The sound of cheering fades into the distance like a dull hum behind his ears. His eyes were trained on the square ring before him, never losing focus. The bastard managed to survive ten rounds with him. Guess he had more heart than Steve gave him credit for. Anticipation flows through his body - mix that with excitement and adrenaline that pumps continuously.
Their eyes were fixed on each other as Steve paces side-to-side in his corner. The bastard thought he had this in the bag; he was wrong.
Before he knows it, the bell rings, and round 11 has begun.
He paced around the perimeter of the ring, and wonder who's going to make the first move.
Guard, block, step back, step forward. Punch.
Keep an eye on your prey, but keep an eye on the prize. One false move; that one fraction of a second when you blink or look away.
Steve stumbled, dazed by his mighty punch.
Blood pours from his open cut and pain radiates his bones, but he knew he couldn't give up. You don't run from the pain like any sane person would do. You step into it. His coach steps through the ropes and examines his face. A bucket was on the side of me, and I hurriedly spat my blood in there.
"Fuck." He whispers. It's a bad cut.
"Tell me what to do."
Your feet bounce on the mat.
"Don't get hit, kid."
It's such a simple answer, but advice that could save your match.
There she was, his beautiful wife, not looking too happy with him. She brushed past the guards and placed her hand on his bruised cheek, scrutinizing him, "Go out there and knock that bastard out."
Steve nodded curtly and put his mouthpiece in, taking her words to heart.
He knew better than to disappoint her more than once.
The final round begins.
"Keep your guard up!" His coach bellows from the sidelines.
You do everything with your balance - you want to move to the left, push on the right toe. You want to step right, push on your left.
Guard, block, step back, step forward. Punch.
He spots a weakness. Repeat the mantra and focus on that weakness.
"Fuck, Steve! Guard!"
One thing to remember? Always keep your guard up. All you need is to drop your guard for one second, and that is now your weakness. But Steve was smart, and he had the bastard right where he wanted him now. He punched him in the face with a left hook combination, throwing him off guard. Blood flows down the side of his face, and with another shot to the body, he was down for the count.
The ten counts quickly came, and once again, Steve Rogers remained the Welterweight Champion of the World.
The crowd 's cheer erupts, and it hits his ear loudly. He falls on his knees and let out a roar of victory, his right eye swollen shut. He felt familiar frail arms around his neck and soft lips against his, "Must you keep scaring me like this?"
His forehead was pressed against hers, laughing softly, "Just come here."
She smiled back and wrapped her arms around his neck, holding him close.
"And the winner, by way of K.O….. I give you ….and still the undefeated, undisputed champion of the world, Steve Rogers!"
Steve grinned lightly when he felt the belt being wrapped back around his waist. It wasn't going anywhere else anytime soon. Peggy held him up with a supportive arm around his waist. He wasn't going to fall on her watch.
"Steve, you have retained your title once again, and now your record stands at 44-0. How does that make you feel?"
"I feel like I'm on top of the world, Daryl. There's no better feeling." He pulled his wife impossibly closer, kissing the top of her forehead. "I'm nothing without this woman right here. She deserves all of the credit." Peggy looks up at him and smiles wistfully, not breaking eye contact from him for a moment. Steve looked around the crowd and lifted his right hand proudly. The crowd roared, and the feeling was so electric.
This would always be his home.
Flashing lights. Different arena. Different crowd. Different opponent. Various scars and wounds. That was the story of Steve Roger's life. He was a walking, breathing, self-made athlete in the world of boxing. He was one of the best, if not the best. He was used to getting knocked down, but even more used to standing back up. For the past seven years, He came out victorious from all of his fights, but he had been knocked down many times. Fortunately for him, he was the best-undisputed champion to ever step in the ring.
With being a self-obsessed boxer came fancy suits, title belts, and a mansion on a hill in L.A. But at least he wasn't alone. He had a couple of friends that he trusted with his life, ones he knew that would always watch his back. He had his wife and his son, his family. They were all he would ever need, now and forever.
"How's that eye?" A doctor back in the locker rooms called out to him while he held a bag of ice to his swollen eye.
"I gotta give it to him." Steve nodded, taking the ice bag from his eye that was still shut, "Bastard put up a tough fight." Steve chuckled, which was interrupted by him coughing, a small wave of blood spilling out. Peggy used a warm wet rag and wiped his lips slowly, now coating the cloth in his blood.
"You fought well, Steve, "His friend Sam added as he held one of his belts on his shoulder. "He never stood a chance."
"Though, taking him out earlier would've been nice," His best friend, Bucky, added, standing beside Sam with a smug grin on his face.
He's known his friends and his wife since he was a teenager. They knew him like the back of their hand, no more than Peggy did. They all went to the same high school together in Brooklyn, and they've been close ever since. He couldn't imagine his life without them, and he didn't want to. He wouldn't be the man he was today if not for them. They meant everything to him, and that would never change.
"You should take it easy, Rogers," The doctor said. "You might want to keep constant pressure on that eye. It'll keep the bleeding at a minimum."
Steve gave him a respectful nod as he excused himself from the locker room, Sam and Bucky following his lead. Steve felt his phone vibrate beside him, knowing that it was his promoter, Tony, letting him know that he had a few conferences to look forward to this week. He didn't have to look at it to know that's what it said. Still, he respected him for it. He was doing his job, after all.
"Can you walk?" She asked him, caressing her husband's face tenderly. "Do you need some water, anything?"
"I'm fine Peg, look who you're talking to."
Her lips moved into a thin line as she pushed the rag in a soothing motion, "I'm talking to the guy I had to carry up the stairs last time."
It was an excellent job. Peggy would disagree with him, but he got paid well, he enjoyed punching people in the face, and he got the respect he deserved when he walked into any room.
Steve looked up and cupped her face with his left hand, "You worried about me?"
She leaned into his touch and continue to dab the warm rag against his lips, "There's only so much I can handle, darling. Soon, it won't be just us to think about."
His gaze lingered down to the bump under her dress and couldn't help the smile that reached his lips. He stretched his abused muscles as his arms snake around her waist, earning a grin from her. He remembered the day she told him she was pregnant. He was the happiest man in the world, and nothing could extinguish his joy. He was having a child by the woman he loved more than anything in the world. How could things get better than this?
"I love you," he whispered, placing a hand against the bump. "You know that, right?"
"And I love you." He kissed her chastely and leaned his forehead against hers, holding her close.
Steve enjoyed knowing that he didn't have another fight for a few months. The good thing about his job was that he and his family were taken care of. He was given plenty of time between fights to rest and get back into shape, but most importantly, he got to spend time with his wife and his friends. He was lucky if he fought three times a year, yet had a joyful paycheck in his bank every month. He couldn't help but take it for granted. He'd been doing it for seven years.
He walked through the backstage corridors of the arena he had just fought with a certain limp in his step. Peggy wrapped her arms around his waist and held him up as she walked them to their designated limo. His body did hurt, but he couldn't say he wasn't used to it anymore. Or Peggy. One of the downsides of the job was coming back home with either a bruised face or a broken body part. Neither was pleasant. But like always, he pushes through and lived to fight another day.
"You can't keep doing this to me, Steve," She whispered as she laid her head on his chest, fist curling up the fabric of his suit jacket. "These hits...they're going to keep getting worse. I don't know if I can't handle anymore of watching you suffer."
"I know," He kissed her forehead, grabbing her hand. "I know."
"And I don't want to seem like I'm forcing you to make a choice," Peggy leans her head back to look into his eyes. "This what you love to do, and I don't want to prevent you from doing what you love."
"Hey," He tilted her chin up and kissed her softly."I love you more, and our son that's coming. No matter what, we're a team. We need each other."
She pressed her forehead against his, and brought his hand to her lips, "You're right; we're a team."
And then, suddenly, everything went black.
"Mr. Rogers, are you alright?" A voice managed to echo in his brain.
Steve opened his eyes, and the smell of smoke and gasoline wafted up to his nose. His vision was blurry as he tried to process what was going on. Voices became more apparent the more conscious he became. Red and blue lights blended with the texture of the flames. It was then when he realized he needed to hear someone's voice, a crucial one.
"Pe...Peggy." He barely whispered.
He tried to push himself up, but before he got very far, his legs gave out, and he fell back down. He hissed in pain when he heard the sickening crunch.
"Sir, we're going to pull you and your wife out safely."
Steve tried moving his legs again, but they remained numb and unable to move. He looked to his side, and there she was.
The sight of her nearly made her break into pieces. There was just too much blood. Nasty thick bruises were forming on her wrists and arms, and her lower lip was plump and split into two places. Her hand was on her bump as her lifeless eyes stared back at him.
Please, be OK.
He was desperate. He needed to have her in his arms. He needed to hear her voice; he needed a sign. Anything to let him know that she and their child were alright. But before he could reach for her, I felt myself being pulled away by a pair of frail arms. He groaned again, and one of his arms snaked around his waist when he felt a sting of pain down there, warm blood brushing against the fabric.
"Hey? Can you hear me?" The voice asked softly.
"What happened?" Steve managed to gasp out, feeling a massive amount of pain on his chest.
"You and your wife have been in a terrible car accident."
"My wife...is she..." His eyes suddenly felt very heavy as he held on to the open gash on his hip.
"Stay with me, Mr. Rogers."
"Peggy..." He lost the volume of his voice, and he fell unconscious.
Little did he know that he lost the essential thing in his life that night and that his pain was going to stretch on endlessly.