Title: I'm A Match That's Burning Out
Pairings: Cena/Ted DiBiase Jr.
Series: Under The Rose series
Summary: Ted DiBiase Jr had a horrible life, but his ultimate jail will lead him to his salvation. Can Cena soften his heart and show him he's a loving master? Can Cena finally restore Ted's faith in humanity?
Disclaimer: The WWE is not mine nor are any of it's child branches, it is the 96% property of the McMahon's and God bless the bastards that work for them. I respect the sexual preferences and identities of all the wrestlers on WWE roster, and who they share a bed with is really none of my business.
Warnings: AU, D/s, slash, angst-galore in this, tragedy
AN: Ok, here it is. There are two of these, the other one's called "And Don't Forget To Let Your Heart Beat" and it's a cat!Cody fic. It's the same world, so I've called this universe the "Under the Rose" series. In Roman times, when a group would hold a private meeting, they would hang a rose over the threshold of the door. It meant that whatever was said 'under the rose' was supposed to be a complete and utter secret.
This first chapter is a lot of explaining, not a lot of dialogue, just a lot of angst and a lot of set-up. Bare with me, you know how it goes. Eventually we'll get to the good stuff.
Oh, and whoever reviewed in that other story of mine about not liking the fact that it jumped around a bit? Forgive me, I did it again.
These two writers, brokengem and slipp_up on LiveJournal, really influenced this fic. What with cat!Randy and the whole buy-sell-trade of pets (subs), it just kind of formed this verse in my head.
Theodore Marvin "Ted" DiBiase Jr. had a horrible life from the start of it.
Though born into a wealthy family, Ted was quickly disowned because of the genetic mutation his father had passively carried. Though his half-brother Mike was normal, he had a different mother. Ted's mother had carried the gene without knowing it, so together they made a bouncing baby boy with golden kitten ears and a graceful tail. Ted Sr. discredited him as an heir after fiver years of harboring young Teddy in secret, unable to stand losing the image of the perfect son he had wanted to paint on him.
Even though he was hated by his family, they fed and clothed him. Shown no love, Ted quickly developed a self dependence and a tough skin to anything that could hurt him. He was content to stay quiet and alone in his room for the rest of his life, but fate was cruel. His mother gave birth to another baby boy, Brett DiBiase, only to find he had a set of chocolate colored kitten ears and a soft tail as well.
Ted found himself shoved into an orphanage with his baby brother in his arms. The caretakers gave them one look before tossing hats and baggy shirts at them to ensure no one asked any questions. The conditions were horrible, thin beds and no heat in the winter. Food was tasteless and minimal in portions, leaving bellies wanting more often than not. There was no love to be found here either, just busying chores. Taxing chores that required the young boy to scrub on his hands and knees, most tasks leaving him coughing up lungful of dust. Ted hardened further to the world, learning how to fight against the older children to keep him and his brother safe.
All of this was worth it, as long as he kept Brett out of harm's way. For several years they bounced between orphanages, but it was ok as long as Ted got to watch his baby brother grow up. He kept him warm and as well fed as he could, often giving up some of his own portions. For hours he would sit with Brett when all the other children were outside, over in their corner, with the little boy on his lap. That's when they took off their hats and let their tails out, Ted amusing his brother by flicking it in front of him teasingly. It would amuse Brett forever, snatching at the warm tip with his plump fingers. He would always tell Brett that they had nothing to be ashamed of, that it wasn't their fault.
Ted kept their secret hidden, always making sure their tails and ears were covered again when prying eyes came around again. Brett looked up to him, worshipped him, and it made Ted feel special. All the love they'd been denied, they got from each other instead. Brett always wanted to play and he never wanted another friend, for even at a young age he knew that they only had each other.
Then when Ted was eleven, right after Brett had turned seven, they were separated on the streets. They were blocks from their New York orphanage, begging for food outside some Korean grocery store, when a wave of people swept Brett away. Ted didn't notice until it was too late, turning around to find his baby brother gone. Ted had immediately gone into hyper drive, running up and down the sidewalk screaming Brett's name. He'd searched the entire block, tracing their steps all the way back to the orphanage, but still…there was no sign of the younger boy. With tears running hotly down his cheeks, Ted went back to the grocery store and looked again.
When dusk started to fall, Ted realized his baby brother was gone.
A small part of him broke away and died that day.
Ted spent the night curled underneath a bench in Central Park, the cold numbing his fingers and his heart.
When Ted was sixteen, he was let out of the orphanage for good. Armed with only what he had stolen from the place, some clothes and a knife, he left for the streets. Having his education stopped at his junior year, he couldn't get a job, and with his physical secret he couldn't hold down what he could find. People asked too many questions.
But he found refuge in the smaller libraries and bookstores that didn't care that his face was smudged with dirt, for he always made sure to wash his hands before he went in. He read all the greats, improved his mind, taught himself abstract thought to a higher level than most and found he was very proficient in retraining knowledge.
A lot of good that did him when winter came around. A pair of fingerless gloves, an old military jacket, and a camouflage cap didn't do much against snow. He needed more food than he could beg for, he was losing what muscle mass he'd managed to gain. And fast.
But he never gave up looking for his little brother. He asked dozes of store owners and more friendlier gang members, even some of the more vigilant cops. Nothing, no one recognized the description or the name. He spent a lot of his time sitting on benches, people watching without really looking at anything in particular. While the people passed blindly, he thought of Brett. How old he'd be at that moment, what he was doing, who he was with, if he was hungry or warm. It physically hurt sometimes.
Not even a year after leaving the orphanage, Ted was ready to drop into an ally and fade away. He couldn't find his brother, he was starving, and it was so cold. He did collapse against an ally wall, hiding from the snow, and started to close his eyes when someone bumped into him.
"Shhh" a small girl covered his mouth with a chilled bare hand, getting right up close to him before yanking him down behind a dumpster "Hide!"
Ted followed the instruction, ducking down with her right before a man ran past. Once he was gone, she sprang up and offered her hand.
"Sorry about that" she smiled once he was on his feet "Men don't take too kindly to people plucking out their wallets."
"Ya know" she held up a black leather wallet "Stick-fingering it."
Ted's eyes widened with realization, "A real pickpocket? Aren't you a little small?"
"I'm twenty-two, and I'll do as I damn please" she huffed, shoving the wallet into her own back pocket "I'm Kristen."
"Well, Ted, you look way too skinny" Kristen poked his ribs, getting one directly "Damn! When was the last time you ate?"
He smiled at her sheepishly, "I live on the streets, and people aren't too generous."
Sympathy flashed in her dark eyes, and with a nod she grabbed his hand, "Come with me, Ted."
Ted ended up going back to Kristen's apartment, a nice place in a crap neighborhood. They sat down to spaghetti and Ted told her what he could about himself, and she replied with her entire life story. She was a genuine pickpocket, a damn good one (despite the disaster today.) He told her about his brother, about how he was truly living off the streets.
Kristen made him an offer: Learn to pickpocket and stay in her guest bedroom.
"It's small, but it's better than a box."
Ted quickly agreed.
For the six months, Ted spent his time perfecting technique. Kristen knew an underground place they could train, run by some of her friends. They learned to tag-team people, one a distraction while the other snatched up their wallets or billfolds. He learned that you never stole from children, seniors, or fellow people of the street. It was easier with practice, and Ted only got caught twice. Thankfully, they'd run like hell before anyone could call the cops.
It was a wonderful time, nights spent talking and laughing with Kristen. He felt a certain kind of love for her, and she quickly became his big sister. They told dirty jokes, gorged on Chinese food after a particularly good day, and took every Tuesday and Thursday off. Between the two of them, they lived comfortably.
For a while, Ted forgot about the DiBiase death cloud.
Ted was in the middle of his tender seventeenth year now, well-trained and able to do the most complicated of street tricks while Kristen picked some pockets. He came home early one day, hoping to convince Kristen to come down to the bakery with him so they could talk over some coffee. Cooney Island was having a big ta-do soon and they needed to strategize.
"Krissy!" he called, letting himself into the apartment. He gently kicked the door closed behind him, making his way inside. The first thing he heard was the sound of heavy rumbling, like someone pushing furniture and opening-and-closing drawers. He was a little surprised like this, and he went into the living room to find the noise coming from Kristen's bedroom.
"Krissy?" he stepped closer, but froze when his ears caught a wheezed breath. He whipped around, gasping softly when he saw Kristen laying there in the hall. Her right eye was almost swollen shut, her lip busted to dribble blood down her chin. Crimson painted her hairline as well, her arm wrapped protectively around her ribs. He ran to her side, dropping to the ground and carefully cradling her blonde head.
"Kristen?" he whispered, heart pounding frantically in his chest.
She sucked in a shaky breath, "Get…out of here…Teddy…"
"No, I'm not gonna leave you" he hissed, wincing at the sight of her pretty features so bloodied up "Who did this to you?"
A very large black man came out from her bedroom, skin burned with tattoos and some of his teeth plated with gold. He had the nastiest look on his face, along with a knife in his hand. A smaller black came in behind him, looking just as pissed.
"Where is it, bitch?!" he barked "Where's our money?!"
Kristen quickly grabbed his wrist, squeezing it violently, "Run."
"Get him, Tyrone!"
Ted was going to try and play the hero for his friend, and he even got up to fight, but when the smaller man pulled out a gun, he knew it was over. Every primal instinct told him to run, and he listened to them. He bolted past Kristen, almost shouting in fear as he heard the men rush to chase him. He dove into the bathroom, slamming the door shut and putting his back to it.
It wasn't enough, one good slam from the large Tyrone had the door nearly off it's hinges. He yelped and flew forward on his hands and knees, nearly bashing his skull against the wall as he fell into the tub. He scrambled to get on his back, panting heavily and gazing at the two men crowding into the doorway. He shuddered, trying to make himself as small as possible as the gun was cocked and the barrel aimed right at him.
Ted thought it was all over.
"Yo, Jay" Tyrone's eyes were as wide as saucers "You see what I see, dawg?"
The smaller man nodded dumbly, gun dropping a bit.
Ted realized then that his hat had fallen off, exposing his ears. His tail was flexing along the dip of the tub, exposed for the first time in so long. He had never even told Kristen about it, keeping himself well-hidden the entire time they were together. She had no reason to see him without his clothes.
"What the fucking hell?!" Jay screamed, backing up quickly "Look at 'im! He's got…shit, dawg, that's fucked up!"
Tyron got out of there as well, close behind his smaller associate, "G-Goddamn freak!"
The big man bolted out of there, but Jay lingered to look down at Kristen.
"Ya spend our money takin' care of this fucking freak?" Jay spat, sliding back his gun again and pointing it right at her head "Harborin' trash ain't good for ya, bitch!"
Ted wanted to scream a protest, but he didn't get more than a choked whine out before the loud pop rang out in the apartment. Kristen jolted against the floor, then went limp. She didn't move a bit, not even when he kicked her for good measure.
Both men bolted, the front door slamming against the wall loudly as they shoved it out of their way.
Ted lay in the tub, still panting as terror dredged through his system. Wide eyes memorized the sight at the end of the hall, every blood droplet forever burned into his mind. On autopilot, he stood on shaky legs. He slipped on his cap, curled his tail around his waist, and called the police.
Ted told the police the truth when they came, described both men and told them what he'd seen. He pointedly didn't mention his age, just let them assume he was an adult. They took Kristen's body away in a heavily lined bag, lifting it gently onto a stretcher. The detectives did what they could with the crime scene, and after only a few hours they found a few fingerprints but not much else.
"I'm sorry, son" the graying man pat his shoulder firmly, a sad smile on his face "I'm not going to lie. There's a good chance we won't find your friend's killers. I'm not supposed to say it, but it's true. We'll do our best with what we have, but it's not much."
Ted nodded, wetting his lower lip, "Do you…know what they were after?"
"They tore up the poor girl's room, I assume it's money."
Ted scowled, "Of course."
"I'll let you have your home back" the man pat his shoulder again "Do you know if she has any family we could call?"
The blonde shook his head.
"How 'bout for you?"
Ted's throat went dry, "I…have no family."
"I'm sorry to hear that" the detective stepped away, sympathy in his eyes "Good day, son."
Ted walked him out, shutting the door firmly once all the officers were gone. He locked and bolted it securely, wondering if Kristen had even thought to do such a thing. Probably not, she wasn't one to worry about such things. He knocked off his hat, his tail unfurling behind him to flicker by his knees.
Ted slowly walked to the bathroom, dead eyes seeing not the blood smeared on the floor nor the mess on the floor from their raiding. His feet took him to the bathroom, the tile glaringly white on his sensitive eyes. All his feline senses, all the ones he'd honed to help him in his thievery, were on fire and way over stimulated. He stopped in front of the mirror, gazing into it.
Ted saw his reflection, but in a way he'd never seen it before. He saw the same caramel skin tone, the same cerulean eyes that reminded him so much of his momma. His hair had colored more a dark gold, now matching his feline features.
Those features…his ears, his tail…they were what made him so different, what made him have to hide. Because of them, he was a disgrace and a disgust to his true family. Because of them, he and his baby brother had been tossed out of the house like the trash they'd been made out to be.
Ted threw open the mirror cabinet, digging through Kristen's stuff. He knocked everything off the small shelves, some clattering into the sink while others bounced off completely and smacked against the tiles. Deodorant, birth control, Tylenol…
Ted found her straight edge easily. He slammed the mirror shut, it thankfully didn't break. He kept his eyes on the mirror, his gaze locked with his reflection as he flipped open the razor. It caught the light beautifully, polished silver blade a gift from an unlucky victim of theirs. Kristen had confused a wallet for a shaving kit, and her mistake would be his end.
He held up his bare forearm, bring the razor down until it hovered over the vulnerable flesh. He gazed at the light skin, like the underbelly of a fish, just waiting to be gutted with his tracked blue veins. He ripped his eyes from the mirror to concentrate on the razor, glaring at it.
"Do it" he growled at himself more than the blade, hand trembling in midair "Just fuckin' do it! End it…end it all, you damn coward…just…"
Ted snarled, dropping his arm when he realized he couldn't do it. He looked back into the mirror, his ear twitching at the coolness of the room. He glared at the offending feature, suddenly reaching up and snagging the end with the tips of his fingers. He raised the blade up to his cat ear, just barely touching the edge to it threateningly.
"If I just get rid of these…" he panted hoarsely, fingers still trembling "Cut them off! You can go home, a-and they'll love you if y-you just do it already…"
Ted let go of his ear after a minute of inaction, grabbing his tail tightly and putting the razor to it. Minutes went by, but he didn't do more than accidentally slice off a few hairs. The feline tail swayed out of his grip, settling between his legs contently.
He threw the razor into the sink, wincing at the loud noise. It lay limp after a moment, harmless now as it had been. Self-mutilation was for the weak, he couldn't do it to himself. It was such a selfish thing, not something that Brett or Kristen would want for him…
Somewhere between the minutes he couldn't think to the minutes he couldn't stop thinking, his ragged panting had turned into violent sobs. He watched his form shudder under the sudden strain, biting down on his lip with his small canines to keep his mouth from twisting down. His vision blurred up.
For the first time in so long, Ted allowed himself to cry.
Ted cried for his baby brother who he'd let the world take, who'd been so unfairly ripped from him. He cried for his poor Brett.
He cried for Kristen, who he wished he'd been brave enough to save.
He cried for the loss of his blood, of his true family. He cried for the disgrace he'd caused them, for the hate his father felt toward him, for the hate he had for himself.
He cried for all the painful years in the orphanage, for his starving belly and the long nights he'd stayed up with his baby brother cradled protectively in his arms. He cried for being too weak to end his life, or for being too strong not to. He wasn't sure.
Ted cried for himself…for the last hope he'd had taken away from him.
Ted mourned the loss of his future.
Damn, that's long. Sorry, but I had to set it up. Ted's gonna be a stubborn ass, and you have to know why. But guess what happens next chapter. We find little Brett!