“Sooner or later, everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
— — — — —
When the sucker punch cracks Kaz across the jaw, Lindsay leaps off the couch like she’s been tased.
When she notices the chain wrapped around Daytona’s grimy hand, she bolts for the door, screaming into her walkie-talkie for Dam and the Enemigos to get eyes on her son and his assailant.
Her boots thud down the hallway, matching the pounding of her heart as it beats in her throat. Wade’s size fourteens are behind her, but their heavy thumps melt into the background haze. Bodies of PRIME staff, quick to move out of the way, are nothing but black-clothed blobs as the Queen sprints through the halls of the Enterprise Center.
Boss Mode has long been forgotten.
She’s in full-on Mom Mode.
And sooner or later, she knew that things were going to come to this…
August 18, 2020
Kimpton Alexis Hotel
Out on a mid-rise terrace, with a hoodie to keep the Pacific chill away, Lindsay sits alone and watches the flames of a fancy fire pit climb skyward. She’s been in Seattle a month, training with Sonny Silver for the fight of her life against Eric Dane, while also trying to reclaim her life after Tyler Rayne shattered her heart and destroyed their family four months before.
Training with Sonny is no easy feat; he’s as much of an ornery, stubborn, hard-hitting piece of shit in his retirement as he ever was as an active competitor. Yet, despite his and Lindsay’s storied history and heated battles throughout the years, over time the two have come to what one would call a “mutual understanding.”
A normal person would call it friendship, but Sonny would reject that term outright and most likely would slap the taste out of your mouth for even suggesting it.
Both Ami and Kaz, on summer vacation from college, came along for the ride. As each day passed, the twins became more and more engaged in the training sessions, talking amongst themselves and cheering their mom on as she sparred with other students, trainers, and even Sonny himself at the Silver Lining Academy.
It’s been a very productive camp, and as it nears its final days, the Queen feels more than prepared to extinguish the Only Star.
Lindsay looks over her shoulder and sees Kaz strolling up, hands shoved into the pockets of his jeans.
“Hey, sweetie,” 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 sight line. “I thought you might be in your room.”
“No. I heard they had this terrace and it’s surprisingly quiet out here. Figured I’d enjoy the fire and some solitude.”
“Nice night for it.” Kaz stretches his long legs out, getting himself comfortable. The embers and the silence dance between them for a time.
“Can I ask you something?” he says after awhile, tilting his head toward his mom. A slow smile spreads across Lindsay’s face, and that seems to settle the butterflies that have been building in his stomach over the past several weeks.
“Anything,” is the reply.
“Would…” the word trails off, and Lindsay tilts her head towards Kaz, watching him struggle with whatever he wants to ask her. He looks her in the eyes and she sees her entire world. “Would you train me? Like you did Cece?”
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, it was probably only a matter of time before he asked her about getting into the family business.
Still, it doesn’t make it any easier to hear.
“Oh, Kaz…” Lindsay’s response carries a hint of sadness. “I 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, and for Ami. But Ceese is gonna do this. And she and I have 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 also, good parents let their kids stand on their own two feet and figure their lives out for themselves.
Even when the path they take is different from their original one.
Lindsay reaches over and places her hand overtop of her son’s. “Kaz, if you know this is what you want to do, then of course I’ll support you.”
Kaz’s smile glows in the firelight.
“I don’t want you to only learn from me, though. I came out here to train with Sonny for a reason; in all the years I’ve been in this business, he’s not only been my greatest adversary, but he’s also brought out the best in me. And I want him to do the same for you.”
Kaz looks incredulous. “What? Seriously? He’s a total asshole!”
A laugh escapes from Lindsay’s throat. Truer words have never been spoken. “He absolutely is. But if you can tolerate training with him, then you’re going to go very far. And who knows, he might grow on you.”
“Like a wart.”
Lindsay flicks her son’s ear. “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 tomorrow.”
“I do,” she says with a nod. “This business isn’t for the faint of heart, Kaz. I know you know that. People will use you to get to me, and people will use me to get to you. It’s a tale as old as time, and you need to be prepared for when it happens. I know Sonny’s will help get you there, as will I.”
“I won’t let you down, Mom.”
The Queen turns back to look at the fire pit with a smile. “You couldn’t even if you tried.”
By the time Lindsay and Wade arrive at the scene of Daytona’s attack, Astrid and Medical are already evaluating Kaz and treating his wounds.
“Move,” the Queen orders, pushing through two technicians to get closer to her son. Wade shares a look with the Head of Security, one that Dam – unfortunately – knows all too well.
“Lindsay–” Astrid begins, but the Boss is already on one knee, close enough to talk to Kaz, but not so close as to impede the Medical Director’s work.
“Are you alright?” Lindsay asks Kaz, her voice tinged with worry.
“I’m fine, Mom,” Kaz scowls, or grimaces; it’s hard to tell. There’s a hint of annoyance in his response, either from Daytona getting the drop on him and beating him to hell, or from his mother being here and fussing over him.
He’s not fine, and Lindsay knows it, but doesn’t press. Instead, she asks, “Astrid?”
“Kaz passed concussion protocol and his head wounds are superficial,” the doctor says, affixing a second butterfly bandage to Kaz’s forehead before standing up. Lindsay follows, helping the Heir Apparent to his feet. “He’ll have bruising on his neck from the chain and some stiffness but he passed a range of motion tests.”
“And his status for ReVival 37?”
“Check in with me a day or two before the show, please, Kaz,” Astrid replies. “Standard procedure. I don’t see any reason for this to hinder you from competing. Tylenol, ice, rest. No heavy lifting. Understood.”
Kaz nods. “Understood. Thank you, Doctor.”
Astrid and her team begin to gather their things as Lindsay turns to her son. “You don’t need to put on a brave face for me, you know.”
“Mom, come on.” Another grimace, this one definitely from embarrassment. “I said I’m fine.”
The Queen puts up her hands in surrender. She knows this routine, having deployed it many times over the years with her friends, and having it used on her by her child is surreal.
Then again, having her child compete in her company is surreal in and of itself.
Lindsay puts her hand on Kaz’s shoulder and turns, only to find Dam and the Enemigos waiting for her.
“Wait,” she says, looking around. Finally, her eyes fall on Dam. “Where’s Wade?”
— — — — —
Nobody picked up the chain.
It sat there on the floor of the backstage hallway, right where Daytona Diamonds dropped it.
Until a rugged hand scooped it up.
Burning heat spewing from his nostrils and thunder in his eyes, Wade hammers through the halls, sharp blue eyes darting to find the building’s exit. Once he finds those metal doors he’s quick to put his boot through them, and storms into the parking lot of the Enterprise Center.
Wrapping that chain once around his palm, he stomps quickly through the lot, dragging the rest of the chain behind him on the asphalt. He swings his head left and right, teeth grit behind his grayed beard.
A rental car pulling out from its spot and turning toward him, the flamboyant hat of Daytona Diamonds clear even in the dark and through the glare of headlights.
The Bad Dog spits, and storms forward toward the oncoming car.
Behind the windshield, the Rhinestone Cowboy squints at the 6’4” wall of piss and vinegar walking toward him.
“Now, what in the good god dang… ?”
The Bad Dog swings the chain over head like a whip, crashing it along the windshield, sending a spider-web of cracked glass in every direction.
“Oh shit! Oh shit! Shit, shit, shit!” hollers Daytona.
Instinct forces him to hit the brakes hard with a screech, just as another swing collides with the glass, cracking it further. Looking for some recourse, the King of the Rodeo stomps on the gas out of instinct, revving the engine of his rental.
Just as he hits the gas, the front door is wrenched open, and the Southern Sparkplug’s rough hand grips him by the collar of his gleaming jacket, ripping him from the front seat and onto the asphalt.
“Get yer fuckin’ hands off me, buddy! This ain’t no way to beha–” shouts an exasperated Daytona Diamonds.
But he’s shut up abruptly with a stiff boot to the nose.
“AW HELL’S BELLS! SONUVABITCH!” hollers the Rhinestone Cowboy, clutching at his nose, blood streaming immediately.
He doesn’t have long to yelp, as the Bad Dog lifts him to his feet, throwing him hard into the side of the rental car.
“Shut the FUCK up you pile’ve PISS,” growls Wade.
The ‘Bama Bruiser follows with a sharp headbutt to Daytona’ mess of a nose, spraying blood to the left and right.
“GOD DANG! MY FUCKIN’ NOSE! YOU BROKE MY FUCKIN’ NOSE!” he yelps into the St. Louis air.
“I’ve seen a lot’ve fuckin’ idiots come an’ go in this place, son….”
Wade leaves Daytona leaning against his car, still clutching at his nose. The Bad Dog leans over, retrieving the chain from the ground.
“…but yer takin’ the fuckin’ cake.”
A straight right hand to that already-broken nose connects hard, snapping Daytona’s head back. As he groans, Wade reaches into the rental car and yanks the e-brake, and rolls down the driver’s side window.
“An’ you ain’t gonna last long if you keep it up.”
Elliott feeds the chain through the open window and around its frame, then positions Daytona to the outside of it, wrapping the chain around his chest and under his armpits, leaving him to hang and lean against it.
With another grunt, and spitting once more to the feet of the Rhinestone Cowboy, the Blue Collar Brawler steps in front of Daytona’s hanging, groaning body, blood pouring from his nose and onto the ground.
“I don’t give a shit if ya need t’swing a fist at someone when ya git yer panties in a bunch, but there’s a real short list’ve those ya can’t.”
Wade takes him by the chin, lifting his head to look him dead in the eyes.
“An’ you picked one’ve ‘em.”
The King of the Rodeo grits his teeth, bracing for another shot to the nose.
Instead, the Bad Dog lets go, and allows Daytona’s head to hang.
“Smarten up, you fuckin’ cunt.”
The Southern Sparkplug spews fire through his nose once more, then turns away, taking heavy steps back to the arena, and leaving the Rhinestone Cowboy to hang against his own chain.
As Wade walks away, Daytona reaches one hand to wipe the blood away from his nose, teeth grinding and eyes staring after The ‘Bama Bruiser. A defiant sneer, a look of absolute hatred, as the blood keeps pouring.
“I fuckin’ knew it,” Daytona says, once Wade is out of earshot. “A god dang conspiracy. Well, fuckin’ fine then.”
Through the blood, through the pain, a crooked smile.
“Guess I’m gonna have to kill that boy next week after all, ain’t I?”