I woke up at 5:30 for my morning jog, keeping as quiet as possible so as not to disturb my teammates. The alarm clock wasn’t a problem; I hadn’t needed one of those since I was seven. I put on a pair of sweats and a t-shirt, and grabbed my water bottle. I tip-toed past Everest, held my breath as I passed Crane, then carefully opened my water bottle. I raised it to my mouth to take a drink… then dumped it all over Zeta’s sleeping head.
I was out of the bunk before he stopped sputtering.
An hour later, as I finished my twelve-mile run, the others were just getting up for their training camp breakfast. I grinned as I ran past Zeta, still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He flipped me off. I toweled off in the bunk, and went to get my breakfast.
As I walked into the dining room with a plate of waffles, I started looking for my sister. I noticed her talking to someone, and smiled.
/Oh good, she made a new friend! I was worried about her adjusting to the new social environment./
When I saw who she was talking to, I stopped in my tracks. The smile slid off my face, and my jaw tightened. I spat, “Zeta.” Resisting the urge to protect my sister, I stiffly turned around and walked to a different table.
“Hey guys,” I said, forcing myself to calm down.
“Hey! How’s it going, man?” said Everest.
“Sup, bitch?” Crane drawled, leaning his chair back on two legs. I sat down, fake-laughing.
“It’s all good with me. How’s camp going for you?” I asked. Everest just shrugged, and rubbed his biceps. I nodded understandingly. “Yeah, that happens to everyone. It’s worse for you, you’re the strongman. You gotta be as strong as you can. They’re gonna be working you as hard as possible.”
“You can say that again,” he snorted. “They just brought me up to 1,000lbs yesterday. I’m dying.” Crane laughed at that.
“1,000 pounds, and you still can’t land a punch on Exile. What’s the phrase? Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink?” Everest stated at him blankly.
“What?” He asked. Crane sighed, waving his hand.
“Nevermind, simpleton.” Everest stared at him in confusion for a minute.
“Did you just call me stupid?” He asked incredulously. I looked at Crane, and we both burst out laughing. “What? What’s so funny?”
“Nothing, nothing. Don’t worry about it,” I responded.
“God, you two are worse than Jaso-” He broke off suddenly, looking stricken. Crane sighed, and leaned over to me.
“Everest and I know each other I-R-L,” he whispered, “And he hasn’t realized it yet. I was talking to Zeta, too. They got lunch together the day before the interviews, but nothing.”
I whispered back, “Wow. Are you serious? He’s that dense?” He grinned, and leaned back.
“Apt choice of words, but yes.” Everest threw up his hands.
“Screw both of you and your mind games. I’m going to go work out.” As he left, Crane glanced towards Zeta and Diana talking.
“So… I have a question for you, Mr. Inexplicable Grudge.”
“It’s not an inexplicable grudge. We had a bad interview. We now do not like each other. End of story. No inexplicable hating. No friendly rivalry. Just plain dislike.” I sighed. Crane nodded.
“Alright. I can accept that,” he said, “So how are you going to react when he starts going out with your sister?” I spat out my water.
“What? Who said anything about dating? They’re just talking, right? Right?” His trademark grin re-appeared, a mischevious glint in his hazel eyes.
“They’re just talking,” he said, “for now. But, it’s only a matter of time. They have compatible personalities, they’ll have close contact over long periods of time, similar relationship histories…they both have had experiences with overbearing authority figures… I don’t know why, but my power has given me some insight into humans. I use that term loosely, of course, seeing as how I’m including Zeta.” I relaxed.
“Oh, well, you might want to get your demon-sense checked out, then. I don’t know what Zeta’s deal is, but Diana hasn’t gone out with anyone, and she’s never had an overbearing authority figure. At least, not for very long. I’m always there to help her out of stuff like that.” He stared at me.
“Yes, that’s definitely it. I’ll get my demonic mask-thing checked out.” He got up, shaking his head. “I’m going to go train people who don’t know as much martial arts as we do. I’ll probably do sparring today. I’ll have to partner Diana with Zeta, since they’re about the same skill level. Not that there’s going to be a problem with that, right?” I furrowed my brow.
“How is Zeta the same skill level as my sister? She’s been training all her life.”
“Zeta has a combat sense. He hasn’t been training for as long, but his power gives him a leg up.” He replied. I smiled triumphantly.
“See! Another difference. Diana works for stuff, while it just comes easy to Zeta! They’ll never go out!”
After Crane left, I finished my food quickly, and headed towards the range to practice archery. After an hour of practice, or at least an attempt at it, I stopped. I couldn’t focus knowing that my sister was spending time with Zeta, of all people. I decided to go check on my sister in the sparring ring. The conversation I’d had with Crane kept running through my mind. So how are you going to react when he starts going out with your sister? No, no, no. Not gonna fuckin’ happen. Ever.
When I reached the ring, they hadn’t started yet, so I took a seat in the bleachers to watch. Crane was still assigning partners.
“Zeta, you’ll be against Luna. Exile, you’ll be against Everest. Zeta and Diana are up first.” Exile and Everest took a few steps away from the ring, but when they saw me, they came to sit with me.
“You look happy to be here,” Exile observed, as she sat down next to me. She put her feet up on the row of chairs in front of us and her hands behind her head.
“Shut up.” I was on the edge of my seat, angrier with Zeta than I’d ever been. Her nonchalance just made me angrier.
“Don’t bother, he’s been mad all morning. Ever since breakfast.” Everest told her.
Exile nodded to him, “Oh, I see,” She turned to me, and with a straight face asked, “Did a special someone pee in your corn flakes again?”
Everest burst out laughing.
“Shut up! Both of you! I’m just mad that Diana is spending so much time with Zeta, ok?”
“Ahaha! That’s what this is about? Don’t even worry about it. We all know that Zeta is an egotistical prick on a power trip, but he’s really just a nerd. He’s not going to make the first move. Besides, even if he wanted to do it just to piss you off, he knows I’d kill him.” She grinned.
“I know. I just don’t want Diana to get hurt. She’s my little sister, I still have to protect her.”
“Well, it doesn’t look like she wants your help anymore. She’s a big girl. Let her make her own decisions. And, if it makes you feel any better, she kicking Zeta’s ass.”