A Case of You
“What the hell was that supposed to mean?” Hwoarang asked, his voice rising with each word.
“Nothing. Since you don’t remember what happened.” Steve smiled to himself, as he watched the expression darken on Hwoarang‘s face. “My name’s Steve, just in case you forgotten that as well.”
Just to wind the Korean up a bit, he added just a subtle wink as he finished speaking.
“I knew what your name was!” Hwoarang snapped. “You’re really starting to piss me off.”
Steve chuckled as he moved to sit in one of the cushioned chairs in the room.
“What‘s so funny?” It sounded more like a invitation to a fight than a simple question. Steve decided to remain quiet and let the question hang in the air.
“Rather nice hotel, isn’t it?” Steve asked flippantly, as if they were in the middle of a pleasant conversation.
“I asked you a question…”
“From what I understand, you are rewarded with nicer rooms when you advance each round.” Steve continued on, ignoring Hwoarang partly.
“Hey! What the hell…”
“I hear the ones who make it to the semi-finals get to stay in the penthouse suites on the top floors.” Steve cut him off, secretly enjoying the exchange.
“You…” Hwoarang shouted as he jumped to his feet and stood over Steve ominously.
“Have you checked out the fitness centre they have set up in the lower levels?” Steve asked as he looked up smiling impishly.
“Look, all I want to know is what happened…” Hwoarang said slowly.
“I already told you.” Steve continued to smile at the incensed fighter.
“No…you…” Hwoarang was at loss for words. He made a motion as if he was going to strike at him, but abruptly changed his mind. “Whatever, I’m out of here.”
“Leaving so soon?” Steve called out as Hwoarang stormed out of the room and slammed the door shut behind him.
The preliminary rounds of the tournament weren’t much of a big deal to Hwoarang. He’d been in the tournament before, and he knew that it was in the later rounds in which the fights really counted. The prelims were set up to weed out those who really didn’t need to be there. The amateurs, the unskilled fighters who thought they truly had a chance, usually dropped out after watching one round. It was the ones who still ignorantly decided to give it a shot that he really felt sorry for. Fighters like him ate fighters like them for breakfast, and he really enjoyed his first few fights. He had been slotted up against three amateurs in the purest sense, and he half-assed his way through those fights and still managed to beat them. The crowds that gathered to watch those fights loved him, and those unskilled fighters made it look so easy.
He felt good. Real good. He was fighting again. Really fighting. Not with guns and explosives, but with his fists...ok, he did like to fight with guns and explosives, but this kind of fighting felt different. Guns were easy, there was no challenge in it. Bang, they’re dead. Where’s the fun in that?
There were no orders to follow, no pompous officer telling him what to do and when to do it. He felt free for the first time in years. He knew he wasn’t truly free, not yet. He had been AWOL for four months. The military police nearly caught him several times during that time, and he almost didn’t make it to Japan.
He wasn’t too worried about being collared now. The army didn’t know about his street name; they only knew him by the name listed on his birth records. He had grown out his hair, and dyed it a dark red. He no longer looked like the brash young soldier with short dark brown hair pictured in the police reports. Even if they did recognise him, he knew that they wouldn’t pull something amidst such a high profile event on foreign soil. He knew they wouldn’t just let him go, but for now, he could do what he pleased.
He strode into the hotel lobby. After three days, it had become considerably less crowded. He barely had to wait to get to the front desk.
The clerk looked up at him and smiled brightly. “Good evening. Picking up tomorrow‘s fight information?”
“Yeah.” Hwoarang answered as he tapped his fingers along the fake marble partition.
She stood up and reached into a cardboard box that was covered in courier labels, and pulled out a folder. “Here you go, sir. Is there anything else you need?”
“Yeah, tell the room service people to leave more towels in my room. I‘m on the third floor, room 319.”
Once he got to his room, he began to look over the papers. One was a map that listed all of the fight locations with directions on how to get to each on. Another was a directory of phone numbers for restaurants, clubs, martial arts supply stores, medical assistance, and other stuff like that. He quickly shifted through the rest of the needless papers to find the pages he needed. It was a list of the fighters still left in the tournament. At the start, there were ninety-six registered fighters. In three days, the number has whittled down to thirty-two. After the next two days, the number of fighters remaining would number sixteen. Once he makes it to the top sixteen, the fights at that level will either make him or break him .
He quickly scanned the page, and found his name. Next to his name listed his fighting style, age, height, weight, and blood type. There was an asterisk next to his name that identified him as a participant of the last tournament. He was scheduled to fight the day after the next. The page had the location, reporting and start times. He looked for the information on guy he was scheduled to fight against.
“What the hell’s Vale Tudo?”
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