Andy gathered his books, ready to leave the class.
It's been a long day. He couldn't wait to get back at the dojo and work
out. He quickly made his way out of the room and was walking outside when
he heard a couple of voices talking just beyond the corner. He would've
just walked past and not bothered with anything until something caught
".....chick Mai?" Andy tensed when he heard the name. His eyes narrowed as he listened to the content of their conversation.
"What a babe! that Bogard guy sure is lucky to be living with her, d'ya think that they're..."
One guy snorted. "Nah. My sister told me that they were just friends.."
"Really? How can you just be friends with a hot girl like that? I mean, what... she's only fourteen, fifteen? and look at that body!"
"So, what happened when you asked her out?" another voice asked. There was a complete silence before the guy replied.
"She turned me down" his response was met by snickers.
"Hehehe, looks like Mr. Cassanova is loosing his touch!" another commented.
"It's not over yet! I'm gonna get her to go out with me, whether she likes it, or not!" he declared proudly. "Or else..."
"Or else what?" Andy asked, deciding to make his presence known. From the way they were talking, he recognized the group of guys talking, and seeing them, confirmed his suspicions. It was Koji Mimayoto and his gang. They were a year older than Andy, even though they were in the same year; and frankly he didn't give a damn. He saw Koji's friends tensing. He suspected that they knew he's been practicing martial arts, but he also knew Koji was as well, unlike him and Mai, however, he chooses to brag about it.
"Look who's here..." Koji said, as he walked near Andy. "We were just talking about your friend..."
"Stay away from Mai. If you as much as touch a strand of her hair, you'll be sorry," he said in a low voice. Koji's friends laughed uncomfortably. After all, Koji was the 'leader' of the most feared gang at school. Koji snorted at this.
"What are you going to do about it Bogard? Besides, Mai's just your friend, right?" he asked. He failed to notice Andy's fist tightening. "Let me tell you something, my gaijin friend. There isn't one girl in this school who says no to me..."
Andy took a deep breath before answering. "Last I heard, somebody already did," he said before walking away. He heard Koji shout a number of obscenities but chose to ignore it. He made a mental note to talk to Mai later. He saw her waiting outside the school gates.
"What took you so long?" she asked, obviously annoyed.
"I'm sorry I was late, I had to take care of something.." he replied.
"Let's just go" she said as she started to walk away, fuming. Andy scratched his head.
"Mai, come on... I said I was sorry..."
She continued to walk, but her eyes were still flashing. "It's not you, I just had a bad day," she replied. Andy nodded his head.
"Koji Mimayoto?" as soon as he said the name, Mai abruptly stopped and looked at him, her mouth opened wide. "I overheard him talking with his friends. He seemed to be pretty determined in taking you out," he finished grimly. Mai scowled at this.
"The nerve of that guy! he actually thought I should be pleased because he wanted to take me out! That slime ball! He even tried to..."
"Tried to what?" Andy suddenly asked, his blue eyes flashing.
"Uh-oh," Mai thought. She recognized that look from Andy. That was the exact same look he had when she first came to high school and got picked on by the older boys. From the look on his face, he might actually turn back and beat up Koji. "Uh... tried to take me to lunch today" she finished lamely. That was true, although she could see that Andy didn't believe her. "Andy, don't worry. I can handle that creep and his friends any day"
He continued to frown as they continued to walk. He let the subject drop and just decided to keep a closer eye on Mai. "Hey Andy, why are you practicing more often than the usual?" Mai asked, quickly changing the subject.
He shrugged his shoulders "I think I need more practice. My speed needs some improvement," he replied. Mai just rolled her eyes. She noticed that Andy's becoming more distant. He continued to walk, he felt Mai's eyes upon him, and was glad that she was not pursuing the matter further. They continued to walk home in silence, both vowing silently to watch the other's back.
Everyone in the Shiranui home was asleep. Almost
everyone, anyway. Andy quietly made his way outside the dojo, making sure
no one was watching him. He has been doing this for the past month, and
was hoping that he would not get punished much if he gets caught. Unknown
to him, he was being followed by somebody as he walked to his destination.
Half an hour later, Andy reached an alley and walked into it. He continued to walk until he reached a metal door. He banged his hands five times and waited. Seconds later, the door opened and he was let in. It has been almost a month that he has been fighting in underground ring matches. After all, he would soon need the money. Working in the local paper as a copy person doesn't exactly give him much, and besides, he has only at least three more years to go, before he meets with his brother. Fighting underground has earned him more cash than working in the paper anyway. He took the time waiting for his turn by preparing himself physically, and mentally. Soon enough, it was his turn. He walked to the ring and ignored the crowd's noise. "And for tonight's last event, for $1000 American dollars!! On my right is Joe Higashi!!! Fighting Style: Muay Thai!!! On my left, is our reigning champion, Andrew Bogard!! fighting style, Kopo-ken!.." As the man continued his introductions, Andy and his opponent eyed each other critically. They took measured, confident steps to the center and prepared their stance.
Andy groaned as he massaged his neck. That Higashi
guy was one hell of a fighter. Once the game finished, he didn't stay long
for the formalities. Back in a corner that's been made to a dressing room,
he sat down for a while and rested.
"Good, you sure can use that money to shut me up."
Andy looked up in horror as he recognized the voice. "M... Mai?" she walked up to him and observed his face. He didn't get bruised much, but he sure was hurting. "I... I can explain..." She didn't answer him, but instead walked behind him and placed her hands on his shoulders.
"Hurts?" she asked, although she sounded more angry than concerned. She didn't wait for his answer though, but started massaging it. "How long has this been going on?"
He gulped. "A month." She squeezed his shoulder a bit harder and he winced. "Ouch!"
"Serves you right! why didn't you tell me?" she asked. "I'm your best friend!"
"You don't tell me everything, do you?" he asked, countering her. He heard her hesitate. She didn't reply but continued to massage him. "I'm sorry... okay? I just needed to do this for myself, to see how well I fare up with others."
She stopped massaging him and sat down next to him. "You're not in any trouble, are you?"
"Of course not..."
She looked away from him for a moment. "How long do you plan on doing this?". Mai looked at him when he didn't answer. She felt her stomach tighten up. She felt as if she was loosing him everyday. Sure he was always quiet, shy, reserved, but there was always something about him that he kept from her. Something that he didn't want to share with her. Her grandfather has told her to trust Andy, if there was something he was hiding from her, it was because he was just looking after her.
Andy stared at Mai after she asked him. How could he tell her that he was saving up so he could leave Japan and return to America to avenge his father's death? Avenging his father's death was what pushed him to the limits. That was his main goal. He distanced himself from others, since he figured that there was no point in being close with them, except of course for Master Hanzo who has been his guide, and Mai. Ever since that day in the gardens when they first met, she has grown attached to him, and him to her. Now, at fifteen, she's practically all grown up. He knew Mai has a crush on him, she never did hide her feelings from him, and he could never understand what she saw in him. He tried to distance himself from Mai since he knew he has to leave soon, and he couldn't bare to open up to Mai until his father's murderer was dead. Looking at her, he felt guilty knowing that she'd surely be hurt when he leaves. He looked away from her and took his bag as he stood up. "It's getting late, we'd better go home," he told her as he offered her his hands. She glanced up at him and gave small smile. She placed her hands on his as she stood up. The two friends stared at each other. "Truce?"
Andy nodded. "Truce."
"Oh, and Andy?"
Mai gave him a kiss in the cheek. "Congratulations."
Andy blinked as he tried to find his voice. "Thanks...."
With that, two of them walked out, hand in hand.