Last part! Thanks for reading, and don't forget to review! ^^
Part Two: Something Inside of all Good Things
The Giant and Hogarth walked through the gorgeous summer forest, marveling at the splendor of the nature that surrounded them. The Giant loved all of the colors and all of the birds that flew past, singing out to one another as the robot passed by their trees. Now that he was so high up, it was much easier for Hogarth to find his way home, directing the Giant as he walked along. The Giant carried Hogarth's wrecked bike in one fist, taking care not to crush it. Hogarth knew that Dean would fix it for him after he showed him his rather big surprise.
After a while, Hogarth and the Giant were standing behind the trees, looking down upon the Hughes's residence. Hogarth rubbed the back of his head, trying to figure out the best way to approach this. He didn't want to shock his parents too badly, especially his mother. Annie never talked about the Giant much and Hogarth had absolutely no idea how she was going to react to him. She might even send him away. Then again, there would be no point in keeping the Giant a secret from his parents, especially if his mother accidentally discovered him first. Sighing, Hogarth urged the Giant forward until he was standing behind the barn. The Giant lowered Hogarth and his bike to the ground. The young boy propped his bike up against the wooden wall and turned to his friend.
"Okay, I need you to hide and stay here. You remember hide, right?" Hogarth asked and the Giant responded by covering his eyes with his hands like Hogarth had shown him so long ago. He grinned as he peeked out from between his fingers. Hogarth couldn't help but smile back.
"That's right. I'll be right back, and don't come out until I call you, 'kay?" He instructed before turning away and running towards the house. The Giant watched him until he disappeared through the front door and he shuffled himself behind the barn to hide until he was called out.
"Mom! Dad!" Hogarth called as he skidded across the kitchen floor, looking for his parents. Today was Saturday, Annie's day off, so she was probably having some quiet downtime with Dean. Sure enough, Hogarth heard his mother call from the den.
"In here, honey!" He ran into the living room, where Annie was sitting on the couch with Dean's arm around her. Hogarth ran right in front of the television, extremely excited. Dean and Annie took note of their son's eagerness and switched off the television for a moment, looking amused.
"What's up, kiddo? You look happy." Dean chuckled, taking a swig of his coffee. Hogarth calmed himself down, remembering that this was a delicate situation and he needed to approach it carefully. Clasping his hands, he assumed a somber expression, still standing in front of his parents.
"I have a big surprise for you guys. I…I found something in the woods. It's really, really cool. Mom, you have to see it, but…" He paused, looking down at his hands. "You gotta be really calm, and don't wig out, okay?" Dean and Annie looked at each other curiously.
"What is this really cool, great big surprise, Hogarth?" Annie asked in intrigued amusement. Dean chuckled and looked up at the young boy expectantly. Hogarth grinned back, reaching forward and taking his parent's hands, giving them slight tugs.
"You'll never believe me if I told you. You just gotta see it for real," Hogarth insisted, beckoning his parents to the front door. They shared another amused look and Dean helped his wife get up off the couch.
"Alright, alright, we're comin', we're comin'." He said as he and Annie walked behind their eager son. Hogarth led his parents outside, urging them to follow him. When they were finally standing outside, Hogarth stood straight in front of them, assuming a serious expression.
"Now, you guys promise not to wig out?" Hogarth said sternly, staring straight at Dean and Annie. They both laughed lightly at their son's absolute seriousness, wondering whatever could make him so hyped up. Annie raised her right hand, emerald eyes gleaming with amusement.
"We promise. Scout's honor," She said. Hogarth nodded and turned away from his parents to face the barn. "Okay, you can come out now."
Dean and Annie looked up to the barn, now very curious. There was a small rustling sound that quickly grew much louder. It accompanied the sound of grinding gears and metallic grating. Suddenly, something peeked slowly and hesitantly out from behind the barn, something very familiar. Annie and Dean's eyes grew wide and, almost simultaneously, their jaws dropped. The Giant stood up straight, still behind the barn. He really didn't want to frighten the two adult humans, so he just grinned and waved, trying to act as friendly as possible. Hogarth stood by, looking extremely happy and proud.
"I told'ja it was a big surprise!" He said proudly, "Look who it is, guys!" Hogarth pointed up to his friend, hardly able to contain his excitement. However, he paused in his joy for a moment to watch his parent's reactions, especially Annie's. She looked shocked, but didn't appear that she was in any distress. Her hand was laid across her heart as she stared up at the giant robot.
"Good heavens, Hogarth! I...I thought…the missile," Annie tried to say, looking down to her son in astonishment. Hogarth could only smile wider.
"He can fix himself! He's been somewhere, getting all his parts back together. He found me this morning. He's home now guys." Hogarth said, casting a big grin up to the Giant and waving him over. The Giant slowly stepped out, taking care not to move to suddenly or anything of the sort to scare the other humans. They looked shocked, but not scared. The Giant walked over until he stood about a yard behind Hogarth, studying the two adults with curiosity.
"Dean!" He said happily, gesturing to the astounded man. Dean nodded his head and gave a nervous chuckle.
"Y-yeah! Yeah, it's me big fella." He said, smiling up at the Giant now. Annie still looked amazed, studying the Giant closely. Hogarth looked worriedly at his mother.
"Y-you okay, Mom?" He asked nervously, taking a step towards her. Annie looked from the massive robot to her son.
"W-well, I-I…I don't know what to say, Hogarth! I…" Annie tried to say, looking from her son to glance warily at the immense machine, still standing quietly behind Hogarth. The Giant smiled down at Annie, who didn't return it. Instead, she quickly looked back at Hogarth, walking forward and gently placing her hand upon his shoulder. Hogarth's huge smile disappeared as he took in his mother's somber expression.
"Hogarth," Annie spoke as gently as she could. "Your…friend isn't…well, I don't think he can stay with us, honey." Hogarth blinked, gaping at his mother in shock as his heart fell. The Giant looked stricken, knowing that he was about to be sent away. Hogarth grasped his mother's arm, his chin quivering.
"Mom, you can't! Look how far he came just to find me! He's not some pet that we can release back into the forest or-or give to a shelter. He's my best friend!" Hogarth pleaded, shaking his mother's arm in desperation. After all this time, after all his longing, he couldn't just give up his best friend now! Annie looked sympathetic, but stern in her motherly instincts. Sighing and shaking her head, Annie touched her son's cheek compassionately.
"Hogarth, we saw what he did to our town. All of those guns, those weapons – I nearly lost you." Annie said, a bit more sternly now. Hogarth backed away from her and towards the Giant, who looked quite upset indeed. He slowly bent down, looming over Hogarth and staring his mother in the eye. Annie took a step backwards towards Dean, startled. As gently as he could possibly say, the Giant spoke directly to Hogarth's fretting mother.
"I…am…not a gun. I am…good." He rumbled, reaching down with a hand to gently ruffle Hogarth's hair. The young boy grasped his friend's finger, staring defiantly at his shocked mother. He swallowed the fear of upsetting Annie, which he always hated to do. However, this issue was so much bigger than anything else.
"Mom, I will not let him go. He's my friend. He saved my life, and he'll always stay with me." Hogarth said boldly, frowning at his mother and turning to the Giant. The robot lowered his hand for Hogarth to crawl into. The young boy hopped into the large metal palm, settling himself amongst the fingers that could very easily crush him. The Giant held Hogarth closely, looking very worried. Although innocent in nature, he knew exactly what was going on. Hogarth's mother wanted to send him away forever, away from his boy. He would have no choice but to obey, for he was good and wouldn't hurt Hogarth's mother.
Annie looked frightened and furious for a moment when Dean, who had been quiet through the whole argument, laid a hand on her shoulder. Annie looked at him, expecting him to stand beside her decision.
"Dean, I don't want –" Annie began, but her husband gently cut across her words, taking her hand and gesturing to the porch.
"Annie," Dean said, leading his wife to the back porch where they could speak in private. Hogarth watched them from atop the Giant's shoulder. He hugged the side of his friend's head, fingers tight and unwilling to let go. The Giant rumbled in worry and upset, turning away from the house.
"It'll be okay. I won't let you go. I promise." Hogarth said softly.
"Dean, he's nothing but a big machine! What the hell are we supposed to do with it!?" Annie said, pacing back and forth, throwing her hands in the air. "We don't know where he's from or-or why he's here –" Dean stopped her relentless pacing with a hand on her shoulder. His deep brown eyes looked sternly into her own green ones.
"Those are the same exact questions Kent Mansley asked, Annie. Look how much damage he did. He launched a bomb at us, for Christ's sake, because he only looked at the outside. He didn't bother to realize what the big guy really is. Look, I knew about the Giant for a while. Yeah, at first, I was pretty freaked out. Who wouldn't be by a huge metal…robot, whatever he is. But then I learned he was different than what I thought at first. That kid over there is pretty smart – he taught me that I needed to look closer." Dean said, glancing over at the robot. He and Hogarth were engaged in a playful game of hide-and-seek. The Giant was peeking up in tree branches and lifting up the barn to try and find his boy. Annie shook her head and looked at her husband.
"It – he, he's just so…I don't know. Unpredictable. You saw what happened when the military attacked him! He went ballistic, and would have killed everyone if Hogarth hadn't intervened. Even then…" Annie said. Dean shook his head.
"I know how much that kid loves that robot. Look, we don't know why he was sent here, or where he came from. But then again, do any of us really know where we come from? The Giant only attacked because he was attacked first. Hogarth told me how much he resisted and how he tried to escape the army, not attack it. It wasn't even the army that did it – it was one of our own government agents that shot a missile at us! The Giant had enough courage to save thousands of people, and most humans can't even care about one another." Dean said, and then he pointed in the direction of the Giant and Hogarth. The robot had found the young boy under a bush and Hogarth was trying to tag base before he was caught. The Giant was laughing deeply and plucking playfully at Hogarth's jacket.
"What about the military, Dean? The army? Someone is bound to see him and call the government again. What will we do then? Have a repeat of that day? What if he goes out of control and destroys everything?" Annie insisted harshly.
"Look, Annie. When that time comes, it comes. Rogard knew that the Giant was a good guy, and Mansley's long gone. Yeah, he definitely could destroy the town, the country if he wanted to. But Hogarth found him first. Your boy – our boy is one smart little guy. He taught that robot good and bad, right and wrong. Remember that this guy had traveled for a year to find Hogarth and hasn't hurt anyone or caused any damage. Wouldn't you think that'd be on the news or something? To Hogarth, this isn't a robot. This is a person, and more importantly, his best friend. We've gotta start looking at the Giant the same way – as a real person. Because, Annie, that's exactly what he is." Dean finished. Annie looked up at her husband with worry, then to her son and the gigantic robot.
In the back of her mind, the woman tried to see the Giant as, not a robot, but a person. She watched as Hogarth clambered up his arm and to his shoulder. The Giant laughed, almost as if Hogarth had tickled him, and smiled as his boy hugged him. Annie blinked, remembering watching her son say goodbye to the Giant over a year ago. The robot had shown no inclination of hurting her son. In fact, he looked quite sad to leave his friend, telling him to stay here and not to follow, an inclination that the Giant was not going to return alive. Sighing, Annie looked at Dean, knowing that he was right.
Hogarth jumped from the Giant's hand to the ground, looking up as he saw his parents walking towards them. The Giant whimpered softly from above, kneeling on the grassy ground. Hogarth patted his hand reassuringly, not taking his gaze off of his parents.
"It's okay. I won't let them send you away, Giant. It'll be okay." Hogarth said softly, standing tall and resolute beside his friend as his parents stood in front of them. Hogarth looked up at his mother, looking at her with silent pleading. Annie looked right back at her son, then to the Giant beside him. Looking at the person, not the robot, Annie indeed saw that he was someone who was frightened of leaving his little friend. Sighing, she shook her head at Hogarth, placing her hands on her hips.
"Hogarth Hughes, do you know how long it's going to take to clean out that barn?" She said sternly, looking up at her son with a firm expression, but her green eyes were twinkling with a smile. Hogarth gasped with joy and happiness, looking from his mother to his father.
"You-you mean, he can stay!?" He exclaimed, looking from one parent to another for conformation. Annie and Dean chuckled in unison at their son's excitement.
"Whaddya think, kiddo? Besides, where else is he gonna go?" Dean said, patting Hogarth's shoulder. "Y'know you're going to have to help out double-time to find enough food for the guy." Dean said, and Hogarth nodded earnestly. With a huge smile, he enveloped both his parents in a tight, tender hug.
"You guys are the best mom and dad ever!" Hogarth said, earning light chuckles from the two as they hugged their son back. The Giant watched the family curiously, rumbling deeply. Hogarth and his parents separated, looking up at the Giant. Annie took a step forwards towards the robot, who bent down to get a closer look at Hogarth's mother. He studied her with an innocent curiosity and Annie could easily see the childlike, sweet nature of the robot.
"Well…I suppose we got a new member of the family." Annie said gently, reaching up and touching the Giant's lower jaw with her fingertips. He rumbled softly, a sound of contentment. Annie finally smiled at the Giant and Hogarth couldn't help the wide grin on his face. His mother had finally accepted the Giant! He was finally home. Running up to his mother, Hogarth enveloped her in another tight, tender embrace.
That night there was a slight, pleasant breeze wafting through the forest and around the Hughes's residence. The trees rustled soundly, the only other sound of the peaceful world besides the occasional groaning joints of the Giant. He was lying on his back with Hogarth on lying on his arm beside him. The two were gazing at the serenely twinkling stars, as it was a perfectly clear, bright night.
"…And look. That one is called Orion." Hogarth said, pointing to the familiar stellar constellation. The Giant followed his finger, pointing out the collection of stars.
"Ohr…Orion." He said slowly, and Hogarth nodded, smiling.
"That's right. And there's his belt, right there…" Hogarth added, tracing out the three stars. As he looked at the small twinkling specks, he couldn't help but marvel at how something so far away shone so bright. He also couldn't help but remember sitting out in the grass on cool summer nights, tracing out pictures with his real father, Howard. Howard loved the stars, and could name any constellation you could think of. He loved the sky and that's why he flew so often. Hogarth's smile disappeared from his face and he sighed softly, finding himself missing his father. The Giant noticed his friend's sudden change in mood and turned over to his side to face Hogarth.
"Hmmm?" He asked, tilting his head slightly in confusion. Hogarth looked up at the Giant a bit sadly, but smiled softly. Hogarth then got to his feet, gesturing for his friend to stay down.
"Wait here. I wanna show you something." He instructed softly. The Giant nodded as Hogarth turned away and jogged across the dewy grass. The Giant rumbled softly to himself, wondering why Hogarth was suddenly sad. Whatever could be wrong? Had he done something wrong? Nevertheless, the massive robot turned over to lie on his back again, studying the beautiful sparkling particles so very far away. He had extremely faint memories of hurtling past those very stars and landing in a huge body of water, then heading inland to look for something to eat. However, he didn't remember much after that and absolutely nothing before. Now, he could make himself new memories with his best friend beside him and that was going to be the greatest time of his life.
Hogarth soon returned from inside the house, carrying something close to him. He walked across the grass to the Giant, who turned to lie on his side and face the young boy. Hogarth kept the small, flat object he held close to his heart, sitting cross-legged on the ground. Lifting the object, he turned it so the Giant could get a good look at it. It was a picture in a frame, depicting a smiling man mounting an airplane.
"This is my dad, Howard." Hogarth said softly. The Giant hummed and studied the little picture carefully. The man looked almost like a grown-up Hogarth. He looked down at Hogarth in confusion, needing explanation.
"Well, a dad is like a mom, except he's a guy. Dads take care of you like moms, except you can play soldier with them and talk about guy stuff. Dean's my dad now, but Howard was my dad before." Hogarth explained, turning the picture back towards him and looking at it longingly. He loved Dean with all of his heart and would be forever grateful that he was such a good father to him. Yet, he couldn't help but miss Howard and remember how much he loved him. Sighing, Hogarth leaned back against the Giant, holding the picture frame close.
"He was really cool. He used to pick me up and give me rides on his back and show me all of the stars. He always used to make me laugh and make funny faces." Hogarth said softly, smiling as he remembered a day when the Hughes's had a picnic beside the lake and Howard had pretended he was a shark in the water, determined to grab Hogarth and tickle him until he cried with laughter.
The Giant tilted his head, a bit confused. If Hogarth had a dad before, why was Dean his dad now? The artist was now living in the lovely little house. His artwork dotted the place now, decorating the porch, the stairs and any room he possibly could. He still worked at the scrapyard, collecting junk and creating art. The Giant was to sleep in the barn beside the family so he wouldn't be discovered alone in the scrapheap. He hummed in question and Hogarth looked up at him.
"My dad's a soul. He's been gone for a long time." Hogarth explained, gesturing to the sky far above. The Giant's gaze followed his finger, frowning sadly. Hogarth's real dad was dead. "He flew a fighter jet, and fought in the war to keep us safe. Then…then one day, someone shot him down. He was found a few days later…I still remember the soldiers coming to our door. My mom couldn't stop crying, but I didn't understand. Mom finally told me that Dad was never coming back. I still miss him a lot." Hogarth finished with a sigh, holding the picture close and leaning back against his friend. The Giant looked down sadly, knowing what it felt like to lose someone you really loved. Reaching forward, he gently tipped up Hogarth's head with the tip of his index finger.
"Souls…don't…die." The Giant said softly, pointing up to the sky. Hogarth blinked and then grinned widely, wrapping his arms around the Giant's hand for a moment, burying his face between the huge, albeit gentle, iron fingers.
"That's right, Giant. I think about my dad a lot and still miss him, but Mom said that even though he's not here, he'll never really be gone." Hogarth explained, looking up at his friend. "Once you really love someone and remember them, they will always stay with you in heart. Like you. When I thought I lost you, you weren't really gone. You were still in my heart and I thought about you all the time. Every day I thought about you and missed you a lot. You are my best friend and always would be," Hogarth smiled then. "I'm so happy that you're back. I can't believe you came all the way here for me." Hogarth finished softly. The Giant lifted his finger again and touched the very tip of it right on Hogarth's heart. The young boy smiled widely, immediately understanding the gesture. He stood up and embraced the side of the Giant's head with love. The robot hummed softly, wrapping a hand around the boy he loved right back.
"Oh, wow, look!" Hogarth said excitedly, looking up and pointing to the sky. The Giant looked up to see that Hogarth was pointing out a shooting star, streaking across the sky. The beautiful phenomenon lasted only a few seconds, but left a sparkling contrail behind. The Giant made a sound of happiness, tracing out the contrail.
"When I was little, my dad and I used to wish on shooting stars. He said they were full of luck." Hogarth said, wide eyes shining in the starlight. He and his friend turned to lie on their backs in the dewy grass, hands behind their heads. "It's so beautiful, huh?" Hogarth said, reveling in the fact that he could now share this magnificence that only the wide-open, pure mind of a child could appreciate. As the two friends continued to gaze at the stars over their home, the picture of Howards sat nearby, propped up in the grass. In a silent vigil, he watched carefully over his son and his friend, never truly gone. The world seemed perfect in those moments. The night was quiet, the grass was soft and the trees rustled with the songs of the Maine landscape. For Hogarth and the Giant, the wonder and beauty of their lives seemed like they would never end. They had each other now and each looked forward to their futures, sure to bring many adventures yet to come.