“Lisa!” Sensei Domino says, shaking her hand vigorously. “We’ve missed you.”

“Teke didn’t even know I was supposed to be here,” she tells him.

Then they both stare at me, all coordinated-like, and I have to stop myself from scuffing my toe against my heel. “What? Nobody sent me anything about it.”

Lisa laughs slightly. “Well, I only got an automated reminder myself, and half of it was in machine code.”

Oh, seriously? The automated reminders are down again? State-of-the-art my ass. We need to get Peter ParCunt in here to debug stat. (Unless people have figured out how to be less of assholes to Dumb Bitch, which, ha, right, let’s expect that that initiative is going well.) Next thing we know, emails are all going to be tagged with people’s real identities.

Which reminds me, I forgot to check my email.

I know what you’re thinking, and no, there isn’t one about interns once I do. There never is.

Oh, that’s right, there never is.

Maybe I should’ve checked the board to see if my request for one had been filled.

Maybe I should’ve requested one.

Did I request one? Did I think I needed an intern to run the class? Do I need an intern to run the class? Is this a thing about only having half a dozen students, like, maybe if I had more, it would be obvious why I needed an intern? Hell, is this getting noted down in her file, or is she not even officially an intern again this year?

Am I going to need to file something somewhere about this?

“…Teke?” Sensei Domino says.

I blink at him.

“How’d you sleep?” he asks.

“Fine,” I say.

Lisa winces.

“Are you,” Sensei Domino says, “up for some training, or…?”

Wait, I got him to agree to teach me? Or wait, no, I mean, he offered that, didn’t he – and I remembered to take him up on it?

“Yeah,” Sensei Domino says, “why, did you change your mind?”

I shake my head. Then look down at my clothes. I have not changed into my costume yet.

“That’s okay,” Sensei Domino says, “sweats are better anyway, whatever you can move around in. Something comfortable. I’m going to try to get you caught up to the kids today, so we’ll be a while.”

Sweats? I thought this was one of those, you know, where you wear one of those white suit deals that tie around the waist, with your belt – am I a white belt already, or do I earn that one somehow or what? Or otherwise shouldn’t I train in costume like the kids do?

“That would be a good idea to get used to, once you learn the basics,” Sensei Domino agrees, “also, I’m not actually planning on giving you a belt, but I’d guess you’re probably roughly orange.”

Oh, well. That’s okay then.

“Were you planning on joining us?” he asks Lisa.

She half-shrugs. “If you didn’t mind. But I have lots of stuff I could be doing, otherwise.”

“I don’t mind,” I tell her, because, what, worst case scenario she makes me look like an idiot, I mean, she’s been doing this a year longer than I have, but who’s going to see, Sensei Domino? Like he wasn’t already about to watch me make a fool of myself.

I mean unless they’re taping this again.

“Wait, who was taping what?” she asks, pausing halfway through tying her braid into a bun.

“I have no idea,” I tell her, “I think they want it either as a recruitment tool or good press. Or possibly to feed to the piranhas that have decided I’m their favorite action figure.”

“You have an action figure already?” Sensei Domino asks.

“It was a figure of speech,” I tell him.

He tilts his head. “I’m pretty sure that’s not a figure of speech that’s actually in use.”

“Artistic license,” I tell him. “Something something, coin a phrase.”

“Piranhas,” Lisa repeats.

I nod to her.

She gives me a weird look and I think she’s about to ask me to elaborate, but she steps into the elevator instead, and we all ride down to the gym, where I step out to the locker room to change into sweats, which is actually kind of irritating, because now I’m going to have to remember my clothes are down here and not in my office once I need them again.

Also, I think Lisa may have been talking to me as I left, and thinks I’m a dick now.

Look, whatever, I’ll buy her coffee or something to make up for it. Oh. God. Coffee.

Sensei Domino starts me off on some warmups, which is pretty good for my self-esteem, because, yeah, I got this. I actually know all these already, because I saw him showing them to the kids, and they’re way straightforward, and, yes, okay, I can do karate.

Also he teaches me some blocking, which is fine, I mean, I already know how to do most of these, except apparently they have an order, and also names? Whatever, the names I can remember later, I know what order they’re meant to go in, I’m good. This is very relaxing, actually. Very zen.

That might be racist. I’m not sure.

Of course, I do yoga, so I’m not exactly one to talk about –

Lisa hooks her foot behind my ankle and trips me. Apparently we’re starting now. I did not think we were actually starting yet; now none of the blocks are going to go in order and I shove her knee away from my stomach.

“Good,” Sensei Domino says, and gestures for me to strike at her.

Crap, Travis, think. How can you possibly not think of a thing to do other than copycatting her, that is every other thing than kneeing someone in the stomach, that is a lot of things, in fact, most things, even if you leave out kneeing altogether, because that’s okay, you really can’t pull of Apogee’s thing about kneeing people in the nose. Although, she does that one punch-elbow strike combination thing, that’s not really – Lisa knocks my arm away.

This is better than falling. I expected a refresher course on falling. That’s what the kids always do right at the beginning, that’s what we went through in training, that’s what

I do right then, when Lisa punches me in the jaw.

The same place I was injured, actually, only it doesn’t hurt, so I guess that’s okay. Guardian Angel does do good work, doesn’t he? I mean it does hurt, but only as much as getting punched in the jaw does, not as much as getting punched on your broken bones. I mean, not even that, because she wasn’t punching very hard, like, she definitely did not expect me to fall right here, and her hands aren’t even taped up, so. And also because I did pull back a little, which isn’t right; I was supposed to – which block was I supposed to be doing?

“Teke, do you,” Lisa asks, “need help up?”

I stare at the ceiling. “I haven’t had any coffee,” I explain to them.

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