Echo was still in my arms when I woke up, his hands still resting on my waist and between our chests. He was sleeping so soundly and heavily that even when Rooi came stumbling into our area to check on us, he didn’t stir. Even with her climbing into his bed and stealing his covers, he only subconsciously pressed closer to me.
“Why’s Rooi in my bed?” Echo mumbled, not as deep in sleep as I had thought. He stretched before hugging me closer to him. “Also, thanks for this.”
Laughing softly, I ran my fingers through his soft hair, enjoying the little nuzzle he did to my chest.
“She wanted to get away from Fox’s loud snoring and we so happened to be quiet,” I mumbled back, gazing at the red hair peeking out from under the blankets. “What... What happened last night?”
Echo tensed before relaxing, his breath hot through the material of my shirt as he sighed. His head tilted down before he moved so his head would be on my pillow, our faces inches apart.
“You know how I told you about Tango managing to get Victor and me out of that transport vehicle? I lied.” Echo smiled sadly; eyes downcast. “The people who bought us were a part of a company called Evolved. We were both experimented on until Alpha team showed up. I... I have nightmares of being back there, being hurt over and over again by their knives and needles.”
Evolved? The name sounded familiar. Damian had people come over all the time to the mansion but there were those specific people we would see weekly, the ones with that name embroidered on their jacket sleeves. Occasionally it was a quick check-up but the other times were to take blood from us. They never spoke to me, only Damian and he would make sure he was with me every step of the way as if he was scared, they would do more than what was said.
“I understand a little more of what you meant on the first day we met. We all come from messed up backgrounds, our own devils on different levels.” Moving my hands in between us, I had the urge to touch his chest or cheek, to make that contact even though we had spent the night in each other’s arms and no space left in between us. Now, it felt like it had been days since we had slept like that.
“Will you guys stop with your wishy-washy talking? I just want to sleep,” Rooi whined, ruining our bubble as she climbed over Echo to lie in the middle of us. “You can shower me with attention or get up for breakfast.”
“Breakfast sounds better. Alpha?” Echo joked, nudging my leg with his knee.
Kingston stood in front of me, his palms up as a wicked grin showed on his lips and eyes dancing with fire. He was smart, remembering to remove his knife from his thigh before we started sparring. Though, I still could sense the bullet in his front pocket.
“Do I have to come at you again?” Kingston taunted, bunching his muscles, ready to lunge. Gulping, I manage a badly timed side-step as he charged, however, his arm shot out, grabbing a hold of my wrist and yanking me off my feet. I fell on my side, scrambling back on the pebbled ground as he went to place his foot on my chest. Kicking his back leg brought him down next to me with a grunt, his breath knocked out his lungs.
“Stop playing dirty, kid,” Kingston growled, going to roll onto me when he stopped, hand flying to his pants front pocket where the bullet should have been. Instead, it sat by my right knee, patiently waiting to be picked up.
It wasn’t a whole bullet. Part of it, where the tip should have been, was smashed inwards from when it collided with its target. Why would he be carrying a useless bullet?
When Kingston’s frantic eyes finally landed on it, he pushed forward just as I grabbed it with a fistful of dirt and pebbles. His dark eyes flew to mine, burning with rage, posture screaming tension and desperation.
“Give it back.” His eyes jumped between my hand and face, gears turning in his head. “Please.”
“Teach me how to fight,” I blurted out, locking gazes with him. His lips formed into a straight line, a tick starting in his jaw.
“You have Echo, why me?”
“You’re my partner and normal.”
“So what? Just give me the bullet back.”
“I want to become stronger and stop this rivalry between Alpha team and the Gifted. Will you help me?”
Kingston stopped inching forward to look at me fully, eyes studying me to the point my cheeks were burning red. Eventually, he sighed heavily, extending out his hand.
“Fine. The first lesson is after chow in Gym 5. Don’t show up, the deal’s off.”
Smirking, I opened my hand and cleaned off the bullet using my shirt before placing it into his palm. A relieved expression flooded his face as he held the bullet in a fist pressed to his chest.
“Alpha, Kingston! Stop fucking around and spar!” Oswell shouted from where he stood in the shade of a tree. Grunting, Kingston got up, offering me his hand.“This stays between us, got it?”
“I don’t like this,” Echo stated as we stopped in front of the doors of Gym 5. “You going in there alone with Kingston sounds like trouble. Why are you doing this anyway? Victor and I can spar with you.”
“I’ll be fine. You can stay out here or even better, trust me and go back to the dorm,” I replied, getting ready to walk into the gym when he grabbed my hand.
“One hour and I’ll come to get you.” Echo squeezed my wrist before letting go. “Be careful, okay?”
“I will.” It felt strange saying that as if the words were slowly changing from ordinary to more emotion-driven. Shaking my head, I walked into the gym as Echo strolled down the hallway.
The gym was nothing special. Weights were stacked neatly against the far wall, gym equipment strewn only on the left side as sparring mats took up the right. Kingston sat on the floor casually in civvies, playing on his phone until he noticed me standing in front of him. With a click of his tongue, he stood up.
“Took your time,” he said, stretching his arms and taking off his jacket before getting into a fighting stance. “Stop looking at me and follow my lead.”
Taking a deep breath and exhaling, I faced him with my fists up.
Kingston smirked, already picturing what his next move would be. Gulping, I prepared for the assault.