The Old Ways
I kept my eyes focused on my hands. Squeezing my fingers tightly, then releasing, loosening the black hand wraps just enough to adjust to the tightness.
These were the hands that were going to win.
These were the hands that would get revenge.
These were the hands that will show the entire city that I was more then just a human. I was a fighter, and I wasn’t going down easy.
“5 minutes Huntress.” A man’s voice came from the door to my change room. It was an old man holding a clip board, poking his head through the doorway. He didn’t bother waiting for a reply, and before I looked up from where I was sitting, he was already gone.
The door closed.
I looked back to my hands once again. I had to keep focus.
I may not get out alive, but I was going to avenge Troy. Whatever it took, I was going to get what I wanted.
“Are you sure you don’t want me in your corner?” Derek casually leaned against the wall, staring me down like a hawk. “How could you do this with no one standing in your corner?”
I looked to the bag by his feet. It was a large black duffle bag that almost looked like it could carry a guitar, but there was no instrument inside. It was the rifle that would end them all.
“No, you have a job. Besides, I’m registering as a rogue.”
“You’re not a werewolf.”
“My father was Kane, everyone knows it. I must belong to a pack.”
“You’re just a human!” He came over and got down to my eye level.
Up until this point, he was so calm and collective, but now, there were emotions pouring out onto his face that resembled a man that was about to lose everything.
He then placed his hands on mine. “You’re just a human! What the hell are you saying?!”
“I’m not human, I was never human Derek. I can’t explain it, but I’ve always known since I was a kid. I don’t know what I am.” I grasped tightly onto his hands. The tears unexpectedly fell from my eyes. I didn’t want to do this now, but I had no one else to talk to. I had no one, and he was the only one that was here to help me through this.
“You’re not alone. It doesn’t matter who you are, how you feel, or who your parents are. You are YOU.” He pulled one of my braids behind my ear, and I locked eyes with him. “You’re not alone.” He whispered softly.
My eyes were blurred from the accumulation of tears. I just wanted the pain to stop. I had to put out the fire, but there wasn’t enough water in the world to put out my flame. I lost Troy. I lost everyone. I was nothing, but at least today, everyone will remember me.
“Just make sure Hiro gets the money to Dr. Rosalie. She will put it to good use.” In my head I wanted to think I would survive after the fight, but there is no way. The parley will be broken by a rogue, and it will be my fate to die.
“You’re going to make it, don’t talk like that! I’ll make sure you get out in one piece. Just trust me that I can do this for you...I know we haven’t known each other for long, but you must trust me. I can get this job done without you. You don’t need to get so close to him...” He grabbed onto my arms and squeezed. His eyes were widened, and his blue irises swam through me like a river. He didn’t want me to do this, but I had to.
I had to avenge my brother.
“Just make sure you have a clear shot of Xanos and Marcus. I’m taking care of James personally. It has to be me.”
His face dropped. “Your brother is gone Hunter! Don’t kill yourself over it! You don’t need to do it like this!”
I latched onto his upper arm and pulled myself towards him. “I’ll do this alone if I have to...“ I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but there was no time for grieving. I just had to let the anger take over.
My throat was tightening up as the emotions surged through me. “PLEASE.” My voice trembled, like I was choking.
I had to let myself lose control.
The pull, no longer there.
Our eyes locked on. In all of my emotions, I just saw him. He was here to support me, no matter how suicidal it was. He leaned in, and I could almost swear I saw a twinkle in his eye.
How could a man that I barely know shed tears for me?
“Just don’t kill yourself.” His hand came to the side of my face, then, he pulled in tightly. “I can’t lose you.”
Our lips locked on, and suddenly, I wasn’t seeing the grief that I was trying to run away from. It was like his body and soul was temporarily blocking off the monster that lurked in my mind.
He was the light that would guide me to my salvation.
He was going to help me avenge him, no matter how dangerous the situation was.
He was ALWAYS going to be there. Derek was the one to help Troy through bad times, and now, he was here to help me.
Our kiss lasted a few seconds, but it felt like much longer. I wanted to dig my mouth deeper into him, but this was only a taste. It was a taste of something that would never fruit into anything more.
But out of all the doubts in my mind, the kiss gave me new hope. It was helping me in ways I couldn’t imagine. It was strange to think about that at a time like this, but it was what I wanted.
Derek pulled away and kept his hand on my face, still looking into my eyes. “Do you know how badly I wanted to do that when we first met.” His eyes lit up as he gave a small smile.
I put my hand on his. “I can’t do this. This is too dangerous. I can’t get you killed.”
“I don’t care.” His fingers trailed the side of my face, and his breathing turned course. I could feel his heartbeat, his face, leaning in again, but I immediately pulled away and stood back up.
I inhaled heavily as I pulled on my sweater. “Let’s do this.”
He stood up and cleared his throat. I was wrapped up like a warrior, my hair was braided tightly back, and my clothes overtop of my fight gear was basic sweatpants and a sweater, but the way he looked at me never changed. He always looked at me like I was the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen.
It was the way Marcus and Xanos looked to me.
“Don’t forget what I told you, don’t get yourself killed. I’ll avenge him Hunter, you have my word.”
I went in for a hug, and tightly wrapped my arms around him. “Thank you.”
He tightened his grip around my me. “Just come back to me.” He whispered.
His body felt like walls that shielded me. All he wanted to do was protect me, but I was going to do this no matter what.
I sighed heavily. I was about to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life, alone, with no one in my corner. Not my brother, coach, Xanos or Marcus.
Derek was here, but he had a job to do. He didn’t have to help me, but he was.
I pulled away from him.
“Go kick some ass.” He playfully smiled as he grazed my shoulder one last time.
“Don’t worry...” I threw my bag over my shoulder as I placed Kendra’s mask on my face. “I will.”
I’ve never set foot in this building before today, and I must admit, I vastly underestimated how big this place really was. It sounded like there was thousands in attendance, but I wasn’t really sure as I was still waiting behind the doors to be called out by the announcer.
It felt like the whole city was here tonight. Even the mayor and a few political figureheads were in attendance, but they weren’t the true rulers of this city. They were mere puppets, acting on behalf of the true leaders, the Alphas, and by the end of the night, they will all know who I am.
I am the daughter of Kane, and I am a rogue. I fight for no pack, and I submitted to no Alpha.
I paced my legs, lightly jumping back and forth, keeping my body warm. The mask restricted my vision, but this was only staying on in the beginning.
Call it a mere show.
I couldn’t let them see my face until I was ready. Xanos and Marcus haven't seen the mark left my James, but they will tonight. I’m making it obvious to this entire stadium, that James’s mark was a scar, and nothing more.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the human headline match up tonight! The highest human bet to go down in history….” The announcer was continuing with the introductions, but I could care less. Instead, I was envisioning Troy, being stabbed with a knife, and dying at the hands of Xanos and Marcus.
My jaw clenched and my fists tightened as I saw his lifeless face in my mind. My body moved quickly, my fists, shadow boxing a little faster the more I thought of it. This is what I needed right now to push me over the edge.
It was addicting and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Just as I snapped back to reality, I heard my cue, “I give you, Huntress, daughter of Alpha Kane! And she is fighting as a … rogue? Er – Yes, no pack it seems ladies and gentlemen! What a turn of events… As a rogue, she is entitled to no assistance in the ring. Give it up for the Huntress!”
I was standing behind the doors. There were a ton of security around me, all strange large men wearing suits, but they weren’t here to protect me. They could care less about my safety, they just wanted to protect the Alphas and parley in the city.
One of the men standing close by opened the stadium doors. In this moment, I held my breath, thinking about how far I’ve come. I was here by myself. I still couldn’t believe it. I was thinking of coach. I requested them to play his song that he always used to blare in the gym when we trained.
His favourite. I wondered if Marcus would get the reference to it. I’m sure he was listening to it right now in the stands, and I hope the guilt of everything was eating away at him as he listened to it.
I looked down to my hands one last time before I stepped out.
I had to keep my focus.
My hands were shaking from my anger, but I had to keep myself controlled until the very end. I wasn’t going to unleash myself on Aphrodite, because I was saving it for James. I had to make it to the end of the fight to unleash myself on him.
“Go, puny human.” The security guard growled. The man had a mean, grizzly look to his face like he hasn’t smiled his entire life.
Pushing anything he saw inferior to the side, like we were trash on the street. I didn’t take care to his comment though, and instead, I kept my gaze on my hands wrapped in black tape.
I inhaled deeply and exhaled. “I can do this.”
As I breathed in, I could smell Kendra. The mask still had her scent. She was with me along with Troy, walking through the doors to the jam-packed stadium.
The light was blaring on my face.
There was so much noise, but the mask had me focused on the narrow path to the center ring. My heart raced as I gazed into the sea of people. I never expected to see so many in attendance tonight, but it really didn’t matter. The only ones that I wanted here were the Alphas that took my family from me.
The light was on me, the music was still roaring, but all I could hear were Coach’s encouraging words to push me through the walkway towards the ring.
“Come on kid, go kick some ass.” Was probably what he would say if he was here right now.
I wasn’t sure where Xanos and Marcus were sitting, but I wasn’t going to pay attention to them. I was going to let Derek deal with them after I killed James.
I hated them, but at the same time, there was something that was too much to bear to actually end their lives. It was like I didn’t have the guts to do it. Was it because I was supposed to be their mate? Possibly, but that ship has sailed.
The desire to be with them left me when they killed my brother, and now, I no longer felt the pull.
I walked forward.
There was chatter, applause, loud howling, but I kept my eyes forward. I kept focus on my breathing as I made my way towards the ring. It was an octagon. It wasn’t your classic boxing ring, but instead it looked like a death trap.
Instead of ropes, there was chain link fencing, and to add onto the deathly ambience, there was sharp barbed wire that ran along the perimeter of the fence. The fence wasn’t high, and there was enough height for the trainers to attend to the fighters competing inside, but I suppose it didn’t make a difference for me.
I didn’t have anyone in my corner.
I peered quickly into the stands as I made my way towards the ring. All I saw were demons looking back to me, scowling, howling, hissing to me as their eyes glowed red. I quickly shook my head to regain my composure and suddenly, the demons turned back to their human forms.
Was I hallucinating?
The scent of James, Marcus and Xanos picked up the closer I got to the center ring. The pull had no effect on me now, but I could smell them. They were close, and my anticipation was growing.
I was almost to the ring.
My pace, and my walk, remained the same speed. I couldn’t let anyone see my nerves. I had to keep my head mentally strong.
My breathing turned rapid as I got a better look at the ring. The barbed wire used for the perimeter was partially stained red from the previous fights.
This was more gruesome than I could ever imagine. There were still blood stains on the floor from the previous fight, and the cleaners were working hard to scrub them away with soap and water.
“Hunter.” Suddenly, his calm familiar voice stopped me in my tracks.
I couldn’t believe he was standing in front of me.
“Alpha Hiro?” I approached him. Out of all the roaring in the stands, the only voice I heard was his. He was wearing a navy suit, and he was surrounded by his usual ensemble of bodyguards, maybe even more today considering the circumstances of tonight.
I stopped in front of him. I knew they could see me now. James, Marcus and Xanos, and I was hoping all of them would see my new friendship with Alpha Hiro.
The more confused they were, the better it was. There would be no answers to their questions. I was going to talk to who ever I wanted, and I was going to trust who ever the hell I wanted.
I gave a small bow. “Pleasure to see you.”
“I like it.” He smiled as he looked to me.
“Tribute to Miku.”
His face lit up as he bowed back to me. “She would be proud, just as I am.”
Honestly, I was surprised of his response. I barely knew him, but he seemed like he was the most respectable, honourable Alpha in this entire city. I trusted him, and I trusted that he wouldn’t stab me in the back like all the others.
“I see your registered with no pack. No one in your corner. Are you sure you are wanting to do that?”
“Your coach would be the one to tell you this, but the stakes are doubled tonight. You can walk away with an extra $100,000 if you agree to the new terms.”
“You will fight in the old ways.”
My nerves started to climb. “The old ways?”
“No gloves, and your hands will be wrapped in hemp rope, then dipped in broken glass. These are the old ways.” His hand came on my shoulder as he looked back into the ring. “Its werewolf tradition.”
What the hell kind of tradition was this? Coach never told me of such traditions, but I suppose, everything I was doing tonight was new to me. Or maybe James changed the rules some how? I wasn’t sure how he would be able to change the rules, but it looked like it was an option. If I was with Coach now, he probably would have informed me long before coming out here.
Suddenly, I heard the announcer calling for Aphrodite. I kept my focus on Hiro and ignored the introduction.
I looked him dead in the eye. I wasn’t sure what to do in this moment. “You think I should?”
“That is up to you Hunter, and Aphrodite has already agreed to the new terms, so if you back out now, well…” He looked around at the stands.
I knew exactly what he was referring to.
“There is no honour in backing out of a challenge.” I peered into the stands and breathed in heavily. “I’ll agree.”
His eyebrows raised, like he was surprised of my response. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, they want more blood.” I started to unwrap my hands slowly. “I’ll gladly give it to them.”
If the Alphas want a show tonight....
They were going to get a fucking show.