"This guy, right here, they call him 'The Tank'. Mows down any competition," Trevor explains, talking close to my ear so I can hear him. Most of what I can hear is fists colliding with bare flesh, blood being spat out onto the floor and the crowd cheering at it all.
"Even you?" I question, looking at him.
"Well, there's ring matches next week where they crown the king of the ring. They invite seasoned fighters, it's a big thing around the country. You should come if you like this sort of thing."
All I want to do is let out my frustration on one of those guys, I have it all pent up inside of me. I'm not as skilled a fighter as this guy, but I can definitely take on another reasonably good fighter.
"I want to fight!" I yell so he can hear me. He cocks his head to the side and furrows his eyebrows. Seeing that I'm serious, he immediately shakes his head. Rather violently.
"No, no offence, but you're gonna get hurt."
"I'm doing it anyway," I reply before marching away.
His hand grips my wrist to stop me, but I end up dragging him along as I make my way to the ringmaster, the man calling the shots. I weave my way through the crowd, Trevor slowing me down significantly, but I persevere.
I square up to the guy and before Trevor can stop me, I introduce myself as 'Phoenix' after my home town, and shake his hand. Not wanting to make a scene, Trevor stands impatiently next to me, still gripping my wrist and trying to tug me away. But, after the guy laughs a little at me wanting to fight one of these guys, he agrees, although discloses that 'he won't be held accountable when I inevitably end up on a stretcher out of here'.
I shrug off his words with ease, and shape up for my fight, tying up my hair and putting some black warrior face paint on. Again, my height didn't make me look intimidating, and there is no way to make guys like this lot remotely afraid of me.
That doesn't matter though; underestimation is a good thing. If you're shit, then they are right and there is nothing to be embarrassed about, and if you are better than shit, you've proved them wrong.
"Don't fucking do this," Trevor warns, pulling my arm.
"You can't tell me what to fucking do, and why did you think I'm here? Just to watch?"
"If you're doing this to prove a point to your mom, do something else. Stay out all night, party, not do something that could end up damaging you for life, possibly killing you. These guys are ruthless, and they don't let up for little girls either."
"I'm not a little girl. Back the fuck off, Trevor," I warn, growling in his face.
My name 'Phoenix' is then called into the ring and I hear some boos and some wolf whistles in the crowd. I peer over at Trevor, who looks fuming and contemplating what he can possibly do. He is a guy who likes control, now he is losing it.
My opponent, a good seven inches taller than me, broader shoulders and muscled arms steps into the ring, the crowd going wild for him as he must have fought here before. But he's nowhere near the build of Axel and I took Axel down.
I am secretly confident, even though I can't stop my legs from trembling beneath me. To be honest, this would be the time for some liquid courage, but I am doing so well with the whole 'staying clean' shtick and I'm not going to give in.
When the fight commences, I'm caught off guard hearing all the chants of the crowd, and miss the fist slamming into my face. My left cheek burns as I fall to the ground, but only momentarily as I clamber back up. I keep my guard up now, circling around the ring.
He takes a swing and I duck, moving forward into his body to punch his gut. He gasps in pain and shock that I could even take a shot at him. The crowd is flawed too.
He grabs his stomach, leaving a short opening for me to do more damage. So short that I am not fast enough before he recovers, charging towards me, picking up my body and smashing it onto the hard floor.
I feel an immense pang of pain ripple through my body followed by numbness. I see him smirk in approval and it fuels my rage. I scramble away and work to regain my stance.
I am weaker now, but I won't go down easily, all I see is red. I watch him running at me again, but this time I dodge his body, letting him fall into the other edge of the ring. I pull him back from behind him, wrapping my arms around his neck and yanking him down.
He loses his footing and struggles to get up. I move to straddle his body, pummeling my fists into his body. I relentlessly slam my fists into his face, making sure there is no patch of skin not blood-covered. I imagine he's Matt, and Scott, and my dad, and Caroline. I imagine he's Axel. And I keep going, letting out all my aggression. Punch... punch... punch... punch.
I barely hear the ringmaster yelling 'stop' as I continue, feeling my rage slightly fleet with every punch. I suddenly feel arms wrapping around my waist and hauling me off of the fighter.
I kick and squirm in the grip of whoever it is. I look back to see Trevor. I still continue to flail around, wanting to finish off the guy completely.
He takes me outside, my back still against his chest, and the cold air cools my temper down. I realize my irrationality in there, I barely cared whether I killed the guy or not. I just wanted to keep going. Because I wanted to kill Axel, deep inside, deep in the darkness.
"What the fuck was that?" he half yells half questions in surprise.
"I have some pent up anger," I whisper. "I'm sorry, I lost control."
"Lost control?! The guy could have fucking brain damage after that. Fucking hell!" Trevor sits himself next to me and assesses my bloody red knuckles. "You need to ice them." I nod in response. "Was this your plan? Go back home battered and bruised, but showing you were throwing the punches too with those hands looking like that?"
"Yep, that was the plan."
"Still like that plan?" he asks, not angrily, but rather curiously.
"Yes," I reply and he then smirks.
"You really do like starting fights. And winning them. I thought for sure you'd be finished in there. But you're not all talk," he comments admiringly.
"I have anger issues, and I also have parental issues. Why not kill two birds with one stone?"
"Hell of a fucking stone. I think you'll have to do more than this though. You're not even drinking anymore. Can I ask how? I mean, you're sixteen, and you're a recovering alcoholic?"
"My dad is an alcoholic. Somewhere along the line, I fucked up like him."
"Why did you come here with me?"
"I told you, because of my ex. You remind me of him."
"Why do you say that?"
"He was protective, always ordering me to do stuff, reckoned a lot of himself." Trevor chuckles, agreeing with me.
"Why did you break up if he was such a great guy?" This time, I chuckle, staring into Trevor's eyes.
"He was possessive, obsessive, controlling, manipulative. He abused me and forced me to drink and do drugs and have sex. He acted like he owned me. I broke up with him and got the hell out of dodge. Then he found me again. He said he changed, convinced me of that. This guy was my weakness, he was the one that made me do all of my 'firsts'. He has this power over me. I gave him another chance.
"This time, I was strong enough that I didn't have to run away. I beat the shit out of him. I've had this rage ever since I met him, it's been building up over time and I'm not sure that it's going anywhere any time soon. For now, fight rings could be good for me," I explain and his eyebrows furrow, pitying me.
"I remind you of that abusive fucker?" he murmurs, upset.
"I don't know you all too well yet. That's why I could never be with you, even if I didn't have a boyfriend. You like control, and that is fine, in moderation for a relationship, but you seem like a guy who goes further than that."
"When you're 'boyfriend' comes to visit, I'm seeing what he has that I don't."
I chuckle and then he picks me up off the ground, and takes me back to his house. I text Kai, telling him everything before I go to sleep on Trevor's bed. He sleeps on the couch, trying not to wake his little brother. Not coming home should scare Caroline and Jackson a little.