She stares at herself in the mirror, studying the jagged scars snaking down her neck and across her well-toned stomach, and wonders if she should even bother with still applying the ointment that’s aided in their healing process thus far.
Scars earned in battle aren’t something that Lindsay has ever been shy about, but these ones from Dan are particularly deep. While they’ve faded from deep crimson to a more palatable blush color now, they’re still a sight to behold. The one on her neck is partially visible unless she wears a high-necked shirt (not her preference), and earns her stares when she goes out in public. Normally, it’s either her height or her quasi-celebrity status that earns her attention, but this time it’s the gruesomeness of the injury that’s doing the deed.
The treatment won’t remove the evidence, and it’s been nearly a month now since the Prison Yard brawl where they became a permanent fixture on her body. A monstrous challenge, failed. Now, a pack of hyenas on her tail, and battle with a lethal Irishman with a boulder for a hand, an iron jaw, and a massive chip on his shoulder.
All things seemingly converging at once. More battles to face, on multiple fronts.
Let the hyenas snap. Let the wolf knock at her door.
Let them come.
Ah. Here he is, then. My man Hughie Freeman. The proud Pikey, caged no more, and back amongst the gen pop of the world.
I’m glad you made it off the Rock, Hughie. I’m glad you won your freedom, that you were able to beat that bad rap that Skooter MacGruber dealt you. Time to put all that behind you now. Full steam ahead to better shores and brighter days, right? Clear eyes, full heart, can’t lose.
Maybe…not so fast.
We aren’t well acquainted, Hughie, but I’m gonna be honest with you just the same. Figure you might appreciate it, since I doubt a lot of people have been all that honest with you in your life. And if you don’t appreciate it, that’s fine too, you can tell me to get fucked and we’ll beat on each other just the same come Saturday night.
You might be a free man now, but you’re not really free.
Nobody is in the land of High Octane.
You might’ve already felt the claws against your skin, tickling the back of your neck. You go to swipe them away, turn around to confront them but it’s already too late; they’ve dug themselves in now, sharp talons sinking into flesh, grasping hold, poison seeping into your veins.
This place changes people, and not for the better. Nobody’s immune to it. It took me awhile to realize that it happened to me. I didn’t feel the pincers there; I was too wrapped up in my own bullshit. Too annoyed with the stagnation of the Industry, too desperate for a change. And by the time it all finally clicked in my head, I’d already suffered through a string of losses, nearly had my kneecap shattered, and got read for filth by the one person who has always, unequivocally, had my back.
That’s not to say that I’d change my decision to form the Group of Death. But in hindsight, I might’ve gone about it differently. Maybe not let the stink of this place get on me like it did.
This place has changed you too, Hughie. I’m not gonna pretend to be your bosom buddy, but you can’t say you’re the same man you were when you first put your John Hancock on the dotted line. You’re still John Freeman’s son, and you’re now the LSD Proud Fighting Champion, but can you say you’re better off than you were before your Irish caravan rolled into the Allstate Arena? Can you look at what you’ve gone through, all the HATE, the four months in Alcatraz, jumping through Woodson’s hoops, and tell me aye, Lindz, you’re full of shit.
I know I’m not.
You’ll get the chance to tell me to my face, though. No more playing patty cake with the burnouts, the has-beens, and the plucky up-and-comers for you. You wanted to take on the real fighters, the real big talkers, the big boys and girls…well ask and you shall receive.
I know you want to leave a legacy here and etch your name among the LSD title greats. Max Kael. Silent Witness. Give Scottywood his due as a five time champ. You’ve already got one defense under your belt, and you’ve got a blistering kick and a devastating punch to back up every single thing you’ve ever said since you got here. And yeah, I know what this must look like. Just one more test for the Queen, right? Daddy Lee’s got that bee in his frilly bonnet, so not only is he throwing me at his hired guns, now he’s hoping the Pikey Playboy’ll soften me up for the Czar of ZzzQuil, Jatt Starr.
Don’t be mad about that, Hughie, I know you just LOVE and adore JattAttack so I’ll try my very best not to cripple his leg even more than it already is. But this ain’t just a test for me.
It’s a test for you, too.
You put the call out that you wanted to face fighters; well, kiddo, you’ve got one. I’ve got this real annoying habit of not knowing when to stay the fuck down when I get hit and I’m not as easy to run over as you might think I am. It’s no secret that I’ve got a real shit record here when it comes to winning singles title matches, Hughie, but you can bet your ass that I’m not gonna make this defense easy for you. I lost the ICON title match at Rumble at the Rock, but it took getting filleted in the Prison Yard for Dan Ryan to pin me. Max Kael and I battled three times, once for your very title, and even though I never beat him in any of our encounters he always needed something extra to put me away.
Lee Best ain’t gonna be happy if you don’t fuck my entire world up. And trust and believe I’m gonna do everything I can to fuck his entire world up for as long as I’m able.
You’re a proud man, Hughie Freeman, and I like that about you.
But I’m gonna make this third shot at singles gold the winning one for me.