Warning: Before you proceed, just keep in mind that English is NOT my mother language. So if you ever see vocabulary or grammar mistake in this text, don't hesitate to warn me. I'm always eager to improve :)
Author's note: Finally I decided to continue the previous chapter and not leave it as a one-shot. There'll be probably more chapters, but I also want to go back to "Never Got a Chance", too :) This chapter happens actually... Tomorrow! ;)
Background Music: Here is the music playing in the background as I was writing. Just in case you'd like to put yourself in the atmosphere. All by X-RAY DOG: "The Chosen One", "Rightful Throne", "Noble Charge", "Voyage Quest", "Blaze of Glory", "The Allegiance", "Shields of Honor".
As I hear the growing ticking.
chapter 2 - a fairy tale gone bad.
Hershey, Pennsylvania. June 24th, 2011.
"... as for John Cena, I know he's never gonna like me. I just hope that in time, perhaps, he can come to respect me... Just as I respect him."
Wade Barrett frowned as he was walking up the ramp, his hand pressing his right side and clenching his jaws in an attempt to hide the pain he was going through. Why was he thinking about that now, instead of trying to evaluate the extension of his internal injuries? Was it because he suspected that now that he was no more the Inter-Continental champion - and that he had just failed his rematch - his chances of gaining Cena's respect had grown thin? That belt wasn't exactly of the same level of Cena's WWE champion's belt, but at least they could be considered somehow as equals. Wade used to consider that belt as just a first step in gaining the respect he thought he deserved from his kind. But - speaking of equals - it seems that the fact he had initially won the IC title, wasn't brought to his skills. What people remembered most was the distraction his Corre friends had created during his match against Kofi Kingston. And no one seemed to remember everything he had done during the match. No one remembered the counter he had accomplished on Kingston's trouble-in-paradise attack, turning it into the victorious Wasteland which had brought him the title, but not the recognition he hoped for.
Oh, he knew he was unfair. His fans - the few he had - did remember what had happened. But they did the opposite of everyone else: they tended to brush aside the distraction brought by The Corre during the match. And unfortunately that made them lose all credibility and sound like fanatics to the eyes of his MANY haters, thus making him look like no more than a manipulative cheating coward leader à la CM Punk, his Nexus successor.
In the end, he was officially a champion, but was not considered as a champion by the other champs. He had discovered it bitterly a month earlier after "Over The Limit". When all the champs had been called to gather for the Champs Picture at the Post-PPV Press Conference, he had initially been on John Cena's right side, knowing - with an amused smile - that some people in the WWE universe would turn crazy with these pictures, but before the shooting ever started, Cena had suddenly suggested some switch between him and Orton, pretending that it would be better to have a clean separation between the Smackdown and Raw stars, in order to avoid any confusion. It would have sounded logical for Wade if Cena had also asked Brie Bella to move to his and Orton's side. But the SmackDown diva had been allowed on Cena's RAW side. And when the moment had come where all the champs were shaking hands with sincere or plastered smile in front of the photographers, Cena had pretty much ignored him, shaking hands with the other champs, then starting discussing with them and forgetting to turn to Wade and shake his hand. Actually, no one had shaken his hands. The other superstars were all former enemy of his: Orton, Kingston and Cena. And the diva champ Brie was too busy giggling like a high-school girl with Kingston compliments or jokes. Wade had quickly analyzed the situation and had decided not to make a fool of himself in front of the Press. He had turned and left, acting like he didn't want to shake hands with the others, knowing it would add one more fact to his grumpy reputation.
Thinking about that bitter incident as he was still walking up the ramp brought another bitter memory to Wade. A few months earlier in January, when he had faced CM Punk to determine which team between The Corre and The New Nexus would go to the Royal Rumble, he had extended an olive branch to Cena during his interview. And Cena had given him his answer very shortly afterwards, when they were on the ring.
Initially, Wade had believed that peace was possible with Cena; that the people's champ had decided to turn the page and move on. At the beginning of that match where John was the referee, John had attacked CM Punk, bringing hope in Wade. Not hope to defeat CM Punk - Wade knew he could defeat the man without any exterior's help - but hope for that truce and eventual alliance with Cena that Wade was craving about. Actually, since his early wrestling days at FCW, Wade was looking up at John Cena, admiring his tenacity, his will, his skills, wanting to reach his level one day, but never hoping to be with him on the same ring. And for that, 2010 had been like a fairy tale for him.
A fairy tale gone bad.
And that day, when after attacking CM Punk, John had turned to him with a smile, Wade had truly believed that the bright days were back. He had let his mind travel in that future where John and him would be fighting side by side, voluntary this time. This was the longest second of his existence, before Cena's hand connected with his left cheek in a loud slap. Back to reality. From that moment on, Wade had known that his fight against CM Punk would become a nightmare. And Cena had even managed to surprise him with some cunning and manipulative spirit Wade had never suspected in the older man.
For Cena: Wade, CM Punk, The Corre and the New Nexus, were just the same. A pack for which the term "genocide" would be seen as a blessing and not a crime. He had tried to destroy all of them at once. But even if the RAW GM had managed to save them, allowing their participation to the Royal Rumble, the bad consequences were there.
Wade had later reached out and grabbed John's arm as the man was about to enter his locker room. Cena had turned with his fist raised, ready to hit. Wade had retrieved quickly raising his hands in peace sign.
"I just want to know why, John". He could still hear his own somehow distraught voice. "I was sincere earlier. I know I made huge mistakes with you last year, and I apologize. I just want us to move on, shake hands, make peace."
Cena had lowered his fist, but had narrowed his eyes. And with what came next, Wade understood: John was not suspecting that he and his Corre team had attacked Teddy Long on SmackDown, sending the man to the hospital. No, John was SURE of it!
"Do you really think that with a few apologizing words and a peace offering, I'm done feuding with you?". Before Wade could have replied, John had continued with an icy tone: "Let me tell you this: the only difference between before and tomorrow, is that tomorrow, when you'll be back on SmackDown and try to kill new people, no one is going to say 'it's not a big deal, he's just a rookie who needs to be explained the rules'. Instead, what they are damn most likely to say is 'wasn't someone at RAW supposed to take care of his sorry ass last year?'. And when those fingers of blame will start pointing in MY direction, I damn hope I'll be in a coma from the anger stroke I'm suffering right now with this peace offering of yours!"
And with those words, Cena had slammed the door of his locker room. That was the last time Wade had ever talked with him.
And as tonight he was walking the last yards before the top of the ramp, he clenched his fists in anger against himself. Even with the adrenaline still high in his body, he was already suffering from Zeke's torture rack; a torture that he had totally endured this time, without any help from his friends. The last thing he needed was a grim mood that would only make things worse.
And as he passed the black curtains on the top of the ramp, Wade relaxed a little, but didn't let his emotions appear on his face. Not yet. Not until he was safe and alone. He strode towards the common locker room - no champ privilege any longer - hoping that there would be no one at that time of the evening and that he would be able to take a shower without having to talk to anybody. Not that people were eager to talk to him before, but since he wasn't IC champion anymore, they didn't even bother acknowledging his presence. His anti-USA speech this Sunday at "Capitol Punishment" probably didn't help, he admitted to himself. He was sure that most of his co-wrestlers - not to mention almost the entire WWE Universe - saw the loss of his champ belt to Zeke as a divine blow from above to make him regret his bad words about God-Bless-America. Only his fans kept seeing the curse as a blessing. "Free from the IC belt, onto the World Heavyweight Championship". He didn't know if they truly thought what they said, or if they just didn't dare showing compassion after he had proclaimed that he rejected that feeling. One had even suggested that instead of giving "the handsome devil" some compassion, as he apparently didn't like it, they should give him carrots, bolts or car-wheels instead. Wade got a small chuckle at that memory, followed by a wince of pain and a flood of mental curses.
He slightly let go on his self-control as he saw no one in the corridor, and started limping slightly, his lips reduced in a thin line. He knew that tonight he would feel so much pain that he would probably be unable to sleep. He was glad he had no fight the next day. He slowed down, not because of the pain, but because he pondered about whether to go to the medics first or not. After all, he used to force himself to play the strong figure when he was in The Corre, so that his friends wouldn't worry. He realized that in the end, he had a common point with CM Punk: He wanted his team to have faith in him. But the reasons were totally different. He didn't claim to be a kind of messiah like CM Punk did. He didn't brainwash his team members so that they would forget about their own goal and individuality. No, he had quickly realized that if on the papers the concept of equals was perhaps interesting, on the field, his friends needed to be reassured by a kind of paternal figure, someone who would counsel them on the actions to do, someone who - whatever the situation - would not panic but always come up with a solution, someone against who the fingers would point in case something ugly would happen. Someone who would have to represent proudly and strongly their group, whatever painful or moody state he was in. A leader.
Wade slowed down again. Now that there was now more THE CORRE, he didn't have to hide his injuries, he didn't have to wear a mask all the time. He didn't have to fight for a title so that the whole team would bath in the same light. That was what his friends Heath and Justin hadn't understood. In his mind, as long as the title would be held by someone of their group, THE CORRE's renown would be unquestioned. So, it was logical to him that if the title holder had to dispute an important match soon where that same title was at stake, his comrades had to protect him the days prior to the match, so that he wouldn't arrive hurt or diminished on the battlefield. He would have done the same thing for another title holder in their team. Hell, he DID the same thing when Slater and Gabriel were tag-team champs, interfering with Zeke every times they needed help. But apparently, either they had a very short memory, or they didn't understand the way his mind was working. Since his early days he had been a gifted child, but he thought that that plan was pretty obvious for normal people. Apparently not.
After he had left twice the ring in a match against Zeke, leaving the other two dealing with the huge South-American while he was retreating to safety, he had thought that the reason behind his move was easy to understand. He had a match soon against Zeke for the title at Capitol Punishment. He needed to be in good shape to defend the title for THE CORRE. But the frantic way Heath and Justin had caught up with him in the corridor afterwards taught him that his friends needed some enlightenments after all. And now, he sadly remember how the conversation had turned from bad to worse.
"So you're leaving? You just walk away?". Heath was bewildered, panting after their last battle against Zeke.
"Everything I did, is for the group", was his simple reply. By that time, he still believed that they would understand his plans.
"No Wade! You did this for YOU!", Justin exploded to his face. Before Wade could ever retort, Heath cut him sort with a voice that jumped sometimes to high pitched tones, a sign that he was about to become hysteric.
"Yeah Wade. THE CORRE? We're supposed to be equals, that's what YOU said, that came out of YOUR mouth!".
Apparently they hadn't understood the plan at all. However they were way too tensed to be explained calmly right now. From experience, Wade knew that when a problem arises in a group, it's better to discuss about it after the storm is gone, than directly in the heat of the aftermath. Wrong words in wrong time could just make things much worse than it really was. But before he could ever suggest them to calm down and discuss about it later around a drink, Heath snapped at him.
"So what? You think you're so SUPERIOR, heh?". His voice was full of venom and mockery.
Wade just stared at him blankly, his patience growing thin. "Ok, that's pretty nice..."
For a brief second, he remembered Justin throwing him from the ring during a royal rumble for the World Heavyweight title. The Corre members were supposed to hold until the end, and eventually when they would have been the only fighters left, battle against each other so that there would be only one. But at the first occasion, Justin had betrayed him, flashing his big mischievous smile. This had proved to be a really bad move, because he had thus been the only Corre member remaining on the ring, and the other wrestlers had quickly made their move to eliminate him. That memory brought some anger in Wade. After all, he was still in the aftermath of the battle as well.
Back in the Nexus days, when he had been the only winner of the NXT tournament, he had jeopardized his entire career so that they would receive WWE contracts as well. It pissed him off now to see how they seemed to forget about that, and didn't hesitate to stab him in the back. In terms of loyalty, they had NO lesson to teach him!
And he had spoken the wrong words at the wrong time.
"To be quite honest, you two, you would be nothing without me". He had mentally kicked himself after those words had left him. He had meant to remind them that he had believed in them enough to risk everything for them, and that they needed to stay together and watch each other's back. But the tone of his voice had perhaps been a bit more aggressive than initially planned. Heath had started to laugh out loud almost in a hysteric way, and Justin had turned to him with a burning look in his eyes.
"Really? Oh well, we're about to find out".
Wade had noticed the sudden quiet tone of the South-African, and understood in a flash that this didn't bode well, at all.
"Good luck for defending your title Sunday. Cause THE CORRE is OVER!".
"It's DONE!", Heath added, raging, before the two left him alone.
Wade had seen them walking away, not realizing that this was happening. Everybody who looked at him right now and saw his pale face and frozen expression believed that he was fearing for the defence of his IC title. But all Wade had in mind at that moment, were flashing memories of everything they had lived together, and all the storms they had gone through. But also all the good memories they shared outside of the arena, during their evenings, their crazy adventures while travelling from one city to another, the jokes they would play to each other during their nights, or the way they would simply enjoy a day at the beach during their rare free times.
They were friends. They would be back after they would calm down. You couldn't destroy that with a few simple words, could you?
Apparently, you could.
That very night at the hotel, Heath had gathered his things and had moved to Justin's room, leaving Wade alone with his thoughts. And while the Brit had hoped for a full sleep night, due to the fact that no one would be snoring like a bison on the next bed, or watching cartoons the whole night, he had been unable to close his eyes.
The next day, seeing that Justin and Heath kept their distance or didn't even look his way, he had decided to give them some time to cool down, thinking that time alone would solve the tension. The friendship they had wouldn't be destroyed like that, would it? He was now having second thoughts about that decision.
He pressed his left hand on his right side as a pain flashed on some of his ribs, deciding him to finally go and see the medics. It was not like he had anyone to impress any longer. But as he started walking the corridor leading to the medical room, he heard familiar voices, and lifted his gaze just in time not to bump into the two wrestlers that were walking his way.
"Look who's there!", Heath said with a big smile, quickly imitated by Justin. Automatically, Wade straightened and tried to hide the pain he was feeling, putting a warm smile on his face.
"Hey, guys...", he said softly. His eyes were somehow shining. Maybe he had been right. A few cooling-down days had been for the best of their friendship. His thoughts dropped dead when he saw their smiles morphing into smirks.
"How's the Inter-Continental belt faring, Wade?", Justin's low voice seemed dripping with acid. "Oh I forgot, it's not your responsibility to carry it any longer. My mistake!", he added in a fake-sorry tone.
"You're not feeling so SUPERIOR any longer, naw mean?", Heath added, with a scornful smile that seemed to increase the weight of his southerner accent. "Is it one more loss we saw there? Big Zeke managed to make you cry like a little girl, one more time".
"Finally, we were right last time", Justin went on, his head leaning slightly backwards, and staring at him with half-closed eyes and a disdainful smirk. "Without The Corre, you're nothing!".
Wade was petrified. What did happen to his two friends? Who were those two people who strangely looked like Heath and Justin? He had suddenly the weird feeling to be listening to the LayCool duo. He could feel the same nausea sensation creeping in his stomach. And being the target this time, a new feeling started boiling in his blood: anger. How dared they after everything he had done for them?
"I could return the compliment!", he started with a low growling voice where he tried to put a hint of mockery. "You lost your title while you had Corre reinforcement to watch your back, I lost my title while I was ALONE! And since you deserted The Corre, you haven't won anything either!".
"So you admit it'", Justin leant forward until Barrett could almost feel his breath on the skin of his face. "You were hoping for The Corre to interfere in your match at Capitol Punishment."
"We were a TEAM!", Barrett clenched his teeth, his eyes darkening. "And for the Corre grandness, we had to defend the title holder, whoever it was! I defended both of you when you were Tag Team champs!". He turned his eyes to Gabriel: "I defended YOU when Kane attacked you with a chair, and I provoked him to defend your honor! And in RETURN...", he had to take a deep breath and steady his voice, "you stabbed me in the back during the Royal Rumble for the World Heavyweight championship!". As time alone couldn't drop the tension between them, he would go to the confrontation. He was hoping that Justin would feel some remorse but instead, a cruel and amused spark appeared in his brown eyes.
"You said that you were the new Julius Caesar", he mocked. "You must also bear the historical consequences..."
Wade couldn't believe what he was hearing. He fought the urge to hit the younger man, knowing that in his hurt state, he wouldn't be able to fight 2 on 1, would Heath decide to help his comrade. His voice almost dropped an octave. "Do you realize that that day with the attitude Zeke already had, your action probably caused a serious rift in the Corre?"
Strangely, Justin's smile softened. "No Wade... You were the first one who turned your back on The Corre. You're the one who caused the first serious rift".
Wade frowned, trying to understand what the high-flyer meant as the younger one closed the distance between them, their chests almost touching. "Because of YOU, everybody saw for the first time that The Corre wasn't as united as we claimed".
"What?", Wade's question was more a whisper. Heath stepped forward.
"When we attacked Cena and the Rock after Wrestlemania", the red-haired started, "you were the one who backed away the week after when we had to explain ourselves. You said that it was through no fault of yours".
"Were you that afraid that your precious little Cena would be mad at you?", Justin went on before stepping backwards and looking at Wade with something that resembled pity in his eyes. "You haven't understood yet? You don't exist for him any longer".
"He even unfollowed you on Twitter", Heath added with a I'm-just-observing tone in his voice. "So all your attempts on catching his attention with your joking or half-insulting tweets about him, fell on deaf ears. It was almost pathetic, naw mean?"
Wade clenched his fists, feeling now no more anger but almost hatred boiling in his blood. He wanted to tell them how wrong they were about that. He wanted to tell them that John had stepped forward to shield him from The Rock in the end. After the last attack from The Rock, Wade had felt unable to stand up. He had rolled on the side until he had hit something. Opening his eyes, he had seen John's legs, and had cringed, in fear that the older man would start kicking him in the ribs. But John had simply walked over him, and stood between his broken form and The Rock. And he had remained there until Wade had rolled to safety. Wade had persuaded himself that Cena had meant to protect him. But did he? Really?
Justin could almost read the turmoil of emotions that was passing behind Wade's green eyes, and smiled. "You once admitted that your obsession about Cena cost you the Nexus. Your obsession about Cena now cost you The Corre. Every times he's around, you become power crazy and you start using the people around you for your own purposes."
"You always look like you wanna impress him", started Heath with a wicked smile, "if we didn't know you, we would think that you're in love with him, naw mean?"
Wade paled considerably as he turned his eyes to the red-haired. "You'll excuse me? I think I heard enough non-sense for today, now I'm going to go away and puke with class and dignity! I could punch both of you for what you just said, but you'd probably get the nerve to pretend afterwards that you lost your match because of me".
He only obtained sniggering from the two others, and as he started resuming his way to the medical room, Justin called on him.
"Watch our match carefully, Barrett! The Corre was about equals but you'll see that some of us are more equals than others!"
Heath got a small chuckle: "Yeah... We are going to do something you can't do: win".
Their laughter echoed in the corridor as he was walking away, trying his best to ignore them. But Wade's mind was assaulted by many thoughts, none more pleasant than the others. He couldn't recognize Heath nor Justin. What had happened to them? How could they change to quickly from funny friends to bitching foes? He might have said a few wrong words, but nothing that would deserve such a hateful reaction, wouldn't it? His thoughts travelled to what his two (former) friends had just told. The Nexus destruction, and the Corre destruction were his own fault, due to his obsession about Cena. This was complete madness! But he couldn't deny that everything around him was falling apart. His group, his friends, his title, the only way for him to ever reach Cena's respect.
And as the echo of his former team-mates' voices died in the corridor, another sound replaced it in his mind: The ticking.
... That horrible ticking...
TO BE CONTINUED.
And now, the answer to the reviews ;)
WWE-Slash-Luvee: it seems sometimes that the fans are more logical in their situation analysis than the guys who write the storylines. The Creative team had a HUGE opportunity with the return of The Corre vs New Nexus, especially since CM Punk is going to quit WWE (as he pretends on twitter). Wade coming back with the Corre to destroy what he gave birth to, while Cena would take care of CM Punk alone, forcing the later to leave the WWE afterwards. But nooooooooo, they couldn't do it, heh? They had to destroy The Corre first heh? No wonder why sometimes the fanfics seem better than the show :( *sniffles*
Nefra: Thanks :) I made the two corrections ;) Heath, the cute little thing, is less cute in this chapter, heh? But if you remember from when The Corre broke, he was pretty pissed at Wade. Both he and Justin had time afterwards to set their mind against Wade. But did they really think what they told him, or did they only tell that to make him react? Only the future will tell ;)
Gotta go catch some sleep ;)
Read you all soon in the reviews :)