Ezra travels with Jack to Louisville for a big match as everything falls into place.
Friday, June 21st
"French is a language in which you take an S out of 'hostel' but then add a circumflex over the 'o' to remind you it used to be there," Ezra remarked.
Jack laughed. "Yes, I see it is hard, but your language is no fun either. Did you know that lead, lead, lead and lead are all different words? It's stupid!"
The blond wanted to refute that and insist that French was the stupid language, but he couldn't. Jack did have a point. No wonder he kept getting confused! "Pourriez-vous parler plus lentement, s'il vous plaît?"
"Très bon," Jack praised him, one relaxed hand on the wheel as they drove down the I-75 highway on their way from Knoxville to Louisville. Tennessee. "You pronounce it well. Do you know what you have said?"
Ezra looked at the phrase he'd just repeated, his mouth twisting into a grimace. "Can you talk more slowly, please?"
The French-Canadian looked over at him, grinning in a way that brought Ezra joy. "You're very good at this. Soon you can speak French well when I bring you to see Amélie."
Ezra loved the idea of going to Montreal on one of Jack's visits to his family, but there was absolutely no room in his schedule for something like that. He'd be happier if she came home to Jack, where she belonged, and he could be like a second father to her! He'd fish Celeste and Eamonn from their horrible home in Litchfield, too, and he'd put all three of them in a house together with a loving, caring nanny. He could spend his days off at home with them! Maybe Beau would-- no. Ezra was trying his best to move on from Beau. Still, they were on the road Ezra and Beau took on their way down to Tennessee in the first place. It was impossible not to remember.
It was a four-hour road trip from home to Louisville, and Ezra was eternally grateful that this weekend's bookings were within driving distance. Driving was enjoyable. Peaceful! -- most of the time. He recalled how excited he was to get his license the day he turned sixteen, a birthday present to himself. He drove his old bomb all the way to Minneapolis for the night's wrestling training, and he drove all the way home again, loving every minute of it. He wondered, as he sat in Jack's expensive, roomy Lexus NX 300 that the poor guy bought when he thought he was going to have a family, if he'd ever want a new car. He had far too many happy memories in that old thing. Coming to Tennessee in the first place, for example
"Tell me a story!" Ezra prompted his friend as he leaned back in his seat, resting with his hands behind his bed. He should have brought a pillow.
"Yeah. Which tattoo was your first? Did your parents get mad?"
Jack chuckled. "This ones," he tapped on his left forearm and then to the connecting one on his right - a stick figure leaping through a blue portal and exiting through an orange one. "Yes, Ezra, they were very, very mad! So mad they made me come to Church and confess to the priest!"
"Hah! Seriously? What did the priest say?" Ezra shifted again, unable to stay still.
"Hehe. Not so much. He says that my decision to get tattoos is no big deal, but I need to listen to my parents. I was fifteen, you know. Too young to decide as my parents say - but the law does not actually say so. They go blame my video games and took them all away; they think the games turned me from God."
"Oh, rabbits! I knew your parents were super Catholic, but I didn't realise how super. Do you get along with them okay?"
"Hmm mostly. They don't approve of my, how you say... hmm. I don't know the word. Heinous? Head-- heady?"
"Hedonistic?" Ezra suggested, and Jack slapped the wheel.
"Yes! Hedonistic lifestyle! You are a champion! But you understand. My mom wants me to be a doctor, maybe. Go to school, college, and study for careers. She tells me always, especially when Amélie was born, that it is important to have something for myself to career with if wrestling doesn't work. If I get injured too badly to do it again. My dad, heh, wants me to play rugby as he did. I might have, too, if I did not want to wrestle. I am good at rugby."
"Did your dad play rugby at, like, a professional level??" Ezra asked him eagerly, and Jack gave a humble nod.
"Ádrian Lièvremont," he replied proudly, that handsome smile showing off his impeccably white teeth. "He played in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC for many years and won many titles. Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue is, you might say, the Jimmy Vause of the Fédération de Rugby du Québec. Of course, my dad no longer plays, but he always hopes I will continue his legacy."
"Wow! So you played rugby too?"
"All through school! Even for some years after that while I trained to wrestle. I played for Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue too. The team expected much of me, but I was never as good as my dad. But if KADA doesn't work out, I have, um, open invitation? - to come back. As a favour to my dad. But I don't believe I can do that."
Ezra was enjoying the conversation. He didn't have too much trouble communicating with Jack, even from the beginning. Sure, his English was basic and heavily accented, but it wasn't so hard to make out what he was saying, even in the beginning. On the other hand, all Ezra had to do for Jack to understand him was to speak slowly and clearly. There wasn't any real language barrier - it was Jack's lack of confidence in his English skills that caused problems. He second-guessed himself and got embarrassed and frustrated, and for those reasons, he didn't speak very much. When Ezra decided to learn French as a way to make Jack feel more included, the French-Canadian's insecurities with his speech seemed to disappear overnight - at least, with Ezra - and he now spoke without restraint.
"Hey JackyJack, can I tell you a secret?"
"EzzyEz, I like secrets."
"And you won't tell anyone??"
"Maybe. Is it funny?"
Ezra flushed pink. Jack did have a history of sharing Ezra's embarrassing moments with their friends. Though, it wasn't as though Ezra hadn't gleefully told everyone that an overtired Jack poured water from his kettle onto his freshly made scrambled eggs rather than in his mug.
"No. And you can't ever tell Sean ever."
Jack lost his mischievous expression in favour of a much more solemn one. "Okay."
"Do you remember when we met? And we wrestled against each other in Minneapolis? And I botched but I still got a tryout??"
"You did not botch. Sarah tried to spook you," Jack replied harshly, and Ezra saw resentment filling his tired, lonely blue eyes.
"Well, the joke's on her, I suppose, since I got signed and she didn't," Ezra offered weakly, then he guiltily looked down. "You know, there's a reason why I got signed even though I messed up pretty bad."
"I think Diana saw why you fell from the rope," Jack reminded him, seemingly determined not to let Ezra come clean.
"Diana!! That's her name. Right. So she was there to scout us both, yeah? But, like, do you ever wonder how I got noticed? Because you have to be a pretty big star already to have someone from KADA check you out. Like you! I already knew who you were! I saw you in the cage with Guillotine, and you took a sick bump through the table covered in tacks! Like, no kidding, you were the best wrestler I ever got in the ring with at that point!!" He considered what he said and made a slight modification. "You're the best wrestler I've ever competed with ever. Better than Ollie, but don't tell him I said that!!"
Jack couldn't help but glow from the compliment. A humble man to be sure, but who didn't like their talent appreciated? "Am I hiding even more secrets now?"
"Yes! But-- blast it, I forgot where I was."
"Did you practise your speech?" Jack sounded amused and unsurprised.
"I always do for everything because otherwise, my blasted brain forgets!! I'm not good at thinking things through. Beau thinks all the radiation therapy made me stupid. He always used it to win arguments."
"What?" The French-Canadian frowned in confusion. "What is radiation therapy?"
Ezra's bottom lip curled. "Cranial irradiation. I had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The last three times, the chemo wasn't enough to clean out the cancer cells in my head, so they had to kill them off with a radiation beam. It sucked so bad. I got the worst headaches, and I was tired all the time. And, um, the doctors said it can cause learning issues and memory problems and stuff long term, especially since I had to do it so many times. So, if I don't rehearse what I need to say to someone, I usually forget."
Jack drummed his fingers on the wheel as he drove and processed what his friend told him. He was so good-looking. He wore a tanktop in the hot summer sun, and his pale skin had browned a little in recent weeks. He wore glasses to drive, being a little short-sighted, and they only made him look younger and cuter than his twenty-five years. Though Jack was a straight boy, he was hilariously vain. Ezra suspected that Jack's incredible discipline with his diet and exercise regime wasn't as much about being as fit as possible for his choice of career, but simply to look good. Ezra saw Jack as a best friend or maybe even a big brother. Still, he couldn't deny that the fantasy of running his tongue over those pecs and abs didn't shove its way into his head on occasion. He would never proposition his friend, of course, but there was no harm in enjoying the sight of his friend's muscular butt and powerful biceps, was there?
"I don't think you are stupid. Yes, you are forgetting, and you have a thing you do where you stop thinking for a minute," Jack offered a friendly chuckle as he reached over to nudge his friend's shoulder with his first. "I think this is normal. But if you want me to never tell someone this, then I won't."
"Thanks," Ezra beamed, looking himself in the mirror of the sun visor in front of him. "Wait!! That wasn't the secret!! I went off track. I blame you for letting me ramble!"
"I am in trouble for listening now?"
"Ow, if you say it like that, how can I be mad at you?"
Ezra traced his cheekbones with a small, slender finger. He was the healthiest he'd ever been. Yet, the memory of being frail and gaunt, with hollow cheeks, washed-out eyes and white skin that hung off his skull haunted him. He could see that Ezra looking back at him. Weak and tired and sick. Not knowing if he'd survive this time. Not knowing if he might relapse again if he did survive. Not knowing how long he'd have before the disease killed him if it did come back.
"You forgot again! Your secret!" Jack nudged him with his elbow once again.
Ezra banished the miserable memory with an optimistic smile, and the man who looked back at him was the merry, cheerful fellow with the stylish haircut and the golden grin, a light splattering of freckles on his nose and his cheeks.
"Blast it!! Okay. So, we wrestled. Right. Yes. That's where I am. But, like, you're a superstar, and you always have been. I'm such a nobody that my shtick on-screen is literally a fan from the audience. Heh. But I wasn't in that match with you because I was good or anything. I, uh, was already promised a full try-out in that Boise show, unless I really, really screwed everything up. I sort of... cheated. Gloria was visiting her family in Minnesota and her brother's wife's... sister? I think? Well, her name is Kelsy McArthur. She's a regular in the Litchfield diner, where I used to work. She told Gloria about the cancer, about my family, about my wrestling... and Gloria felt sorry for me and endorsed me to Michelle. I cut the line, and Sean would be so mad if he knew!"
"That's your secret? It's not a very good one. Or surprising," Jack shrugged. "You are eighteen with no name or reputation. Why do you get scouted by Diana? You wouldn't. Sarah knew. That is why she hates you."
"Do you hate me?" Ezra asked him, his stomach sitting somewhere behind his throat like a huge, anxious stone.
"What? No! Never! If you don't jump ahead, we don't meet, and we don't become Supernova!" Jack's blue eyes sparkled happily at his friend. "Everything happens for a reason, yes? God sees in your heart," Jack thumped his fist against Ezra's chest, making him grunt, "that you want to make the world a better place. You can't doing that in Litchfield, so God helps you get to KADA where you can make a difference."
Ezra never thought about it that way. It cheered him up immensely to think that maybe his rapid ascension was part of some plan. The only people he could help in Litchfield were his brother and sister, and Hayden, the homeless man who bought one coffee an hour to stay in the warm diner during the harsh winter months. But now, he was making money and getting noticed. He was taking steps to organise a program of giving his time and resources to young, vulnerable and disadvantaged kids who needed to know that people cared. He sent enough money home so Eamonn and Celeste could eat three meals a day and attend school trips, and he put some aside so the two of them could go to college someday. But it never felt like enough.
"McDonald's? No WHORING??" Jack pondered in incredulous confusion.
"Haha... wh--hahaha! What?" Ezra giggled, sitting up and trying to see what Jack was talking about. "No whoring? Well, I should hope not! Where?"
"There! It says there under the sign! No whoring!" Jack pointed to the big yellow M off the highway. "Surely that goes without saying, yes? What happened in McDonald's to make them have to say that they will not accept whoring?"
N O WH I R I N G.
When Ezra spotted it, he laughed, and laughed, and laughed, until his sides ached, his throat hurt and his eyes wept. The letters were poorly spaced and all capitalized, so he couldn't exactly blame Jack for making that mistake.
"What?? I don't get it??" Jack bellowed over the sound of his friend's relentless laughter-turned-wheezing. "Oh, it's not whoring! Whiring? No whiring? What is a whiring? Why is whiring bad? Ezra! Ezra, tell me!!"
By the time Ezra answered, Jack had begun his own fit of giggles.
"It... it says... now hiring!!" Ezra panted, curled up in a ball, red-faced and out of breath. "Oh my gosh. Trust you to... to read it as "whoring!" I guess your filthy mind sees what it wants to see!!" Jack was somebody who loved to laugh at himself. It was what made their cheeky pranks and immature games so much fun. "Hey, actually, can we go back and stop at McDonald's? I feel like stretching my legs."
"To stretch your legs, yes? That's why you want to go to McDonald's?" Jack obviously didn't believe a word of it.
"Alright, I need a bathroom visit!"
"And a bathroom visit. That's why you want to go to McDonald's?"
"FINE!! I want a cheeseburger!" Ezra was forced to admit to a stupid smirking Canadian. "AND some fries. AND some cola! MAYBE even a soft serve! Sue me!!"
"Okay. But no whoring," Jack poked his tongue out.
Lansilva comes to the ring with their usual barrage of middle-school insults. They want to celebrate winning their titles by squashing a local competitor. Ezra Luczynski uses this moment to debut as a fan from the crowd. Lovecraft hits him with a cheap shot and spends five minutes slowly working him over. Luczynski teases a top rope crossbody but misses. Lovecraft aims for his spinning kick, but Luczynski ducks it and rolls Lovecraft up for the surprise win. Massive pop from the crowd. Lansilva attack him after until Jack Lievremont debuts as well, throwing Lansilva about and killing Lovecraft with La Disparition. Lansilva runs, and the babyfaces raise their hands in the ring.
Lovecraft's undeniably solid character work hides his lack of ability and experience to a point, but he remains slow and unconvincing, and he has no business holding a championship of any kind. On the other hand, Luczynski proves to be a welcome surprise to the roster. What appeared to be a standard and unnecessary squash match to give Lovecraft's reign an air of legitimacy turned around into the debut of not one, but two new wrestlers, including Canada's acclaimed indy star, Jack Lievremont. KADA would have us believe Luczynski is a random kid from the street, but from the way he sold Lovecraft's weak offence, it's obvious even to a casual viewer that he was a plant from the audience. The match dragged, but Luczynski's surprise victory made the drawn-out ass-kicking halfway worth it. As far as Diego Silva goes, at least he made it on TV.
A consternated grimace on his face, Ezra clicked on the next week's article.
We witness a replay of last week, with Luczynski pinning Lovecraft in an upset victory and Lievremont making the save. This week, it's Lievremont taking on Silva with Lovecraft at ringside. No sign of Lucyznski. Silva mentions that he is not Lovecraft, and he is the longest-reigning Heavyweight Champion of all time, and he reminds us for the millionth time that he beat Jimmy Vause twice, etc. Nothing we haven't heard before. Feel free to fast forward.
Bell rings, and Lievremont seems to outfox Silva at every turn, countering every move the former Heavyweight Champion tries to make. The match is a little one-sided in Lievremont's favour until Lovecraft swings a kendo stick at the rookie's knee when the referee isn't looking. Silva takes control of the match and works on Lievremont's leg in typical heel fashion. Silva puts Lievremont in a cloverleaf submission hold. Luczynski makes another surprise appearance from the crowd barricade and takes Lovecraft down with a spear tackle. The distraction lets Lievremont escape from the hold and put Silva away with La Disparition. The heels make another run for it.
It seems that KADA is moving to put Luczynski and Lievremont immediately into title contention, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that since cheating to win the Tag-Team Championships, Lansilva has immediately lost back-to-back matches against two rookies in their debuts. This hurts Silva's credibility as an effective wrestler from a storytelling perspective, but his performance tonight proves again why he is one of the best. Lievremont's style of elegant brutality brings a breath of fresh air into a stale locker room. Luczynski got one of the biggest pops of the night with his attack on Lovecraft, and Lovecraft shines as a performer when he stays away from the action. Average promo by Silva, but it was an excellent match and it showcased great continuity. Looking forward to seeing the feud continue, but Salamanca and Giorgio are still owed a rematch. Tag team championship match possibly set for the PPV? Here's hoping KADA takes the gold off Lovecraft as soon as possible.
Ezra was glad to read so many positive things about Jack and Diego because they absolutely stole the show that night. But why did this jerk reviewer have to have something horrible to say about Lance every week? He pushed on the link for the review of the next show, the one that took place on the 7th of June.
We cut to Ezra Luczynski getting a contract that he apparently earned by beating Lance Lovecraft two weeks ago. Of course, Lansilva stinks up the screen with their middle-school drama. They vow to make Ezra's life miserable - apparently more interested in bullying a rookie than focusing on their huge Tag-Team Championship match later on that night - until Jack Lievremont comes along to scare them off. The rookies tease a future match against Lansilva, and they have Tag-Team gold in their sights.
The only interesting thing about this segment was the tag-team handshake between Luczynski and Lievremont. We still have no idea how these two are affiliated on screen, nor why established professional wrestler Lievremont cares about someone who is supposed to be a fan who got lucky two weeks ago. This segment would have been a great opportunity to give the viewers some badly needed clarity, but Lansilva continues to hog screen time for the same tired routine. Pathetic. Big bathroom break moment.
A flush of indignation rushed through Ezra's face, turning it a light shade of puce. What was this guy's blasted problem?? Some jerk who had no idea how hard it was to wrestle at all, let alone in front of a massive crowd and cameras!! It was rude and uncalled for!! With a clenched jaw, he pressed on the link for the next show - the one that took place last week.
We get a video package about Ezra Luczynski and Jack Lievremont. Jack seems to be personally training him in the gym and in the ring. Ezra reveals that wrestling is his dream and his passion, and meeting Jack Lievremont gave him the courage to try his luck against Lance Lovecraft when he issued the open challenge in Salt Lake City. Following this, Luczynski and Lievremont enter in new matching wrestling attire and to their own music. Luczynski introduces his new persona, Protostar, and the name of their tag-team is Supernova. Lansilva makes their entrance, neither one dressed for a fight, and announce that they won't be wrestling tonight because they have nothing to prove to a pair of rookies. They throw a few insults and return backstage. The crowd is furious. The slapdash duo of Oliver Vickery and Huskie come out to take their place.
The match begins with Lievremont and Huskie. Lievremont dominates with shoulder tackles and clotheslines. Huskie tags in Vickery, who doesn't do any better. Protostar begs for the tag, crowd pops for him. Vickery bullies him around the ring, but Protostar responds with a slap in the face. Protostar responds to Lievremont's orders and follows his directions, taking Vickery down with a few basic kicks and crossbodies. Vickery stops his momentum with a big boot to the head. Vickery and Huskie tag in and out and predictably beat the hell out of Protostar until he rolls out of the way of a big splash from Huskie and tags in Lievremont. Lievremont floors both opponents and puts Huskie away with La Disparition for the win. The crowd pops as Lansilva are seen watching a monitor backstage, looking genuinely concerned.
I was complaining last week about the lack of character work done on Luczynski and Lievremont, and this week KADA delivered. The vignette of Lievremont training Luczynski to wrestle and selling Luczynski as one of Lievremont's superfans creates an exciting and unique dynamic between them. Leaving the curtain as real wrestlers this week rather than two civilians in their street clothes sells this as a coming-out party for them. Lansilva disguises their hesitance to get back in the ring with Lievremont as claiming they're too good to wrestle rookies. I had some issues with Ezra Luczynski being the focus of the team while Lievremont does all the heavy lifting, but after some research, it seems that Lievremont doesn't speak English well.
As far as the match goes... meh. It was fine. Too formulaic to be exciting but Supernova is too fresh for it to be boring. Luczynski got in some offence and looked shaky doing it. Not sure if it was genuine sloppiness or him acting inexperienced. Vickery's place in the match reminds us that KADA has no idea what they're doing with him, but at least he didn't take the pinfall. Huskie jobs again, but he's getting TV time, which is something. Lievremont looks like a monster, dominating both of his opponents and showing Lansilva that they're totally screwed if Supernova receives a match for the Tag-Team Championships at the PPV in two weeks. No doubt Lievremont could win the titles by himself or even go after the Heavyweight Championship. Luczynski is just there for the ride. If they take the titles from Lansilva, namely Lovecraft, we're all the better for it.
Ezra reread it in disbelief. How dare this Scott Rivera guy call his hard work and dedication to the industry "sloppy" and "inexperienced!!" Just there for the ride?? Rude much??
"What's the matter, doll?" Lance asked him, gently winging the black lines under his eyes with pinpoint precision in the mirror. "You're looking like you're about to deck me. Please don't. We're not in the ring yet!"
"Ugh. UGH! Just--- grr!! These people calling themselves critics and reviewers! They have no respect for how hard we actually work to provide the product they watch for free while they sit on their asses!!"
"Oh, honey, no. You never read those sorts of things. Mm-mm," Lance tried to snatch the phone out of Ezra's hands, but the pale boy was much too fast for him. "You exit that page right now and you don't look at it again. There's nothing positive on those sites. Too many armchair experts who have nothing better to do than to tear us down. Don't look at it."
Ezra locked his phone and dropped it perhaps a little too carelessly on the counter in front of him. It wasn't just the unkind things Scott Rivera had to say about him, it was how much he seemed to hate Lance. Ezra, though he wouldn't admit it to Sean in a million billion trillion years, quickly grew to adore Lance, especially after he stayed all night to play arcade games during Ezra's surprise birthday party. He had a fun accent and a sharp, quick wit, though he was prone to being a diva sometimes. Ezra and Jack both wore red and white to the ring, representing the Polish and Canadian flags respectively. Unfortunately red was Lance's colour, so the two rookies decided to avoid stepping on his toes and choosing blue instead. The Londoner was surprisingly territorial.
"Oh, darling, I'm so jealous of you," Lance seemed to sigh delicately, looking directly at Ezra with his fierce red contacts. "Do you know how hard it is to find that colour in a bottle? You're lucky I don't shave your head and make a new weave. Maybe I'll snatch your blond locks extra hard tonight and see if I can't shake a few of them loose. Hehehe."
"Are you flattering me or threatening me?" Ezra asked him, letting out an awkward giggle while Lance shot him a devilish grin. "You can have my hair! I will just take your shiny gold belt!!"
"You will not so much as place a finger on Marina!!" Lance reached over and snatched the Tag-Team Championship belt, cradling it to his chest as though Ezra was likely to grab it and run. "Rack off, tea leaf. She's mine forever."
"My ex would have loved you!" Ezra tittered. "You have so much in common. He's a queen too."
"Aww. Has Beau talked to you yet?"
"No. I know he's alright, though. One of my friends back home told me he saw Beau visiting his parents, so at least I know he didn't get murdered or something!"
Ezra felt he didn't want to speak about Beau. He'd been significantly hurt by his ex-boyfriend, who left without warning and blocked Ezra and everyone around him from all communication. Terrible things went through Ezra's mind. Beau, leaving to go to Minneapolis all by himself. He was a spoiled fem boy with an attitude! Ezra always feared that he said the wrong thing to the wrong person and got stabbed, or something worse! But from what Mickey said, Beau appeared to be just fine. In a way, that hurt. Beau must have known how worried Ezra would have been, and he let him stew in fear for weeks and weeks.
"Have you seen anyone else? Since Beau left?" Lance began to comb through his long, wavy fringe, a bottle of hairspray in his other hand.
"No. I don't think dating right now is a good idea. I don't have the time!" Ezra lamented. In truth, part of the reason he filled his schedule so much was so that he didn't have time to feel how incredibly lonely and heartbroken he was.
"I don't mean swapping rings and vows! Or even a shag. Why not just go out to dinner with a cute boy? Have a dance and a laugh? I'm sure a cupcake like you can get a date whenever you want."
Ezra blurted the next words out without thinking. "Would you go to dinner with me??"
Lance froze and blinked in surprise. When Ezra squeezed his eyes shut in regret, Lance spoke softly. "Honey, are you asking me out?"
"Ah--ehhm. Well... erm-- yes and no? Mos-- mostly yes. A-- a bit," Ezra burned with anxious embarrassment, his face crimson in colour.
The British man tittered pleasantly and turned in his seat. "That's so sweet! But I have to say no, sorry. I'm already seeing someone."
"Oh blast, just forget I asked!" Ezra smacked himself in the forehead with his palm. "It never happened."
"Why not? It made my day!" Lance rested his head against his closed fist. "I don't know. I don't feel good about myself a lot of the time. It was nice to be asked out, you know? Don't feel bad for asking. I'm glad you did."
Ezra, meanwhile, was swimming in thoughts of doubt and humiliation. What would Sean do if he went on a date with his arch-nemesis?? "Okay, all good! I would have found a way to ruin it anyway. Heh. So... who is it?? Who's the lucky guy?"
A look of doubt washed over Lance's face. "We're not ready to come out as a couple just yet. I'm not comfortable mingling my personal life with my professional life, especially after Diego punched my last boyfriend in the face at my birthday party."
"Seriously??" Ezra gaped. "Diego did that??"
"Well, Danny was a proper bastard, anyway. He didn't really like me. It was my lifestyle that appealed to him. A part of me knew we weren't compatible, but... I got so lonely, here in America, working in an industry that doesn't exactly appreciate who I am and what I do. Diego... he was protecting me in his own clueless straight boy way, you know? I thought Diego was a homophobic bellend who bopped Danny because he thought the filthy little lech was hitting on him. It turned out I was wrong about both of them. Danny really was a filthy little lech, and the tin man had a heart all along."
Ezra and Lance chatted some more about pointless and inane things to fill in the time until their segment drew close. Even though the show had begun, the creative team was still dragging its heels with the details of what Ezra, Jack, Diego and Lance needed to actually do on camera. All they knew was that the two teams would spar in the tag-team match that was scheduled for last week before Lansilva weaselled their way out. Michelle came for the boys personally, Jack and Diego trailing along behind her. It amazed Ezra that even though she was managing a huge number of cast and crew backstage every week in different stadiums with a million layouts, she never seemed to get lost.
"Updates?" Lance asked her.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm lagging behind today. I'm not sorry about it, boys. I'm busting my ovaries trying to keep everything running. This documentary business is giving me a fucking ulcer," she grumbled irritably. "Speaking of which, we're not sure on the exact dates, but you can expect Bloom will be setting you up immediately after our South America tour. Late August and early September. Make sure you leave room for that, or Bloom will force it open for you."
Ezra, once again, had become so consumed with what he was doing and what he wanted to do, that he forgot all about the stupid documentary idea that got him hired in the first place. How quick he was to believe that KADA signed him to the main roster because he was good at what he did when the truth was that they wanted him as a gimmick. He overcame cancer to become a wrestler. He was a natural underdog - five feet and three inches. That was where the publicity came from, not his skill, his charisma and his dedication. It wasn't a good realisation. It left a pit of emptiness in his belly, and he didn't need that right now.
"Supernova to win tonight, and then you'll spar next week for the Tag-Team Championship."
Just like that, the pit was filled with thrill and excitement!! Ezra was going to wrestle at the June Pay Per View!! Against Lansilva! How many times had he fantasized about going up against his most hated pair of wrestling villains and being the one to topple them?? Nothing could take the feeling of elation from him. Nope! Nothing!! He was beyond ecstatic. Aside from Beau abandoning him, everything else just seemed to be working out so well. He could hardly believe it was real. He'd had this dream before. Thousands of times. Wrestling in KADA. He prayed that he wouldn't wake up in his bed to make Glennys breakfast and go to work at that dismal diner. He didn't realise how unhappy he was in Litchfield. Back then, he must have been running on unrelenting optimism and sheer will, refusing to let life beat him down. But now that he was so happy - really, really happy - he realised how long he'd been lying to himself.
Walking through the curtain to the cheers of the Louisville crowd never ceased to put goosebumps on Ezra's skin. The music was so deafeningly loud, a catchy, arcade-music tune. Ezra requested that his signature music be Holding Out For a Hero to capitalise on his fantasy of being the superhero to topple the evildoers in KADA's locker room. Unfortunately, the creative team didn't agree. It wasn't a big deal, though! He and Jack had huge smiles on their faces as they looked out at eighteen thousand fans. They turned to each other and did their special tag-team handshake, and then they turned to the cameras. The boys put their hands on their hips and posed heroically, staring wistfully and solemnly into the distance. The wind blowers, placed off-camera entirely for their entrance, blew through their hair as if they stood on a lonely rooftop. It! Was! EPIC!!
Sherry, one of the people who showed up for Ezra's surprise birthday party the week before, introduced them on her microphone. "And introducing their opponents! From Quebec City, Quebec, Jack Lièvremont! From Litchfield, Minnesota, Ezra Luczynski, the Protostar! At a combined weight of four hundred and seven pounds, they are Supernova!"
Ezra and Jack broke their statuesque pose, and Ezra was so excited by the scene in front of him that he couldn't help bouncing a circle around Jack on the balls of his feet. He was ready to kick some ass!! SO READY!! He pointed at Lance and Diego, already in the ring, sneers on their faces as they held their Tag-Team Championships high above their head. The match tonight wasn't for the Championships, but if Supernova won, then they would receive another bout next week at the BIGGEST EVENT OF THE QUARTER, and it WOULD be for the titles!! And as it happened, EZRA AND JACK WERE BOOKED TO WIN TONIGHT!!!
As Ezra skipped and jogged his way down the ramp, one of the signs held by a fan caught his attention! SUPERNOVA = DEATH OF A STAR! LANSILVA IS DOOMED! It didn't seem possible, but her support fired him up even more!!
"Hahaha!" He gleefully pointed to the teenage girl holding it over the crowd barricade. "YES!! This girl gets it!!"
He approached her and she stretched out her hand, shouting her support for him and Jack. Ezra happily high-fived her, vowing that he would put a stop to that insufferable duo once and for all!!
"Come!" Jack urged him, and Ezra spun to meet his gaze, and he looked a little concerned.
Oh!! Right!! The MATCH!!
Ezra picked up the pace, and he almost sprinted his way down to the ring, Jack speeding up to keep up with him. Ezra leaned back on the rope and prepared to use it to propel himself over into the ring the way he used to when he entered the Litchfield ring. By the last possible nanosecond, he remembered that it wasn't who he was anymore. He stepped over the middle rope like the superfan rookie he was supposed to be. Jack, meanwhile, got to enter in grand fashion, launching himself into a somersault and rising up to his feet in one fluid motion. He seemed to be so good at everything, and for the first time, Ezra felt a small pang of resentment. Would he only ever wrestle in Jack's shadow?
The bell rang, and with it, all of Ezra's feelings and thoughts went away. Nothing else mattered except the match! He started off in the ring opposite Lance as Diego and Jack took their positions outside the ropes in their respective corners. Ezra felt the heat and passion flow through him, and he began by running at the north ropes, then and the south ropes before halting two feet away from Lance, who didn't seem to be thoroughly sure what Ezra was doing.
YOU. NEED. TO. CALM. DOWN!!
Lance, as discussed with Michelle earlier, looked at his nails, completely ignoring Ezra's existence. He yawned, strolled casually over to his corner as if he were making a coffee right out of bed, and he tagged Diego with a smirk on his red lips. The crowd cooed as the bigger man stepped inside, a rather mean look in his eyes as he towered over his tiny opponent. Diego tried to intimidate Ezra, who stood his ground firmly, looking Diego in the face. Diego shoved him away, then Ezra sprung at him, circling around and grabbing him by the waist.
First up, Protostar, sell Diego for the indestructible bastard he is.
Ezra tried to move Diego, who remained firmly planted to the floor, jeering at him as he failed to manhandle him in any possible way. The Brazilian stood there, unflinching as Ezra spun around and grabbed him around the neck with his arms, trying to drag him down into a headlock. Growing desperate, Ezra let go and tried to shove Diego, who didn't move an inch. He tried again. And again. Then he ran backwards, rebounded from the ropes and attempted to take Diego down by using his shoulder as a battering ram. Diego reinforced his position, and when Ezra crashed into him, he threw himself on his back as hard and fast as he could to give the fans the impression that Diego really was that sturdy!
"I am NOT Lance Lovecraft!" Diego mocked him loudly for the benefit of the crowd and the nearby fans. "You will NEVER beat me!"
As Ezra picked himself up from the canvas, Diego laughed at him, then he advanced. Ezra dropped again to the floor, tripping Diego over with a drop-toe hold and forcing him to fall flat on his face, drawing a massive pop from the audience. Lance had a lot to say at ringside, but Ezra couldn't hear him. He had his own job to do, and it didn't involve Lance.
Then a short flurry of offence. Remember to keep it basic. You have to look like you learned how to do this shit a few days ago.
Diego scrambled up to his feet, but Ezra beat him to it, and he threw himself in the air, kicking Diego's chest with both feet before landing comfortably on his back. Diego fell again, and when he was up to his kneed, Ezra delivered three forearm strikes to the big man's face. The Protostar then grabbed Diego's arm and tried to whip him towards the ropes on the other side, but Diego was too strong and refused to move. Instead, he dragged Ezra back and sent him running to the ropes instead. Ezra rebounded and threw himself at Diego, taking them both down with a crossbody manoeuvre, and then pinning the big man on his back.
"Get it together, Diego! He's tiny! What are you doing? Kick out!" Lance yelled at him furiously as Diego escaped Ezra's pin attempt. "Come on, Diego!!"
Tag out to Lièvremont.
Ezra backed away into the corner as Jack held out his hand, begging for a chance to get in and pleased that his protégé was doing so well against such a scary opponent. He slapped Jack's hand, and the crowd buzzed for their new hero. From there, he watched in amazement as Jack caught Diego, turned him around in mid-air and brought him down on his knee. The tilt-a-whirl backbreaker was one of Jack's best-known moves, and Ezra felt giddy seeing it up close, even though he was the man's tag-team partner! It still didn't seem real to see Diego taking Jack off his feet with a spinning clothesline, and to see Lance directly opposite him. Again, it felt like a strange dream.
Lièvremont and Silva are evenly matched and trade offence. Lovecraft tags in, Lièvremont tags out.
"Tu veux ça?" (You want this?) Jack asked him, dragging a wailing Lance by the neck towards their team's corner.
"Yes!!" Ezra bounced up and down on the ring apron as he tagged Jack's free hand.
To his joy, the crowd cheered for him almost as much as for Jack when he became the legal competitor in the match once again. He climbed up to the top rope, making sure to look rough and inexperienced as he did, shaky on his feet. As Jack held Lance tight in a headlock, keeping him bent over, Ezra dove in a somersault over the both of them, landing on his back with his head between Lance's feet. He grabbed his enemy by the legs and pulled him onto his back, then put his own feet on Lance's shoulders in an attempt to pin him for the victory.
Lance escaped, of course, and Ezra went right after him, swinging clumsy forearms before Lance pretended to stick his sharp, red thumbnail into Ezra's eye. Ezra cried out in pain and stumbled backwards as the crowd booed the villain for his constant breaking of the rules.
Tease the same victory sequence as the one in Salt Lake. Protostar rolls Lovecraft up to get another upset win...
Lance then swung a clothesline at Ezra, who ducked underneath it and spun around behind him, falling back and rolling Lance backwards into another pin attempt, sitting down on the red boy's trapped legs to make escape nearly impossible.
... only for Silva to take matters into his own hands this time.
As the referee counted two, ready to score the third and award the victory to Supernova, Diego charged in and kicked Ezra hard in the face. Ezra fell off Lance and sprawled on the ground, holding his jaw with his hands and writhing in acted agony. Jack yelled in furious French at their opponents as Diego returned to his position outside the ring, stomping hard on the ring apron and reaching for Ezra to make a tag. Lance, though, grabbed the stunned Protostar by the ankle and dragged him to the hostile corner. Ezra felt Lance's boots on his naked back, though the boy wasn't as heavy as Ezra was expecting, and Lance repeatedly stomped on the back of his head, forcing his face into the canvas.
Spend the next few minutes working Protostar over and teasing the hot tag to Frenchy.
The wrestlers involved were free to play this out however they liked, so long as Lansilva beat Ezra black and blue. Lance enjoyed being bigger and stronger than someone for a change, so he used a few of the moves he'd been working on when he and Diego sparred in their weekly training session. Ezra found himself hitting the mat no less than a dozen times between his two opponents taking turns to beat him up and keep him as far away from Jack as possible.
Protostar makes the hot tag to Frenchy, who beats down both Lovecraft and Silva, then pins Lovecraft for the win.
Ezra, panting with pain and exhaustion, let Lance drag him over to the apron and rest his left foot on the bottom rope. He was almost glad to get a respite! He'd played his part very well if he could say so himself. He'd love to see Scott Rivera criticise him this time!! He looked forward to resting on the apron and letting Jack win the match for them, as he was supposed to. Then next week, he'd wrestle again! In front of fifty thousand people, fighting his dream villains with his new best friend by his side, and he might even become a champion in record time!!
Lance stomped down on Ezra's vulnerable leg, hung across the bottom rope. The underdog immediately sensed something was wrong, and could have sworn he heard a horrible grinding sound coming from his own limb.
6/16 - 12:15pm EZLuczynski shared a picture uploaded by EnormousDuck Awww I remember this!! 😍 My big little brother when he was still my LITTLE brother!! He was such a good baby, too! He never cried when I held him 😄but he doesn't let me hold him anymore! 😌 And our dad is there too. We look so much like him, don't you think? 🤔 I miss him a lot! I hope he's proud of me in heaven! ❤️
The attached picture was of a very young Ezra sitting on Jakub Luczynski's lap, and in Ezra's arms was an even smaller baby with his eyes closed. There was an added caption on the photograph: "Happy birthday little big brother"
6/16 - 5:39 pm EZLuczynski uploaded a video Everything I ever dreamed of!!
Jack made a face at the camera as Ezra chuckled from behind it.
"What's made you so happy, Jack?"
The French-Canadian raised a poster as Ezra took a couple steps back to fit it in the image. Ezra and Jack posed as superheroes in their blue wrestling outfits against a black, starry background, their logo a big, blue S on a white, five-pointed star between them. Supernova!
"Is that us?" Ezra squeaked joyfully.
Jack pointed to both of them, and Ezra caught the excited, beaming smile of his friend, before turning the camera around to fill it with his own happy grin, visibly jumping on the spot.
"It's US!! It's our first POSTER!!"
6/17 - 11:28 pm EZLuczynski uploaded a video Monday night! So good to be home!! Exhausted but happy! Everything is perfect. 🥰🐷
Ezra passed his camera around the massive living room in his house, dimly lit by the television showing a repeat of RuPaul's Drag Race. Kevin Bacon was snoring gently on the couch next to Ezra, who stroked the pot-bellied pig between the ears. On the other side of the long, U-shaped sofa, Sean was snuggled up in Oliver's arms, half-asleep as the bigger man stroked his boyfriend's hair. Ezra turned the camera around and gave it a joyful smile.
6/21 - 1:35 pm EZLuczynski shared a video uploaded by JLiev1056 They said I was too short to be good at basketball! They missed out!! 😎
Jack held the camera firmly on Ezra as he tried to cram the evidence of his McDonald's binge into a bag.
"Stop shaming me!!" Ezra demanded with a hopeless laugh, trying to shield himself from the damning recording with a hand.
"No! You are funny when you are guilty!"
Ezra tossed the bag of rubbish through the open window at the bin. It bounced off the far rim onto the near side, and then fell into the garbage. He pumped his fist into the air as Jack made an impressed cheer.
"Tell me you got that!!" Ezra beamed, pointing to the bin.
"Yes, I am recorded! Good shot," Jack agreed amicably.
The two then did the first half of their tag-team handshake before the camera cut out.
6/21 - 10:49 pm EZLuczynski shared a picture uploaded by KADAWrestling
The picture was a promotional poster issued by the company immediately after the show ended. Lansilva vs Salamanca and Giorgio for the Tag-Team Championships at the June Pay Per View. For the first time since the creation of his Instagram account, Ezra Luczynski did not leave a comment with his post.
Thank you for reading! This is about the halfway mark.