“I was gone for an hour, Hunter!” Echo yelled as he rushed around in his area before storming to my side with his med-kit. He took my hand gingerly, his cryokinesis kicking in as he glared at me. “This is your third day here and you’ve gone and crushed your knuckles already. It took me at least five days to dislocate my arm!”
“Why are you shouting? Some of us are trying to have a nap,” Rooi whined as she came to stop in front of the opening of my area, hands on her hips and hair standing up in different directions. “And what the hell happened to your hand?”
“Murphy happened. Asshole was taking his frustration out on him,” Echo growled, gently wrapping my hand in bandages. My bones were healed but like the collar burn, they were sensitive to anything that brushed against them.
When Echo was done, I cradled my hand to my chest. My head was throbbing from when it had hit the wall and my back was sure to be splotched with black and blue spots from both Kingston and Murphy.
“Looks like you’re everyone’s favourite punching bag, why is that Alpha?” Rooi came into my area, sitting on Echo’s bed.
“Haven’t you heard, everyone loves the new kid no matter what,” I sighed, closing my eyes, wanting to wallow in my self-pity.
“Good point,” Rooi said before I felt her hand touch my knee. Opening my eyes. I gazed at her face, waiting for her to talk. Echo sat silently next to me, also waiting for Rooi’s next move.
“Listen, I’m sorry for how I treated you the other day. It was completely out of character for me. Victor is also sorry, but he’ll show it in his own way.” Her golden eyes made sure they kept level with mine. I wanted to laugh, but that would just anger her, so I kept it in.
“Thanks. Does this mean I won’t get chased away this time when I came to eat at your table?”
Rooi giggled, standing up and gripping my shoulder. “I promise to punch Victor if he makes you uncomfortable or speaks meanly. My brother will be happy though, he was worried you were still hungry last time.”
Smiling, I nodded as she left. When she was gone, Echo grudgingly slung his arm over my shoulder before slipping it around my neck in a playful headlock.
“I’m going for a shower. If I come back and you are gone, I’m hunting you down. Got it?” He warned, lips brushing against my ear. Laughing lightly, I tapped his arm until he let go.
“I won’t leave for the mess hall without you, promise.” Echo tapped my head with his knuckles before humming a suspicious toon. With hesitance, he left me to have his shower.
The mess hall was bustling with commotion. Some faces were now familiar from my misadventure. None waved or showed acknowledgement when we passed them. I guess it was how it worked here. Even though the others had been here roughly six months before me, they still were being treated as nobodies with hated glares and distasteful expressions. We were unfamiliar territory shoved into the place they called home, but they all respected Tango, either for his rank or they saw him as a hero with an unwanted gift. Maybe it was the way we were treated that made them hate us. The food we ate was directed to keeping our bodies fit and able to deal with the extreme circumstances we found ourselves in while they had a normal selection of foods anyone on the outside would be able to get a hold of.
“Alpha! Echo!” Rooi called, waving her arm to catch our attention. When she had, she sat back down in her seat next to her brother. I ended up sitting next to Victor, Echo on my other side.
“We got you guys food so you don’t have to go wait in line. I was not sure what you ate, Alpha, so I served you the same as me,” Rooi explained, happily throwing some cut-up strawberries into her mouth.
Smiling thankfully, I gazed down at my tray where a healthy portion of pasta and white source lay. There was a cup of what looked like orange juice on one side and on the other, the same container Rooi had with strawberries in. Glancing over at Echo, I saw he had the same minus the orange juice. He just had a bottle of water. Victor on the other hand had a completely different meal of brightly coloured noodles with a red source poured over it.
Without another word, I dug in as everyone around me ate, enjoying the cooking of the chefs behind the counter. While I ate though, I caught the gaze of Kingston. He only nodded, eyes flashing to my hand as he walked by. Murphy must have told him about our run-in.
“Kingston’s got his eyes on you,” Victor muttered, shovelling another forkful of noodles in his mouth. “Stay close to me or Echo when walking around the base. If Alpha team thinks they can keep going after you, they are sorely mistaken and have another thing coming at them.”
That night, I made sure Echo and I slept with our backs touching. It didn’t make him feel uncomfortable and I had the physical reassurance he was next to me. Therefore, I could have a nightmare free night and no Damian sneaking into my head.
Though, somewhere in the night, I stirred when Echo started jerking in his sleep, his elbow bumping into my side.
Rubbing my eyes, I sat up and turned to shake Echo's shoulder, but as soon as my fingers touched his skin, he gasped, eyes snapping open.
“Hey, you’re alright, I’m here,” I whispered, smoothing his fringe back away from his face. He was shaking, eyes wide and pupils dilated as he stared up at me. Without giving it a second thought, I grabbed the canteen he kept on the ledge by the window and unscrewed the cap before lifting his head and pressing the opening to his lips, tipping it slowly up. He drank greedily, his mouth and throat most likely desert-dry from his nightmare.
When the last drop from the canteen was gone, Echo shut his eyes, taking deep breaths. I continued to play with his hair, combing it back as he calmed. By then, I was leaning on one elbow, sleep pulling its blanket over me.
“You okay?” I eventually asked when his shaking had stopped. He nodded, coming to lean on his side, eyes slowly opening to look at me.
“Just the weekly nightmare,” He mumbled. “Can...can you hold me until I fall asleep?”
“Sure.” Sleepily, I lay down with my arms open for Echo to crawl into. He did so hesitantly, head tucked under my chin as his arm came to rest over my waist under the blankets. Holding him close, I closed my eyes and savoured the unique warmth coming from him. Not toasty warm, but still giving him that perfect heat that anyone would crave.
“In the morning, tell me what it was about.”
Echo nuzzled my chest, getting comfortable as I squeezed him, making sure he knew I was not going to let go and that I was there for him.