Chapter 6 – February 2G

Rune stood by the side of the strip as Annie, Coach Dan, and Jimmy rushed over to congratulate. It had actually happened — participating in his first tournament (if you average one touch per bout, Coach Dan had said at practice this week, you’ll be doing well), the one person on the Bark Bay fencing squad who never came close to winning any practice bouts, who had to be reminded how to hold his weapon properly before his first bout (you’re right-handed Butch, so it’s your right foot that needs to be in front) — Butch, his good-hearted but slow on the uptake friend, Butch, had actually won a bout.

And now his friend was walking up to him, wearing a smile as broad as his belly, Annie’s arm across the back of his shoulders. “Hey Hugh — ”

“Rune.” Voice like a traffic cop. Didn’t matter that Butch almost never called him by his chosen nickname.

“Did you see, I won!” Like he didn’t even know he’d been corrected.

Rune swallowed. “Yeah. That’s awesome.” His eyes caught Annie’s, saw the distrust. He reached for her, grabbed her by the left bicep, pulled her away from Butch. Rest of the team didn’t know about them, but he couldn’t have kept it from Butch, who was always reliable for keeping a secret.

Let them know. He put his arm around Annie, held her close. A murmur of an objection, but no resistance. “Nice job, Butch,” and walked away, pulling Annie with him.

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