Disclaimer: I own nothing associated with the WWE. Just any OCs!
Summary: AU. "Never take anything for granted. For everything can be taken away in a heartbeat." When a brutal attack causes Phil Brooks to lose his memory, he struggles to not only piece his life back together and regain what was lost, but also to discover who still wants him dead.
Author's Note: Hey, thanks for your reviews, guys! Well, we're definitely winding down, so clues will be definitely becoming more frequent since we're almost with the reveal! Keep a sharp eye out, though there will be some fun things as we go along as well! As always, enjoy and happy hunting! :)
Phil opened the lid of the largest tank that sat on the floor in Darren's living room, smiling slightly as he looked down at the water monitor that was resting inside. It had been quite a busy morning after the first night he had spent there since the Chief had taken him to a small apartment in another part of town that was supposedly his to get some more changes of clothes for the upcoming week as well as some basic toiletries for him to use. Darren himself had then been called into the police station due to an emergency situation from the night before involving a shooting and some minor repairs that needed to be done. Though he didn't want to leave, he didn't have much of a choice, and he had promised he would be back as soon as he could. Christina had left for work earlier that morning, but she would also be home on her lunch break, and Dane was at school. Bailey had no school that day due to what Christina said was a "parent-teacher conference," and he was still sleeping in his room upstairs.
Sighing quietly, Phil set the fresh water bowl down in the tank before picking up the list that Darren had given him about what food to give to which lizard at what time. He wasn't sure why the Englishman and his wife felt the need to be home at every minute possible, but he hated that it seemed to be so they could be with him. He didn't want them to stop their daily routines just because he was there. He didn't want to be an inconvenience for them.
He glanced at the television when he heard cheering coming through the speakers, seeing that the home team that was playing in the baseball game he was watching had just scored a double home run before he looked back down at the list. Seeing that since it was approaching the noon hour and the water monitor had the crickets at that time, the dark-haired officer stood and grabbed the container of live, jumping insects.
But then, he paused when the loud sound of the doorbell ringing echoed around the house.
Unsure of what to do, Phil slowly set the crickets back down on the table next to the smallest tank, waiting to see if the sound would happen again. When it did, and when a couple more times in rapid succession followed, he quickly put the lid back on the largest tank before he got to his feet and hurried toward the entrance hall. He didn't necessarily feel comfortable answering the door since it wasn't his house, but he also didn't want Bailey to wake up since clearly, whoever was there had no intention to leave.
When he unlocked and opened the front door, Phil found himself met with a man who was a bit shorter and portlier than he was wearing a two-piece suit. He was older with a balding head, though the black hair that he did have was tied back in a small ponytail. When he saw the dark-haired officer, a broad grin spread across his face.
"Good afternoon to you, my good sir!" he said enthusiastically, reaching forward and shaking his hand. "How does this beautiful day find you, may I ask?"
"Um... fine, I guess," Phil muttered uncertainly. "I was just–!"
"Good to hear, good to hear!" The man dropped Phil's hand before a broad smile returned to his face. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Paul. And what is your name, my good sir?" He leaned forward slightly with clearly feigned interest, his hands folded together.
The officer was almost at a loss for words. "Uh... Ph-Phil..."
"Phil? Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, Phil!" Paul reached out and heartily clasped the younger man on the arm, causing Phil to rub it afterward. "I know what you're thinking, my good sir! What honor brings me to your doorstep today?"
"It... it's not my house..." Phil attempted to tell him before Paul interrupted him with a loud laugh.
"Never fear, my good sir! My offer is still the same!" Paul's expression immediately turned serious. "Have you ever had trouble finding the right gift for your kid sister's birthday?"
Phil stared back at him, bewildered. "Um... no. I don't–!"
"Or how about your parents' anniversary?" Paul pressed. "That's an important date, wouldn't you agree?"
Once again, Phil shook his head slightly. "Uh... I guess so. But I don't–!"
Paul, however, simply laughed. "That's all right, my good sir!" he said, once again patting him a little too enthusiastically on the arm. "Never fear, never fear! I still have something that will interest you, Phil!"
He reached into a large, brown suitcase that he carried and pulled out a flyer before handing it to Phil, who looked it over with confusion. "What..."
"This, my good sir, is something that every man needs when they are approaching the big day in order to impress his bride to be!" Paul continued with a broad grin, gesturing eagerly to the flyer the other man held. "Because after all, first impressions always matter!"
Phil slowly looked up at the salesman, not understanding what he was trying to say. "I'm not–!"
"When you want to announce to all of your friends and family that you, Phil, have found the perfect woman that you want to spend the rest of your life with, what is the first thing that you want to do?" Paul interrupted yet again, winding an arm around Phil's shoulders.
The officer tried to move away, but he was unfortunately kept in place. He opened his mouth to tell him to move, but Paul beat him to it. "That's right, my good sir! Wedding invitations!" Completely ignoring the utterly lost look on the other man's face, he kept going. "Now, I know what you're thinking because everyone does. You're thinking, 'But, Paul, I can just go to the nearest store and buy my own invitations, and that'll be good enough.' No!"
Phil jumped slightly at his sudden raised, excited tone as Paul pointed at the flyer with added vigor. "Those other wedding invitations couldn't possibly compare to the fine ones that I can sell to you today. That's right! Today! And if you read what's on here, there are a plethora of options that we can do to make your special day even more special! We could specially engrave each and every one of them, silver-plate them, tie them neatly with delicate ribbons, or even add glitter to make them truly shine! As a bonus, I can also add in your own personal business card for you and your special woman for only a little extra. And there are plenty more options where those came from, my good sir! We can personalize them any way you wish!"
"Um, sounds great, but I'm..." Phil began, trying to hand the salesman the flyer back, but once again, he didn't get the chance to finish.
"Of course, my good sir, our excellent service on these out of this world wedding invitations are gonna be a bit on the pricier side," Paul cautioned before a small smile returned to his face. "But, it'd all be worth it for the woman that means the world to you! And I'm gonna let you in on a little secret today, Phil. Since I came here today, I can give you a ten percent discount! What do you say?"
Phil stared back at the other man for a long moment, once again almost at a complete loss for words. "I, uh, I don't..."
Paul let out a startled sound as he quickly turned around and let go of Phil as they both watched a clearly irate Chief of Police slam the driver's door of his car shut before he stormed up the driveway toward the front porch. "Da-Darren, my good man, it's go-good to see you again–!" he began with a slight laugh.
However, Darren clearly wasn't happy to see him as he stood on a confused Phil's other side. "How many times have I told you to stay the bloody hell away from my house, Heyman?!" he growled angrily, his eyes narrowed as he glared at the portlier man. "Now ge' your ass ou' of here before I file a warran' for your arrest for trespassing!"
The salesman lingered for another moment, only long enough to turn to the dark-haired officer and shake his hand once more with both of his. "Think about my offer," he muttered before he hurried down the porch steps and ran down the driveway to the old and battered car that was parked on the street in front of the house.
"W-who was that?" Phil stuttered as Paul sped off down the street, the sound of squealing tires following him.
Darren sighed heavily as he ran a stressed hand through his hair, shaking his head slightly as he watched the car until it was out of sight. "Tha', Phil, is Paul Heyman," he told him. "He is the biggest weasel of a salesman I've ever me' in my life. He once sold something to my neighbors, bu' they never go' wha' they ordered. When they tried to call him to complain, he only told them he didn' have any records of the sale, even though they had sent in their money. I doubt he even has anything tha' he claims he has to sell. Bu' for some reason, he is determined to sell me something. He's gone from vacuum cleaners, to jewelry for my wife, to sporting equipmen' for my sons, to fragran' soaps, to all-natural vitamins, to off-brand Girl Scout cookies. He even once gave me an offer to join some church I'm sure doesn' exist for a religious sector so my soul could be saved. For a hefty price, of course. He's hi' me with almost everything there is to sell ou' there."
The Chief chuckled quietly at the look of disbelief that crossed Phil's face. "Honestly, the only reason I haven' had him arrested ye' is because I find i' amusing tha' he plays this game with me, besides tha' I often have more important things to devote my resources to," he continued. "This has been going on for months. I'm sure he'll give up eventually." Then, he glanced down at the flyer the younger man still had in his hand. "Wha' is i' this time?"
"Oh, um... Here." Phil held out the flyer for the Englishman to take.
Darren briefly looked it over before a smile spread across his face. "Wedding invitations? Now he's hi' me with almost everything there is to sell. I thought tha' it was going to be something like those new singing or light-up toothbrushes or whatever the bloody hell they are." He shrugged slightly as he tore the flyer unevenly in half. "Oh, well. I'm sorry tha' he tried to sell you something. No matter. Come on in, Phil."
Phil followed the older man inside the house, shutting the door behind him as Darren slipped his dress shoes off on the mat. "Is... is everything okay at the station?" he asked.
Sighing quietly, Darren glanced back at the officer as he made his way into the living room, Phil behind him. "I don' wan' you worrying too much abou' tha', lad," he answered quietly. "Bu' yes, things are fine. There are just a couple of windows tha' need to be replaced, which I filled ou' an order for."
"And... the shooting?" Phil hesitated for a moment. "Was... was it anyone that I know?"
Darren's gaze faltered. "No, Phil," he told him. "Bu' tha' is definitely something tha' I don' wan' you concerning yourself with.'
Phil gazed back at him for a moment, trying to figure out something more to say since there were more things he wanted answered, but before he could, they heard loud footsteps starting to trudge down the steps. They both glanced back into the entrance hall to see Bailey making his way into the living room, rubbing his tired eyes.
"Who was at the door?" he wondered, his voice still somewhat thick with sleep.
The dark-haired officer smiled slightly as he glanced at the Chief with a raised eyebrow, who chuckled. "Tha' was just our good friend, Paul Heyman," he said, reaching out and ruffling his dark hair. "Nothing to be concerned abou'."
Bailey nodded slightly, his gaze resting on the television screen when the baseball game came back from commercials. He watched for a moment before he looked up at Phil. "You like baseball?"
Phil nodded slightly as he glanced at the screen himself. "I do, yeah," he replied. "I guess it's something I've always liked, but I really don't remember too much of it aside from watching it wherever I was before this..."
An excited grin spread across the eighth-grader's face. "I play baseball during the summer!" he continued. "I'm on a local team! You should come to one of my games!"
Darren smiled. "Bailey, we'll have to see..." he began, but he stopped when Phil held up a brief hand.
"I'd like to come to one of your games, Bailey," he told him. "When is your first one?"
"Well, we don' have the full schedule ye'," Darren said, wrapping an arm lightly around Bailey's shoulders. "Bu' we would enjoy i' if you were to come to a game or two, Phil."
Phil nodded in return. Then, a small smile returned to his face when the eighth-grader reached out and touched his arm. "Yeah, Bailey?"
"I have a lot of baseball stuff up in my room," Bailey replied with a smile. "Do you wanna come see?"
The dark-haired officer glanced at Darren, who simply chuckled, before he turned back to Bailey. "Sure," he muttered. "I'd like to see it."
Bailey's smile lingered as he turned and hurried back up the staircase. Phil followed after him at a slower pace, resting his hand on the banister until he reached the second floor. He glanced at the doors on either side of him, not able to remember which room belonged to Darren's youngest boy.
Then, Bailey stuck his head out into the hall from a door on his left. "Over here, Phil!" he called him over cheerfully before he disappeared from sight again.
Phil sighed quietly to himself as he walked toward his room, a small smile appeared on his face as he stopped in the doorway. He instantly spotted Bailey standing in front of a desk that was sitting under the window near his bed, a grin on his face as he gestured to the wall next to him. Phil raised his hazel gaze to get a better look at the pictures that were hanging there along with the couple of trophies that were sitting on the shelf next to them.
"That's my team," the eighth-grader explained as he pointed to the photograph at the top. "I've been playing with them since I was in sixth grade. But when I start high school next year, I'm going to try out for the team there. With this team, I'm fourth in the batting rotation, and I play first base when we're in the outfield."
"That's really good, Bailey." Phil's smile lingered as his gaze moved from the team picture to the photos that were taken of Bailey during games to even articles about the team he was on from the Chicago Tribune. "What are these?" He pointed to the trophies that were sitting on the shelf next to them.
If possible, Bailey's smile grew wider as he looked up at them too. "Those are the trophies that we won over the past couple of seasons," he told him. "We won third place in the Chicago series my first season, and we won first last year. That big trophy is when we made it to the Midwest series last year, and we won third. And that one..." His sentence trailed off for a moment, and Phil could see the pride on his face. "That one is the MVP award I won last year!"
"That's impressive, Bailey." Phil chuckled. "Great job!"
"Thanks!" The eighth-grader then took hold of Phil's arm and lightly pulled him over to the desk he had previously been standing by. "This binder is full of baseball cards. I've been collecting them for as long as I can remember, ever since my mom took me and Dane to our first game at Wrigley Field. Dad and Daniel don't like it as much as we do."
Phil whistled quietly as he looked down at the thick binder that was worn along the edge, a picture of a much younger dark-haired Bailey sitting in the stands of a stadium he thought looked somewhat familiar along with sandy-haired Dane and black-haired Christina, all with the same broad smiles on their faces. The officer glanced down at Bailey, who nodded, before he reached out and carefully opened the binder. The collection started with the cards that were clearly older and continued on to more recent players. Phil sort of recognized some of the faces as he skimmed over the pages, the colors of their uniforms often blue and red, and he realized that this must have been his own favorite team.
"This is quite the collection, Bailey," he said, flipping through a couple more pages before he glanced down at the eighth-grader. "I don't remember if I had this many when I was your age, but I don't think I collect them anymore."
"That's a shame," Bailey replied. "You should start again. Here." He then reached out himself and flipped through the binder until he came to a page near the back. He studied the cards for a moment before pulling one out of its protective sleeve and held it out to Phil.
"This is a Sammy Sosa rookie card from years ago," Bailey continued. "I guess it's one that quite a few people want."
Phil took the card from Bailey's proffered hand to look it over better, but he shook his head and looked up at him as he tried to hand it back. "I can't take this from you," he muttered. "Especially if it's valuable in any way."
"Sure you can." Bailey closed the binder before he crossed his arms. "I want you to have it. From what I can see, you're a fan of the Cubs. I couldn't think of a better owner for that card."
Touched by the small gesture, Phil pulled his wallet out of his pocket. "Well, thank you very much, Bailey," he said. "I'm going to keep this in a special place. Right here." He opened his wallet and slid the card in the pocket right behind his police badge.
Grinning, Bailey turned back to the binder and opened it again, starting to go through it some more. Phil listened to facts about the players that he knew, but his focus wasn't entirely there. He sighed quietly to himself as the eighth-grader excitedly pointed out his favorite players, knowing that though it was fun and relaxing for him, where he should have been wasn't in Bailey's room. It shouldn't have even been in Darren's house.
Instead, he knew where he should have been was at the police station, helping to solve an investigation that he couldn't remember.
"So, ladies, if you ever want to get in touch, here's my card."
Matt rolled his eyes as he sat down on the stool next to Curt Hawkins, who had just finished pitching his indie record company to a couple of attractive blonde women, who were walking away from the bar and giggling to themselves. He had driven to the Fuze as soon as he had gotten off of work that night, having changed into a t-shirt and pair of jeans at the station first, since he was fully intent on speaking with Eve Torres. The case of Michael Brooks had been temporarily forgotten about by Cody, who was now more focused on making sure that Stu Bennett, who had just barely made it to the hospital, was being well cared for and trying to figure out who would want him dead. But if he could get any lead, even if it was just a small one, on the assault on his mentor, he would take it.
Curt turned to look at his best friend sitting beside him, arching an eyebrow as he pulled his blond hair back into a ponytail behind his head. "Man... it's not that I'm not happy to see you, because I am, I'm just not used to seeing you here on a Thursday night," he muttered. "You're kinda crimpin' my style, dude."
"Just pretend like I'm not here," Matt said quietly, his gaze moving around the crowded bar as he searched for the Latina.
Sighing, Curt shook his head slightly and turned back to the black-haired bartender, gesturing her over for another drink. "That's kinda hard to do, man, considering you are sitting where my... potential clients typically sit..."
Not paying too much attention to the other man's indignation, Matt continued to scan the many faces around him for the one he wanted to see. Finally, he found her. He perked up slightly as he watched Eve walk into the bar dressed in her sport uniform, a purse over her shoulder and a lightweight hooded sweatshirt draped over her arm. "I'll see ya, Curt."
The indie record dealer looked away from where he had been sending flirtatious glances to the bartender as she prepared his drink, watching after the other man with confusion. "Hey, I didn't mean you had to leave... Where are ya going, Matt?"
But Matt didn't pay any attention to him, instead pushing his way through the crowd to where he had seen the Latina. "Eve!"
Surprised at the sudden sound of her name, Eve quickly looked up, a smile appearing on her face as she shifted her purse to a more comfortable position on her shoulder before resting her hands on her hips. "Oh, hey, rookie," she greeted. "I didn't expect to see you here tonight..."
However, Matt wasn't in the mood for pleasantries as he kept his face impassive. "Eve, we need to talk," he muttered.
Eve's smile slowly vanished, and she sighed quietly. "Uh, sure. I have a few minutes before I have to clock in. Follow me."
The rookie allowed her to walk past him before he began to follow her through the crowd. Eve glanced back at him a couple times just to make sure that he hadn't lost her amidst all the people, but each time, he was right with her. He had no intention of letting her out of his sight. When they passed Curt at the bar, who was now sipping on another drink, he chuckled and gave a knowing wink to his best friend.
"Ah, I see... Have fun, man!"
Matt ignored him completely while Eve rolled her eyes, and the Latina led him away from the bustling people and down a narrow hallway. She pulled a set of keys out of her purse and approached a door on the end, quickly unlocking it before pushing it open. Matt followed her inside, seeing it was a small room where the employees must have kept all of their personal items.
"So, if this is about that ticket that Phil wrote me, I promise I'll get it paid as soon as I can..." Eve began as she set her sweatshirt down on a couch that was against the opposite wall.
"No, it's not about the ticket," Matt told her quietly, closing the door behind him. He then turned to face the bartender with a sigh. "Do you know Michael Brooks?"
Eve looked back at him with confusion. "Um... I know Phil Brooks..." she began quietly.
Matt shook his head somewhat impatiently. He was in no mood for games. "We have a witness who possibly placed you in the company of an arrested man," he continued. "Now, answer my question."
Surprisingly, a smirk appeared on Eve's face as she slid her purse back up to where it was resting comfortably on her shoulder before she took a couple steps forward so that she was standing directly in front of him. "So, what if I do know Michael?" she asked. "Last time I checked, it wasn't a crime to have friends, rookie."
The young officer sighed quietly. "I'm sorry, Eve, but this is an important investigation, and we need you to come down to the station to answer some questions," he muttered, glancing behind him for a brief moment when he heard loud voices from the hallway outside the room they were in. "We–!"
But then, Matt froze when he heard a quiet but familiar click, and he slowly looked up to see the barrel of a handgun was pointed directly at his temple. He looked past the metallic weapon, seeing that an almost sinister look had appeared on Eve's face as she kept the firearm level with him.
"Sorry, rookie, but I'm not going anywhere," she muttered, her smirk broadening. "You and your friend Officer Runnels are figuring out too much. Now it's time for you to come with me."
Author's Note: Well, another cliffhanger, lol. These will also be somewhat more frequent in these last few chapters, haha. I think it's pretty easy to say that Eve's involved now, which just leaves one last person. That'll be covered soon ;) Thanks for reading! Your reviews are much appreciated. Thank you!