After almost six hours Mark had decided to take pity on them. Although Vincent and Gabriel had definitely taken the worst hits, he was still feeling sore in his abdomen. He yawned and immediately closed his mouth, biting his lip in the process. Son of a bitch, he rubbed his jaw. Yeah, he’d taken a few good hits.
Not that he could say he’d have done it any differently if given the chance. He just wished he could do more for the girl, unfortunately, it didn’t seem like she wanted his help.
James tried to catch up to her when they were finally dismissed, but she passed by him without even a passing glance and headed for the dining hall. Vince and Gabe were hanging back, catching their breath, though they did make a few lewd comments in her direction as she’d passed. He had half a mind to go break their faces in, but opted for finding the woman instead.
She was in line, her arms crossed as if intending to ward off everyone that approached her, which she very well may have been doing. After a moment’s pause he went back out and picked a small budding rose, which he tucked away into his pocket. By now, she’d gone off, so he rushed to get his food and then scanned the bustling room until he spotted her sitting alone in the back.
When she was like that, with no one around, she looked very tired and broken. With the braids in her hair she looked young. His eyes softened and he watched her pick at her food with slow, delicate movements. And then, just as Vincent and Gabriel passed by a flicker of fear crossed her eyes and her body stiffened. She glared at them when they “accidentally” bumped into her on their way to a table, but otherwise seemed indifferent.
You’re trying so hard to be strong.
James approached the table slowly, not wanting to catch her off guard. He took the rose bud out, holding it in his hand. “I bring a peace offering,” he set it on the table.
She didn’t raise her head, but he knew she’d heard him because of the sigh. “Do you not have any friends?”
James sat down, undeterred by her comment. “You really don’t like me, do you?” The smile he gave her was meant to calm her, but he saw the way she furrowed her brows and forked her scrabbled eggs with a little too much gusto. When she didn’t answer he grasped for another topic, which was hard, considering anything that came to mind involved the previous night. “You know, you’re a pretty fast runner,” he said.
She must have noticed the hesitance in his voice which made it sound almost like a question. “Bet you enjoyed watching me leave you in the dust,” she straightened and took a sip from her orange juice.
“Yeah, the view was great,” he quipped.
The woman picked up one of the pieces of egg that were on the edge of her plate and tossed it at his face. “Dork.”
Had he just seen a smile?
Soon enough they were passing jokes back and forth, and then they couldn’t stop talking. They just… clicked.
They sat there, trying to decide who had the ugliest bruise until Mark called out to them, breaking them into groups for their next training session. Sad as it was, he had to leave her and join his own group. Just as he was half-way out the door he turned back around to spy her making for the doors at the other end.
“James,” he shouted, cupping his hands around his mouth to make the sound carry. She turned, tilting her head. “My name is James.”