Warnings: this story contains physical violence, swearing, slashy overtones. Also, I'm not a doctor; all my medical knowledge comes from four and a half seasons of House, M.D. and Wikipedia. If anything is grossly inaccurate, let me know and I will fix it (as long as it doesn't ruin my story).
Miz walked out of the arena feeling on top of the world. For the first time in a long time, everything in his life seemed to be perfect. No, strike that. Everything was perfect.
He was living his dream of being a wrestler in the WWE, something he'd wanted to do since he was ten years old. And not just any two-bit half-assed wrestler, no. He was on RAW, rubbing elbows with some seriously big names. Literally in some cases. He was on the mic live every week, which was more than a lot of other wrestlers could say.
Not to mention the perks that the celebrity life afforded him. Money, travel, fans (not very many, but still, he had them) and the ability to be around more gorgeous, shirtless men that you could shake a stick at.
Although when one was dating John Cena, there was only one shirtless man that had his attention day in and day out.
Miz couldn't help smiling at the thought of John. He really had no idea how he lucked out with that. But he wasn't complaining. Not in the slightest. John loved him (for whatever reason that might be), and it would be absolutely foolish to question why the Fates, or God, or Whoever had been so gracious as to dump this amazing, funny, kind, and unbelievably sexy man in his lap.
He glanced at his watch as he walked across the parking garage towards his rental car. 8:30 PM. John was meeting him at a nearby bar for drinks at 9; he needed to hurry. They were originally going take Miz's car, but Miz had a meeting with the execs at the last minute and told John just to go ahead without him. Since he was gone when Miz had gotten out, he assumed John had taken a cab.
About halfway across the parking garage, Miz noticed his footsteps seemed to be echoing strangely. Obviously, being in a parking garage, an echo was not in the least bit odd or unexpected. But something about this echo just seemed… off.
Miz paused, to see if it was him making the disconcerting echo or someone else in another part of the garage being carried over by a trick of sound or hearing. The footsteps continued.
He felt an edge of fear; something didn't seem right about this. He wasn't afraid of being mugged; he was confident he could fight off any would-be attacker. But something just… felt wrong. No one else was in this part of the parking garage, and most of the other Superstars had left. He'd only seen a few people milling about after his meeting. And his rental was the only car in this area. He quickened his pace.
A tall figure stepped out from the side of one of the concrete pillars. While he was shrouded in shadow, Miz had a pretty good idea of who it was.
"You scared the hell out of me, man. What's up?"
"Uh… okay then."
Miz tried to sidle past the eerily silent man and continue on his way, but the man reached out and grabbed a handful of his shirt, and then threw him roughly into the concrete pillar. His head hit with a resounding crack.
"What the fuck was that for!" he yelled at the man, rubbing the back of his head with one hand.
Still no response.
"What the fuck is wrong with you? Asshole!"
Quick footsteps in answer; was someone coming to restrain this jackass? Or arrest him?
Two more men appeared out of the shadows and moved to flank the first man.
Oh, shit. This was bad. This was really bad. Miz could hold his own against one man, maybe two. Three? Three was pushing it.
Flimsy words like "Maybe we can talk it over?" rose to his lips, but he didn't dare voice them. Something was very wrong here. He had no idea what he had done – or what they thought he had done – to any one of these men.
They descended on him.
He tried to fight back, but there was really no chance. He managed to get out a few good punches; he was pretty sure he gave one a black eye. But it wasn't enough. Punches rained down on his unprotected body and he stopped trying to fight and went into survival mode. He sunk down to his knees, trying to protect himself. Kicks dug into his unprotected sides, on his back, into his legs.
Finally, eventually, the onslaught stopped. With every breath, a sharp pain lanced his side. It felt like every inch of his body was bruised. One of his eyes was swelled shut. None of this made any sense. What had he done to them? Why were they doing this?
One of them – the first one, although Miz could not be completely sure in the dark with one eye – crouched over him and grabbed his head in both hands.
"Can you see me? Are you paying attention?" The first words spoken. Miz could only nod dumbly. He could taste blood.
The man leaned closer to Miz until their noses were nearly touching. He tried to pull away from the cold insanity he could see in the other man's eyes, but he was held tightly. Nowhere to go.
The other man spoke two words, softly, staring into Miz's eyes.
Then he slammed Miz's head into the concrete floor.
A bright light flashed behind Miz's eyelids, quickly spiraling into darkness. He went limp.
Unable to contain himself, the other man slammed the now unconscious man's head down again. A third time.
A hand landed on his shoulder; he turned around jerkily to look at the owner, so presumptuous to try to touch him.
"Don't kill him, man."
He stood up slowly; his blood was rushing, but he could understand that killing him, as much as he wanted to, was a bad idea. Unable to help himself, he gave the man one last kick in the ribs before he walked away.
John glanced at his watch for the fifth time in twenty minutes. 9:36 now. Mike was supposed to meet him here over a half hour ago. The meeting shouldn't have taken this long; it was only supposed to be a quick discussion on storylines. Maybe Mike wasn't the most punctual person on the planet, but a half hour late was bad even for him. Especially since he hadn't called.
His cell phone was on the counter, but he had resisted the urge to call. He didn't want to seem clingy. Maybe he was lost. Or maybe that meeting really did go on longer than both of them thought it would. Ten more minutes, he thought. I'll give him ten more minutes and then I'll call.
He'd ordered a beer, but had only drunk half of it. His stomach was in knots, and the alcohol sat heavily.
The phone sat on the bar, and he watched it count off the minutes.
He took another sip of beer. It tasted terrible.
Unable to wait any longer, desperate to hear the other man's voice telling him he was alright, he grabbed his phone off the bar and was about to speed-dial his lover.
The phone started to ring. Mike. Thank Jesus.
"I was just about to call you, man. I was starting to worry."
"Is this John Cena?" a disconcertingly female voice answered.
John felt his stomach clench.
"This is John. Where's Mike?"
"Michael Mizanin is en route to Mercy Medical. He was found badly beaten in a parking garage nearby. This number was listed as an emergency contact in his wallet."
"Mercy Medical?" John asked through numb lips.
"Do you need directions?"
"I'll take a cab. Can you tell me anything else about his condition?"
"It's best if you talk to his doctor directly."
Slowly, carefully, he closed his phone. His hands felt huge and clumsy and he was afraid he would break the tiny device. He paid his tab, a grand total of one beer. He asked the bartender to call him a cab. The bartender looked closely at him, but didn't question. That was good. John had no idea what he would have said. He couldn't imagine what he looked like. He felt pale. No, worse than that; he felt transparent. Like he was holding his skin together by pure force of will.
Badly beaten… parking garage… Mercy Medical….
These things echoed through his mind. Nothing else got through. Nothing else was important.
His cab showed up quicker than he expected, thankfully. He told the cabbie, "Mercy Medical," his own voice sounding distant, like his mouth was a mile away from his ears.
The drive seemed a blur. He could focus on nothing outside of the window, could hear nothing the cab driver said, could not hear the radio. His mind was white noise. Or maybe that was just his pounding heart. All he could hear were the words the female on the phone had spoken.
Badly beaten… parking garage… Mercy Medical.
Finally, thankfully, he arrived at the hospital. Hoping to god no one recognized him, or would at least attempt to use their powers of discretion, he spoke to the receptionist.
She typed the name into the computer.
"He's just going into surgery. You can wait over there."
"Surgery? What for?"
She glanced up at him, saw whatever it was on his face (probably blind panic) and read what was on the screen.
"It's best you talk to his doctor when he gets out of surgery."
John didn't even attempt further conversation. He just nodded and still feeling transparent, sat down in an uncomfortable hospital chair, and began the wait.
An hour later, maybe two, but definitely an eternity passed before John heard the female receptionist call his name. He shot up out of his chair.
"Mr. Mizanin is being held in room 204. You can speak to his doctor there. The elevator is just around that corner." She pointed.
"Can't you tell me anything about his condition?" he couldn't keep the begging note out of his voice. She looked at the computer.
"He's listed as critical."
He nodded and tried not to look like he was running towards the elevator. It didn't take long to get there and he spent the brief ride trying not to think of all the ways an elevator was similar to a coffin.
Fortunately room 204 was only a little ways down the hall and he found it with no troubles.
A young doctor was perusing a chart outside the door and speaking quietly to a nurse.
John felt like his heart was going to burst out of his chest, or just burst in general, if no one told him anything. He was going to tear this place apart with his bare hands if he had to.
"Mike… can I see him? Please?" His voice cracked on the last words and he took a deep breath, trying to calm himself.
The doctor looked at him consolingly and held out his hand.
"Dr. Havelock. I worked on him in surgery. Are you a friend of his?"
"Yes." John chose not to elaborate.
"Has anyone told you anything?"
"No! They told me he was found beaten, and that he's critical, can you please tell me what happened?"
The doctor put a hand on John's shoulder and led him further down the hall.
"Let's talk over here before you see him."
John allowed himself to be led. The doctor sat him in another one of those uncomfortable chairs and took one next to him. If he craned his neck, he could see Mike's room.
"He was found unconscious and badly beaten in the Staples arena parking garage. He has suffered numerous contusions, two broken ribs, and several other fractures. He had some internal bleeding, but we were able to control that. There is one thing that I must make very clear to you. His skull was fractured and there was some swelling in his brain. We took care of that too, but no one can say for sure how much damage may have been incurred in the time before we were able to relieve it."
John tried to slog through all of this information. Fractures and contusions were fine, just another day at wrestling, but… but brain damage?
"What kind of brain damage?"
"We won't know for sure until he wakes up. He's in a medically-induced coma for the time being."
John was at a loss for words. The doctor eyed him sympathetically, but John ignored it. This man dealt with death and dying every day. His sympathy was the same thing as John's Cenation cap. Costume.
"Can I go see him now, please?" He asked hoarsely.
The doctor nodded.
His legs felt leaden on the trip down the hallway. The doctor's words drifted around his head. Especially "brain damage".
He opened the door marked 204.
Mike was lying in a hospital bed, slightly tilted up. Wires and tubes of all kinds were attached to him in various places. Two IVs, one red, one clear were feeding into his arm. A tube ran under his nose, giving him oxygen. Whooshes, whirrs, and assorted beeps were the only noises.
Slowly he walked over to the bedside, trying to process what he was seeing.
Mike's head was almost completely covered in white bandage. One eye was purple and swollen, the other was normal. Several cuts, some shallow, some deep covered his face and arms. A butterfly bandage was across his nose; it was probably broken.
John sat down next to him, not even feeling the hard plastic seat this time. He wrapped his hand around Mike's lax one, nothing with some pride the scraped and reddened knuckles.
"You tried, baby, I give you that." He could hear his breaking point in his voice, the words were broken and wavery.
Unable to hold back anymore, he laid his head on the bed next to Mike and sobbed.