Eve Taylor's rendezvous at the local bar with her work friend Selena Anderson was quickly becoming tradition. Every night, either the day before the show or just after the show had finished, Anderson and Taylor would find the best alcoholic hot spot in the area to grab a few drinks before travelling to the next destination. The harsh working environment of WZCW afforded few opportunities for Eve to indulge in some personal time; so, Eve took any chance she could to relax for but a moment. Spending time with a friend and drinking a depressant beverage was the easiest option on the table. Whilst this may sound like this is better than nothing, Eve did enjoy the company of Anderson. She was a fun character to be around outside of her ring announcing life: a little too willing to drink excessively on every occasion but she was someone who Eve could confide in for a chat, or allow Selena to carry the conversation when Eve was deep in thought and not worry much. In fact, prior to Meltdown 144 when Eve was scheduled for a tag team match, Taylor was entranced in her own mind whilst Anderson let many of her grievances from her chest. Both girls monologued as they drank together. A weird system if you were taking part in their conversation but to them, it worked well. However, there was one thing missing from the equation that did not feel right for the last few weeks, maybe even months.
This drinking duo was previously a toasting trio: Stacey Madison was the third musketeer who used to join them. Actually, it was Stacey's idea in the first place, inviting along Selena Anderson before Eve made the cut shortly after. It was a great relationship the three women had. All of them worked for the same company but in different roles. They did not see each other much and the stories they shared over a drink made for some fun nights. Eve really enjoyed those nights, especially with the events leading up to, and after, the break-up of Cerberus. She needed some friends to keep her somewhat sane again, which Anderson and Madison were the two to do so. She valued their friendship, or work friendship to be precise. The three never exactly did much outside of work and pub crawling. When work finished and was nowhere in their schedules, Anderson, Madison and Taylor were not apart of their personal lives. This thought made Eve depressed sometimes since she did not exactly have anyone in her personal life that she could talk to on the regular. There was Abigail but gatherings with her were few and far between. Any other friend she knew were no longer friends with Eve and family was a non-factor... so these sessions with Anderson and Madison she cherished.
However, the problem with establishing friendships with people that worked at the same place Eve did was that anything happening at work carried over to these drinking sessions. Should Anderson be shafted off announcing for whatever reason, she drink more than her already excessive amount and became unruly. If Taylor lost a major match or her actions were not of her nature, Eve would get angry at her friends and make an uncomfortable evening at the table. Yet for Madison, whenever she did anything morally wrong, it was mostly shrugged off by the other two. Anderson and Taylor knew the kind of person Madison was when she held the microphone and how ruthless she could be in the industry. This much was known. Even when they would argue the point and potentially get through to Stacey, Madison turned up the next day doing the same thing. For the most part, the dynamic was established and they three got through it all eventually... except for a particularly recent incident that occurred at work involving Stacey Madison.
The struggle of power between Mr. Kenneth Banks and Tyrone Blades - with all the players in the war that support either side - had been ravaging the company for quite some time, involving many people who would not normally involve themselves. One of them being Stacey Madison. She had draped herself across Tyrone Blades like she was the World Heavyweight championship. Eve did not know the exact status of their relationship but she knew they were lovers. Anderson and Taylor questioned why this was happening, mostly for gossiping reasons, but they received no real answer until Madison revealed she was not actually his lover, betraying Blades in the process. She was a merely a puppet for Kenneth Banks to get underneath the skin of Blades to gain an advantage in the war for WZCW. Banks definitely did win that battle, but the war presses on, as evident by the still divided landscape of WZCW. Whether Banks succeeds or Blades tears down the corrupting body that runs the place remains to be seen; we still do not know who has won and who has lost. All that is known is that Stacey Madison lost in the end. She is hated by everyone who opposes Banks for what she did. She was congratulated by Banks and co. at first for her actions but was soon forgotten, transitioning back to her backstage interviewing role. And those who were indifferent to the entire ordeal - namely Anderson and Taylor - became weary of Madison. Especially since Madison left their social circle to undertake this devious plan without mentioning anything. Even after the events, Madison was absent from the group, yet to show her face to explain her actions. Anderson and Taylor attempted to have this conversation about Madison multiple times. Those conversations ended quickly.
Eve's train of thought broke as she walked back from the bar holding two drinks, slamming them on the table. This caused Selena to jump a little bit but she did not mind shortly after. Anderson had a smile on her face. Eve assumed it was because she had a full beer ready for her to enjoy. Taylor slid into the booth on the opposite side of Selena to face her. Eve grabbed her glass and the two clinked glasses before they both took a swig.
"Your shout next." Eve mentioned with a slight smirk on her face.
"Yeah, yeah. We've got to finish this one first."
"That won't take long."
They two shared a smile as they took another drink.
"I am surprised you are keeping up with me today. Are you scared of facing Tyrone Blades tomorrow?" Anderson asked playfully.
Eve smirked again. "No, I am not afraid. I have merely grown accustomed to your drinking habits. I can keep up with you but I am not the easy drunk you are, Selena."
"Oi! I am not easy. Easily drunk I believe are the words you were attempting to find in that empty space you call a brain. How can you lose something in a place that's virtually vacant?"
Eve rolled her eyes with a smile shaking her head as Selena laughed.
"I am not afraid of Tyrone Blades." Eve re-iterated. "I might be a person who chokes in major matches but I never back down from them. I show up and, barring any mistakes on my part, I do my best in the ring. Why should I be afraid?"
A few seconds of silence pass as the two dwell on the rhetorical question posed by Taylor, taking a drink of their beverage. Anderson finishes her swig first, lowering her head as Eve takes another second to drink further. She follows suit and looks over at Selena to continue the conversation... but she seems to be staring elsewhere. Intently staring behind Eve. As Eve notices this, she turns around as well to see the same shocking sight: it was Stacey Madison approaching the two girls. Selena straightens up and clutches her glass with both hands as Eve just stares at her. Madison gets to the booth, looking over at the available seats next to Taylor and Anderson. Neither friend moves for Madison. Stacey glances over and grabs a nearby chair, bringing it over to the edge of the table and sits down with the two, placing her own drink on the table. Selena takes a slow, long drink as Eve watches Stacey do all this before staring back into her drink.
There is a long and awkward pause between the three before Stacey speaks up.
Eve interrupts. "Why did you not tell us?"
Madison takes a moment, attempting to gather an answer.
"Out of all the questions you could have asked me, you lead with that one?"
Eve turns away from staring at her beverage and glares directly at Madison. The look indicates to Stacey that she is not changing her approach.
"... nobody could know about it."
"Not even us?"
"Especially neither of you. Word would have gotten around with the amount of drinking we do and the things we say afterwards. Plus, Eve, you were focused on the World championship and I did not want to involve you in something you did not care f-"
"What do you mean 'were focused'? You make it sound like past tense. I am still focused on the World championship. My dreams are not dead yet just because I have lost a couple of big matches. Everything is exactly the same as it was before you were falsely fucking Tyrone."
"Please do not say what you do not fully understand."
"Maybe you should heed your own advice before bestowing it upon others. Actually believe in the words you say, for once. We do not feel like getting fucked by you, too, today."
"I came here to apologise, and at the very least, warn you about Tyrone and what he is truly capable of doing to you. I care enough about the two of you to acknowledge my horrible actions and treatment of you two, and all I get is this barrage of hate in return? I have no idea why I came here. I knew this was a bad idea."
As Madison goes to leave, Eve grabs her hand. The two glare at each other before Eve motions for Stacey to sit back down. Reluctantly, Stacey sits back down. Anderson has managed to finish her drink and looks at it before directing her gaze towards Eve.
"My shout." Selena says attempting to smile as she gets out of dodge quickly.
Selena leaves Madison and Taylor alone to talk. The two of them not averting their glares on the other. Eve lets go of Stacey's hand.
"It has been a while since the three of us were together. I thought I could come back, apologise and explain my actions. I was not aware you hated me so."
"What would have better than an apology was by not doing any of this in the first place."
"Yeah, I know. You don't have to be a bitch about it."
"You were the one who left us without any notice. When we crossed paths at work, you ignored me. I saw you pretend not to see me in the halls. You refused to take my interviews and when you did, you smiled for the camera but as soon as the red light went away, so did you. It is like a became a ghost... and I can only imagine what you did to Anderson. She is ringside all show whilst you are backstage the entire time. When you were gone, we did not speak much of you because we did not feel comfortable enough to talk about how you up and left us. At first, we thought it was for love of Tyrone, and we understand... but after you revealed it to the entire world why you were with Tyrone... well..."
Eve trailed off.
"Why did you not see us at all during that entire time?"
"You know why: I was with Tyrone doing what I was doing."
"And that is supposed to make me feel better? You were off with Blades the entire time? You left real friends behind for a fake relationship."
"You'd know everything about that, wouldn't you, Eve?"
Eve was shocked at Stacey's comeback.
"You tell me to heed my own advice before telling others what to do? Why do you not do the same thing. Remember what you did with Aubrey Sloan when you joined Cerberus? You picked fake friends over a real relationship. Remember what you did with Mikey Stormrage when you chose the World title over him? You picked a non-existent reality over a real relationship. Do not get me started on your family... you have no right to tell me otherwise!"
The words tore right through Eve. She saw red.
"And I have been paying for it ever since, Stacey! How many fucking friends do I have? Huh? How many people do you know of that I personally know outside of this business? Besides Selena and previously you? You want to know how many I truly know? Nobody. I know nobody, Stacey. The only friends I have are the two of you and that's it. Everyone is a person I work with or a fan that appreciates me for my efforts in the ring. I do not have anyone I can turn to in time of need. Nobody really to talk to except for Selena and you! I did this at the cost of my career so I could become the best! And look where that got me Stacey! Where am I? I am in the same damn position I was when I threw away Aubrey Sloan and when I threw away Mikey Stormrage: just another person on the roster who has yet to taste the World championship. Everything I sacrificed was for naught!"
Eve takes a long deep breath.
"What you have went through, I went through. I have been through all the motions before on more than one occasion. It hurts me to see another person follow the same path that I have taken, especially someone who I consider to be a friend. I do not want anyone else to go through what I have experienced. My life is a just a series of fucking mistakes. Why would you do what I have done to so many people? To punish me for what I've done? If you did it for punishment, maybe I'll grow to understand but why do it to Selena?"
"... it was not to punish you. That is why I am here."
"One apology over a drink is not going to be sufficient for us. There is a little more mending to be done before we patch over this part of our lives and resume to normal. It is going to take time to figure out, Stacey. As much as I want to punch you in face for what you did, I do want to repair the friendship we have together. I am not ready to do it one sitting but we will work it out somehow... so, for the apology, we can work it out after many conversations, many arguments, and many more drinks."
Stacey let out a short chuckle in the moment but quickly returned to a serious expression as the two ladies continued to talk it out.
"But as far as warning me about Tyrone Blades is concerned, you were right about what you said. I have no idea what you are doing here with that discussion as your primary purpose. I will tell you what I told Selena tonight: I am not afraid of him. I do not need someone telling me of what the man is able to do to me. I know how good he is, I know how successful he is, and I certainly know how much emotion that lies inside him. He has to contend with Vis Imperium and Kenneth Banks at Unscripted. He is on the verge of completely dismantling their organisation and restoring whatever vision of peace he may have for WZCW. I have been keeping a very close eye on this war the entire time. I have watched what happened with Tyrone the whole way through, especially what you did...
"... but none of this shit that is happening with this war has nothing to do with me. I do not give one fucking damn what happens to the future of WrestleZone Championship Wrestling, whether that be Kenneth Banks succeeds and we are overtaken entirely by his Vis Imperium regime, or Tyrone Blades succeeds by causing the group to implode and revert the company back to some version of normal. Hell, I could not care less if Tyrone Blades once again resumed control of the entire company and made the decisions for himself. None of what happens in this war matters to me or what I want from WZCW. All I want to do is win the World heavyweight championship and one day become inducted into the Hall of Fame. How I get there and what landscape I do it on is irrelevant. None of those affect my end goal; therefore, none of those affect me.
"I understand that you have concern for me because the match with Tyrone Blades I am about to compete on Ascension was orchestrated by Kenneth Banks himself, and that anything created by him will resort in Tyrone Blades doing anything he can to get a leg up on the boss. I know Tyrone could use me as an example to showcase to Banks what he can do to him should I not be careful in the ring. I am perfectly aware. Whilst I do appreciate you still having enough of a beating heart to tell of this, I must tell you why I already know all this: Kenneth Banks was the one to approach me and inform me of this match. I saw what he created with Tyrone Blades taking on Batti and Phoenix in the past. I knew what he was doing with me in this situation, too. Yet, not only did I accept having this match without complaint, I thanked Kenneth Banks for this opportunity. I even shook his hand with a smile when he told me, Stacey."
Stacey looked confused at this point.
"I did this because if I wish to become a champion, I need to get better. It is clear that I am not the calibre of competitor to wield the World title on my shoulder, despite my previous judgements of myself. I require competition to challenge myself before I can become the competition to challenge others. I will be a bleeding corpse in the waters against the shark Justin Cooper if I went against him right now in singles action for his most prized possession. He won't allow a choker like me to defeat him. In fact, in singles competition, I have yet to beat him. So, I must train and face others like him so I am prepared for that fight. Tyrone Blades is someone on that level of talent who also possesses that level of determination; a reason for him to not lose. He does not want to lose against Kenneth Banks and will show how menacing he is. I want to go swimming with the shark Tyrone Blades and I want to willingly punch him in the face so I can see how I would fair. I want to know if I truly am as good as I think or if I need to seriously consider my profession.
"You might believe me to be mad: wanting to walk out into the eye of the storm when it is about to hit? I must be crazy to do such a thing. However, this match with Tyrone Blades is the only thing I have right now that can prove my worth to this company. When the storm dissipates and everything returns to normal, I want people to realise that there is another storm coming: Hurricane Taylor coming to claim the scraps of what is left to get to the World championship. Fear will be the first thought when they think of me because I will be that dangerous to anyone who holds the World championship. To do so, I must take on the leader of the rebellious faction The Hollowed Ones and throw everything I have at him. I want him to realise that this match will not be warm-up match for his challenge at Unscripted, but I am the match he requires preparing for and his match at Unscripted will merely be an afterthought. I want my name to linger in his mind, and everyone else's, because it is my will to get back to the top of the mountain. I must defeat the legendary Tyrone Blades to do it... or, at the very least, beat him so bad he will want to face me again because he seeks retribution for what I was capable of doing to him in a match that meant nothing."
Eve looks directly into the eyes of Stacey Madison. Madison does not really know the words she could say in this situation, so she remains silent. Taylor places a hand over hers, holding it.
"I know you were the bad guy in this situation and I should be siding with Tyrone Blades because of what Kenneth Banks made you do... but I need to show the world I am still one of the best. If I have to go through Tyrone Blades to do it, then what other choice do I have?"
Eve lets out a small smile.
"And if I side with Tyrone on this matter, then I would be losing a real friend. I am not making that mistake again. I am not going to you lose you."
The only reaction Stacey has is to immediately clutch Eve and hug her, holding her tight. She buries her head into Eve's shoulder as Eve, a little taken back by the reaction, slowly hugs back.
"I'm sorry, Eve."
As the two hug for what seems like an eternity to Eve, Selena Anderson comes back with the drinks in her hands and looks a little confused. She places the beverages on the table loudly, causing Stacey to be startled and reel back from the hug quickly, fixing herself up in an effort to maintain her tough demeanour.
"Did I miss something?"
Anderson lets out a laugh as she sits down.
"I leave when you were about to rip each other's throats out and I come back to see you two about to go down the other's throat. I apologise if I interrupted the lover's quarrel."
Anderson laughs as Madison glares at her. Eve can't help but let out a laugh, too. Madison glares at the two of them before she finally breaks, and the three share a laughing moment together. It takes them a minute to compose themselves and return to normal, sitting quietly together.
"I think in time, everything will be fine."
Eve said this with multiple interpretations but for what was happening right now, the three understand what she meant. They all raised their glasses.
"For the past does not matter."
The three clink their glasses. As Madison and Anderson drink, Taylor adds another.
"Just like Logan McAllister!"
Eve takes a big swig as the two look at each other in confusion. As Eve finishes the drink, Anderson immediately questions her.
"What has Logan got to do with any of this?"
"Bastard jumped me from behind in my tag team match! I want to know what his irrelevant arse is doing attacking me!"
"Maybe he likes you."
"I've never know a secret admirer's first move to be smacking me in the face."
... and this conversation continued in that bar. Many topics were discussed and for a moment, everything felt good again for Eve. As friendly as it was, Eve knew there was going to be some rebuilding before it was as good as it once was. The foundation was cracked and Eve needed to repair it. Both the relationship with Madison and her career being christened by the World championship. There was a lot of work that had to be done but for right now, she had to take what she had in front of her and make the most of it. Both with Madison... and with Tyrone Blades. This time, she will not be too hasty. She will not run head first. She will take every step as it comes and she will do so with pride... with passion... and...