Fighting For Hope

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TWENTY-ONE

HOPE

Justice is an eloquent and exceptional noun. In the form of a name, it is the definition of respect and fairness. It fits the innocent child who deserves happiness. Like a chiselled segment to a matching piece in a puzzle, it fits astoundingly.

“Justice?” Tyler raised his eyebrow. I suppressed a smile. I was quite ecstatic with the name I selected.

Tyler had planned to have lunch with Hailey after bringing Ashley to the doctor. The visit ended before anticipated; hence he journeyed to the hospital. He strode in before an indissoluble scar engraved on Calvin. Tyler suggested that I should grab lunch with him and Hailey, who has yet to arrive.

“Justice is a magnificent name. I don’t see why not. I really adore nouns as names, not because mine is, of course. For example, Constance. That’s such a pretty name,” I babbled. “I find it much more peculiar that Calvin and my mother would let me choose his name.”

“Not really. I think your mother genuinely cares about you,” Tyler replied.

I scoff, staring at him incredulously. “My mother, who so kindly murdered my father cares about the daughter she shares with that same man,” I said with my every word dripping with sarcasm.

“That’s not what I meant-” my sentence was interrupted as a brunette sauntered into the restaurant. Hailey’s eyes lit up swiftly as she spotted her brother.

“You guys are inseparable,” she exclaimed as she settles down, promptly reaching for the menu. After a while, she motioned to the picture of a dish. “I’m ordering this,” she said before flipping it around for a wider variety of meals.

“Where’s your boyfriend?” Tyler asked with hostility, not disguising his detest for Ajax one bit.

“You seem to despise him,” she said, looking up from the plastic sheet with a wide array of meals. “What exactly happened in the past?”

“Your boyfriend might be an illegal underground fighter,” he said bluntly, causing me to look over to him with a face of puzzlement. “He’s the man I fought with that time father signed me up for the fighting competition. He was quite a star there.”

Hailey appeared to be conflicted about the fact for a brief moment as silence dawn on us.

“I know,” she said, fiddling with the hem of her shirt. “I didn’t want you, Mom or Dad to know about this.”

“How long have you known?” she questioned. Her brother did not respond. He almost seemed reluctant to believe that Hailey still accepted someone despite knowing his true colours. But I saw the situation differently. I related it to myself and Tyler and how he still stuck with me even after knowing my repugnant past.

“Even before you told the family about him,” I helped answer when Tyler kept silent.

“Were you with him when they first met?” she turned to me, desirous for a reply. I simply nod, feeling slightly contrite for interjecting. I would then have to entertain a few more questions.

“He’s a decent man when you get to know about him. Is it just what he does which cause this uneasy tension between Tyler and Ajax?” she posed yet another question. I shrugged, not knowing what precisely to respond with, it was Tyler who loathed him. He had his sentiment.

“It’s his character, he thinks so highly of himself,” Tyler said, causing two heads to be turned his direction.

Hailey’s expression shows that she contradicts with her brother’s statement. She said, “He was supercilious, too when I first met him, but he is capable of changing. I can promise that!”

“I hope so,” Tyler said, seeming jaded of the topic. He scanned the menu before turning to me. “What do you want for lunch?”

I pointed arbitrarily at a picture of a dish that seemed rather appetizing and received a nod in return. While Tyler raised his hand for the waiter, Hailey stared, mystified, before the expression turned into one with amplified eyes.

“What’s that?” she said in pure shock after the waiter had walked away with our order, pointing under her brother’s sleeve. “No way…is that a tattoo?!”

Tyler seemed to be befuddled for a moment before knowing what she was regarding. ‘Oh’ was the only word that escaped his lips.

“Don’t tell Dad. I got it a few days ago,” he confessed, rolling up his sleeves to expose the two bold letters on his upper arm. Hailey was fascinated, like me the first time I saw it. It was as if she had never seen one up close.

“What does it mean?” she asked, all agog in the meaning behind the black ink. Her brother shot her a look.

With a small tug at the side of her lips, she turned to me and asked, “What’s your full name?”

“Hope Valentino,” I responded, puzzled by the precipitous question. She was elated with my reply. A sly smile appeared on a face before changing the subject of our conversation.

We dispersed after dinner.

Hailey returned home while Tyler offered to drive me back to my home. He made a stop at his first, scrambling out before returning with a file thick of disorderly papers and books.

“I figured you hadn’t completed any assignments at home yet, so I think we should study,” he told me, chucking his things on the side of the car. I did not expect him to mention school, but I supposed we would have to finish our work since spring break is just a few days from concluding.

I welcomed him into my house, keeping my valuable blade, before taking the stack of work for our holiday and took a seat beside Tyler on the living room table.

“Do you have any subjects you’re struggling with?” he questioned and flipped opened the thick textbook of many equations.

I recollected how I used to study for a test while others were partying outside home or neglecting their assignments. I did not have a better person to be with then. I took homework as an escape from reality. I pass with flying colours for my own future since I have no parents to be proud of me.

“I’m fine with my subjects,” I answered after some time. School is not such an execrable place if I look at it as a distraction from things that were transpiring in my life.

“I need help with Calculus.” He let out a strained sigh. “Is it necessary to learn this? Why would people working as artists have to learn to count or multiply?” he complained. I smothered a soft laugh at his animosity towards the subject before looking over at his work.

Everything was familiar and taught. I finished mine swiftly and went through it with Tyler tolerantly. He seemed to be absent from class numerous times to be unable to fathom the most straightforward topics. I had to reiterate statements a couple of times before he understood, but I had a sense of satisfaction when he finally did.

We moved onto Biology. Tyler claimed he found it useless and unimportant to learn since he isn’t pursuing to be a doctor or veterinarian in the future. I spared him a lecture knowing his convincing character.

I cleared up his misconceptions, and we finished the work handed to us. I found myself tutoring him until the horizon devours the sun.

“That took forever,” he exclaimed, but he had a contented smile plastered on his face.

I kept the completed assignment and returned to the living room where Tyler was reading through my book with my many plans. The most recent attack in the hospital woefully failed, but I had my whole life to have at least one successful attempt.

“What are you doing?” I asked from behind him.

“You erased all the things I wrote.” He pouted. “Did you read them at least?”

“Yes, but this isn’t a joke. I’m not using you to distract Calvin while I attack,” I reasoned, taking my book from his hands. He did not bother to argue.

After sliding my book into my bag, he, contrary to all expectations, gestured for me into the share rooms with no ornaments.

“Friendly fight?” he suggested. I perked in a spirit of inquiry. Generally, it would be me who would request it. He added, “I learned a new move this morning.”

I shrugged at his reason, and in sync, we got into our positions. We exchanged a few punches and kicks, sometimes missing by just inches. We are both enhancing skills and is speedier than eyes could catch. Our attacks could cause some vicious stings.

I elbowed him in the ribs then forced his head to the front, but he knew me a little too well and tripped me before I continue having the upper hand. I used my hands to support my weight before landing on my back, and in a swift motion, I was back on my feet.

I blocked a low kick and worked briskly to pin his arm behind his back. I missed an opportunity to kick and cause him to fall forwards. He was then able to free himself by sliding out of my grasp.

He snaked his left hand behind my neck, but instead of strangling, he grabbed onto my right shoulder and suddenly jerked me forward. It seemed quite effective if we were to do it at a quick pace. I awaited the brutal impact of the fall, but it never came. Tyler’s hand supported me from falling back.

He gazed down at me with a playful smile, “You look so beautiful right now.”

I scoffed in response, ignoring the traces of an obstreperous and truculent emotion raging in my body. It was controlling, unfamiliar and caused a blush to creep into my face.

I grabbed his hand roughly, regaining my composure before forcing him towards the ground. He groaned at the sudden impact, struggling to sit up.

“You look so miserable right now,” I joked, chuckling as I extended a hand for him.

“That was uncalled for,” he muttered before ignoring my hand and pushing himself up on his own.

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