Disclaimer: I don't own anything or anyone mentioned in this story.
When John Morrison had found out he was getting an opportunity at the WWE title he had been more than a little shocked. That was until he realized that the champion was Mike Mizanin. Then he figured out that there had to be a reason why he of all of the superstars had been chosen for a title opportunity. As a result he hadn't been that concerned when he realized that he was supposed to lose. His friends on the other hand had been more than slightly annoyed, with Randy in particular having offered to go straight to Mr McMahon and clear the matter up. John had immediately refused knowing that there had to be a reason why he had been chosen to lose to the Miz. He didn't know what it was but he knew that either Mike or Alex Riley would let it slip eventually. The only surprise in the situation was that it wasn't Mike that told him but his apprentice.
They had been discussing their match for RAW the week before the title match and Alex had mentioned that John seemed very enthusiastic for the title match considering he had to lose. John had explained his theory of it happening for a certain reason and Alex had proceeded to explain the reason to him. His former tag team partner had apparently asked for him to become the #1 contender at TLC. According to Alex it had come down to him and Sheamus and it had been requested that he win the ladders match that they had fought in. John had been confused as to why Mike would do that until Alex had pointed out that Sheamus had an unhealthy obsession with the title and would probably screw Mike out of it at the first opportunity. John had immediately pointed out that if he wanted to he could do the same thing but Alex had promptly informed him that Mike had faith that he would restrain himself from doing such a thing. At that comment John was astounded. Of course he had no intention of screwing Mike out of the title, he recognized the honor of getting a title shot even if he lost. But the fact was that after he and Mike had split up and ended the tag team they hadn't been on the best of terms. John was surprised that Mike would trust him not to take the belt from him. Of course John had his own reasons for that as well.
Randy in particular of all his friends didn't understand why John was more than happy to stick to the script. Randy insisted that having the gold around your waist was one of the best feelings in the world (John only just managed to refreain from reminding his friend that he had won the tag team titles on more than one occasion). He knew that people regarded him as the better wrestler and many people felt that he deserved the title more than Mike. John was sick of hearing it. The reason was that to him, Mike deserved that belt just as much as he did. They had both worked hard to get to where they were and in Johns mind they deserved recognition just as much as each other. Most people didn't agree with his assessment but he didn't care. He knew Mike pretended not to care but after being friends with someone for so long you started to pick up things about them.
This was why when Randy (who was not quite the cold heartless bastard he was in the ring) told him that he should just break character and take the damn belt John essentially told him to get screwed. He and Mike had been friends and John had a policy about not screwing over friends. It really didn't matter to him whether they were strictly friends at the time or not. And when Randy persisted on the issue he was ignored for almost a week just on principle. As it was John could see how attached Mike was to that belt in the way his hand very rarely left it and in the way that he caressed it almost absently in the middle of a conversation.
Before John made his way out to the ring for the match Mike and Alex joined him in preparation for their own entrance. Mike was unusually silent only offering a comment here and there when it was addressed him. Alex on the other hand was quite happy to talk to John until his music went off. As it did Mike wished him luck (John pretended to not notice the elbow to the side of the ribs from Alex) with his moves and Alex just wished him luck for the Starship Pain through the table. John suspected that it was a subtle reminder to him to not screw Mike over (another thing that ge pretended not to notice was the flash of hurt and fear on Mikes face).
The match went exactly as it was supposed to with the exception of him jarring his knee again. John lost as was planned and limped backstage to get checked out by a trainer while Mike celebrated a successful title defence in the ring.
When Mike should have been making his way back stage after his celebration John was sitting in the trainer's room listening to Randy cuss him out for not taking the belt (Randy genuinely didn't like Mike because of his attitude) as well as the trainer trying to calm the pissed off Viper down. He couldn't help but snigger because the trainer was too new to understand that unless the Viper was fuming he was practically harmless. Cena was sitting there sniggering as well at their friend's behaviour. He had already arranged for a bunch of Superstars to go out to a bar nearby and the three of them always headed out together after all of their matches (Cena and Randy always insisted that it was to do with the 'buddy system' but John had held a long seated suspicion that it actually had something to do with the amount of alcohol that the two of them drank when they weren't driving or if they walked to the bar and the fact that they had to be supported when this happened). John and Cena finally got the trainer to lay off Randy at which point he pronounced John fine to leave as long as he took it easy that week. Both of the other men hauled him out of the room since he was finding it hard to move on his own (whoever came up with the idea of him doing a Starship Pain onto a table should be shot promptly before they came up with anymore crazy painful ideas although he had a slight suspicion that it might be the same person who had had a fascination with collapsing the announce table a few months back).
By the time they reached the bar the Superstars and Divas that had been invited were already there although Randy scoffed when he saw who was at the end of the bar looking slightly lost amid all of the people milling around the bar. John immediately suggested inviting him over to which Randy told him that there was no way. Cena spoke up as they slid into a booth.
"His guard dog is gone Randy and he looks all alone. Besides he really isn't such a bad guy once you get to know him."
"He's still a rude arrogant ass around me," Randy protested. John had to laugh at that.
"We figured out a long time ago that you have a talent in bringing out the worst in people remember?" he said. "Not to mention when he bumped into you backstage accidentally that one time you threatened to break his neck if he did it again. The arrogance is usually a defensive thing with Mike." Randy grumbled about traitors for a few moments. When he finished John pushed himself up from the booth.
"I'm going to invite him over and you're going to behave clear?" he told Randy. He wandered over to Mike grinning when Cena yelled out to tell him to bring drinks back for them. By the time he got there Alex had returned from wherever he had been and was standing beside his mentor. John slid into the seat beside Mike at the bar and ordered drinks for Cena and Randy before turning to look at Mike.
"You can come sit with us if you want," he suggested. "Orton should behave himself." Mike looked over at him.
"Really?" he asked. John smiled.
"Sure," he said. Mike smiled back and the three of them (because John had made it clear that Alex could join them as well) eventually made their way back towards Randy and Cena.
"What's he doing here?" Randy asked instantaneously when they were within earshot. Because John's hands were full Cena smacked Randy round the head.
"Ignore him," he advised. "He's just grumpy because he hurts from the cage match." John nodded in agreement and placed the drinks on the table. Mike and Alex tentatively sat down at the ends of the booth, both making sure to keep either John or Cena between them and Randy.
They talked for a couple of hours until John announced it was time to head back to the hotel. He had just looked over to see that Cena and Randy were wasted and he knew from experience that unless he got them back to the hotel quickly they were liable to pass out on the nearest surface (the times that he didn't manage to get them there in time typically resulted in them passed out on his shoulders or in the backseat of the car. They should have learnt their lesson by now; John always let them sleep it off in the car instead of dragging them upstairs).
Surprisingly both Alex and Mike offered to help him get them to the hotel safely. He accepted the help as he really was still sore and way too tired to watch the two of them (when they got drunk they became extremely affectionate and while they never meant anything by it it still made him uncomfortable). By the time they got the two of them in the car they were both half asleep which meant that they would probably be passed out by the time they reached the hotel. Alex said his goodbyes before going to start his and Mike's car while Mike kicked the ground shyly. John was patient, knowing that there had to be a reason why Mike hadn't left yet.
"Thanks," he finally muttered. "It was a really good match tonight."
"It was wasn't it?" John agreed. They said goodbye before Mike moved towards where Alex was waiting. John shook his head in shock.
Although Mike had said nothing about the belt John had seen in his eyes that he was grateful to still be in possession of it. He also suspected that Mike was grateful that he had been able to place his trust in someone and not have it thrown back in his face. He shook his head again as he started the car. He was really going to have to talk to Randy about not breaking script at his Rumble match. His friends were going to have to learn to trust each other whether they liked it or not.
A/N: Please review and let me know how I've done with this story.