He never saw this coming.
The Legend Killer sits quietly on the bed, practically immobilized in the dark room illuminated with the small table lamp on the nightstand in his drastically downsized home - apartment. He sighs quietly as his silver eyes focus down on his fingers stroking his round belly for a few moments, trying to avoid the inevitable tears from spilling down onto his face.
It was not supposed to happen this way.
He was never defeated at Wrestlemania. He was a real superstar, the best, the most deserving of the next title run. He was the best at everything, the best broadcaster, and even the best dancer. Now he sits in the bar, wasting away his entire night with multiple bottles of the hardest liquor they have. He is supposed to be out at work, like the day before, the week before, and the month before. Their reserve of money is quickly draining out with useless and medical expenses and he is drowning his frustration at the bottom of an empty bottle. He has not stepped foot near the unemployment line, or attempted at finding a new job.
He stares at the glass in his hand, downing the russet liquid and setting it down. He searches his wallet to pay off his bill, knowing as he pages through the last few remaining bills that he has a heavily pregnant wife at home that needs him to be there, to have a stable job and bring home more than just gas station snacks, slurpees, and the occasional sandwich on those early-last-call nights. He does not have it in him to go home, maybe he is not drunk enough, or his favorite places just had not closed for the night yet. He ignores the fact that there's someone at home trapped in bed, and that he has one last month to wait for his three babies as he stumbles his way to his car.
His eyes are focused on the Slammy Award - his - Slammy Award, mocking his previous life of luxury from under the passenger's seat. He had to pawn this off to make it his "paycheck" tomorrow night; the bars had distracted him from doing it tonight - or morning as his eyes settle on the clock. 3:35 AM flashes back at him in neon blue; he should be home by four after making one last stop. He could spare an extra ten dollars at the 24 Hour McDonalds, something to try to make it look like he was trying a little harder.
He is draining their bank account quickly in the eight months. He's moved them five times in the past eight months, and got himself a brand new latest-addition yellow Ferrari convertible rather than the gorgeous four bedroom home by his lover's parent's house.
The next instance he looks, the clock reads back 5:48 AM. Maybe he had a black out. He does not know where he went, or how he ended up in the parking lot of their apartment complex. He coats his mouth with peppermint wash and a cinnamon breath spray. He grabs the bags on the passenger seat and guiltily heads up to meet him as he fixes his hair and puts his blue tie back on a gift he had gotten from his love.
He considers reaching out to DiBiase Jr.; and shakes his head at the thought: he does not need anybody's help. He is going to fix this mess and prove to Randy Orton that he could be a reliable husband and father. It still has not settled with him that he is going to have children, regardless of how many times he puts his arms around his growing wife or sleeps beside him in their less than adequate bedding.
He fumbles with the paper bags in his arms and slips the key under the door, hoping that the light on that he could see under the door didn't mean that Randy hadn't been up all night long… had just left the light on and fell asleep… had been asleep for hours… that he didn't have to face him; he takes a deep breath and just hopes as he stops considering opening the door. What if he was awake? His thoughts drift to this question, wondering how he was going to try to make facing him work for another same-old-night. Maybe he would say "I love you" again, but he isn't sure how to find those meaningless words anymore, maybe he left them in one of the bottles he's emptied at the bar. He tries out a few fake smiles as he pushes his new Dolce & Gabbana glasses up the bridge of his nose… it is not easy to be needed and depended on. He drops his head to the poorly carpeted floor and squeezes his eyes shut… rubbing at them for a second and readjusting his glasses for the second time, his hand fiddling back with the knob before it opens on its own.
Randy wears his broken heart on his face. There is a look of forced-confidence, forced-happiness, and it's all mixed in with misery and disappointment. His smile is genuine, although he is not happy; maybe he is just glad he is not alone: at least for a little while. He explains that he heard something at the door, and was worried about a burglary like the one that happened a few doors down.
Cole smiles, mentioning that his workday was very productive with an off-handed kind of passive voice. He remembers the Slammy Award hidden under the passenger's seat, and that at one point he promised and then vowed to love, protect and take care of the man in front of him. Randy hops aside and lets him in, working at the series of locks on the door as Cole settles down in the bedroom, but comes back soon after.
He remembers, and has the decency to come back and wrap an arm around Randy and let him lean against him as he helps him to the bedroom. He inquires about his lover's severely broken leg and leans up to kiss him with a promise that things would get better and they would make it work - he would make it work.
They sit together on the bed, and the ex-announcer listens to him talk for the first time since they had been served their Future Endeavors.
The Legend Killer is extremely appreciative, thankful and happy to have Cole. He knows he is trying his best; and that the best just is not working at all, though he pretends that it is for his lover's sake. Randy explains that when his broken leg is healed that he can work independent shows and that he has that multi-year contract offer when his No-Compete Clause is up. He promises that he can get Cole decent work, that he does not have to do something so demeaning; when they are all set up he can get a great job as an announcer, or with a high profile News agency.
He never saw this coming.
It was never supposed to happen.
This was not the way things were supposed to work.
Life was going to get back to normal.
The Journalist picks his head up off the bar counter - or what he assumes is the bar counter until he realizes that he's actually on the bathroom floor of his favorite bar. There is a strange noise he comes to find is the sound of his constantly buzzing cell phone clinking up against the vodka bottle in his hand. He forces himself up to his knees with his hands, wet in the little remaining liquor spilled out of the bottle that had not ended up in his bloodstream. His eyes struggle to focus as a hand fishes through his suit jacket to get his glasses. The cell phone blinks back up with him with numbers he doesn't recognize and ten repeated missed calls from the same two unknown phone numbers. He squints oddly at them, hoping the action would bring back some recollection while he dials it back. His ears perk at the bar's last call announcement until he looks back down at the screen.
Emergency services? The hospital? The police?
He tries to work together what is going on as he hangs up the last redialed call and starts to search his voice mail. The voice of a doctor identifying himself clears the ringing in his ears as he searches for the keys in his pocket and stumbles out of the bathroom and sets off to his Ferrari.
He sits on a chair pulled up close to the hospital bed.
He remembers forgetting to say "I love you" the night before.
He hopes that he will start feeling guilty soon.
This was his fault, wasn't it? He was supposed to be there. He was supposed to protect him if anything happened. He was supposed to be out there being a breadwinner, not getting drunk until he forgot about his problems. His lover's limp hand is soft and clammy in his own warm hand that still has the sharp smell of whiskey lingering on it. He is not going to be a father. He is not trapped beneath the weight of having to fix their family. He is not trapped into being a provider, a husband, or a protector. He is just Michael Cole: Widower.
He inches the chair as close as it could get to the bed and holds his lover close. He wants to cry, it is just the natural thing to do. He buries his head on Randy's chest until he has the strength to look at him again. He breaks. He falls apart when he see is the absent look on his face. The way he looks calm and peaceful; but something is very, very wrong; and it is overpowering that calm and peaceful look that death has brought, that thing it has given him that Cole could not.
This could have been different.
He should have asked Ted Jr. for help.
He should have married The Miz.
He should have left Randy alone with Dave Batista.
Maybe Randy Orton should not have broken his leg and gotten fired.
He gets up angrily, pushing back his chair and grabbing his phone from the table. He storms out with out another look at his - who was that again?
He is back at the bar, having more of a celebration than a mourning. He is downing shots and dancing like an idiot with a cute guy he does not know, but the new man looks like Alex Riley and is sporting an expensive watch - and does not seem to care how bad Cole's dancing skills are. The ex-broadcaster is sitting on a couch with him moments later, boasting about his many dancing awards - and that he has just come from a Dancing with the Stars casting meeting because of his height of fame. He is quick to try to bring this one back to a hotel room and not the awful apartment he shared with whoever-it-was. He has finished kissing his soft coral lips, being dazzled by those lightning white teeth and listening to that charming voice and laughter, and dying to run his hands through that mouse-brown hair. It is not until he mentions his brand new yellow Ferrari convertible that going back to the hotel becomes of interest to the flashy new date.
The man helps him as he stumbles up to his feet, holding onto his waist and laughing like an idiot. Cole brings him back to the shining, unneeded-ly freshly waxed car that glitters under the moonlight. He drops his keys in his excitement and laughs it off again. He turns back, about to mention to his Riley-Look-A-Like that his penthouse suite in his hotel is just down the block when he falls to his knees; gasping out in a concoction of pain and shock. There is blood spreading across his eggshell white dress shirt, his hands quickly soaked in it as he holds his stomach, the ground pooling around him as his car is taking off. His eyes turn to pin points, darting around him from the pool of blood to the wound in his abdomen. He is supporting himself up, propped on one arm as he attempts to control his gasped breathing, panicking wildly as the unfamiliar dizziness hits. It is not the great feeling from being drunk, or the awful one from being hangover. It is laced in fear as his eyes fall closed and open in deceleration; the city lights fall black as his body collides with the pavement.
He never saw this coming.
It was not supposed to happen this way.