“Please.” A whisper. The boy doesn’t have the strength left for anything more. Maybe he never did. Maybe his blood did him as little good in his veins as it does him now, staining the sand beneath him. He’d fought with heart enough though. Something desperate and something childish in the way he’s swung his whole body behind his fists.
But the blows had no finesse, no training, no impact.
Oh, he’d glanced a couple of blows and Lei’s got a hell of a shiner from a lucky shot and her ribs are at the very least bruised form his last desperate tackle, a couple of scratches from where they’d brawled in the sand and muck…
But he’s weak.
She won’t even think that word. Lei has lived long enough now to know that being young doesn’t make even the smallest shit of a difference. Boys die the same as men. Girls the same as women. When the light fades, it fades the same from wide eyes as from the ones wreathed in wrinkles.
Hell, she can’t even remember the last time she watched the light fade from a face old enough for wrinkles.
“Please,” he whispers again. He coughs, but he doesn’t even have the strength left to spit the blood from his mouth; just lets it dribble down his chin. “Please, don’t.”
The jeering crowd drowns him out. Maybe he’s begging now. Maybe if there weren’t three dozen men surrounding them, jostling, shouting, drinking and brawling amongst themselves a bit, maybe she’d be able to hear the sobs that shudder the boy’s body, the cries to accompany his tears.
But thankfully she can’t.
She tells herself, she can’t.
All she can hear are the men shouting amongst themselves, and then, finally, the Ringmaster over the loudspeakers crackling static white noise beneath it all and then, simply:
As stated in the contract they both signed before they got into this pit, Lei reminds herself, steels herself, looks down at the boy whose hair was blond, she thinks, before they got it coated in blood and muck.
“Sorry, kid,” she tells him, and she means it. “But it’s not fight to the ‘please.’ It’s fight to the death.”