In the past, communities had gang and drug cultures that ruined reputation. Now, in the future, we have gangs of readers and writers, set out to educate the world.


4. 4.

Frank turns and stares at me, and I feel Tom's arms wrap around me, as if he were trying to anchor me to him, to stop me from drifting away. I stare into Frank's eyes, daring him to deny me my wish, but his mouth opens and closes in shock. 

'You know I'm one of the best people to go,' I reason with him, holding my hands behind me and clasping Tom's. 'I'm one of the best shots, I'm the only woman in the South Troops, and I can heal and disguise myself better than you guys can, too. They wouldn't expect a woman to infiltrate them, much less a scar-less and clean woman that knows how to spy and can convince them that I'm a consultant. Half of your men can't wear a wire subtly, Frank, and you know that. I've infiltrated before, I know the ins and outs of a building of that layout and I can keep in contact the entire time. You know I can do it, so why try and stop me?' 

'Why can't I stop you?' Tom's voice whispers behind me, slow and cautious, and I turn to him and hug him. I bury my head in his chest. 'I can't risk losing you, not again. I can't sit by and watch you fight without me.' 

'Then come with me,' I lift my head up and say. 'Two people can work better than one, especially one who's distracted by something that isn't there.' 

Tom looks to Frank for some sort of agreement, but I stay facing Tom, studying his face, the stern jawline and the subtle cheekbones and the eyes you can lose yourself in. His Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed nervously. I kissed his neck gently as the silence continued, before pulling away and walking towards my room. 

'Let me know what you two decide,' I call as I shuffle off, unsure of what to think. I had just volunteered to do one of the most dangerous field jobs this troop had ever seen, and I haven't been on the field in months. I look down at my hands and see them shaking as I twist the doorknob of the room that Tom and I share. The door slams behind me unintentionally, but I'm too confused and dazed to care. The walls of our bedroom are plastered with old newspaper cutouts and thick, musty paper covered with scrawls and doodles in pencil and ink, stained and faded so much that most of the words are illegible. There's a large piece of paper above our mattress, with the word 'Love' surrounded by names and pictures drawn on by various members of troops that had been and gone. My name is there, so is Tom's, and Frank's.. But in the right hand corner, inside a small heart, are the words 'my boy'. It gives me a reason to fight, a reason to be angry with the government for causing me to lose my baby, my boy. 

I sit on the mattress and reach under my pillow, pulling out a faded picture of Tom and I together on our wedding day. My smile is bigger in that picture than it has ever been, but the youthfulness of that picture has been worn down by war and fighting. I often wish we could go back to those times, with the slight peace and ease of a temporary treaty between the Guild and the government. Back when the reality of a baby was making me glow, when my boy would have survived and grown and learnt from the strongest people in the country. He could have been safe. 

My thoughts are interrupted by Tom walking in, his face blank as he closes the door. I stare at him hopefully, realising that suddenly, I don't want to do this alone. The determined fire in my belly extinguished by a melancholy drizzle of emotions. He sits beside me, and all is silent. Everything is suspended, and once again, we are alone. We sit beside each other for a while, staring at the floor and the ceiling, each wondering when the other will say something. By the time he clears his throat, I'm leaning my head on his shoulder with my eyes shut. I look up at him, and he smiles at me slightly. 

'Frank said I can go with you,' he speaks slowly and quietly, before leaning down and kissing me. 'He told me to protect you, and to make sure that nothing extreme happens. We're allowed access to the troop's weapons facility, which is in the basement, and they'll wire us up to leave tomorrow.' 

'Where are we staying? We can't stay here...' 

'I know, Guild Command has a small apartment in the city center for us,' he gets up and pulls a suitcase from the corner. 'We have to get rid of our uniforms, and luckily I've saved us some clothes from before this all started. But I'm sure they'll provide some more suitable attire.' 

I stand up and begin to help him pack. I put the picture of us together in an inside pocket of the suitcase, reminding myself to keep it hidden as we got married in our troop uniform. I fold up shirts and trousers and stuff shoes into small spaces, until our case is fit to bursting with old memories. I shut out the thoughts of possible imminent death from my mind, replacing them with Tom, Frank, and now. The future can wait until I get there, and my God I'll be there fighting.  

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