Title: And in This Corner...

Author: A. X. Zanier

Fandom: Invisible Man

Pairing: Darien/OFC

Rating: PG

Summary: A sparring match.

Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters or basic story ideas to "The Invisible Man." Any additional characters or story ideas are mine.

Notes: Peja Challenge Fic.

And in This Corner...

"Hey big man, do you get the feeling something is starting between us?" Alyx said sprightly as she dodged the fist that lashed towards her torso. She swung about; her right foot looking to make a direct hit with Hobbes' midsection.

Hobbes managed to block the kick and bounced back several paces to put some room between the two of them. "Kid, do you have to run your mouth right now?"

"Well, you could always try and shut it for me, Hobbesy," she retorted in a saccharine sweet tone, which made Hobbes laugh aloud.

"Egging me on won't work, y'know," the balding agent commented, as he dropped for a leg sweep that she easily leapt over.

Her response was to tap him in the back of the skull just hard enough for him to feel it. "Gotcha again, Bobby."

Bobby growled softly, angry more at himself for screwing up than at her for calling him on it. "How many is that?"

"Five for her, four for you," Darien responded from his seat ringside. "I told you she was good."

Hobbes nodded as he wiped the sweat off his face with the towel hung in his corner. "Unorthodox," he argued, actually feeling pleased. He knew she was getting high marks from her instructors, but seeing it... hell, feeling it for himself was another thing entirely. He now understood why Fawkes had passed on the comment that she was in need of a sparring partner. He doubted there were many who could keep up with her, especially when she put her little talents into play. Fawkes was still too green to be a real challenge for her, even with the height difference.

Hobbes watched her for a few seconds, noting that while she was coated in a sheen of sweat, she wasn't breathing anywhere near as hard as he was. She was on the far side of the ring, bouncing lightly in place to keep the blood flowing until he was all set to go again. "You ready, kid?"

"Always, Bobby," she assured him, and lithely moved back to the center of the ring.

She surprised him by striking first; a quick jab that caught him lightly in the solar plexus as he jumped back just barely in time. Damn, she could move fast when she wanted to. He circled to the left, trying to not think about what he wanted to do, for he knew that no matter how she tried, surface thoughts were something she always picked up. A major advantage when fighting, as it allowed her to know what her opponent was going to do almost as soon as he did, but it could also be her Achilles' heel.

He moved in and they exchanged a series of blocks and blows, which resulted in little more than him becoming reacquainted with the fact that her knuckles were bony as hell and hurt even with the punches pulled. They broke apart and she tipped her head slightly to the side as if trying to gauge his thoughts. "I ain't gonna make it that easy for you," he informed her.

"Good," she pronounced, launching herself at him with a combo that ended when he was slammed into the ropes. He just barely managed to catch himself and remain upright.

"Yeowch," Darien vocalized for Hobbes, who preferred to stay stoically silent. "She too much for you, Hobbes?"

Hobbes didn't bother rising to the bait. "Nah. Refreshing change. Not often someone can give me a real run for my money."

Alyx gave him a nod of acknowledgement for the backhanded compliment. Even those were rare from him, but he wouldn't have said anything if he hadn't meant it. She glanced to the left and he allowed his eyes to be drawn that way as well, to see the caged clock on the wall. They had been at this for over two hours now. "How about one more round? Same as the rest," he suggested. They'd been going by incapacitating blows instead of falls due to the eclectic styles and combination of marital arts they each knew.

"Works for me," she agreed, as she ambled casually forward to meet him.

He made the first move with a pulled punch at her jaw, which she avoided easily. However, he'd caught onto her style a bit and succeeded in connecting with her ribs; and, although the blow did not land squarely enough to disable, she did let out an audible grunt in reaction. She was quick to counter with a chop to the throat that he blocked far more easily than he expected. He grabbed her wrist and spun her about, using her own arm to effectively immobilize her against his chest. Just as he was about to bring up his other arm to secure her she stomped her foot painfully hard atop his, which was effective in getting him to release her.

Hobbes hopped back out of range and shot a glare at his so-called partner who was failing to hide the chuckles of amusement that had attacked at Alyx's left-field move. "And just whose side are you on?" he grumbled, realizing that she could have held on and tossed him over her hip. Add in a disabling blow and she would have easily won this round.

"Mine," Darien responded, his eyes still alight with laughter.

"Lemme guess, you taught her that one?"

Darien's hands went up to proclaim his innocence. "Not me."

"Three brothers, Bobby. I had that move down not long after I could walk," she explained with a hint of a grin upon her lips. He shook his head in utter dismay and she just shrugged. "You said any style, and foot stomping can work as effectively as a fist to the thorax."

"True 'nuff," Hobbes couldn't help but agree. He'd known more than one woman over the years who'd managed to escape an attacker with either of those moves. "And you've made your point."

Alyx eyed him warily, and he knew she was wondering if this was a ruse before he suckered her with an attack to even the score. "I don't believe I was trying to make one."

Hobbes nodded his head slowly, not about to turn this into an argument. "How about every Saturday? Ten am?" He stripped off the half gloves they'd each worn, grabbed his water bottle and downed a large swig. He hadn't had a workout like that in ages and, surprisingly, even with Fawkes the snarky audience in tow, he'd enjoyed it.

Alyx leaned back against the ropes, the wariness dropping away as she realized he was serious. "I'd like that."

He tossed her a towel. "Me too, kid."