before reappearing again. Walking forward, he
ushered Emma back to the living room. She complied. But she refused
to sit down when he did. She walked to and fro, refusing to meet his
"Tell me what you want, Bobby. I can't be playing games with
you all the time."
"Who's the one playing games?" His voice was soft.
Her eyes flashed on him. "Are you implying that I am? Because
if you are - I've never given you cause to believe that there was
going to be anything more between us. There had been, I'll admit but
it was gone a long time ago. Be realistic, Robert. We've been divorced
for a few years now; I have my life to lead and so do you. Stop inventing
the emotional excuses and get on with yours."
"Then why haven't you let go?"
Emma drew a deep breath.
"Do you want things to go to that state? What about Vicky? It's
hard enough that I don't see her as often as I should be. She doesn't
need to know that her parents are so estranged as not to provide her
with a normal family life."
Bobby sighed, his quiet voice a far cry from her agitated one.
"You know what I mean, and you're not answering the question."
"What's answering the question then? You and I have agreed,
back when we separated that we were going to hide the issue from Vicky
- that it's simply our busy schedules which makes us live apart. I've
kept my side of the bargain. Is this masquerade too taxing for you?
Well, if it is, I'd be more than glad to hear you say it."
Bobby looked up at her, a sombre expression on his face.
"Do you know that you've never given me an explanation as to
why you think our marriage never worked out?"
Their eyes met for a long time before Emma pulled away.
"You said you needed time, and I gave you that time. You said
you were never comfortable with being married, of being a wife and
a mother. I accepted that - I had to, I don't want to see you cage
yourself in something you couldn't get used to, I don't want to see
you pine and die because of the fact that we had to marry when Vicky
came along - I don't want all that because I love you. And so I wait
- but whenever I try to bring up the issue, you get all defensive
and skirt away from it. Fine, I say - maybe you need more time and
so I waited some more. But it's been four goddamn years, Emma - what
the hell are you running away from?"
Vicky couldn't sleep. Her room was nice, it had beautiful wallpaper
with the Death Star and X-Wings on it. But it was too big and too
empty. And it didn't feel right. She could count with all her fingers
the number of times she stayed in this room every year.
Back in the mansion, she shared Bobby's room. The mansion was huge
but with the number of people staying in it now, there wasn't much
space to go around. Which was fine by her because she loved being
near Bobby. There was talk that when she grew bigger, she could have
a room with one of the older kids like herself, someone like Rachel.
She didn't want that day to come.
Sure, she liked Rachel and Aunt Jean treated her like she was her
own kid but Vicky knew she would miss Bobby badly. Even though she'd
see him everyday but it still wouldn't be right. After all, Bobby
made sure that the monster under her bed wasn't going to run away
with any of her toes because he was simply there; he was the one sang
for her and taught her to sing all those songs to chased away the
Visiting Mom taught Vicky how it felt when those days are to come
and she didn't like it one bit. And Mom was scary - she was so different
from Aunt Jean or Aunt Rogue. She was so far away that she didn't
feel like a mom at all. And Vicky didn't like Bobby leaving her to
sleep in this room alone when they came here. She'd feel scared in
the middle of the night and she'd run to his room to find him but
she never found him there. She'd know where he was - in Mom's room.
And she dare not go there to find him because Mom might get angry.
Grabbing hold to Bobster Bear, she slipped out of bed softly. It
sounded quiet outside, their voices were gone but she had to make
sure. She couched down by the door and decided to wait until it was
really safe. The kitchen was a nice place; there was orange juice
in the fridge. She'd remember to brush her teeth again before she
went back to sleep. Nobody would know.
They sat apart from each other. The room was steeped in silence except
for the crackling of the fire. Nothing more was said after Bobby's
outburst of questions. From his vantage, he saw Emma chew her lower
lip surreptitiously, lost in thought. The mahogany clock in the foyer
chimed eleven times.
He rose finally, tired of waiting.
"Goodnight." He bade her quietly, preparing to go to his
"There's no need to make our meetings a chore, you know."
Her voice fell like a pin in the room.
He didn't turn around but he stopped walking.
"Why can't we just go on like this, the way we are?" She
resumed softly. "Why must you force every issue to its logical
conclusion? I'm quite content with things as they are. There isn't
anybody in my life - I doubt there will be. Unless - " here she
looked up at him, "unless you have plans that the current arrangement
He glanced at her eyes and saw the tinge of anxiety in them. It was
the same old question again, just phrased differently. Every time
he visited, she'd put him through the routine. It veiled thinly what
she could never pluck the courage to ask outright - had he found another
"No." A tremulous sigh.
"But," he continued, refusing to simply give in just like
that, "I've had new responsibilities. Vicky demands most of my
time - and you wouldn't believe it, but raising a kid is more than
a handful. And I've got to explain to her why her own mother is not
around to take care of her when she's sick and things like that. Do
you know how hard it is to do that? Sometimes, I tread the line so
thinly, telling her you're busy, that you'd visit soon. So much that
there are times I even believe it myself."
He turn around to face her outright. "How long do I have to
go on telling her those lies? Because she's bound to know, sooner
or later. She's going to ask herself why doesn't she have a mother
like other normal kids and why her daddy doesn't have a wife."
She won every round of the game they played. He had never
dared to force the issue to its logical conclusion. But for once,
he was tired of the dance she forced them to enact. One step forward,
two steps back. Their tête-à-tête had to stop, it was going nowhere,
this secretive relationship with his technically divorced wife. But
in the end, it wasn't fair to the kid.
Emma refuse to meet his eyes. He back sat down on his seat after
a while, not willing to accept the defeat or was it victory? - that
her silence awarded. The determination remained, to wrangle out some
sort of explanation from her tonight. To say "it can wait; leave
it for another day" was suicidal. He died a little every day;
a bout of questioning by Vicky always left him feeling so lonely and
absurd as he laid in bed at night, unable to sleep.
Her voice brought him out of his reverie. She must have been talking
for a while, so softly she spoke that her pensive tone did little
to penetrate the silence between them. But even as his ears pricked
at her words, it didn't seem as if she was talking to him at all.
" - it's like peering over a cliff that sudden looms ahead of
you. Along the way, you took a wrong turn and now you have to take
that fatal step. Once, maybe twice in my life, I took that leap of
faith. I closed my eyes and hurtled off the edge. The wind was rushing
pass my ears - it was exhilarating. I've never felt so alive. But
the last few seconds - thoughts of mortality began to intrude - was
I going to die? Would I crash into the rocks below? Retrospectively
speaking, I keep thinking that I've shattered my entire life on those
rocks and," she swallowed to clear her voice, "I've wilfully
invited along several people for the ride - consequences I must now
address. But there are times when I believe that the fall isn't over
yet. I'm still falling - only I've forgotten how it was to feel the
wind rushing pass me."
She rested her head against her hand, her blonde hair falling over
her face so that he could not see her expression.
He walked forward and couched down before her. Reaching out, he tucked
her hair behind her ear. The other hand, he interlaced with her limp
one. "It isn't over if you think it isn't. If it was in my command,
the fall will never end. We'll never have to worry about those rocks
below. If you promise that you'll help me make it happen."
She smiled a bittersweet smile. Flecks of yellow light from the fireplace
danced quietly in her wistful eyes. The light touch of her fingers
trailing over his arm made him draw a deep breath.
"So tell me, " her voice lapped against his consciousness
like a wave. "Has Theseus found his way out of the labyrinth
He smiled, despite himself. "He's going to try and get out of
there as soon as possible. Can't wait to see Ariadne again."
He remembered the times when they use to read a book together. She'd
lie against him like he was her backrest while they thumb through
the pages, one protesting when the other went too fast. While going
through Ovid's Metamorphoses, they had tried to match friends
and acquaintances with the various characters inside. The thread sparked
off as Emma teasingly likened him to the Minotaur - a bull in a china
shop, she said. But Bobby preferred to be Theseus, the man who killed
the beast. When there's a will, there's a way, he'd always believed
"He abandoned her soon after that," she murmured and left
It was weird, Vicky thought as she sat there in the darkness. Why
did Bobby tell her he was sleeping in his own room when he wasn't?
Dads and moms always slept together - so why did he have to lie? She
knew what he would say if she asked him, "When you grow older,
everything will make sense." Well, Vicky decided that she wasn't
going to grow up. It was too complicated.
Just now, she had felt a tingling sensation at the back of her head
telling her that Mom was just behind the door. She was getting these
tingles very often lately. And she thought it'd be fun if she could
just get Bobby to sing that song. She was sure that was what they
were talking about when he left the room. Because something just didn't
feel right about the both of them.
If everything was fine, Aunts Jean and Rogue won't try so hard to
get Bobby to meet other girls. Uncles Scott and Remy didn't meet other
girls - the last time Uncle Remy did, Aunt Rogue kicked such a big
fuss and almost left the mansion. Vicky wondered why Mom didn't do
anything. Maybe she didn't know. But Vicky knew how much Bobby hated
those meetings. There were many times when he wanted to bring her
along but Aunt Jean and Rogue would stop him. Then when he came home,
he'd say his Vickster was the best. But somehow - that wasn't the
Han and Leia didn't do things this way. All they said were, "I
love you." "I know." Even for a six year-old, it made
a lot more sense.
Emma walked over to the bar to pour a drink for herself and disposed
half a glass of bourbon with several quick swallows. She felt him
follow behind, his voice murmuring softly next to her ear.
"You shouldn't be drinking so much, you know." He reached
out to remove the glass from her grasp. His other hand came down gently
on her shoulder and began squeezing it. She allowed herself to relax
under his gentle administration.
"How's things at the academy lately?"
"Fine. Jubilee has finally left to pursue a college degree -
the last of the original Gen-X." Suddenly, she felt inexpressibly
tired and she knew the slump in her shoulders told him what she felt.
"Time really flies. Before you know it, what you've taken for
certainties are left behind. People become absolute strangers and
it seems like you're who hasn't changed, the one who's been left behind."
He didn't say anything to counteract that because to a certain extent,
they both knew it was true.
On her part, she wished so much to submerge herself into the depths
of his unending nature. The years must have blinded her. This was
a man whom she had once thought shallow and inadequate even as the
sense of loss and emptiness in her life gravitated her towards him.
And now he was showing new aspects of his personality - so much that
she didn't know him anymore.
Wordlessly, he poured for himself a glass of the same liquor, downing
it with a gulp. Gently, he turned her around and surveyed her face
carefully. She knew there were new wrinkles around her eyes, she was
after all, thirty-nine.
His voice held a note of beseeching. "Doesn't it make you want
to do some things different? Or at least -"
She put a finger to his lips and shook her head. Not tonight. Her
fears and longings intruded more pressingly every time they meet.
One of these days - one of these days she would face them, one day
she would find the means to conquer the demons from her past, but
not tonight. She opened the telepathic link they still shared, telling
him in thoughts what words couldn't say.
Emma caught movement in the darken balcony above and saw a small
figure creep noiselessly towards the railing. And couldn't help but
smile to herself.
Time wasn't running out for them. There are still the years ahead.
But the dream never died - when Bobby woke up in the morning, he wanted
to see that face beside him, everyday, year reiterating year, decade
His hand went to the back of her neck, massaging the muscles there
- it felt so right. A solemn half-smile played on her lips, gentle
and inviting. Bending forward, he covered her mouth with his. The
interplay of their tongues, a rite of passage that sealed an unspoken
As he drew her over to the couch, he knew he might wake up in the
morning, wondering where all this was going. But there was her pledge
tonight and he held on to it as tightly as he held her now.
Vicky hugged the banisters, Bobster Bear propped against her knees
as she watched the spectacle unfold below her. They were kissing.
Just like in the movies. It was beautiful.
She knew Bobby was happy. She could feel it. And she knew somehow
that everything will turn out right. Movies always end that way.
She remembered how Bobby would cover her eyes up when two people
in a show were kissing like their lives depended on it. He'd say,
"When you grow older, everything will make sense." She remembered
she didn't want to grow up so she covered her eyes. Along the way
back to her room, she walked into a wall and had to stifle her yelp.
But she knew what she wanted - she wasn't going to be another 3-PO.
That orange juice could always wait until tomorrow.
Disclaimer: The adults belong to Marvel.
Vicky's mine. Star Wars and all related indicia belong to George Lucas.
This takes place after White,
before Vicky's Diary. The events
here were mentioned briefly in Vicky's Diary, Part 2. This
piece is for DuAnn Cowart whose enthusiastic support never fails to
drive away those writer's blocks. Also infinite thanks to Mirage for
her reminder, "Stop making Bobby so $%(*)&# passive all the
time!" I might have gone overboard with the Star Wars references
here but I figure that many people in the group are SF fans as well.
Finally, feedback please?
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