Being Amber

Without any memory of her past and not knowing why people react to her as they do, Amber has to learn to survive in the hard underworld of the City, among gangs and the unwanted citizens.
Her appearent resemblance with Ben's dead girlfriend, places her in the middle of a war that easily can cost her and others their lives.
In her quest to find her identity Amber has to learn to tell friend from foe, see behind the lies and decide if Ben's past matters at all.
When Ben asks Tom to train Amber he gets pulled into the war happening around him, far more than he wants to be.
Tom's alliance with Ben hangs in a thin tread when he not only falls in love with Amber but also starts a relationship with Kattie, who already has a boyfriend in Clay, Ben's second in command.
Will Amber ever find out who she really is ?
And how Will they get through the war ?

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35. Amber vs. Zac

 

 *Tom*

 Ben wasn't in no way happy about Zac's challenge, it was easy to se in his tense stance. On the other hand she had won a lot of respect alone by accepting the challange.

 "Stop it Ben". I pulled his fingers from his mouth. There was no reason to bite his nails over this. "They have been up against each other in the ring several times. Why is it suddenly a problem ?"

 "It is always different at fight nights". Ben mumbled. "You just give that extra little nudge. He just kicked your ass for Gods sake".

 "Yeah it would seem like it. We had to go full out". I explained. "Everyone had to see Zac as ruthless and brutal, like he would do anything to win".

 Ben's fingers was back in his mouth, when Amber strikes at Zac, he easily blocked her. When Zac and I went up against each other, it was pretty evenly how many strikes we got through and we were good at getting through each others defences. But Zac and Amber was the opposite. They predicted each others attack so well, that they both bloked most of them. None of them got many strikes through.

 "She is really good". It came from Kress, who had sat down on the other side of Ben. "I saw her take on Zombie, but she is still impressing me right now".

 "I don't care how good she is". Ben said through gritted teeth. "I am never going to forgive you for this".

 "Watch the audience". Kress told him, pointing around. "They weren't on their feet when Zac and Tom was in the ring, they are now. It has never been theis quiet during a game. We have given them something to believe in. We have given them someone to follow".

 As to accentuate it, Amber got the first real strike through and send Zac three feet backwards and into the ropes. But even though she was at him again in a flash, he was up and ready before she reached him. But he still didn't get his next strike through, because she jumped over him and slammed her knee into his jaw on the way.

 The audience cheered, the silence was gone and it was Amber most of them was cheering for now.

 "They will go to war for her". I said. The people in the underworld would always follow the strongest person they could identify with. Kress, Ben and me were all strong in our own way and our members were different for that reason. The contrast with Zombie and Sunny's members was even greater. But right now everyone here is willing to follow one person. They were all ready to follow her.

 Zac got the upper hand in the ring, and had Amber pressed into the floor, getting a couple of hard strikes through. How he could block out that he was figthing her was a mystery to me. It looked like he would win. Even I had a hard time seeing how she could get out of it, especially since she had to ball herself up to protect her face and stomach.

 "He is winning". Kress said.

 "Wait and see". Ben sighed. "She isn't giving up. Not when she has a way out".

 "Well that way out opens for him to get a clean hit through". Kress pointed out.

 "As someone present would have said, that is what makes a joker". Ben said. "The difference between us and them. They are willing to take that risk to win". It was my own words he used. The ones I had used the day she had her test and went up against Ben.

 In that second Amber righted herself and let Zac get a clean strike directly to her stomach. But instead of reacting to the obvious pain, she grabbed his wrist and used him to pull herself back up. The wound on her arm hed opened, but she didn't seem to notice. As always with her all she registered right now was Zac and I knew Zac was the same way. None of them registered the pain or the noice from the audience.

 After a couple of minutes more, it once again looked like Zac would walk away with the victory. This time he got a strike through to her face. Us standing close could hear the pounch, and we all snapped up. It was clear to see he had just broken her nose. It was the same trick he had used on me.

 Amber fell down on all fours and stayed down. I thought she was about to surrender, until she looked up and caught my eyes. The stubbornness was radiating from her eyes.

 "Please give up baby". Ben was begging in a low voice.

 Zac grabbed her shoulders, looking like he expected her to give up. But at the moment she flew up and hit him with a series of hard strikes. Where she got the energy and strength from, I couldn't say, but Zac had no chance to get up his parades.

 A knee to his diaphragm sent him to his knees, and she quickly followed with a fist to his jaw and a kick to his chest.

Zac was gasping for air, as he raised his hand in surrender. Even though most people had lost money on the fight, they were all whistling and cheering.

 Kress, Ben and I was up in the ring in a flash. Kress took care of Zac and Ben went straight to Amber. I grabbed the microphone. "She is worth going to war for, am I right ?" I called out, I knew I wass good at this, the answer was a united YES. "When everything looked the most dire, remember that Amber didn't give up, even if most of us would have. She fought back and she won".

 I threw the microphone to Drew and helped Kress getting Zac down from the ring. Ben had already gotten Amber down.

 "Tom ?!" Ben's voice was slightly shaking. "You have to do this". He didn't look at me. "I.. I simply can't do this..".

 "Of course". I squatted down in front of Amber and genly checked her nose. To me it was easy enough to put back in place. For her it meant pain. A pain Ben couldn't submit her to. "I am sorry but this will hurt". I held her gaze with mine. "Are you ready ?"

 She nodded and closed her eyes.

 I had fixed a lot of broken noses and other body parts. But to do it on her, was harder than any body else. Still my hand closed around her nose, while my other hand gently cradled her neck, and I twisted as fast as I could.

 I saw how she pressed her lips hard together not to scream. I could see the pain in her face even though her eyes were closed and I hated myself for being the reason of that pain. I understood why Ben couldn't do it and I felt for Zac being the one who had hurt her.

 "Are you okay ?" I asked her softly.

 "I know how the punching bag feels". She answered. "And I think my arm needs restitching".

 "Stretch your fingers". I told her. People often sprained their fingers in a fight like that. Luckily all Ambers fingers were okay, except for her knuckles being skinless. I didn't ask Ben if he wanted to do it, but instead I just started checking her bruises and make sure there weren't worse damages than the eye could see.

 I didn't ask her if she wanted painkillers, it wasn't her decision. We didn't allow anyone to fight on painkillers and that made a lot of people refuse them. But Amber wasn't going in the ring again.

 The band went on and marked the end of the fights. From here on it would be a party and my job as a host was done. I let Ben lead Amber through the crowd, following them with Kattie. Kress and Drew were supporting a limping Zac.

 A lot of people congratulated Amber and told her how good she was. That she was wounded and leaned on Ben for support only seemed to make her more of a hero in their eyes.

 Our plan had worked. We had made Amber their hero and given them something to fight for. We had made them want the war.

 

 Ben grabbed me, while Zac and Amber was saying their goodbyes. I had a very clear idea what Zac was whispering in her ear and I felt with him.

 "I don't know whether to thank you or hate you". Ben said, looking at Amber and Zac. "To see her like that.. I can't belive he dared to do it".

 "He did what he had to do to heighten her position". I said. "Amber is strong, she just need the right push. We are going to war for her, they need to know that she will be fighting right there with them".

 "You can't honestly think that I am going to let her participate actively in the war ?" Ben sent me a terrified glare.

 "You can't keep her out of it. She is going to insist on participating". I told him. "She is a warrior Ben, just like you and me".

 "I am not going to tell her. I am going to find a way to make sure, that she is staying inside one of our secure bases". The pain in his eyes told me the reason behind this. He had lost once, he wasn't capable of going through it again.

 "Just be careful you don't hold her so tight that you end up choking her". I advised him. None of us said anything else, as Zac and Amber came over. She had a slight limp, and one hand cradled her stomach. She was in more pain than she let us know.

 "Do you have enough painkillers on stock ?" I asked Ben. Normally they bought medicine once a week, but I knew they had to have emptied their stock after Zombie's visit.

 "Enough to get us through the night". Ben promised. "If not I know where to find you". He looked lovingly at Amber. "Ready to go home ?"

 "More than ready". Her smile was a bit halfhearted. "But I think I need to skip my shifts tomorrow if I have to be honest".

 "Don't worry about them baby". Ben kissed her forehead, holding her close to him. Then he looked at me and Zac. "See you".

 I looked after them, as he helped her out the gates and up on his motorbike. I should have offered to drive them home. They were both injured after their fights, but I knew Ben would have turned me down".

 "I know it worked and we got what we wanted, but you can never ever ask me to do that again". Zac said when we were alone. "Never ask me to go all out when I am in the ring with her".

 "Oh but when it is against me you have no problem doing it ?" I sent him a insulted glare. "She can handle it Zac".

 "I could have won you know". Zac said. "When I had her down under me. I could have knocked her out and taken the victory. I almost did it. The instinct run deep when I go all out like that".

 "The difference between training and reality". I looked at him. "You forced her to go all out. That is what she has to learn how to do if she is facing Zombie or his allies. But I totally get you. I had never thought I would go all out on you and I honestly hadn't been able to do it with her".

 "Oh so that is why you threw the fight and let me win, your wanker". Zac said glaring at me. "You could have taken me out, two times".

 "Well the winner had to challange her, I knew I couldn't". I shrugged. "Ben will forgive us with time".

 "But is she going to ?" Zac asked. "We are about to put her in a position she don't want, and when she realises she is going to blame us".

 "Some day she will understand that it was necessary". I turned from the door. "We are about to go to war and if we can get people to fight as one unit, not three, we will stand a lot stronger".

 "I fear for the losses". Zac answered. "But I can hear my bed calling for me. You look like you could use a good nights sleep".

 "Well that will have to wait for a bit". I couldn't help smiling. Kattie was waiting for me ind my room and I knew she was staying for the night, letting me wake up beside her in the morning. The borders between our gangs were getting awfully thin.

 

 As I opened the door I instantly saw Kattie on my bed, I also instantly spotted that something was wrong. She was curled up in the corner, clutching my pillow and if I wasn't mistaken she had been crying. "Kat, baby what is wrong ? Are you in pain ?" I didn't think Ben had gotten any hard strikes in on her, but still.

 "Do you still sleep with them ?" She looked up at me, and I must have looked confused, because she snorted and went on. "Your women, those young girls always sighing after you, do you sleep with them ?"

 I sit down on the edge of the bed and grabs her hand. "Why would you think that baby ? No, I haven't touched any other women since we have been together".

 "When I came here there was one of them waiting for you, in you bed, naked". She says, sniffling a bit, like she is fighting not to cry. "Did you ask her to be here ?"

 I tried catching her eyes, but she avoided looking at me. "Kat, look at me baby". I waited and she finally raised her eyes to mine. "No of course I didn't ask her to be here and had I been the one to find her I would have asked her to leave. Those girls, it is a game to them, literally". I explained. "They have this competition were they give each other points for getting a kiss or sleeping with a leader or second in command, and if the guy has a girlfriend. Well more points".

 "And you really don't help them raise their score anymore ?" She looked up at me and I could see the pleading in her eyes.

 I lifted her hand to my lips leaving a soft kiss there. "No. As I told you, I have no desire to have anyone else but you in my bed, I don't want some young silly girl, I only want you".

 "Sorry for being a drama queen. I know I should trust you". She moved over to snuggle into me, and I slid my arms around her, kissing the top of her head. "It's okay. I totally understand and I wish you hadn't seen that. And I am sorry that I am not good at all this romatic stuff. I wish I could do what Ben does and make women feel faint and breathless, feel loved. Apparently all I am capable of is making them drop their knickers".

 "You really are good at that". She said with a giggled and straddled my lap, kissing me softly down my neck. "And well keeping a woman happy in the bedroom, very very talented at that too". My hands was running slowly up and down her spine.

 I took a deep breath and gently pulled Kattie a bit away. "Well thank you, I aim to please". I sent her a small smile. "But honestly, could we.. tonight I mean.. I was thinking.. could we just cuddle ?"

 "You.. just.. want.. to... cuddle ?" She was looking at me like she was afraid I had hit my head. "Are you hurt, did Zac do that much of a number on you ?"

 "No, I will never be that beaten up. But I.. well maybe tonight I just need to hold you and know that you are here for me". I was biting my lip, afraid she would laugh at me.

 She smiled softly and kissed me even more softly. "Of course Tom, actually I would love to just snuggle with you".

 "Thanks baby". I kissed her. "I love you, you know that right ?" She swallowed and nodded. "I know and I love you too".

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