“You’re getting slow Purga.”
Zell had me pinned to the mat, arm digging into my throat, wearing a black wife beater, black gym shorts, black Nikes, and his best victory smirk. I was out of breath, but not out of ideas. I fell back on my usual plan of attack, play dead. I panted a little harder for added affect, and when his grip eased up, I slammed the heel of my hand into the side of his head. He let out a satisfying gasp of pain, and I scrambled to my feet. I should have taken him out with a hit below the ribs, but I didn’t want it to end that quick. I wanted a fight, and now, black hair falling out of his hair tie to frame a pissed off face, he was going to give me one.
I stood at a half crouch, arms up, staying loose and ready.
“And you’re getting sloppy, Ketsian.”
I dodged his first punch, and got a blow to his side before he swept my legs out from under me. Zell was trained far beyond any of us, a second degree black belt in kicking your ass and being really damn happy about. I jumped to my feet just in time to miss a blow to the head, spun him around by an arm, and kicked him in the back right in the sweet spot, the one that knocks the air right out of your body. It’s a move I’m not sure would work on vamps, with the whole not breathing thing, but I got a sick satisfaction from the oof that followed as Zellious Ketsian gasped for breath.
“Come on, is that all you got?” I laughed.
He came at me hard and fast, trading blow for blow. We weren’t sparring anymore, this was an all-out brawl. I blocked his fury of blows with forearms and elbows, and the sting had me smiling like a lunatic. He got a good one below my left shoulder, but I was right handed, so that didn’t stop me from using the opening to undercut him below the ribs. I’d avoid hitting him in the face if I could, it was a very pretty face. The ladies of the Bombay would be very upset.
As I ducked a blow aimed for my jaw, I began to rethink that.
But he wasn’t trying to punch me. He was trying to pin me down. And like all things in life Zell worked for, he got it. He had me pinned back to the mat in less than a minute, and again, we were both out of breath. But he wasn’t smiling now.
“I am not your enemy Lillith, and I am not going to hurt you.”
I frowned at that, but I understood, and apologized. I had let my anger get the best of me, and in my want to simply hit something, to feel something, I had nearly hurt my partner. And in that moment I knew why Zellious Ketsian was a true friend. Shaun would have kept fighting. Alex would have gotten his ass kicked. Zell pinned me down and let me breathe it out. He didn’t hug me. He didn’t yell at me. He just sat there and pinned me down until I could control my demons again.
Zell was an asshole. But he was also brilliant, and when he found someone he deemed worthy of his company, he did right by them. And so he would always do right by me.
I needed to try harder to do the same.
“Apology accepted,” he said, and offered a hand to help me up. It was a gesture I normally ignored. I didn’t like taking help from anyone.
I took it.
I vowed to do so more often.