The bullring. A magnificent place. Maybe even your favourite place in the entire world. It wasn't the bullfighting you went there for, though... It was the bullfighter.
In the center of the bullring, a bull stood with his head held high and a burning desire in his eyes. He pawed the ground, staring straight ahead. The matador stepped into the ring and the crowd cheered; the bull snorted with a violent shake of his head. You watched the bull calmly, maybe even with a hint of sympathy.
"TONI! TONI! TONI!"
The men cheered, pumping their fists into the air, and the women shrieked, swooning in the arms of their husband or brother. You sat there, staring at him quietly.
"Hola, mi aficionados!" The Matador walked in with his head high, suited in his traje de luces, an outfit which predominantly emphasized his rear... He blew a kiss to his fans with a big, cheerful grin on his face. You felt your cheeks heat up a little, smiling slightly.
"Te amo, Antonio!" A young woman called out among the screeching and cheering fans and Antonio glanced her way, shooting her a quick wink before turning on his heels and making his way toward the bull.
Meanwhile, you sat on the sidelines and silently watched the matador in the arena. You propped your elbows up onto your lap and rested your chin in your hands, staring at the Spanish beauty standing fearless in front of the bull.
The bull tossed his head back, glaring daggers at the matador and pawing the ground. Antonio began to circle him at his own leisurely pace, his estoque in one hand and his capote de brega in the other. You gripped hold of the wall in front of you, leaning over a little to get a good look at him.
You watched as the bull backed up, lowering his head and aiming his horns for Antonio's stomach. The matador flicked his unruly brown hair to the side with that charming Spanish grin and flicked the red cloth to the side and the bull reacted aggressively, charging forth.
"Come on, Toni..." You whispered softly to yourself, secretly rooting for him and, as if he heard you, he looked your way with that dashing smile. You gasped softly, lowering your head behind the people in front of you.
"Toro! Toro!" Antonio cried out, flicking the red cloth to the other side, and the bull changed course. "Andale!" Antonio yanked the red cloth upward and the bull sped up, closing the distance between them.
The bull bellowed and just as it reached the red cloth, Antonio ripped it away and out of sight, gracefully evading the bull's horns. The bull looked around, confused, until his eyes locked onto Antonio and the cloth behind his back. All the bull saw was red.
"Andale, Mr.Bull!" Antonio encouraged and the bull shuffled forward, his forehead ramming into Antonio's stomach and his horns on either side of the matador's waist.
The bull pushed Antonio all the way across the arena until he pinned the Spaniard to the wall. You pushed through the people in front of you and peered over the wall and down at Antonio. He looked up and your eyes met.
"Oh... Hola, señorita!" Antonio grinned cheerily up at you and you stared at him with slightly pink cheeks.
"I, uh... H-hey, Toni..." You whispered with a shy smile, completely forgetting the position he was in. Antonio smiled sweetly at how you said his name, as if you were so familiar with him.
The people pushed against you, trying to look over the wall at the matador who was trapped into place.
"W-wait!" You pleaded with the people, but it was no use. They bumped into you, shoved you aside and pushed you around until, finally, the very thing you dreaded happened. "W-wooaah!"
Your shriek startled the bull and it pulled away, staring up at you coldly.
You were pushed over the edge and fell onto the ground. You landed on your bottom, sitting between the matador and the bull. You stared up at them, looking between them with tears welling up in your eyes. You were afraid and Antonio picked up on this quickly. A serious look replaced his usually cheerful once and he stepped forward, staning in front of you.
The matador stared at the bull.
The bull stared at the matador.
It was a standoff between the bull and the bullfighter.
"T-Toni..." You whimpered, peering around Antonio's legs and at the massive bull in front of you.
"Silencio, chica... I'll protect you," he turned his head to smile down at you and, just as he did, the bull charged forwards.
Antonio grunted as he caught the bull by the horns. The two pushed against each other. Every time the bull stepped close, he pushed Antonio closer to you until Antonio had you pinned against the wall. You curled up behind him, hugging his leg tightly. Antonio gasped, looking down at you as he pushed against the bull.
"S-señorita..." Antonio's gaze softened as you looked up at him, your head against his leg, and he looked into your eyes with a tender smile. You shyly smiled back. This encouraged him to muster up all the strength he could, on the spot.
The bull snorted as he pushed Antonio further up against the wall, trapping the two of you in place. You clutched tighter onto Antonio.
"No es hoy, toro... Not today," and with that, Antonio pushed himself forward, using all of his strength to push the bull back.
The bull struggled, shaking his head from side to side to shake Antonio's hands off of his horns. Antonio threw his estoque up and skillfully caught the blade between his teeth. He took hold of the hilt and thrust the sword forward. The tip pierced the bull's chest and slid through with ease until Antonio delivered one final thrust to the bull's heart.
The bull bellowed in pain at the same time that you cried out, staggering back with the sword in his chest. Antonio pulled away, breathing heavily. The crowd stared at him, wide-eyed, and then at the bull. Antonio had defied tradition... The sword did not pierce the bull's back; it pierced his heart.
"T-Toni... You k-killed the... the bull..." You whispered shakily. You were in shock and you could not help but tremble.
"For you, querido..." Antonio whispered back, making his way over to your and kneeling down at your side. He gently caressed your hair before planting a sweet kiss on either cheek. You blushed and he laughed softly as he slowly got up and walked away.
You stared after the Matador as he disappeared into the shadows...
The Matador that saved your life.
T W O W E E K S L A T E R
For the past two weeks, you had returned to that bullring. Even after the incident, you did not stop going. You sat toward the back of the crowd, out of Antonio's view, and always listened to his voice during the fight. When there was a silence, you would cross your fingers and hope for the best. Every time you heard the crowd cheer Antonio's name after his victories, you always cried because you knew that he would live another day, that he would fight another bull...
"No more bull fighting, Antonio, I mean it!"
The bullfight was long over when you heard an angry voice in the empty arena. The man it belonged to was old and balding. He stood in the arena, looking up at an irritated-looking Antonio who sat on the wall with his arms and legs crossed and his cheeks puffed out cutely.
"Si, boss, I know that you mean it! But think of my fans!" Antonio tried to persuade him but, his natural beauty and charisma aside, the boss just didn't budge.
"No way, Antonio! After that stunt you pulled two weeks ago, you're done. DONE, you hear me? DONE."
"Si, boss... I was going to quit anyway," Antonio lied, putting on a brave face. The boss grumbled something under his breath as he turned around and walked away.
You made your way down the steps noiselessly and walked up behind Antonio, your eyes on the ground. You shyly tapped him on the shoulder and hesitantly cleared your throat.
"Yes?" Antonio sighed softly, turning around to look at you... Then, he realized that it was you, the girl from two weeks ago, and smiled sweetly up at you. "Hola, señorita! I was... just thinking about you..." Antonio whispered. You could tell he was telling the truth. That made your cheeks heat up a little.
"Y-yeah. I j-just wanted to thank you for saving me l-last we-week... I..." You did not know how to express yourself in words and so you did what he did before he left you. You leaned over and planted a kiss on either cheek before slowly turning around to walk away. "Thank--"
"Wait, señorita!" Antonio lightly grabbed your wrist. "I... Won't you stay with me?" Antonio asked, looking up at you with pleading eyes. You thought for a moment and gave in with a soft sigh.
"S-sure," you nodded and he smiled, pulling you closer to him and you let him. "I-I'm sorry about your job..."
"It... wasn't my job... It was my life," Antonio murmured and his words broke your heart. You had no time to frown because he pulled you down onto his lap. You sat there as he wrapped his strong arms around you securely. You felt safe... again... Just like in the arena, two weeks ago. "But now, maybe... I can start a new one..."
"Y-yeah," you nodded, leaning back into him and nuzzling your head beneath his chin.
"You know, señorita, I have seen you around here a lot... You have cheered for me for the past two years now... I haven't been so familiar with a face before," Antonio whispered in your ear and his breath tickled your ear. It was... pleasant, though. "I just wish I was as familiar with your name..." He chuckled.
"Y-yeah..." You murmured, feeling your cheeks going slightly pink. "[Full name]..."
"A beautiful name for a beautiful chica," Antonio nuzzled his head against yours as he whispered his new nickname for you in your ear. "[Cute nickname]..." You gasped softly.
"You... could have said all of that in Spanish, y-you know... It w-would have been m-more romantic..." You said as you looked at him through the corner of your eye.
"But then you wouldn't have known what I think of you..." Antonio laughed softly in your ear. That was when you realized that he just called you beautiful. "You know... Now that I have to start anew..." Antonio began, reaching for the bouquet behind him, from this afternoon's bullfight, and picking out a fresh, red rose.
"Maybe you would consider being a part of it, señorita... Since you are my biggest fan," Antonio teased, planting a soft kiss on your cheek as he lifted the rose to your face.
"I..." You looked at the rose in his hand and took in its faint scent. You smiled slightly and your smile only grew as he turned your head to face him. Your eyes met. "Just h-how would I be a p-part of it?"
"... Can I show you?" Antonio asked politely and, the moment you nodded, he leaned in with a cheerful smile.
Antonio's lips lightly touched yours and your heart skipped a beat. You held onto his arms with one hand and held the back of his head with your freehand, gently caressing his hair as you began to kiss back, deepening the kiss. Antonio smiled during the kiss, a soft chuckle leaving his lips as he pulled away for a breath. Before long, his lips found yours again and you shared a passionate kiss underneath the setting sun. Then, a thought came to mind...
He wasn't just the Matador...
...He was yours...