Butch walked forward from the line. Stopped, then raised his foil, the tip pointed above Miles’ head. Miles responded with a laugh that carried no humor. “It’s a drill, dude. You don’t salute for a drill.”
“Oh! Sorry.” Butch sounded genuinely embarassed and apologetic. “I just started last month — ”
“I gathered that.” Miles came out of his crouch, turned his head until the face of his gray metal mask pointed in the direction of Coach Dan. “But I am surprised that you put a foil in his hand so soon, coach.”
Coach Dan raised his eyebrows, his chin lifting seemingly in response. “This isn’t Europe, my friend. You know as well as I do, you put a group of American teens in a room full of weapons, there’s no way there going to just practice footwork for a year. Tournaments no, but practice — I seem to recall you picking up a blade that day you wandered in here from basketball practice.”
“True.” Miles took off his mask, sought Coach Dan’s gaze with his eyes. “But let’s just say that was — different.”
Annie shot her reply before Coach Dan could speak — “Is that because you’re freaking Miles?”
Miles turned towards her, grinned brashly. “Well, since you seem so insistent — no, not because I am who I am. It’s because I was — ” he turned quickly to Butch — “sorry to be blunt — ” now turning back to Annie — “back then, I was in shape.”
Butch looked reflexively down at his rotund body, his embarassment grown deeper.