It’s a staredown.
MJF: We need to talk about Eric.
Blaire Moise looks left, at the LSD Champion, and makes a note, before looking right.
Angus Skaaland: We certainly don’t.
Sitting in the back alley behind TC’s Pub, Angus with a double shot of something that smells… potent, Blaire with a dirty martini, and MJ Flair with an irritatingly nonalcoholic Sprite, the Voice of DEFIANCE Wrestling had been herded to the meeting by an overly-energetic Cally, friend to all and provider of tiny little heavenly briberies: ‘special’ brownies.
Angus Skaaland: There’s nothing to talk about. He made his choice; he was at the top’a the world in DEFIANCE, and now he’s slummin’ it with the dirty whores of HOW.
Angus Skaaland: Sorry, not whores.
Blaire Moise: Hey!
Angus Skaaland: Sorry. Not dirty. But you don’t… do that.
MJF: Disagree. This isn’t like the Yankees and the Red Sox, Angus. Or even like you and Adrian.
Angus Skaaland: That angry little man isn’t here, is he?
MJF: No. But I’m telling him you said that.
Angus Skaaland: Bring it.
MJF: We’re getting off-topic, man. Point is, is there anything else Dane could really accomplish in DEFIANCE? Goin’ back there, winning the FIST, winning the Heritage… I mean, he founded the place and ran the place. It’s just a numbers game at that point and numbers get boring after a while unless it’s all you’ve got.
He drinks, but he’s interested.
MJF: But I think he needs some help, and I mean more than I can give.
Angus Skaaland: Help right on out the gorram door, that is.
Blaire sits back, quietly taking notes as the other two lock eyes.
MJF: I told Cally, I said I was worried about him after War Games, and she told me about a conversation she had with you like a year or so ago, how you were afraid he didn’t have it anymore. You remember that?
Angus Skaaland: …I do…
Clearly apprehensive, he’s trying not to commit to an answer; MJ bulldozes straight on through.
MJF: Cally said she said to you, if Dane’s lost it, it’s better he find that out now than wonder about it in ten years, right?
Angus Skaaland: And he’s lost it. Look at what he’s doing.
Angus puts the drink to his lips, but MJ shakes her head and takes it from him. She sips it and makes a face.
MJF: That’s awful.
Angus Skaaland: Keeps people from sampling. Supposed to, at least.
MJF: Anyways. He hasn’t lost it.
Angus side-eyes Blaire.
MJF: Cally said that, so I’ve been pullin’ a tonna his matches from the past year or so, and he’s as solid as ever. Maybe a little slower because’a age and injuries, but he’s fightin’ hard as he ever has. I think he’s lost confidence in himself, and not havin’ any friends around him is startin’ ta wear on his psyche.
She shrugs, and points to Angus.
Angus Skaaland: Oh, he don’t need me around. He’s got you Second Best Alliancers.
Sipping his rotgut like a Kermit the Frog meme, MJ shakes her head.
MJF: First of all, fuck you.
Blaire suppresses a chuckle.
MJF: Second of all, not really. Aunt Lindz, Mr. Ryan, and Jack, we’re all friendly and shit, but Dane’s got years’a experience being their rivals, not their friends. And he’s got me, but no matter how much of a peer he sees me, the facts are, his fuckin’ career is older than my life. Only so much he’ll listen to from me.
Angus Skaaland: You think he’d actually listen to me? Oh, you’re precious. He didn’t listen to me when I said don’t sign that contract, did he?
MJF: Dude. Don’t do that. You guys go back… so damn far. Is it really that difficult ta swallow your pride, n’make the first move?
Angus looks down. MJ ducks her head almost to the table to catch his eye. He looks away, she follows.
He shotguns his drink. She cringes.
Angus Skaaland: You are so gorram annoying, you know?
MJF: I’m told it’s one’a my defining characteristics.
“It’s so simple, Scotty.”
Fadein on MJ Flair. Friday Night Chaos backdrop. ‘HIGH OCTANE FLAIR’ shirt. LSD Title over her shoulder and microphone in hand.
“I’m needling ya, Scotty. I know it. It’s nothing personal, though. Just business.”
With a nod and a wink to Hornet.
“But I never, ever… ever assumed ya’d go where ya did. I threw out some ish about your history with this Championship. One and done.”
“Ya know how many Championships I’ve won, Scotty? Counting this one?”
MJ gestures the LSD Title belt.
“Seven. And I know that so fast because it’s a single digit. How many days have I held each title? How does it rank compared to the others that’ve held those respective Championships?”
“Couldn’t tell ya. It’s filed next to all your detailed data in the ‘Who the fuck cares, nobody gives a shit’ pile.”
“Who cares, Scotty?”
“You care, Scotty. And it makes me sad for ya.”
“Does it matter, the number’a days that you’ve held a title? The number’a times? Some people care. You shouldn’t.”
“What I do, is I take this title.”
She holds it up.
“And this is my focus. This is what matters to me. Not ‘How many times can I hold this title.’ Not ‘How many days can I hold it for.’ Not ‘Where can I go from here.’”
“The next match. The next mission. The next battle. That’s what matters, Scotty.”
“I hear you talk about this title with reverence, Scotty. And I believe it. I believe this title defined you as much as you defined this title.”
“But what was it, twelfth longest reign with thirteen days ‘n fourteen defenses in a field’a fifteen or whatever?”
“Somewhere, ya lost your passion, Scotty… and replaced it with numbers. When an achievement becomes routine… it’s just another day at the office.”
“I ain’t never been there, Scotty… and I won’t ever be.”
“I can hear it now, man. I’m very young and very inexperienced, and I haven’t been turned cynical by the sport. Or you’re very old ‘n very experienced, and you still have all’a the passion.”
“Stat – obsessives don’t have passion, Scotty. Because they only like it when their numbers go up, and if their numbers don’t go up, then it’s a rigged game. Or a cheap loss. Or shut up, it’s a stupid game anyways.”
“Ask yourself, Scotty. What’s more important to ya? Winnin’ this title and bein’ the guy ta’define what it means again? Or winnin’ this title for the sixth time so ya can say ya won it for the sixth time?”
“Like you said yourself, Scotty… most’a the Champions in High Octane lose it in their first defense. Hardly time ta’ define a Championship, is it?”
“I don’t define Championships, Scotty.”
“I define me.”
“Any Championship comes along for the ride for however long the ride lasts. This one?”
She gestures to the title belt.
“Whether it ends in three days, thirty days, or three hundred days… it’ll carry the same dignity that I carry myself.”
MJ holds up one finger.
“Respect the ring.”
“Respect the fans.”
“Respect the sport.”
“Maybe it’s all moot, Scotty. Maybe I’m three days out from droppin’ this Championship to you. Stranger things have happened, right? Like you said, who saw me goin’ from bell ta bell except for me and the rest’a my team?”
“Everyone in this sport’s got everyone else’s number if the circumstances are right. Maybe it’ll be your lucky day.”
“Maybe your luck got bored while you were crunchin’ the numbers, and drowned itself in a hot tub.”
Blaire Moise: That was unexpected.
The pub is open, and there are dozens of people inside and out. Eating, drinking, talking. Having a lovely evening. In the midst of it all, Blaire and MJ have moved inside to the corner, where they’re left relatively in peace. There’s an occasional straggler who will approach and ask for a photo, but none of the regulars even bat an eye.
Having grown up in this place, MJ’s presence is a semi-regular one, plus Cally is a one woman entertainment show all by herself. And Blaire is impressed by how gracefully MJ handled every fan that approached her.
MJF: What? The fans? They’re the bread ‘n butter, man. Without them, you and I aren’t sittin’ here. I mean, I would be but I’d be sittin’ here with nothing ta do.
Blaire laughs. MJ takes a sip from her glass of straight vodka that another bartender slipped her.
Blaire Moise: No, that doesn’t surprise me. I mean, you’ve got Scottywood on the horizon and you seem more concerned with Eric Dane. Is that the best use of your time?
For the first time, MJ appears to be speechless. She picks up her glass and holds it up, considering it for a few seconds. Finally, she takes another drink.
MJF: Scotty’s a separate animal. Do I worry about it? No, because it’ll be what it’ll be. Maybe he’s got my number this time out, maybe I’ve still got his. All I can do is wrestle my ass off and do what I do best and trust that it’s still enough. And yeah, I also worry about it because when the shit hits the fan, this is my first one on one match in High Octane so far. No partners. No second opponent. No bullshit. Me and one opponent, all spotlights down, ya know?
MJF: But I won that Championship because we fought as a team. That team is a big fuck deal to me, man.
Another drink, slightly larger than the last.
MJF: And I mean, selfishly… if someone in my tribe is havin’ a rough go of it, I’mma be distracted. I know someone’s lookin’ after my mentor, I can focus on Scottywood.
She drains her glass.
MJF: And that’s the thing, man. I grew up watchin’ my dad and my aunt be totally committed to their team in the sport. I watched Mommy entertain a ton’a A&R guys who wanted t’sign her to a solo deal, she’d waste their time as long as she could just so she could say fuck you, my boys are my family.
Blaire nods her understanding.
MJF: Dane, Aunt Lindz, Mr. Ryan, Jack…
MJF: They’re my professional family, man. And that shit’s tight. It’s like I don’t need t’sweat Scotty the way I might if I didn’t have any kinda support. Like I said, maybe he’s got the edge this time, maybe I’ve still got it.
MJ leans into the table.
MJF: All I can do is step into that ring and give ‘em the fight’a my life.
No matter how many years she’s been doing this job, it still amazes her how simply keeping quiet can incentivize professional wrestlers to keep talking.
Second verse, same as the first.
“Hardcore wrestling is a young woman’s game, Scotty.”
Title. T-Shirt. Backdrop. Champion.
“Your contributions to the cause are certainly well appreciated and well remembered.”
And we will eventually wish you great luck in your future endeavors.
“But as a forty two year old man, please enlighten us: What can you further contribute to the LSD Championship? Is it a great new kind of match that you can do now that you couldn’t, twenty years ago? Would it be an exercise in how much blood a man can lose and still get his hand raised?”
She shakes her head. No.
“Of course not. It’s to hold the title for an unprecedented – for High Octane – sixth time. It’s to look at it in your hands for an unprecedented – for Scottywood – eighty fifth consecutive day?”
“Think about it, Scotty. One’a those answers is good for High Octane, the other is good for Scottywood. They are, in fact, mutually exclusive.”
“Do you see the distinction? Do you see why I question your motives?”
“What you do with your High Octane Janitors is not what’s best for High Octane Wrestling. We don’t know your statement’a purpose, we don’t know your end game.”
“We know you and your boys wanted to get everyone’s attention at Refueled, but all ya managed ta say was ‘HEY LOOK AT US!’”
Thousand – yard stare.
“Begging for attention ain’t what’s best for High Octane. D’ya know what is?”
She rolls her eyes and air quotes.
“Alliance of Defiance.”
“Yeah. I said it. No, none of us wanted t’destroy High Octane. What we wanted… what I wanted– What I continue ta want… is t’make my mark.”
She holds up the title belt.
“The mark has been made.”
“Like you said, Scottywood, all eyes on me. What are you bringin’ to the party?”
Wait. No. Let me guess.
“A hockey stick, wrapped in barbed wire, right?”
“Seriously, tho. How’s that work? It’s a big, unwieldy kinda weapon. Wouldn’t it get stuck in the dreads and possibly pull ‘em out?”
She waves off the thought.
“But it’s been done, man. It’s old hat. What this title represents, ta me?”
MJ holds up the belt and points at the ‘LSD’ engraving.
“Free your mind. Free yourself from your preconceptions. No limits. No laws.”
She gestures towards the camera.
“No trite, tired weapons that were in vogue when ya broke into the sport two decades ago.”
“This is more than just a battle between two opposite – minded athletes, Scotty. This is more than just a fight ta see who carries the LSD Championship into the Refueled era.”
“This is a straight – up, fundamental, philosophical difference between the past-present, and the present-future.”
“Ya done good so far, Scotty. Ya made the girl love ya. Ya proved ya love the girl. But what’s next?”
“What’cha got for Act III?”
“No more talkin’, Scotty. No more ’Alliance ‘a Defiance’ or High Octane Janitors.”
And she smiles. It’s… creepy.
“I’ve got the pedigree and the belt, Scotty. You’ve got the history and experience. But it’s a whole new dance, Scotty.”
“Time ta see if ya can learn the steps.”
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