23 – Change

PRESENT DAY

“Fortenra! I found you!” Tali tackle-hugged the boy, who was still in his suit.
Of course, it was ragged, wrinkled, and much dirtier now, but Tali still considered it to be formal. When she was done with her hug, she waved her hand around.
“Whew,” she said. “You smell a bit, you know?”

Fortenra rolled his eyes. It had been about a week, now. He needed a shower. Standing in the rain hadn’t done much for him. But that was beside him. He eyed Tali.
“What… are you wearing?” he questioned.
Tali normally wore jeans and a tanktop. She was somewhat fashionable, at least. But right now, the sixteen year old was wearing some sort of oversized fire fighter suit, yellow reflectors and all.
“You like it?” Tali grinned and twirled around, her hands and feet covered by the material. “It’s a fire resistant suit.”

“It’s… Interesting….” Fortenra relented, quickly changing the subject. “Tali, we need to talk about what happened when–”

Hirun, who had been standing near the both of them, finally spoke up, interrupting Askasa.
“Yo, Tali, I heard what you did to the city! I think that’s pretty cool, putting people in their place like that!”

Tali threw up her arms, “Oh yeah? I thought so too! It’s terrible how they treat us. We’re the future!”
She shoved Hikari, her hand to his shoulder playfully. “Especially you, Hikari. It’s horrible how you have to live.”

Hirun looked down briefly before going in to hug Tali. “Yeah, well, you paid ‘em back for me,” he said softly.
Fortenra reached over, but stopped himself from touching either of them when they released eachother from their embrace.

“So Fort!” Tali hopped. “I got us a house!”
Fortenra brought his hands back to his sides. “What?”
“A house! C’mon, you’ll love it! You too, Hikari!”

Tali ushered the both of them into her new car and five minutes later she was in the driveway of a very fine looking house. There weren’t even any burn marks. The fiery-haired girl led the two boys inside and started to show them around.
“And this is the living room, and the kitchen…” she began.
With each passing room, Hirun grew more excited while Fortenra became more withdrawn.
“… And this is my and Fort’s room!” Tali finished, bringing them into a large bedroom.

Trying to get Askasa more involved, she said, “Look, I even bought you new clothes!” as she pulled her boyfriend over to the walk-in closet, which was filled with suits, all in Fortenra’s size.
He gave her a weary, forced smile as she pulled him to the main room again, patting herself on the back for how she had decorated this room all by herself, just to impress Askasa.

“This is awesome, Tali,” Hikari replied, wishing he were as lucky as Fortenra. But Askasa was strangely silent on the matter.

“So,” Tali pried, looking to her boyfriend. “What do you think?”

Fortenra bit the inside of his lip, hesitating. “Tali,” he said softly. “You stole all of this.”
“Who cares?” Hikari interjected.
“But I did it all for you,” Tali whimpered. Fortenra took a step back.
“The apartment we had. That was ours. I paid for it. We earned it,” Askasa said.
“We earned this!” Tali pleaded.
Fortenra shook his head.
“I worked hard for that apartment. And you burned it all to the ground. This? You didn’t work for this, Tali. You never work for anything. You took what other people worked for and claimed it as your own.”

“What?” Tali growled. “How can you say that? I worked for this! I did it for you! I changed who I was for you!”
Fortenra stepped back again again, full of remorse. “No you didn’t, Tali. You didn’t change at all. I’m sorry.”
And with that, he shoved his hands in his pockets and he left.

Tali jumped forward to rush after him, but Hirun grabbed her hand and pulled her back.
“He doesn’t understand you,” he said, bending his neck to look into Tali’s bright eyes. She needed someone.
“But–”

Hirun pulled Tali into his arms, hugging her tightly. “You don’t need him.”
His eyes glared at the empty hallway Fortenra has used to exit the home.

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