"Get up initiates!" Four yells. "Be in the training room in ten minutes!"
I groan and roll onto my stomach, pressing my face into my pillow.
"I take it you're not a morning person." Christina says with a yawn.
"If you think she's already grumpy, you should see her in the mornings, she's terrible." Tris laughs.
I get the sudden urge to shove her off her bed but I just groan again instead.
"Is she trying to communicate?" asks Christina.
"Oh yes, in the mornings she only communicates in a series of grunts and groans. Words usually start forming around lunch time."
Tris and Christina burst into a fit of laughter and suddenly my urge becomes more uncontainable and I stand up and give her firm shove, which only makes them laugh even more. I sigh and begin getting dressed. I definitely wasn't looking forward to training, not after yesterday when Eric made it pretty clear I was a target. But I wouldn't let him get the better of me, not this time. I didn't care who he was, leader or no leader, I'd show him who HE was screwing with.
"Ready to get going?" Tris asks.
"As I'll ever be."
When we arrived in the training room rows of punching bags were lined up in front of us. We would begin with them and gradually work up to fighting one another. Four showed us a few techniques and then left us to practice them on our own with the punching bags.
So far there wasn't any sign of Eric, which was a relief. As I threw a few punches the adrenaline began rushing through my body, all of the pent up anger I had been carrying I released with each punch. It felt good. I looked over at Tris, she was barely even moving the punching bag, and her stance was all off. I was about to go over and help her when a heavy hand landed on my shoulder.
"Why'd you stop punching?" Eric says in a low voice. His face right by my ear.
Startled I jerk away, knocking myself into the punching bag. Eric lets out an eerie laugh, and I furrow my brow.
"What do you want?" I snap.
"What do I want?" He says raising his voice. "I want you to answer my question!"
I silently contemplate if gouging out a Dauntless leader's eyes would get me factionless or dead, I decide it would and restrain myself. Eric gives me a look I can't quite read and says,
"Fine, since you think you're so ready, go get in the ring."
He gestures to a large mat on the floor a few feet away. I look at him in disbelief.
"You deaf Stiff?! He yells. "Get in the ring!"
I decided to do what he says and step onto the mat. I give him a "now what?" look and he smirks.
"Edward!" He calls out. "In the ring!"
The tall blonde haired boy looks at me and hesitates.
"Are you kidding me?" Asks Four strolling up beside Eric. "They aren't ready for this yet."
"They're ready whenever I say they're ready." Eric growls. "Well what are you waiting for?!" He snaps at Edward. "GET IN THE RING!"
Edward gives me an apologetic look as he steps in.
"The fight ends when one of you are unable to continue." Eric states. "Our one of you concedes." Four adds.
"Those are the olds rules, the new rules are, no one concedes." Eric says expressionless.
"Good thing we didn't have those rules when you and I fought." Four jabs. Eric narrows his eyes but ignores Four's comment.
"The fight starts now."
Edward hesitantly walks towards me, his fists up in front of his face. My heart beats out of my chest. I would never be able to beat Edward in a fight. Edward, the Erudite who read fighting manuals for fun. Eric knew that too. That's why he's doing this. He wants Edward to beat me, finds amusement in the thought even. My face turns red as anger heats my insides. I mimic Edward's stance and take a step towards him, hesitance still apparent in his eyes. Good. I think.
I lurch forward and punch him right in the nose. His head snaps back and I can tell I surprised him. Edward's face hardens a bit as he wipes the blood from his nose, gladly accepting the challenge.
He jumps and punches at me but I'm faster than he is and I dodge it, grabbing him by his wrist and twisting it behind his back as hard as I can. Edward lets out a grunt and swipes my legs from underneath me, and I fall face first in the mat with a thud. I go to jump up but he's already there and catches me in the jaw with his fist. Pain shoots through my face and I hit the mat again.
He comes at me and I go to kick but he catches my leg and slings me across the room. My head hits the ground pretty hard and my vision blurs.
No. No. This can't happen. I can't let him beat me, I won't give Eric the satisfaction. As Edward comes towards me I slide myself underneath his legs and kick him forcefully with both feet, throwing him off balance and knocking him to the ground. I don't waste any time and climb on top of him punching him one good time in the face again.
Blood spurts from his nose in a heavy stream this time and I know I've broken it. A wave of accomplishment rushes through me but is interrupted when Edward knees me hard in the stomach, picks me up, and slams me to the ground. The sharp pain causes my vision to blur again and makes me want to vomit.
I feel Edward on top of me and pain shoots through my face again snapping my head back into the ground with a sickly crack. My vision goes dark and I feel as if I'm about to lose consciousness. I'm done. He won.
"She's done." Edward calls out. "She can't go on any further."
"Did I say the fight was over?" Growls Eric. "She's done!" Edward snaps back.
"Finish it!" Eric yells.
"No?" Eric says menacingly through clenched teeth.
"That's enough!" Yells Four. "The fights over, Edward has won."
I don't hear Eric say anything else although I'm sure he's fuming by now.
"Get her up." Four says, and I feel arms lift me off the ground. I let my pounding head fall into their chest, who I'm assuming is Edward.
"I'll take her to the infirmary." He says.
"I'm coming too." I hear Tris say, sounding panicked. Then everything goes silent.
I wake up with my head still pounding and groan.
"You awake?" I hear Edward say softly. I open my eyes to see him and Tris standing over me.
"How long have I been out?" I ask rubbing my head.
"A few hours." Tris says, concern in her eyes.
"I'm really, really sorry Ava." Edward apologizes.
"Don't worry about it." I try and smile but it only makes my face hurt more. "You just got lucky is all." I joke. Edward lets out a small laugh. "How's that nose by the way?" I mock.
"You should see the other guy." He teases back, and I laugh.
"Probably still strikingly beautiful I'm sure."
Tris sighs. "Only you can still be cocky after getting the crap beat out of you."
"How'd you get that guy so pissed off at you anyway?" Edward says, and I know he is referring to Eric.
Tris looks at me sternly. "What did you say to him this time Ava?"
I give her an innocent look and say, "I didn't say anything."
Tris lets out a sarcastic laugh and glares at me.
"Ava." She says.
"What?!" All I did was ask what he wanted."
"And how did you ask it?" She says quizzically. I sigh. The girl knows me too well.
"The guys an ass." I growl.
"Dually noted." Eric says sarcastically as he steps through the door. Of course.
"Get out." He says bluntly. Edward and Tris give me a sympathetic look before heading out the door. I roll my eyes and go to get up, not wanting to be anywhere near him.
"You. Stay." He barks and slams the door shut. I plop back down on the bed and glare at him.
"What, come to finish the job?" I say in a low voice.
An expression I can't quite place comes across his face, looking something like remorse, but I know better than that.
"How's your head?" He asks, void of any emotion.
"Why do you care?"
"Then why'd you ask!?"
Eric pauses for a moment and sighs. "You're mouthy, cocky, and disrespectful. You need to watch yourself Stiff, learn a little respect for your superiors. Dauntless train soldiers not rebels."
"I'll learn respect when you learn my name." I snap.
Eric huffs. "You aren't really good at learning your lessons are you Stiff?"
"I'd learn lessons if you'd actually teach me any, you know besides torturing me instead."
"Maybe I should try a little harder then." He smirks.
"Yeah, maybe." I say sardonically.
He huffs and disappears out the door.