He dove suddenly and wrapped his arms around my legs. I hit the ground with a grunt and Micah slammed my shoulders down with his hands, easily pinning me down with the full weight of his body.
I’d always hated being pinned.
I kicked him dangerously close to the crotch and he flew off of me with a gasp. I darted from his reach before his hand could close around my ankle. A few people cheered and I took a quick glance back at the crowd. Had they cheered for Micah? I hadn’t been paying attention.
He was already charging for me as I sprang to my feet and I almost laughed. Apparently his patience didn’t last long. I ducked as he swung, whipping around to smash a punch into his side. His rib made a noise as it cracked.
He stumbled slightly and I swung again, cracking his nose this time. He blinked like he was disoriented, but I knew as soon as I felt his foot slam into my knee that he wasn’t, not even a little bit.
It was broken, and I hopped away on one foot before placing the other back on the ground and pushing back the pain that screamed up my left leg.
Micah paused, looking from my knee to my face. “Damn,” he said with a chuckle.
I grinned, gesturing with my head for him to come to me.
“Why don’t you hop over here?” he said with a smirk, taking a step back.
I laughed despite myself. I’d never fought without HARC watching my every move to make sure I wasn’t having fun. It was strange, especially since I wasn’t sure I liked Micah any better than I’d liked most of the HARC humans.
Micah laughed and I bolted forward, dragging my bad leg slightly behind me. His eyes widened in surprise but I already had his arm in my grasp. I swung him around and yanked the arm back as quickly as I could.
I sort of liked the sound of bones breaking. It was like home.
He wasn’t smiling anymore and I caught the hint of anger on his face as he began swinging again. It was quiet as we moved around the circle punching and dodging.
When I saw the opportunity to get him on the ground I took it. I swept his legs out from under him and he gasped as something cracked as he hit the dirt. He scrambled to his knees and I punched him as hard as I could, the moment he was on his feet.
He bounced up again before I could blink. He swung at me wildly and I took a small step back before aiming for the exact place I needed on his legs. I dove forward, my leg screaming in pain as I landed on my knees in front of him. I drove my palm into the spot where he was already injured, and while he screamed, slammed my foot into his other knee.
He collapsed on the ground. His fingers dug into the grass and he pulled himself halfway up before collapsing again and waving a hand. He let out a giant breath. “I give.”
It was silent for a few seconds before a few nervous giggles broke the tension. I turned to see Callum doing something between a wince and a smile. I wiped at my mouth and came away with blood.
“I told you,” Riley said, appearing next to me and putting his hands on his hips as he looked down at Micah. “Didn’t I say you’d get your ass kicked?”
“Next time you’re doing the demonstration,” Micah said, pointing at him. He managed a chuckle.
“All right. That’s fine, I’m used to Wren kicking my ass.”
I rolled my eyes at him. He’d actually won plenty of times. Okay, maybe not plenty. Like, ten percent of the time. Still, not bad.
I turned around to see Callum in front of me. His face scrunched as he lifted up his shirt to wipe off my face. He gave me an amused look as he swiped the garment across my mouth.
“What about you?” Riley asked, squinting at Callum. “You want to do a demonstration next time? You’re probably used to Wren beating the crap out of you.”
Callum laughed softly, his gaze on me. “I think I’ll pass.”
I smiled at him and he leaned down to kiss my cheek. Training felt like a hundred years ago, and my stomach twisted uncomfortably at the thought of hitting Callum. I still felt a little sick whenever I thought about the time I’d beaten him up.
“You care if I skip out on this?” he asked softly. “I think they could use some help back at the reservation today.”
I shook my head. “No, go. You don’t need any more training.”
He gave me a grateful look and leaned down to kiss me before heading back toward the reservation.
“All right,” Micah said, grunting as he got to his feet. “Pair off.” He nodded to me. “Let’s get to work.”
Riley was waiting for me when we finished later that afternoon, letting the crowd file back to the reservation without him as I pulled on my sweater and tied my hair in a ponytail.
“I’m glad to see you’re still being difficult and pissing people off,” Riley said with a grin as I approached him.
“I was never difficult,” I said, a smile playing on my lips.
“No? I seem to remember a ‘I’ll stop punching you when you start ducking faster’ conversation not long before I left.”
“It’s not my fault you got slow in your old age.” Old age being nineteen, as he was only twenty now.
He laughed, which was still a weird sound to me, coming from him. He must have been so unhappy at HARC. I’d never really noticed.
“You could’ve at least let me know you weren’t dead, by the way,” I said. “I was actually kind of sad about that.”
His expression softened. “That’s a pretty incredible sentiment, coming from you.”
I frowned at him in response and he sighed.
“I’m sorry. Honestly, I wasn’t a hundred percent certain you wouldn’t rat me out.”
“Thanks for that.”
“You know how it was. You were their girl. You did everything they said, without question. I thought you even kind of liked it there.”
“I did,” I said softly. “I wouldn’t have ratted you out, though.”
He studied me for a moment. “I apologize, then.”
I sighed as I slid my hands into my pockets. “It’s all right. I can’t totally blame you. Things were different before Callum.” And Ever. But my throat closed every time I said her name aloud, and I didn’t think Riley would remember her anyway.
“So, Callum, huh? You trained a Twenty-two?”
“May I ask why? Or did you start picking all your trainees based on level of cuteness?”
I shot him a look. “He asked me to.”
“He asked you to? Well, shit. If I’d known that was the way to get you to do things, I would have tried that a long time ago.”