Dan Ryan closed the door to the medical room at the Rosemont. Lindsay was inside, and there were things that needed to be said.
She had said some things, too — but the truth was, in the moment he couldn’t remember a single word of it.
He looked at the door, a wave of emotions starting to bubble up. He wanted to pull the door from its hinges and smash it to a million pieces.
He had to leave.
He turned, walking purposefully down the hall, dragging his knuckles along the wall as he went. Tunnel vision started kicking in, and he marched through the corridors singularly focused on getting back to his dressing room.
Once again he was standing at a door. This time, it had his name on a little temporary sign and once again he resisted the urge to rip it from its frame and turn it into splinters.
Instead, he opened it, walked through and gently closed it behind him.
He turned around, slowly crossing the room to a wooden bench where his bag was sitting, partially opened. To the side the ICON Championship belt sat on the bench where he had put it before heading to talk to Lindsay.
He stared at the belt, brow furrowed and serious, watching the light play on the surface of the golden plate. His head tilted to one side, then he closed his eyes. For what seemed like an eternity he stood there, recent events running through his mind — two losses in a row….. Winning a belt without winning the match…. knees rising to clock him in the face. He stood there, silent, and wondered…. wondered….
He thought about his own teammate — MJ Flair…. a kid…. making snide comments about his title win.
His eyes opened, and he leaned over, picking up his bag and softly placing it on the floor. He did the same for the belt, picking it up and zipping it up neatly in the bag.
He stood back up straight, staring down at the bench.
In a flash of movement, he suddenly picked up the entire bench and flung it as hard as he could into the opposite wall. It hit with a loud bang and broke into several pieces, knocking loose a fire extinguisher in the process. He grabbed the piece that came back closest to him and fired it off toward the shower area where it clipped the edge of a door frame and went flying haphazardly into a mirror over a sink. Small cracks started to spiderweb up from just above the faucet.
After taking just enough time to watch where the wood landed, he turned and lunged toward the row of lockers on the wall, firing anvil-like fists into the metal, caving them in like aluminum cans. A half dozen hard right and left hands nearly folded them in half from the top down, and the jagged edges of metal cut into both fists.
Dan looked down at his hands, chest heaving and smiled at the blood, then growled and grabbed the entire bank of lockers by a large piece hanging down and started to rip it from the wall. A section of three lockers broke loose, and, being able to rip it the rest of the way free he heaved it with a loud roar toward the entrance door, where it gashed a deep scar into the wood. The lockers themselves crashed with a loud scraping of metal against tile.
He scanned the room, quickly locking his eyes on the metal door from one of the remaining lockers on the wall hanging loosely nearby. He grabbed it and tore it from what remained of the locker and flung it like a metal frisbee at the previously cracked mirror, through the open door to the shower area. He watched as the entire mirror structure fractured in multiple places and came crashing down, scattering pieces of glass all over the vanity area.
He stood there, staring, watching little bits of glass settle all over the counter, then turned to see his handiwork — one side of the room with an entire row of lockers untouched, the other with a good two-thirds of it hanging onto the wall just barely — two upended lockers near the doorway, and what was left of a bench smashed into multiple pieces all over.
He closed his eyes again, breathing deeply, then took one more extra deep breath, leaned his head back and opened his eyes again.
He looked down, then slowly picked up his bag and slipped the strap over his shoulder. He walked toward the door, stepping over a large piece of wood right in front of the door, turned the knob, and left.
“What the hell did you do to your hands??”
Alaina Troy-Ryan rushed over from behind her desk. She’d flown home to attend some business, and she’d talked her husband into flying home after the show as well. His huge frame was filling the doorway of her study. He was in street clothes, with the two rolled-up sleeves of his business casual attire not doing much to conceal the numerous scratches all over his forearms and the bloody-but-starting-to-heal gashes on both hands.
He looked down and held them out slightly, not saying a word as she reached him and took his hands in hers.
“Talk to me. What’s going on? I talked to my sister. This didn’t happen in the match….”
She trailed off and he looked up.
“I need you to uh…. be prepared to cut a check to the Village of Rosemont.”
“I’m sorry.” She replied. “The what?”
He looked down only slightly, then back up to make contact. “They own the arena. There may be some damage in one of their dressing rooms.”
“Oh God.” Alaina shook her head. “What did you do?”
He pulled his hands free and looked slightly up this time, a little annoyed, an uncharacteristic feeling in the presence of his wife.
“I feel like that was implied in my previous comment.”
A cold breeze swept through the study, metaphorically speaking. Alaina’s eyes narrowed.
“Don’t be an asshole, Dan. You can’t just go destroying a dressing room because you lost a match…”
He cut her off.
“I lost a match? I lost A match? How about, I took Farthington to a draw, then I lost to him, then lost at Alcatraz, then lost the tag titles, then ‘won’ the ICON but lost to him again. Then, I lost to Lindsay. I lost A match? I think it runs a little deeper than that at this point.”
She sighed. “First of all, I’m pretty sure there were some wins in there you’re forgetting about. Second of all, you’ve lost matches before.”
“No.” He shook his head. “Not like this. Not this often.”
He walked over to the desk, putting both hands down and leaning. She walked over behind him, placing a hand on his shoulder.
“You’ll come back stronger. You always do. It’s not like you’ve lost a step out there.”
He bristled at that last statement, looking over at his wife. If she caught it, she didn’t let on. She certainly wouldn’t be pointing it out.
“Listen,” she got a business-like expression on her face. “You have another match in the LBI right away this weekend. Who is it this week?”
He stood up to his full height, turned around and sat on the edge of the desk, crossing his arms over his chest as he did so.
Alaina nodded. “There you go. Just direct all of this in her direction.”
“Yep.” He nodded back. Alaina Troy-Ryan = Wisdom. “Trust me. I have some things I’d like to say to MJ Flair.”
You look so fucking stupid right now.
Maybe High Flyer should just step aside for you, MJ? Maybe he should just step aside?
And maybe I look stupid too, huh? I don’t look stupid for losing to Lindsay. I’ve lost to her before, and she’s lost to me before. I knew that might happen. She’s absolutely world class. She can beat anybody at any time, and anyone who says otherwise is just completely full of shit and not worth your time.
But maybe I look stupid for sticking up for you and trying to help build you up. I’m over here talking you… Lindsay… Jack…. talking you all up for months and months and I’ve got you over here throwing shade my way like you’re a motherfuckin’ member of the eMpire. Hey, you got that convenient ‘M’ in your name, don’t ya? You might as well, right?
Do me a favor Mariella. Don’t get on TV and talk shit about members of the Industry finishing runner up, about me ‘winning the first of five falls’ or Lindz ‘losing to Eric Dane Cosplay’ when you got a fuckin’ boo-boo and peaced off back to mommy and daddy’s house for the holidays to heal up mentally and physically from that bullshit at Alcatraz.
I don’t even wanna fuckin’ hear that shit. Not one bit.
All of that nonsense you talked about last week was one of the most pathetic whine-fests I’ve ever heard in my entire life. It was the goddamn Napa Valley of whine-fests….. (mockingly) ohhhhh you had your shots….. Lindsay had her shot….. Ryan had his shots…. My puppy had his shots….. everyone but me had their shots….
Get the fuck outta here with that bullshit.
Why do you even want a shot, MJ? You’re afraid of needles. The last time someone tried to give you a shot it ended in Adrian Evans dragging you out of a medic’s office with tears streaming down your face to go get you some Pedialyte.
Let me tell you something, since you decided to get on TV and talk sideways out of your mouth about the ‘shots’ we’re getting and how we’re coming out in second place or whatever the hell it was you said. We’re here fighting, MJ. Where the fuck were you?? While Lindsay was ‘coming up short’ against Mike, where the fuck were you?? While Jack was working his ass off trying to help me defend the tag titles, where the fuck were you? While I was going 97 full minutes with the most dominant champion in our entire sport, where the FUCK were you?
Where the fuck were you, MJ? Where? At home with Eli and Angel and Kevin and the band and whoever the fuck else, holding a boo boo bear up to your feelings to make them all better?
Hey — I’m all about taking care of your shit if that’s what you’ve gotta do. But don’t walk back in here after walking out and point your bullshit in our direction. We’re the ones that have been here fighting our asses off while you had a holly jolly Christmas, kid. We’re here fighting. WHERE… THE FUCK…. HAVE YOU BEEN?
We’ve been covering for your invisible ass for over a month.
Fuck off with your condescension.
‘Step aside, man’ ‘Come on, dude’ ‘You guys have been varying shades of ineffective, man’ ‘Dude, I haven’t won much more than you guys, but dude I’m MJ Flair, so smirk smirk snarky attitude, man’ ‘Dude, I say man or dude at the beginning or end of all of my sentences because it shows how young and cool I am, man’ ‘Dude, man dude, man.’
Dude, looks to me like you sleepwalked your ass through your preparation for Jack and got yourself beat, man.
Come back in here, roll your eyes and say ‘ok boomer’ if you want. I don’t give a fuck. You’re so worried about everyone getting these shots. Do you know why I get shots? Because I stick around and keep fighting. And let me tell you something else, little girl. I don’t care if it takes me 10, 20 or 100 shots to win that World Championship. I’m gonna keep taking those shots, and taking them, and taking them, until someone puts me in the ground.
That’s the difference between you and me. When things get tough, I rise to the occasion and I keep on fighting. I will fight and fight, and continue to fight until I can’t fight anymore.
You think I’m getting some unfair breaks because I keep working my way into title shots? Huh? You think you’re getting some unfair breaks because you’re not? Well, I guess you’d fucking be the expert on breaks, wouldn’t you? You’re barely twenty goddamn years old and already you’ve been on how many extended sabbaticals?? I’ve seen government officials with guaranteed union no-show jobs with a stronger work ethic than you.
And yet you’re there throwing shade at us, with the tear stains on your wrestling gear, too busy to even meet up with your teammates before a show.
Maybe I’d give a fuck about your sad lost weekend if you acted like you gave a fuck about anything other than your pity party about the shots you aren’t getting, you immature emo fuck.
You’re turning yourself into a boring cliche’ and it makes me fucking sick. Why don’t you just take the next step, get your teaching license and go try to save a poor school in the ghetto? That way you can go down there, they can reject you and you can cry your way back home. We already know you know how to do that. And you’ve already got the effeminate boyfriend to cry your eyes out to, so you can do that, he can talk you into giving it just one more shot, you can go back to the school, they’ll teach you to dance, you’ll put a do-rag on, you’ll inspire them and bring out their inner beauty, and everybody ends up fucking happy.
Sounds like a fucking five stars out of five stars, would see it again masterpiece, MJ.
If you can fight as well as you bitch and complain, why don’t you just get your ass in the ring and fight me then? You may not have noticed, but I’m not in the fucking mood to carry around your emotional baggage this week, so I’d just as soon you get in the ring, shut the fuck up, and fight.
Do you think you can handle that? Can you handle it without sobbing your eyes out about all of the unfairness in the world?
Just fucking fight, and beat me if you can, but either way, for the love of God, shut the fuck up.
If this is a team, if the Industry is a thing, I’m telling you right now, you’re not walking around here talking shit about me with impunity. You’re not talking out of the side of your mouth and getting a pass just because you’re going through some shit.
‘Cuz I gotta tell you, I’ve been through and accomplished everything you’ve been through and accomplished a hundred times over, and I’m not interested in your sad sack routine. Suck it the fuck up, get your fists up and fucking FIGHT.
I’m not listening to any long stories about MJ Flair and her growth as an up and coming second generation star in this sport – not when you can’t be fucking bothered to stick around and fight for your ‘friends’.
But hey – full circle, right?
I guess I’m fucking stupid. I thought you were here to fight. Maybe I was wrong.
Silly fucking me.
Let me lay it on the line — and right up front, laying it on the line is what it’s called when you face a person and say what you mean instead of being a passive aggressive cunt — AHEM, let me lay it on the line…..
If you’re here to be a team, and you’re here to fight? Welcome back to the fucking party. But keep the condescension where Dan Ryan, Jack Harmen and Lindsay Troy are concerned out of your fucking mouth. We’re not here for that. You haven’t fucking earned that right yet, and I don’t care who your daddy is.
Come to the ring and fight, Flair.
THAT is where you’ll earn that respect.
I’m not gonna lead you out of the ring lovingly like Adrian Evans. I’m gonna kick you in the fucking mouth.
Either you’re gonna find a level of mental toughness you sure as fuck haven’t been showing lately and you’ll earn the trust and respect that your big mouth thinks you already deserve, or else you fuck back off to home again to sip whiskey with Kevin.
Either way, the status quo is done.
If we go down, we’re going down with me fighting. If you’re more interested in playin’ footsy with your boyfriend and only getting in the fight when it suits you, you can go on your merry way and continue your comin’ of age story without me. I don’t give a damn. But if you wanna grow the fuck up now, then come on out and give me everything you’ve got, and no matter what happens in the end, be there when the fight goes down.
Cuz I gotta tell you, straight from your mouth, I know where your damn heart is in all of this. Maybe you fucked up and said some shit you don’t mean. Maybe that’s what happened. You’re gonna have to live with that either way — but if you disappear on us again, I’m gonna be real blunt with you — I don’t have any more fuckin’ time for you, MAN.
No time. For you. Man.
I like you fine, MJ, so you take this little ‘talk’ however you want. Listen to it and get pissed off and direct it toward helping us make some headway around here, or listen to it and have a cry and go on your merry little way. But you better damn well get it straight that I am not here to be some stepping stone for you to skip your little pigtails over on your way to wherever the hell you’re going.
And I don’t give a damn how you feel about things.
Just get in the ring and get your goddamn hands up, because I’m about to beat the shit outta you.