Diego suppressed the feelings he has towards Sean and puts an opportunity before his friendship. Lance begins to thrive in his new non-wrestling role.
Friday, February 2nd
It had been a long drive and he was thrilled to finally stretch his legs. They could have just flown to Pawtucket, but Rachel was terrified of flying and would only submit to it if they were doing a tour in another country. That meant the road trip began in Columbus for Diego and Rachel on Thursday afternoon, and stopped overnight in New York City. Sean had been interested in participating in the long drive with his friends and flew in from Knoxville to New York, and the three of them all stayed at Gloria's house overnight. The next morning, the four of them climbed into the car together and had been driving for many hours. It had been a relief to get to Rhode Island and a miracle to get to Pawtucket. As much fun as Gloria and Sean were in the back, Diego wasn't a fan of being in a confined space with Rachel for so long. To be back in time to pick his kids up on Monday night, he was going to have drive as soon as the live event on Sunday drew to a close. Why didn't he just fly?
They arrived half an hour earlier than usual - this was good. It meant they could unwind and relax for a little while. Diego didn't get to nap much in the car thanks mainly to Sean, Gloria and Rachel's obnoxiously loud car games. Gloria was thirty-eight and acted like someone half her age. Sean was twenty-four and Rachel was twenty-nine. He couldn't believe he had to put up with them playing I Spy for the better part of a whole hour. Even his children got bored of that game in a matter of minutes.
"I hope you don't lock me in a submission tonight," Sean yawned loudly, resting his head on Diego's shoulder. "I'll probably just fall asleep."
"Yeah, that's what you get when you keep everyone awake with Brittany all night long," Diego grumbled in response. He didn't mind at the time - watching Sean and Rachel dirty dance together had been a blast. Right now though, he was tired and cranky. Everyone was. Driving sucked.
"If you talk smack about Brittany I'm going to smack your face," Sean warned him, drawing tired laughs from everyone.
"You're weak," Gloria rolled her eyes. "None of you youngsters would have lasted a night with the old crew. Michelle would have thrown you out of the locker room herself, but she's gone soft."
"You're only four years older than me," Diego pointed out, and Gloria waved him aside with a condescending laugh.
"You're a spring chicken, Di. Thirty-four is just another way of saying twenty-one. Besides, you don't count anyway. You've been sixty for as long as I've known you."
Diego knew she was joking, but he did feel a little self-conscious. He'd been making a bonafide effort to get involved and more social with his coworkers. Friends now, he was starting to say. They're my friends.
"Ahh, the squad's arrived," Michelle crept up on them without anyone seeing her, greeting them in her strong Brooklyn accent. "That's great. I meant to have a quick chat with you all before the show started tonight!"
"Am I going to like where this is going?" Gloria asked with a laugh. "What are you doing to us tonight, you old tramp?" If it were anyone else, Michelle would have broken a chair over them. Gloria and Michelle had a terrific relationship and very close bond. Ten years ago, the two of them had a very intense, long storyline together and wrestled dozens of matches. It went down in history as one of the most acclaimed women's feuds of all time, and their street fight match won Match Of The Year. Diego was still wrestling in the independent circuit when this happened. It was years later when KADA welcomed him into their family. Rather than snap back, Michelle let out a throaty laugh and flipped Gloria off.
"Are you alright to put another feather in Irina's cap tonight?" Michelle asked her, and Gloria nodded enthusiastically.
"As long as she buys me a drink after," she grinned, and Michelle gave her a grateful pat on the back.
"Rach, hang in there," she suddenly snatched the phone from Rachel's hand. "Eyes on me when I'm talking. So, once Pearl's had her time in the sun, I'm thinking of putting you in line for a title shot," Michelle reassured the blond woman and returned the phone to her.
"Not wrestling tonight either, huh?" Rachel guessed, a little disappointed. She hadn't been getting on television much, lately. Still, this was good news. Being put in the title picture was a huge deal. She had something to look forward to while she was in this rut.
"You can wrestle if you want, with whoever you like, just make sure it's off the camera," Michelle quipped and turned to the boys. Diego was nervous. Every time he'd had a meeting with Michelle since last September, he hadn't been happy with the result. "Now boys, before I break it to you rough, I just want you to remember that I do have to occasionally follow Marg's directions, alright?"
"Just bring it!" Sean exhaled, his hands clasped over his mouth. He's cute, Diego thought with a smile, before averting his eyes.
"You'll be doing a double turn tonight," she revealed, raising her hands to emphasise how confused she was. "Silva, you're going to be a brand new babyface. Foxy, you're going to be a bad boy for the first time."
"What?" All four uttered in unison.
"I know it's unorthodox," Michelle broke in before someone could utter any more complaints. "Still, Marg and Jerry are both insisting that Lovecraft stays as a babyface, and Silva needs to make a turn if they're going to be together."
"So why do I have to become a heel?" Sean pointed out the obvious question.
"Yeah, what he said," Diego took no time leaping to Sean's side. "Jimmy's a mega heel, why would you turn Waya when he's so over with the crowd as a face?"
"I'll get back to you on that," Michelle frowned. "I make a lot of the creative decisions, but not all of them."
"I don't know how to be a heel!" Sean was upset, and rightfully so. He'd been a babyface for all three years he'd been working at KADA, and he had never been more popular than this very moment. The crowd adored him and were excited for the upcoming championship match against Jimmy Vause. Making Sean heel at a time as crucial at this was such a weird decision, throwing a lot of common conventions out the window.
"It's alright Foxy, we'll work that together," Michelle reassured him. "I'm sorry about this, but it's the nature of the business. Sometimes it does my goddamn head in."
"So, this double turn," Diego was upset for Sean, but not so much himself. Face, heel, he'd spent a lot of time on both sides of the spectrum. "Tonight? How are we going to do that so the fans know what's going on? Are you sure they won't mistake it for Waya growing a spine or something?" A double turn wasn't an easy thing to accomplish - turning the face into a heel and the heel into a face at the same time. It could easily be interpreted as Waya finally getting fed up with Silva's crap and just going to down on him.
"Lovecraft is going to make himself useful," Michelle hesitated in bringing that name up. It reminded Diego of the custom in Harry Potter regarding the taboo of uttering Voldemort's name out loud.
"What does he have to do with this?" Sean was frowning, and his little eyes were sad. Poor Sean. Everything was going so well for him, too.
"Well, the pommy's vignettes have done their job well, and there's a lot of buzz about his return. So tonight, you're going to go out like an arrogant son of a bitch and you're going to cut a nice heel promo to the crowd, and you're going to issue an open challenge, right? Make sure to mention both Vause and Silva so the fans don't forget Waya's still running a program with them. Then limey Lovecraft is going to accept your challenge, and you're going to beat the holy hell out of him."
"Wait, no," Sean shook his head in panic. "I thought you were trying to keep him out of in-ring competition. Why would you put him in a match?"
"There won't be a match!" Michelle insisted. "He's going to come down, cut a nice promo of his own, and you're gonna beat him down and put yourself over as a heel. After you throw him around a bit, you're going to get ready to put him through the commentator's table, and Silva will run down like a hero and make a save. That should set up nicely for your big tables match next week."
"I don't want to be a pain Michelle," Sean was resisting, raking his fingers through his hair. "I don't want to risk an injury by working with someone so inexperienced. I have a tables match and a program with Jimmy. I really don't want to get hurt because Lovecraft doesn't know how to wrestle!"
"Christ on the cross Foxy, you're not gonna be putting on a five-star display," Michelle rolled her eyes. "If you can't hit the kid a few times without busting your spine, then you shouldn't be getting pushed in the first place. I'll be in my office if you need me. I am sorry, kid. We'll make this work, alright? I know I'm a cranky bitch, but I do have your back." With that, Michelle took her leave.
"Hey, are you alright?" Diego asked Sean, whose shoulders slumped and his mouth twitched.
"There's no crying in wrestling, right?" Sean uttered a sad laugh, then forced a smile back on his pretty face. Such a beautiful smile, Diego caught himself thinking. He leaned over and kissed Rachel on the cheek.
"Oh hey boo, what was that for?" She asked, her eyes focused on her phone.
"Never mind," he muttered. She was bloody useless. Completely clueless.
Their segment was near the end of the show. Diego still wore his civilian clothes - as he wasn't participating in a match, he didn't need to change into his tights and big, laced up boots. Sean was with him, dressed in traditional Cherokee skins and comfortable looking boots, wearing his headdress. It was just amazing to Diego how ardently fierce Waya was in both character and appearance, and how Sean slipped so comfortably into the persona. Jimmy Vause, who thought the double turn was as bad an idea as Diego did, had generously taken time to coach Sean on how to slow down and distance himself from the crowd, like now had to if he was going to be a compelling villain.
Nearby, Lance Lovecraft was alone. He looked sad. Jimmy insisted that Lance was sent to Coventry until he proved that he respected the wrestling way of life, and it didn't look like it was going to happen any time soon. Aside from Michelle and the backstage crew, nobody spoke to him unless it was necessary for the job. Diego had no sympathy for him. Neither did Sean. Still, for the segment to work, all the pettiness and drama backstage needed to be dropped. They were professionals, all of them. Diego would do his best to make his new alliance with Lance look genuine, no matter how much he hated him. Lance was in bedazzling new attire, his boots, sleeves and short-shorts all glittery and intensely red, the same colour as his hair. Total freaking drag queen. He even had a sash the same colour. Pathetic.
Sean's music hit and he begrudgingly stepped through the curtain. Diego observed him on the monitor. The crowd was so excited to see him, but Sean did not return their love this time. He looked furious. A common trick to getting into the mindset of a heel character was to channel real frustrations, and Sean had no shortage of those tonight. His promo wasn't very strong or convincing, as far as Diego's opinion went. He was way out of his comfort zone. He spoke of his frustrations with the way the company was being run, mainly focusing on the fact that he defeated Diego to win a championship opportunity that he has yet to receive, and questioned why he needed to defeat Diego a second time. That's a good question, the Brazilian thought. Sean also brought up the fact that Lance Lovecraft received a championship opportunity for no reason at all. He set up the cue by issuing an open challenge.
Lance slipped past Diego and awaited his music. The moment it hit, he seemed to come to life. A huge smile adorned his red lips, and he strutted his way through the curtain. The crowd was electric. The reaction was mixed, but when someone was as different from the norm as Lance was, it always divided an audience. Still, it was easily the most significant pop of the night. There was no middle ground - people either adored him or loathed him, but that wasn't the point. They all reacted. That was what was important. As Lance provocatively danced his way down the entrance ramp, his red, skin-tight clothes glittering and his well-toned pecs and abs flatteringly prominent in the light, everyone in the stands was making their voice heard. Boos. Cheers. Noise. It was incredible.
Diego could see on the monitor when the camera briefly flicked to Sean's reaction that the boy was just as awed as he was. Diego felt uncomfortable near the end of the spectacular entrance when Lance showcased his flexibility and pulled his body into some very sensuous angles. Why didn't they just put Lance in the women's division? He'd fit in so well over there. When the music finally faded, Sean spoke to Lance with venom, livid that he had the nerve to accept his challenge when he only ever wrestled a single televised match. Lance had to wait for the audience to calm down before he replied - the crowd was chanting. One half would say "We Love-Craft!" The others would say "Lovecraft sucks." For ten seconds, entirely too long, Lance bathed in the reaction he was getting.
When he finally did speak, it was surprisingly solid. He was good at it. Voice was loud and clear, words were short and concise, and he played for the crowd's sympathy before beginning a short choreographed dance number. Sean did what Lance was expecting and used his microphone to slug Lance in the face mid-step, and the brawl was underway. To Diego's shock, the crowd - although still somewhat mixed - actively booed Waya. Lance must have had way more influence than either Sean or Diego had anticipated. Lance didn't sell very well, but not terribly. It would never be acceptable in a match that would be rated three stars or higher, but for a brawl, it did its job. Diego poised himself, ready to run, and Sean began to drag Lance on top of the commentator's table. That was his cue.
Without his music to alert Sean to his present, Diego sprinted through the curtain. The crowd's eyes were firmly on Sean climbing the turnbuckle, ready to perform his signature Moonsault on top of the British boy sprawled on the table. Then crowd saw him and buzzed with excitement, and that was Sean's queue to taunt the crowd, giving Diego enough time to rescue Lance and launch himself. Sean did it a little early, and Diego barely had enough time to pull Lance away. Sean Fox's Moonsault was one of the most beautiful things Diego had ever seen from any professional wrestler in his life. He flipped backwards through the air, soaring gracefully, rotating until he landed hard belly first on the table, which was rigged to break under his weight. The crowd roared in appreciation, and Sean sold the hell out of it, laying limp on top of the wreckage.
Lance gratefully hugged Diego for his assistance and raised his hand in gratitude, and the crowd cheered and whooped. It was unreal. Diego had never had a reaction like this before. He could hear his name being yelled a dozen times every second from the people nearby. Lance tugged his hand, indicating that they'd milked the crowd for as long as they could, and Diego reluctantly escorted Lance back up the ramp. Adrenaline pumped through him. He hadn't felt so alive in the ring in months, perhaps even a year or two!
"Oh wow, that was amazing!" Lance squeaked with a mouthful of his red painted nails. "That was awesome! Wow!"
"Don't talk to me," Diego said gruffly and turned his back.
"Please yourself," Lance shot back, and Diego heard the red boy walking away. He did well. He did. Diego didn't want to admit that. Sean stumbled back a short while later, through the curtain, holding his stomach with one hand and clutching his headdress with the other, and wincing in pain.
"Michelle better give me a raise for this," he gasped, struggling to catch his breath again. Diego frowned and put his hand on Sean's chest. He was warm - perhaps his blood did run hot.
"Are you alright? You sound winded," he observed with concern. Sean grimaced and shrugged. Diego leaned down and effortlessly picked Sean up over his shoulder. He wasn't a big man, weighing in the field of a hundred and sixty-five pounds. Diego was a strong man and could bench more than two Seans with ease. Diego carried Sean over to a vacant table and put the fellow down. "Shouldn't you see one of the docs? Didn't anyone check up on you?" Diego accidentally knocked the Cherokee headdress to the floor as he sat down.
"Be careful with that!" Sean growled at him, snatching it back and placing it gently on the table. "It's not a prop! It's important to me."
"I'm sorry," Diego said, sheepishly. "I know it is; I'm just clumsy."
Sean let out some air from his lungs. "Just a rough landing, I suppose. I'll be okay," the boy forced himself to smile, and Diego found himself admiring his pretty lips and teeth again.
"Go and see the trainer or the doctor," Diego ordered him, but Sean shook his head.
"I'm fine!" He asserted and tossed his hair back over his shoulders.
"You're not fine," Diego frowned. "We have a big match next week. I can't have you hurt. It's just not going to happen. If you don't agree to get yourself checked out just in case, then I'm going to carry you there.
"What if I am hurt?" Sean's eyes fell. "I'm the only one bringing home a salary until Ollie gets cleared. I just can't let it happen. If I'm not working, I'm not getting paid, and then we're both screwed."
"You're probably fine. Just a bruise or something," Diego smiled, hoising Sean up to his feet. "And worst case scenario? If you are hurt, then I'll adopt you and Ollie for a while. I've already got three kids to take care of. What's two more?" Sean laughed and gratefully squeezed Diego's hand with his own. Diego didn't know where his broad, happy smile and the butterflies in his belly came from, but he wasn't sure he liked them.
Friday, February 9th
"You and Rach didn't come together?" Jimmy Vause asked, drying his hair with a spare towel. He always liked to shower before the show - he had some nasty body odour and didn't want to inflict his opponents with more pain than necessary.
"No way, camarada. Another road trip with her and I'll probably drive us both off a bridge," Diego replied, squeezing into his tights. It was probably time for an upgrade in ring gear. Where Ollie had a dozen different colour schemes for his signature wrestling attire, Diego only wore the same one every week until he decided on something new. Green with the gold trim, his native colours, was a nice throwback to his heritage but they were austere and dull. Okay on a heel, but not very exciting on a face.
"Can I ask, man? Why are you even with her? Is the sex great or something? You don't even talk to each other when I'm around." Jimmy dropped his towel, turning away and slipping on some compression underwear. Diego snuck a glance at his muscular back and round buttocks.
"I dunno. We've been together a couple of years now. I suppose I've just resigned myself to it," Diego answered, looking away when Jimmy turned back. What's wrong with you, he thought.
"Whatever works for you, I guess," Jimmy shrugged and began pulling on his trunks next. He wore so little in the ring and he was unapologetically pale, unable to get a natural tan and refusing to get a sprayed one.
"Hey, how are you and Lovecraft getting along?" Jimmy asked suddenly, and Diego felt his heart stop. He hadn't been speaking to Lance at all. Had someone said something?
"We're not," Diego asserted. "I don't speak to him at all."
"Yeah, and I mean, that's great," Jimmy mumbled, sitting down and pulling an athlete's sock over his gargantuan foot. He was six feet and seven inches tall, a huge man, with a size sixteen shoe. "It's just, you know, you guys are going to be on screen together. It's not breaking the locker room code if you and he talk about what you're doing on screen and stuff."
"I don't want to talk to him," Diego shrugged. "That's pretty much it."
"Hey, that works for me. He's your problem, not mine. I was hoping he'd have quit by now, but I suppose he's no chicken if he's still around. Plus, 'Chelle is going to push that kid to the moon and back for the publicity, so it doesn't matter what we do about it. I'm probably just wasting my time," Jimmy thought aloud, dragging his monstrously large boot over his foot.
"I was hoping he'd leave too. I can't stand the drag queen crap," Diego rolled his eyes, and Jimmy looked at him quizzically.
"Don't be homophobic, bro," Jimmy frowned, which surprised Diego. "I think he's a solid celebrity, but I think he's in the wrong career and I want to make him question if he wants to be a wrestler. We're not punishing him because he's queer. Hell, we can't afford to even if we wanted to. Fox and Vickery are two of our best workers, who cares what they get up to off screen?"
"That's what I mean," Diego stammered, twisting the words that came out of his mouth seconds earlier. "I mean the drag queen thing isn't appropriate for what we're doing, you know? We need people to wrestle, not dance around in stupid outfits."
"Whatever you say," Jimmy shrugged. "Don't break Fox in half by the way. I'm looking forward to having a go at him."
"I'm the one going through the table tonight," Diego reminded him with a grin. "He's been talking about this for weeks."
"I wonder if he has what it takes to be a good heel," Jimmy finished lacing his boot up. "Weird. He's an awesome face." Still, something Jimmy said managed to nag at Diego's brain.
By the time they were ready to go out for the main event, Sean was so angry. He'd never seen the little youngster so furious that he was shaking before.
"It's alright," Diego tried to calm him down and went to put his hand on the man's quivering shoulder, but Sean took himself away.
"Don't touch me!" He snapped, his arms folded, pacing the corridor near the curtain. "Please... just let's get this over with."
"I'm sorry this has happened," Diego said, uncomfortably. "I had no idea. I don't like this either. It's ridiculous."
"Di, just shut up," Sean told him. "I'm not mad at you, but please just leave me alone." For some reason, that truly hurt Diego's feelings. He understood why Sean was so angry. Michelle changed tonight's plans - Diego was going to win tonight and effectively take Sean's push away from him. Jimmy's prediction was right - they were pushing Lovecraft to the moon. Diego was there for the ride, the wrestling conduit that Lovecraft needed.
"Let's be professional?" Diego whispered when he saw the segment wrapping up. They would be on next.
"Aren't I always?" Sean sulked, rubbing himself warmer with his hands. It was chilly in the building. Diego wore a cloak during his entrance so he wasn't so cold, but Sean went out barechested and always refused to wear something backstage to keep himself warm. Stubborn kid. Diego's music hit, and to his surprise, a small ripple of applause and cheers went through the crowd. Nothing to write home about, nothing that would be considered impressive for a standard babyface, but for him, it was a huge deal. The big smile he needed as a man of the people came very naturally to his face even before he stepped through the curtain.
Diego entered with more energy than he had in quite a while, and it wasn't just his new alignment as one of the good guys. It felt good to be noticed, to have fans actually interested in seeing him. It's him they want, he reminded himself. It's Lovecraft. They don't care about you, not yet at least. Waya's pop during his entrance entirely dwarfed his - but it always had. It seemed the crowd wasn't yet fully ready to embrace Waya's new position as a bad guy. It was so sudden and random, so it was understandable. The early part of the match was a heck of an ordeal. Sean was very aggressive, and the bout was considerably different from the other ones they'd had in the past. Diego had always been the bad guy. Sean was enjoying the perks of his new alignment, even using Diego's hair to throw him from one side of the ring to the other. That hurt like a bastard, but it was wrestling - it always hurt, but you didn't have time to bitch about it. Sean never did, and Diego wasn't going to give him the satisfaction.
It was an intense and hard-hitting match, typical of the main event. Diego knew Jimmy would be watching closely, and he wanted to give the champion a good show. Sean was like a bat out of hell as well, possibly to convince Michelle that she backed the wrong horse and he was more deserving of the main event slot. Although it was a show put on with a scripted outcome, there was a lot on the line. Both men were fighting for their opportunity to wrestle at the top, not just their in-ring personas. Diego was powerful, fast and very technically adept, but he wasn't as much of a crowd pleaser as Sean. The Cherokee was agile, acrobatic and very innovative, and it seemed every time Diego dazzled the crowd, Sean would upstage him with a brilliant manoeuvre that got the fans off their feet.
The twenty minute mark passed, as the referee subtly indicated to them. It was time to set up the finish. The table was set up in front of the turnbuckle in the corner. Sean was firmly in control of the match and had managed to hoist Diego up to the top rope. Diego was "dazed" and appeared ready to lose as Sean made it clear he was going to toss Diego through the table, which would win him the match. The crowd was riled up, and then Lance's music hit. The lights turned to his signature pink, red and purple, and all eyes went to the curtain, where Lance strutted onto the entrance ramp and began to dance for the crowd. As part of the show, Waya was furious that nobody was paying attention to him and began to scream at Lovecraft. This gave Diego the opportunity to surprise Waya and lift him up on his shoulders. The lights died and the music stopped, and the crowd all buzzed with excitement as attention went back to the men in the ring.
From the second rope, Diego spun Sean off his shoulders for his signature Silva Spiral and jumped towards the table that had been set up. It was well calculated, and Sean was slammed right through the table. Four tables in the last two months. He was a tough bastard. The crowd was happy with the end of the match, but Diego suspected it was for Lovecraft's involvement, and he was fiercely jealous. He and Sean worked their asses off for these people, and Lovecraft stole their thunder by doing a bit of a moonwalk and flexing his abs. It was stupid. Lance approached and raised Diego's hand in victory. Diego went a step further and scooped the red man up so that he was sitting on his shoulder, and the two sent a clear message that they were now allies. Diego saved him from Waya, so in return, Lance distracted Waya to give Diego the win. They were the best of friends. Or something like that. Wrestling storylines needed some suspension of disbelief.
Sean had vanished almost the instant the focus was off him and he'd finished his job. By the time Diego returned backstage, his friend had left the building without even getting changed out of his wrestling attire. Diego felt terrible.
"I don't blame him for being mad!" Gloria exclaimed as she walked with Rachel and Diego to the blond woman's car. They were staying at the same hotel and figured it was easier to carpool. Sean was supposed to go with them, but he must have called up a cab. Diego imagined the look on the driver's face when the boy got into the back seat wearing nothing but his skins and boots.
"Yeah, what the hell? The word is that Lovecraft went over Michelle's head to have the plans changed," Rachel said, walking and texting at the same time.
"Are you serious?" Gloria asked, looking back at Diego, who shrugged.
"I wouldn't put it past him," Diego replied. "He's been trying to jump the queue ever since he started, so it wouldn't surprise me if he petitioned to change the plans. If I'm in the main event, then so is he, and that's all he cares about."
"That's... messed up," Gloria sighed. "Jimmy's going to eviscerate him. You don't go and stuff around with another wrestler's paycheck and career like that. I hope he knows that he's just shot his own career in the foot." Diego guiltily watched his shoes as they walked. Lance would definitely pay the price for going over Michelle's head to Marg and putting a knife in Sean's back like this, but only Diego knew for sure that Lance wasn't the one who did it.
Tuesday, February 20th
"Can you just put your phone away for like, fifteen minutes?" Diego snapped at her. Rachel looked up at him and shrugged, before sliding back in her pocket. She didn't seem to understand why he was upset.
"What's up?" She asked, and Diego fought the urge to yell at her. He was so tired of Rachel not putting any effort into their relationship. It was one of the only times everybody was behaving themselves at Chuck E Cheese. Nina, Jilly and Julian had all managed to eat their dinner without getting it all over themselves or having an argument.
"Are you being facetious or... do you not know why I'm kind of pissed?" Diego asked her, his dark eyes drooping with sadness.
"You don't have to be a dick," Rachel frowned, and Diego sighed.
"The kids have been taken off our hands for what, ten minutes now?" He pointed out to her. Rachel missed the point more than a hockey team wearing blindfolds. "The whole point of bringing them here was so that we can spend a few minutes together. Am I really that boring that you'd rather play with those angry birds or something?"
"Alright, I'm sorry," she shrugged. She looked charming tonight. Her blond hair was bunched up in a plait, and her light brown eyes twinkled in the light. "I just didn't know this was a date."
"And I suppose I didn't know that it needed to be a date for you to want to spend a few minutes talking to me," Diego knew it was unbecoming of a man to sound like the emotionally needy one, but he was desperate. Between Monday and Thursday he spent all his time with his children. They were sweet kids and he loved them with all his heart, but the conversations with his five-year-old and three-year-olds tended to leave him socially unsatisfied. Rachel coming to see him was a huge bonus, but she only ever let him down.
"Alright, so talk then," Rachel turned to face him. What's the point? Rather than talking, he leaned forward and passionately kissed her lips. Surprised but not unwilling, she scooched closer and the two enjoyed making out in the booth. It reminded Diego of being a teenager and getting intimate with a slew of girls, often trying to cop a feel while they kissed in a not-so-private place and often getting shot down.
"Diego Silva?" He heard from behind him and he reluctantly pulled away from Rachel. It was a teenage boy, a very unfortunate fellow. Acne, greasy hair and as round as he was tall. Apparently, this kid didn't know what it was like to have someone interrupt you while you were scoring with a beautiful woman. He wagered that the kid probably wouldn't for another twenty years yet.
"Yeah, you caught me," Diego smiled sourly. Why did people have to do this? All he wanted was to not have to cook and to take his kids somewhere they could entertain themselves for a while. Fans always chose the most obnoxious time to harass celebrities. When Diego was trying to carry parcels to his car, when he was trying to buy groceries with his children scattered and doing God knows what, when he'd just gotten off a twenty-hour flight. Just because they don't have a life, it doesn't mean I shouldn't be allowed to have one, he thought grumpily.
"You are like, my favourite wrestler ever," the kid began babbling and Diego sat awkwardly while Rachel giggled behind him. No doubt the kid said this to every wrestler he met in person. If only he knew what boring people most of us are when we're in the civilian world. He didn't hear most of the kid's speech - there was nothing he hadn't heard a million times. He took that time to glance at the playground in case one of his children managed to draw blood and to locate his card in his wallet. This loser was likely going to draw attention to him and Rachel, and that meant that others might notice and they ran the risk of getting swamped.
"Come and sit down," Rachel said politely, and the kid seemed ready to burst with excitement and did just that. She wasn't interested in talking to him - she had the same idea he did. If the kid is standing over them, he'll get noticed. If he sat with them, nobody would look twice.
"Now I hate to be rude," Diego lied, trying to get a word in edgewise. "I'm trying to have a quiet night with my family and girlfriend, alright? So if you're looking for an autograph or a selfie, Rach and I are happy to do that, but please keep it to yourself until we head off."
The teenage guy seemed a little saddened that he wasn't going to be given the full night out with a celebrity experience, but he gleefully took out his phone. Rachel was more enthusiastic than Diego was, but they gave the kid a few photos apiece. It was easier than having to tell a dozen other people to piss off.
"Nice meeting you, Jay," Diego shook the kid's hand, and Rachel did the same. He left, mercifully, and Rachel heaved a massive sigh of relief.
"I think we need to go," Diego muttered, and she agreed.
Diego whistled underneath the playground. The children only seemed to hear him when they felt like it, but the whistle always got their attention. Nina opted to go down the slide one last time before returning to her father's side, but neither of the twins was interested. They were having too much fun.
"Jill! Julian! Now, please!" Diego shouted, not quite sure where they were hiding.
"Juli is in the helicopter. I don't see Jilly," Nina pointed out. Diego knew he should have seen this coming. Nothing ever went right for him.
"Rach, I'm going fishing," Diego grumbled, kicking his shoes off. There was no way he'd be able to coerce them to come down. He was going to have to flush them out. This is ridiculous. They're children, not rats. "Keep an eye on anyone who comes out and don't let them get back in." Diego was a very well-built man, broad, muscular and tall. It was a challenging job to get himself up and inside the structure, painfully aware that people were watching him. Jilly was the first one he found. She squealed and ran from him, as though this was all a game, and he managed to corner her and force her down the slide. Rachel apprehended the girl before she could flee. Julian was indeed playing inside the little helicopter attachment. He was far less resistant to being seized, even hugging his dad. They went down the slide together, and Diego was relieved that was over.
"Yo, Rach," he frowned, seeing her buried back into her phone. "What happened to Jill?" Rachel looked up, then down and around.
"Oh, she's gone back in," she laughed.
"Are you serious?" Diego roared at her, scaring her as well as Nina and Julian. "You had one job, Rachel. One fu--" he caught himself before he could spill the F-bomb in front of the little ones. For all the good it did, he thought angrily. He'd been coaching Julian for years on how to say "please" and "thank you" to minimal effect, but the kid heard the F-word once and still kept popping it off without knowing what it meant, often in public. By the time he apprehended a defiant and screaming Jilly a second time, he was sick and tired of everybody. Rather than spending the night with Rachel as he planned, he sent her home. He was too angry at her.
Sleep didn't come so well that night. Jilly was being a little bitch, throwing a fit every time he tried to get her dressed for bed, to brush her teeth, when he gave her the wrong coloured juice cup and especially when he refused to drive to Mommy's house and pick up the cat so she could pat it. Rachel, her feelings hurt by his yelling earlier, refused to speak to him. Sean, upset about Diego usurping his place on the roster, did talk to him but was still in a sulk. Julian decided he didn't want to sleep in the same room as his annoying sister, not that Diego could blame him after the way she'd acted, and hopped into bed with Daddy. Jilly, of course, had to follow, and Diego was too tired and upset to put them back to bed. Zoey didn't need to know about that. As he dozed off, he started thinking about Sean Fox again. The way he smiled, the way he laughed, the way his skin felt warm to the touch. And... the guilt. The last thing Diego thought before he finally dozed off between two little sleeping and twitching bodies was how guilty he felt for what he did to the boy that seemed to invade his thoughts day and night.