Hit Points VII- Player vs. Ryuji

Player had a calmness he had never felt before. He would not need anger to beat Ryuji the way he had defeated Snakeman. He did not need treachery to beat Ryuji the way he had defeated the Bloody King.

He smiled at his opponent in the opposite corner, taking quietly to Tomoko. How easy it would be to walk over to Ryuji and Tomoko and say, "I gave your girl a pearl necklace the other day. With this!"

Player did not need to win that way. Not today. Because today, he was the champion, and Ryuji was only a challenger.

The fight began. Ryuji was exactly the fighter Sensei said he would be - he darted back and forth, occasionally landing blows and darting out of the way. This was supposed to annoy Player into chasing him, allowing Ryuji to fight from a position of strength. Instead, Player stayed in the center, rotating slightly when Ryuji came close, in order to level his own blows.
"You don't fight like a champion. You fight like an old man!"
Ryuji's taunt was meant for both Player and his coach.

"I'm just waiting for you to get started," replied Player.

"I've landed a lot more blows than you have."

"Really? I hadn't noticed."

"Try this one." Ryuji practically charged him. Player ducked them gave his opponent a blow to the midsection. As Ryuji staggered away, Player gracefully sucked a pain pill out of his glove, and waited for his return.

Ryuji was still moving around, but he had clearly taken it down a notch. After Player delivered a combo, his opponent reached out and grabbed him in a clinch. Player pushed him away. "First you were fast dancing, now we are slow dancing? Ryuji, you entered the wrong contest. The dance competition is next door."

This angered Ryuji, but he seemed to be able to do less and less about it. His latest charge left him more vulnerable to Player's combos. As Ryuji moved away, H took more medicine. Player was looking for the opportunity to put a glove to Ryuji's face. A badly thrown haymaker from Ryuji was his first chance and he took. One two three blows caught the cheek and jaw of his adversary. Player stepped back to admire his work, and to get Ryuji to chase him.

It took a moment for his enemy to respond. The man in the ring with him looked stunned; the smile was gone, and the rage seemed to be draining.

"I'm over here, Ryuji."

As Ryuji lumbered forward, fists in front of his face, Player caught him again. This time, five blows, hit the cheek, the jaw, and the nose. As Ryuji turned, Player caught Tomoko's reaction to her beau's new look. It was a cringe.

Player was not sure what kept Ryuji in the ring, but he relished the opportunity. All the moments came flooding back to him. The stolen necklace. The fast car. The look Ryuji gave Player when the girls wanted to talk with him. As Ryuji shuffled over to try to get another punch in, Player let loose. One two three four five six seven. It was the fiercest combo he had ever delivered. What was left of Ryuji fell backward. Player retreated and waited for the count and verdict.

The rest was a blur. A quick bow to his new friend and sensei. A hug and kiss from Kotomi. A check, stuffed into his hand.
There was one clear moment. He looked up and saw, over in the corner of the gym, a red-haired figure at the door heading out. Then, the girl, who he now knew as Akage, smiled back.

  • Robin I loved the story. A lot of very clever references and also a couple of interesting twists :)

    I understand where you got the (nick)name "H" from, but it kind of confused me at first though as you've always used the name "Player" before. That's the only remark I have really.
    • kotomifan I always found the "H" nickname confusing too in the dressing room finale. One theory I had was that SimMan intended the default name to be Hiro, which Google Translate equates to hero as well as protagonist.
      • Robin I always thought it was just short for something that means "Hot" or so. Never thought it was an actual name :p