A/N: Alright, I need to put a note up for various reasons. Just want to let those of you who don't know that I got a job, and so I've been pretty burnt on writing lately. I'm recovering though, so yes even though I haven't updated any fics for a while, never fear there will be updates I haven't abandoned them. As for now, I have this oneshot. I almost don't want to put this up because I will warn you-- it's sad. It's probably going to jerk some tears, it did for me. But my muses wouldn't let me NOT put it up. Sometime I will get my chaptered fics updated, I promise. Last but not least, any French or Spanish that I used, sorry if it's screwed up. I used an online translator for it.
"Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop death from happening,
but no matter how hard death tries it can't separate people from love."
Le Monde D'esprit
The backstage area seemed notably quiet. What was usually a bustling place had seemed to be moving in slow motion. Figures walked by with down turned lips and bowed heads, strong shoulders were slumped. It seemed as if some sort of tragedy was riding on all of them, and no one had bothered to tell the blond who was perched on a crate watching each person drift by, with their misty eyes seeming to be somewhere far away. He shook his head, thinking that somehow he was always the last to know everything. The weight of not knowing turned his stomach a little, as he thought of the most likely situation that would have everyone in such zombie like sadness. He hoped they hadn't spared him as of yet because it was someone he was particularly close with. That got him hoping down from the crate, and dusting at the back of his jeans. He strode over to the first person he saw and touched their elbow.
"Hey Mike, what's going on?"
The young superstar jerked away, as if startled, and rubbed at his elbow for a moment. His piercing cobalt eyes glanced around before his gaze landed straight on Chris's face. His eyes narrowed a little, and then he just walked away with a little shiver, but no words. The fact that Mike 'The Miz' wouldn't tell him just made his nervousness rise a little higher. It just didn't make sense unless something had happened to—but that couldn't be. Chris shook his head, assuring himself that his curly headed partner was safe and sound. In fact, he'd probably be arriving soon and then Chris could just ask him. Matt would tell him, for sure.
With that thought looping in his mind, Chris shoved is hands into his pockets and made his way towards the locker room. Paul Wight ducked in, and Chris followed close behind him, slipping in before the door had a chance to swing closed.
In here the atmosphere was all wrong too. There was no laughter, no ribbing, no silliness that commonly occupied the locker rooms. A small group of familiar faces were gathered around the bench that ran between two walls of lockers. Some of them were already changed into their ring gear, but most had yet to lace boots and step into trunks. Most of them seemed reluctant to do so. Hunters DX shirt was draped over one muscled arm, and he kept tracing the two letters with his fingers. Shawn was right next to him. His cheeks were obviously glimmering with tears his hat was in his hand, his head bowed, as if he was maybe praying for someone or something, whatever this thing was that they all knew and Chris didn't. Jake was still in his jeans and shirt, not yet changed into his Jack Swagger singlet. He was holding the dark haired high-flyer 'Evan Bourne' close, his face buried into Jake's chest as though trying to hide, or seek solace there. Others congregated here and there, all seeming to be more fit at a funeral than in a locker room readying to wrestle. One person, however, was not there.
Chris felt the twinge of panic pluck at his heart and make it skip.
"Where's Matt?" Chris asked—no demanded—from anyone. No one looked up, no one acknowledged his words at all. "Answer me damn it!" Chris's shout rang loud through space, and still, not even a flinch. He opened his mouth to yell again, they had to tell him, this just wasn't right! If this was some sort of elaborate rib—
The door behind Chris swung open, and he side stepped to allow Vince McMahon past. The boss had nearly walked straight into Chris, and there would have been a collision had the blond not stepped out of the way soon enough. Chris pressed himself back against the tiled wall and watched as Vince approached the group, with his brow drawn into wrinkles, and his eyes hard.
"I…I suppose you've all heard that one of our own…" Vince's gruff voice trailed off into a sigh. His hand smoothed over his tie, and then played with the tip in a nervous manner. His face seemed to be warring with itself, as if the twitching and fingering of the tie could help him keep his composure. "One of our own has left us." He finished, and glanced around the room at all the solemn, some tear stained, faces. "I doubt many of you know the details of what happened. I've been told that he fell asleep behind the wheel."
"Who!" Chris shouted. "Matt, are you talking about my Matty?" Chris's voice pitched up as tears filled his eyes and washed over his face. "Answer me! Some one answer me damn it!"
"His vehicle crossed lanes into oncoming traffic…head on…semi…" Vince's voice broke up and he tried to disguise it into a cough, but his eyes gave him away. "Dear God." He covered his mouth and shook his head, eyes closed as he must have been picturing the horrible image in his mind. Shawn's trembling hands went to his face, and his shoulders shook, as Hunter pulled him into an embrace and stroked his back, his own eyes holding a look of disbelief. The small man in Jake's arms let out a sob. Jake made a snotty gurgling sound and ran his hand under his nose. Even Big Paul was crying silently. Streams ran from his pink eyes and down his thick neck. He chewed at his lip, his giant hand grasping tight to Mike's, probably crushing it. Mike seemed not to notice if his hand was being smashed. His eyes seemed far away and lost and like everyone else they were leaking. He looked as if he were in shock, and might pass out at any moment. As if to prevent such a thing, he leaned heavily against Paul.
"What…what about Matt?" Jay asked from the back of the room. He was leaning against the lockers, a look on his face that seemed akin with seasickness. One of his hands was actually resting palm flat against his stomach, and he swallowed hard. Vince took a deep breath.
"I heard he had to ID the…" Someone else interrupted, but didn't finish. The one unspoken word body lingered ghostly in the room and now on all minds. A couple of guys shook their heads, as if they couldn't wrap their comprehension around one of their own becoming no more a person with a voice, no more a bright spirit with a glimmer in his eyes, no more their friend and companion, but just a cold, lifeless, body. Jay moved through the others and quickly left the room, a few others followed him, unable to deal with any more.
"What's going on?" Chris asked, a little quieter than before. A sort of numbness was creeping over him, a strange sort of feeling that told him he knew, even though he didn't. "Hey, hello—what's going on?"
"Matt's obviously been given time off to recover. I'm sure Jeff and his friends are taking good care of him."
"Is Matt hurt? Why don't I know, I'm his husband why don't I know!" Chris moved in front of Vince, standing toe to toe with him. "Why didn't you tell me!" His voice sobbed out. Vince didn't move, didn't blink, he just went on speaking.
"This is such a monumental loss for all of us. I myself still can't believe that I received that call. He was such an amazing person."
"I don't understand…" Chris back stepped, nearly tripping over his own feet. He turned and went to Paul, tilting his head to look into the big man's eyes. "What are you all crying about? Why don't I understand, I'm right here can't someone explain! Why won't you talk to me, why!" Panicked, he moved to each various person, demanding in an unsteady shriek to know what was going on, and why it seemed that no one knew he was there at all. "I'm right here damn it, I'm right here!"
"We will all miss him." Vince dabbed his eyes with his tie. "Tonight's program will be dedicated to Chris."
"You idiots, stop joking! Stop it, just stop it! I'm here! I'm right in front of you!" To punctuate his sentence and prove his point, he slammed one of the opened locker doors closed. The loud bang startled everyone. An unmanly squeal came from someone, and Mike looked less unsteady than before, if possible. Vince stared at the closed locker with a look of shock on his face, stopping the flow of tears.
"Get dressed and get ready." He finally barked, clearly unnerved by the slam. He turned on his heel and left the room full of people whose emotions were running too highly to be able to focus solely on a promo or a match.
Soon, however, each man in the room had gotten into gear and some-what into character and the tiled room was emptied leaving only one man confused and crying.
"I…I don't understand…" Chris whispered to the nothingness. "I'm here, I'm right here…"
"You may be here, but you're not there." A voice with a distinct Hispanic accent met Chris's ears. His first thought was Oscar, but the voice wasn't Oscars. He knew it, and yet how could he be hearing the voice of-- "You on a different plane now, homes."
"Come here, and don' you fri'den him." Another voice rumbled low, and laced with a French tint. It was unmistakable, and met with huge arms that wrapped around Chris from behind and drew his back to a torso that felt more like a wall than a torso at all. "He don' realize that he's dans le monde d'esprit."
Dans le monde d'esprit.
Chris translated the French words in his mind: in the spirit world.
"I'm…you mean I…" Unbelieving, Chris held his shivering hands in front of his face, as if seeing them solid would prove that statement to be untrue. The giant laughed again, a sound like rolling thunder. Chris pulled away from the massive arms that were hugging him, and turned around to face the two men who belonged to those unique voices. Both of them had absolutely no right to be there, none at all. Chris paled.
"Si, you're with us now amigo. You bit the big one, and I'm not talkin' about--"
"Eddie! André! You're scaring him." This third voice belonged to an easy face under a crown of golden hair that fell around his shoulders. Shock was not a strong enough word to describe the emotions that threatened to knock Chris over at the sight of the third man joining the other two, who were all passed away and certainly not supposed to be here, and Chris wasn't supposed to be with them. Owen touched his shoulder, and the simple warmth of his palm sent a calming sensation through Chris. "You're with us now, don't worry. We'll watch over you, just like we watch over all of the ones we leave behind. Just stick with us, and you'll be okay. We take care of our own Chris, always."
Chris looked into Owen's smiling face, then past his to André with his mop of unruly curls, prominent jaw, oversized lips, and glittering eyes, over to Eddie who had a wide grin hung under his mustache, and looked ready for a party.
"Papi's got your back, hombre."
Owen nodded in agreement with the other two, and offered his hand.
Chris stared at it, amazed as his own hand drifted towards it, and then came to rest in the soft palm. Owen linked his fingers through Chris's, sealing the reassuring bond.
"Let's get out of this stinking locker room, we've got a show to watch. I want to make sure my brother doesn't break a hip, and then we'll go check on your Matty. He needs you now more than ever. I think your presence would be a comfort to him."
"But I…I'm…dead." Chris finally spat the word out, the taste of it sour on his lips.
"It doesn't matter Chris, the bonds we have with our loved ones don't pass away just because we're gone. There are some things stronger than life, or death, or anything in between."
Owen gave Chris's hand a squeeze, and the four men left the locker room behind. Echoes of their voices lingered there, not dissimilar from the ancient mountains and the antique skies—always remaining.