The WTP Club
One evening - more than two weeks had passed since Sikh's tryout - Glenn reminded Va of her promise to go work out with him. He hoped to finally get some honest answers from Va about herself and her past. If there really was an exclusive group of sex offenders in Landini's clan, Sikh would probably be invited to join them soon. Glenn wanted to know what they were getting themselves into and what they could expect to face. He craved to figure out what exactly Keiichi had done to Va.
"That's right, we were planning to do that", Va confirmed Glenn's reminder "Why don’t we just go now?"
Glenn was surprised by Va's spontaneity but had no objection.
"Why don't we all train together?" Wark asked, not quite understanding that Glenn just wanted to talk to Va alone.
Sousui intervened "You've seen that Va and Glenn are at a higher fitness level. They will probably have a desire to train harder than they can do with us." Then he winked at Glenn and said "We'll hold down the fort here. Have fun, you two!"
Va and Glenn walked out of the forest accompanied by the glow of the moon. From there, they had to follow down the road for about 20 minutes to get to the training park. Glenn noticed that, apart from the brief encounter at school where he had chased Keiichi away, he had never talked to Va all by himself before. In a way indescribable to him, this suddenly made him quite nervous, and it was difficult to open a conversation with Va.
Fortunately, Va relieved him of this task. "Do you know that you are an admirable person? You always work so hard on yourself; I think that's really remarkable."
"Well", Glenn stammered, feeling a little uncomfortable with the compliment "You're supposed to make the best of your life, no?"
"You're right about that", Va laughed and continued "I took the time to watch a couple videos of your great role model PlatinumOne some days ago. He preaches something similar."
"And what is your opinion on him?"
"He is kind of a weirdo", Va said plumply, destroying Glenn's hopes of getting her interested in him.
"Well, he's talking about tasks we'd have to perform in life. But he doesn’t explain why we should perform them in the first place.”
"Well… They're nature-given tasks that he's just reminding us of."
"But then, shouldn't it be our real task to question these 'nature-given' tasks instead of thoughtlessly fulfilling them?"
"As long as we are human beings, we are part of the nature and are subject to nature-given drives and needs. 'Questioning' probably leads nowhere."
"I see", Va replied, pondering for a few seconds before continuing "But reducing people to their natural drives and needs generalizes them so much. I don't like seeing the world that way. I don’t think you can ascribe fixed roles to living beings based only on their genetics and tell them that they would only become happy in life if they fulfilled those roles."
"It helped me", Glenn objected "It helped me become the person I am today!"
Va pondered again for a while. Then she said "Well, if PlatinumOne inspired you to become the person you are today, I like him, even if he is a weirdo!"
Then she jumped in front of Glenn and looked deep into his eyes.
Glenn blushed. How had he not noticed Va's beautiful sparkling eyes from the beginning on?
"Enough deeptalk, Glenn. Time for a race!" Va shouted "First one to the training park wins!"
Then she zoomed off, leaving the completely caught off guard Glenn behind.
"Hey, wait, that's not fair!" he shouted after her and started moving.
"Are you looking for excuses for your upcoming defeat?" Va shouted back mockingly and speeded up even more.
Glenn wanted to retort something, but Va had probably already moved out of his earshot. So instead he concentrated on catching up with Va.
Guided by the streetlights, Va ran with never-ending stamina along the sidewalk, passing parked cars and surprised people. Glenn soon realized that Va's starting advantage was unlikely to affect the outcome. While he was already starting to wheeze halfway, Va still seemed to be in full possession of her energy. She really was impressively endurant. Still, giving up was no option for Glenn, who had already internalized the fighter's mentality that PlatinumOne had taught him.
Glenn arrived at the park around a half-minute later than Va.
"I need something to drink", he groaned, heading straight for a water fountain.
"Too bad we didn't bet on anything", Va fretted as Glenn stripped off his sweaty jacket.
Va kept all her clothes on, although she must have been sweating a lot too.
Glenn eyed her. It seemed strange to him that a girl, despite her obviously well-trained body, always walked around with all-covering clothes. He wondered if this was a result of Va's experiences with Keiichi and felt his protective instinct rise up in him again.
"Are you ready", Va asked, heading for the training equipment "Let's see what you've got. Impress me!"
Glenn presented Va his latest fitness accomplishment, a so-called human flag, in which the athlete holds onto two superimposed bars with both hands, then moves the rest of his body into the air and holds it horizontally to the ground.
Va clapped enthusiastically. Then she began to perform an exercise too.
Glenn's nervousness had subsided by now, the ice seemed to be broken between the two of them, and he believed that the right moment had come to ask Va all the things that were on his mind.
"Why exactly are you so hell-bent on crossing Keiichi's plans?", Glenn wanted to know once Va finished her exercise.
"His plans are terrible, aren't they? You can't just stand by and do nothing", Va replied with a surprised look on her face.
Glenn realized that Va wasn't going to let go of her narrative anytime soon and decided to play along for now. "But you're getting so caught up in it", he continued "It almost seems like your only mission in life is to stop Keiichi."
Va suddenly seemed a bit emotional. She turned her attention back to the training equipment and performed another exercise. When she finished, she said "Is it bad to dedicate your life to a cause? It's better than going through life without a purpose, no?" She wiped over her forehead and took a deep breath.
"I guess so", Glenn admited "But then what are you going to do once Keiichi is stopped? Don't you think you might feel a little empty then?"
"I try not to plan that far into the future", Va replied promptly.
Glenn went back to doing some exercises himself. For his shoulder muscles, he performed 15 repetitions of dips.
Afterwards, Glenn asked "How are things going in Bane's WTP Club by the way?"
"You have to put WTP under quotation marks", Va corrected him sternly.
Glenn sighed, repeated his question, and this time indicated quotation marks with his fingers as he pronounced WTP.
"It's honestly pretty radical there", Va explained "Bane plans to storm Keiichi's house with axes, search his PC for evidence of his plans, and kill everyone who gets in his way if necessary."
Glenn looked horrified.
"Stupid Bane!", Va fretted "He's clearly underestimating Keiichi way too much. Like this plan is ever going to work out..."
"Va", Glenn said after a brief pause "I honestly feel very uncomfortable seeing you dealing with this psychopath. I'm afraid for you."
Va smiled. "That's sweet of you, but you can see how strong I am. You don't have to worry about me." As proof, Va directly demonstrated another exercise to him.
Glenn, however, was not convinced. No muscular strength in the world would stand up to axes and knives. But unfortunately, he could not forbid Va to attend the meetings of Bane's club, so he could only hope that Bane would also find it "boring" to kill Va. After all, that was his explanation for not cutting Glenn's throat back at the river.
Glenn turned his attention to an exercise again. Following up, he asked "Any news on Smoke?"
Va shook her head. "He's been acting inconspicuous and is participating in every training session."
"Well, we have to learn how to use the axes before we storm the house. That's what we run training sessions for."
Glenn felt himself getting sick. It would be easy for both, Bane and Smoke, to suddenly hit Va in the head with the axe and make it look like an accident. He tried to drown his rising negative emotions with another exercise, exhausting himself completely.
Va noticed Glenn's concern and reassured him again "Glenn, I promise you, nothing will happen to me, ok?"
Glenn nodded and tried to regain his composure.
The two finished their exercises. Afterwards, they gave each other a high five and sank down on a park bench, tired and with aching muscles. For several minutes they remained quietly, just watching the cars pass by at the other end of the park.
Then Va pensively took the floor "Tell me Glenn, isn't it funny how we all move forward in life, fighting for something that we know will one day disappear?"
Glenn didn't understand what she was referring to or what she was getting at.
Va continued "Imagine you invest months into training for a competition. Then you win that competition and get a medal. And then one day you die and no matter where you go after, that medal won't come with you. We're all fighting for things that we know will disappear in our perception at some point. And I sometimes wonder where we even get that motivation from."
Glenn didn't know an answer to that. "Why do you worry about such things?", he asked.
Va was silent; she had completely lost her gaze in the bright colors of the traffic.
Then all of a sudden, she jumped up. "Never mind, forget what I just said! I think it’s about time to get home.”
Glenn nodded. "Which way do you have to go?"
Va thought for a moment and then asked, without having answered his question first "Which way do YOU have to go?"
Somewhat irritated, Glenn pointed to the east exit of the park.
"I'm afraid I have to go in the opposite direction", Va now replied and wished Glenn a good night.
Glenn was puzzled. Did Va not want to walk with him? He felt as if the conversation had only added to the mysteries surrounding Va, when in fact he had been longing for answers.
"Wait!" Glenn shouted before Va could leave the park.
She turned around. "Hmm?"
Glenn came running after her. "Answer me one more question before you go!" he said with a serious look on his face "What's with the dices?"
Va laughed. Then she answered "That’s my style", trying to sound as cool as possible. She tossed her light blonde hair over her shoulders and said good night a second time.
Glenn gazed after her as she disappeared into the traffic lights. At least he had managed to clear up one question.
"When looking for a partner, it is important not to be guided by sexual desires only. As an alpha male you must always be aware of your own superiority over your competitors and, consequently, your wide range of potential partners."
PlatinumOne turned to the side and contracted his triceps.
"You are expected to live up to that privileged position. However, many men take advantage of it to simply sleep with as many women as possible. They give in to the sweet temptation of pleasure and quick gratification, completely overlooking the one woman who is truly worthy of receiving all their love and attention. To you, my glorious viewers, I can only advise not to make this mistake. Work on yourself until you radiate such a masculine aura that you could get all the women in the world, but afterwards choose only one that really impresses you and focus exclusively on her!"
PlatinumOne showed off a few more poses before ending the video with the words "Stay glorious my allies!"
Glenn sank down on his bed and sucked on his protein shake. One thing had become clear to him after the workout: He had fallen in love with Va. He hadn't known this feeling at all up to that point. He had been out with many girls and had liked all of them. But a fascination as Va had awakened in him, he had never felt before. Her angelic eyes popped into his head again. All he wished for was to be with her at that moment.
PlatinumOne's advice did little to help him. He now knew that he had to give up all the other girls and concentrate on Va only. The next moment, however, he realized that he had only been out with Emily since the beginning of the semester anyway and had even broken off this date. He had, in that sense, given Va all his attention.
But did Va even feel the same way about him? She liked him for sure, but she didn't seem to be in love with him. Was he, despite all the girls who fancied him at school, perhaps nowhere near the stage of his alpha transformation where he could get together with every girl he wanted? Or... Glenn paused, remembering the conversation he'd had with Va about PlatinumOne. Was it perhaps because Va had worked on getting rid of her natural urges and therefore no longer automatically fell in love with a man just because he represented the ideal partner from the point of natural selection? He watched his ceiling fan as it made rounds.
"If only I could see inside her head", Glenn muttered.
Suddenly, his phone rang. The display showed that the call was from Va. Glenn heard his heart pounding faster. Did Va perhaps have feelings for him after all and was about to tell him? He stared at the display and tried to calm his pulse. Then he picked up the phone.
"Glenn? I hope I didn't wake you up. I need your help. Do you have a minute?"