It took quite a bit of time for Jumoke's mother to return, letting the two know it would probably take a while with the police. By then, Jumoke had nearly run out of tears, leaving his eyes red-rimmed and his cheeks coated in sticky tears. Vanya had let go of the hug once he had stopped crying. Not entirely sure what to do.
"Thanks," Jumoke said softly. The silence was a bit awkward, but Vanya wasn't sure words could help the situation. She instead went to the cabinet where he had grabbed a cup. She grabbed one and proceeded to fill it with water. She placed it on the table in front of him, knowing on the rare occasion. Someone cried back at The Umbrella Academy, dehydration was a threat, and increasing water intake was a must.
Thankfully, Jumoke took the cup and began sipping the water. His breathing was conforming to a controlled pattern rather than the sporadic and rather wild breathing he had while he had been crying.
His red-rimmed eyes focused back onto Vanya.
"Who was that?" he asked her.
"I don't know."
"She was after you."
"She said she was my Aunt. I didn't know her."
Jumoke opened his mouth to speak when Vanya's stomach rumbled.
"Sorry," Vanya squeaked as she practically shriveled up in her seat. Jumoke sighed.
"How about I make some pb&j sandwiches? Hm?"
Vanya nodded her head, minutely.
She heard Jumoke's chair scrape across the floor as he stood to make them food. In little time, he had a sandwich placed in front of her. She waited until he sat down and had grabbed his sandwich before grabbing her own. Jumoke took a bite, and Vanya followed. She had had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before, curtesy of mom making them and not her father's choice, but the one she had had were never crunchy, not like the one in her hands. She didn't say anything about it, though. It was good, she was hungry, and he had offered. She had made sure to wash her face afterward of jelly or peanut butter.
"Thank you," she said once her sandwich was finished. The two sat in silence, waiting for Jumoke's mother to return from below at the corner store.
"I don't know quite what happened," Jumoke's mother was telling the police officer who arrived on the scene, "My son was coming to get me because Mr. Davis wanted to purchase some alcohol. I was putting on my apron when I heard a gunshot. My son went to see what happened before I could stop him. He found Mr. Davis already dead."
The woman spoke in a detached tone, as though knowing to hide emotion and capable of doing so. Her years back in her native country had been war filled, and death was nothing new. Her coming to the states hadn't changed how she dealt with death. Having the frightening and unpredicted birth of her son only made her even harder.
"We will need to speak with your son, ma'am," the officer gently told her.
"I will go get him. Please find who did this officer."
"Perhaps I could go with you to speak to him. So he doesn't have to pass the scene so soon," the officer added, a little persistent in her tone. The mother gave a once over on the officer. She was no stranger to the local police, with the threat of domestic gang violence, but the police usually filled their report and listed it as gang activity, which led to an unfortunate death. They only stayed longer if a newsgroup had arrived.
The cop didn't appear to be one of the rookies who were overly eager and idealistic either. Transfer perhaps? Odd, they were alone.
"Very well," she answered neutrally. She would call the police again and request a second cop. Something felt off about the whole thing. And better inside, away from whoever was killing. She led the officer behind the counter, into the backroom, and proceeded up the stairs to their home above the store. She knocked on the door, something she did when she didn't normally do. But it would give an opportunity for the little girl to hide should she choose to. Considering her son used his gift in front of her, she would have preferred it.
"Jumoke, there is an officer here who wants to speak with you about what happened," she spoke clearly through the door. She and the officer heard movement, even the clinking of dishes before the door was unlocked and opened from the inside. Jumoke stared at her with red-rimmed eyes and the officer. His eyes didn't remain wary. A spark of fear shot through them. His mother's eyes widened, and she went to turn to face the officer. She came face to face with a pistol, placed casually to fire in the middle of her forehead.
"I hate doing this, truly I do, but I'm already running behind. Now, no more games. The girl."
Jumoke grabbed his mother's wrist and tried to get her away from the woman masquerading as a police officer. His mother tried to get through the door to hopefully shut it and keep the imposter out as the police were called hopefully with actual police arriving. The fake officer fired, shooting the woman in her head. The mother collapsed to the floor to the horror of Jumoke.
Hidden behind an alcove, out of sight from the stairs, Vanya stood, her heart racing. She didn't know why all this chaos was happening, why two people had been killed in mere hours by some woman apparently trying to take her home.
"Mom!" Jumoke screamed. Vanya covered hear ears as every breath he took seemed to grow louder. The gunshot that had been ringing in her ears dulled to his stressed breathing, a syncopated rhythm that became all she focused on. A slight, steady beat came from footfalls. Vanya felt rage bubble inside her. She felt fear swell in her chest. Her heart ached for a woman she didn't know, and her son, who had helped her.
Compelled by the violent emotions churning inside her, she stepped out of the alcove, not wanting anyone else to die. Well, not for the woman to kill anyone else.
The scene was horrifying, though, no worse than how Ben sometimes arrived home. Jumoke had fallen to his knees, just staring at his mother, his back facing Vanya. She could hear him sob. The killer, on the other hand, looked somewhat bored, a bit agitated perhaps.
"There you are, Vanya. It's time to go home now."
"Did my father send you?" Vanya questioned. She ran because she was normal in a house of extraordinary. Her father had said so many times over. So why waste time with her when he didn't with Five?
The woman faltered for a moment. Vanya felt her heartbeat pounding in her ears. She saw the woman say something, but she heard no words over her heartbeat. Just that the thought of this woman, killing an old man, then a mother, because of her... It made her want to fix the problem.
She saw the woman come closer, offering her pill. Vanya just wanted her to go away.
With her rage growing, she felt something in her snap. Genuinely similar to plucking a string on a violin. A burst of some kind filled the room, knocking back the woman. The woman who had only just entered the home from the stairs, now fell backward and down the stairs, landing with a thud. Vanya felt a touch lighter with the woman out of the house. She crept past Jumoke and decided against looking down the stairs in favor of shutting the door. Jumoke sat there, crying over his mother's body.
Vanya just stood at the door. She didn't want to make things worse, so she just waited for Jumoke to tell her to get out. It was her fault his mother was dead. She wouldn't fight him on his decision.
He cradled his mother for what could have been hours, sobbing all the while.
Eventually, his sobbing had softened to hiccups, then silence. The silence was far worse than the sobbing. Vanya swore she could hear her heart getting louder in her ears again.
"Jumoke," the mother's voice spoke suddenly. Vanya felt her blood turn to ice. "No matter what happens, I am proud of you. I will always love you. Be strong in what you believe in."
"Vanya," Jumoke spoke in a soft and emotionless voice, "Where is the woman who killed my mother?"
"D-down the stairs," Vanya answered. She heard him shuffle his movement and stand. She heard him walk with even footfalls. Lowering her head, she stepped aside so he could open the door. Jumoke looked so much like her brother Klaus at that moment. The dead and haunted expression paired with tears, reminded her of seeing Klaus after a personal session with their father. She felt her throat tighten up as he opened the door. The wood separated them, not letting her see his face as he looked down the stairs.
With that, the door was shut, and he turned to face Vanya.
"You didn't know her?" he reaffirmed.
"No. I didn't."
Jumoke was quiet, then walked into another room. Vanya just stood stiffly, not sure what to do. She heard odd movement and stood to watch as Jumoke turned the corner with a bag slung over his back and another one in his hands.
"Put your things in here. If you can fit them."
"Wait, what's going on?" Vanya asked. Jumoke stared back at her.
"Neither of us can stay here. I can't go to children's services, or worse. And from the looks of it, neither can you."
"The bag, though..."
"Mom was prepared. I always thought she was paranoid. She was a refugee. Trying to escape the war. That paranoia never left," he explained, "Guess she was right."
Vanya robotically placed her makeshift bag into the offered backpack. Jumoke opened the door and went down the stairs as she tried to close the pack. After a minute or so fighting with it, she got it fully closed.
Jumoke arrived shortly after with a wallet in hand. A grim look was on his face.
"If that women weren't already dead, I would have killed her."
He slapped the wallet on the table in frustration. Vanya carefully opened it to see a driver's license of a Vivian Greeves. And one that said, Vivian Jenkins. And Vivian Holmes. A police badge that most likely was as fake as the cards in her wallet, no doubt. If each card hadn't said Vivian, she might have doubted that having any connection to whoever the woman was. Not that it mattered anymore, with her dead at the bottom of the stairs.
"I don't remember pushing her," Vanya blurted out.
"Does it matter how it happened? She's at the bottom of the stairs. Dead as a doorknob."
There was something else that was bothering Vanya.
"I-I heard your mom. After she..."
Jumoke sent her a look.
"My mom called it my gift. I was her miracle, so I was blessed with a gift."
Vanya remained silent as he explained.
"My mom wasn't pregnant the way most women are when they have babies. I just happened one day. She just swole up like a balloon and had me in a small hut. So many feared I was a demon apparently. But mom, she didn't. To her, I was her son. But because I was born, she had to leave her home to try and keep me from being killed by the Lord's Resistance Army. Years later, when I was three, I started making these," he waved his hands in the air, and small doll-like things appeared on the table. "They're not real, of course. Just illusions. Tricking the eyes, the ears, the nose, and the mouth. But not touch. I don't know if I can trick touch when nothing is there."
"October 1st. 1989."
"Were you born... October 1st, 1989?"
"So was I. And all my siblings too. They all have powers."
Jumoke stared at her, trying to process her words.
"There are others?"
I was remarkably born somewhere in the world; I didn't know when I was little. Nothing remarkable about that. Thousands upon thousands of people are born every day. What was weird was, according to the laws of nature, I shouldn't exist. A lot of people shouldn't exist. Because once upon a time, long ago in the magical year of 1989, 43 specific and random women gave birth when they started the day, decidedly not so. Guess the world had other plans for them.
One Reginald Hargreeves decided to go all around and the world to lessen the burden of the new, unexpected mothers. By "adopting" the unforeseen bundles of joy. Dad got seven of us.
Five reread the short sections of words many times over. The book didn't sound like anything Vanya would have ever written.
But it had been over a decade since he had been... home. How much had the world changed?
How had the world ended up... Like this?
Huh, so this became a hell of a lot darker than I thought it would.