It was the first time he ever felt like death.

The crates backstage were his throne as he sat upon them, casting his gaze across the barren hallways.

It was his Kingdom of Punk.

In his hands was the cause of his royalty, the Money in the Bank briefcase. By luck and a loophole, he got his case back after he was not successful in winning, or losing, to Edge when he wanted to. Since the match was deemed a no contest due to interference by both Umaga and Jeff Hardy, he begged Teddy Long to let him keep the case. The match didn't really happen, did it? No decision was made. Teddy Long, being the equal opportunity General Manager of SmackDown that he was, he let CM Punk keep the case to use at a later date.

He didn't feel like dying. He felt like death itself. CM Punk was the dark Grim Reaper of the WWE, looking for the next person to cross his path.

Jeff Hardy.

The Rainbow-Haired Warrior was walking around with his ear buds in his ears and the World Heavyweight Championship held over his shoulder.

Yes, Jeff Hardy was the World Heavyweight Champion. Much to the enjoyment of nearly every single female in the world, he could now say that he held both the World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE Championship. He had defeated Edge at Judgment Day to earn this honor, but only because of interference.

Interference from CM Punk.

Punk had rushed down to the ring and taunted Edge with the case, saying he was about to cash it in, which he was.

He didn't expect Jeff to pull this one off. But when he did, because of the distraction that CM Punk himself had created, Punk didn't have the heart to cash it in against his friend. The world of the WWE was a battleground, but you just didn't cross your friends.

Unless you really, really had to.

If this was a night for CM Punk, it would be a night of champions.

Vengeance: Night of Champions, the third Sunday of June. Even if the company did decide to drop the Vengeance prefix, Punk felt obligated to use it. It just felt right, and the stuff he witnessed during his tenure in the WWE definitely fit the word "vengeance."

Jeff Hardy versus Edge in a TLC match in a rematch for the World Heavyweight Championship. Teddy Long "mysteriously" went missing, and Vickie Guerrero had taken over both Monday nights and Friday nights, returning home to her husband. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that Edge had taken out the General Manager in order to get his rematch with a stipulation he was nearly perfect in.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

"Good luck tonight, Jeff," Punk nodded once Jeff had taken his earphones off and jumped around in preparation for his match, which was next.

"Thanks, bro," Jeff smiled, continuing his warm-up.

Punk watched from the monitor hanging from one of the corners. Edge was cut open. Jeff was nursing a sore left leg. He could barely walk on it.

Edge tossed a ladder at Jeff, who instinctively tried to block it—with his feet. He dropkicked it, sending it flying back in Edge's direction, knocking the Rated R Superstar unconscious.

Swanton bomb.

It was over.

"Your winner and still the World Heavyweight Champ—"

Even through the darkest days, this fire burns, always.

When it comes to what's important in life, people always have to remember that nothing will ever matter in the end. Live while it's still an option, and live in the moment.

CM Punk had a choice. He could either sit and watch his friend celebrate with the title, or he could use what he had rightfully won at Wrestlemania and go for the title himself. He could go two for two from cashing in the case.

"I'm so sorry," Punk mouthed to Jeff as he handed the case to referee Charles Robinson.

Jeff looked like he had a broken heart. All of the bad things that he had recently gone through kept piling up. But he had to fight. He had to.

Punk kept attacking Jeff's sore leg. It wasn't long until Jeff gave up the fight. He just stopped resisting.

CM Punk picked Jeff up and put him to sleep.


The heel turn of CM Punk may not have been a glamorous one, but a merciless one. Looking out for number one was the cardinal rule of being on any WWE roster.

Jeff gripped the bottom rope as he watched his so-called friend walk up the ramp to a chorus of boos and jeers, sometimes the occasional cheer from an older fan.

CM Punk support signs were lowered. Straightedge armbands were taken off. X's on the back of hands in eyeliner were wiped off. People pretending to be straightedge in the crowd called for the nearest beer vendor. Children in the front row called for their hero, the great Jeff Hardy, to suddenly recover and demand his rematch right then and there.

The light had fallen. Colors faded.

CM Punk hurried to the locker room, which was empty. Many of the Superstars who had already appeared had left.

He sat down on the bench, ripping off the tape on his wrists. He dug in his bag and found what he always kept with him, hidden from the mainstream view of wrestling. He reached in and picked up the charcoal colored pencil, painting black around his eyes. The other content of the bag was something he hadn't used in a few years, but he thought it was time to bring it back.


The Grim Reaper was about to get a makeover.