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Birds of a Not Quite Feather

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Thursday night is unlimited game night at the arcade.

Looks like the others were busy, and poor Ben, he has this look of an abandoned puppy, on his knees and begging Luna to go to the arcade with him.

“It’s easier if there’s two of us!” Ben pleads, hands clasped together. “Plus it’s more fun when we play co-op games!”

“Surely you know how foolish it is to ask me to play games with you.” Luna wonders if Ben is just dense, or hopelessly optimistic. Both are not good.

“Well, Jack doesn’t wanna go, and Rye told me to… Well, you’re the only one who hasn’t said no!” Ben’s eyes are so wide, so innocent, and Luna knows this stupid trick and it works every single time.

“Fine… Let’s go.” Luna sighs, motioning for Ben to stand again. The white haired teen leaps right up, beaming brightly, and hooking an arm around Luna’s waist to lift her up. Under normal circumstances, she would protest this, but this is Ben. He gave a good height boost, and also was a fast walker. He hoisted the little girl to sit on his shoulder, and Luna gently put a hand on him to keep herself steady.

At least Ben can drive, more than Luna could say about the rest of their merry little quartet. It’s a long way but he makes it bearable, with good music and chattering about said music. Luna always enjoyed music, but Ben, he knew all the inside out, who did it, what they were thinking when they composed or performed it, every weird little instrument. He was doing so much better with his immortality than Luna ever could.

Once they get there, Luna can barely see over the counter to the cashier, and Ben has to lift her up again. Luna would be more embarrassed if he wasn’t so good natured about it, his arms wrapped around her in simple support as she rummages through her wallet.

“No Future Sight,” Ben teases right away, still carrying her over to their first game of choice, a racing game.

“No Future Sight,” Luna repeats. Away goes the threads of fate, and Luna now only sees as a normal person.

“No Za Warudo, either!” Ben has taken to the affectionate nickname for Luna’s time stopping as well. First Rye cheerfully calling her Miss Brando, and now this. She supposes it’s not entirely incorrect, being compared to her favorite vampire should be an honor.

“No… No stopping time.” Luna tries to pretend she isn’t as much of a nerd as the others. Well, she doesn’t exactly PROMISE she won’t stop time to get better at certain games.

They sit together, buckling into the seat, a little warning about how the seat modeled like an SUV moves around during game play. Luna sighs. She hopes her small body won’t get tossed around too much. Ben doesn’t appear nearly as worried.

Ping, ping – they swipe their game cards, and now they’re ready to go. There’s two wheels, but Ben, having taken the correct driver’s seat, has primary control. Even with the pedal to the metal and her rather not so gracefully spinning the wheel every which way, nothing happens. The course looks like a snowy mountain, as much as the low poly modeling allows.

“Luna, when I crash into something, it’s your turn, okay?” Ben explains, his eyes glued to the screen in an all too serious concentration.

“You’re crashing into everything,” Luna points out.

“No, no! Like, a wall. Or another car. You run over everything else – !” As if to prove a point, Ben slammed right into a wall skidding around a turn. A little alarm went off and a timer started, showing “DRIVER CHANGE” and Luna only barely had time to process that it was HER turn now, left hand twitching as the time stop almost comes into effect. She promised Ben, though, and that thought subsided, and now the game was in her hands.

She drove like a maniac. Sliding all over the place, she wondered if even Ben was having trouble staying still, Luna had to stabilize herself with her other foot pushed against the side of the car. She doesn’t have time to check, what a joke, Luna not having time for anything.

With a crash, Luna steers the car head first into a wall.

“Oh, dear. I’ve never been good at this,” She says airily, and Ben screams in surprise, rapidly grabbing the wheel again. She looks over at him. He’s worked up, yes, but he doesn’t have to fight the jostling movements of the seat to stay steady. Jerk.

“It’s okay! WAIT! LUNA, YOUR TURN!” He’s having the time of his life, unbashedly laughing and yelling at everything that surprised him. Luna wishes she could have as much joy in eternal life as this guy did. Even in the heat of the moment, during this racing game, she drifts away, wondering what kind of loving family life Ben must have had. They shared their pasts, they had an idea, but Ben was tight lipped about larger details. She wondered if he needed to be. It shone on his face, his warm smile, and in the simple way he would pick up Luna all the time to help her with her height challenge.

Unlike the rest of them, he’d had a good life.

Luna stopped time. Everything went deathly still, the noise of the arcade going silent. Sitting still, Luna estimated she had 15 seconds of frozen time.

Luna had been a victim of an aimless killing, of cruelty for the sake of it. She couldn’t even be mad at the people who killed her the first time, for they were simply strong crushing the weak. Rye and Jack were both products of war, a similar story of only wanting to exist but getting trampled by those who had a cause to fight, as misguided as it may have been. Ben, though?

Ben’s story had been one of betrayal. There was something deeply personal about his pain, unlike the other three. No one had specifically set out to kill Luna, Jack, and Rye, but someone had definitely had it out for him. He didn’t like to talk about it. Rye had found him, battered, miserable, rotting away despite eternal life and youth, wondering where things had gone wrong.

He still found it in his heart to love people.

Luna was deeply jealous.

“And so, time will turn again.”

A loud scream tore her from her thoughts and it was her turn to drive. At least it was the last lap.

Ben’s carrying her again once the game is over, partially to the side as his arms are wrapped around her waist and Luna’s against his hip for support.

“You didn’t Za Warudo, did you?” Ben asks, heading up some stairs. Luna throws an arm around his neck when she slips a little.

“You got me.” Luna admits.

“Why’d you do that? We were doing fine! We even got 100% compatability!” Ben laughs, but he doesn’t seem all that bothered by her breach in her not even real promise.

“I was thinking,” Luna confesses. “If I had spaced out while we were playing, surely we would not have that perfect rating.”

“Oh,” Ben is a little shocked. “Anything I can help with?”

“No,” Luna replies. “… Just don’t ever change.”

He laughs. It’s a joyous sound.

“Aww, thanks. Now let’s play some DDR! And DEFINITELY no Za Warudo this time!”

“If you pick Butterfly again, then I definitely will.”

Luna might be several thousand years his elder, but she has a lot to learn from Ben.

© RolePages / PebbleArt Inc. 2020

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