A/N: I put this little thing up on tumblr because I was feeling things and decided to just publish it on here too.

The bell ringing was the most surreal sound Dolph had ever heard in his life. He almost didn't believe it. He was the last one standing. Through everything the Authority had done to him for the past several weeks. Telling him he wasn't good enough, threatening his career, making his and everyone else's life hell...the fourteen month reign of terror was over. And it was thanks to him. Cena, Ryback and Rowan had been eliminated. Big Show had betrayed them. It had come down to him. He had gotten Rusev counted out. He beat Kane with a Zig Zag. He rolled up Harper. And Sting of all people had made sure he got the pin on Rollins. He wanted to thank the man, but he was nowhere to be found. Of course, it was hard to find much of anyone with how many people surrounded him. Cena had been the first to come to him, not even waiting until he got backstage. The number of hugs only increased once he got backstage. Rowan had been the first, barely letting him get through the curtain. Ryback had been next, having to physically pry him out of Rowan's grasp to do it. The divas had been next. Naomi, Natalya, Emma, Alicia and Rosa had swarmed him, kissing his cheek and gushing at how proud they were of him. Then the Usos came, a bottle of champagne in hand. Bret Hart, Jake Roberts, Roddy Piper-legends he idolized as a child shook his hand and told him that he deserved this. That this was his time. This felt so surreal. But if it was a dream he never wanted to wake up. He wanted to stay in this place forever.

"You know we gotta have a party," Jimmy declared. He, Jey and Cena were following him to his locker room. "Fuck Raw tomorrow. There's a bar down the street. We'll live it up."

That sounded both awesome yet too exhausting at the same time. The adrenaline was starting to run off, making him feel every ache in his body. "I need to shower man," Dolph said. He was not going anywhere without a quick rinse. "You guys go ahead. I'll catch up."

"You better man. You'll be the guest of honor." Jimmy threw one last hug his way before dragging Jey and Cena off. Cena turned to give him a salute, which he returned with a nod. He watched them go, waiting until they were out of sight before heaving a sigh and going into the locker room he had been sharing with the rest of the team. His stuff was the only bags left in there. He smiled to himself and stripped out of his ring gear freely, tossing his trunks and boots in the general direction of his bag. He didn't expect anyone to come in. Well, maybe Rowan, but hopefully Ryback or someone else was keeping him on a leash. The possibly more deranged of the former Wyatt family members wasn't actually that bad to be around. With that being said though, he still kind of gave Dolph the willies. And then there was the matter of Big Show...Dolph felt his stomach twist in disgust over the thought of the giant. The bastard had turned his back on them. The Authority had made his life hell yet he still sold his soul to them. And he had done it all for nothing. The Authority was gone. He had turned into a spineless pig for absolutely fucking nothing.

Dolph pushed those thoughts away as he got into the shower. He turned the water on as hot as he could, the near scalding temperature feeling good on his muscles. He didn't bother to really wash up or anything. He just stood there, his eyes closed as he absorbed everything that had happened. Not just everything from the night though. Literally everything. The road had been long and hard for him. Every time he had gotten started on the right track, it hadn't worked out. His path to just getting the Intercontinental title had been rough. The road to winning the world title even longer and rougher. And then getting to grab that glory only to have an injury derail his momentum. That momentum not being regained until just this summer. Getting back the Intercontinental title had been so important to him. It had crushed him when he lost it to Harper. But he had gotten the last laugh. He had taken what was most important to Triple H and Stephanie. And unlike them, he could get his title back. He could go on and do even more. Maybe even do the unthinkable and take the title off Lesnar.

But that was a thought for a different night. For now he just turned off the water and grabbed the nearest towel. He dried himself off and wrapped it around his waist before stepping out of the shower. His mind was so fixated on getting to his clothes so he could get out of there that he didn't realize he had a visitor at first. It wasn't until the other man cleared his throat that Dolph looked up and saw Daniel Bryan standing there.

"Holy shit." Dolph nearly jumped in surprise. "What the hell man?"

Daniel didn't say a word. He tried to. He opened his mouth for the words to come out, but they failed him. Instead he just closed the distance between them, his arms locking around him in the tightest hug of all. Dolph's eyes widened. He almost questioned it, but two mumbled words caught his attention.

"Thank you."

And suddenly it was clear. The Authority had hurt Daniel more than anyone. They had dashed his dreams over and over. They had belittled him, beaten him, tried to derail his quest to the title. And when he finally had it, it was taken away because of Kane. Hunter and Stephanie had sent Kane after him, making sure the demon injured his neck. He still wasn't ready to come back yet. There were even whispers that he wouldn't ever be able to come back. A lifelong dream ended by such selfish people. For Bryan and others who the Authority had hurt, this victory had been the world to them. Dolph hadn't let them down. He made them proud. He made the whole world proud and restored hope to the WWE Universe once again.

"Come on man." Dolph broke away from the embrace but kept one hand clapped on Bryan's shoulder. "Let me put on some pants and let's go celebrate."