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21 October 2006 @ 10:49 am
All you guys had to do was ask. And give me some ideas. :) X-posted to fightingincages

When he came to, Ryan’s vision was fuzzy. He blinked a couple of times, saw Pete’s face looking back at him. Pete looked relieved. Ryan didn’t know why the man was worried in the first place.

“Hold still,” came a voice from above him. “I’m almost done.”

Ryan swivelled his eyes up to see what was going on. He felt a tugging at his scalp, not painful, but weird. “What’re you doing?” Speaking took an effort.

“I told you it was a mistake to fight Roadrage,” said Pete. “He opened up your scalp for you. Here, follow my finger.” He held his finger in front of Ryan’s eyes and moved it from side to side.

“’m okay,” said Ryan, tracking on the finger anyway. “Just need to sleep for a while.”

“You don’t sleep,” said the voice above him. “Not for another twelve hours. If you start feeling dizzy or throwing up, you go to the ER.” The voice was dull, bored, as if it’d said the same thing a thousand times and a thousand times been ignored.

Ryan ignored it. “Want my money,” he said to Pete.

“You lost, dumbshit. I don’t pay losers,” said Pete.

Ryan might’ve gotten hit in the head, but that didn’t take away his memory. “You said a hundred for fighting him. Nothing about winning.”

Pete shrugged. “Fine.” He stood up and dropped a fifty into Ryan’s lap. “That or nothing. And if you keep bitching, it’s going to be nothing, and you’re out of here.”

Ryan closed his eyes, too tired and in too much pain. “Whatever.” He heard Pete’s footsteps leave, the door close. Above him, the doctor tied off the last stitch and cut the thread.

“Use antibiotic cream,” said the doctor. “And be careful. No more of the cage for a while. Come back in two weeks and I’ll take them out.”

Ryan touched the area and winced. The skin was still numb, but his fingers traced the cut from his temple to below his ear. “Yeah. Thanks.” Pete kept the doctor there for liability reasons, but Ryan had never had to use his services before.

“Beats the hell out of me why you guys get in the cage in the first place,” said the doctor, packing up his things. “Especially with someone that much bigger. There must be better ways to make money.”

Ryan saw her white face, felt the weight of her body in his arms. He shook his head to banish it. The room spun. He didn’t answer, just got up and headed out. If he was careful, he could probably manage to drive home.


Home was the back room of a dingy bar, the kind Ryan grew up visiting to find Mom. He bypassed the drunks on their barstools, the fat-bellied pool players, only to be stopped by the bartender’s voice. “Hey. Atwood.”

Ryan turned reluctantly.

“Rent was due yesterday. Where is it?” Nick cocked his head, rent forgotten for a second. “Jesus, what happened to you?”

“Nothing,” said Ryan.

“Stitches aren’t nothing,” said Nick. “You look like you went a few rounds with a brick. Don’t tell me they jumped you and took the rent. I’m not hearing that, am I?”

Ryan jammed a hand into his pocket and pulled out the crumpled fifty, threw it onto the bar. “I’ll have the rest in a couple weeks.” He headed back to his room, followed by Nick’s voice: “This buys you a week, Atwood. No more.”

Whatever. Ryan closed the door behind him, and leaned against it. He was tired, bone-tired, but the doctor said no sleep for another twelve hours. What would happen? He didn’t know, but would rather not wake up dead. There’d been too much death already. He walked to the sink and stared into the chipped mirror above it. Another bruise was darkening on his cheekbone, and on the other side of his head, black and blue colored his skin from his jaw into his hair. Against that, the black sutures held the edges of dark red skin together. He remembered salvation once, a gunshot that took his brother off him and let him breathe again. That salvation would never come again. It didn’t exist anymore. Ryan leaned on the sink and sucked in harsh breaths, but he couldn’t hold back the choking sobs rising in his chest. They hurt, but keeping them in hurt worse, and he was in enough pain already, so he sank to the floor and let them go.


Ryan didn’t know how long he’d been huddled there, staring at the knot in the floor. Time tended to escape him now, flying past before he was aware it was even there. His cell rang again— not her ring, she didn’t call anymore —and he automatically reached out and opened it without checking the caller ID. “Yeah.”

He was silent for a long time. “No. No, I’m fine.” Another bout of silence. “Seth, you have to stop calling me.”

“No. Everything’s fine.”

“Seth, I said everything’s fine.”

“Enough. Goodbye.” He hung up, and when the phone rang again, he shoved it under his mattress. If he had more energy, he’d probably smash it against the wall, but he was tired and he hurt, and he needed the phone so Pete could let him know if there was a slot open.

Fine. If the phone wouldn’t stop, he’d just leave. Ryan did his best to clean off the dried blood and the salty teartracks. Any swelling could be blamed on Roadrage’s fists. He locked the door behind him and trekked back through the bar. He needed another hundred and fifty, and without another fight for a couple weeks, he needed to find work. Maybe Lupe could hook him up with some janitorial job for a while.

Ryan left the bar and shrugged his jacket back on. The nights were cooler, and he felt safer wearing it. The jacket predated her, didn’t remind him of a night spent by an empty pool, or a shopping trip to find him Newport clothes. From Chino to Newport to the Bay, it was solely Ryan.

The face got people to leave him alone. That was one comfort. They took one look and suddenly decided to look elsewhere, anywhere. Good. Nothing good came of being visible. Ryan prowled the streets until he found an office building, where he waited until Lupe came out.

She sighed when she saw him. “Ay Dios, Ryan, what did you do?”

Ryan shrugged. “Do you need any help?”

She stared at him for a long time. He couldn’t tell what she was thinking. Then “Tomorrow at seven,” she said. “Right here. Be on time.”

Ryan nodded, looking down so he didn’t have to see her looking at him. “Thanks.”

She reached out, touched his shoulder. “Take care of yourself, mijo.”

Ryan shrugged. He couldn’t take care of anyone else. Why should he bother with himself?


Two weeks’ work yielded enough to pay rent for the rest of the month, plus enough to eat. It was far beneath minimum wage, but the longer he worked, the more he could earn, and the less time he had to think. He fell into bed each morning and slept without dreams until evening.

He came back to the club, two weeks to the day since he’d left. Pete sighed when he saw Ryan. “You still look like shit.”

“So?” Ryan nodded at the list. “Any openings?”

Pete turned it around so Ryan could see. “You gotta get the doc to take out the stitches first.”

Ryan scanned the list. “Jorge. Set it up.”

Pete shook his head, grinning. “You’re batshit insane, you know that, right?”

Yes, Ryan knew. It didn’t matter. He went to the back rooms to change and see the doctor.


Ryan walked up the ramp to the center stage, flexing his taped hands. The new scar was livid pink against his skin. Jorge was on the other side, bouncing on the balls of his feet, throwing quick punches at the air. The crowd rumbled, cheered, laughed. Ryan stood still. Waiting.

When the cage doors opened, Jorge bounded inside. Ryan walked in, and the doors slammed shut and locked behind them. They began to circle, looking for weaknesses, for an opening to exploit. Jorge was first, jumping forward to slam a fist in Ryan’s stomach. Ryan fell to his knees-- Oh my God! Are you okay? God, Luke, you’re such an idiot-- and rolled away far enough to push up and land an uppercut on Jorge’s chin. The fight turned into a blur, each one hitting wherever he could reach, and it didn’t stop until Ryan broke away and retreated to the end of the cage. He had a couple seconds to catch his breath before Jorge was on him again. This time Ryan was ready.

Face. Head. Ribs. Nose. Ryan went to a place beyond thought, where there was only instinct, and that instinct was to hurt. Chest. Stomach. Face, again and again, until Jorge was down and Ryan was on top of him, hitting and hitting and hitting. As if he were still in Chino. As if the last three years had been a dream.

A horn finally sounded, and the cage doors opened. Ryan didn’t want to stop. Stopping meant thinking and remembering, no matter how much he tried to push the memories away. But when he felt hands on his shoulders, hauling him off, he went with them. Gasping, blinded by a red haze, he stumbled back toward the changing rooms, adrenaline shaking his body.

The doctor was there, this time for the unconscious Jorge. “Stupid,” he said, looking from one to the other. “Where does it get you?” He began to check Jorge’s body for broken bones, for bleeding.

Ryan didn’t answer, but he knew where. It got him back to a simpler time, when he was what he was, and no one expected him to be more. It got him away from his failure to save her as she’d saved him. For a little while, it got him peace.
Kat: FightingRyankatwoman76 on October 21st, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC)
OC-Fic? From you??
Now I love the new season even more, with it having THIS effect on you.
Welcome back to the dark side, sweetie. *smirk*
Elle: Cagefightingtheletterelle on October 21st, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
I know, I can't believe it! I didn't intend to, but I read maudgonne's and calendae's comments over in Maud's LJ, and got hit with an idea, and out it came.

Muahahaha. I am dark. >:)
Kat: Dark Ryankatwoman76 on October 21st, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC)
In that case, thanks to these two for getting you back.
I don't know which comments it were, since maudgonne has not friended me :(, but whatever it was...good to have you back.
elzedelzed on October 21st, 2006 08:34 pm (UTC)
Dude. Duuuuude. Soooo cool to have you writing OC fic, and cagefighting, and so damn harsh and sweaty and angsty and bloody (and hot... sigh). That rocked.
Elle: First bloodtheletterelle on October 21st, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you like it! I figure, what's a cage fight if not sweaty and bloody? And angst, I can't get away from it. It is my life. :)

(that was hot? really? awesome.)
elzedelzed on October 22nd, 2006 12:01 am (UTC)
I have a total weakness for fighting Ryan. So yes, hot, in an angsty, sweaty, shirtless way... ;)
Let go Let go Let Really go: Ryan and Marissa. Still falling.maudgonne on October 21st, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
Cagegfighting fic!

Awesome. I liked the last section best, and the angry doctor. And the punching! I'm glad you got inspired.

Now, where's my sequel, where Sandy bails Ryan out of the Mexican jail?
Elle: First bloodtheletterelle on October 21st, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC)
How is that possibly a sequel to this? You're so demanding. Mexican jail is a possibility if Ryan's in SoCal, but up in the Bay area, I think they're hard to come by.

Besides, I have no idea what a Mexican jail would be like.

I love my bloody Ryan icon. :)
Let go Let go Let Really go: Sandy/Ryanmaudgonne on October 21st, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC)
I have no idea, but "Mexican jail" is almost as much fun to say as "cagefighting." Don't you agree?
Elletheletterelle on October 22nd, 2006 12:36 am (UTC)
I prefer "Mexican prison," myself. :)
60schic60schic on October 23rd, 2006 04:44 am (UTC)
Dude! You've been withholding from us. Who knew you had this in you? Wonderful work, even though I do not like Bloody!Ryan. I love your premise on Ryan's motivations. Since I am trying to stay spoiler-free, I'm not going to ask if you knew this from "Those-who-are-in-the-know-and-shall-remain-nameless"

He didn’t know, but would rather not wake up dead....amid all this seriousness, this made me chuckle.
Elletheletterelle on October 23rd, 2006 04:53 am (UTC)
Yay, I'm glad you liked it. :) I can't help it, I love bloody angsty Ryan. He looks so good in bruises. :)

And no, I have no inside information. I just extrapolated. He's got such a savior complex, so when she saved him but he couldn't save her... well, that'd screw him up pretty bad.

And hee, I do have moments of slight levity. Just slight, but they're there.