Air rushed out of my lungs as I hit the ground hard. The ball slipped out of my grasp, snapped up by someone else. With a groan, I pushed myself back to my feet, wiping the mud from my eyes. I had no idea why I did this to myself. I've been playing rugby since I was five. Maybe it was about time to give it up. My legs and ribs definitely agreed with this notion. Rolling my neck to try and loosen the muscles, I glanced over at the next playing field. The girls' hockey team would be training now, and Angela with them. She'd been at the school for barely a month, and already on the team. The girls had been stagnating for a while, always managing to get third place in the county standings, but now they thought they were in with a chance for the regionals, possibly even the nationals. Scanning the field, I could see Angela with the ball, streaking down the field towards the goal, an expression of fierceness written on her face that I wouldn't have thought her capable of. Tearing my gaze away from her, I jogged over to where the rest of the rugby team was waiting for me.
I crossed her later, coming out of the changing rooms after practice. Her long hair hung down her back, freed from its usual plait. Swallowing hard and summoning up all the courage I could muster, I seized the chance I had been avoiding for the last month. Hurrying a little to catch up, I fell into step alongside her.
"Hey, Angela, I, uh, I'm Lucius..."
"No," she replied, hunching her shoulders a little, her grip on the strap of her bag tightening, glaring at me out of the corner of her eye. I felt the confusion of her vehnement rejection write itself on my face as I stammered another couple of syllables. "I'm not looking for a boyfriend or any manner of close relationship."
"I wasn't going to ask you on a date!" I burst out. Blood suffused my face as I realised that what I had said could be taken several ways. God, what kind of a moron must she take me for now? She turned her head to look at me with a critical and wary expression. This was the first time I had seen her face this close. She seemed to be flawless, smooth skin and delicate features. At a second glance, I could see that she had a contact lens in one eye, the edge of it just visible around her iris. A thin scar ran the length of one cheekbone. Her whole expression was carefully guarded, not letting a single thought escape without careful scrutiny.
"If you're looking for a one night stand..."
"I just want to be friends," I tried to assure her. I was pretty sure I was stammering like an idiot. "Nothing more, nothing physical, I swear! Just... you never hang out with anyone at lunch and you seem kinda lonely and, uh, I um, wanted to help..."
Angela's expression softened a little as she processed that information. Looking down at the floor, she rubbed the back of her neck. "Uh, I guess I owe you an apology for snapping at you. It's just..."
"Every guy you meet wants to get into your pants?"
A flash of a grimace passed over her face. "Yeah, pretty much."
"So, uh, friends?"
Had it not been for my male dignity, I would have skipped home.
We should probably have guessed about the existence of the MCs a long time ago. They were the ones who held the world together really. An earthquake was a geokenetic having an argument. A good harvest was the benediction from the fey. A volcanic eruption was a fire mage having a bad day. The majority of nurses were actually witches and MCs with healing powers trying to to their bit to keep the humans safe. Cultures from ages past weren't wrong when they thought that natural disasters and blessings were because of some higher power that they termed as deities. In a way, the MCs were gods. They watched over humans as they developed into the creatures we are now. Protected us, civilised us and taught us. When religion started to take hold of the world, they realised they had done all they could and bowed out, hiding themselves away, but they still watched over us, kept us safe. They would have kept themselves hidden if it hadn't been for that reporter. Now everything they do, either the government takes credit for or they blame it on terrorists. But despite everything, the MCs haven't fought back. They haven't tried to destroy us. In their place, I would have obliterated humanity for the injustices they'd laid at the feet of the MCs. A lot of them lost close to everything. With explorers, deforestation and ID cards, they were coming closer and closer to the inevitable: extinction. I guess the world isn't ready for them yet.