Tiger wasn’t accustomed to this.
He wasn’t used to seeing the dullness in the others’ eyes, or the way they seemed to slightly turn away with each word spoken, almost as if they didn’t care anymore—or knew that if they cared, they would only get hurt more and more.
He leaned on his right foot, and the ground seemed to shift beneath his feet. It was hard, and rough, and coarse as dry sand. The soles of his sneakers were beginning to thin out; he would likely have to find replacements soon. They were losing their grip, and their protection.
Here in this very place, he remembered neat rows of flowers and fields of soft grass, rippling in waves when the breeze passed by. This had been one of his favorite places in the SAMB, just surpassed by his home, Immortal City. Now, he wasn’t sure if he had a favorite place any more.
“Rune, we need you here. We need everyone here. We couldn’t manage without all of us.” The speaker was that younger girl—Echo, was that her name? Anyhow, Tiger approved of that statement with all of his heart. His friends had become distant and he…couldn’t accept that. Normally, he would have open-heartedly embraced that, but it was a completely different matter on a completely different scale.
Tiger yearned for his jade sword. He missed having it in his hands, to run his palm over the curved hilt and see the shine of the sun reflected on the polished blade. However, the meetings didn’t allow for weapons—who knew what would happen if those were in possession.
I wonder if bath bombs count as weapons…he wondered to himself, looking over at Livvy. He didn’t doubt for an instant that with that large of a passion for those, the girl wouldn’t be carrying them with her at all times.
Anyways, a bath bomb would probably be an improvement to her overall threat status. Livvy was practically as thin as a stick, and her black hair, with the gray streaks, seemed to emphasize her skinny frame, as if she had more hair than she had body mass. It was a wonder in itself she wasn’t being knocked over by the wind. She was short, and even though she was wearing combat boots, somehow Tiger couldn’t imagine her actually wearing them in combat.
Speaking of threat status…no one actually had that “intimidating” look to them at all. Millie was dressed like a day for the park, with her baggy shirt, jeans, and old gray converse shoes. Ishmael would have looked intimidating to some extent, except for the fact he had his hood over his head and was staring off to the side, not seeming to pay attention. He had slung his backpack over one shoulder, as if prepared to dart off any second. He looked more like a teenager who didn’t want to be at a family dinner.
Arl seemed to be unusually fidgety. His messy black hair was falling over his eyes, and he was periodically brushing it away. His eyes were flashing with impatience, and his tall frame hardly seemed to contain his emotions. He was twisting his ring on his right hand around in circles, and he had his hat off, shaking it once in a while as if to make sure no one had put anything in it. It wasn’t like anyone would think of pranking each other by now, anyways. It was usually mistaken for an assassination attempt, or something of the like. Tiger couldn’t imagine what it would be like, now, if the SAMBers were at each other’s throats.
Ray looked like a worker cowgirl. She had her hat on top of her head, and Tiger could only see one of her mossy green eyes—was that the color? He had forgotten at some point—peering out from beneath the brim of the hat. Some tools were hanging off of her tool belt, so apparently whoever had been in charge of confiscating dangerous objects didn’t count a screwdriver as a potentially threatening weapon, though its point was obviously capable of stabbing an eye out. Her construction boots only finished the look.
So, the people around him looked like they didn’t want to be here either. Handy. Meanwhile, Rune seemed pretty close to blowing a fuse. “Since when did I say I was going to leave?” she exclaimed with exasperation, and most of the SAMBers’ faces turned into those of gawking fish.
“It sounded like it,” Tiger observed quietly, speaking up. Rune glanced at him, but didn’t respond immediately to him.
“Right. I never said I was going to leave permanently. Anyways, I was thinking that we needed a comparison, and obviously, that’s to other MBs. The most obvious comparison to other MBs would then be the WoFMB. I think we need their help—their example. Put simply, this place is a mess.”
There seemed to be no more silence, because all the SAMBers erupted into boisterous panic.
Starlight frowned. “You propose to go to the WoFMB?”
“Yes, I am,” Rune replied bluntly, her tone making Tiger flinch slightly. He knew that when Rune openly expressed her opinion, she expected it to be carried out, if not immediately. And he knew that if it wasn’t, she would carry it out herself.
But he couldn’t let her go by herself.