Title: From The Flames
Summary: Shawn muses over Ric wanting to return to the ring.
Pairings/Characters: Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair

"No, I would be very open to it if Shawn Michaels said,
'Don't give me the Rolex back, do it.'
That would be the only way. Shawn would have to say,
'Go for it because you miss it that much.'"

A year had barely passed and the tune had changed already.

Now it was all about how much he needed to go back, how he was still just as good as the day he retired 'Not that good any more', and how he was the same weight as that day 'As if that mattered'. The real reason though, money. It was always about money to him. 'Always had been lead by money.' And so the retirement that was supposed to mean something, be final, would be yet another sham.

He tried to force those thoughts from his mind. His idol was continually waiting for his approval to come back, to be able to do what he wanted again. He resisted commenting as much as possible.

It was inevitable that he'd have to say something.

And what could he say? Never wrestle again.
And what if Ric did anyway. That would make him wrong. Ric would never be the bad guy if Shawn said no. Even them saying now that Ric shouldn't go back would change their tune if Shawn rebutted the suggestion. He'd be forcing Ric out the door. 'Couldn't be holding him down at least.'

But he wanted to. Wanted to say no. His heart told him to protect that match they had and the memories. 'Leave them alone.'

What hurt the most was the idea that in all likelihood, and for all that he'd said, the match wasn't good enough for Ric. He needed something more, a better finish to his career than he'd received.
It hadn't been perfect. Not the best it could have been. Ric wanted perfection.
But Ric was too emotional, too distracted by his final match taking place to concentrate. 'Made mistakes'. Shawn was in too much pain 'physically' to be at his best.
But it had been good enough then. Been good enough the next night.
Good enough a week after. But then what? Ric watched it again and didn't like it? Saw the flaws in the match that everyone else saw 'and ignored', and hated it? 'I wasn't good enough.'
And what about the ribs?All the pain he was in, he carried on, despite it all. Knew how he'd let Ric down if he didn't push through the pain.
Instead, Ric let him down.

His gesture of giving him everything he had obviously fell short of Ric's high expectations. And the watch? Something just to flash about? Got a story behind it, a nice gift one time, but a retirement gift isn't one if you're not retired. It's just a gift. One that doesn't make sense any more. A birthday card opened when it isn't your birthday, Christmas in July.... all just so pointless.

He looked back to the phone. The message written in his wife's handwriting, asking him to call back Ric about the retirement issue.

It was an issue now.

He could live with it. Live with the match not being good enough for Ric, with him wanting needing, to wrestle again. Even the want of money to support himself, his lifestyle.
It was the fact that Ric didn't even think about what it meant to Shawn.
That he'd felt so honoured to be the one to have that last match. That Ric had choose him. That'd he considered Shawn the best.
But none of it was true really. He couldn't be the best if he was back out there, slogging away against someone else. He wasn't honoured, special... he wasn't any of those things Ric had said. It was all false.

And no one else really understood.
Except for Rebecca, because she always understood. But Hunter didn't. Knew Shawn was a little upset by it and shrugged it off. 'No big deal' he said. It was easy for him to say that, he didn't want someone else to make his speech again.

He picked up the phone, preparing to make the call. Because he knew all along he'd give his blessing. How could he not?
Despite what it meant to Shawn and how it hurt him, he needed to put Ric first. Let him have what he wanted. He'd spent enough time being selfish, he needed to give a little, let others do the taking.
As he started to dial the number the only thing he knew is that when his time came, he'd do what he always said he'd do, go out in a blaze of glory.

But there was always the Phoenix from the flames.... Maybe retirement was tougher than he imagined.

Maybe wrestlers really never do retire.