From Nephilim. Chapter six.
There was a fight going on in the padded area. One of the two was Riley; Aly recognised the long black hair even though her face was partially obscured. The other was a tall teenager with tanned skin and broad shoulders. Aly could tell that the fight was brutal. Punches and kicks were being thrown and blocked almost faster than she could keep up.
Riley was knocked to the ground but she rolled into a crouch and defended a blow to her head before aiming a kick of her own. Then she was up on her feet and the attacks began again.
Aly felt Ethan push her further into the room from behind and he whispered into her ear, ‘place your bets.’ She took a step down, only just noticing Tamber sitting to one side braiding her hair.
‘Why are they fighting?’ Aly asked, her eyes riveted to the scene, even though she winced with every hit that landed.
‘Personal preference,’ explained Micah as Ethan went to sit next to Tamber. He was watching the scene with a frown on his face. ‘In the unlikely situation we are unable to access out powers.’
‘That’s very unlikely, right?’ asked Aly. She wasn’t fond of fighting and hoped that hand to hand was optional.
‘It hasn’t happened so far but Riley likes to be prepared for anything. Ethan’s learning as well while me and Tamber are only learning basic self defence.’
The fight continued for another few minutes until the unnamed teenager pinned Riley to the ground, his arm pressing against her throat.
‘I won’t have to fight them will I?’ asked Aly, even though she knew the answer would most likely be no.
‘Riley and Sebastian are experts.’ Micah glanced over to her. ‘Riley usually teaches though despite Sebastian being the patient one. You’ll practice with me and Tamber since neither of us is very good.’
‘Hey,’ chirped Tamber from her seat on the floor. Ethan was chuckling beside her. ‘I resent that comment.’
‘You know it’s the truth,’ replied Micah. ‘I couldn’t say it otherwise.’
Aly suddenly felt uneasy. Sport was not her strong point. ‘I’m not sure I can do this,’ she muttered.
‘We’ve all felt like that,’ Micah reassured her. ‘Self defence isn’t hard. Learning hot to use your powers is the difficult part.’
Aly nodded but the feeling didn’t go away. She turned back to watch Riley and and her partner. He was helping her to her feet. Riley was staring at her, an unreadable expression on her face. ‘And what’s her problem?’ Aly asked.
‘Riley doesn’t like people,’ said Tamber who had stood to join them.
Aly averted her eyes as Riley kept staring. It was like she was the centre of attention, and it put her a little on edge.
‘Who’s next?’ Riley asked from the middle of the room. Her partner handed her a bottle of water, and Riley gulped back a few sips as Ethan stood and joined her.
The tall teen strode off of the mat, and made a bee line straight for her. ‘Hey,’ he said. ‘I can’t believe I’m the last one to meet you. It’s usually Riley.’
Aly smiled back. ‘Because she doesn’t like people?’
He laughed. ‘I’m Sebastian,’ he said. ‘And you’ve been talking to Tamber.’
‘Nice to meet you,’ she said, wondering just how much Tamber had talked about her, and what she had said. Aly knew she probably hadn’t made a good first impression. ‘Is this everyone?’
Sebastian nodded, hands holding onto a towel wrapped around his shoulders. ‘All six of us,’ he said. ‘Well, seven now that you’re here. Hey kids, get warmed up.’ He turned to Tamber and Micah who both cringed. ‘Practice in ten.’
‘I take it self defence is something only you and Riley enjoy?’
Sebastian shrugged and leaned against the wall, his arms crossed. ‘Ethan’s alright. He wanted to learn more than the basics though. He can go head to head with us but not for too long. Tamber is more of a long range fighter, and being physical just doesn’t interest Micah that much although he can fight if necessary. He’s better with his powers though. And computers.’ Sebastian turned to her. ‘How are you?’ he asked.
Aly shook her head. ‘I suck at sports,’ she said. ‘But I’m a quick learner.’
Sebastian laughed. ‘I meant how are you taking all of this?’ He gestured to the group with a finger. ‘Can’t be easy. I know it wasn’t when I found out.’
No one had actually asked Aly that question yet. It was still early; she was still trying to understand everything she had learnt and so far, it wasn’t much.
‘I’m alright I guess,’ she began, trying to vocalise her thoughts. ‘There’s just so much to learn. It’s all a bit over whelming actually.’
‘I can tell.’
Aly turned, a little taken aback at the look Sebastian was giving her.
‘You’re unsure, scared, a little excited. A little all over the place actually. You’ll balance out once you get used to how we work. Just try not to keep what you’re feeling inside alright? That makes it worse.’
Aly opened her mouth to reply, but no words came out. How Sebastian had gotten that from one look was eerie.
‘And now you’re confused,’ said Sebastian with a sheepish smile. ‘Sorry. I always forget to get permission before I read someone, but sometimes I don’t need to concentrate to feel something and advice comes pouring out. I’m an empath,’ he added as Aly’s confusion grew. ‘I can read people’s emotions.’
‘That’s your mortal power?’
‘Um, I can see auras? I think that’s how Mac put it.’
‘Another inactive power. Still useful though.’
Someone cleared their throat. Aly turned, blanching at the look Riley was giving her. She hadn’t even realised the fight had finished. Ethan was standing on the mat behind her, massaging his arm in pain.
‘Are we having a nice conversation?’ Riley asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm. ‘You’re looking awfully cosy for two people who just met.’
Aly didn’t understand where the attitude was coming from but she didn’t want Riley angry with her for no reason. She was about to stumble through some sort of excuse, but Sebastian intervened.
‘We were discussing our mortal powers,’ he said easily. ‘Stop feeling so blah.’
Riley’s frown deepened. ‘Don’t read me,’ she said. Sebastian smiled down at her.
‘You know I can’t help it,’ he said, leaning down and pressing a kiss to her cheek. ‘I can’t stop reading you, you express too loudly.’
Riley huffed, shrugging Sebastian’s arm around her shoulder. Aly tried not to stare at the height difference. ‘Not the point.’
‘Completely the point.’ Sebastian turned back to Aly. ‘How about you learn the stretches for today? We can work of form another time.’
‘Sounds good,’ said Aly, relieved she wasn’t going to be thrown into the deep end. Riley gave her one last glance before heading off into another corner to stretch. She almost didn’t notice Ethan approach her as she scanned the room.
‘Are you okay?’ she asked, looking at his arm where a bruise was already beginning to form.
Ethan waved her off. ‘She could have hit harder,’ he said. ‘Now, let’s get you training.’