Chapter 6 – February 10I

Rune nodded in agreement. Dr. Schmidt’s En Garde! fencing school had produced some of the top fencers in the region. Even fencers from the Academy, the private school which was Bark Bay’s chief rival and home to one of the most renowned youth fencing program in the state, were known to have taken lessons there. But Dr. Schmidt’s instruction came with a price more exacting even than his tuition, and Rune and his teammates were pleased their Coach Dan had a much different agenda.

“It’ll be the team’s weapon.” Rex had lowered the bag containing the epee to his waist. “We can keep it in the storage locker, with the rest of our equipment.”

Rune blinked. “Mind if I ask you a question?”

“You just did.” Rune was pleased to see the return of Rex’s sardonic grin. “But I’m feeling generous today, you may ask another, no extra charge.”

“Why is it that, every time somebody offers you something, your first instinct is to refuse accepting it?” But it wasn’t until he saw Rex’s grin dissolve that Rune realized how intrusive his question had been.

Rex looked down, studied his shorter and younger teammate. Rune felt their friendship was being judged. And then the tall teen tilted his head down, warmth returning to his face.

“You know how they say, it’s better to give than receive?” Rune nodded. “Perhaps that’s because, no gift is ever given freely. There is — ” he tilted his chin up a moment, then looked back down swiftly — “not a price, but a debt, that comes with each gift. I’m just wary of collecting debts.”

“All right.” Rune scratched his chin. “You know, whenever Butch and I go to Page Turner’s for comics, he’s always a few bucks short.”

Rex gently thrust the bag back into Rune’s chest. “I think we’ll all feel better if we just say it’s the team’s weapon.”

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