In spite of the man’s friendly demeanor (Charlie recognized him as a teacher at the high school; he didn’t know his name, hadn’t ever taken any of his classes, but he’d heard he had this weird religion), Charlie felt awkward as the members of the fencing team turned their attention towards him. He felt like an intruder, like he had just crossed a NO TRESPASSING sign.
“I’m sorry.” He wasn’t really, but the words coming out of his mouth sounded appropriate. “I just — I was supposed to meet someone — ”
“Oh!” The fencer to Charlie’s right lifted the mask from his face, and though it had been several years since that day in the basement of Mike’s house, the only day that Charlie had ever played Dungeons and Dragons (Mike had told him he’d have a good time, but Charlie found the game confusing and complicated), he nonetheless recognized the curly red hair and oily face of the boy they had called Rune, who had been the “dungeon keeper,” or something that day.
Rune removed the mask from his head, took a step towards Charlie, then quickly stopped himself. Turning quickly to the other fencer (who had also removed his mask), Rune raised his sword to his face, lowered it quickly so it made a soft woosh. “Next time I’ll get more than one touch!” The other fencer (Charlie hadn’t noticed until now how tall he was) smiled, and performed the same action with his sword.
“Ever watch fencing before?” Charlie was surprised by the teacher’s question, and confessed he hadn’t. He then raised his hand to his chin, lowered it like he had just seen. “What’s that thing they did with their swords?”
“Foils.” Charlie could tell by the sound of the teacher’s voice that he was being corrected, although the man’s face retained its welcome. “We call them foils, or weapons, not swords.”
“It’s a salute.” Rune was now at Charlie’s side. “That’s how you begin and end each bout, even practice, with a salute.”