After physically pulling away from Avi, Mitch reached the showers and hastily stripped out of the rest of his gear. Never had he been more grateful in his life for anything than he was the recent installation of dividers and shower curtains (though a grimy film already formed on them due to neglect). The last thing that he needed was for the world to see that he was half hard, since he couldn’t keep his hands to himself.
The second to last thing that he needed was Avi taking the shower stall next to him, despite another vacant one being available. Any attempt at getting off now dashed, he conjured mental images of morbid subjects: Estrella’s hairballs, Louis’ beer farts, Rosa’s funeral, hot yoga guy’s tennis shoes, etc.
The only consolation was that Avi wasted no time in showering and leaving, instead of being his usual chatterbox self. Logically, Mitch knew that mind reading wasn’t a real ability, but the irrational part of his brain slammed the panic button with reckless abandon because what if? Or rather, what if he’d given something away with his body language? Avi must have figured out something at this point; if he hadn’t, he would if Mitch didn’t exercise caution.
Once he settled down, Mitch turned off the water then slowly dressed, drawing out the time and space between himself and Avi so that he could get his head right. He took a few deep breaths and went to exit the locker room, but collided with Louis in the doorway. “Hey, you alright?” Louis asked while Mitch stumbled away before further scrutinization.
“Yes? No?” he responded with a wet laugh that bubbled out of his throat, and Louis frowned.
“So can we talk later?”
“Mhm. Sure. Yeah.” That seemed to be a satisfactory answer for Louis, who continued to the lockers, and Mitch exhaled in relief. Clinging to the shadows, he kept to the back wall where a few other roster members lingered as intermission wrapped up. In the ring, security finished setting up some of the larger props, meaning that all of Louis’ hard work was about to be annihilated.
Last year, the main event of Krampusnacht was between two participants selected to fight on behalf of Santa and the Krampus; this year, the main event was Santa vs the Krampus. Victor called dibs on being the Krampus, so the role of Santa was determined via random name pull, and Nate won the honor.
To no one’s surprise, the match was as delightful as it was violent, and both competitors fulfilled their roles perfectly. Nate with his stature and bravado, came out to Santa Claus is Coming to Town and held a large plastic candy cane high above his head. Victor followed, with his practiced gait that came with many years of experience of portraying monsters. Naturally, this audience rooted for the Krampus.
They immediately got to work on attacking one another with an assortment of items, from presents to an entire christmas tree. By the end of the match, there was fake snow and glitter and blood spilled all over the canvas. It played out similar to Louis and Avi’s match: though Nate was bigger, Victor’s speed and experience secured him the win, and the audience cheered.
Rather than hit up a local dive, the roster congregated at Fighting Spirit due to its proximity to the school. Mitch sat at the corner of the bar with a seltzer and toyed with the pull tab while everyone around him conversed. Louis took the seat next to him, and explained that Sandy already took off for the evening. “She’s upset,” he grunted after ordering a beer.
“Figured as much,” Mitch winced. “I’ll call her later and make it right. It was all really last second, you know.”
Louis hummed affirmatively, but didn’t look at him. They sat in silence for some time, until Mitch couldn’t stand it any longer. “Lou, I’m sorry. I should’ve said something.”
“Woulda been nice,” Louis muttered, tensing briefly then dropping his shoulders. When Mitch withdrew instinctively, a large hand clapped the center of his back and rubbed small circles. “So how long you gonna be in this arranged marriage?”
“Oh my god. Fuck off.” Elbows planted on the bartop, Mitch hid his face while Louis chuckled. “Doesn’t sound like it’ll be for too long. A few months at most? Jodie promised that it wouldn’t be permanent, just gotta get Avi comfortable with doing heel work. After that, we’ll be together again.”
“So you’re not picking him over me?”
“Do I detect a hint of jealousy?” Mitch raised an eyebrow and took a sip from his can, then swallowed and shook his head. “No. I’d never.”
“Glad to hear it.” Stretching until his hand reached Mitch’s bicep, Louis pulled him in tight for a side hug. With a heavy sigh and no strength or urge to protest, Mitch closed his eyes and leaned into it.