Chapter 18: Is This Good-bye?
Another month went by, and with the help of Lea' friends, Lea's training was giving good results. On top of that, Lea had been training her tail to the point that many of the members started calling it extreme. Lea didn't mind and kept going with her training. If they knew the kind of boxer Lea was going up against, they would have understood the necessity. Alonso had been keeping up with her training, but also reminded her to do her job, which was to maintain the place and equipment. Of course, Alonso didn't want to overwork her, so he helped her when it was necessary. The next day was just like any other day. Lea was working out, while Alonso was supervising everyone. While doing so, Alonso remembered that he hadn't given Lea any days off. Alonso forgot about it because of the tournament and Payton. Once Alonso remembered about it, he headed straight to Lea, who was working her tail with some weights.
"Oye, chica." Called Alonso.
"Yes, coach?" Answered Lea.
"I just came to tell you that tomorrow is going to be your day off."
"Oh, okay. Thanks, coach." Lea answered like it was nothing.
"Wait, that's it? I haven't given you a single day off in this month."
"Really? I haven't notice. I was so focused on my training that I forgot about it." Alonso chuckled after hearing that.
"Same here, but is not good to always work. Take the next day off."
"Okay." After Lea said that, Alonso left her, but he was wondering about something. "I wonder if you're training to be ready, or because you're nervous. Don't lose hope, chica, and don't let fear consume you, we all believe in you." Alonso couldn't blame her, he was just as nervous as Lea was, but he stood by his decision. It might help her calm down if she distracted herself. Unfortunately, Alonso was wrong on his assumption. Lea wasn't scared of just Payton, she was also scared of trying to use the new addition to her technique, Spear Strike.
"I have to keep training, I have to keep training, or the attack won't be ready. I have to make sure that I can resist the force. My tail needs to be strong enough to stop my entire body. If I don't reach that point, I put my entire boxing career on the line, but if I don't win this, Julie might lose her house." After Lea thought about that, she started to wonder if Julie was in any trouble. Of all of the times that Lea had seen Julie, she always looked to be fine, and she always said that she was okay. That knowledge made Lea wonder if she needed to train so hard. "Maybe, I can afford to lose this fight, she always says that she's okay, and the kids haven't said anything, so it might be okay." Lea didn't realize that she was letting fear and doubt get to her head, which clouded her judgment. Once Lea let those thoughts into her head, she decided to rest more often. After that, the day went as normal and Lea went to sleep, still telling to herself that she didn't need to work so hard.
Just as Alonso said, the next day was given to Lea and she decided to spend her time in her apartment. All of that changed when she heard a knock on her door, and Lea answered. It turned out to be Alonso.
"Morning, coach, what can I do for you?" asked Lea.
"Your friend is on the phone," answered Alonso with a straight face.
"Friend? You mean Julie?"
"The same, and to be honest, you should get a phone of your own. I'm not exactly your secretary." Alonso sounded a little annoyed about it. He didn't know why Lea never got herself a cellphone. In his opinion, every young person tended to have one.
"S-sorry, coach, I'll try to get one soon."
"Glad to hear that. Now go and speak with her." Alonso started to descend the stairs after saying that.
"Okay." Lea followed him all the way to the end of the stairs and headed to the office. Once inside, Lea found the phone lying on the desk and picked it up. "Hello?"
"Hey, Lea!" Greeted Julie with the usual cheerfulness that Lea knew very well.
"Hello, how have you been?" Lea was always happy to hear Julie.
"I've been very well. What about you?"
"You know, busy here, but I have been given the day off."
"Did you planned anything for today?"
"Well, I was just going to stay in my apartment, but I don't mind going out."
"Great! Want to spend the day with me? I have nothing to do right now, and I was hoping to get out of the house."
"Okay, do you have somewhere in mind?"
"Well, I was just thinking of going to the park again, the one that we went before. You don't mind going there again?"
"Oh no, don't worry about it, that park was a nice place."
"Then it's settled, I'll pick you up in half an hour, I need to get ready."
"No problem, I'll get ready too."
"Sounds good, see you later then."
"Later." After that, they both hanged up the phone. After the phone call was done, Lea headed to her apartment and tried to figure out what to put on. They were going to a park, which might involve a lot of talking and walking, or sliding in Lea's case. Lea decided to go as usual, which was her t-shirt, a hoodie, and cargo pants. After that, Lea simply waited by watching a little bit of TV, but she didn't have any favorite TV show, so she was just surfing the channels. When there was something interesting, she would watch it until it was over. Once it was over, she would just go back to surfing the channels. Lea saw the clock on top of the TV's furniture and saw that half an hour had passed. Lea quickly turned the TV off, slid out of her apartment, and headed outside. Just as Lea thought, Julie was already waiting in her car, which was parked in front of the gym. Lea headed to the co-pilot's side, opened the door, and got in the car.
"Hey, Julie, did I keep you waiting?" asked Lea with a smile.
"I just arrived. Now, let's go to the park!" Said Julie with a smile, accompanied with her never ending cheerfulness, which was what Lea liked about Julie. After Julie said that, she drove off from the gym, and headed to their destination. When Julie had to stop at a red light, she turned her head towards Lea and took a good look at her. Julie noticed that Lea's muscles seem to have gotten stronger since the last time that they met.
"Why is it that every single time we meet you seem to get more muscular?" asked Julie in a playful tone, but the question was serious.
"Well, it's like an extra bonus for working at the gym. They pay me, and let me use their gym to work out," answered Lea.
"That's actually nice of them. You must like working out, or you wouldn't have those muscles."
"Well, you know, staying healthy and all that other stuff." Lea rubbed her head, not wanting to reveal why she was training so much. "By the way, how are the kids?" Lea wanted to change the subject as quick as possible.
"Oh, they uh…they're great, always asking about you. For example, 'when are you coming back? Are you okay?' Stuff like that. Hey, are you hungry? I haven't eating breakfast yet."
"Really? Are you okay?"
"Yeah yeah, I just worked very late last night and I woke up late today."
"Oh, in that case, yeah. I actually over slept too, so I haven't eaten breakfast."
"Then let's go and get something to eat." With that decided, they make a detour to get breakfast at a restaurant. Once they arrive at the restaurant, they were seated by a waitress, and they ordered their drinks. Then, the waitress left to get their drinks.
"So, how is everything going at your place? Must be going good as always, right?" asked Lea in hopes to hear the response that she always heard, but something was different that time.
"Y-yeah, everything is okay…just okay," answered Julie. The answer lacked the usual cheerfulness that Julie always had, which was strange for Lea. Before Lea could ask about it, they were given their drinks, which was coffee for Julie, and water for Lea. Then, the waitress asked for their orders. Julie ordered an omelette, and Lea ordered a salad with a turkey sandwich. Once the waitress left with their orders, Lea was about to ask about Julie's behavior, but Julie beat Lea to the question. "That's unusual for you. You tend to order something bigger than that. Are you starting a diet or something?"
"Something like that, those other times where my free days to eat what I wanted. This time, I have to eat healthy and stay fit."
"Lucky for me, I'm always in shape, so I can eat as much as I want," said Julie with playful pride in her voice, which caused Lea to snicker slightly.
"I can imagine that." Responded Lea with a smile.
"I swear, sometimes I feel like I could eat a horse, but I'm a lady, and ladies eat with manners." Julie changed her voice, which made her sound like a noblewoman.
"Hey, I'm a lady too, you know?" Said Lea in a playful manner. After Julie heard that, she started to imagine Lea with dresses. Unfortunately, Lea's muscles turned the image into something that left Julie horrified. Lea noticed the face that Julie was making. "H-hey, I was just joking, I don't even like dresses." After Lea said that, Julie let her breath escape her. "You must have quiet the imagination, but I do think that suits would look better on me." After Lea said that, Julie started to imagine Lea in a suit.
"I agree. That would look better on you." With that conversation over, Lea took the opportunity to ask what was on her mind.
"Hey, Julie, is everything-" Unfortunately, they were interrupted by the waitress with their food. She put the plates on their table and left.
"Great, I'm so hungry," said Julie with a happy smile on her face, and started to eat.
"Me too." Lea also started to eat.
"Are you sure that's enough? Want me to give you some of my food?" Julie sounded worried because she didn't believe that it would be enough for Lea, even though it looked like it was enough for a normal human.
"Yeah, don't worry about it, let's eat." Lea tried to assure Julie with a smile, which worked, and both of them continued to eat. While eating, Lea was pondering about Julie's desire to avoid questions involving the kids and the house. Lea attempted to ask Julie about the kids and the house. Unfortunately, in some way or another, Julie would either change the subject or find some excuse to stop the question. For example, asking for some condiment, or calling the waiters for something, even though she didn't need it at all. Lea decided to stop her attempts to ask questions until they were out of the restaurant and reach the park. Lea believed that Julie won't have any way to avoid Lea's questions because there was nothing in there except for trees and grass. Even though Julie was avoiding Lea's questions, that didn't stop her from starting small conversation with Lea. However, it was an attempt to simply stop Lea from asking questions, or to make her forget all about it. Either way, it worked because Lea made conversation with Julie all the way to the end of their breakfast. When they were done, Julie paid for the breakfast, they left the restaurant, got on Julie's car, and went to the park. The park wasn't that far from the restaurant, which made the drive there short. Again, Lea tried to ask her question regarding the house and the kids, but Julie was fast on avoiding it, which made her suspicious.
After arriving at the park, they get out of the car, and go into the park. They simply take a walk in the park, enjoying the view and the company of one another, except for Lea. She knew that Julie was hiding something and Lea willing to find out what it was. Before asking about it, Lea looked around, trying to see if there was anything that could be used to change the subject. The only thing of interest was the trees and the grass, but there were some people around the park too. Fortunately, they were too far from them to be used, which made it the perfect opportunity to question Julie.
"Hey, Julie-" Lea was about to ask, but she was interrupted by Julie.
"Is something wrong?" Quickly asked Julie, which caught Lea by surprise.
"Huh? What makes you ask that?"
"You were looking around. Did you find something of interest? What was it?" Julie eagerly asked with a smile. Lea realized that, instead of using something on their surroundings, Julie used Lea to make a subject of conversation. That wasn't going to stop Lea and she tried to get back to her objective.
"No, I was-"
"It's been a long time since we came back to this park, but it hasn't lost its charm. It's still the very calming place that I remember, don't you think?"
"Yes it is, but I was going to-" Lea was trying to end it quickly, but Julie wasn't going to let that happen.
"We should get something to eat later and bring it here, you know, like a picnic."
"We just ate, but what I'm trying to-"
"Hey, maybe we could sit somewhere and feed the pigeons, have you fed pigeons before?" Lea had enough of that and suddenly stopped sliding.
"Julie, can you just-" Lea started to get frustrated with Julie's attempts to avoid her questions. Suddenly, Julie pointed to a tree with a smile.
"Look look, do you remember that tree?" Then, Julie started to run towards the mentioned tree.
"Julie, wait!" Lea started to chase after Julie. They reach the tree and Julie stopped running, with Lea been the last to reach the tree. After Lea reached the tree, Julie put a hand on the tree.
"We sat on this tree, and you took me to the top of it." Julie had her back towards Lea, but Julie had a bright smile on her face.
"Julie, you're my best friend, right?" Firmly asked Lea, which made Julie turn towards Lea.
"Of course I am," answered Julie.
"And best friends tell each other the truth, right?" After hearing that, Julie understood where it was going, her smile left her, and dropped her gaze to the ground in guilt.
"Yeah." Weakly answered Julie.
"Then answer my questions, what's going on? What's happening to your house? What's going on with the kids?" Lea was asking with a voice that meant business and with a face to go along with it. Julie turned towards the tree and went quiet, which Lea misinterpret as Julie attempting to avoid the question again. Lea didn't notice that Julie had made a fist with the hand that she put on the tree. Before Lea could say anything else, Julie started to talk.
"Can you take me to the top again?" Julie's voice was not giving any emotion.
"Please." Lea was about to let her frustration be known, but after hearing Julie, Lea felt something. It was hard to describe for her, but all of the sudden, Lea's frustration left her.
"Okay." That was all that Lea said and approached the tree. Julie kept her face away from Lea. Of course, Lea didn't notice that because she was getting ready to have a good grip on the tree. While Lea was doing that, Julie took the opportunity to grab Lea's neck. Lea didn't mind and kept preparing to climb the tall tree. "Ready?" asked Lea as she finished with her preparations and looked back, but Julie was hiding her face on Lea's back.
"Yeah," answered Julie in a small voice, which Lea barely heard. With everything ready, Lea started to climb the tree, the very same tree that they climbed on their first visit to the park, where they sat under the shade of the tree, and they declared their friendship to each other. Lea had an easier time climbing the tree because of her new trained body. While climbing the tree, Lea had to admit that it brought back memories, and it brought a small smile to her face. It didn't take long for Lea to reach the top of the tree, which had the same great view as before. Lea was lost on the sight before her, filling her with great peace. While Lea was focused on the view, Julie also took a look, but it had a different effect on her. Julie looked for a little while, and instead of filling her with peace, it filled her with sorrow. Unable to take it anymore, Julie hid her face on Lea's back. Lea was distracted from the view by a sound that was coming from behind, and she tried to hear it more clearly. It didn't take long for Lea to realize that someone was quietly sobbing. The only person that was close enough for Lea to hear, was none other than Julie.
"Julie, what's wrong? Are you okay?" Asks an alarmed Lea while looking back, trying to look at Julie. Lea couldn't see Julie's face because Julie was hiding it on Lea's back. Julie realized that Lea turned her head to look at Julie, which made her bury her face on Lea's back and tightened her grip on Lea's neck. Fortunately, it wasn't too hard that it wouldn't allow Lea to breathe, but it gave the message that Julie didn't want to be seen crying. Lea faced forward, just like Julie wanted, and they stayed like that for a while. Julie continued sobbing and letting her tears flow, tears that Lea couldn't see, but it might have been for the best. It hurt Lea to know that Julie was crying. What hurt Lea the most, was her inability to think of something to make it stop and bring back the smile that Julie always had.
Eventually, Julie ended her crying, and Lea took that as a good moment to break the ice. "Julie…Are you okay?" asked Lea. She knew that it was a very dumb question, especially after hearing Julie cry on Lea's back, but it was the first thing that came to Lea's mind.
"Yeah," answered Julie, sounding more calm than before, but not happy.
"Is…Are you…?" asked Lea as she turned her head to look at Julie, but Lea didn't know how to finish her question. On the inside, Lea was hoping for good news. She was hoping that what she was thinking was nothing more than a silly idea. Unfortunately, Lea didn't find any of that on Julie's face. Instead, she saw no joy, no smile, no hope, but only defeat, and to make it worse, Julie revealed something that would fill Lea with despair.
"At the end of the year…I'm losing the house," said Julie with a choking voice, which shocked Lea, who thought that she could handle the news, but she couldn't.
"W-why? I…I thought everything was going well…"
"I did too, everything was going well, especially when we found a last minute donor. He was going to give us more than enough to pay for this year, and pay some of the debt. At the last minute, I received news that the donor canceled the donation, and without that donation, we won't be able to keep going."
"But…what about the kids? It's their home, they're happy, where will they go?"
"If I have no house for them, then I have to send them to other places."
"No, there…there must be something that can help, some way to give you more time, anything." Lea hoped for something, she simply refused to accept those news.
"There isn't." Julie responded without any hope in her voice.
"That's…that's not fair."
"I think the same way, but everyone knows that there's nothing else we can do." After saying that, Julie hid her face again, fighting hard not to cry again. "But before that happens." Julie gathered herself and revealed a sad smile. "I want to enjoy the time that is left." Lea didn't know what to say, didn't know how to feel, but it didn't take her long to figure out what to say.
"…Okay," answered Lea as she turned her face away from Julie and looked at the horizon. They stay on the tree for a while, before they decide to go back down. After that, Julie acted like that never happened, and Lea tried the same, but she couldn't ignore what happened. They tried to enjoy the rest of the day, but they still remembered their conversation, especially Lea. Once they were done with their time in the park, they head back to the car, and got inside. They spent some time without doing anything, or saying anything, until Lea spoke.
"Can we go to your house?" asked Lea while looking at the car's ceiling.
"You want to play with the kids, right?" Responded Julie while looking at the steering wheel.
"Of course." With that decided, they head to Julie's house. When they arrive, the kids cheered after looking at Lea. While they were asking Julie if they could play with them, Lea was looking for Jenny, but she wasn't present. When Julie said yes, they all cheered and everyone started to head to the backyard. They spent hours playing outside until it was too dark to stay outside, and Lea decided that it was time to leave. Julie, like always, offered to take Lea home, but Lea refused, saying that Julie should spend more time with the kids. At the very least, Julie walked with Lea to the door, and went outside. They were standing near the door and looking forward.
"You know…" Said Lea while looking at the ground. Then, she looked at Julie. "You could come and live with me, if you have nowhere else to go." After Lea said that, Julie turned towards Lea, and gave her a smile.
"Thank you," said Julie and hugged Lea, who returned the hug. Then, they let go of each other. "Good bye, Lea." Lea felt something different about that good bye, but hid it with a smile and a wave of her hand.
"Bye." That was the only thing that Lea said, and Julie walked back into her house. Julie took a last look at Lea, gave her a smile, and closed the door. At that moment, Lea knew that it wouldn't be the same. Even if Julie lived with Lea in her apartment, Lea knew that Julie won't be the same person. Julie would die on the inside, leaving only a shell of what she was. Before Lea started to leave, she was startled by a voice that came out of nowhere.
"Are we losing our home?" Lea looked around and found the source of the voice, which was walking on the house's front wall.
"Jenny?" Said Lea, and the little Arachne started to walk down to the ground.
"It's true, isn't? We're losing our home." Asked Jenny with a depressed face.
"No no, of course not, what makes you say that?" Lea tried to hide it with a smile.
"Everyone knows. We can feel it, Julie isn't the same. None of the adults is the same. They all feel sad about something and we just know what it is." Jenny was on the brink of crying. "I…I don't want to leave, I don't want to lose my home." Lea heard and saw enough. She grabbed Jenny's shoulders, looked straight into Jenny's eyes, and with steel in her voice, Lea said.
"You won't." That prevented Jenny from crying, but she wasn't convinced.
"Yes." Lea grabbed one of Jenny's hands and grabbed Jenny's pinky with her own. "I pinky promise." Jenny was convinced after seeing that.
"Okay." Jenny started calm down.
"Now go inside, is getting late." Lea was glad that Jenny felt better.
"Okay, good night, Lea." Jenny waved at Lea with a smile, and went to the door.
"Good night." Lea returned the wave and smile with one of her own. After that, Jenny went inside the house, and closed the door. With Jenny inside the house, Lea started to slide back home. While on the way, Lea appeared to be calm, but she had a serious expression on her face. Lea was nervous about her upcoming match. She was nervous about using the new technique, but after discovering the truth, all of that was pushed away from her mind. At that moment, it wasn't about winning a simple match, it wasn't about surviving the match, but it had turned into something different. Lea was ready, she was resolute, and she was prepared to win the tournament, or die trying.
The next morning, Lea opened the gym, but there was something different about it. The gym was opened much earlier than before. The only thing that the members had to do was to walk inside and get ready. That caught Alonso by surprise because he always went to the gym before it opened to prepare himself for the day. When Alonso arrived to the gym, he found Lea training.
"This is unusual, she usually starts after finishing her chores, or when I call for her," thought Alonso. Wanting to know what was going on with Lea, Alonso headed straight to her, who was lifting weights with her tail. "Oye, chica, did you finished your chores?"
"Yeah," answered Lea while weight lifting.
"Since when?" Alonso could see that everything was where it should and clean.
"Why did you start so early?"
"I just wanted to leave it all finished." Alonso never expected something like that to happen.
"How many of those have you done?" asked Alonso as he pointed at the tail lifting the weight.
"This makes it fifty," answered Lea after lifting the weight.
"Well, go and take a break." Alonso was getting suspicious about Lea's new routine.
"Okay." Lea put the weight down and headed to a bench. With Lea gone, Alonso tried to put the weights away, but something caught him by surprise.
"Que diablos? I don't remember them this heavy. I could actually lift them before, am I getting too old?" After trying a few more times, Alonso checked the weights, and he got surprised once again. The weights were heavier than the ones that Lea was using before. To make it even more surprising, Alonso remembered Lea saying that she lifted them fifty times. "What is the meaning of this?" Instead of pondering the question, Alonso decided to go and ask Lea about that. As Alonso was approaching Lea, he noticed a group of boxers in the ring, already wearing practice gloves and head protection. Alonso would have kept going on his way, but he stopped because those boxers was none other than Alinda, Salena, and Hilda. "What are they doing there? What's going on? Does this involve Lea?" There was only one way to find out, and it was speaking with Lea. Once he was close enough, Alonso saw Lea putting her gloves on, and the rest of her equipment. By the time Lea was done getting ready, Alonso was standing in front of her with a serious face. "Care to explain what's going on?" Lea looked up to Alonso and he could see it in her eyes. She was resolute about something, and she wasn't going to stop any time soon.
"I was trying to run away. I was scared about my upcoming match against Payton, but not anymore. I'm ready, coach, ready to work harder, ready to train double, triple."
"Does this willingness have anything to do with Julie?"
"Yes," answered Lea while still looking at him eye to eye.
"If that's the case, then no. Letting your emotions get the best of you can be counterproductive, it could get in the way of your training," answered Alonso with a straight face, and the response made Lea drop her gaze to the floor. Lea didn't say anything else, but Alonso knew very well that it was a sign, which meant that Lea wasn't going to accept that answer. "Chica." Alonso was about to argue with Lea, but he was stopped from doing that.
"Just let it go already," said Hilda from the ring, which got the attention of Alonso and Lea. "She isn't going to stop no matter what." Hilda was more than ready to help.
"Yeah! Let's do this, Lea. I'm ready to go anytime that you are!" Said Salena, who was raring to help already.
"You should have heard Lea on the phone last night, I'm pretty sure that she would have kept calling if we didn't say yes," said Alinda with an amused smile. All of them received a call from a serious Lea, asking them to go earlier and help her with training. After hearing that, Alonso started to get in deep thought about it, and Lea was looking at him in hopes that he would accept to help her train harder.
"Very well, you want to work even harder than before? Then I'll help you train even harder." That brought relief to Lea. "On one condition." After hearing that, Lea paid close attention. "If I see that it's getting too much for you, I want you to stop and take a break, got it?"
"Okay." With everything set, Lea was ready for anything.
"Then let's get started! You better be ready because this could turn into hell for you!" Alonso didn't show it, but he was getting influenced by his boxers. "If you're willing to go this far to win, then I won't stop you, chica, but I'll make sure that you're ready to fight at any day, anytime." Ever since then, Lea had been training harder than before. At the end of the day, Lea would just go to her bed and sleep.
That kept going for a whole month, and everyone could see that it was a tough training. Lea had been going over her usual limit, lifting heavier weights, sparring longer with three different opponents, and so on. It was simply more difficult and harder than before. Even with all that, Lea never complained. She simply kept going and going. Every time that Lea felt tired or ready to give up, she would remember Julie and the kids. She would remember their home that was about to be taken away, and the sad face of Jenny. When everyone thought that Lea would take a rest, she would surprise them by asking to continue. Alinda, Salena, and Hilda were getting worried about Lea's well-being. They could see that she was getting tired, and told her to take a rest. Of course, she refused, saying that she wasn't tired and kept going. There was only a week left before the match, and Alonso approached Lea, who was working on the sandbags.
"Oye, chica, you can stop working on the sandbag." Informed Alonso from behind Lea.
"Oh, okay," said Lea as she turned around to see Alonso face to face, and it would have been hard to look at her if it was anyone else. Lea was showing signs of overwork, she could barely slide around the gym, and the sounds of the sandbags when she punched were nearly silent. "So…what am I going to be doing next?" Lea was tired, her mind screaming for a rest, but she refused to do it and she was ready to continue.
"Before that, let me check something." Alonso started to inspect Lea's muscles. Then, everyone in the gym heard a pained cry and they turned to the source, which was Lea. "All right, your muscles are at their full limit. Listen up, starting today, I don't want you to train at all, got that?" Ordered Alonso as he let go of Lea's muscles.
"You sure? I can keep going," answered Lea, trying to flex her muscles, but failed at it and winced in pain.
"Completely sure, you got to let the muscles rest or you won't be able to fight against Payton."
"Then, I'm going to my apartment, thank you." With that settled, Lea slowly went to her apartment. Once Lea was upstairs, her trio of friends approached Alonso, and they looked worried about something.
"Are you sure a week is going to be enough? It looks like she could fall at any moment," said Alinda.
"If she does nothing but rest, then yes, she will recover fully," answered Alonso.
"Maybe we can give her something to eat and make her take a nap. I'm sure she will feel better after that," said Salena, ready to go and get the food, especially if she got some herself.
"I don't think food will be enough, but a massage would be a different thing." Responded Alinda.
"One problem, lass, we don't know anyone who is a professional at it," said Hilda, who strongly believed that a good night sleep would fix anything.
"Okay okay, that's enough, a week is more than enough. Besides, do all of you have the time to worry about someone else? Especially you, Salena, you have to be ready for your upcoming match," said Alonso as he looked straight at Salena, who got serious after been remembered what was coming up for her. On the other hand, Alinda looked at Salena, concerned about something that only those close to her would know about. "I understand that all of you are concerned for her, but you must have faith that she will win this tournament. We have done everything we can for her. The rest would be up to her." Alonso looked ready for the match, he knew that the tournament was not the only thing at stake. Lea's well-being was on the line more than ever. The trio understood what Alonso said, and decided to follow his advice. They prayed for Lea's success on the inside and continued with their training. Meanwhile, Lea was actually on bed, looking at the ceiling while trying to rest, but it was a little difficult at the moment. All of her muscles were screaming in pain, Lea couldn't lift any of her arms without feeling the muscles cry in pain.
"Dammit, it hurts, everything hurts, even the parts that I didn't know it could hurt. I didn't want to show it, but I'm glad I got that rest. Not that I was going to quit anytime, but I know that I would need a rest. Now that I think about it, I wonder if the results will be enough to defeat Payton," thought Lea, and after letting that question enter her head, she shook it vigorously. "No! I shouldn't let doubt consume me again, I'm prepared for anything, I don't care if my muscles explode, I don't care if my bones break. I'll fight to the end, as long as I have breath in me, I'll keep fighting." After that, Lea spent the rest of the day, and the week, resting her muscles.
It was the day of the weigh-in. Both Alonso and Lea were heading to the assigned venue where the match will take place. They were getting closer to the room where the weigh-in would take place, and they could see Zora waiting outside. After she noticed the approaching pair, she started to talk with them.
"Good day, how are you doing today?" asked Zora with a friendly smile.
"Hello, Zora." Greeted Lea with a smile.
"Good day." Greeted Alonso with a serious tone of voice.
"You got here just in time, Payton is already inside," said Zora.
"Really?" asked Lea. She knew that she would meet Payton at some point. Lea thought that she would be ready for it, but she quickly found out that it wasn't the case.
"Yup, let's go in." After Zora said that, she went in first, followed by Alonso and Lea. Just as Zora said, Payton was already inside, waiting at the other side of the room with her coach. There were a few journalists inside, probably because of Payton. Considering her condition, they might be expecting one of her 'moments' to happen at the weigh-in. Payton wasn't looking at Lea. She was focused on getting out of her clothes to get on the scale. When everything was ready to take weights, Payton turned around, and it caught everyone by surprise. Payton had a strong physique, and it looked like she was made for battle, but it should have been expected of her, considering her background. Eventually, they took her weight and was announced that she passed. After that, Payton head back to her coach and started to put her clothes back. After that, Alonso got his bearings back.
"I must admit, it's a well-developed body, but you've worked hard too. Now, get ready, and show them the results of your training," said Alonso.
"Yeah." Lea did as ordered and took her clothes off. Once everyone saw Lea's body, they was so surprised, that it got Payton's attention. Lea saw her body before, and was just as surprised as the rest of the people in the room. Her muscles looked as if it was made of steel. Everyone believed that she could break a hand simply by squeezing it. A punch from Lea could break a bone, as easy as breaking a twig. That was only the upper body, if they could feel the tail, then they would had been even more impressed. If Lea's fists could break a bone, her tail might be able to break a wall that was made of steel.
"I wouldn't have believed the physique of these two, if I hadn't seen it by myself," thought Zora in surprise. In her line of work, Zora had seen her fair share of tremendous bodies, but nothing like that. Just like always, Lea passed the weigh-in and headed to her coach to put her clothes back. After Lea was done, a journalist approached her.
"Excuse me, if I may have a word, what are your thoughts about your opponent Payton?" asked the journalist.
"I'm sorry?" asked Lea, who wasn't expecting an interview from a complete stranger.
"Your opponent, what do you think of her?"
"Oh, well, she looks very strong. No wonder she won all of her matches."
"Do you have any confidence for victory?"
"Well, I'll just do what I always do, and that is to put everything I have worked for into the match." That wasn't a respond that the journalist was expecting, but it was something or nothing. Payton was also been interviewed by one of the journalist, with pretty much the same questions. Suddenly, someone came with the bright idea to take a picture of them while they were having a handshake, as a sign of good sportsmanship. Lea didn't see a problem with it, and neither did Payton. They both approached each other for the handshake, and introduced themselves.
"Nice to meet you, I wish you good luck in our upcoming match." Greeted Lea with a polite smile as she extended a hand for Payton. Lea didn't show it, but she was feeling a little nervous on the inside.
"Nice to meet you too, and may the best one win," answered Payton with a friendly smile and grabbed Lea's hand. Then, Payton felt the feeling, the desire, the blood lust, it was coming to her, and Lea felt her hand been squeezed a little harder by Payton. That was when Lea felt something inside of her, something telling her to stay alert, and took a look at Payton's eyes. Payton was looking at Lea as if she was a target to kill, and Payton's coach noticed that.
"Payton!" yelled Benen and it seemed to bring Payton back to normal. Payton quickly let go of Lea's hand.
"I-I'm sorry, I have t-to go." Payton went to the door and left the room. Benen followed after her, but stopped at the door to offer apologies for Payton's sudden attitude. After that, he left the room. With the scene over, Alonso approached Lea.
"You okay?" asked Alonso.
"Y-yeah," answered Lea, who had a serious face.
"I felt it."
"Felt what?" Lea looked at Alonso, and said.
"A killing intent."
Payton was sliding through the corridors at a quick pace, but not fast enough to leave Benen behind. Eventually, Benen caught up to her.
"Payton, what's wrong with you? Are you okay?" asked Benen. That was the first time that he saw Payton about to go off at a weigh-in.
"The feeling…is coming…stronger than I remember," answered Payton, who appeared to be struggling against something.
"Stronger? Why? They're mostly to a point where you could keep it down with nothing but willpower."
"It's her," answered Payton.
"Her? You mean Specter? What about her? Did she do something to you?" Payton stopped, and Benen stopped along with her.
"She's what?" Payton looked at him, and Benen could see the intent to spill blood.
"She's the real deal," answered Payton and continued on her way at a slower pace. Benen was walking alongside her, but he was thinking about those two boxers.
"This is the first time that Payton almost goes off. Just what kind of match is this going to be?" Everyone was asking the same question as Benen, but they were sure of one thing. One of them was going to fall, and it was going to be a bloodshed.