When HOMRA entered the club, the deafening noise level surprised them. People were packing in like sardines from corner to corner, all edging for a better view of the ring lit up in the middle of the room.
"Well, isn't this lively," Tatara hummed as a drunk couple stumbled sloppily past him, tongues shoved down each other's throats as they made their way to the bathroom on the wall to the left.
"You would say that," Izumo muttered, regarding his blond companion with distaste as he stepped to the side to avoid a beer thrown his direction.
"Oh stop being so cynical, it'll give you wrinkles."
Izumo rolled his eyes and cast a glance at his other best friend, but Mikoto just looked around the room in disinterest, the cigarette hanging loosely between his lips bobbing every few seconds as smoke rose from the smoldering tip. He glanced at the rest of his clansmen as they tried to digest the new scene to the best of their abilities. Yata in particular looked more anxious than any of the others.
"So you actually showed up?"
They all turned at the voice and saw the black haired boy smiling at them as he strolled over. His hands were shoved into the pockets of his dark jeans and his midnight blue eyes glinted in the light.
"Of course we did," Tatara smiled back, shaking hands with the one offered to him.
The boy shrugged, the smile never leaving his face, "Well it was getting so close to show time, I was starting to wonder."
"Show time?" Shouhei cocked his head, looking confused.
"Oh yeah, she always puts on a good show," he turned on his heel and started back the way he came.
"The name's Fujiwara Nagataka by the way. And, well, she'll be announced in a minute."
He waved to them as he left, eventually disappearing down a hallway guarded by a pair of security guards. He smiled at them and they nodded, stepping aside so he could get down the hall.
"Ladies and gentlemen! Who's ready for a show?"
The room roared, and over the bobbing heads the red clansmen were able to see a heavyset man with a receding hairline standing in the ring with a microphone.
"As always, we introduce the competitor first. Give it up for the uptown girl, Yoshida Azumi!"
The room cheered again as a girl with hot pink hair ducked up the ropes and into the ring, waving to the crowd. The tattoos on her arms blurred into two murky sleeves as she turned in a circle to wave to the entire arena.
"And now, the girl you all came to see. It's the one, the only, the undefeated, Ono Sora!"
The room erupted, shaking the very building with the sheer volume. From the hallway Nagataka had disappeared down before he reappeared, this time with a familiar dirty blond bob next to him. She was wearing loose black basketball shorts that hung low on her hips, showing off the cut v that went from her defined abs to below the waistband. She was wearing nothing but a black sports bra on top, and it brought to attention the strong line of her shoulders and her muscular arms.
"Fuck that's hot," Chitose cursed as her pinched his nose, eyes ravishing the girl's figure from across the room. Dewa elbowed him in the ribs, shooting a disapproving glare down at him, "Have some class will you?"
Sora stepped up, grabbing onto the rope and using it to pull herself up into the familiar ring. She glanced at the other woman out of the corner of her eye, gaging her physique. She'd heard of her before, strong but slow and clumsy with her feet. She never really fought on this side of town, so it was unusual to see her bright ponytail swishing around on the other side of her ring.
She turned when she felt a grip on her shoulder, letting Taka pull her in till their foreheads knocked together.
"So remember, be quick on your feet, don't let that right anywhere near ya'. Make her dance, she'll come to you and when you see an opening-"
Nagataka smirked at her voice, knowing it was somewhat contributed from the group of men that had decided to visit, a detail he had made sure to slip to her as they walked out, "Exactly."
He let go of the back of her head and she stepped back into the middle of the ring. She stopped in front of her opponent, touching gloves when told and stepping back after.
A loud ring sounded and the crowd cheered. Yata watched anxiously as the pinkette threw the first punch. Sora ducked to the side easily, circling her twice before throwing her first barrage of hits. With each punch she landed the taller girl became visibly less steady, and as she tried to keep up with the blond girl's fast steps, she found herself hopelessly behind. Sora ducked around each of her punches with an almost bored look on her face. Then, she would suddenly raise her gloves and lunge, knocking the larger girl around like it was a game.
Sora smirked. This girl was like an open book, make her move and she'll trip over her own feet. She let herself dip backwards as another punch was thrown before spotting an opening and bringing a left in. What she neglected to realize though was that she dropped her guard on her left as well, and she coughed as a heavy weight slammed into it. She flinched at the loud 'crack' she heard and brought her arm back to cover the broken rib. She didn't let it show how relieved she was when the bell sounded and she hurried back to her corner.
"My rib's broken."
She shared a look with Taka as she slumped down onto the small wooden stool. She spit out her mouth guard and took the water bottle he offered her gratefully.
"She knows you're hurt now and you'll be trying to cover your ribs more. You need to go in there and give her the impression that you have an opening on your left side again. When she swings that right, I want you to drop your elbows and break her fucking wrist. Got it?"
Sora nodded, holding back a cringe when the bell rang all too quickly. She put the mouth guard back in and walking into the center of the ring.
'Give her the impression your left side is open.'
She danced around her, bringing her arms up to cover her face more and leaving her ribs wide open. She saw a hopefully glint shine in the girl's eyes and it only took a handful of shots to get her to aim low again.
'Then bring your elbows down and break her fucking wrist!'
A pained scream echoed through the arena and the pink haired girl brought her wrist up to her chest. Even from where they were standing, the boys could see that the bone was sitting differently than it was supposed to. Sora's elbow had done its job, leaving her opponent's stronger arm useless.
"Well shit," Izumo muttered, running a hand through his hair. He knew that it had to be hurting the small blond to breath with that cracked rib but she seemed far to focused on winning to notice the pain. His eyes shot back to his clansman though when he saw a familiar black beanie disappear into the crowd.
Misaki ignored him as he continued to push through the crowd. He knew that this was her occupation, her life, but all he could see as he watched her take hit after hit was the little girl crying on the playground. The bell rang just as he got to the stage, and he waited till she sat down to called out,
Sora looked down and saw the guy from the bar starring up at her. She couldn't decipher the look in his eyes, and for some reason a warm feeling stirred in her stomach. She jumped when he spoke,
"Take her out in this next round."
She watched his eyes drift down to the bulge on her one rib and she covered it slightly with her forearm, "Alright."
Taka watched the two quietly, only making himself known when the bell rang and he pushed her in. As the next round started, he called down, "You knew her once didn't you?"
He nodded, eyes never leaving the two figures dancing around the ring, "Not surprised. She's a hard girl to forget. But I will tell you this; I guarantee that she's become a completely different person from whenever you last saw her. "
Yata looked back at the ring when a round of cheers erupted, and saw that Sora had gotten Yoshida up against the ropes and was beating into her ribs with a vengeance. The taller girl coughed roughly, and Sora stepped back just long enough to deliver a swift uppercut. The other girl flew back into the ground with a hard 'thump', and he could have sworn that the room had gone silent.
But then the referee started to count, and the room started chanting, and suddenly they were consumed by noise; the girl on the ground never moved a muscle. When the ref reached ten, he grabbed Sora's wrist, lifting it high in the air, "Winner!"
Sora threw her other hand up, whooping loudly as the crowd cheered. She felt the adrenalin pumping through her and goddamn it did it feel good. She saw the other girl's crew come out and picked up her limp body, but she felt no sympathy as she felt a wave of pain shoot threw her with each breath she took. As Sora sauntered back to her corner she saw Taka leaning against the post, grinning from ear to ear.
"I swear your right arm is a battering ram," he joked, reaching out a fist. Sora bumped her glove covered one against it and ducked under the rope. As she jumped down, she came nose to nose with the hazel haired boy. She felt her face grow hot and why the fuck was she blushing? Her only solace came from the equally awkward expression on his face.
"Nice job out there."
She starred at him blankly for a second before nodding, "Thanks."
Both looked up and saw the group who'd arrived with him walking towards them. The blond who had broken them up at the bar stepped forward and threw an arm around her shoulder friendlily, "That was fantastic! I would never want to be on the receiving end of your right!"
Sora fought back her discomfort at his closeness and forced herself to smirk, "My hook's worse than my uppercut. Stick around for my next fight and I'll make sure to use it."
"You have more than one fight tonight?" Izumo asked, shock clearly displayed on his face.
"Yup! Only girl I know who's good enough to be offered multiple fights a night!"
Nagataka wrapped his arm around her neck, pulling her back until she tripped into him. Tatara pulled back his arm and laughed. Suddenly a light bulb went off above his head and he shouted, "We never introduced ourselves!"
Sora and Taka listened as the friendly blond introduced himself as Totsuka Tatara before beginning to name each of the men with him. When he got to the hazel haired boy he cut him off and introduced himself, "Yata Misaki."
Tatara raised his eyebrow at Yata's interruption, the other coming up as well when he saw the odd, flustered expression on his clansman's face.
"Well it's very nice to meet all of you," Taka answered for both of them, although Sora did smile with him. It lit up her pale face, the sweat on her forehead making her face shine in an oddly flattering way.
"When's your second match?"
Sora cocked her head at the red headed man who hadn't spoken yet but was now regarding her lazily over his cigarette.
"Thirty minutes I think. Is that right?"
Taka nodded at her question, finally releasing her neck and she stood straight.
"Do you know what she's like?" Tatara asked interestedly.
Sora nodded, sticking her hand out in front of Nagataka, who rolled his eyes but began to unlace the glove anyway, "Yeah, I was looking at her stats when I was waiting for this match to begin. Pretty good, but no stamina. I'll make her chase me for a few rounds then take her down when she starts to get tired."
The detached way she talked about fighting made them all raise an eyebrow while Taka snorted loudly. She glared at him, knocking the glove he was still trying to unlace lightly against his chin.
"You're such a shit Fujiwara."
His eyes glinted as he finally pulled off the glove. She flexed her hand and stretched both her arms above her head. His eyes narrowed in concern though when she hissed and brought a hand to her busted rib.
"How bad is it?"
She looked at the bulge that had developed over the bone and shrugged, "I've had it busted worse."
He nodded, but the smile he gave the group did little to convince them he wasn't worried, "It was cool of you guys to come. I hope you're enjoying yourselves."
Sora looked at the hazel haired boy, who was looking at the ground, as they all chorused their approval of the match.
"You should come back to our bar after to celebrate," Chitose sidled up right next to her, a flirtatious tone in his voice. Sora just raised an eyebrow but Taka laughed before she could say anything, "That would be great!"
She rolled her eyes at her friend's antics and turned to regard the larger group, "Is that alright with you?"
Izumo felt impressed by her mature answer and nodded his approval of both her question and the girl herself. She gave another small smile before turning to the sound of her voice being called. They all looked to see the heavyset announcer waving her over.
"The boss beckons me," she sang casually as she gave a wave, trotted over to talk to the older man.
The match went exactly like she said. She spent the first six rounds making the girl chase her around, every punch the brunette threw hitting nothing but open air. Any hits she did manage to land were to the blonde's forearms, which protected her body and face from anything that came near her. When the seventh round started, it was as if a switch had been flipping. Sora attacked the tired girl with the ferocity of a lion. She reeled her arm back and delivered a monster right hook to the girl's face, and she flew back into the ropes. One more hook and the girl spit a spray of blood out over the crowd, sinking to the ground slowly.
When Sora came prancing over to them later, it was with a huge grin on her face. Her eyes were twinkling as she proclaimed, "It went exactly like I said it would."
They all laughed, and her smile turned a bit more sheepish as a pretty blush darkened her already naturally flushed face, "Well it's true!"
"We know Sora, we know" Taka laughed, moving to help her with her gloves. When they were off she began to unwrap the tape covering them, flexing the joints and prodding lightly for swelling.
"So are we ready to celebrate?" Tatara smiled good naturedly, and Sora couldn't help but smile back, "Hell yeah-"
"We are after we get your rib checked."
She stopped, blinking at him in confusion. He raised an eyebrow, pointing a finger at her broken rib, and her eyes looked at it blankly for a second before it seemed to click, "Oh fuck."
Everyone laughed again, and Izumo stepped up to give Nagataka the address to HOMRA bar and told him to come by after they went to the hospital. The group waved to the pair as they left, and the duo went to go retrieve their bags from the back and collect the money she'd won.
"Well all in all I'd say you did well tonight," Taka stated as they went to the collection desk. He leaned against the plastic worktop and regarded her amusedly.
"Oh well thanks," Sora snorted, smiling at the woman as she handed her a thick stack of bills, "Thanks Kayo-chan."
"Course Sora-chan! When will I see you again?"
"Yamaguchi-san said that I could fight again on Friday."
The greying woman looked down at the girl's ribcage worriedly, "Are you sure it's such a good idea to get back in the ring so soon?"
Sora forced herself not to hiss at the woman, plastering a friendly smile on instead, "Course!"
The woman didn't look convinced but nodded anyway and turned to help the next person in line.
"Damn bitch," Sora muttered as she stalked down the hallway. Taka laughed, running few steps to catch up with her, "I thought you like Kayo-chan?"
"Yeah, when she's not sticking her nose in my business."
Taka glanced quickly down at the fit girl's ribs, making sure to not show the concern he felt at the broken bone. It always upset her when people made a fuss over her injuries.
"Well let's hurry and get to the hospital before we head to HOMRA."
She whined as they went into the locker room, pouting as they grabbed their bags. She pulled out a towel and a set of clothes, stripping unabashedly in front of her best friend.
"Do I really have to go? The doctor's just gonna tell me to ice it and take it easy for a while."
She threw her sweaty cloths back into the duffel bag, reaching for the pink bra she had brought. As she hooked it she cringed at Taka's sharp tone, "Absolutely not. You need to get that looked at, ribs are a bitch to deal with."
She sighed, pulling a tight black t-shirt over her head. She grabbed her jeans off the bench, sighed as the old worn denim stretched comfortably around her thighs, buttoning the top after wiggling her hips a few times to get them up. She grabbed the old pull over sweatshirt last, humming as the soft grey cotton slipped over her head. She plopped down on the wooden bench to pull on her tattered black converse, peaking up at Taka who was counting her earnings across from her.
He grinned widely, "316,000 yen."
Sora's eyes widened, and she shot up, racing to his side, "Are you sure?"
He laughed in disbelief as he started counting the stack again, "Yeah I'm sure. Shit Sora you really made bank tonight. Have you ever made this much before?"
She shook her head slowly, starring in disbelief, "I don't think so. The only time I can think of making an amount close to that was the only other time Yamaguchi let me do two fights in one night." Her mouth hung open slightly as she tried to remember the exact amount, it had been significant but even then it had still been at least a few thousand yen less.
"I swear you just keep getting better," Taka raised him hand up and Sora slapped it excitedly. He handed her the bills, and she grabbed them. Walking back to the duffel, she stashed them in an inner zipper pocket.
They grabbed a cab outside the club, sitting in silence as they entered the better part of the city. They paid the driver as he stopped in front of the city hospital, and checked in at the front desk. They were immediately ushered into a room and told the doctor would be with them soon. Sora hopped up on the table, pulling her legs up to sit cross legged on the table while Nagataka deposited himself in one of the two plastic chairs along the wall.
"I still think this isn't necessary."
"Yo Watanabe-san," Sora grinned at the doctor cheerfully when the door opened while the grey haired man smiled back. He was more than familiar with the young woman, having treated her more than a few times after a match.
"What's the problem today?"
"Busted a rib I think."
He nodded, telling her to uncross her legs and sit straight. Sora did as she was told, pointing to the rib she had broken when he asked. He pushed around the area lightly, stepping back when she let out a quiet grunt of discomfort.
"Yup, it's definitely fractured. It'll take a few weeks to heal, but considering it's only Tuesday I can assume you'll be fighting again this week?"
"Yup yup, I'm scheduled for Friday!"
He sighed at her cheerful tone, shaking his head lightly as he turned to the quiet boy, "I'll prescribe some pain killers and see that she ices it a few hours a day. Also, make sure she practices taking deep breaths or coughing at least once every hour. There's a pneumonia risk if she doesn't."
"Got it doc," Taka smiled, and the doctor left the room to get the prescription before he sent them on their way.
"I told you that's what he'd say."
"I thought I told you to shut up?"
"Here we are!" Sora snapped her mouth shut as the doctor came back. Her handed her the pill bottle, told her to take two every three hours, and pushed them out the door, joking about having real clients to see to.
"Ah come on Watanabe-san you know you love me," she drew out the 'o' in love, making the medic roll his eyes at her and chuckle.
"I'll see you next time Ono-san."
They caught another cab, giving the driver the address and watching as they entered an unfamiliar part of the city. When they stopped, Sora hopped out, singing about getting 'drunk off her mother fucking ass' while Taka leaned back into the car through the front passenger window to pay the driver.
Izumo looked up when he heard a car stop out front, and saw a cab parked outside through the window. He glanced around, taking note that none of the others had noticed the car yet or the pair getting out of the back seat.
"Take that back!"
He glanced over and saw Chitose glaring at Yata. The shorter man was standing up, hands raised in front of his chest in mock innocence.
"Well it's true," he spun on his heel, eyes closed, turning towards the door, not aware of it opening, "so I don't see why I-"
His hands bumped into something soft, and his eyes opened in confusion. The confusion soon turned to horror though as he realized what he was touching.
"You know most guys buy me a drink before they go for second base."
Well not too much to say except I hope you liked it and please review!