“Sid, hey!” Charlotte recovered quickly much to Camille’s relief.

Her cheeks felt painfully hot from her blush but Sid was more focused on Charlotte giving Camille time to calm down before those golden eyes were on her. Up close she could see they weren’t just a simple orange colour like pools of fire. There were flecks of gold and thin shards of black that sliced through the fiery colours. Unlike with humans where the sclera was a bluey white, Sid’s were black making the irises appear as if they were hunter’s moons against the inky darkness of the night sky. Oddly the contrast against the soft hue of Sid’s skin wasn’t jarring but rather complimented the exotic shape of his features. 

“Charlotte. Emma.” Sid smirked, a flash of pearly white fang peeking past lips that should only be reserved for gods “What a pleasant surprise.” 

“Yeah, Emma told me you two have already met.” Charlotte replied, shooting Camille a look. 

Camille grimaced in apology. She had completely forgotten to tell Charlotte about the change of name. Well, now she knew… 

“Yeah, Kal introduced us.” Sid replied. “I didn’t expect to see you so soon though.” 

“Oh this is our first time in the class.” Camille shifted awkwardly. 

“We used to do Jujutsu as kids so why not pick it up again?” Charlotte cut in, glancing at Camille. “Ca-I mean Emma was better than me for sure.” 

“Oh well, fancy giving me a demo of your skills?” Sid asked. “You versus me?” 

“I don’t know.” Camille practically squeaked out. “I’m pretty rusty…” 

“Don’t worry, I’ll go easy on you this time.” Sid chuckled. “C’mon it’ll be fun.” 

“Yeah *Emma,* show him how it’s done.” Charlotte grinned. 

She was not letting this one go was she? 

Camille sighed in resignation and gave a short nod. She didn’t need to look to know that the rest of the class was now eyeing them. Some of Sid’s fans were glaring daggers but thankfully most of the class were only casting curious glances their way while trying to carry on practising. At Camille’s agreement, Sid grinned and moved to one side of the mat, while Camille focused on soothing the queasy feeling in her stomach. It had been years since she had taken any classes and Nathan had beaten any bravery out of Camille. The first time she tried to defend herself Nathan had beaten her so badly she hadn’t been able to get out of bed for a week. He had broken her fingers and ankle. Her eye socket had been fractured and the belt marks on her back and torso had become infected because he refused to let anyone treat them until Camilly had developed a fever.

At 5ft 6”, Camille was by no means short and she hadn’t been blessed with a full figure even before Nathan had practically starved her so she was a certain size and weight that fulfilled his preferences. But Sid had to be at least a foot taller than her, not to mention packed with muscle. Draygonians were known for their superior strength, agility and speed so as Camille saw it, she had no hope. She hoped he would let her off once he beat her once. 

However after two rounds of Camille losing, Sid showed no signs of giving up. He hadn’t taken her town as quickly as either of them expected but his size was his main strength. Camille was convinced she couldn’t do anything to him.

“You’re holding back.” Sid said suddenly when Camille had found herself on the mat once more. 

“I’m not.” She replied quietly and forced herself to her knees, chest heaving for breath. 

“You are.” Sid countered. “You’re not pulling your full weight into your moves and it’s obvious you can be faster. That’s your strength here, your speed. You’re smaller than me so you can move quicker.” 

“I told you I’m rusty.” Camille huffed and looked at Charlotte who made no move to stop the torture. 

“Pfft, I’ve seen first-timers with more enthusiasm than you. It’s like you want to lose.” The soldier frowned, white eyebrows knotting in the middle. “You didn’t strike me as someone who was okay with losing.” 

Camille felt rage flare up inside of her, white hot and squeezing her lungs as if trying to force a scream of anger past her lips. The urge to lash out had never been so strong and now she felt herself wanting to punch the smug bastard in his pretty boy face. By now everyone had stopped what they were doing and were now watching as the meak blonde took on the tough alien. Camille knew they were all hoping for Sid to beat her yet again or at least, that's how it felt as every pair of eyes watched closely for what would happen next.

“Go again.” Sid demanded, resembling a predator pacing his cage. The cheeky shine in his eyes was gone and now he looked like a true warrior, muscles flexing in his arms and shoulders. 

Camille took a deep breath and forced herself to her feet. Okay, she’d go again and this time she would show him what she had. Sky blue eyes hardened with determination and she gave a nod in agreement, settling herself into a new pose ready to attack.

Sid barely gave her time to prepare before he was launching his attack looking to sweep her feet out from under her. This time Camille didn't let him, she leapt out of the way, ducking under the giant arm looking to knock her down. Sid’s own momentum had him flying forwards a few paces but Camille grabbed his arm in time, looking to tumble him to the ground with a roll. The male cottoned on, trying to lock his own legs around Camille’s to trip her up, his free hand grabbing her by the back of the neck. Camille had anticipated it though, she had wanted him to grab her. Grabbing his arm by the wrist, the blonde forced his hand backwards at the joint, rolling his elbow and shoulder over Sid’s arm and applying pressure onto his elbow joint, forcing him forward. She heard the soft grunt of surprise from the alien before she pushed him backwards sending Sid sprawling to the floor.

A stunned silence swept over the studio. Everyone except Charlotte was staring with wide eyes or open mouths. Everyone had been convinced Sid would win again but the man was now on his back with Camille standing over him, her blue eyes flashing with triumph.

“Well, it seems I was right about you.” Sid smirked, forcing himself to his feet. “You do have a fire in your belly.”

Camille was suddenly grateful her cheeks were already a little pink from the exertion because she felt them burn with a blush. If Sid remarket was meant to compliment her then it failed. Camille felt the annoyance and rush of embarrassment. She felt like she had been made a fool of and called out. She hadn’t wanted to go against Sid in the first place. She had just wanted to do the class without anyone paying her any attention and then go home but it seemed both Charlotte and this damn sexy looking instructor had decided to prove her wrong and publicly as well. 

“Okay ladies, that’s it for today. Thanks for taking the time to attend and I will no doubt see you around.” Sid announced earning him a few disappointed groans from his admirers. 

“I knew you could do it!” Charlotte bounced over to Camille. “You looked so awesome doing it.” 

“Yeah well you’re going to have to find someone else to come with you next time.” Camille snapped, shoving her water bottle into her duffel bag roughly. 

“What? Why?” Charlotte asked. 

“Because I’m not coming back here.” Camille replied roughly. 


“Don’t *Mills* me.” Camille glared at Charlotte. “What were you trying to prove? That if I could take on Sid then I could have handled Nathan? Huh? That it was my fault he did what he did because I was too lazy or too scared to fight back? I fought back. Every. Fucking. Time. I fought back.” 

The heat of her tears burned her eyes, her heart thundering with all the rage coursing through her veins. She saw Charlotte’s embarrassment, she saw the instant regret in her best friend’s eyes but she was far too riled up. She needed to get away from here, it was starting to feel too closed in and stuffy. 

“I need to get some air.” Camille muttered as she grabbed her things. “I’ll see you back at the apartment.” 

She ignored her friend’s pleas for her to wait as she all but ran out of the door.

Sid couldn’t believe his luck. He had been trying to put thoughts of Emma out of his head especially as he had a lot of work to do following reports of activity on the channels used by the terrorists. For the most part it had worked as well but then he had walked into the self-defence class and there she was. Emma. She stood talking to another girl that Sid recognised immediately as Charlotte. They had hung out a few times at the watering hole and regularly chatted but nothing more. He got the impression he wasn’t Charlotte’s type and besides, he didn’t want to ruin a good friendship with a one night stand. Kal would slaughter him if he knew anyway. 

However, this revelation certainly worked in Sid’s favour. He knew Charlotte well enough to strike up a conversation without it being weird and with Emma being her friend it would be easier to get closer to her. 

However, his luck was short-lived. He had hoped to catch Emma after the class was done to talk but as the studio emptied, Emma suddenly stormed out, Charlotte calling after her. The pink haired girl looked devastated, guilt brimming in her eyes. 

“Hey, everything okay?” Sid asked, frowning in concern. 

“Yeah…” Charlotte mumbled before shaking her head. “Actually no it isn’t. Emma is upset with me. She thinks I made her spar with you to embarrass her.” 

“Embarrass her?” 

“Yeah.” Charlotte sighed, sinking onto the small bench where everyone usually dumped their stuff but was actually meant to form part of a circuit for drills. “Can I tell you something? You have to swear on your mother’s life that you won’t mention a word to anyone, especially Emma.”

“Swear on my Nona’s life? What kind of strange earth ritual is that?” Sid shook his head. “Nevermind. I swear not to speak a word to anyone.”

Charlotte shook her head. Of course a Draygonian wouldn’t get the reference. “Okay, so Emma didn’t move here just for a fresh start. She moved here to hide from her ex. He…he was pretty awful to her and really did a number of her self confidence and soul. I wasn’t lying when I said we used to do jujutsu together. We both grew up in foster. I was put into the system when I was five and Emma was eleven. She had lived with her aunt until her aunt passed away. Jujutsu was just a way for us to have fun. Anyway when we turned eighteen she met this guy called Nathan. He was nice to start with but after I left Colorado he turned into a monster. I don’t know everything he did to her but I know it was enough that when we started talking again I could tell she had changed. When I saw the classes being advertised I just remembered how happy we had been when we were kids and I wanted her to have that again. She was so good and I knew she was still good. I thought maybe if she beat you then she might get some of her confidence back but I didn’t realise…I didn’t realise how broken she is right now.” 

Sid had listened quietly, seemingly calm despite the fact anger was filling him. He didn’t need Charlotte to elaborate. He had heard about humans abusing their partners. He couldn’t wrap his head around the concept that a male would hurt his female that the goddesses had blessed him with. In fact it was such a taboo act on Draygon that a male could lose his ranking in the tribe or be exiled completely. But to learn someone had hurt *his* female made him want to hunt the fucker down and tear him limb from limb. 

“It’s okay.” Sid finally spoke when he felt he could trust his voice not to give away his true feelings. “Your secret is safe with me.” 

“Thanks.” Charlotte sighed in relief. “Now I just have to convince her to come back to the class.” 

“Hm, maybe this isn’t the class for her.” Sid countered with a shrug. “She has a fighting spirit, she just needs to find it again. Maybe she would prefer a different challenge, say for example, Krai-Na?”

“I don’t know, Sid.” Charlotte shifted uncomfortably. “Emma was pretty fucking pissed.” 

“Look, it’s something new and the classes are small. In fact we have maybe two females in the class.” Sid explained. “She might be more open to it because it’s not something she’s done before so she doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone.” 

Charlotte didn’t respond right away, her dark eyebrows pinching together in thought. Sid knew it was a long shot but he needed a way to get close to Emma again. 

“Alright.” Charlotte finally nodded. “I’ll try and convince her.” 

“Great.” Sid couldn’t stop the grin that split his face. “I’ll message you the details.” 

“Thanks.” Charlotte smiled. “And thanks for listening.” 

“Anytime.” Sid replied, doing a silent cheer in his head at the thought of getting to see Emma again. 

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