Shaking anxiously, Axel retreated to the dugout area he was previously in, avoiding the wretched stares of his peers.
"What was I thinking?" "It was so similar to a dream when I had defeated a bad guy! Dammit I got carried away!" Axel thought.
"Very good, also to any of you who came close, good job." said O'Brian impressed.
"Now let me explain to you what we at S.P.A look for in our candidates" he said addressing the crowd of students.
As O'Brian continued his speech Lance jumped down to Axel's level. He walked down the alleyway until he was within speaking distance of his blue haired bane.
This was the first time the two had come face to face in the absence of the usual clutter and rambunctious nature of the high school hallways. As they stood in silence, facing one another it was as if all time outside of their showdown had stopped. The wind and breeze had completely died, and a cloud slowly blocked out the sun, creating a rather dark scene to the previously sunny, green, grassy field. The silence between the two was so profound that the only sound that could be made out was O'Brian's echoing voice from the field and the distant squeaks and rustles of students adjusting their sitting positions on the bleachers.
Besides there encounter in the morning, Neither one had ever conversed with the other before, yet there seemed to be an air of familiarity, or better yet finality among them.
To any onlooker passing by, it seemed like two eternal nemesis that had come to settle the score once and for all. Like they were generals on some great battlefield and had come face to face with their true enemy for the first time.
Axel stood strong with a glare of frustration mixed with his usually dazed and confused look, while Lance stared down Axel with utter acrimony, with the usual arrogant complex arranged on his face.
"How?" Lance finally said breaking the silence
"How can someone like you, with no fight experience quickly analyze a situation and deconstruct an opponent's moves?" He said, giving Axel a skeptical eye "How!"
Axel took a stride forward toward his opponent. It seemed the arrogant stares Lance typically gave truly were a representation of his mind.
"It may not have been in the real world… but I've fought plenty before." Axel retorted back at Lance
Lance turned his head slightly, squinting his eyes at the remark.
"What?" Lance questioned "What does that even mean? Is that some kind of joke? Are you mocking me?"
Axel shook his head in disappointment; he had no idea why he had expected Lance to gather anything out of what he just said.
"I thought you of all people would understand…" Axel sighed making his way back to the bleachers, "But, I guess I was wrong."
Axel walked towards Lance with his hands in his pockets and head hanging low, disappointed in their encounter. As he came within an inch of Lance he stared into his eyes giving Lance a look of disparity, as if Lance had failed him in some way, before walking past him.
Lance clenched his fist in rage as Axel passed him. "Why does this guy speak to me so familiarly?" Lance thought. He gritted his teeth, vexed at the arrogance of which he felt Axel had addressed him.
"Wait!" Shouted Lance catching Axel in his retreat.
"I know what you think" he said spitefully as he walked towards Axel. "You think there's something similar between you and me. You think we're the same, BUT YOUR WRONG!" Lance shouted at Axel.
Axel stood frozen in his tracks absorbing the animosity of Lance's outburst. It was as if Lance thought it was insulting to have anything in common with Axel.
"There's no way a loser like you, a child whose never known responsibility, who's never fought for their life like could ever understand me!"
Axel snapped the hood off his head revealing his shoddy blue hair and darted back toward Lance.
"You don't know a thing about me or what I've been through!" He screamed. "All you do is stare me down and make assumptions when you don't have any idea what's going on in my head! You have no idea!"
"Oh shut up!" Lance rebutted arrogantly. "You think your predicament is bad? Have you taken a look at the badlands? There are people fighting to stay alive every day! Meanwhile your ass is falling asleep in class every day!!"
"Don't jump to conclusions! You think my life is all sunshine and rainbows? I'm fighting for my life right now and you can't even - "
"Enough!" Shouted Lance raising his hand. There was a new look in his eyes, one that had exceeded rage, one, that had developed into murderous intent. Axel's stomach turned as he stared into Lances ghostly green eyes that penetrated his body.
As Lance's energy flowed through his body a memory flashed through his head.
"I will fight till my last breath for you my son because I believe one day you will save me"
"You've said quite enough Ax" said Lance clenching his hand into a fist.
Suddenly the air grew cold and the wind started to howl. Lance's eyes glistened as the wind began to blow hard against the trees creating a sinister howl.
"If you truly want to feel what it's like to be on the verge of death, if you truly want to be trapped in a battle of survival and be at the mercy of another that can certainly be arranged". Lance said coldly taking strides towards Axel.
Axel looked down, dropping his head.
Lance continued to stride forward with the turbulence of a great storm following his stride.
"So", Axel said, pulling out his necklace from inside his sweatshirt, "I keep looking for light but this darkness" he said looking up into the clouds, "This darkness is all I know."
He took one last gaze at it before looking up and smiling into Lances face. Axel placed the necklace back in his sweatshirt and lifted up both his arms.
"Be my guest" he said chillingly "Just don't stop at the verge of death, I've always wanted to see my mother again anyway."
"Life is sacred Lance so promise me you'll never say you want to die again… There are many people in the world who want to die but can't, do you know why that is?"
"No mother, why is that?"
"Because they have someone important to them… So when you say you want to die it means that there's no one important to you…It means you have nothing or no one to live for It means that I…"
The wind grew silent, and with those words the scene returned to the silent battleground that was previously established. The howling winds had subsided and in their place a stunning stillness washed over the two.
Lance quickly turned away from Axel catching his breath. Somewhere in that conversation he had lost his breath, or rather he had forgotten to take it in!
He was so baffled he couldn't even look at Axel after hearing such a thing. "This kid", he thought as his fist tightened "he really knows how to get under my skin."
"Damn it" Lance said, gritting his teeth. As much as he had to, he hated backing down, how could he fight someone who didn't even have the will to live? What was the point in that? As pissed off as he was Lance was no bully, but he couldn't leave things as they were either.
"Axel" he said as he walked away. "You better pray you never get powers because if you ever do…" he said, stopping briefly. "I'll beat you senseless for that nonsense you just sputtered out!"
"What?" Axel said, confused as his heart raced.
"Live you ungrateful loser" said Lance.
"Live until you can awaken your powers… and then seek me out. I will leave you so beaten and so broken you'll never whine about the bullshit you're going through again! I'm going to make you say it with your own mouth."
Axel was shaken by Lance's words. Lance had just ordered him to stay alive… so he could beat him up? Anyway he looked at it the situation didn't make sense. What was Lance trying to prove?
This time it was Axel who was frustrated, he gave Lance a wide-eyed stare into the depths of his soul trying to read the situation.
"Make me say what?" Axel uttered in an irritated tone
Lance stopped walking and turned around staring at Axel defiantly.
"That you don't want to die."
As he uttered the words a cool breeze brushed passed the two as they exchanged looks. Somewhere in the conversation it seemed they had come to some sort of understanding of each other. Although the picture had become a bit clearer for each of them, the feelings of anger and frustration still proceeded to dictate their interaction. As Axel raised his head to the skies light began to pour out onto him from between the clouds.
After the breeze had passed they stared back at each other with the same looks as before. Both seemingly frustrated at why the other "was the way they were".
"After that, you can challenge me as many times as you want, and each time I'll show you what it's like to fight for your life" Lance continued. "You will spend the rest of your life clinging to life waiting for your chance to beat me! But until that day comes don't you ever complain in my sights again! You have no idea what true suffering is!"
Lance made a fist at Axel before turning around.
"And if you've got a problem with that, talk with your fist! Your thoughts won't reach me any other way!" He said shaking his fist walking away.
Axel put it all together. "This guy is so arrogant he doesn't think my depression is real! But it doesn't explain why he wants to confront me about it. Maybe… just maybe…" Thought Axel
"OK", Axel said grinning
"I'll fight you under one condition!" Axel proclaimed confidently.
"You're giving me conditions?" Lance laughed grabbing his forehead
"And what would that be?"
"If I win... you have to become my friend"
Lance stopped laughing, and froze shooting a shocked look at Axel.
"Friend?" Lance said
"After all that... this guy wants to be my friend…" thought Lance
"I've never had a friend before… And I certainly don't need one now do I? What am I thinking? Friends with this loser? I'D RATHER"-
Lance caught himself. He would never wish death upon himself even as a joke. He knew better than anyone the value of life. Why was it that this blue haired imbecile caused him to think so irrationally? That stupid look in his eyes, the depressed presence he carried. Usually Lance couldn't care less about those who surrounded him. But this kid made him so livid with frustration he could barely control it. He had to release this anger and discharge it on Axel, only then would he be free of this rage.
It was at that moment Lance realized this was the first time he had felt any emotion at all towards another person other than his mother. Allowing himself to get mad only meant he cared in some way what this kid said.
"You know what", he thought "Why do I even care?" He took a breath calming himself and continued walking on.
"Fine with me" Lance said, doubtfully walking away. "You'll never beat me anyway."
Axels grin widened with the coolness of Lance's remark and clenched his fist in excitement at the challenge.
"I know" said Axel grinning, "I just wanted to give you every reason not to hold back!"
Lance paused as he approached the stairs to the bleachers shooting one last glare toward Axel. The light that had poured out from the clouds had now illuminated the entire walkway, just barely reaching Lance's face for Axel to see.
Much to Axels surprise it wasn't a look of enmity or contempt. Though Axel could only see half of his face he could see Lance was smiling!
"Heh this guy", thought Lance in both frustration and amusement. "He really knows how to get under my skin."