Relief Day finally dragged forward as the restless night before ended. Echo had turned onto his side, arm thrown over my hip as he slept soundly with his face pressed into my chest. Rooi had already gone when Fox called her and Victor had woken up before them, leaving us alone in the dorm.
My muscles were stiff and bruised from the obstacle course and from the tumble I took over the climbing wall at the end. Besides that, feeling, something felt different in me, off somehow, like when a gift was manifesting. With my pyrokinesis, my skin had tingled with pins-and-needles before Damian managed to stop the rest of the development from happening. My ferrokinesis was like a shift or tug in my core, helping me manipulate and sense metal. Now, my brain just did not know how to register the different sensation trying to come through, just that it was an itch that could not be scratched.
“How long have you been awake?” Echo mumbled sleepily, stretching and pulling me against him as he moved so his head was on the pillow. Our stomachs touched, legs tangling as we enjoyed the heat coming off one another.
“Since Victor left, about five I think,” I mumbled back, choosing to move lower to I could bury my face in his chest, hugging him closer. He chuckled lowly, the vibrations making me smile and forget about the odd itch I had been feeling. Echo’s hand slipped under my shirt, splaying out on my lower back as his posture changed.
“What’s wrong?” Sitting up slightly, I peered down at Echo, his hand sliding down to rest on the small of my back, just above the band of my sleep shorts. His forest-green eyes darkened, an underlying want becoming noticeable. “Echo?”
“Hunter,” He began, freehand coming to cup the side of my face, his other hand skimming my skin as he placed it where it had been before. “Can I kiss you?”
“W-what?” Sitting upright, I watched as he pushed himself up so we were eye-level. The question was still on his face as he started to lean forward, waiting to see what I would do. Shock froze me. Was this not what I wanted unconsciously? The moments we shared in bed were something I cherished and wished would never end, was that not a sign that I wanted more than our friendship? The other thing was, was I even ready to start something when I had just been taken out of Damian’s clutches?
Looking at Echo, I knew my answer when I found myself leaning forward to meet him halfway. Our lips touched in a gentle, tentative way, in the beginning, trying to find common ground in the uncertainty of it all. Then, Echo tilted his head so he could deepen the kiss, tongue exploring my mouth as I found myself moving closer to him. Little moans leaving both our lips.
When we pulled back for breath, I was in Echo’s lap, arms thrown around his shoulders as our chest pressed against each other. His pupils were dilated, chest heaving up and down as he studied me. With a shy smile, I pecked his lips before gently embracing him. He let out a long breath, hands slipping under my shirt as they splayed over my back. The warmth caused goosebumps to rise as a pleasant feeling settled over me.
“E-Echo, what are we?” I asked in the silence that had blanketed over us. He moved under me, trying to pull me closer to him as he let my question hang in the air for a couple of seconds.
“We can be anything you want us to be, I’ll follow your lead,” Echo finally said, voice husky. His shoulders slightly slumped as the words left his mouth. I didn’t want to let go of him but he needed to see my face to believe my next words. When I did pull away so just our chest touched, clear disappointment shone in his eyes.
“I... I want us to be something,” I started, fingers playing with the hair at the back of his head. “My body’s ready for it and so is my head. I don’t want you to think I can’t handle something like a relationship right now and push me away. So, I-”
Echo cut me off with a hard kiss, fingers digging into my back as he pushed against me. When he pulled back, I was breathless, hot and bothered. He rested his forehead against mine, a relieved smile on his lips.
“We’ll go at your pace,” He mumbled, excitement quietly coating his words. Smiling, I leaned down to kiss him, just a peck but once our lips touched, Echo wouldn’t let me go. Laughing, I kissed back, enjoying the way he held me.
At lunch, I sat next to Echo, our legs touching as mischievous grins were mirrored on both our faces.
“You two look too happy for it not to be suspicious, what are you up to?” Kingston accused jokingly as he took the seat on my right. Echo smirked, hand gently squeezing my thigh. I didn’t hesitate to lay my hand on top of his.
“We were just talking about the tumble I took yesterday and how Echo fell face-first into the mud pit while we were walking here,” I said, feeling Echo’s fingers lace with mine. “Fun times with painful results.”
“What...generally happens at these things anyway?” Kingston asked, watching as the other Alpha team members walked in cautiously, looking around uncomfortably at the laughing instructors and privates until they caught sight of their leader waving them over. You would never think that this bunch were 27-years-old by the way they walked like they could step on a landmine at such a trivial scene as a lunch.
“We have a large lunch that Fox and Rooi prepared before going through the obstacle course in the afternoon. Since yesterday ended with both our arses given to us, Hunter and I will be chilling in the common grounds and catching some sunlight,” Echo explained, getting up when he saw Rooi struggling with the two food platters she was carrying. I went to get up too but he stopped me. “I’ll be back soon.”
“You two seem closer,” Kingston stated as his men made themselves comfortable around us, leaving Echo’s seat open. “Like you’ve become more than just friends.”
“You could say that,” I mumbled, feeling a blush burn its way onto my cheeks. “What gives you that thought?”
“Saw his hand on your thigh,” Kingston stated, smirking as he caught my eye. “I’m not judging, kid, so don’t worry. I think it’s cute that you two are together, it’s good to get out there after what happened.”
“You think so?”
When Echo came back, we started to dish up and eat. Alpha team were happily welcomed, the instructors even saying it was a sight that they wanted to see. Cat and Tango joined later, Instructor Baker nowhere to be seen as everyone chatted, sharing stories and some sneaky instructors pulled out flasks that contained alcohol. All the while everyone was happy, the itch returned. My body no longer felt comfortable in my skin or in the situation I was sat in. As the seconds ticked by, I couldn’t stop moving around in my seat.
“I-I think I’m gonna head back to the dorm,” I mumbled in Echo’s ear as I got up. Kingston stopped his conversation with Neo to peer at me with a curious frown. I only managed to muster a small smile before briskly leaving the Mess hall.
The hallway lights seemed brighter than when I first walked down it. The bulbs glowed painfully bright, causing searing pain to start throbbing behind my eyes. It felt like glass was being dragged over the nerves sitting there, the thump of my heart beginning to drown out all the other sounds around me. Buzzing, like that of an exposed live wire, began filtering in as the lights continued to grow brighter until my sight seemed to falter.
My legs buckled under me as the buzzing got louder, making me cover my ears and screw my eyes shut. Curling into the fetal position, I could not hold in the scream that was building in my chest. The lights above me burst, showering glass shards everywhere.
“Alpha!” Boots thumped hard against the tiles, the sound piercing my sensitive head. His hands came to cup my face, pulling me into his arms as he brushed my cheeks, glass crunching under his boots as he picked me up. The sting from the lights above driving me to nuzzle his neck, eyes shut tightly as I fisted his shirt.
“Hang in there, Hunter.”