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the tiger and the dragon

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When Seth’s fist collides with the jaw of his opponent, he knows that he’s won it. The guy, - Brad or something – falls to the floor in a heap of limbs, sweat and blood and stays there for the ten count. The crowd in the warehouse chant his name, chant the amount of guys he’s knocked out with his right hook and yeah, Seth feels pretty fucking good about himself right now.

 

“Y’know, it’s a wonder anyone bothers to even challenge you anymore.” Punk throws a towel at Seth and grins at him. Seth wipes the blood from his face before laughing at his best friend.

 

“Yeah well, I guess some guys are just really fucking stupid.” And maybe Seth’s a little bit cocky, but he knows it’s sort of true. He’s never actually lost a fight, he’s never been hospitalised and he’s never, ever, been out for the ten count. So Punk’s right when he says that he’s unsure of why people still even bother, because it always ends up the same. Seth always wins, and the streak is never broken.

 

If Seth thinks about it, - and he often does – he could have taken his unruly fists and used them in a more productive way. Not that he doesn’t enjoy just beating any random guy to a bloody pulp, because he really does, but well he could have probably made a lot of money out of it too. But that’s always been the problem, money.

 

His father had sent him to that mixed martial arts class when he was seven just so Seth would have something to do while he and Seth’s mother were at work. His father hadn’t expected him to get really into it, but was pretty pleased when he did. Seth did mixed martial arts until he was eighteen, and by that time, Seth was pretty damn good.

 

But it turns out, making it big in the sport is pretty expensive. Not only did Seth need a proper trainer – which, why did they have to charge obscene amounts of money per week? – but he also needed to travel the country in hope of getting a few good gigs and for his name to actually mean anything. And Seth just couldn’t afford it, especially with his father losing his job and his mothers hospital treatments. So Seth let that dream fly away with the wind and has been working in a dead end job ever since.

 

The street fighting, well that happened by accident. And it wouldn’t have happened if that random girl hadn’t hit on him in that bar. That was all it took, a girl hit on him and her boyfriend disliked it. And Seth knew he shouldn’t have risen to the bait, because the guy obviously just wanted to pick a fight with somebody, but his fist acted on instinct. He knocked the guy right out and he scarpered before anyone had time to understand what was going on.

 

A few days later, Seth met Punk for the first time. He came into the music shop that Seth was working at and asked him out right whether he liked to fight. And Seth – in a round about way – said yes. And from there on out, Seth and Punk have been street fighting together. And maybe one day he’ll stop, when he’s defeated nearly every street fighter he knows, but for the time being; he’s pretty happy with knocking people out nearly every night.

 

“You’ve pretty much defeated everyone we know.” Seth shakes his head at Punk as he spits blood onto the floor.

 

“Not everybody.”

 

Punk rolls his eyes, “Nobody’s seen Mox in a long time, Seth. He never responded to Dolph when he called him out and words out that he’s not going to show himself again. So maybe that’s one guy you’ll just have to not defeat.” Seth shrugs, not wanting to get into this with Punk again and pulls his t-shirt over his head.

 

“Hey Seth!” From behind Punk, two girls appear and Seth forces himself to smile. He should like all the female attention he gets when he wins a fight, but he’s always preferred male attention.

 

“That was a great fight.” The small blonde one says, twirling a strand of hair around her finger in an attempt to look sexy. It doesn’t work, but Seth thanks her for her kind words anyway.

 

“A group of us are heading to the bar across town, we were wondering if you wanted to come along and celebrate your win?” The redhead smiles at him and he does almost take her up on the offer when he notices a cute guy standing in the group she pointed to, but in the end he declines.

 

“I’d love to but, I have work early in the morning and I’m an awful person if I don’t get a few hours sleep.” The redhead totally doesn’t get that that was all some made up story to avoid going out with her and her friends and she says something about a next time, and Seth nods just because he’s feeling polite.

 

The truth is, Seth would much rather go home and have a beer on his own than go to the bar where girls who’ve seen him fight basically try ride his dick then and there.

 

He says his goodbyes to Punk and grabs his bag before exiting the warehouse.

 

If there’s anyone that Seth really wants to beat, it’s Mox. And the day he beats him, is the day he’ll probably give up all of this back street brawling and try to settle down.

 

This, need, to beat Mox started when a guy at a fight made an off handed comment about Seth being a lot like Mox, aggressive and unbeatable. There’d been murmurs from then on, about how people would pay to see Mox and Seth go one on one with other. Neither had been beaten, both had clean streaks and well, there was the guarantee. A streak would be broken that night.

 

But the problem is, nobody knows anything about the guy. Mox is the only name anybody knows, and nobody knows what he looks like, because he’s always worn a mask during his fights. He never sets the fights up himself, it’s either Sami’s job or he responds to challenges set by others. And unless it’s his fight, he doesn’t turn up. He won’t watch any other fights and he most definitely doesn’t talk. And for about a year now, Mox hasn’t responded to any challenges set by others. And it’s the main reason Seth hasn’t called him out yet, because word is, Mox is holding out until there’s actually someone worth fighting.

 

Most of the guys that have called him out have had the gall to make him accept a deal. If they win, he must take his mask off. And so it began; the ultimate challenge to damask Mox. As of yet, nobody’s come close to revealing what’s hidden beneath the mask.  And Seth would be lying if he didn’t want to be the one to finally unmask him, because it’s like, like unmasking Batman or Spiderman or something. And it would awesome to finally find out what’s hiding under there. There were rumours, and although Seth doesn’t usually listen to anything unless he knows it’s true, the rumour that Mox where’s a mask because of a horrible face deformation has always stuck in the back of his head.

 

When Seth gets back to his apartment, he tries to ignore the loud silence that hangs heavy around him. He studies himself in the mirror hanging above the telephone table and sighs when he catches sight of the bruise forming around his eye and his swollen lip. He’ll have to explain to his boss once again that no, he’s not being knocked about by his non-existent boyfriend and it really was just a silly fight in a bar. He’ll go back to doing work in the storerooms until the bruise fades enough so that customers don’t ask questions.

 

It’s his life, and has been for the past year and a half. He gets up, goes to work, goes to the gym, has a fight and goes to bed. Seth knows he’d probably enjoy his life a little more if he had someone to come home to, someone to patch up his wounds and kiss his bruises better. But Seth’s tried dating, many, many times in fact – because Punk just loves to set him up with guys he knows would be into Seth – but the whole “I enjoy punching the shit out of people for the fun of it” is apparently a big turn off. And well, Seth can’t bear to think about being with someone who didn’t accept him fully, so he just stopped trying.

 

Shaking his head and laughing at the reflection in the mirror, Seth tosses his gym bag into the closet and decides to deal with it in the morning. He changes into a fresh pair of gym shorts and flops down onto his bed. He tries to ignore the coldness of the pillow against his swollen face and closes his eyes.

 

xXx

 

“Dude, you literally just missed the turning for the gym.”

 

Punk laughs and rolls his eyes before turning to look at Seth, momentarily taking in the purple bruise on the side of his face.

 

“I told you, we’re trying another gym. I hate Cena’s man, and I met this guy called Roman a few weeks ago and he and his mate have a Cross Fit, told us to come along and try it out.” Seth nods and the good side of his mouth quirks into a smile.

 

“So, where’d you meet this, Roman guy?” Punk looks back towards the road and tries hard to hide the small blush forming on his cheeks.

 

“At a bar.”

 

Seth hums, giving Punk a sideways look and catches the small glint in his eyes and decides to just drop it for now. Punk’s not always been the best when it comes to dealing with his feelings, especially when it comes to finding a guy attractive. When Punk wants to admit it, he will, but Seth will leave it for now.

 

Seth turns the radio on for the rest of the ride, and doesn’t say anything when Punk checks himself in the mirror before getting out of the car. The gym is located in the middle of a busy street and Seth stares up at the sign that says ‘Regal’s’ before following Punk inside. The inside is bright and airy and much, much nicer than Cena’s gym.

 

“Punk, you made it,” Seth’s turns his attention back to Punk who’s now been joined by a rather large and rather beautiful man with a low, throaty rumble for a voice. And yeah, he totally gets why Punk wanted to swap gyms.

 

“Sure did, Roman this is the guy I was telling you about, Seth.”

 

Roman flicks his gaze over to Seth and gives him the once over, eyes finally landing on his face.

 

“Seth, yeah I’ve heard about you, never been beaten right?” Roman offers Seth his hand and Seth shakes it and tries to suppress the feeling to just laugh out loud, he’s like, known for his fighting, since when?

 

“Nope, never.” Roman smiles at that and then turns to a guy clearing up some equipment.

 

“Hey Drake, where’s Dean?” The guy – Drake – looks at Roman before wiping some sweat from his forehead.

 

“I think he went out back to do some paper work or something, haven’t seen him for about an hour,” Roman clasps Drake on the shoulder and says a quiet thank you before motioning for Punk and Seth to follow him.

 

“I’ll introduce you to Dean, he owns the place. And I can assure you, when someone says Dean’s doing paperwork, he’s most definitely not doing paperwork.” Roman laughs as he leads the two of them through the gym and towards the back. Roman wraps his knuckles on the door to what looks like an office and leans into it, “Dean, you in there?”

 

“Yeah, come in Rome.” Roman pushes the door open and steps inside, holding it open to let Punk and Seth into the room. Dean, who’s sitting at a computer desk with his feet propped up on the table while happily eating a bowl of cereal, looks up at them and smiles. Seth’s momentarily blindsides, because this guy has fucking dimples.

 

“Drake said you were doing paperwork,” Roman crosses his arms over his chest and looks at the man in front of him with such a fond look that Seth has to bite his cheek to stop him from giggling like a fucking little girl. Dean looks up at Roman through his lashes with a spoon full of cereal in front of his mouth and smiles – and Seth swears the whole room illuminates too because it’s such a beautiful sight – before shoving the spoon into his mouth and saying,

 

“I am.” He chews slowly, smirking at Roman before setting the bowl on the table. “The computer was taking the fucking piss to load and I was hungry.” Dean shrugs and removes his feet from the table and sits up properly. Roman rolls his eyes and hums, so the computer almost always took ten minutes to load, but Dean just couldn’t sit still for any period of time.

 

“Yeah, whatever Ambrose. Anyway, this is Punk and Seth, the guys I was telling you about the other day,” Roman says, and Dean’s eyes settle on Seth almost immediately. Seth shifts a little under his gaze, feeling the heat rise to his cheeks.

 

“Yeah, Seth Rollins, right? Mr Unbeatable.” Seth’s brow creases a little; he’s not sure how everyone seems to know about him. He gets that this streak of his is makes him pretty popular among the regulars, but he didn’t that people he’d never met before knew about him. Before he can respond though, Dean’s out of his seat and standing right in front of him, his hands gently touching the purple bruise on the side of his face. Dean whistles quietly and tilts Seth’s head to the side carefully to get a better view.

 

“Got quite the shiner there Seth, Maddox do that?” Dean tilts Seth’s face back towards him but doesn’t move his fingers from his chin. Seth’s not quite sure how Dean would know that, because he definitely wasn’t at the fight last night, he’s pretty sure he’d remember someone so, someone so striking.

 

“Yeah, how’d you know?” Dean’s lips quirk into a smile, showing off those dimples again, and looks Seth right in the eyes.

 

“Maddox has a thing for trying to fuck up pretty faces.” Dean presses his fingers into Seth’s scruffy beard for just a second longer before removing them and stepping back to lean against the desk. And Seth tries really hard not to think about the fact that this guy had possibly just called him pretty and tries to think about something else.

 

Punk and Dean are in the middle of a conversation about the Maddox fight when Seth’s phone rings loudly from the pocket of his gym shorts, and he quickly leaves the room to answer it.

 

“Hey Seth, its Layla,” Seth leans against the wall to the office with the phone pressed to the side of his face.

 

“Hey Layla, you alright?”

 

“Yeah, little tired from running around after Summer but yeah, good. How are you? Heard you beat Brad last night,”

 

“Summer still sick? Shouldn’t she like, go to the doctor or something? And yeah, I did by the way.” Seth smiles, thinking about Summer spread out on the couch looking like death warmed up. It was funny really, Summer always had to look her best and well, she never looked good when she was ill.

 

“She is, but I’m pretty sure she’s playing it up as an excuse for us to do nothing but cuddle all day, she says the doctors not necessary,” Layla laughs slightly before sighing. “Anyway, I rang you because Johnny wants to fight you tonight.” Seth clicks his tongue, ah, Johnny. Johnny Curtis was his sort of long standing, annoying enemy. He was a good fighter and had a killer right hook, but he was also a cocky son of a bitch. Johnny always said he could beat Seth, but every time they fight, Johnny always ends up on the floor for the ten count. And sometimes Seth wishes that Johnny would just quit trying to beat him and move onto someone else, but at the same time, Seth’s glad he’s got someone he can fight whenever he feels like it, because Johnny’s always up for a fight.

 

“He couldn’t have like, given me a bit more notice or something?”

 

Layla sighs, “You know what he’s like Seth, he beats a guy and suddenly he’s the best of the best and he wants to fight you again. You in?” Seth thinks it over for a moment, his face is still sore and he could do without any more bruises to his face; but Seth never backs down from a fight. Especially when it’s Johnny, because Johnny will take it that Seth is scared – and Seth is most definitely not scared of Johnny fucking Curtis.

 

“I’m in. Just tell me the time and the place and I’ll be there,” Seth says as Roman, Punk and Dean leave the office.

 

“Sarano warehouse on 5th street, eleven o’clock. Good luck Seth, I’ll be there if I can sneak away from Summer.”

 

“Alright, thanks Layla. Sarano’s at eleven. Say hi to Summer for me.” Layla says her goodbyes and ends the call, Punk frowns at Seth for a moment as he shoves his phone back into his pocket.

 

“Really Seth, you’re gonna fight tonight after almost having your face smashed in last night?” Punk crosses his arms over his chest and tries hard to look at him like a scolding parent, but Seth never could take him seriously.

 

“For starters, I did not almost get my face smashed in, this is just a fucking bruise. And it’s only fucking Johnny Curtis, I’ve beat him for times than I care to count; it’s nothing, just a bit of fun.” Seth says, rolling his eyes at Punk and following them down the corridor.

 

When they reach the gym again, there’s a man standing at the desk and when he sees Dean, he beckons him over. Dean turns to Seth with a small smile on face and his hand reaches out to grasp Seth’s shoulder.

 

“Eleven at Sarano’s, I’ll be there.”

 

xXx

 

The ref – but not actually a ref – stands between Johnny and Seth, keeping them apart while he counts down from three. When he reaches one, he quickly jumps out of the way, and Seth is the first to throw a punch. It his Johnny perfectly on the jaw and it sends him stumbling backwards. He can already see the regret written all over Johnny’s face and Seth knows Johnny will think twice before asking him to fight again.

 

Taking advantage of a stumbling Johnny, Seth throws another right hook to the other side of his face and sends a perfectly aimed kick to his mid section. Blood spurts out of his mouth and he doubles over onto the floor. The ref steps in and holds Seth back so he can begin the ten count. Seth has to hand it to Johnny, he gets up on the count of four and tries his hardest to try and gain some momentum. But if Seth’s learnt anything from all this brawling, it’s to never, ever, give anybody the chance to regain control. So he doesn’t.

 

Seth doesn’t falter once, and Johnny barely manages to get a punch in. Johnny’s gotten up three times at the count of eight, and this time, when Seth puts all his force behind his right hook; Johnny doesn’t even stir when the ref reaches the ten. As soon as the ref announces Seth as the winner, Punk’s at his side, slapping him on the back.

 

“Jesus Seth, he didn’t even get to touch you!” Roman says, coming up behind Punk. Punk smiles up at Roman with a grin that sort of says, I told you he was good, and Seth has to laugh at that. Dean joins them once he’s wiped some of Johnny’s blood from his stomach, and he stands leaning against the wall looking at Seth through lidded eyes. He’s smirking, eyes raking over Seth’s body appreciatively. Seth smirks a little himself and turns himself towards Dean.

 

“Impressed?” Seth raises an eyebrow at Dean as he pulls on his t-shirt. Dean makes a show of looking annoyed at the sudden amount of clothing clinging to Seth’s body before smirking again.

 

Very Impressed.”