Disclaimer: I do not own these character names, nor do I have the right to use them. No disprespect is intended.


If not for dad, I wouldn't even be here. When did I get so jaded that Wrestlemania holds no allure for me? Probably the day Vince McMahon slammed the door in my face and told me he had no use for me anymore. Just as well, backwater storylines in Kentuckyana weren't really my cup of tea.

The lobby is teeming with people. What makes it worse is the monkey suit, the tie making me feel like I can't breathe. If I can just make it through without stepping on any toes, I can beg off for the night, head back up to my room alone. One more day, and then I can be off home.

Once around, twice, everyone is here except dad. The fans seem indifferent, always the girls who recognize me, one up each other in that catty way that only girls pull off with any sense of believability. My eyes dance with the after-effects of the flash. Just one beer turns into two. Finally I break away, head down the stairs to the can.

Bending, curving staircase, the raucous crowd behind me, quiet restaurant in front of me. When I raise my eyes the tableau strikes me dead in the face.

He's the only man I know who can wear pink and still look masculine.

All that power he has coiled tightly within his body, I see it even if they don't. Quiet conversation with his wife, his children, his hands folded on the table in front of him.

The only reason I don't turn and flee back up the stairs is that I really need to piss now. After a brief pause, I continue down the stairs.


I should have known better. He has a sixth sense, and he always has. The scent of cinnamon, I feel his presence behind me, filling the small vestibule. When I turn, his gaze crackles between us.

"Hey, fancy meeting you here!" My voice sounds tight, false, even to my ears.

"You knew I was here." Simple statement of fact, the kind that leaves me tongue-tied. Sometimes I think he knows it, think he revels in the fact that he can make me quiver inside without trying.

"Here, but not here," I say, my voice lowered now. Privacy is an unknown commodity during Mania weekend, but his presence would deter even the most die-hard rat. I'm pinned between his massive frame and the men's room door.

I never was quite sure how those hands could be so hard, so work-roughened, and yet convey such gentleness. The caress of my cheek is whisper-soft. Memories flood back in a rush, I close my eyes.

"You shouldn't be a stranger," he says, his voice barely above a whisper.

My responses swirl around the vortex in my head. I picture my mouth opening, and no words coming out, reminiscent of the nightmare I used to have as a kid, lightning washing the windows, and me powerless to admit my fear.

At last I whisper, "Your family..."

His shrug is almost imperceptible, and he continues as smoothly as if we've spoken as one person, "...will never understand me the way you do."

He stands then, rolls his shoulders, as is his wont. His eyes narrow for the briefest moment, his meaning clear. He turns and walks away, leaving the smell of Sunday morning behind him. I sag against the wall, feeling the spots of bright color on my cheeks.

He's immersed again in the familiarity of his loved ones when I emerge later.

Somehow, though, I feel his hand on my back as I walk up the stairs, through the mobbed bar, all the way to the elevator.

The monster has shown compassion. Yet again.

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