Ezra and Jack arrive at the KADA show in Seattle, where an offer from Margaret Bloom awaits them.
Friday, May 3rd 2019
Last time Jack and Ezra came to a show together, it was for an untelevised show in Boise! Sarah accompanied her husband and Beau his boyfriend, but this time, they only had each other! In March, they each participated in a singles match with one of the best in the company - Ezra with Oliver and Jack with Diego Silva, and before that, Michelle Peterson surprised Ezra by having him make an impromptu promo to the audience. He nailed it, though! That and the match! And all the guys and girls backstage gave him mad props, and Michelle gave him a developmental contract!!
Hopping out of the cab into the car park brought back the anxiety Ezra had the first time. It was still so surreal to think that he was actually here. Sean Fox had been the youngest signed member of KADA Wrestling when he was twenty-one, some four years ago, but now Ezra was here as a member of the company - though under a developmental contract - six weeks shy of his nineteenth birthday.
Jack had already pulled both of their travel bags out of the trunk of the cab and paid their fare. Usually the employees would pay for their own travel and submit a form for compensation from the company, but as neither Jack nor Ezra had been given their first paycheck yet, Margaret Bloom afforded them an allowance up front. Jack had a nice little nest egg, making a name for himself wrestling with some prestigious independent promotions in Canada, but Ezra had barely a nickel to his name, living on the goodwill of Beau's parents and the charity of Jack, Sean and Oliver.
"Where do we go?" Ezra asked him.
"Someone will know," Jack reassured him, but he didn't sound so sure either.
It was frustrating! Nobody knew where to find Michelle or Margaret Bloom since they chose their office the night of the show. Because the boys had a private meeting with Margaret to attend, they arrived at the arena at the same time as the production crew. No other wrestlers were here yet.
"Beau found directions stuck to the wall last time," Ezra suggested, leading the way wheeling his old busted luggage behind him. "So let's go!!"
The place wasn't exactly dead - people were arriving and going wherever they needed to be. Cameras and lights and the stage - and the ring, of course! Ezra wanted to see them setting up for the night to come. No doubt tonight would be much, much grander than the untelevised show in Boise! But he had a job to do. He couldn't get distracted!! As always, there was a piece of paper taped to one of the walls shortly after entering the labyrinth, and it showed a rough, improvised drawing of the corridors and a path to get to the office in question.
"I expected... more?" Jack cocked his head with an amused expression on his face.
"I know, right?" Ezra smirked. "A billion dollar corporation spends a fortune producing a show but uses a hand-drawn map to find the boss in charge?"
As the teenager walked at a brisk pace on his little legs, Jack's voice surprised him again.
"Shake that ass baby!"
Ezra, confused and already laughing, turned around to see Jack filming him with his phone.
"Can I go ten minutes without you violating me??" Ezra replied, pointing at the camera. "Stop making Insta see what a loser I am in real life!!"
"But you walk like the runway model!" Jack replied in his heavy accent. "Secouez ce cul!" (Shake that ass!)
"I'll secouez your ce cul!" Ezra had no idea what he was saying, but Jack found it hysterical at least.
The fashion sense Jack displayed was another notch on his metrosexual nature, but he didn't seem to like formal clothes. He wore a tight tee with a plunging neckline that exposed his tattoo and jeans that clung to every muscle and ripple in his thick legs, with his large feet in black buckled loafers. Ezra, on the other hand, had no idea how to dress for a meeting with Margaret Bloom, so he wore a button up shirt with a striped grey tie over his black jeans and best, shiniest shoes. They could not have looked more different. Ezra, fair and blond with a chubby babyface and round green eyes, whereas Jack sported dark black hair with a trendy swept fringe, multiple piercings in his ears and face, and sharper, gaunt features that made him look severe when he wasn't smiling. Ezra was small and lean with biceps and abs that were becoming visible even without flexing, but Jack was very tall and looked like he survived on a diet of raw meat, protein shakes and laxatives.
"This one," Jack announced to Ezra when he found the door in question. Ezra was relieved because he'd forgotten his directions, and the bigger man knocked on the door. Of the two, Jack was the more confident and composed, while Ezra couldn't keep the butterflies in his belly under control.
"Come on in."
Two voices. One was Michelle - Ezra would never fail to recognise it immediately. She sounded like if Bea Arthur and Kathleen Turner had a love child who smoked for forty years. The other, a very sickly sweet Alabama drawl, had to have been Margaret Bloom, and Ezra's belly dropped through his knees. What if they decided they made a mistake?? And fired him???
"Oh, there's my boys! What took you so long?"
Yes, definitely Margaret Bloom. She looked amazing. Wavy, platinum hair that cascaded over her shoulders like a waterfall of liquid silver, and a snug, strapless red dress that showed enough leg and cleavage that had Ezra not been gay, he would undoubtedly have been attracted to her! Michelle sat behind a desk with a laptop in front of her, dressed much less provocatively in a white blouse with a smart red business jacket over the top. She did not wear red nearly as well as Mrs Bloom. The "office" was completely barebones - it could have been a janitor's closet before KADA's men behind the scenes wheeled in a large monitor to broadcast the show to those in charge, a desk and some chairs. While the men sat down, Margaret seemed content to stand over them.
"Welcome back!" Michelle smiled, a strange look on her usually crabby face. "I wasn't expecting to see you boys so soon, but it's good to have you in the building. How are you liking the Knoxville performance centre? Is Gloria whipping you into shape?"
"Oh my gosh!" Ezra gushed, remembering for a moment who his primary trainer was. Gloria Droese!! KADA legend! It was easy to forget her legacy when she was so busy kicking his butt in the gym and in the ropes! "She's so amazing!! Nobody makes me laugh and then cry the way Gloria does!"
"That sounds like her," Michelle gave a sneer - not an unfriendly one. "Good to know she hasn't lost her step! Now, French-Canadian boy Jack. How's your English coming along? Can you keep up with our conversation? Or do we need to postpone our discussion so that we can bring in someone to translate for you?"
"I..." Jack's face went red. "I can understand."
"Alright. Do you mind if I ask why you didn't bring that Sarah girl with you this time?" Michelle's questions were tame, but somehow, it felt like an interrogation. She was intense. "It just would have been a good time to bring her."
"Sarah stayed behind to be with our baby," Jack explained.
"Aww, precious," Margaret smiled transparently with red lips. "Now, Mr Luczynski - did I say that right?" Ezra nodded. "Mr Lièvremont?" Jack nodded as well. "Terrific. I'm thrilled that you both decided to come to Seattle to meet with me. I like to look a man in the eye when I discuss business with him, and you both have some lovely eyes."
Ezra didn't like her, he decided. Sean, in particular, had warned him about how dangerous this woman was. The nicknames for Michelle and Margaret were the Queen Bee and the Queen Wasp, respectively. Michelle was the bee because if she only stung people if she had to. Margaret was the wasp who stung people for the fun of it. While he previously wondered if tales of what a horrible cow she was might have been embellished by the people on her bad side, it was becoming less of a boogeyman story and more of a reality. The beauty and sweet disposition hid a mean, condescending person underneath. That was already obvious. The energy in the room was... tense.
"My time is very important," she continued when neither Ezra nor Jack dared to interrupt her. "So I will make this as brief as I can. Do you know about my associate, Gavin Jefferson?"
"Uh, no, sorry," Ezra replied softly.
"That's a shame. He's quite a talented journalist, and he loves to direct documentaries. He's done Tyra Banks, Mark Wahlberg, John Cleese... big names all over the world. He probes into their past and brings to light the nuts and bolts that make a famous person... well, famous. Who he or she is. What he or she may have struggled with and how they became the person they are today."
She's waiting for you to reply, stupid!!
Margaret looked as though she was mentally rolling her eyes at him. "Mr Jefferson is a dear friend of mine, and he has agreed to greenlight an eight-episode miniseries about KADA Wrestling and some of our employees," she revealed, and Ezra's jaw dropped. "He's quite interested in choosing five men and three women from various stages of their careers with us and showing the rest of the world what it means to be a wrestler. Their past. Their journeys. Their lives before and during their time on the main roster."
"...ahh! And... and is-- is that why we're? ...Here??"
He shot a look at Jack, who, despite his assurance, clearly did not comprehend the gravity of what they were talking about.
"You are correct," Margaret replied coolly. "Mr Luczynski and Mr Lièvremont, I am offering the two of you a chance to represent KADA Wrestling in Mr Jefferson's documentary as two of our brand new wrestlers. Of course, we intend to capitalise on this opportunity to increase our viewer ratings, so you would need to be on television. If you choose to accept my most generous offer, then I will see to it that you immediately graduate to the main roster."
Jack and Michelle looked alarmed as Ezra sort of slid off his chair, his whole body going limp with shock and thrill. The boy shook and covered his mouth with his hands as he knelt on the floor, his hair falling back over his wide, misty eyes.
"Are you okay, Protostar?" Michelle stood up.
"I am so okay!! I am so okay!! I've never been more okay!!" Ezra babbled, scrambling back up to sit on the chair, his heart thumping in his chest so hard he thought it might break a rib. "Are you serious? ARE YOU SERIOUS? Please, if this is a joke, it's super cruel!!"
"No joke," Margaret confirmed for him. "This is a serious offer, Mr Luczynski, and I would appreciate it if you could act like an adult before I change my mind."
"What is... happening?" Jack dared to ask, the lines visible in his brow as he frowned in uncertainty.
"They want to make a documentary about us!" Ezra explained before either of the women with the weird accents confused the poor man further. "A documentary! You know! A show about us! And if we say yes, we can join the main roster today!!"
"I don't think I... understand?" Jack eyed Ezra off, then his blues pointed to Michelle and Margaret. "No. Say it again?"
"So there's a guy who wants to make a movie about our lives," Ezra knew to talk slowly and clearly, whereas most people merely shouted at Jack like he was deaf or dumb. "If we say yes, then we can sign a main roster contract!!"
"Oh?" Jack looked even more confused. Blast! "If I have a movie made about me, I can be on television already?"
"Yes!" Ezra nodded feverishly, wringing his hands and bouncing his foot on the tiled floor.
Jack laughed. "I did not misunderstand! It sounded too good to be true, so I think I hear you wrong!"
Michelle was difficult to read. She was assessing the men and her boss with steely grey eyes and a stoic expression. He did not know if she was happy with this decision or not. Maybe she didn't care either way. Hopefully, if Ezra said yes, then he would not be stepping on her toes.
"Yes! I say yes!" Ezra fought to settle himself down, wary that he wasn't making a good impression on the wasp. "But why me? Us? Why us? Out of everyone at Knoxville PC, why the two of us?"
"I can answer this one," Michelle broke in before Margaret could, but the wasp didn't seem to mind. "So, this doco business is a chance to promote KADA to other demographics that don't understand or appreciate our craft. Protostar, you might think you're under the radar, but the truth is we've been keeping a firm eye on your Instagram."
To prove her point, Michelle played a video on her phone. Ezra's failed attempts to open that blasted peach tin!! Jack began to giggle, but the blond boy was embarrassed! Mortified!!
"Oh my gosh," Ezra covered his mouth and turned pink. He knew that what he uploaded on his channels would be scrutinised by the administration, but he didn't dare imagine Michelle Peterson would be watching him make a fool of himself. "Should I delete that?? I'm sorry!"
"Fuck no," Michelle grinned, locking her screen and putting her phone back in her bra. "You've got a lot of appeal, Protostar. I don't often keep in touch with my wrestlers off the road, but I do follow your account. Don't try to find me - you'll never succeed. I love it, Luczynski. You have this... zany, awkward innocence that I reckon people appreciate. When I read the comments, they're full of people who identify with you. You represent the superfan trying to follow his dream. That's why Mrs Bloom decided you were the best choice. I hope you keep it up, kid! I'm a fan. Just avoid bringing out sharp things next time your dessert pisses you off!"
Even Margaret Bloom laughed at that.
"And Jackyboy," Michelle continued, folding her arms across her breasts. "You've got a unique look about you. I mean, wrestling's full of gym junkie beefcakes, that's true, but the piercings and the hair and the colourful tatts... it's different! But what interests us especially is that you haven't learned English. You've got a good background in the Quebec area, but now that you've broken into KADA Wrestling, you speak the wrong language. That's television. That's interesting. That's why we decided on you out of the other candidates."
Jack shifted in his metal chair. "Because I don't English well? Okay." He didn't sound like he was so thrilled with that revelation.
"I'm sorry if that offends you," Michelle put her hands down on the desk in front of her and leaned forward. "I didn't mean to do that. But the fact is, if you choose to participate in the documentary, your assimilation will be a big part of your story."
"You can always say no, Mr Lièvremont," Margaret approached, wearing five-inch pumps on her feet. It made her tall, and it made her scary. "This is not a mandatory offer, after all. You are welcome to refuse, but if that is that case, I won't be offering you a main roster contract. You will remain in developmental until another place opens up for you. I don't know, Mr Lièvremont, how much demand there might be for a bodybuilder type like yourself when the performance centres are full of them. And all of them speak English. You know, some people never get called up at all. Their contracts expire, or in rare cases, we terminate them if we decide they are a bad investment."
Ezra's feelings of elation at such an opportunity turned sour when he understood that Margaret was threatening Jack. It wasn't an opportunity in the conventional sense, he realised. They were picked because the company believed they would generate the most profit, and their position in the company was more or less a failsafe to guarantee compliance. That was a blow to the heart. KADA had been a utopia in Ezra's eyes! Financial security, assistance and resources for the contracted wrestlers who needed it and a flexible work schedule. He'd been so thrilled with the benefits that he'd forgotten that it was ultimately a company that wanted to make as much money from its workers as it could.
"I do not refuse!" Jack protested, a look of fear crossing his handsome face. "I say yes!"
"Well, that's terrific news!" Margaret boldly reached down and, in a disgusting power move, tweaked Jack's chin next to the soul patch on his lower lip, and turned back to the desk.
Michelle passed her a stack of sleeved papers from the corner of the desk, and Ezra couldn't help but feel a pang of resentment. So sure were they that the boys would agree to the proposal that they already had the contracts ready for them. Ezra would never turn down such an offer, but it wasn't reassuring to know that his boss would turn to such shady tactics to get him to agree. It didn't give him the job security he'd been hoping for.
"Now, for each of you, I have two different contracts. I am far too busy to go over them in full, so I will need you to do it in your own time. This one," she held up the smaller stack of papers in its plastic slip, "is an agreement that you will attend a contract signing with Gavin Jefferson and his associates regarding your participation in his upcoming documentary. This one," she held up the bigger one. "Is your full-time main roster contract. Every single one of our ladies and gentlemen performing on camera tonight has signed the same one. This contract covers a period of three years. However, the first six months are a probation period. Harmless red tape. It outlines that I have the authority to remove you from my employ if you renege on your obligations to Gavin Jefferson's project. Do you understand? Mr Lièvremont? Did I speak slowly enough for you?"
"Must I sign now?" Jack asked, clearly upset by the way she was treating him.
"Of course not, darling!" She spoke to him as though she were talking to a child she didn't like. "That would be highly improper. No. You take that with you tonight and look over it. But my offer does come with an expiration date, Mr Lièvremont. We need to move quickly, so I will give you seven days to make your decision. If you sign them both and bring them to Michelle by next week's show, then we will introduce you on television by the end of the month. Remember - both of them. If you sign one and not the other, I'll shred your contract, and depending on my mood, your developmental contract as well."
"Thank you," Jack took his copies from the wasp without the enthusiasm he should have had in such a big moment.
"Thank you!!" Ezra almost snatched them from her hands. He was hungry to read through and sign it on the spot, but he wanted to comb through the fine print to make sure there was nothing shady in there. He didn't trust Margaret Bloom at all. In fact, the only embellishments of the stories he heard from Sean, Oliver and Gloria seemed to be downplaying what a massive cow she was. But a contract was a contract!
"No, gentleman. Thank you," Margaret turned her back on them.
"I'll walk you boys out," Michelle was quick to walk briskly past them, and the two of them got up from their seats. "I feel like a double scotch, but the best I can get is a soda."
"Thank you so much!!" Ezra continued to gush, brushing his long blond bangs back over his head. "Thank you!!"
"Don't let me regret my decision," Margaret replied with her back facing him.
Once they were outside and Michelle closed the door behind her, the little woman, barely taller than Ezra, set a quick pace back down the naked corridor until they rounded a corner, and she screeched to a halt. Ezra nearly bowled them both over. She turned and folded her arms.
"I don't like this decision. I advised against it," Michelle told them bluntly, and Ezra's face fell. He knew it. Ugh. She didn't want him there! "Chin up, Protostar. There's no crying in wrestling. But I don't bullshit or beat around the bush. I don't like the two of you coming to the main roster so soon. Last time we did this, Lance Lovecraft fucked the ending of our best selling pay per view. It wasn't his fault - he wasn't ready, but that will follow him around for the rest of his career. You understand? Don't get me wrong, you boys. I'm a big fan. I think you're both incredible in your element, but there's a reason we have the developmental phase. I'm not trying to bring you down or be a bitch. I'm telling you what I think woman to man because I don't want you hearing it from somebody else."
"Oh! Should I... not sign it?" Ezra asked her, clutching the two sleeves of paper tight in his trembling hands.
"Oh, piss on that! You should absolutely sign it," she replied, shifting her eyes between the boys. "Officially, we didn't have this conversation, okay? You boys are under my care now, and I'm on your side. That's why I'm giving you the talk right now. Margaret fucking Bloom outranks me, so you should always do what she wants. I'll understand. I'll get over it. Water under the bridge. I'll never hold it against you if you protect yourself when it comes to the Blooms. If you sign that, then I'll do the best I can for you, but you have to meet me halfway. I'll bust my ovaries to give you boys the best quality career I can, but if you fuck me around, we'll have problems. Capisce?"
Michelle was scary. Quite scary! But even though her words stung Ezra's feelings, he couldn't be upset with her. She was open and honest, and for that, he felt much safer in her hands than in Margaret's, whose sweetness was laced with venom. He nodded and shook her hand - her grip was the firmest he'd felt.
"Jack, I noticed you looked lost," Michelle added, reaching up and putting a hand on the big man's broad shoulder. She grinned. "That's okay. We failed in that respect, and I apologise. Tomorrow night, come to my office before the show, and I'll have someone who can explain everything in this contract, okay?"
Jack's smile was so uncertain that Ezra knew Michelle would never believe it to be real, but the older woman squeezed him on the shoulder and left. Just like that. Ezra felt the excitement in his body bubble to a boiling point and he let off steam by flailing his arms, bouncing on his feet and squeaking, then throwing himself on Jack, who didn't so much as budge. Ezra wasn't any more than a hundred and thirty pounds.
Jack laughed and with little effort, lifted Ezra up off the floor with one arm and held him like an oversized child on his hip. Ezra didn't object - he was far too thrilled! He wasn't sure if the French-Canadian was excited too, or just being happy for his friend. Either way, Jack's optimism synergised well with Ezra's. Jack carried him down the hallway towards the catering area, and Ezra whooped and cheered the entire way.
"What the actual hell is going on?"
Kodeine intercepted them before they made it to the social area. He was carrying the Heavyweight Championship over his shoulder, and Ezra struggled to avoid immersing himself in the fantasy that he was meeting the champion backstage on the television show.
"We got our main roster contracts!!" Ezra waved his sleeves of paper around like a maniac, not at all concerned that Jack might drop him on his ass. "We're gonna be on TV soon!!"
"Oh, congrats," the unattractive man's sneer dropped, and he gave a nod of respect. "Really, lads, that's great news. Now cut out that gay shit, will you? Nobody needs to see it."
Under normal circumstances, Ezra would have flared up at the other man, even though Kodeine was an ex-marine with a lot of mixed martial arts training. Homophobic barbs didn't offend Ezra much on their own, but they upset Beau a lot. Still, he was not part of the KADA family just yet. The last thing he needed to do was make waves, and he would not let the elation of his new offer be damaged by Kodeine's ugly words. Instead, he pointed towards the catering area, and Jack marched in that direction, muttering something in his native language that neither Ezra nor Kodeine understood.
"Check out these dickheads," Oliver, grinning, was quick to comment when the pair of them paraded towards him at his table. "Good news, then?"
"Ollie Ollie oxen free!" Ezra squealed, wiggling out of Jack's grip and running the rest of the way, slamming both sleeves of paper onto the table between his friends. "Foxy! Look! Margaret gave me a contract! A real contract!"
"For the main roster? What?" Sean's brow furrowed behind his glasses as he took both contracts in his brown hands.
"You're full of it! How did you swing that?" Oliver was much more excited, though. Ezra was quickly crushed between those giant arms, and then Jack as the enormous man congratulated them. "Both of you? That's awesome news, buds! Goddamn. I wasn't expecting that!"
"And! And! And--" Ezra's mind was skipping like a scratched DVD. What was the other news? Blast it!
"The movie," Jack sat down on the table rather than one of the chairs.
"The documentary! I'm gonna be in a documentary! Me!! The little loser from Litchfield!! Do you think they'll call it that? Hahaha!" Ezra's mind was so over the place that he had to abruptly cover his mouth to stop himself from accidentally drooling in his excitement.
"Wait. So this is all a publicity thing?" Sean, always quick to find the flaw in something, turned the documentary contract around. "You're being advanced to television just to promote the documentary? Or is your place in the documentary a stunt to promote you on television?"
"Yes," Jack shrugged.
"Baby. Don't," Oliver angrily snatched the files away from his boyfriend. "You guys just got main roster contracts. We should be celebrating!"
"This doesn't smell fishy to you?" Sean argued, playing with his long braid. "You didn't earn these contracts! You haven't been in developmental long enough to let a cup of coffee cool! Are you actually okay with that?"
"Heck, yes!" Ezra exclaimed, annoyed by Sean's lack of enthusiasm. "Why shouldn't I be? Wrestling is all I've ever wanted!"
"What does Michelle think about this?" The Cherokee asked him, tapping his fingers on the table.
"She had a lot to say when Mrs Bloom wasn't around! She's not happy about it, but she says we might as well make the most of it anyway," Ezra said.
Oliver clapped his hands together once. "Well, if old 'Chelle thinks we can work with it, then that's good enough for me! Welcome to the family, Ez and Jack! Baby? Something you'd like to say?"
It took Sean a stern look from Oliver and a few seconds of hesitation, but eventually, the young man smiled and stood up to peck Ezra on the cheek.
"Congratulations, Ezra. If anyone was going to sell out, I'm glad it was you."
Ezra was confused by the backhanded salute, but he was not altogether surprised. Ever since he'd moved into the big wooden house on the farm, he and Sean shared a complicated friendship. Ezra believed Sean disliked him for some reason, and of course, his desperate efforts to mend their relationship often caused further tension. Funnily enough, Beau had the same problem with Oliver, who believed the teenager was manipulative, lazy and took advantage of Ezra's caring and considerate nature. On the flip side, Ezra and Oliver enjoyed each other's company immensely, and Beau and Sean were best friends already. Oliver often quipped to Ezra that their boyfriends both being bottoms was the cause of the drama that sometimes flared in their quartet. While Ezra didn't believe the stereotype of bottoms being divas, he couldn't deny that it was the truth in that house, at least.
The four sat in tense silence, for the most part. Sean was quiet and happily read his book from that point. Oliver left to socialise with other members of the roster as they filed in, and Ezra read through his contracts and did his best to describe to Jack what might be expected of them. Much of it was about liability, he realised. Agreements not to pursue legal action should he hurt himself in the ring, and to rely on the company's medical team from that point so that nothing potentially damaging to a wrestler's health or career could go unnoticed by those in charge. The rest of it detailed his compliance in company instruction and regulation of his appearances. If Ezra wanted to wrestle for another promotion or make an appearance off brand, he would have to get permission to do so.
"Oh, hi boys!" A deep voice with a heavy British accent filled Ezra's ears, and he looked up to see Lance Lovecraft. "Ezra and Jack! What brings you all the way up here to Seattle?"
"We're going to be wrestlers!" Ezra told him excitedly, almost throttling Jack by swinging his arms around his thick neck. "We got our contracts today!! And we're gonna be in KADA's documentary!"
The famous red boy of KADA Wrestling looked terrific in his own way. He had recently cut his red hair to look more boyish, with it shorter around the sides and back and the wavy fringe remaining long, swept to the right. He wore tight leather pants tucked into heavy buckled boots and a frilly white blouse with an oversized red bowtie. A tiny black top hat was clipped onto the side of his head, and his eyes were as red as his hair, lips, eyelids and nails. He wished Beau could meet Lance Lovecraft. Out of character, he seemed like a lovely guy - though he wouldn't admit that to Sean. Oliver, out of earshot of both Beau and Sean, sometimes spoke highly of the Englishman and cited him as someone whose work ethic offset his lack of talent. Lance sharply drew breath at the news.
"You guys are going to be in the documentary? So am I! And you got called up? Well done, boys! I'm so happy that I won't be the rookie anymore! You have no idea!"
Jack and Ezra chuckled, but someone else wasn't impressed.
"News flash, Lance; you will always be the rookie," Sean interjected, his dry voice full of spite. He did not even look up from his pages. "At least Ez and Jack wrestled a match before they appeared on TV."
Lance didn't look so friendly all of a sudden, and Ezra felt as though he and Jack were both trying to slip out of the line of fire. He noticed everyone else in the room was now starting to pay attention.
"Sean! I didn't see you there. You don't tend to make much of an impression," Lance replied nastily, leaning forward on the table. "You haven't spoken to me in some time. I've missed you dreadfully."
"That's not a surprise. You do everything else dreadfully," Sean snarked back at him.
"Oh, bollocks. Well, at least when I do things dreadfully, I can remember them the next day without a bloody hangover."
Lance's cutting comment caused a few whispers to go around the room. Ezra wasn't comfortable here. He wasn't sure what had been going on before he came on the scene, but from the look of outrage on Sean's face and the wicked smirk on Lance's lips, he knew the Brit had just hit below the belt.
Diego Silva was the one to break them up. Ezra had not even seen him come in, but he was starstruck when he saw the Brazilian! The longest reigning Heavyweight Champion in KADA's entire history! A veteran that had been on television since Ezra was just a little boy in the hospital hooked up to chemo! He wanted to go up to Diego and praise him and fangirl with him and BEAR HIS CHILDREN but now seemed like a very inappropriate time. Between Margaret, Sean and Lance, the joy of a new contract was starting to wear off. A lot. Sean had hurt and betrayal on his cute face, his beautiful brown eyes wilted in pain.
"Disappear, Lance," Diego ordered.
Lance did so, touching the red stud in his ear as he turned and walked on, dragging his luggage behind him. Diego and Sean shared a look for a moment. From the Brazilian, it was apologetic, Ezra could see. From Sean, it was pure poison. The former champion then followed his own advice and continued moving on, throwing a wave to some of the other performers in the area as he left. Oliver was quick to return to Sean's side, and the two spoke quietly together.
From that point, word spread about Jack and Ezra's success, and the teenager found himself being congratulated by nearly everybody he looked up to! James Vause was sceptical about the situation but nonetheless wished the boys best of luck. Pearl and Rachel Reid gave a warm welcome as well, as did the Women's Champion Irina, Dragonfly, Giorgio and Salamanca, the Tag Team Champions. Many did, but some did not. Some were not impressed by the way the new signees had skipped their developmental phase when most trained in a KADA performance centre for a minimum of two years. Soon, people began to change into their wrestling clothes and the show was about to begin! Ezra felt envy flowing through him. How badly he wanted to see the show in person!
"I wish we had tickets!" He groaned aloud. "I wanna see everything! I've never seen a KADA show live!"
"We can see the television," Jack pointed to one of the monitors mounted on the white brick wall.
"But that's not the same," Ezra moped, his shoulders drooping as his green eyes surveyed the show's introductory cinematic. "I don't know. It's silly. I've always wanted to be there in the audience. You know? Like, I know I'm gonna actually be a part of it now!! But I still wanted to see everyone wrestle up close."
"You can do that," Pearl suddenly inserted herself in the conversation. She must have been eavesdropping, and Ezra blushed. He didn't intend to sound like such a fanboy. Wait, what did she say?? "If you're not busy on the card, then you can watch by the doorways. It's not in the crowd, but it's almost the same."
"What? Really??" Ezra hopped to his feet. "I can go out there??"
"If you are under a contract with KADA, yes! As long as you stay away from the cameras, you can watch the show."
His heart dropped, though. "I'm not contracted, though. I haven't signed this yet. Maybe next time."
"No, we have contracts! Did you forget?" Jack smacked him on the shoulder and laughed at him. "We are in developmental contracts! Still KADA employees."
Oh! That's right!!
Pearl nodded in confirmation. She was still in street clothes, unlike most of the others. She was pretty in person. When she performed, she wore a dominatrix style catsuit and often looked savage like a bear! "Yes, that counts. When we go to cities with performance centres, the rookies usually come backstage. Come with me! I'll show you!"
Pearl stashed their documents safely away in her bag for them, and then she led the boys upstairs to one of the upper entrances of the arena. When he went through those doors, alongside Dragonfly, who apparently was not scheduled to compete either, Ezra's entire world was in front of him. He'd had similar thoughts when he wrestled in Boise, but this was a far grander production than his first time in a KADA ring. Over sixty thousand people had purchased tickets to be here tonight and be part of the televised show.
Far, far down in the middle of the field was the ring. It looked tiny! It was difficult for Ezra to comprehend that it was the same size as the grubby old ring he tumbled about in at his high school gym. Lights, LED screens, a long stage and a big crowd barricade surrounded the squared circle, and in there, a young woman called Heather and her opponent, Batty Betty, opened the show with a singles match. Unfortunately, the head of the fans that chose to stand between him and the ring blocked his view. When he complained, Jack helped the teenager climb up on his back so that he could watch the show from a greater height.
"Yes! Yes! Oh my gosh! It's over! It's over!! NO?? WHAT?? Okay, she's going for it! No? Wait! N-- is she? SHE IS!!" Ezra squawked to the amusement of the other wrestlers around him.
As the night progressed, Pearl and Jack were increasingly seduced by the boy's infectious enthusiasm and cheered and booed and laughed and shouted. Sean Fox's music hit the arena and Ezra knew that the main event was coming up. Most of the performers knew the full card and what to expect from it before the show went live for the cameras, but Ezra avoided the spoilers. He wanted to experience this as a fan, the way he was supposed to. Jakub, shortly before the accident that took his life, promised that if Ezra was strong and beat back leukaemia once more, they would see the wrestlers together. It was everything Ezra had dreamed it would be - except Jakub wasn't there. No matter. Ezra would simply have to enjoy it for both of them!! Besides, he had his partner in crime with him, and that was enough! It was a terrific show! Rachel Reid was victorious in her match, Jimmy Vause participated in and won a battle royal, and the Tag Team Champions defeated a pair of local wrestlers who had the chance to be stars for a night! Pearl explained that it was their opportunity to formally try out for KADA, much like he and Jack did at the untelevised show in Boise.
Sean Fox spoke for a short while to the crowd, arrogant and aggressive as ever. From so far away, Ezra could not see him very well, but he knew that Sean looked terrific. The narcissistic character worked brilliantly for him, and he was a great villain. Kodeine's music hit soon after, and the sound of the Seattle crowd's cheering was absolutely deafening! Once Kodeine strutted down and played with the audience, he got his microphone too. They had a lot of smack talk to say to each other.
"Why don't we list off the people who have beaten the Heavyweight Champion lately?" Sean pranced from corner to corner, tapping each turnbuckle as he listed off the opponents who had pinned Kodeine in the last few months. "Jimmy Vause. Diego Silva. Lance freaking Lovecraft! You are the only person in KADA history to lose to Lance Lovecraft. Can you imagine a champion that loses to Lance Lovecraft? Hahahaha! You can't make this stuff up. Oh, and let's not forget the most important person to pin you! Me. I beat you. What kind of champion takes a loss every other week and holds on to that belt? You're a disgrace. I'll be the Champion before long. I'm the smartest, the fastest, the strongest, the best looking. All I have to do to prove it is do what I've already done and beat you again."
Kodeine shrugged, seemingly unphased by Sean's words. "You might have snuck a win on me when my back was turned during a tag team match. So what? Man to man, one on one, face to face, I beat Jimmy Vause when the title was on the line. Even with all their dirty tricks in the book, I still won this title from Diego Silva. When we face off, Fox, I'm going to be ready for you. You think you're the first douchebag to play dirty? Lansilva paraded around like a pair of girls and cheated in every way they could, and I still walked out with Diego Silva's Championsh--"
Ezra was thrilled when the fruity music that accompanied Lansilva blew through the arena!e was getting so worried they were going to be off the show entirely! Seattle booed them much harder than they booed Sean. While Sean was currently being pushed as the biggest threat, Lansilva was now and always had been universally despised since their turn late last year. Tonight, Diego and Lance were wearing matching gold attires - though Lance's glittered, as all of his wrestling outfits did. They looked more like a tag team every time they came out!
"Let's make this quick!" Lance purred maliciously. "We've got better things to do than hang around in a city so forgettable that it gets ignored by the NBA."
Ezra laughed out loud. The crowd was livid! They booed him hard for that, but Ezra's laughs were quickly silenced when he heard some of the worst language in the world come out of their mouths around him. Offensive homophobic words that made his toes curl in his shoes.
"This is insulting! This time last year, we had a real Champion," Lance continued when the crowd settled down. "You two are arguing about which of you deserves to hold that belt? Really?"
"You have a short memory, Kodeine," Diego Silva spoke. They held hands as they walked down the stage, drawing homophobic ire from the people Ezra was around. It made him uncomfortable. "I never actually lose my championship. Did I lose? No. You won, Kodeine, but you never actually beat me."
"He beat Jimmy Vause!" Lance said. "And that's... well, good? Not bad, at least! I mean guys, do you know how hard it is to beat Jimmy Vause?"
Diego raised his hand. "I do! I mean, I don't know if the yokels that live in Seattle know this, but I did, in fact, beat Jimmy Vause twice. You know who else I beat twice?"
"I do! I do!" Lance cooed obnoxiously. "You beatKodeine!"
Diego took over. He'd gotten really good at promos, Ezra noticed. Even last year he was robotic and bland, and it wasn't all that exciting when he spoke on the microphone. Now, he was on fire!
"So tell me. Fox. Kodeine. How do you crown a champion who never beat the champion? How do you hand the title to the loser that the champion, me, has defeated twice? Not only that, but I never received a rematch. Why is that? It's because you all know what would happen if I did. Your fairytale would come to an abrupt end, and I would walk back out with the belt because Jimmy Vause can't beat me. Kodeine can't beat me. Sean Fox can't beat me. If anyone deserves a title match, it's me, and only me! As far as I'm concerned, I never stopped being the Heavyweight Champion. That belt is the only thing that stops it being official."
"So if you boys are truly the best, if you think you can have a conversation about the Heavyweight Championship without Lansilva's name being spoken, surely you could beat the two of us?" Lance challenged. "I'd love to show Sean Fox what it's like to be beaten by Lance Lovecraft."
Ezra's heart thumped as the match became official during what must have been the ad break, and a few minutes later, the bell rang. For over fifteen minutes, the men in the ring used the sport to tell a story. Lansilva worked incredibly well together, their assaults difficult for the others to overcome. On the flip side, Kodeine and Sean's inability to function as a unit because of their escalating conflict meant they argued and got in each other's way! It was such a good match! Ezra couldn't believe how blessed he was to see this for himself and not on Sean's couch while Beau kept one eye on his phone!
"One of them will beat Lance! He's only there to take the pin!" Ezra predicted to Jack.
"I think so!" The man replied, who had not faltered under his friend's weight on his back.
When the match looked to be coming to a climax and Lance was still the member of Lansilva tagged in, it looked like Ezra was correct. Diego was highly protected by the creative team and very rarely took a loss to make him look dominant. That was what Lance was for. Had Diego been in the ring, then they were likely going to win somehow. Sean had been so unbearable a partner throughout the match that Kodeine was fed up and abandoned him rather than making the tag. As Sean presumably yelled abuse at Kodeine as the man walked away, Lance sprung on him from behind and rolled him onto his back for a pin attempt. The referee began to count, and Diego reached in from the other side so he could not be seen, and he grabbed Sean's hands so he couldn't escape the pin!! Ezra watched in shock as all three counts were made and Lance Lovecraft defeated Sean Fox!! The crowd was not sure whether to be glad or sad, as a villain beat another villain by cheating, but Ezra whooped and cheered. After mocking Kodeine for losing to Lance Lovecraft, Sean had now done the exact same thing!! Brilliant! KADA's creative team were brilliant!
"THAT WAS TOTALLY AWESOME!!" Ezra yelled at the top of his lungs, making Jack wince underneath him. "When can we start doing that??"
EZLuczynski shared a video uploaded by JLiev1056, 6:31 am NOT FUNNY JACK!! 😣😲
The camera highlighted Ezra from behind as he gazed though the airport window in the terminal at the planes outside. Jack giggled quietly.
"Ezra ne sait pas que je suis là. Attendre..." (Ezra doesn't know I'm here! Wait...)
He began to sneak up and quietly hummed the Jaws theme as he closed the distance, then he broke into a run.
Ezra leapt out of his skin, and his limbs flew in every direction, and both men began to laugh as Ezra bent over double, hand on his heart. Jack turned his phone around and spoke to it, his eyes gleaming with mischief.
"Je n'ai pas réussi à le faire jurer. La prochaine fois!" (I didn't manage to make him swear. Next time!)
EZLuczynski shared a video uploaded by JLiev1056, 6:59 am Yeah okay real mature 🤣🤣
The camera focused on Ezra, who was engaged with a game on his phone as they waited for the plane to begin taxiing.
"Hey Ezra. Do a smile!"
Ezra looked up at Jack in surprise then saw the phone in his friend's hand.
"I look like heck! Ahh!" Ezra remarked, horrified. "Hold on!!"
He began to comb his fingers through his hair, smoothing his pompadour style out and making sure he looked presentable.
"Okay! I'm ready!"
Ezra held a smile on his face for about three seconds before it quickly disappeared and a playful glare took its place.
"You're recording, aren't you!! You evil Canuck!!"
EZLuczynski shared a video uploaded by JLiev1056, 7:21 am He wears me out!! 🙄
Jack's face appeared, a smirk on his lips.
"Il a dit qu'il avait besoin de ma compagnie parce qu'il avait peur de voler. Une fois dans les airs, il s'est endormi! Regardez!" (He said he needed my company because he was afraid to fly. Once in the air, he fell asleep! Look!)
Jack turned the camera to show Ezra, who had his head rolled to the side and was gently snoring with his eyes closed. He then moved the camera to show that the smaller man was still gripping his hand, and he chuckled.
"Il a attrapé ma main quand nous avons décollé et ne l'a jamais lâché! Je ne veux pas risquer de le réveiller." (He grabbed my hand when we took off and never let go! Now I don't want to risk waking him up.)
He turned the camera back to himself and chuckled again.
EZLuczynski shared a video uploaded by JLiev1056, 3:13 pm IT'S SCARY OK 😱I'VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE
Jack was already in the middle of a giggling fit as Ezra sheepishly followed his luggage around the moving conveyer belt.
"Just grab it!" Jack told him.
"Noo I don't want to!" Ezra whined, reaching to the luggage but chickening out. "What if I break something? What if it pulls me on?"
"Ez, get a grip. Your luggage bag is tiny," Sean Fox insisted, sounding exasperated.
"No, I'M tiny!!" Ezra put his hand on his luggage handle but immediately released it and flinched.
Jack's laughing intensified as Oliver marched over and hoisted it off the conveyer belt for him, shooting Jack's phone a wink.
EZLuczynski shared a video uploaded by JLiev1056, 10:28 pm I apologise for nothing!!🤣 Watch tonight's show!! It was a good one!! 👌👍
It was dark, but the camera showed Jack's smiling face, and Ezra's chin was resting on his shoulder as he held himself up on his friend's back. Ezra was yelling, his face telling a million different emotions all at once.
"WAIT! OH-- WHAT A BACKBREAKER! OH MY LORD, DID YOU SEE THAT PEARL?? JACK! AHH!"
Jack failed to suppress a giggle, and he rotated the camera to show Pearl, who was laughing heartily with her hand covering her mouth.
Thank you all for your patience, and I apologise for the delay. I hope it's not too disappointing! ❤️