The remainder of the week fell away fast after Relief Day and now that Monday had rolled on by, my new schedule consisted of getting up an hour earlier than breakfast, showering, climbing into my camos, eating and then a sparring session with Alpha team. After that, I had a couple of hours to burn on the obstacle course with Victor and Echo before having my one-on-one session with Tango then practising with Kingston after chow. At the end of the day, my muscles would be screaming with my every move. Lucky enough for me, I had a teleporter who enjoyed rubbing numbing ointment on my back before bed.
Tuesday and Wednesday followed with the same pattern until abruptly stopping as Thursday’s rhythm was broken and things became confusing, tense and dangerous.
Thursday. I woke up like normal, untangled myself from Echo’s limbs and went into the bathroom to have my shower. I had just climbed in when the stall’s door opened and shut to reveal a naked Echo standing in front of the glass shower door with only his towel hiding himself.
“What the hell, Echo?” Screeching, I used my facecloth to cover myself as he casually stepped into the small space with me. Making the shower feel cramped as he moved to get under the showerhead.
“Mine might be bigger, but we have the same thing, Hunter. Anyway, my shampoo finished, can I borrow yours?” He asked nonchalantly, picking up the container. Narrowing my eyes at him, half acknowledging the fact that my back was pressed against the cold wall.
“You could have asked when I was done!”
“The thought hadn’t crossed my mind.”
“You’re a pervert.”
“Just clean up before we’re late.”
Huffing, I tried to act like this was normal, that we had showered together before, but it didn’t stop the butterflies in my stomach or the embarrassment of him catching me this exposed. Though he was just as exposed as I was in this situation and when I did glance over my shoulder to glare at his back, I saw two scars crisscrossing just under his shoulder blade, one stretching lower down than the other. Is this what Evolved had started to do before Alpha team managed to save him?
Without any more words, we cleaned up and changed into freshly washed army camos before hitting the mess hall as our shared shower had never happened. As if the rhythm was slowly trying to set itself back as Oswell drilled us and I sparred with Kingston. The thought of me just overthinking the situation between us was constant throughout the day. Maybe it was a thing military guys showered with each other? They shared rooms, saw each other change in and out of clothing all the time so having a shower together was something of a norm due to that closeness they had formed, wasn’t it?
“Alpha, get your head in the game!” Oswell shouted as Kingston held me in a loose headlock. Sighing, I tapped his arm before standing up and dusting grass and dirt off my pants. Kingston only tilted his head in question as he stood in front of me.
“I guess... We can talk about it later if you don’t mind.”
With a curious frown, Kingston left with his team for their next drill session as I made my way for my private one with Tango.
At first glance, the small clearing we used was nothing compared to the other open fields all the normal soldiers used. No, this one was pushed against the treeline where night drills would be held. Part of it acted as a gun range and grenade throwing, and detection on the other side with ditches and sack forts. Why we met here every day was still oblivious to me.
On arrival, Tango was not alone. With him was instructor Baker, one of the high-ranking women on the base. She had been the one to fetch Cat for her secret training after Relief Day lunch was done. At the moment she had so much metal on her that I could taste it on my tongue. Why did she need so much?
“Alpha, you’re finally here!” Baker said cheerfully, hands on her hips and a large grin on her lips. “You ready for something a little different today? Tango has informed me that you have been working on your ferrokinesis with moving large objects around and catching things he throws up in the air. I have come up with a brilliant idea to test you.”
“Um okay, what is-” Before I could even finish my sentence, Baker had ripped her knife out of its sheath and hurtled it at me. With little time to react, I threw my arms up as both my pyrokinesis and ferrokinesis kicked in. Blinking my eyes open, I saw the blade hovering just in front of my nose, its metal reflecting my flames.
“Good reflexes! I wonder if you could...” A vicious smirk was already forming on Baker’s tanned face as her gun was aimed at my chest, twelve bullets waiting to be fired at any moment. She pulled the trigger just as I let the knife fall to the ground as all my concentration landed on the six bullets that managed to come out the muzzle before Tango tackled Baker to the ground. The first two narrowly missed me while the others found themselves at different distances from where Baker had stood, their bodies still spinning from their fiery exit until they fell to the ground. Sweat beaded on my forehead, my body shaking as my knees buckled under me.
“That’s enough. Alpha, head back to the dorms and clean up,” Tango growled as he pinned Baker to the ground, her face pressed into the dirt. “Baker and I will be having a long chat.
“Y-yes sir,” I stammered out, struggling to my feet, trying to stop the pull of gravity making me want to fall.
”Alpha, you need to eat,” Victor urged, pushing my tray back in front of me. I stared at the steaming lamb stew and half-heartedly picked up my fork, stomach clenching unhappily.
“What’s up with you?” Rooi asked, moving the remnants of her mash potatoes around her plate. “You’re generally chirpy at this time.”
“Baker almost killed me,” I sighed out, burying my face in my arms. Echo’s fork dropped with a clang onto the tray and I could feel everyone’s eyes on me. “I don’t know if it was a test or something, but she threw her knife at me then shot at me. The strain of stopping them has drained all of my energy. If Tango hadn’t tackled her, I would be dead.”
“Eat a little more and then I’ll take you back to the dorms. Kingston won’t miss you,” Echo stated, taking a sip from his cup. Nodding, I tried to eat as much as my stomach would allow me before pushing the tray forward again and looking at Echo expectantly. He glanced at me then my tray before sighing. We were in the dorm before anyone else could persuade me to eat.
“You want me to stay or...” Echo asked tentatively, looking at the floor. Without thinking, I stepped forward and hugged him, feeling the rest of my strength disappear as his arms came around my waist.
“Don’t leave me.”