Chapter 3

"This is a jab", Kougami demonstrated the punch, "and this is a straight. Can you tell the difference between the two?"

Akane thought. "Well the first one, the jab, you just moved your arm but the straight kind of flowed through your whole body. It looked more powerful".

Kougami nodded, impressed. "Very good. I guess you're as smart as everyone says" and he tapped her on the forehead with a long index finger provoking a pout from the little inspector. "Now let me see you try..."

Kougami set Akane up at one of the punching bags to do sets of jabs and straights on her left and right sides while he warmed up on his own. Akane examined her fists meeting the bag, swaddled their brand new candy pink wraps. Each strike felt clumsy and alien but she knew better than to complain. She remebered from her dancing days that for every new movement that felt all wrong there would come a time when she wouldn't remember what it felt like to not be able to perform it with the utmost fluidity and ease. She hoped that time would come soon.

She was broken from her reverie but a firm push to the shoulder which sent her sprawling onto her backside. Above her stood Kougami, arms crossed. "I told you earlier", he scolded, "your stance needs to be wider or you'll have no stability". His voice was stern but his lips were curling ever so slightly at the sides. Is he enjoying this? Wondered Akane. She got irritably to her feet massaging her sore tail-bone and grumbled "or maybe I fell over because you're stronger than me".

Kougami sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "You have a real hang up and being strong you

know. But being effective in combat is so much more than that. Body control and smarts win out over brute strength majority of the time. Which is particularly important for you to know."

Akane cocked her head, "why is that particularly important to me?"

"Well sorry to break it to you inspector, but most of the time when your kind is hurt in the field it's not in a brawl type situation, its a desperate criminal taking a hostage." He moved silkily towards her. "So I can teach you to throw a perfect punch, but would you know what to do if someone did this?" Quick as lighting he had both her wrists in a seemingly unbreakable grip. "Or this?" His hands travelled up her arms to her shoulders and around her neck. "Or this?" and he spun her so fast she staggered only to find a strong arm hooked around her neck and another around her torso, pinning her arms to her sides. He hissed lightly in her ear and she shivered against him, though if he felt it he didn't show it. He's definitely enjoying this she concluded. But out loud she answered defiantly "No I wouldn't be able to get away if someone bigger and stronger than me grabbed me!".

Kougami released her, exasperated. "I thought you were meant to be smart!" he tapped her again on the forehead, eliciting a scowl this time. "Here, lets go back to the first scenario". He took her wrists again, this time more slowly. "Instead of pulling away, try moving your arm in an outward circle motion...very good!". Akane discovered to her delight that she could break even Kougami's strongest grip with this technique. Her happiness was made two fold when he showed her that after breaking an assailant's grip she could easily put him into a wrist lock that would allow her to control the whole body. "No matter how strong someone is, no one wants a broken wrist. So they'll be at your mercy once you get them to this point" her teacher explained.

After learning basic techniques to escape most different grips on her body, the rest other their session was spent with Kougami coming at her in various ways and Akane having to dodge or break his grip. By the time Kougmi called an end to the sparing she was succeeding in her task about half of the time. They faced each other, smiling and sweat running down their necks. "See",Kougami panted, "you are smart". He went to tap her on the forehead once more but before he knew it he was in a wrist lock, and Akane was smiling triumphantly down at him. He grinned back, "you'll be a formidable opponent yet my little inspector". His heart missed a beat when he realised he had said out loud, the nickname he had taken to calling Akane in his head. But he breathed in relief when she seemed not to notice but rather released him from her grip and said "so, this time in two days?".

Something had melted between them, and they both felt it. They parted in good spirits eager for the next training session not as teacher and student, but as friends.

His little inspector huh? Mused Akane as she walked towards the showers. The thought was accompanied by a completely new sensation, a fluttering in the pit of her stomach. She decided this was a result of dehydration and set a reminder on her wrist display to add electrolytes to her next nutrition intake.

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