[Author's Notes]

Thanks to Chronic Guardian for the review!



Combative Criticism

By: Paige K Duffy

A Trey + Whiskey One Shot Collection

[Twelve Shots of Summer: Seventh Soul 9/12]

[Parameters: "About to Have a Bad Time" + "Justified"]


"Come on, Kid! You just gonna let me kick your ass over and over?"

Lying flat on the ground, Whiskey turned her groan into a growl, using sheer stubbornness to push past the pain and leap straight back up to her feet, her tail lashing behind her. Across the sparring ring stood Emília, who'd hardly broken a sweat. Her blonde ponytail swayed behind her, and she had an easy and self-assured smirk spread across her lips that just made Whiskey more pissed off.

"What, you just gonna glare at me? Sorry, but that's not a good use of your talents," Emília said, raising her hand and gesturing for Whiskey to come at her. "You're the one who wanted training, Kid." Yeah, an' it was a fuckin' stupid idea. "Don't back down now."

Whiskey knew well enough that Emília was just trying to rile her up further—and that it was working. There was a reason she had Trey as her Partner; he could stay calm and pull her back whenever she got out of control.

But Ah don' always have Trey right next ta me. An' even if Ah do, he's not always enough. Whiskey barreling Trey over was a common enough occurrence when on patrol that it was starting to be a real problem. So Ah gotta keep my cool on my own. If Ah just charge in, Emília's gonna knock the ever-loving shit outta me again.

"Ohhh? Congrats, Kid; it looks like you're starting to get the hang of it. So I guess I gotta step up my game. What was it that Harper told me would probably work? Ah, that's right!" Emília put on a smile so pristine that it was almost sickening, and that wasn't just Whiskey's upset stomach from getting knocked down so much that was at fault. "Your waifu is trash."

Whiskey barked out a laugh as she made a mental note to give Harper the worst possible noogie next time they crossed paths. "C'mon, now, Emí, yah don't seriously think tha' something like tha' would—"

"Minami Kotori is a bland character with no redeemable traits and whose only redeeming function in the story is putting the rest of the cast in cute clothes—"

"Okay, say yer fuckin' prayers!"

The expression on Emília's face clearly conveyed Too easy, but Whiskey was already charging, this time with her claws extended and her physical capabilities amplified. She crossed the handful of feet between them in a matter of seconds, but Emília was already sidestepping out of the way, making Whiskey's swipe cut through nothing but air. Whiskey's kinetic vision could easily track her, though, and she spun around, unleashing a sweeping kick aimed at Emília's shins.

The hit connected, and Emília toppled, but she was relentless enough to grab onto Whiskey's braid, bringing the two toppling down together. Whiskey yelped but tried to hit back, even as Emília let gravity deliver Whiskey's gut straight to her waiting knee. Whiskey tried to pull her thoughts together enough to form a proper strategy, but by the time she'd started to come up with a solution, Emília had easily pinned her to the ground.

"Go ahead. Gloat all ya want."

"Hm, I dunno if there's any merit to knocking down such an easy target." Whiskey's jaw ached as she resisted the urge to snap her fangs. Emília's expression shifted to one of thought, though that didn't do anything to erase the sheer confidence she exuded, especially when she moved to take a comfortable seat on Whiskey's stomach. "I'm just not sure if calming down in the middle of battle is really going to serve you well in the end. Seems more like a handicap, really."

Whiskey let her claws pierce right through the training mat. "What's tha' supposed ta mean?!"

"Down, Kid, lemme talk." Knowing that it would probably work out more in her favor if she listed to Emília, Whiskey complied. "I'm not saying you're not smart or anything like that. You're super sharp when you're calm, and your class scores basically prove that. And, of course, if you haven't lost your temper, you can come up with pretty good strategies. There's a lot you have going for you."

"Sure, but none a' that does me any good if Ah can't use it when it counts."

Emília shook her head. "You see, Kid, that's the thing." She reached a hand towards Whiskey's face, poking at her nose. "You're trying to make sure you can do certain things at certain times without acknowledging how useful it is to work with what you've already got. What's the class…Berserker? I think that sort of thing suits you pretty well."

Whiskey's nose scrunched up. "So ya think Ah should just let myself go wild without any concern for how tha' could screw things up?"

"Well, I'm not saying you should just go wild anytime and every time. But if you're already worked yourself up, why not take advantage of it?" Emília beamed. "I definitely wouldn't say you could beat me, but I think even I'd have to break a sweat if you came at me with the full force of your power. It'd make me feel much more justified about kicking the crap out of you, anyways."

"Yer a real piece a' work, ya know tha', Emí?"

"Isn't that why you asked me for help in the first place?"

"Yeah, yer right." Whiskey sighed, staring up at the ceiling. "Ya sure ya wanna encourage me ta do this? Ah've never really gone all-out on someone like tha' before. It could be dangerous."

"Oh, please, Kid," Emília said, hopping to her feet once more, "you're nowhere near close to the scariest thing I ever dealt with. Even when you're worked up over your waifu or whatever. Should I insult another one? Harper gave me a list to work with, and I've kind of been looking forward to it."

"Now them's fightin' words."

At the end of the day, though, Emília was right: Whiskey still couldn't beat her, but it wasn't like she couldn't try again later.