The bag swings into empty space and comes back at him, but he is relentless. The chains holding the bag to the ceiling groan in protest. He sees the dust rise from the bag with every punch, floating into the air in little eddying clouds, but he does not give up.
He has been told he has terrible stance.
Professionals will meet him, shake his hands with their larger ones. Their knuckles feel out of line, uneven, and their skin is often rough like sandpaper. They compliment on his dedication, they thank him for his sacrifice at the DWMA, but they tell him he fights more strangely than anyone they’ve ever met. Does he know that? Does he know his form is off?
He smiles, nods, accepts their gratitude, fully aware that they would never be able to practice their sport if he were not on the front lines of a war against kishin eggs, that their civilian world would crumble if not for his efforts, that their orchestrated fights in a ring happen only because of his life-or-death battles in the field. He still thanks them.
They ask him if he ever wants pointers.
He is smooth, and the offers slide around him like water off a duck’s back, and he thanks them evasively, with a charming smile that makes them not realize they’ve been blown off until he’s long gone. That is how he likes it.
His fists make contact with the bag, over and over and over and over.
They have never fought with human weapons. They enter the ring alone, and they leave alone. They do not bring toddlers into war zones and ask them to spill blood. His stance is defensive, his back curving over his hands when an attack flies at him. His punches are designed to take the brunt of the impact in his arm to save his weapons from taking the blow.
He is the only one to take off his gloves at the end of the day and make them dinner.
He doesn’t expect anyone to understand; he doesn’t care to explain. He is content to practice alone.
The bag swings back towards him, and he sends it flying away.
The sharp cry of a child cuts through the air, and Kilik reaches out with the flat of his palm to stop the bag. He smiles, then climbs out of the ring. The bag gently sways to a stop.