Power isn’t Everything, Dante’s Story
By CelticFire


The Celtic Fighter, or just Celtic as many shortened it to, sat in the locker room with his head against the wall. It had been little over two months since the cowardly but brutal attack from Jack. He needed this time to recover from bruised ribs, messed up face, and nearly (read totally) destroyed adnominal wall. Shifting his weight he placed a hand on his chest, then stomach. The pain had finally stopped, the burning had gone out, but the memory would live on. The guys at the gym, for all their hyper masculine attitudes, were sympatric to him, knowing the devious beating he suffered. It wasn’t just a normal fight he had; the boy had cheated, and with brass knuckles no less. Sure, he won in the end, but at a VERY high price. But now he was back in the game, he was fit and ready for the world. He had hit the gym for several days before the first offer for a fight came in. While the thrill of the fight was screaming back inside of him, for once fighting was in your blood, it never really left, he was still nervous. What if he had had a misstep? What if he had a flash back in the middle of a fight? One false move and he knew he would never fight again.
To say he was left shaken from the event would be an understatement.

In an effort to help elevate his apprehension, he had spoken to some of the other guys about this new kid, this Dante, having never met or seen him before. Dante was said to have a slim but well built body, more athletic than skinny fit. He had a good pair of arms and a well defined chest, but his weak spot seemed to be his stomach and center chest. Too much focus on one thing would do that to you. Also probably wasn’t supposed to hear about the weak body parts, but Celtic wasn’t complaining. His fighting style reflected his younger age, being both rough and playful. He enjoyed the dance, but could knock you out the moment you blinked. The thing he liked most about this guy, was his attitude on the sport. While he took the fight seriously, and fought to win, he was light hearted and had fun with it. He was a guy you could fight long and hard with, would give it his all and expect you to do the same, but then share drinks with you afterwards. It was one of the reasons he accepted the fight request. After Jack, he wanted someone who he could have a laid back fight with, a friendly fight that was still a good work out.
Lost as he was in his own thoughts and memories, Celtic hadn’t bothered to register someone entering the locker room, take an interest, and then sit next to him. When it did, Celtic had to blink a few times to make sure he wasn’t tripping. Even more times to make sure he didn’t accidently fall into some over hyped anime. Seeing as this was a mostly male boxing gym, it wasn’t uncommon for them to walk around without a shirt. It was partly so the skin could breathe, and mostly just to show off. But this was just odd. The kid’s upper body was well built and muscled, even for a kid that was skinnier than a twig. His hair was also spiky like someone out of Dragon ball Z. He honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this guy had a monkey’s tail hidden somewhere. If some loud ass that’s named began with H (or Mr Satan if you prefer the non-dub) suddenly appeared, he- the guy must have noticed Celtic eyeing him up, because he was the first to break the silence.
“Yeah I know, I’m a hit to the diaphragm.”
“One look at me and you lose your breath right?”
“Bit forward of you, but luckily your cute.”
“Uh, yeah. Glossing over that last part, was that supposed to be a pun or something?”
“Was your father a boxer, man?”
“No why?”
“Cause you’re a knock out!”
“Oh Gods above…”
Celtic groaned and rolled his eyes hard at the bad puns, clearly to many blows to the face had permanently damaged the poor kid. But, as enjoyable of an experience as this was, (being hit on by a stranger with bad puns, who wouldn’t love that) Celtic had to return to the present. He could only procrastinate so long before it was fight time, and he had to make sure he was ready. Quickly rising, he performed a few quick stretches to loosen up his muscles, and shadow box at the mirror for a few to warm up the body. He finished up by flexing hard to both impress and intimidate the kid still watching. Even as good natures as he was, he wasn't above showing off sometimes.
“Not bad, I heard you were strong.”
“Yeah sure, thanks man. Listen, I have to go, got a fight in a few minutes.”
“No kidding handsome, who do you think you are fighting?”
“You’re kidding…”
“Nope, you liked me so much you put a ring on it. HA! Get it! Ring!”
With that Dante pushed off the wall and headed for the ring, leaving Celtic to wonder just how interesting this bout was going to be. Not to mention privately chuckling at the really bad puns…

The Fight

The ring room, like most of the gym, was quite today. Being early enough in the day, most people were still at their day jobs. Celtic was lucky enough to have off the whole day, and usually came here to blow off steam. As he approached the ring, he heard the slow rhythmic thuds of someone punching the side of the ring; the kid must have been warming up. Not a bad idea, Celtic thought, at least he wasn’t dealing with a total newbie. His hits were slow but steady, and sounding as if there wasn’t much force being applied. So the kid was either taking it slow, or he just didn’t have the muscle or experience to be a power hitter. Watching for a moment, Celtic concluded he didn’t want to take chances. While Jack’s attack had left him badly beaten, it also taught him to never underestimate. This kid could be quick and strong, or just quick and deadly. Pushing past the ropes and throwing his shirt and towel on his side, Celtic called out to his younger opponent. “Yo. Dante was it? You ready for this, or need another min to warm up.” Pausing for a moment, as if disbelieving he heard something; Dante turned and greeted him warmly with a huge smile. Kid could be a fucking lady killer…
“Hey paps! Glad you could make it!”
“Paps? Oh you will pay for that kido.”
“Kido? Nope, sorry not ringing any bells!”
“Will I be subjected to this bad one liner pun thing all day?”
“Everyone has a plan till they are punched in the face, brah!”
Dante laughed and rolled his shoulders a few times before leaning back on his corner. His form and body type would be impressive and intimidating to first time boxers. Making an admittedly hasty assessment, Celtic also figured Dante could definitely clean up well in the beginner bracket. Personality to put people at easy and body that can dish out punishment? Yeah… Celtic also noted that while lacing up his gloves, Dante bore a near childish smile of excitement, he was like a kid in a candy story. And…was he actually shaking with anticipation? He was ready for a fight and ready for some fun. Celtic smirked; the kid had heart, and a good attitude, now he wondered if he could dance. With gloves on, and both fighters ready, the two approached each other and touched gloves. Just because they were about to beat the crap out of each other, didn’t mean they couldn’t be civil about it.
Then in the span of a moment, in less time it took to blink, it happened. The world slowed, and faded away, only the ring existed. Two fighters locked gazed and prepared for what was about to happen. Muscles in their arms and chest tensed, ready for the battle ahead. Their minds raced with tactics and scenarios, each for blocking, hitting and winning. The thrill of the fight sent shivers up and down his spin, Celtic was so ready for this. He needed this, and he was overjoyed to be back in the game! Then with but the blinking of the eye, the moment was over and the battle was joined. Dante came in fast, throwing combo jabs and hooks almost faster than Celtic could see them. “Shit this kid is fast!” he thought while keeping his guard up. While the hits were not strong, nor hard to block, they definitely had a “death by a thousand cuts” feel to them. When a pause in a seemingly endless barrage of punches came, Celtic pressed his attack. Throwing a few quick jabs to distract the younger fighter he set up for a blow to the midsection, followed by an upper cut to send him back. None of them connected, and in fact only met open air. The kid has seen it coming, and dodged them all with stunning speed. “Shit, this kid is really fast!”
“ Coming up a little short there paps!”
“Heh, fuck you kid, I’m just warming up!”
“If it’s too much for you, you can always punch out of work early!”

Had this not been an official(ish) fight, Celtic would have dropped his gloves and tackled the kid. Just how many puns did he have? Was his mutant power the ability to rip open space time and just pull these puns out of nowhere? No, for the sake of humanity, this vile evil had to be destroyed! He alone would take up the burden of expelling and defeating the pun overlord. So then, in response to yet another hideous pun, Celtic kicked off the ring mats as hard as he could to renew his assault. Dropping down low to exploit a weakness first, he threw two wide and strong hooks to the midsection, following it up with a stiff uppercut to send the point home. They all missed, again. Dante had dodged everything by leaping back at the correct moment, and was now dancing around the older Celtic. He would have to find some way of slowing the kid down before-
More out of surprise than pain, a gloved fist had connected and stung the side of Celtic’s ribs. He didn’t even see it coming, which infuriated him even more. But as quickly as Dante closed in on him, Dante was already out of reach and dancing around him again. “Fuck, I’m going to enjoy knocking Flash flat on his face.” he thought. Reaching down low again, he faked a blow to the midsection, and then quickly switched to a hook to the head. His gloved fist just missed Dante’s face. Celtic cursed while Dante flashed a wicking arrogant smile. He could only imagine what stupid pun was forming in his head.
“To fast, to furious bro!”
Celtic lined another shot to the temple and took it, more out of annoyance than training. He missed again. A rather annoying recurring theme was playing out here. Celtic quickly changed strategies based on this. Maybe if he could switching things up and keep the boy guessing, he could finally get a shot in. So, in open ring like this, the kid was just too damn fast, he could just dance around and work the body hard as he wished. But if he could be pushed into the ropes or even the corner, Celtic could keep the boy in one place and take him out at will.
Celtic threw a series of hits, each aimed for the head or body, each designed to have Dante dodge back than actually hit. Responding just as he predicted, Dante steadily moved back closer to the ropes. “Good, now it’s time to get pounded kid.” As Dante’s back touched the rope, his smirk for just a moment was replaced with concern. He realized the trap but was already far too late to escape. Or at least he should have been. Celtic, capitalizing on such, leaped in to bash his face hard with a series of hooks. But yet again, what should have been a clean easy attack, turned right foul for Celtic. As his hook was in mid swing, Celtic’s chest was blasted with a quick combo of jabs to push him back, and that it did. Attempting to counter attack with a mean right hook, he found instead his midsection blasted with a set of rapid fire punches, each sinking in just a little bit more than the one before.

“Ughhh, ooopphhh, ugggggggh”.
Celtic stepped back to spare his midsection. Lowering his guard to protect his stomach, and attempting to get his head out of the stars, he was rocked back and forth by a series of fast but strong hooks. Sweat sprayed from his hair to both sides of the ring as Celtic’s vision stumbled. Putting up his guard to protect his face, his stomach was once against blasted with jabs faster than he could see or count. Grunting loud in real pain this time, he doubled over when an upper cut to the chest sent him back into the ropes.
Sonic the hedgehog apparently had become a boxer and was now calling himself Dante.

Senseless, Celtic hung on the rope for a moment, only to have his midsection blasted again and again. Celtic tried his best to keep his stomach tense and tight, but the punches just kept coming and coming. Jabs, hooks, even uppercuts came at him and blasted what muscle Celtic had. Grunts of pain and groans of escaped him after each hit. This was humiliating to say the least. When he tried to put up a guard, the hits moved to his chest, rocking the muscle there left to right. On instinct, he flexed his chest hard, hoping to stay off some of the pain, but just too much came. When he brought his guard up again, his judgment, as well as any thought process, was interrupted by mean hooks to the face. Celtic’s arms dropped to his side as any sense he had was clearly knocked out of him. When it stopped he attempted to lift his guard up but was blindsided by a mean right hook to the face, sending him down for the count.
1… Landing with a hard thud, sweat once clinging to the hair on his head, chest and stomach, bounced off the ring floor. Pain screamed from his stomach and chest, and his vision wasn’t any better. His head rang louder than the boxing bell, and for far longer. Red marks would form around the punishment he suffered, if they hadn’t already.
2… Celtic coughed hard in pain, having just had his insides steadily assaulted. His lungs worked hard to take in desperately need oxygen as he managed to roll onto his back. Death by a thousand cuts indeed.
3… Realization had finally worked its way past the pain, Celtic knew he was down. Dante had beaten him so hard, his body had given out. Anger (yet some pride in another) surged throughout his body. He refused to let pun boy win this fight.
4… Celtic had commanded his body to get up, but the pain had refused. He tried arching his back, to give himself some leverage, but nothing came. He tried forcing an arm up, but that to did not respond.
5… Celtic was a fighter; he was ever since the bigger kids would pick on him in grade school. He would return home with black eyes, bruised body, and even a broken hand or two, but he would never give up. Not now, not ever. His will roared to life, screaming at his body more than the pain ever could.
6… Refusing to give up, ignoring the enormous amounts of protest from his body, Celtic’s will begin to win over. First his upper body rose, then his arms began to work. His body was stiff, but still working. He would do this.
7…. First up on one knee, then rising, Celtic stumbled and fell back onto the ropes. His equilibrium was off, but he was up. His legs wobbled but continued to hold his weight. Slow but steady steps…
8… He shook his head several times, getting the cobwebs out of it. This was his first match back, and he couldn’t mess it up. He had to get his head back into the game, he had to fight hard and smart. This kid was quick, too quick. So he had to use his muscle as well as his brain to win this one.
9… Celtic pounded his gloves together, ready for more.

“Took you long enough old man, thought you were out for some punch.”
“Heh, sorry had to pick up my dry cleaning while I was out.”
As the two circled each other, exchanging friendly banter for good measure, Celtic had to admit he was enjoying himself. Sure, taking hits and getting knocked down wasn’t the best for any man, but the fight over all was an enjoyable one. With a grin, Celtic set his mind on making it even more fun. Celtic swiftly launched himself forward with a right jab to the head. Had he remembered his version of swift and Dante’s version of said swift were two different things, he might have realized it was going to miss. Well, miss and leave him open. Before he could recover, Celtic was rocked by a right hook. Stumbling back, he felt another series of quick blows blast his chest hard. Grunting hard, he also failed to notice he was backed up to the turnbuckle, a trap he had tried to lay for Dante.

“Oh shit” he thought right before his sense was rocked again.
A stiff right hook had slammed the side of his face, almost forcing him to spit out his mouth guard. Again the kid showed that his quickness and knack for surprise attacks could easily make up for lack of strength. Next, before he (Celtic) could even finish processing the hook, Dante slammed a gloved fist into his midsection cutting in deep. It was a straight jab, and it hit the center of his abs perfectly while they were unflexed. A loud grunt of pain escaped Celtic as his stomach once again burst into flames. But it didn’t stop there. Another series of blindingly fast jabs rocked Celtic’s face, snapping his head back several times, and blurring his vision. While his eyes wouldn’t swell up, the force of the hits and sweat leaking into his eyes would do worse. To cap it off, Celtic could feel his legs starting to go again, knocked down twice in only a few minutes?
Damn this kid was good.
Celtic attempted to raise his guard, to protect something while he rallied himself for a counter attack, but again Dante showed he was just too damn quick. Celtic attempted to count, but the hooks the blasted his face and chest were just too much to count, and really knocked his wits from him. Clumsily, he throw a hook in the direction of Dante, only to have it miss widely and his ribs pounded with gods know how many hits. Celtic once again grunted hard, as he was pushed back against the turnbuckle. With his arms forced around the ropes to keep him up (Celtic refused to go down again), his body would pay the price. Dante showed no mercy, nor should he honestly, as his gloves pounded away at his abs. Each leather bound gloved fist chipped away that much more as it connected with his midsection. Sweat sprayed from both fighters, Celtic from the force of the hits, and Dante off his impressive chest and arms as he swung. By now, Celtic knew his midsection had to be red from all the hits, but what could he do? Even as he managed to bring his arms up to protect much of his body, Dante had busted threw his defense and continued pounding away.
“Ughhhh, oppphhhh, oggggggggggggggggggggggh”
His grunts of pain turned into low moans and groans, as his midsection caved and sagged. Even knowing he was in great danger of having his ass handed to him, there was still nothing he could do at the moment. While he was very tankish when taking the hits, and had some impressive bulk to back it up, he could only take so much… and Mr Death by a thousand cuts had just about hit his mark. He fought to stay upright, but Dante knew he had him on the ropes (not just a figure of speech) and cemented his dominance. With an uppercut that actually had some bite in it, not just speed, Dante’s fist plowed into his midsection, pushing aside tenderized abs and forced the breath out of him. With a deep cry of pain, Celtic doubled over. This lasted for only a moment before Celtic found himself back on the mats and a countdown, all courtesy of a left hook to the chin.
Fuck that hurt…
Yet once again Celtic’s Irish blood refused to let him lose refused to let him stay down. Beating the count by nearly half a second, he was back on his feet, well mostly. With clouded vision, Celtic took the moment he had to assets his target. While showing no sign of taking his, Dante still showed signs of battle. His arms were not held as high, is arrogant smirk wasn’t as profound. The kid was good, but he was tiring. Maybe this was his chance? Pounding his gloves together, the two once again join the battle. Celtic would take some fierce swings at the kid, but all would miss their mark. Even tired this kid was still fast as hell. Starting out low and faking a blow to his midsection, Celtic instead turned for an uppercut to slam into his face. But yet again Dante proved too fast and countered with a blow to his chest. But instead of retreating back, Celtic stepped forward and threw a few slow but strong jabs at Dante. Celtic had enough of this hit and retreat crap and it was time to get close and dirty!
The gamble worked and Dante was knocked square in the face, taken completely off guard. “That’s right!” he thought quickly, “The kid is fast, but not up close.” Celtic pressed the attack by launching additional hooks to the face, each landing and forcing Dante to grunt. Celtic had a new plan. If he could keep Dante close, and force his ego to stand and fight, Celtic could press the advantage. Celtic developed a pattern, and set it into motion. Dante danced around some of the hits, but suffered several blows to the face, chest and ribs. Celtic was careful to avoid the midsection since that always seem to be blocked and guarded more than any other. More punches were thrown but Dante danced back with his sonic like speed.
Celtic followed.
He would pay dearly for staying that close to a fighter, for staying in optimal range of their reach, but it was his only option to hit and have a chance to win. Celtic threw a series of jabs to the face and chest, some connecting, some pushing Dante to his limit. His smile broke, replaced with the lust boxers felt when they just wanted to pound something. Beaten as they were, beaten as they were about to become, Celtic still had to admit, he was having a blast. Dante returned the hits in kind and soon the center of the ring turned into a fierce melee. It had worked, Dante was standing his ground and Celtic was more than willing to do the same. Dante would be rocked back and forth with jabs and hooks to the face and chest, while Celtic would suffer jabs and uppercuts to the head and stomach. When the pounding took a pause, both were drenched in sweat and exhausted. Both had their guard up, but weakly.
“Not bad kid.”
“Not bad yourself paps”
“Heh, no one linger this time?”
“Sorry man…”
“Forgot the punch line!”
“… I asked for that.”
“Yes you did!”
“Ready to go down?”
“Bring it paps!”
The two leaped at each other again, both set on being the last person standing. Celtic would swing wicked hooks and jabs while Dante would find his targets all over. Hits would be blocked, taken, and rocked. Each fighter would suffer plenty of hits, impressing anyone around them. But in the end, Celtic would land the hit of a life time. Toward the end of their match, he saw Dante’s midsection fully exposed, and he finally took his shot. Sweat flung from the younger man’s hair and chest from the force of the blow. Around the impact of the glove, skin swelled and rippled. His stomach muscles, impressive as they were, retracted and gave in, no longer able to absorb hits. As if in slow motion, Dante doubled over, but Celtic continued his assault. Blow after blow, uppercut after uppercut blasted Dante in the stomach. He coughed up air hard as his body fell on Celtic.
Yet even still, he did not stop. It was time for some payback!
Using his shoulders creatively to keep the boy up, Celtic swung additional uppercuts to the sides and center of the boy’s abs. With each hit, Dante’s once impressive abdominals began to sag and shake with the force of the blows. With each blow, fresh grunts and long groans of pain escaped Dante. With each rocking from his powerful arms, Dante’s body would be lifted off his feet. When Celtic was done, whatever muscle was there had been destroyed. With one final hit, with everything Celtic had, and evens his weight into it, he blasted Dante’s stomach… and then Dante hit the floor hard. As powerful and swift as he was, as many hits as the kid got in, he was ultimately no match for strength and experience. Things Dante would learn in time, but that didn’t help right now. In the center of the ring Dante laid sprawled out, several battle marks on his chest and abs. His face, while still setting any ladies lower parts on fire, was a bit messed up as well.
But nothing a shower wouldn’t cure.
Celtic stood above him. His own body, covered in sweat and clinging to various body hairs, was covered in red marks that would turn into a good story later on at the bar. Favoring his own stomach while returning to his corner, he did his best to remove what disgusting scent he could. While the scent of battle was a ridiculously manly one, it did nothing for personal hygiene. Once done, or at least done what he could, Celtic returned to his beaten but respected rival. Again, while they had spent the last hour beating the crap out of each other, that didn’t mean they were uncivilized. It would take a few minutes, but Dante would be awake and back on his feet. Much to his surprise when Dante did wake, Dante laughed, a weak one, but a laugh none the less. Confused, Celtic stood there, rather unsure what to do.
“Oh sorry” he coughed in-between laughs and trying to catch his breath,
“I’m just a little punch drunk from partying all day!”
“I should knock you out again for such a bad pun.”
“What? You’re a boxer, you love punch lines!”
Another pun and another joke? The guy had just gotten his ass kicked in the ring and knocked out cold, yet he could still drop some lame jokes? This kid was something. Like really something. Yet despite himself, Celtic began to laugh. No matter what happened, or what kind of outcome occurred, this kid was here with a smile and a bad joke to make you laugh. This was defiantly a young man that had earned his respect. Helping him up, he knew this day was more than just a great fight.
It was the first day in a long and strong friendship.