He stood mostly nude and freshly showered, grimacing as he examined the bruises covering his hips and legs. The stray one that caught him in the ribs standing out in its own purple hue. A small scowl as he pulled his slacks on, a brief fuss with the belt and a slow exhale. He reached out thoughtfully to the blue shirt, taking some material between his thumb and forefinger. He rubbed it thoughtfully.
For a moment he was back on the Island with her, walking down the shore in broad daylight. Just another tourist couple. Just another middle aged white guy who probably dropped a wife and three kids to marry a little japanese doll. Just another gold digger with her ship come in.
Just two broken people, madly in love or as close to it as they could be.
As they’d let themselves.
He’d spent much of the first evening in a fuss over her, monitoring her as she rested. He didn’t slip into any kind of rest for the first day, the image of her floating hopelessly in the lake always waiting there to haunt him. He’d almost lost her.
He fought for her. Near died for her.
Dashing the memories, he paints on a smirk as he begins buttoning up the shirt, mind coming back to now before it got lost, as it often did, in deciding whether the sun or her smile were brighter that day..
On the other side, she kept examining herself, fingers trailing over the reflection. She knew things weren’t the same as they were during that time. So much had happened and been discovered, but thinking back still brought that distant smile.
At that point she was simply thankful she got to see him again. She had no doubt he’d make it to her, the thought keeping her going even through the worst they offered torture wise. She just wasn’t sure she could hang on long enough, especially as her breath was stolen.
Shaking that away her eyes drifted downward, hands moving from the reflection to the ever expanding apartment the best of them was occupying. She’s begun showing far more, and while it made wearing much of anything difficult, she wasn’t upset in the least. She was thankful.
There goes that feeling again.
Marika knew she didn’t function like most emotionally, but it was nice to almost feel human. Feel love. As much as she could. Familiar.
Of course the two decided to play a little bit, teasing one another as they often did, but this time brought about that warmth to it too. With that thought, she finally rose from her seat and after a quick adjustment to her dress, she stepped out.
Knowing exactly where he would be. Leaning over the rail, staring out at the endless ocean. He felt her approach before the door even opened. He waited a beat before turning to her, flashing a smile.“My girl…”
he said almost wistfully as he stepped toward her, one hand going to cup her chin and bring her lips to meet his. The other going to cradle that which would leave a better mark on the world than either of them, giving the bump a soft squeeze. He broke their seal, resting his forehead to hers as he let out a happy breath.“You look lovelier every day, you know that?”
Her eyes met his, as did her smile, the smallest of tints present on her cheeks. “You are too kind to me, saying such things.”
Feeling his hand on the bump, she looked down a moment before letting out a soft laugh. “I do apologize for not fully diving into the nostalgic look, unfortunately he didn’t let me put on what I had our first time down there. Fussy little thing he is.”
The yet to appear Asahi Joseph Knox. His first son after a string of daughters, and a happy accident from their honeymoon. Late as it was. The mere mention of the little one brought forth a warmth that threatened to crumble the very ice that made up his being. Another deep inhale of her scent, and a low happy rumble escaped his throat before he spoke in a hushed tone, just for them.
The only two - three - who mattered in the world right now.“Oh, he’s just getting eager to escape…”
another squeeze, before he began to sway her, or them as it were. His other hand sliding to her hip as the other leaves the bump reluctantly to find her hand. He pulled her as close as Asahi would allow, staring down at her.“Have I been awful to you, my Mari?”
he asked gently, focused on the way the sunset shone in her eyes. A near black easel with the purple and orange hues sparkling across it.
His heart skipped a beat.
His wasn’t the only one.
As his eyes focused on her, hers did the same for him. The smile warmed as they moved so gently. While most would marvel at the time, the scenery, she had her gaze and mind locked on one thing.“No.. no you haven’t, Matthew. These recent times have been cruel. I know you’re only doing what you can.”
Her words brought a facial twitch he’d hide from everyone else on the planet. Everyone but her. He gently slid his hand up from her hip, over her side then back. Just desperate to feel more of her for a moment.“Neither have you…You’ve been far better than I deserve, especially in the face of all these…”
he shook his head, unable to find the right words “My foolishness…and all that come with it. I’m sorry you have to endure, but I admire you for it.”
Now it was her who shook her head, though this was to offer some reassurance and show what she’s always had when it comes to him.
Understanding.“There’s no need for any of that. What is endured is done so with as much of a smile as I can give and all the acceptance I have given since day one. Nothing has changed since that time. Not what I offered and not all I’ll give.”
A step away, a dainty spin. He adjusted his grip on her hand, and wrapped his arms around her from behind, pulling her closer to him as they swayed. Both his hands going to cradle their love as he buried himself in the scent of her hair….raspberries
..“I’m going to be going away for awhile after tonight…So many fights…but I promise, what happened with Tom? I’ll be avenging it ten fold. Even if I have to give myself to the void to facilitate it..”
he breathed deep once more, squeezing the bump and exhaling a warm breath to her scalp.“I’ll make him scream loud enough for you to hear..”
he whispered in a way somehow both romantic and venomous. The breath that escaped her was intertwined with a soft hum, the sentiment bringing forth a different kind of smile, but still one he accepted and greeted warmly. “I figured a time like this would come and you know I will support you the best that I can. You know all I ask for when it comes to any kind of moment shared without me.. make it so that I may enjoy it as much as possible. While I did not scream, I want him to. I want his tears collected so the memory is sustainable.”
Her voice hushed for a moment, eyes drifting down. “If you must give in fully and feel you are unable to return, do let me know. I won’t be able to maintain what humanity I have.. or pretend to.. but I’ll keep to the task of securing his chance for better, knowing what must be done.”“I will…”
he dipped his face down, gently kissing her neck before resting his face in the crook of it.“You make me happy, Mari…
” a pause “My wild blue sky..”
The soft color on her cheeks filled a bit more as she leaned into him as much as she could.“Look at you.. making me feel again..”“Just returning the favor, my love..
” he whispered, the last words he’d speak for awhile as for a moment as everything burned..
I grow weary of waiting.I understand, but still. I grow weary.No matter who I've been, and who I am elsewhere. Here? In SCW? I’m the new guy. Wins over a Troll and a Raven who’s roosted here for a minute longer than I, if that. They need to see more before they acquaise and book the blood vendetta Mac Bane and I have called for. Of course, there are ways around it. Tournaments, games of chance…I’d rather secure reality. And that reality will be secured upon the flesh, blood, and broken bones of you, Dear Jester. A man chasing smiles in the sands of the gladiator pit. How lost you are. If I didn’t have so much riding on this? I’d be your biggest fan. No one easier to root for than the fool playing at being more, when he’s so little.Of course, admittedly, these are all surface level judgements. Almost unbecoming of someone who should know better like me. But there’s a caveat to all of this.
The press release, they went out of their way to note that I volunteered. And I Did. Why?Call it politics. Because son, whether they just have a hardon for humor or just for all the new blood filling the veins to replace the stagnant crimson of Savior and Wolfslair alike? They’re high on you. Have laid expectations at your feet.And I Intend to show them that they’ve tasked a boy with far too much.What are you going to do about it?
She was easy to stalk, because he knew she knew he was near. That bond that connected them, through the poison that made both their blood run a little different. A Rivers family curse. A curse that permeated and manifested in only the worst of ways, depending on who you asked.
He’d never really asked her. Didn’t see the point in entertaining a madness he already knew like the back of his hand. They’d been allies for the briefest of moments, but that need to expand. To feather her own nest. To make more Queen and Supreme Machines won out over trying to shape a new path for the next generations of their accursed family.
He’d lost the war so far, his unborn son and youngest Daughter the only two who seemed unaffected by the poison. Hell, even the latter had openly wished for death upon Thomas Rivers.Smart Girl.
His footsteps rang out now, tailing her as she slipped into some no name diner. It being empty, and derelict brought a chuckle past his lips as he remained just past the doorway. Paint peeled from the wall, stuffing hung from gaping wounds in most all of the upholstery. The leavings of rats littered the floor, lighting fixtures hung from the ceiling. Truly, an appropriate backdrop.“It doesn’t have to be a fight, you know.”
he spoke finally, tone even. One hand remained buried in the pocket of his spotless black peacoat. Thumb circling the x factor that he had brought with him. The nuclear option. The true nuclear option.“We are family, after all.”“You’ve made it clear you aren’t one of us Matthew”
came a response. Jennifer Rivers, also known as Queen Machine Jenny had been well aware of the morbid corvid tailing her. She knew this day was coming. Ever since her brother told her what he had done to Knox’ wife. “Whatever it is that you plan isn’t going to help. He doesn’t care. You should know it by now. And me? There is nothing you can do that is worse than what I’ve already gone through”
Jenny turned to face Knox, placing herself in a defensive position. She wasn’t as physically imposing as her brother Supreme Machine or even Knox himself, but years of wrestling had honed her instincts and given her a good base to fight from. “What do you really want Matthew?”“Peace….but i’m not a fool.”
he stated bluntly, hand raising to stroke the stubble on his chin. It shot out, a smirk cracking his features as he wags his finger at her “You know what I want, Jennifer. You to stay away, and let me work without these threats against my children. Actual children.”
He wet his lips, hand shifting once more to open his palm to the heavens, presenting his request to the queen. It drops from the stagnant air after a moment, his eyes narrowing.“You preach one moment, about wanting to be left from my war with your brother. And then you open your mouth and make those threats…and you expect me to, what? Leave it lie?”
he shook his head ‘No’
.“All I’m trying to do is get you to back the fuck off Matthew. He’s going to kill you. Even if it costs his own life in the process he WILL KILL YOU.”
Jenny nearly shouted at Knox. She was so frustrated with the stubborn man, her cousin. Even moreso than she was with her own brother. Because unlike SuMa, she thought Knox would see reason. “And what then? Sylvie will grow up without a father and I know better than anyone what that does to our common trait. And the child that Mari has? And Aimi? If you aren’t around, Tom will be the least of everyone’s worries. But you’re too goddamn dumb to see it aren’t you?”
She walked up to Knox, staring him right in the eyes, even if it required looking almost straight up. She was beyond niceties. Beyond courteousness. “You speak as if that scared little boy you call brother is capable of it.”
he responded with all the confidence of a man who had accepted death in all its gory violence, “There’s no backing off now. Not after what he did. Not after what his poisonous influence has led to in SCW. The path he’s carved in TPW. Hell, there’s talk of a cult following back on that crazy Island I worked for..”
he trailed off, a chuckle escaping him at the lunacy of it all.“But you…You need to pick a side. Make no mistake, we’ll be talking about Victoria and your influence there before it's done. But this…with Tom. With the Saviors. With all of it. It does not involve you, and it never will. . .”
the smirk broadens to a smile that’s almost discontentedly soft as he stares down at her eyes. Somehow both feral, and calculating. Tom was no fool, but he wasn’t a brute either.
However, it was clear where the Lion’s share of the brains had gone.“Tell me, plainly, that you’ll stay in your lane until such a time that our issues are on the table for resolution…Or you end before either Tom or I.”
The shoulders of the lithe woman dropped in disappointment. “Just do what you came to do Matthew. Not like you’ve ever thought about your actions. Seriously… Mari was bad enough because you knew. But Aimi… Another one? How many more do you plan on unleashing on the world.”
She sighed and intentionally turned her back to Knox. “Go on. Do it. Just so you know, if it wasn’t for you and your inability to keep it in your pants… this madness would have ended with me and Tom. Whatever comes… is on your head.”
She simply stood there, arms on her side. Not even trying to defend herself.
The twitch of his face was the only sign of the truth impacting him that he would allow, and it only came because she wasn’t looking. He pulled the syringe from his pocket, rolling it across his palm with his thumb…and letting it clatter. Heroin. A dose meant for a much more pseudo poetic purpose that he had overcome, through the actions she cursed. He turned to leave but stopped short, a thought crossing him as his hand rested on the dilapidated door’s handle.“Do you suppose, he’ll ever come back to the front and be able to stay? Tom, I mean?”
Hearing the clatter, Jenny turned around and looked in confusion as Knox was leaving. His question struck her pretty deep as it was one she had often pondered. One that hurt the most. “I don’t know. He’s still in there as you know but… I don’t know.”
Her voice was shaky as she responded. That hit too close to home. “I refuse to let go of hope Matthew. But… This war has made the monster even stronger. It might be too late.”
He lingered a spell, still as the air in the room. His eyes twitched in every direction, as if reading the million possible responses, reactions and thoughts the sentiment could bring forth. They closed as he settled upon one, nodding in resolution.“Mercy it is, then..”
The bell still worked, sounding as he opened the door and left her there no closer to death than when he had found her.
Nothing. You’re going to do nothing.See, this is no doubt a big, big night for you. You’re under the lights. New Company. Big Debut. PPV. I’ve been there. I was there in June of 2020, way back in Baltimore where all the Saviors were Sinners. I lost that night, came in second to a man who is no longer in the industry. And then I regained ground, grew, and flourished.There’s a point in that bit of rambling, you know. That point being, you will be able to come back for this should it go by my design and I leave you humbled and decidedly devoid of laughter. You will be able to move past it, take some positives - because I’m not near fool enough to believe you’ll be a push over - and build from it.You. Will. Persevere.But you will not win.See, you will look upon the violence I lay unto you and think it cruelty. But one day, not too far off if you’re as smart as I think you are, you will look back and see it as Mercy. You got that loss out of the way. The monkey is off your back, and there is no pendulum swinging lower and lower to cleave your confidence in two.Right now, you are my pendulum, Jester.Two wins, Zero losses. Not that impressive. Three and Zero begins to look like something. Throw in all the talk they keep spouting off about pursuits of gold, and it becomes something tangible. While Gold is not my top priority here in SCW, I’d be a fool to pass up the opportunity to pad out my legacy further.To add another accolade my children will look back upon long after I've gone to dust and be able to feel a swell of pride in the middle of the shame I’ve no doubt brought them.So see, It all fits together here. All the little fragments that have formed fit so perfectly together.Me, wrought upon this place with a pure and violent purpose in the middle of a war of attrition between two opposing sides of stagnant titans. Ready to cut off one group at the knee, and write my tale in their blood. To become the sole measuring stick in my division for SCW. To prove to newcomers like you that there is no strength in numbers.Only the weakness of insulation, and insolence. True Strength? The everlasting sort that serves as one’s foundation? Lies within one’s self and will never, ever be found in others.You, Young Mister Hawthorne, Get to be the very first one to be shown this glorious new path. This glorious new hellscape.Honestly, you should thank me for it.Maybe I’ll make you?
[/font][/size]“Why are you staring at me?”
A smirk cracked his features as the youthful voice cut through the silence, familiar glasz eyes never leaving the tablet before it. Pale little digits tapping a-rhythmically as the plate of greasy diner food grew colder and more congealed before her. Slyvie “Ivy” Norene Knox was the spitting image of her father, but somehow was more brooding at Thirteen than he was in his advanced years.“I’m not.
” he replied after letting the accusation drift on the air between them, chin resting on interlocked fingers as he examined his current youngest child, head tilting only slightly “And if I was, isn’t it a father’s right to admire his handiwork?”“That’s gross.”“Yeah well, if I wasn’t gross you wouldn’t be here to ignore me once a week while I try to form a connection with you.”
Sharp eyes rise from the screen to meet his own. No smirk crosses the soft, pale face. Her voice comes out as monotonous as his own, but somehow even dryer in it’s quip.“Says the man with more tweets than some food chains.”
A chuckle fell from him, one he let out unguarded in a failed attempt to draw her into laughter as well. When it was obvious she wasn’t taking the bat he cleared his throat, nodding and shifting in his seat.“Suppose that’s fair…So, how have you been? How’s your mom, your studies? I got any young man I need to meet and approve of?”“I’ve been content. If you cared about how mom was doing, you would get out of the car when you came to pick me up for this. You know my studies have been doing well, they email you separately about my achievements - something I never asked for - and as far as suitors, I’m uninterested. Nothing comes out of romance at my age but parents batting eyelashes and telling fairy tales that will never come to fruition.”
A pause appropriate such a barrage of dry bluntness. He cleared his throat, nodding and taking a moment to pick up a stray french fry and bite down on it. His appetite had long since left, the ice in their cokes melted. A glance at the old wall clock revealed that they had surpassed the usually agreed upon hour. He felt a creeping sadness when her voice cut through his reverie.“And you? How are you? Have you won more trinkets for being good at violence? How is your new wife, the odd one with the blank stare? Is my brother here yet?” “Trinkets? Kind of boiling it down and selling it short, aren’t you?”“Maybe you overvalue it…
” she set the tablet down, fingers lingering as her brow furrowed. Her gaze remained altered “Hope said once that it was ridiculous, the value and lengths you put on gold plating and a strap. Especially you, considering it was losing a title that made you g–”“It wasn’t over the title.”
he interjected almost pointedly, pausing for a moment to reign in his temper. He cleared his throat, looking off to the side “What happened, to separate me from you for so long went much deeper than a championship belt. Deeper than the industry, even. As far as Hope…she’s brilliant, but I think she’s forever jaded to this line of work.”“She’s a hypocrite.”
Ivy replied with a sense of finality, her face contorting if only slightly “The way she lets that guy with the afro treat her after spending so long acting like the smartest person in the r–”“We don’t speak ill of family, Ivy.”
A huff was the response. At least that remained consistent through both his children. He paused for a moment, stewing in the air before the urge to say something, anything to make this more than a moment where he took a stern tone with someone he was lucky to have the privilege talking to.“Love can make the wisest of us fools. Hope is, apparently, in love with Cam and even if I don’t like it, you don’t like it, the waitress doesn’t like it…we have to respect that and be patient with whatever negativity comes from it.”“Like you being beaten and humiliated once a month?”“Like me being beaten and humiliated once a month..”
he reached across the table to muss up her hair, only to have his hand deflected. A small sting was quickly buried as he brought the hand back to himself, clearing his throat once more “Besides, she has every right to resent me.”“Yeah, she does.”
A pause, another bit of hurt quickly buried and pushed out of his mind. Ivy’s gaze studied him for a moment, picking her father apart to the best of her ability. As if examining how the blow landed. After a moment, her gaze averted and mimicking his own pacifying motion from earlier she plucked a cold fry from her plate and chewed upon it. He wrung his hands beneath the table, leaning forward with his eyes cast into the caramel oblivion of a watered down Coca Cola.“You both have every right to, Sylvie….but i’m trying, you understand that don’t you?”“I do..I just…”
she trailed off, the dichotomy of youthful blunt honesty and a maturing sense of tact clashing for a moment “I don’t quite understand why?”“Why?”
he repeated the sentiment, his tone inquiring and thinly masking the underlying wound his youngest had successfully ripped open with the expected lack of tact that came with youth.“Why…bother? I guess? I mean…I’m happy you’re around but I guess I just…don’t see why you are? You have a new family. You’re back to being a big deal…I mean it’s not like you’re around as much as normal dads are for me. You’re still gone…Mom just doesn’t have to lie about where you are anymore…”
“But really, Shawn. I know i’m coming off harsh. Maybe patronizing and disregarding. Hell, i’m sure by this point you might actually be taking something serious and as you hear these words, you’re itching to get in the ring and pop me right in my mouth. Show me that you’re not just a clown. That you’re a God. Damn. Warrior!!”“You want to come out, hair on fire, show the world that alllllll the nasty shit they can dig up on me is true. Matt Knox the old alcoholic. Matt Knox the guy who quits companies. Matt Knox the womanizer. Matt Knox the guy with a thing for Mac Bane’s wife.”“....But you’re not going to.”“You will try. My god I have no doubt that with all that you are, you will try….but it won’t be enough. I’m sorry. I really, truly am but it just won’t. Because I can’t let it be.”“I know, I must sound like a broken record at this point. Same points over and over bordering on being canned cliche bullshit. Thing is though, Cliches became cliches for a reason. What reason, pray tell? Because they’re fuckng right.”“So there it is, laid out neat for you Jester. I volunteered to be your first match in SCW because I intend on making an example out of you as I burn a path toward the arrogant, short-sighted cowboy and his big band of mediocrity and doing what an entire lair of wolves has yet to be able to do.I’m going to hurt you, as much as I can. I’m going to make sure that your baptism into Sin City Wrestling burns, and leaves you with scars that reignite those flames in your deepest, darkest and most private moments of reflection.Now, ask yourself Jester…with your bag of tricks, positive attitude, award winning smile and miles upon miles of charisma…Can You Stop Me?