Victory Denied

By: Kasey Winterborn

Writing Prompt: No

Date: 31st Oct 2021

We had done it. We stood atop the tower, as strong as when we walked in. We fought through near impossible odds, put our bodies through the worst hell imaginable, and we came out victorious. And the best part of it all was that we hadn’t lost a single member. All five of us stood shoulder to shoulder, exhausted and battered, but smiling proudly. Not only that, but we shocked the entire company when we had James Raven show up to bolster our numbers. He showed up and cleaned house like the absolute badass he is, and was an integral part of ensuring our victory. So now, here we stood. New Status Quo had not only ascended to the top of the tower, we ended up becoming the only faction within Fight. Not just the New Status Quo. We are THE Status Quo. I looked around, seeing James and Betsy sharing a tender moment, Dickie and Aiden high-fiving each other and laughing. It brought a smile to my face and a warm feeling in my heart. I felt an arm slide around my shoulder, and I looked up into the smiling face of Shawn as he leaned down to kiss me. At that moment, everything felt absolutely perfect. For the first time in my career, I was part of something big. Something monumental. I wasn’t just the girl on the outside looking in. I was one of the so-called “cool kids.” It was a great feeling, and I had to stop myself from getting giddy.

So, when I looked back up into Shawn’s face and saw him sneering, it caught me somewhat off guard. I tilted my head with a curious expression across my face. “Shawn? What’s up?

Just can’t believe how easy it was to fool you.

My heart stopped in my chest and I could feel my blood run cold. I backed a few steps away from him, hot tears filling my eyes before I realized. “What…what are you talking about?

You really think you belong here with us? You’re just a pathetic little stray that we took pity on. You’re nowhere near our level.

He started advancing on me, and I looked around for help from the others. But as I glanced from face to face, I realized that they were all wearing the same dismissive smirk as Shawn, and they were gathering behind him. I kept moving backwards, the tears now streaming down my face as I realized my greatest fear.

I was just a pawn to you all,” I said, my voice cracking with emotion. “You just used me to help you win this match and the Island titles.

Shawn laughed, but it was cold and sinister. “Gee, you really think highly of yourself, don’t you? We didn’t need you to win all this. We just wanted to toy with you. String you along and see just how naive you really are. Do you really think any of us like you? Or that you have any kind of talent whatsoever? Nah, we just kept you around because you were so easy to make fun of.

The group laughed as he said this, and I just shut my eyes. How could I have been so stupid? All this time…they were just laughing at me behind my back. I backed up another step, and felt myself pressed against the glass of the window. I opened my eyes and looked straight down, realizing just how high up the tower actually went.

And now that we’ve completely dominated this company…we don’t need you anymore.

My eyes widened as I turned my head to stare at Shawn, watching in horror as he rushed forward and gave my shoulders a hard shove. The glass behind me shattered, and for a brief moment I hung suspended in the air. Time seemed to slow as I stared at all of their cruelly smiling faces, the broken shards of glass glittering like diamonds in the air. I felt the pull of gravity grip my body as time returned to normal as I sped towards the ground… ——- I bolted upright in the bed, heart pounding and my forehead coated in sweat. It took me a minute to calm myself, and remember that we were aboard the cruise ship for this weekend. I put my head into my hands as I tried to steady my breathing, and realized there were tear streaks on my cheeks as well.

I felt the bed move beside me, and a hand reached out to rest on my thigh. “Kase?” I heard Shawn’s sleep-heavy voice whisper in the darkness.

I reached out and laced my fingers with his, hoping that he wouldn’t notice the tremble. “It’s OK. Just had a bad dream. Go back to sleep.

I felt the bed move again, and the bedside light flicked on. He sat up beside me, and when he looked at my face he immediately wrapped me in a tight hug. “Are you sure you’re OK? You’ve had bad dreams before, but you’ve never cried.

I sniffled a bit, relaxing into his embrace. “This one was…well, it was different.” I described what happened in the dream, trying to keep the creeping feeling of dread from settling in my chest again. “But it was just a dream.” I didn’t know if I was trying to convince him or myself more.

”Exactly. That’s all it was.” He kissed the top of my head as his hands rubbed soothing circles across my back. “You’re an integral part of the team, and we wouldn’t have gotten this far without you.” He reached under my chin to tilt my face up so that we were eye to eye. “And you know that I care for you more than anything in this world. I said you were my top priority, and I meant it.

His words helped calm me and purge the remaining dark thoughts from my mind, and I smiled at him as I wiped away the last traces of tears from my cheeks. “Thank you.

Anytime.” He leaned down and kissed me, softly and sweetly. “Now, let’s get some rest.

I nodded and he reached over to turn the light off again. We laid back down in the bed and he pulled me tight to his chest and almost immediately fell asleep. Luckily, I followed soon after him. ———— Leaning against the railing of the ship, watching the sun rise over the bright blue ocean, I smiled serenely to myself. It wasn’t often that I was up at the crack of dawn, but something about being on this ship had me up with the sunrise almost every day so far. It was quiet at this time of the morning, most everyone else on the ship was still asleep save for the occasional crew member I saw attending to their duty.

Well, we did it. We told you all that we were going to walk into that tower and we were going to be the ones to make it to the top. Not only did we do that, but we managed to keep all five of our members when we did. And do you know why we did what so many thought was impossible? Because we are a team. A fully-functioning team. There are no power trips among us. No egos jockeying for position. We are all equals. We all have our roles to play in the group, but no one is above anyone else. And that philosophy not only won us the Ascension match, but it ensured that we ended up as the only recognized and sanctioned group in the company.

I shrugged my shoulders slightly. “Not that any of us saw that outcome happening, but that was the stipulation that the higher-ups set for the match. Granted, we are allowed to do away with that stipulation and allow the formation of stables again, and I think we will at some point. But for now, I think we’re just going to enjoy being THE Status Quo around Fight.

I laughed slightly, turning so that my back was to the railing. The sea air washed over me, sending my dark hair dancing in the air as I reached up to brush it back behind my ear. “In the meantime, it’s back to the grind for us. We’re not a group content to just rest on our laurels. We are always ready and eager to prove just why we are the ones to beat around here. This week, three of NSQ are back in action, with Dickie taking on Vincent Black and Aiden going head to head with Paul Montuori. And I get the very impressive newcomer Ashlynn Cassidy. She came in here like a house on fire and has been blowing up the scene lately. Granted, her first match was a bit of a dud, but hey…win’s a win, right? But your second match…girl, you beat Dane Preston! That’s certainly a feather in the cap of a debuting star.” My eyes narrowed slightly, though I kept the friendly smile on my face. “But then again, he wasn’t me. Barring a couple of slip-ups, since I’ve come to Fight I have been on the biggest run of my career. And right now, I am part of a group that is riding high. We have been a dominating force since we all banded together, and we are going to continue that trend going forward. It doesn’t matter if we’re in tag team matches or we go it solo, we are going to continue to prove over and over again that we’re not just the New Status Quo…we are The Status Quo.

I pushed off from the railing, taking a few steps towards the camera so my face almost filled the screen. “Now Ashlynn, I know you call yourself ‘Undeniable’, but at Venom, your dreams of victory will be denied.

With a little smirk on my lips, I gave a little wave as I sauntered out of the scene.