Power Awakened Chapter 6
Before allowing me to leave, the instructor—turns out his name is Manesh—insists upon checking my hand for glass shards, and bandaging me up.
“You should really get this checked out at a hospital,” he says, lifting a brow.
I lift a brow back before replying, “I don’t do hospitals.” I watch his tattoos move as his muscles flex.
I want to ask him about them, but my tongue won’t cooperate. Something in me hesitates, wary. Even though they are on display, they still seem so… personal. I decide to table my questions for another time. Glancing over Manesh’s shoulder, I give the younger boys a wave.
“Thanks,” I mumble, looking back up at the tatted pseudo-doctor. I offer a small smile. “I’ll be back soon.”
* * *
Twenty minutes later, I arrive at Manesh’s with Art. I bang on the knocker, and the front door opens almost immediately. Manesh’s brow furrows as he looks from me to Art. After a brief hesitation, he motions us to come inside.
We follow him into the main room, and stand there, me with a bum, bandaged hand, Art wobbling around on crutches. What a pair we make, I snort to myself.
Manesh looks at us both with skepticism. “You’re kidding me, right?”
I narrow my eyes, annoyance rippling through me. “No. I’m not,” I say flatly. “He needs to learn to fight, so this never happens again.”
Art grumbles something under his breath before speaking. “No, I don’t.”
I ignore him, continuing, “He said he wants to train with you as soon as his leg’s better; it’s just a sprain.”
“No, I didn’t,” Art snaps, shooting me a glare. I ignore him, focusing on Manesh. His expression is a mix of resignation and irritation.
“Even if he did,” Manesh says, “I need someone to start today. This evening is the deadline for the funding.”
“Then we’re out of luck,” one of the soon-to-be ex-students butts in. He glares at Art, his expression disdainful. “If only this dude wasn’t such a puss.” He turns his gaze to me, looking me up and down, his lip curling, “And if only this puss wasn’t such a—“
“Watch your mouth,” I cut him off, squaring my shoulders as I stare him down, my jaw tight.
Manesh is watching us, a thoughtful look on his face. “You are brave to be talking to boys like that. Or foolish, I’m not sure yet which.” He gives the boy a hard stare. “I could use a little more of the first in my class.” The kid reddens, and I hide a smirk.
Manesh lifts a brow again, looking at me. “Why don’t you start in place of your brother, at least for now? I’d just need your address, and for you to sign in each time you come.”
I consider his offer, mulling it over. I really just want him to teach my brother to kick ass, and keep himself out of trouble. I don’t need him to teach me a thing. Still—if it secures a spot for Art…
Manesh shakes his head. “Twice a week, actually. Three times, if you like.”
I make a face and back up a step. “I don’t think so.” Too much of a time commitment on my part, I’ve got better things to do. I glance over at Art, standing there with a sullen look on his face. Maybe this was a bad idea after all. I just thought if Art could get a little training, he could take better care of himself in the future. I won’t always be around, and I hate that I worry about him at all.
Manesh gives me a considering look before speaking again, “There’s a lot I could teach you, you know. Like how to control your temper, for a start.”
“I don’t have a temper,” I snap, giving him a mutinous glare.
Manesh only laughs, and gives a rueful shake of his head. “Right.”
He scowls, ignoring my outburst.
“I know people like you. I know what it’s like on the street. There are no rules. You either survive, or you don’t. I also know that whether you win or lose in life is determined by your training, and how disciplined you are. Work hard now, and when you need your survival skills, they will be there, like second nature.”
He looks troubled for a moment, and gives me a hard stare before sighing. “Look, Ema, I may not look like it, but I am a spiritual man. I believe there’s a reason you came here today, that our paths have crossed. I don’t know what accident or mistake brought you to me…”
“… I saw him…”
“… But I think it was meant to happen. If you join us, you’ll save my class, for sure. But what’s more important is that I believe the things you learn here, training with me… might just one day save you.”