Sun and Moon (part 29)

Remembering things one wasn’t supposed to remember was a tricky thing to do. It was so difficult, in fact, that Julia and Umbry had to come up with a step-by-step plan, something that they were almost never reduced to doing. The plan, as they finally decided, was as follows:

1. Figure out all the things they logically should remember, but don’t.

2. Think of those things and see what comes to mind.

3. Say those things out loud and write them down. Headaches may ensue – try to record the memories someplace where they won’t be forgotten.

4. Deal with possible symptoms and repeat steps 1-3 as necessary.

The thing was, these steps weren’t all feasible for them to do on their own. Figuring out things that should be remembered, but aren’t, is something that requires logical thinking and a linear thought process. Yet one’s intuition could easily be thrown off before there was any time to think. Therefore, they decided that Umbry would take the lead in performing the first step, since she was the logical one. Conversely, using a form of word association takes a natural instinct and emotional connection – relying only on logic to see what comes to mind runs the risk of eliminating the very things one needs to recall. So Julia would take the lead on the second step. Of course, this meant that at a certain point they each would need to rely completely on the other.

This was, perhaps, the biggest test of their mental skills they had yet encountered. They had both realized this at the same time, and with not a little trepidation, but now, as they were about to begin, they were utterly calm. Noir’s strange and volatile actions had to have some reason in them – clearly he had a plan. He thought he knew them, and maybe he knew Julia Strype and Umbry Stykes. But he didn’t know SunMoon. And he didn’t know how formidable they could be when they fully utilized their skills.

They looked at each other and nodded at the same time. Julia took Umbry’s hand and their fingers interlocked. “You first,” Julia said softly, her eyes fixed on her partner as the rest of the world faded away. Umbry nodded again. She took a deep breath, and closed her eyes.

And then she went into her mind.

Almost immediately, thoughts began to flood into her mind. But she wasn’t concerned with those words or the memories they implied. She made a mental list and crossed out every memory that made sense, every memory that was complete, starting with their most recent cases. Lindsay’s betrayal, the first time she saw Clay, the first time she and he had kissed, the time that she and Julia had cried together in the darkness of her office and the time they had first discussed the case.

Wait — there was something Julia had said on that very first day. “…The name rings a bell, but I can’t say.”

Who had Julia been talking about? Frederick White? She remembered that name from the case files, but there was something familiar that she couldn’t place about him. She and Julia had fought quite persistently – and successfully – to establish his innocence in a case. Why would they fight that much? For the truth? No, not just that.

She knew him – perhaps in private life. She remembered his record. He was smart, and quite obsessed with inventing strange machines, their purposes not always known. A machine… she remembered a machine… and a woman with white hair…

“Agh…” She squeezed Julia’s hand, shaking with pain. Her head throbbed. She might faint soon if she kept trying to remember.

“Frederick White,,” she said through her teeth, “And the machines he always worked on.”

And then she let go of the thoughts she’d conjured up, willing her mind to be empty. She loosened her grip on her partner’s hand, gasping for air. She opened her eyes, just in time to meet Julia’s stare.

“My turn,” Julia said, smiling at her partner, silently commending her for her effort. Umbry relaxed a little more, her headache starting to disappear.

Julia’s smile faded from her face as she closed her eyes. Frederick White. They had worked on his case. She remembered wanting desperately to establish his innocence, poring through hours of evidence to prove what her instincts had told her about the crime in the first place. Why had she wanted so badly to help him? Was it because he would have done the same for her?

He was kind, she remembered, but was going through an awful time in his life. He spent all of his free time working on a machine – a big one. Why would he be sad, and what would make him want to work so much? A loved one…? Yes, someone had just died. A woman, with long white hair. That someone was very dear to him… was he trying to bring her back? No, it was someone else he wanted to bring back. But who…?

Julia’s head started to hurt. Umbry saw the pain on her partner’s face and squeezed her hand gently. “Tell me what you’re thinking about.”

“He was trying to bring someone back to life with his machines… there was someone who was asleep, and he wanted to wake him up… but he needed parts of a mind. He needed brain activity, so things would start up properly…”

“Someone was sleeping?”

“No.” Julia took deep breaths, her head hurting more than it had ever hurt. She keeled over in pain, wanting to faint, wanting to bleed until she forgot everything, but she had to keep pushing forward. She felt Umbry’s hand and collapsed into her arms. Umbry hugged her back. She needed to remember this. Someone was asleep… no… not asleep. In a coma.

He was in a coma.

“A coma, Umbry. He was in a coma.”

“Who…?” But Umbry was already realizing what Julia meant. The pieces of the puzzle in her head all came together and the headache came rushing back in full force. They clutched each other, both shivering from the pain.

Him. The boy with the empty eyes. Frederick wanted to bring him back to life.

And they had helped.

There was a long long silence.

They remembered.

And the headache was gone.

They didn’t look up for a long time. Julia was bleeding from her nose and Umbry wanted to vomit. When they finally did look at each other, they realized that they were both crying. At the same time, in the same way, they both wiped the tears from each other’s eyes.

“Did we really give him parts of our mind, Julia…? Is that even possible?”

“I think we did. It makes sense, doesn’t it? These blank parts…”

“And the memory blocks were a side-effect of that.”

They both sighed, their hands still interlocked, and leaned against each other. And they were quiet again.
Slowly, deliberately, Julia lifted her hand up. Umbry looked up at her and was at first hesitant, then a little shocked, and then confused as Julia took the long strands of hair that covered Umbry’s eye and pushed it behind her ear. She felt a bit dizzy to finally see out of both eyes again. Julia looked at the eye that had once been hidden from the world, and smiled a little to herself.

“What do you see?”

“Take a look at mine. You’ll see the same thing.”

Umbry did the same to her partner, taking the shorter hair that had hid her eye and pushing it behind her ear. The eye behind it was strangely empty of expression, with flecks of light that reflected off and seemed to refract. It was similar to Noir’s – and Bianca’s, she added in her head, with some surprise at the new memories.

“There are still mysteries,” Umbry said matter-of-factly.

Julia nodded. “I’m a bit disappointed. Even now, after we’ve remembered, neither of us know where we’re from…”

“…or how we met each other,” Umbry finished. She brushed through Julia’s hair, smiling at her in a way that was both comforting and understanding. She pulled the hair from Julia’s ear and placed it once again over her eye. “I think it’s better that way, at least for now.

“We can’t make things too easy, can we?” Julia smiled back, pulling Umbry’s hair in front of her face. They finally pulled away from each other, still smiling from their accomplishment.

They had finally done it – remembered that strangely cruel boy with the empty eyes, and why he was so kind to them. And without telling each other, they had both already figured out what he wanted to do with the technology that had been passed down to him from his grandfather. He wanted his mother back – or something that perhaps resembled her, even if only slightly.

***

Clay was lying down on the couch, still a little dizzy from the events of the previous night. The cat slept at his feet. Julia and Umbry had just let themselves in, but he’d been too worn out to greet them at the door. They approached him and stood over him, one girl at each end of the couch. Umbry stood above his head.

“You’re back,” he said with a smile.

She returned the smile with a courteous nod. “Yes indeed. And we remember.”

“Remember?” He asked, wiping the sleep from his eyes and taking the ice pack off of his head. He started to sit up, appeared to think better of it, and then with a concerted effort managed to sit up all the way. “Remember what?”

“Clay, don’t let yourself react as usual when you hear this. You need to break the pattern. You need to remember as well.”

Julia squeezed Umbry’s hand, giving her the last bit of strength she needed. The name still felt strange on her lips. Clay looked at her expectantly.

“You need to remember Bianca Renford – you need to remember your wife.”

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