Chapter 7: A Learned Joy
The referee was waiting in the middle of the ring, while both boxers were mentally preparing themselves to fight again. The referee looked at each fighter and asked if they were ready, both said that they were, and the referee allowed the match to begin. Lea did as Alonso planned, she quickly dashed past the referee and was heading straight to Valeria. Valeria was expecting that and was prepared to use a defensive stance specialized in throwing counters: the Crab. Lea was close enough to throw a right uppercut at Valeria's chin, but Valeria moved and countered with two jabs to Lea's face. Lea tried to attack with a left jab of her own, but Valeria blocked with the left shoulder and countered with a jab, hitting Lea's face again. The attack stopped Lea momentarily, while Valeria created distance, showing signs that she recovered enough to move freely. Things weren't going so well for Lea. She hadn't been able to land any clean blow on Valeria, while Lea herself was gaining damage. Alonso didn't like Valeria's new defensive stance.
"That Crab stance is extremely dangerous, especially when Valeria is using it, but there's a weakness to this defense. Chica, strike the arm that is in front of you, break the defense!" yelled Alonso. Lea heard Alonso and did as told. She started to attack Valeria's arm by throwing jabs at it. Valeria moved around to avoid the attacks, but Lea feinted a jab and launched a right straight. The punch landed on the arm, causing it to go numb momentarily and pushing Valeria to the corner. Lea used the opportunity to charge in and threw a right hook at Valeria's body. Valeria managed to block with the left arm, but Lea didn't stop there and threw a left hook at Valeria's head. Valeria barely ducked the punch and struck Lea's body with a right uppercut. Lea managed to land a left uppercut on Valeria's body. Valeria threw a left uppercut at Lea's chin, but Lea dodged by moving back, which let Valeria escape from the corner. Lea didn't let Valeria move too far and trapped her on the ropes. Then, Lea continued with her attack of uppercuts and hooks.
Valeria's corner was getting even tenser because Valeria was unable to keep Specter away for long, and Valeria kept getting trapped.
"Come on, Valeria, you can do this. Clinch if you have to, but you have to escape from the ropes," thought Tom. He knew that Valeria could keep her head cool, even in situations like that one, but he simply couldn't help to worry. If Tom was nervous, then Alonso would be the same because Lea had taken a good amount of damage from Valeria.
"Come on, chica, you got her on the ropes. Now, beat her down while you have the chance," thought Alonso. He didn't know when an opportunity like that would come around, and the quicker the match ended, the less damage for Lea.
Valeria tried to fight back, but it was obvious that Lea had the upper hand when it came to in-fighting, so Valeria tried her best to escape from the ropes. Valeria waited for the perfect moment to dodge and escape from the ropes. All she had to do was to be patient and wait for a big swing. That moment came when Lea wanted to blow off Valeria's guard with a big left hook. Valeria ducked the punch, moved to the right, and escaped the ropes. Then, Valeria moved far away from Lea and went back to out-boxing. Valeria used the same Crab defense and started to throw jabs at Lea. That kept Lea on the defensive and kept her away from Valeria. Lea tried to charge in, but Valeria did anything she could to keep distance. Unfortunately, the blow to her body seemed to be taking effect. Lea kept pushing forward, blocking and avoiding as many punches as she could. Unfortunately, progress wasn't fast enough, but that wouldn't stop Lea and she kept moving forward. Valeria kept throwing jabs at Lea, but the defense was too strong for the jabs to pass through and they couldn't stop Lea. All Valeria had to defend herself was her movement in the ring. "I can't keep running away either or I'll never get anywhere," thought Valeria, who desperately tried to think of something that would help her out. Then, it dawned on her, a way to hit Lea and avoiding getting hit. Valeria started to calm down and put her plan into action. She charged in, which made Lea start to attack again. Lea opened her guard and threw a left uppercut at Valeria's body. Valeria parried it to the right and reached Lea's chest. From there, Valeria threw small right uppercuts at Lea's body, and before Lea could retaliate, Valeria grabbed Lea in a clinch.
The referee tried to separate them, but Valeria held on for a little longer, before the referee managed to separate them. Once they were far enough, the referee gave the signal to continue the fight, and Valeria charged in again. Lea attacked with a right hook at Valeria's head, but Valeria ducked in time to dodge the punch. Then, Valeria reached Lea's chest and threw small uppercuts at Lea's body, followed by clinching. Alonso started to notice what Valeria was doing.
"Valeria seems to be trying to recover again. It seems we are close to getting a KO," said Fergus, who was confident of their victory, but Alonso was worried.
"Not quite," said Alonso.
"What do you mean, coach?"
"Valeria is trying to recover, that is true, but she's also trying to deal some damage to the chica as well. To avoid getting damaged, she clinches to stop Lea from attacking."
"That's going to screw up with her rhythm." Fergus started to worry at this new development.
"And damage the chica in the process. Chica! Try to keep her at arm's reach, push her to arms reach!" Lea heard the last part while been separated from Valeria.
"How am I supposed to push her? She doesn't give me the chance to do it," thought Lea, who was looking for a way to stop Valeria from clinching again.
A minute had passed and Lea tried to attack Valeria with a left hook to her body. Valeria moved back and threw a jab at Lea's face. Even with that, Lea pressed forward, hoping to land a punch if she kept attacking. Next, Lea launched a jab at Valeria, but it was blocked by Valeria's left palm and Valeria countered with a right to Lea's face, which pushed Lea away.
"Those jabs won't work on me," thought Valeria, who rushed in, but Lea charged in with the Peek-a-boo defense and got into an in-fight distance. Lea threw a left uppercut at Valeria's chin, but Valeria dodged the punch and clinched against Lea. Lea tried to get out of the clinch, but she noticed something. Lea was clinched while in her Peek-a-boo defense, but the left arm was clinched. However, that wasn't what called Lea's attention, it was the right arm that was inside the clinch. That was when it dawned on her, an idea to push the clinch off. Once the referee separated them and gave the okay to keep fighting, Lea charged in, with Valeria doing the same. Eventually, they get close enough to be in punching range of each other. Lea started with a left jab, but Valeria blocked the attack. Then, she countered with a right straight, but Lea ducked the punch and moved forward. "I won't let you get into your rhythm." Valeria grabbed Lea into another clinch, which Lea expected. Lea made sure to keep her left arm inside the clinch, and without wasting a second, Lea started to forcefully push Valeria away. Valeria wasn't strong enough to resist and was left with no choice but to break the clinch. Valeria was surprised and started to realize that she was in danger. Lea, without pulling back her left arm, threw a right straight, and hit Valeria square in the face.
The audience cheered right after Lea's straight landed on Valeria's face. Lea's friends were relieved that Lea landed a clean hit, especially with a right.
"Nice one! Keep going!" Cheered Salena.
"Get an arm inside the clinch and forcefully push the opponent away. It was kind of simple, but it worked," said Alinda, who was glad that things were going well for Lea.
"It was a good punch, I won't deny that, but I hope that it's enough to bring Valeria down," said Hilda, who was watching the match with a serious face, but hoped for the best on the inside.
Valeria was pushed back, but she refused to fall. Unfortunately, the damage couldn't be ignored. If Lea landed another good punch, it would lead to a KO loss for Valeria. When Lea noticed that, she rushed in, getting in punching range to throw a right uppercut. Valeria anticipated the attack and dodged to the left. Then, she threw a right straight at Lea's head, making Lea go down for the first time in the match. The referee stepped between them and ordered Valeria to go to a neutral corner. Then, the referee began to count for Lea.
"1…2…3" Counted the referee.
"I can't believe Valeria had enough strength to throw a counter to an uppercut, and from that distance," said Alonso, who was baffled, from the corner.
"Chica, wake up! The fight is not over yet, you have to get up!" yelled Alonso, which got the reaction that he wanted. Lea, slowly but surely, was rising from the mat.
"6…7" Lea was halfway up, all she needed to do was to stay upright and put a fighting pose. At the eight count, Lea was up, but the damage had serious effects on her. The referee could see that Lea was still conscious and able to fight again, which meant that the referee could give the okay to continue the fight. Without wasting any more time, the referee allowed the fight to continue.
"Valeria, don't rush it, keep your distance and wear her out even more!" yelled Tom, who could see that Lea was almost out. Unfortunately, Tom noticed something dangerous. Valeria wasn't moving at all. "Could it be? Did she received so much damage from the right that she can't move?" Alonso also noticed the problem with Valeria. Not wanting to lose that opportunity, Alonso quickly yelled at Lea.
"Chica, you have to attack now! You won't get a chance like this in the next round! Attack her with everything you got!" Lea heard the coach, and started to slide towards Valeria, but Lea was going too slow. "Damn it! La chica took too much damage from the previous counter, now is a battle of who lands the last punch!" It was painfully slow for Alonso, which put him on edge. Fortunately, Lea was slowly getting closer to Valeria.
"This is bad, I barely have enough strength to move my arms, standing is already difficult for me, but I'm not giving up. I recognize you as a real boxer, Specter. I'll beat you in this last attack. I'll finish this with a counter!" Thought Valeria. She stood her ground and waited for Lea to get into punching range.
Two minutes have passed, which left more than enough time to end the match. At the pace that Lea was going, she would reach Valeria in a few seconds. The seconds felt like hours for everyone in the arena, it was so quiet that you could hear a drop of sweat. No one could take their eyes off of the match because they knew that anything could happen at any second. Although, no one noticed something strange in Lea, everyone thought that she got up without a problem. The referee didn't notice anything strange either because Lea's eyes appeared to be focused, but didn't notice that her mind was half conscious.
"I see someone in front of me…in a fighting pose. Am I sparring? I hear the coach…telling me to…attack with everything I have, but is difficult. My body…feels heavy, everything looks blurry," thought Lea. Then, she heard a voice. It was a familiar voice, but she couldn't remember who it belong to at the moment. All Lea knew, was that it was female, and was calling her name.
"Lea…Lea," the voice called to Lea.
"Who's that? Why is she calling me?"
"Wake up! She's right in front of you!" yelled Alonso from the corner. He found it strange that Lea was moving like that, almost like in a trance, so he easily realized that Lea was half conscious. Valeria noticed it before Lea got into punching range.
"She hasn't fully recovered. A good punch should be enough to finish her off," thought Valeria, who was prepared to throw a straight right at Lea's face. Lea was about to get into punching range, but she wasn't fully conscious, until Alonso tried to call for her one more time.
"Wake up! If you take this punch, you won't get up again!" That helped Lea to get back to reality.
"What was that? Was I dreaming?" Lea was moving forward without knowing, but she noticed what was waiting for her. Lea got into punching range and Valeria threw a right straight at Lea. Lea tried to move away, but she was too damaged to move quickly, and the punch was inches away from its target. Lea quickly weaved to the left, dodging the punch. Then, she moved forward, getting close to Valeria. From there, Lea landed a left hook on the most exposed area, the liver. Valeria felt pain so excruciating, that she bent forward. If that wasn't enough, Valeria's face was telling the whole story while groaning in pain. Lea didn't let that opportunity to slip from her hands and landed a right uppercut on Valeria's chin, sending Valeria's head flying back. Valeria couldn't hold herself up and fell on her back. The referee quickly stepped between them and ordered Lea to head back to a neutral corner. While Lea started to slid to the corner and the referee was about to start the count. Then, the referee looked again and noticed that Valeria's eyes were not focused. The referee waved his hand in front of Valeria's face, but there was no reaction. With that realization, there was no more to question, Valeria was knocked out. Therefore, the referee signaled the end of the match by crossing his arms over and over again. The bell ringed, signaling the end of the match, which made the audience cheer.
They were congratulating both fighters for such a fight that should be in a championship. The referee grabbed one of Lea's arms and said what any other referee would say.
"Winner: Specter." After saying that, the referee left Lea. Alonso and Fergus headed towards Lea, who was standing in the neutral corner, while Tom and his assistant headed towards Valeria to check on her.
"You did it, chica. You won your debut match. You did good," said Alonso in relief.
"I did it? I really did? It kind of happened in a flash for me," said Lea in disbelief.
"Why don't you look over there?" asked Fergus, who pointed towards Valeria. She was leaving the ring with the support of her seconds.
"So…I really did it. She's really strong. I thought I would lose when I saw the punch coming at me," said Lea.
"Yeah, but with your hard work, you managed to win against such a strong opponent. Now, let's go, you need to rest after this match," said Alonso
"Okay." With Alonso supporting Lea, all of them started to leave the ring. Suddenly, a feeling hit her, a feeling that she never had when she started her career. "So, this is how it feels to win with hard work. It feels great." Lea left the ring with a smile on her face.
Back in the audience, Alinda and the rest were watching Lea leave the ring after such a difficult debut match.
"That was a very close fight, if she had thrown a desperate shot first, she would have been countered," said Alinda, who had more experience with counters than the rest.
"That was great! This marks a good start for Specter!" yelled Salena in happiness.
"That it was, but who knows if the committee will take it more easily with Lea from now on," said Hilda, who was worried, but also, happy for Lea.
"You think they might try something like this again?" asked Alinda in worry.
"Probably, the insult was pretty heavy, and her attitude made boxing look bad. If they don't try it in the next fight, they might try later."
"No matter, she will simply get stronger and stronger. We should help as much as we can. After all, we're her friends, right?" Said Salena, whose optimistic words lifted the mood in their group.
"You're right, she can do this, and she just proved it in this fight," said Alinda.
"Good point there. Well, let's go and check on her." After Hilda said that, the group left their seats and headed to the locker rooms. After sliding for a while, the group reached the locker rooms. The group went in and they saw a doctor, who was a wererabbit, checking Lea's damage.
The story behind the wererabbit was that they were also called "Moon Rabbits" from Japanese and Chinese mythology. They were called that because there was the silhouette of a rabbit on the moon. Therefore, they were called Moon Rabbits because of it, but in reality, they were Wererabbits and they have always lived on Earth, along with everyone else. They have the legs of a rabbit, tail, and ears, so they could run fast and hear better than the average human.
The doctor was finishing her examination when Alinda and the rest entered the locker room.
"There doesn't seem to be anything serious, but I recommend that you to get an examination as soon as possible," said the doctor with a professional voice.
"Okay, thank you," said Lea, who was relieved by the news. After that, the doctor left the room and Lea's friends approached Lea.
"Hey, lass, nice fight you had out there," said Hilda with a smile.
"Way to go, Lea!" Said Salena, who cheerfully rose a fist into the air.
"That was a good entrance into the boxing world," said Alinda in a serene manner, but with a smile on her face.
"Thanks, everyone," said Lea, who showed them a tired smile on her face.
"You did good today, but there will be more fights ahead of you. For now, do as the doctor said and take some days off." Ordered Alonso, who was feeling concern for Lea, but as always, he was not showing it too much.
"Good, while you dress, we'll be waiting outside of the building, so don't take long."
"Okay, I won't." With that said, everyone left Lea alone, while she got dressed. Once she was done, Lea left the locker room and started sliding along the corridors, but met up with the person she would least expect. "V-valeria!" Valeria was also surprised to meet up with Lea.
"Specter…Hey." Greeted Valeria.
"H-hey, h-how are you? Are you okay?"
"Well, besides you beating the hell out of me and throwing all the hard training I have done down the shit hole, I'm fine," answered Valeria with sarcasm.
"O-oh, yeah, that was…stupid of me to ask." The response made Lea look shyly at the floor. After that, Valeria quickly realized what she said, and regretted it.
"No no, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that. Besides, I'm the one who should be apologizing for calling you a waste of time. So, I'm sorry." Valeria's awkward apology made Lea lift her gaze. Then, Lea started to wave her hands in front of her.
"N-no, it's okay, I barely won against you, and you're very strong."
"You can hold your own too, you know?" Valeria started to feel at ease with Lea, which was a little strange for Valeria.
"For someone who was insulted by the boxer that she just beat, she's pretty cool about it. I guess I misjudged her." Then, Lea realized something and smacked herself on the face.
"I totally forgot! My friends are waiting for me! I'm sorry, I have to go, hope you feel better and good luck!" Lea spoke quickly and started to slide away, hoping that her group hadn't been waiting for too long. Valeria was simply left standing in the hallway, looking at Lea leave in a hurry. By the time Lea left the hallway, Tom joined Valeria, who had enough time to see Lea leave.
"Hey, Valeria, you were talking to Specter? I can't believe I'm using that name," said Tom, who felt silly after using Lea's ring name.
"Yeah, I just wanted to apologize for my attitude, which I did, and we're good now," answered Valeria with a look of relief.
"That's good to hear, she doesn't sound like a bad person."
"She isn't." After Valeria said that, they started to leave the venue.
"Don't let this loss get to you. I know how-" Tom was stopped by Valeria's words.
"My grandfather lost some fights too, but he learned from them and kept going forward. Don't worry, Tom, I'm not giving up, I'm going to make my grandfather proud." That helped Tom to calm down and started to feel proud of Valeria.
"Yeah, good words, Valeria, we're going to work hard and we're going to be the winners next time."
"Exactly, now let's go, I need to rest."
"Okay, I'm tire too, you know? All of this is getting hard for my age."
"Yeah, right. You look like someone who's going to live a hundred years." With that, they both laughed out loud. After all was said and done, they kept going on their way to leave the venue.
"I don't know what Specter said to you, but it seems to have helped you deal with this lose a little easier." Tom felt thankful towards Lea, and hoped that her career was a good one.
Meanwhile, Lea finally reached the group that was waiting for her.
"Hey, Lea, you took longer than expected," said Alinda.
"Yeah, are you okay?" asked Salena in worry.
"I'm sorry, I just talked with someone and I got caught up," answered Lea while pointing at the doors of the venue.
"With who?" asked Hilda.
"With Valeria," answered Lea, and that surprised everyone.
"That…must have been awkward, especially since she thought badly of you," said Alinda.
"Actually, she wanted to apologize for it," said Lea, and that was another big surprise for the group.
"It couldn't have been easy for her," said Alonso, who was starting to feel a little more respect for Valeria. "Losing to the enemy after boasting, then apologizing to her face, she must have a tremendous will to do it."
"I never saw it that way."
"Well, don't think too hard on it, is simply the winner and the loser, so just let it go. Leaving that behind, here's your pay." Alonso pulled out an envelope and gave it to Lea, who opened it and looked inside. She pulled the money out, and counted $500 dollars.
"It's not that much, you should know that you once made millions in a single fight. This is just the start, if you keep winning, you will be paid more and more. Which is also more money for us, but that means that the fight will be even harder, so be ready."
"Good." After Alonso said that, Salena took it as her opportunity to say what she wanted to say.
"So, now that you have some extra money, why don't you buy something for yourself?"
"Like what?" asked Lea.
"Well, you do lack a TV at your place." Alinda got suspicious of Salena after hearing that from her.
"Why would she buy a TV? Sounds like you want the TV for yourself," said Alinda.
"Come on, Alinda, she doesn't have anything else to do in her place, it's kind of boring. You should buy something to kill time, buy a TV, or a computer," said Salena.
"She's too busy for any of that stuff; she should use it for something more important. Besides, you have a TV at your house, why don't you watch it there?"
"Is more fun if I watch it with a friend, even more if it's at their place, don't you think? I mean, what if she has visits? They should be entertained with something."
"Well, when you put it that way…but they are expensive, the fight money would be gone really fast."
"There might be a special going on. It could be cheaper than we think." Everyone could see that Salena wasn't going to let it go. It exasperated Alinda, who didn't like when Salena started to get pushy over something that Alinda considered childish.
"Either way, it's Lea's money, she should decide what to do with it."
"Please, Lea. If you want, I could help you in finding a special." After Salena said that, Lea thought for a moment, and came to a decision.
"Well, I could use one to kill time, while I work out at least. Okay, I'll buy one. Do you know where the special is?" asked Lea.
"I could look for one. I'll let you know tomorrow when I find anything," said Salena in excitement.
"Now that it's settled, can we leave now? I'm getting hungry," said Hilda and her stomach started to growl.
"Oh, right, sorry," said Lea. With the conversation over, they go to their respective homes to call it a day. Once Lea was dropped to the gym, Lea went inside, slid up the stairs, and prepared to go to sleep, feeling the fatigue from the fight coming to her. When she did everything she needed to get ready to sleep, she turned off the lights, and went straight to bed. While in bed, Lea started to think about the match and her victory over Valeria. Lea understood that it was just the beginning and the money wasn't much, but it was a good start to reach her goal. "Maybe I should save this money instead of using it, but I don't make too much, so using this one payment and saving the bigger ones might be better." Lea shook her head after thinking that. "What am I thinking? I should be saving the money, but I already promised Salena that I would buy one. Maybe I could buy the cheapest one that I can find and that would be it. Yeah, I could do that, I'm using it, but am also saving as much as possible." With that decided, she went to sleep, fatigue finally taking her to dreamland.
The next day, Salena went to Lea's place and knocked on the door. Lea heard the knock, woke up from her slumber, and answered the door.
"Hey, Lea, are you awake?" asked Salena, who didn't seem to know how to speak quietly.
"Salena? Is something wrong?" asked Lea, who seemed to be half-asleep.
"No, why are you asking?"
"You were knocking very hard on the door, and yelling," answered Lea while rubbing her eyes.
"Oh, sorry, it just that today is the day that you buy a new TV." Salena was excited because of it.
"I should have seen this from the always-cheerful Salena. So, where's the special?"
"Here's the address." Salena gave a piece of paper to Lea. "And good luck." Salena gave a pat to Lea's shoulder, and after that, she started to descend the stairs.
"Wait, you're not coming?" That woke Lea up, who was now surprised.
"I have to train today, I have matches too, you know. I'm sure you'll have no problems finding the place, later." After giving her farewell with a smile, Salena left to train.
"I forgot that she also fights. Guess I have to go alone then." Lea got back inside to her apartment and prepared to leave to the electronic store. Before Lea left the gym, Alonso called her.
"Hey, chica, come here for a moment." Lea slid towards Alonso.
"What is it, coach?"
"I just finished getting an appointment for you at the hospital. Here's the address and the time, don't be late, you hear?" Alonso gave Lea a piece of paper with said address and time of the appointment.
"Yeah, I'll be there, thank you." After that, Lea left the gym. At that time, Lea didn't have a car of her own, therefore she had to use the buses to move around. Lea had experience riding the bus, so she had no problem reaching the place that Salena was talking about. The store was a big one, a new one in Lea's opinion. The name of the store was "Electronic Master", which sounded inspirational, but it was a simple electronic store. It was a new place in the area, since there was a big yellow sign with black letters that said "Grand Opening". To attract attention, they gave a special discount on that day. Lea went into the store, headed to the TV section, looked at the TVs, and their prices. Some were of a decent size, and because of the opening special, some of them cost around $250, so Lea had many choices. Lea saw a TV that she liked at a good price, and grabbed it. Once Lea payed the TV with cash, she left the store, and started to head to the bus stop. The TV wasn't really heavy, so Lea had no problem carrying it around. While turning to a corner, she nearly bumped into someone, but stopped quickly before that could happen.
"Excuse me," said Lea and moved to the side.
"Sorry," said the person. After that, they kept going on their way. Then, it came to them, which made Lea and the other person turn around to face each other. The moment they laid eyes on each other, they got the surprise of their lives.
"Julie?!" Lea took a second look to the person that she never expected to see so soon.
"Lea? Is that you?" asked Julie, who started to take a closer look. The last time Julie saw Lea, was when they ate breakfast together, after Lea saved Julie from robbers. To Julie, Lea looked healthier and fitter than before.
"Hey, h-how are you?" Lea was nervous because she didn't know what else to say, but Julie was obviously happy to see Lea.
"It really is you, it's been so long! You looking good, but what happened to your face?" Julie saw the patches on Lea's face and started to worry.
"Oh, this? I…uh…got into a…work accident. It's nothing serious."
"You sure? Do you need a ride to the hospital?"
"Don't worry about it. I don't want to bother you. Besides, I have an appointment in a few hours."
"Really? I'm glad for it." That calmed Julie, and after that, she asked with a friendly smile. "Hey, do you want to go and get breakfast with me? I haven't eaten yet." After Julie asked that, they hear a growling noise, which was coming from Lea's belly.
"Sounds like a good idea," answered Lea with a blush of embarrassment on her face.
"Great, I know a place close by. Come on." Julie was about to start walking, until she noticed the box that Lea was carrying. "Oh, sorry, want to leave it in my car?"
"You sure? Is not that heavy."
"Yeah, come on, my car is not far." After Julie said that, they both head to Julie's car, which was a 4-door 2010 Ford Fusion. After Lea left the TV in the car, they went to get breakfast. "So, new TV?"
"Uh, yeah. I haven't added anything else to my place, except for the essentials. One of my friends suggested that I get one."
"That's cool. At least you have something to entertain you," said Julie with a smile.
"Yeah." After that, they continued on their way to get breakfast. At first, Lea didn't notice the clothes that Julie had, but when she took a second look, Lea liked what she saw. Julie was wearing a black business skirt, black blazer, and a shirt under it. Lea thought that it was sexy, mostly because she could see that Julie had nice legs. "You look nice on those clothes." Complimented Lea while trying to hide the blush on her face.
"Thanks, but I don't like dressing up like this, it feels restrictive. I only wear this when I have some business to do. I like what you're wearing instead." Lea was wearing some cargo shorts for Lamias with a t-shirt. It was Julie's turn to look that time, but it wasn't the clothes what had Julie's attention, it was Lea's body. Julie remembered Lea looking thinner than before, but at that moment, she looked like she could take a person down with a single punch. Lea's shirt hid most of her body, but anyone could take a look at her arms, which showed that Lea had good muscles. That brought the attention of, not only men, but also women. "I have to admit it, Lea looks quite exotic." Lea noticed Julie's look and asked.
"Is something wrong?"
"Oh no, don't worry about it." It was Julie's turn to hide her blush, which was out of embarrassment for staring at Lea.
"Okay, are we close to the place?"
"Yeah, we're nearly there." Just like Julie said, the restaurant that they were going into was just across the street. It was a place called "Thomas", which was a decent fast food restaurant that wasn't too expensive. They both enter the restaurant and head to the register to give their orders to a Weremouse.
They were originally called Wererats because they were mostly found in damp, dark places. However, once they started to reveal themselves more and more, it was realized that they were called Weremouse and they considered the other name very offensive. They look very human, except for the obvious large round ears on their heads and the mouse tail, but otherwise, they looked very human.
Lea and Julie gave their orders. Lea wanted some pancakes with ham, bacon, and sausage links. As for a drink, Lea ordered milk. Julie wanted a sandwich and coffee. Once their orders were taken, a question popped into their heads, and started to wonder on who was going to pay. Julie didn't have a problem paying, so she started to take her wallet out, but Lea stopped her.
"I can pay for you." Offered Lea while looking for her money.
"It's okay, Lea, I'll do it," said Julie, who took her wallet out.
"Let me, is the least I can do after what you did for me."
"That's because you saved me before. Besides, I invited you, so that means that I pay." It was starting to turn into an argument, and the cashier joined in to get it over with.
"She got a point there," said the cashier. Lea put her hands in her pockets and looked down.
"Fine," said Lea. With that over, Julie payed for the breakfast and they went to take their seats. Lea kept feeling bad about Julie paying for the meal.
"Does it really bother you? I really don't mind, you know?" Said Julie, who was trying to cheer Lea up.
"No no, it's just…I don't want you to think that I'm taking advantage of you."
"I know you're not."
"To be honest…I really don't know. I just feel like…you wouldn't do it, and you look like someone who wouldn't do it." Those words made Lea blush. "So…how have you been? What happened to you after you left?"
"Well, I…looked for work. I asked so many people, that I lost count. Then, I found this place that's a gym and they gave me a job. They were even kind enough to give me a place to stay," answered Lea, who was nervous. She couldn't tell Julie that Lea joined the gym and became a boxer to pay Julie's debt because she knew that Julie hated violence, and it would most definitely include boxing.
"They sound like great people, especially after they gave you a place to stay."
"Yeah, they really are. What about you? Is everything going well for you?"
"Yup, nothing to worry about."
"Yeah, everything is going well. I just…missed you." Julie started to feel awkward after saying that.
"Sorry." Lea started to feel bad about it.
"No need to apologize, we're here now." By the time Julie finished saying that, their breakfast was ready and Lea left their table to get their food.
"I wonder if she's saying that so that I wouldn't worry about it. Then again, she doesn't look distressed or nervous. Maybe it's not as bad as I thought, but I get the feeling that she's hiding something. If that's the case, I'll keep fighting, just to be on the safe side." After Lea thought that, she decided to drop the subject for the moment. Once Lea got the food, she took it to their table and started eating.
"You know, you could visit anytime that you want, the doors are always open for you," said Julie with a small smile.
"Oh, yeah, I will," answered Lea, even though she didn't know if she could.
"So, what kind of gym is it?" Julie gave her full attention to Lea.
"Oh, is actually a medium-sized gym. You know, with the weights and all that stuff." Lea tried to look calm, but she was nervous on the inside.
"So, is business going well?"
"Yeah, we have a good amount of members, who come at different times."
"What do you do in it?"
"I'm basically the janitor. I clean, open, and close the place. Sometimes I help other members with their exercises when I have the time."
"Does it pay well?"
"Don't worry. I get enough to get by. Besides, I don't have anything to spend it on, except food or other important stuff."
"That's great. They might give you a raise someday."
"Yeah. Oh, how are Lucy and Nick?"
"They are healthy as always. Lucy likes to joke as always and Nick is working like always. They actually remember you."
"Really? They seemed like good people."
"Yeah, they would like you to come visit me. They like it when I have friends around my age."
"Isn't there anyone else young in there?"
"There are, but I'm pretty much busy maintaining the place. Today is actually one of my free days, but as you can see, I had something to deal with. Fortunately, I dealt with it pretty quickly. I might take some more days off." Julie started to feel silly, especially since she barely took them and most likely won't take them.
"That's good." After Lea said that, they simply kept small talk and continued eating their breakfast. "It's just like before, it feels nice to eat with her. Maybe because she's my friend, but why does it feel different than with the others?" Lea didn't have the answer to that question, so she decided to let it go. Before they finished, Julie decided to call the house and let them know that she would be late. Once they were done, they headed to the car and Julie drove them to the hospital, which wasn't too far. Once they arrived to the building, Lea went to the reception desk and asked the Werecat nurse about Lea's appointment.
Werecats were believed to be mages or humans with the ability to turn into a cat. Others thought that they could turn into half-human and half-cats, which wasn't the case. It was almost like the Werewolf story, in which they were believed to transform in the full moon. In ancient times, they were prosecuted and turned to slaves. So, they came out at night, when no one was around and they used the full moon's light to look around. They had cat ears on top of their heads, tail, eyes that glow in the dark, able to look in the dark, good flexibility, and agility. In modern times, they are treated as normal citizens. Some people, both human and inter-species people, consider them cute.
The receptionist confirmed the appointment and told Lea to take a seat, which she did. Julie took a seat besides Lea and decided to grab a magazine close by. Fortunately, it was the type that Julie liked, while Lea simply waited patiently. It didn't take long for Lea's name to be called, and before Lea could slid to the doctor, Julie asked.
"Want me to come with you?"
"No no, it's okay, I can go. I don't think it will take long," said Lea, who was happy to know that Julie was the same helpful person that Lea remembered.
"Okay, I'll be here if you need me." After Julie said that, Lea went to the elf doctor, who started Lea's examination. It was mostly to check for any brain damage, since Lea was knocked down in the previous fight, and to see any other damage to her body. It didn't take long, and the doctor said that Lea had nothing to worry about, but recommended that she rest properly. The doctor said that the readings will be sent to the gym and she was free to go. Lea gave her thanks and left the room. Once Julie saw Lea, Julie got up and asked.
"How did it go?" Lea didn't seem to be worried, so Julie guessed that everything was alright.
"I have nothing serious, but the doctor said that I should rest properly," answered Lea.
"That's great to hear, need to go somewhere else?" asked Julie with her usual smile.
"Nope, I want to go home to rest."
"Okay, let's go." They left the hospital and got on Julie's car. Julie drove them away and asked Lea for directions of the gym she was staying in. It turned out to be on the same city where Julie lived, and it wasn't that far. They arrived at the gym that Lea talked about.
"Well, we're here." It was all Lea said, not knowing what to say at moments like that one.
"Yeah," answered Julie and they went silent for a moment. "It looks nice, and it seems to have members."
"Yeah, it really does." Silence again. "Well, thanks for the ride."
"No problem." Lea got out of the car, went to the back seat to grab her TV, and went to Julie's window. "Well, see you another time?"
"Yeah. Oh, do you have a phone?"
"Well, it's mostly the gym's phone, so I can give you that one."
"Oh, okay." Julie pulled out her cellphone and Lea gave the number. Once Julie was done putting the phone number in her contacts, she put her phone away, and it got quiet again.
"Well, see you next time."
"See you." Lea started to slide away slowly and Julie slowly started to put the key in the ignition, until Lea stopped and turned around.
"Yeah?" Julie put the key away from the ignition.
"Would you like to…come in? Since I'm free and you're free, I thought that…I could show you my place." Lea was nervous about asking that, but she thought that it would be rude if she didn't invite Julie in. Julie smiled because of the invitation and said.
"I would love that." Julie got out of the car, put the alarm, and headed to the gym with Lea, who started to realize that it might be a bad idea.
"Oh no, no one knows that Julie is coming, and if they see us, they might reveal that I'm boxing." Lea believed that Julie might not want to talk to her if Julie found out about it, so Lea was praying to whatever power there was that those three were out. Fortunately, once they got inside, Lea did not find any sign of them, which made her give a sigh of relief, but it might have been short lived.
"Wait, this is a boxing gym, why didn't you tell me it was a boxing gym?" Julie was displeased by what she was seeing.
"Oh…well, I-" Lea was starting to panic, trying to find words that would calm Julie.
"Now that I think about it, your face was injured, does that mean that…?" It was obvious that Julie was starting to get angry, and Lea started to panic even more at the sound of that.
"No no, I can explain."
"Someone in here hurt you, right?"
"Someone did that to you, right? Who was it?!" Julie started to look for the one responsible, even though she didn't know who it was.
"Oh, no no, it was an accident while I was cleaning, just an accident," answered Lea, which seemed to calm Julie.
"You sure? I don't have a problem to give whoever did this to you a piece of my mind, you know?"
"I know, it's okay, it was a work accident."
"Okay, sorry if I startled you. I just don't want you to get hurt." Julie gave a smile to Lea and started to feel embarrassed about going off like that.
"Don't worry about it, let's go to my room." Lea responded and returned Julie's smile with one of her own.
"Okay." With that said, they both moved through the gym and went upstairs. Lea opened the door to her apartment and let Julie in. Julie looked around the whole space.
"It looks nice, and it has space to move around."
"Yeah, I'm going to put the TV while you get comfortable."
"All right." Julie looked around and found out that Lea didn't have sofas or anything to sit on, except for the chairs in the kitchen. Lea noticed Julie looking around and said.
"Sorry, I forgot I don't have a lot of furniture, let me pull out the bed." Lea went to a wall, pulled its handle, and the bed came out of the wall.
"That's kind of awesome."
"Thanks." Julie sat on the bed and Lea went back to put the TV. Once the TV was set, Lea turned the TV, and put a TV show. The TV had good signal because of the built-in antenna, but Lea didn't care about it too much. Once it was set up, Lea turned towards Julie, and saw her lying on the bed, which was cute in Lea's opinion. "Comfortable?"
"Yup." After Julie said that, someone started to knock on the door.
"I'll be right back." Lea went to the door and opened it. She saw the group that she was hoping would come back later.
"Hey, Lea, you got the TV? Can we see it?" Said Salena, who was eager to see it.
"I can't believe you dragged her me just to see the TV," said Alinda, who was a little annoyed by it, but happy.
"If my memory doesn't fail me, you agreed to come very quickly," said Hilda, who found it funny.
"T-that's because she was been persistent!" Answered Alinda while trying to look irritated.
"Its fine, it's fine. So, Lea, can we-" Before Salena finished the question, Lea closed the door in their faces.
"What happened?" asked Alinda.
"I don't know," answered Salena. At the other side of the door, Lea was standing in front of the door and Julie saw what happened.
"Is something wrong?" asked Julie.
"Huh? Oh, uh, no, nothing, I simply remembered something that I have to do in the gym, I'll be right back," said Lea, who was hiding something, but Julie didn't notice.
"Oh, okay." After Julie said that, Lea got out of the apartment, and met with the group.
"Hey, Lea, is something-" Said Salena, but she wasn't allowed to finish because Lea started to push everyone.
"Downstairs," said Lea. They obeyed and started to go down to the gym. Once they were in the gym, Alinda asked what everyone wanted to know.
"What's going on?"
"Yeah, what gives?" asked Salena, who was bothered because she couldn't see the TV.
"I'm really sorry. I'll explain later, just promise me something," said Lea while looking upstairs, hoping that Julie stayed in the apartment.
"Well, what is it, lass?" asked Hilda.
"I have a friend upstairs that doesn't like violence, so don't tell her I'm a boxer, please?" Begged Lea while putting her hands together.
"Uh, okay?" Said Salena while shrugging. Everyone else agreed with Salena.
"Thanks, you can come up now." Lea slid up the stairs, and the others follow behind her. Once they got into Lea's apartment, Julie looked at the group and sat up, while Salena saw the TV.
"Sweet! Nice choice, Lea." Salena went to the TV, without noticing the person on the bed. Hilda and Alinda did notice her.
"Hey, Lea, is she a friend of yours?" asked Alinda, which made Salena look at Alinda.
"Friend?" Salena looked behind her and saw Julie. "Oh, hey there, sorry I didn't notice you."
"Oh no, it's okay," said Julie while waving a hand.
"Julie, these are Alinda, Hilda, and Salena. Everyone, this is Julie." Lea introduced them while pointing at each one.
"Nice to meet you." Greeted Julie while extending her hand with a smile.
"Nice to meet you too," said Alinda, who accepted Julie's hand and returned the smile with one of her own.
"A pleasure to meet you, lass," said Hilda, who also shook Julie's hand, while making sure not to grip it too hard.
"It's always great to meet new friends," said Salena and shook the hand more vigorously than the rest. "Oh, let's watch some TV." Salena sat in front of the TV rather quickly in everyone's opinion.
"Anyways, how long have you known Lea?" asked Alinda.
"It's been a couple of months, what about you?" asked Julie.
"Same here, she's easy to like, even though she can be a bit quiet." The both of them looked at Lea.
"I'm not that quiet," said Lea while looking at the floor.
"Wait, now that I think about it, are the three of you boxers?" asked Julie.
"Yup," answered Salena while watching the TV.
"Same here," answered Alinda, who was hoping that it wasn't a bad idea.
"Me too," answered Hilda, who didn't see the point of hiding it.
"Oh, okay," said Julie, and they can feel that she didn't like that.
"You don't like boxers?" asked Alinda.
"I just don't like violence." They can tell that it was something more deep, but they didn't want her to be uncomfortable, so they tried to drop the subject.
"Well, while we're not fighting, you don't have to think of us as boxers, think of us as something else." Suggested Hilda.
"I could try that," said Julie, who truly wanted to get along with them.
"Great, now let's watch some TV." Suggested Salena without taking her eyes away from the TV. Everyone just looked at Salena.
"I think she likes it, a lot," said Hilda, who never expected to see something that would keep Salena still.
"More like hypnotized," said Lea.
"This is why I think it was a bad idea," said Alinda, who expected that to happen. And so, they spent some time together, getting to know each other. Of course, excluding the part of them been boxers, which Julie never brought it up and neither did Lea's group of friends. It was hard to dislike Julie because she was such a friendly person. Nothing serious went on and they called it a day around sunset. Lea went with Julie to her car.
"I'm sorry, Lea." Said Julie and it caught Lea by surprise.
"For what?" Asked Lea.
"I know that they're your friends, and I'm really glad for that. It's just that…I don't feel comfortable around them." Julie looked ashamed after saying that.
"It's because of the boxing thing, right?" Julie responded with a nod. "They're not bad people."
"I know, but why did they chose boxing? It's such an awful sport, how can they be good people if they don't mind hurting others?"
"Well, there are rules, it's not like they can beat someone to death."
"It doesn't change the fact that they hurt people and get paid for that." After Julie said that, Lea realized that Julie won't change her mind, not matter what Lea said.
"Please, don't think too badly of them." Julie didn't said anything for a while, but then, she said.
"That's good enough for me." After Lea said that, Julie gave a smile and got into her car. After starting the car, Julie lowered the window from the co-pilot's side and said. "I'll try to pay another visit."
"Anytime." Lea knew that Julie was lying.
"All right, see you then."
"Sure, take care." After that, Julie drove off. Once she was gone, Lea's friends came out of the gym, and Lea slid towards them.
"You know, she seemed like a good person. Why don't you tell her that you're a boxer too?" asked Alinda.
"I don't think she would like me much if she found out I was a boxer," answered Lea.
"Well, you said you would explain everything, so why don't you start now?" asked Hilda. After Hilda said that, they all went back to Lea's apartment and Lea started to explain about why she started boxing again, how she met Julie, and the problem that Julie's group house was facing.
"Whoa, that's kind of cool. You sound like a hero already. Don't worry, Lea, I'll help you in any way I can," said Salena.
"Me too," said Alinda.
"We all will," said Hilda.
"Thanks, everyone. I just hope they can hold on until then," thought Lea, who got the feeling that Julie wasn't doing as good as she was trying to imply.