Down Towards the Healing
Chapter 7: "Your Gravest Words"
AN: Two and a half years later... yeah, I'd say an update is in order. Thanks for the continued support from ya'll. It completely amazes me that even though I haven't wrote anything new in over two years, that I still sporadically get a review. You all are so amazing.
Just a few quick things… I rarely actually watch wrestling anymore. So, new storylines are lost on me. Along these lines, it should be noted that I am not following the same time line as I was before; too much time has lapsed, ya know? I'm just going to write what my heart tells me to, so to speak.
I'm also thinking about ditching the songs that bookend the chapters. I always write with music in mind and it will most likely still be my inspiration for the tone of my writing, but, re-reading my story thus far, I understand that it may not make much sense to the reader. So, let me know if you want to keep the songs or not. I'd really appreciate your opinion.
"I'm finally coming close to ghost.
I'm dancing on your gravest words.
I'm toasting all the coldest stares.
All the loneliest of eyes."
Jeff Hardy was on the medical table that was set up in closest locker room of the arena. The paper liner that was rolled on top of the bed was adhering to his bare back like when warmed summer skin melds to the expensive leather of a luxury car. Jeff squeezed his eyes shut and brought both hands up to fist and pull at the sweaty, rainbow-dyed hair at the crown of his head.
As soon as he had finished the match and the ref let go of his hand signaling his victory, he lurched up the ramp and a medical team frantically ushered him into the designated medical room. For ten minutes he had been poked and prodded; ad-hoc x-rays were done to his neck, clavicle and the cervical and thoracic columns.
The doctors and miscellaneous medical staff on call had kept up a steady chatter with the young man, but Jeff had only caught a handful of phrases that broke through his own stream of thoughts ("..").
"… Nothing broken…" and "slight swelling of his C1 and C7 discs..." and "Rest with alternating heat and ice."
These phrases swam in and out of his head like fish in a tank.
"… I can write you a prescription for mild dose of Darvocet and Acetaminophen…" Well. Ok, that got his attention. But, for the most part, they were efficient in and out in ten minutes and left him with his thoughts and a plastic collar around his neck.
He was having trouble lacing his thoughts together. The match had been going well, for the most part. He really liked Ken. The man was diligent and a perfectionist. Practicing with him was textbook – he knew what he was doing and wasn't afraid to tell Jeff what he was doing wrong. By the end of the week, Jeff could practically waltz this match in his sleep, that is how much the two men practiced. The moves were routine. Nothing he doesn't do from week to week. And beyond that, he knows the risks of his own moves; it was just… irrational that he was this shaken up over a botched move.
He sat up when he heard the door click back open. The paper that was adhered to his back was peeled away like a band-aid. His head swam with the change of altitude from latitudinal to longitudinal, but he caught a flash of cropped blonde hair and gold skin all wrapped up in a green Packers hoody.
Ken just stood near the door, watching with patient with intense blue eyes. His hair was still wet from his shower and Jeff could smell the sharp, calming smell of his Old-Spice body wash. He recognized his because it was the same smell his Dad wore. And consequently, the same cologne his brother had worn since he was 14.
Jeff was sitting on the white marble counter of the bathroom he shared with both his father and brother. He was to the left of the sink with his back resting against the cool, toothpaste spattered mirror and his legs dangled over the side and banged softly against the cabinet below the counter. He was watching with intense interest as Matt made careful passes with a navy blue, plastic safety razor from under his chin and up towards his face, clearing the thin layer of shaving cream.
"Ya know, you're concentratin' awful hard for five hair on your chin." Jeff smartly said.
Matt didn't say anything until he completed the left side of his chin and neck. "I'm gonna let that one pass, cause I know your just jealous, is all." He allowed his eyes to glance over to the little boy who was studying him.
"Whatever" Jeff mumbled out still studying the careful precision that his brother used the razor and swung his legs a little harder.
"What are you even doing here? Don't you have friends, Jeffy? You know Pops' isn't going to let you come out with me, even if I said it was ok'… which it isn't!"
"I know I ain't goin' with ya, Matthew!" He clanked his feet for a few moments before, "The other kids only hang out with me if you're there, anyways. So Dads bringing over one of his friends… Mr. Jake, to watch me, I guess."
Matt's eyes narrowed as he swiped the last of the shaving cream off of his cheek, promptly creating a small knick that immediately began t ooze blood. "Arg! Jeff!" he turned towards his brother and grabbed his brothers smaller legs by the calves and squeezed until the kid yelped in pain. "Stop banging! Sit still! What is your problem?!"
Jeff immediately halted his legs before reaching down and massaging the bruised area that Matt had just grabbed. He looked up through his sandy lashes and saw that Matt had place a small piece of toilet paper to the blooming cut to quell the blood.
"Sorry, Matty. You know I can't help it! I have attention defishi- defica- defic-"
"Deficit, Jeff." The older boy sighed, "Yeah, I know. Let's not talk about it, kid." He carefully unscrewed the cap of the familiar white bottle of cologne and applied it a bit heavy handedly.
Jeff jumped off the counter and went to lean against the wall so he could watch Matts reflection in the mirror. "Please don't go tonight, Matty… wait until Dad is home, or… when Shan will let me hang out over there! "
Matt was now meticulously buttoning up a crisp white oxford shirt and rolling up the sleeves to his elbows. When he was finished he caught the younger kids eyes through the glass and sighed.
"Sorry, kid. Maybe we'll do something tomorrow after whatever Dad has us do, ok?"
Matt didn't catch Jeff grimace and start chewing on his bottom lip until it bled. "Alright. Hey Matty? You look real nice… you smell good, too. Like Daddy."
Matt tucked his shirt into a pair of old but, relatively neat jeans and refastened the plain, black leather belt. He reached over to the sink and grabbed the bottle of cologne and then turned toward the boy leaning against the wallpapered wall.
"Put some on, kid." And winked at him before turning back to his own reflection. "We Hardy men must smell good".
Jeff just smiled back at the older boy through the mirror, but wait to unscrew the lid of the cologne until Matt had vacated the bathroom to ask his Dad for the keys to the old Geo hatchback whose purpose was mostly just to sit in the gravel driveway collecting dust.
Jeff clumsily unscrewed the bottle and inhaled deeply, reverently at the mouth of the bottle. He stuck one finger over the opening sealing it and then inverted and righted it back lightly coating the finger with the cold liquid and then rubbed it along his collar bone and neck.
It wasn't the same on him, he noted. Maybe Matt was wrong, maybe he wasn't supposed to smell like this; like his heroes.
He carefully washed his face and neck with the bar of generic soap that was beside the sink and grabbed a discarded hand towel and poured a small amount of the Old Spice onto the surface. He inhaled the soft terrycloth and left the bathroom to retreat to his own room. He would just have to stay in his room while Mr. Jake was here.
"-What else could we have done. Just… walk me through it, man."
Ken had started speaking while he had gotten caught up with the memory tied to the scent of cologne. His whole body was clenched, tight with anger, like a coiled snake ready to strike. His icy blue eyes were calculating and not quite looking into his own pale green ones.
Jeff didn't say anything; he didn't have too. He knew the blonde needed to blow off some steam and anything he said in his defense would be ignored anyways.
"We practiced, Jeff. We practices and practiced and then I made you run through it again." Ken was pacing now, back and forth occasionally running his hand over his face. "You have to execute the same moves over and over again, week after week. The ring doesn't change, the moves don't change. Explain to me why you manage to choke, still? " He bit back a gruff, ridiculing snort.
Jeff just kept his eyes downcast, carefully studying the small hole that had appeared in the upholstering of the bed on the medical table. He poked at the fraying pleather fabric and began to pull methodically at the cotton batting. Ken was such a nice guy. Athletic, funny, smart and diligent. He was a little sad that Ken was probably never going to work with him again. It also hurt that he was getting chewed out by someone he respected so much, but yeah. He understood why it was happening. He heard the door swing open and shut quietly, but didn't look up to see who it was. He just kept listening to the worked up man, in front of him.
"You know what? Your going to seriously hurt someone one of these days. If you can't stick your signature moves, what the fuck are you doing out there? Goddamn. We get it, Jeff! You don't care about what you do to yourself! But think about the rest of us, who don't want to have back surgery this year." He studied Jeff and noticed his eyes never lifted from the fabric, but his hands had clench on the bench, his knuckles turning white.
"But you already have hurt someone haven't you, Jeff? How is Freddy Mercury doing these days?"
Jeff went pale and ripped his eyes from the bench to look pleadingly at Ken, willing him to understand, "That was an accident! It was-"
And all of a sudden, he realized who was in the room with them.
Maria marched over from the doorway where she had been standing silently, trying to will Jeff to look over at her and let her know he was ok.
"Hey! You're going to back off!" She marched over to where the Wisconsin native was standing and stood toe to toe with him, albeit a good foot shorter.
"Look", she took a breath, "I get that your upset and on edge, but seriously? Yelling at Jeff while he's hurt… it was an accident, dude! Your ok, and I understand that you might have been scared, but imagine how he feels and just walk away for now." She put her small hand on his hoody covered shoulder and led him out of the door.
Out of Jeff's ear-shot she said softly, "Come back when you can express your opinions in an adult manner and when you can articulate how very scared you were for Jeff. Yeah, 'Mr. Kennedy', I saw your face out there, you were scared shitless for him, you heartless jerk." Then she turned back into the trainer's room and shut the door before he could say anything back at her.
She made her way over to Jeff, who hadn't moved but had been watching the slight girl with a look of awe in his eyes. Slowly, Maria put her arm around his shoulders in a half hug and began to trace small circles above his shoulder blade. After a few minutes of silence Jeff let his collard neck lean gently in the crook of Marias soft neck.
'It was an accident, you know? What happened to Fred?" He said gruffly, using his voice for the first time in an hour.
"Yeah. I know. Ken knows, too. He's just scared for you. A lot of us are scared for you."
He lifted his head and looked at her with a bright, dazed look on his face, as if seeing her for the first time. Her tanned face was smooth and free of her stage makeup so he could see the small constellation of freckles on her nose and cheeks. Her eyes were bright and lightly rimmed red (was she crying earlier?) and her hair pulled back and clipped out of her face. She was dressed in black stretch pants that hit mid calf and her ratty navy blue Converse were on her feet. She had an old white oxford shirt on that she might as well have been swimming in; the sleeves were rolled up to her elbows. But best of all were the plastic, tortoise shell, thick-framed glasses that were delicately perched on her nose.
He had never seen a more beautiful, strong women in his entire life. She was perfection; she was his Super Women. His Han Solo. His hero.
He blinked and rested his head in her neck again, breathing deeply. She smelled like grapefruit, lemon and fresh mowed grass. Perfect. And now way ahead of Old Spice on his list of what his protagonists should smell like.
"I'm fine, Maria." He sighed contently before chuckling, "They gave me pain pills."
"I am a satellite,
never getting signal right.
You are a constellation,
I can barely make you out tonight."
AN: I know it's kind of short, but… PLEASE REVIEW ANYWAYS?
Credit: Lyrics belong to Lawrence Arms and the song is "Your Gravest Words".