And In This Corner

Written by Spinner

"You don't want me to think you're a wuss, do you?" I taunted, yanking on the ropes at the corner of the boxing ring. Laura watched me with a torn look. On one hand, she was dying to see a little action in the ring, see me strut my stuff. You know the ladies can't resist a boxer. But did she wanna see me beat up Tim Bayliss in the process? Cause I know she has a thing for him still, though I don't understand why. He's gay. What's the matter with her? Doesn't she get it? Gay means gay. Bi means gay part time. Gay part time is still gay. What does she think? If she sleeps with him, he'll change his mind? Yeah, right.

"Falsonie," Tim intoned in that annoyingly soft and gentle voice of his. "I'm not stepping into that ring with you. We're going to dinner."

"Why don't you want to step in the ring with me, Timmy? I wanna see if you can last a couple rounds with a real man."

"Hey, Sugar Ray," Meldrick said as Tim arched a brow at me and curled his lips into what was passing for a smile. I don't think he meant it though. "That is not such a brilliant idea. Go get yourself a shower. We're hungry and we want to eat," Lewis continued.

"Eh, eh, partner? Don't you think I could take him?" I taunted.

"Paulie, this is not about who can "take" whom? This is about appropriate outlets for your anger, and your desire to participate in physical violence, and your burning yet incomprehensible need to get the shit beat out of yourself," Tim rasped at me.

"What's'a matter, Timmy? All that bi-curiousness suck the fight right out of you?" I mocked. "You wouldn't want me to go the rest of my life thinking you're nothing but a big candy ass, would you?"

"FALSONE!" Laura hollered sharply. What is she pissed off about? Tim must have thought it was funny. He was laughing.

"Frankly, tough guy, I don't give a fuck what you think of me," Tim murmured. I could tell he cared though. His eyes were beginning to glint. He wanted to get in the ring with me. He wanted it badly.

"A couple rounds, Timmy. What's it going to hurt? I'll even let you have the first punch."

"Aren't you afraid to get that close?" Tim said, stepping to the edge and standing below me. Was he looking up my shorts? "What if this bisexuality rubs off on you, and you get a sudden, overwhelming urge to listen to Liza Minneli music? Wear silky undershorts? Part your hair on the other side? Order rice and pasta instead of rare steak? You sure you wanna risk it, macho man?"

"I'm willing to risk it. I completely confident in my masculinity," I said, bumping my gloves together a couple times. "Maybe it will help you get in touch with yours again."

"Tim, don't do this," Laura said, tugging on Tim's elbow to pull him back from me. She glared at me, and stroked Tim's arm. "He's trying to piss you off so you'll get in there with him. Ignore him, and let's go to dinner."

"Tim," I cajoled. "When are you ever going to get the chance to take a free punch at Sugar Ray Falsone?" I teased, punching my gloves together again and dancing around.

"I wouldn't want to take advantage of you, make a fool of you," Tim declined.

"Admit it. You just worried I'll show you up," I laughed. "You think your height or weight gives you an advantage? I can knock you out in two rounds. Hell, two punches."

"Guess we'll never know," Tim smiled. Laura rubbed the middle of his back as he turned away. Why was she touching him like that? She never touches me like that in front of other people.

"I always suspected you were nothing but a big pussy," I sneered. Tim froze, and tossed a glance over his shoulder at me. Laura gaped at me with her mouth open. She wants me. I can tell.

"I'm more man than you'll ever be, and more woman than you'll ever have," Tim replied coldly. He slithered through the ropes and stood before me in the ring.

Hmmm. I never noticed before just how reeeeally tall he is up close.

"Be gentle with him," Lewis said, tugging on Tim's pant leg as Bayliss slipped out of his overcoat and suit jacket, folding them neatly over the corner.

"Don't worry. This will be over quickly," I bragged. Laura rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, where have I heard THAT before," she cracked. I danced around as Tim undid his tie. Hey, what did Ballard mean by that wise crack? I am the best thing that ever happened to her!

"You need help with the gloves?" I asked Tim as he picked them up off the corner of the ring like they were going to bite him.

"These smell like twenty sweaty, smelly guys have worn them," he said, dropping the gloves far his clothes.

"Little bit of manly sweat won't hurt you."

This made Tim smile, and he's got a real sinister looking smile. I never realized that before. He rolled up his shirt sleeves one at a time, slowly.

"Be gentle," Meldrick repeated. "He's young, and he's stupid, and he doesn't know what he's saying. Don't hurt him too bad."

"Who me?" Tim shrugged innocently.

"Aren't you going to take off your glasses?" I asked as Bayliss lifted his hands and curled them into fists. Big, massive fists. Those hands are so thin when he's messing with his tie or smoothing his hair down. How can they be so big curled up?

"I don't think that's going to be a problem," Tim murmured.

"Well, s'up to you, you wanna buy new ones," I replied. "Come on, Wuss-Boy. First punch is all yours. Give me your best shot."

"Paulie, are you sure you wouldn't rather have the first shot?"

"No, Timmy-Boy. It's all yours."

"Then let me take this opportunity to apologize in advance for any unexpected dental work or facial reconstructive surgery that may be in your near future," Tim said.

"Enough of the talk, pansy-ass. Let me see what you---"

Seconds later, a voice entered my head. Meldrick was in the ring. Was it morning already?

"He's coming around. Tim, get off his chest."

I didn't realize I was on the floor until I opened my eyes. When had I wound up here? Why was I having trouble breathing? Oh God! Bayliss was kneeling over me, his nose inches from mine. For a thin guy, he sure weighed a lot. And he was straddling my chest and hips like he was trying to hump me or something.

"Get off," I growled, pushing at his chest and shoulders. He was absolutely massive from this perspective!

"Are you all right? Can we get you an aspirin or a glass of water? Are you done with this riveting demonstration of your manliness?" he asked, feigning concern while oozing glee.

"Get off," I repeated, pushing again.

"Let me give you a word of advice, tough guy," Tim said, not budging an inch. He was liking this, I could tell, having me pinned down this way. He wants me. "One, don't taunt any guy into a fight until you've seen what he's capable of. Two---"

"Get off," I howled loudly.

"Two," Tim continued, "take the advice of your partner when he offers it to you. Right, Meldrick?"

"Yeah. You better get up, Tim. He's turning blue."

Tim climbed off me. Meldrick covered my face with a towel. I yanked it off and got to my knees. Tim stood up, rolled down his shirt sleeves, and slowly pulled his suit jacket back on.

"Can we GO now?" Laura asked impatiently as she crossed her arms over her chest.

"I demand a rematch!" I hollered, getting to my feet. Bayliss spun around and made a grab for me, but Meldrick shoved me down out of the ring before I could get at him.

"I'll be in the car," Laura muttered. "Tim, come unlock the door. You've got the keys."

"Okay," Tim said meekly, following Laura out the door as Meldrick dragged me to the showers.

*the end* (bwa-ha-ha-ha)