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You Win Some (and Lose it All)

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Sam crossed her arms and stalked out of her house. How dare her parents. They couldn’t stand the thought of their precious Sammykins getting hurt. Fine, she’ll find another way. She can do what she damn well pleases. She wasn’t some fragile damsel in distress. Was a simple karate class too much to ask for?

She scoffed and walked faster, heading toward the Karate Dojo with her parents credit card in hand. She was unaware of the figure behind her getting steadily closer.

She made it to the door, hand pressed against the handle when she heard a smooth voice behind her.

“You won’t get what your looking for in there.” He paused. “They’re too simple; too vanilla, and you look like a young lady who wants in on some action, am I wrong?”

Sam hesitated. On one hand, this was looking pretty sketchy. On the other, it was the perfect “fuck you” to her parents.

She turned to face the man. He had a long grey hair and a smooth face except for the jagged pink scar around his brown eyes. He was wearing a long blue coat with a plain magenta turtleneck and black pants. Harmless enough.

“I’ll bite. What would be suitable for a competent young lady such as myself?” She questioned.

The man smiled and handed her an index card with an address on it. “It’s a dangerous area, better bring your friends with you.”

Sam flipped the card over. On the back was a crown with the initials VM in the middle drawn on. When she looked up the man was gone.

The group stood outside of dingy building that looked like it could collapse if you sneezed too hard. Graffiti decorated the cement and walls in color. The only thing indicating anybody frequented this place was the nearly full dumpster.

“Sam, you led us to an alley. The address he gave you was a bust. It was either a practical prank, or there’s a group of people coming to jump us.” Danny lifted his hand out of his jean pocket to jab his thumb towards the entrance of the alley. “I suggest we turn around and go home before we get beat up, because then we would have to call my parents and I would really not like to deal with that today.”

Jazz and Tucker murmured in agreement. Sam inhaled deeply. She really hoped Danny wasn’t right. She didn’t know what she would do if her best friends got hurt because of her. “We’re here like, five minutes early. He said to meet him at 4:00. It’s 3:56. We’re fine.

The same smooth voice that greeted Sam earlier startled the group out of their bickering.

“Fancy seeing you here,” the man smirked. He held out his hand, “They call me Clockwork”

Sam didn’t take his hand. “What’s with the dud address? This some kind of joke?” She crossed her arms and stood up straighter in an effort to intimidate the older man. She bet he had twigs for arms under that tacky coat.

To her disdain, Clockwork smoothly retracted his hand and smiled. “Please excuse me for being worried, the Fenton children are here, after all.” He turned and waved his hand forward. “Follow me to see the actual place we’ll be going.”

Tucker hurried to follow Sam while Danny and Jazz glanced at each other. She nudged Danny to go so she could walk behind him incase somebody did jump them.

Tucker poked Sam with his elbow and leaned close to whisper, “Haven’t you ever watched John Mulaney? Don’t let anybody get you to a second location. That’s like, safety 101. C’mon, let’s book it”

Sam shook her head. “You don’t have to come, y’know.”

Tucker bumped her with his hip. “Like I would ever let you do this alone.”

They walked to a building advertising kickboxing classes. The posters were peeling and faded, the glass was cracked around the edges, and a dark substance was smeared on the door handle. Sam saw Danny grimace.

“Seriously?!” Sam scoffed and threw her hands up. “You promised a good martial arts class, not some dump!”

Clockwork stayed calm. “I would think you would know better than anyone to not judge by appearances,” he said as he quirked his eyebrow up.

Sam huffed and threw the door open and was greeted by a balding man in his early fifties wearing pinstriped pajamas. Behind him was a plain brick wall and a strong metal door.

Clockwork produced a key out of his pocket and walked up to the metal door, unlocking it and revealing an empty elevator shaft.

The pinstriped man held up a finger and opened his mouth as if he was about to say something when Clockwork interrupted, “No, Klemper, I don’t want to be your friend. Stop asking.”

Klemper turned to the group of teenagers and forlornly mumbled, “Welcome to the Zone” as he flopped back down on his chair.

Jazz furrowed her brows—she could have sword she heard that name before. Her hand tightened on Danny’s arm. Either way, there was no way she was letting him go.

The group piled into the elevator, the air tense with anticipation.

When the elevator opened a pair of hands roughly grabbed Sam and ripped Danny from Jazz’s grasp. They were thrown over a chain link fence and into a circular area with a slight padding to the ground.

Danny squinted as bright overhead lights shone on him and Sam. The crowd that gathered around the cage cheered and pumped their fist.

The ground shook as something big dropped on it. The crowd grew deafening. Danny looked up and gasped in surprise.

There, standing six feet tall was their lunch lady. She wore a while T-shirt with what looked like ketchup stains. Danny gulped. He hoped those were ketchup stains.

He turned to Sam. She was already on her feet, eyes darting frantically around. She brought her shaking hands to her shoulders and met Danny’s eyes. She stepped in front of him protectively.

The Lunch Lady placed her hand on Sam’s shoulder, recognition and remorse flashing in her eyes. Danny heard her whisper, “I’m sorry” before her fist slammed into Sam’s cheekbone and she crumpled to the floor.

Danny scrambled backwards until he hit the chain link fence trapping them in. He could climb over it, into the crowd and make a run for it. No, he couldn’t leave Sam like that. Right. She was still on the ground, defenseless.

Danny grabbed the fence and pushed himself to standing position. He walked in front of Sam, shielding her, and bared his fists to the Lunch Lady.

“Danny I-“ Sam started

“It’s okay, we’re okay, stand up when you’re ready. It’s okay, we’re fine.” Replied breathlessly. Danny repeated that phrase in his head like a mantra as the Lunch Lady swung at him. You’re fine. You’re okay. We’re okay.

He gritted his teeth and grunted in pain as he caught a fist in the ribs. Sam was back on her feet now, swaying slightly, but still upright. Good. He could really use her help right now.

He struck out blindly with his elbow, surprised to hear a gagging noise as his blow landed.

He felt Sam pull him backwards moments before the Lunch Lady swung a right hook where his face was.

Danny had time to mutter a, “Thanks,” before Sam was off again, lunging at the Lunch Lady’s legs.

The Lunch Lady toppled over, kicking her legs as she did so. Sam wrapped her body around them, tucking her head into her chest and squeezing as tight as she could.

“I could really use some help, Danny!”

Danny snapped out of his trance, shaking his head. Right, Sam’s in danger. He pushed off the ground in a sprint, darting towards the Lunch Lady with all the speed his knobby puberty knees coukd muster.

He stomped on what he assumed was her liver. He must of guessed right, because the Lunch Lady’s arms went lax for a moment while her face screwed up in pain. Danny took that as an opportunity to pull her arm behind her back and twist outwards.

What were the rules to this? Did he have to break her arm? God, he hoped she tapped out soon. She was a pretty good lunch lady.

They stayed like that for what felt like forever, but was realistically only 15 seconds, when suddenly hands were pulling the Lunch Lady away from him and congratulating him. He looked over to Sam, who was experiencing the same thing and was just as confused.

Clockwork walked up the the duo, hands behind his back and looking far too put together, in Danny’s opinion.

“Congratulations, you passed initiation.” He turned to a man with a shaggy blond hairdo and a girl with her hair done in green locks, “Please escort them to Plasmius’ office, and bring Frostbite to care for Gladys while your at it.” He turned and walked away with nothing more than a “Ta-ta!” as a goodbye.