Jackfic Fiction Archive Story


The Color of Courage

by Gallagater

Itís been an ordinary mission. Textbook, really. If there were textbooks about the stuff we do. Typically, Daniel chatters away with the chief while Carter picks at tasty treats on her plate, praying that none of them are crawling. Tealícís doing his thing keeping a wary eye on the kids. And Iím entertaining myself and the chiefís kid with a little slight of hand. Now you see the snail on Carterís plate; now itís crawling out of Tealícís ear. Oh yeah, Carter, you so owe me for that one. God, I love to hear a kidís laughter. Itís the same on any planet. Pure and honest.

Dinnerís over and everyone gets up to watch tonightís entertainment. Thatís when I see it and suddenly that damn snail and all his kin have taken up lodging in my gut. Ugly, rough-hewn braces, harsh against the pale skin of withered legs. Dammit!

He looks at me and I try to feign nonchalance, like it freakiní doesnít matter. The kid gifts me with an understanding smile. I know Iím busted. He grabs his crutches and hobbles towards me. God bless this kidís unquenchable mettle. He doesnít want my pity. He doesnít need it. He wants my friendship. He wants to be treated like every other kid. I can do that. "Grab another snail," I whisper. "Weíll let it crawl down Danielís pants." He grins in conspiratorial delight and suddenly my world is a little brighter. Itís the color of a childís courage.