The fair was loud, and crowded. Filled with the typical country fair odors, livestock, blue-ribbon baked goods, sweaty bodies, fried foods and permeating all, the enticing, sickening-sweet smell of cotton candy. At the edge of the fairgrounds, past the midway and beyond the rides, a sporting ring had been set up. Already a large crowd had gathered, excitement bubbled in the air.
A young man stood back, leaning against one of the more permanent buildings on the fairgrounds, his eyes on the action inside the ring. He'd been watching for nearly two hours, trying to find a weakness in the prized wrestler, trying to determine what the best strategy would be to take him down. The entry fee was steep for a small county fair, but the way the youth had been going through his opponents, there would have to be several hundred gathered already - if he could only pin him.
"When are you going to take the challenge? When he's too tired to move?" an amused voice murmured at his side.
Without looking away from the current match, the young man replied, "He doesn't tire. He's had over twenty matches, and most pinned within five minutes of stepping into the ring. And he's been rested twice." He shook his head and frowned at the taller youth. "Not sure if I'll be able to best this one."
His friend stood with him, watching. After the loud slap of a body meeting taut canvas, he winced. "You sure you want to go against that?"
The youth only nodded, already binding his long, braided hair in such a way it could not be used against him. "Just watch." He pushed off from the wall, and strode forward; the crowd parted, letting the local favorite pass.
"Hey, Duo. Think you can take him?" a familiar voice called out.
The young man paused and grinned. "Oh, I'll take him. You know I never lose what I set after." The groups near-by laughed, several hands slapping him on the back. He stopped at the registration table and tossed out a crumpled ten. "I'm next."
The coordinator only grinned. "You sure about this Duo? This kid's good."
Nodding, he began to remove his belt, watch and shoes. He handed them off to his companion who'd followed in his wake. "Hold these, Trowa. I'll only be a minute." His eyebrows raised and lowered in rapid succession before he lightly jumped onto the ring's apron. Shutting out all noise, he focused on his opponent even as he flexed his shoulders, rolled his arms, and loosened his neck. The youth, no more than a boy about his own age, stood in his corner seemingly oblivious to the crowd, the noise and the man rubbing his shoulders.
When the referee entered the ring, Duo jumped the elastic ropes easily, landing on the balls of his feet. The other boy looked his way, eyes boring into him. Duo grinned and cocked an eyebrow. He pulled off his shirt and tossed it over his head, knowing Trowa would catch it. The wrestler's trainer left the ring, and the boy moved to the center of the mat. Duo's eyes swept over him again, appreciating what he saw.
The clang of the bell signaled the beginning, and Duo's opponent dropped into a ready crouch, eyeing him warily. The long haired youth knew a straightforward attack wouldn't buy him anything, and would end the bout before it'd begin. He crossed the scuffed greying surface, hands low. Within arm's length of the boy, he paused.
Giving a wink, his arms moved, his hands flashed and he had both his hands cupped firmly behind the boy's neck. Immediately, Duo's shoulders were held in a strong grip. From the strength of the fingers alone, he knew he had little time. Drawing from his years of hard, manual labor, he pulled mightily, bringing the boy closer.
His lips met those of his opponent's. He refused to allow his eyes to close, though they wanted to. He fought to keep his awareness even as its threads continued to slip through his fingers. The other boy's eyes had widened in surprise and shock, quickly changing to anger. His strength broke Duo's clutch, and he felt himself going down. Expecting it to happen, he rolled with it, drawing the other with him. This tactic took his opponent by surprise, and the boy let out a grunt as they both landed on the mat, the wrestler covering Duo.
Mouth stretched in a wide grin, Duo let the young wrestler pin his shoulders. He'd gotten what he wanted. Pushing the boy a little farther, he spread his legs, drawing his knees upward. The other's hips landed solidly against his own and Duo leveraged his body up in a mock attempt to free himself from the pin. Groin met groin, and the wrestler gasped in surprise. Confused eyes met his, and Duo winked again, raising one brow in challenge. He received a scowl in return, and his shoulders were slammed once more to the mat. The referee was on his knees, hand slapping the count.
At three, the young wrestler threw himself off of Duo. The long haired boy lay for a moment, watching the other stalk away. He rose slowly, a satisfied smile twisting his lips. Trowa waited, eyes closed and head shaking. Quatre had joined him, his mouth still open and gaping. Duo jumped off the platform, and took his boots, slipping them on without socks.
"Close your mouth, Quatre. Never know where the flies have been around here." He felt good, though he knew he was going to catch hell later.
The blond youth's mouth snapped shut but opened a moment later. "You used ten dollars to... to... kiss that boy?"
Duo grinned at him, slipping his belt between the loops. "Best ten dollars I ever spent."
"But... but... Duo!" Quatre cried in outrage. "You need that money! You're supposed to be saving it, not wasting it on some..." He flung a hand out in a wild gesture. "..some carnie!"
Shaking his head softly before pulling on his shirt, Duo replied, "It wasn't a waste. And that guy certainly isn't no carnie." He winked at his friend and jerked his head. "Let's go before I feel the need for another round."
Trowa's hand landed on Duo's arm, halting him. "I think someone wants to talk to you." He smirked, looking over his friend's shoulder.
Duo turned to find the young wrestler a few feet behind him. The dark haired youth glared at him, shifted his look to his two companions and back again. Duo tried a smile and a tiny wave. "Hiya, pal. What can I do for you?"
His eyes flicked over the other two before resting on Duo once again. He held out his arm stiffly, not moving closer. Duo stepped forward, his hand going out to the other's. He looked with surprise at the bill, and raised his head. The wrestler moved, leaning in closer. Duo's eyes widened and he jerked back.
The youth smirked, gave a slow wink and turned sharply. He was gone before Duo could form a reply. A laugh made its way out, the ten crumpled in a sudden fist and Duo spun on his heels rejoining his friends.
"Come on, guys, I've got three hours to kill." He threw an arm around each and they began to walk from the ring's area.
"What he say to you? And why'd he give you the entry fee back?" Quatre wanted to know.
Duo laughed again and gave his friend a one armed hug. "He said for a kiss like that, he would have lost the round."
"Oh," Quatre mumbled, trying to look back. "He's still watching us. Did he say anything else?"
"Hmm..." Duo responded noncommitally. He glanced over his shoulder and gave a parting wave to the young wrestler watching from his corner of the ring. "We've got a date when he's done for the day."