“Again!” Malcolm shouted, throwing another punch at my face.
Unlike the last three times, I was able to avoid getting hit, but the end result was still the same. After I dodged, he surprised me with a spin kick, knocking me down to the mat.
“That actually lasted longer than I expected, Snipey,” Raina mocked, helping me up.
Finally, after a month of begging and Malcolm hardly being around, Raina and I were getting trained. I’d expected that we’d start with some basic conditioning, but apparently Malcolm’s idea of training was repeatedly punching me in the face.
Even if this wasn’t going the way I’d hoped, I had faith that Malcolm knew what he was doing. Plus, Raina’s private gym was amazing. Being bigger than my old apartment, it had every last piece of exercise equipment you could imagine, along with a variety of weapons, ranging from bo staffs to crossbows. There were also things like training dummies and punching bags.
The walls of the gym were all white, matching the machines. One of the walls had a long mirror spanning the entire thing. In front of the mirror was where Raina did her yoga.
Raina was my best friend and nothing else, but she really did look sexy in her newly dyed platinum blonde hair, pink work out bra, and tight black sweatpants. Probably more sexy than any high school girl should be when surrounded by two older men and two lesbians in their 30’s.
Malcolm was also dressed…interestingly. By that, I mean that save for his pocket-less gym shorts, he was completely naked. All of us had been too nervous to ask him about it.
“Malcolm, what exactly are you accomplishing by tossing Carter around?” Eve asked, currently “spotting” Olivia, who looked to be bench pressing a few thousand pounds.
“I’m teaching him to dodge. Considering how often Carter gets his ass kicked, I figured this was what we should start with. Then again…”
Malcolm sprinted at Raina, Raina just barely getting out of the way of his elbow thrust. She then jumped when he attempted to leg sweep her, but he was able to catch her off guard by upper cutting her the second her feet touched the ground.
“Raina could work on her dodging as well,” Malcolm finished.
“You alright?” I asked.
“I’m fine,” Raina responded, sounding bitter. “But Malcolm’s right. Out of the three of us, it’s essential that I’m able to avoid injury.”
“Why?” Eve asked in a jokey way. “Because your million dollar ass is more important?”
“Okay first, my ass is worth way more than a million dollars,” Raina said. She then turned from Eve back to us. “But more importantly, as much as it kills me to say it, you two can take a hit better than I can. Carter, we really haven’t seen any limits to your healing factor, and Malcolm, you’re just abnormally durable.”
Olivia slammed down her enormous barbell.
“Don’t sell yourself short, Raina,” Olivia said as Eve handed her a towel to wipe off her sweat.
“Just from the fact that you’ve survived multiple encounters with Smog, your body is clearly much stronger than the average person’s.”
Raina hadn’t actually explained to me why Olivia had stopped calling her “Ms.”, but it was clear that whatever had happened had gotten Olivia to lighten up a bit and be more friendly.
To Raina and I at least. She still hated Malcolm for some reason.
“That may be true,” Malcolm said. “But even with that, and the skill she already has, she still has a lot to learn. We all do.”
Olivia laid back down to do another set of reps and said, “I don’t.”
Malcolm rolled his eyes.
Olivia could still scare the crap out of me whenever she was being serious, but she’d been growing on me, and I was really glad Raina had someone else she considered a good friend. After all the bitches at her school turned their backs on her, we were pretty much all she had. So just so long as Olivia didn’t move in on my position as Raina’s best friend, we were good.
“Alright, so Carter, you run a lot, right?” Malcolm asked.
“Yeah, I guess,” I said, just a bit nervous as to where he was going.
“And Raina, you’re a fencing and taekwondo champion, correct?”
“You know it.”
“Exactly,” he said as if he was making a point. “So given your different levels of experience, I think it’s best to focus on Carter right now. But like I said, you could get better too, so how about you go exercise on your own until Olivia’s workout is done. Then you two should spar.”
Olivia once again slammed down her barbell.
“I’m ready,” she said almost immediately after Malcolm’s sentence was finished.
“Awesome,” Raina said as Olivia and Eve walked over to us.
“Babe, did you decide which hotel you think we should stay in?” Eve asked Olivia.
“So long as the beds are sturdy and they serve eggs Benedict, whichever hotel you want is fine.”
Eve squeed and, holding onto Olivia’s arm, did a little jump into the air.
“Perseus Resort it is!”
As the two reached us, Malcolm said, “Oh yeah, you guys are leaving for your vacation later.”
Olivia put an arm around Eve.
“Eve, you weren’t talking about the Perseus Resort in Greece, were you?” Raina asked. “I’ve stayed there before, and they generally only cater to a certain class of clientele.”
I nudged Raina.
“What?” she asked as if she hadn’t said anything wrong. “That wasn’t bitchy. It was just true.”
“A few weeks ago, you’re right, we couldn’t afford it,” Eve said as Olivia drank from her water bottle. “But thanks to that promotion you got me, we can.”
“Fuck, how much is Daddy paying you?”
“Enough,” Eve answered. “Now come on,” she said sitting down in a chair. “Didn’t you guys want to spar?”
“Yeah,” Malcolm said. “Olivia, don’t hold back against Raina. She may not be able to hurt you, but you should still give her as much of a challenge as possible.”
“Don’t act like you’re better than me,” Olivia said, not even looking at Malcolm.
For a few seconds, Malcolm just stared coldly at the back of Olivia’s head.
“Uh, dude,” I said. “Should we get to training?”
Malcolm turned to me and smiled.
“Yeah. Lets go down to the other side of the gym though. We don’t want to get in the girls’ way.”
While we were walking away from the others, I asked Malcolm, “So why does Olivia hate you?”
Malcolm didn’t respond and just kept walking.
“Did you fart in the apartment? Cause one time I did it really loudly and Shay gave me a nuggie.”
Now in Raina’s yoga area, Malcolm, seemingly in response to what I’d said, Malcolm hooked his arm around my shoulder, and proceeded to flip me over.
“Ah, dude,” I grumbled. “I think you did something to my shoulder.”
“It’ll heal,” he responded. “Now get up.” I did so. “What I just used on you was a basic flip. Anyone can throw a punch, and most people you’re likely to fight can use kicks. While those can hurt an opponent, a successful flip can change the dynamic of the fight. Given your power, with someone on the ground, you’ll be able to take a clean shot at them, knocking out any normal thug or Median. So, you’re going to use that flip I just demonstrated on me. And you don’t eat until you do it successfully.”
“Malcolm, you know I have no upper body strength, right?”
“Flipping someone is all about technique, not strength. Another reason why it’s something useful for you to learn.”
“Well okay, but this might take awhile for me to do so we should maybe get some lunch in a bit.”
“Apparently, some bitch wasn’t listening!” Malcolm shouted, pulling out a hand gun.
“Where do you get that?!” I asked, electricity now coating my body.
“From my ass!” Malcolm screamed sarcastically. “Does it matter?”
“Right answer,” Malcolm said. “Now flip me!”
Malcolm charged at me, and I really wasn’t too sure what to do.
I knew the first step was to put my arm around his shoulder. From there, I think there was a certain stance I was supposed to take. Not that I knew what it was. And then I guess I had to just roll him over my back.
My rapid thoughts ended up not mattering as lightning uncontrollably fired out of my chest, sending Malcolm back flying. Likely as a reflex, Malcolm pulled the trigger on his gun and fired a bullet at the large mirror.
“Ah!,” Eve screamed, ducking to the floor.
Looking over, Olivia delivered a lightning fast punch to Raina’s face, knocking her down.
Raina looked over at us, appearing pissed.
“What the Hell, Malcolm?” Raina asked. “I thought I told you only security personnel could have guns in my house! Wait, where were you even keeping that?”
“Doesn’t matter,” he answered. “But apparently, I can’t charge you without getting shot by lightning.”
“Not my fault you pulled out a gun,” I said to myself.
“Hey Olivia, Carter’s attacks barely phase you, right? I already showed him what to do, so what do you say we switch dance partners.”
Olivia cracked her neck.
Malcolm may have been bigger than Olivia, but even without being a Demigod, she probably had more muscle mass than him.
“Sure,” Olivia said. “But are you positive you can give Raina a workout?”
“Bitch,” Malcolm said softly enough that I think only I heard him, walking past an incoming Olivia.
“From what I saw, Malcolm was teaching you how to flip someone, yes?” Olivia asked.
“What? No. I want to learn how to fight.”
Olivia put her hand on my shoulder.
It felt really weird.
“My power is not one which is directly offensive. As such, I needed to learn to kick box to compliment my power. But you have a great ability.” Something seemed odd about her voice. “One which you just need to hone. Malcolm can’t help you with that, but I can.”
I gulped, hoping Olivia wouldn’t hurt me for asking this.
“Um, why do you sound Russian?”
Olivia smiled right at me.
“Don’t tell any of the Davenports, but I am Russian.”
“Oh. Okay,” I said, trying not to piss myself.
Electricity still encasing me, I was too scared to ask any follow up questions.
“Now then,” Olivia said, standing up tall. “Lets begin.”
Walking back to the guest house, I was drained. A lot of what Olivia had said probably made sense, but I really didn’t understand any of it.
That aside, I really wasn’t too sure why she was keeping the fact she was Russian secret. And why would she pretend to be Swedish of all things? Questions for another day.
I walked through the front door of the guest house which led directly into the living room.
Shay was sitting on the couch with a calculator in hand, tons of scattered papers all around her.
“Oh my God!” I shouted in a jovial way. “It’s Panda!”
“Ha ha, very funny, Carter. It’s been three weeks. When are you gonna stop saying that every time we see each other?”
“I dunno!” I was very excited. “I mean, when I got my powers, I just thought, “Awesome, I’m gonna become a super hero.” It never even occurred to me to carry on the legacy of someone like Garuda or Thunder Clapper. You deciding to become the second Panda was genius!”
Shay was giving me a look that was very clearly saying, “Stop jumping in place like a little school girl.”
I was thought there was something weird about that expression. “Like a little school girl.” As someone who was beaten up by girls in elementary school, I didn’t find anything cute about them.
“Well, hopefully things will work out as well for me as they have for you. People can’t seem to get enough of Lightning bee, Fencer, and Decker. I just hope I’m not just deluding myself in thinking I’m worthy of being Panda.”
Sitting down next to her, I said, “Dude, you were the most kick ass cop this city has ever seen. No one is more worthy than you.”
“Thanks,” she said smiling. “But right now, I don’t even have the time to be Panda.”
“Yeah, I was gonna ask about that. What’s with all these papers?”
“Bills, Brother. Bills.”
“But I thought Raina’s family covered everything?” I asked, confused.
“Not quite,” she responded, handing me a sheet of paper on which there were maybe two words I understood. “See, even though Raina’s dad is letting us live here for free, we still have to pay for things like electricity, plumbing and…” she paused as she scanned her eyes down a piece of paper. “…cable.” Shay turned to me. “Carter, when did we get cable?”
Oh shit. I really thought we didn’t have to pay for utilities anymore.
“I may have really wanted to watch this new show called Espers.”
“You could have streamed it online!”
“But that’s illegal!”
“Blah!” Shay shouted, covering her face in her hands. “Bro, we don’t have the money to pay for all of this.”
“Knock knock,” Raina said as she walked through the doorway I’d left open, accompanied by Olivia. Olivia looked to be hiding something behind her back.
“Sure, just let yourself in,” Shay mumbled.
Raina had changed from her workout clothes to long sleeve, pretty slutty looking black dress and high heels.
If they weren’t so irritated by each other, I’d ask Shay to have a word with Raina about dressing age appropriately.
“So I walking by and couldn’t help but over hear that you guys are having financial troubles again.”
“Are you gonna give us the money we need?” I asked.
Shay punched my shoulder.
“We’re not taking money from you,” Shay said coldly.
“I wasn’t planning on giving it,” Raina responded. “What I can give you two, since you’re both unemployed, are jobs.”
After a brief moment, Shay said, “I’m listening.”
“Well, as it turns out, there are some openings in the mansion’s staff. Carter, how would you like to become our new pool boy?”
“The Hell’s a pool boy?”I asked.
“Basically you’d just be responsible for cleaning the pool and attending to me and my family whenever one of us is using the pool. And don’t worry, the job won’t involve you having to actually get in the pool. That would end pretty badly.”
“Hm. What do you think Shay?”
“I think we’re desperate for money. So, yeah, I say do it.”
“Excellent,” Raina said. “And since you’re not hot in the slightest, there’s no chance of Stella cheating on Daddy with you like she did with the last two pool boys.”
I’d never met Raina’s step mom, but she’d made her out to be pretty nasty.
“What about me?” Shay asked. “I was a cop for years. Maybe I could work security or some…”
Shay stopped talking as Olivia revealed what she was hiding behind her back: A light blue and white button down maid dress.
Shay’s face sank into her hands.
“Damn rich people.”