Bright and early, the newest member of OVW found himself at some little Mom & Pop diner next to another one of the guys he had seen there the day before.
Being the outgoing person he was, he introduced himself, "Hey, I'm John."
The other man turned his head slowly towards the voice, finally making eye contact. He saw John was holding out his hand, so he accepted it, "Randy. Randy Orton."
John cocked his head, "Any relation to—"
"Oh, that's cool."
A waitress with bright, fizzy red hair came up to them where they sat at the counter. She smiled at them, chipper even at this hour. "Hey there, boys, how are you doin' today? Don't think I've seen you here before," she said, directing her comment to John. "This kid's in here all the time." She jerked her head towards Randy, who couldn't help but smile at her. "I imagine I'll be getting to know you, too. What's your name?"
"Well, John, what can I get for ya this morning?"
Unsure of what he should get, he looked over at Randy and asked, "Hey, what should she get for me this morning?"
"I'd go with the early bird special."
"That's because you get that every morning."
"What can I say, Joan, it's good. And you get a shit load of food for two bucks. So, John, you're here at 5 in the morning, make the most out of it. Get the early bird special."
"Alright, then. I guess that's what I'll get."
"Two early bird specials comin' right up, then." She gave the two another warm smile before walking off and putting their order in.
"She seems like a nice lady," John commented.
"She's great. The guys are in here all the time; she gets to know each and every one of 'em as they come in then move on… So, John, where are you from?" Randy was genuinely curious, as he actually found he liked the company of the man sitting next to him.
"Mass. About an hour from Boston."
"So, how far was that from Boston?"
John cocked his eyebrow, "I just told you: an hour."
Randy stared, and gave him a look that read, 'are you a total dumbass?' "But how far is it?"
The look went to a whole 'nother level. "Do you people not believe in miles over there? Because usually when I ask a person how far away they are from a place, they'll tell me five miles, or 40 miles, not an hour."
John had to think about that one for a little while, because people really never did measure anything in miles. "Well, I guess it's about… 45, maybe 50 miles?"
"Wouldn't it be easier to just measure everything in miles to begin with?"
"No. Anyway, where you from, Randy?"
"I was born in Tennessee, but grew up in Mo."
"That's cool. I went to Tennessee once… We went to Dollywood. And Graceland."
"That's about all there is, too. Except the Jack Daniels factory. That was there, too."
"Do you get free booze?" John asked, this conversation getting more interesting by the second.
Randy smirked, "Dry county. No one gets any booze."
"Well that sucks."
Joan returned at that moment with two heaping plates of food. "Here you are, boys, two early bird specials."
John's eyes widened at the sight of the mounds of scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon, pancakes and even toast. Who served toast with pancakes? "Thank you," both of them said at the same time.
"You eat up; you have a long day ahead of you." She walked off again, going to another table.
"She had to remind us, didn't she?" John asked around a mouthful of food. "Damn, this is good."
"I told ya. There's a reason that this goes for seven bucks after 6:30."
The two stopped talking as they dug into their food. Neither of them made to speak, though; the silence wasn't an awkward one, but a friendly one. John never thought he would make a buddy so soon, and Randy never thought he'd be the type to make a friend so easily.
After the day's training, all the guys were in the back locker room. Randy turned around and saw John across the room. He walked over to him and slapped him on the back. He saw John try not to wince. "Hey, man, me and Dave are going to the Thirsty Thursday Happy Hour over at Tommy's a little later, you wanna join?"
"Sure, why not?"
"Nice. So, where you off to now?"
"Nowhere really, thought I might go back to my place—"
"Where you livin', anyway?"
"I found some—"
Randy cut him off once again, "Lemme guess. Some shitty little apartment just down the block."
"Got it in one."
"I'm in the same boat. So, instead of doing nothing for the next hour, wanna hang out, then we can head over to Tommy's together."
John smiled, "I like the sound of that."
"Yo, Dave," Randy shouted, "I'll see ya later!"
"Yup," was all he had to say in response.
"Quite a talker, that one," John said as they left the room together.
"You get used to it," Randy shrugged. "But once you get to know him, he gets more talkative. Unlike you, who never seems to shut his mouth, even when you first meet a person…"
"I don't talk that much. I do know when to shut my mouth when I have to. I could stop talking whenever I wanted to. And it's not my fault I talk when someone is encouraging me in conversation. Like this morning, it's not like you were ignoring me when I was talking to you. You kept the conversation going just as well as I did."
"John, really, it's ok to breathe every now and then."
The two were able to walk to Randy's place, which was on the opposite side of town from John's. Randy punched in his code and they headed for the second floor. "Welcome to my humble home," Randy said when he opened the door and let John in.
"Well, I thought it'd be…"
"Nicer? Bigger? Fancier?" Randy finished for him.
"Yeah, actually. I guess I assumed that your parents…" He let his sentence fade off to nowhere; he imagined that the other man got that a lot.
"Naw, man, my mom isn't really all gung-ho about me wrestling. And my dad thinks this should be one of those real life moments. I wanna do this? Then I gotta do it myself. So, right now, there's no support from the folks, at least not financially. This is all I can afford on my own." He sat down on the junky couch he acquired from the local recycling center and gestured for John to join him.
John sat on the opposite end of the couch, leaving an empty space between them. "I'm surprised you're not rooming with anyone."
"Dude, I just came here, I'm lucky I found someone that would rent to me on a weekly basis, much less find myself a roomie. You and Dave seem like good friends; why not room with him? It would cut your costs a lot, wouldn't it?"
"He's been here for a while, already rooming with a few other people. But I don't really mind being alone, it's not like I've ever been one of those people that needs to be around other people to function."
Randy looked over to John and smirked again, "And you are?"
"I'm one of five. As far as I'm concerned, there has to be something going on, there's gotta be noise, and I'd like for there to be other people. I guess I just got so used to being surrounded by people all the time as a kid; it's just become a part of my life. I guess I seek people out just for company."
"Which is why yesterday would make sense. You were lucky, though, I actually responded to you."
"Doesn't that make me feel special? Randy Orton actually acknowledged the new guy at OVW."
"Doesn't happen often, so you should feel lucky, John Cena."
The two sat there, chatting back and forth about nothing important, forming a friendship that, little did they know, would become something so much more.
In another hour, Randy was leading John to Tommy's, the bar of choice for the poor wrestling students, due to their dollar drafts during Thirsty Thursday Happy Hour. They met Dave out in the front and the three entered. John and Dave started out the night not talking a whole lot, but with each cup, all three opened up more.
"So, John, how are you liking Kentucky so far?"
"Well, I can't say there's a whole hell of a lot to do here."
"You got that right," Dave lifted his glass in agreement. He downed his fifth beer of the night then announced to John and Randy, "I have to piss like a mother fucker." He stood up and left for the bathroom.
"So he's quiet until he gets to know someone or gets a few rounds in him," John observed. "Seems like a good guy."
"At least you two are talking. Now I don't have to be that awkward middle man." Randy dug in his pockets and pulled out another dollar, asking the bar tender for another one. Once he got it, he turned to John and said, "Man, this is the most shitty ass beer ever, but, damn, I don't think I've tasted anything this good."
John sipped at his third drink and watched Randy start on his ninth. "That's because it's cheap and you're drunk off your ass. You don't know what you're saying. Well, actually, you do, because this really is shit."
"Dude, how come you're not imbibing to your full potential?" Randy asked, slurring his words together.
"Because I didn't want to get wasted?"
"Or maybe you're just a lightweight, and don't want to admit it to your new best friend."
John quirked an eyebrow at Randy, "My new best friend? Dude, you are drunk."
"Yeah, probably. Where's Dave? I have to piss now, I'll be back."
Dave passed by Randy when he returned. He sat back in the seat he was previously in, surprised it was still empty. "Where'd Randy go? He off picking up some chick?"
"Well, he told me he was taking a piss, which isn't surprising, since he's already gone through nine of these things, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least bit if he actually was picking up some chick; he's a good lookin' guy, seems like he'd be a ladies man."
"Yeah, he's a bit of one. I bet you are, too, though."
John shrugged, "Oh, well, I mean, not really."
"Not really," Dave laughed, "you're gonna be bringing home a different girl every night, don't lie."
Randy returned and took his seat in between the two of them, "You guys talking about me?"
"Yeah, of course, just like every conversation I have," John said sarcastically. "Which is really saying something, considering I learned your name this morning."
"Well, you should," Randy informed him jokingly, poking him in the chest. "All your conversations should revolve around your new best friend."
"Maybe we should cut you off. It's only eight, and you're drunk off your ass. You have no clue what you're saying." John finished off his third drink and placed the empty cup on the counter.
"You're just too uptight." Randy asked for another one of the dollar beers, but the bartender told him that happy hour was over, ended right at eight. "Shit. Well," he said, looking between the two men on his side, "it's either pay full price for that shit or get out of here."
"Might as well head out," John suggested.
"And do what, exactly?" Dave asked.
John shrugged and Randy stood up and walked for the door. He turned around and noticed that the other two were still sitting at the bar. "You two coming?"
When they caught up with him, Dave rolled his eyes and said, "You think as the oldest of this little group, I would have some say in the matter."
"Wait," Randy said to the group just before they went out the door. "I have to piss again."
"You just went, like, five minutes ago."
"The floodgates have opened. I'll be right back."
Randy stumbled off back to the bathroom, and John and Dave assumed identical stances against the wall. "He do that often?"
"Yeah. But the kid's a riot. Don't tell him this, but the only reason I keep him around is cuz he's a funny drunk."
"Your secret's safe with me. He's certainly not afraid to speak his mind."
"Drunk or not." Dave caught the eye of a girl walking past him towards the bar. "Hey, you know how I wasn't quite ready to end the night now?" He looked over to John, then right back at the girl, and John followed his gaze.
"You two can handle yourselves, can't you?"
"I would think so. We're big boys now. So, feel free…"
Dave nodded to him and left in pursuit of this nameless woman at the bar. Randy found his way back to the door and saw John standing there. "Where'd—"
John waved his hand and gestured his head towards the bar, and said, "There."
"Ohh. Well, were we still leaving?"
"I hope so. I'm not waiting here until Dave gets laid and comes back here tomorrow to accompany us on our way back. I told him we were big boys and could handle ourselves just fine."
"Are you gonna be ok getting home?" Randy asked, knowing John lived opposite of town from him. The two left the bar and started walking in the direction of Randy's apartment, which was less than a block away.
"I'll be fine. The question here is: are you ok getting home? Boy, you can hardly walk a straight line."
"I'm ok. There's a reason I pick this bar. Location, location and cheap beer."
"You are too much. Maybe talking to you at the diner was a bad move."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because, dude, you crazy." They arrived at the main door to Randy's place. He stood in front of the number pad and started at it, scratching his head. John crossed his arms and shook his head, laughing to himself. "You forgot the number, didn't you?"
"No!" Randy shot back. "I'm just… thinking about what the number may possibly be."
Randy stood there for another minute before giving up. "I got nothin'." He turned around and gave John his best puppy dog eyes, practically begging John to let him crash at his place for the night.
"Fine, you can stay over tonight. But it'll be a long walk. And it's even emptier than yours. Hope you don't mind the floor."
"Dude, at this rate, I'll happily pass out on anything."
John found himself shrugging again, "Alright then. And don't puke on the carpet, please."
"Ortons don't puke." Randy accentuated this 'fact' by poking John in the chest as they walked.
"You poke a lot, don't you?"
"It's a habit I picked up while annoying the hell out of my sister."
"I hope you weren't poking her in the chest. That would annoy the hell outta her."
"Naw, man. Shit."
"What is it? Wait, you have to piss again, don't you?"
John looked around, "There's no one here and there's a tree over there. Or do Ortons not piss on trees, either?"
"Fuck off. Just make sure there aren't any cops, or anything, who'll bust me for defacing city property."
Randy came back much relieved, and their walk continued. "Thanks, man." Randy said when they were almost there, breaking the silence that had fallen between them from the tree until that point. "I know we just met and all, so, really, thanks for letting me crash. And I really do think I'm about to go. Waking up at 4 in the morning is so not my thing."
"I don't think it's much of anyone's thing."
"Except my third grade teacher. He told us that he woke up at 4 every morning. Went to bed at 8, or something like that. He was a bit loopy."
"You know you're on that road right now, don't you?"
"What road? I thought we were on 6th Street?"
John was about to explain what he meant by the comment, but decided against it. "Never mind. Let's just get back to my room, ok?"
"I remember my code now!" Randy shouted out of nowhere.
"That's great. But we are not fucking walking back there now. We're literally ten steps from my building."
John and Randy stepped up to the door and John punched in his code no problem. They climbed two sets of stairs, arriving at the third floor. He dug out his key to unlock the door and the two went in.
"And here's my humble home," John said flicking in the lights.
Randy looked around at the white walls, beige carpet and… no furniture. "You were right, your place is worse than mine."
"Thanks. I don't have much in the way of stuff, but I have an extra pillow. And you can use my Patriots blanket to sleep on. Oh, and the bathroom is right there, since I have a feeling you'll be needing it."
"Thanks again, John."
"Hey, what are best friends for?"