“Ain’t a soul’s gonna remember you a week from now after I’ve pounded your face into the concrete, McCoy,” the kid across the ring spat venomously, a conceited smirk exposing the uneven lines of a few dirty, broken teeth. Devlin would break every single one of the bastard’s fucked up teeth before the night was through, knock them straight back into his throat for him to choke on. The kid - Devlin didn’t even bother listening for a name - was his opponent, some cocky little prick trying to get a rise out of him. Dev had been waiting with as much forced patience as he could muster for the past few minutes, but the more the little dick spoke, the harder it was for Dev to keep from launching at him. His fists were clenched, white-knuckled, at his sides. “You’re gonna die a fuckin’ nobody, just like your fuck up of a father.”
Dev could feel the blood boiling in his veins, feverishly hot and turbulent just beneath the surface. Time fighting was cruel - it was fucking vicious, he knew that full well - but this was a personal attack and he wanted nothing more than to tear that scrawny, cocksure asshole limb from limb. How the fuck did this kid even know him? He was trying to play mind games with him, Dev was sure; he wanted to infuriate Dev, to piss him off. If he was angry, he might make a mistake. But there was one problem with that logic: Devlin McCoy didn’t make mistakes. He could see a faint crimson seeping into his peripheral vision as he glared at the dirty little fucker, eyes darting between his face and the six months’ time emblazoned on his wrist.
“And what’s gonna happen to your mum, then, huh? Once you’re dead, who’s gonna pay her to sit around and do fuck all for a living?” He cackled spitefully, taking a deliberate step toward Devlin’s corner of the ring. Dev could barely hear him over the liquid churning of blood and the heavy drum of his pulse in his ears. He closed his eyes and swallowed hard, grinding his teeth and stealing a quick glance at the referee. If the fucking ref would just blow the whistle, he could -
“And even if her clock don’t run out, she and your siblings are still gonna starve, yeah?” His heart was pounding painfully against his ribs. “I don’t even think Meals on Wheels would deliver to that dirty piece a’ shit you call a home.” His nails were tearing through the padded flesh of his palms. “Tough break, McCoy, I hope you kissed ‘em all goodbye before you left tonight.” His teeth were sinking deep into his tongue.” It’d be a shame if you didn’t, because - “
Before the screeching metallic trill of the referee’s whistle made it to the other side of the room, Dev already had the kid squirming on his back, one arm braced over his naked chest. His entire body was trembling with rage but every movement he made was careful, precise. “You poor, ignorant bastard,” he growled, his voice low and rough, “you really have no clue who you’re fucking with, do you?” The kid didn’t even have the opportunity to reply before Dev was knotting his fingers in his greasy hair and slamming the back of his head into the hard, slate floor. He writhed beneath Dev’s weight, trying desperately to get out of the hold. “You know fuck all about me, and even less about my family.”
“Pity,” he continued, raising his head up and smashing it back down against the floor once, twice more, “because it’s your time that’s gonna be feeding my family for the next month, yeah? Sorry about your fucking luck.” Within seconds, the kid’s struggling had died down to little more than a weak whimper as his skull began to crack and fragment beneath his scalp. Devlin licked his lips and delivered one last blow to the kid’s face, shoving his nose back up into his brain and sinuses and leaving a dark, bloody crater in its wake.
Devlin stood slowly, unwinding his fingers from the kid’s hair and brushing his hands on his shorts. He didn’t even bother checking the number on his clock as he walked back over to the chair where he’d left his clothes. He was still livid, and if it weren’t for the crowd of horrified spectators watching him, he would’ve continued to beat the zeroed out corpse until it was nothing more than a pile of bloody pulp. When he got back to the chair, his shirt wasn’t tossed over the back like he’d left it; rather, it was currently folded and resting in the lap of some brunet on the bench beside it. Did he know this guy-? He didn’t know, but he was hardly in the mood for it.
Dev cleared his throat, flexing his fingers. “Mind telling me what you’re doing with my shirt?” he asked, running a hand through his sweat-dampened hair and looking down at the guy.
Reese could barely restrain his excitement as Devlin’s opponent stepped into the ring, a scrawny guy with a big mouth. Reese’s eyes flicked around the crowd for similar reactions, drinking them in. Fight clubs really did attract all types: there was the man sitting in the corner in a pair of overalls and steel-toed boots looking bored with the whole affair, his expression like sour milk; there was a woman by the bar, her hair done up elaborately with little rosebuds tucked in, her torso bedecked in a bustier from an earlier time—cleverly disguising all the bits she didn’t want people seeing, no doubt; in the corner a little boy sat, playing with a toy firetruck. And then there was Reese himself. What could he classify himself as? An average-joe performer just there to score a bit of time? A psychopath?
It didn’t matter. What did matter was the rising temperature in the room as the kid across the ring from Devlin, Ray or John or Zack, something ordinary and forgettable, insulted him. Reese could feel the rising anger in the air, electric; he could almost taste it, swelteringly hot and rooted in some deep injury. There it was, so gloriously restrained, evident all over Devlin’s posture from the tips of his toes to the sweat beading just at his hairline, threatening to burst from him on the form of a good old-fashioned hook or elbow or something else fantastically damaging, and Reese was eating it up by the spoonful like a vanilla sundae.
Stupid, he thought as the boy continued to taunt the already-furious Devlin. Didn’t he know who he was dealing with? Reese was lucky he’d seen Devlin fight before. He’d bet several weeks on him—it would have been a year, even, but they didn’t do that sort of betting here. There was no doubt in his mind he would be at least doubling his bet.
He watched on, transfixed, as the tension grew to fever pitch. It was this part, the very millisecond before the whistle made contact with the referee’s lips, that was the most delicious. It wasn’t the moment afterward, when Devlin pinned the kid to the ground, or after that, when his skull crunched against the floor and garnet blood pooled out, half-sickeningly, half-beautifully.
As the crowd went silent, horrified, all Reese could think about was how incredibly turned on he was.
Then suddenly he was back on Earth again and oh shit he had Devlin’s shirt and Devlin was coming toward him to get it, all muscles and fury and sweat, and Reese was absolutely terrified and Christ almighty did he love it. He stood above Reese like some sort of magnificent bull, his breathing still heavy from the fight, and he was speechless. His mouth went dry and no words came to mind; there was only stuff like hi, I’m your number one fan and did I mention you’re senselessly attractive? but neither of those responses seemed to fit the bill.
To gather himself he watched a rivulet of sweat drip down Devlin’s jaw, making up his mind to speak when it dropped. The moment, unfortunately, came sooner than he wanted it to, and his eyes tracked it as it dripped off Devlin’s chin and made a little dark spot on the floor.
Reese took a deep breath and shrugged his shoulders as a kind of stretch, loosening the tension in them before he accidentally said something stupid.
“Oh, you know. It was there. I was here. It seemed reasonable,” he finally said. It sounded stupid. “It made sense at the time.” He stalled for a moment, holding onto the shirt. What did one say to someone when both parties were acutely aware of how easily one party could beat the other party up, especially when just the thought of that made the latter party feel extremely attracted to the former?
“You’ve got a bit of blood here,” he continued, making a motion with his hand at his own face. “And, uh, here.” His hand moved to his chest. Devlin was, in fact, covered in the stuff. “Nevermind.” Instead of saying something else he handed him the shirt, desperately hoping he wouldn’t just take off, leaving Reese to hunt him down at a later date.
“That was impressive. You’ve piqued my interest.” Now he only had to hope that his interest being piqued was something that remotely piqued Devlin’s own.