The Bird saw that Mr. Jacobs was now looking directly at her. “Too bad you weren’t there at the tournament Saturday, my friend. You missed some good fencing from your teammates!” The Bird heard a grunt from Rune standing next to her.
Mr. Saunders walked beside Mr. Jacobs, pointed toward the line of fencers. “Rex here — ”
” — took second in epee!” The exuberance in Annie’s voice was amplified by the joy of her smile as she looked up at the tall teen, who blinked at nodded with a shy grin.
Mr. Jacobs applauded, looked with seeking eyes at each member of the Bark Bay High School fencing team until they joined in the applause. “And Annie, you — ”
” — eh.” She did not sound pleased at all. “Shouldn’t have lost in the quarters.”
“Top eight, top eight! In a strong field!” Mr. Jacobs led the team in another round of applause. Rex cleared his throat. “Don’t forget, Double-J — ”
” — would have won saber, if he hadn’t run out of gas.” Annie sounded frustrated.
“Think about this time last year.” Mr. Jacobs had his hands extended in front of him, fingers fanning, palms down. “We were at the same tournament, and other than Myles, I don’t think we had anyone win a DE.”
“Micky.” Annie’s voice was overfilled with certainty, as if she were reading from the tournament results sheet. “Micky beat Jane in her first DE.”
Mr. Jacobs blinked. “All right, perhaps, but that was it for her.” All eyes in the room turned to Annie, who seemed momentarily uncomfortable with the attention before nodding curtly. “My point is, you all have come a long way since last year.” He paused, looked intently at Rune. “You did some good work in your pool bouts.”
“Yes.” Annie had turned, placed a hand on Rune’s shoulder, the greasy-haired teen almost staggering under her grasp. “I saw some nice touches.”
The dismissive snort from the greasy-haired teen on The Bird’s left nearly echoed against the tiled cafeteria floor. “You mean, from my opponents, right?” A nervous giggle rippled through the line.