Okay. Jan 18, 2021 21:57:10 GMT -5
Post by Mitch 'The Broken' Heart on Jan 18, 2021 21:57:10 GMT -5
OOC: This is a collab with Adrienne Levi. Enjoy
“Well gosh sakes, Mitch, where have you been? I haven’t seen you in a dog’s age.”
“Hey, Betty. Been around. Can’t say the same for a lot of other people I’ve come in with. My regular booth free?”
It was, and Mitch sat down, tracing a finger across the formica tabletop, worn down from countless plates, glasses, bowls, and elbows. It was true- he hadn’t been at the Silver Moon for a while, and as much as he told himself he wasn’t avoiding the place, the fact was that it held a lot of memories. Memories that, while not unpleasant, were painful in retrospect.
Still, it was a place known both to him and the person he was meeting. Straightening his Anthony Mantha jersey, he gave the pleasant, grandmotherly waitress who’d greeted him an order for a chocolate malt, casting his gaze out the window.
He hoped she remembered where the place was. The last time they’d both been here, there’d been an inexplicable giant bag of money between them. Chuckling, he gave his cheek below his eye patch a light scratch.
Things had changed since then. It wasn’t so long ago, but it seemed like forever.
The bell over the front door chimed, announcing the entry of a new guest. The waitress, busy putting in an order, looks up and greets her.
“Sit anywhere you’d like.”
“Oh, okay. Someone’s expecting me.”
The voice was mousy. Footsteps approached where Mitch was sitting. His back was to everyone. Someone plopped down in the booth across from him.
Looking up, the man called the Broken smiled. His good eye glinted in a way it didn’t for just anyone. Seeing her was a breath of fresh air. She always was- neck deep in all sorts of insane shit, Adrienne Levi was a ray of normality in it all.
He wondered if she knew he thought that.
“Glad you made it, Ade. Order whatever you want, my treat.”
He slid her a menu. His malt arrived at the table, and Mitch thanked the waitress, ordering a double cheeseburger with extra bacon and a side of cheese fries, and tried not to look like he was watching his friend. He didn’t want to seem weird.
Adrienne glanced at the menu momentarily but peered over the menu.
Mitch looked down, idly stirring his milkshake, the whipped cream disappearing into the malt-flecked chocolate. People didn’t ask him that a lot. Not right away, anyway, without staring at him and his usual assortment of injuries. He didn’t heal as fast as some of his friends seemed to- he still had, in addition to the obvious bad eye, a smattering of bruises and scars. Under his jersey and the t-shirt beneath, two perforated semicircles on either side of his shoulder marked him in a way he wasn’t altogether comfortable with.
And that was just the physical part. Slowly, he looked up, brows furrowed, his smile almost sad.
“Would… you think a lot less of me if I said ‘not really’? But… I mean…”
He looked down again, sighing. On the other hand, whatever injuries he had seemed minimal, considering that…
“...I’m still getting in the fucking ring. I should be asking you if you’re okay.”
Adrienne took a moment to order a chicken wrap and a water, perhaps intentionally letting that inquiry hang in the air for a moment.
“I’ll be fine. I have plans,” she said with a small smile. “And no. It’s okay to not be okay.”
“Okay then. I’m… not okay.”
Taking a long drink of his malt, letting the sweetness soothe the bitter a bit, Mitch rubbed idly at the back of his hand, where the tattooed image of a broken splattered heart still boldly stood, despite obvious healed over scratch marks trying to erase it.
“I don’t think I’ve been okay for weeks. Since before UC6. Everything seemed like it was going right in my life for once and then it just cannonballed right through the seven circles of fucking Hell since then. In fact, I’m still falling, and I only have one plan to save myself, my sister’s wellbeing, my own self-respect, and I don’t… think you’d approve of it.”
In fact, he knew she wouldn’t. He doubted anyone would. But it was too late now. He’d committed, and if he didn’t follow through he’d just keep falling until he inevitably went splat. He wouldn’t even care so much about that if Pen wouldn’t suffer for it.
Another awkward silence. The ambience of the diner took over as Adrienne seemingly measured Heart’s words.
Adrienne broke it with a little hesitant hitch in her voice.
“I’m not your minder.”
And picking up on his nuances, she followed up.
“But yeah, things got weird fast. I guess I was kinda oblivious to it.”
“Nah, you’re not. But I do value your opinion more than I value most people’s, for what that’s worth. You’re probably the best person I have the privilege of being friends with, Spades.”
He chuckled softly, not unaware of a jag of bittersweetness that jammed into his gut at the thought of their doomed little group. It was interrupted by the scent of beef, bacon, and cheese set in front of him as their meals were delivered. Thanking Betty, Mitch turned back to Adrienne.
“And don’t feel bad about that. You were smart. Made ties outside the business that aren’t likely to vanish like smoke in the wind. Being here, it’s like walking through a swamp sometimes. You don’t know when solid ground’s gonna vanish out from under you and leave you to sink in the damn muck.”
She shook her head in response.
“I didn’t feel that way,” she said, but then corrected herself. “Maybe in the past. I wasn’t a fan of all of this growing up or anything like that. Was an outsider looking in for over a decade. I trained so hard for it to come up this short.”
She paused to take a bite of her wrap.
“I can see what you mean, though. It’s easy to get jaded.”
“It’s not the fighting part. That’s what I’m best at. It’s just… this would all be easier if I didn’t get attached. I never did before. I don’t know why I thought it was safe now. Why I thought this place would be different.”
He took a bite of his burger, somewhat savagely, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand after.
“To clarify realquick, I’m not mad at you. You’re not like all the others. Shit happened to you, you’re not fucking off because you want to, or packing your shit and leaving to fuck knows where for shinier astroturf. You’re still here. When I’m in town, I can see you. Hang out. Shoot some pucks, unless that isn’t a good idea. You didn’t just…”
He sighed, waving a hand as if to swat the line of thought away.
“...nevermind. … I wish this didn’t happen to you. You deserve better than to just have to drop shit like this, when you’re obviously good at it and have a passion for it.”
Nodding solemnly, Ade let Mitch finish before replying.
“I fought the reality of it all. Was going into this first show ready to fight. But then the test results came back. It wasn’t just one concussion. It was six.”
After taking a sip of water, Ade continued.
“Carnage cleared me. Two different doctors did, too. But it was always with this worrisome caveat. That it could get worse. The migraines. The sleepless nights. Just the... bad feelings. So I made the decision. You all mean too much for me to let it get like that.”
“Six. Holy shit.”
Mitch’s eye widened, and he almost dropped the cheese fry he’d picked up. That was dangerous. One was bad enough. Shaking his head, he couldn’t help but wonder, between hockey, wrestling, and street business, how many undiagnosed concussions he’d had in his lifetime. Had to be more than a couple, but who could say? He didn’t think he really wanted to know.
“Knowing that, I’m glad you got the sense to hang ‘em up too. I mean I probably wouldn’t, but you’ve got more sense than I do.”
“I wanted to continue. But there’s too much at stake.”
Whatever Ade was alluding to, it weighed heavy on her.
“But, no, I’m not going anywhere. And I’ll be okay.”
And then it went full circle back to Mitch.
“Whatever you think you have to do …”
Breaking off, she reconsidered.
“You’re going to do it. But there’s a point where there is no turning back.”
He smiled, bittersweet. In the ambient light of the diner, his eye looked a little too wet.