A/N: Right so, obviously I don't know the first thing about betting or cage fights or betting on cage fights. And I definitely do not know anything about fighting either, my personal repertoire is strictly restricted to biting and hair pulling. But please just pretend its all believable okay? Please? Gracias :)
Dryden, Northern Alberta
Asshole. Bastard. Fucking sonofabitch!
I kicked at every last garbage can I could find in the alley behind that stupid club. Almost slipped in the stupid snow and frankly I deserved the pain right about now. I messed up again. Can you believe that jerk? – He’s so damn arrogant and stubborn and… I kicked the lamppost for want for nothing else left to kick.
Would have described this as the most humiliating experience of my life, except I’ve had many more and much worse. Hello… ex-whore remember? Like I could fucking forget. Couldn’t decide what I found more revolting – his rejecting me, or his coming on to me.
What, you didn’t think I’d notice?
The way he kept staring, getting as close as possible under the guise of *intimidation tactics* or whatever the hell he thought he was doing back there. And I heard his breath hitch all right. Fucking johns. No I could not kick the lamppost again or they’d have to amputate my big toe.
I plonked myself on the snow-covered sidewalk, wet as it may be. All his “little boy” taunts I couldn’t care less about. I was twenty-three and he looked about thirty, and given his healing factor probably much, much older. What I couldn’t stand was the fact that he didn’t believe I was a mutant at all. But could I blame him?
Do *I* believe myself to be a mutant anymore?
I rubbed my eyes and got up, the sidewalk was really wet. Maybe if he’d given me a chance to explain everything, the struggles in New York, reasons why we were asking him to join the X-Men so desperately…
See that’s just it. I couldn’t forget that Logan was desperately needed. Sure we could go scouting for others but who knew how long that would take and, well… I had a strong feeling about this guy. It was important to him to believe that I was one of the good guys… and I saw him exercising great restraint yesterday in Loughlin City. For a guy so lethal he sure barked more often than he bit. Maybe he believed more in our cause than he was aware himself. Something told me for all his asshole-ness, he could truly be the best thing that happened to me… us. I meant *us*, as in the team. Charles told me years ago I had good instincts, and that I should trust them.
I had to try again.
Inside, it was a fucking free for all. A Hulk Hogan look-alike was being carried out of the cage as… surprise surprise, Wolverine – in his ragged, once-white wifebeater and faded jeans – strolled back to his corner to wait for the next guy. Second fight of the night was about to commence, Wolverine had just challenged and won over the now unconscious, former champion and people were still stunned. I smirked as his midget pimp shrieked the odds out for everyone to hear.
Wolverine wasn’t as massive as the other fighters, I mean sure he’s tall and freakishly broad and muscular but not overly so. Kinda lean and toned and well-proportioned and… what the fuck am I saying? Bottom line – he was huge but not WWF huge period. And then there was the fact that the other men were relatively well known in these parts; they were supposed to be professionals, unlike Logan. So obviously most people did not bet on him. Not everyone recognizes talent by technique and skill. Most people just go with the bigger guy in the cage. The more they lost, the more that midget and Logan kept winning.
Fights in bars like these are vicious – no rules no mercy and no conscience. You fight until one guy passes out or dies, whichever came first, and has to be lugged out the cage. The winner continues either until he decides to quit or a challenger knocks him out then the challenger becomes the defender. And oh yeah, you can place or change bets when they ring the bell every four minutes into the fight… if it ever lasts that long, usually everything’s over in two.
I wasn’t about to kid myself. I hadn’t had anything except a greasy omelet this morning that I promptly threw up ten minutes later. I could barely keep a little OJ down with the drugs that had a way of dulling my reflexes and damn it *he* had a healing factor. Technically he could just keep going forever. I bit my lip. The new guy was holding on, but not for long. I took a deep breath.
Then went for the other bookie.
After some convincing that involved several hundred dollars, I heard him and the announcer snigger on the microphone.
“Alright we’ve had a couple of surprises tonight already. Let’s see if there’s another in the making. Come on up kid, show your face!”
I adjusted my visor in the back pocket, then decided to move them to the jacket as I walked up to the dais. Couldn’t risk it getting trashed just in case. People stared, not sure what to make of me. Then some started laughing and yet others booing. No points for guessing who’d win this one – but that meant there were hardly any odds. Not too much money to be made here for anyone… but a significant drain of winnings for my man Wolverine and his pal here.
What can I say? Payback’s a bitch.
“Ladies and gentlemen, our new challenger to the big bad Wolverine… Cyclops!”
On the side he muttered, “Whatever that means.”
Logan turned not so curiously towards us, fully intending to go back to smoking his cigar… only he didn’t. He frowned, and he got his jocks in a bunch. I smirked.
“You fight with your coat on?”
I turned to the bookie. His name was Kyle or Kite or something. I took off my jacket and pullover and there were more boos all around. Alright, so I hadn’t seen the inside of a gym in a month. But it was the big bad Wolverine and his reaction that interested me more. He slowly dragged at his cigar, threw it away and came off his corner towards me. He could have been strolling in a goddamn park. Kite handed me the two long strips of stonewashed denim I’d asked for which I wrapped around my knuckles. Just as he made off with my gear the announcer screamed.
“Shit.” I muttered.
Logan stood a couple of feet away, the crowd cheered on, for once rooting for him to beat the little punk up who was nothing but wasting everybody’s time.
“You have a death wish? *Cyclops*?”
The codename was uttered with obvious disdain. I held my fists up in a defensive stance, moving in the same circle that my opponent was intent on marking on the cage floor.
“I *am* the good guy.”
He sniffed at me. Weird I know.
“And I *am* a mutant. I just can’t show you my mutation right now.”
He snorted. “You got an ace up your sleeve bub? Now’s the time to pull it out or else I’m gonna have to kill ya.”
“Why do you hide behind this facade Logan? I know you’re not a mindless killer.”
“Thanks for your vote of confidence but I gotta work here. You planning to fight or did you just come in to chat?”
The crowd was getting impatient. I took a moment to look around me, spotted the midget and chuckled.
“Your little pimp’s pullin’ his hair out.”
In that split-second when Logan turned to glance at his friend, I swung at him. He obviously wasn’t expecting me to be sneaky.
The punch caught him on his jaw and he spun back more from shock than actual force. Crowd let loose a collective howl of disbelief outside the cage, everyone closing in on the cage. Like I said, most people don’t know jack about technique or skill when it comes to fighting.
Logan swung a huge one back at me, but I stepped back out of his reach. I could see he was taking me seriously now. None of the others had managed to touch his face that night. He lunged again and I ducked just in time. If I were running on full cylinders I *could* potentially tire his fucking healing factor out eventually, if only for a few minutes. To me the thought in itself was motivating enough. He softly laughed.
“You know I could have you flat on your back right now if I wanted to.”
“Enough with the sexual innuendos, *old* boy. Show me what you got.”
He smirked and suddenly twisted around. I saw his leg not in time as it crashed into my ribs and I doubled over. Fuck - was he made of metal throughout? Before he could follow it up with an uppercut I blocked his fist with my left hand and with the right grabbed his hair and pulled him closer. He wasn’t expecting that.
A knee to the groin can’t possibly fade away easily, even for him. I knew I had this tiny window of opportunity while he was down which I just had to take. With all the strength I could muster I bolo-ed him surprising him all the more, then pummeled my right elbow into his chin from below. Wolverine jumped a feet in the air and was thrown back against the cage. People went crazy as the bell rang, changing bets and placing new ones. I bet there were odds *now*.
The temporary reprieve brought to my attention the growing strain on my broken ribs and my wheezing breaths but I ignored them. Logan was getting himself off the floor, licked the blood off his lower lip and glared. He twisted his neck to one side then the next and I could clearly hear bones clicking back into place over the chaos outside. Okay not good.
“You got guts, kid. I’ll give you that.”
As he approached me, I suppressed the urge to step back. And he was smirking again.
“Your Professor taught you well.”
Guess going with street fighting instead of judo was the right choice after all. “I taught myself. Been on my own long enough. I know what you think but I ain’t no preppy rich boy Logan. Nor are the kids at my school.”
He rolled his eyes. “So we’re talkin’ again?”
I shrugged. “You’ll win, I’ll run myself down eventually. But I just upped the stakes enough so you and your pal can make a damn good profit off me. Winning isn’t the point anyway.”
And the people got restless again. “What’s with the conference going on in there?? Wolverine, kill him already!!”
And my man muttered. “Oh I plan to.”
That’s when I realized he was more than seriously pissed off.
// Whatever you do, don’t hit him in the balls. //
He and I were circling each other again. I figured he wasn’t going to take the offensive. So I did. But this time he was ready.
He blocked my jab and twisted me around with an arm wound around my neck, choking me. Before I could think of something, he drove his free fist into my side.
Fuck that hurt. And he did it again. A bout of pain-induced vertigo threatened but I couldn’t let it – not so soon. I bent a leg by the knee and connected with his shin with all my soul. His hold loosened and I twisted out of his reach. I pushed all of me into his chest and rammed him into the cage wall again. He lunged back, spinning us around so I was on the wall and punched me in the gut. I guess from the way I’d screamed earlier, he knew that was my weak spot. What followed was an endless series of kicks and punches; who got who I’m not quite sure. But in the end it was me on my hands and knees coughing up blood in one corner of the cage while he paced in another angrily.
A loud crash came from his end of the cage and I looked up to see him ramming against the iron bars with an insurmountable wrath, then pacing again like the captive wild beast that he was. Huh. Better the bars than me. Shit it hurt. And then he was coming towards me again. Couldn’t stop myself before I slightly slunk against the wall.
He grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me up, holding me as close to his face as he’d done before. There was madness in his eyes.
“What’s the point now, *Cyclops*?”
I said the only thing I could think of, or manage through the painful wheezing. “Come to New York with me.”
In response he let go and I almost fell.
The cries for blood got louder. He’d better end this before the next bell rang, or people would change their bets again. I guess Logan knew that, his midget was among the ones shrieking his head off about the time anyway. He came towards me again, this time looking to knock me down and hoping I’d stay down. I could see it in his eyes. I asked him again.
He didn’t hesitate. “No.”
His fist came crashing in and I ducked just in time then badgered into his ribs with both my hands joined like a baseball bat. Don’t ask me where that strength came from. But it could only last so long. The moment I slipped up, he punched me in the jaw… so hard it spun me around. The last thing I felt was a solid blow to the base of my skull. My world imploded on itself with indescribable pain and for a second, everything went red… then faded to black.
I vaguely remember thinking that move should not be allowed before I lost consciousness.
Huh. At least the pain stopped.
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