A sudden injury at the worst time sidelines Ezra and inspires a new wave of hatred for Lance, both inside and outside the company.
Friday, June 21st
The world seemed to spin as Ezra wailed, clutching his left leg and curling into a ball. There was so much pain! Lance seemed confused, his eyes big, red and round as he tried his best to remain in character. The referee, buying time to investigate whether there was a real problem or if Ezra was simply overselling, pushed Lance away.
"Ezzy? Ez?" Jack was yelling from his corner in a shaky, scared voice.
"He's hurt!" Diego shouted from the other corner.
"Are you hurt? Can you continue?" The referee - John, if Ezra recalled correctly - asked him quietly.
"No! No! I can't stand! Ahh!" Ezra panted, reality sinking and making him cry.
"Stop the match!" John crossed his forearms above his head, turning to the small alcove where Sherry, the ringside medics and the lead cameraman hovered together.
The crossed arms was a signal to everyone involved that something had gone so wrong that the match needed to stop prematurely. People immediately sprung into action. The medics rushed into the ring, sliding under the bottom rope, both asking Ezra what exactly went wrong. The cameraman gave instructions to avoid letting Ezra's injury in their sights as much as possible. Sherry rang the timekeeper bell and spoke into her microphone.
"Ladies and gentleman, Ezra Luczynski the Protostar cannot continue. The winners of this match, by default, the KADA Tag-Team Champions, Lance Lovecraft and Diego Silva, Lansilva!"
Boos erupted unlike anything Ezra had ever heard before. He could barely hear the words of the medic trying to speak to him. He began to cry in earnest when Sherry announced precisely what he'd known but didn't want to admit to himself. He cannot continue. Something in his leg had definitely broken. No. No. NO!! What would that mean? Wrestlers lost their careers from leg injuries!! Maybe it was just some sort of sprain??
"I don't know!! He stomped on it and now it hurts so bad!!" Ezra shouted to the woman asking him questions. "Is it broken? It could just be a sprain, couldn't it?"
"I don't think so," the woman shook her head. "The stretcher's coming. We'll have a look once we get you out to the back. We don't need the whole world watching."
Then the show cut to commercial as the commentators sold the injury as part of the storyline, likely instructed to do so by Michelle or the production crew backstage.
Ezra could remember very well what was happening in real-time during this commercial break. While the cameras took a nap, Jack helped the medics gently move Ezra from the raised ring apron to the stretcher. Diego and Lance would have been more than happy to assist, but the referee promptly reminded them that they were still villains until they made it backstage. Once backstage, concerned cast and crew watched Jack and the female medic wheel the injured, whimpering teenager to a safe, quiet room in the concourse. Ezra shielded his eyes, unable to look at Rachel, Justin, Salamanca, Dragonfly, Irina, Betty and all the rest. He was supposed to be the superhero tonight. Not the rookie who lost everything. The kid who dreamed too big. The fan who overstepped. He hated the idea of everyone drowning him in pity again.
A very brief examination later, the medic had Ezra's left leg immobilised with a splint. A short ambulance ride to an emergency room later, Jack hadn't left his friend once. Dr Kowalski - Ezra had proudly pointed out earlier that he, too, was of Polish ancestry to the medical resident's half-hearted amusement - booked Ezra in for an x-ray in the immediate future. Then, Ezra found himself hooked up by IV to a powerful painkiller that muddied up his thoughts but dulled the agony in his leg.
He felt silly in his hospital gown, still wearing his wrestling trunks underneath, his long, flashy boots discarded and left by his bedside. In the chair to his right, Jack sat tall by his tag-team partner's side, still in his wrestling attire. He never did get the chance to win the match tonight and be the hero the crowd was cheering for! He must have been so disappointed!!
Jack, though, was terrific at putting a smile on his little friend's face. "You spend all your time holding on to my back anyway. Maybe I make a saddle for you! And we can cosplay as Hodor and Bran Stark in the Game of Thrones! ...Laugh!!" The French-Canadian, when his jokes didn't land, poked a finger into his friend's exposed armpit, and that succeeded in drawing a giggle and a reluctant smile from the blond. "I'll be here until you can come back to the hotel with me. Then I will not let you leave my sight."
Ezra couldn't put into words how much he appreciated Jack's companionship! "I'm sorry, Jacky. I screwed the pooch for both of us. What's gonna happen to you? What's gonna happen to Supernova??"
"We are Supernova always! Not just when we wrestle," Jack reminded him, stretching his muscular legs out and using another chair as a footrest.
Once their roles ended for the night's show, other people came by to comfort Ezra as well, but the injured man was too shaken and depressed to want to see anybody. Pearl was first, bringing Ezra he backpack he and Jack had forgotten in their haste. Oliver was next, and both Diego and Lance arrived together, but Ezra had his tag-team buddy politely turn them all away. He didn't want to be rude or to make them worry, but he didn't want everyone to see him like this! He was supposed to be the Protostar! A new, awesome addition to a world of superheroes and supervillains! It wasn't supposed to go so wrong!!
Ezra felt his phone vibrating like mad, with calls from family and friends, and texts and notifications. In the end, he turned his phone off, unable to face them. The whole world had just seen his career end live on national television!! One month! It took one month for everything to come crashing down!! Beau would have a field day with that, had he still been talking to Ezra at all. He always said that Ezra was so clumsy and awkward that it was all going to end in tears. He didn't want to stick around and see it happen. To see his boyfriend throw his life away on something stupid. Mom would... would be thrilled. Ezra would have to go home to Litchfield and take care of her forever. Beg for his old job back at the diner. He looked down at his bruised, swelling leg and his jaw quivered. Why?? There was so much he wanted to do!!
"Today, you told me that God pushed me to the main roster so I could help everyone. In the car. What do you suppose this means?" Ezra asked his friend, mournfully. "Why would he let this happen?? I tried so hard!! I fought through cancer four times and took my brother's kidney and for what? To break my leg?? What did I do wrong??"
"I don't have the answers," Jack answered him sheepishly, shifting his chair closer so he could grip his friend's shoulder.
"You know, I was obsessed with Batman when I was a kid! We had Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin on video and they must have all gone through the VCR a thousand times each. Hehe. Eamonn and I had a box of comics, too, but Mom... threw them out. To teach us some lesson I don't remember. Which, I suppose tells you about the kind of mother she is. Batman. I loved that guy, Jacky boy! I wanted to be him so much! And dress up like a badass and roam around and save people from evil! He was one of my best friends when Celeste and Eamonn were at school, and I was in the hospital or at home with nobody but... Mom.
"But then I was reading a comic one day. You know Mr Freeze, yeah? Well, his wife is really sick, and they don't know how to cure it, so he turns to crime to fund his research. Then Batman, who is a mothertrucking billionaire in case you forgot, kicks his ass and sends him to jail for it. I mean, Eamonn saw Batman putting a criminal in prison and applauded him for a job well done! So did everyone else. But I felt like my best friend turned into an asshole, you know? Does he even care about the innocent people? Where is the dedication to the common good?? He sits on a fortune while Mr Freeze is trying to save someone's life, so how is Batman the good guy here? Why did everything think Mr Freeze was bad? I only saw Batman with the means to save someone's life, to make the world a better place, and choosing not to. I don't care what anyone else says!! That makes him evil!!
"I guess it's tough to understand how I feel about this stuff unless you've actually faced your mortality. Life is so, so, so precious, Jacky. So much more important than money and stocks and property. None of that is real!! But people suffer and starve and die because people who have the means to help them choose not to. Those people are real! Batman is a badass, but he's a champion of the oppressors. He doesn't actually change anything. He doesn't end the cycle of... poverty and crime. He just... I dunno, beats up anyone who steps out of line. That's the story... they want to tell. So kids fear the law, even if the law is... unjust..."
Ezra got distracted looking at his own hand. As he waved his fingers in front of his eyes, they seemed to blend into a sublime mosaic of skin and phalanges. He cocked his head left and right, determined to investigate this fascinating phenomenon from multiple angles.
"Ezzy, I'm sorry, buddy, but I don't know what you're talking about," Jack admitted, and Ezra heard him chuckle. "I thought you liked Batman! Did we bring you a wrong cake?"
"No! Not at all! You got an amazing cake and I love you all! Batman let me down. He's a jerkface... hole, but still, he did inspire me! I never stopped wanting to be a superhero! Just like Batman, only... real. Only better. It's hard to explain. Seeing him... fail... as a role model... made me see that I can do better than him. That's why he has a... a special place in my heart. I have the tools to make a difference now... so I have to. So... that's why I need to do this Youtube channel. To make a difference and set an example. If people need my help, I can't let them down. If I did, I don't know if I'd ever forgive myself. Except I... I did fail. I'm not... I'm not a hero after all. I'm just... I'm just an idiot!! And I'm scared!!"
"Sorry, but it's very late, so can you please try to keep it down?" A slightly plump nurse with a brown ponytail and big, square-rimmed glasses on her nose poked her face through the drawn curtains around the bed. "Are you still in pain?"
Ezra, forgetting to think, leaned forward and prodded his broken leg and yelped. "Yes!" Jack gently put a hand on his chest and pushed him back to a supine position.
The nurse looked at him incredulously, as though wondering if he was overmedicated or just stupid. "Well, you will be if you aggravate the injury like that. What I mean to ask is: is it bothering you too much?"
"It's going to bother me forever!" Ezra sniffed, slumping back against his bed and screwing his eyes shut. "When am I... ahhm, getting that x-ray thing? Did the handsome doctor forget about me?"
Ponytail nurse's mouth twitched. "I know handsome Dr Kowalski booked you in the earliest vacant slot, but I'm not quite sure when that is. But no, he hasn't forgotten about you. Would you like to see him?"
Ezra declined her offer, and he sat there with Jack, who kept him busy and distracted by discussing, in-depth, the plan for his next cosplay as Booker DeWitt from Bioshock Infinite. Ezra hadn't played that game, but Jack was a huge fan of that series. He had no idea where the French-Canadian found the time to play video games daily in between video-chats with his parents and daughter, his incessant sewing on that machine and his intense fitness regime. Jack Lièvremont was so organised and had everything together. And yet, things fell apart for him too. It didn't stop the French-Canadian from soldiering on. Nothing had gone right for him lately, yet he found time to be the hero Ezra needed. He was the best person in the world!
It was only twenty minutes until the orderly came to push his gurney to the radiology department, up an elevator and through some corridors while Jack strode along by his side. Ezra was very grateful to have his friend there. Jack still wore his wrestling tights and boots with a casual shirt thrown over his athletic body. His appearance drew attention away from the broken boy hiding, embarrassed, under his hospital gown. Jack wasn't allowed inside the x-ray room, but he remained in the waiting room in the chair until the orderly wheeled Ezra back out a few minutes later. Dr Kowalski, to Ezra's joy, rounded the corner to meet them.
"Hello again! Do you want to come through and see the results right now?"
Dr Kowalski was a handsome man, with high cheekbones, intelligent brown eyes and short, untidy chestnut hair. He looked too tired to be overly chatty, and Ezra wondered how many hours he'd been on the clock, treating distressed and miserable patients like himself. But the offer of immediately seeing the damage Lance's carelessness had done to his leg was too much to refuse! Was his career over?? Or would he recover and miss months of action? What would he do?? If he wasn't actively working and getting booked, he wasn't getting paid. He couldn't live off Sean and Oliver's goodwill forever!! They had things to do without him forever being the third wheel!!
"Do they have your slide already?" Jack asked, confused.
"Oh, no! It's all digital nowadays - we can have a look at it on the computer screen," Dr Kowalski explained. "And Ezra, I'm assuming you want your friend to come in with you?"
"Splendid. Let's see the damage."
Dr Kowalski slipped into the room next door to the x-ray lab, and the orderly pushed Ezra's gurney inside, only clipping it once on the doorway, and Jack rounded out the small gang. Ezra looked anxiously at the computer screen as Dr Kowalski clacked on the keyboard and eventually brought up a series of photos. Dr Kowalski eyed them off before expanding one to fill the screen, and Ezra saw the bones in his own leg, ankle and foot as the doctor stood to the side to give him a good view!
"So, it's not all bad news! You've fractured your fibula," the medical resident explained bluntly, as Ezra screwed up his face. "That's the bad news. But the good news is, if you look right here, you can see that it's a buckle fracture - it hasn't broken all the way. Just here on the right side. It's not a full fracture, and it'll heal very well as long as we keep it still. You'll definitely be in a cast for three weeks, maybe four, and it'll be around six to eight weeks of physical therapy before you can get in the ring again. But, and this is so, so important - a lot of athletes get impatient and overdo it. Don't be tempted, because it can set you back. By the way, I'm curious as to how you managed to do this. Wrestling mishap?"
"Watch this week's episode of KADA. You'll see it," Ezra replied disconsolately.
"Someone put his foot on the rope and stomped here, on the leg," Jack pointed to the area on Ezra's leg where his fibula had buckled under the force of Lance's foot.
"Hmm. Torus fractures - buckle fractures - usually occur in children because their bones are softer. You're eighteen, aren't you?"
Ezra struggled to maintain control of his eyelids, and he clumsily winked both eyes. "I was. I'm nineteen now."
Dr Kowalski seemed surprised, but Ezra was used to people thinking he was sixteen, fifteen, even fourteen at a pinch. Too much chemotherapy and irradiation had stunted his growth in more ways than just his lack of height. He looked too young to get in the ring with these big, adult men. Eamonn, who was close to sixteen, already looked older than his babyfaced little big brother.
"It's entirely possible that because a long history of cancer treatments stunted your growth that your bones haven't fully developed yet," Dr Kowalski concluded. He used his index finger to, highlight the tiny anomaly in the x-ray of Ezra's fibula bone so both men knew where to look. "Are you aware of this as a possibility?"
"I-- well. No? Um?" Ezra unevenly blinked his eyes again. "I checked for ost...eo...porosis, but she said I was okay."
"I mean, this is just a theory. I would have expected of your age to either suffer a full fracture or not sustain an injury at all. These buckle fractures here are rare in adults. I'd hazard a guess that had it been your leg getting stomped on, there'd be no issue like this." He referred his final comment to Jack, who had his arms folded, keenly looking at his friend's bones on the screen. "The other fellow probably had no idea that he was using enough force to break anything - which isn't an unreasonable conclusion. That being said, if you want to keep wrestling once you're back in form, you and anyone else you scrap with will have to be mindful of the risks you're taking."
"But I've taken huge bumps before and never broken anything," Ezra's mind was brought back to the time he fell from the top rope onto the back of his neck with his entire body weight crashing down on it. Had Beau been right the whole time?? Had he actually been super lucky not to break his neck??
"Well, you might want to consider this a wake-up call of sorts," Dr Kowalski decided, stifling a yawn. "I definitely recommend talking to your company physician again about it, just to stay on the safe side. In the meantime, I'd like you to come back on Monday or Tuesday to see our orthopedist so we can apply a cast after the swelling has gone down. This splint is actually very well applied. They take good care of you in the wrestling business, I see."
Saturday, June 22nd
Try as Ezra might, he couldn't remember much following the x-ray results. The immense relief he felt at knowing his career was only on hold rather than decapitated relaxed his mind, body and soul. He remembered the pair of crutches the ponytail nurse brought him. They remained by his bedside now. He remembered craning his neck back in the wheelchair and staring up Jack's nostrils as his friend wheeled him out himself, still in his wrestling clothes. Then the cab driver and Jack couldn't understand each other, which was funny! And Jack helped him take his Narco pill for his pain while he was in bed, then he went for a shower while Ezra went to sleep. Nothing else came to him. Just those small details.
Now, at nine in the morning, Ezra watched the replay of the show on his phone while Jack caught up on the sleep he missed. It was a nice hotel room with a comfortable bed, and Ezra was grateful he didn't have to stay in the emergency room overnight. His phone buzzed in his hand, and he saw another text coming in from Ava, one of the girls Ezra began his developmental contract with at the Knoxville Performance Centre. She wanted to know if he was okay. His phone was full of missed calls and texts he had not read. Dozens of them. People who saw his injury live on national television and asking if he was okay. He didn't want to talk about it. Eamonn was the only person he'd replied to, assuring him he was well, but only after his big little brother texted: "answer me cunt!!! 🤬"
Unfortunately, as much as Ezra had been hoping his ex-boyfriend would have seen or heard about his injury, Beau did not call or send any texts. It was enough to convince Ezra that it really was the end of their relationship. It hurt. As he browsed through his notifications, gloomy and upset, something caught his eye on his Instagram feed. Isaac, under the very mature - and accurate, in Ezra's opinion - handle of 2much420lol, had shared something. A petition that made the teenager's blood go cold.
LANCE LOVECRAFT: CAREER KILLER
Last night, during a tag-team match, Lance Lovecraft broke Ezra Luczynski's leg. For eighteen months, Lovecraft has given, at best, terrible performances ever since his first botchfest against wrestling legend Jimmy Vause. KADA has become a joke, pandering to the gays and the transgenders by forcing an untalented and unqualified international embarrassment onto our screens. This is a petition to fire the career killer before he destroys our beloved industry any further than he already has. Sign up to save wrestling! Sign up to get rid of Lance Lovecraft: career killer!
Ezra's eyes burned with rage, especially when he saw who started this bullpie petition in the first place!! Blasted Scott Rivera, the jerkass who thought Ezra was sloppy and 'riding the bus' and took every opportunity to throw the redhead under the bus. Of course HE was the first to launch some attack on Lance for what happened!! And he read Isaac's comment.
too right! ez worked his ass for this since we were in eighth grade and now this dickhead ruins his life with one kick. fuck him off or make him wrestle the girls where he belongs loll
Ezra pursed his lips. Blast! How dare they say these horrible things and jump to these conclusions when they had no idea what happened?? Ezra, forced by the terms in his company contract, allowed the handsome doctor to fax the records and x-rays of the previous night to the KADA's administration and physicians. Aside from them, nobody knew anything. Certainly not stupid Scott Rivera! And CERTAINLY not pot-head Isaac!! And now Lance was taking crazy heat from both inside and outside the company for injuring another performer, but Ezra was sure it was just an unlucky accident. He wanted to give Lance a huge hug and tell him it was all okay.
Jack made a contented noise as he turned over, stretching, and Ezra's eyes feasted on the sculpted body in front of him. Lance might not have been clever where his stomping was concerned, but he did have a point about going on a date with someone. In recent days, as he began to move on from Beau's sudden vanishing, he'd started to crave more intimacy with more than just his hand. It'd be awkward to hook up with someone with a broken leg, though. Maybe he'd sign up to Grindr and find a cute boy to help him out? A pity he seemed to be surrounded by gorgeous gay men and all of them were out of bounds. Oliver and Sean were together, Jack and Diego were heterosexual, and Lance was dating a mystery boy. He wanted to be the mystery boy.
A few knocks on the door took Ezra's thoughts away from the lust growing in his blood, the misery of his injury and the fury that people could be so cruel to Lance for a mistake he made. But as he went to bounce from his bed and greet whoever had come to see him, his heavy left leg reminded him it wasn't an option. He didn't want to hobble over to the door like some broken, pathetic loser. He slunk deeper into his bed, hoping they would go away, but the knocks came again. Who was being so rude? It succeeded in waking Jack up at least, and the young man slurred something incomprehensible in his mother tongue. He got up and shot Ezra a look of pity before making his way over to investigate the disturbance.
"Oui quoi?" Jack wheezed through a tired throat.
"Oh, you're still sleeping! I'm sorry. You're usually up long before nine o'clock," Ezra recognised Sean Fox speaking, and dread hit him. He didn't want to see anyone, but Sean was a notch above the rest.
"See we are been at, us... the, the..." he clicked his fingers repeatedly in some strange attempt to fast-boot his brain. Jack was the worst person in the world at waking up, hands down. Even in his own language, he was scarcely able to make sense. In English, it was funny enough to put a smile on Ezra's sulking lips. "We are late to-- here. Tonight. Last night." He yawned loudly, standing brazenly in the doorway wearing just his boxer shorts.
"Right, you were in the hospital," Sean sounded impatient, as though he believed Jack was trying to stall him. "See, I wouldn't know that because you didn't let me visit and nobody has told me anything, and Ezra isn't replying to my texts. May I come in? I want to see how he's doing."
Ezra almost giggled out loud at Jack's bluntness. He could only think of how lucky he was to have someone who one hundred per cent had his back.
"Oh," Sean clearly had not been expecting a refusal. "Is he asleep?"
"No," Jack repeated coolly, as though Sean had hit rewind. "He is, uh, wanting, um. Left alone. Space. Thing."
"Fine. Can you at least tell me how bad the injury was?" Sean spoke very quietly, but Ezra's ears were sharp enough to catch his words, and his smile turned into an indignant frown.
"Yes," Jack answered, making Ezra panic. "But I won't."
"Tch. Fair enough. Well, send him my love, won't you? I'll see you both in Lexington," Sean sounded disappointed as his shadow left the doorway, and Jack closed the door behind him.
Ezra let the chuckles swimming in his chest burst out of his mouth. "You are such a bitch!!"
Jack's blue eyes twinkled under his half-closed lids as he stretched again. "I... yes. Spending too many time with the gays."
Ezra, cheered up considerably by Jack respecting his wishes not to have any visitor just yet, threw his pillow at his friend, who blocked it with a hand. "Yeah, nice try making a scapegoat out of us! I think you're just a catty gay boy in a straight boy's body!" Jack replied in French, something Ezra did not understand, before looking to snuggle back into his covers. "Nooo! Can we get breakfast? Please?"
"Hehe. Yes. Shower, first. You smell."
Ezra went pink. He'd gotten sweaty during his match against Diego and Lance the night before, and he hadn't showered since then. Getting back to the hotel room he shared with Jack, he was in no mood to try and work it out with his broken leg in a splint, and even now, he was avoiding thinking about it.
"Uhh... I don't know how. I don't... can I just use deodorant?"
"No," Jack croaked sleepily and shook his head. "If you are wanting to being sad, then okay. But Protostar is not lazy. He does not smell! Do a, um, wash with the... cloths, if you don't want to shower."
Ezra made himself blush with thoughts of somehow convincing Jack to help him shower. He pushed them away again. Jack was straight. All the cosplay, sewing, sassiness and vanity in the world didn't make him gay, and the big man was fast becoming the big brother Ezra never had. Someone to help him when he was down, to lead by example and support him when he needed it. He loved being that person for Eamonn and Celeste, though he felt as though he were failing them in recent days. He was having fun wrestling, while-- then he remembered, as he gave himself a sponge both, his injury. Ten weeks, give or take, where he would not be able to wrestle at all. Would KADA give him things to do? Or would they tell him to get lost and come back later? He supposed he'd find out tonight.
Jack was incredibly sweet! He made a second trip to take Ezra's luggage down to his car - that Oliver had graciously driven back to the hotel the night before - and he helped the injured boy into the passenger seat, scooting it as far back as possible. At the restaurant, Jack pulled out Ezra's chair for him and held all the doors open. He seemed thrilled to have someone to take care of again. He missed his beautiful infant daughter something chronic. Video chats just didn't make up for the chance to rock her to sleep. Ezra missed her too! He wished Sarah would get her act together and take responsibility. He didn't care to see her again, but she was hurting Jack by staying away.
The Rupp Arena in Lexington wasn't too far away from Louisville. An hour and a half by car. The drive wasn't very eventful. Ezra took a Norco tablet to stop his leg from bothering him so much, then he gave his small supply to Jack to look after. Even though he was nineteen and an adult, Ezra still felt as though he wasn't qualified to control his own prescription painkillers for some reason. Once the men arrived in the arena, Ezra remembered the first time he got to a KADA carpark. He was with Beau in the tiny RV they borrowed from Mickey and his dad. That was so long ago now, and he'd been so rigid with terror that Beau had to almost drag him out. It was just his tryout match. Now, he was scared. Everyone would see him, hobbling on his crutches with his leg in a splint.
Waiting outside Michelle's office door with Jack, Ezra overheard a chilling conversation.
"With respect, I told you from the start! I told you that letting Lance get in the ring was asking for trouble! But none of you wanted to fucking hear it! He doesn't know how to wrestle! He has no place in our industry! You saw what happened last night. He's a fucking workplace hazard!"
"I don't have to justify my decisions to you, Fox. I'm in charge here. Not you. It sounds unfair, I know, but it's a position I've earned after being in the business for over thirty years."
"Fine. Have it your way. Let the career killer take out your roster. But I tell you what, he is not breaking my leg! I'm not getting in the ring with him again. Not for any reason."
"Don't you threaten me, Fox. I've been firmly in your corner for over a year now. I've been pushing shit uphill to give you a chance at being the face of our company. Don't tempt me to give up on you because you want to be petulant. Am I going to have the pom back in my office crying about you cutting up all of his clothes again?"
"It's not just me, Chelle. Nobody wants to work with him anymore. At least half of the locker room agrees with me. If you try and force me, or any of us, to get in the ring with him, you might have a strike to deal with. This is our future! Our entire lives! Why would you put us at risk for him? We don't want to risk a broken leg just because Lance happens to be some popular drag queen and you want to pick up the queer audience. Hello! You have another gay wrestler right here in your office! And I guarantee you, I will never, ever embarrass the company the way he did last night! I'm a great wrestler. A real wrestler! I can do everything he can and more, all without sidelining your other cash cows! You don't need him. He's dangerous."
Michelle's reply was too quiet to hear, but Sean soon marched out, and he didn't look happy. His frown quickly dropped when he saw his friends waiting outside for their appointment, and his eyes immediately found Ezra's leg strapped into a splint, the boy hanging off his crutches.
"Guys! Oh my god," he scampered over almost sycophantically to Ezra and gave him a tentative hug while Jack looked down at him in consternation. "It's so good to see you, Ez! Oh, how's the leg? How long are you going to be out? Are you alright?"
"I'll tell you later," Ezra replied stiffly, feeling prickly about Sean's attempt to use his injury behind his back for workplace politics. "Good luck tonight! Maybe I'll watch from the side!"
Sean's pretty brown eyes burned into his friend's, as though trying to figure out exactly what Ezra seemed to be upset about. He gave a genuine smile and nodded. "We should have dinner tonight! You, me, Jack and Oliver. My treat!"
"I don't feel much like going out right now," Ezra replied softly with an exhale. "Sorry."
"While we're young!" Michelle called out from inside her office. Her sharp, guttural voice was enough to scare all three of the male wrestlers outside her door, and Sean left to go up the hall, looking back over his shoulder. "Oh, shit," Michelle looked on him with a maternal sympathy when he entered her office, Jack closing the door behind him. "Bloody hell. How are you doing on that leg, Protostar? Are you feeling better?"
Ezra's jaw quivered. "Well. Yeah? Not happy about it."
"But how are you, Michelle?" Jack asked her, adjusting in the uncomfortable chair.
For a moment, Michelle seemed disarmed. She rubbed her eyes and looked older than she ever had before. "It's been a shit of a day, I'll tell you what. I have half my male roster having a fit, the entire world throwing around this ridiculous petition to fire Lovecraft, and the bosses breathing down my neck all with their own demands about what they want to see and what they think I should be doing. I feel like I'm being ripped apart trying to keep everyone happy. I'll be just fine. But thanks for asking, Frenchy. Thank you, indeed. Now, Luczynski. Our doc was with me earlier. She said we can expect you to be sidelined for eight weeks. I wanted to meet with you and talk about it face to face. Obviously, you can't compete. In fact, our policy prevents you from involvement with any action until you're cleared by our medical team."
"But I can't just stay at home!" Ezra blurted out, on the verge of a panic attack. "I can't afford to take so much time off!"
Michelle seemed amused. "No, no. I told you boys I have your best interests at heart. I meant it."
"What then?" Jack asked, every bit as interested in the conversation as his friend. As a member of Supernova, every decision about Ezra's career affected him as well.
Michelle cracked her fingers. "I want you in the Ford Center tomorrow by two o'clock. We're going to set the ring up early, you're going to bring your wrestling clothes, and we're going to record some Protostar promos in advance for the next few weeks. Unfortunately for our limey Lovecraft, he's got a massive amount of heat right now. The fans want his blood no matter what we do about it, so we may as well use it to get Supernova as over as possible with the fans."
"I... I don't--" Jack tried to let her know that he wasn't able to keep up with her. She spoke fast and with a heavy New York accent.
Ezra turned to him and spoke slowly and clearly. "So, Michelle wants us to come to the arena early tomorrow so I can shoot some PROMOS!!" He couldn't help but be ecstatic with Michelle's idea. He wasn't going to be left out of the company after all! "Lance has real heat from the fans because, well, you were there. Michelle thinks we can use it to get the fans behind us even more!"
"Sorry, Frenchy. You gotta talk loud and fast if you wanna be heard in a man's world, and I'm in too deep to break that habit now," Michelle shrugged. "I have a lot to cover, so Protostar, you'll need to fill our boy in."
"What happens to Jacky while I'm out of action? Are you going to split us up? Please don't!!" Ezra's thoughts spewed from his gullet like vomit before he could stop himself.
Michelle almost flinched at his sudden intensity. "No, kiddo. Not at all. Frenchy here will stay on TV every week. He'll keep stoking the fire with Lansilva, but we do need them to defend the Tag-Team Championships once a while, so they'll have other opponents to face. The snot-nosed know-it-alls on the forums went cuckoo for your match with Silva," Michelle spoke to Jack loudly as though he were deaf or stupid. "So expect to do it again."
Jack's eyes flickered with irritation at being spoken to like an idiot, but the idea of facing a KADA legend like Diego Silva again was a seductive one. "Okay! As many times as you like!"
The French-Canadian beamed with excitement, and Ezra remembered that they were making their mark in KADA together. It was so easy to forget. Ezra was a hometown hero of a tiny little town in Minnesota. In contrast, Jack was an established, successful wrestler in multiple Canadian provinces. Yet, in KADA, Jack was as much of a newbie as Ezra was, despite the extra years of experience, the athlete's pedigree and the respect and reputation. It was natural for him to see Diego Silva as a hero and even be a little starstruck by him, but it always took Ezra by surprise. Jack was taller than nearly all of the other wrestlers and dwarfed in bulk only by Jimmy Vause.
Michelle smiled at their enthusiasm. It seemed to breathe life back into her. "If you boys nail this storyline with our biggest heels, your stock will skyrocket. To do that, we're going to need to record some vignettes with our Protostar while he recovers, and we'll air them once a week during the show. If we do that, then by law, we have to fill your bank account while you rest up at home and get that leg back in order."
Ezra and Jack walked away from that meeting excited and joyful that Supernova's momentum wasn't going to be derailed! Detoured, perhaps, but a prolonged feud with Lansilva?? Awesome!! It seemed that Ezra's career wasn't going to be all that inconvenienced by the sudden injury he sustained the night before. For all he knew, Supernova would lose their Championship match against Lansilva at next Friday's Pay Per View match and get lost in the fold. Now, though, he had a plan for the whole year!! What silver lining! He wanted to find Lance and tell him the good news!
Lance, though, was clearly in the doghouse. He sat in the far corner of the catering room at a table he appeared to have actually dragged further away from the rest. He wasn't alone, though. Rachel Reid, who would be challenging for the Women's Championship on Friday, sat with him, as did Pearl, whose mouth seemed to be frozen in a perpetual smile even when she was unhappy. Lance looked more miserable than Ezra had ever seen! He couldn't bear to have the boy feeling so guilty, and he wished all of a sudden that he sent him a comforting message earlier on.
Ezra spoke as bubbly and positively as he could, beaming as his colleagues as Jack towered behind him, almost like a bodyguard. Pearl was quick to hug her littlest friend, wrapping plump arms around him without tipping him off balance. Rachel gave a polite, friendly greeting. They asked their questions, and Ezra replied to them, providing details on his night in the emergency room and the nature of his injury.
It took a little while before Lance could force himself to speak. He looked like he'd been crying before Ezra found him. "Ezra, I didn't-- I wouldn't! Oh, fuck! I can't believe... oh my god. I'm sorry. I'm so fucking sorry!! Are you alright? Oh my god!! I didn't think I'd stomped hard enough to hurt you! I can't... oww... please forgive me! I'm so sorry! I didn't know it would... it-- ahh. I'm so, so, so, so sorry!!"
"You're a million per cent forgiven!! It was just a freak accident. I know you wouldn't ever hurt me on purpose," Ezra reassured him, stealing Pearl's seat so he could be next to his on-screen archnemesis, real-life friend. "I'm okay! It wasn't even a real break, you know! The doc says anyone else would have been fine, but my bones aren't finished developing yet." That wasn't strictly what the doctor said, but Ezra was more concerned about cheering Lance up and helping him feel less responsible. "You didn't know it was gonna happen. It's not your fault. And I'll only be out for a couple of months! So please don't be sad about it. You might even have done me a favour in a weird way!"
Rachel coughed behind him, and Ezra's eyes bugged as he realised how egocentric he was being. "But, um, how are you? Are you alright?"
"Fox is being an asshole," the gorgeous Canadian woman answered as Lance feebly nodded yes. "No surprise there, though. He's had it in for Lance since day one. I've had enough of that vindictive, hypocritical little slut. I can't believe I used to be his friend."
"It's not that," Lance raised his head and swept his wavy bangs from his eye. "I'm used to all that. Having them dogpile on me because they think I'm a bloody cheat, or I make deals with the prats in charge, or because they look at me and see everything they're not. I never let it get to me because they're wrong about me. Always. Just... this time they're not wrong. I did fuck up. I did hurt you. I didn't think-- ugh. I don't know. Maybe I should just quit. It's probably the best for everyone."
"No, you will not!" Jack snapped, and everyone jerked to look at him. "You hurt my friend and you cannot leave yet until you help him get back. You are Lansilva. That name means something. You and us are going to fight many times until the end of the year. If you quit, then what will we do? We lose our chance to get over. And he and I made too many sacrifices to stop now. If you are sorry, you will help Ezra when he comes back. Fuck Sean Fox! You do not quit for him. You stay for Ezra, or you answer to me!"
It was silent for a while. Lance seemed to be in shock that Jack would speak to him like that. The gentle giant was usually so placid and quiet in conversation, preferring to listen than to talk, and rarely raising his voice. Jack didn't look angry, exactly, but he wasn't impressed with Lance's defeatist attitude. Ezra almost let out a squeak of appreciation at his friend coming through for him yet again. Though, the politics were starting to create anxiety in him. He lived with Sean - the young man gave him a place to stay when he needed it most. On the other hand, he'd been wrestling with Lance since the very beginning, and even developed a slight crush on him. He didn't want to be caught in between. He wanted to wrestle, not play politics!
"He's got a point, babe," Pearl spoke quietly in Lance's ear. "Diego would be crushed if you left him. He relies a lot on you. And so do I!"
"What's Lansilva without Lance?" Rachel added, putting her hand on her friend's. They wore the same shade of nail polish. "We'll get you through this, sweetheart. If you quit, I won't have anyone to do my nails."
Whether it was the tough love from Jack or the kindness from Pearl and Rachel, Lance seemed to exhale his self-pity and guilt and force that patented glamourous smile on his face. "You're right. I'll save my wobbly for my day off, then. The show has to go on, and I don't have the time to let that little berk get under my skin."
"Good," Jack tapped the table with his fingers.
Friday, June 28th
Ezra felt pangs of sadness and regret as he watched the Pay Per View live on the couch at home. His foot, heavy with a cast, rested on the coffee table in the middle of the U-shaped sofa arrangement. Ava and Louise, the two Hawaiian girls who had started their developmental contract with Ezra and Jack before the men were abruptly called up, sat together on one side. On the other, Gloria Droese, a long-time wrestler in her own right and the woman who trained the Knoxville recruits, had a beer in her hand as the four of them watched Lansilva battle against Salamanca and Giorgio.
J. K. Growling, the oversized dalmatian that seemed to love Ezra more than either one of her other gay daddies, barely let the injured boy out of her sight. Now, she was doing her best to lie squarely across his lap, being almost the same size as him, looking up at him with sad eyes if he didn't scratch her belly enough. Gloria was a lot of fun to watch the wrestling with! She had a fun story to tell about every blasted wrestler to pop up on the screen! Salamanca once kissed his girlfriend's twin sister by mistake! Batty Betty ate live squid on a dare and vomited all over the rented car! Ten years ago, Michelle, the KADA boss, drank an entire bottle of scotch and broke the stripper pole in the party bus!! The girls coming to keep him company while Jack, Sean and Oliver were in Indianapolis had cheered him up so much.
Ava and Louise both cooed with awe as Giorgio leapt at Diego from the top rope, only for Diego to catch him in mid-air. The Brazilian, making it look easy, hoisted the flailing Italian over his head and onto his shoulders. He spun him around and dropped him to the mat with a ring-shaking Silva Spiral. It was one of Ezra's all-time favourite moves! So much that he learned how to do it in Litchfield, but most of his opponents were too big and heavy to manipulate like that. People very rarely got up again after getting hit with Diego's most well-known move. With the three-count, Lansilva retained their Tag-Team Championships. Lance, Ezra noticed, did not spend very much time in the ring. Diego was the legal man for most of the contest.
"Fun fact," Gloria was nodding, impressed with the highly competitive match she'd just seen. "The first time Diego did the Silva Spiral on... I don't remember who, exactly, it was a complete botch! The other guy was supposed to connect with a headscissors off Diego's shoulders, but there was a miscommunication, and Diego dropped the poor bastard on the floor!"
"Oh, no!" Ava giggled, a little tipsy on her third cider.
Gloria laughed as Diego and Lance celebrated their victory. "Oh, yes! That's how the Silva Spiral was born! Diego did innovate it, but it certainly wasn't on purpose. He got the idea from a botch, and he's used it as his finishing move ever since!"
Ezra was amused by that little tidbit, but he was watching the screen intently, knowing what was coming. As Lansilva bragged about beating the former champions and sidelining Supernova - generating massive heat! - Ezra's pre-recorded promo interrupted them on the big screen! The three women with him all sat up and cheered while Ezra beamed, thrilled to be a part of the show even if he couldn't be there in person. It took him ninety minutes to record this clip and four weeks worth of promo material. His schedule was now totally free until the first week of August! Ezra's promo was shot from the bare chest up, obscuring the fact that he was sitting on a stool, and he spoke to the Tag-Team Champions in the ring as though he were there live. The fans didn't need to know he was watching the show at home!
"Lance! Oi, Lance! Look at me, you little coward!! Yeah, you thought you were so clever, didn't you? You knew you couldn't beat Supernova! I beat you in my first-ever match, and Jack beat Diego Silva in his first-ever match! You knew we would have beaten you last week and we would have beaten you today! You knew you'd lose those Tag-Team Championships to us, so you BROKE my LEG???"
The camera briefly panned to Lance, who filled the screen with an arrogant, satisfied smirk. Only those who knew Lance could see how scared he was, performing as a villain in an arena full of people who genuinely despised him. Ezra felt terrible for him for a moment. It must have been so difficult, and in Ezra's opinion, he was so brave, facing up to the fans clamouring for his blood and the other wrestlers demanding his resignation!
"Well, guess what?? You failed! I won't be gone for long because as usual, you did a bad job!! I'll be back sooner than you know it, and when I am, I'm coming directly for you!! And not even Diego Silva will be able to stop me from breaking your FACE!! Until then, here's a little something to remember me by!"
The camera panned back to Lansilva again, and it was Jack who charged under the bottom rope with a bamboo kendo stick in his hands!! With a loud crack, Jack smacked Diego Silva over the back, and then a second strike, and then a terrific one to the face. Diego fell down to the mat, totally stunned. Jack turned to Lance, kendo stick raised, and Lance squealed and leapt down to the canvas curled up in a tight ball, covering his head with his hands. Ezra, the real one on the couch, watching the Pay Per View live with iced peach and mango tea in his hand, laughed wickedly. Jack sneered at the camera, tossed the kendo stick, and then grabbed Lance and hoisted him up and over his head, the cowardly villain crying for mercy all the while, and hit him with La Disparition. The crowd was on FIRE! They loved Jack SO much!!
"I'm glad you're still on TV!" Ava fanned herself with her hand. The excitement was a bit much!
"I'll say. Are you alright, though? Sitting out the match you were supposed to be a part of?" Louise asked him, swigging from her glass of water. She wasn't much of a drinker.
Ezra pursed his lips. "Yeah. Yeah, I am. I'd rather be in the ring, but I have so much to look forward to, you know? And I'm happy for Jacky. He doesn't have to sit on the sidelines with me." He looked to Gloria, who was poking her eye in the lid of her can to see if there was anything left. "Hey, Gloria, why does Rachel Reid keep calling Sean a slut? Why did they stop being friends? What happened?"
The way Gloria tensed up confirmed to Ezra that there was more to the situation than he knew about. "Honey, there are some stories I'm not supposed to tell. Like I told you a while ago, you're better off staying out of that drama."
Ava and Louise remained quiet, but by no means were they not listening intently. Ezra leaned sat up and pointed at his cast.
"It's my injury that started all this in the first place! Sean's using it to justify turning everyone against Lance. I'm already stuck in the middle! I should at least know what I'm stuck in the middle of!"
Gloria shook her head. "It's not my place to air that dirty laundry, honey. In fact, even if I were inclined to spill secrets I promised to keep safe, I'm not sure I even know the whole story. But, between us, if you ask Diego nicely, he might be compelled to tell you."
"Diego?" Ezra bit his lip nervously. "I can't even get him to tell me his favourite colour!"
"Aw, he's just a big, cuddly teddy bear if you know where to scratch," Gloria told him, earning herself a couple of giggles. "I'll let him know why you're asking ahead of time, okay? He and I go way back. Way back!"
Ezra nodded. It was admirable of Gloria to be so loyal to her friends, but the thought of interrogating Diego Silva about drama in the past was a scary one. The conversation was soon forgotten as Irina defended her Women's Championship in a STEEL CAGE match against Rachel Reid! Ezra spent most of those fifteen minutes watching not the screen, but the love and pride on Gloria's face as she watched her best friend and final opponent compete. Rachel lost, but it was a good match! Neither Oliver nor Pearl made it onto the card, but Sean Fox headlined the Pay Per View tonight against Kodeine in a no disqualification match!
Ezra didn't know much about Kodeine. Only that he was part-Asian, he used to be a marine, and he had a different girl on his arm every week. Nobody liked him much, but he was a damn good wrestler! He had a decent run after winning the belt from Diego Silva at the end of year Pay Per View. But, though Kodeine was top of the line, Sean Fox completely overshadowed him! It was the best performance Ezra had seen from his friend and mentor, and that was a huge statement to make! Slams and hurricanranas and backbreakers and flips! Sean finished his enemy off with a top rope Moonsault WHILE HOLDING A STEEL CHAIR and it made a hell of a sound when he crashed onto Kodeine with it between them!!
Sean broke down in tears when Sherry announced him as the new Heavyweight Champion, and he hugged the belt to his chest as his music blared through the arena. Ezra could feel the emotion bursting from his friend and mentor. He knew all too well how much Sean had to sacrifice to have this opportunity. And it had all come to fruition!! His dream had come true, and it was impossible not to feel so proud of him! Whatever else Sean might be, he was a wrestling GOD!! And the CROWD!!! The reaction was unexpected! Sean was a heel. A villain - he broke the rules and disrespected the fans, and they were supposed to boo him. But as he got to his feet and raised his new title high above his head, he received the loudest cheer of the whole night. A standing ovation!
6/28 - 7:37 pm EZLuczynski uploaded a picture I'm sorry about being so quiet, Luczynskiacs! Getting injured was a real shock and I needed some radio silence for a little while. ❤️ I'll be out for two or three months and I'd ask you all to respect my privacy regarding my leg. Also, I had to censor the PENIS @OGGloria drew on my cast!! 😅
The attached picture was of Ezra's leg in a new cast, propped up on the coffee table. It had signatures scrawled on it with get well notes, except for one small area that had been scribbled over by the editing software.
6/28 - 7:41 pm EZLuczynski uploaded a picture In wrestling, nobody ever wants to hurt someone else. We work hard to be safe, but accidents happen. Be kind.🥰
The attached picture was a sweet selfie taken days ago of Ezra and Lance taken over Lance's shoulder by Ezra, who was hugging his friend from behind. Both boys were smiling, putting to rest any rumours that Lance might have broken Ezra's leg on purpose.
6/28 - 11:23 pm EZLuczynski shared a picture uploaded by KADAWrestling So proud!! 🤩WHAT A MATCH!! 😱 Big victory for us little guys!! It's the era of the Fox!! 🦊🙌
The attached picture was of Sean Fox standing alone in the ring, holding the KADA Heavyweight Championship high above his head. He was slick with sweat and his hair stuck to his face and body, and he looked as though he was crying with happiness and exhaustion.
A long chapter to be sure! I was fretting about word count before I decided MEH, it's my story and I'm not getting paid for it.