Tournament Armoured Hero #7

“Hey, it’s me,” he said calmly, surveying the wreckage of the room about him. “Listen, I’m afraid things didn’t really go according to plan.”

He paused, listening intently to the voice on the other end of the phone and nodding his agreement.

“Yeah,” he murmured after a moment. “The clone didn’t make it, sorry about that. I think that kid our friends sent out bit the dust too, quite literally. It’s a shame but, you know, it’s a battlefield out there.”

There was another momentary pause and then, at last, Randall Kalish smiled warmly.

“Don’t panic so much. Taryse is fine, Amelia’s fine too. They’re just a little shaken up, all they need is for you to ride out there in the desert and…” he paused, the smile fading slightly. “Yeah, I understand that. Well, if you can’t go out there, I guess I’ll…”

He stopped again, suddenly agitated.

“You’re going to send Mitsukai?” he snapped impatiently.

At his side, Joe Hammel anxiously bit his nails, his round face drenched with sweat and his expression one of apprehension.

Kalish opened his mouth to decry the situation and then, apparently listening further to the voice on the other end of the phone, he nodded again, sighing sharply.

“I guess I see your point. Maybe I was a little heavy handed. Still, that kid really ticked me off, you know. Don’t worry, I won’t misbehave in future.”

The scowl turned into a smile.

“Besides, we’re bros, right? Everything’s cool.”

The voice on the other end of the phone seemed to acquiesce and  Kalish’s smile brightened.

“Listen, if you don’t need us out here anymore, then I’m going to lock this place down and head back to base. That cool?”

There came another pause and then Kalish nodded.

“Right. Take it easy, bro. See you when we get back.”

Without further comment, he snapped the phone shut and dropped it back into his pocket, turning once more to look in Hammel’s direction.

“Get your stuff together, Joe. We’re burning this place down.”

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If we had met as children, then perhaps this feeling would not be so big. If we had met as children, then perhaps we would still be together, you and me; and you and me with the stars in our eyes, with the dreams in our hearts.

I want to remember the time we danced stupidly beneath Chinatown lanterns and Soho night lights. I want to remember how you wouldn’t take my money because we weren’t boyfriend and girlfriend, but we still laughed and joked like maybe we were, maybe we would be one day, maybe, maybe, again and again, and again, and again.

I told you I’d be a famous astronaut some day. I looked up at the stars beyond the haze, your hand in mine, and I promised you one day I’d go into space and I’d take your picture with me. Like a framed portrait of a famous actress or a celebrated saint, I’d carry you with me beyond the pale clouds that drifted so high above us. With your picture, I would go into orbit, upside down, inside out, the earth turned upon its side and it wouldn’t matter because we’d kind of be there together.

That day it snowed in the city, heavy dust of white falling down on Piccadilly like the clouds themselves had come down to kiss us goodnight and wish us on our way. I told you that everything was signed and sealed by this change in the weather. You just smiled and nodded your head.

I used to love the way you never told me the truth, never thought it would be the one thing I’d learn to resent you for.

When we first met we talked silly things about how we’d change the world, how we were undefeated, boxers coming home with bruised and broken lips to home made dinners and warm milk from loving mothers. We were the champions of being out of place and out of time, we were world famous, world renowned, with all the time between here and daylight savings.

Yet those silly things never came to pass, the streets in which we danced grew up to bury us. The city shrugged, and we lost our grip.

We let go of each other and, having found ourselves apart, we found it surprisingly easy to go on, one with the other.

If we had known each other as children, if we had been born twins, wrapped up in the womb, arm in arm, face to face, then I wouldn’t be watching aeroplanes leaving without you.

If we had known each other as children, I wouldn’t be here alone. If we had known each other as children, I wouldn’t have let you go.