Punch-drunk with your beauty

by Adrian Manson


Disclaimer and standard legalese: This is part of a series of alternate universe (AU) I am writing in which canon characters interact with characters I have created to re-frame how certain events transpired. The timeframe is roughly "now" but the characters are different ages than they would be if I had followed the 1989-1990 canon (for example, Vincent is a teenager in this "now" setting, and ages going forward from "now").Beauty and the Beast is the property of Ron Koslow and Republic Pictures. I do not own the characters or make any profit from this story.

This is a series of flash fictions based on the five senses. If I feel confident enough, I will flesh out the backstory of this alternate universe.

Rating: PG-13 (contains slight sexual content)

5 senses prompt: sight

Time period: 10 years before Vincent rescues Catherine Chandler in Central Park, 1 year after Vincent's disaster with Lisa.


It was a rare Sunday afternoon at the I Heart Kickboxing studio in Hell's Kitchen, New York City. On Sundays, the studio only did two morning classes because both the instructors and the clients wanted to spend the rest of the day either going to church or enjoying the rest of the afternoon. But for one person, Sunday afternoons was the only time he could come in after doing his chores for the residents of the Tunnels.

“Okay, Vincent,” Yui Watanabe said, holding up her boxing gloves, palms facing him. “You're going to do glove drills. First, extend your arm.”

“Which one?” Vincent asked. He knew both of them were tired after fifteen minutes of cardio, followed by six three-minute rounds of punches and kicks. Maybe it was his fatigue, but Yui's ivory skin looked like the pale milk he would help Mary churn into butter. He shouldn't be staring at her like this; they were only friends....

“Vincent,” Yui said, concerned, “you're staring at me. Is there anything wrong?”

She had only a suspicion... and it was confirmed by his blushing.

“Sorry, Yui,” he said, looking downward.

In a way, she was secretly flattered. After Vincent's disastrous attempt at physical intimacy with Lisa a year ago, she was afraid Vincent would see her as a “capital F friend.” She also had gotten 'the talk' about the birds and the bees with her father Nishio, not to mention health class in high school. Yui idly wondered what Father from the Tunnels told the assembled children, given that he was a medical doctor.

Knowing Father and his impassive demeanor, he had probably made it technical and dry, not to mention a lot of stern warnings, especially since the community was a close-knit one. A child born out of wedlock would only fragment the fragile community into tribes.

“What do I do next, Yui?” he asked, his voice gently snapping her out of her reverie.

“Okay, Vincent, you see my wrists, where the glove strap is?”

He gave a small nod.

“You're going to aim for the keyhole, doing a simple jab/cross.”

For a moment, fear gripped his face.

“Won't it hurt, hitting you?” he asked, his voice truly concerned.

“Nope,” Yui said. “First, it's my wrist. There's muscles and solid bone there. Second, the glove strap I have on will give extra padding. Now, do your combo.”

Vincent took a deep breath and extended his left glove in a tentative jab. Unlike most people, he was a southpaw.

Yui gave a small smile in response. “See, Vincent, I'm not hurt. Now, do your cross next, then get into a rhythm.”

Vincent saw the skin around her almond eyes crinkle a little. He wasn't sure, but if he had time to ponder, he would assume her black eyes had a flirtatious look. With great effort, he forced himself to pick up his right glove and do the cross punch. He knew it was strong, but weaker than his jab.

“Okay, slowpoke,” Yui said. “Time to do the ladder.”

“Ladder?” Vincent asked.

“First, two jab/cross, then four, six, eight, and ten... and you know what comes next.”

“Burpee,” both Yui and Vincent said. Yui had an enthusiastic tone; Vincent's was a bit wary. Burpees were never his favorite exercise, because of his long legs.

“Then I go next,” Yui completed. “Any questions?” After seeing his impassive face, she said, “Let's do it!”

As Vincent did his first twelve jab/crosses, his gaze took in Yuri's determined face. Her long black hair was tied up in a bun, to prevent it from flying as she did kickboxing workouts. Vincent didn't know why his mind was wandering, but Yui's pale skin and black hair made him daydream of what she would look like in her kimonos. Vincent had seen Nishio's collection of ancient porcelain images of Japanese geishas. An errant thought went into Vincent's head. What would her hair feel like if he could run his clawed hand through it? He imagined it would be a gently flowing, dark river of onyx.

“Hey, Vincent,” Yui said as Vincent finished the other eighteen jab/crosses. “Time for both of us to do a burpee.”

As they both did the exercise, Yui guessed what Vincent was thinking about. And looking down below his waist, she realized he was in the throes of late adolescent puberty.

Of course, Yui thanked Kami that women had subtle arousal signals compared to males. After being so close to Vincent for many years, she hated how those women in New York City would fear Vincent for his claws and leonine features. If only they could be in this studio with her now...

As he did the burpee, Vincent's long powerful legs snapped like a jacknife, quickly opening and closing. When they both stood erect, Yui's jab/crosses, though powerful for her gender, felt like she was throwing cotton balls against his muscular wrists.

She wondered what the palms of his hands must feel like. They probably would be calloused from all the heavy work Vincent had to do in the tunnels. She knew Vincent had a gentle touch as well, when he gingerly picked up a lost baby bird that had fallen from its nest.

When Vincent threw punches, Yui felt like she was watching the strong ebb and flow of the ocean's waves. She was amazed at Vincent's blue eyes, which could lose their forlorn look and become cold and determined, almost becoming like a battle-tested samurai.

As both Yui and Vincent did this conditioning drill, an observer could think of them as the visual representation of yin and yang. Vincent was tall and strong, but with a gentleness underneath. Yui appeared small and wiry, but her fast punches showed that it was dangerous to underestimate her small frame.

After the timer sounded the end of the three-minute drill, Vincent went over to the plastic milk jug to drink his water. As Yui went over to drink from her own water bottle, a mischievous idea came into her head. She knew she shouldn't do this, wearing her white t-shirt, but Vincent was such an easy mark.

Lifting her water bottle up to her lips, she quenched her thirst first. Then, she “accidentally” let some water squirt out over her chest.

The combination of water, mixed with Yui's sweat, made the t-shirt become a topographical map of her bosom. Her A-cup breasts made him gape for a full five seconds. With great effort, he forced himself to grab his large towel and he threw it at her. She caught the towel with her expert ninja skills.

“That's what I like about you, Vincent,” Yui said as she began to dry herself off. “Even though you're male, you always act like a chivalrous knight.”

She was rewarded with his embarrassed stare, mixed with genuine lust.

“It's too soon for me,” he said, looking down at the floor.

Then he felt her left hand gingerly caress his brow. She said in Japanese, “Tabun itsunohika watashi wa anata ni aisukurīmukōn o tsurete iku koto ga dekimasu ka?” [“Maybe one day I can take you for an ice cream cone?”]

He forced himself to meet her gaze, then reached out and took her left hand into his own, kissing the top of it. “Aru hi. Tada ima wa chigaimasu.” [“One day. Just not right now.”]



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