Tonio had heard of secessions. Of countries becoming their own, and of other ones. He had been born in 1861 after all, so while he didnt see a whole lot (or well, he did, but it wasn't something he viewed himself qualified to talk about), he sure did know a whole bunch.
But this? This was-- foreign to him. He rereads the letter one last time. Typically, he'd expect his governor to make a phone call- but he supposed they thought it would be easier to digest if he could read it then and there- reread it, over and over and over until the name was stuck in his head.
"Ah-- a new nation, ay? On U.S. grounds?" María José asks, peering at the paper from behind him. "Don't think that'll slide."
"Molossia," Tonio mutters to himself. "Republic of Molossia.."
María José snorts. "Tonio, it'll be fine, probably just a little stunt."
"Do you--" he pauses, glancing up at María. He looks horrified. "Do you think.. there's-- someone there? Someone like-- someone like me? Like me, and you, and Luci?"
María pauses. "I don't know," she admits. "But-- if you need help, other states have had to take care of children before, they can help if needed."
"No," Tonio cries. "I dont-- i dont want to be a parent! I dont want some-- stupid child running around in the desert!"
"Tonio, calm down." María says. "And sit down while you're at it, you pacing and worrying like that isn't going to help!"
So, Tonio sits. He holds his face in his hands. "Am I supposed to let the government know? Let them take the poor kid, if they exist? Do I have to /raise/ someone?"
María José pats his back, but she has no comfort. "I don't know," she repeats. She enters the kitchen to make some tea, and Tonio sits there, feeling lost.
"Molossia." He says again. "What a nice name."
"Well, I have-- news." Tonio stands up, and many eyes are on him. He feels so pressured, so trapped- like a mouse in a mousetrap. And it's only a matter of time until his own cat comes to gobble him up.
He clears his throat. "I'm not-- sure if yall have heard but--" he sure does stutter a lot for a person so happy-go-lucky most of the time. He taps his foot.
"Molossia." He blurts, then rushes to give a better explanation. "I received news that-- a new nation has been.. formed. They call themselves Republic of Molossia, and--"
"Wait," Nathalie raised her hand, but didn't allow herself to be called on before she spoke. "Like- a micronation? Why're you so stressed? It'll like- unform in a few, give it time."
"Yeah! Like Fr--" Annie slaps her hand over Savannah Grace's mouth before she can finish her sentence. Annie tugs on her ear and whispers something harshly, and they both seem to calm down and look back to Tonio to see what he's going to say next.
Eyes are all back on him… "I think-- they're personified, though.."
"How do you know?" Alexander questions.
"It's- a feeling," he cannot explain it but something aches in his chest, and he feels like a piece of him is missing. Unless he finds whoever that kid is, he'll probably go crazy before he lets this go.
"Search for them." He hears a clear voice and looks to see Josie Kate staring at him. "Search for Molossia." She repeats. "If you really have a feeling about this.."
"Then what are you waiting for?"
Nothing. He's waiting for nothing. Or maybe for someone to prove him wrong. But neither is going to happen. He shrugs.
"If you're really going to do this," Rosella speaks up. "Don't tell the governor. If this is really just a fake feeling, then they'll be riled up for nothing. And if it's true.."
"Who knows what they would try to do." Josie Kate finishes her fears, and Tonio feels a little dread sink into his heart.
"Okay." Is all he can say.
Samanta helps him.
Sam had always had-- mom friend energy, so she decided to put that to good use, probably. But Tonio is still scared as ever.
"Cmon," Sam coos. And she pushes a baby carrot a little closer to Cecilio's mouth. "You've got to eat something, honeybun." But Cecilio, the stubborn little micronation they started raising a few years ago, didn't listen.
He turned his head away. "no."
"No? You've got to eat something, sweetie." Sam gives him the carrot again, but then he throws it across the room. Sam frowns.
"Whats it with all the-- fucking small ones taking after the ones raising them?" Tonio asks, frustrated with all of this.
"Language. And- they're called children. They take after their parents. Do you think-- when he gets a bit older maybe-- he'll be a bit more like you?"
Tonio scoffs and leans back, taking out a lighter. He doesn't light a cigarette though, not in here. He isn't stupid. "A gambler and smoker? I sure hope he doesn't take after me."
Sam glares at him. "Those aren't-- your biggest traits, they aren't the important ones. You're so- nice and kind-- to me, and to everyone around you. And so creative too. Stop letting those things define you, Tonio."
Tonio looks away. "Listen-- just. Let it go, Samanta."
She doesn't. But she doesn't ask more of him, either. She goes back to trying to convince Cecilio to take a bite or two.
Tonio keeps his head low as he thinks, and grips the lighter tightly.
Cecilio is older now. Not-- old old. Not like Virginia or like Florida. Not even like Nevada himself. But he is- not a toddler, which is a relief.
Two other micronations have been found, though Tonio doesnt know who's taking care of the two, and frankly he doesn't want to know. All of this has made him want to curl up and never see any other state again.
So, Tonio sits outside, and he brings out his lighter again. He knows it's a bad habit. It's so obvious. Multiple people have tried to get him to stop.
Sam begs him to put it down so often, and so he's stopped smoking where anyone will suspect.
Luciana has thrown his lighters and cigarettes into the garbage and never spoke of it again.
But he doesnt stop.
Maybe he should. He probably should. But he can't.
Then, he realizes, it's not a good time right now, either. He stomps on the cigarette quickly, and hides the lighter behind his back, trying to pull off an unbothered charade. "Yes?"
"I can't sleep." Cecilio stumbles into Tonio's arms.
"Why not?" Tonio asks softly. He rubs Cecilio's back.
"There's a monster under my bed, I think." He claims.
"You wanna sleep with me then, bud?"
Cecilio accepts the offer very quickly, and cuddles up in Tonio's arms. Tonio smiles. "Okay then," and he stands up, Cecilio snuggled and already almost asleep in his arms.
Cecilio is so important to him.
[May 26, 2006]
Its Cecilio's birthday. Not too many people were there- only to not scare the kid. But he was happy, so happy that anyone had even bothered to show up in the first place.
Sofia and Annie held Giovanna and Layla in their arms. British West Florida and Conch Republic.
Samanta had her own little bundle of joy- and chaos- in her arms now. "Zaqistan," she had introduced her to Tonio. "Her name is-- Yessenia." And Tonio had smiled.
And there was Nikolaas, North Dumpling Island. He was the second oldest. New York was supposed to be the one with Niko, but Alexander had.. affairs to attend. He sat next to Ezekiel, Colorado, and slurped on a slushie Ze bought for the kid while he fiddled with the pin on his jacket that said 'he/him' today.
And of course, people who he was closest to also came. Holly, Wyoming, Luciana, California, and of course María José, New Mexico.
Even Xaviera, Arizona, had come. She sat next to Sam, cooing over Yessenia, who seemed to thrive in the attention.
He feels a tug on his shirt and he turns around to see Cecilio pulling on him to grab his attention.
"You need something?" Tonio asks, but lovingly, kindly. He is finally grabbing the hang of this. He picks up Cecilio so easily.
"When will we eat cake?" Cecilio complains. "Its been like, forever. And all the others are so not fun to play with!"
"Giovanna and Yessenia are still very young, thats why." Tonio reminds him. "But we'll eat cake soon, don't you worry."
Cecilio feels content with his answer, so he drops down and runs back to where North Dumpling Island is sitting so he can annoy the younger.
Tonio laughs. Maybe having to be a parent isn't so bad.