Chapter 10: The Club
"What if no one joins?" Mei-Ling asked staring at the flier she'd just tacked onto the school bulletin board. It was for the new martial arts club she was trying to start.
"You know I'll join." Todd said from behind her. He gave her a light kiss on the cheek and put a hand on her back. "You've already start teaching me and I think you're an excellent instructor." he added.
"I will join too." I said from her other side. "I can't promise I'll be any good but I'll be there." I added with a chuckle.
Mei-Ling turned from the flier and smiled at us both, "you two are wonderful friends." she said as Erik walked up. He took my hand in his immediately and squeezed it, gaining a smile from me. He was about to speak when he saw the flier. "I didn't know this school had a martial arts club." he said looking intently at the flier.
"It doesn't, not yet anyway." Mei-Ling said. She looked at the flier again and looked concerned again. "What if no one joins?" she asked aloud, to no one in particular.
"You're starting this?" Erik asked motioning to the flier. Mei-Ling merely nodded, her expression still clouded with doubt. "I'll be there." he said getting everyone's attention. "I did martial arts in Virginia, figured I'd have to give it up here."
"Really?" Mei-Ling and I asked at the same time.
"You've done martial arts?" I asked trying to remember if he'd mentioned this before.
"What type of program?" Mei-Ling asked eagerly at the same time.
Mei-Ling and Erik started talking animatedly about martial arts while Todd and I looked on a bit dumb founded. We caught each others eyes and both snickered.
When the warning bell rang, Erik and Mei-Ling were still deep in their talk and started walking automatically down the hall together, leaving Todd and I to look on in disbelief. "Um....so bye!" I said a little loudly to break their concentration. I struggled to keep the grin off my face.
Erik was smart enough to look sheepish and apologetic about the incident. "Sorry" he said. I had my hands on my hips and was still fighting a huge grin. I was happy he'd found some common interests with someone and was pretty amused by it but he didn't need to know that just yet. I let him linger a few seconds and the smile broke across my face. I took his hand and we walked to class together.
A couple days later was the first day of the new club. As promised, Erik and I showed up. Erik had unpacked his old uniform and changed into it while I felt newbish in my basic school PE uniform. Timothy was also there. I'd gotten the impression that the almost encounter with Jacob at the night club had shaken him despite his bravado. He wouldn't admit it, but I think he was hoping to be able to back up his words some day and so here he was. A few other stragglers came in but hung back, unsure about this club. While we were waiting, I saw Todd also had a special uniform, apparently his time with Mei-Ling had paid off so far.
Too my great surprise, Veronica slipped in just as Mei-Ling was prepared to start. She sat next to me and looked annoyed - of course she usually looked annoyed so I didn't take it personally. "What are you doing here?" I asked
"Why shouldn't I be?" she asked, still not looking at me.
I raised an eyebrow at her. "Seriously V, this isn't really your thing." I said
She looked over at me and was about to say something when Mei-Ling called for out attention. I noticed Todd take a seat next to V and also noticed the other students were still clinging to the walls or the other side of the gym for some reason.
"Hello, and welcome to the first meeting of this club. My name is Mei-Ling." she said as everyone settled down. A few of the other students had slipped out, apparently losing interest already. Mei-Ling was turned toward us so she didn't notice. "Ms. Moore has agreed to be our faculty sponsor." she said motioning to Ms. Moore who was standing near the entrance to the gym. I wondered suddenly if that was why some of the other students had left. "As I understand it, most of you have little to no experience and that is good. You will all be able to grow and excel together. Todd and Erik, however, have a bit of experience and I would like to ask them both to come forward for a demonstration."
She stepped back as they approached. "You all will start out using the training dummies at the next practice but I'd like you to have an idea of what you are working towards so I have asked Todd and Erik to spar. And they agreed."
Beside me Veronica smirked and looked a little less annoyed. She was looking forward to another Erik/Todd encounter. In front of us, Todd and Erik approached each other, bowed and prepared to spar.
"Once again your boys are fighting Gin." Veronica whispered across to me.
"They are sparring for one and they are not MY boys for another." I shot back. "Todd is with Mei-Ling; we're just friends."
"That may be so, but they both seem eager to have a go at each other." Veronica added with a smirk.
Mei-Ling was "narrating" the fight to a degree; pointing out certain moves and blocks but she didn't want to interrupt the rhythm of the spar so she didn't say much.
Erik, who had more experience than Todd, seemed to be holding back some. I suspect he was trying to match Todd's level to make the demonstration last longer. Or maybe he just wanted Todd to think he stood a chance before he beat him. I'm not really sure.
But Erik landed the first blow, Todd landed the next. Erik pushed harder after that and easily finished Todd off. Todd glared as he acknowledged his defeat with a bow, Erik looked smug.
"Thank you both." Mei-Ling said as they stepped apart. "As this is just the first meeting, I also wanted to demonstrate the use of the board breaker." she said moving back until she was between two sets of cement blocks supporting boards. "These are board breakers. As you advance in skill and discipline, you will eventually be able to break a variety of boards. Early students will start with a single foam board, working up to up to five. Then they can attempt a light wood such as balsa wood. Todd has recently graduated to balsa wood so he will demonstrate on this set." she said pointing to one side. "Erik has chosen his own board and number..." she said looking a little doubtful at the stack of five oak boards already prepared. Both boys walked to their set up.
Both took several minutes to concentrate and prepare themselves. A few moments before Erik, Todd broke his board. He had about 10 seconds to feel smug about doing his first before Erik smashed through all five of his boards in one smooth move.
Mei-Ling, Todd and Erik demonstrated various moves and blocks for us that afternoon. Finally Mei-Ling approached us again. "That will be all for today. Please see Ms. Moore for information regarding your uniforms if you are interested in returning. Those that return, we will start practicing with training dummies next time. Thank you all for coming." she said with a smile.
As we were all gathering our stuff, she approached Erik. "Erik, I would like your help. With this." she said motioning to the gym meaning the club. "If I had known, I would have asked before. " she added.
"I'd like to help." Erik said with a winning smile. "You did great Mei-Ling, I think we'll all learn something." he added. As I approached, "Just let me know what you need." he said.
He took my hand in his when I came to his side. "Thanks Mei-Ling! I look forward to next time." I said honestly.
She nodded and felt Todd slip is hand into hers as we left.