I’m not sure how, but we all settled into this new routine. Lucas told mum and dad that he had found somewhere to move to, packed his bags and started living in this shithole apartment with Jesse. Mum, dad and Annie were none the wiser about why he’d really moved out, and their only hopes were that he had enough money to cover the rent, and that this wasn’t just to help fuel his drug habit away from their prying eyes. I went over under the pretence of making sure he was keeping clean, when what I was really doing was taking advantage of the best MMA training I could’ve gotten, and feeding Lucas in return. Jesse didn’t know the rules of MMA, but his speed and strength alone were enough for me to train against.
Soon enough, I was moving up the ranks; I was fighting opponents in the gym that I wouldn’t have dreamed of taking on before I met Jesse. I was stronger, faster and hitting harder than ever before. Even Jesse noted my progress on a few occasions. One time, he told me he hoped I never became a hunter. I told him I hoped that he never gave me a reason to become one. I’m not sure that answer pleased him too much. He just nodded and sent me flying across the room.
I nursed the back of my head, not daring to move from where I’d landed until I was sure nothing had broken. I’d left a dent in the plasterboard, for fuck’s sake.
“You’re gonna have to pay for that,” Lucas informed me as Jesse walked over to help me back up. I let him drag me to my feet once I figured I was okay, grimacing at the bruises I could feel already blooming under my clothes.
“Jesse can pay for it. He’s the one that threw me into the wall,” I grumbled.
“Maybe you two should move your training outside.” Jesse nodded in agreement. I didn’t like the sound of being thrown around outside much. Too much tarmac. You know how much that shit hurts when you fall over. The ground was gonna end up wearing more of my skin than me. Sensing my trepidation, Jesse grinned.
“You’ll toughen up out there. Or learn to be quicker. One way or another, it’ll be good for you.”
I did both, in fact. All the time, I was getting better. None of us were quite sure how I was getting good as fast as I was, but I certainly wasn’t complaining.
I wasn’t til I got kicked out of school, anyway. I was a measly one year away from finishing altogether when I got the boot. Why did I get the boot, you ask? Because someone decided to provoke me into fighting them. Everyone in the school knew how protective I was of Maxxie. This someone caught him between classes and dragged him off into the field and proceeded to kick the shit out of him. I got wind of it and got up in the middle of my lesson, ignored my teacher warning me to sit the fuck down and found this guy spitting on my best friend. Maxxie was a state by the time I’d gotten there, his clothes were ripped, his skin was already blotched and bruising and his school tie had been burnt. I just saw red.
Unfortunately for me, seeing red ended in this guy and a couple of his friends that were out there being hospitalised. Maxxie had needed a few stitches and bandages, but it wasn’t much compared to what I’d done to the guys that did that to him. The second I’d been pulled off them by the PE teacher, I’d been told never to come back to that school again. I was unceremoniously escorted off the school grounds and a couple days later, a letter was sent home making it all official.
My parents flipped their shit over it, and they banned me from going back to MMA lessons ever again. It didn’t make a blind bit of difference, though. I didn’t need the lessons anymore, and no school would take me for the final year now that I’d put three students in hospital for, and I quote, “no discernable reason”. Oh yes, just to make matters worse, in the eyes of the school and all the other local schools, my attack was completely unprovoked. We’ll just ignore the fact that Maxxie had been beaten up and all I’d done was underestimate just how much ass kicking was in order to defend him.
What was I most pissed off about? I couldn’t defend Maxxie anymore. I wasn’t allowed to be anywhere near the school anymore. It wouldn’t have stopped me exacting some sort of revenge after school hours, but I couldn’t help him inside school, could I?
What I wasn’t expecting, was for that to completely end Maxxie’s torment altogether. Apparently everyone that had ever given him grief was suddenly afraid of even breathing the same air as him in case I found out.
Anyway, this just gave me a hell of a lot of time to spend working out and practicing sparring. Jesse even found a couple other vampires willing to spar with me, just to see how I would fare against someone I’d never fought before. There’s always that risk of getting too used to someone’s particular fighting style and being caught unawares the next time you had to fight someone else. At first, they bested me every time, but after another five or six months, even they had to admit I was getting better. I’d found something to channel my anger and boredom into, and I wasn’t about to let it go, no matter how dangerous it was.