In the early hours of the morning, they lay sweat drenched and exhausted and clinging onto one another. Avi continued to press lazy kisses to exposed bits of Mitch’s skin around his neck and face, but the intent was purely affectionate rather than an attempt to initiate yet another round. Mitch sought out Avi’s hand and twined their fingers together -like he wanted to do many times in the past- and Avi raised that to his lips and kissed it as well, the knuckles and meat of Mitch’s thumb and some of the palm.
“You’re staring again,” Avi pointed out with no heat, only a hint of amusement.
“It’s hard not to,” Mitch responded with a bit of gravel in his voice, and Avi’s flushed cheeks lifted from smiling once more. “Sorry, you’ll have to get used to it.”
Avi giggled, and the sound made Mitch’s heart swell. It’d been so long since he’d been intimate with someone that laughed and entertained his ramblings even if it wasn’t the most appropriate venue for them. “I’m sure I’ll manage,” Avi responded, bumping their noses together, and Mitch gave a contented hum. Each of his words held promise of longevity, as if he somehow knew exactly when Mitch needed to hear them; every time they were spoken, they soothed the ache in Mitch’s chest and the worry in his brain.
After everything, Mitch thought for certain that he’d sleep easy, but unfortunately that remained elusive as always. Next to him, Avi curled into his side and threw off heat like the sun that Mitch orbited. In the past, he’d been accused of being difficult to snuggle or embrace on account of his bony limbs and sharp joints, so he paid close attention to the placement of his elbows and knees. But Avi seemed dead to the world and unbothered, which allowed Mitch to further observe him without it being pointed out.
He wondered what the future held, dreading that he’d have to come clean and tell Jodie before she figured it out for herself. Would she lecture him? He’d be deserving of it, since his recent string of relationships also impacted several of her friendships, and that was a shitty position for someone to be in. Hopefully, Avi would be spared from her wrath. Mitch would see to that, even if it meant being evicted. Maybe it’d be an incentive to get a job that provided a steadier paycheck and his own place, like a little studio apartment. The car situation remained dire, but he’d figure it out.
His thoughts drifted to the upcoming match, which up until a few hours ago consumed him entirely. And perhaps it was due to the afterglow and Avi being in his arms, but the rage and despair all but vanished, diffusing into the atmosphere high above. As far as he knew, the concept that it was bad to have sex before a fight was no more than a myth; besides, they hadn’t actually fucked, since neither party came prepared with lube and condoms, just done a little bit of everything else over the course of the night.
But he couldn’t deny that emotionally he felt satisfied, and a hardcore match demanded that he be anything other than that. The sharpness and hunger and madness were absent, meaning his edge was gone.
Meaning that the match itself had become all the more dangerous for him, if Nate was smart and prepared for the monster that Zevon could be. The only advantage that Mitch may have now was if Nate felt guilty enough to hold himself back, but he didn’t want that. He wanted a real match. He wanted them both at their best by being their worst.
He closed his eyes, suddenly uncomfortable with watching over Avi. Having no idea what Saturday would bring -and the condition that it’d leave him in- gnawed at his conscience. Were their roles reversed and it was Avi’s match, he knew he’d be eaten alive by distress from seeing Avi effectively enter the Colosseum of his own volition. He only prayed that it wouldn’t come up beforehand, and hoped that Avi, as a fellow wrestler, understood what Mitch so desperately needed to do.
For the rest of the night, he fretted, waking up at random hours and wondering if he should call it off. Up until then, he hadn’t been scared, hadn’t doubted his ability to dish out and endure pain. At some point as he stressed, he watched as Avi’s eyes fluttered open. “Hi,” Avi said sweetly, almost shy and demure. Despite the rancid morning breath, Mitch leaned in and kissed him, which Avi happily welcomed. “We should take a shower,” whispered Avi, adding “together”, as if he knew that Mitch would need the clarification.
“Alright,” Mitch agreed, allowing for Avi to lead the way so that he could admire his backside.
The fury and indignation that originally fueled him were long gone, making their getaway in the dead of night. Mitch needed to accept that and move onto either a new strategy, or prepare to work harder than ever.
Then Avi rounded the corner into the bathroom and poked his head around the corner, a nervous smile on his face and his hand outstretched as Mitch approached, silently begging to be taken. Accept it Mitch did, and he was pulled into an embrace.
He wondered if he could somehow use love -one which burned brighter than the sun and all of the stars- as a new source of fuel.