A/N: This is a story I've been planning on doing for months now. I'm trying to be in the habit of not having too many full length stories going at once, which is why I've only started it a couple of days ago. I am excited to be doing this one though and here's hoping it turns out alright.
The sound of the referee's hand hitting the mat for the third time filled Seth's chest with sinking feeling he was getting all too used to. He had lost. Again. Despite the way his mind had screamed for it, his body hadn't been able to kick out of Ryback's Shell Shocked. That delighted the crowd to no end. They roared their approval as Ryback got up and started celebrating. The referee stepped over Seth's body to raise the big guy's hand. Seth just laid there, keeping his eyes firmly closed while his teeth bit down on his bloody lower lip. He wasn't even surprised this was the result. Losing was the only thing he was good at these days. He lost to Orton at Wrestlemania, he lost the match against Roman where he cashed in his briefcase, he lost his safety net of the Authority because Sting wiped the floor with Hunter at Mania and Vince was so ashamed he removed them from power once more - so at this point, losing a preshow match to fucking Ryback was not a shocker. It still stung though. He was better than this. Even without the Authority in his pocket, he was completely better than this.
Now if he could only get it together to show everyone that.
He finally got it in him to roll out of the ring. Ryback's music was still playing. The big lug himself was heading to the back. Seth wasn't sure who the cameras were focused on. He hoped it wasn't him. He hung his head to hide his face just in case as he started heading for the back. The fans were yelling shit at him, but he tried to just tune it out. He didn't need them. Hell, he enjoyed having them hate him. He felt like he performed better that way. The looks he received once he was backstage though? That was a whole different ball game. Fans that hated him only had to be dealt with for a short while at a time. He could get away from them. His co-workers though? Not so much. It had been one thing when he had The Shield or The Authority with him. He could stand having everyone else hating him when he had someone to fall back on. And now there was nobody. All he had was himself, which was bad given the fact that he could barely stomach the sight of his own reflection.
The looks he got backstage were beyond smug. They were enjoying every single moment of his fall from grace. He made a point to ignore them as he headed back to the room he was using to dress in. Nobody wanted him around, so he typically just grabbed whatever he could as far away from everyone else as possible. Tonight was actually a supply closet near the boiler room. The only good thing that came from that was knowing nobody would come and mess with his shit tonight. The boiler rooms of any arena they went to tended to be where Bray Wyatt lurked around. Nobody beyond pathetically desperate him went remotely in that direction if they could help it.
Seeing Orton talking to Cena at the end of the hall made Seth duck around the corner, leading him to a hall that would not take him anywhere near the boiler room. The inconvenience though was worth it. He didn't want to be anywhere near Randy. He was fairly certain the other man still wanted to kill him. So instead he hopped up on to the trunks that were pushed up against the wall, pulling his knees up to his chest so he was as unnoticeable as possible. The people who passed through here at least had the decency to not notice him. They were all too absorbed in their won stuff. First came AJ and Paige, who were arguing yet again. Brie and Daniel Bryan were next, Brie yapping a million miles away while Daniel just listened. Zack Ryder, Luke Harper, Sheamus and Mark Henry passed by alone. Stardust did stop to hiss at him, but that was just because Cody was a twit who lost his fucking mind. Seth couldn't take it personally since he did it to everyone.
Seth stayed rooted to his spot, not daring to go anywhere until he heard the sound of Randy's music blaring. A sigh of relief escaped him. Orton was facing Bray Wyatt tonight, meaning he would be occupied for at least the next twenty minutes or so. It was the perfect opportunity to go get his stuff and then head back to the hotel to shower and change his clothes. He kept his head down still as he went, his eyes still watching his surroundings even with the cover of his hair over his face. He made it down the hall he had tried to get down before and turned to the right. In theory, most of his co-workers would be focused on either watching the ppv on the catering monitors or standing by the gorilla position, getting ready for their matches. There was no reason for him to be bothered.
Of course, what was in theory didn't always mean jack shit. Not anymore anyway.
Seth saw Dean before Dean saw him. His former teammate and ex-boyfriend was sitting at the top of the staircase he needed to get down to get to his little hole in the wall. Dirty blonde hair was a disheveled, curly mess. His shirt was gone, his skin still glistening with sweat. The Intercontinental title laid across his lap. Seth knew Dean had been feuding with Barrett over it still. Barrett had chased Dean relentlessly since WrestleMania, leading to the 2 out of 3 falls match that had been scheduled for tonight. It had been Barrett's last chance for as long as Dean remained champion. Barrett had clearly failed, which brought a small smile to Seth's face. There was pleasure in knowing he wasn't the only one around here to fall off the rails, though in truth, even as he scrambled to deny it in his own head, how happy Dean looked holding the championship was what he really liked.
Dean turned and made eye contact with him. He stiffened, his eyes going wide as he was caught staring. Blue eyes narrowed and he winced. Just over a year ago he had made the choice to turn his back on Dean and Roman, ending it all in a vile, brutal way. Hunter had whispered in his ear for almost two months, offering him promises of fame and glory and everything else under the sun. And he had let himself be seduced by it. His ambition to get to the top was wild and his ego was both bigger than it should have been and extremely fragile to boot. Career wise, he had gotten scared of being left behind. Roman had everything the McMahon family would want in their top star, meaning they would subtly shift the pieces of the board to help get him there, even with Hunter creating opportunities for guys he wanted at the top of the mountain. And Dean would get there whether anyone liked it or not. He was the one everyone had buzzed about when the Shield burst on to the scene. He was the one the fans were really behind to get what he deserved. Not that he needed them. He was conditioned to thrive on negativity. But either way, he would get to where he wanted to go. That just left Seth, who, despite knowing he was the best wrestler of the three, knew he didn't have the look or power of Roman or the kooky, irresistible charisma of Dean. Being one of the best wrestlers in the company didn't always mean shit when your company was one like the WWE. So he had sold out, becoming the golden boy Hunter wanted his top guy to be.
And for awhile, it had gone just so well for his career. He got the Money in the Bank briefcase, he either headlined pay per views or had the most talked about match; he had everything at his disposal. But even then, deep down inside, regret gnawed away at him. At night he would dream about the look on Dean's face as the realization of the betrayal set in. The shock, the horror, the look of sheer hurt - that always woke him up in a cold sweat, his heart aching with remorse his brain didn't want him to feel. The remorse served no real purpose to him. The moment he had started swinging the chair brought him to the point of no return. Dean's trust in him (and possibly in about anyone else not named Roman) was shattered with it. All the regret in the world wasn't going to change that.
"The fuck you want?" Dean was the one to finally speak. His eyes were narrowed and he had stood up, clutching his belt tightly as he glared at Seth. His whole body was tense, seemingly readying itself for an attack. The realization of that made Seth frown. Even with the understandable lack of trust, it wasn't like Seth had actually done anything to him in months. Their hell in a cell match had been the last time they had any sort of extended contact. It wasn't like it had been before.
"Hey." Dean snapped his fingers in Seth's face. "Mother fucker. The fuck do you think you're looking at?"
"Nothing." Seth didn't want to get into an argument. He was too sore and tired for that.
Dean's eyes narrowed. "Then go away."
Seth let out a huff. "You go away."
"I was here first."
"So? You've got your own locker room to haunt. Or did Roman get sick you and toss you out on your ass?"
The question made Dean stiffen and the look that flashed across his face made Seth curse silently at himself. Why couldn't he ever just keep his mouth shut? Was it really that hard?
The answer of course was yes. Yes it fucking was.
"The fuck do you even care?" Dean slung the title over his shoulder in a not so subtle bid to show off. "Don't you got another fucking match to lose?"
The comment was a direct jab to Seth's pride. But it was no worse than the shit Seth was already thinking of himself, so he just shrugged it off. Getting mad about it felt like too much effort anyway. "You mean tonight? Nah. I'm gonna save that for tomorrow on Raw. Maybe Smackdown too." He let out a long, bitter chuckle. "Hell, I'll do it for the rest of the year. Really go out of my way to cement my jobber status."
Dean's expression faltered. Something flashed in those clear blue eyes, but Seth couldn't bear to really examine what it was. He just pushed past Dean and went down the stairs. He could fel the weight of Dean's gaze following him as he went. He hated it. He hated the way the hair on the back of his neck stood up. He hated the way it put an extra pang of guilt inside his chest. And he really hated the way it still made his stomach flip in on itself. Four years and Dean still had that effect on him. The bastard. He made this harder on him without even having to try.
It wasn't much of a relief to get to his little room now. Not that he deserved it. Seth closed the door behind him and rubbed his glove covered hands over his face. He still needed to get the hell out of the arena, but he wasn't in much of a rush now that Dean was lurking around too. Instead he sat down and pressed his back up against the wall. He would wait a bit and then make a go for the door. Hopefully by the time he went, he could get away without running into Dean or Orton. He wanted to just get to his hotel so he could spend another sleepless night in peace. He had no real right to ask for much, but he at least still wanted that.
"Seth Rollins is cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase!" Michael Cole's announcements mixed with a huge chorus of boos from the crowd. Roman was struggling to get to his feet, clutching at his ribs as he kept his eyes on Seth. Of course Seth would pick now to do this. Roman had just gone through a match against Sheamus and had suffered a post match beat down from Brock Lesnar, who was still infuriated over losing to Roman at WrestleMania. The Authority may have been gone, but Seth still had this one last trick up his sleeve.
The match didn't last very long. Seth came in with a flurry of offense, eventually hitting a curb stomp. Roman, being the machine that he was, kicked out at the last moment. Seth nearly came unglued, pounding his hands into the mat and arguing with the referee. That was what cost him. It allowed Roman to get the energy to move out of the way of a second curb stomp. He came back with a devastating spear and that was it.
"Your winner and STILL the WWE World Heavyweight champion, Roman Reigns!"
Dean sighed as he paused the video. He sat on his bed, his eyes aching and begging for sleep. The hotel room he was sharing with Roman was completely dark. The larger man was right in the next bed, sound asleep already. The moment he had been out of it, Dean had stolen his I-pad so he could watch this yet again. He had lost track of how many times he had rewatched this moment. It was probably too many to be healthy at this point. But he couldn't help himself. Ever since it had happened, he kept on reliving it, hoping to spawn a change of reaction inside got what he deserved. He really had. The man had betrayed both him and Roman and then lied to the whole world, saying he never cared about Dean and all that stuff. Dean knew he had been lying. Or at least he told himself he knew it. Given that he never saw the betrayal coming, clearly he didn't know Seth as much as he had thought.
Dean put the I-pad aside and rubbed his eyes. Despite knowing that Seth got what he had coming, it hadn't stopped the ache in his chest when he saw Seth fail cashing in his briefcase. He knew how bad Seth had wanted it. They had spent countless nights in bed together, talking about getting the belt. He knew what it meant and even with fucking knowing that should have been his opportunity in the first place, seeing the fucking heartbroken look in Seth's eyes had made his heart hurt. And he hated it. He hated that he couldn't just hate the younger man and leave it at that. No, he had to go and have more complicated feelings than that. He had to hate sleeping at night because he didn't have Seth beside him. He had to miss going home with him on his days off. He had to miss the stupid little things the asshole liked to call dogs. He had to fucking miss the way Seth could just say his name and it would start to calm him, even if he was in his nastiest of moods. He even missed the way Seth smelled. It was basically really fucking pathetic.
He rolled out of bed and made his way into the bathroom. He shut the door behind him and flipped on the light. He stepped up to the sink, gripping the edges tightly as he stared down at the drain. He had to stop this. It had been a year now. It was time to knock this shit off before everyone else realized how bad he still was. Roman knew, but he wouldn't tell anyone. Roman was the only one he could really trust. Or at least he hoped he could. He chose to believe that was still the case. He needed to believe it because he would probably go insane if he lost Roman too.
Dean turned on the faucet and splashed his face off with cold water. He tried to push the memory of the failed cash in out of his mind. Yet within seconds, his head went back to how Seth had looked earlier tonight. The man had fallen from grace so completely and just looked so broken. So completely done. The light was gone from his brown eyes and it fucking bothered Dean. And it shouldn't. He had to keep telling himself that. Seth tossed him away without a second thought. He needed to relish in Seth getting a nice dose of karma. Yet there was none of that. No. He still had to go and care. That was his fucking problem. When it came to Seth he was as fucking soft as a fucking marshmallow. And there seemed to be no fucking cure for it.
A knock on the door nearly made him jump out of his skin. "Dean." Roman's voice was low, the other man clearly too tired to really be doing this. "Dean what the hell? We got to be up in three hours. Come out here and go to bed."
"I'll be out in a minute." Dean splashed more water on his face. He didn't dare look at his reflection in the mirror. Instead he shut the water off and grabbed the nearby towel to dry himself off. He moved slowly, finally coming back out in hopes to find that Roman had gone back to sleep. No such luck though. Roman was in his bed now, looking at what Dean had just watched on his I-pad.
"Don't start." Dean walked over to the mini bar and grabbed the tiny bottle of whiskey he still had left. It wasn't anywhere near enough, but downing it at least gave him something to do.
"He's fucking asshole." Roman turned off his I-pad and put it on the bedside dresser. "You don't need to do this to yourself."
"You are so much better off now. You're a champion again, you got a boyfriend -"
"Dolph's not my fucking boyfriend." The words flew out of Dean's mouth with a lot more venom than even he expected to have. "Fucking him a couple of times a week don't make him my boyfriend."
Roman shook his head. "He cares about you."
"It's sex Rome. It started as sex, it's about sex and that's it. I don't want a fucking relationship. Not again."
"Unless it's with him?"
Dean didn't say a word. He knew damn well the him in question wasn't Dolph anymore. He glanced around, desperate to find something else to drink.
"Come here." Roman's tone didn't leave much room for argument. "Come to bed."
"I don't give a shit. We got a fuck load of stuff to do tomorrow. Get your ass over here now."
Dean groaned loudly, but still did what he was told. He got on the bed, letting Roman pull him up and force his head to rest against his chest. "You're suck a fucking dick Ro."
"Me? Have you met yourself?" Roman pulled the blankets up over them and started running his fingers through Dean's hair. "I love you to death, but you're kind of a jackass."
Kind of was probably an understatement. Dean sighed and threw an arm over Roman's stomach and his leg over both of his. If he even managed to fall asleep he would end up like this anyway. Might as well just go ahead and make himself comfortable like this. Roman didn't mind. His fingers kept playing with Dean's hair, the tips scratching against his scalp in hopes to soothe him to sleep.
Roman's fingers stopped. "Sorry for what?"
Sorry for keeping him up, sorry for being so stuck on a jackass who abandoned them, sorry for needing Roman to take care of him because the betrayal bullshit left him unable to really be good at taking care of himself anymore...the list went on and on in his head. But since he was barely good at saying the word itself, he couldn't really bring himself to elaborate on it. Instead he just shrugged, which made Roman sigh.
"It's alright." Roman fingers moved in his hair once more. "Just go to sleep."