Frankie paced back and forth outside of the door to gym three. He wanted to go in, but he couldn’t make himself. He stopped, his hand hovering half an inch over the doorknob, but then he turned around and resumed his pacing again. He’d done another two or three laps when he heard, “So, whatever you want to ask me had better be pretty damn important. If you’re pacing around to ask something silly like to borrow a CD, I will punch you in the face, and you know that I have the tendency to punch hard.” Frankie turned to see Hank lounging against the side of the door frame, wiping his face up with a towel. When he lowered the towel, he had one of the widest grins that Frankie had ever seen on his face. Frankie looked back and forth down the hallways before practically sprinting into the gym. “I guess it is important.” Hank shut the door behind them.
“I need—I need your help.” Frankie spat out.
Hank raised an eyebrow. Frankie started to wring his hands. Hank was going to think he was crazy or helpless. He was going to ask what Frankie had been doing during all those scheduled self-defense training seminars that Hank and Maria had hosted throughout the years. He was going to get annoyed with the imposition, and Frankie was going to have to avoid him in the hallways for months, maybe even years to come. It was—well, tragic because Hank had always been a good friend and now they were going to be—
“Do you prefer kicking or punching?” Hank asked suddenly.
“I’m sorry, what?” Frankie was pulled out of his musing. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, if someone were to attack you right now, would you punch them or kick them?” Hank clarified.
“I don’t really know. Do people actually—Holy Hell!” Hank charged Frankie, who threw out both of his hands to try to stop Hank from actually colliding with him. Hank backed off quickly, stopping about half a step away from Frankie’s outstretched arms. “What the hell was that?”
“I wanted to see what you would do. To be honest, I actually expected you to run.”
“But I didn’t. I didn’t run.”
“No, you shielded yourself. Not very well, mind you, but you tried. We’ll cover all the basic self-defense moves—then we can move on to more offense moves, weapons training if you want it.”
Frankie just stared at Hank for a long moment. It took him a couple of seconds to even realize that his mouth was hanging open. He hadn’t even really had to ask and now all this. “Hank—I—“
“Well, I figured if you aren’t going to listen to assurances that it’s not your fault and have still got it wrapped up in that crazy head of yours to want to help with going out into the field, I might as well make you the best fighter I can, yeah?” Hank smiled almost a little wickedly, “Am I wrong?”
“You are much better with people than anyone gives you credit for, you know?” Frankie replied in lieu of an answer.
“Yeah, well, I’ve got a reputation to maintain, so if you’d kindly keep that quiet.” Hank picked up his towel from the floor and hung it around his neck. “Also, the Top Tier Users will be getting some training from Maria and me if they want it as well, so if you’re really serious about wanting to learn, coming to their classes will help. A lot. Suck up your pride, and I’ll see you in Gym One tomorrow for your first one on one at eight in the morning.”
“What Pride?” Frankie asked. Hank smiled and headed out of the door. Why is it, Frankie thought to himself, that when I have to guess in situations involving people, I am almost always wrong?