Mar 15th, 2019
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  1. It’s a quiet night in Iron City. Winter has settled in, leaving the streets icy and the people scarce. Especially now, in the break between Motorball seasons. With people holing up in the spaces that they’ve carved out through this layered city comes a kind of industrial beauty. Bright lights shine in a rainbow of colors and hues. Neon signs for shops, little lamps through the windows of cozy studies, and everything in between.
  3. You sit staring at the vista in front of you; legs dangling over the edge of the old factory roof where Alita asked you to meet. The thought brings a smile to your face as you grip the bag you’re holding a little tighter. Any second now.
  4. Your patience is rewarded when the tiny hiss and hum of artificial muscles comes sneaking up from somewhere behind you; a sound that you’ve come to know so well.
  6. “Hey Ali.”
  8. The careful, minute noises stop and in less than a second a streak of silver and purple slides down next to you, immediately grabbing your arm around and placing it around its shoulder.
  10. “How come I can never sneak up on you?” Alita pouts as she speaks.
  12. You laugh softly.
  14. “Seems I can just sense when my favourite cyborg is around.”
  16. She snuggles her head in to your chest and lets out a little sigh.
  18. “I guess I can’t be the very best at everything.” Her voice is muted, and you feel the vibrations of her speech through your chest. You had something to- suddenly you remember.
  20. “Hey don’t get too comfortable now. Here, I’ve got something for us.”
  22. You take back your arm and reach in to your pack. She looks back at you, wide-eyed and curious. You dig around for a bit and eventually your hand settles on an old, thick blanket. It’s a patchwork mess, but it’s still special. Alita smiles that shy smile which makes your heart soar as you wrap it around her and yourself.
  24. “You know I don’t get cold! You take it.”
  26. You simply shake your head and she melts in to your arms again when you pull her closer. With your free hand you finally fish up your other item: a steel thermos. Lovingly dented and clearly well-used.
  28. “This is the real surprise Ali. Have you ever had a hot chocolate?”
  30. At the mention of chocolate, she perks up. Her excitement is infectious.
  32. “No but I’d love to try it!” You pass her the thermos and with her free hands she pours herself a steaming mug of sweet liquid. It’s an old family recipe of yours. You’ve always taken great pride in it. Alita rolls her eyes closed as the smell reaches her. Before you can say anything, she takes a big gulp.
  34. “Ahhh- careful, it’s hot!”
  36. Her face goes bright red and she manages to swallow the liquid. You do your best to suppress a laugh as you ask if she’s ok. She looks at you, the red fading in to a pink blush with eyes wide.
  38. “That’s so good! This is my favourite drink!”
  40. So, you sit, the two of you, leaning in to each other under the warmth of the blanket. The mug is passed back and forth, though you feel just as full inside when she has it as when you do. You watch as the city moves beneath you, pointing out funny passers-by and spotting hidden secrets and stories in the windows of the world. And as you sit here, with the quiet hum of her cyborg body, and as you feel the beat of her heart in time with yours you realize that no matter where you are, when you are here, you are home.
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