“So… how about it? Best two out of three?” Sara watched Kendra pick herself up from the ground, and waved her batons around invitingly.
Kendra flared her wings wide, and she grinned, rewarding that playful show of defiance with a wolfwhistle.
They had claimed this idyllic meadow for their training session, and it had been a good choice to make use of the opportunity for some outdoors sparring. Kendra seemed to enjoy that she could finally battle without her wings getting in the way, as they did so often in the narrow corridors of the Waverider. Sara found herself simply enjoying that she got to enjoy some fresh air and sunlight while sparring, being stuck in a confined space for any length of time really wasn’t for her.
Her friend didn’t respond, but she shifted back into a defensive stance, batons raised, and that was all the answer Sara needed.
Sara attacked, and Kendra held her ground, using her wings spread wide to help her keep her balance. Every now and then she took off, getting the height advantage on her or evading a blow in a way Sara hadn’t seen coming.
Sara couldn’t have been prouder of her friend.
By the time she ended up on her back, Kendra’s batons crossed against her neck, Sara was panting for air, but also grinning from ear to ear. Kendra offered her hand, and Sara grasped it firmly. She let herself be hauled back to her feet, even faking a pained groan to Kendra’s amusement.
“Know what?” she said. “Forget best two out of three, it’s time to celebrate. You’re turning into a real warrior bird!”
Most of all, she wasn’t quite so afraid of her wings anymore, or of her memories – there had been moves in there she hadn’t picked up from Sara.
Discomfort flickered over Kendra’s face before determination took over, and she shook her head. “No. I want to keep going. I can’t stop after a small success.”
That was even more of a surprise, and even more of a victory.
“Alright.” She nodded. “Two out of three it is.” But first Sara returned to her bag, and took a sip from her water bottle. Once she had drunk, she threw the bottle to Kendra. “Catch!”
Kendra caught the bottle; she laughed, but her humor turned to pensiveness far too quickly for Sara’s liking. She had done away with the wings, too.
“We’ve only been talking about me lately. But do you feel better?”
It came so sudden, Sara hadn’t had any time to prepare jokes or snappy replies, and all she managed was a wan attempt at her usual roguish smile. They had indeed only been talking about Kendra’s troubles lately, and she had believed herself safe. That just went to show you should never assume.
“I haven’t frightened any of you lately, have I?” Her tone of voice voice was too light and flippant to be believable, she knew it even as she spoke, but it was the best she could do.
“Sara…” Kendra cut herself off.
She looked lost in thoughts again, driving Sara to brace herself for a heart-to-heart she didn’t feel up to right now. She felt the need to fiddle, or crack some joke, but every witty quip had been wiped from her mind.
“I trust you,” Kendra said. Her smile was a little more knowing than Sara liked, strictly speaking, but then again they’d had many such conversations, usually after or in-between sparring. Most of the time she had managed to keep the focus on Kendra’s problems, but it looked like she had given away more than she realized. Or maybe Kendra had just always been more perceptive than she had assumed. “And so does the rest of the team.”
Sara’s too-bright smile faltered. She tried to keep it up anyway. “Of course you do. I’m the best-looking one around here!”
Kendra opened her mouth. She didn’t speak, just smiled and shook her head. Once she was done drinking, she picked up her batons again, and extended them to full length. “Alright, let’s go.” She let a heartbeat pass. “But Sara? Next time, let’s spar with knives.”
I trust you to have control. She didn’t need to say it for Sara to read it between the lines. I trust you.
Her heart thudded harder in her chest as she remembered the slaughter she could create with a sharp blade.
“Okay. Next time we’re bringing out the knives.”
Kendra attacked, and they sank into the comforting back and forth of battle.