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The Price of Perseverance  Empty The Price of Perseverance

Post by krzy on Wed Oct 16, 2019 9:23 pm

Elevator doors part, and Brett Angel arms himself with a deep breath before stepping out of it. The hallway is bustling with activity--doctors rush to and fro, nurses at their heels, the eyes of some of the visitors clinging to hope, others in a trance after hope has been extinguished.

There’s a bulge under Angel’s t-shirt where his left shoulder has been heavily bandaged, some white tape peeking out under his sleeve. His hair, often disturbingly slicked back to the point where it stays in place during even his most grueling matches, is starting to grow wild and disheveled--a five o'clock shadow hugs his face.

He doesn't walk with his usual swagger and bravado. Each step is measured, reserved, as though he were a man resigned to his fate and now simply walking toward a destiny he wanted no part of. Those steps bring him in front of a door stood slightly open. He enters without knocking, making himself at home as he takes a seat on a stiff chair with padding so thin it may as well not be there.

The camera pans up until the figure of Sage Autumn fills the frame. He's seated in his hospital bed, sporting his own bandages wrapped around his ribs, an accusatory stare locked in on Angel.


ANGEL: You've been expecting me for a while.

Angel doesn't lift his head.

ANGEL: But it wasn't until today that I knew what to say. Ever since that night, everybody has been asking me why I didn't step in. They demand to know why I didn't step in to stop Brandon Rayne. Stop him from making victims out of every man he crossed paths with. Men..good men, like Dulé...and you.

Angel runs his palm over the top of his head, but those loose strands of hair he moved defiantly return to where they were. He finally looks up and meets Autumn's stare.

ANGEL: In a few weeks I'm going under the knife, and when I wake up from my surgery, I don't know if I'll still be a wrestler. I wasn't done writing the book, but if this is the last chapter I'm gonna make sure there are no loose plot threads. I've got some bridges to cross and if they burn, as much as it'll hurt, I'm ready to make peace with all of that.

A haunting wail of agony rings out from somewhere down the hall as if on queue.

ANGEL: I didn't step in, because I didn't want to end up like you.

The bluntness of the statement catches Autumn off guard. The determination on his face washed away.

ANGEL: You accepted my request to speak to you, going out of your way to add me to your visitor list when I would have happily waited until you were out...tomorrow, is it?

Autumn's head barely moves, a nearly imperceptible nod.

ANGEL: I wanted to make clear, to your face, that I don't regret my actions, or inactions, in this case. I only wish it didn't come to that in the first place. It did. There's no taking it back even if I wanted to.

I knew that I was on borrowed time, and until Walter Bolek came calling, I was determined to make every second count. I was not going to jeopardize all of that by playing hero because while Brandon Rayne was self-destructive before every one's eyes, no one had the stomach to tell him the wrestling ring was the last place he should be.

THIS is the price of heroism.


Angel motions toward Autumn and his present condition.

ANGEL: You saw Toxiera getting demolished by a beast that barely qualifies as human, and you thought you'd save the day. You thought you'd do for him what no one did for you. Except now you're both in here, while the man who put you in that bed probably wouldn't be able to recognize your face if he was shoving his fist into it again.

Autumn clenches his jaw as Angel stands up.

ANGEL: If I said this before that happened to you, this conversation may not have been possible. Now, I'm hoping we can come to some kind of understanding. It feels good to be the one who saves the day. I know it; I've been there; I miss that. But does caring about what happens to you make you the villain?

If my surgery goes well, there's a chance I won't be back to 100% in a long, long time.

If ever.


A coldness sets over his eyes.

ANGEL: If there's any chance that I can get back into the ring, I want to take it. But I know I'll need someone by my side to relieve some of the pressure. Dulé won't even answer my calls. You don't mind being the backup, do you? Now that we've cleared the air a bit, I'm hoping we can come to a mutual understanding. We can do big things next year if we join forces. What do you say?

Angel holds out his hand expectantly, as if Autumn should have already shaken it by now. Autumn looks at the appendage for a long time, face twisted in an assortment of emotions. If he could speak, he'd likely say something along the lines of, "I'd rather team with Spade." To symbolize that, he spits on the ground less than an inch away from Angel's foot.

Angel jerks his hand back and stuffs it into his pocket. His eyes darken as he searches for a response. Should be apologize? Rephrase? Clarify? His words are caught in his throat. Finally he looks down at where the dime-sized glob landed.


ANGEL: Someone might slip on that.

He turns and leaves the room without looking back, leaving the door open slightly wider than when he walked in.


Last edited by krzy on Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by krzy on Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:19 pm

Brett Angel nursed a cup of water in his hands, eyes set upon the window of this modest diner where you wouldn't expect to find the likes of CMV superstar. A bird rested on a branch, bathing in the warm glow of the early morning sunlight. Angel felt himself smile, lost in the beauty of nature at its most serene. The bird turned its head, and appeared to look in Angel's direction. It lifted a wing, its right wing, as if in a wave or in solidarity with Angel's recent injury. Angel furrowed his brow at the sight. He started to lean forward, squinting to get a clearer look at what he thought he saw.

The sharp ringing of the bell hanging over the diner door alerted both patrons and staff of new guests. These three entrants weren't just any old customers. They made Angel's eyes light up, his lips twisting into the closest thing he's done to a smile in who knows how long.

CJ Havret took the seat across the table. Her hair was shorter, and redder, than it was when she wrestled, cut short into a bob that flowed freely until about midway down her neck. She gave a joyful shriek as she wrapped her arms around Angel in a crippling embrace.

"1 Shot" Leona sat next to her. She watched them, Havret with enough warmth to spare extra, then Leona's gaze drifted over to the window. The bird, wrought with overwhelming envy, shot through the sky at the pace eclipsed only by light and sound. Ready to drop Havret right where she stood, it aimed its beak right for Havret's eye. It exploded in a cloud of blood and feathers when it crashed into the glass.

Osiris shoved Angel to the side drowning out the sound of Leona's gasp of horror with that of a playful laugh as he makes himself comfortable.


OSIRIS: Couldn't help but crash the party when I heard that two out of ten of my top thirteen favorite black wrestlers were gonna be in the same place at the same freakin' time. Called out of work and everything! Cough! Cough! If you catch my drift.

All at them table chuckled as Osiris faked the same raspy voice he used when he phoned his supervisor earlier in the day. Angel tried to meet Leona's eyes, but her gaze was still fixed on the window, a vaguely bird shaped silhouette surrounded by blood like a nightmarish snow angel.

HAVRET: Oh guys, it's been so long. This couldn't have been a more perfect spot. Remember? We came here the night HALO beat up Titus and talked about all the amazing things we were gonna do together. I even said I wanted to behead him and mount his skull with all the rest.

The words spilled out of her the moment a waiter stopped by the table with a pitcher of water. The smile he pasted on his face in the hopes to garner a bigger tip fell off, eyes widened in horror. Osiris forced a laugh to cut through the silence.

OSIRIS: No need to worry my man, it's just a game we like to play to see who can say the freakiest shit. Isn't that right, Ceej?

HAVRET: Not at all. In fact, I was...

OSIRIS: She was just about to remember why we don't play that game anymore.....

The waiter's eyes remained wide, the grotesque view of the other wise of the window making it so that he didn't hear a word Havret or Osiris said.

OSIRIS: And after the third time, we made it clear that that's just not something respectable people do or say, so you have nothing to worry about, my man!

Osiris gave the man a friendly pat the back, the force enough to jolt the waiter our of his fugue state. He nearly dropped the pitcher, but came to his senses just in time to remember to offer Angel a refill, but his glass is still full. Wordlessly, the waiter gave a weak smile, glancing back at the window only once before tending to another table.

HAVRET: Oh! Before I forget, Brett. Ha! That rhymed! I saw that you were only wearing a scarf before your matches. You've gotta be freezing every night. I talked to my friends, and we're gonna get you a custom jacket made for when you start wrestling again.

Angel's looked down at the table. "When."

OSIRIS: Look what you've gone and done, you've put him in one of his moods before I could pull out my list of jokes I've got ready about the state of his hair. Surprised they let you into this respectable establishment looking like that.

ANGEL: I appreciate it.

He shot a look at Osiris.

ANGEL: The jacket that is, not the jokes.

HAVRET: Yay! And maybe you'll take better care of it than the one Lee got you.

Leona looked crestfallen, the first emotion she's shown that wasn't indifference. Osiris quickly stood and walked around the table to retrieve CJ.

OSIRIS: You got a business going with these jackets? You wouldn't believe how low they've got the temp in the station.

Osiris escorted Havret out of the diner, the only two remaining the two who have spoken the least. A cat is licking at the window...but that isn't just any ordinary cat. Wait, no.....unless?

ANGEL: I...

Leona's eyes were sharp, cutting through Angel in a way only she could.

LEONA: You kept wrestling.

ANGEL: I don't want to fight about this again.

LEONA: Even after the doctor told you the risks. The first time. Here you are again.

ANGEL: The surgery went well, thanks for asking. It's just a waiting game now, this different doc told me.

LEONA: Waiting to see if the third time you lose complete use of it?

Angel spins the glass of water between his palms.

ANGEL: I know what I'm doing.

LEONA: No, you don't. And if you look me in the eyes and say that these last two years don't prove that, then you're a liar.

He did all but look her in the eyes, finding an ant crawling on the table particularly interesting. Leona sighed.

LEONA: Why aren't you drinking that?

ANGEL: I'm not really thirsty. Not for this at least. Whatever you think of me, I wouldn't mix what the doc prescribed with my usual beverage of choice.

The implication hung there, slowly pulled down by the weight of the words. A long silence passed between the two, somehow isolated despite the diner enjoying a steady flow of traffic.

The waiter from earlier ended up outside approaching the window with a bucket, rag and glass cleaner. A chilling look from the cat froze the waiter mid step. The cat licked its lips filling the waiter with a deep sense of dread.


ANGEL: I miss you.

Leona's eyes reciprocated that sentiment, but she bit back the words, logic scoring a point over emotions.

LEONA: I asked you to come with me.

ANGEL: I wasn't ready to pack up my whole life and move to Sirona Bay.

LEONA: What about now? What about after we circled back around to exactly where we were two years ago?

Angel shook his head, incredulous, then brushed away the loose strands of hair from his face.

ANGEL: It's different this time. Don't look at me like that, I know what I felt. When I drained every ounce of myself into beating Shay...I was at peace. As cliché as it may sound, a massive weight fell off my shoulders that night, and there was a hope, so tangible and so palpable that I still remember how it felt when it brushed up against my fingers.

LEONA: And when the doctor gives you the good word, you're gonna spend a couple more years chasing that dragon. I believe you.

The soft delivery of those three words caused Angel to visibly relax.

LEONA: I believe you, Brett. I believe that you got that taste of freedom, and I want so badly to believe that that's a sign of things to come. But I know who you are, and I know what I'm seeing now, and I know what CMV will do to you. You already doubted if you could be the man you were before, and the constant thought of "will this match be my last?" will plague you every night. Before you know it, you'll find yourself back in the blackest night. Alone.

Her voice threatened to break under the strain of emotion. Angel reached out for her hand, but she pulled away.

ANGEL: Lee...

LEONA: When that anger consumes you, you're not the man I know. The battles you wage in the ring are one thing, but outside of it you keep picking fights no man has ever won. Fate, the past, time, life...death. I can't complete with a ghost, and you can't grab hold of the future until you finally accept there are things you will never be able to change.

ANGEL: Maybe you're right. But if there's one thing I can control, it's what happens inside of the ring. That's why I will not rest until I can leave it all on my terms. Walking, crawling, stretchered out, it doesn't really matter to me how it goes--just that it does when, and only when, I say it does.

She didn't pull her hand away the second.

ANGEL: I know I'm walking right back into the lion's den, but whether I've got one arm or two, I'm gonna fight them off. It'll be a lot easier if I had someone I trust in my corner.

She broke eye contact, looking over at the window that was totally clean as though nothing had ever happened.

LEONA: I can't pretend nothing ever happened. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting things will be different. You're going back to that place knowing they'll treat you like shit because they know you're to proud to walk away even when the universe is all but ripping your arm out of your socket, giving you a way out that you're too stubborn to take. I have to stand by what I told you years ago: I can't watch you do that to yourself. But you can come back with me when you're ready for a fresh start.

Angel responded with a weak smile.

ANGEL: I guess we really are back where started. You're right again.

An understanding silence fell between them before the waiter approached their table.

ANGEL: Can you go out and let our friends know we're finally ready to order?

The cat meowed and headed to the front door.

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Post by krzy on Tue Dec 03, 2019 12:22 pm

Brett Angel hesitantly approaches the set of double doors. Two guards stand on either side of the doorway, lips twisted into a scowl, squinting eyes and accusatory gazes aimed at Angel.

Angel sizes up one of the men, and then the other.


ANGEL: You're not gonna card me, are you?

GUARD: You're lucky he told us explicitly not to touch a hair on your pretty little head.

ANGEL: I would have brought a thank you gift if I’d known he’d be so generous. Now, are we gonna exchange veiled threats, or can I go inside?

The guard says nothing, but also doesn't move when Angel walks past him to enter the building.

Angel pauses on the other side of the door. The room is filled with business professionals winding down after a long day of corporate tomfoolery. He has to maneuver past a few of them dancing off-beat to the latest top-40 smash, but Angel makes it to the bar counter with only a slight case of second-hand embarrassment.

He watches as Dulé Zaire chats up his customers knowing that Zaire knows he's here, but has found joy in making Angel wait around. Angel sighs, rethinking his decision to come here.


ZAIRE: Giving up already, Brett? My oh my, that's gotta be record time for you.

ANGEL: I didn't come here to argue, Du--

ZAIRE: I don't give a damn why you came here. I let you walk in here because, now that I got my voice back, I wanted you to hear from the horse's mouth, that despite you leaving me for dead, I'm alive and kicking.

Zaire's voice is slightly raspier than it once was, an unfortunate consequence of Brandon Rayne stomping on his throat over a year ago.

ANGEL: I'm happy to hear it. Whatever you may think of me, that's not how I wanted that night to play out. I told you that messing with Gael wouldn't end well.

ZAIRE: And I told you that I wanted to do the right thing and help the man who I served God knows how many bottles of liquor in this very bar. Little did I know what a selfish prick I was dealing with all that time.

Angel winces at Zaire's words, but doesn't back down from his damning glare.

ANGEL: I wasn't being selfish, I--

ZAIRE: You were, Brett. You were! And that's the part that kills me, because you still don't have the balls to admit it, even though we all watched as the guilt damn near drove you to madness last year. If there was one thing I thought we learned from our war with Kliq, is that we can overcome whatever shit life throws at us. Together. If we fail...then so be it. But the moment I was done helping you with your Slate problem, you hung me out to dry.

The people within earshot have taken great interest in this conversation. Angel lowers his voice.

ANGEL: I'm apologizing to your face, Dulé. I want to make things right between us, but you're not giving me much of a chance.

ZAIRE: That's because you can't make it right. You can't give me back what I lost. I couldn't tell my kids I loved them. Couldn't yell at them for not doing their chores. Couldn't cheer them on during their school plays. None of it, Brett.

In contrast, Zaire raises his voice, anger driving him to twist the knife in deeper and deeper.

ANGEL: Maybe we'll never be how we once were, but I know if we worked together again we can find some kind of common ground.

Zaire busts out his signature laugh, leaning in close until their noses nearly touch.

ZAIRE: You’re delusional. Things won’t be butterflies and rainbows just cause you say they will be. Now that you're hurt again, your career’s in jeopardy, you've come crawling back for a shoulder to cry on. You've already fooled me once. I'm not gonna let you drag me down again like everyone else because you still can't stand on your own two feet.

Angel inhales a deep breath and holds it in for a few seconds.

ANGEL: So that's a no.

ZAIRE: That's a: it's time for you to leave my bar.

Angel examines the patrons of The Last Laugh with a sweeping gaze.

ANGEL: Doesn't really feel like your bar anymore. Used to be a place for the working man. The kind that got their hands dirty, and break a sweat. They loved this place, and you, and you cast them aside to kiss the asses of these schmucks. Yet I’m the selfish one.

ZAIRE: Self-preservation--even at the expense of people I care about. You taught me that. Hospital visits, physical rehab, therapy...those bills ain't cheap. These are the kind of people that help me pay them.

The suits who heard that cheer, some even sliding Zaire some cash as a tip for his kind words.

ANGEL: I’m really am sorry, Dulé. One day I hope we’ll be okay. Until then, can you at least tell me where he’s been?

ZAIRE: Who?

ANGEL: Brand--

ZAIRE: CARES!

Zaire is beside himself with laughter, to the point where he starts wheezing and coughing. Angel shakes his head and leaves. A waiter rushes out from the kitchen area with a glass of water, conveniently as soon as Angel steps through the doors. Zaire is still laughing so hard he nearly spills the liquid as he takes the glass. He gulps down the water and hands the glass back to Brandon Rayne who then returns to the kitchen.

Zaire places both hands on the counter, short fits of laughter escaping every few seconds. Finally he lifts his head up to look at the spot where Angel was sitting to find that Angel left behind a small wrapped box. Zaire’s expression softens. The screen fades as he reaches for the gift.

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