The Masks We Wear

By: Sebastian Everett Bryce

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 15th Apr 2022

“I’m sorry, what are we doing?” Asked the man wearing sunglasses indoors, sleeves rolled up to his elbows and a look of abject confusion on his face. “And how will this help us to accomplish my goals?”

We aren’t doing anything, Travis.” Replied Sebastian as Raquel, his personal make-up artist-cum-beauticial prepared him for camera. “I am filming an advertisement for Everett-Bryce Holdings.”

“I don’t understand.” Said UGWC superstar and owner of the Piercing Media Network, Travis Pierce, still looking confused. “What does this have to do with Johnny and Hide?”

“Nothing.” Said Seb, trying his best not to move while his eyebrows were being threaded.

“Then why is it happening? More importantly, why is it happening in my studio?” Asked Pierce.

“Because as part of my contract I have access to Piercing Media Network resources for outside projects.” Said Seb, still trying not to move.

“I didn’t agree to that.” Said Travis, his arms folded.

“You signed the contract, Travis.” Seb said. “You were asked to read the fine print and you handed it off to Brenda.”

“Who’s Brenda?!” Asked Travis, getting more annoyed by the moment.

“She’s your legal council.” Said Seb, taking a moment between Raquel switching eyebrows to smile victoriously.

“Isn’t that Marjorie?!” Asked Travis.

“There isn’t a single person on the PMN payroll called Marjorie.” Replied Seb as Raquel went back to work. Travis shook his head slightly and waved his hands.

“That doesn’t matter. The point is, why would Marjorie…” Began Travis.

“Brenda…” Corrected Seb.

“Why would my insert-name-of-legal-council agree to allow you to use my resources for your projects?!” Asked Travis.

“Perhaps because you don’t know their names, and I go out of my way to bring her coffee whenever I know I’m going to see her.” Said Seb with a smile. “I’m a people person, Travis. People love me.”

Pierce stared at Seb for a moment before taking a deep breath.

“Just run past me again how this project of yours helps us for Outlast?” Asked Pierce.

“Oh my god, Travis, for the four thousandth time, it has nothing to do with you, or UGWC, or Outlast, or Johnny. I am filming a promotional video for my family’s company. I am using my status as a celebrity…” Seb continued. Travis pulled a face. “… as a celebrity, to promote my family’s business and further improve relations with my father.”

Travis paused for a moment.

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure I follow.” Said Travis. Seb rolled his eyes, which drew a tsk from Raquel. “We have to prepare for Outlast. Our team is almost assembled. Me, obviously, you, The Dark Destroyer and of course… Err Bear.”

Pierce counted them off one by one before Seb finally seemed to have enough. Raquel tsked again as he turned his head, almost removing his remaining eyebrow entirely.

“Okay, look, I didn’t want to do this in front of people, but after Monday there is no “we” at Outlast. I’m not even thinking about Outlast right now – that’s weeks away. I have a match this week with Fight – one that you can’t cock up with nonsense. We had a Cooperative Title match and because of you and that moronic Dark Destroyer we – more importantly, you – managed to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.” Seb said, turning completely. “That was the chance, Travis. Our chance to win it again – and instead, your ridiculous schemes led to you getting distracted and defeated.”

“When you put it like that, it sounds bad.” Said Travis.

“Oh really? Does it Travis? Does it sound bad?” Seb asked, sarcastically. “

“So you’re trying to tell me that we’re not going to be on the same team at Outlast?” Travis asked.

“That is correct.” Said Seb, turning back to a frustrated looking Raquel and mouthing the world ‘Sorry’.

“Well who are you going to team with? Sloane?” Pierce asked, his arms crossed again. “Because I can tell you from experience, trying to mix business with pleasure is disastrous.”

“Sloane isn’t going to be at Outlast. She’s still considering her options.” Said Seb as he leaned his head back.

“So what? Randoms from the UGWC roster? You’re going to risk being on a team with Raab and Zane Scott?” Pierce asked.

“I’d like to point out that your team includes The Dark Destroyer and, if you somehow manage to pull it off, Err Bear. Raab and Zane would hardly be the worst of options.” Said Seb. “Besides, the wrestling world is wide and varied. UGWC isn’t the only pool of talent available.”

“Isn’t the… Isn’t the only pool…” Travis said feigning incredulity. “You’ve forgotten your roots, Sebastian Everett-Bryce formerly the third!”

“My roots?” Said Seb, thoughtfully. “You have a good point… I hadn’t considered that.”

“Exactly!” Said Travis with an air of triumph.

“I wonder if any of the old LEW crew would come over from London for the event…” Seb asked thoughtfully.

“Those aren’t the roots I’m talking about.” Said Travis. “So what’s the plan? Hmm? Bring in outsiders from this… Fight… Place?”

“This Fight place?” Asked Seb, casting a look in Travis’ direction. “Fight has some of the best wrestlers in the business today. And Dane Preston.”

“So that’s your plan? To pull in this… Dan Percivill and some other misfits to try and help you win?” Asked Pierce.

“I have no intention of telling you my plans, Travis. Because from this moment on, you’re my competition.” Said Seb.

“But you know all of my plans!” Said Pierce.

“I know, and I feel as though knowing them has killed some of my more important brain cells.” Said Seb. “Now, if you don’t mind, I have work to do.”

“You can’t dismiss me from my own facility.” Said Travis. Seb slowly turned to face him, with a grin upon his face. “It’s in the contract, isn’t it?”

“Have a lovely day, Travis.” Said Seb.

“Fine… Fine! The Captain and I have to hunt for Err Bear anyway.” Said Travis. “Try not to break anything.”

“Try not to break anything.” Seb mocked as Travis walked towards the exit. As he did, a small man with glasses appeared to Seb’s side.

“H.. Hello, Sebastian.” He said.

“Hello, Carl.” Replied Seb.

“Y… Your father wanted to offer some… P… Pointers before you begin your… Promotional video…” Said Carl.

“He can piss off as well.” Said Seb under his breath.

“I… I’m sorry, what was that?” Asked Carl.

“I said he can piss off as well.” Said Seb in perfect clarity with a large grin on his face.

“Oh… Oh right.” Replied Carl, pushing his glasses up his nose. “Well… W… Whenever you’re ready.”

“Be right there.” Said Seb, before looking at Raquel and rolling his eyes. “Take your time – dad’s paying for your time.”

Raquel chuckled as Carl wandered away to set up his camera.



Hello Tyler – we haven’t been formerly introduced so, allow me. My name is Sebastian Everett-Bryce and I am unarguably the hottest ticket on any Fight! NYC card. And whilst I don’t know you much, if at all, I suspect that you find yourself in the same bracket as I do. On face value, the two of us could be cut from the same cloth. Two rich, brash young superstars intent upon making our names at the expense of those we found on the battlefield when we arrived here.

Both falling somewhat unenviably short at the first against one Shawn Warsetein..

Though our paths began to diverge before ill-fated debut contests. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the genius in your plan. Walk in, make a lot of loud noise, point at the tallest players and tell them that they can’t reach you. Once upon a time, it’s what I would have done too. It’s the jailhouse tactics – punch out the biggest and baddest and watch everyone scramble to respect your name. It’s an effective measure – but one with only the merest of drawbacks.

That taken is never as valuable as that which is earned.

I, too, had Shawn and Dickie on my radar. Shawn and I have danced around our inevitable coming together for almost two years whilst Dicke holds that which I covet. It’s not rocket science. I want to fight the best, and I want to beat the best. It’s why I came here. It’s why I diversified my portfolio – that’s a term that real investors use by the way. The ones who play the long game, do their research and earn their wins. Not gamblers that toss everything on one wild play that’s merely a crash away from abject failure.

Our parallels begin to turn wildly away from one another, don’t they Tyler?

Because while you tossed all your eggs in that one match against Shawn, I earned my right to face him. I survived all but two at Blood Money. The two that you pointed at on your first night. And while I see method in your madness, I can also see the fault in your stars, because the reality is that you failed to beat Shawn. And now, no-one wants to see that again – whether it’s Watson or Warstein that holds that Empire Championship come the third of May, we all know it won’t be Tyler Bradford that faces them next.

You blew your load on day two.

Not me, kid – I know how to pace myself.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be those who see me just as arrogant as you are. What right do I have to put myself alongside men like Shawn and Dickie? What I’ve done before means nothing here – but when my time comes, every last superstar in this company will recognise that I have earned the chance I get. Whether it’s facing Shawn or Dickie, for the Empire Championship or no… It will be because Sebastian Everett-Bryce did everything he had to in order to be the name on the marquee next to theirs.

While Tyler Bradford goes back to poking and prodding to get what he wants.

I mean sure, friend. It’ll get you what you want – but if you haven’t earned it, it means you’re not worthy. And if you’re not worthy then you’ll fail. You’ve proven that much already – man you’ve not even earned the right to stand in the ring with me, and yet here you are. In the right place to prove all over again that you’re just so far out of your depth you’d need a diving suit and flippers to touch the bottom.

Though at this point? If you make it to the bell ringing, I’d call that a win for both of us.



“… There are many ways to invest. Everett-Bryce Holdings will take your money and guide it into projects that not only provide a return for your investment, but will also help make our world a better place. Yes, it’s traditional, unlike investments in more modern solutions such as Crypto, much like the fortune made by people like Tyler Bradford…” Seb said with a smile.

“C… Cut!” Said Carl. “I’m sorry, but you… S… Seemed to go off… Script a little at the end there.”

“I improvised – I’m a wrestler, Carl. I tend not to work well from scripts.” Said Seb with a roll of his eyes. “Besides, if I’m adding my own personal stamp on what EBH does, I have to do it in a way that shows what I’m known for.”

“That’s not what we’re looking for.” Came a voice from the shadows. Seb glanced in the direction of the voice.

“And you are?” Asked Seb into the darkness. Slowly, into the light steps a face that Seb had never seen before.

“My name is Clemence Jessops.” The man said. He was clearly traditional – his suit had an air of the Victorian about it, including but not limited to the chain of a pocket watch, which he pulled from his pocket and glanced down at.

“Am I keeping you?” Seb asked.

“Apologies, Mr. Everett-Bryce – I have other appointments, and yet I’m disinclined to leave you to your own devices.” Clemence said, before pointing slowly towards the camera. “Especially given what I’ve just witnessed.”

Seb stepped out from the lights and walked towards the newcomer.

“I’m sorry, Clemence, but you haven’t yet clarified who you are.” Seb said with a tilted head. The gesture was almost threatening.

“I’m in the employ of your father – I’m the replacement for Jasper Evans.” He said. Seb took a deep breath and a backwards step. “It’s a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance.”

“And you’re here to watch me? Make sure I play ball?” Asked Seb with a half smile.

“I’m here to make sure your contribution to the company’s new proposal assets is valid and contains no nasty surprises.” Said Clemence. “Your role here is to promote the Everett-Bryce Holdings brand, not yourself.”

“Oh dear, you are new aren’t you?” Seb said with a look of faux pity. “Rest assured, Clemence, I know what I’m here to do, but make no mistake – me and my brand comes first. And if I want to step in front of that camera and cut the world’s greatest promo on my opponent this week and end it with “In association with Everett-Bryce Holdings” and tell you that’s what you’re getting, you’ll accept it. And it will bring the company more business than any bland, uninspired nonsense that you or my father could ever come up with.”

Clemence smiled, and checked his watch again.

“Fair enough.” He said.

“As I thought.” Said Seb as he turned away.

“That being said, I would be remiss if I didn’t pass on a message from your father – a message that is meant to remind you of the consequences of reneging on your deal.” Said Clemence.

Seb paused and clenched his jaw. He turned, and looked at Clemence who was yet again looking at his watch.

“Are you trying to threaten…” Seb began, but he paused as Clemence raised a single finger.

“Three… Two… One…” Clemence said.

“What are you…” Seb began, before his eyes flashed to the entrance of the studio. The door pushed open as Sloane stepped inside. She smiled and waved at him, before beginning the process of clearing security.

“I take it you had no idea that she was coming to surprise you?” Clemence asked as Seb’s eyes remained focus on Sloane. “We’re monitoring her – and you. And her mother… Her brother. Your grandfather. Essentially anyone who matters to you, we’re monitoring. We know where they are, and where they’re going. For example, your grandfather is planning a rather intricate betting pool on this week’s Venom. He’s gambling big on James and Atara losing the Islands Championships…”

Seb turned to look at Clemence in the eye.

“Who are you?” He asked quietly.

“An insurance policy.” Clemence said quietly. “Designed to ensure that you play your role in the same way that that sweet girl is playing hers. We’d hate for anything to happen to anyone she loves.”

Seb stared wordlessly at his father’s new right hand.

“I assume I’m free to leave without worry that your promotional video will be produced as designed?” Asked Clemence. Seb clenched his jaw.

“Yes.” Seb said. Before clearing his throat. “Yes, you can.”

“Good man.” Said Clemence, slapping Seb on the shoulder. “Good to meet you, Sebastian – I imagine we’ll be getting to know each other really well.”

Seb breathed deeply as Clemence fixed his jacket and walked towards the entrance. He stopped on the way to greet Sloane and offer an introduction. She smiled, and giggled and shook his hand. They both turned towards Seb and waved jovially. Seb waved back, a shit-eating grin fixed on his face.

“A… Are you ready to continue, Mr. Everett-Bryce?” Asked Carl.

Seb nodded slowly and walked back towards the camera, taking his position on his mark. He took one last glance at Sloane before he faced up to the camera.

“Aaaaaaand… Action.” Said Carl.

“Hello – my name is Sebastian Everett-Bryce…” Seb said, his camera-ready sparkle back in place, hiding the worry that bubbled away beneath the surface.



An opponent, an opponent, my Empire for an opponent.

Okay, okay… That’s a tad dramatic I’ll admit. I’ve had opponents… And the reality, Tyler, is that it’s not really the fault of messers Boleyn or Preston that they were unable to fulfil their obligations in our scheduled contests. If I’m being brutally honest, I can’t blame James Raven or Alan Chaney either. Thus far I have been the unfortunate victim of circumstance. That being said, one can’t help but consider if the rumblings could be true.

Fight fears Seb.

Now, given your relative status as a newcomer as I am, I can only hope that the aforementioned fear isn’t one that strikes you down in your prime. I really am fed up with being awarded Blood Money by default. I want to draw it by my own hand – from bloodless stones if I can manage it. So if you could be a good lad and avoid the temptation to antagonise anyone before our match that would be splendid.

Another forfeit and I’ll start to believe my own hype.

And that’s good for no-one, Tyler. Not me, not Fight. Not those who stop looking like potential opponents, and begin to look like victims of my frustration. I’d much rather focus my ire on those who have the misfortune of being booked to feel it, rather than having to find my own opposition backstage. I’m not a bad man, Tyler. I just want to fight. I want to compete. I want to earn everything that I want, and I can’t do that if my opponents keep falling before the bell even rings. You could be my salvation.

My huckleberry, as someone special once said.

And I am so looking forward to our match, Tyler. Because I wish to dispel any myths that you and I are anything alike. Once upon a time, I perhaps may have made the same grave mistakes you yourself have made since the first moment you set foot here in Fight, but I’m a changed man now. I’m better. In fact, I’m not just better.

I’m the best.

And yet you, the man to whom comparisons will inevitably be made, have the opportunity to be the next piece of evidence filed in my case to stand side by side with Tyrants, Calamities, Kings and Prophets. An Emperor risen from from the ashes of a pretender. Because that’s all you are, Tyler. A fraud. A phoney. A dollar store version at best. A forgery so poor that when light is shone upon it, those who look will wonder how anyone could have considered even the merest similarity.

You’re just… not in my league.

And so, when we meet this Monday, should the fates not conspire to keep us apart, you will understand why both Anne and Dane owe thanks to their attackers. You will recognise just how lucky they were to avoid having to step into the ring with me. You will acknowledge the varied reasons that, though they would never outwardly admit it, those who were saved from facing me thank whatever it is they believe in that they were spared.

And you will wish your fate had been the same.

This Monday, Tyler… I will show you what it is to be present when an Empire grows. I will honour your sacrifice dearly and accept it gladly. I will be victorious. And there isn’t anything that you can do to avoid the unfortunate outcome. And you will see a man with a destined greatness in his eyes. That man’s name?

Sebastian Everett-Bryce.

It’s nothing personal, friend. Just an inevitability. See you on Monday, monster.

Love,

Seb.



The promotional video had gone off without a hitch. When Carl called cut again, he was beaming. Ever the professional, Seb’s performance was impeccable and not a moment had taken him off script. Sloane had given him rave reviews as he stepped out from behind the camera and Carl had given him glowing praise about how well it had gone.

After everything had been cleared away and Raquel had managed to remove all of Seb’s make-up, he and Sloane left the PMN studios and settled into a cab. Sloane’s surprise had been more than just showing up at the studios, but a trip to New York for the weekend that left the following morning.

Seb had smiled, somewhat relieved that the tickets she’d waved in his face hadn’t been to London again. He’d smiled, despite himself, given her a huge hug and thanked her for the kind gesture.

The next morning, as they slipped into a cab bound for Chicago International, Seb couldn’t help but feel somewhat guilty about all her travelling, despite her currently taking a break from the world of Professional wrestling. Save for Pro Wrestling Valor, Sloane Taylor was entirely unencumbered by contractual obligations to wrestling companies and yet here she was jetting off at least once a fortnight to some other town or to London to visit his family. She’d gone from spending all of her time in Chicago when she was active, to packing suitcases every other week to travel to somewhere new.

In the coming weeks, they would visit Washington DC for Venom, then back to Chicago for Synergy. A few days later they’d fly out to Cincinnati for the Pro Wrestling Valor event, Emergence, and then into Brooklyn for the Thrill and The Agony at the end of the month. They’d maybe spend a day or two in Chicago again, before jetting off for Outlast.

She should have more freedom, not less. And yet, every time they spoke about the next trip she’d begin planning, without a single thought about staying at home. She never once suggested he travel alone for Venom or the Denzel Invitational or Level Up. She was all in – and this made him all the more nervous that she would get hurt being involved with him and his fucking family.

Seb knew he couldn’t trust his father. Firing Jasper had felt like a forward step, but then he’d replaced him with August fucking Walker. Everytime he thought his father had legitimately decided to make an effort, he’d drop in one of his mild threats. And now it was clear – Bastian. Sloane. Her family. They were all at risk if he didn’t play his part. And yet that infomercial – that fucking infomercial had burned him to his soul.

Seb wasn’t against shilling relative name value for financial benefit – he’d once been the official spokesperson for Nando’s for christs sake. But Everett-Bryce Holdings wasn’t quite the shiny, clean company that it appeared to be on the outside. HIs father was ruthless and dangerous. Much of his money was tainted by the blood of better people. And yet, Seb was never close enough to know the real truth – he was too hotheaded, too different to be trusted with the truth.

And this is what he’d dragged Sloane into? The kind, good-hearted Sloane? He should never have agreed to help. He should have kept his distance, and explained to Sloane just why they shouldn’t want to be accepted into his family. And yet he’d been a coward – refused to tell her the truth of what he suspected about the man he called father. And now they were in deep, up to their necks. And he had to find a way to get them back out.

“Are you alright?” Asked Sloane as she slipped her fingers in between Seb’s.

“Hmm?” Seb answered, not entirely present. “Oh, yeah. I’m fine.”

“Worried about Venom?” She asked.

“Yeah…” Said Seb, still not tuned in entirely. He glanced at her, and saw her eyebrows raised. He cleared his throat. “Not so much about the match, but a lack thereof…”

“I get it – it’s been frustrating.” Sloane said quietly. “But try not to worry – it’s just been bad luck.”

“I know.” Seb said slowly, before drifting off again, completely blocking out whatever it was that Sloane said next.

“Seb?” Sloane asked.

“Hmm?” Seb answered again.

“I asked you if you’re sure that’s all it is?” Sloane asked.

“Of course, love.” Seb lied with a smile and a stroke of his fingers across the back of her hand. “I just don’t want this week to end the same way as the last two – I came to Fight to compete, not just to watch everyone else while my matches fall by the wayside.”

“You’ll fight this week, baby.” She said, assuredly. “I can feel it.”

“I hope so – I certainly have some frustrations to work out.” Seb said as his eyes drifted out of the window.

“Do you now?” Sloane asked suspiciously.

“The nonsense with Travis, thinking about Outlast, not getting to kick the Fix out of Dane last week, the potential of having to face you, again, for a chance a World Title, having to deal with a more rich, entitled fuck knuckle that’s actually more insufferable than I am? Yes – I have considerable levels of frustration to work out this week.” Said Seb.

“Alright, well, that seems valid.” Sloane said smiling.

“This is where you’re supposed to tell me that you have an idea on how I can work out my frustrations before Monday.” Seb said with a smirk.

“Sebastian!” Sloane said, blushing and then giggling. “Though… Not a terrible idea…”

“We should probably wait until we land.” Seb said with a smirk.

“Alright, alright… Fine.” Said Sloane with a devious look in her eyes. Seb was distracted as his phone beeped.

“Damn…” He said.

“What?” Asked Sloane.

“Thad and Lauren are in Manchester this weekend. Chris has offered to fly us out to Manchester to watch the show…” Said Seb.

“Hmmm.” Said Sloane. “Maybe we see how we feel when we land?”

“Sure.” Said Seb, with a mischievous smile. “Worried that you might run into a certain Manchunian thumb while we’re there?”

“Seb! Don’t be mean!” Sloane said, slapping his arm. “And I hadn’t even considered that… Oof.”

“He was clearly forgettable.” Said Seb with a smile.

“I said stop being mean.” Sloane replied, but even as she did, she couldn’t help but smirk.

“Fine – I’ll tell Chris it’s a maybe and we’ll decide once we get there, agreed?” Seb asked.

“Agreed.” Said Sloane.

“Good – and during the flight, you can describe exactly how you envisage me kicking Tyler Bradford’s arse.

“I think I can do that.” Said Sloane with a grin as their ride turned into Chicago International.