strange children

“I don’t get these kids.” Agni, sitting on the bench at the edge of the park, looks on as several children, almost a dozen really, run around the park, jumping into mud puddles before crouching down to gather that mud and fling it around.

“They’re a little strange, I give you that.” Cyrille, sitting besides him, tries to remember if he’s ever liked the idea of playing in the mud. He’s aware that mud-baths are supposed to be good for the skin but there’s also the fact that it’s not just every day mud that folks do use for that kind of thing.

“They’re just kids having fun?” Mira isn’t even looking his face is upturned to the sun, his eyes are closed and he’s relaxing where he’s at. The day is warm though it still requires a light jacket.

“They’re throwing mud at one another, Mira. I don’t know what’s so fun about that. Whoever their parents are, I don’t seem them around, I mean, I guess they could be around but I don’t see a single adult anywhere around these kids. There’s this one guy standing at the edge of the park and he’s been watching them but that’s it.”

“Maybe he’s their caretaker. Maybe they’re kids from an orphanage or one of those families that take in other people’s kids when they can’t take care of them themselves.”

“Foster homes?”

“Yeah.”

“I guess they could be but I don’t think they’re from an orphanage, too well dressed and I don’t even know that we have an orphanage here in Dunkerque.” Cyrille shrugs and cringes as one of the kid flings some mud in their direction. It lands several feet away but he feels no comfort in thinking they might just start throwing the stuff at strangers they don’t know because they feel like it.

Mira finally looks down from his sunning position, he notices the mud splat not far from them and then he looks between his brother and friend. “I think they’re getting comfortable with the situation, how about we find somewhere else to lounge at? We could have stayed home and enjoyed the sun from the roof, why didn’t we?”

Agni rolls his eyes though he laughed and he holds up his mostly empty smoothie glass. “We went out for something refreshing to drink, remember?”

“Oh, right.” Mira looks down next to his feet on the ground, his own empty glass sits there, he shakes his head with a soft snort. “Forgot about that.”

“That’s because you drank it all down like an idiot who’d been out in the desert for who knows how long without any water.” Agni snickered as he stretched to his feet, he stepped over the low chain that hung barely to his knees and stepped out of the park. Cyrille followed suit, Mira moving to their side, right as a mud ball splattered against the back of the bench they’d been occupying.

“I think we moved just in time.” Cyrille shook his head, not much caring for the idea of being struck by mud balls. “It’s a shame we can’t enjoy being outdoor in parks without being afraid that unruly kids will throw stuff at us just because they feel like it. I suppose it’s in how I was raised but I never threw shit like that at strangers, just for the hell of it.”

He shakes his head and drops his empty smoothie glass in a recycling bin as they walk passed one, Mira does the same and Agni drinks in the last few sips of his before he does as well.

“So where do we head now?”

“I’m itching for a swim.”

“Mira, you’re always itching for a swim but for once I think I might not actually mind, I think having ourselves a bit of a swim could be nice and we’d be safe away from mud-throwing children.” Agni stretches, his arms held high above his head as he does so. He groans softly as he feels something pop along his back and sigh.

“So we head home?” Cyrille chuckles, things had been going much more smoothly since they all had talked. Just sat down in the living room, on the floor, knees touching and they had talked about everything and nothing. Brought up how they felt about their current situation, discussed worries and other things that had surfaced in their minds, it had done them some good.

“We head home.”

“I’m honestly glad you guys have this pool, you have no idea. I love swimming, Magali would take me swimming everywhere she could when we were out and traveling the world. Even if our parents had planned other things for us, she’d take at least one day out of our trip and we’d go swimming wherever we could. The hotel pool, the nearest lake or river, it was so wonderful.” Cyrille sighs softly at the memories. He knows now that with his sister settled in Spain, he’ll see her less often but it doesn’t bother him. It will make the visits all the more important and wonderful.

Mira pulls him out of his thoughts as he jumps into the pool, splashing both Cyrille and Agni as he does. Agni blinks, looking down at the little drops of water as they run on down his legs. “If I’d wanted to be wet, Mira, I’d have gone swimming, you know? Oh wait.”

He laughs, as though his job is the funniest thing in the world. He slips into the water much more smoothly and lets himself float on his back. He swims better now than he had before though he still isn’t all that comfortable by the idea of being in the deep end. He leaves that for Mira who is an absolute fish while in the water.

Cyrille joins the twins, sighing at the warmth of the pool. The day above them, beyond the panes of the solarium is bright and clear, a few clouds in the sky but they are rare. It is a beautiful day. Too cold to be out swimming in outdoor pools and that is why he appreciates his life now. It feels like every little detail was taken into account and he can get away with doing things during certain seasons that he couldn’t while he still lived at his house.

From the side, not unseen but mostly left alone, Armin watches the trio swim. He smiled lightly, having waved them in when they had stopped in the doorway upon spotting him. The pool wasn’t a private area and he would not have kept them out. Armin knows that he swims poorly but it doesn’t stop him from appreciating a bit of covered sun. He knows he’s mainly safe from sunburns where he’s at but he can still lounge calmly in a chair and have some of that wonderful sun on his skin without anyone judging him for how he looks.

He thanks Eoghan in his heart every time he comes into a situation like this one. His shorts reveal his legs, both of the, the ‘good’ one and the ‘bad’ one. He feels no shame in letting them be seen, at least by those he now calls his family. This is not something he ever could have managed, or ever will manage with anyone else. Eoghan is the one who keeps on telling him that he has nothing to hide and that he should feel no shame for having been born looking somewhat different from the rest of the world. He’s unique, not a monster and that is all there is to him.

He listens to the twins as they splash one another, Cyrille not far from them and he sighs, it is an absolutely content sound. He closes his eyes, letting the heat of the day wash over him and the pleasant happiness warm him inside. This is a kind of life he knows he never would have had if Eoghan hadn’t accidentally woken up his gift and even if an opportunity to go back in time presented itself, he would not take it.

Yes, he still misses Andoni on some days but the ache is no longer a gaping hole in his heart or his soul. This life is good as it is now.

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