You’re getting faster, you know you are; sometimes you’re even able to fire a shot off before the tip of his sword catches the trigger-guard and flips the pistol away and your legs are swept out from underneath you. He’ll stand for a second or two, then withdraw and say:
You’ll clamber to your feet, he’ll flip you your gun (when the dickens did he pick that up? You didn’t even see him flicker), and you’ll size each other up for a second before he notices… something in your body language, because here you are on the ground.
Sometimes you get pretty friggin fed up with Dirk insisting on these sparring matches. I mean, sure, you’re excited as heck to finally have gotten to meet everyone, and yeah Jade says agreed it’d be good to try and round out overall combat skills by round-robin training matches with each other – and who doesn’t love a good bout now and again? It’s just that it’s kinda discouraging to consistently get your bum handed to you on a silver platter garnished with shreds of your pride and dashes of humiliation on the side, especially when Dave’s around to snort at you.
Not that you don’t try. There’ve been a couple of times you nearly beat him! More than a couple, if you’re being absolutely frank. Dirk leaves himself open sometimes; he gets tuckered out way faster than you if he can’t disarm you immediately, which sometimes gave you a leg up until in a moment of hesitation (jeez, you don’t actually wanna shoot the bloke) you were used to wipe the floor. Oh, and he was utterly hopeless at navigating that one time Jade let you scuffle things out on LOFAF for practice in confined wooded areas. Didn’t rightly know what to do with all the cover around him; you’d been able to sneak up behind him. Granted, as soon as he’d had a bead drawn (so to speak) on where you were located in relation to him, he’d entered Utter Ruination mode and smoked your arse thoroughly.
He keeps on assuring you that he’s not upset you turned him down. That it wasn’t hurtful. That he understands completely, face never shifting out of that slightly bored look he wears. Come to think of it, it didn’t change when you were gabbling out reasons and excuses and apologies like an absolute ninny for why you couldn’t accept his invitation to become ‘boyfriends’, except maybe you thought you saw his jaw tighten just a little? Still, he took it rather well in the end, all things considered. You think.
But sometimes when you’re on your back (again), sweat condensing chilly on your flushed skin, rolling down your forehead, panting but trying not to move because his blade is angled towards you (the flat of it, but golly if it isn’t just right against your dangblasted Adam’s apple and you can feel it like piano wire with every gulping swallow you take, trying to make up for the oxygen debt owed your beleaguered muscles), and you’re staring up, a cross-eyed buffoon, you wonder.
He’ll look down at you, inscrutable, discombobulatory, completely bamboozling for someone who’s supposed to be your best bro, your unparalleled pal-chap, your fella from the future… and you’ve just gotta wonder if he means what he says, because you’re not all that sure?
You take up your guns.
Scramble to your feet.
“Again,” he says, and leaps at you.
Your hand flies up without you realizing what’s happening, and the smell of gunpowder wisps into your nose. There’s a slight shattering ‘chink’ noise, and the echoing bang fading away… otherwise nothing.
He’s got his blade tip at your throat, hands doubled up on the hilt, legs lunging like he’s just taking a leisurely step forward, so close that the extended arm holding your pistol has ended up somewhere over his shoulder and now points behind him where he was standin’ just a second ago. Your other hand still rests on the grip in your holster. One of the pointed tips on his shades has been blown clean off, a puff of charcoaly dust on the air suggesting exactly where to. There are spidery cracks on the rest of the smoked glass, one of them going all the way to the other side.
He takes a step back, lowers his blade. You do the same. “Er, sincerest apologies, I didn’t-”
“You sure? I mean I know you like-”
“It’s fine. I’ve got more.”
He reclaims his starting position. You see his lips move but don’t hear anything. You don’t need to to know what he’s saying.