Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Bucky O'Hare and the Toad Wars
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Numbers Challenge: 915 and prompt_in_a_box: Mother
Warning(s): Future Fic
Word Count: 1,404
Date Written: 28 August 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
They're 915 light years from home, and yet, her mind just keeps turning circles back around and around to what or, rather, who they left behind yet again. She grew weary of this fight long ago, and although her body is still strong, her mind and soul are fatigued. She sighs heavily as her husband walks into the cockpit.
"I know," he says, sliding an arm around her armored body. His ears and little puff of a cotton tail droop. "I miss them, too."
"It's just . . . " Jenny shakes her head, her long, pink tail swishing as she tries to think of a way to explain her constant fears and doubts. She knows her babies are in good hands. Felicia has turned into a wonderful mother, better, she fears, than she herself is, and the Queen would never let anything happen to their litter.
Bucky steps closer to his wife and wraps his arms gently around her. He reaches out, flips on the Indignation's Auto Pilot, and brings her head gently back to rest against his chest. "You wonder," he says softly, "if we're ever going to be able to stay home with them. You wonder if this war is ever going to end and, if it does, if we're still going to win. You wonder what's right for them, and you fear that something may happen while we're gone. Felicia and your grandmother would give their lives in a second to protect our little cabbits, but they wouldn't be the first friends we've lost. You wonder if you're being the mother they deserve or if they wouldn't be better off having parents who weren't so involved in saving the galaxies."
Tears sparkle in Jenny's eyes. She nestles deeper into Bucky's comforting embrace. "How do you know all this?" she whispers, pointy, white ears flicking back and forth.
"Simple," he answers truthfully. "I ask myself almost every one of those questions every day, too, and even if I didn't, I hear them resonating through our bond. At least they have Felicia to act as their godmother. They don't even have a strong, male presence in their lives."
Jenny's quiet for a long moment. Years ago, she would have been quick to point out that she hadn't had a strong, male presence in her life and she had turned out just fine, thank you very much, but that was then, when she was still young and naive and certain the war against the Toads wouldn't last much longer than another year or two. That was at least ten years ago. Now, she's older and wearisome of the world, and she understands Bucky's questions for they echo her own.
Bucky had had a cousin who had been going to be their godfather, but he had died before their babies had been born. Now Deadeye's their godfather, but he's every bit as busy fighting the Toads as they are. They never set sail without all three of them. It's not fair to their babies, but she knows what will happen if they don't fight. The Toads will win, and the fates that will be thrust upon mammals everywhere would be far worse than simply growing up without their parents.
Still, she longs to be with them. She longs to spend nights rocking them as they cry and just holding them as they slip. She longs to teach them how to read and write and craft spells of their own. She longs to sing to them and rock them to sleep, to ease their fears when storms strike, to simply be with them. She remembers, with great pain, how her youngest reacted to her during their last visit. Her ache to hear her call her "Momma" instead of Felicia is almost a fresh, physical stab.
She never did tell Bucky about that, she realizes, turning and nestling her face into the crook of his arm. "Fifi called Felicia Momma," she whispers, her voice suddenly hoarse as though she's been crying all this time. She's felt like crying, but she hasn't given herself the luxury. They have a mission to complete, and tears will only distract her.
They can't afford distractions any more at this point. There are too many times when they're doing well just to escape through a battle with their lives still in tact. The Toads are growing in number and strength every day, and they have new allies whose identities they have not yet discovered. They know they're new, though, for some of the technology the Toads are now wielding are far beyond anything their tiny minds could conjure. They're also beyond anything their own people have created thus far.
"I'm sorry," Bucky whispers, rubbing her arms, his long ears laying flat against his head. He holds her in silence for a long time before finally, softly asking, "Do you want to stay the next time?" He'd ask her if she wants to go back, she knows, but their mission is too crucial. The Toads have taken Captain Dogstar and his crew. Even if he wasn't a friend, they can't afford to lose the second most important crew for their side in this seemingly endless war.
For a moment, Jenny almost says "yes", but then she whispers, "no", so quietly that even Bucky's long ears almost miss her one-word answer. He pushes her slightly away from him so he can look directly into her beautiful, sorrowful eyes. "Are you sure?" he questions. "I'll understand -- "
She's already nodding. "I'm certain," she vows. "I'm not leaving you, Bucky." She lovingly caresses his face, her fingers threading gently through his soft, green fur. "Not now, not ever. Til death do us part." She leans close and kisses him, but as their lips part, her head also drops slightly. "I just hope," she says with a swish of her tail, "that they can forgive us one day."
"There's nothing for them to forgive us for, darling. One day, when they're old enough to understand why we're never home, they're going to be so proud of us." His tail wriggles. "We're going to win this war," he vows, "and they're going to be the proudest cabbits -- "
"They're the only cabbits," she whispers, her lips finally curving up into a tiny, teasing grin.
"Well, they're going to be the proudest children of anybody, any species ever. They're going to know what we did and why, and they're going to be hopping proud of us."
"Hopping proud," she repeats, but now she's truly grinning. She shakes her head as she grins at her husband. "Only you," she teases.
"Yes," he agrees. "Only you and I could raise the most special children the universe has ever known and yet still win this war against the Toads."
For a moment, her smile falters. They're not truly raising their children. Felicia and Grandmama are, and she owes them both a debt for doing so that she can never repay. Still, she knows Bucky's right. They are going to win this war eventually. They are going to make the universe safe for their little cabbits, and for all babies, to grow up in. It's going to take longer -- there's no way to know how long exactly --, but they're going to do it.
She laces her fingers through Bucky's and looks down thoughtfully at their joined hands. They're going to do it like they've done everything else important over the last several decades they've known each other: they're going to do it together. They can only do it together. But they have love on their side, and friendship too, and that's exactly why they're going to win.
She hears the warning bell ringing to indicate they're sliding into the vicinity of the Toad mother ship. There's not much time now, but there's always going to be time for them. "Let's go croak some Toads," she whispers, but she doesn't release him yet. Instead she pulls him in for a long, slow kiss, their tongues dancing with the promise of everything good that's yet to come to them. She lets them relish in the kiss for a moment or two, then gently pushes him away.
They head for their battle stations, and as she takes the Indignation's controls in her hands again, Jenny thinks with one more swish of her tail, This is forrr you, my cabbits. She purrs and croaks some Toads.