After Die My Darling, Mitch practically lived at the school. Unfortunately the decorations were taken down; the sight of them could have been used to fuel his anger and determination, but alas.
A lot of his routine alternated between hitting the punching bag and getting in as much cardio endurance training as possible. Nate had an advantage in power due to his enormous stature, meaning that Mitch needed to be faster. He consumed matches such as Eddie Guerrero vs Brock Lesnar and Aja Kong vs Manami Toyota dozens of times as both inspiration and reference points, but all the while knowing what little good psychology would do in a match where you’d be tethered to your opponent the whole time. So he also watched a few horror movies for good measure as well, seeking out Jodie’s expertise in that arena and getting a few obscure Italian slashers for suggestions (though not quite able to stomach the Japanese torture films that she put on, asking “what the fuck is wrong with you?”, to which she replied “hey, you asked.”).
He threw himself at training so hard that he lost track of the days entirely, until Thursday came along and Louis dragged him out of the gym to get a bite to eat. “It’s Valentine’s Day, you walnut,” Lou chastised while they picked a place, opting for a nearby sub shop. “You’re getting some human interaction, whether you want it or not.”
“So romantic,” Mitch rolled his eyes before taking a bite of his sandwich, which Louis ignored and inquired about his plans for the night -outside of pushups and jumping rope. “Actually, I have a motel room that I’m gonna stay at.” Louis’s forehead scrunched, and Mitch snorted. “Don’t worry, it’s just me. I reserved it when Nate and I were, y’know. Trying to plan ahead.” He winced, then continued. “Anyway, things got crazy, and I forgot about it until recently. I was clearing out old emails and found the confirmation, and it was too late to cancel by then. So Jodie’s letting me borrow her car and I’m gonna treat myself.” What Mitch didn’t mention was that Jodie at last summoned the nerve to ask Maya over, so he wanted to clear out of the house regardless. And Louis doesn’t need to hear about his ex, anyway.
“That’s really nice,” Louis responded, not bothering to hide his relief. Mitch couldn’t even take offense, after the string of guys he’d been with, anyone that knew him was probably deeply relieved that he wasn’t dating for the foreseeable future.
When they finished up, Louis dropped him back off at the school. “Have fun with Des,” Mitch teased after he’d been crushed by a bear hug. Louis flipped him off, then peeled away. To Mitch’s surprise, Jodie’s car wasn’t the only one in the lot that evening: parked a few spaces over was Avi’s Honda Fit.
“Huh,” Mitch remarked, wondering if someone requested extra training since there were no classes scheduled. He pushed open the front door and made his way back towards the training area, shouting “Hello?” once he got back there. His voice echoed in the vast space.
Seconds later, Avi emerged from the breakroom, looking surprised but not unhappy about his presence.
“Hi,” Avi greeted, crossing the room until he stood a few feet away. It may have been Mitch’s imagination, but the smell of his cologne was slightly more potent than usual. It wasn’t unpleasant by any means, he rather liked it.
“Oh, I’m actually relieved to see you. Are you busy?” Mitch asked, and Avi shook his head.
“Uh, no. Not at all. Why?”
“I wanted to get some sparring in, but,” he looked at Avi’s clothing, noting the skinny jeans in particular. It made him realize what an absolute slob he was in his shorts and t-shirt, despite this being a gym. “Shit, you’re not really dressed for it, huh? That’s alright-“
“No, it’s fine!” Avi insisted, still caught off guard. “I’ve wrestled in jeans plenty of times, lemme just…” He peeled the hoodie off and the t-shirt underneath it in one fluid motion, and Mitch made an honest effort to not stare at his abs or the v lines of his hips in the moment that his head was obscured by clothing. Because he’d been good about not lingering, even with the minor setback that the bouquet did to his nerves. “OK, so what can I help with?”
“Most of the stuff I’ve been doing is solo, so I just need another body to practice with before Saturday. There’s a few moves that I wanna try, too, but I don’t know if they’ll be any good when Nate and I are trying to literally choke one another.”
“Right,” Avi listened, then hopped on the apron and sat on the ropes, holding them apart for Mitch.
“Oh, for me? Thank you,” Mitch chuckled and hoisted himself up, then ducked to get between them and stood in the center of the ring.
“Do you want me to actually come at you?” asked Avi, already bent at the knees and naturally poised for a match.
“Yeah, maybe we can do a little warmup beforehand? Might get me in the right mindset before I start trying to pull off top rope stuff because I saw a Joshi wrestler do it.”
“Ah, returning to that old well,” Avi commented, his tone wistful while he stretched his hands out and looked expectantly. Mitch took a breath and tried not to let the fanboy part of him get too excited, for at long last he was getting something that resembled a match with Avi Sher, even if no one was around to see it.