For as long as she could remember, she would sneak out to watch her guardians spar late at night. Most times Igaram or Terracotta would catch her and send her back to bed. When she did slip past, she always curled up on the edge of the balcony overlooking the courtyard they met in, watching the two soldiers below match each other speed for speed, strike for strike. She may not have understood why they would go out each night, but she did recognize a type of beauty in their motions.
Now, after two years with Baroque Works, Vivi thought she understood.
Unable to sleep, she wandered back out to that balcony; the courtyard was empty. She leaned on the railing, images of feathers and fur and fluttering robes mixing with memories of peacock slashers and baseball bats and instruments-cum-guns, all geared towards the same goal—not perfection, or even becoming the best, but just to be strong enough. Strong enough to leave home, to become an Agent, to save a country.
Strong enough to die.
Her body reacted before her brain, squatting into the shadow of the railing as she caught movement below.
Pell limped into the courtyard, Chaka easily matching his pace. They both looked better, Vivi noticed; Pell was not leaning as heavily against his crutch, and Chaka had lost the drawn look he’d worn the past few days. She watched as Pell laid aside his crutch and faced Chaka for a moment before throwing a soft punch.
It was nowhere near the ease Vivi remembered, but still they matched speed for speed, strike for strike. And when Pell’s leg twisted from under him, Chaka met him before he fell.
More than strong enough.