Author's Note: Again, I find myself apologizing for the length between updates. Credit for this chapter goes directly toward the muses – I'm not too sure my brain went into any of this. Sat down and typed for forty-five minutes, and I actually like it. I hope you do too.
P.S.: Someone who would prefer to remain anonymous told me I should tell you this, so I'm obliging whole-heartedly: the only thing more plentiful than cliffhangers in this story are plot twists. :D
So I Need You
Lita had been many things in her life; had thought many things about herself. She'd looked at herself in the mirror with disgust, with disappointment, with contentment, but never before with this mix of emotion that tore apart her insides and drove her eyes away from her reflection to the ground.
Her nails were digging into her palms, her heart racing as emotion after emotion claimed it. In front of her, the monitor continued to play, continued to show her what was being done in her honor.
Christian and Garrison Cade had fled quickly enough to escape damage, but they weren't the prey; Matt Hardy was. There was blood pouring – pouring, not trickling, not rolling, but pouring, like rivers of pain rushing and crashing down his face – from a cut on his forehead. A dented steel chair lay forgotten on the canvas mat, bouncing ever-so-slightly as Batista heaved Matt's body from his shoulders onto the floor. But it didn't stop there. Hunter, Ric, and Randy stepped forward and continued to lay into Matt; kicking, punching, spitting…
And Lita knew that Matt had deserved the clothesline Randy had given to him with a particular vengeance. She had let out a personal cry of joy when Hunter had slammed his body to the mat a moment later; had given in to the beginnings of a smile when the beating continued. He had deserved it, every minute of that. It was the emotional pain rooted within her projected onto him physically, and she almost had something to genuinely thank the guys for.
But that was when the beating got vicious. The joy stopped cold in her heart as they wrenched Matt's arm to try and drag him to his feet, not paying any mind to the sound of his shoulder cracking out of place. Try as she might, she couldn't get any satisfaction over this. The rest of Evolution had crossed a line, and pity swept across her brow. Her stomach clenched uncomfortably when Hunter brought the steel chair down on Matt's head. A rush of concern ran through her, even through the overwhelming hate she had for Matt. And she couldn't stop the beating, even if she wanted to.
The plan. It was all for the plan. She stared at the ugly, blossoming blood stains on the mat and tried to console herself with the empty reason.
It was over soon enough, though. Matt was lying there, listless, Evolution – her teammates – standing over him triumphantly, the indignant cries of the announcers mingling with the strong, wild booing of the audience. Ric motioned for a microphone, and, yards upon yards away, Lita braced herself for his words.
He jabbed a finger to Matt's broken body as he spoke. "This," Ric hissed, "is what happens when you mess with Evolution. Last week, Matt Hardy screwed Lita over. That was a mistake, Matt. Lita is one of us, now – she's part of our family. And in Evolution, we take care of our family members."
Lita felt hot tears pressing into her eyes, and she closed them tightly. She wouldn't cry. She would get through this – alone and disgraced as she was – and she would conquer Evolution.
And then she would hand out her apologies. A sinking feeling in her stomach told her that there would be many to give.
It had taken every inch of her willpower to appear grateful for what they'd done for her when Batista, Hunter, and Ric returned to the locker room. She'd managed not to wince as they continued their assault on him – this time verbally. After ten long, painful minutes, Lita concluded that she'd spent a sufficient amount of time thanking them and reliving the moment. She excused herself on the premise of finding Randy, who Hunter said had departed for a quiet place to stretch. Lita hadn't planned on finding him, and she was surprised to find Randy sitting on the floor a few yards away, leaning against the wall. He was lost in thought; his eyes closed lightly, his elbows resting on his knees.
Lita knew she was expected to thank him, so she swallowed her feelings again and walked over to him, sitting down beside him. Randy opened his eyes, but otherwise offered no acknowledgement of her presence. They sat like that in the quiet for some time.
After a few minutes, Lita let herself think about what had just transpired. Her fingers curled into tight fists, her knuckles white. Matt didn't deserve all of that – it was beyond cruel, beyond horrific, and all done in her name.
While she was contemplating those jarring facts, Randy's eyes finally slid toward her. Lita caught his gaze and looked toward him, too, and something in those deep blue reaches she saw something that made her heart skip a beat. Was that…regret? Pain?
"I'm sorry," Randy said finally, and moved his eyes to his hands.
Lita didn't know what she'd expected him to say, but it wasn't this. This reeked of humanity, of concern, of…goodness. "Sorry for what?" she questioned, her voice hollow, but Randy didn't turn to her. She followed his gaze to his palms, and felt a lump in her throat as she watched him rub at the blood on his hands.
"It's hard to wash off," he said finally, evading her question. They both knew he wasn't talking about water and soap.
Suddenly, it occurred to Lita that the vicious monster that was Evolution wasn't the core of all of its members. She saw a vulnerability, a morality, in Randy. Would he have done this if someone else hadn't pressured him into it? Something within her doubted it, and a strange surge of pity for him swept through her.
Lita reached over and covered his palm with her own. She waited until he looked toward her to speak. "You did what you had to do," she said firmly, holding his gaze until she was sure that he understood the full meaning of her words.
A beat passed, and Lita wasn't aware of another person's presence until the black boots edged their way into her vision. "Lita, Randy," it was Triple H's impatient voice that sounded.
Lita moved her hand back to her side slowly and carefully before looking up. The ever-present scowl was back on his face, but right now it seemed a little more intense than usual. "Hey," she greeted him, a small smile on her face. The stare he returned to her was teetering on the edge of anger.
"Ric just got back from Bischoff's office," Hunter said gruffly as she and Randy stood, "Lita, you've got yourself a match tonight. And Randy, you're up against Sergeant Slaughter."
Lita swore she saw a flicker of disappointment flash across the young superstar's face.
"What happened to RVD?" Randy questioned.
"Bischoff booked him in another match," Hunter dismissed with a wave of his hand. "Ric is waiting for us back in the locker room. He wants to discuss Lita's match."
Randy and Lita both fell into step behind Hunter as he began walking away. "H," Lita said, taking an extra step and walking beside him, "What is my match?"
He looked at her carefully, as if weighing the news. "A cage match…with Victoria."