|[ As The World Burns… ]|

By: Dane Preston

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 18th Mar 2022

We’re going to kill that rich son of a bitch…
No we’re not. You’ve caused more than enough trouble already.

We’re only just getting started…
You’re going to leave them alone, that’s what you’re going to do.

FINE! What about Pinkston?
He’s fair game, but he’s not in FIGHT!

And PWE is no more…
Which is unfortunate.

FUCK! We were so looking forward to playing there.
I know. Me too.

Where are our women, we need to blow off some steam…
You’re an even bigger horndog than I am, FoCuS on this week, Fix.

Fine. Whatever. Bring on the Intensely Illuminating Irishman.
You’re not talking about his intellect, are you?

What was your first clue, genius?
I hate you sometimes, you know that?

You only tell us a million times a day…
Okay, wise ass, save it for O’Rourke.

After Venom, we decided to stop off at Disneyland, since that park wasn’t a smoldering ruin. I have no idea what compelled me to do it, but I decided to pay Joe Montuori a visit in the hospital, where he was recovering after getting his ass handed to him yet again. I waited until after hospital personnel left the room before I quietly ducked inside. It’s funny, we once shared a recovery room just like this one, after we damn near killed each other and ourselves.

There’s my least favorite Meatbol in the world, laid up in bed, looking defeated with tubes coming out of his arm and his face. His breathing is shallow, but stable, his eyes are closed and he hasn’t noticed me yet. 

How easy would it be if we ended him right now?
No Fix.
But he wouldn’t even be able to put up a fight.
We might actually need him.

Suddenly Joe’s eyes snapped open and began darting around searching for something or someone.

“MIA!!!!!!!!!!!! Is that you baby???” I tried to remain as still and quiet as possible, but he obviously noticed me. “MIA, please be you.”

Well, the jig is up, I might as well announce myself.

“OK, it’s not MIA. Who the fuck is there?”


Suddenly Joe’s eyes went wide, clearly my voice was the last thing he wanted to hear while he’s laid up in a hospital bed, unable to defend himself. I can’t stand this motherfucker, but he did show up for me when I needed it the most.

Unlike some fucking people.
Calm down, Fix.

I got a bit closer and went for his throat right out of the gate.

“You pushed your brother away with your lies and treachery. You pushed your pregnant fiancée away with your lies. The sins of your past have come back to haunt you. I warned you a long time ago that I would be there when your world crumbles around you. This is the universe paying you back for all the people you’ve fucked over. All by your lonesome. You pushed your FoCuS brothers away and overstayed your welcome.”

“Why are you really here? Just to run your mouth and blabber on about things? What I did to my brother was approved by the family to protect him. My fiancee walked out because I’m being set up, and trust and believe, once myself and Page find out who did this, consider them buried under a sidewalk in Manhattan. And that is a check I can CASH any time.”

“For once in your life, shut the fuck up. Stop acting like you’re in any position to do anything to anyone. I promised you that I would make you suffer for everything you did to me, everything you did to my wife. I’m here for the best seat in the house for the Joe Montuori Hits Rock Bottom tour. And it’s only just kicking off.”

“Only kicking off? Dane, are you writing another check that your ass can’t cash?” He spat at me before he faked a cough, “Dickie Watson!” Joe coughs again. “Obviously you haven’t been paying attention because ever since I met Mia, I have been a changed man. But you just can’t let the past be the past. You love to live in the past and not the present or future. I apologized to Allie and moved on. But you can’t. And remember this, I came and saw you a few times in the hospital. Where was your good ol friend Sahara at? Where was Murphy at? Where was Josh Manhunt at? They never came but i did, and with a FUCKIN pizza too, that you were craving.”

“Your brother couldn’t beat Dickie. I couldn’t beat Dickie. So fucking what. But I sure mopped the floor with you at every opportunity. You want to bring up people who weren’t there for me when I was in the hospital?” I dramatically look around the room. “I don’t see Paul. I don’t see Michelle. I don’t see Austin or Toddy. Hell, your own fiancee is sleeping at Vin and Vhodka’s and practically wants nothing to do with you.”

There it is, that’s the look of a humbled man. The question is, is he humbled in the moment, or will it actually stick? “You know what Dane, I’ve been trying to change and thought I was going on the right path. I don’t know what happened. Being here and alone has made me realize things. You are right. No one has come and visited, and I don’t blame them. I’m kinda surprised you showed up to be honest.”

I slipped my hands in my pockets and stared at the floor.  I hope I don’t end up regretting this. “Despite how much I hate you, I’m here because you were one of the few that was there for me when I needed it. Despite all the personal shit, Toxic Tag Wars II was a highlight for me. Hell, for US.”

I turned my back and started for the door, but before I could leave, Joe asked the question I knew he would, “You think there will be a Toxic Tag Wars III?”

I looked back at him, “Your guess is as good as mine.”

“If we keep hating each other, they will pair us up again. And then we can become 2 TIME Toxic Tag War Champs.”

Glancing over my shoulder, “If that happens, and that’s a very strong if, Fight will be hard pressed to find anyone capable of beating us.” And then I walked out leaving him to consider my words.

Outside UCLA Medical Center, my limousine was already waiting for me. It would be about a twenty minute drive back to the Grand Californian. I got to thinking, you know how life goes sometimes. Just when you think you’re back on track and you’ve got your shit figured out…


The next thing ya know, you’re in yet another rut. Now, I couldn’t tell ya how it happened or what brought this on. A threesome match in which we all won and lost at the same time, followed by a couple weeks of down time? Maybe.

Still running around trying to make a name for myself after fifteen years in the business and only having two titles to my name? Probably.

Having someone you and your wife thought the world of, would have gone to the edge of the Earth for, decides that neither of you are worth a damn and runs off to marry her sweet Prince?

Yea, I may still be a bit bent outta shape over that, but not nearly as much as Fix is. Which, now that I think about it, would explain our encounter at Blood Money 2.

But that’s neither here nor there. This week, I’m back in action against the Big Fella Eoin O’Rourke. Last I saw of the guy, he was getting royally worked over by Joe. And I know he’s not at 100%, from all the damage inflicted on his knee. Getting stabbed by Chris Page with a shard of glass, and then JMont beat the shit out of his bad leg with a lamp of all things.

I couldn’t help but chuckle, because the poor bloke had his ass handed to him by the same guy I’ve been using as a personal punching bag for the last year plus. This is not a fair fight by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, I almost feel bad for the guy. Almost. But that’s the nature of our business. Kill or be killed. And right now…I really need to up my kill count.

I got so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t even notice we were pulling up to the front entrance to the hotel. When the driver opened the door I snapped back to reality and hopped out. I wasn’t looking forward to getting back to the suite, because I knew that Allie and Bella were pretty irritated by Fix’s new obsession with stalking Lauren and Thad on social media.

Things had been so heated as of late that I stepped in a couple times, and Thad basically read me the riot act. At some point, we all just need to sit down and have a conversation. But Lauren quite literally wants nothing to do with me. Allie says she’s a WOMAN SCORNED, whatever the fuck that means. I know things are different, and they may very well never be what they once were. But I don’t want to be Lauren’s enemy.

I inserted my keycard and walked in to find Bella passed out on the couch with Luke and Layla. The balcony door was open and I caught a glimpse of Allie’s legs while she’s sitting in a chair. I walked outside to join Allie.

“Hi babe, how’d your visit with the Meatbol go?”

“About as well as you’d have expected it to go. It’s good to see the fire in his eyes. The last thing he needs is to lose that fire, you know?”

“Mmhmm. I’m still not sure what it is that you’re up to or why you felt the need to go see him.”

“He was there for us, for me. Maybe he really is trying to change. Trying to be a better person. Kinda makes me feel like shit for what I’ve put him through…”

“Yeah, this is awkward. Let’s change the subject. You’ve got a match lined up with Eoin O’Rourke this week. He’s pretty banged up, I’m surprised he’s not out of action until he’s fully healed up.”

“I know. I’ve already made a mental note to avoid his bad leg. I’m not looking to win the match that way, I’ve got enough integrity to do it the right way and beat him clean, if I can.”

“If there’s one thing I know for sure about you, it’s that you always try to do the right thing. No matter what, even when no one else is watching. That’s something that I hope we can pass on to our kids. Your integrity. Your compassion. Your drive.”

“You’re stretching it a bit, love. I just try to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Sadly, that’s not always the case. But yes, I will do my best to get a win over Eoin without going after his injured leg.”

“You know, speaking of doing the right thing. We really should talk about this fixation that Fix has with Sahara and Thad as of late. It’s not healthy. And you going off half cocked isn’t helping matters either, you know.”

“Trust me I know. I shouldn’t have let my emotions get to me. And I can’t do anything to stop Fix. I try to, the Gods know that I do.”

“I know. I’ve seen your internal struggle, I’ve witnessed the arguments on social media, and I’ve even had the same conversations with Fix myself. WE need to do the right thing now. And that starts with you calling Lauren and extending an olive branch.”

I fucking hate it when she’s right. But she’s right. “I know what I need to do, I just don’t know if she wants anything to do with me.”

“Us, love. Us. This isn’t just about you. It’s about you, me, Fix and even Bella and the kids. So do what you can to make it right, or as close to right as possible.”

I reached into my pocket and took my iPhone out. Ten seconds later I raise the phone to my ear. “Straight to voicemail.”

“No kidding, genius. Leave her a message.”

I waited for her outgoing message to end, “Hey Lauren, it’s uh… It’s Dane.” I took a deep breath. “Listen, I don’t know what happened, or how we got to this point. But I’d like to apologize for my behavior. Fuck. Look, I’d — no, WE would really appreciate it if you and Thad would get together with us for dinner so we can talk things through, and so I can apologize to you both personally and…”

“Oooh, ran outta time. But that was the right call. Let’s hope she calls back. For right now, you need to focus on getting the job done in the ring. Eoin is no slouch, but he’s also not likely to put you down unless you don’t fight and phone it in.”

“What did I do to deserve someone as amazing as you?”

“You called my bluff and actually had the balls to wrestle me while you were training with my dad, despite his multiple warnings not to fraternize with me…”

We had a moment, it was brief, but it was still a moment that was just for Allie and me. No kids, no Bella, no Lauren, no Ani. Just the two of us. And it reminded me of just how good I had it, and how absolutely vital Allie is to my life. Moments later, Bella came out and joined us on the balcony. The twins were still asleep on the couch and the three of us were all getting hungry as it was almost time for us to start getting ready for dinner before we headed back into Disneyland.