Did Double-J get upset because Rune had challenged him about Coach Dan? But Baseball Cap, he’d been even more direct. “I knowed you like fencing, more than anything else. Must be some reason you left the team.” And Rune had almost blurted it out right then, it’s because they made Annie the captain, instead of him.

Annie. Dammit, Annie. Rune wasn’t ready to think of Annie, so he forced himself to recall Double-J’s response, and suddenly the memory of the burly senior surged into his mind as swiftly as he rushed at his opponents during bouts, Rune remembered him waving his beer bottle at Baseball Cap like he was wielding his sabre, the only weapon he ever cared to use (foil’s for newbies, and epee is just too fucking boring). “I just got fed up with Jacobs trying to turn it into another dumb sport. Team points, phony rivalries with the Academy, other schools. Know why I like fencing? It’s one of the only sports that ain’t been corrupted by greed or celebrity. Not yet anyway.” He drank from his bottle, eyes glaring down into the glass as if he were commanding its contents into his mouth.

Spittle dripped from his lip onto the thin black wires of his beard as he lowered the bottle. “Jacobs’ trying to change that — saw what he was doing with Myles, thought he’d give up when he graduated but no, now he wants fucking us — ” beer splashed onto his sweat shirt as he slammed the beer bottle into his chest — “to pick up where Myles left off.” Leaned back into the sofa, pushing Jezz aside. “Jacobs, he wants fencing to be cool — uses that word all the time, hey new guy you should come to practice on Tuesday it’s really cool, hey Rex that was a cool counter-tempo, hey Annie you did some cool footwork in that bout — ” Annie again, Rune shook his head and continued walking along the frozen shore, invited the memory of Double-J to rush in on him again — “and he’s too blind to see that if fencing ever did get cool, it would just become another obnoxious distraction.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” That’s right, Jezz had challenged him too.

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