Watch Your Back When You Can't Watch Mine

The Cage 
 It seemed, at least to her nose, that the The Cage smelt more and more like beer and less like wolf. She lent that passing observation to the familiarity of her surroundings – just frequent enough that she hardly flinched as she entered the thick of Cedar Creek territory – ingrained, as it were.

 The crowd that night was sizable for the tucked away and underground bar and fight ring – the noise elevated from conversations and cheers, the clinking of glasses and scrapping of chairs against the floor. Yet still she was focused on the ring itself, entertaining her second whiskey and tilting her head a bit as she silently assessed how a man with a free bleeding gash above his left brow stumbled and swung and ran on reactionary emotions.

Ill advised, but a good example of what not to do all the same.

 Dressed as if she had prepared for the possibility of a fight, she had yet to put her name in all the same, surveying face after face and trying to settle on anything or one that felt like it might be worth the interruption to her drinks. In the mean time, she remained pleased enough to settle in and watch liquor make men and women restless and violent. Maybe she would, maybe – but this was enough for the time being, simply enjoying the slight reprieve from work and coalition affairs. It was busy enough that seating was a hot commodity, still she kept her legs stretched, shoes on the lip of the seat across from her in some sort of wordless display of: No, you can't.

Relaxed, was not synonymous with friendly.

He was a little nervous having Asha here. Abraham couldn’t decide if it was fear that she’d shift, or fear that he would just make the biggest fool of himself ever.

Maybe he’d get lucky and get matched with a human. There was a very strong were presence here. Like. One in particular. But maybe it was Alina and he just wasn’t recognizing her quite right!

Sure. Sure, Abraham.

Two drinks in and not really feeling either of them, he offered Asha a kind of boyish kiss on the cheek, trying to keep it all light-ish.

"Gunna go sign up on the thing," he said, and he’d go do just that whether she clung along or stayed to wait for him to come back.

This was so fucking different. Asha could feel her animal pacing, riled up by the cheering and the activity. It was good they'd eaten a lot but she still could almost feel the urge to... do something. Shift? Wrap her hands in wrist wraps and punch a bag? Make out?

All three? Sure.

She'd drank with Abraham, and knew immediately that she wanted to drink a lot more, but held herself back for now as he focused on a... Different goal. He was gonna sign up. Put his name down.

Her cat, for all she had been distracted lately, rubbed against his flirtily right about when he kissed her on the cheek, and it... feelings, man, they were dumb. He just meant a lot to her, as honorary dude who ruined her life but also protected her from the backlash of her mistakes. And also her boyfriend, AHHHHHHHH.

"Gonna go with you," she said, her cheek feeling warm from the kiss as she remained on his arm.

She did glance around, because she felt the presence too, but in such a packed arena, it was hard to tell.

She did think she saw an open seat, though, and found herself switching between eyeing it and watching him write his name which for some reason just felt like an intimate thing to watch.

Anyway. "Seat over there," she pointed, taking his hand to lead him there with the intention of... probably sitting in his lap until his name was called. Except, when they got there, it was occupied after all. With someone's foot.

A powerful someone's foot.

"Um, hi," Asha waved to the powerful... Cheetah? She had a note of similarity to Marshal. "Can we sit here?"

He hadn't been doing much lately outside of staying close to Kroc and Levka and honestly, he felt like he was better for it. The group made things easier, yes, but alone time with people he considered important to him was the only way he knew how to show affection. Since Levka had been getting affectionate with Yana, Jackal supposed that he could also spend time with her. She didn't force conversation on him, and when she did want to talk, topics came easily; her power signature (much like levka's but with a hint of catnip) kept most people away from them and he could tell Levka that he was protecting his....

Girlfriend? Whatever they were?

He got up from his chair and she put her foot on top of it to hold it for him while he used the facilities and got his drink from the bar, nodding a little to the tall Irishman serving there before heading back to where he'd been sitting with the beautiful Belarusian only to see that someone was trying to claim his seat for their own. He held back a growl. No need for that. They weren't threatening Yana, they were just talking.

He came up behind the person in question and opened his mouth to speak only to squint. That smelled a little familiar. Not very familiar becuase it was covered by something now. A smell of feline that didn't belong to Yana. Without another moment of hesitation, Jackal moved around the pair and settled into the seat, lifting Yana's leg so that he didn't sit on her and then laid her leg across his lap while he sipped his beer.

Possessive? Maybe.

 While not entirely Were based, The Cage was enough supernatural that it readily became one of her favorite places outside of Belle Vista. There was a general tendency to skirt around her being - but if you pack enough people into one space, there was bound to be some rubbing of elbows. Her face was neither welcoming nor cold as she looked over the taller of the two first and then focused on the question.

 She knew him - maybe. Knew the scent, the fact though ... it was annoying because it was right there, just out of grasp. At any rate, hopefully he was amiss as well, because it felt like an ideal time to revert back to an old form of diversion as Jackal settled in without a word. "Вы ведаеце, які тып кошкі гэта? Я думаю, што я сустрэў гэты чалавек, - але я не магу паставіць яго." Her eyes traveled to Jackal as her pitch raised a bit to indicate the question. For his comfort, she tried to keep to things he could readily answer with a shake of his head or a nod, a grunt at most.

 Seat taken and crisis averted, she opted to cling to an illusion as she jabbed a finger a few times at the direction of the ring. It was then she pointed from the man to the woman and back again, signifying the both of them. Raising both hands and curling one into a fist, she punched her palm a couple of times. You two about to fight?, was implied.

"Do you know what type of cat this is? I think I've met the man before - but I can't place it."

No, Asha, how about you don’t let’s not let’s not she clearly doesn’t want you to sit-

Okay, uh.

Giant fucking behemoth of a man rolling up. Everyone in the world was tall and ripped except for Abraham and he refused all evidence to the contrary for the sake of bitterness. It was a bear, a scent he recognized from repeated meetings, but he couldn’t put a specific kind to the stranger. Hopefully this dude wasn’t looking to fight. Please. God.

Cat queen Yana, who he remembered because you didn’t forget queens okay, said something to the guy in Russian and Abraham took that as his signal to leave, one hand moving to gently guide Asha in the very realistic chance she tried to say something sassy. No sassing super powerful weres.

But then he caught some kind of hand signal, and... apparently no one spoke English around here. Just Russian??? and hand waves.

"Just me signed up," he said, hoping neither took that as an invitation because he was confident either one could throw him into the sky.

Another step back, figuring he wasn’t invited into this conversation, but feeling like he was required to at least politely wait for a response.

There was... no answer except for some other dude she'd never fucking met suddenly edging around them to get to the seat she'd been hoping for, except he could have just said "excuse me" and she would have been just fine with moving over???

And then pretty much no acknowledgment further as the woman started talking Elvish or some shit to the guy without so much as a word to her at, like, all.



Asha wanted to get, well, Asha about it, but her cat knew better than to tangle with such a stronger force. That, and the man also kept human Asha down, because bear and gigantic just like this but decidedly not a bear she knew. Okay. Whatever.

She looked to the ring as he started to take her... elsewhere, her mood decidedly huffy but the nerves over seeing Abraham fight someone returning, and then he spoke, and she looked back at him and saw he was talking to the rude cheetah whatever and she just decided to keep quiet.

Actually. She also cast a glance at the bear dude who couldn't even be bothered to say "excuse me" before. Rude times two. A friendship or whatever match made in heaven, she was sure.

 Saaaame shit, different day. Well, not really. She supposed that today was one of the days she was supposed to be at the Brewery but honestly, she was restless, and so was her beast. The full moon was officially within the week and she wanted blood. She wanted to hunt but she needed to be around her packmates both because her wolf wanted their company and... well. Maybe she wanted their company, too. But that would make her nice or some shit, so nah.

 She was behind the counter, keeping an eye on the house as the last fight came to a close with something of an anti-climatic ending. No blood. No real violence. That was what you got when two humans fought, right? The Cheetah Queen was here, though. Was she gonna pop in the ring? Maybe she could entice her into it. Maybe her name being called would be enough to tell the Queen of Spots that she was up for a little fun tonight. Maybeee. That didn't change the fact that her name was already on the roster to begin with, though.

 "Abraham," Came the booming voice of the ref. And then it sounded again. "Alina." And that was her cue. She dropped her towel where it was and exited the bar, making her way through the crowd to get to the steel-barred Cage.

Jackal listened to Yana and then shook his head. As much as he wanted to say that he recognized the scent, he just didn't. The girl however. He did recognize her. This had been the girl from the woods that night. The one that he had chased down but not killed; the one that had caused all that trouble. Part of him wanted to scare her off again, maybe wipe that look of disgust off her face and then finish what he'd started back in October.

Aggression rose in him like a wave. His eyes flashed a light blue that caused him to grip Yana's leg a little tighter. His shoulders rolled and he moved closer to the power source he'd been escoprting, not quite setting his head on her shoulder because they weren't that close yet, but leaning against her as though he required her presence because he did.

If Levka needed her, he needed her.

 She saw the way that the girl assessed the polar bear, the leeriness of the man that accompanied her - saw it, did nothing to aid against it. Agitation (at least from these two), was ultimately of no hindrance or value to her - between the three of them, she would not make excuses or explanations of her friends behavior. If she wanted to escalate any displeasure she might have felt, they could handle that as it arose - otherwise ...

 She opened her mouth, prepared to wish the man good luck in a language that it seemed apparent he didn't understand. Prepared for it, but was delayed all the same as the next fight was matched and called. Pieces of the puzzle turned and all at once the whole business came into focus - Abraham wasn't a particularly common name in Mountainside, and his apparent sore thumb appearance in Work Release lingered. One mystery down, at least - but it was a short lived train of thought as the second name had her sitting up straight and laughing a little as she turned and craned her neck to watch the King's approach. "Жадаем поспеху, Абрагамам." This time,. there was an inkling of doubt in her tone - though she said nothing further.

 She kept her eyes on Alina, got comfortable and took a sizable sip of her drink to watch whatever was about to unfold. Except she felt her bear friend ramping, and she was pretty certain that was a bit of press coverage none in attendance wanted or needed. Not a bear, she cold not demand calm upon him - but she could throw what weight she had in the grand scheme of things. She reached out, tapped the tips of her fingers to his forearm and pulled away just as quickly. "Яны не варта гэтага рабіць, не дазваляйце ім пад скуру." Smothering him seemed like a stupid mistake, so she left it at that, scooted her chair a bit further to the side so that she was close at his side but not touching - so she had a better view of the ring.

 "Тут - гэта глядзець, воўк кароль збіраецца збіць ягуар. Гэта, несумненна, прымусіць вас адчуваць сябе крыху лепш." A silver lining perhaps, something to try to ground him in the moment as she raised her glass towards the two felines before tossing it back.

"Best of luck, Abraham."
"They're not worth the hassle, don't let them under your skin. "
"Here - watch this, the Wolf King is about to beat up the jaguar. That will certainly make you feel a bit better."


Maybe they could just go back to the bar and stand and watch until it was his turn. Another drink would be helpful to pass the time, and it could get him away from a situation that didn’t need to be weird.


There was his name.

Abraham. Yep.

And there was another name.

Alina. Cool.

So, Abraham only knew one Alina. She happened to actually live, like, in this particular part of town?! And also! Also. She ran a pack that owned this specific establishment. And he could even sense to some degree that she was here in this exact space!

And yet, as he heard her name, there came a few precious seconds of denial. Alina? Who’s that? Probably just some human bystander. He would go easy on them because they were definitely not the wolf king.



He would rather have fought Yana. Rather have fought Super Tall Muscle Guy. As his pupils threatened to overtake his eyes, his jaguar roo’d out in enthusiasm.

Abraham. Just.


His next thought was Asha, and he looked to her and spoke with words that were directed at her but really they were directed at himself.

"Just think about how much time you’re about to get to spend taking care of me," he said with a cheerfulness that came in the face of primal terror.

Time. To. Die. Probably.

Yana said something to him and he heard what sounded like his name, so he nodded distantly. Yes. That thing. He agreed.

It was a moment surreal on several levels. He hadn’t forgotten making an ass of himself in the grocery store and receiving a deserved scolding that had quite literally changed his view on life, even if it took some time.

Abraham had come a long way from a frightened cat who burst into rosettes at the slightest provocation. Alina had become someone he considered an ally, and he’d gotten to know her pack better than he ever expected.

And now.

She was going to murder him. (Not on purpose, like. He was pretty sure of that. Maybe manslaughter? Jaguarslaughter.)

His feelings came in rapid bursts, and he was terrified, but he was also invigorated. Likely that was the jaguar, encouraging him forward in the face of what it recognized to be danger, but the thrilling kind.

The biggest wildcard was Asha. Keeping her calm. Which he wouldn’t be able to do while Alina was punching his lights out. So.

Hopefully she brought her catnip.

"Boo me if I suck. Go find a other spot close to the ring."

He knew she wouldn’t boo him, but he reached a hand out to ruffle her hair annoyingly before looking toward the ring. See! Everything was fine! Really!


Goodbye Asha. Goodbye Yana. Goodbye big quiet bear.

Climbing in, dressed like a guy at the gym because that’s what he was most days, he looked to Alina with obvious nerves but without quivering fear.

"Hope Julie’s around to see you kick my ass."

It was goodnatured and not overly self deprecating despite the words. His hands rose up to a familiar protective boxer stance. It was all he knew.

He waited for her to come at him and possibly knock him out in the first punch. Some very dumb and human part of him had a real problem with hitting a woman first.

Elvish cat and rude bear were forgotten when Abraham's name was called. Here. Here it was. He was going. And it was-



Her eyes widened, and her mouth dropped; he made some kind of cheerful haha no big deal comment and she gaped at him like one of their goldfish.

Abraham. Alina.

Anyway, she was gonna protest his first instruction when he went ahead and mussed her hair, and that was rude enough for her to give a "Hey!"

Ugh. Ughhhhhhh. This was. Going to be... well her cat seemed pumped for him, really. "Good luck," she managed, and then... not even looking at the other two again, headed right to order a few beers entirely for herself before heading closer to the ring, thank you. She would need them.


 Arm stretched across her chest, Alina looked around the room, searching forrrrr... There she was. Spots. While the power signature had been impossible to miss, pinpointing where she was proved difficult in the small sea of people. She was with some guy that probably rivaled Trick in height but whatever; Alina caught Yana’s attention and grinned as she dropped her arm and instead boxed the empty air, eyebrows rising in question. She’d seen Yana fight, and it made her want to get into the ring with her.

 Her opponent was suddenly in the ring with her and the Wolf King’s attention shifted, looking to see —

 "Beef." Her tone was a touch surprised and maybe a little impressed. She hadn’t seen him since running into him and Jane in the lingerie boutique, and hadn’t heard from him since he broke Julie’s face. Had she expected him to step into the Cage? No. Did that change anything? Also no. He knew what he was getting into here, and she did too.

 Their stances mirrored one another, loose fists up by her face, balanced lightly on the balls of her feet. There was tension as she waited for the signal for the match to start, blue eyes focusing on the jaguar across from her, muscles practically singing with anticipation. The moment came and she moved, not to punch him but to twist and bring her leg around to nail him with her heel in a spinning back round kick.

He really needed to get a better control over his beast. There couldn't be times like this in public where he had to rely on someone else to get him through. Even if the person he was relying on was a beautiful Belarusian lady. Her words did not hold the weight that Levka's would, however they served as the perfect anchor and while Jackal looked up at the fight that was brewing between the Wolf King and the Cat he focused on the girl he'd scared in the woods.

He looked over at the man siting next to him, bared his teeth in a smile and said "My dick is bigger than the knife you're hiding in your pocket." He met eyes with the man and the staring contest that proceeded was short lived. The man got up and Jackal smiled brightly. He stuck two fingers in his mouth under his tongue and whistled loud enough to hopefully get the girls attention. If he had, he'd pick up the chair by the back of it and put it back down again to show that she was welcome to sit by them.

he turned his attention to Yana again. "Гэта несправядліва, каб пакласці грошы на гэты матч."

"It is unfair to put money on this match."

 Content that the bear seemed to be far enough from the precipice of a sudden shift, she averted her eyes to the cage proper while he bullied his way to a third chair. It wasn't so much that she was against such a way of getting results - it was just that ... the less you saw the better, even at a no-rules place like The Cage. Innocent as could be as she considered the relative stance's of both Were's and tried to not be too quick to picture the jaguar's eulogy. "Было б рабаванне." There was a slight distance to her voice, distracted until she followed his eyes to Abraham's companion and barely masked the second of surprise.

 She supposed this meant that the cover would be blown, that she would have to switch to the language that was infinitely more familiar after so many years. Ah well, the confused act had it's run - and good on Jackal for being ... well, his version of social. Or at least she supposed, still less talkative than Kroc (as if she could be called such), but - progress. As if to reaffirm the offer, she tilted her head toward the chair and stared on expectantly as well.

"It would be a robbery."

Beef. He’d never live that down. Maybe it would go on his grave stone. It felt like a nice enough thing to say here, though.

Abraham was ready for a punch.

He was a boxer, in the end, though hardly a professional one. But he knew how to hold his hands, how to dance back and to the side. He knew how to swing. Maybe it was the jaguar, but in the first few moments, he felt... okay about this. Borderline confident in his ability to put up a reasonable loss.

He waited for the telltale signs of swing, heart thudding with focus.

And then she fucking kicked him.

If he’d had time to talk he probably would have flat out said “what the fuck” because it was so utterly unexpected. Lightning quick and well aimed, it knocked both hands out of the way with a stinging impact and caught the very bottom of his chin with enough surprise to leave him grunting.

Luck and a height difference was the only reason his face wasn’t exploring new angles. It was enough still to leave his hand and jaw smarting with the fucking impact, and the composure of before decidedly shaken.

In retrospect, this was a cage match. It wasn’t boxing match. Julie had swung punch for punch, but why the fuck would Alina.

The jaguar urged him forward, away from thought, away from some whistle in the crowd.

He had very few tricks in his book. Abraham advanced with stupid confidence that felt like his only option, and he swung his right fist at what he hoped maybe would be her face but honestly if he could just hit a part of her body wasn’t that a minor victory?!

(And, for at least a few milliseconds, felt pretty fucking bad about it.)


The match started and for a second Asha was just holding her first cup of beer in the air as she watched them go. Alina advanced on him, landing a kick that jolted her entire body into tension. Not the cat, just her, worried, and...

There was a whistle and it broke her attention, and she looked back to find the bear looking at her. And he had a seat next to him now?

Oh. Maybe he wasn't rude.

She held up a finger and ordered a third beer (and a little carrying... thing, whatever you call those things you use to carry multiple cups). Because you can't just show up next to two people with only one spare beer? Unless you were altruistic.

Her eyes returned to the match just as Abraham managed to reach Alina with a punch and this time her cat stirred in delight, leaving her with an "Oh my god," that was immediately followed by a loud whoop of a cheer kick started by the frantically excited race of her heart.

Oh my god, he managed to hit Alina, was that gonna land them both on the wolf shitlist?

Asha got her beers and made her way to the pair as she watched the ring in furtive glances, and then held the tray that was the word out to them. "If you guys want?" she asked, trying to make nice after a series of rood thoughts.

After which she'd sit next to the bear guy she didn't know with intent to watch the match.


Like a switch, everything else was off in Alina's head. The whistle, the crowd, all of it was gone save for her opponent. Her heel caught his jaw and both feet were back on the ground again, watching as he reeled and came back with a right hook that she turned her body into to absorb the impact with her shoulder. Strong hit. Slightly jarring. This would be a good fight.

Before Beef could recoil his fist, Alina lifted her left hand, grabbed his wrist and at the same time used her right hand to jab a punch into his midsection. Solar plexus or gut, she'd have honestly been happy with either. Hitting someone in the face was great but she would expend more energy trying to hit him in the face than she would trying to incapacitate him by other means.

His fist hit, and hard, but it wasn’t the target he wanted. You didn’t fuck anyone up with repeated punches to the shoulder. However quick he wanted to be to pull back, Abraham could not outpace a fucking king.

He was learning real quick that he wasn’t a street fighter.

Abraham’s fist loosened in shock as she grasped his wrist, but he was in for something a hell of a lot worse in a second.

Her first hit somewhere between his stomach and somewhere a little higher with the kind of clenching shock that felt like a shift. It wasn’t, and he held to that, but that didn’t stop the reactionary beginnings of doubling over, his breathing temporarily strangled by his body’s response.

Just swinging at her again like this wouldn’t work. Kicking without any practice would just be a waste of effort and frankly embarrassing.

The jaguar provided only one answer.

Abraham threw himself forward with the intention of trying to slam her to the mat beneath him, which would likely lead to a whole host of problems he wasn’t looking ahead to contemplate.



"Дзякуй." He nodded to the woman again as she handed over the tray. He took one of the beers and handed the other to Yana, settling back in his chair to watch the fight between Wolf King and cat. So far it was what he expected would happen, she kicked him in the jaw, he punched her in the shoulder, she hit him in the gut and then... he... ran at her.

He shifted forward in his seat a little and raised an eyebrow, "Чаму ён бегчы да яе?" He nudged the strange woman a little, gentle but also insistent on her paying attention to his words. "Putting money on Alina will make a good consolation prize."

"Thank you.
"Why does he run to her?"

 She ran her tongue over her teeth as she considered the tray of beers and nodded at last, grunted as Jackal passed one off to her and she nodded her head to Asha as a form of thank you. She thought to drop the act, resisted for the time being as the other feline at the table cheered and not long after Jackal started in with the questions. "Я не вельмі шмат ведаю пра тое, як ягуараў палявання. Я мяркую, што ён не робіць гэта часта." She rushed through the words seamlessly, muttered into the lip of her cup and kept her eyes on the action.

 Still, after Jackal commented on betting, she nearly choked on froth and snorted - cleared her throat and set her glass back down. A little more than she had wanted to give for the evening, but at least then it was clear that she understood English just fine. "Калі гаворка ідзе, я не размаўляю па-ангельску." Good on Jackal for using so many words at once to a stranger, her attention was totally entangled in the fight itself.

"I don't know very much about how jaguars hunt. I assume he doesn't do this often."
"If it comes up, I don't speak English."


They continued to speak in tongues around her, though she had to figure out that whatever he said when he took his beer was some form of thanks based on just, like, body language. Okay.

She watched the fight, seeing Abraham take a hit to the gut and wincing sympathetically. And then he tried to body slam Alina and... she was far too fast for him. God, this shit had her and her cat at the edge of her seat.

The comment in English surprised her mostly because she could understand it. But. It was also mean. >:(

"I'd be pissed if he bet against me even if I was definitely gonna lose," she said, eyes never leaving the fray, and honestly, honestly? Asha could see Abraham conflicted at the very best if she did it.

"You guys fight here a lot?"

Obviously they came here, maybe often or whatever, but did they fight here.


The movement he made wasn't what she expected. Beef came at her and the wolf skipped back a couple steps to put distance between them before stepping to the side and aiming another kick at his side as he passed. It was a hurried movement and her judgement of distance suffered for it. Rushed into action, the kick ultimately missed, not making any sort of impact as the jaguar rushed past her.

Both feet on the ground again, Alina spun to face him, sure to keep a little bit farther from him this time. She didn't want to be caught off guard by that kind of move again.

Trying to boulder someone over worked better when you were an actual boulder and not a guy who, in the end, wasn’t even especially large.

The end result of his efforts was a nerve wracking amount of distance between them. He sincerely missed that she’d even sought to kick him, not because it was wildly mid-aimed but because he was bordering on actual literal tunnel vision.

Every cheer and jeer and clap and cough and word of chatter seemed to flood his ears at once, and as his arms rose again into the only protective position he knew, Abraham was driven forward by the need to just do... something.

If he waited for her to come for him, she would, and it would only be more embarrassing and potentially painful for it.

Abraham knew jack shit about kicking, or tackling, or anything beyond boxing maneuvers. But he did know a good bit about...

Punching! That was it, really. That was his only skill.

So he advanced in light steps, fists raised, before making to close the last few feet at a much quicker pace and aim another right handed punch toward... her general head area.

Aggression and speed would likely help his effort, though such a predictable strike would probably make hitting his exact target a problem.




The punch to her face was clean but most of all it was solid, connecting with her jaw and rocking her face to the side with its impact. Her growl was drowned out by the crowd’s cry, though it wasn’t really an aggressive sound to being with. Just one born from adrenaline and pleasure. He was getting good at punching.

She wasn’t going to punch him back. Not yet. Instead, her hand shot out, open palm to grab the hair at the back of his head and yank his face down towards the knee she brought up at their same time.

There was no time to celebrate.

The thwack of his fist was met with a flurry of movement that happened before he could even begin to respond.

Those were not nice fingers in his hair.

His face met her knee with stunning impact. He didn’t even make a sound, dizzied immediately. It struck at his right eyebrow, the skin splitting and beginning to bleed heatedly with the racing off his heart.

The ringing in his ears drowned out the crowd as he staggered back. It was only for the helpful force of her knee sending his head snapping up that he wasn’t hunched over.

His balance felt precarious. This time he swung with his left, trying for her cheek, but it felt like she was moving a whole, whole lot.

That was probably a knee to the face issue.



Where his technique had been textbook and well-executed in the punch before, the next one was nothing more than a wild swing. She couldn't even predict where the punch was going to land and so took the blow where it fell. Consequently, she didn't try and dodge, taking the blow to the face just as she had the last. This one was not a heavy a hit as the last and she took it without issue.

This time, Alina did use her fist, stepping in with her right foot while her body twisted, giving momentum to the uppercut she aimed at his chin.

There was blood in his eye already, trickling along a path forged first by sweat from his eyebrow downward. Squinting through it left him practically defenseless even with his fists raised.

He would manage one last wild swing that came within the same second as the blow to his chin, more likely to hit her in the arm than anywhere useful.

But as his head recoiled back, it felt like his entire consciousness was doing cartwheels back into the crowd, spinning wildly with the momentum of the hit.

The actual result was a knockout, and he fell sideways onto the mat, arms locked strangely out for a few seconds before the muscles slackened.

Abraham would wake just a few seconds after that to the giddy roar of the crowd, one hand traveling instinctively to his face as his brain blurrily seemed to reboot.



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