Boxers' Rebellion

Flash Emery grinned at a group of students as they passed by, noting the flicker of interest and lingering eyes of one of the girl's and brushing it off coolly when, beside him, Nathan elbowed him in the side and snickered softly. Not tonight-no distractions tonight. It was their first real weekend on campus-his first weekend without parents and curfews-and he intended to enjoy it and revel in it in a way that no other weekend to follow could ever match. He and Nathan were meeting his roommate up at the student center along with a few others they had met and befriended in the first week of classes. All things considered, this year was definitely looking to be a good one.

They passed a trio of upper classmen who eyed them with that look of polite disdain and hidden envy that was only reserved for freshmen. They were also sizing him up, trying to determine credibility and status. Flash raised his eyebrows in response, a silent question to what they presumed of his appearance.

"They don't look too impressed." Nathan acknowledged the looks sent his way with an indifferent nod before turning his attention back to the path ahead.

Flash shrugged. "I guess my secret's still a secret."

"How much longer do you think that'll last?"

"Honestly, I'm surprised it still is a secret, but then. who knows. Maybe they just don't care as much here." His brow furrowed in thought. "Before the end of the month, though, I guarantee they'll know me."

"When do you start actual training here?"

Flash shrugged again. "I think Coach just assumes I've got my own schedule- which is true-and I haven't really seen him to ask."

"Have you tried to meet him?"

Straight white teeth sparkled at him. "Until he lines up a match for me, I'm not concerned. Besides. the facilities here are terrible."

Nathan snickered. "Spoiled athlete."

"If you were me, you'd understand."

"If I were you, I'd be shouting my name across campus and demanding respect." "Believe me, it's more fun to watch faces crumble."

"That, I know nothing about."

"Yours was memorable."

Nathan's cheeks tinged at the memory. "Can we not mention that?"

The student center was mostly empty. The crowd that bustled in and out all day was long gone. The mailroom had closed hours earlier, the café upstairs was only minimally manned, the cafeteria had stopped serving before seven, and those who liked to lounge about during the day had long since abandoned their spots. They were all now out doing whatever inspired them on this first weekend on campus.

They found Spenser easily enough. The large bulk of the football player was hard to miss when crammed into on of the café's tiny chairs. There were three others with him. The two sharing the same table he recognized. Marc was in Anthropology with Flash and Nathan-where the three had all met- and he had also been in Spenser's orientation group the previous weekend. The other one he knew vaguely as one of Spenser's friends-Tad or Todd or something. The third was just behind them, leaning, arms crossed, against the wall and seeming uninterested in whatever the others were talking about. He looked to be fairly tall-probably nearing Flash's own 5'10"-and lean, though it was obvious even from here that he worked out. His shaggy, wheat blond hair was cropped close to his head, curling ever so slightly about his ears.

Flash felt a twinge of recognition, but he could not place from where he would know him. Certainly not one of his classes-he would remember that. He nudged Nathan's shoulder with his own as they walked through the glass doors of the building's entrance. "Who's the blond?"

Nathan glanced over in the waiting group's direction then shrugged. "Acquaintance of Toby, I think." He gave the unknown an appraising look. "Hmm. maybe Spense knows him; looks like he could be on the team."


The group stood as they approached, Marc catching his hand in a loud smack as he brought his other hand around to pound Flash's back. "Hey, hey champ. Ready for round one?"

Flash reciprocated the action. "Aren't I always?"

The unknown pulled away from the wall, a hint of mild curiosity in his eyes. "Toby says you box."

"All my life. You?"

A shake of the head, "But I grew up with it." He smiled and extended his hand. Flash grinned and took his hand in a firm grip; he knew a kindred spirit. "Flash Emery."

The grip on his hand tightened, and blue eyes flashed ice. The tone was terse, more clipped when he gave his name, "Mikah Reginald."

Flash felt his shoulder's tense and his jaw clench. He tightened his grip in response. Beside him, Nathan's breath hissed out on a muttered oath. "As in Carlisle Reginald?" The awe in his friend's voice was undeniable, but Flash was pleased to note that his reaction was not nearly as exuberant.

Spenser and Marc rounded on Toby in wide-eyed shocked. "He's the Renegade's son?"

Toby shrugged nonchalantly, appearing only mildly confused and completely unconcerned. "Sure man. Not that big a deal though."

Spenser dropped his head into his hand, "Toby, do you know who the Renegade is?"

Toby shrugged, "Sure. Carlisle Reginald, heavy weight champion off and on for the past ten."

"And who's the only reason he hasn't been champion ten straight?"

"That's easy."Toby's voice trailed off, eyes widening, and he stared almost horrified at Flash. "Your father's Payne Emery?!" He blinked owlishly at them. "Holy shit."

A tense silence followed. Neither Mikah nor Flash broke eye contact. Nor did they release their grip on each other's hands, instead tightening them even more until their knuckles turned white. Their friends watched the proceedings anxiously, wondering what they should-or could-do, but too wary of the looks on their faces to attempt so much as a word.

"I didn't see your name on the roster."

"That would be because I'm not on it."

"Not quite up to the old man's standards?"

"Not interested in the career."

"Sure you didn't just inherit your father's lumbering grace?"

Mikah's eyes narrowed. "You son of a bitch."


They released hands at last, refusing to indicate in any way that they hurt. Another silence filled the air. Toby's gaze wobbled between them, eyes still owlishly wide. "So you guys must really hate each other, huh?"

"Toby." Spenser sighed. Nathan and Marc just rolled their eyes.

"I dare say," Flash cut in, focusing some of his attention back on the others, though he still refused to break eye contact with Mikah, "that my family holds a greater disdain for theirs."

Mikah's eyebrows shot up, "Oh? How odd. Given that it was not my father who was much more content to throw the fight than actually face the challenge presented to him."

Flash's eyes glinted fire and his nostrils flared. "That charge was cleared."

"If money can buy a match, why not an investigation, too?"

Flash's fist met his cheek in a right cross that would have made his father proud.


Mikah gingerly touched his cheek, examining his face in the mirror. There was going to be a rather nice bruise there come morning. Already it was swelling up like one of those atrocious gourds his mother liked to grow. He should probably be thankful he had not broken or chipped a tooth. Stupid son of a bitch.

He winced as he hit a particularly sensitive spot.

He glowered at his image. This was why people kept up-to-date pictures of their enemies. This was why people kept tabs on their enemies' movements. So if they ran into them in the student center of a fucking college campus, they could know it well enough in advance to avoid these situations. Damn his parents' distance policy anyway.

And damn his big mouth while he was at it. Because that certainly had not helped.

He retrieved the icepack from his desk and held it to his cheek as he lay down on his bed, staring angrily at the water-stained ceiling. The bruise was inevitable, and he would just have to deal with it, but he should be able to take the swelling down-at least a little.

Bastard. He glowered at the ceiling. And what the hell kind of idiot named his son Flash anyway? Sounded like something out of a goddamned comic book. He adjusted the icepack more comfortably against cheek, turning his head to the side so it would lie without aid of his hand.

Speaking of fiction. he could not begin to image who Flash thought he was kidding. Pretty boys did not enter into activities that could be damaging to their appearance. He must be very self-assured to think he would come out of every match scratch free. What an egomaniac. He knew only one other man with that much confidence, but his father was hardly what one would call pretty. Hell, Renegade Reginald could barely be called handsome anymore, except by the most devoted wife.

Stupid bastard.

Mikah smirked, the act eliciting another wince as it forced bruised muscles to move. Oh, he relished the day that perfect face would be smashed into a splintered nose and a multitude of cuts. If he had his way about it, that first mark would be by his hand.

His smirk widened to a painful grin. Round two would be his. And then, Flash would learn just how much of his father he did have in him.

Goddamned pretty boy.

|| ++ --- ++ ||

Even with Nathan and Spenser holding an arm each plus the added support of Nathan's arm around his waist, Flash barely made it into his room on his own two feet. He had only vague memories of entering the actual building and none at all of the trip up the stairs. Though he figured upon reflection that things were probably better than way.

No sooner had they crossed the threshold than he sank gratefully to the floor. His arms wrapped around his stomach in the semblance of a desperate hug and his head fell forward to rest on the cool tile of the floor. "Jesus Christ." He moaned pitifully as Spenser shut the door behind them. "A boxer."

"Flash?" Nathan knelt down beside him.

He lifted himself onto his elbows so he was not speaking into the floor. "Carlisle Reginald is a boxer." His voice grounded in both pain and irritation. "Not a goddamned kick boxer." He smacked the floor for emphasis, an action for which his stomach found reason to protest, and he doubled over with another groan, hands once again clutching his stomach. "Son of a bitch." Where the hell had the boy next door learned to kick like that anyway?

Nathan lay what might have been a concerned hand on his shoulder. "Hey, man, you gonna be all right?"

Flash made an attempt at a nod. "You sure?" He heard Spenser rifling about the room, probably getting his books together for class. "'Cause I think only about half your breakfast is on the pavement." At least his roommate was making an attempt at keeping the smile out of his voice. . "I dare say the rest is just waiting to come up." Even if he was failing miserably.


"Me or Reginald?"

"Toss up."

Spenser chuckled as he zipped up his bag. "Yeah well. I figure you're more likely to attack him than me, so why not say it while I can get away with it, right?"

Flash grunted what might have been an agreement, but what also might simply have been another vocalization of his pain. Damn right, that son of a bitch would feel his pain.

The hand on his shoulder gave a firm squeeze. "Last call, Flash. We've got classes in ten; can you survive on your own."

Flash turned his head slightly, peering at Nathan through a curtain of dark hair. "I can hear the smile in your voice, you know."

Nathan grinned and winked, "Sorry, man, but your face was priceless."

Flash glared. "I'll bet it was."

The tinkle of keys and the swish of a bag being hefted over a shoulder. "Seriously, Flash, are you gonna be ok?"

"I'll be fine. Get the hell outta here." He reached at hand to grab Nathan's wrist, an action that cost him dearly. He bit back the hiss of pain. "You'd better take notes."

Nathan gave him a bland look. "Fine. But just this once." He sighed heavily, dramatically and stood up. The door clicked shut seconds later, leaving Flash lying on the floor in pain and silence.

Goddamned son of a bitch. He was a liar. Such a fucking liar. Like hell he did not box. Flash would very shortly possess a few, well-placed bruises along his upper torso to prove that particular claim wrong. Jesus Christ, the man hit like a stampede of very angry cattle.

And the boy next door image? Flash snorted into the tile. Like hell. That sky blue eyes and blond-haired innocence was also a lie. A damned façade he had no doubt perfected all these years for just this occasion. Oh, he knew it, too. He knew he would get everyone on his side with that damnedable smile and easy charm, and then, he just knocked the breath-and breakfast-right out of him.


Goddamned son of a bitch playboy. Oh, he would make him pay. Pain would take on new meaning when Flash got through with him.

Just as soon as he was able to stand up again.

|| ++ --- ++ ||

Mikah examined his reflection in the mirror. He considered it a vague irony that someone who normally bore an extreme disdain for those who felt compelled to check their appearance on a regular basis found himself doing it with annoying-near habitual-frequency. All because of Flash Emery.

Stupid bastard. His left eye was a brilliant blue, with flecks of black just for taste. His roommate had kidded him that at least it matched his eyes. But honestly, he was surprised the bastard had not irretrievably embedded the ball in his socket. The punch had certainly felt as though such were the case.

Where the hell had he learned to hit like that, anyway? That certainly was not a move his father had ever used. Mikah had spent hours watching videos and studying moves with his father, and Payne Emery had never made an attack like that. It was not a move he had ever seen anyone make.

Goddamn it. He glared darkly at his bruised reflection. Stupid pretty boy actually had some talent. Damn, he hated saying that. Even to himself he hated saying that. And he would certainly be damned before he spoke that thought aloud.

Resisting the urge to smash the mirror to shards, he drew back slightly. Pulling his lips back in the semblance of a grimace, he tilted his head examining the teeth visible to him. Flash had done a glorious number on him. But almost three hours and a generous bill to the dentist had rendered the damage-with exception of the eye-nonexistent.

"Damn am I going to enjoy smashing that bastard's face into an unrecognizable heap."

"That does seem to be your only goal in life anymore..." Toby remarked dryly from Mikah's desk. "Do you aspire to no other greatness?"

"I aspire to see pretty boy Emery writhing in pain."

"Is there any particular reason for this anger? Or do you normally operate on a basis of blind rage?"

"It's not blind."


"You know perfectly well what my reasons are."

"Flash Emery?"

"Goddamned pretty boy..." Mikah glared into the mirror, examining his eye once again. He caught Toby's expression over his shoulder in the reflection and glowered. "What are you grinning at?"

"Not a damn thing."

|| ++ --- ++ ||

There was a light tap on the door, and then Nathan stepped in, a large grin on his face and a paper bag clutched in one hand. "You and Mikah are quite the topic of conversation in the dining hall."

Flash did his best to glare at him from his position. The son of a bitch had dislocated his shoulder. And damned if it had not burned like the fires of hell resetting it. He had seen it happen to his father once. A well placed punch, driven in at just the right angle, and the joint had given free. Somehow, though, he did not recall his father offering so much as a grimace of pain when his trainer had slammed it back into place. It had never occurred to Flash that such tolerance was something to be admired.

Currently, he could not be bothered to offer said admiration, as the apparent lie that was his father's tolerance for pain had given way to a very false since of security and an un-glorified-undignified-scream of pain. Goddamn, that had hurt.

Fortunately, however, that pain was slowly starting to ebb and fade. An occurrence both good and bad. Good because it meant his arm would be that much sooner available to him to exact his revenge upon Mikah. Bad because that left his other injuries open to his notice, and brought a much sharper pain to the fore. A pain sharp enough that he almost wished his arm were still throbbing just so he would not have to focus on it.

Lying flat on his bed, injured arm crossed and resting lightly over his torso, he stared at the ceiling, trying very hard to breathe shallowly and staving off the burning pain that even the slightest movement caused. While he could not give an exact number, he felt certain the boy next door had managed to crack at least five ribs.

It felt like five anyway. And as soon as breathing did not incite a wave of dizziness and standing a definite chance of blackout, he was going to pay all five back to that son of a bitch's grinning face. His breath hissed out as the sudden spurt of anger caused his lungs to serge, disrupting his rib cage and sending him momentarily into a spiraling blackness.

"Plotting your revenge?" Nathan stabbed a straw into the lid of a paper cup as he sat down in the chair by Flash's desk.

"I'm going to break his face."

"Didn't you already try that?"

"That was a warmup. This time, no one will recognize the cute little 'boy next door' for all the scars and bruises I'm gonna leave behind." He had gotten himself worked up again, and he paid for it in the form of piercing jabs all along his chest.

Nathan waited for Flash to work himself back into a state of cohesion, playing idly with the straw in the cup, while he considered something. "Cute, huh?"

Flash glared. "I think you're missing the point here."

"Am I?"

"Damnit, Nate." Flash clenched his teeth against the onslaught of searing pain. "The bastard broke my damned ribs. What has any of that to do with his being cute?"

Nathan shrugged, a giant grin breaking his features. "I don't know. Why don't you explain it to me."

"Fuck off." Flash turned back to glaring at the ceiling, readjusting his sore arm more comfortably across his chest, and refusing to talk to Nathan anymore that night.

|| ++ --- ++ ||

Mikah pressed the cloth more tightly against his face, shifting uncomfortably on the crinkly tissue cover of the examining table. Stitches. Fourteen of the little bastards-six above his right eye and another eight just along his jaw line on the left side. And if that was not suitable enough, the bastard had also smashed his nose.

And Toby certainly was not being useful. He had not stopped laughing since Flash took off, leaving him in an aching mess in the common room floor at Armstrong Hall. "They're gonna kick you both out if this keeps up. You know that, right?" Toby grinned easily from a chair in the corner of the room.

Mikah glowered over the cloth covering a decent portion of his face. "Why are you here?"

"Moral support. You look like shit."

"And how are laughing at me and comments such as that supportive?"

"I represent you in spirit, if not in fact." Toby winked. "Besides, you rather deserved that one. You need to stop bringing up that scandal. It only incites him to do violence."

Mikah snorted. "As if my very existence doesn't?"

"That's certainly true. But I bet he wouldn't be nearly as inclined to bash your skull in."

Mikah removed the cloth from his face, grimacing at the bright crimson splash on the white terrycloth. He wondered sometimes if medicals facilities provided white cloths for such messes in the hope that the shear amount of contrasting red would convince people to stop behaving stupidly. Or maybe they were just sadists who liked to clean messes like that. Either way, by the looks of it, his nose was still bleeding, which meant that damned nurse was going to make him stay another fifteen minutes-at least.

He muttered a string of curses-directed mostly at Flash-as he folded the cloth to a cleaner, whiter spot and pressed it against his face once more. "I'm going to relish breaking my fist into his face."

"I'm sure you will."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Only that you keep saying it."

"Because it's true."

"Is it?"

"Do I make idle threats?"

"Not normally, no."

"Okay, then."

"But you haven't done it yet."

"I intend to."



Silence filled the small room for several seconds, broken by the creak of the chair as Toby leaned it back to stand on its back legs. He crossed his arms behind his head, propping his elbows against the wall, and gave him a considering look. "When?"

|| ++ --- ++ ||

The hard spray of the water jetting down from the ceiling mount mixed with a thin stream of red, mixing and swirling into a diluted pink as they met at the drain in the center of the tiled floor and slipped soundlessly into the dark beyond. Flash winced as he dipped his head down under the water, letting the water stamp its full force on the gash at the back of his head. A thicker stream of red spilled forth as the water flushed it out.

The way it felt, he would swear the son of a bitch had torn his head apart. He shifted slightly and the spray hit the cut anew. The pain was searing, and his breath hitched on a half-muttered curse.

"You ok in there, champ?" Nathan stood just outside the stall, just incase Flash decided to have another blackout. He had already lost consciousness twice since the boy next door sent him flying into wall of the student center, and Nathan was standing guard incase he decided to take it to three.

"My head feels like it's been split wide open."

"He's got a vicious backswing."

"I'm pretty certain it was the wall that did me in."

"But it was the swing that sent you into the wall. Besides, how would you know?"

Flash glowered at the speckled tiles on the floor. That was certainly true. "Why is it every time that son of a bitch decides to take his round, I end up with gaping holes in my memory?"

"Every time you open your mouth, you bring out the best in him."

"Don't you mean the worst?"

"No. I imagine that's some of the best fighting he's done all season."

Flash made a derisive snort. He would be willing to bet it was, but that was no excuse for Mikah's having to exhibit the moves on him. Son of a bitch. The treads of his boots would probably be forever imprinted on his stomach now. He released another groan as the water once again washed over the gash, noting with what good humor remained that the stream of blood was slowly starting to thin out.

"Oh, I cannot wait to pay this one back. I'll wipe that smirk clean off his face."

"If I didn't know any better, I would swear you were enjoying this."

"Of course I am. Reginald will be in traction for a month by the time I get done with him." His frown widened into a delicious grin at the thought.

"That's not what I meant."

"That's what I meant."

"So that's all there is?"

"That's it."

"Humor me for a second, then."

Flash shrugged against the spray of water. "All right."

"Before that first night, you had never before laid eyes on him."

"Not since first grade, at least."

Nathan rolled his eyes. "The point still stands-you did not know who he was. Agreed?"


"So there were about 15 seconds between the time we entered the building and time you shook hands when you had no idea he was Mikah Reginald."

Flash could feel himself growing annoyed. A condition that was not bound to sit well with his already aching head. How many damned ways were there to state the fucking obvious? "What's your point?"

Nathan smirked at the impatience in his biting tone. Flash was not a patient man. "You obviously couldn't have been thinking about bashing his brain in during those fifteen seconds. So what were you thinking about?"

Flash was glad for the barrier of the curtain as it prevented Nathan from seeing the flush of color that burned over his face and neck. He was also glad for the rapidly cooling water as it helped relieved the burn. Though, in retrospect, he probably should have been more concerned with formulating an answer. It was the silence that damned him.

|| ++ --- ++ ||

"Reginald." Mikah slammed the trunk of his car shut with a loud band and pivoted around. Flash and Nathan stood about five feet back. Nathan, with a bag in hand and an odd smirk lighting his features. Flash had an even stranger smile filling his. Mikah narrowed his eyes and stepped forward a few paces.

"Flash. I can appreciate that this is your round to take, but the last time you set me before a vacation, I spent the better portion of it with my arm in a sling. Can we possibly call a drawl until next fall?"

"You're right." Flash's smile widened to a grin, and Mikah had the sudden urge to take a step back. Instead, Flash took several steps forward. Mikah took a stance preparing himself for the blow, but Flash simply stuck his arm out, hand open. He winked. "Our playground antics need to stop."

Mikah's eyes switched back and forth from Nathan to Flash, wondering at their strange expressions. It was almost a minute before he finally- hesitantly-took Flash's hand.

And he knew he should not have.

Flash's fist closed around his hand, and he pulled his arm back, sending Mikah slamming into his chest. Before he had a chance to recover his balance, Flash had slipped his other arm around Mikah's waist, effectively pinning his free arm to his side. The other hand was still clasped firmly in his hand, which he held squarely between them, forcing Mikah to remain right where he was. Mikah turned first to glare unholy range at Toby who was sitting on the hood of the car, doubled over laughing. It proved largely ineffective, however, as Toby was too busy being amused to notice. He turned the same glare on Flash.

Flash just smiled that odd smile and bent his head down until their foreheads were almost touching. "I'm going to ask you a question. I'd like to your answer. And bear in mind I've already been harassed by this question," here he turned pointed glare to Nathan, "for the past month, so I really think it's only fair you have to answer it now."

Mikah's response was the same glare.

Flash pulled back slightly, a more serious expression shaping his features. "There's a span of about 15 seconds when you didn't know me, and I didn't know you. You couldn't have been thinking about planting you foot in my chest..." He paused and gave Mikah and appraising look, "So... what was on your mind?"

Mikah blinked. What had he been thinking in the fifteen seconds that Flash had been a complete stranger to him? What the hell kind of question was that? What did it matter anyhow? That was nine months ago. As though he could remember what he had been thinking that far back.

He opened his mouth to say just that, but he stopped. Actually... he had probably been thinking along lines similar to those a minute ago when he had been glaring at Flash. Or just now as he took in Flash's intent, but patiently waiting face. The way his dark hair was cut just right to fall in scattered lines about his face, curtaining his sea-green eyes and softening the sharper lines of his face. The way the carefree grin made him look adorably boyish and less inclined to violence. The goddamned pretty boy with his smooth, unmarked face, which even in his worst fits he could never bring himself to ruin.

Fine, so he did know what he had been thinking that night. That did not mean he was going to tell Flash, however. That would land him in a hospital faster than even his references to the buy-off scandal, and even though Flash had already promised not to pound him into the parking lot, he would not put it past reflexive action to override idle assurance.

Pulling back slightly, attempting to loosen Flash's grip on him, he turned a glare on Toby who was now all but howling, and turned back to Flash. He started to speak, ready to release the first thought that came to mind to get out of this round of questioning, when he again stopped short.

Flash was once again beholden to the oddest expression. He was smirking- amused, smug, and all-knowing. He was busted. "I never got to hear your answer."

"I can guarantee it's about the same."

"You don't know what I was thinking."

"You're face says it all."

Mikah frowned. "That doesn't mean you win, you know."

"No," Flash released his hand, bringing his own up to grasp Mikah's chin, forcing him to stare evenly at him. "But it does mean I can take my round." He ducked his head then, kissing Mikah soundling and silencing whatever protest Mikah might have been prepared to make. When at last he pulled back, Nathan was standing behind him, grinning with sheer idiocy and Toby was cheering like a maniac.

Flash released him, content smile splitting his features. "I'll see you next fall, Mikah." He winked. "You can get you revenge, then." He turned and walked off, Nathan falling in step behind him. Mikah watched them until they disappeared around the building, then he turned back to his own car, snapping at Toby to stop acting like fool and to get his ass in the car.