Chapter 3

Conga line

"It looks like Bruce can't fight anymore. That means Anthony wins by knockout," Mr. Jones announced.

The crowd was silent at first from shock, but everyone eventually clapped and cheered. I could see why people saw top 50 as a big deal for a high schooler, but an unranked fighter llke me just beat him.

"Since he won as an unranked fighter, Anthony now shares the 50th spot with Bruce," Mr. Jones added.

"Whooooo! That's my best friend!" Celia cheered.

So, of course, there was a system for the rank fights. When an unranked fighter beats a ranked one, they share that person's rank. So, now there was two rank 50s. When two ranked fighters go at it, they don't swap ranks, but they do rise depending on the gap. However, top 10 works differently, but we'll get into that later.

Once the rope cleared, I made my way to Know with Celia taking a free ride on my back.

"How was your first fight? It seemed to go well," Knox said.

"It was the greatest moment of my life." I sat on the opposite side of Knox, so Celia took the seat next to me.

"I didn't know you actually trained so that surprised me. Because of that, I was a little nervous about the fight," Knox admitted.

"I can't say that it was just training. Observing people has its benefits."

After saying that, everything became blurry, and my head started spinning.

"What… the hell?"

"It must have been that hit you took from Bruce. That was a lot for a first timer. We should get you to the nurse."

Knox stood and so did Celia.

"Well, see you later, Beck the brute."

Just like I thought, the girl left Knox to help me so she wouldn't have to.

"She's a great friend," Knox said sarcastically but you could barely tell from his face.

"Whenever I need help, she runs off with an excuse. When she needs help, she expects me to help with no questions asked," I informed.

"Well, you have a new guardian to protect you. Let's get going."

The nurse wasn't far from the cafeteria and school entrance. After the nurse took me in, I was out for a while. When I came to, the bright day turned into cloudy afternoon, signaling the end of school. Of course, the nurse stayed, but the other students probably left if they didn't have a club.

"Oh, man. That hit really rocked me."

"It's good that you're awake, but you missed the rest of school, even though it was just one class," the nurse said.

Now, the nurse. Remember when I said that Knox's statement was like your crush confessing to you? Well, just like most boys at Blackwell, Ms. Davis was my crush. I hadn't had a crush, of any age, in so long. I hope that she'll watch one of my fights in the future.

I especially loved black hair that was always tied in a bun, the pink sweater she wore to school every day, and the way her red eyes looked at me.

"I'm actually surprised, Anton. I didn't think you would be fighting."

She even had a special nickname for me, which was unique to only me as far as I knew.

"You missed my first fight. I'm a part of the program now."

"Well then, I'll have to catch you fighting at another time. Your pain should be one by now. Knox told me you took a heavy hit, but it shouldn't have caused a concussion or anything."

"That's good news. Thank you, Ms. Davis."

I hopped off the bed and stretched a little, testing my head.

"You should be more careful out there. You'll get in trouble if you get too hurt. Then I'll lose my favorite patient."

Once those words escaped her lips, my legs grew weak, making me fall back onto the bed. So, Ms. Davis wrapped her arms around me and pulled me close.

"Oh, no. Do you still feel weak?"

"N-No, I'm fine. I should be heading home now… really," I said, holding back my urge to stay even longer.

The nurse let me go, so I headed out. I grabbed my stuff before leaving, which Mr. Jones had brought to the nurse's for me. Leaving my crush behind, I exited the school and strolled through the snowy fields. That day was the best day ever, but it only got better. I had to keep training and show everyone my strength. My journey was just beginning.

-----

Friday, I headed to school when I unintentionally met up with Knox on the way.

"Anthony, I know you're ready for another fun snow day," Knox said.

"You bet I am. All this snow is making me want to play in it."

"Maybe you'll get to have a fight outside. Speaking of fights, are you ready for another showdown? I won't even have to look for them since people will come on their own. You beat Bruce as an unranked fighter, so challengers may underestimate both of you."

"I'll be ready, but I want to say thanks for representing me, Knox. I won't disgrace you."

"Don't be so formal, Mr. Beckons. We're fellow classmen, you and I."

"I actually wonder who'll step up to the plate. I can't wait." Right as we reached the school, a thought popped up into my head. "Actually, Knox, how many people do you manage right now?"

It took Knox a second to reply for some reason.

"I actually gave away all of my fighters."

"What?! Why?"

"I wanted to start fresh once I chose you. I wanted try managing a friend for once. Plus, my clients weren't really entertaining. They all were too straightforward, either fighting with their muscles or overthinking things. You seem to do both while making it simple."

"It was pretty easy fighting a brute like Bruce. It's going to be difficult if I fight someone like me."

Knox followed me to my locker, and he was like a good luck charm. Celia tried to do the same thing as yesterday, but the annoying girl slapped my locker instead of my head.

"Oww! Why would you move?"

"Stop being around me. I'm getting tired of seeing you," I bluntly said.

"Don't say that, Beck. You're going to make me cry." Instead of caring, I turned away and walked off with Knox.

"Don't be like that! My boy toy needs to like me!"

At that point, Celia jumped onto my back and clung to me.

"God damn it. Get the hell off!"

Before I knew it, I was pushed away from Knox.

"You're the most irritating person I ever met. Let me the hell go!"

I planted my feet and shoved Celia off.

"I'm just trying to make you relaxed. Why don't you ever accept my help?"

"I don't want your damn help. Go find a new toy because I'm done."

With that said, I stormed off. Now, you may be thinking why am I so mean to her? I like to have fun, but she's been annoying since the day we met in middle school. There's always that one friend who takes the jokes too far and annoys everyone. It's not like we've actually been friends though. Celia's always used me as her toy, and I'm sick of it. I'm done with her.

Luckily, my anger turned into joy when someone challenged me before first class. His name was Chance Kennedy. He was little taller than me with an average skinny body and red shaggy hair. His rank was 75, but compared to Bruce it should be easier, right?

"Me and you, after third period. I may not be in the top 50, but I know I can handle someone like you."

"That's all," I relayed to Knox while in the cafeteria.

"Hmmm, not everyone is a genius, but he may have a sure fire way to take you down. If he did though, then he should be higher than 75," Knox analyzed. "Either that or he's just confident."

"That's why I stay on toes, ready for anything. I can't lose to anyone lower rank than me, right?"

"I'm glad you have a head on your shoulders. Your fight will be soon, so have you seen him fight at all?"

"I've actually never seen him fight. He was supposed to fight Chris Manson, but Chris never showed, making Chance win by forfeit. I have no idea how he fights."

"Man. Then it's a blank slate. You're going to have to adapt in this one."

"Whatever he has planned, I'll be ready for it."

At that moment, lunch ended, but I couldn't just leave, could I? Right as I stood, I was shoved towards Knox. He sidestepped me, so someone else caught me. Unfortunately, they continued shoving me until a damn flow started!

Multiple people, boy and girl, moved me, and I couldn't find the balance to do anything.

"What the hell?!"

I tried to hit someone but missed. The conga line led upstairs and finally ended when I was shoved out of the building. What really pissed me off about it all was Celia's smiling face and wave right before the door closed. Now, I was locked outside on the second story roof, in the cold, "coincidentally" right before my fight got started.

"Celia, you bitch!" I yelled at the top of my lungs.