Warning: You thought the previous chapter was dark? Fasten your seatbelt for this one!
Author's note: Sorry for my bad English, my 1st language = French… ^^ Don't hesitate to correct me (in reviews or PM) if you see mistakes :)
(What doesn't kill you, will only make you stronger)
Chapter Two: Have Mercy
"How is he?", John Cena's voice was barely a whisper. The air in the corridor wasn't exactly cold, but he could see the vapor from his words forming on the glass in front of him. Low budget hospitals were making cuts wherever they could. This hospital wasn't the worst he had seen in God Bless America. The worst, he had seen it just before.
The nurse by his side cast a sad and tired look through the window pane and resumed her focus on her folder, scanning through several papers. She wasn't probably trying to find any hope there to give to her interlocutor; Just true facts. Several years in such environments tended to make people cynical and rather cold. Someone died? A bed available for another patient. Someone lived? If he had a good insurance willing to pay, he could stay in a hospital bed as long as he wanted.
That was precisely the problem with the patient on the other side of the glass. Though he had already been injured just before being fired, the insurance company had considered that those injuries were just superficial - no matter the amount of blood he had lost - compared to the damage he had sustained after he had been fired. He was not an employee anymore, but had decided to come back on his own. Any injury was therefore his sole responsibility.
And the man had never contracted another Health Insurance policy other than the company's. He had trusted them. He was now completely abandoned.
"He is stabilized", the nurse said. "But he hasn't woken up yet. He arrived here with several fractures, broken ribs, a punctured lung with internal bleeding, and a brain concussion with 3 haematomas. His blood pressure was extremely low, we allowed it to go to low and kept the heart beat slow for 24 hours. Higher blood pressure would have increased the bleeding… Just like when you water your garden, and have a hole in the hose", she added, suddenly aware that the man by her side had probably few medicinal knowledge. "The higher the water pressure, the stronger the leak".
She gave him a few seconds to assimilate the image and went on: "We put a shunt to drain the fluids and reduce the haematomas, but there's no way to see now if there'll be irreversible brain sequels. We'll have to wait for him to wake up before we can make a first evaluation and see the extension of the damage he got in his neck and spine."
While the nurse was talking, John was remembering the videos he had seen. He had been unconscious by that time, missing most of the chaos. But the cameramen who hadn't run away had managed to film things that would haunt people's memories for years; probably decades.
"He'll probably be lucky if he ever walks again". The nurse's voice took him out of his memories. John Cena felt a mixture of sadness and relief, followed by guilt towards the second feeling.
He had never really been eye to eye with the man lying in this hospital bed, but it was his responsibility to make sure the young ones were safe. Since he had become number one in WWE, he had always made sure that the public would love what he did, and raised the bright torch high, so that the other ones would be bathed in the same light and benefit from his work.
So he felt like a weird responsibility for the injured youth, especially when he learnt that WWE wouldn't cover for his health care and would just abandon him in the dust. That's the reason the nurse was giving him all these indications. He wasn't next of kin to her patient, not even a co-worker anymore. But he was the one paying the bills. John felt that it was the least he could do.
Chaos had risen in WWE. A much more bigger chaos than what they had feared two years ago. In comparison, Wade Barrett's wind of change had been just a gentle breeze, and his Bigger Picture had been forgotten about even before it was revealed.
No, this time, two monsters had risen at once. For the moment, they didn't seem to have a common cause, but John feared that this wouldn't last, unfortunately.
The Legends had taken over. One by one they had arrived in the past months, celebrating with fans, showing that they still had "it"… and systematically ending in beating down the arrogant One Man Rock Band. At the beginning, everyone had applauded. Almost everyone in the locker room had - at one point on another - wanted to punch Heath Slater in the face, so they had all seen the returning Legends as heroes. And they had opened the doors wide, welcoming them with open arms, letting the wolves enter one by one into the sheep house.
John had had his first suspicion one night, after Cindy Lauper had crashed a glass pane into the face of Slater, leaving the man unconscious and bleeding on the ring mat. Such acts were classical during their time, but it was forbidden nowadays, for children's sake.
When John had tried to tell them afterwards not to do that again, they had laughed and brushed him aside as if he was just an annoying mosquito. So when he had seen some people from the board of directors about the incident, all he had gotten was: "It's Heath Slater. Why do you even care? Let the Legends have their fun. People will love it!".
And they had let the Legends have their fun, while Slater was slowly falling to pieces. But the more he was beaten down, the more he was coming back next, asking for more, still pretending he was the strongest and the best of them. His behavior was so annoying that almost every superstars of all rosters would come at RAW every week, even if uninvited and so, not paid, just to see him getting kicked in the ass. According to the board of directors, Slater's beat-down sequences had become #1 attraction for the public, people even betting on who would be the next Slater-hater.
Cena had to admit, he had had his share of laughs during those sequences; he could still remember what he had endured from the One Man Rock Band when he was the Nexus' slave. The village-fool's beating was almost like a sweet revenge. Except that his instinct was screaming that something was wrong. And when he had finally understood - when they had all finally understood - it was too late.
The 1000th episode of RAW was supposed to be a big revelation to the WWE Universe, and a huge pay-back for Slater. But the youth had been viciously attacked by several Legends at once; then Vince McMahon had destroyed him with a chair before leaning on his bloodied shape and screaming his legendary "Yooooou're fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired!".
Triple H, alongside Austin, Michaels, Vince McMahon, The Rock, and other Legends of the past, had cut a promo, revealing their true intention: to restore WWE to his old grandness; to have those who built this company back in control… and to destroy those who were destroying the ship, the "Young Generation", the "John Cena" generation, the "Brock Lesnar" generation, the "CM Punk" generation, the "Randy Orton" generation… And after a pause, he had added: the "Heath Slater" generation, giving a kick to an unresponsive ginger. To the new generation as he called it, it became pretty clear what the One Man Band had been, these past weeks. Not an entertaining segment destined to please the crowd while allowing the Legends to come back one by one… But an example of what every young wrestler had to expect sooner or later.
Triple H's message was clear: one day or another, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, Randy Orton, and all the wrestlers from that "New Generation" would end up like Heath Slater: beaten down into a bloody pulp, and contract-less.
Their next victim had been Brodus Clay. After Heath had been taken to the ambulance, the Show had to Go On, and the Funkasaurus had come to the ring, dancing almost as usual. Almost. John Cena had noticed that his movements were a bit uneasy and his smile not as broad as before. As if he was dreading something… And Clay had been right: Nash and DDP had attacked him in the back and destroyed him. Nash had cut a promo, asking the WWE Universe if this was really what they wanted to see, a delusional goof playing air-guitar or a fat tube of lard dancing disco, both making fun of the entire profession and destroying the true values of that noble sport? A good portion of the crowd had cheered for that, quickly forgetting that Heath Slater's blood hadn't dried on the ring mat yet.
Various matches had occurred afterwards, but always the Legends were standing on the ramp, threatening to come down into the ring if they judged the match to be 'unworthy' of the profession. And many "old fans" - those who were always claiming that the PG had killed WWE - were very glad with this.
Brock Lesnar even had a confrontation with Triple H backstage, saying that he wasn't a wrestler for entertainment, but a fighter… that he didn't like to be compared to the likes of John Cena, and took it as a personal insult to be compared to the likes of Heath Slater. Therefore, he would accept to face HHH at SummerSlam in a Hell in a Cell match, to make sure it would be a one on one match. Trip's buddies had attacked him and broke both his arms, as a pay-back for when Lesnar had broken Trip's arm a few weeks earlier. The latter told that he was now expecting their match with delight.
When John and CM Punk's match arrived for the WWE title, none of them were eager to go into the ring. Whoever would come out of that match with the belt was the least of their worries. They shared the same idea: they would fight each other, give the best they had, but in the end, the Legends would probably arrive and brutally finish them both, especially if they were in a weaken state.
Punk and Cena had been happily surprised to see that none of the Legends were in sight as they walked down the ramp, but they didn't let their guard down, and during their whole match, they always suspected some of the Ancient Ones to interfere.
Someone had interfered, but he was the last person Cena had in mind. Whilst in the middle of his match against CM Punk, Cena had heard a mixture of cheers and boos that didn't seem directed to the center of the arena, especially since the fans were looking towards the ramp. Both Cena and Punk had stopped their movement and followed their gaze. But instead of one of the Legends, they had seen… Wade Barrett observing them calmly and coldly from the top of the ramp, before slowly making his way towards them.
Cena's mind, already on the edge, was thrown backwards two years in the past; but before he could warn CM Punk, five other wrestlers had joined the outside of the ring: Otunga, Young, Gabriel, Tarver… and even Ryback. The rest had just been a remake of 2010. And even if this time Cena and CM Punk were fighting side by side, against 6 enemies instead of 8, the outcome had been the same. Cena had seen the rest later on videos.
As the reborn Nexus was about to leave a devastated ring, Heath Slater had walked to them. But he hadn't joined them as expected by everyone - especially by Wade, whose face expression was betraying him in the video sequence; Heath had stood, alone, against the Nexus, the WWE belt high above his head, challenging silently his former leader.
Sign of the upcoming end of the world? The crowd had started to chant for the One Man Band. Back then, everybody could have guessed that it would end badly if no one interfered.
The growing chants were like a signal for Wade who jumped at Heath's throat, quickly followed by the rest of NEXUS. Who would have interfered? The Legends had used the man earlier as a punching ball. The "New Generation" wrestlers either hated or despised the One Man Band. Cena and Punk were K.O., and the Nexus, well… The beating they gave to their former team mate - no matter that he was already half-dead - was far worse than anything Cena had ever endured with them two years ago. Since the Legends' statement earlier, they weren't muzzled by the "PG" safety code anymore… And obviously, they didn't like traitors.
The video showed that several parents took their kids away towards the end. The Nexus ended the massacre with a 450 splash from Justin Gabriel (when the broken ribs probably punctured Heath's lung), and a Wasteland through the steel stairs from Wade Barrett (which probably damaged Heath's spine).
The fact that - just before the Nexus left - Wade had pressed fingers against Heath's throat was very revealing for Cena: Wade wasn't feeling guilty or gentle, but careful: he just didn't want his wrestling career to end shortly by a journey in jail if the One Man Band died in the arena. If he died outside, it wouldn't be WWE's problem, and therefore Wade's.
But Cena understood why Wade had considered that possibility: Heath's bloodied and broken form on the steel stairs, with some of his limbs at a weird angle, was like a lifeless doll. You couldn't even see him breathing. The Nexus had probably scored points with the Legends for such an art-work. Some Nexus had almost a wild glow in their eyes; like wild animals who had just tasted human blood, and wanted more. Wade had felt it and stopped them before they really killed Heath. He had then motioned them to quickly move away, and had to call Justin twice, while the high-flyer was staring at Heath with an unreadable expression.
Many ambulances had left the arena, that evening. But when Cena had woken up the next morning, he had been filled with the missing gaps. He had also learned that CM Punk was recovering a little bit quicker than he did, but that Heath had choked on his blood and died. Twice. And had always been revived. But he had been transferred to another hospital. At first, Cena thought that Heath was in a too serious condition for this hospital. But after two days, he learned the truth: Heath had no health insurance other than WWE, and WWE refused to pay for someone who wasn't employed anymore by them. He had been sent to a low class hospital, where he was probably going to die sooner rather than later.
John didn't know why he did it. Maybe it was his Paladin/Superhero complex dictating his moves… Or the fact that there was someone who wasn't affiliated with neither the Legends nor the Nexus, and who could potentially become an ally. Maybe both factors had played…
But by the time (with the help of a few dollars bills) he had managed to find out where Slater had been taken, himself was cleared to leave the hospital. He went directly to the place he had learned of. Something was wrong. He might have hated Slater with his guts, as a human being, there were things he just couldn't chose to ignore.
When he had arrived to that low-class hospital, at the beginning, he felt like he had been transported into a war-zone, somewhere in the middle-east where the troops were still trying to bring peace. The chaos was almost complete, people calling, coughing, moaning with pain, nurses and doctors trying to respond as brief as they could. Beds in the corridors - or what looked sometimes like benches temporarily turned into beds - were displayed in a chaotic pattern, which had to have some sort of logic. People sitting together with despaired eyes were looking around for help, almost resigned. And the smell…
There was a mixture of blood, defects, vomit, piss and sweat, that the strong odor of disinfectant couldn't mask. Cena almost felt his stomach jumping from his mouth, realizing that another pool of vomit would probably go unnoticed in the whole mess. Nobody had the time to answer him about Heath's whereabouts. They just had a tourists' bus incident, and were overwhelmed. Cena went on his own and searched in the corridors and opened rooms. Twice. He almost gave up when he saw at the far end of a corridor, a pack of ginger hair, masking almost totally the face of the man lying in an old and narrow gurney, Band-Aids all around his torso, arms and a Minerva around his neck. But Cena almost didn't recognize him. Part of the man's face was swollen and with dark blue spots. His eyes were closed, slightly swollen and with the same dark circles. His lips were cracked with evident dehydration. His skin was almost gray, and a drain was coming from his chest, dripping blood in a container under the bed. There was quite a big quantity of fluid there. Cena almost fainted. Not for the blood itself, but for the whole portray.
This dying wreck had been not so long ago, a decent athlete, several times champion, with a humor of his own perhaps, but a potential even Cena - with all the accumulated anger he could have against him - couldn't deny. This dying wreck was a man who had given everything for the company himself was still working for.
This dying wreck, was going to be him one day; or Randy; or CM Punk; or anybody of the "new generation".
He then noticed that Heath's right hand was shaking slightly, and as he leant on the broken man, he heard over the sound of labored breathing occasional soft and uncontrolled whimpers. Even if he was unconscious, he could still feel the pain. Morphine was probably too rare and precious in a place like this.
Cena turned around to call for help, but quickly understood that no one would listen, nor come. Heath had received the basic treatment, but he hadn't been put there, waiting for a room to become available. No, he had been put there, to die. Because other people with better chances had priority, and doctors had learned a long time ago that they couldn't save everybody.
He looked back at Heath with a mixture of horror and utter sadness. Cena's bulletproof optimism in life was getting a really hard time. He had visited troops before in Iran, as his position of Face of WWE dictated; it was always good to show support to those who protected your country with their life. He had seen the harsh conditions they were in – even though he suspected he hadn't seen it all, since WWE would never allow their number one to be exposed to real danger – but those conditions were normal. That was Middle-East! Not Civilized Safe America!
He heard a movement behind him and turned again. He saw a nurse standing a dozen feet behind him. For a brief moment, he felt a wave of relief. Things weren't as bad as he had feared. Someone was coming for the ginger, checking if he was ok, maybe move him to a room. But something in her expression was odd.
"Ah, you know this patient…"
She should have been rejoiced that someone was showing up, showing interest, bringing some support for that injured one. But there was something like uneasiness and disappointment in the tone of her voice, in her eyes and the way her mouth was half open, the fingers of her hands clenching nervously. And suddenly John understood.
She wasn't there for Heath. It wasn't him she was staring at, but the narrow gurney he was on. They were probably in need of every beds and stretchers for the upcoming injured ones, and she was checking for anything that could help. Cena met her eyes briefly before she looked away, muttering an "I'll be back later, sir". But in her eyes, he had seen it.
She had hoped that Heath was dead so that she could retrieve the old gurney he was occupying. Probably abandoning him on the floor until some student of medicine who hadn't been bright enough to be a real doctor, but enough to be a medical examiner would put him in a plastic bag and drag him to the morgue.
And as the nurse walked away, checking like a vulture in the rooms nearby, and on other patients in this corridor, John thought about those legendary valkyries, moving on the battlefield, pointing with a pale finger the dead warriors who would be taken to the Valhalla to feast with the gods. She was perhaps just doing her job, but John felt a sudden hatred for her rising inside of him. She wasn't even an intern who would make some tact mistakes out of stress. She looked like she had several years of experience behind her, and had lost all kind of empathy in the process. John could have pitied her; but only hatred was boiling inside of him.
Hatred for her attitude; hatred for the medical staff who had so easily given up on Heath because he had no insurance; hatred for the health care system; hatred for the Legends and the Nexus; hatred for the WWE board of director who had tossed one of their employees away like a broken tool is tossed in the sewer. Hatred for the kind of future it meant to everyone in this business.
Cena didn't think twice. He took the Swiss army knife he always carried in his pocket when not in the ring, and cut the tube of the drain, putting a cotton at the end to prevent it from dripping for awhile. He then leant on Heath, passed a hand under his back, trying not to injure him any further. He wrapped a blanket around him, and softly, carefully, lifted him from that horrid bed.
Nobody told him not to move that patient. Nobody questioned his actions. Nobody tried to stop him as he carried Heath to the outside air, so pure after the infect stench inside.
Actually, anybody could have performed a kidnapping here without the slightest trouble.
He laid Heath on the back seat of his car and quickly drove away before he could change his mind. If Heath was to die in his car, he would face a lot of troubles, but he didn't want to think about that now. Not ever. He was sure of one thing: by the time his car left the parking lot, the stretcher at the end of the corridor had probably found a new patient, without anybody asking the slightest question.
He had needed almost an hour to reach a hospital he knew well. A hospital just a level higher that the nightmarish one he had just left, but where questions wouldn't be asked as long as money would be put on the table. That hour seemed the longest of his existence, and regularly he could cast a look over his shoulder to check that Heath was still breathing. He could have reached the destination faster, but when you carry someone dying in your car, you want to stay below the speed limit and keep a low profile.
Almost a week had passed since that terrific journey, and Cena was now standing in front of a room with "Sebastian W." labeled on the door. Nobody knew about Heath Slater's true identity, and nobody cared. As long as John would pay for him. Through the window, he could see that the youth was looking a bit better. There were still cuts on his face, and his skin had some green or yellow colors in some areas, but the swelling was gone, and he didn't look dehydrated like he had been in that other place.
After the nurse left him with a comforting pat on his shoulder, Cena hesitated for some long seconds before he decided to push the door and enter the room. He walked slowly and silently to the bed, as if he was afraid to wake-up his former colleague. He got a weak smile when he realized this. Waking up would probably be the best option for Heath.
Yes. Maybe while he was sleeping in this coma, his nerves not receiving any pain signal, his relaxed body was starting to regenerate. Maybe when his brain would decide its host was well enough, it would send a signal to wake Heath up. Maybe the youth would then start his path to full recovery. Maybe the dinosaurs hadn't gone extinct, and maybe Elvis Presley and Hitler were still alive and playing poker in a base on the dark side of the moon. Cena passed a hand on his face.
He had saved Heath while the youth had been on the brink of death, but had he, really? He liked to see himself as the hero, the savior. But what if the nurse was right? Heath's chances of waking up were slim, and maybe if he did, the damages done to his brain would perhaps make him unable to know who he was, where he was, or even why he was alive; quietly watching people come and go, just silhouettes like trees in the fog.
And even if a miracle occurred about his brain recovery, there was still the question of his spine injury. The nurse was skeptical on Heath's possibility to ever walk again. So Cena could say that his life as a wrestler was at 99.9% over. And if Heath was like most guys in the roster, only feeling alive when they were in the middle of a ring, he would soon wished he had died by the hand of the Nexus.
So now, Cena wasn't sure anymore if saving Heath from that awful hell-hole of hospital had been such a great idea. Maybe it would have been more merciful had he found some syringe full of morphine – in the global chaos, he was sure nobody would have noticed his action - and injected the whole shot into the youth's system. Heath would have gone next door peacefully, and painlessly, with his brave last action in the ring and the crowd by his side as last memory.
Cena looked down at the broken form before him, not sure if Heath would thank him for saving him. Especially when he would have to live, trapped in a body he'd quickly learn to hate.
Before, most of the roster had wanted at one point or another to kick Slater's ass or punch him in the face. Cena wasn't sure they would now, if they saw what he was seeing.
For a moment, Cena looked at all the wires, and tubes connecting Heath to machines nearby. Some machines were just monitoring his vitals, others were keeping him alive. Which one should he shut down – temporarily – in order to deliver peace to the One Man Rock Band?
He brushed his hand on the power system for the machine sending air in Slater's lungs through the tube connected in his nose. It would be so simple. Press the button once, stop the system, wait a few minutes to be sure, and switch it on again before anybody came back.
It would be a merciful death.
The life awaiting Heath would be a mockery; and he would probably end up killing himself. John thought this simple gesture could avoid so much suffering in the future. His finger was on the power button. He could free him. The corridor was quite, nobody was around. It was now or never.
TO BE CONTINUED
Yup, finally I decided to write a continuation to this RAW1000 story. Actually, I started working on the continuation over a year ago, but I didn't like the path it was taking, so… after a moment of silence and rest, I rewrote the whole thing.
I know I've been silent these past months, but I've realized that I was spending sometimes days to write a (long) chapter, and weeks/months developing a complex story, and would end up most of the time with 1 or 2 reviews while other people writing half a page of WWE porn with no plot would get tons of reviews. Well, maybe I'm writing for the wrong public and should perhaps stop wasting my time, don't you think?
There's a WWE fic I'd like to finish; there is ONE chapter remaining, it has already been written for over a year, and waiting to go online. Chapter five was quite long, full of info based on WWE & FCW researches concerning Barrett & Slater's history. I got ONE review of someone (thank you Failed-to De-anon) who was really affected by the development. "WHAT THE BIGGER PICTURE IS FOR" is one of the best WWE stories I ever wrote. Can you have a look at it and drop a word, so that I can finally conclude it? Thanks :)
And now, special message for my haters saying "Baaah, you just write to get reviews, it's baaaaaaaaaad! I'm sooooo disapooooooooooointed in yoooou!": see my virtual middle finger. I write in order to entertain people. Thus, I want to know if what I write affects you. Feedbacks show me your interest; they show me if it's useful for me to go on. If you liked a story/chapter, but can't take two minutes of your time to tell me, or ask questions, don't complain afterwards if you never see the end of the story.
And this applies for 99% of the other writers here. Think of what they do for you and the time they spend for your reading pleasure.