Invitation

“You’re a fencer too?” Rune hadn’t expected a question like that from this girl with a ring in her nose.

“Yeah.” She knows Double-J, who just asked how I did this morning. Impressive. “You like fencing?”

Double-J laughed, clapping his hands. Ring-nose frowned, slapped his shoulder with the back of her hand. “Not really. I just know Sunshine over here just quit on you.”

“It’s not really a team.” Double-J reached out and up with his arm, took a beer bottle from the guy in the baseball cap Rune had met that afternoon. The song changed, this one Rune recognized, blues guitarist from Chicago, couldn’t remember his name. “They’re a club, everyone fences for themselves. Don’t have enough warm bodies for a team.”

“Coach Dan — ”

” — is fucking delusional. He couldn’t get a team together for states last year, and that was when he had fucking Myles.” Twisted the cap off his beer bottle like he was decapitating it.

Rune felt a tap on his shoulder, something hard and wet and cool. He turned his head, saw Baseball Cap was offering him a beer bottle. Lifted a hand, waved. “No thanks.”

“You do know — ” mocking disdain dripped from Double-J’s voice — “that it’s rude to turn down an invitation from your host?”

“Go on.” Ring Nose’s voice was soft, playful. “We’re all underage too, you know.”

The teen’s eyes scanned the three faces in the room, as the music pulsated through the floor of the apartment. He heard voices, coming from a room beyond the kitchen. A door opening. Guitar strings screaming electricity, voice singing a wail, the sweet smell of tobacco smoke. “I — ” waved his hand again — “no, really, no.”

Baseball Cap tapped his shoulder again with the bottle. “Go on, bud, it won’t hurt you none.”

Rune shook his head, caught Double-J’s gaze. “Got any soda?”

Without blinking, Double-J waved silently in the direction of the kitchen. Rune rose, twisting away from Baseball Cap, walked to the refrigerator with a feeling of victory.

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