Domestic Combat

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Robert backpedaled from his opponent's flurry of fists, jabbing in a futile attempt to keep distance as she weaved past the blows and continued to smack him with winging punches. "Damn Shelly," he whined, "why are you so fast?"

She clipped him with a haymaker on the chin and he dropped, only the impact of his back on the slightly padded floor fully waking him up. He scrambled up quickly, the world a bit blurred, but the damage was done. "That's two!" Shelly taunted, the stuntwoman and aspiring action actress' long locks bouncing up and down with the motion of her body. Somewhat annoyed at her though he was, he couldn't help admiring the strength of her supple limbs. Her athletic vigor, along with her fearless never-back-down spirit, were two of the reasons he loved his fiancee as much as he did.

They fought to settle the matter of whose last name their first child would bear. Shelly argued that since men and women were equal, they should have an equal right to have pass down their surnames. Robert didn't completely disagree, but Shelly wanted their firstborn to inherit hers. As an unknown mixed martial arts fighter struggling to break into the big leagues, Robert didn't necessarily make more money than her, but neither did he always make less. Without a clear way to judge whose name deserved priority, they had agreed to fight to three knockdowns over it.

"What you so distracted about?" Shelly asked, ducking his half-assed punch and reaching for his legs to lift him up and slam him. Instinctively, he just reacted. He brought up his knee, which met her lowered jaw with brutal force, and she fell hard on her ass. Groggily, she raised her head to look at him. Not sure she would agree to count falling on her butt as a knockdown, he kicked her in the face and put her on her back.

For the better part of a minute, Shelly laid spread out across the mat on their living room floor.

"Oh come on, stop faking," he said. "I know you have a better chin than that. You're just waiting for me to check on you so you can sucker punch me."

Shelly raised her arms, but not in a way she normally did in a fight. Instead she covered her face with both hands like she was about to cry. "That kick hurt me. I'm bleeding."

His toenail had likely cut her by accident. "Are you okay? Do you want to stop?" Robert couldn't help a slight grin as he leaned over her. "But that would mean you forfeit."

She kicked up, surprising him as the rest of her body hadn't moved, and staggered him as her shin slammed into his neck. Stupid of him to let his guard down when he'd just said he wouldn't.

"But I'm up two to one," she said, wiping the gash in her cheek. "No way."

She got up and they stood toe to toe and traded blows, as if to prove they could take each other's hits. Robert blasted Shelly with punches that would have knocked out most men, battering her head this way and that like a punching bag, but she hit him back just as hard. They came in close and while he scored on her with a liver shot that made her grimace, she shoved him cheaply in an effort to ruin his balance and give her an opportunity for an easy knockdown. However, he sidestepped the lunging punch she attempted to follow up with and kicked her in the back of the head.

The effect on her made it look like she'd been shot. Her whole body went limp, and toppled like a felled tree. She flopped face down next to their couch. Her fingers twitched a bit.

"Oh Shelly," Robert cooed, feeling a tad too triumphant to be concerned. He knelt, grasped a handful of her hair, and pulled her head up to look at her face. Her eyes were open, but rolled up and crossed, and her mouth open and drooling. "I guess you're done. Too bad. I think you lose if you can't continue." He put her head down and turned to get her some pain medication and water.

"Imma not dun," Shelly said, her voice badly slurred. He turned to see her lurch back to her feet, albeit bent over and unsteady. "Ama gunna kix your azz."

"You can't fight anymore. You look dead, like a freaking zombie. One more punch is going to send you to the hospital.

"You probably already should be going to the hospital."

She straightened as much as she could and met his eyes with her dazed, defiant ones. "O ya?"

He drew his fist back to finish her off. As his punch was about to reach her face, with unexpected speed, she threw one of her own. His knuckles smashed her lips at the same time her uppercut found his chin. Robert waved his arms in search of balance, but his legs buckled and he fell to his hands and knees. Shelly stumbled, grabbed the edge of the couch, and barely—just barely—held herself up.

"Ai vin!" she proclaimed, raising a triumphant fist as she leaned back against the front of the armrest. And then, she promptly fell on her butt.

Robert crawled over to her, their argument forgotten. He'd happily let their child bear the surname of their courageous mother. Her face was cut up, grossly swollen, and covered with blood, and her slack jawed, panting expression one of exhaustion and pain, but their ugliness spoke volumes about her bravery and only highlighted her inner beauty.

"You're the best, Shelly," he said, hugging her close.

"Olways wondaded if a culd really beet ya." She smiled, one eye swollen shut, the other so, so proud. "Now off ta bed?"

"Yeah sure," Robert said, gently picking her up. Her body, normally light, felt heavy. She had, he reminded himself, made it feel heavy by beating him up so bad. "But first let's get you cleaned up."


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