If it were any other boy you’d probably be out at a restaurant or something on a night like this, flirting nervously across the dinner table while you try to decipher if he likes you enough to take your relationship to the next level. You’ve gone through the dating routine once or twice before, and had a pretty good idea of what to expect; if someone had told you a month ago you’d be standing right outside of a boxing ring while your date and another shirtless man beat each other to a pulp, you would’ve thought they were crazy.
The crowd around you gasps and your own stomach lurches, empathetically feeling the punch that Ashton just took to the cheek. Blood is already dripping down his face, the source of it located just over his left eyebrow. He looks like a mess yet he’s still on his feet somehow, determined to keep retaliating, apparently even if it kills him.
“Don’t worry,” Calum says next to you after noticing your concerned expression, “I’ve seen him win in worse conditions."
You want to smile, appreciative of his effort to ease your mind, but every couple of seconds Ashton keeps getting hit, hard. It doesn’t matter to you whether he wins or loses, you just hope that your fourth date won’t have to take place beside a hospital bed.
"Is it almost over?” you ask Calum, too new to this sport to know the ins and outs of the rule book.
“One more round after th–Oh!"
You missed what happened, but look back at the ring to find the opponent, a man named Donovan Diaz, struggling to stand up. Given the cheers from the audience, it sounds like most of the people here have their money on Ashton, and he just brought them one step closer to profiting.
The round concludes and the fighters return to their separate corners, two teams quickly making their way into the ring to begin fixing up their boys. You wish you were allowed up there, yearning just to talk to Ashton, to treat him gently after witnessing the beating he’s taken for the last half an hour. Sitting on the short stool between rounds is the closest he’s been to you all night, each break like a minute-long tease that only makes you want to be near him more. You haven’t even said hi to him yet, not given the chance to do so before the match started.
He knows you’re here, though. He spotted you next to his friend Calum after walking away from the first round, and lost focus for a brief second to give you a smile and a flirty wink. Some crowd members noticed, chiming in with playful remarks and whistles, causing your cheeks to burn bashfully. Ashton seemed so confident and well put together then, but that spark isn’t as evident now that he can barely keep his swollen eyes open while his crew tidies up his blood-splattered face.