He fell to the ground with a heavy huff.
"You're such a tryhard, Techno."
"You're just salty 'cause you suuuuuck!"
Wilbur huffed again, grabbing the taller boy's extended hand to heave himself up. However, noting his distraction, he swiped a wooden sword at Techno's ankles. The boy stumbled, grunted, and collapsed to the grass quite ungracefully, much to a gleefully giggling Wilbur's delight.
"Of course you have to use hacks to get one small victory against me," Techno drawled as he rose to his feet, seemingly unbothered by the undignified tumble.
"Fight me for real then!" Wilbur declared, confidence overflowing after his one-up. He bounced a couple metres away and turned to face his brother, eyeing him smugly from the distance.
Techno got into place with less spring in his step and watched Wilbur with the faintest amusement. "Three, two-"
"No, ten paces, then fire," Wilbur interrupted.
Techno rolled his eyes. "We can't fire anything, we're using swords."
"That's how they do it in Hamilton!" he argued.
With an irritated shrug, Techno turned, cloak - much too long for his liking, but Phil had been convinced he'd grow into it - dragging in the grass behind him. He began to count. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine-"
"Ten paces, fire!" Wilbur cut in again, always keen to role-play.
The two of them spun around and darted at each other, then swords were flying between them, the dull sound of wood clashing against wood filling the air, then Wilbur was on the ground once again.
"Paha!" Techno cackled above him, "If you wish to defeat me, train for another 500 years!"
Wilbur was on his feet again, eyes ablaze with eagerness. "Again!"
They continued like that until dusk, then again the next day, swords clashing again and again beneath the scorch of the sun. Just inside, watching them through a half-open window, was a man, face unmarred yet by worries of the future, cradling a sleeping child in the crook of his arm. The man hummed as he made his way around the kitchen, occasionally stopping to glance out at the two boys out front. He watched them with eyes full of love, love untainted and love unconditioned.
He wouldn't know for many years to come just how dangerous that kind of love could be.
Blood stained fingers securing the head of a sleeping child.
Far far away, in a land none of this small family would be able to call by name, a man lies in the shade of a tree on dew-spotted grass. He follows clouds with his eyes and bathes beneath the scorch of the sun. Subconsciously, his fingers trace words scrawled inkily onto yellowing parchment.
This man remembers summer days of sparring under the sun, and he remembers bouncing back to his feet whenever he tumbled to the ground. He can't quite remember what changed, and why he now lies for hours where he once would fall, and why the familiar cackles he listens for so keenly never taunt him anymore.
It had been so long since he'd gotten to his feet. The sunlight was beginning to fade.