The small, metal room was cramped but packed with machinery designed for healing, repairing and researching. The beeps and clicks from the computers resonated through the metal, echoing the eternal life of the stations. Every vital command originated here, and the size was appropriate for the trivial transport.
The infirmary portion of the room was active, with an albino residing on the retractable bed. His brunet lookalike burned his mind on the technology, working himself like a slave. His hands sewn commands on computers like fabric on a spindle; rhythmic, systematic and interminable.
“Do that again, and I’ll leave you to your death,” Boboiboy quipped, hands flying through keyboards of the healing schematics. “Why in the name of god would you barge into TAPOPS like that?”
Reverse glared at his twin, his shirt removed for a better inspection. His chest was bruised purple and shattered bones of his ribcage threatened to stab his flesh and organs. “Well, nice to know that you still hate me in death,” he groaned, staring at his brunette sibling who was manning the healing stations. A semi-cylindrical glass lid slid over his infirmary bed, forming a pod that enhanced his healing rate and monitored his body conditions.
Boboiboy snorted. He whipped his swivel chair around in a fluid motion and propelled himself towards the informative computers, which pumped out information faster than he can digest. He’d managed to hack into Databot’s systems before he was brutally murdered, which enabled him to access the same network with him, thus gaining all the information they needed and mask their presences.
The elemental user leaned back in his chair, releasing sighs of relief and exasperation. The screen proceeded to cough up data that was random and disposable, and occasionally that he preferred to forget. (No one wants to know why Papa Zola has Mama Zila waxing his legs. It was more painful and cringe worthy than informative.) It was a miracle that he was able to escape the fate of death. Even more so when he arrived in time to prevent Fang from murdering his brother.
He closed his eyes as the thought of his former team intruded his train of thoughts. What would they think of him now? His secret was out for the better or worse. They had once been a carefree team, with the singular purpose of defending the Earth. He had almost been led to believe so.
Once, he believed that the path of a hero was possible, so within his reach. It was like the old folk’s tale of the fox and the grapes. Watchable, dreamable—but in the end, it was all an illusion, a false hope.
Intaking a deep, painful breath, he forced his eyelids to raise and face the reality before him. There were no more fairy tales for him to live, for the cold corpse of his childhood innocence had been laid for him bare.
He directed the mouse with cold hands, eyes falling on the infinite text that Databot was processing through.
Poor thing, he thought. Always thinking. No time for a peace of mind.
Browsing through the information that TAPOPS was questioning the power sphere, he realized that they were still searching for the origin of their abilities. If Ochobot didn’t grant them their powers, then who did?
Simple. It was Retak’ka. The voiceless answer was sufficient to calm his mind. None of the adventures he’d experienced was genuine. He was living a lie.
The groan of his twin brother snapped him from his daze. The latter had woken from his nap, and he was bored regarding the situation’s blandness.
“Can you stand?” Boboiboy turned his chair towards him. The albino had nearly dosed off in boredom. Only he would be able to sleep through the pain of shattered ribs and broken bones.
“And hit my head on this thing? No,” Reverse snipped sarcastically, waving his left hand in the space he was allowed to move.
Boboiboy punched a button that allowed the panel to recede. The semi cylindrical glass case faded into the slot, allowing Reverse to sit upright. Some day his twin was going to be the death of him.
Reverse stretched his limbs and flexed his shoulders and elbows. Judging from his appearance, nothing seemed to be broken. He just had to be sure. Knowing him, he would always lie to get his way.
Rolling the chair near his brother eerily, Boboiboy poked his ribcage with a pen he fished from his messy stack of notes and doodles.
“HOLY MOTHER OF FUCK OW—”
“Back in there you go.” Boboiboy restarted the programme and gestured dramatically for Reverse to re-enter the simulation that Reverse deemed as “The Casket of Eternal Boredom”. “If it makes you feel better, I’ll play the Percy Jackson movie for you.”
* * *
It took five hours for Reverse to finish healing. And within that period of time, there would be an inquiry that consisted of Are we done yet? Every ten minutes without fail. It amazed and angered his brunet counterpart at the same time, though he would prefer that he would be able to enjoy a cup of steaming hot chocolate while his brother suffers in silence.
Downing his dozenth mug of hot chocolate, Boboiboy glared subtly at the pale-skinned individual as he rasped a question he’d been holstering ever since they reunited.
“What’s our goal now?”
Reverse looked up from his coffee. Unlike Boboiboy, he was much more of a coffee person than chocolate. This was the only altercation they couldn’t agree on, nearly starting mock wars and death threats in the process.
Their faces were illuminated by the blue light the 3D holographic map emitted. They were trying to decide on their next course of action, but they flipped through planets and planets with no avail. They were keen to restart an adventure, but a question remained that bugged him.
Were they going to separate again?
“I guess we stick together,” Reverse decided, swiping past a planet named Volkania. “I don’t want you dying again. Your body was hard to bury, you know?”
“Well fuck you too.” Boboiboy scowled. He slid through the list and came to a sphere named Houstu, which he discarded just as quick flick of a finger. “Are we going to stay in space? Or are we returning to earth?”
Reverse sipped his coffee in absolute serenity, ignoring the weight of the inquiry and situation itself. Boboiboy growled at him, growing irritated. If he didn’t speak up soon, Boboiboy would lose his temper and most likely set the dining room/living room on fire. Instead, Reverse put up a list and selected a familiar planet.
His lip left the mug, his expression serious despite the foam stains on his upper lip, creating a seemingly faux moustache. If the situation wasn’t so dire, Boboiboy would have laughed his head off.
“We’re returning.” Reverse stared at the holographic Earth, spiralling daintily. “We’ll start again.”
Boboiboy blinked at the sudden answer before his face broke out into a bright smile, warmer and happier than ever.
* * *
The city was livelier than the both of them had remembered it. Reverse had spent his time in Pulau Rintis and Boboiboy had been dead for months. They didn’t remember that bar that opened next to a shop for infant appliances, and apparently the officials thought that was a great idea.
Boboiboy didn’t remember how it was like to reside in a busy area. Then again, the crime scenes they would leave behind would be fairly interesting to spectate. The crowds at Pulau Rintis and TAPOPS weren’t nearly entertaining enough.
After some minor inconveniences and some harassing, the ship was successfully parked in the garage of their old home. Fortunately it wasn’t as big as the previous one, so they could hide it from plain sight easily.
Boboiboy peered at the interior after Reverse opened their front door. The scorch marks of the fire remained vacant, even after the course of nearly a decade. The furniture seemed new, but untouched and unused. Dust coated everything like second skin, almost like coldless snow.
“You still come to this place?” Boboiboy quizzed, confused at the functionality of the electricity as Reverse turned on the lights throughout the house.
Reverse locked the door. “Not really.” He sighed. “I cleaned up the place a bit. Don’t want our parents coming back to haunt us.”
Boboiboy stared at the silhouette of his older brother. For once, he seemed so tired and unlike the god he’d known. It was time for him to protect Reverse, to repay all the things he did for him before.
“Can you use your wind manipulation to clear the dust?” Reverse sniffled. “I’m too lazy to.”
Boboiboy rolled his eyes. “Well, fuck you.”
He cleaned the place anyway.
* * *
That night Boboiboy collapsed on his childhood bed. It was stiffly new, and he didn’t want to know how Reverse got the stuff replaced. It was lucky that he did, though. Or else he’ll be sleeping on a charred bed.
For some reason he was paying off the electric and water bills as well. The water heater was working fine and last he checked, Reverse was trashtalking someone online via WiFi.
Does he return regularly?
Reverse dropped himself on his bed, which was next to Boboiboy’s, segregated by a dresser. He quickly curled up in his blankets and went to sleep, much faster than Boboiboy.
Boboiboy turned off the lights. Despite the darkness and the vague illumination of the moon through their ceiling window, he couldn’t sleep. He stared at the night sky through glass, reminiscing the false moments he shared with his team at Pulau Rintis.
That’s right, he thought. I betrayed them.
His heart pinched, as if he regretted it. He couldn’t feel bad for them now, could he? He’d been a villain for so long. Why would he feel bad for a bunch of kids his age?
To distract himself, he dug his phone from under his pillow and turned on his social media, the notifications flooding his taskbar instantaneously. His eyes widened at the sheer number of messages he was receiving, with the majority of the batch originating from his former team.
What do they want with me?
He skimmed through the messages briefly, the screen constantly shifting under the swipe of his thumb. Each text consisted of an emoticon or a letter, with the sole motive of spiking his attention. As the application detects his activity, it deems him as Online, which opens the gate for a wave of spams and calls. The vibration alone managed to wake his twin brother, who was a light sleeper.
Boboiboy reassured him and disabled the vibration setting on his device. Still, that wasn’t sufficient to halt the notifications from bursting into his homescreen. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat—you name it, it’s bound to be overwhelmed with messages.
Sighing lightly, his fingers moved around the casing with the aim of powering off his phone. But then his eyes caught the picture of a familiar ravenette, with only one message sent to him, at the period of his death.
I don’t blame you.
His heart clenched, corresponding to his grip on his phone. His hands trembled ever so lightly, cradling the squared metal in his palm.
Was he crying?