by Treassa
Beta read by Gina Jones and Dotty
Written for PetFly by: Laurence Frank
Rated PG -13

Act I

The boxing arena sat on the edge of the business district. Streetlights surrounded the building and kept the dark night away. Its brick exterior was roughened with age but was still standing strong. The cheering of the crowd inside spilled out into the night. The sign outside read: Tonight, Sweet Roy Williams vs. Eddie Ruelas. A Fight to Remember.

The air inside the arena was hazy with dim lighting and cigarette smoke. The sounds of shoes squeaking along the floor filled the air. The cheers of the crowd reverberated against the walls.

The sound of leather hitting flesh had the crowd’s attention enthralled. The boxers themselves ignored everything, but their opponent, each jab and feint meant to distract and weaken the other. Sweat dripped down their muscular bodies and peppered the canvas with each move.

Sweet Roy's next punch dropped Ruelas to the mat. Gasping to catch his breath, Ruelas listened as the referee began the countdown, “One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight….” Ruelas forced himself up and nodded at the referee that he could continue.

The battle between the contenders continued in its fury. Their arms ached from the continuous battering. Then the bell, signaling the end of round four, broke the mounting tension. The two went back to their corners, preparing their minds for the next round.

Sweet Roy sat down on his stool, and his manager wet him down with a water-soaked sponge. “You got him just where you want him. Let’s bring in the left hook now.” The bell for round five rang, and a woman in a skimpy bikini paraded around the ring with a card signifying the round. The crowd roared even louder as the fight once again started. Roy’s manager pushed Roy back into the center of the ring. “Let’s ring him. Let’s ring him.”

In the crowd, Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg watched the action. Blair leaned over to Jim. “He’s holding back his left hook.”

Jim looked over at his partner in surprise. “I never thought you’d know a left hook from a leftover.”

Blair shook his head and smiled. “I’m a huge pugilism fan. Besides, I know Roy from way back. How do you think I got the tickets?”

A flurry of hard punches from the ring drew the pair’s attention back. Sweet Roy was landing various punches against Ruelas’ stomach, and Roy followed it with a left hook to Ruelas’ chin. He fell to the canvas, knocked out. The referee counted to ten and held Roy’s arm up in victory.

The spectators went wild. Roy’s manager, Rock, guided him from the ring and shoved aside fans as they headed to the locker room. He placed the tired boxer onto a bench and began removing Roy’s gloves and unwinding the bandages beneath. “You really took it to him, man. You were beautiful!”

Roy breathed in a deep breath to steady himself. “Yeah, Rock. It was kind of quick though. I just hope that the fans got their money’s worth.” Roy hated to disappoint his fans; they had stood by him in the lean times.

“Don’t worry about it. The fans come to see Sweet Roy, and you always deliver,” Rock replied with a grin.

Blair guided Jim back to the locker room through a crowd of reporters. “You’ll really like Roy, Jim. He’s such a great guy.” Blair flashed his backstage pass at the security guard on duty. He felt Jim moving to his back, and the press of people against him disappeared as Jim took on the brunt of it.

The guard opened the door, and Blair caught a glimpse of Roy. He tried as hard as he could to contain his excitement, but he found himself bouncing up and down. It had been so long since he had seen Roy. “Hey, I hear there is someone here claiming to be the best fighter in the neighborhood.”

Roy looked up, trying to find the familiar voice. “Blair! What’s up, man? How have you been doing?” Roy rose from his seat and wrapped his arms around his old friend.

Blair returned the embrace. “I’ve been great. It’s so good to see you. I can see everything is going well for you though.”

Roy released Blair. “Things have been going great for me. I have a lot to be thankful for.”

“Yeah, I do too. Thanks for the seats. We were right on top of the action. That left hook, man. It’s still as great as ever,” Blair replied, his body bouncing again.

Blair’s exuberance made Roy smile. He definitely remembered this ball of energy. “No problem at all hooking my old friend up. I was just doing my thing.”

Blair smiled and pointed his thumb back at Jim. “Well, your thing won me twenty bucks off this fool. Sweet Roy Williams, Jim Ellison.”

Roy held out his hand to the taller man. “Nice to meet you, Jim.”

Jim shook hands with the boxer. “Nice to meet you too, Roy. Good fight.”

Roy grinned and shook his head. “I can’t believe you bet against me.”

“I figured you could take him. I just couldn’t see it in the early rounds like that.” Jim took a hold of Blair’s shoulder and pulled him back. “So, how did you two meet anyway?”

Roy winked at Blair. “Would you believe a street fight?”

Jim’s raised his eyebrows in surprise. “A street fight?” Jim watched as Blair’s head bowed. “I have to hear this.”

Roy eagerly started. “I was in Lindhurst to buy a car. And you know how Lindhurst is. Gang of white guys came up on me! They figured I was out of place, so they’d beat me up a little bit. They were doing just that until this guy showed up,” Roy motioned towards Blair.

Blair peeked under his hair at Jim. He wondered if Jim would believe Roy. “It wasn’t really like that. All I was trying to do was talk everyone down, you know?”

Roy had always hated Blair’s modesty. He should be proud of who he was. “Yeah, yeah. Say what you will, Blair.” Roy placed his hand on Jim’s shoulder and leaned closer. “This is how it went down.”

Blair was on his way to the store when a commotion drew his attention. The sound of flesh hitting flesh assaulted his ears. Moving towards the sound, he found four white guys surrounding a figure on the ground. Upon closer inspection, he noticed that it was a black male, and that the white guys were beating on him.

“Hey guys,” Blair called out. The odds were definitely not with the black youth. “What do you guys things you’re doing?” Blair asked as he approached the group.

One guy stepped in front of Blair. “This is none of your business.” He looked the new arrival up and down and knew the boy didn’t belong in this neighborhood anymore than the other did. “I suggest you make yourself scarce.”

Blair looked at the four guys, who were a lot bigger than him, and then at the young man still prostrate on the ground. He knew he had to do something. “Come on. Haven’t you done enough to that guy? I’m sure you have better things to do with your time.”

Blair felt the guy’s eyes rake him over and became aware of the picture he presented. He was wearing torn jeans, a white tee shirt, and a flannel shirt. He felt the wind blowing through his long curly hair, which hung to just past his shoulders, and revealing the earrings in his left earlobe. The other guys were losing interest in the prone figure before them and moving towards him. Blair had enough time to mutter, “Oh, shit” before the guy talking to him took a swing.

Blair looked around frantically for a way out. He saw a loose brick on the sidewalk and dived for it throwing it at his aggressor. It missed, and Blair closed his eyes waiting for the expected punch. He felt the contact, and his head was knocked backwards. He saw stars and heard a bell, but it wasn’t until he gathered his wits together that he realized the bell was an alarm.

Blair was being held down by two of the guys, and his stomach was in agony. They were, teaching him a lesson about interfering, and Blair saw that the other two guys were still laying into the black youth. Through the haze of pain, he felt the guys slow their punches and finally stop. They were cursing, and he realized it was due to approaching sirens. He watched the white guys get up and run away. Blair looked over at the black youth and saw that he was covered in cuts and bruises, and Blair knew he looked the same. He then saw the pile of glass on the ground from the shop window he'd smashed, setting off the alarm.

“When that brick went through the furniture store window.” Roy stared at Blair a moment until Blair looked up. “It saved our lives that day.”

Blair laughed. “It did create quite a diversion. It set the alarm off and got the cops there. And if I remember correctly, both of us ended up getting our asses kicked waiting for them.”

Jim whistled. He was amazed at Blair’s ingenuity. “You guys had a busy day. Did you get hauled in?”

Blair replied, “Actually, no. The storeowner was pretty cool. We talked to him, and he didn’t press charges. He did charge me 400 dollars for the window.”

Roy was glad that Blair had been there that day. They had formed a close connection during a time they both needed it. Roy was caring for his little brother and needed the outlet. Blair was a young student at Rainier and needed the companionship. Roy headed to his locker and called over his shoulder, “Which reminds me of something.”

Jim leaned towards Blair. “A brick through the window, Chief?”

Blair held his hands up. “It wasn’t like I planned to do it. I missed my target.”

Jim ruffled his buddy’s hair. “It was still pretty creative. Only you can get yourself into these messes.”

Roy opened his locker and pulled out his roll of cash. He peeled off two bills. When the window had been broken, Blair had paid the bill, so Roy would have enough money to put food in the house. Bringing the money back to Blair, he stuffed the two hundred dollars into Blair’s hand. “Here you are, brother.”

Blair stared down into his fist at the money and was surprised. “What's this, man?”

Roy explained, “This is my half of the store window. I really appreciate you being there when I needed you.” Roy was distracted when Rock called to him.

“Hey, Roy, get a move on. We have a party to get to.” Rock was putting on his coat and leaving the locker room through the back door.

Roy motioned his acknowledgement. “Okay, okay, okay.” Roy turned to Jim and Blair. “Look, we have a party going on tonight at the Twilight Club. Why don't you stop by? I'll leave your name at the door. Just tell them who you are, and they'll let you in.”

Blair hugged Roy goodbye. “We'll be there. It’s good seeing you again,”

Roy released Blair and turned to Jim. “Good to meet you, too, Jim.”

Jim shook Roy’s hand. “Thanks, Roy. Good fight.”

Roy laughed and pointed at Jim. “From now on, don't forget. Always bet on me.”

Jim chuckled. “All right, man. I won’t forget.”

Blair and Jim waved goodbye to Roy and headed back out into the throng of reporters. Jim placed his hand at Blair’s back and guided him through. “He seems like a great guy, Chief.”

“He is, Jim. I spent a lot of time with him when I first started college. He helped me adjust to real life after having lived the nomadic life with Naomi. He was the big brother I never had.” Blair stepped outside and headed to the truck. “Would you mind if we stopped at the party?”

“Not at all. We don’t have to be at the station until late morning.” Jim unlocked the truck, and the two men headed to the party.

The Twilight Club was lit by strings of white lights. A string quartet played in a quiet back corner, where the strains of melody floated over the gathering.

The soft lighting kept the atmosphere private and intimate. Roy used this to his advantage and gathered his family to him. Rock, his brother Jamie, and Jamie’s fiancée, Sharita, had joined him.

Roy stopped a woman carrying a tray of drinks. “Excuse me, ma'am." Roy took the glasses and passed them around. The last glasses went to Jamie and Sharita, “Here you go, little brother. Here you go, sweetie." Roy raised his glass. “Here's to that big left hook.”

Rock felt full of energy at the win. He was glad that Roy had finally pulled things together. They had sweated the tough spots out and were finally champs. “We are on our way. Nothing can stop us now. This is what we sweat for, man.”

Rock clinked glasses with Jamie. “Come on. Drink up.” Draining his glass, Rock dumped the group and went in search of more action.

Roy was interrupted from his family victory party by one of his sponsors putting an arm around his shoulder. "Champ, I have some important people for you to meet." Roy pasted a smile on his face and left with him.

Jamie watched Sharita. Her eyes were glued to Roy. He was pissed. Roy would rather spend time with these people than his own family. He was also angry that Sharita was so obsessed with his brother. He was trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

Sharita felt Jamie's eyes on her. Tired of Jamie’s attitude lately she asked, "What? What's wrong?" Jamie didn't answer her and stalked off.

Roy made the circuit around the club, talking with his fans and other sponsors. The doors to the club opened and admitted Blair and Jim. Roy excused himself and approached them. "Blair, glad you guys could make it."

"Wouldn't miss it. What's good here, man? I’ve heard great things about this place.”

Roy pointed. "The bar is over there, the buffet is in the back, and there are also plenty of gorgeous women to enjoy.”

Blair laughed and cased the room, taking in the wide array of goodies. "Oh, I will."

Roy heard his name being called from across the room. "I have to go now. If I don't get back with you tonight, don't let it be two damn years before I see you again."

Blair raised his arm. "It won't. I promise. Just take care of yourself."

Roy hugged Blair. "All right. Take it easy." Roy released Blair and walked away.

Blair was ready to party and turned to Jim, rubbing his hands together. "Where do we start?"

Jim and Blair stared at each other and answered together, “Buffet.” Blair nodded his head in agreement, and the two friends traveled deeper into the club.

Roy was talking to one of his fans when he noticed his main promoter talking with a group of people. He excused himself from his companion, “Let me say hi to my promoter." Nearing the man, Roy called out, “Mr. Collins, how are you?”

Collins put his arm around Roy’s shoulder and pulled him close. “Roy, you were spectacular.”

Roy cringed at Collins’ touch but smiled anyway. “Thank you.”

Collins continued, “My dear fellow, I've seen every one of your fights, and I had no idea your left was so, uh...impressive.”

Roy pulled away from the enclosing arm, giving himself some distance. “Yeah. It can be quite dangerous at times.”

Collins saw only dollar signs when looking at his boxer. “You could be the greatest ever.”

Roy glanced around the room to find another distraction. There had always been something funny about Collins; he just couldn’t place it. He had to live with him though since his money had gotten Roy where he was. “Well, I think that was Muhammad Ali, but thanks for the compliment anyway. And thanks for setting this place up for tonight’s party.”

Collins smiled at Roy. “My dear chap, the pleasure is all mine.”

Roy started backing away. “Take care of yourself. It was nice meeting you all.”

Collins watched Roy leave. How dare that boy just go? Didn’t he know where his bread was buttered? That boy had a lot to be thanking him for. He had gotten him this far, and Roy had just dismissed him like he was nothing. Collins smiled and turned back to his companions. “I’m sorry about that. It seems that a boxer’s job is never done.”

After Jamie had left her, Sharita went to sit at the bar. He had been acting strangely for a while now, and Sharita was worried that Jamie was pulling away from her. She loved him so much, but she didn’t know what to do.

Jamie was tired of not knowing what was going on. Every time he turned around, Sharita and Roy were together. He found Sharita at the bar and crowded in next to her. He demanded, “Is it true? I want to know.”

Jamie’s angry voice cut into Sharita’s thoughts. “Is what true, Jamie? What is going on with you?”

Jamie couldn’t believe her. She and Roy had been having too many meetings together for her not to know. “You know what I’m talking about, so don’t pretend you don’t. I can’t believe that you would do this to me.”

Sharita knew Jamie had a problem trusting people. “Jamie….”

Blair was heading for the buffet when he saw a familiar face. It was older than the last time he saw it, but it was definitely Jamie Williams. “Hey, Jamie. It's Blair Sandburg, remember me?”

Jamie looked up at the disturbance and saw a short man with long hair. He couldn’t put a name to the face. “Hi.”

Sharita was glad of the interruption. “I'm Sharita Bailey.”

Blair smiled at the young woman. “Hi, Sharita.”

Sharita smiled back at Blair. “Nice to meet you, Blair.” Sharita glanced at Jamie and saw that he was still upset. “Um...”

Blair looked back and forth between the couple. He felt an underlying tension. “I'm sorry, but did I interrupt something?”

Sharita kept her eyes on Jamie. “No, um... Jamie, we'll talk later, okay?” Sharita turned back to Blair. “Nice meeting you.” Sharita stood from her seat and fled the area. She was doing her best to hold back tears of frustration.

Blair noticed how quickly Sharita had retreated and wondered what he had interrupted. “Nice meeting you, too. Take care,” Blair called after her as she disappeared around a corner.

Blair focused on Jamie. “Hey, man, what's up? How have you been?”

Jamie looked the man up and down. He vaguely remembered the face. It wasn’t until he peered into Blair’s blue eyes that he recognized him. “Yeah. I remember you, man. You're that rich white dude that came around, slumming with my brother back in the day, right?”

Blair laughed. “Well, you got the white part right, yeah.” Resentment was on Jamie’s face. “You're serious. What's up with the attitude?”

Jamie dismissed Blair’s question and put down his drink, walking away. “Enjoy the party.”

Jim loaded a plate with goodies from the buffet, including carrots, cheese, and strawberries. A rapid heartbeat caught his attention. Roy was motioning a very upset Sharita to come to him. She was shaking her head, refusing. Jim watched the two until Jamie joined them.

Jamie observed the little by play between his brother and his fiancée. Feeling his anger shoot through the roof, Jamie grabbed Sharita’s arm and started pulling her towards the club door. “Come on. Let's go.”

Roy was surprised when his little brother dragged Sharita away. He really needed to talk to Sharita so they could plan Jamie’s surprise. He started after them and bumped into a new arrival at the party. It was Billy Atlas, his opponent’s manager.

Atlas looked up at Roy. “Lookee here. 'Sweet' Roy Williams!” Atlas laughed deeply, “Boy, you sure whupped up on my fighter tonight.”

Roy swore under his breath. He did not need this confrontation. “Yeah. Tell Ruelas it was nothing personal. I hope everything's all right.”

Atlas tapped his cane on the floor. “I will.” Looking over the man who could make him rich, he added, “You and I ought to have us a little talk.”

Roy sucked in a deep breath to contain his anger. “I already have a handler, Mr. Atlas.”

Atlas puffed his chest up and tapped it with his ivory-headed cane. “Mr. Atlas knows people that Rock doesn't.”

Roy moved closer to his antagonist, threatening, “Two years ago, when I signed with Rock instead of you, you put word out I was a nothing punk and fixed it where I couldn't get fights. Why should I trust you with my career now?”

Atlas lowered his cane. “I was wrong, Roy. Give me a shot. I can make you millions”

Roy stared Atlas in the eyes. “I'd rather starve.” Roy turned away under the watchful eye of the rest of the party guests.

Atlas gestured grandly with his cane, “Sweet, I'd be careful what bridges I burn. I mean, you don't want to mess with that bright future.”

Roy pivoted and advanced toward Atlas, a look of rage on his face. “That supposed to be a threat? You think I'm some kind of chump that you can just throw your weight around on?” Roy was held back by two security guards and fought against it.

Atlas smiled, feeling safe. “Roy, Roy, Roy, we’re only talking here.” Atlas chuckled at his win. Roy was walking away from him. He couldn’t touch old Atlas. “Yeah, yeah. Just talking”

The day after the fight, Jim was working at his desk, waiting for Blair to come in to help him. He glanced up when Blair walked in the door shadow boxing. Jim grinned at his partner’s antics. He was glad to see Blair so relaxed. They had been through some tense situations lately. Jim stood up. “Whoa there, Chief. What’s going on?”

Blair dropped his hands. “I don't know, man. That fight last night must have touched something primal in me. I had this dream last night that I was a boxer.”

Jim laughed, “You? Involved in the sweet science?” Jim playfully punched his partner on the arm. “I have a hard time picturing that. I mean, the flowing silk robes and goofy shorts I can see, but I thought you were a lover, not a fighter.”

Blair grinned back. “Yeah. Yeah, you're right. It was fun for a little while though, you know? I would be following a great tradition though. The Maori staged hand-to-hand fights to purify themselves for sexual encounters.”

Jim reached for his phone when it began ringing. “Got a particular female in mind, Chief?”

Blair shook his head no. “No, not at all, but it's always good to be prepared.”

Jim picked up his phone. “Yeah, Ellison. Uh-huh. Where? All right. Be down in ten minutes.” Jim hung up. “Let's go, Chief.” Blair removed his coat from the coat rack, which caused it to start tilting. “Watch out for that left hook here,” Jim said grabbing the coat rack before it could fall over

Rafe met Jim and Blair in the city’s industrial park. When they parked the truck, he led them carefully into a culvert, steadily stepping down the hill. One officer had already slipped and fallen. “A homeless guy found the body in the culvert this morning. We haven't been able to ID him yet.”

Jim moved around Rafe and looked into the drainpipe. The familiar body there made him turn around to check where Blair was. He was right behind him. Blair was always a great asset in his investigations, but this one would be different. Jim grabbed Blair’s arm before he could look into the pipe. “Don’t look, Chief. You don’t want to see this.”

Blair searched Jim’s eyes. Seeing Jim’s concern, a sick feeling entered his stomach. He had to look, but he couldn't say why. As Rafe moved up the hill, calling for a gurney to be brought down, Blair jerked his arm from Jim’s hold and moved around him to look into the pipe. He barely was able to contain his urge to vomit. It was Roy lying there, face down.

Act II