Good Arms & Bad Arms

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Kairo Hale returns from the army excepting to come back to a place and a life where everything was like it used to be, but he is utterly mistaken.

Submitted: October 26, 2010

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Submitted: October 26, 2010

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Good Arms & Bad Arms
 
We march, and we battle, and we do it for the bigger forces. Love and hate. Peace and war. We fight. We hurt. We lose and we conquer. Love and hate. We hate the ones we love, and love the people we don’t need – dismiss the ones that matter. Always looking for new and different, then we miss the old and familiar. We’re depressed and things are bad, but we still fight, and we fight for love, and we fight powered with hate, and everything bad in the world is good. 
 
The sidewalks are paved with autumn leaves illuminated by streetlights and the faint glow of the moon. Kairo Hale walks them like he did barely 10 months ago, with an expression of slow, uncomfortable knowledge that something’s very different. He passes houses he barely even makes out are there, but the further he walks the more familiar they are. He’s been here a thousand times and the only thing that has seemed to change along with the seasons is the cars; suddenly there appears to be a new generation of family-sized cars in a variety of green at all the houses. However, the familiar Audi is standing with all its dark glee in front of a garage he knows contain an old ford mustang. The house looks bright and lively, quite like it did only a year ago when he first stepped into it. Now, again, after quite some time; there it was only footsteps in front of him, inviting him in.
 
He drops his bag to the ground before knocking on the door, adjusting his posture to an upright stance, quite like he did every day in the army. It had become more of a habit now, and he wasn’t sure how one would normally stand awaiting someone to open the door anymore. He could hear a familiar ensemble of voices from inside, and someone was getting closer. The door was carefully opened and the smile on his sister’s face made his shoulders drop as a sudden familiar emotion crept up his face and made him speak her name “Jasmin,” he embraced her in a hug that wasn’t really a common action for either of them. It felt right anyhow.
 
Inside most everything seemed the same, the colors and the feel - perhaps a bit homier – and the scent of something that reminded him of only one person in the whole world. He didn’t even know he missed it before now, and he suddenly felt quite weird about it. Firstly, this place usually didn’t smell like this, it usually had more alcohol in the air than oxygen, secondly, he never really thought it was something he had even noticed before. Jasmin towed him into the living room and there he was practically jumped by his best friend, Rino, who smelled like whiskey and wine, a combination he himself found a bit awkward.
 
When Rino let him go, Kairo’s eyes landed on a short, brown-haired girl he knew would find this quite awkward. At least to him it was more than awkward enough to make a chill run down his spine. How does one greet someone who you might’ve just purposely and egoistically hurt so that you could feel better about your own situation? Before he got any more time to think about it, a blonde head kissed her ever so gently, and she smiled at the Nova like it was just another day and just another kiss and just another casual setting. It fucking wasn’t. Rino and her? It was so far off it actually made him drop his game-face for a short second. He pleaded she didn’t notice, but she probably did. If there was ever a thing she knew how to do then it was this, noticing him, and he never liked her ability to do so.
 
Then there was the scent he knew he had smelled before, in the hallway, the overwhelming smell of her. The one that suddenly made him nauseous. He came closer to her, half-expecting her to hug him like the others did, but she didn’t, she just held Rino’s hand as he sat beside her, and it almost looked as if she was trying to tell Kairo “don’t even bother” with her eyes. She probably meant a whole different thing though, he never knew how to read her. “Serenity,” he mumbled, almost trying to tell her something when suddenly this tall man about his own age – maybe older – stood in front of him, introducing himself as Oliver Twist or something. It wasn’t before he caught Jasmin’s eye that he understood who this was, “Young, right? Pleased to meet you, finally. She told me about you on the phone.” His smile was a winning one, not as handsome as Rino’s million dollar smile but it was true and real and whenever he smiled so did Jasmin. “Glad to hear. We’ve met before though, don’t know if you recall it but I interviewed Rino for Rumen’s, his cousin, magazine. You were there.” It was fluid, but he remembered it, Oliver used to work for Rumen Nova – just another rich bastard - as a journalist. “I remember.” He was likeable, this Oliver.
 
The night asked him many questions, mostly about his work and how the army was like. Oliver served one year himself, in England, and Rino was more than fascinated by the air force. Serenity tugged at the Nova’s arm every time he mentioned or asked about it, as if she was afraid to lose him. Kairo looked at her, tried to get some kind of contact - but she only had eyes for Rino the whole time, and it made him more or less pissed off. She was flat out ignoring him; she wouldn’t even look at him, never spoke a word to him, just commented on things the others said. Apparently she and Oliver have some kind of odd friendship going on, like their own little club. They look at each other with such knowledge and understanding it’s just extraordinarily annoying. Kairo himself feels lost, as if he’s not really part of their lives anymore, kind of like he just disappeared for a lifetime and now he’s back and everything is lopsided and weird. Rino served wine, and when Jasmin refused to take it the world shifted just a tad. If she was pregnant, God help him, he probably couldn’t take any more of this. All the things he knew suddenly gone and blown out of there. He didn’t want to ask any questions, but this all made him uneasy.
 
He excused himself and left towards the kitchen, soon followed by his sister whom looked at him with a hard and questioning stare that he couldn’t quite understand. “You’re…you’d tell me if you were…you know. You’re not pregnant right?” He questions her and suddenly a new expression of slight shock emits on his sister’s face “pregnant? I’m driving. Rino just can’t get it into his stupid head!” she responded, “but what’s up with you? You’re so distant, and it’s getting awfully crowded in there with all the tension you brought with you.” Kairo doesn’t answer; he just looks at her gloomingly and pours himself a glass of water. “Please, at least try to have a good time. We haven’t seen you in 10 months and frankly, you haven’t changed a bit. I thought you wanted to grow, I thought you left to find a bigger meaning or something,” she said, and to this he stops to look at her for perhaps a split second before he speaks with a hoarse voice “I never left to grow or change, I left to leave, I left to get away because this didn’t do me anything. I’ve been thinking for 10 months, and I’m back. I came back and I hoped nothing had changed, and that I could just start off where I left it, but I fucking can’t. I forgot you all got your own perfect little situation going on.”
 
Not wanting to further the discussion he leaves her there. The return to the living room isn’t much of an improvement, though, Rino isn’t there anymore; it’s just Serenity and Oliver talking quietly with each other. “Toilet,” Oliver mutters and sends Kairo a glance while Serenity stiffens as the man walks off. For the first time that evening she looks at him; her eyes don’t say a lot, either that or they’re trying to tell him everything all at once. He wonders if she knows he never could figure her out. He opens his mouth to speak, but the action of sitting down opposite of her prevents him. That, and the lack of words. “Rino?” he finally manages, his voice still hoarse and cracking. “Don’t know. When are you going to die?” she asks and oddly enough the question doesn’t startle him, he has heard it a million times, and he has answered it more. “Still got 2 or 3 decades,” he mumbles “the question wasn’t really where he was,” he adds and before he even gets to look at her she just blurts out “I know.”
 
Rino Nova stares, and he stares with such power it’s almost overwhelming to the room temperature. He pushes his tongue against clenched teeth, crushing a solid pill into white powder that slowly melts in his mouth. He can feel it rushing through his system like lightening, one of the many attributes of alcohol, he supposes. He likes them equally, and he feels lost without either of them, together they complete each other and make him feel okay. Ok, and not sick or tired or stressed. Just perfectly fine. The object his eyes are drawn to is the same someone that refuses to take his offers, no matter how small. “You’re not fucking driving that car Jasmin, I know, cause I have people to do that, and they’re just a phone call away. You know that,” he babbles and the only reaction he gets is her perfect face, with that serious mask over it. “I don’t want anything from but some fucking respect, Jasmin. You make me feel like shit and that’s not okay. I don’t care if you regret the sex and you find me repulsive, that’s all fine and jolly, but you’re not allowed to make me feel like this,” he hammers his fist to his chest a bit too hard and coughs a bit at the strength of the impact. She responds by touching his face ever so lightly, for just a brief moment. He can feel himself break a little just then. “You are shit, Rino. You’re filth, and the only thing that’s keeping you from drowning in all your other piss is Serenity. So go be with your girlfriend and get over yourself. This isn’t how I make you feel this is what you’ve become. Don’t even try blaming me.” Just then a scar opens and he can feel the unbearable pain souring through his organs, “you love me,” he says and puts his hands on her shoulders but she backs away from him in disgust, eyeing him with a hateful stare, and then she speaks “I won’t ever love you.”
 
“Do you have a uniform?” It’s the first time Serenity has asked him anything about his leave. “Yes,” he answers after a bit of pondering on the question. “Did you have to wear it every day?” her questions were weird, but at least they were words, and she spoke them, and it wasn’t really as awkward as he would’ve expected it to be. “Mostly,” he realized he probably should’ve made effort on continuing the conversation, but he wasn’t really sure how to grasp the situation, or what she asked of him, or if these bits of information he gave were relevant at all. “Did you ever think about me?” She asked, and he could tell she had wondered for a long time, but he also knew she didn’t want to know the answer. Not the real answer. Or the lie. He wasn’t sure how to tell them apart anymore. “No. I didn’t.” At least he didn’t think he did, or at least he wasn’t supposed to. He never even missed any of them before he walked the familiar streets. Serenity didn’t look disappointed, not for him to see at least, “did you think of me?” he returned her question and to that she looked at him, straight in his eyes, deep into his very being. Then Oliver entered, and clapped his hands gently together, with a soft smile on his face that beamed sunshine and flowers and happy thoughts. Suddenly everything shifted back to normal, whatever that was.
 
Rino stumbled into the living room, laughing for himself - mostly off himself, holding his drink like a true professional, “wow, you really let yourself go tonight,” Oliver smirks and helps the man sit down in the sofa. There, the Nova immediately drops his head onto Serenity’s shoulder and sighs sweetly, “I love you,” he whispers, though loudly enough for everyone to hear. He truly means it – he loves her with all he is, though, he isn’t much. “I love you too,” she replies and kisses his head. Kairo watches warily, afraid the next blow to his gut might actually physically make him sick, or hurt him. Jasmin walks in some time later, her eyes fixed on Oliver but flickering to Kairo from time to time silently wondering if anything happened since she left. Kairo merely returned her question with a blank glance that could probably have meant anything depending on who read it. “It’s late, perhaps we should get home,” Jasmin tells Oliver, and he nods and puts his arm around her, his warm presence making her smile ever so slightly. “Kairo, would you like a ride?” Oliver asked in his deep British accent, and it was enough to make him say no all by itself, but he tasted the option for a while; leave now, or stay with the happy couple?
 
The choice seemed simple at first; the hell he’d want to stay here being the third bloc-shaped wheel in their wagon of fucking love. Rino was hammered, and Serenity didn’t seem to want him there anyhow. He took a moment to take in the surroundings, the black piano in the end of the room, and the big fireplace opposite of it, the light walls stretching up above them, and the TV in the corner as well as the leather sofas they were sitting on. It was all the same. Nothing changed. Except, everything changed. At some point, everything changed. Everything he knew changed and now he has to adjust, and that sucks, because he’s never been any good at adjusting. It just seemed easier before, but then when he thinks about it, it’s always been hard. This is harder, but he’s still alive. He’s still breathing. He hasn’t died yet, and he probably won’t die before his late 40s or early 50s anyhow. He might just survive these changes.
 
“Yeah, I’m coming.” Kairo mumbles and stands up as Jasmin hands him his coat, “you leaving?” Rino asked, his voice saddened, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” Kairo replies and looks at Serenity to give her a little nod and tell her a short ‘bye’, but the word never leaves his mouth.
 
Then I think, maybe it’s not all good. Maybe we should step back and take a look around us to see. Then maybe we’ll see what really matters. Maybe we’ll see what we’ve done, and who we’ve hurt and all the things that are bad will become clear. We’ll see each other and we’ll find each other and then maybe all will be good. Now, we’re only human, but if we’re capable, then maybe we’ll find more love and more peace than any war could bring us. 
 
 
 


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