After defeating Steven, Gary was fully focused on one thing, his system. So much so, that he remained blissfully unaware of what was going around him at the moment, how the other contestants stared at him with a mix of admiration and hostility and the mixed emotion on Mr Fang’s face.
When reaching Level 2, he had placed the free stat point into his Energy stat, increasing it by ten points. Right now, he was carefully contemplating in which category to place the next point.
'Putting it into Strength seems like a waste, if I can just increase it by going to the gym. I still have to verify whether getting beat up is a viable method to increase Endurance and I have no idea about how to increase Dexterity manually yet. However, I’m sure there are ways. On the other hand, I doubt I can increase Energy or Health on my own, so which one should I choose?’
‘Getting 10 more points in Health might not be a bad idea. Reaching 0 HP can’t be good, so I should avoid it ever falling that low. Then again, Energy seems overly useful. Not only is it used for healing, but in the future I’ll most likely have access to more skills like Charging Heart. With a bigger pool, I could use them more often.’
When Gary returned to the present, he noticed that a girl was standing opposite him wearing the same type of protective gear like Steven and him. He had only taken a glance, before he went back to his Status screen, but he quickly lifted his head to look at the girl again.
"Wait a second, you—you—you're…" Gary mumbled like a fool, pointing at her with his finger, yet unable to finish his sentence.
"You came here looking for a fight, right? Don't tell me that you already got your fill just from that match. You hardly did anything!" Xin spoke as she lifted her hand and gestured for Gary to come at her.
It was something that the spectators had only ever seen done in the movies. If they were to attempt such a thing, most would probably have died from embarrassment on the inside. However, for some reason, the way Xin spoke, the way she acted, was filled with confidence, giving her actions such a natural feel that nobody dared to point it out.
Gary started to look towards Mr Fang, hoping he would step in and at least tell her to back down from the fight. After all, he had just defeated Steven so easily, who the teacher had been quite confident in. However, he just stood to the side, taking care of Steven who seemed to have just recovered.
'Is he really going to allow this fight to happen, but… she's a girl!' Gary thought. It wasn't that he thought girls were weak or anything like that, but despite Gary being on the smaller side, Xin had a more petite frame than him. What’s more, he knew he carried an unfair advantage. When using Charging Heart, he had the strength of a person twice his size.
Most importantly, the last person Gary wanted to hit… was his crush.
'Damn it, I can’t allow Gary to continue with this fight. If she gets him in any type of locking position and puts his head closer to her chest... the guy is guaranteed to turn on the spot!' Tom worried, racking his brain to figure a way out for his friend.
"I'm sorry, I'm just worried that I might hurt you. I know this might sound a bit old fashioned, but I really don't think I can hit you." Gary apologised while making sure to bow down. The teenager wasn't doing this out of respect, he just wanted to cover his face which he feared to be beet red.
"Ha!" Mr Fang let out a loud laugh. "Boy, through this thick armour, you won't be hurting anyone. That’s assuming you’ll actually manage to hit the young Mrs Clove. I can tell that you have fought a few times outside, but in martial arts, you should never discriminate against your opponent. You never know just how deadly someone with a weapon might be, even if that weapon happens to be one’s own body."
Gary understood what Mr Fang was saying and it was never his intention to discriminate against anyone. Heck, if a girl chased after him with a knife or went after his family members' lives, he was a firm believer of true gender equality. It was just… every time he looked at this girl in particular, his heart would beat rapidly… which in his case might lead to more severe consequences than him pitching a tent.
"There’s no way he can fight!" Tom announced as he suddenly looked up. Everyone looked over at him, confused why he had gotten involved as well. "Xin, he can't fight you because…be-because.…he likes you!"
Tom practically yelled out the last part. The whole hall was dead silent, including Xin herself.
'Tom, what the hell are you doing? Why are you confessing to her on my behalf?!' Gary was screaming in his head at this absurdity, while simultaneously wishing for the ground to open up and swallow him whole. Just like everyone else, he was speechless, and all he could see was the system displaying his heartbeat, which was rising dangerously close to the 150 BPM mark.
'At this rate, I won't even need to use Charging Heart.'
"Oh... so it's like that?" Xin eventually broke the silence as she placed her hand on her chin. "Well, I’m flattered… I guess. I’m not quite sure how to feel right now. I’ve just transferred here, so all I know about you is your performance during rugby practise and when you were fighting Steven. Oh and that little red sea of sick you made"
Clenching his fists, Gary just wanted to run away from this entire situation. If he had known that it would turn into such a giant mess he would have never challenged this stupid club. At least he was slightly happy that she hadn’t outright rejected him… although he hadn’t missed the fact that she hadn’t exactly accepted his feelings for her either.
"I'm sorry, I just can't…." Gary mumbled, as he began to take off his protective headgear, keeping eye contact to the floor, too embarrassed to look up.
Seeing this, Xin felt a little annoyed, but not as much as Mr Fang. Gary had been the one who had started this little fighting session, yet now he was going to give up there? While the teacher was still looking for a reason to make him stay, Xin had just come up with a plan.
"Hey, wait!" Xin called out. "Is it true what your friend said? About you liking me?"
Gary wasn’t quite sure how to answer this. Just as Xin had pointed out, they hadn’t known each other for long… or at all, actually.
"Yeah… Sorry that someone like me likes you." Gary answered eventually, mustering his courage to look up.
"How about we go on a date?" Xin suggested. "I can’t just promise you to become a girlfriend, but if you can beat me in a match, then we can at least go out once. What do you say?”
"Huh!" Everyone inside the hall was baffled. Xin was a beautiful girl, so some of the Karate club members had tried to ask her out when she had joined. She had instantly refused all but one of them. When Steven had tried his luck, Xin had told him that she would consider it, before requesting a match against him. Unsurprisingly, that event had cemented his position as second strongest.
"I'll only go out with someone stronger than me." Xin proclaimed with a big smile.
[New quest received]
[Win the date!]
[The girl of your dreams has challenged you to a fight.
Swoop her off her feet and into your arms, lover boy!]
[Quest reward: Instant Level Up (+ a date!)]
'What the hell is wrong with this system?' Gary thought.
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