Takes place after “Week of Welcoming”, towards mid-end of free week, day 5 or so.




Mornings are… reflective for me.  Once again, I awake before the alarm clock goes off and I know Jordana isn’t awake yet because the bathroom lights aren’t on.  Basic Training 2 starts in mere days, and I’ve only been here for mere days…  Yet it feels like an eternity.


So much has happened since I arrived.  The people I’ve met, the responsibility I’ve agreed to… It’s simply fantastic.  I don’t think I’ve ever had this much hope for the future.  And there are no words to describe the variety of the other Ensigns.  Some, I think, are quite powerful.  I have never really encountered people like them before in my life.  This seems like it will be the ultimate learning experience, far more intense than my time with my grandparents, or those blissful years with Dio.


The memory of that time, place, and name make me sigh as I get out of bed to go take my morning shower.  I know now that nobody can replace him, and there is still that feeling deep inside my heart that tells me I loved him more than anything.  But that time in my life has become a string of memories… It is unhealthy to obsess over memories like that, too.  I knew at the time I was strong enough to move on, and by God I did.


My agenda for the day is the same as the previous days since my arrival on this planet, though I will not go play that beautiful piano in the den just yet.  My aching muscles are chiding me for not working out in the past week or so, and I must go do that today. 


As silly as it seems, I can’t help but hope I’ll run into Vasya.  I feel like I’m amid a full-blown crush, the innocent kind you get when you’re in junior school.  I can’t believe that I’m experiencing this sort of thing at my age…  Even though I’m really not that old.  I think Vasya is younger than I am…  But not significantly so.  It’s possible that he’s a minor.


I wonder if I could get arrested?


I pushed that thought and all the suggestions it created aside.  This certainly wasn’t the time for it, and I doubted Vasya was interested.  Still, it couldn’t hurt to dream.  And it was a particularly good sign the day he hadn’t been scared off when I had complimented him on his eyes.  I couldn’t hold that back…  Twin orbs of a striking, pale silver.  The very mental image sends a shiver up my spine. 


Ah…  Onto the day’s tasks.  The Taurus is going to be done with plenty of time to spare before Basic Training starts.  Lance, to his credit, has dealt particularly well with my complete intrusion of his domain.  I only feel bad about what I did to the Taurus for his sake…  He really didn’t deserve it.  The best I can do now is finish it quickly and accurately, and get out of his hair.  I think he’ll enjoy that, too.  Maybe more than me.


Nobody seems to know the details surrounding the upcoming Basic Training session.  I’m feeling a hint of apprehension, but I know I’ll be fine.  Not even Yggy’s climate can phase me…  I like the warm weather.  That’s why it’s even more important for me to make sure my body is in top shape.  I want to be ready for anything.


Ready and dressed for a good workout, I head to the gym.  It’s still quite early in the morning, but there are already other Ensigns milling around the halls.  From what Jordana explained, some took a vacation leave for the free week.  It’ll get more crowded just before Basic Training begins.  I will take it as a good opportunity to meet more people.


I can easily recall where the gym was, as Jordana had pointed it out.  I had only taken a quick glance in before, but it seemed like a gorgeous facility, gleaming and ready for action. 


I stop dead in my tracks as I cross the gym floor to the locker area.  Is it just my good luck, or am I seeing things?


No, I’m not.  There stands Vasya, putting some things into a locker.  Like myself, he’s awake before the crack of dawn and preparing for a workout.  I grin, giddy inside and out as I head across the floor, calling his name.


He turns and smiles at me.


I love this place.


Putting my few belongings into the locker, I turned a friendly smile to him.  “Here for a workout?”


Vasya rolled his eyes at me, mouthing a quick retort.  <No, I’m here for breakfast.>


He punctuated it with a grin and headed out towards the mats.  Whether or not he was inviting me to join him, I do not know.  But at the current time, I don’t really care.  I follow him, watching his smooth form unfurl as he takes to the mats to stretch.


Planting myself beside him, I do my own stretches.  I’ve been doing the same routine of stretches for God-knows-how-many-years, and I’ve become, well, good at them.


I feel his eyes on me as I displayed my abilities in bendability.  (Yes, that’s a word.  I made it up.)  He appeared amused in the least, pushing himself a little harder to obtain a similar stretch.  I had to grin at this – Vasya seemed to be a bit on the competitive side.


I would soon find out what a huge understatement /that/ was.


As we sit, stretching quietly, I survey the gym to try and decide what physical activity I’d take up for my exercise.  Nothing stands out until my eyes settle on the running track.  Vasya’s eyes are focused on the same area, and I quickly finish up my stretches to propose my thoughts to him.


“I think I’m going to go for a run,”  I say casually, and his beautiful eyes lift to meet mine as I stand. 


<Me too.>  His reply, simple but exactly what I wanted to hear. 


We walk silently to the track, finishing up a few more stretches after reaching the white lines that indicate a starting point. 


I let Vasya set the pace as we start, meeting his slow jog with ease.  A heartbeat passes and his pace begins to pick up.  I can almost see his look of amusement, though I am watching the track in front of me.  Again, I match his pace.


I do believe I’m taller than him.  He may only be two or so inches shorter than I am, but the advantage is still there.  I watch him through my peripheral vision, taking in the way his body moves in rhythm.  His hair is braided, a thick red vine that moves with his every step. 


I push aside the urge to untie his braid and run my fingers through his deep mulberry hair, instead quickening to a sluggish run.  Vasya falls from my peripheral vision, but predictably returns as he moves faster, gaining a few feet in front of me.


I knew what it was coming down to, and it was now time to forget about holding back.  I take a deep breath, moving my legs at a much faster rate.  I breeze past him, wishing I could see the expression on his face.


Again, he returns to the space beside me, matching my pace for a moment to flaunt his victory before moving on ahead again. 


My legs are longer than his and I exploit this advantage, passing him by again as we being our third lap around the track.  A dull ache blossoms quietly in my thighs and calves and I wonder if he’s experiencing the same.


Presumably not, as Vasya still manages to beat my pace.  I give him the benefit of a short distance before pushing myself harder, passing him once more.


My lungs begin to burn with the rapid use and depletion of oxygen, and the smouldering pain my legs spreads like wildfire.  I know he’s feeling similar effects now;  I’m positive of it. 


Disbelief creases my brow as Vasya manages to best me again.  A compulsive streak tingles down my spine, allowing me to ignore the pain in my legs and lungs as I strain to match him. 


Success finds me with scarlet-flushed cheeks as I run alongside him, grueling pace quickly taxing my body.  I am concentrating too hard to glance sidelong to him, to see if his cheeks burn as mine do.  Instead, I push my barriers, willing my aching legs to move faster as I put distance between our strained bodies.


He does not return immediately as before, and I find myself grinning with the victory.  I’m more than ready to slow my pace and cool down, but a body whisks past me, snake-like braid flapping with the movement. 


I’m stunned by his refusal to lose, and my body begins to give out.  I slow my pace to a jog, the echoes of my footfalls telling him this.


Vasya slows down as well, enough for me to catch up.  We jog silently, side by side, for long moments.  I let the time pass without glancing or looking at him just yet. 


As I lift a hand to wipe the beading sweat from my brow, my breath returns enough to speak.


“You’re an excellent.. runner..”  I manage, trying to sound congratulatory rather than like a groveling fanboy.


I look at him in a moment timed well enough to meet his gaze, and I wonder how long he’s been looking at me.  If it were possible, my cheeks became a shade of darker crimson.


<You too.>  He mouths, and he remains quiet afterwards until we return to the gym.


Intrigue burbles within me, and I am eager to find out more about him.  No specific details come to mind, but I still wish to spend more time with him.  Perhaps it is the prospect of unraveling a mysterious young man.  Perhaps it is a sixth sense telling me to pursue him…


I cannot be sure.


While we do our cool-down stretches, I ask him if he’s had formal training as a track runner.  Vasya shakes his head. 


“Oh…”  I reply, a smidge dumbfounded.  “It could easily seem like that.”


Vasya smiles faintly as he gets up, moving back to the lockers.  I follow, intent on retrieving my belongings to take a shower before reporting to the mess hall for breakfast.


He finishes getting his belongings before I do, stopping to say good-bye before leaving the gym.


I glance at him in time to catch it. 


<-Ee you later.>  He mouths, smiling a little.  His cheeks are still flushed from our run, and I find myself pushing away more primitive urges.


“See you later, Vasya,”  I reply quietly, smiling back.  He turns to exit as a thought strikes me.


“Oh, Vasya..!”  I call, turning towards him.  He looks back at me, eyebrows raised in curiosity.


“Thank you for the tea…”  I say, smiling wider. 


He’s smiling back at me and I feel.. faint.  <You’re welcome.>  He mouths, and takes his leave from the gym.


I turn my smile back to the locker as I finish gathering my belongings for a shower. 


The feelings bubbling within me sing to be expressed, and I know I’ll be at the piano before the day is out.