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LEARNING TO ADAPT

1...2...3...

That's it.. it's all over! I defeated Rip Bash in a one on one match.. The fans are hyped up and they are cheering for me! This environment is so full of thrill and excitement! It's so hard to keep myself contained, but maybe if I just.. let loose. Yeah, that's it.. I'll just wave my arms around around and smile at the fans who seem to be happy with the outcome of the match.

WHAM

I blink my eyes a few times. Everything is fuzzy at first, but it all begins to come clear to me. I am in my locker room, lying on the bench in the far corner of the room. My shower is producing steam. Who in the right mind would use my shower while I'm passed out from whatever the hell decided to knock me on the head.

Then I notice something. Someone is coming out of my shower. It's a girl. I can't tell any further who it could be, but I close my eyes and pretend that I'm still knocked out. I can hear her rustling around in bags and I can't help but to sneak a peek. I get only the glimpse of a buttocks. I still don't know who it is but as they stand up from the bags, I quickly put myself back down.

After a few minutes have passed, I pretend I am just regaining consciousness. As I open my eyes, I see her. It's Skylar Hayes, the one woman that I've been getting closer with progressively each and every week. It's hard to say what she is feeling for me, because she is really good at hiding her emotions around me. I just hope that I'm moving things in the right direction. I guess the fact that she is in here alone without Clay is a pretty good sign.

She is all dressed now and she has just finished blow drying her beautiful hair. She walks over to me and sits down on the bench next to me. “Are you okay,” she asks, quite worriedly if I say so myself. I don't say anything, but I give her a firm nod. She lets out a sigh of relief and then most unexpectedly, she grabs my head, pulls me in, and she puts her lips against mine. They are soft and they taste like cherries. I did see her putting on lip balm a bit ago..

She eases away very slowly and stares to the bench, avoiding eye contact with me. She is lightly biting her lower lip and she slides herself back on the bench a bit before standing up. I reach my hand out to sit her down but she backs away further to avoid me.

“I'm sorry,” she says, hardly audible. She grabs her purse off of the table by the doorway and takes off out the door.

I'm not sure what just happened, but it is suggesting that I am making all the right moves. Of course, I'm not doing anything but being myself, and I guess that's really the biggest surprise seeing as how I've never had a girlfriend in my entire life. How does that even make sense? I am a very handsome man, smart, funny.. cocky, eh? I think I should stop thinking so highly of myself and I'll leave that up to Skylar. But that's assuming she does.

Standing up, I try to nudge off what just happened. But her taste was so sweet. I'd kill to be able to be with her. She is so incredible, so beautiful. I need her. But I won't push anything. That's not the kind of guy I am, and I love her to death. Gosh, I can't imagine where my life would be without her. I'd be the world's best competitor without a – No, I'm not going to get cocky. I'm mediocre and what happened with Bash was clearly a fluke. I wouldn't be able to take him on should I be given another opportunity.
Of course, that's when I pick up my phone and discover he will in fact be my next opponent, in a submission match. I can't stand submission matches; they never seemed like a real match to me, because you lose a lot of the more exciting moves and maneuvers. Guys only care about sitting on each other and trying to break the others' limbs using force. Putting it that way, it sounds pretty gruesome. Why the hell would anyone want to participate in that? Why am I participating in that? Oh yeah, it's my fucking job.

I throw on some jeans and a t-shirt and wet down my hair. Hopefully, there won't be anyone out there trying to harass me for what happened in my locker room last week. That was nothing but embarrassing, and I get people tweeting at me everyday about it, even still. A few here and there congratulate me on my huge victory. It was definitely much needed, but I also don't want to get a big head out of it. That will be hard to avoid of course.

I put my cell phone in my pocket and pick up my bag. I walk out into the empty halls and begin walking towards the parking lot. Along the way, something catches my attention. I turn my head to the left and of course, I find the locker room of Revolution. There is always something going on with them. Player put on one hell of a show going out there tonight.. why he did so, I'll never know. Those guys are so restrictive and private that it's hard to ever know their motivation for anything. If I could only get into their heads the same way they do to everyone else, that would be fantastic.

Slowly, I walk towards the locker room. The door is open slightly. They always have it closed, and I can't quite figure out why they would leave it open for any reason whatsoever. Inside, Player's mask is lying on the ground in the corner and there is blood forming a pool all around it. It looks mostly dried up, but it's definitely closer to the fresh side. There is a scurry behind me. Go figure, this always happens when I enter their locker room. I jump to the showers and hide around the wall. There is the sound of a few footsteps going around the room and then they disappear. I walk out into the locker room, hoping I hadn't been found out by anyone. When I look to the corner, Player's mask is gone but the blood remains. Whoever was in here, is a straight up thief and I might be able to stop them, if I hurry.

I drop my stuff outside the locker room and notice a man scurrying down the hallway to the right. I run quickly after him and when he sees me, he takes off even faster. He runs through the doorway labeled “stage” and I follow him through. When I get to the stage, I see him running down the ramp into the empty arena where the event was held earlier in the night. I follow him down and he gets down under the ring. I crawl in after, and I look all around. I crawl out the other side and look all around, only to find that there is no one anywhere around.

“Fuck,” I whisper the word quietly under my breath. This was my one opportunity to jump in with Revolution and become one of what I really want to be, one of them. Looking up to them for so long, then getting to work with them, only to have them reject you entirely hurts a lot. I really just want them to like me; is that so bad? And now that the thief is gone, I have no choice but to give up on it.

I walk around the ring quietly and begin heading up the ramp. But I stop myself and turn back. I walk towards the ring and rub my hand along the apron. This is my life now, and I love it. I crawl under the ropes and get into the ring. I stand up in center ring, and I turn, all around, looking at every empty seat in the building. The one spotlight that is on above me makes me feel unstoppable. This is the very ring that I defeated Rip Bash in earlier tonight and it is the same ring that I will use to defeat him again, to eventually work my way up to becoming the World Champion of next Generation wrestling.

Right now, I feel like I'm nothing more than a scrap of metal to the rest of the roster. They see me as a little punk, a newbie that can be pushed around just because they have made a name for themselves. It just doesn't seem fair! I put all my heart and soul ..or most of the heart.. into this ring, my career! Why do they have power over me?! Have I not proven that I am a talent to be reckoned with?! I defeated Rip Bash! ..I defeated.. Rip..Bash.

Bringing my breathing back to normal, and trying to get my heart rate down, I kneel down and just sit for a moment before getting down and crawling out of the ring from below the bottom rope. On my feet, I begin walking up the ramp to the stage. Upon reaching the top, I turn around and look out at the arena one more time. The thought that I won on this stage against one of the greatest competitors brings a big smile to my face.

Walking back through 'stage' door to the hallway, it's as dark as it was before. The building is almost entirely cleared. I can't help but to think of what Skylar is thinking. On the way to get my stuff, I decide to stop by Skylar's locker room, hoping she is in there. I put my hand up to knock and then pull away but ultimately decide to knock three times. A few moments later, the big man Clay Cooper opens the door. Great.

“Miss Skylar doesn't want nothing to do with you right now. I recommend you get your ass outta here right now.” The man is very serious and of course, scary. I begin to walk away and then I hear his deep laugh. “I'm just shittin' with ya, kid! Come on in; I'll give you kids your privacy.”

Feeling like a complete idiot, I walk into the locker room and Clay walks out, closing the door behind him. I see Skylar sitting on the bench, browsing her phone. She looks up as I sit down next to her and then she looks back to her phone, blushing. I'm starting to really think she does like me, if she's blushing like that just by my coming around. But it could be because she kissed me, too.

I open my mouth to say something, but I can't get any words out. She peeks up at me and she is biting her lips very lightly again. Her eyes are so beautiful and her hair is perfect. I try to open up to say something again, but I can't think of what it is I'm trying to say. Finally, I tell myself what I'll do. I push her hair back out of her eyes very gently, and then I lean in and kiss her.. Although only a few seconds, it feels like a thousand years. The one thing I want is finally coming together. For all I care, my wrestling career could fall apart now, as long as I can hold on to Skylar. That's how much she means to me.. she is my life.

I pull away from the kiss and stand up, pulling her up with me. I take her hands in mine and she smiles big at me with very openly wide and very beautiful eyes. I pull her in so that her head is resting against my chest and I wrap my arms around her. She does the same. Her hair is so soft and she has such a sweet fragrance. She pulls herself away.

“Max,” she begins to speak. “You are one of the greatest guys that I have ever known in my entire life and I love being around you. I know I have feelings for you, but I told myself I'd stay dedicated to my wrestling, and I think that you need to do the same..”

Her words are like a knife and a hammer chiseling my bones to the core. After everything that we just went through, she brings this on me. The girl that I'm in love with, wants to stay away from me to focus on her career. I understand, but I don't get why. I have to care about my career as well. Hell, I just beat arguably the toughest opponent in nGw and I still have time for her.

“Skylar, you have to listen to me,” I say. “I know that you want your career to stay on task. I know your ultimate goal is to find your father, but you have to know how much I care about you. Skylar, I love you, and I want to be with you. I have been on track just fine with my career, and now this is happening. All it does is give me more reason to succeed. It will help complete my life. But how can I be complete if I don't have what I want the most.. you?”

She looks at me like she is ready to cry and then jumps in and gives me a big hug. I embrace her and I know that my words are sending her into a state of confusion. Just then, the door opens and she and I separate as fast as we can. The big man, Clay, walks in and smiles a little bit.

“He been harassing you, Sky?” he says. He gives a little chuckle. “I'm just kidding. You kids are so fun to mess with these days.. always so uptight. Anyway, your ride is here so we best be on our way, miss.”

Skylar nods and picks up her stuff. She looks to me and gives me a kiss on the cheek before running out and flashing a smile back at me on the way out. I'm not sure what our status is now, but I can only assume we are still friends until further noticed by her. I hope she feels what I do now, because this is something that I need in my life to feel whole again. I haven't ever felt that feeling of being a whole being since I had my athlete of the year award back in high school.

I leave Skylar's locker room, closing the door behind me and I walk back towards Revolution's locker room where I left my stuff. I look around the doorway where I had dropped it, but I can't find it anywhere. I look into the locker room a bit and realize it's not there either. Maybe I'm just going crazy, but I could have sworn I'd left it here. At least I still have my phone. That wrestling outfit won't cost too much to replace with the amount of money I make now.

Walking down the hall, I exit into the parking lot and see someone very familiar to me. It's the same woman that had interviewed me.. the same woman I had taken out to dinner. This time, she isn't done up as nice and she doesn't have her tech crew following her. What was her name again? She didn't leave me on very good terms. Annie? Andrea? Oh, I remember! Her name was Anna! That's a cute name, but why would she be here.. sitting next to my car?

Anna stands up when she sees me and as I approach her, she does the same to me. I try to avoid her by pretending I don't know her, but obviously that doesn't work so well as she grabs me by the arm and puts me back in front of her to look her in the eye.

“What do you want? And why the hell are you here? Did you honestly travel all this distance for nothing?” I spit the questions out so fast, she doesn't have time to respond to any of them. But I quiet down to let her speak.

“I traveled this far because I wanted to apologize to you.” She sounds very sweet. “The person I was back there was not who I really am. I don't even smoke,” she says with a chuckle. “I know you aren't ready to accept me into your life the way I wish I could be, but I do want to wish you all the best with your other friend. And I'm sorry I called her a slut. I WAS in fact hired to watch over you, to try to get the best information I could out of you. But after I realized how great of a guy you were, I couldn't do it. And no, it was not Rip Bash that had hired me. It wasn't even anyone you'd know.. it was just some guy trying to get information for his wrestling website. But he gave me good money, and I didn't want to turn it down. I just wasn't allowed to be myself.”

“Well I appreciate you coming out here to tell me that, but I don't want anything further to do with you, Anna. I'm sorry. But if you're that kind of person that would stoop as low as you did for a quick buck, then you're not worth my time. And believe me, I know what kind of people are worth being around. I have made decisions like this all my life and now I have the ability to make such a decision in a split second. You are not going to be associated with me any longer, nor will I you. Have a great night, Anna.”

I walk around her and work my way towards the vehicle. In the passenger's seat of my car, I see my stuff. On top of it is a folded up piece of paper. I open my door and quickly jump inside to read the note. I close my door behind me and unfold the sheet of paper. There is a beep and I read the mangled up words on the page. “You're dead, now.”

At first, I don't know what to think. I look to Anna who is returning a devious smile to me. She was lying this whole time. She is still as low as I ever thought she was.. only ..lower. I look into my backseat and see that a bomb is set to go off in five minutes. I try to open my door, but it refuses to open. I look around and can't find anything to break my window with. It looks to me like I'm going to have to do what I didn't want to.. explain an injury to Skylar. I punch my window as hard as I can. It cracks. I punch it again, and it shatters, glass falling to the ground below.

I climb out of the vehicle fast and look at the timer in the back of my car. It still has a few minutes on it. And we are in a highly populated area. If I don't get that bomb out of the vehicle, AND deactivated, many lives can potentially be lost. I look for Anna, hoping she will have the answer to this, but she is no where in sight. So my doors won't open and I have to deactivate the bomb from where I'm at.

Thinking, I don't know what to do. I decide to pop my trunk. Looking for something I could use to cut a wire, I find only a pair of scissors. It'll have to do. The bomb should have a pretty thin line in it anyway. I crawl back in through my window and get into the back seat. The bomb has just under a minute left. The panel that I open up turns out not to have any wires, but rather a microscopic pad of buttons. Not knowing what to do, I take the scissors and jam them hard into the circuit board, hoping for the best. The bomb quickly shuts down.

I let out a huge sigh of relief and relax in the front seat for a second. Then I look at my car door, and I realized that it has been locked the entire time. Picking around at the bomb, I take off the cover and then I pull apart a few other pieces using the scissors and my hands. It doesn't look like anything more than a child's toy. When I got in the car, my mind automatically sensed danger and used only that as a way to survive. Quite frustrated, I get out of the car and hear someone laughing.

To my left, Anna is still there. She is almost to the ground, she is laughing so hard. “You should have seen your face!” she says between laughs. “That has got to be the most hilarious thing I've ever seen in my life! You actually thought you were going to die!” She finally gets up to her feet. “Besides, if you would have done that to a real bomb, you'd be smoked sausage by now.”

“You know what, Anna.” I am essentially emotionless right now. “I don't know who you are. I don't know what the fuck you want with me, but whatever it is, you aren't getting it. If I see you again, I will get a restraining order placed. Goodbye.”

I get into my car and turn it on, screeching out of the parking lot. She is left behind me, still laughing. If that was her way of getting humor, or perhaps internet fame, it will surely work. I just can't believe that she would even consider doing such a cruel thing to anyone. I wouldn't wish something like that upon even the people I hate the most.
Driving back to my hotel, I have a lot of time to think. Skylar and I, we are something that I didn't think I'd ever have. We are the prime example of true love, even if she isn't willing to admit that. She kissed me, more than once. I kissed her.. No, that's not what represents true love. But we tell each other everything. We have such a chemistry that can't be matched by anyone. It's truly incredible what we've been through together and I'm excited to see what is still in store for us. Perhaps if she is alone tonight at the hotel, I'll pay her a little visit. I don't think she'd mind that. I just hope she isn't going to be going out with some other guy.. I can't let that kind of thing get to me. She wouldn't do that to me. She's too incredible.

Just a little more to go until I get there..
And who was that that stole Player's mask? And why would he do that? It doesn't make any sense at all. Player has never done evil to anyone, that I'm aware of. And that's how I'll keep my mindset, because I don't ever want to tell anyone that anyone that my role model was actually a complete dick to everyone he talked to.

Almost to the hotel, there is a bright flashing light coming in hot behind me. It's an ambulance and it is in a hurry. I pull over and watch as it passes along with one other vehicle and a cop car. I'm not sure what happened, but I sure do hope they'll all be okay. I wonder if it has anything to do with Player and that pool of blood I found? That was a horrid scene for certain and I'd hate it if something was wrong with him. I know he just had that surgery and I know he went out to fight that match almost immediately after. Dude is crazy, but he has heart and that's why I look up to him. I'm going to keep it that way.

Pulling into the hotel parking lot, I park my car in the first available space and get out, bringing my stuff with me. I go through the lobby but something to my right catches my attention. Sitting in front of the fireplace in the lobby is Brandon, Revolution's manager. Now there has to be a pretty interesting story here, no? I approach Brandon and take a seat a few chairs away.

“You're Brandon, right?” I say. “I'm Max Syndicate, the new--”

“I know who you are,” he says, cutting me off. “Look, shit has been rough tonight and I'm really in no mood to go on talking to you. My brother is hospitalized, he just lost his son, and I just can't be anywhere near it. I'm going to go over to the hospital around midnight and sleep in there.. but I don't know. I'm sorry, I really would like to be alone.”

I get up and walk away. I guess that pretty much explains that. Player is in the hospital, but ..his son is dead? Player had a son? My gosh, the pain he must be going through right now has to be nearly unbearable. How can any man go out and compete after losing a son and being rushed to the hospital? Surely, he will not go out and fight next week. But that's none of my business.. at least..not yet.

'Up.' I push the button on the elevator and it dings as it opens the doors. I walk inside and take myself to the fifth floor where I'm staying. The elevator doors open up and I walk down the hall to my room. Sliding the card through, I walk in through the door and turn on a few lights. I lie down in the bed and drift off to sleep in just a few minutes.

“Shhh..” I open my eyes and see Skylar hovering over me, telling me to keep quiet. I look to see her in a robe. She is absolutely stunning with her hair running straight down past her shoulders and of course, her eyes and her smile never fail to impress me.

Next, she crawls into bed with me and starts to kiss me. It gets me going more than I ever though I could be. The next thing I know, I'm getting ready to take off her clothes. She gives me a cute smile as I pull her strap down over her shoulder and just before I reveal anything to myself.. BAM

I open my eyes and look at the clock. I've been passed out for nearly an hour, and that was all just a dream. But what the hell was that? I get up and walk over to the bathroom. Inside, the shower curtain holder has fallen off and it hit the tub pretty solidly. I try to put it back up but it doesn't work. I guess I'll just have to call someone about it tomorrow. Why did you have to fall now, you stupid curtain thing?! I was having so much ..whatever.

I walk back to my bed and lay down. My phone says I have three new messages. I swipe the screen and read each one, all from my father.

“Your mother and I are so proud of you! Congratulations on your huge victory buddy!”
“Hey, your mother is getting sick.. It might be serious.”

After I read that second message, I begin to panic. My air becomes harder to breathe and I start panting very heavily. My heart rate goes up significantly. My mother has cared for me my entire life.. she's always been there for me. I would be nothing without her. Yeah, maybe I'm a momma's boy, but I don't care. She loves me unconditionally no matter what, and I love her all the same. From the time she taught me to shit in the toilet to the time she took the most embarrassing graduation picture ever, she's always been supportive of me. Then I open the third message.

“Sorry kiddo if we got you worked up. Your mom was just constipated. Love ya, -Dad.”

I don't know what to feel now. I throw my phone to the other bed and push my head down into the soft pillows. Again, I'm out in just minutes.. the dream this time is much more vivid.

Ladies and gentlemen, your winner, Maxxxx Synnndicatteee!

I look around at all the fans and see them chanting my name. This time, Bash is down and his belt is not going to be there for him to hit me over the head with. I jump up and down and then crawl out of the ring. Back up the ramp and to the stage, I high five all my fans and then look back at the full arena and give out another huge smile, as I know I've overcome what could be considered the toughest competitor in next Generation wrestling. BAM

What the hell?! I open my eyes. What now?! I walk over to the bathroom to see that the other side of the curtain hanger has fallen. Is this some kind of sign to tell me that my fantasies can't come true?! Or is it a sign to keep all my excitement inside for when the time actually comes? And hell, so much for quality rooms.

Whatever, I need my sleep. Travel tomorrow.. and then compete in a few days. Rip, I hope your ready, because I am going to turn the tides on you with a big Bash right back in your direction. I crawl back into bed, hoping for one of the two dreams to repeat, and I slowly doze off.