Ezra arrives in Boise for his tryout match with KADA, ready and eager to achieve his dream.
Saturday, March 23rd
"Are you boys alright in there?" The parking attendant asked, and Beau gave an embarrassed wave, and she left once more.
Ezra sat frozen behind the wheel, his fingers trembling. Boise! Taco Bell Arena! KADA Wrestling!! I'm here!! In the building!! WAAAH!!!
"She's going to kick us out eventually," Beau whined. He was tired from his late drive and did not get a decent sleep during the day. "Eventually I'm going to need you to exit the vehicle."
"In a minute!" Ezra half-shouted at him in a quavering voice. "I can't! Not yet!"
Beau didn't understand what it was like for him. These people were heroes. The wrestlers he looked up to when he was a sick little boy. The men and women who gave him something to look forward to during all the operations, transfusions and chemotherapy. They gave him a purpose! To Beau, they were just ordinary people. He never did take wrestling seriously, so he recognised them only as actor/athlete hybrids who didn't have enough talent in either career to make it.
"Yeah, actually I can believe it's not butter," Beau had brought Ezra's buzz down harshly once during an intense show on the television a while ago. "And I can also believe they're not athletes. Why would you choose a career that's like... the forgotten bastard child of the celebrity family?"
Gloria seemed to think he was capable, though. Gloria Droese. She was wrestling royalty! She would know a thing or two, wouldn't she? And Michelle Peterson liked him too-- oh blast, she's here!! She's waiting for me to show up!! WAAH!!
"Do I need to go in without you?" Beau asked snappily.
"They're all going to be here, Beaubear," Ezra replied softly, leaning forward and letting his head hit the steering wheel. "Everyone I've been watching for years! What are they going to think of me?? I'm not a big hunk like Jack Lièvremont. This is never going to work! He's the perfect guy to sign to a company like this! I'm too young and too short!! They'll sign him and send me home!! Arrrgh!"
"That's a humbling speech, Ez," Beau put his hand on his boyfriend's shoulder. "What a shame it's all bullshit. If you want to go home, then that's cool by me. I always thought this was a stupid idea, but all you've spoken about in the last couple of months is getting here. Well, we're here! If you decide to give up now, then I don't ever want to hear you talking about being a wrestler again. I mean it. You're worried about what they'd think of you? Have a good look at yourself now! What will they think if they see you like this?"
Beau's stare was intense. He wasn't disappointed-- yet. Indignant, yes! It was sort of hot when he got his assertive pants on! Ezra looked at his trembling hands and clenched them into fists. He's right! The worst thing I could do is let everyone down! Be the mighty little man Eamonn is counting on! Eamonn, and Celeste and Beau and all the guys and girls in the LEW locker room! And Mickey and Isaac! And Gloria Droese!
"Okay! But while we're here, can you please not hold my hand or hug me and stuff?" Ezra asked him sheepishly. When Beau's gaze darkened, Ezra explained further. "I'm not ashamed of you! But this is... like, it's not an easy place to be gay in."
"You make it so hard to restrain myself," he leaned over and opened Ezra's door for him. "Get out already. Once you're out, it'll be easier."
It was easier, Ezra noted. He had his old, tattered backpack stuffed with his ring gear, and the air was crisp. A sense of calm washed over him, and while his nerves still shot around his body, he was able to keep a lid on them. Beau slammed the doors shut and made sure the RV was locked. It begins!!
"Hey, excuse me!" Beau shouted across to the parking attendant, who was waving in another car. Who else was coming in so early? "Do you know where we can find Michelle Peterson?"
"No idea," the woman did not even look back as she replied. "Inside somewhere."
"Nooo!" Beau made a face when he turned back around and mocked her quietly. "I figured she was out here pissing on her back tire."
Ezra began to laugh hysterically and slapped Beau on the arm. That imagery would never go away now! Beau smirked and began to lead Ezra away, but someone caught Ezra's eye first. He froze.
"What?" Beau noticed and scanned ahead. "She's one of the wrestlers, isn't she?"
"Rachel Reid! Everyone knows her!!" Ezra babbled, Rachel sitting on top of a big metal box with her legs crossed. She was even prettier in person. Long, golden hair, a pale, symmetrical face and the slim hourglass body with long, green nails that matched her wrestling attire. "She was the women's champion for ages! She main evented the end of year Pay Per View with Gloria Droese!"
"Good, she'll know where to find Michelle," Beau's flat response was almost insulting to Ezra's ears. That's all he had to say?? "Hey! Hi there! Miss Reid?"
"Mmm?" Rachel replied, not raising her eyes from her phone. Ezra meekly followed his boyfriend towards her.
"I love your dress!" Beau opened with a compliment, and Rachel's mouth went from tired, bored woman to flattered tired, bored woman. "Who made that?"
"Thanks! I have no idea. I picked it up at some random store for twenty bucks," she returned her eyes to her phone. "Can I help you guys? Are you with the production crew?"
When Ezra failed to find words, Beau covered for him again. This is why I can't do these things alone!
"Actually he's a wrestler. I'm just the moral support," Beau yoinked Ezra to the front of him by the arm. "I'm Beau. This is Ezra. He has his tryout with KADA tonight."
"Oh! Welcome," Rachel gave the first semblance of a smile. "I'm Rachel. I didn't realise there were two of you tonight. Are you with the other guy?"
"Jack?" Ezra asked bravely, intimidated by being in the very presence of one of KADA's top women.
"That'll be him," Rachel nodded, adjusting herself on her uncomfortable perch. "He was quite a biscuit. Are you a tag team?"
"No," Ezra shook his head, trembling. Beau looked at him and sighed.
"Some woman called Gloria found Ez in our tiny little hellhole in Minnesota," Beau explained, and Ezra blushed. He didn't like people to know that Gloria fast-tracked his way to the big league. According to every source he knew, people who took shortcuts on their way did not get a warm reception. Lance Lovecraft had been the victim of bullying backstage, apparently. "So she put in a good word, and now we're here to see Michelle Peterson."
"Oh, my Gloria?" Rachel seemed to come to life then, and she extended her hand. Both boys gratefully shook it. "Then a super welcome to you, Ezra and Beau! Anyone who impresses Gloria must be special, indeed! If you're looking for Michelle, she could be anywhere. She always finds the weirdest place. There'll be maps to her office around the place, so head in that direction and pray that she's there. If she's not, wait outside."
"Okay! Thank you! Thank you very much!" Ezra was beginning to fire up, and electricity was flowing through his veins, making him bounce until Beau put a firm hand on his shoulder and forced him to remain still. "Thanks! I'm so excited! You have no idea! You and Gloria stole the show that night!!"
"You bet your ass we did!" Rachel shot a grin at him, tossing her long hair over her shoulder.
"Thanks, girl," Beau began to march Ezra away, but he paused. "Anything we should know before we speak to this Michelle?"
"She's rude, blunt and crass, but she's a nice sort," Rachel warned them amiably. Really? Sounds a lot like Eamonn to me, Ezra thought. "There's nothing 'Chelle hates more than people who try to kiss her ass, you know? So if she's wrong or if she says something out of line, make sure to tell her. Oh, and let her finish speaking. If a man interrupts her, she breaks his balls. Just be yourself, really! She's not half as intimidating as she looks at the first meeting."
"Thanks!" Ezra repeated the only word that seemed to float around in his head. "Thank you!"
"Good luck tonight!" Rachel waved and returned to her phone. "I hope to see you boys sticking around."
"She's a lot nicer than she is on TV," Beau remarked, marching the hyperactive little guy along the corridor. "I was expecting her to slap me in the face or something."
"I hope everyone's this nice," Ezra buzzed, his eyes wide and open in hopes of finding one of the maps Rachel was talking about. "Apparently Diego Silva is a jerk!"
"You mean that asshole who makes fun of everyone? Yeah, I'd never have guessed," Beau pointed to the sheet of paper taped to the white brick wall. A map! "Two rights and it's the only door on the left. Now please, Ez, I can feel you jittering like a pinball machine when someone pops the fucking multi-ball."
"Oh... am I being weird again?" Ezra asked, biting his lip nervously.
"Just a tad," Beau's voice changed to sympathetic rather than tired. "I get that these people are your role models, but you're supposed to be meeting them as potential coworkers, you know? If you freak out every time you meet someone who's on TV, you'll probably get us both thrown out."
"I'm sorry!" Ezra sighed, painfully aware of how awkward he was in social situations sometimes. It was like his brain didn't know how to process his emotions sometimes and just sent them flying through his body instead, letting them wreak havoc on his ability to think clearly and act appropriately.
Beau knocked on the door for Ezra when they found the one the map lead them to. Ezra couldn't stop thinking about how he should conduct himself. How he tended to overreact to things. Jack Lièvremont is a well-adjusted, successful man who was blessed with height and worked hard for muscle. What am I even doing here??
"Yeah?" Michelle's voice was iconic, Ezra thought. He recognised it immediately.
"Hi, I'm Ezra Luczynski!" He squeaked, and Beau rubbed between his shoulder blades the way he did to calm his boyfriend down.
"Get in here!" Michelle ordered with a raised voice.
When they entered, a woman on the other side of middle-age was sitting on the desk, dressed in long, willowy slacks and a beige jacket. Her greying hair was cut short and she had big hoops through both ears. Michelle! It must be! But Ezra's eyes bugged when he saw Jack and Sarah Lièvremont in the room with her. Jack was a dreamboat! He was wearing a sleeveless shirt that let his huge arms breathe and tight denim pants, his short black bangs combed to the side and the hair on top of his head wild and spiked. Jack winked at him and waved merrily, and Ezra's heart gave a small flutter. A quick glance at Beau convinced him that his boyfriend was feeling the same way about the straight, married guy in the room. Sarah, dressed in a revealing suede black dress with boots to match, looked away. Ooh.
"Hi!" Ezra blurted out cheerfully and waved at everyone as Beau closed the door behind them. "I'm Ezra! Luczynski! Ezra Luczysnki!" You dope!! They know who you are!! "This is Beau! Hello."
Beau was never an outgoing person. Social situations weren't so easy for him either, but he was far more at ease than his boyfriend was.
"Nice to meet you all," he smiled, and his pretty blue eyes twinkled.
"Well, now all three of our potential candidates are here together," Michelle looked the way she sounded on the phone. Loud and husky, like she'd been smoking for ninety years! "And we even got another one in the deal. Welcome to KADA, Ezra, and it's a pleasure to meet you, Beau. I'm Michelle, and I'm the boss in these parts. Ezra, you don't disappoint, kid! Check this out!"
Michelle strode over to him with a mild limp, and she stood next to him, pointing at him with a grin on her face. She was a little bit taller. Only a little bit, but still, she was making of him!
"He's so small!" Michelle laughed, and Sarah gave a mocking grin. Oh, bite your bum, you mole! Ezra still had not forgiven Sarah for her attempt to sabotage him at MCW, and her attempt to embarrass him at the Minneapolis wrestling school. His disdain must have been written on his face because Michelle took notice. "Don't worry, kid. I'm just jealous of all that youth and stamina because I'm old and decrepit. Did you get here okay? Have you met the Frenchies?"
While Michelle talked a mile a minute, Ezra noticed that Sarah was quietly translating everything the older woman said to her husband and delighted in seeing Jack's vivid reactions to things. He's not helpless, Ezra reminded himself. Jack understood more English than he let on. Ezra was sure of it. It was speaking the language fluently that gave him trouble.
"I have! Jack thrashed me black and blue at MCW!" Ezra grinned, determined to put in a good word. Maybe Sarah had a problem with him, but he did not have a problem with Jack. He was friendly. He, as much as it sucked to admit, was a far better wrestler than Ezra was. He deserved to get signed tonight. "It was a long, long drive! But with help from Beau, we got here alive!"
"Glad to hear it, Protostar!" Michelle smiled warmly before returning to the desk and hopping up on it.
"Protostar?" Ezra asked, taking one of the empty seats next to Beau.
"Baby star! Star in the making!" Michelle explained, taking a swig of something from a silver flask. "You know. Giant balls of gas, but it's some fun wordplay because I reckon you're gonna be big one day. It's all metaphoric."
"You're making it sound like you've already decided to sign him," Silicone Sarah - thank you for that, Eamonn - broke in, sounding as sour as her frown looked. "Is that the case?"
"I won't bullshit any of you. I'm impressed with the Pole, and I'm keen for him to join the KADA roster," Michelle turned to Sarah and suddenly seemed eleven feet tall. She folded her arms, cocked an eyebrow and her voice took a harsh turn. "He's unlike anything we've had before, and that interests me. From what I've heard and what I've seen, he's unique, innovative and motivated. His height - of lack of - is a crutch we can use. I don't mean to take away from Frenchy here - Jack here might be the duck's nuts but hundreds of Jack Lièvremonts from all over the world send in their applications every week. Capisce?"
Sarah shut her mouth, and Jack looked troubled, more so when his wife relayed the words to him. Ezra found it hard to take joy in the tongue-lashing the purple-haired tart received. Jack was a nice guy! What did he even see in her? She must be a killer lay in bed because she does not have a great personality.
"So, I'm glad you came in early as well," the shadow suddenly lifted from Michelle when she returned to Ezra. "That shows a good work ethic, and that goes a very long way in this business. Our Frenchy is going toe to toe with Diego Silva tonight, and our Frenchy wife is going to valet against one of our best in Lance Lovecraft. You, little fella? I've got my eye set on Oliver Vickery. He's a bit bigger and stronger than our typical guys and we're looking at a killer underdog angle for you if we like what we see tonight. Sean Fox is going in a new direction, and that opens up a niche for you to squeeze in your skinny ass. Fans love an underdog, and you're a hoot, from what I've seen."
"Why do you keep saying you've seen him?" Sarah absolutely could not help herself, it seemed. She was so desperate to discredit Ezra as a candidate for the company that she was playing a dangerous game with not only her career but Jack's as well. "How could you have seen him? He's basically twelve, and he wrestles in the boonies!"
"We're going to get a few things straight right now, Miss Mouthy," Michelle snapped at her, and Jack put a warning hand on Sarah's. "You're all basically twelve to me, and you will watch your attitude. If you have a problem with another wrestler, then you're welcome to tell me. However, you don't work for me yet and I don't know you well enough to let you interrupt me, so for the rest of today, I need you to keep your mouth shut unless you're helping Frenchy talk business."
Ezra snuck a glance to his boyfriend, who seemed to have a smug satisfaction in his eyes. Oh, we're gonna have a lot to talk about tonight! Beau was enjoying this meeting, and contrary to what he was expecting, Ezra was too! Michelle set a vivid impression, and she was very likeable - although, Miss Mouthy was probably not in agreement. Look at her, over there. Miserable tart!!
"Ezra, you were a lot more animated on the phone," Michelle's wrinkles lip curled into a grin. "Do you have thoughts? Questions? What do you think about going up against our Oliver? Talk to me."
"I have so many thoughts and questions!!" Ezra nearly wailed his reply. "They're all trying to get through at once and my brain's like TV static!!"
Beau gave him a comforting pat on the back and Michelle cocked her head, nodded and remained quiet. It became clear that she still wanted to hear from him. Ezra spat out the things that cycled through his head.
"Okay, so what happens tonight in my match against Oliver? I know he's going to win but how long does it go for and how will he beat me? Am I going to tap out to his submission move? Is it a normal match or will it have a stipulation? How do you decide if you want to sign me up or not? What should I do tonight when I'm not in the ring? What are our chances of getting a contract? Did Gloria Droese really retire? Can Jack and I both get a contract or just one of us? What are our chances? Will I get paid for this show? Do you tell us what the plans are for us in the short term or long term or what because in LEW and MCW we only knew what was happening a few hours before the show and--"
"Fuck me, be careful what you wish for, am I right?" Michelle quipped, laughing at the floodgates she opened. Jack blinked stupidly, and Sarah rolled her eyes. "Alright, I think I caught all that."
"Sorry," Ezra caught Beau's slightly embarrassed glance and looked away. Blast!! "I get carried away!"
"Don't sweat it. I do that all the time," she replied with a friendly nod. "Well, let's start with your match tonight! Vickery will win of course, but how you two want to end the match is up to you. We're quite lax during the untelevised shows, and it gives us an opportunity to see you use your initiative. Shoot for ten or so minutes and show us everything you've got in your arsenal. Work it out with Vickery before you go out there, alright? He'll be here a couple of hours before the show starts."
"Okay!!" Ezra was excited to hear that he would be given the freedom to showcase what he could do.
"Make no mistake, little Protostar, we're not looking to just pick one of you and send the others home. We might take you all or none of you," Michelle was terrific at this! Ezra was already feeling like part of the team. Then I better nail it tonight, he thought. "Off the record, our roster could use some jazzing up, so I do like your chances. You've all proven to have the potential for stardom. I know that and you know that. Now, when it comes to storylines - you asked, right? Yeah, so most smaller promotions go week by week, but we like to plan more for the long term. You won't know what you'll be doing in the next twelve weeks, because often plans change or guys get hurt or whatever, but you should have a vague idea. We don't give you coordinates, but we'll tell you what direction you're going in. Do you follow?"
"Yes! Yes!" Ezra couldn't sit any longer and stood up in his excitement. Michelle ignored him entirely and continued.
"Typically no, we don't pay our wrestlers for tryout matches, but I understand sometimes it's a bitch and a half to chase us around the bloody country when the minor promotions give you a thumbs up and a luke-warm beer for your performance," she shuddered. "Believe me, most of us have been there! So we're quite happy to cover your travel, accommodation, food budgets - so long as you go easy on the lobster and Dom Perignon - and if you have to miss work to be here, we can talk about that as well."
"Oh! We could have stayed in a hotel after all!" Beau laughed, and Ezra hung his head. "Instead of driving that rust bucket the whole way."
He wished someone mentioned this first before he went to the trouble of securing Mickey's RV and spending hours and hours driving. Well, it wasn't so bad! Beau wasn't upset. They'd had an enjoyable time together in the little old camper so far. Changing of the driver meant a congratulatory blowjob for whoever had navigated a long stretch of road, and the two had a lovely time when they stopped over in Bozeman to take pictures of the Rocky Mountains and have an extended cuddle in the bed. Maybe this trip is what Beau and I needed to get out of that rut we seemed to be stuck in. Worth it! Every mile!
"At least this means I might not have to be at the blasted diner at 7 on Monday morning," Ezra replied, relief flooding over him.
His job was making this weekend very difficult. Between finishing at 4 pm on Friday and starting work at 7 am on Monday, he had sixty-seven hours to travel to Boise, perform Saturday night, and be back home in time to work. Sixty-seven hours. The drive took a little over twenty-one hours without any stops at all, and the trip back did as well. Forty-two hours. That left twenty-five, and if Ezra expected to get eight hours per night, only a single hour remained. He had to sacrifice a lot of sleep for this weekend to work, and he was beginning to realise just how impossible it might have been had Beau not come with him.
"You work at food stop?" Jack asked after Sarah's input, and he seemed alarmed. "So soon?"
"I sure do!" Ezra replied, bouncing up and down again until Beau nudged him. "Gotta eat somehow! How about you?"
"Jack's a personal trainer in Quebec City," Sarah replied for him, and both Beau and Michelle seemed to share an eye roll so intense that it was a miracle their peepers didn't fall from their sockets. She was too busy gloating to Ezra to notice. "He makes a lot of money."
Well, yippee for you guys, Ezra thought bitterly. Jack didn't seem impressed either, folding his arms across his muscular chest and saying something quietly in his native tongue.
"Take Monday off," Michelle snatched the conversation back to what she was talking about. "Talk to me after the show. If we decide not to offer a contract, we'll at least cover all your expenses."
"Thanks!!" Ezra was relieved with that. Now he and Beau could even see more of Boise, now that money was less of an issue! An extra day on the road with his boyfriend? Awesome! "Thanks! I mean it, thanks!"
"Anything else?" Michelle hopped down and sidled around to the back of her desk and sat in the chair. "No? Then get lost, the four of you. I'll want to see you both again after the show. Good luck, and if you need anything else, you know where to find me."
The four of them left the room, shutting the door behind them, and it was everything Ezra could do not to pounce at Jack or Beau and embrace them with all his strength. We're almost part of the KADA family!!
"Jack Jack Jack Jack Jack!" Ezra bit his finger to stop himself from jumping around like a monkey on heat. "You get to fight Diego Silva!!"
"Yes!" Jack was similarly overjoyed, and to Ezra's surprise, he was the one who yoinked the little gay boy over for a hug. A hug! From Jack Lièvremont! What?? "Because you fight me so well at Minneapolis we are at KADA!"
"Yes yes yes!!" Ezra squeaked, but Beau did not appear to share his enthusiasm.
"Ahh, no actually. You guys are jerks," Beau snapped, pulling his boyfriend away from Jack's arms, much to the surprise and indignance of the Lièvremonts.
"Excuse you?" Sarah stepped in front of Jack, and Beau stepped in front of Ezra. "Who asked you, anyway? You're not a part of any of this. You shouldn't even be here."
"News flash, I can speak and understand French," Beau was livid! It was almost exciting to see him so mad on behalf of Ezra rather than at him. "Apparently you fucking can't. I might be a European mutt, but Quebecois ain't that much different, honeycakes, and all you ever did was talk trash about my man to yours. Why don't you get over yourself? You ain't nothing but a glorified cheerleader." With Sarah's mouth hanging open, Beau turned his attention to Jack. Ezra loved everything about this. "And you? Don't pretend to be Ezra's friend if you're just going to sit there and let her say the worst shit about him, and while we're on the subject, get a new translator, hon, because I know this one's broken. Va te faire foutre!" Beau only ever got this angry when he and Ezra had an emotional fight. It was amazing to see him leap to his lover's defence so passionately. Still, even though Ezra knew that Sarah would no doubt be slipping jabs at him into her translations, he was hurt that Jack might be so two-faced to him.
"You do not get to speak to me like that--" Sarah began shouting, but Beau was done with them and yoinked Ezra away by the wrist. Jack looked horrified and embarrassed, whereas Sarah was enraged. Yeah... well... good!
"I didn't know you spoke French!" Ezra exclaimed, smitten and successfully seduced by Beau's outburst.
"Erm hello, my name and my dad's are French?" Beau teased him. "My folks are from Belgium! Did you forget they speak French over there? I'm not fluent, but I know enough to eavesdrop. Can we not talk to them again, please? I'm this close to snatching both of them bald."
"What were they saying about me?" Ezra was curious, even if it hurt his feelings. He thought Jack liked him. He liked Jack - or at least he thought he did.
"Jack mostly talked shop," Beau explained, the two of them walking nowhere. We're lost, Ezra thought. Great. "Sarah, oh my god, she really hates you. She says you're cheating to get ahead somehow and that upsets her a lot."
"I kind of did, though," Ezra reminded him quietly, checking both directions of the corridor to make sure nobody overheard him. "Gloria fast-tracked me, and if she didn't, I probably wouldn't have been scouted or gotten a tryout match for at least three years."
"She can get her ass over it," Beau clicked his fingers. "Nobody talks about my Ez like that except me. They're not a happy couple, I can tell you that. Jack's getting sick of her shit, apparently. Maybe I should have just shut my mouth and kept the gossip line open, huh?"
"No! I'm glad you said that stuff!" Ezra laughed, standing on his toes to whisper in his boyfriend's ear. "Maybe this is super inappropriate, but I'm gonna fuck you into the mattress tonight."
Beau was surprised to hear that from his mighty little man and turned pink. Hehe. Cutie!! The two wandered the hallway until they found the entrance to the arena. People were only beginning to set it up now, and Ezra froze at the magnitude of the view. Tens of thousands of seats! The sky above! And the crew setting the ring up!! Ahh!!
"Where am I supposed to watch you from tonight?" Beau asked, taking it in as much as Ezra was.
"I dunno but call 911 when I die from joy!" Ezra chewed on his fingers. "Beau! I'm here! I'm actually here! I'm going to wrestle in a KADA ring can you believe it oh my gosh!!"
"Just don't forget to breathe," Beau teased him, and Ezra squeaked and jumped up and down.
"Take it in, rookie. It never gets less beautiful," someone stood next to him. They weren't awfully tall, and Ezra recognised him by voice and height alone. Sean Fox. Is talking. To me. At KADA. AT KADA! "Haha. Did I scare you? I'm sorry."
"Oh, I know you!" Beau sensed Ezra was in trouble and came to his aid. "Fox, right? Sean? Forgive Ez, he's a bit starstruck."
"That's lovely," Sean chuckled. He looked nothing like he did on camera! Waya was covered in war paint and wore feathers in his hair and Sean Fox wore sleek, satin clothes with a pretty river of hair falling down his back! "So, I know this must be Ezra Luczysnki, but you've got me as a disadvantage. You know who I am, but I don't know you. Are you the manager?"
"Beau. I'm mostly moral support," Beau replied with honesty, and Ezra finally processed the fact that he was meeting one of his role models.
"Hi! Hi! I'm Ezra! You're Sean, and you're pretty awesome!" He blurted out and Sean raised his eyebrows and lips in a cheerful smile that made him look more beautiful than nearly anyone Ezra had ever seen.
"Thanks! It's always a pleasure to meet someone who appreciates my work," Sean shook his shaking hand with a type of cool calm the Polish-American had never felt in his whole life. "And I especially love meeting wrestlers as short as me! Us little guys have to stick together."
"Oh, you can say that again!" Ezra was a few inches shorter than Sean, but he immediately felt a kinship with him. Nobody knew what it was like to fight for opportunities in spite of their height like Sean Fox did. "I'm about to die, I'm that excited and nervous! I don't want to mess it up!"
"Oh, if Michelle didn't think you were ready, she wouldn't send you out there tonight," Sean reassured him. He looked like a high-school geek, with his hair tied up in a nerdy knot behind his head, a blank white tee and denim shorts and glasses on his nose. "Besides, you'll be in the ring against Oliver. He'll take good care of you. Why don't you come and meet him? He's looking everywhere for you!"
"Sorry," Beau chuckled. "We got lost and ended up here."
"Hah! I never did get the hang of navigating the backstage areas!" Sean spun around and beckoned. "It was by luck I got here myself. Come and say hi to Oliver."
"I like him," Beau whispered, and Ezra flushed. His brain wasn't working correctly. Sean Fox. Oliver Vickery?? Holy rabbits, I'm going to fight Oliver Vickery!!
On their way through, Ezra noticed a lot of wrestlers had shown up while he and Beau wandered and watched the arena. He didn't have the bravery to greet them, though. He wasn't worthy!! He stared as he passed Kodeine, the current Heavyweight Champion who was with a striking young lady donning a revealing dress. He passed James Vause, the Jesus of the wrestling community, looking smart and dashing in a three-piece suit. Pearl, a pretty, overweight Japanese woman who could squat three hundred and sixty pounds! A young girl who went by the stage name Heather. He saw Diego Silva and Lance Lovecraft sitting together at a table with Jack and Sarah Lièvremont, and he wasn't sure what to make of it. Jack would be wrestling Diego tonight, and Lance and Sarah would be valeting for their respective partners. While Sean gave greetings to most people, Ezra saw him side-eye Lansilva as they walked by. Drama?? It's not like we're any better, Ezra thought as he saw Beau shoot daggers to Jack and Sarah.
"Hey, baby!" Oliver seemed to radiate a positive, friendly warmness that Ezra lapped up immediately. He was big! Very similar to Jack as far as height and build were concerned. He'd already changed into the long, purple pants and arm sleeves he wore to the ring. "And buddy! And big buddy! How are you guys? You've been hiding!"
"Beau," the taller boy introduced himself. "And Ezra." He pushed Ezra forward, and Sean, to Ezra's surprise, perched himself on Oliver's lap. WHOA. Plot twist!!
"Welcome to our horrible little family!" Ollie grinned and pointed to the seats opposite him. "I'm Ollie! We're gonna get physical tonight! Are you excited?"
"I'm so excited, you have no idea!" Ezra drummed his fingertips on the tabletop. "I'm trying to be a high flyer! Is that okay?"
"Hell yes, that's okay!" Ollie laughed, and Sean gave a thumbs up in response. "I did my homework and watched your match with that Jack guy on the internet. It wasn't half-bad! If lucha wrestling's your style, then I'm happy to do let you zip around the ring. Our match is all about you, man, so bring your best!"
"I didn't know I was on the internet!" Ezra gasped, and Sean answered.
"Your MCW match with Jack Lièvremont is on Youtube," the smaller guy revealed, leaning happily against Ollie's chest. They're gay!! Oh my gosh! "Didn't you know? We found it pretty fast when we searched your name. Someone from the crowd recorded it and uploaded. Aside from a spot where you and the girl had a miscommunication, it was solid!"
"Oh, that bitch," Beau remarked immediately, and Ezra dropped his head while Sean and Ollie's eyes bulged. "What?"
"Why are all the men in my life like this?" Ezra lamented, rolling his face around on his forearms. Eamonn and Beau were going to destroy his career before it even began. "Just don't, okay? You don't know if I'm going to have to work with her."
"Yeah be careful slinging shade at people," Ollie cut off a giggle that tried to escape from his chest. "Even if they're turds, it's a small world, you know?"
"And it's competitive enough as it is," Sean added with a stifled yawn. He looked tired. "Keep that talk to when you're out of the workplace, at least. But still, thanks for the warning."
"Right. You're right. My bad," Beau admitting wrongdoing was a rare enough thing, and that spoke for the respect he already had for these guys. That was good.
"You know who else had their tryout match against yours truly?" Ollie changed the subject. "This little minx right here."
"Mmhmm," Sean pied his lover's face with his hand. "He dropped me on my ass when he was supposed to catch me and took me on a date to apologise. So romantic!"
"He dropped you??" Beau sounded alarmed. Oh no, Ezra thought. Not this. Not now. If Beau can wait until after the match to freak out, that would be great.
"I did not drop him," Ollie gripped Sean's face and smooshed his cheeks together with his huge hand. "And I won't drop you. Don't listen to Seano. He likes to be dramatic."
Ezra laughed. He liked Ollie and Sean! They were personable and friendly, and they made him feel less out of place. Sean was able to empathise with him about what it was like trying to make a name for himself as a short guy, and told some stories about some of the nightmare promotions he'd worked for on his way up. It made Ezra appreciate little old LEW and Artie. The group was small and underfunded, but they all had fun together. The wrestlers, Artie, the many people who frequented the crowd and even the police chief in town all rallied to make it so. MCW wasn't so close-knit, but everyone had always treated Ezra with respect in spite of his age and inexperience. Sarah was an exception. Sean had apparently met his share of Sarahs. Greedy, ambitious people who would find ways to sabotage and step over each other. A competitive industry does not give people an excuse to behave like beasts, Sean decided. On that note, Ezra agreed with him.
Oliver wanted to talk more about their match later on in the night. While Beau and Sean scooted away so they could talk about other things - Britney, Gaga and Ke$ha came up at some point - Ezra and Ollie discussed what they would do during their scheduled match tonight.
"No, man! You're in charge tonight," Ollie baulked at the idea of Ezra following the big man's lead. It was a welcome surprise to Ezra, who usually let the more experienced guys call the shots. "This is your moment, yeah? So bring everything you got!"
Ollie was booked to win the match in around ten minutes. That was their only set of limitations or spots. The rest was up to them. No doubt Michelle and the people in the administration sector wanted to see Ezra's ability to improvise, work with their talent and respond to the crowd. I will dazzle them! I am a mighty little man, after all! I have to make my big little brother proud! So Ezra described the three big spots he wanted to pull off. He wanted to hit his top rope somersault takedown finishing move - although it would not finish Ollie off, it was his best manoeuvre at this point in time. People loved it! He wanted to lift Ollie and slam him to the floor to showcase his strength - maybe not something as strenuous as a Powerbomb from Jimmy Vause, but he wanted to show he was powerful. Third, he wanted Ollie to slam him in some way on the announce table. That would show those watching that he was ready to take some bumps! Ollie eagerly accepted all those requests, and so it was to be! As the show began to get underway, Ezra and Sean left to dress in the locker room while Ollie kept Beau occupied.
"How long have you two been together?" Sean asked him privately as they stripped and pulled on their in-ring gear.
"Oh..." Ezra wasn't sure he was ready to talk about Beau, but Sean was gay. And with Oliver! That was something he didn't see coming. Maybe he'd pick Sean as a gay, but Oliver? Not a million years! Ahh, Beau's just so gay that my gaydar's gone to heck! "Three years at the start of April. I asked him out on April Fool's Day and he didn't believe me at first! He made me kiss him first to make sure I wasn't playing a joke on him!"
"That's a much nicer story than how Ollie and I went out the first time," Sean chuckled. "So Beau isn't into wrestling, is he? He never said so, but it's fairly obvious to me. Is that rough?"
"Sometimes," Ezra sighed, slipping his small feet into his padded boots and tugging them up over his knees. They were getting worn out, but he could not afford to replace them. He could not afford much at all these days, especially after he began regular payments for Eamonn's wrestling school tuition. "The honeymoon period's long gone and we do a lot of fighting, but we always suck it up! He's just very protective, and he thinks I'm going to get hurt. He's here with me, though. That means the world to me."
"Isn't that sweet?" Sean picked his hair out of its bind and it fell to his hips. Long, almost black and very thick. In this light, it seemed to have a red hue to it. "Well, you better go for broke tonight, Ezra. I'm not ready to see the back of you and Beau just yet. He and I have another six seasons of Drag Race to discuss yet, so you go out there and make my boyfriend your bitch. If he doesn't have a slew of bruises tonight, then you and I will have words! He'll be safe with me while you're competing. Don't worry!"
With those words of encouragement igniting the fire in his passionate heart, Ezra knew at once he belonged in KADA Wrestling. It felt like home already. To wrestle three, four or even five times a week! To live his dream and be paid to do so! We want this too much to fail now! Easy-Ezzy! At least if I know what it's like to wrestle in front of tens of thousands of people, I'll have done something to make Eamonn's sacrifices worth it. If the cancer comes back... so be it. I already lived!! When it was time, Oliver entered first. After a short while, Ezra's song played. Mighty little man, as per Eamonn's request! The crowd was utterly silent, but that was to be expected. Nobody knew who Ezra was. That's okay, though! It's alright! I'll make sure they know! Wheewww!!
He jumped three times on the spot then he dashed through the curtain to be met with a wall of lights and the deafening music playing around him. He was momentarily stunned, and stood there in awe, a grin spreading over his baby face. It was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen! So many people! So much energy! Wow! Wow! Wow!
"And introducing his opponent, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ezra Luckazinskee!" Sherrie introduced him, horribly mispronouncing his name.
Maybe Minneapolis was more relatable than Litchfield? Heh. But Luckazinskee? That wasn't even close!! Oh, well! This wasn't televised! It doesn't matter! Let's go go go! He bounded to one side of the stage and waved happily to the crowd members, who seemed tickled to see a man of his stature competing against someone as mighty as Oliver Vickery. He skipped to the other side and greeted them too, and the children there all waved and cheered. Yes!! Pumped and ready, Ezra then sprinted down the entrance ramp and bounced to the ring apron, launching himself over the ropes, rolling forward, then leaping onto his hands and springing forward again onto his feet. He stomped and posed like a superhero, arms on his waist, looking high up into the back rows of the arena and smiling big. Sherrie passed her microphone to him, to his surprise!
"Cut a short promo. Introduce yourself," she instructed him quietly with a smile, and Ezra was so shaken he almost dropped the damn thing on the floor. Introduce myself?? This isn't part of the plan!!
"H-hey!" Ezra's shaky voice boomed through the arena. "I'm Ezra Luczynski! I..." he wasn't sure what to say. This was all so new to him! He looked at Oliver, who was leaning nonchalantly against the ropes. He gave the faintest of nods, and Ezra swallowed his nerves. "I know this is the first time any of you will ever have heard of me. I mean, I'm not some star from the independent circuit. I don't have friends or family in the industry. No, I'm just a certified nobody from the backwaters of Minnesota! But this nobody has a dream, a dream that he's had ever since he was big enough to walk! This nobody is living his dream!! And frankly, it's the best day of this nobody's life!! So for all of you out there who have a dream, those of you who are watching my dream come true right now, I want you to do something for me! Dare to dream and dare to dream big! Because none of you are too weak, or too fat, or too broken, or too SHORT!!" The audience began to laugh, and he felt tears welling in the corner of his eyes. No! Cry later! Not here! Not now! "You can do anything you want to do. Don't let anybody tell you that you can't!"
With that said, he meekly passed the microphone back to her, and she exited the ring. The crowd, to his surprise and delight, slowly began to cheer and applaud him, and the love for him only grew until the arena was rumbling with appreciation. Oh my gosh!! I didn't bomb!! I did it!! The bell rang, and he turned to Ollie, who charged him like a bull out of the gate and knocked him flat on his ass. Ezra made sure to add some spice to his fall, playing up the theatrics and bouncing, crying out in pain. Ollie picked him up and grabbed him by the face.
"If this is your dream, then I'm Freddy goddamn Krueger, pipsqueak!" Ollie taunted him, picking him up with ease and slamming him down on the canvas, over and over. Every time, Ezra put in a hundred and fifty per cent to sell Oliver as a demigod! "Welcome to KADA!" He picked up the teenager and dumped him unceremoniously out of the ring over the top rope. "Now get out of my ring!"
Oliver then picked him up and slammed him down hard on the announce table. It knocked the wind right out of Ezra's lungs, and pain shot through his body. It was a good pain, though. The stinging on his flesh and the dull ache in his muscles reminded him that he was doing what he always wanted to do! When Ollie scooped his lifeless body back up and threw him in the ring, ready to pin him and end the match. Ezra sprung up and surprised him, wrapping his arm around the man's head and dragging him to the floor, almost winning the match right there. Now that he was done playing possum, he ran at the ropes and showcased his offence to the crowd nearby. Ezra wasn't a great wrestler... yet!! But he was capable! He was a little slow for a cruiserweight and a bit shaky on the ropes, but he was indeed able to bring the fight to the big man! The crowd grew increasingly excited about the match, and when Ezra took Oliver down with his somersault from the top rope, they burst into an enthusiastic cheer. Oliver was so slow to break free of the pin that the crowd gave one unanimous cry of surprise as Ezra wailed in desperation.
The Litchfield boy hoisted Oliver up onto his shoulders. Oliver was heavy!! But Ezra slammed him down to the ground all the same, his legs, arms and body screaming with exhaustion. The match continued, both men getting a respectable amount of offence in. In the end, Oliver caught Ezra and locked his arms and legs around his body like a blasted pretzel, folding him in half and forcing Ezra to scream out that he conceded, forfeiting the match. Although Oliver's music played and Sherrie announced him as the victor, the crowd was even hotter for Ezra, who was wiping tears of joy from his face. On his trip back up the ramp, they reached out to him, and Ezra tagged every hand with his own on the way. People seemed to appreciate him and how hard he worked! They congratulated his valiant performance and offered their respect. As if wrestling for KADA wasn't enough! Now the fans were thanking him for living his dream!! Ahhhh!!
"Oh, Ezra!" Rachel Reid was among the first who greeted him when he made his way backstage. "That was one of the best debuts I've ever seen!"
"Sweetest promo!" Lance Lovecraft was beaming, ever so British and covered in makeup. He looked a bit like a clown, Ezra thought. But a handsome clown, at least. "That was gorgeous! Well done!"
"Congratulations," Diego Silva spoke in a heavy Brazilian accent and squeezed his shoulder, solemn and quiet. "Not many rookies can match Ollie, but you held your own."
"Michelle wants you in her office," there was no mistaking that voice!! Jimmy Vause himself!! "I bet she's going to give you a contract to take home, kid! You made a hell of an impression tonight. Go!"
"I..." Ezra choked. He was running on fumes, now. He used everything in the tank to make sure he nailed his tryout match. It seemed to make him stupid, and he couldn't reply to the most amazing wrestler of the current generation.
"Go!" Jimmy gave him a gentle shove, a smile on his face.
Ezra trudged his way through the corridors in search of Michelle's office, numb inside. He was far too exhausted and high on the experience to properly take in the respect of these professionals here. These heroes of his! They think I did well! The fans think I did well! Please... let Michelle think so too! Now... if only I can find her blasted office!!
"Oh, there you are, Protostar!" Michelle crept up behind him, and he nearly jumped out of his skin. "Hah! Sorry. I tend to roam around the halls like a bloody ghost. Here."
She handed a mustard-coloured envelope to him, and Ezra's jaw dropped open.
"Is... is this...?" Ezra's words babbled from his mouth, and she grinned.
"That right there is a KADA contract, Ezra," Michelle explained, standing by him as he held it with quivering hands. A KADA contract!! "You're going to take this home and have a real good look at it. If you want to talk about it further or negotiate, then ring the number attached. If you like what you see, then sign in all the right places and send it on back to me, alright?"
"What's in the contract?" Ezra had to ask, and Michelle rubbed his sweaty back with her hand.
"Same contract as any of our other stars!" She reassured him. "Training, wrestling, events. A salary - a rookie salary, but a lot more than you'd be earning at that diner! Look, it's all in there. No fine print. Read it for yourself and get back to me. If you want to be a wrestler with KADA, little Protostar, then you have the key in your hands."
"Thank you!!" Ezra couldn't stop himself from pouncing and throwing his arms around her in gratitude. "Thank you thank you thank you thank you!!"
Michelle, a little surprised, didn't seem to mind. She laughed and returned the hug, and the mighty little man couldn't contain his emotion. There was far too much to be happy about, after all! When Beau rounded the corner with Sean and Oliver, Ezra's huge smile was confirmation of the question they were ready to ask.