Shoot first. / Finding an edge.

By: Jennie Fenix

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 29th Apr 2022

PRESENT DAY
“You always mess things up…”
“You should just give up.”
“You are never going to be as good as her!”
“You just don’t matter…”

Jennie is sitting on the back deck attached to the new home that belongs to her and Ricky; their way of gaining some independence from everybody that always talked down to them, and always looked down on them. Pandabear, her Akita, was dashing back and forth while letting out barks against the fence…and a dog from the other side would return with a bark of its own. You could hear it scrambling to try to keep up with Pandabear, but even for a puppy, her strides made it ever-difficult for any other dog to keep up with her. The back door was ajar. 

Jennie does not appear to be fully present as she stares blankly toward the ground. The weather was fine; a gentle breeze, the sunbeam protruding between tiny gaps in the clouds. She held a mug in her hand and had her feet resting on the deck’s railing.

WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN…

“I can’t believe you won!” Jennie shouts enthusiastically.

The media is outside of the courthouse with lights constantly flashing; security is doing their best to escort Tara through the crowd and keep the press away… In her arms is her youngest son, Edward Blake, and at her side is her younger sister Jennifer Docherty. Tara is the first to enter an SUV parked at the sidewalk where a chauffeur is holding the door open for them. Tara places Edward down first, and he hops into the vehicle, followed by herself, and then finally Jennie is right behind them. The chauffeur closes the door and circles around to the driver side while security is continuing to hold the media at a perimeter.

“All of that bull–” Jennie starts, but stutters; she did not like to cuss in front of her nephew, “–all of that bogus stuff that he put against you, and the jury saw right through it! And my baby nephew isn’t going anywhere!” Jennie says gleefully while wrapping her arms around Edward and hugging him tightly.

“I just…” Tara scoffs, “I can’t believe that he would even try to pull something like this. I retired from the ring to take care of our son, and let him continue doing what he does…and this is the thanks I get?” Tara shakes her head.

“What now?” Jennie asks while holding Edward, “Are you going to get back in the ring…”

Tara turns her head toward Jennie and subtly shakes her head, “My place isn’t in the ring anymore, but that doesn’t mean…” Tara says before coming to an abrupt stop; she leans toward her younger sister and clasps her hands together, “Jennie, I want you to step up. My time is done, okay? It’s your turn.”

Jennie is at a loss for words for what she’s hearing Tara say. She takes a deep breath before finally nodding her head in agreement… The next several months would be hectic for Jennie; she would eat, sleep, and breathe this industry; when the pain was excruciating, when the odds were stacked against her, when she felt that it was time to throw in the towel… that was when Tara would only press the gas harder. For how hard Tara fought to gain custody of her youngest son, Jennie knew that she needed to be able to match that fighting spirit. Jennie found herself able to strike people faster than they could blink. She could dissect an opponent piece by piece, single out any vulnerability of an opponent just by paying attention to the tiniest of details with how they walked. It wasn’t easy, but Tara trained with her every step of the way. She turned Jennie into a warrior.

Time would pass, and Jennifer would grow; she would prosper. She would become everything that she is not. Everyone that saw her compete would swear that they were seeing a better version of Tara; a faster, stronger, more technical sound version that could not be trifled with. She would take more titles than Tara had within her first three years.

Jennie Fenix was given the torch from her sister; she took it, and she ran with it… Making the Fenix name the most revered throughout the industry. If only she had stayed…

PRESENT DAY

“Babe?” Ricky calls out from inside of the house.

Jennie doesn’t answer. She purses her lips together while remaining confined within the realm of her own mind.

“Jennie?” Ricky calls out a second time. This time, the back door creaks open slightly and Ricky pokes his head outside to see his wife sitting there… “Jennie?” He repeats, while venturing closer to her before he finally reaches a hand out to graze her shoulder which seems to bring all life back to her when she jolts upward, and plants her feet on the ground; the gentle and familiar touch from Ricky quickly eases her mind before she can stand up, and she eases back into her seat while placing her hand over his.

Ricky chuckles because of her overreaction.

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?!” Jennie asks while placing her other hand over her heart.

“Nah, of course not! I just didn’t hear you get up this morning,” Ricky answers. He walks to her side and pulls a second deck chair closer to himself before sitting down, “Everything alright?” He asks while gazing at her; there was something about the way he looked at her that made it easy to tell that he was head over heels in love with her.

Jennie glances toward him, but her eye contact quickly shifts away; she blushes slightly from his gaze. She was still not used to having this kind of attention, and she does eventually nod her head, “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. Just–” she gestures toward Pandabear who is still running up and down the fence, “–she needed to go outside, and I didn’t want her to wake you.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” Ricky says while sitting back in his own chair now and putting his feet up onto the railing, “You nervous?” he asks nonchalantly to shift the focus away from the small chat.

“About?” Jennie asks in turn.

“Your match?” Ricky says and reaches over to Jennie’s hand; rather than holding her hand, he takes the mug from her and sips it for himself but blinks a few times when it tastes different than the standard coffee, “There’s Kahlua in here! It’s not even eight!”

“Welllll…yeah!” Jennie says and shrugs her shoulders.

Ricky just blinks at her several times but ultimately shrugs his shoulders and takes a longer sip, followed by letting out a satisfied sigh. “Anyways… About your match–”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jennie says quickly, interrupting Ricky in the process; he just nods his head in turn and doesn’t interrupt her, “Not even a lil’ bit,” Jennie says confidently.

“Good! You shouldn’t be. I know these people are always counting people like us out, baby, but now look…I’m the Bronx Champion, AND the Bloodloss Champion…” Ricky scoffs, “And all these people kept tellin’ me I couldn’t cut it. Just like they keep telling you. Can I tell you something?” Ricky asks with his voice trailing off.

Jennie looks toward him; she has a slight look of bewilderment on her face as she is not used to Ricky talking this way… He has always been positive; he has always been the one to take the high road, but now she could hear the tone in his voice as something she did not recognize quite as much. He sounded angry. He sounded over everything. 

“Anything…” Jennie finally answers after a long moment.

“I think you need to take everything that they say you can’t have,” Ricky says while sitting up, leaning in closer to his wife. His eyes are locked on her, and she stares back into his. She bites down on her bottom lip and is speechless while Ricky continues, “What your sister says you can’t have; what Lauren said you can’t have; shit, what Toddy was tryin’ to tell you at the Rabbit the other night!” Ricky scoffs again. “Take it all! That’s what we should do, right? We should just take everything! It doesn’t matter who we have to go through to get it. We see it. We want it. It’s ours,” Ricky declares; his voice was filled with confidence that would inspire a riot. He does gain a smirk, “Just like you and me. I saw you, I wanted you, I took you.”

“You took me?” Jennie asks with wide eyes.

Ricky raises his hands to protest, and begins fumbling over his words, “Th– that– that’s not what. That came out bad. Hmm. I– I didn’t mean it– not like that, baby. I didn’t mean it like that!” Ricky says defensively.

Jennie giggles in response, and puts her hands over Ricky’s, “It’s fine, baby. I don’t mind. Because I also saw you, wanted you…and took you…” She says while leaning forward between each phrase before eventually giving Ricky a kiss. His face lights up from her words and he looks as thrilled as Thumper getting kissed.

Ricky finally claps his hands together a few times from his excitement, and he looks like he’s ready to speak, but Jennie chimes back in, “And don’t get me started on what Toddy said… That was completely out of line, but the problem is Toddy is not the only problem…and y’know, I’m getting quite fed up with these people disrespecting me like they are! They talk their crap, then get mad because I pull the trigger first. I don’t give them a chance to play the victim, then they raise their hands and try to profess innocence!” Jennie said with a certain sting in her words; it would seem as if Jinx was shining through and taking the driver seat.

Her attention turns away from Ricky, and she just stares away blankly; Ricky kept an unfaltering gaze on his wife and could see the tears welling up behind her eyes…but she draws in and lets out a trembling breath to regain her own composure.

“They talk to me like– like– like I’m beneath them. Like I can’t compete with them, and y’know…for a long time…I tried to dismiss it. I thought that I could just do something– anything– to get them to appreciate what I do in the ring, but y’know what happens? They start wearing thin on me. They want to be my friend so long as I continue to let them walk all over me. They want to be my friend so long as I keep doing things for them. They want to tell me what I owe them… Ricky…” she turns her head back to Ricky; she could not even fake a smile as she was letting out everything that she had bottled up inside, “I am tired of people telling me what I owe them, or what they did for me. I am tired of still being compared to Tara, no matter how many times I beg not to be–” She said while gritting her teeth.

“Baby, Tara doesn’t compare to you. Nobody does,” Ricky said as a means to try to bring her back in somewhat, but Jennie resumed.

“I’ve been thinking about it, Ricky… I’ve been thinking about everything in my life that could have gone better had just one little thing changed. What if I never came here? What if when I learned that I had a sister, I decided I didn’t give a fuck? What if Dylan never died?” she asks the rhetorical question and she still chokes up a little upon his mentioning. Ricky nods his head, but even appears to not know how to answer that question; he knew just what she told him about Dylan…but if he were still in the picture, would he be there? It was depressing to think about, “Where would I be? Would I be with you? What if Eddie never got taken away? What if I stayed? There’s so many what if’s, Ricky, just– too many…and y’know…I don’t regret anything that has happened, because it did bring me to you–” (4th Wall: Cue your aww.) “–but I see all of these things also as me taking the high road all of the time. And y’know…I am tired of taking the high road…” Jennie finishes.

Ricky shakes his head lightly, “That’s what I’m saying. Every time we take the high road,” he snaps his fingers, “They’re there to take everything they can from us, because they know– THEY KNOW we just let it happen, and that’s jus’ something we need to stop letting them do. Just–” Ricky looks around the property momentarily, “–just look around us. This house! You said that you wanted this house and we went out and got it. You spoke up and said what you wanted, and you got it.” 

“Maybe it’s time for me to be a little selfish…” Jennie says in a low tone.

“This is a big chance for you this week…y’know if you win, you get a chance at the Brooklyn Championship,” Ricky says.

Jennie bites down on her bottom lip while contemplating that detail to the match: Michelle, or Todrick? Who would she rather be in the ring with? Jennie stands, paces, and taps her finger against her chin a few times to give it some thought; avenge her loss to Miss Michelle from November, or make Todrick pay for the comments she made at the Rabbit? Decisions, decisions.

“An’ it isn’t going to be easy. You’re fightin’ Ashlynn, and Bhourbon… Friends,” Ricky continues.

Just as Ricky finishes saying “friends“, Jennie is already answering, “There ain’t no friends! There are two people that are in my way of getting where I want to be… Ever since I got back into the ring, I’ve been saying that I don’t want to be remembered as the baby sister, and y’know, I don’t even want to be known as The Family Jinx; so neither Ashlynn nor Bhourbon are friends…not this week…not next week…these two are two people who would stab me in the fucking back if it meant that they could get ahead! They aren’t taking a dive for me. Why am I going to take one for them? These two are in my way. I’m not going to let them stay in my way. I think it’s time to take a page out of Han Solo’s book–” she says and cocks her head slightly to the side, while shrugging one shoulder, “I think we…shoot first. Before they have a chance. So this week, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll shoot first. Because I want these belts, Ricky; every belt…I want people to know that I didn’t come here to play games; I came here to win. And babe,” she says and springs toward Ricky and places her hands on his thighs while staring him right in the eye, “We’re adding another belt to our collection. And then when we have it, we can–” Jennie leans in closer to just whisper it into Ricky’s ear.

His eyes go wide, and his face goes red. He nods his head several times while going through a wide range of facial expressions with every second that Jennie continues whispering to him. “You can’t– nooo! Is that even legal? Atty’s gonna tell you you need to go to church. I…holy shiii– she may be right, but you’re worth the risk.”

“Am I?” Jennie asks aloud with a sly smile.

Alottabit.”

Jennie just smiles while straightening out her posture. She clicks her tongue a few times to beckon Pandabear over, “Come on, girl! Time to go inside!” While Jennie is walking toward the door, something or someone does seem to catch her eye; of course…Ricky cannot see her…but Jennie sees the physical manifestation of Jinx who just has a smile on her face. She was everything Jennie wished she could be; her own personal Tyler Durden.

“It seems little miss thing is finally getting an edge,” She says while smiling at Jennie.

Jennie brushes past her, and mumbles something under her breath so that Ricky can’t hear her seemingly talk to herself, “It’s what they wanted, right?” she says.