A bullet grazed the left of the tree trunk, chipping the wood.

Varracht scoffed. "Your aim is as horrendous as always."

Sixteen-year-old Skies glared at him from where he stood fifty feet from the tree. "You're the one who said I needed to practice. And I'm practicing."

"Your brother can shoot the dead center of the tree from two hundred feet away."

Skies scowled, his expression darkening. "You promised not to teach Vicious."

"And do you realize how ludicrous of a request that is? This is the Lawless District."

"I'll just be strong enough so that he won't have to fight. I can protect us both." Skies turned back towards the tree and leveled the gun again.

"With your aim, that's just a naive dream. I'm making sure Vicious can at least defend himself if anything does happen."

"I won't let anything happen," Skies vowed, shooting the bullet into the center of the tree. He fired three more rounds into the tree, each bullet creating small little holes just a few centimeters from one another.

"How long has it been?" Varracht abruptly asked.

"What?"

"How long has it been since I picked you two up from those ruins outside of Ghent?"

"Nine years," Skies eventually answered as he loaded a new cartridge into his gun. He would not look at Varracht.

"And in those nine years, how long did it take you to learn how to shoot a gun properly?"

This time, Skies' silence was even longer before he answered. "Two years," he finally muttered, already knowing what Varracht was going to say next.

"And how long did it take Vicious to do the same thing?"

"A month, but Varracht that doesn't mean-"

"He can fight?" Varracht finished for Skies. "That is where you are wrong. He has more skills with a gun and more potential than most men in the Lawless District, including the Kartels. What you're doing now by forbidding him is squashing that talent and letting it go to waste. He'll grow weak and before you know it, he'll have a bullet embedded in his skull."

"Like I said, I won't let it happen!" Skies yelled, turning to face Varracht with anger in his eyes. "I'll protect us both! I'll be strong! Stronger than anyone else in this god forsaken wasteland!"

Varracht's expression grew weary, and almost sad. "What do you think you're doing, bearing this burden alone?"

Skies was silent, but the anger in his eyes had disappeared.

"You're still just a brat, not even close to being a man and yet you want to challenge the whole world?"

"If this is what it takes to stay alive," was Skies' answer.

"Why won't you let Vicious help you bear that burden?" Varracht demanded. "You two are brothers, you only have each other."

"That's exactly why I can't let him fight," Skies answered, looking up to the sky. "I have always been haunted, since the night our parents died, by a nightmare. I would dream of me and Vicious, facing off against a horde of faceless men, the air ablaze with smoke and red streaks of light like miniature shooting stars flying around us. And when it was all over with all the faceless men dead I would turn around to look for Vicious and he...he..." Skies choked, bringing his gun to press against his forehead, looking for support in the cold, inanimate object.. "He would be dead on the ground with the faceless men, a single bullet in his chest and I...I would die then too. From the pain known as loneliness."

Skies turned back to Varracht then, his eyes wide and pleading. "Do you understand Varracht? As long as I am strong enough so that Vicious does not have to fight, I don't have to worry about losing him. There won't be any chance of it." Skies swallowed. "I can't think of a world where I am alive and he is dead. No, I could imagine it but that world would be nothing less than Hell."

Varracht sighed, closing his eyes. "I understand Skies. But if I'm going to keep teaching you how to fight, at least now I know you don't have the makings of a Ranger in you."

"Then what can I be?"

Varracht's hand went up to stroke his beard. "How about...a Spitfire?"


AN: Yeah, I don't know what to say here. I just wish there were more people who wrote stories for DFO and put them on here :(