After Brad left, Jess busied himself by getting out the sparring equipment. Just as it’d reached the nine-minute mark, Rev walked in. He’d showered as ordered, the front of his wet hair flopping a bit over his eyes. He’d also ditched the ridiculous pajamas and now wore a black sweat suit that appeared to be at least two sizes too big. It hung on his thin frame, making him look even younger.
Holding his hands to the side, Rev asked, “Okay, I’m here. What do you want me to do?”
Oh boy, if that wasn’t a loaded question. Since Jess didn’t dare answer it the way he wanted to, he just nodded to a pair of sparring gloves. “Get those on.”
He expected Rev to balk, but the Novice went over and put them on. He looked around for a few minutes before cocking a brow. “Where’s the rest of the protective equipment?”
“We’re not using it,” Jess replied, steeling himself for the outraged reaction he’d no doubt be receiving.
“Why not? Are we sparring or do you have some other training exercise in mind?”
“We’ll be sparring.”
“But without the equipment, one of us could get hurt,” Rev protested, his voice pitched with confusion.
“Oh, we’ll both get hurt for sure.”
Rev’s mouth parted in shock. “Do you have some kind of sadistic streak or something?”
“No, I’m just realistic. We don’t have much time to get you into top fighting form. If it hurts when you make a mistake in training, then you’ll be more likely to learn not to make that error again.”
“Didn’t you ever hear of the whole wax-on-wax-off way of teaching? That seemed to work so well for Ralph Macchio.”
Jess restrained himself from throttling his Novice…barely. “How about we try being realistic here?”
“Hey, I am. That technique worked perfectly in Karate Kid. He won both the trophy and the girl in the end.”
It dawned on Jess that his job was going to be so much harder than he’d realized. He took a deep breath and slowly counted to ten. When that didn’t work, he kept counting. It wasn’t until he reached fifty that he was calm enough to talk again.
“This isn’t some movie. This is real life and if I send you out there unprepared, you’re going to die. Do you have any clue how dangerous the life of a Warden is?”
All the good humor fled Rev’s face as his eyes grew stormy with rage. “Yeah, the day some vampires crashed into my home and sucked my parents dry clued me into that fact. Just because I don’t go around with a dark cloud over my head like Ari, doesn’t mean I don’t realize how much this life sucks.”
The venom coming from Rev felt so strong, Jess almost took a step back. A wave of guilt hit him as he realized that he’d completely forgotten what had happened to Rev’s parents. Maybe Rev wasn’t the only one who had some learning to do as far as the new Guardian-Warden relationship went.
“I’m sorry. I forgot about what happened to your parents and how that must have affected you,” Jess said in a softer tone.
Rev blinked a few times, as if the last thing he’d expected was an apology.
“Does that mean we get to wear some protective gear then?” Rev ventured.
Jess gave off what he knew was a cold smile. “Hell, no. You still have a lot of work to do in order to be up to my standards and pain is the best motivator. Now let’s get to work.”