Kei snickered, watching his opponents exaggerated movements. The man's technique was alright, he thought, but the man obviously didn’t have much experience with longer fights and agile adversaries.
Back flip, back flip, stop.
Vamp jumped forwards, narrowly missing Kei’s chest with his sword as the aforementioned twirled out of the way.
The bat turned around, adjusting his posture slightly before glaring at the boy. Oh well, seems like Vamp realized he was getting played with.
Really, if you asked Kei, he would tell you the only reason he still accepted Vamps challenges was to improve his dancing skills while playing cat and mouse with the well-proportioned gentleman.
He rarely fought back or used weapons, mostly dodging or poking his opponent with his fingers or feet. Or he tested moves he learned in books or action movies.
Those were the best days, being also the days he got paid the most.
He let himself fall back on his hands before righting his body. It was fun to just run away from Vamp using his hands, trying to top his record every time.
In this city, he wasn’t really a fighter anymore but rather a performer.
Yes, he still fought. But at his level, everyone around him could only be called prey.
His evenings were no longer called fights, but shows. He still did fights, but only with multiple opponents.
The audience laughed after a particularly vicious twist, seeing Vamp stumbling forward after he just barely missed the catboy again. And again.
After a few minutes, he managed to corner him, forcing Kei to jump out of the way.
Snorting, Kei brushed the soot off his hands as he sighed about how unfair life is, zooming in on Vamp.
The stupid idiot still wouldn’t leave him alone, trying over and over to beat Kei – without success, naturally. Today was meant to be a fight, but Kei won’t complain. He'll still get his money, maybe even more.
He couldn’t understand the guy. Vamp just wouldn’t give up. The man wasn’t one of his fans who just fought him to fight him, he fought, fell and rose, again and again. And in between he was glaring, snarling and sneering. It was quite amusing.
Long story short, they met when Kei was still fourteen and new in town. Kei didn’t like the arrogant bastard and beat him.
Said bastard still wouldn’t leave him alone.
Kei was, in all means, a fighter.
At the beginning, he fought to survive. Later, he fought to live. And after that, he fought to provide his ‘siblings’ and friends a roof over their heads and food on the table.
Not that he was the only one in their small group with that occupation. It proved to be quite worthwhile in his old city. He still sent them money every now and then.
When he was only eight years old, he had his first fight in a small fighting ring in his hometown.
The town wasn’t big nor rich and the ring was accordingly rather small.
It was under the slums, in the worst part of the city. Wastewater was leaking in through badly mended walls and trash and human feces were left lying around everywhere.
‘Why bother cleaning, it’ll be just as bad again in a few weeks’ was what they said. They were not wrong...
That first time, it was an official fight – well, as ‘official’ as something like underground fighting can be. It wasn’t at a very convenient time for betters, being at seven am, still before school, but he was hungry and needed the price – a sandwich and water.
Things like that happened quite often, small children fighting in these rings. You couldn’t only bet on single fights, but also on progress, moves etc. Why would someone tell them what it’s really about? They got food, who cares if the man in third row is getting himself off on their old clothes or if there were cameras in the changing rooms documenting their every move until it got sold as porn. There was more important stuff the kids had to worry about.
So, his first fight, he won. He also won his second and third fight and the whole ordeal somehow started to become fun. Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t enjoy hitting people. He just didn’t dislike fighting, at all.
That was, until they paired him up against teenagers and he got beaten into a pulp.
Seemed like the betters were getting a little too bored.
He didn’t land in the hospital. How was he supposed to afford something like that? No, he simply fell ‘asleep’ and woke up somewhere else.
Another city, another chance.
The fighters weren’t normal, but neither was he.
He met people, started networking and in the end got beaten less times than he won.
He met friends he wouldn’t mind keeping, some he would nearly call family.
Everything went well, really, until the police started looking at some schools a little closer.
Which led to a few websites, and in the end… well, let’s just say not everyone got caught and not many died.
But that didn’t mean they were alright. The children mostly didn’t fight because it was fun, they fought because they needed a roof over their head, they needed food and water and attention.
And there were only so many orphanages and group homes, as well as only a certain budget for all those children.
It wasn’t safe and it certainly wasn’t home.
They were rushed all over the country from house to house, until they either got adopted or managed to stay at an orphanage etc. Kei got fostered at thirteen.
It wasn’t common for older children to still find a home.
If you still lived in the group home after your eleventh birthday, it was nearly set in stone that you wouldn’t leave until you could emancipate at sixteen.
One could say he was lucky. He got away, had enough food and even got new clothes every now and then.
But he also lived with a violent drunkard who liked small children a little more than he should. It reminded him awfully of his childhood. Seems like some things never change.
Kei’s sixteenth birthday was a week ago and all preparations and plans he made started moving.
He opened a bank account with all his savings and rented a big and surprisingly cheap flat on the highest floor on top of a gray-brownish building, looking exactly like its neighbors. Boring but effective.
He heard rumors that a man murdered his wife, brother and children in there before he leapt out of the window. He just assumed the man didn’t survive the fall from over six stories.
Apparently his ghost still lived in the flat, only showing up on full
moons or whatever was what the owner told him. After he signed the contract, naturally.
Needless to say that no one wanted to live there and the landlord got desperate. His luck, really.
Moving in proved to be much easier than expected. All he got was clothing and other basic stuff, as well as a desk, chair and the rest of his old furniture. A ‘friend’ of him, Mr Miller, was nice enough to provide his truck.
Together they finished in under two hours.
Kei walked Miller to the door, talking about the performance’s times the next two weeks.
He was lucky his birthday was during the summer holidays which meant- no school! Well, at least for now.
He was able to get a head-start into earning money for various things like school stuff and trips. Really, they never thought about students with low income.
Fortunately, he was able to negotiate five performances and six fights for the next two weeks. It sounded like much, but actually were around two to four fights a day for him or a performances and up to two fights, so he didn't have to come in every few hours.
His job should give him enough opportunities for earning enough money to last at least a few months.
Sure, Kei could still work on school days, but with homework and everything... Working on the weekends would hopefully be enough.
Kei smiled. He wasn’t really happy yet, but life definitely became worth living again.