Lxv. a tale as old as time

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Lxv

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Lxv. A TALE AS OLD AS TIME

IAN HIT THE BLUE TRAINING MATS with the force of a reckoning tornado. As his green, determined eyes flickered up to the ceiling, the satisfied golden gaze of his brother, Ace, appeared into his vision. Ace offered a hand and jerked Ian back to his feet. Both of them were sweaty from sparing, and Ian could tell from his brother's rapid rising breath that he needed a break.

"Give me ten," Ian faked a pant, throwing a towel at his brother two years his junior.

    Ace grined. "I'm not even tired. How does it feel to be bested once again?"

    Ian rolled his eyes. Every time they spared, he'd held back the majority of his strength for the sake of fairness. He convinced himself that letting Ace win built confidence and kept him safe, though now, he wanted nothing more than to teach him a lesson.

"Just because you've won in hand to hand combat against me doesn't mean you're ready for the field. The field is dangerous, unpredictable, and you're too reckless."

"I'm fourteen already," Ace groaned. "You were my age when they let you have your first mission. I don't see why—"

"—Mom and dad trusted me to take care of you," Ian huffed. He neglected to mince his words this time. Pain bubbled up inside of him like a furnace heating his body on a cold Winter's day. "Do I need to remind you that they died in the field? They trusted me, and I'm making the judgement calls. You're not ready yet."

You didn't need to be a trained federal agent to recognize the resentment and regret on Ace's face. He stepped back with knitted brows, grabbed his bag, and slung his towel over his shoulder. Without a second word, he left his brother alone with his sulking thoughts in the dim training room.

Ian let out a defeated sigh. How could he explain to his brother that while he was capable, even talented among the other recruits, that there were circumstances out of his control that made the field ten times more dangerous for him than any of the other recruits? How could he ensure that the only family he had left was protected from those that tried to kill him?

    The anger inside of him compounded until his fist collided with the brick walls—creating a dent and causing a haze of dust to erupt.

    "I didn't know you had it in you, Blackwell," a voice lulled over the scene of demolished infrastructure.

    "I see we're completely doing away with formalities, Director." Ian's enunciation mocked the thinly veiled nefarious tone of the Director's.

    "Why do you let Ace win? He might not see it yet, but sooner or later, the kid's gonna realize you're holding back."

    Ian shook out his slightly inconvenienced wrist from the impact. "Our deal was that Ace stays out of this. I find it highly improbable that you'd let your highest asset go."

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