(ZM) In Love With the Idea of Myself, Afraid of the Truth Aug 14, 2016 16:49:24 GMT -6
Post by Zahara Matisse on Aug 14, 2016 16:49:24 GMT -6
”Friends, family, fun… they’ll put a smile on any face.”
I. Half a World Away, Looking for the Closest Thing to Home
What had it been? Eight months? It felt like longer, but maybe that was just because of how much had happened lately… not so much the passage of time. Last time I was here in England it was for my debut match in VoW versus Damian Knight. Breakthrough 35, I think it was… the Proving Grounds. The actual show was over in Cardiff while, at the moment, I’m in London, but that’s just splitting hairs. That name, though, was pretty appropriate in my case. I don’t talk about it much, but I did my time within the independent circuit before making it to VoW. Spent several months toiling in opening matches, jerking curtains and putting up rings, playing manager a time or two to get my face out there in case agents were lurking. Plenty of stories about those days, not all of them pleasant but most of them, in hindsight, pretty funny.
But YOU try bringing up the past in the present when it comes to wrestling. That’s a slippery slope no one truly wants to find themselves riding face-first. It’s just another way for the people against you to poke and prod at your psyche, trying to forcefully mold you into something you’re not, or that you’re not anymore, in an effort to get some precious advantage over you. And there’s enough about me that’s slam-worthy that I don’t need to be offering my opponents any further assistance. Nope, no thanks. Not THIS magician.
But back to the point: my first match in a company of the level of VoW had my nerves wrecked with a combination of anticipation and nervousness. Thousands of miles from home, facing a giant of a man, hoping and praying that I wouldn’t land on my face or worse and make the powers-that-be retract their contract before I could put my John Hancock on it. But we all know how that turned out, right? That was the first in an eight-win streak that ended at the hands of Constance Chapin. One win after that, another drubbing from the Mancunian Mauler and then… well, I haven’t won since.
And that, friends, is every thought that was passing through my pretty head as I stepped off the plane at Heathrow Sunday afternoon, which is crazy considering that my presence in Europe had absolutely nothing to do with wrestling. It had everything to do with the lovely ladies my side: Katalina Star, my girlfriend, and Makayla, our daughter…
...it’s still a bit of a shock to me that I can rightfully say that part. That I have a daughter. It makes my heart swell every time.
Ahem! Back on track, Z! Where was I? Right… Katalina and Makayla. This trip of ours had been planned for some time, for the main purpose of being introduced to Kat’s family, extended and otherwise. It was fun to plan, to talk about, but the moment I reached the bottom of the steps beneath the plan the weight of it all set in and I began to feel that facing off with Animal Instinct in a little over a week would be less taxing on my senses. My lady love had my handheld going, having somehow smuggled it out of my bag when I wasn’t looking no doubt, and perfectly captured that shift between contentment and abject worry. Clicking her tongue at me in that way she possessed got my attention and I found myself staring at a lens and a red light.
”What exactly was that frown about just now, love? Things haven’t even had a chance to go wrong and already you’re depriving me of your smile? That’s just not fair.”
She knew me too well, and I was happy for that despite how vulnerable it often left me. I considered the strength of our relationship a minor miracle at this point, more so when I took into account the… argument… we had recently. It really made me treasure her, love her, more than I already had prior. The hard breeze blowing past tossed my hair into my face but I brushed it aside, glad for the coolness of the air against the warmth permeating everything, which added to the already heavy weight...
Yes, my mind wandered again. And, yes, she took note.
”Earth to Zoey. Come back to me.”
”I’m here, I’m here…”
She makes me laugh, even when I don’t quite feel like it. A tugging at my arm gets my attention, though, and I pause to lift up little Makayla, holding her so that she’s in sight of the camera, too. Our little princess wraps her arms tight around my neck before I point out the camera after putting a smooch to her forehead.
”Wave to everyone, sweetie!”
And of course, she does just that. She has an even brighter smile than I do.
”I got this lucky how, again?”
”Good karma, sweetling. But we’d better find a cab to the hotel. Got a lot to do in less time than we planned.”
”I think I’d rather keep watching you two for a bit.”
Not that I blamed her. Had that camera been in my hands looking upon her and Makayla, I’d feel the same. Nevertheless, I smirk at her and reach out to close my hand over the lens, darkening the picture until she willingly shuts it off. No sooner do we arrive at the hotel, though, than is the thing back out again. I’ve barely opened the suitcase and Makayla has barely gained the opportunity to properly test out the bedsprings when Katalina’s got the camera up and running again. I shoot her an eye roll but she just retorts matter-of-factly to shut me down.
”You wanted to take in the whole trip so that’s what we’re doing. Every camera-worthy moment mundane or otherwise, love. Your own words.”
”I’m perfectly capable of remembering my own words, Katalina.”
Anyone could see that my snark was for the benefit of humor, even without my smile. I started putting away the clothes in the dresser as, behind me, I heard a bump, a thump and a childish giggle. Keeping my smile to myself, I addressed our rambunctious princess calmly.
”I think the bed works, Kay! Go get one of your books and have a seat on the chair, if you please!”
More laughter of that beautifully-innocent sort that only children are capable of with any believability. Despite her energy, she listens to mama (this time) and does as asked, something Kat takes in before turning back to me.
”So she’s starting in September?”
”She is. The school was very understanding of our situation with this trip and… everything else. We just need to see her through some of the material so that she’s on the same level as the other kids when she starts is all. Which is hardly a problem.”
”She’s gonna keep growing, isn’t she? Getting bigger, older, prettier… I don’t feel really ready for that yet, sweetheart.”
Shutting the dresser drawer, I turn to the camera… or more properly, the woman behind it. She’s been this way ever since our first conversation months ago about the little one getting enrolled in preschool. To me at this point, it’s just a necessity that we’re seeing our way through. To Katalina… it’s more than that.
”I know you don’t feel that way, but I also know that you want our little girl to be the best she can be. And getting an early start on her education is part of that. She’s going to be fine… and so are you.”
”...but how do you know?”
”Do you think for one second I’d let it be otherwise?”
Reaching out to take the camera from Kat, I hold it facing her now, taking in the worried visage of a mother looking at her daughter. Not the slap-happy, mind-warping woman who batters people in and out of a wrestling ring. Not the woman of the dubious reputation and taste for the darker sides of intimacy. A human being who loves, hates, hurts and feels just like any other. When she finally turns to me and the camera, I smile over the device at her.
”She’ll be fine. All of us will.”
Except that when it came to me personally… I wasn’t 100% sure that that was possible anymore. At about that moment, my phone rang from across the room and I set the camera upon the dresser to go fetch it. Kat being Kat, she picked it up and centered it back on me as I fished my cell out of my purse and answered:
”Zoey? I should be quite affronted if I’ve called the wrong number...”
Well, there was no mistaking the gruff-yet-smooth tone on the other end of the phone: my partner for Heatstroke, Constance Chapin, must have gotten my message. But I wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or afraid for that assumption. Her showing up out of the blue just as Matthew Robinson and Winter Pine were set to menace the ever-lovin’ out of me threw me for a loop.
Don’t get me wrong; I told Constance that I considered us friends and I meant it. She’ll hate me for saying it, but if you get her in her element she’s really a kind person and enjoyable to be around if you’ve got a head for literature. But, well… having her step up like that against people she’d never crossed paths with that I can recall in VoW, for reasons she’d yet to explain… it both warmed my heart and made my guts quiver. Two seconds (what can I say? Sometimes I think fast!) after she got her greeting out, I responded.
”No, no… it’s me, Constance. I would have greeted you properly but I failed to glance at the caller ID when I picked up.”
”My my, living dangerously, are we? Here I was assuming I’d caught you at the worst of times, what with your relationship and all.”
”The worst and the best. But you know what they say…”
”The cat doesn’t know the stove’s hot till it gets burned?”
I have to pause for a giggle since that’s pretty much the exact quote I was thinking of. Over the camera, Katalina gives me an arched brow and I mouth Constance’s name away from the mouthpiece, leading to a smirk and a nod from my lover. Still laughing, I return to the call.
”Let me guess: Emily’s cat is taking after her owner?”
”That’s certainly one way of phrasing it. Look, I’m sure you’ve got a lot of questions on your mind...”
And the Understatement of the Century Award goes to…
”...but I’d rather you saved them till we can talk properly without restraint. I know you’re across the world right now handling personal matters...”
”You aren’t interrupting anything, Constance. We just got to the hotel a little bit ago. But you’re right… we can save the exposition for later. There are some things we need to talk about, after all. How difficult would it be for us to meet in Malibu after I’m back home?”
”With a little notice it shouldn’t be a problem. Though I’ll have to see to it that the current headaches are out of the picture for a time. Otherwise we risk absolutely nothing getting accomplished.”
”I’ll speak to you in a few days then with the details. And… thank you.”
”...no problem. It’s what...associates...do and all that. Speak to you later.”
Standard Constance; the line was clicked shut before I even got to say goodbye. But where others might find that rude, it was just Connie being Connie. I smiled to myself and set the phone down before setting my hand upon the dresser and reaching down to slip my boots off. The relief is apparent on my face as I turn, looking at Kat and the camera through a curtain of my hair. It’s obvious from the way the camera’s moving that she’s… how shall I put this… admiring me?
And I should be used to it by now, but no one pushes my buttons like Katalina does. She knows how to make me do just about anything: smile, blush, laugh, smirk… you name it. And for those of you thinking of darker, more intimate things she might make me do… seriously, grow up. I see no need to throw all my private shenanigans all over the Internet, thank you very much!
”Time to put that down, baby. It was a long flight and right now I’m all about some dinner and rest. And our princess has a head start on us.”
Katalina swings the camera around and, sure enough, little Makayla is sitting all lopsided in the armchair, snoring away in that still-cute way kids have. By the time she turns back to me, my soft footsteps have taken the still-running camera from her and put it on the dresser. Unfortunately, I missed the off-switch and didn’t have time to flick it before Kat took her chance and pulled me in for a kiss. And I can’t resist this woman’s kisses.
Then again, I’ve never tried, but you get what I’m saying right? Sure you do.
Anyhow, once we separated and took a few moments to catch our breath, I nodded in the direction of the room phone and ushered her towards it with a swat on her backside.
”Dinner, sweetling. Hop to it!”
Going off with a roll to her eyes, I turn… and realize the camera is still on.
”Oh, for the love of...”
With a sheepish grin, I turn the device off.
II. They’re Trying to Tell Me Something...
People tend to judge you by who you hang out with and, if you’re open about the goings-on in your life, what you do with those people. Lately, my tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve and gush about the happiness in my life has cost me dearly. One of my best friends on the planet, Farrah, is rather upset with me for not letting her stomp my ex-best friend, Kelsey, into a meaty puddle. It’s a bad situation that I’ve shed many a tear over, I don’t mind admitting. Kelsey, bless her, is all about the idea of being nice to everyone even if they’re total tools, that no one deserves to have someone else be mean to them. And at one point I was like that, too.
But having someone special to you in your life, not a friend or family member but someone to love in that special way, changes you. One change in particular for me involved bringing out my protective streak… and when someone made foul comments about my lovely Katalina, I went off on them and that prompted Kelsey to, for lack of a better term, leave me in the dust. Farrah and I go way back as most of you know, and back in the day we were like a younger, smaller, cuter version of Mr. Fantastic and The Thing: she’d watch my back so I didn’t get pounded and I’d help her with her homework and studying. Her old instincts kicked in but I wanted to handle things myself and… if you have Twitter you know the rest.
The point of my rambling toward this point? That would concern how, lately, a lot of people are of the mind that they know better than me the kind of person I should be. Not just in the ring, but outside of it. And I got no problems with opinions depending on the delivery, but when I consider the source of these suggestions and how some of them actually, perish forbid, make sense?
It worries me.
”My eyes are up here.”
Before my moment of intense contemplation, I forgot that I had the camera directed toward some of those amazing friends I mentioned. And in the process, Jamilyn Cornett had sauntered up to table with her cheeky smile and twinkling eyes. Such a beautiful person she is… always with a glow to her despite the crap people constantly fling her way. In that I envied her quite a bit.
However, the camera was pointed right at her navel at that moment so I picked it up and turned it her way, grinning from behind it.
”Not until you put that thing down and get out here with us! You don’t get to keep being a wallflower every time we go out and have fun together, Mistress!”
Yes… Mistress. I can hear the groans and whispers now but, seriously, save them. We’ve pretty much heard it all already.
”Knew the risks when you got involved, pet!”
”Do I look like someone who gives a flip about risks? I’m not Ninjabread Man here.”
”No, just like someone who forgot whose word is law.”
I never get tired of bantering with her. This time, though, my little Vaporeon was quite insistent. The view is jostled as she pulls me to my feet and soon I’m staring into her grinning face, just a wee bit starstruck by her smile. And then, of course, my phone rings. She turns to stare at the blaring device on the table with mild distaste.
”Unless that’s someone telling you you’re the next president, I think you should ignore that.”
A quick glance reveals a three-letter moniker that, by no means, should EVER be ignored.
”...nope, that’s mom. I’m not willing to face her and her spoons for anything. And now when I say that, you fully understand what I’m talking about, don’t ya?”
Giggling cutely, Jami shakes her head, making her brightly-colored hair bounce about.
”I do, I do! Go see about her, my indigo enchantress, and then get your butt out there and dance with us! We outnumber you, don’t forget!”
”Yes, yes… soon as mama has her say. Now away with thee!”
She bounds out of reach of my playful swat and I watch her go for a second before picking up the cell and making a beeline for the club’s doors as I put it to my ear.
”Sera, madre. Come stai?”
”Just fine, piccola rosa. Keeping up with your Italian, are you?”
Mama was pretty adamant that I learn Italian as I grew, along with English. I don’t display my knowledge of it much, but lately it’s been coming out more for reasons controlled and otherwise… and not the words. My temper as well.
”Yes, ma’am. I’m actually teaching Katalina and Makayla how to speak it. In return, Kat’s teaching me French. Just expanding our horizons and all that.”
”Considering what a sponge your brain is, I think you’ll take to it quite well.”
Oh-oh… I knew that tone. Now outside the club, leaned against the wall near the door, I could feel a chill creep up my spine. Didn’t have to wait long for mama to spill, either. She’s a very direct woman, a lesson I could learn myself.
”How are you feeling, Zoey? Are you recovering all right after… you know.”
”Oh, that? I’m fine, mama. I’m able to exercise again and I’m taking it more gradually than before. This trip over to Europe has actually been pretty relaxing as well, which helps. But…”
She knows me better than I know myself. And I know her rather well, too. There’s something else on her mind…
”...it’s not just that, is it?”
”Zoey, I don’t intend to interfere in your life, nor does your father. You’ve got someone you’re happy with, a career and everything else that you could hope for except for one thing, che riposi in pace.”
”Che riposi in pace…”
Gosh darn it, mama… I do NOT need to be crying right now!
”But I feel like you’re taking on too much at once. Call it motherly instinct if you must, but… less than a year ago you were so bright and innocent, always smiling and full of life and wonder. Now… you seem so different and far away, not just in terms of distance but in other ways, too.”
”Mama, that’s a little over-dramatic, isn’t it?”
”Your father thinks the same. Is he being dramatic too, piccola rosa?”
Daddy, too? That wasn’t a good sign.
”Him too, huh? You might be onto something then, mama. But you know that I can’t stop or even slow down just yet. There’s a lot of big things going on that I have to keep up with. I promise you that there will be a time when I’m not so… rushed… but I need your patience. Yours and daddy’s.”
Right there she got quiet. I couldn’t tell if it was the calm before the storm or if the storm had already hit and I was about to get drenched.
”You’re so much like your brother that it hurts sometimes. Not in a bad way, but…”
While she fought for the right words, I fought to not ruin my makeup with a blubbering deluge.
”...his drive, his positive outlook, his determination to be the best no matter what. You inherited that, Zoey. I don’t want you to lose it, but I also don’t want it to burn you out. Do you understand?”
”I won’t, mama… I promise.”
”I believe that you won’t. Now, don’t let me keep you any further. But call me when you get back to states, young lady. I want to hear more about this cookout of yours.”
Ah, yes… the mere thought of that made me smile again, though I still had to quickly fish for a tissue to catch a tear before my eyeliner got all smudged.
”Yes, ma’am. I’ll talk to you soon. I love you.”
”I love you, too.”
Hanging up, I slid the phone into my pocket, only to find that Jami was outside with camera in hand, taking in the last bits of my conversation. Raising an eyebrow, I turned on her with arms folded. I knew good and well that that look did nothing but empower the little firebrand but… I couldn’t help it.
”Mama’s doing well?”
”Worrying like all mamas do.”
”In other words, all’s cool so you can bring your enchanting ass back inside?”
”Maybe. Do I get my camera back?”
”Not until me and everyone else see that ass shake.”
”...you know what? Fine. But you were warned! If you lot can’t keep up with me when the music hits, no crying foul, hear?!”
She takes my little threat/challenge with her typical musical laughter of anticipation, handing the camera over to me before turning to head inside. And because fair’s fair? I get a nice tight shot of her body as she ambles back through the doors.
III. The Mind, the Magic and the Fury
It was just another reason for the Magical Maiden to love Malachi’s. The owner, knowing well of her fondness for the place and the advertising that such enjoyment afforded him, was kind enough to let her and Farrah set up shop in one corner of the establishment for the Enchanting One’s address to the VoW fans for Heatstroke… as well as her opponents. Currently, she sits at the corner booth, dressed simply in a sleeveless white top, a gray silk scarf around her neck, comfortable blue jeans and brown suede boots about ankle-high. In her hands is her cell phone which she’s fiddling with quietly. The view from the open side of the booth shifts about in such a way that she’s not always in focus or clear… or even the same color. Some soft cursing comes from the other end of it, drawing the Italian Mage’s attention toward said device, a small smile tugging at her lips.
”Trouble with the new acquisition?”
Farrah grumbles quietly from the world beyond the recording, but after a few switches and taps she ends up with a perfectly-working HD view of Zahara, who flashes a smile not a moment after Farrah mutters a ‘hah!’ under her breath.
”I knew you’d get it! Oh, wait… is that that HD one that you were all giddy about?”
”Damn sure is. Why?”
”...do I look fat?”
One doesn’t even need to see her to picture the look of wide-eyed, flabbergasted incredulity on the face of Farrah at Zahara’s question. To the Magical Maiden’s credit, she keeps a pretty straight face after asking such, though her lips quiver something fierce.
”Oh, for sure. You’re the hottest blimp I’ve ever recorded in my life!”
”Whoa, wait… where have you been that has blimps?”
”Not the… cripes, Zoey, are you even focused right now?”
Shaking her head a little, Zoey sits back and toys with the ends of her scarf a little, her smile taking on a gentler look.
”Sometimes, Farrah, you either gotta laugh or you gotta cry. You smile… or you scream. Now, what would either of the latter do for me right now? They’d open the door for mind-warping slings and arrows from Winter and Matthew, that’s what. And they’re good enough that I shouldn’t be offering them free ammo. I still remember the first time I ran into both of them. Neither was a pleasant situation.
Anyway… let’s get the ball rolling here, shall we?”
”Sure you don’t want to wait on Constance? You don’t think that’ll piss her off?”
Again, a negative shake of the magician’s head.
”She’ll get here when she gets here. The plan came about on shorter notice than I would have liked so rather than waste time I’m going to get down to business. When she gets here I’m sure she’ll have plenty to add.”
”Cool, cool. Just a moment, and… there we go. All set.”
There’s a brief pause and shift, along with the requisite beep, leading to the same shot of Zahara again, sitting at the table as before, though now Farrah is sitting on the opposite side of her. Staring at her hands, the Magical Maiden remains quiet for a few moments before she starts in on her opponents.
”People don’t think I know any better, and maybe in some ways they’re right. I’ve yet to be in the business for even a year yet and it seems like every other day the wrestling world has another lesson for me. A so-called friend turns out to be far less than, efforts put toward improvement come to have little effect on the whole… I could go on, but why bore people? Anyone who follows my Twitter knows about my comings and goings. Those same people who tune in to Breakthrough every couple weeks know a bit more than that. And those viewings give them such knowledge and understanding that they know what’s best for me better than me.”
The Enchanting One smiles, albeit somewhat sardonically, and gives a pretty little shake of her head. Her eyes are still on her hands, which have a faint shake to them, as her chin lowers and her eyes close.
”Matthew Robinson thought he knew better than I did from the first time he met me, telling me that my methods of fighting fair and showing respect wouldn’t get me anywhere in this business. And maybe in his definition of success he’s been right to an extent. I’ve had two attempts at gold, both against my partner for Heatstroke, and both times I’ve come up short. Then of course there’s the aforementioned losing streak that I’m on right now, which doesn’t help things. Through that and more I’ve not compromised the person that I am and that I want to be. Except… I’m not sure exactly what I want to be at this point.”
”As if being what you already are is a bad thing. See, Matty and Ronnie, maybe the two of you want to attempt to confuse the issue, like so many others I could name-drop right now. Everyone’s got an opinion these days. But just because you got one don’t mean it’s right. And it sure as hell don’t mean you got the right to spew it out to everyone whether they wanna hear it or not.”
Nodding slightly, Zahara glances to her friend for a moment before finally facing the camera.
”But you’re not the only ones to think this way. In other words, you’re not special.”
Again with a faint smile from the magician.
”Gwendolyn Massey thinks this way. My trainer, Catherine, feels this way. Farrah feels this way. So does Kelsey Spencer, probably, and more than I could name without breaking a sweat. In some cases I respect their opinions. In others, I wonder what their motive is for thinking the way they do. The general consensus is that I’m not mean enough, that I don’t take enough liberties with people in and out of the ring that give me a hard time. Because turning into a belligerent butt-head and hurling insults and cheap shots is the answer to the meaning of life or something. Allow me to let you in on something, ladies and gentlemen:
I’d rather be razzed and disdained for what I am and still be able to look in the mirror, into my own eyes, and be happy with the person I am than become a caricature of myself. Do I see merit in some of these ideas? Sure I do. But then I remember how firing back at someone who insulted my girlfriend, someone who I have personal issues with no less, cost me one of my best friends… a woman who was victimized by this same someone. It’s called mixed messages. If I’m not nice to every person regardless of how crappy they act toward me and mine, I’m a bad person. If I don’t stick up for myself and those I care about, violently if need be, I’m weak and a coward.
And if I’m just me? The same me who had a nice little winning streak to start off her professional career and has more than once been in show-stealing matches on big time events? I won’t get anywhere in this business. And therein, my dears, lies the conundrum.”
Agitation seems to be building up in Zahara but she keeps it behind her smile. That area is where her eyes are, though, and even if it's only faintly she’s wearing a bit of a glare at the camera. In the background, the little brass bell over the door tinkles softly.
”How do you expect a professional to work in a situation like this?”
”By being just that.”
Farrah and Zahara look up as Constance Chapin steps into the frame, nodding slightly to the both of them. There’s a certain amount of tension in the air as the Xcel Champion reaches the table, though perhaps uncertainty is the better word. No one seems to know what to say for a moment.
”Glad you could join us, Constance. Please… have a seat.”
The Mancunian does so with a very faint twitch of her lips. To Zahara, that was as good as a smile, though, and she gave a light on in return before gesturing between her partner and Farrah.
”You already know Farrah, I’m sure. She’s been with me since I got started in the business and since many years prior.”
The two briefly shake hands before Zahara’s eyes shift from them back on the camera. Constance likewise becomes so focused, as does Farrah.
”I don’t have time to consider the kind of person other people want me to be when it’s hard enough just being myself. Didn’t have it months ago when Constance and I were fighting over a championship, don’t have it now when I’m trying to pick up the pieces and get my career back on track. I’ll admit that I’m on edge. My partner sees that and maybe that’s why she stepped up like she did. But if you know as much about me as you seem to think you do, Winter, you’d know that putting pressure on me only makes me fight that much harder. And because it bears repeating, let me see if I can get this through your skull for good this time:
I’m not Stacy Jones. Stacy is my friend and I love her dearly, but the way we handle things in our lives isn’t the same. Not by a sight. This isn’t a matter that’s gonna be dragged out for months and months with me giving you ample opportunities to screw with me in any way that you find humorous. Myself and Constance here, and Farrah too since you’ve managed to get on her bad side as well?”
She gestures between the three of them, drawing nods of agreement from the other two women present.
”We’re putting a stop to any designs you have toward instigating further chaos between good people that you have issues with at Heatstroke.”
”You’ve already heard what I have to say where all this is concerned. I’m here because it’s the right thing to do, the right place for me to be at this moment. Believe it or not, some people in the business still care about things like honor and friendship. Not you two, obviously, but some.”
”You should have left well enough alone. Both of you. Let’s not mince words, Winter: last time you were in the ring with me you lost a month or two of ring time. I pinned you one-two-three and, yes, I know: you’re not the same woman then as you are now. Well, neither am I. What exactly have you accomplished since way back then? Let’s see, you got engaged, I think for a bit there you cheated on Matthew…”
”Girl gets around. I know the type.”
Zahara can’t hold back a little smirk at that comment from Farrah, someone who was even more brutal in their honesty than the magician herself was. It seemed like Constance wanted to chuckle at the comment though she displays her typical restraint.
”...and then you spent half a year or so tormenting Stacy through her personal and professional life, using Zelda and Katie against her and only God knows what else. And I’m sure that to some people that would breed some trepidation. It would make them wary of getting in your way for fear of having to deal with your methods. But as far as I can see? Stacy won. She gets to be with her kids again. She’s starting a new life with them and Zelda. And you? You’re stuck with your Punisher and nothing to show for your efforts.”
”Displaying your methods and techniques for manipulating the mind as well as the body, inside the ring and out… didn’t you consider that someone might take notes? Or were your front-and-center efforts to ruin a woman’s life supposed to be glazed over like so many run-of-the-mill happenings in a world that runs a thousand miles an hour with no consideration for those living in it?”
”Bottom line? What cards to you have left to play, Winter? Because your pet male is a part of the action now is that supposed to make these two ladies nervous? It ain’t happening. Not with them, not with me.”
”And while we’re on the subject of Matthew Robinson?”
Her smile had been budding up again, perhaps because it felt good to have a couple of solid friends with her today. But above it her eyes still had a sharpness to them.
”Next time you put your hand on me in any fashion without my say, I’m going to forget that I’m a good girl and slap that smug look off you face. Whether Winter is your queen or not, you had no call to stick your nose in our conversation. And at Heatstroke I’m not going to hesitate to lay my hands on YOU in a much more forceful way.”
”If you can keep a grip on him. Guy looks like he bathes in baby oil.”
”And there goes my desire for a nice meal...”
”Cool. More for me.”
”Seriously, Farrah… that was pretty gross.”
”Truth hurts, don’t it?”
Really, there’s no way to avoid a little laughter from all sides on that one. A bit of good-natured fun at the expense of someone who really has it coming. Constance does her best to hold it back and, for a spell, does. But soon she’s chuckling with them for a moment, giving in to the briefly-pleasant vibes.
Then, however, it’s back to business.
”Now, don’t let this confuse you two, but this match has become more about sending a message to me than winning. I want to win. So does my partner. We’d love to see you two sent scrambling, your little plan turned upside down as you back up the ramp while our arms are raised high. But Winter, you made this a little more personal than you had to. I still haven’t decided if you’re trying to help me in some strange way or if this is just for giggles on your part. Letting your fiancee step into things, though, isn’t a point in your favor.”
”Were I a betting woman I’d say that, like it or not, you’re still stinging from that triple threat last year. Trust me, those sorts of scars run deep.”
”She might be, but if so she’d never admit it. What I know for sure is that if she goes down in flames at Heatstroke, which would be the perfect place for that to happen…”
”Couldn’t resist the easy joke, Zo, could ya?”
”Please, no more puns.”
Looking at both her friends across the table and shrugging as if to go ‘what?!’, Zahara laughs off their comments and returns her attention to the camera.
”...it’ll just prove a lot of what I’ve had to say wrong. You need a vendetta to keep you going, Winter. You let the pain of your past rule you and shape your life in a way that’s far from positive. Y’know what? Life’s hard for everyone. Get a helmet or get out from under the sky because that’s just how things work. Do you think you’re the only one that’s pushed through suffering and heartache to get to where you are today? You aren’t. You’re just one of the few who decided to use it all as an excuse to be evil to the world you hate.
Now, I’m not here to compare scars with you. I couldn’t if I wanted to because while you rip yours open every day before going to the ring and displacing on whatever opponent is in front of you, I let mine heal and take the lessons to heart. I don’t need to torture myself to be at my best. And because I can’t forget you, Matthew, let me ask you a question: how many times do you have to brag to the world about the careers you’ve ended, your hall of fame inductions and your championships before you believe yourself that they mean something? In the same way your woman wears and wields her pain you gird yourself in glories that most people in VoW neither know nor care about. Now, I know that’s harsh…”
”Still needed to be said.”
”...but can you look me in the eye and tell me I’m wrong? The young woman with less than a year of professional experience is taking the oh-so-dangerous veteran to task. I bet that sticks in your craw, Matthew, doesn’t it? That your reputation doesn’t immediately put me on the defensive, that your presence in this match doesn’t scare me? Get used to it. We’ve heard the tales so many times that they’re just… tired.”
”As tired as people are of hearing you talk about them constantly. I’ve already said my piece where you two are concerned, hence my relative silence today. I’m here because it wouldn’t do to not show some solidarity with Zoey and Farrah today with the fight we’re going into soon.”
”That’s right. I’m gonna be there, too. I know too well how your kind operates and I’m not letting my friends go out there without eyes on their backs.”
The look of gratitude that Zahara gives both women cannot be understated.
”Bottom line? You two are gonna wish you never started this fight. We’re gonna see to that. Get your jollies in while you can, Winter and Matthew. Come to that ring full fo vitriol and dirty tricks and every technique the book possesses for you to try and get under our skin. But don’t forget that a little practical magic goes a long way when it comes to handling cheap tricks and petty baiting the likes of what you two bring to the table.”
”Three dangerous women.”
”One unified goal.”
”And a tiny dash of awesome. Add it up and you get the show of a lifetime.”
All three women rise from the table with Farrah moving past Constance to see about the camera. As she’s shutting it down, the tag partners for Heatstroke shake hands again, their conversation too quiet to pick up on before the scene fades to black… though the show of trust and camaraderie says more than words ever could.