Mitch took hold of Avi’s hands and locked up, but was caught off guard by being instantly overpowered and driven back into the ropes. “Keep up,” Avi taunted, already the arrogance of his wrestling persona shining through.
With a shake of his head, Mitch dispelled all of the doubt that overcame him. They locked up once more, this time hands went to one another’s necks as they pivoted around each other a few times. Avi continued his attempts at dragging Mitch down to the mat, but Mitch was able to counter by driving his shoulder into Avi’s chest, keeping him both close and upright. It was like trying to guide a stubborn bull by the horns.
Losing focus on Avi turned out to be a fatal error. Within the blink of an eye, he got behind Mitch and put him into a chokehold; Mitch tried to stay calm, because if he lost any more control, Avi would win. But that strategy was much easier said than done, considering that Avi’s been doing this for well over half of Mitch’s lifetime.
At last, Mitch managed to slip out of the hold after a well placed elbow to the gut, but he grabbed onto Avi’s wrist and used that to wrench his arm behind his back, effectively trading places. A twinge of pride shot through him when Avi dropped to one knee.
By now, Mitch grasped that Avi turned this into a technical bout, which suited him just fine. Relying on the fundamentals may grant him some type of advantage against Nate, who’d surely rely on his strength and size. Hopefully Mitch could keep a cool head and outpace him, but there’d be no guarantee once the bell rung.
He considered trying to go high once Avi inevitably escaped the hold, but Avi’s experience and overall cleverness made him a dangerous opponent. Strategizing meant taking his attention away from the present, and the next thing Mitch knew, his leg’s been swept out from underneath him and he crashed down. As his body made contact with the canvas, a loud snap echoed throughout the building.
All of Mitch’s momentum came to a halt with Avi’s knee digging in his back, keeping him firmly pinned in place. It’s as if he’s a mouse that a cat’s finally caught up to, trapped under a paw and awaiting a torturous death. Both of his arms were pulled and stretched back into some type of modified surfboard position, and Mitch grit his teeth, hissing while fighting through the pain and on the cusp of screaming. Avi was so vicious, able to manipulate joints with laser-like precision, and for a moment Mitch found himself afraid of his shoulder getting hurt again. Panic caused him to further tense up, but he reminded himself that Avi was a professional and wouldn’t dare go so far.
This was what Mitch loved about wrestling, what drew him to it in the first place. Being suspended far enough over a safety net that he could miss the landing, which happened during his injury. Needing to put your faith into the person that’s trying to kill you. Just enough danger to sweat and reconsider his wellbeing versus how badly he actually wanted this. Just enough to make it exciting. Sometimes -such as right then- it made him a little hard. He’s able to ignore that because it’s not the first time during a match that he’s chubbed up, it happens to everyone. He’s grateful that he’s faced away from Avi.
Until he’s not. Avi, probably sensing that Mitch wasn’t in any position to return fire, flipped him onto his back. How he’s able to move as though he’s not restricted by his stupid skinny jeans was truly beyond Mitch, but he couldn’t focus on that when his left leg is hoisted into the air and Avi’s body was over his own, barely any room between them. As he mentally counted down…
Avi’s face was so close to his own, the beard fibers scraping against his cheek.
Avi’s head swiveled, and their eyes met. There’s something dark and unreadable there, the adrenaline turning Avi into something else: an animal, a predator, like his namesake lion, the one printed on his trunks. Possessed by the god of wrestling or combat, or Ares or Mars, perhaps? Mitch didn’t know. But Avi looked as if the most intense hunger took him over, and maybe that’s why he was such a natural at this, why he won so many of his matches, why he had all the renown and respect. He was a wrestler, after all.
Avi licked his lips, and Mitch stared, too struck by awe to look away. His breath gone, lungs burning. He knew that he could not win this match, and he made peace with that, but still he must try.
The number 3 never crossed Mitch’s mind, because in that exact moment, nothing did. He didn’t kick out, which was his original plan, because he’s paralyzed. It’s as if a bolt of lightning targeted him, and now he couldn’t function at all since his brain shut down and failed to reboot.
And though he couldn’t fathom it -or anything else, really- in the back of his mind, he’s certain that Avi’s lips are on his.
Disoriented, Mitch tried to say something. But as his mouth opened, he felt a tongue touch his own.
He’s definitely sure that they’re kissing.
Avi no longer hovered, his weight firmly planted on Mitch. Their chests touched, and Mitch couldn’t tell where his heartbeat ended and where Avi’s began. After a delay, he registered that there’s a hand in his hair and he thinks that he likes that, but he couldn’t be certain because he wasn’t cognizant of his own body anymore. Everything was too hazy to make sense, the blood which thrummed so hotly from the match now dispersing to other parts of his body and causing his skin to sharply tingle, as if he’s being punctured by a thousand needles.
A gasp escaped his mouth as Avi ground against his hips, the hard line of his dick flush against Mitch’s. Then Avi’s other hand touched his waist, fingertips grazing the skin under his shirt, burning like a new tattoo.
A flashback surfaced. He’s taken back to Graveyard Smash, the drunken stupor and the hand on his thigh, the shame and anguish that still kept him up at night.
Panic seized him by the throat, icy and jarring.
Out of instinct, Mitch shoved Avi away and slid backwards on his hands and elbows -the mat scraping his exposed skin- until he reached the ropes. He grabbed onto them as if his life depended on it, his breathing ragged and skin clammy. He could feel his eyes bulging out of his skull as he stared down Avi. Anger and confusion swirled about in his guts as he processed what he’s experiencing, but he couldn’t pinpoint why his emotions manifested this way. It felt like betrayal, for whatever reason, not like the euphoria that he would have expected from finally getting to experience this.
“Mitch,” Avi whispered, frozen in place and looking shocked and hurt, and Mitch didn’t think he had any right to.
“No,” Mitch shook his head, hot tears welling up as rage and grief at last overtook him. “No, you don’t just get to- I’m not-” he couldn’t get out the sentiment as words failed him. Avi tried to approach, his movement slow and deliberate, but Mitch rolled out of the ring before he could get closer. “Fuck you, that’s not what I’m here for!” he shouted as he grabbed his gym bag from off of the floor. Racing to the exit, he escaped into Jodie’s car and drove away before Avi could catch up, not turning back once despite how many times his name was called.