The noise around me was deafening. Impossible to block out. Cheers, jeers, catcalls… it was insane. I couldn't focus. And this was a very bad time to lose focus.

I stared at the boy across from me, Kurt. Taller than me, stronger. How did I get into this mess? I was no match for him. The battle had already taken its toll on me, and I fall to my knees, gasping for breath as I cling to the air.. I'm not sure I can handle much more. They say that no battle is considered "to the death", but that doesn't mean that they'll stop anyone from trying to kill.

I just have to make sure that I'm not the one never waking up again. My vision blurs as I stare up at my opponent, and by the time its cleared he's upon me again. How does he move so fast? Before I've had a chance to block, he's slammed my head into the dirt, raising his knife above my neck.

I've known that it would come to this for awhile now. That's how it is in the valley. If someone chooses to kill you to win the fight, they'll do whatever's necessary to complete their task. Death isn't a requirement, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

I suppose he knew it too, that one day we would be the ones staring across the distance at each other. It shouldn't surprise me that he'd be willing to kill me in order to survive another day. But it hurts a little, knowing that he would. We've only known each other a few weeks, but I thought we'd formed a sort of alliance. We helped each other out in battle with other "contestants", and yet the first time we face each other he's ready to kill me?

The night air is cool on my skin as his knife tears through my clothes, but I barely notice. His blade is close enough to my neck that I can feel the cold, sleek sharpness emanating from its surface almost as a tangible thing, something I can reach out and touch.

He looks into my eyes, his long hair brushing against my face as he leans closer. I can't read the look in his eyes. I used to know him, or thought I did. Now I'm not so sure. He's changed. Battle has changed him, but its more than that. Its the battle between us that's changed him.

"I'm sorry," He whispers. His eyes are dark, the emotion within their depths is closed off to me. He presses the knife against my throat and I feel blood spill over the blade. My mind is scrambling for a plan, some way to get out of this situation.

Suddenly there's a rush of footsteps, and he's pulled off of me, the knife falling to the ground with a thud.

"What the -" He tries, but his words are interrupted by a fist in his face. He hits the ground hard, and the boy who hit him comes to my side. Without a word he reaches out a hand and helps me to my feet, glancing over me to make sure I'm alright before looking back to the boy on the ground.

Blustering but not really saying anything intelligent, Kurt runs off to nurse his wounded ego. I turn to the newcomer beside me, only to find that he's already moving away, blending into the crowd before I can speak.

"Thank you," I whisper, staring after him. After a moment he turns back, and rejoins me.