A/N: At long last – the Ambregal. I wanted to see this since I first saw Ambrose and Regal's work together in FCW, but I knew it would take some effort to write and I thought maybe I was the only one who wanted to see them together. But thanks to some encouragement from tumblr and aggressive feelz bullying by the lovely and persistent IrishCreamTruffle, the monster is born.
This story takes place after the second match in their FCW angle and references and treats as real some events that occurred as a part of that angle. So, if you're not familiar with their work together, I suggest you head over to YouTube and hit the high points. Great matches and killer promos. If you're an Ambrose fan or a Regal fan, you definitely won't be disappointed. And if you're a fan of both – seriously, what are you waiting for? At minimum, there's a great fan-made video called "True Villains" that should give you enough to go on. I'll reblog it on tumblr (mxjoyride).
Props to IrishCreamTruffle, Glitterdune, and Street of Alice for beta reading, feedback, and encouragement. Props to Muse, Bonnie "Prince" Billy/Will Oldham, Mark Lanegan, Johnny Cash, P.J. Harvey, and A.A. Bondy for the sonic inspiration.
The title comes from a Guided by Voices song. The song isn't entirely thematically or sonically appropriate, but I thought the title fit.
And that I see a darkness
And did you know how much I love you
Is a hope that somehow you
You can save me from this darkness
- Bonnie "Prince" Billy, "I See a Darkness"
Ambrose walked into the dimly-lit bar and looked around. He'd never been here before – never even heard of this place until Regal suggested they meet here tonight. It was a small, clean place, covered in dark wood. Old soul music played on the jukebox – loud enough to be heard, but not loud enough to drown out the faint din of conversation and the clicking of billiard balls.
Ambrose spotted Regal sitting at the end of the bar looking straight ahead, his fingers steepled. Regal turned his head as Ambrose sat down beside him.
"I see you dressed up for the occasion," Regal said, smiling with smug warmth at Ambrose's wrinkled white t-shirt and tattered jeans. Ambrose wondered if Regal had ever owned a pair of jeans in his life.
"Only the best for you, sunshine," Ambrose said. "How's the ear?"
Regal laughed. "Still bloody awful. But that's why we're here, isn't it? You never gave me the opportunity to properly congratulate you."
Regal nodded at the bartender, who approached with a smile of recognition. Regal let Ambrose order his whiskey first before ordering a beer for himself. As soon as the bartender brought their drinks, Regal raised his glass to Ambrose.
"To your great victory in this war of villains," Regal said. "You are truly worthy. Cheers."
Ambrose raised his glass to Regal's. Ambrose muttered "cheers" before taking a long drink of whiskey. Regal sipped his beer. They drank in silence for a little while before Ambrose spoke.
"Kinda weird to buy a guy a drink after he beats you half to death," Ambrose said. Regal chuckled.
"Yes, I suppose. But you and I," Regal said, gesturing broadly between them, "we don't always pay much attention to what's customary, now do we?"
"Well," Ambrose said, "I don't really think we're that much alike, you know? I think I fucking showed you that."
"But you're here, aren't you?" Regal said. "Why are you accepting a drink from the broken old man you beat down?"
"I'm not gonna turn down a free drink," Ambrose said. Regal chuckled again. But, Ambrose thought, was that really it? He thought the victory would satisfy him – not even just a mere pinfall, a true fucking victory – but it still felt incomplete. Something still gnawed at him.
When Ambrose looked back over at Regal, he saw that Regal had turned his head toward the pool tables, and his eyes were fixed on a tall redheaded woman who had just landed a killer shot, to the cheers of the men in the back. Regal applauded her before turning back to Ambrose.
"She's quite something, isn't she? Striking." Regal said.
"Yeah…" Ambrose said, drumming his fingers on the bar. "She's not bad, if you're into that kind of thing."
Regal laughed. "And what kind of thing is that?"
"Oh, I don't fucking know," Ambrose said. "That."
"You're awfully vague," Regal said. The air between them grew silent and oddly heavy.
"So what is your kind of thing?" Regal asked.
"Why the fuck do you want to know?" Ambrose said.
"Just making conversation," Regal said. "Isn't that how it works? Two old cads at the bar, eyeing all the women."
"Yeah, I don't know, man." Ambrose said. He was starting to feel more and more agitated by the second. That weird silence grew between them again and for some reason that pissed Ambrose off, too.
"I bet I could guess what your kind of thing is," Regal finally said.
"Oh, really now?" Ambrose said. "Try me."
"I bet Seth Rollins is your kind of thing," Regal said. Regal's remark registered too quickly for Ambrose to conceal the surprise on his face. How the fuck did Regal know anything about that? Ambrose fidgeted, trying to think of what to say, but for once, he was at a loss for words.
"Though, really, that's not a guess," Regal said. "I know he is. I don't think anyone else has noticed the two of you. But I have my ways and I have my reasons."
"And what are those, exactly?" Ambrose said.
"We're much more alike than you think," Regal said. "There's a lot of subtlety involved in this game. Particularly for a man like me. So one learns to pick up on things, to gather information others might not require, to communicate in ways others might not. Perhaps you understand."
"Does your wife understand?" Ambrose snarled.
Regal laughed. "As well as she needs to." Yet, Ambrose saw Regal fidget ever so slightly, fiddle with his wedding band, take too long of a drink.
"Hit a nerve?" Ambrose asked.
"Oh, dear boy, it's been hit for decades," Regal said. "But with all the vices I've given up over the years, I can't give up the conquest. My soul just won't allow it."
For whatever reason, Ambrose suddenly felt more at ease. "Conquest, " he said. "Yeah. That's a good word for it."
"You fancy yourself a bit of a conqueror?" Regal said.
"More than a bit," Ambrose said. The air between them fell silent again, but its weight felt different somehow. More inviting.
"I bet he begs for you," Regal said. "I bet he screams for you."
Ambrose grew warm all over at Regal's words – power tingled through him. "Yeah," Ambrose said. "He does."
Regal smiled. "That's always such a bloody gorgeous thing."
They continued drinking silently until their glasses were empty. As soon as they were, Regal signaled the bartender again.
"You want another?" Regal asked Ambrose.
"Sure, why not?" Ambrose said.
To Ambrose's surprise, Regal ordered nothing for himself.
"Giving up already?" Ambrose said.
"I'd love to chat longer," Regal said, "Unfortunately I'm otherwise engaged. But do enjoy."
With that, Regal placed some money on the bar and walked out, tousling Ambrose's hair as he left. The touch made Ambrose's scalp tingle, a tingling that, for whatever reason, didn't stop.