The bout continued, Double-J blasting past Miles’ weak parry for a touch, then catching Miles in a bind and jabbing to score a second. The short, burly teen lunged again at the athletic college student, counter-parried Miles’ riposte, disengaged his blade under his opponent’s, thrust, the tip landing, the foil bending in a crisp arc.
Rex called a halt, asked Miles where he was hit. Miles pointed to the outside of his shoulder. “Right on the edge. Not sure if it was on or off, but what the hell, give it to him.”
“It was off.” Miles and Rex turned at Double-J’s terse statement. “You don’t need to give me anything. I either take it, or I don’t.”
Miles shook his head, laughter coming from behind the gray metal face of his mask. “Have it your way, pal. Off-target.”
Rex called for the bout to resume. Double-J advanced agressively once more, but this time Miles seemed ready, his parry this time sharp quick strong, the riposte immediate and true. Miles pumped his left fist — “THAT’S more like it!”
Annie nodded, suppressed a smile. This was the Miles she remembered from last year, confident and quick. As his bout with Double-J progressed he continued regaining his old form, his muscles seeming to remember the movements that had made Miles a three-weapon competitor, nearly a state champion in last year’s tournament. Sensing his opponent’s growing prowess and confidence, Double-J pushed himself to attack stronger, faster, but found Miles more than ready for the challenge. Minutes later, after Miles landed a touch under Double-J’s weapon arm, Rex called the bout in Miles’ favor, 5 – 3.
Miles and Double-J saluted, shook hands. “Thank — ” Miles swallowed, caught his breath — “thank — you.” Annie didn’t remember Miles ever being this out of breath. Even after competing in multple weapons at a tournament, his breathing had always seemed controlled.