“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
August 8, 2020
Eric Dane has struck again.
For the second week in a row, the Only Star has had his way with the Queen of the Ring. She started a backstage brawl that saw the two rivals snake their way through corridors, catering, and locker rooms, finally winding up in Bandits Land where Eric very nearly snapped Lindsay’s already injured knee, just like he did the week prior, and just like he did at Refueled 30. If it wasn’t for Cancer Jiles, Doozer, and RICK, the Chicago Street Fight between the Queen of the Ring and the Only Star might not even be taking place, and Lindsay might have found herself with a career-ending injury.
Instead, she finds herself being helped by the Bandit from Boston, on their way to the trainer’s room for an exam to make sure she’ll be good to go in two week’s time. Lindsay’s using Doozer’s body as a bolster, allowing herself to be half-carried as they walk in-stride down one of the Allstate Arena’s many hallways.
“Are you sure you know where you’re going?”
Doozer ignores the question for a tick and maintains a stoic expression. Since appointing himself the General of the Bandits, he has taken his role within the group very seriously. “Is Bobby Dean still an eGG Bandit?”
“I don’t know,” Lindsay quips. “Why don’t we go ask him?”
A scowl is all she receives in reply. Doozer knows full well that not only is the Beautiful Man from Honalee not in the building, he isn’t quite sure where he is, and telling Lindsay about whatever he thinks “Plan Z” might be would be too long and too complicated.
Sometimes Generals need to keep secrets to themselves.
“Nevermind that,” he says. “Yes, I know where I’m going.”
“Then why are we by the media room, which is nowhere near the trainer’s room?”
“Because Chris Gardocki is the other way and I don’t know about you, but I’m not too big a fan of licking white dog poop.”
A roll of her eyes. “You guys are unreal.”
Dooze smiles. “Yeah, we are. And not to brag, but we have our own private entrance. Call it a frequent flyer type of thing. No wait times, and no problems with the riff raff.”
Lindsay looks skeptical. “Are we talking about the same trainer’s room?”
“HA! Good one. No, we are not.” The two come to a stop outside of an electrical closet. Dooze looks at Lindsay, a giant grin across his face. “We have our own.”
A secret knock.
The bright red door opens, causing the Queen’s hazel eyes to pop from her face. “The hell is this?”
Before their eyes are just a bunch of transformers and other electrical nonsense a person shouldn’t operate while drinking. Doozer is old. He might have his buildings messed up.
“So, let’s hope Chris Gardocki isn’t around,” he asserts. “Sound good?”
The Queen’s had enough, wriggling free from his grasp and walking off on her accord. She makes it two steps before falling to a knee, yelping in pain. Doozer is right there, though, waiting with an extended hand, which Lindsay takes with a pained expression. She allows herself to be helped to her feet. “Fine,” she says, acquiescing. “You’re licking it first if he is, though.”
A shared laugh. Then, the two head off to find the real trainer’s room. “So, if you don’t mind me asking…” Doozer begins, “but, where’s Dan? Not for nothing, but shouldn’t he be… well, me? Not that I mind. Just saying. I thought you two were thick and thin.”
Lindsay’s lips purse. “I told Dan and the others I’d handle Eric on my own.” Her head drops, just a bit. “And I’ve done an absolutely shitty job; he’s had my number the past two weeks.”
“Besides,” she continues, her voice draining of the sharpness and wit it usually holds. “I think our paths are diverging a bit. I’ve been feeling a lot more mortal than GoD-like lately.”
“Mortal… GOD…. regardless, you’ll always be a Queen to me.” Troy shakes her head, confused as to why she constantly receives the diligent adoration of the Bandits. Doozer rationally continues, “And I can understand wanting to do it on your own. I get it. Blood for blood. But what do you think would have happened if you and Dane took a tumble into GoD’s pearly gates instead of the Bandits’ yolky one? Do you think the rest of the Knights of Columbus would have come charging out like Jiles and I did, or would they have said, meh, she’s got it, I’ll do another line instead and let’s take bets on who wins.”
“Everybody’s got a coke joke.” Another eyeroll. That’s two. She manages to put on the brakes with her one good leg, which causes the Bandits’ General to stop as well.
Lindsay doesn’t want to admit it, but Doozer raises a good point. What would the Group of Death have done if the fight had spilled into their locker room? Would they have taken up arms for her? Let her handle it like she asked? She didn’t really have an answer.
What he doesn’t know, what nobody knows, is that she when made it clear that she wanted this fight on her own, it also meant taking a step back from the Group of Death. She needed to get right again in the ring, and in her head. She needed to feel like their peer, not their inferior, even if she was the only one who believed she was. If they needed her, she’d be there for them, but until then on her own meant not with them. She’d be back, one day, but that one day may not be any time soon.
And because she doesn’t want to admit it, Lindsay deflects instead and turns the question back around on the Elder Statesman. “So if you don’t mind me asking, why do you even give a fuck about me anyway?” The wit and the sharpness start crawling back. “Straight up. Your little Get Along Gang has been on this recruiting mission for months and I don’t get why you all care so much.”
The million dollar question.
“Oh look, we’re here.” Dooze is not fibbing. They have luckily, fortunately, and coincidentally arrived at their destination. The Bostonian opens the door in a hurried panic, and for the first time in a long time, he’s relieved to see the person waiting for him.
“Jesus. What, did you two bang? I’ve been waiting here forever.” If the T-Shades, demeanor, and hair style weren’t enough of a clue, the next bit should do it. “Hopefully that pill wears off before your match. That shit would be awkward. You know how Flyer gets.”
Yes, Cancer Jiles is a douchebag.
“Good. You’re here.” Doozer ignores the jab, looking genuinely relieved to see his Bandit-in-Crime. “Lindsay has something to ask you. See ya! Good luck wi–”
“Not so fast. I want an answer. If the Tool is here, at least I know I’ll get the truth out of you.”
Resigned to his fate, Dooze drops the Renaissance Woman off at the examination table. He turns from her and shares a worried look with his gray-haired cohort. “She asked.”
Jiles is immediately clued in and mouths the words, “Oh shit.”
The two head for the door, and instead of walking out, they close it. Then lock it. Then crack their knuckles, and get intense.
They each suddenly drop down to a righteous knee. In unison.
“Oh for Christ’s sake…” Lindsay sighs. She’s about ready to give up on this whole thing, this entire evening, and maybe ask the training staff for a scalpel to saw her leg off and save Eric the trouble at No Remorse. “That is not an answer! Use your words!”
Jiles quips as if she isn’t in the room. “She’s not buying it.”
“Nope.” Dooze sighs before standing from his knee, and takes a seat across from Troy. He leans in, looks her dead in the eyes, and speaks with sincerity. “Okay. Here goes, Queen. If you’re asking us why we would want you, The Queen of the Ring, to be a Bandit… well, I hate to break it to you, but if you have to ask then you’re not ready for Eric Dane. And I don’t mean because you’re getting looked at.”
Lindsay stares incredulously at Doozer. “I don’t…what does one have to do with the other?”
“You might not see it, but we still do and you’d have to be an idiot to not want to walk with a badass bitch who takes people’s teeth for a living. If you don’t know that, then you aren’t ready.”
“Okay that’s…” she trails off. Nice? Inspiring? It would be if she felt anywhere close to a badass bitch, or healthy enough or mentally ready to take a single one of Dane’s teeth. Instead, she looks over at Jiles. “You’re quiet.”
“I was showing my respect.”
“Oh, Greybush von Doomsday still does that?”
“I didn’t say giving.” Everyone chuckles for their own separate reasons. “But, I do have one question. Why not? I’d like to think if Dooze and I offered… dare I say, groveled, this opportunity like we have to anyone else they would have taken it months ago. Yet, here you still are. Resisting. We’re getting close to the final offer on Bandit or No Bandit, Lady Troy. After No Remorse, we might be too rich for your royal blood.”
“Think it over,” Dooze says. “Seriously think it over. No more of this coy, back-and-forth teasing crap. We’re going to want a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’ after the pay-per-view. ”
August 18, 2020
Silver Lining Wrestling Academy; Afternoon
Droplets of sweat drip from her forehead and pool on the canvas, speckling the silver mat and turning it charcoal. Every breath comes out ragged, every movement’s a struggle; muscles ache and cry out in protest. Her dinged-up knee, encased in its protective sheath, lets out a muffled wail, but Lindsay’s doing her best to ignore it and all her other maladies.
Right now, she’s just trying to get to her feet.
She’s on all fours, having taken a hard Irish whip to the corner; the velocity enough to put her to the mat on impact. It’s her last hard workout before No Remorse, the one they’re simulating most like a street fight, and while she and Sonny certainly haven’t taken it easy on each other in their sessions leading up to today, the man has definitely turned the gas way up for this one.
Then again, whenever she’s concerned, he always has.
Much like Dan Ryan, and Eric Dane, and even Mike Best, they weren’t supposed to work; two people with wildly dissimilar personalities, at each other’s throats from the get-go. But a common enemy in a corporate conglomerate saw them unite as Silver and GOLD and find tag team chemistry and resounding success. However she’s able to do it, for the length of her storied career the Queen simply has a high tolerance for shitty assholes.
It wasn’t until the debates began that she was the standout in their team, and that her professional accomplishments began eclipsing Sonny’s own, that jealousy set in. Eventually, in another place and another time, the knife to the back came swiftly and touched off a blood feud that would last a year. Lindsay became Sonny’s great white whale; an obsession to prove to himself that he wasn’t the lesser of the two teammates, that he was just as good – if not better – than his younger counterpart.
He would win one match out of four. Four of the toughest matches for either of them to that point, which is why she sought out his help twelve years ago when they were still barely speaking to help prepare her for the fight of her life against someone who tried to take everything from her…and nearly succeeded.
It’s why she’s sought Sonny out a second time for this war with Eric, after they buried all the nastiness, all the pettiness, somewhere in the depths of Washington’s Elliott Bay.
No one quite brings out the best in her like Sonny Gabriel Silver. And she’ll need him to bring out the worst in her, too. One more time.
“Get up,” he snarls, annoyed at how long it’s taking. “Get UP!”
Quick as a flash, Sonny’s hands are around her head and he hauls her up. Ami and Kaz watch on, concerned, outside the ring. He tosses her back-first against the turnbuckles and presses up against her with a forearm across her throat.
“You think Dane’s gonna let you catch a breather?” The words are a blast of hot fire, and she cries out as his knee buries itself into her right lumbar. “This ain’t your first street fight, and this ain’t your first injury.” Another knee. “Get out of your head and figure it out!”
Sonny propels her out of the corner, putting all fifty pounds he has on her to its full advantage. Her body crashes to earth again and the Silver Lining wastes no time in launching a penalty kick square between her shoulder blades, and another across her chest. Lindsay hits the mat and Sonny takes the mount. A heavy hand wraps around her throat and a forearm smashes against her face.
She scrabbles for purchase, growling, digging her fingernails into his arm, throwing punches to try and loosen his grip. Sonny swats her away.
“So when do we get to the part where you try?” He glowers. “‘Cause I’m getting pissed now. I got shit to do.”
He sniffs his nose, literally up in her direction.
“You salvaged some dignity a month ago by braining that caveman-lookin’ motherfucker on a chair and then what? You let him steal it away two weeks runnin’. Dane’s out there somewhere yukking it up that he’s made you look like a fucking chump. And from what I’m seeing and what your littles are seeing right now, I can’t disagree.”
Sonny has his back turned, so he can’t see Kaz’s fist instinctively clench. Anger swells in his chest and his face contorts in fury. The twenty year old with absolutely no fight-based training looks ready to bum-rush the ring and deck the man thirty years his senior with a sucker punch to the back of the head. Ami notices her twin’s expression and grabs his arm to prevent disaster.
“Ugh… come on!” Silver slaps Lindsay in the face now. “Where’s that fire? Where’s the person that couldn’t STOP being a damn thorn in my side? You’re not her.”
“Fuck OFF!” Troy yells. She tries to roll Sonny off her but fails.
“I’m already planning your retirement party in my head right now. Margaritaville is on its ninth repeat and everyone is leaving.”
His expression changes and Sonny looks serious, just for a second… then laughs under his breath. Because, asshole.
“God, that’s hilariously sad…”
The condescension slices through her ears like barbed wire through flesh. And while it was to be expected coming from Sonny, because this is what he does – and has done for years – and could easily teach a Master Class in the subject, Lindsay’s starting to get a little goddamn tired of hearing it.
Getting a little goddamn tired of buying into it.
She came to Seattle to prepare herself for Eric Dane, a man easily in the top five most decorated wrestlers she’s ever faced. Top five most cerebral too, if she’s really being honest. In an environment where there are no rules, the man excels; they may both be banged up coming into this fight, but her bad wheel has taken more hits than his sore ribs and neck. There’s no denying he has the distinct advantage by calling his shot with this match stip; it plays to his strengths and his brutality, and Eric’s never shied away from using his shrewdness to get a desired result, by any means necessary.
She came to Seattle to get her edge back. Because wallowing in her failures in silence since March has been eating her alive. In-ring failures. A failed marriage that she has no interest in salvaging because her loyalty and trust were broken. It’s not some ’nobody understands what it’s like to be me’ whiny bullshit. The cold hard fact is, when you’ve been a pinnacle of strength for so long, projecting it to the world becomes downright exhausting.
There’s no more keeping up the front. 24K, the Minister, MJ Flair, and now Eric Dane have all cracked her foundation. Fissures cut the stone, threatening to undo her completely.
Maybe it’s time for the Queen to abdicate the throne.
”God, that’s hilariously sad…”
The words echo in the recesses of her mind. Lindsay glares at Sonny, sees the hostility dancing in his eyes. Knows he’s taking pleasure in this. Thinks ahead to Saturday night, to the impending war, where she and Eric will re-christen the renovated Best Arena in a miasma of blood and bile and gore.
Lindsay Troy lays on her back, hand on her throat, feels the pressure become just a lil bit tighter, believes Eric will do all that and worse, and jams a thumb hard into Sonny’s eye.
The movement was so sudden that it caught him off-guard, and Lindsay’s able to grab his tank-top and yank him toward her, bringing her forehead up to the bridge of his nose and smashing the two together. Probably not the best move for someone two months removed from a concussion but the Queen isn’t thinking in practical terms.
She’s thinking about survival.
Fuck an abdication. If Eric Dane, or Lee Best, or anyone else in the Land of High Octane wants her to vacate her throne, they’d better put her in the grave.
Sonny rolls off Lindsay now, finally, and she scrambles to her feet. He struggles to do the same, but his vision is blurred from both the eye poke and the headbutt. She sprints for the ropes, gaining a head of steam and launches herself forward with a scream, flipping forward and driving her foot against Sonny’s temple with a rolling koppu kick.
“Oh my God!” Ami exclaims while Kaz yells out, “GO MOM!”
The smack of boot against flesh reverberates off the gym’s walls, and the Silver Lining falls to a knee. “Jesus Fuck–ACK!”
The curse is cut off as Lindsay takes his back, wrenching him down to the mat. Her long legs wrap around his lower body, twisting him one way. One arm captures his neck and twists him in the opposite direction. It all happens in a matter of seconds and the pain of the Queen’s constrictor-like grip is too much for Silver and he frantically taps.
Lindsay releases him after probably a couple seconds too long, dropping back against the canvas while Sonny rolls onto his side, coughing and sucking wind. The twins whoop and rejoice, jumping up and down in excitement.
“What the…” It takes Sonny a full minute to compose himself, and he glares at Lindsay. “You bitch, where the FUCK did that come from?!”
She looks at him, looking homicidal, and all she can do is laugh.
Later that night…
Kimpton Alexis Hotel
Out on a mid-rise terrace, with a hoodie to keep the Pacific chill away, Lindsay sits alone and watches flames climb skyward. The fire feels good, despite the cold compression of an ice wrap on her knee, and she can’t help but remember that two months ago she sat in front of a fire pit at Dan’s place outside Chicago and burned remnants of her marriage to Tyler, while Mike sat nearby and watched.
Then, she insisted on doing the same to his selfie blanket.
In hindsight, she may have overreacted a little in her desire to get rid of the thing, but fuck was it hideous.
He’s probably in Arkham by now; a detour before Tampa, chasing spectres.
The Queen turns around. Kaz is strolling up, hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans.
“Hey, bb,” she replies, watching him pull an Adirondack chair closer.
“Ami said you were out here.” The front fringe of his black hair covers his left eye, and with a flick of his head it’s moved out of his line of sight. “I thought you might be in your room.”
“No. I heard they had this terrace and it’s surprisingly quiet out here tonight. Figured I’d enjoy the fire and some solitude.”
Kaz nods. He’s not usually the quiet one; that’s his sister. But something’s been on his mind since he and Ami made the trip out to Washington….been on his mind a lot longer than that.
“Would…” the word trails off, and Lindsay leans forward in her chair, watching her son scrunch his eyebrows and struggle with whatever he wants to ask her. He looks her in the eyes and she sees her entire world. “Would you teach me how to do that? What you did to Sonny?”
She wishes she was surprised but, in reality, she isn’t. Kaz’s interest in his cousin Cecilia Ryan’s training had become more apparent over the last year, and with the cousins being as close as they are … were? … Lindsay knew it was probably only a matter of time before her son asked her this question, or vocalized his interest in getting into the ‘family business.’
“Oh, Kaz…” Lindsay’s reply carries a hint of sadness. “I’d hoped you’d never ask me this.”
“I know you don’t want me to be a wrestler,” he continues, quickly, before he loses his nerve. “You and Dad both. I know you both want something better for me. But Ceese is gonna do this. And we’ve already made plans. Please. I did the college thing for two full years and it’s not for me. This is what I want to do.”
Good parents sacrifice. They protect, they nurture, and they love. Good parents would do anything for their kids. And sometimes, being a good parent also means recognizing that they aren’t the one that’s best for them when it comes to certain things.
Lindsay Troy is a good parent. She is. She would burn the land and boil the sea for her kids.
“I’m not training anyone anymore.”
Kaz stares at his mom in disbelief. Before he can even parrot back his previous question, she continues.
“The whole reason I started in the first place was because I wanted to act like a leader and pass on what I knew, to not be as selfish like I was in my younger days. And it helped me become a better person than I used to be. But I’m at a crossroads in my career, and I have to start being just a little bit selfish again. I need to focus on myself.”
Lindsay reaches over and takes Kaz by the hand. It’s a struggle to hold the tears at bay; she never wanted to disappoint her child. “Our family can’t be the reason people go after us. And it will happen. People will use me to get to you, and people will use you to get to me. If you’re serious about this, baby, you need to make your own way. I will support you, I will be there for you, but I can’t be your guiding hand. Not right now.”
“Well if you won’t,” Kaz starts, “who…”
Kaz looks incredulous. “What? Seriously? He’s a total douchewaffle!”
There’s a pause before a chortle escapes from Lindsay’s throat. Truer words haven’t been spoken. “He is. He totally is. You could train within my system and learn from Tiff or Viv or Alex, but remember what I told you a month ago: most people in this business are dicks and you need to find the ones you can tolerate the most. If you can tolerate training with Sonny, then you’re gonna go very far. And who knows, he might grow on you.”
“Like a wart,” is the muttered reply.
“Don’t ever let him catch you muttering under your breath. He’s got ears like a bat.”
“Fine,” Kaz huffs. “If you think I should train with him, I’ll ask him. I have one more question.”
“Where did that twist come from? I’ve never seen you do it.”
Lindsay leans back in her chair and smiles, smugly. “I was going to teach it to Graysie Parker, but she left her training before I was able to. And because Eric used her against me, I’m going to use it to break him in half.”
The next day…
She lends against a wall ten feet away, watching her son stand on his own two feet and talk to Sonny about entering his training program. Right away, Lindsay can tell he’s being a dick, but Kaz just stands there, stoically taking it, keeping his mouth shut and not giving anything back. After a couple of minutes, Sonny makes his way over to her.
“This your idea?”
She shrugs. “Might’ve been.”
“So now I gotta deal with your offspring.”
“You don’t have to take him, you know.”
“Pfah.” Sonny puts his hands on his hips and looks at the floor. “He’s got a good look. I might be able to drag some potential out of him. But you’re gonna owe me double for this.”
She smirks. “I know. I will put in a good word for your nephew when he’s ready for the big leagues. And yourself, if you want to come back as his manager. That’s the deal. Then we’ll be even.”
Silver nods, then looks back up. “Suppose this means you’ll be checking in here, then.”
“When I can. I need to make sure you’re not treating Kaz shitty just because he’s my kid.”
“Hey, I treat all my students equally shitty. It’s how I know they’ll make it in this business.”
“Can’t wait for the status reports then.”
“So, what’s next?” Sonny asks. “Gonna drop some hot fire on Captain Caveman?”
Lindsay snickers and, surprisingly, shakes her head. “That’s what Eric’s expecting. That’s what he wants. He’s been trying to bait me into a verbal back and forth for a year and a half. I didn’t give it to him when he first signed on to HOW and I’m not going to give it to him now.
“I’m doing this my way, and my message is gonna be received loud and clear.”