Adrienne Levi leveled her gaze at Matt Knox, sitting up in his hospital bed. He slurped at a Jello cup, dislodging the gelatin and swallowing it whole. Crossing her arms over her chest, she let him finish.
“Wasn’t sure what to say.”
Knox rolled his tongue and the cherry gelatin prize down his gullet. He eyed Adrienne evenly, a smirk cracking his features before speaking in a dazed, sleepy tone.
“Hello is a good start, I think.”
At least he was still charming in his way, she thought.
Adrienne did her best to hold back the waterworks. But that was before she watched the dumb match where these two nearly murdered each other, especially with what happened afterward.
“Do you believe me now about him?” She asked with a mix of concern and slight irritation.
Knox closed his eyes, exhaling through his nose. He took a moment before responding.
“Would you be mad if I said I almost had him?” He said with a wry chuckle, “I always believed what you said, Ade. But you know me well enough now to know that giant, angry mental patients aren’t something I’ll shy away from fighting.”
For the briefest moment, his gaze goes somewhere far off. To Zane’s wild eyes at the end of the match. To that horrid smell on his breath. The howls.
“But yes, I believe you.”
“...I talked to him last month, Matt. Like away from all of this.”
Adrienne hadn’t told anyone about that strange conversation. Sometimes she wondered if it even happened.
“He’s not okay. He seems sick. Like physically ill.”
Matt’s face fell into a frown. His voice came flat, and not just because of the painkillers. “Physically, mentally,” he shook his head, “If Zane is that messed up, maybe he should be institutionalized. Someone like him, if there are that many underlying issues...hell, fuck underlying, just spend thirty seconds with him.”
He wove a hand through the air, before chopping it as he made his point.
“Zane King is going to kill someone. Maybe it’s not entirely his fault, but the longer people dance around and pretend it’s a non-issue? The bigger a risk, it becomes not just to the victim, but to Zane himself.” He paused, breathing in, before letting out a long exhale.
“I have no love or understanding for Zane King. But, I have miles of it for mental illnesses. Hell, sometimes I see and talk to--” He stopped himself. “I’m just saying. He needs help, even if the help is being put out of commission.”
Adrienne had a feeling that Zane welcomed threats like that every day. Pulling a seat closer, she sat next to Matt’s bed.
“Maybe.” She said uncertainly. Her mind wandered to how this encounter only seemed to serve as a catalyst. Everyone seemed on edge, whether it was about this match with King or the other fires spreading as of late.
Matt eyed her quietly, before reaching out a pale hand, knuckles swollen and bruised and grasping one of hers.
“We never get any kind of breaks lately, huh, kid?” He asked in the kindest tone he could muster.
“Between Silvio’s past coming to reap whatever was sewn, Mitch riding a bike between here and Detroit on no sleep, The Rat, Sebastian, and his fucking mouth.” He said, shaking his head. “At least it isn’t boring.”
Adrienne’s hand relaxed in his.
“No, it isn’t.”
Knox squeezes her hand, before releasing it and settling into the bed. He looks around the room before setting upon the stuffed blackbird at his bedside. He reaches over and plucks it, showing it off to Ade.
“Had someone drop this off while I was doped out of it last night. I think it was your new tag team partner.” Matt said with a cheese-eating grin, “You know, the one you replaced me with.”
Adrienne feigned shock, “I didn’t make that decision.”
Eyeing the bird, she smiled.
“Besides, I think our mutual friend is trying every way possible to cause conflict. Especially after Stan was fired for cause. I guess carrying a list of my supposed daily routine is frowned upon.”
“Fuck that guy.”
Knox laughed, pausing to wince and favor his midsection.
“And fuck Axton Gunn too. And well, almost everyone else if I’m honest.” A soft chuckle escaped as he eyed the drip.
“Man, this stuff numbs everything but the tongue.” He sighed slowly, feeling and enjoying the warmth.
“Yknow, Adrienne,” he has leaned back into his pillows a bit more, eyes lulling halfway, “you three. You, Mitch, Silvio. It’s like someone broke my reflection up into three pieces. Mitch, I remember bein’ that angry and protective because it was yesterday.”
Another self-aware chuckle.
“Silvio, well, he reminds me of all the ghosts.” And without a beat, he pointed a finger at Adrienne, “And you, It’s like an out of body experience, when I laid eyes on you. All the doubt and self doubt to boot, but then all the god damn grit to overcome.”
A brief pause. Adrienne continued to let him roll. She was enjoying the company of a good friend.
“Like my theme, you see.” After letting her soak in his pun, he continued, “You are currently enjoying … what, a five-win streak? You know that puts you only behind Silvio and Cortes, right? The tag champion, and future tag champion.” The cocktail seeping into his veins was clearly getting the better of him, but he adjusted and spoke clearly, “You’re better than good Ade. You’re great. Might be the best.”
Adrienne responded with a polite smile. She let the Axton stuff slide. Too much to consider to get an argument about a celebrity and now a co-worker. One that she happened to think the best of. One she was struggling mightily with. Matt was someone special. Past that gruff exterior and tenacity to curse like a sailor, she saw a man finally reconciling with a past worth forgetting.
It seemed to be a commonality.
“I appreciate that, Matt. I’ve still got a long way before I could talk about myself like that. I’m not sure I ever could.”
She didn’t intend to self-depreciate. Was a nasty habit.
“But I do understand where you’re coming from. I’ll make an effort to think better of myself. I promise.”
“You better, or I’ll take that Baltimore title from you. If you win it.” He snorted then, “Christ, I’m not watching that match. My best friend and my dragon...friend.”
Matt furrowed his brow and shrugged before concluding, “You two are gonna tear the house down.”
Adrienne acknowledged the compliment with a nod. However, his hesitation quirked her interest. She thought of something sarcastic to say. Maybe joke a little. But this was important, she could tell. Adrienne squeezed his hand and spoke low, “I’m happy for you, Matt. I really am.”
“Yeah? Well, I mean, I don’t know what it is. Don’t wanna label anything or...” he trailed off.
She nodded along, understanding that he would always be guarded considering the public spectacle his life has been made.
“Guess it’s just nice, having a match to watch where I don’t hate someone. Not that I’m gonna watch.” Matt squeezed her hand back then, his voice lower now too, “You helped open me up to this sort of rot though, you know that, right? You dug me the rest of the way out of that hole Bert wouldn’t let me die in.”
Listening intently, Adrienne felt the weight of his words. She never thought she had much of an impact on anyone. She tried her best, certainly but to hear something like this took her aback.
“Learned that it was easier to put all that aggression into helping someone instead of hating everyone.” He snorted. “Christ. You’d think this was my death bed, and I was having ‘The Surge’ the way I’m goin’ on.”
“The Rat has that effect.” She said with a knowing smile, followed by an immediate shame for letting that slip.
Knox went to make a quip about bad breath when suddenly a knock on the door cut through the room. Standing at a proud five foot, seven in the doorway was a young, blonde, distressed looking woman of maybe eighteen. She wore an Imperial Youth Wrestling shirt and blue jeans. Matthew’s features went still a moment before a smile broke them up.
“Hey, Hope,” he said with as much doped up cheer he could muster.
Adrienne waved at Matt’s daughter that she had heard all about. But now wasn’t the time to chat. It was clear that Hope was being respectful, but that this was visit had a reason that didn’t involve her.
“Matt, I’m going to leave you two be.”
Standing up, Adrienne went to the doorway.
“And after today, I could use a drink.”
“I’ll be honest. I’m pretty shaken up about this one.”
One of the newest contenders to the Baltimore City Championship, Adrienne Levi, was sitting at a corner table at the Angels Rock Bar. Located right in her new home city, she felt it would be an appropriate setting to talk about well, rock stars. It’d be a lie if she planned this. Adrienne just happened to be out mailing a letter when she saw a flyer for a free concert. Also, it was ladies’ night. Her little digital camera was placed on the table, framing the shot tight and level. Despite her surroundings’ dim lighting, it was clear she had on a black t-shirt on displaying Axton Gunn’s charming visage. Her elbows were on the table, hands steepled. Her eyes shimmered as she mulled over and contemplated her choice of words.
“This is like my third take,” she admitted with her usual meek tone. “But I wanted to make sure to get this right. In less than a month, I have a great opportunity to represent this city. But that can’t be my focus.”
Adrienne pivoted the camera slowly towards the stage. Stagehands were setting up for a concert.
“Let’s set the stage.”
When the shot reverted, her grin was apparent.
“Get it, cuz like they’re setting … the … stage?” After the proverbial crickets sounding off in her mind, Adrienne continued, “Maybe I’ll just edit that part out.”
In between her words, the ambiance of the bar took over. Clinking glasses, random conversations, and of course, the mechanical bull she made a concerted effort to ignore when first walking in.
“One more stop before that huge century mark. Same partner. I know that I can trust her. I know that the fierce attitude that The Dragon Lady possesses will maybe lend a different perspective to this upcoming encounter. And they may be the very reason that she walks out champion instead of me. These aren’t things I can fret about right now. Our opposition seems to be of the same wavelength. I could understand why Sebastian Hawke would look up to someone like Axton Gunn. It would only be natural that these two eventually worked together. However, judging by all of our reactions, I doubt none of us expected this.”
She gestured with her hands, following by a slightly exaggerated shrug.
“But here we are,” she said with a smile, “Sebastian, I’m sorry I couldn’t find a shirt with you two on it. Maybe you’ll rectify that later for me. This isn’t just about your partner. I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about you. I wish I had half the courage that you did. The ink wasn’t dry on your contract before you accepted the challenge of someone who personifies this company’s mission statement. That is ultraviolence. You stood toe to toe with Mitch Heart and earned a lot of people’s respect that evening.”
Mitch Heart had intended to teach Sebastian a lesson in humility through brute force. And while Hawke succumbed to The Broken, it only seemed to harden his heart. It made Adrienne wonder if that approach has been common to someone like this young man.
“May we talk about what else happened? I think its rather important. To be dismissed, to be infantilized, to be marginalized - it hurts. I wanted to thank you for your advice the other day. I know that you meant well. Maybe those sorts of ideals worked for you in the past even. But that isn’t who I am. Here’s what bothered me just a little, Sebastian. I think you were just angry, and that’s okay. But you tried to hold me accountable for the actions of my friends. Maybe Matt Knox can be a little caustic. And Silvio and Kohaku are quick to speak their minds. And well, you met Mitch personally. I get it. I may have held Steve Matthews’ feet to the fire for his half-hearted denouncement of Alex Winter, and so maybe you think I’m a hypocrite.”
Pausing, she took a sip of the ice water the server brought her earlier. The cubes were already melting, and she could maybe go for something harder. But Adrienne had promised herself not to drink on camera anymore as it set a poor example.
“It’s a little different than a friend coming to my defense when you chose to be abrasive, don’t you think? However, I admonished my friend because I don’t think you had done anything particularly wrong. You were just asking questions, right? Or is that you’re confused that I could associate from people so different than me? It just requires a little empathy, Sebastian. Either way, everything washed out in the end. For you, this is an opportunity to hit the reset button on your debut. Maybe muddy the waters of the Baltimore City Championship scene by getting a definitive victory over the current contenders. However, if you wanted to, you could ask your partner about his motives sometime.”
Adrienne slid her business phone into view. Having previously set this up, a brief audio snippet played for all to hear.
”...so glad to see you made so many new friends without me, Silvio. Can’t wait to introduce myself to ‘em… one by one.”
That was Axton Gunn just mere moments after he drove Silvio Leon’s skull into the mat. Notably, after a feigned motion to reconcile. Adrienne’s expression was mired with conflict. Hesitation marked her words.
“Axton, I know you may hear this a lot. But I’m your number one fan. Your music has always been a beacon of light in the darker periods of my life. That’s a little dramatic, huh? Your take-no-prisoners attitude is something I wish I could emulate every day. You just say what you want, consequences be--”
Adrienne cut herself off.
“You know what I mean. Axton, simply put, you’re one of the coolest people ever. And as evidenced by your debut against Kohaku, you bring all of those intangible rockstar qualities to the ring as well. Not only that, but you’ve also given so much back. You use your influence to help those who are less fortunate. And if you would forgive me for this little weakness, Axton, you’re striking to look at. Your eyes are mesmerizing. Your smile makes me melt.” She said with a reverence like the many times she had rehearsed in the mirror if she ever had the chance to meet him. Well, before this. “You are just perfect.”
The clip played again - a startling interruption to her star worship.
“But, you’re not.”
Adrienne’s words hung in the air. She did her best to revert to a neutral tone. Maybe even stoic if her soft eyes didn’t always happen to betray those attempts.
“You said as much. That makes me foolish to place you so high. It was wrong of me almost to deify you. I deprived you of your right just to be human. I would hope that you would extend that same courtesy towards my imperfect friends.”
Habitually, she wiped away at her eyes.
“I’d like to reintroduce myself. I’m Adrienne, and in just over a week, we’ll be opponents. Nobody will remember my name like yours, but in that ring, we are equals. I don’t want to brag, but I’ve worked hard, and I’ve done well for myself. I appreciate the kind words you’ve shared about me. I really wanted to say something prior, but well, you’re a star, and I’m just me. I’m okay with that. For the first time in a long while, I think maybe I like the person I see in the mirror. One of the reasons I’ve been able to do that is because I’ve promised to be honest. I can’t break that promise for you, Axton, I’m sorry.”
Leaning forward, Adrienne stared intently into the camera. She spoke in a calm voice as if she was truly speaking to an audience of one.
“Your first appearance in Carnage Wrestling wasn’t as Axton Gunn, the award-winning rockstar. It was as someone who had traveled across to the country to confront someone that had hurt you. Let’s take that at face value. You’ve always been truthful in your art. So I believe you. You laid everything on the table, and I think you and Silvio have a lot to talk about.” She said this with utmost sincerity. Adrienne’s gaze to Axton faltered as she continued, “And then I saw Axton Gunn as I’ve never seen him before. Not that I know you or anything. I’m just basing this on what you’ve allowed me to see. You struck Silvio.”
Her fingers tapped on the table lightly as she looked away for the brief moment, all of this accompanied by a small sniffle.
“You know, in this industry, a lot of issues get resolved through violence. There’s a distinct difference in what you chose to do and what happens within the confines of a match. Sometimes it even seems a little preformative. Silvio hurt you. So you decided to hurt him. This sort of thing happens every show. Could even get desensitized to it.”
Whether she meant to or not, Adrienne’s hand went to the side of her face.
“I always blamed myself when this sort of thing happened. There was something that I did to deserve a lesson. I needed to understand the hurt that I caused. Sometimes I’d get confused, and I wouldn’t learn fast enough. But, suffering creates clarity.”
Her demeanor softened once she affixed her gaze towards the lenses of the camera.
“I don’t think that is you at all, Axton. I can’t speak to whether that was premeditated or not. You’re one of the smartest people around, so when you speak, maybe I misunderstood what you meant.”
For a third time, the statement from Axton played.
“You met Kohaku last show. He may have pinned you in that ring, but you planted that seed. You sowed that doubt on the type of person Silvio is. You admitted what you did wasn’t enough. Silvio hadn’t learned his lesson. As you watch this, Axton, ask yourself a small question. You ever wonder how Kohaku feels about all of this?”
Adrienne couldn’t confess to know about the inner workings of Starfox. However, their affections had been public, so no wonder Axton found out how he did.
“None of this. None of this would be my business, except you made it my business. I’m next, Axton. I’m your number one fan, and I love everything you do. I expect you to be on your best behavior. I expect you to be the Axton Gunn that I’ve maybe had dreams about. But Axton, I can’t play the part you want me to. I can’t feed into this campaign you have against Silvio Leon. You will need to handle these things in private, and you need to be held accountable for how you chose to react to Silvio’s decision to leave you. All of this can be done without any more lessons.”
Sitting up straight, Adrienne’s voice climbed to one of determined resolve.
“Axton, I hope you understand how difficult this was. When that bell rings, you face a team that has been battle-tested under precarious circumstances, with the mutual understanding that eventually, we’d have to compete with one another for just one prize. The Dragon Lady will speak for herself some other time, but I can say in the brief time that I’ve known her, she’s the bravest woman I know. And well, when you lock up with me, Axton, I won’t be your number one fan. I will be the woman who stood up to the rampant misogyny that still permeates this industry. I helped quell back those who would corrupt the innocence of this world.”
Adrienne’s eyes sparked if that were even possible, and she spoke with the fervor of someone who truly believed what she was saying.
“In the face of low expectations, I’ve climbed through the wreckage of one of the most devastating nights of my career, and I’ve thrived. One day, I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but I’m going to be remembered, too. I hope that I haven’t made Sebastian or you angry with me, Axton. I just wanted to let you know where I stand. I’m going to fight you, removed from whatever your plans are, and if I have the opportunity to beat you?”
Letting that question linger, she answered it herself.
“I won’t hesitate.”
Reaching forward, Adrienne went to turn the camera off. Inadvertently, her elbow knocked the plastic tumbler over and spilled water all over the table and her shirt and lap.
“Darn it, not aga-”
The feed cut.
Adrienne let the bubble mailer slip from her hand into the open hatch of the USPS mailbox.
Addressed to one Sylvia Gould.
Last Edit: Sept 18, 2020 21:54:52 GMT -5 by Deleted
Post by thedragonlady on Sept 19, 2020 17:13:29 GMT -5
Trying to Survive
A year has come and gone since I had moved in with Frank. It has been for the most part very challenging. Frank almost always came home late, and he always smelt like he needed a shower. Even when he decided to stay at the house during the day he was usually drinking booze and snorting things through his nose.
He also had many guests that came by. None of whom I know personally. I just know, they are all pathetic like Frank. They had sat around on numerous occasions drinking and saying how terrible they felt about the things they had done and still do. But not one of them ever made an effort to be better. It boggled my brain.
School has been difficult as well. Frank was at least smart enough to stay sober to get me enrolled. Though it is for selfish reasons he did this. He got sober for a few meetings so he could continue to collect paychecks off of me… and I truthfully don't even know where these checks come from yet. And he got sober to get me in a place I could learn to talk so he could understand 'what the hell I said to him', his words not mine. Always something was on his agenda that wasn't for anyone else's benefit, but his.
However, I did speak a little better English now. That made me proud of myself even if Frank couldn't tell me he was proud. Even if mom wasn't here anymore to say it either.
But today is a special day. It's my birthday. And I have the house to myself. I stared at the messy house in front of me and began to clean. I vacuumed and swept the floors just like mom taught me. I cleaned the carpet until only a few stains that laid there were the only things bugging me. The place looked, well, almost normal.
I took a washcloth out from the kitchen and began scrubbing the kitchen table down. From there I moved to the kitchen counters and the sink filled with dishes. I used a chair to stand on in order to fill the cabinets up with spotless plates, bowls, and cups. A few were cracked, but they were at least clean now.
I then got a mixing bowl, along with some cooking utensils, and a few things from the fridge to cook with. I mixed everything up just like the directions said. Once everything has been mixed, I pre heated the oven. All by myself. I don't need anybody. I can handle myself just fine.
I popped a pan in the oven and switched the little oven light on, feeling excited and hungry as I peeked inside at the mixture that would soon turn into a yummy delicious plate of food for my tummy.
After I watched the oven for a moment and made sure to time the concoction just right, I opened a kitchen drawer. From there I pulled out balloons, a small jar of glitter, and a party hat. All the things I had bought, including with what sat in the oven. Everything has been bought with loose change I had dug out of Frank's pockets and have been collecting for a while.
I blew the balloons up and tossed them about the small kitchen space. A sea of colors began to fill the little kitchen. With a smile on my face I opened the jar of glitter and slowly turned in a circle as I waved the jar around. Everything looked so pretty as the silver glitter fell around me looking as if a million stars were shooting across my dark sky just for me.
I would grab my party hat and stick it on my head. After I pulled the round pan from the oven, I waited for it to cool. Once it cooled I stuck the now solid cake onto a plate. I would frost it, getting my hands covered in chocolate frosting. But who could complain about that?
After it was frosted, I sat two candles atop it. The first candle was in the shape of a 1. The second the shape of a 2. I would grab a lighter I had seen Frank use and struck them. After a tad bit of struggle my candles are lit. I slowly walked the cake to the kitchen table and sat it down softly.
My mother's wooden musical box sat there next to the cake. I would wind it and let it play as I took a seat. My feet couldn't touch the floor yet. They took turns swinging under me in a most happy way.
I closed my eyes for a moment thinking of a wish. I wish, oh I wish you were here mom. I wish I could hold you and tell you I'm at least trying to be better. I am trying to survive. A tear for each eye slowly ran down my cheeks. My body shuddered as I tried to keep myself from releasing a dam from my eyes. After a moment of squeezing my eyes shut and trying to control my emotions, my eyes opened.
The candles slowly went out as I used a long breath to make them go dark. I grabbed the fork I stuck into the cake and proceeded with the most satisfied look, even with watery eyes, as I ate my entire most chocolatey chocolate birthday cake all to myself; all the while mom's pretty music box from our home in Japan, played for me.
Winning Them Over
I sat on the sink counter in the restrooms at the gym 'World Fitness'. I should be happy right now. Ecstatic. I finally won a match. Maybe it's because I got a little extra help to win that battle? Or maybe it's because I felt guilty about Matt Knox?
I had wished, hoped, and prayed he would leave me alone. Or at least not come off so strongly. And well, he got sent to the hospital by LRK. I have been so focused on myself and Levi, I never really thought about the danger Knox was going up against. This is not what I asked for.
I am much more worried about Matt Knox than is comfortable. I shouldn't feel this worried, but I am. And LRK? I am not the biggest fan of. Not that I was much of a fan to begin with, but still. He hurt Matt.
I took a deep breath willing myself to my feet. And after staring at my reflection for a moment thinking about all I have seen since coming to Baltimore, I tried to will those thoughts away as well.
After a moment, I found myself with Mameha standing behind the 'World Fitness' gym. After another conversation and sliding over some cash with a promise to pay more cash every month to the gym owner Ted, we finished the final touches to a large tree that stood there.
The tree has pretty solar lights hanging from the branches. And a small garden fence has been placed in the ground around the tree stump. The place is meant to help me with what Mameha had suggested I do not long ago, about winning the crowd over.
A couple of wood benches sat nearby to encourage people to sit and relax if they wanted to. The vibe of the place has a very relaxing and calm feeling surrounding it. I desperately need this feeling right now as Matt Knox comes to mind again. I mean, I understand he's trying to be nice, I guess I am just not used to this treatment from men.
I tried to clear my head of him hoping before he had disappeared from my mind that he feels better soon. Especially because his name had been on the 99 Chaos card as well. I stepped back to look at the beautifully lit area.
I took a deep breath as I closed my eyes and visualized the words I wished to speak. Instead of a whole camera crew this time, a single camera man waited nearby for me to cue him to start rolling. He is admiring the work Mameha had done with this most beautiful idea for me.
The lights hanging from the tree lit the small area up nicely as the sun hid to let the moon have its turn to finish the day.
After calming the nerves that always seemed to bug me right before I spoke in front of a camera, I signaled for him to roll. I stand now in front of the large tree with my hands crossed behind my back as I take one more calming breath.
Mameha would be out of the view of the camera giving me a most warm smile. She looks like she is beaming with pride, and that made me feel proud of myself. She had helped me practice my promo lines last night, which had been no easy task.
"Before I get to the main point of my conversation here tonight, I must speak about something to anybody willing to listen and participate."
I smiled then underneath my mask and unclasped my hands. I laid a hand on the tree as I stared at the camera. The lights above my head almost look as if stars are there. "This big old beautiful tree is to be a place of significance for not just me, but everyone else. You see, I wear this mask on my face for my own selfish reasons I'll admit. And my mask may be in the way of some of you getting to know what my heart truly desires between myself and everyone who has come to show me even the slightest of support."
The camera slowly shifts downwards to focus on the small fence around the tree. A bunch of different colored ribbons are there tied in bows and some in knots.
"I ask that my fans use this place to talk to me. I am at the 'World Fitness' gym, here in Baltimore where I recorded at for my last promo. You can easily search the place up online for an address. And if I'm right, I think plenty of you will show your support this way."
The camera shifts back up towards my face as I continue speaking, "You're free to come here and leave me a note tied to this fence anytime. And once a week I shall show here to read what you have left for me."
"The notes can be whatever you like. From requesting to see me try to perform a move during a match. Or perhaps a challenge you would like to see me issue to somebody. Or maybe you just want to say something about what you think I'm up to here in Baltimore trying to make a name for myself with Carnage wrestling."
I shift the tone of my voice to seem a little more serious now as I address my competitors. "I would also like to invite my competitors to use this place to speak to me if they would like. They are free to come here and leave me notes of any kind."
"Whether the notes are bad or good, I will see them, and respond in a timely fashion to all. Regardless of who you are, I hope you feel utterly at peace when you come for a visit. I know I feel relaxed when I am here." I did not use the word peace to describe how I felt. It did not seem to be the right choice of words for me quite yet.
I began to walk towards one of the wooden benches, and I take a seat. "Now, onto the main point of our conversation today. I was a little surprised to find out I would be teaming with Adrienne for CHAOS 99. I guess with us to fight for a title for 100, I didn't think we would be teamed up again. At least not until after our match against each other."
I take a deep breath then before continuing. My eyebrows I am sure gave away the way I felt as I reminded myself to stay calm and relax my face muscles.
"She was a great partner for me at CHAOS 98. I am happy to have her fight on my side again. We did well against Matthew's and Goode. And I feel more than confident with her at my side to go up against Axton Gunn and Sebastian Hawke."
"Now I really do not mean any disrespect when I say this part. But after looking at a picture of you two side by side, well, I had to take a double take. You two look so much alike. From the cute baby soft cheeks to the fluffy hair on top of your heads… the likeness is astounding."
Now I did mean for this second part to come off a bit more disrespectful. "You two seriously remind me of The Olsen Twins. Both cute and act like brats." I look at the camera as I turn slightly, placing my hands on my hips with attitude, to mock the way I picture the two. I then drop my hands and place them in my lap. I begin shaking my head slowly before I speak.
"Axton, after your last little spiel on Carnages wrestling site about the reason you are here, well everything I have said so far in regards to you is true. I honestly don't want to know all the ugly things you have to say about Silvio. That's your business. And to just air it out for everyone to hear? And I am sure more is to come. Like, do you hear yourself when you speak? You sound like a spoiled brat in a candy shop being told you already have enough candy in the cart. It's time to leave."
"If you were smart, after getting beat down by Kohaku, well I thought you would have just left. Given up. Stopped this no doubt endless show of being here to ruin one person's day. I'm giving you some friendly advice here. Sometimes interacting with people only ends up in hurt. I know this from personal experience. And sometimes it's best to just walk away. I doubt you will listen to me, and that's an oh well for you as you're going up against two people who have already had a chance to fight side by side. We are only learning and growing stronger with each other. It is your mistake. Not mine. Don't ever say I didn't warn you."
I take a breath and reposition myself, as I place an arm behind the bench as if someone were sitting with me. One of my legs crossed over the other. "Now I didn't forget about you Sebastion Hawke. Don't think just because I have been for the most part quiet since joining twitter that I haven't been paying attention."
"I have seen you feel slighted at the most inconsequential of things. Things that most people wouldn't let get under their skin so much. I have seen and heard you say that you don't think you're riding off of anyone's coattails. And you ain't full of yourself. Far from being full of yourself. I am here to tell you how wrong that is."
I take another breath closing my eyes before I open my eyes back up and continue. "You are so full of yourself. You… well you introduced your own self to Carnage wrestling, which is not a bad thing, but you acted as if you had some special person do it for you."
"Where in your head did you think this made you sound humble? I actually think you have a leg up on your partner this week about this specific word. Oh what was it you said? Hmmm?"
"Feel you. Go take care of your friends and stop taking all your shit out on people." I look away from the camera letting there be a long pause before I get to my feet and give everyone my eyes again. "I truly believe your partner needs you more than you need him at the moment. And that is why you two are going to lose. Axton is simply deadweight. And you, Sebastian, are going to need to truly bring it to hold up your team."
I walked towards the camera then. If they could see under my mask they would see a smile there. "Something the Olsen twins have on the pair of you two, is they were smart enough to know which lane they should stay in. They were smart enough to know when to drop their act, and just do something for them. I think it wise you two start thinking about which lane is yours. For now, Adrienne and myself shall be waiting for you two in the ring."
The screen goes dark as I stare down the camera lense.
The Great Awakening
The sky is dark at this point. And it's clear, even if only for a brief moment. The storm in Baltimore had finally relented. Not for long I am sure, but Mameha and I shall take solace of this most tranquil moment. Every single star is visible as I stood there looking in awe at such a beautiful sight. The sound of the ocean battering the rocks nearby can be heard.
We are a bit out of town tonight. Not a building or car is in sight. For once, it feels like I have the sky to myself. Well myself and Mameha who I would share a sight and feeling like this with any day.
We both faced one another some feet apart. I wore my Dragon Lady getup while Mameha was adorned in a most beautiful light purple kimono that billowed around her as the wind around us picked up slightly.
She smiled at me as her eyes closed. I knew what I was to do now. Follow her lead. Until not one misstep happened. Until I felt like I was one with the life all around me.
I closed my own eyes now and took a deep breath and slowly exhaled as I began to focus on the smallest of sounds around me. Crickets. I can hear crickets. And frogs hopping about. The tall green grass caressed my legs tickling me.
And then I began to move with my eyes now open so I could see Mameha's movements under the moonlight. I swung a leg out to one side and then extended a closed fist in front me. Then my other fist shot out. It didn't seem like any other training I had ever gotten from Mameha. It felt like dancing, but not like with the fans. Instead of trying to aim for a beautiful technique, I felt like a warrior, as we did a warriors dance.
I opened my eyes then, watching in front of me as I moved in a circular motion with each step I took, only to see Mameha in front of me moving at the same speed and into the same moves as me. It looked as if we were trying to turn this imaginary wheel in between us as we moved into different fighting stances.
Mameha began to speak then, naming off different stances she wanted to move myself and her into next, "Ready, turn left, step through, turn one eighty, step through, turn left, step through, step through, step through, turn two seventy, and repeat."
After Mameha repeated the stances another time outloud, she grew silent as we moved together. I am not even sure when exactly I shut my eyes again and just moved… no not moved… flowed… no not flowed… floated.
As the sky filled with stars slowly turned, Mameha and I floated. The wind began to pick up even more, tossing my hair about my shoulders. It felt as if we floated for a long while. My body moved as if I did not even control it. Some other being greater and stronger than me filled me up to share this feeling I had only dreamt about.
This peace I tried to put around me for others, but not myself. This peace that sometimes felt like I could almost taste and touch, but am always left disappointed as I chased that feeling. Finally, my eyes opened and I stopped floating. The earth had brought me back to my reality. Mameha stood in front of me with a grin.
"Shall we take a moment to enjoy the lovely sky?" she inquired to me. I nodded my head in response, catching my breath a little as we walked to the nearby cliffside. We both sit down and stare at the water and the star filled sky.
Everything looked as if it were perfectly balanced. And that feeling I want not just in this moment, but every moment stayed with me as we gazed out at the ocean and sky unable to tell when either met the other. This peace began to take over me even with all that has been going on. The frustrations and rage felt as if it melted away.
Mameha wrapped an arm around my shoulders then, and brought me into her side. I smiled as she kissed my forehead imagining my mom and Mameha's daughter were doing the same thing in the sky above us. Watching over each other just like Mameha and I did now with one another. Until one day Mameha and I would meet them again in this most brilliant star filled sky.
Post by The Madness Menagerie on Sept 27, 2020 13:23:14 GMT -5
**OOC: Special shout out to the always fabulous Axton Gunn for the collab!!! <3**
Outside an undisclosed church
“Pretty isn’t it?”
Sebastian Hawke stands outside the church, an unzipped bomber jacket covering up a black t-shirt emblazoned with the words “Don’t stop believing in me” in a stunning purple font. He smiles, walking down the steps leading to the front door of the church and starts to walk down the sidewalk, the camera following him. He digs his hands into his pockets as he walks, contemplating the world around him thoughtfully as he walks. He doesn’t start talking right away, walking several blocks from the church before he makes any kind of noise.
“It’s really the simple things in life that can ground someone, ya know? Kinda why I elected to do this away from the fancy lights and sounds of professional wrestling, or anything that could be looked on as cliché and overdone. Instead, a simple walk is all I have in store for you as I reflect upon my time here in Carnage so far. This isn’t about being all fancy and spending the most money though. This is me, coming back down to Earth after flying too close to the sun. A person can have their head filled with hot air to the point that it gets unbearable to the person and those around them. Soon, that bubble of hot air needs to be popped, the person floating high above the rest of the world is brought down to Earth, most of the time crashing and burning, and they realize the impact of their actions; what effect they had on the people as they got their wings and flew.”
He sighs, a very adult-like gesture for someone so young. Whatever is weighing on his mind forces his shoulders to sag with an unknown weight as he walks, his voice heavy with regret.
“I’ve said… a lot of crap since coming to Carnage. One match under my belt and it was quite the decisive victory for the other guy. That kind of thing happens, I’d be CRAZY to think that I’d be undefeated, it just would have been a nice way to start a career. Unfortunately, I have not been dealt that hand. In every battle, there has to be a loser and right now, that person is me. It’s ok! I fully admit it.”
He stops and turns to the camera, a sly smile tugging at his lips before continuing on his walk.
“People like to say that no one else has seen what they bring to the table and in all honesty, I’m chalking that up to an obvious statement. Everyone in this world is unique and everyone brings their own little twist of reality to the table. This coming Chaos, I get to meet another member of Matt Knox’s crew when I team up with Axton Gunn to take on Adrienne Levi and The Dragon Lady.”
Some birds tweet in the distance but Sebastian only shrugs his shoulders before continuing on.
“Gearing up for this adventure of mine, I watched Carnage, pretty regularly. Not only did I want to get here and do everything that the people on TV were doing, but I wanted to INSPIRE. At Chaos 94, a defeated Adrienne Levi looked into the camera and pleaded with The Legion at large, pleaded with ME, to never stop believing in her. Every day after that I aspired to be the kind of person that when I finally got a chance to meet her, in the ring or otherwise, she’d be impressed by what she saw.”
The imaginary weight presses again on Sebastian’s shoulders and he heaves a sad breath.
“I came into this federation hot and ready to prove myself, not willing to care to look where I trod, and in doing so forced a bad taste into so many different mouths. Mitch may have had first dibs on this hotshot from Vegas, but I’m almost positive that the list of people who want to knock some sense into this amazingly good looking head of hair is a pretty long and extensive one. Take Matt Knox--been in the business for so long, he’s forgotten what it’s like to be a complete rookie. Mitch Heart. Always there to defend the defenseless, or those he has ‘deemed’ defenseless; pitch him an opinion and watch the sparks fly.”
Sebastian raises his hands into the air, waving his fingers around before burying them in his pockets.
“Then there’s Adrienne. She’s like… Have you ever heard of those stories of coal miners bringing a canary into the mines with them? They do that so they know when they go too far, because if that little bird can no longer sing and fill its lungs with oxygen, the humans weren’t far behind. Adrienne Levi is the unrecognized canary of Carnage. No one on this roster can lay claim to actually ‘hating’ her. They might want to try and beat her into submission of their undeniable will, but she never gives. She looked that massive rat guy in the eyes as he could have literally snapped her neck, and she didn’t blink. She’s the person everyone wants to know because she’s just genuine and the very definition of a ‘good person.’”
He smirks, his voice growing lighter.
“From this point on Adrienne, YOU are my canary. If I go too far, I’ll know it when even you start crying foul.”
Sebastian turns, his look of confidence washing over his face as he removes his sunglasses and looks at the camera.
“At Chaos 94 you asked for me to never stop believing in you. Right here, right now, I am asking for the same in return from both you and The Legion at large. You are the very definition of everything an aspiring roster member should reach for and to share the ring with you…”
Sebastian stops, looking up into the air while he searches for the right words.
“It’s an indescribable feeling. I feel that we can put on some real magic during our tag match and I have to say, Axton and I are SUPER excited for all of the potential this match holds.”
Sebastian moves on, his voice once again light with curiosity, like an explorer searching unknown worlds.
“Now, since this IS a tag match, I’d be awfully silly if I were to overlook the very real threat of a person known only as Dragon Lady. I’ll admit, since joining the roster, I haven’t caught as many matches as I’d like to watch. But if you’re teaming with Adrienne and having a big match at our next show, I’m going to have to assume that you’re another rising star. Part of my martial arts training, and while I might not be any kind of ninja or ‘dragon’ anything, I certainly know my way around a dojo. Self discipline, respect for your opponent, and self restraint are all things that I learned while there. Granted, I forgot about much of that when I decided to get on Twitter and blow myself WAY out of proportion; I mean… I did just get my butt kicked by Mitch Heart.”
Sebastian shrugs away the memory, the sky above bright blue as the birds sing their sweet melodies.
“You’re an enigma to me Dragon Lady. Most people would call that a disadvantage while I swing for the fences and hope to connect with something. But, that’s not quite how I’m looking at it. Disadvantage? Yeah, you’ve put me at one, but you also have yet to see ME up close. You haven’t had a chance to see my potential and while you look to shine a light on your own rising star, I’m looking to outshine as well. People see something they aren't sure of and think they have to go above and beyond to triumph over it. Honestly? I'm going to approach you like I do anyone else; stay true to my own self and the rest will fall into place. The battle shall be an interesting one to say the least and I’m definitely looking forward to going up against someone like you. Here’s hoping I don’t get my butt kicked again and I can shine a light on what makes you tick, maybe even help others see the type of person that you are.”
Sebastian pauses and leans against a nearby oak tree, leaning his head against the cool bark.
“If you had asked me last month what I thought needed to be done to beat the likes of Dragon Lady, an unknown entity to me, and Adrienne Levi, I would have said something extravagant. Something flashy with all the pizazz. Now? Simply put I’m retconning myself back to where I actually knew who I wanted to be. That Sebastian Hawke that you met on Twitter? I tell you now, that isn’t it. I want to prove that I’m a better person than the one I gave you and I want to make it up. Am I going to lose sight of what happens in the ring though?”
Sebastian smirks, scoffing at the prospect.
“Not even a little bit. From birth, baby birds are taught to either sink or swim when their mom tosses them out of the nest and expects them to fly. This hawk that you think you’ve beaten down? I’m not going anywhere. At some point in the very near future, with the support of The Legion, I will soar to greater heights than ever before. The future is bright for people like us Adrienne, Dragon Lady. All of these up and coming stars rising from the ruins of obscurity and rising to household names. I WILL be climbing the ranks of Carnage and whether people like it or not, I’m here for the long haul. Future Carnage Legend, in training. I might have started with a disheartening loss to Heart but from here on out, you fledgling fans of mine who don’t even know it yet, will be getting the Sebastian Hawke that I was always meant to be. No one said rising from nothing would be easy, but at least I can make it interesting on the way. See you soon, Legion.”
He winks at the camera before the picture pulls up, the last view before going black is a hawk flying high above; just as soon as it appeared, it’s gone without a trace.
The sound of weights being lifted and slammed down. The smell of hard work and labor in the quest for a better reflection. There were the things that told people that a gym was a popular place, and these were the same reasons Sebastian never really liked them. His nose wrinkles as he re-shifts his gear bag over his shoulder and heads to the locker room, planning on getting changed as soon as possible and hiding in the darkest corner with a kick bag in it. Exiting the locker room, Sebastian weaves his way through the crowded gym, ignoring the weird looks he got from the people twice and three times his size. Finding a set of punching bags in a quiet corner, Sebastian puts his ear phones in and turns the volume up once he has his favorite playlist loaded. Smiling he squares off against one of the bags.
The stinging sound of kick-pad hitting canvas bag can soon be heard echoing throughout the gym as people gather around to watch. It’s not that Sebastian was necessarily the BEST at what he did, but he is practiced and when he wants to be, focused. The thing that bugged him the most about the match with Mitch Heart wasn’t that he LOST. He wasn’t anticipating winning and in his mind’s eye, best case scenario saw Seb surprising Heart with a rollup and then sliding out of the ring before the bell was finished ringing to avoid a complete slaughter. It was the build up, the complete lack of respect Sebastian had coming in thinking he would be able to solve it all. Thinking he’d be a hero in the eyes of the people he watched on TV, someone they’d be happy to work with, not eager to put down.
It didn’t take long for his promised company to show up, setting down a water bottle and a towel on the nearby bench; Axton watched for a moment or two with a grin, rolling his shoulders after a fresh warm-up. The loose tank he wore--bearing the phrase ‘I flexed and the sleeves fell off’-- showed off some of the lettered ink on his side, as well as some of the bruises from his recent bumps on the mat.
He stepped up behind the bag, holding it with both hands and poking his head out from the other side to grin at him.
“Lookin’ good, Steve Rogers!”
Sebastian jumps slightly, completely absorbed in his mix and kicking the bag in front of him. Seeing Axton, Sebastian was still unsure if this was a dream or not. Unsure what to do next, Sebastian pauses and steadies the bag before going for a handshake and instantly regretting his decision not to go with a high five. Trying to look confident in himself, Sebastian smirks and motions to the bag. "Oh that? That was nothing, you should see what I can do against a hay bale. Wait, that didn't make sense…"
Trying to recover, Sebastian accidentally flings his phone across the floor. As if the situation couldn't get any worse Sebastian watches in horror as the phone disconnects from his headset, the latest from Lady Gaga blaring into the gym. Blushing, Sebastian rushes to reach for the phone, pausing the music as fast as possible.
"Sorry, that was… Uhm, so when I work out I enjoy…"
Unable to think of the right words, Sebastian's shoulders slump in defeat, but his voice sounding as resolute as possible to save face.
"I happen to… Enjoy Gaga and don't knock her because she is the cornerstone of an entire culture! She's… She's an icon…"
Axton is trying his damned hardest not to laugh, but it was kind of adorable how hard Sebastian was trying to be cool. Even though he was only a few years older, he could still remember being like that. Maybe trying too hard, sometimes. There was a balance in there somewhere.
He easily deflects the handshake into a grip and a playful, light punch to Sebastian’s shoulder, his eyes following the phone as it flew. He bites his lip now to keep from laughing--it’s too much--managing to contain it to a grin.
“Right up there with Ke$ha,” Axton agrees, pulling out his own glittery gold phone as he pops his airbuds out--his screen displays We R Who We R currently paused. “That shit rules for cardio. When you’re done warming up do you wanna spot each other for some bench work?”
Sebastian blinks a couple times, trying to process what he just heard. Shaking his head he retrieves he phone as “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera pops on. Hastily he pauses it, not quite trusting the idea that he found another pop diva admirer. He wasn’t lying about them being the best for cardio. Seb had gone through many a techno track before finding himself bobbing his head to Madonna. The rest as they say is history.
Snapping back to reality with another blink of his eyes, Sebastian smiles and tries to lean on a nearby bag; Newton’s Law of course taking effect as the bag moves out of the way. Catching himself and regaining his balance, Sebastian narrowly dodges the bag as it comes back for his life. Smiling sheepishly, Sebastian tries his best to save face.
“Yeah, that uhm… That’s sound great! But first…”
He pauses and lets out a deep breath before continuing; steeling himself for what he was about to do.
“I’m sorry about all that Twitter drama, nonsense stuff. I came here all excited for everyone to love seeing me, cheering my name only because I came ready to fight. My experience, at best, involves a homemade ring in a friend’s backyard. Had another friend that knew a friend and before we knew it, BOOM! Instant backyard federation…” His eyes gloss over with a faraway look but quickly regain their sharp glint. “I personally had a great run in that particular… Company? Yeah, company sounds right. But… It wasn’t anywhere NEAR what this is. I came here looking to be a well liked guy and instead have turned into public enemy numero uno within my first day here…”
He chances a look at Axton to make sure that his most recent hallucination was still with him. It at least LOOKED like the celebrity rock star turned wrestler was still hanging onto his every word. Weird.
Axton has taken to sitting on the nearby bench as he listens; people would say what they would based on his debut, but anyone who knew the guy knew this. He did have a way of making someone feel like they were the only person in the room.
“Anyways, I just… I’m not looking for a pity party or anything. Shit happens and it all depends on how we handle it to… You know… Keep going?” He shrugs his shoulders helplessly. “I’m not good at these things. All I know is that I messed up and I just hope that I didn’t mess up anything good before it even began… Ya know?”
“I feel you.”
Axton’s smile has turned wry, feeling that last part hit a little close to home. Okay… very close to home. Thankfully, it was a lot easier to help somebody else deal with this stuff, rather than actually facing the consequences of his own actions. That part he always did, but it also always sucked.
“Tell you what, dude…” Axton stands up, straightening out his tank. “Let’s hit the weights and make sure we’re nice and ready for the fight. Adrienne obviously isn’t a pushover, and that Dragon Lady basically looks like a Mortal Kombat character, so I think we’re in for a tough tussle.” He cocks his head, starting to lead the way to the benches as he picks up his water bottle. “It sounds like you got a lot on your mind Seb, and honestly? I can get behind that… I’ve been in the same place.” Hah. Past tense? Yeah, good one, Ax. “So after the match, win or lose, let’s grab a couple drinks and maybe hash it out, if you’re cozy sharing. Sometimes a little vent can really help.”
That was something Sebastian wasn't expecting, relatable experience. He smiles trying to feel more at ease. Shrugging he replies, "Totally Mortal Kombat, like one of those demon princesses that you never really know what side they're on, but they eat people…" Since they had similar tastes in music, Sebastian hesitates only slightly as he hits play on his phone, forgoing the ear buds. They only got in the way.
After setting the weight bar, Axton spots while Sebastian goes first. Waiting for the music to start, Sebastian lifts up as "Cool Patrol" by Ninja Sex Party comes on. Sebastian smirks as he lowers the weight to his chest and back up again, a thoughtful smile tugging at his lips.
"That's really what Carnage needs… A 'cool patrol’…"
As Sebastian lowers the bar again, he sees his spotter staring, wide-eyed and round-mouthed.
“Dude,” he breathes. “You like Ninja Sex Party? Danny Don’t You Know? Heart Boner? Release the Kraken? Peppermint Creams?!”
Sebastian smirks, “Dude, if I hadn’t screwed up so royally to begin with my… Interpersonal relations, my on screen persona is BASED on NSP. Like… I have images of doing the 'Cool Patrol' dance down to the ring…”
A far away look glosses over Sebastian’s eyes as he lowers the bar again and lifts. “Maybe it isn’t too late. Maybe this is my chance to paint myself in a new light, you know? Make up for a crappy start by showing everyone that I’m just not that person, just… Got some issues outside of this place.” He stops and with Axton’s help, puts the bar back where it started. Sebastian sits up and looks over at Axton. “It can’t be too late to reinvent myself, right?”
Axton slides onto the bench to take his place, giving him a smirk.
“Take it from me, sweetheart. It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. That’s the business.”
He lays back with a hum, creasing his brow in thought.
“You know, we could run with that… make it fun. If you wanna change how people see you, you gotta make yourself fun… relaxed… show your sense of humour. Like… maybe put your hands in the air, then you jump off the ground…”
He lifts the bar with a soft grunt, eyes turned upward to Sebastian’s face.
“Take that funky butt and shake it all around?”
Sebastian takes the hint and repeats the song and cranks the volume as high as it can go. The people at the gym had never been so lucky to hear such a heavenly pair of voices.
Post by Axton Gunn on Sept 27, 2020 17:22:50 GMT -5
“I got a new disease; I saw it on TV, It's takin’ hold of me, and I believe that I might be insane... My thoughts are incomplete, of late I don't get sleep, They say it's clear to see, that ADD is all that's left to blame…”
Axton’s fingers plucked gently at the strings of a well-loved acoustic guitar, his chipped painted-black nails scratching nylon. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor of his hotel room in boxers and a t-shirt bearing the face of David Bowie, circa early 80s; his hair was mussed as though he’d rolled out of bed not too long ago, which was very likely the case. Weary meadowgreen eyes followed his hands as he sang, his voice light and airy. Quiet. There was no audience. He was only singing to himself.
“I can't get it together; I should know better... I got a mind like weather, always seems to change, It's getting harder, so I need a doctor, He's gonna make me smarter--At least that's what they say…”
The curtains were pulled back from the floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a beautiful view of the harbour and the city sprawl below. From up here, he didn’t mind it so much; it was no City of Angels, that was for sure, but it was the kind of place he could see growing on anybody once they learned its secrets and small treasures. He thought the same of LA. His home city had a coat of glamour that suited him best, though. Baltimore was distinct from in so many ways--more than enough for him to constantly feel just slightly out of place. It was the way he felt when he was on tour. He never noticed what a SoCal boy he was until he was far from the sunset beaches.
He was never the best at expressing his real feelings, or even processing them, to be honest. Admitting you had a problem was the first step; unfortunately he’d never gotten further than that. This--sitting with a guitar in a quiet room, by himself--was the best way he had to give himself the space he needed to try. There was... a lot to work through right now.
The hurt that had brought him here. The reception on debut. His own tendency to hole up his emotions working against him as he lashed out, only to be unable to handle the answering blows. He’d not expected that--for it to sting as much as it did. Normally he didn’t care what kind of attention he was getting, as long as he was getting it… but this time was different.
At the core of it all, he just wanted to be part of Silvio’s life again. In turn, he wanted Silvio’s new friends to like him… to accept him. It was so hard to be vulnerable, to leave himself open to the possibility of pain, when he’d already been wounded so deeply.
He thought of Silvio’s warm, gentle hands, holding his own shaking ones as he poured his heart out to him in a little tattoo shop.
“I’ve been bouncing off the walls, and shaking; the Adderall Won’t loosen the pressure, there’s only so much I can-- -- Wake up, I need someone to stop me, cause Adderall Won’t loosen the pressure; there’s only so much I can take.”
That was it, wasn’t it? Silvio was the only person he felt like he could be completely open with. He’d trusted Silvio with his most vulnerable pieces, and he’d gotten hurt… but at least now he knew that it hadn’t been on purpose. Even if he didn’t know the whole story (though he sure wanted to), being told from the source that Silvio hadn’t left him out of boredom or frustration or spite had made him feel a lot better. His vindictive vendetta against Silvio’s new friends had been spent of venom… he wasn’t angry anymore.
Just… kinda sad.
He always found himself struggling to hold the attention of the people around him; he was always running from that feeling of being alone. He was always running from quiet, empty places. Weird how LA started to feel quiet and empty, even when he was surrounded by people. They loved his music and his sunny disposition and his snarky jokes. He couldn’t trust them to love the parts of him that were a lot harder to love. The stubborn, confrontational, impulsive, impatient, scared, fragile parts. If they knew him completely, they’d leave.
Who was to say these new people would be any better?
“I break into the scene, buzz from a new vaccine that's curing all my dreams--it's fine with me, as long as I get more... My door’s left off the latch, and all my mirrors cracked, Now there's no turning back; so I just laugh, and pass out on the floor…”
But he had to try. He told himself he was doing it for Silvio, but he couldn’t keep relying on a single person to trust that deeply. That wasn’t fair to either of them. Maybe getting away from LA and away from the persona he maintained out there would give him a chance to build something new here. Something more honest and open and… personal.
Dominick… Sebastian… hell, even Adrienne.
Axton’s fingers stopped on the strings, letting the last few notes ring in the stillness of the hotel room. His brow was furrowed tight, staring at his reflection in the window glass overlaid across the cityscape. After a moment, he sighed, slumping over the body of the guitar a bit and closing his eyes.
Damnit. Just when he’d decided to pump the brakes--just when he’d finally stopped being an idiot, found his backbone and actually gone to talk to Silvio, face to face--he had to take on the one new person in Silvio’s life he had no real desire to fight.
Especially now. Now, when he’d started to heal from the hurt that had brought him here in the first place… This was the dictionary definition of past mistakes coming to bite him square in his adorable ass.
Blindly pawing for his phone, he flopped back on the carpeted floor, letting the guitar slide off of his bruised hip beside him. Holding the metallic gold device above his face, he opted to phone a friend.
He set the phone against his ear and sighed again, letting his eyes close.
“... Hey Zacharie. It’s ya boy. Got time to listen to me bitch about my own shitty choices?”
“Oh, anytime, honey.”
Several years prior, Zacharie DuBois sat across from their friend in a little booth, slowly nursing a strawberry daiquiri. It was a dimly-lit club, frequented by much of the fashion community in the city; the floors were lined with blue light, which also crowned the bar area and flickered from artificial flames in a wall-mounted fireplace. Since it was fairly early in the evening, it was still quiet, only a few patrons relaxing with beverages and company.
Zacharie was dressed to impress, as usual--tonight showing off a tailored suit jacket in blushing pink, paired with an ink-black shirt patterned with delicate blooms and a tie to match. A touch of champagne glitter highlighted their blue eyes, which were currently fixed on the mess of a man across from them with a sense of sympathy… and, perhaps, some pity.
“Though, I’m hoping I don’t have to see you in this sorry state too often. You must really be having it rough if you actually want to talk about it.”
Axton sighed, taking a generous mouthful from the moscow mule in front of him, tracing slow spirals in the condensation on the glass tabletop. He was slumped forward on his elbows, the flush in his freckled face plainly indicative that this wasn’t his first drink. It would likely also not be his last.
“Still need my good friend Grey Goose to grease the wheels, though. You know I hate this shit.”
“Talking about your feelings?” Zacharie rolled their eyes, brushing a stray black curl away from their face. “I know. That’s your real problem, Ax. If you spent more time talking about your feelings, you’d spend less time drinking and crying about them.”
“You’re being mean,” Axton whimpered, hiding his head under his forearm with his eyes screwed shut. “You’re the only person I could think of who’s willing to put up with me like this. Please, Zach.”
Zacharie sighed, their expression softening.
“Okay. I’m sorry, Ax. I know this is a big deal. You two were engaged and all… even if the public didn’t know. Still impressed you managed to keep it quiet, here in Hollywood, of all places.”
“BB wasn’t big enough for anybody to really care,” Axton said, his nose less than an inch from the ice cubes in his glass. “Now with Sarah gone, the band is pretty much dead… I don’t even care anymore, dude. Fuck the band. We made a promise and she broke it. She broke me.”
He was staring at the ink on his arm. It was a greyscale tattoo of a bass guitar, wrapped in thorny vines. Sarah, the bass player and his girlfriend since they got started, had been that to him--his little iron ivy, protecting him from the world. Now it felt like she’d squeezed those needles into him instead, and left his heart to bleed on the floor.
It didn’t feel good.
Zacharie reached across the table, a manicured hand resting over Axton’s knuckles.
“Think of it this way,” they said softly, “your next album is gonna be a breakup album and it’s gonna resonate with a whole generation of heartbroken 20-somethings just like you. That’s a huge market.”
“Okay, okay! I’m sorry.” Zacharie squeezed Axton’s hand, failing to fight down a tiny bit of a smile. “Drink your vodka, pretty boy.”
Axton complied, taking a deeper gulp than last time.
“You’re gonna be fine.” Zacharie continued to pet Axton’s hand, their fingertips gentle against the dips between his knuckles. ”If it hurts that means it meant something to you, and if it meant something it means you tried… Sure, maybe it didn’t work out. But you gave your best.”
“I gave her everything,” Axton sighed, slumping on his arm. “I told her stuff I haven’t even told you… you know, the stuff I hate talking about. Dad, and Mom being away, and… I… I-I can’t…”
“It’s okay.” Zacharie’s expression sobered. “You don’t have to tell me.”
“I just… I opened up for her and I’ve never done that for anybody else before, and she just… she just decided I wasn’t worth what she found inside and she… she…!”
Axton was starting to sob. Swiftly, Zacharie switched sides in the booth, sliding in beside him and wrapping a slender arm around his shoulders.
“Shhhh… Ax… you’re okay, honey. You’re okay.”
“No I’m not,” he whimpered, angrily wiping at his eyes. “There’s something wrong with me. There’s something wrong that makes people leave as soon as they find it. This always happens. I don’t even know what it is but I let Sarah see it and now she’s gone--”
“Look at me.” Zacharie took Axton by the jaw, directing his eyes into their own.
Axton went quiet, only soft sobs trying to rise from his throat, his face flushed with liquor and shame.
“There’s nothing wrong with you, Axton,” Zacharie insisted, keeping their voice soft but firm. “Sometimes people aren’t meant to stay in our lives. That can go for anybody--your girlfriend, your bandmates, maybe even your dad. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It means you haven’t clicked with the right people yet… the ones who are going to fit into the folds you hated and smooth out the creases you want to change.”
Axton had gone silent, blinking slowly. He sniffed, and Zacharie continued, gently patting the miserable musician’s cheek.
“So please… I need you to see this as an open door, sweetie. You’re making room for the right ones. There are people out there who will get you, who will be patient with you… promise me you’ll let them in.”
“I don’t… I don’t know how… how to do that without getting hurt.”
“It might hurt,” Zacharie murmured, dabbing the blonde’s face with a soft yellow kerchief. “But since when are you afraid of some bruises, party boy?”
Axton couldn't help but chuckle, taking the kerchief and pressing it into his eyes. “Yeah… that’s a good point.”
“Besides… some of us will be with you every step of the way.” They winked.
Sighing, Axton sat back, picking up his glass again to nurse it. “Yeah… thanks, Zach. All of this, it’s just been… you know I don’t handle this kinda stuff well.”
“I know.” Zach continued to rub Axton’s back gently, leaning forward to look at him. “You won’t even bring it up if you’re not drinking. You might have a problem, honey.”
“Hey, admitting that is the first step,” Axton noted as he closed his reddened eyes, taking another swig. “But I got ADHD and I always forget to follow through with the rest.”
There’s a tiny stage nestled away in a red brick building, just across the corner from Pearlstone Park. It’s a modest place; many dance recitals, improv shows, and small-time bands could call the place a second home. Right now the little black stage is empty except for a lone figure, standing in the middle of it with an acoustic guitar held loosely by the neck in one hand. He stares up at the lights, blinking at them like a cat would if smiling at a familiar friend.
“Everybody starts small.”
Axton looks at the instrument in his hand; it’s not a fancy thing, by any means. The guitar is clearly well-used and well-loved, decorated by stickers, notes and fingerprints. He sets it down, leaning it on a tall stool left nearby, most likely used at the last comedy show to which the little theatre played host.
“The whole concept of ‘Celebrity’ is weird, huh?” The Rockstar grins, pushing his hands into the pockets of his Lucky jeans. He’s wearing his familiar black jacket and a David Bowie t-shirt, a pewter skull pendant hanging from a leather strap around his neck. “A celebrity is somebody everybody knows… that’s the base definition, I guess. But I don’t really think that holds water.” He shakes his head. “I think it’s more complicated than that. Hell, I’ve been steeped in the culture of it long enough to know.
“Thing is, nobody is born famous. Not really. Some people get famous because of who their parents are… some people because of who they associate with. Some people get famous from humble roots, riding up the social ladder on a combination of talent and luck… a lot of luck.” He chuckles a bit before going on, looking down at the stage floor and kicking at it lightly with the rubber toe of his converse shoe. “That’s me. Thing is, I think something that gets lost in it is that we’re just human. No matter how big your name gets--no matter how far you get--you’re still human.”
Axton saunters to the edge of the stage and sits down, pulling one foot up onto the ledge and letting the other dangle. He looks up at the lights again, the shadows they cast highlighting his freckles and the angles of his face.
“I think it can be a bit of a shock when that parasocial relationship falls apart and you realize you don’t really know somebody. It can be kind of a kick in the teeth… one day you realize that your favourite rock star makes mistakes. One day you realize that he can’t survive on a pedestal… sometimes he’s angry, and sometimes he gets hurt, and sometimes he does dumb shit you didn’t expect. That’s hard to reconcile, I figure. I think that’s something dangerous about the whole Celebrity thing. It’s so much easier to disappoint people when they have all these established expectations of you as a person… even though you’ve never had a real conversation."
With a sort of sad smile, he looks to the viewer, meadowgreen eyes illuminated by the warm stage light.
“So, Levi… I’m sorry I let you down. There’s a lot you don’t know about my private life, and I’m the first to admit--that’s by design. That’s on me. Truthfully, I’m a pretty private dude. I don’t like putting myself out in the open. It’s too easy to get hurt when people get close to you--and I don’t mean taking bumps in the ring or breaking bones falling off shit. Remember when I broke my wrist a couple years ago and I couldn’t play for months?” He grins fondly, as if remembering the incident with a certain level of amusement. “I had all the fans sign the cast… still have it like a keepsake. Wish your signature coulda been on it too.”
He sighs, shifting his legs to sit cross-legged. “That’s something about me that’s honest, though… I love my fans. I love them so damn much, Levi. You have no idea. Some of the hardest times in my life, I’ve survived because of them. Because of you. In a big empty world, you make me feel wanted. Hell, Silvio Leon made me feel wanted. That’s why it hurt so bad when he left. But I don’t want you to worry about us anymore… we’re gonna sort things out.”
He smiles a little, and for just a moment, there’s a glaze of moisture in his eyes. He blinks it away.
“What I’m saying is… I guess… don’t give up on me, Adrienne Levi. I hope my music has helped you through hardships the same way your love as a fan has helped me. I know it’s been parasocial up until now, but… I wanna know you. You’re such a genuine, sweet person. You’re kind and honest and damn, brave as hell. I saw you take on that beefcake Lab Rat right on your debut. I know you can bring it. So I want you to bring it--but I want you to take me on as a human being. As a real person. I wanna prove I deserve the time and energy you’ve given me, even as fucked up as I can be sometimes. If you can give me that chance… then I can’t wait to go head-to-head.”
He stands up, his soft smile turning into a smirk.
“As for your partner there… hey, Dragon Lady.”
He winks, giving the viewers a good old fashioned double finger-guns.
“You straight up look like a Mortal Kombat character and that sorta makes me think you’re gonna rip my head off Finisher-style. In like, a comical fountain of pixellated blood. But you know what? That’s a good thing. You’re about to keep me on my toes. I’ve seen you work and you’re no joke. So hey… my buddy Sebastian and I? We’ve been working hard to take you on. Some serious dance practice, here. And fair warning--we are vibing like nobody’s business. Rockstar meets small-town hero."
Grinning, he goes back to retrieve the guitar, looking over his shoulder as he picks it up.
“Nothing puts a couple of dudes in the same headspace like a similar taste in tunes. And you know what? We made a goddamn playlist. It slaps. And it’s gonna be the soundtrack of your ass-whoopin’. There’s gonna be three things happening at 99, ladies.”
He holds up three fingers, closing each one as he lists.
“Us, hitting you. You, hitting the ground. And then me and Seb-badass harnessing all our sexy fury in a victory stance, because the Cool Patrol is in business, baby.”
Biting his lip in a grin, Axton moves his closed fist up and offers a lazy salute, strolling backstage with his guitar in hand.
“Hugs and kisses!”
The stage lights go out.
Last Edit: Sept 27, 2020 17:25:18 GMT -5 by Axton Gunn