Rather than throw Josh from the ring, Alain lowered him to chest height then flipped him like a pancake, catching in his arms again. Josh was face up now and before Josh could make a move himself, Alain stepped forward, and dipped, bringing Josh down across his knee.
Josh cried out as the small of his back felt the sting and Alain pressed Josh's legs and head down, arching him backwards. His arms flailed as Alain bounced his knee up and down, sending waves of torture cascading up Josh's spine.
When he'd had enough of doing that, Alain pressed an elbow into Josh's stomach and twisted it like a drill. Josh tried doubling over but Alain pushed his head down, arching him back again.
Josh brought up a knee, knocking Alain's arm off him and he slid to the floor, rolling away. He clutched his lower back, attempting to rise, when Alain crawled over to him and rolled him onto his back. He lay across Josh's chest, pinning him to the floor.
"You're too stubborn to give up," Alain said, "but I don't want to hurt you any more. I might do some real damage so I'm tapping you out."
He banged his palm into the floor. The guys around me knew what was happening.
"One!" they shouted in unison.
And out of nowhere Josh kicked up, lifting his shoulders off the mat. A scream of excitement erupted.
"Man!" Alain cried. "Now I can't tell if your stubborn or just stupid!" He rose to his feet to punish Josh more but the mightier they stand, the harder they fall. Josh kicked Alain's feet out from under him and the giant crashed to the ground, winded.
Josh wasn't moving fast but it was quick enough to grab Alain's legs and flip the man over, making him kiss the mat. He squatted over Alain's back, pulling the tree trunk legs back with him into a Boston Crab. Alain roared and pounded the floor with his fist, then rose in a push up and walked his hands forward a few steps.
Josh tried to hold him down but Alain's muscular legs pushed against his grip and suddenly straightened, sending Josh stumbling across the ring to the ropes on the far side. He hauled himself up to see Alain shaking his head in mock dismay as he approached.
Josh forced a smile. "It was worth a try!" he grinned and ducked as Alain lunged at him.
Josh stepped in behind Alain and pushed him back down on the top rope. He leapt on Alain's back and reached over him, pulling the second rope up and over Alain's head. He kicked the back of Alain's knees and the giant went down, his arms pinned to his side by the ropes now caught around his torso.
Alain tried to turn his head to see Josh behind him but all he saw was an arm come around his throat and lock into a choke hold. Josh rode Alain's back as the muscleman tried to stand but the taut ropes held him in place.
The roar in the room was deafening as Alain's face changed colour and he began to pass out.
"Give?" Josh finally asked and Alain barely managed a 'yes' before slipping into unconsciousness. Josh released him the choke and unwound the ropes, lowering Alain gently to the floor even as the giant began waking up.
The ring was overrun as the onlookers poured in to lift Josh off his feet and hold him high above. I cheered from the sidelines, clapping high in the air while Josh reached down to high five the guys extending their hands to him.
"Holy fuck!" he whispered in my hear, half laughing. He was saturated with sweat and I could feel his muscles trembling from the beating but all I could do was laugh.
"I've never heard you swear!" I cackled, holding him tighter until a thick hand grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him off me.
"You son of a bitch!" Alain said and wrapped his burly arms around Josh. For a moment I thought the fight was back on until Alain slapped Josh on the back and released him. He slapped Josh playfully across the face and hugged him again.
"You are one crazy son of a bitch!" Alain said again, then looked at me. "You have to be the safest man on the planet with this dude watching your back."
"Don't I know it," I grinned.
"He knows the trick," Josh said and we finished in unison: "Never give up!"
It was a motto Josh lived by. I could see that now, and thank God for that. It was only a couple of weeks later that things would take a turn for the worse and rely on his resilience to see us through.
Those few weeks gave Josh the chance to recover. After the beating he took from Alain, he was tender for a week. I should have felt sorry for him but the opportunity to give him regular massages brought me far too much joy to feel pity! Every time I oiled him up and let my fingers work over that solid back, feeling the firmness of the skin and the contours of his muscles, I had to be careful he didn't get poked by my erection.
I would have liked to have oiled his chest up too, but his back, legs and arms were all he wanted. Perhaps he too was afraid I would see his own reaction if he rolled over. I hoped that was the case.
Even without running my fingers through the hair on his chest, I was content feeling his body like I was. I resisted the urge to run kisses up his back and let the massage devolve into erotic strokes and touches.
If I'd known what was around the corner I would have thrown caution to the wind and made the most of the time we had left. It's our greatest tragedy that we can't see the future. But then again, if we could, we'd probably never lift our head out from under the covers.