Unusual Methods

Written for the Thimbleful Thursday prompt: throw down the gauntlet. I squeaked in at 439 words!

Desdemona barely restrained herself from punching Jake into the wall. “What the hell–”

“Desdemona cy’Fridmar,” he interrupted, waving the glove he’d just smacked her with in her face, “I challenge you to a duel.”

“You…” She resisted the urge to rub at her tingling cheek. “Seriously? You did the glove thing?”

He shoved it into his pocket, frowning. “Do you accept the da– the challenge or not.”

“What are the terms?” Desdemona crossed her arms and tilted her head, glaring. (She didn’t want him to think she was being friendly. He’d been pestering her every evening for two weeks - ever since backhanding her into the wall on Hell Night.)

“Hand-to-hand combat, no weapons, no magic, first to leave the circle wins. If you win, I’ll…” His face twisted, like he had a bad taste in his mouth. “I’ll leave you alone for the rest of the year.”

She relaxed, grinning. “Finally. And, not that it matters, but what if I lose?”

“If I win, I get to take you to dinner on Saturday.”

Desdemona blinked. He’d challenged her to combat for… a date? “Uh… okay.”

“So you accept?”

“Yeah– yes, I accept your challenge.”

“See you in the gym in half an hour.” He turned and left, back down the hall.

Exactly thirty minutes later, Desdemona stepped into the gym. Jake was waiting in the middle of the room, looking bored and maybe a little nervous (as he should be, Desdemona thought). Luke was nearby, looking just as grouchy as he always did (and her parents always said he was). A circle had been drawn on the floor with masking tape.

Desdemona took up a position on the opposite side of the circle from Jake, smirking. “You ready?”

“Whenever you are.” He matched her with a smirk of his own.

“You know the rules.” Luke looked sternly at them and they nodded - of course they did. Desdemona took a combat stance and watched Jake do the same. “Begin.”

They lunged at each other almost simultaneously, Desdemona maybe a hair faster. She shoved her elbow into his stomach hard, ducking out of the way of his attempt to grab her. She heard him curse, then suddenly her head jerked to the side - shit, her horns - and she whipped her tail around, wrapping it around his leg to anchor herself.

Except she missed. Jake grabbed her tail with his other hand, swinging her a full hundred-eighty degrees before sending her flying.

She lay on the floor, catching her breath and her thoughts, then looked up at Jake as he offered her a hand. He was smiling. “I’ll pick you up at eight.”