Third Time's the Charm
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Copyright ©2013 Julia Talbot
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Skye sighed, ready to rip the room apart. With his teeth. He'd started gnawing on the hinges when a knock sounded, allowing him to back off before the door opened.
"It's about time," he growled, not even checking to see who it was. "Where are my swords?"
"I have no idea. I'm not the weapons master."
The guy looked familiar. Tall. Broad. Dark hair pulled back in a severe ponytail. Stubble. Pretty, Skye noted idly. "Then get him." He wasn't dealing with anyone else. Skye wanted his weapons. His hands itched he wanted to get back to work so bad.
"No." The word came out flat and hard, and the man looked at him, eyes a crazy yellow topaz color. "I'm Laurent. Training master. You're assigned to me indefinitely."
"Relegated to training? Bullshit." He wasn't a rookie. He'd done more missions than half the veterans had. Maybe three quarters of them.
"The brass thinks you need adjustment." Laurent crossed his arms over his broad chest, appearing completely unmovable.
"Tell them to suck my left nut."
"Do you still have it?" Laurent looked him over, as if only now noting the bandages he still sported.
"A healthy part of it. Wanna see?"
"Not really, no." Laurent sighed. "I just want to get this over with and get you out in the field."
"What do you need to sign to get this done?"
Laurent held up a hand and started ticking off fingers. "Psych eval, physical clearance from the doctors, my evaluation of your readiness and knowledge of all of our possible opponents."
"I'm crazy. No need for an eval to establish that. I'm stitched up like Frankenstein. Give me my weapons and I'll show you ready." He held on to his temper with both hands. Mostly.
"Clearly you didn't know Beratu pods are like giant blue ant hills, or you wouldn't look like this."
Oh, no. The man did not just say that. He and Star had survived one Beratu swarm. In fact, every bit of information in the archives about them in the last two hundred years was from Star's writing. He snarled and punched the fucker, right in the face. Bang.
Laurent popped back up like one of those plastic punching dolls and smacked him in the chest, the energy of it lifting him off his feet.
Ow. He was still sore. Not sore enough to back off, but sore. Spinning in a low sweep kick, he took Laurent's left leg out, knocking him to the floor.
That got him a grunt, then Laurent went after his kneecap, punching it hard to the side. Christ, that hurt, made him stumble to the ground. He was getting too old for this shit. Skye went for the fake, curling into himself like he was hurt. It didn't work. Laurent rolled up and stood back, waiting for him, shaking out those big hands and bouncing like a boxer. Damn it.
It took most of his reserves, which were running at a quarter-full at best, but he leapt up and rushed, just wanting this fucker out of his room.
Sidestepping, Laurent pushed him, making him stumble. "Just give it up, Skye."
"Get out, you shit."
"Nope. Training. Physical therapy. Psych eval."
"Get out!" Oh, that hurt, the screaming. His throat had been scoured with a cheese grater, he was sure of it.
"Make me." Laurent stared at him, pale yellow eyes stony, cold.
Fine. He'd leave instead of kicking Laurent out. He stormed for the door, which was unlocked for the first time in two weeks. He was out of here.
Laurent caught him, spinning him around as neatly as if they were dancing. "No."
"What the fuck do you want?"
"To do my job. I'm not much on rubber stamping."
"I don't need training." He needed Star. He missed his twin like they'd torn out his heart and only put half of it back. He'd never been so alone in his life. His head echoed with her empty spot.
"Yes, you do." Laurent blocked him again, chest bumping his. "You need me."
"You don't know dick about me." He shoved back, his stitches screaming.
"I know you passed all your exams with flying colors your first year. I know your sister was psychic. I know you need to learn how to do your job without her."
"Don't talk about her." No one was allowed to speak about her, not yet. It was too raw, too deep.
"Agree to train with me, and you can kick her name right out of me."
"I've been doing this job for a decade!"
"Yes, and you fight like it, too. Like you haven't learned anything new in all those ten years."
Pure blind fury whited out the world, and Skye let the berserker rage have him in ways he hadn't since he was a hormonal teenager. The trainer could deal with the fallout.