Fang threw another punch that collided with Iggy's chin, and Iggy was thrown back off his feet. He landed on his back in the dirt, and Fang grinned.
"Had enough?" he asked, shaking his hand and staring at his friend. "Or do you really want more?"
Iggy smiled and sat up, rubbing his bruising chin ruefully.
"Always," he answered, and stood shakily.
Iggy and Fang had these fights daily. Sometimes more than once. Max and the rest thought it was stupid and childish, just two guys throwing fists. Fang enjoyed it; it let him throw off some steam. He always had all this pent-up energy. Growing up in the School, in which you're expected daily to perform exhausting and stimulating tasks is quite different from the relaxing and somewhat boring life up in the E-shaped house. And he expected Iggy felt the same way.
But no one, not even Fang, knew the real reason why Iggy asked for a fight every day. And Iggy would never tell them.
"You never do give up," Fang acknowledged, darting forward and bringing his leg up to swing towards Iggy's chest. Iggy brought his forearm up to block it, wincing slightly.
"Yeah, I'm stubborn like that," he replied, ever the witty and sarcastic retort at the tip of his tongue.
Backing up, stumbling slightly over the rough terrain, Iggy drew his own fist back and flung it forward in a heavy punch. Fang merely darted to the side and grabbed his wrist, using Iggy's own momentum against him, pulling and causing Iggy to fall to his knees.
That's right, Iggy thought. Hurt me. Hurt me more.
There was a moment in which Iggy stayed there, on his knees, knuckles grinding into the dust, teeth gritted, eyes shut tight. Fang paused as well, cocking his head at his friend, wondering whether he had finally given up. Iggy never won against Fang, not ever.
Usually, the way it went was this; they'd both start out strong, throwing punches, getting knocked off their feet. Fang would get a black eye, Iggy would get a bloody nose, etcetera. Then, Iggy would start to falter. He'd send a kick that Fang could easily dodge, send a punch that would obviously put him off balance. And then he'd not dodge Fang's own blows. By the end of the skirmish, Fang was barely scratched, while Iggy would be battered and bruised.
Fang, of course, assumed that it was all due to the fact that Iggy was blind. It was all due to the fact that he couldn't fight as well as Fang. So, Fang thought, why not humor him? Maybe he could learn a little something from an 'expert'.
The whole truth, though, was that if Iggy really wanted, he could kick Fang's butt in less than five minutes flat. Why didn't he try? Why did he purposely get beat up, day after day?
Iggy liked pain.
Iggy stood, swung around to face Fang, and laughed out loud.
"That was pretty good. I like that trick."
Fang grinned. "Yeah, keep it in mind. Use it in the future." He waited a moment, then advanced, sliding around and performing another expert kick.
Fang knew that Iggy had excellent hearing, so of course he thought that he'd notice the roundhouse kick heading right at his head. It's not like Fang made any extra precaution to be quiet about it.
Iggy did hear it, but he wanted more. More hurt. So he didn't try to dodge it.
Fang's foot collided, heel-first, into his right eye. The momentum continued, and there was a significant crack as the bridge of Iggy's nose snapped.
Iggy fell to the left, and his shoulder just happened to land sharply on a rock. He lay still.
Good God, he thought. This feels so good.
"Oh, gosh! Iggy, Iggy, I'm so sorry, man… you okay?" Fang asked, rushing to aid his friend. He bent and shook Iggy's shoulder, and Iggy winced.
"Unh…" Iggy groaned, struggling to push himself into a seated position. Fang aided him.
"Sorry, Iggy! I didn't mean to kick so hard… oh, your nose…"
Blood was gushing down Iggy's face from his broken nose, but he just reached his arm up and wiped it off on his sleeve. His eye was swollen shut already, black and purple. But he shakily stood and smiled crookedly.
"'S okay," he muttered. "We can keep going…"
But he swayed in place, and Fang quickly darted forward and put Iggy's arm over his shoulder, supporting him.
"You idiot," Fang chided him. "Look at you. You can barely stand. And we have to get your nose fixed up."
Iggy opened his mouth in protest.
"No, seriously, I'm fine…"
I want more pain!
"Shut up, Iggy, save your crap."
Fang sighed. Iggy was being dumb. But he was stubborn… he'd give him that.
It took him five minutes to drag Iggy up to the front steps. By that time, Max was already rushing out, sighing at Iggy's state, and helping Fang help Iggy inside.
"What the heck am I going to do with you guys?" Max asked, taking a wet washcloth and mopping up the blood from Iggy's chin, mouth and nose.
"I dunno. Lock us in separate rooms and not let us affiliate?" he suggested, a smirk playing at the edge of his mouth.
Why'd you make me stop? I like my pain.
"That was a rhetorical question, Iggy, and well you know it," Max replied, smiling wide. Then she frowned. "Gosh, your nose isn't going to stop bleeding. Let's just get it fixed. Okay, hold still…"
Max took Iggy's nose in her palm and in one deft movement snapped the broken bridge back into place. Iggy winced, but didn't make a sound.
That felt wonderful.
"Now, your eye can't be helped. Just don't… touch it. And here," she said, handing Iggy the washcloth. "Try to stop your nose from bleeding."
Iggy pulled a face and held the cloth to his nose, which was still gushing blood, though not nearly as much. Fang sat heavily on the couch beside him and threw his head back, moaning.
"Why the heck do you do that?" he asked.
"Do what?" Iggy inquired. He gingerly lifted his hand and touched his swollen eye.
"Get so beat up all the time. You can quit whenever you want, you know. It's not like you're proving anything, by getting beaten up."
I'm not trying to prove anything. I'm just trying to feel something.
"I'm not trying to prove anything," Iggy said. He sighed and pulled the cloth away from his face, trying to tell if his nose was still bleeding. It was.
"Well, then why do you do it? Ask me to fight every day? I mean… at first I thought it was for practice… but you're not getting any better…"
Fang stared at Iggy penetratingly.
It's so dark in here. It's so dark here all the time.
"Yeah? Your point?"
"I just figured, we've been sparring for a while now. You should've gotten better."
Do you think I like it in here? It's nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing above me, nothing beneath me, nothing around me.
"So? Maybe it's a little hard, being blind and all," Iggy said, a little harsher than he'd meant it to sound.
Fang shook his head.
"Iggy, I know you're stronger than that. That last kick? You could have dodged it."
I know I could have. But I like the pain. Without it… I'm nothing. I mean, if I can't see myself, how do I know if I'm even really here?
"I… I think I know why you've been doing so bad."
Iggy frowned and looked up at Fang, then once again checked his nose. The blood had stopped. He quickly wiped the rest from his face and put the rag to the side.
So you know? You know I'm doing this so that I know I exist? If that's true, you'll let me keep it up. I love the pain. I live for the hurt.
"You're doing it for me, aren't you?" Fang said.
Iggy was so surprised by his statement, he snapped his head over.
"You're doing it for me. I know you are probably just as good a fighter as I am. I don't know… maybe better. You're doing it so I don't feel embarrassed by being beaten by a blind guy, right?"
There was a long moment of silence as Iggy pondered Fang's drawn conclusion. Then he grinned and laughed softly.
"You found me out, huh?"
Fang laughed as well.
"Yeah. Iggy, you're a pretty bad actor. Anyway, you don't have to hold out on me anymore. Whoop my ass all you like." He grinned and held up a fist, even though Iggy couldn't see it. "Next time, I expect it to be me with the broken nose. 'Kay?"
Iggy smiled lightly.
Fang stretched and stood.
"Ah, I feel better getting all that out. Rest up, Iggs. Heal that eye. Heal that shoulder, too, it's got to be dinged up a little. We'll fight again whenever."
He walked out of the room.
Iggy sat there for a little while, then decided to check out his injuries. He prodded at his swollen eye and savored the aching pain. His nose still hurt, but not as much as he would have liked.
Then, he pulled up his sleeve to check out his shoulder.
It was actually a lot worse than Fang had thought. He had banged it quite a few times in the past without fixing up the wound.
His whole shoulder was an ugly black bruise, green, yellow, and light-ish-purple around the edges. At the softest touch, a burning pain flashed up and down his arm and torso, causing Iggy to sigh in relief. He was real. He was alive. He existed.
"Yeah, Fang. I did it so you wouldn't feel embarrassed for being beat up by a blind guy." Iggy smiled softly and shook his head, digging his fingernails into the horrible injury on his shoulder. He thought it must be fractured.
"At least I exist," he muttered quietly.
"Iggy!" Fang shouted from the kitchen. "Max wants you to make dinner!"
Iggy smiled brightly and stood, walking into the kitchen towards Fang's voice.
"Hey, Fang," he said. "Tomorrow, let's fight again."