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Hardcore 'Til I Die.

Hessian

Title: The Re-Build (Tag Team Match with Chandler Tsonda vs. Tyler Nelson & Devin Shakur, ReVolution: The Last Stand)
Featuring: Wade Elliott
Date: From 248 to The Last Stand
Location: Phoenix, DC, Massachusetts, and all places in-between

PRIME ReVolution 248
Wells Fargo Arena
Tempe, Arizona
July 18th, 2012
Off-Air



It's a difficult situation, returning to a familiar place after an extended absence. You never really know what to expect. That place may have changed quite a bit, or maybe it stayed the same. You might have changed quite a bit, and those old faces may not like what they see. The variables are hard to gauge, and there's no good way to prepare for it.

If there's a woman involved, however, you can expect to catch all kinds of hell.

And if that woman is Lindsay Troy, you'd better brace for impact.

"Lindsay, c'mon!" Wade hollered, chasing the Queen through the doorway she had just exploded through, fire in her eyes and on a war-path through the parking lot of the Wells Fargo Arena. The unwavering stride of her long legs didn't miss a beat, and she made no effort to acknowledge the Drifter in pursuit.

Except for the middle finger she threw over her shoulder.

Her hands fumbled around in her purse for her rental’s keys, and she struggled to keep her duffel bag on her shoulder. Why she didn’t already have her keys in her hand is something she’d lament later on in the evening, and the curse of owning a large enough purse to carry nearly her entire life around slowed her down, which allowed Wade to gain ground. When she finally found the key ring, he wasn’t more than five feet behind her.

"Lindsay, please," he continued, reaching out and putting a big paw on her shoulder, trying to stop her. "Just gimme a minute to..."

The duffel bag crashed to the ground. More specifically, onto Wade’s dusty boot. It distracted him for a moment; his eyes flicked to the pavement and gave him no chance of noticing the pink-tipped backhand flying toward his face. A loud smack of flesh on flesh resonated through the garage. He stumbled a few feet to his side, half bent over, and Troy shook her hand, hoping the furious sting would subside quickly.

After three years, it might’ve been too much to hope for.

"Alright," he started after a pause, placing a hand to the right side of his face and inspecting it for blood. "I deserved that..."

"You think that’s all you deserve?" Troy snarled. "I should’ve cracked you with the hand that has the keys."

The Blue Collar Brawler closed his eyes, heaved a heavy sigh, and stood upright. He turned his ice-blue gaze to the scorching orbs of the Queen of the Ring.

"No, Lindsay," he said, calming slightly. "That ain't all I deserve. I prob'bly don't even deserve t'be standin' in front of ya right now..."

He took a step closer, running a hand down his scruffed cheek, tending to the sting left behind by her back-hand.

"...but I am. I am standin' here in front've ya."

"Good for you. Now you can get in your car and get away from me. Kinda like what I’m about to do, right now."

She snatched her bag off the ground and stomped over to her car. Accepting defeat, the Drifter could only watch, a rush of memories flooding his mind. She popped the door open.

"Lindsay," he called after her.

For whatever reason, for whatever charitable, rational, merciful atom in her cellular make-up that might have lingered, she looked at him.

"I'm here this time. I ain't goin' anywhere."

She squinted.

"Right," she scoffed, "until you find out that I’m still with Rayne, and you blow up our friendship AGAIN, and then go disappearing for the, what, third time? OOPS, SPOILER ALERT! Guess I’ll be seeing you in another three years."

She threw her bags onto the passenger's seat before turning back to him one more time.

"Or not."

Wade shoved his hands into his pockets as she climbed into the car and slammed the door shut. She squawked the tires as she hit the gas, tearing out of the garage. He could only watch, and was soon left with only concrete walls and pillars, alone as he had ever been.

"Saw that comin'," he muttered to himself, walking away with heavy steps echoing through the structure.

"...wish I didn't."


* * * * * * *


"I don't know what happened t'me."

He cruises steadily behind the wheel, tires turning over the cracked asphalt of a lonely road. His voice comes from somewhere else, his own narrator following along with the old green Chevy.

"Everythin' makes more sense, an' everythin's diff'rent.

Ya think it'd be the other way 'round."


Trees preparing for colder weather stroll by, guarding a wide-open landscape like less imposing bars of a jail-cell.

"It hurts.

Comin' up on forty-one years old. Forty-one years've livin' life the hard way. Gettin' the hell beat out've me from one ocean to the other. Taken hits that'd put most in the ground, an' fer some reason bein' too damn stubborn an' stupid to just stay down, regardless of who it hurt in the process.

Forty-one years've givin' myself hell, an' I never had to. That hurts more'n any punch in the mouth or boot in the ribs."


Keen blue eyes cut through the windshield while calloused, worn hands turn the steering wheel, gray sky keeping the sun at bay.

"I've burnt more bridges than I can count, pissed off every other guy I ever met, an' stiff-armed anyone that coulda got close.

But I feel like I got a chance to rebuild.

I gotta rebuild."


He turns the wheel, the reflections of his surroundings shifting position through the windshield.

"I ain't gonna run away this time.

I can't."



* * * * * * *


Days after ReVolution 249


He shoved two quarters into a pay phone for the fifth or sixth time, pinching and rubbing his temples with his left hand while holding the phone to his ear with the other. He breathed strongly through his nostrils to stay calm while the phone rang on the other side.

He heard it pick up.

Then heard a click.

Wade slammed the receiver onto its hanger violently, enough to make the quarters inside jingle around. The phone had simply bounced off the hanger and dangled to the ground, but he was already halfway across the gas station parking lot.

He climbed into the driver's seat of the old green '76 Chevy Stepside, slamming the door and landing his back hard against the backrest.

"Calm yerself, Wade," he said to himself. "Ya knew it weren't gon' be as easy as a god-damn phone call..."

He tilted his head back, dragging his big paws down his forehead and over his face with an exhausted sigh.

"Just gotta keep tryin'. Gotta make this right..."

"But we both know ya won't."

The voice startled him. He threw his hands to the steering wheel, and from the corner of his eye he could see the shape of a man in the passenger's seat. He whipped his head to the right, but it was gone just as fast as it had appeared.

He waited.

He never had a clear look, but something about the voice was incredibly familiar. Deep, gravely, but with a harshness to it.

It had been a long time since he had seen any ghosts.

His heart raced, but Wade could tell the figure wasn't coming back. Maybe it wasn't there at all, maybe it was just his imagination.

So The Bad Dog, like thousands and thousands of times before, turned the key to his truck, brought the engine to life, and made his way down the road.


* * * * * * *


Local Washington Hospital
A day or two after ReVolution 250



Black.

Then, light.

Slowly his eyes opened, the usual sharp, keen blue orbs looking very, very depleted. The bright light was painful, but then again, everything was painful. From head to toe, front to back, side to side. Everything hurt. The more his eyelids retreated, the more he could make out his surroundings. A white room. He was lying somewhat upright. Tubes here and there. Blanket. Sink.

The beep of a machine.

He came to full consciousness, eyes wide like a child in a brand new place, taking in every detail.

Which turned those wide eyes into a very angry thunder-cloud of a glare.

"No fuckin' way..."

The realization of his current situation lit up the piss and vinegar he held in his bloodstream where most people keep adrenaline. He threw the blanket off of himself, swinging his legs to the floor and lurching upright.

Which was a quick indicator of how awful his ribs felt.

He grit his teeth, stifling a pained groan before standing. He tore rubber tubing attached to needles out of his left arm with anger. He tried to do the same with his right arm, but found the left was having trouble working, and his shoulder was throbbing something terrible at the slightest movement.

At this point, the nurses ran in.

"Sir!" shouted a petite blonde woman in purple scrubs. "Sir, please get back into bed!"

"Where the FUC...:

POP

The hinge in his jaw cracked like a branch snapping, interrupting his roar in an instant. He reeled back, holding his jaw in his right hand to fight the pain before whipping his body back toward the nurse.

"Where the hell am I!?" he growled through thin lips to prevent his jaw from cracking again.

"You're at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, please return to your bed, Mr. Elliott, you are badly injured..."

"Who brought me here?" he interrupted, fighting the pain in his left shoulder to tear the IVs out of his right arm.

"We're not at liberty to reveal the identity of..."

"WHO BROUGHT ME H..."

POP

"GOD DAMNIT!"

Raising his voice caused his jaw to crack again, the pain further enraging The Blue Collar Brawler.

"SIR!" barked the nurse, as more medical professionals came to her aid behind her. "You were part of an extremely brutal wrestling match and you need numerous surgeries and procedures, please calm down and..."

"I know what happened!" he snapped. "What I wanna know is who the fuck gave y'all permission to put me up in this fuckin' hospital!? WHO!?"

"Mr. Elliott, I already told you that we cannot..."

"Then get the hell out've my way!"

He stormed forward, stepping around the nurse and pushing through the remaining medical staff. For everything that had happened in the last three years, for all the changes, for all the breakthroughs, for all the maturing, there was one thing that would never change.

Wade Elliott hated hospitals.

Call it stubborn pride, call it whatever you like, but The Bad Dog stormed down that hallway with hellish pain in his ribs, a left shoulder he could barely move, a dislocated jaw and an eye-socket throbbing and burning. Hessian had torn Wade apart like no one ever had, but in the end, somehow, The Southern Sparkplug came out on top.

It probably wasn't worth it.

But a raging Bad Dog isn't exactly reasonable. Clad in only his hospital gown, Elliott burst through a pair of glass doors and into what looked like a main lobby, startling pedestrians checking in and doctors moving quickly to their next patient.

"Who the hell do I gotta talk t..."

He cut his menacing growl short. At a counter-top across the way of the lobby stood a very familiar, very tall woman filling out paperwork. The strap of a brown, well-worn leather briefcase cut across her body, the bag itself rested against her leg, and the hand that didn’t hold a pen gripped a large stainless steel coffee tumbler. The commotion caused by the Drifter turned her head, those brown curls flipping over her shoulder to reveal, who else, but Lindsay Troy.

She was not impressed.

"Lindsay, you wait right there fer a second," he hollered, ignoring her scowl and stomping forward, only to be blocked by a large Latino security guard. Wade momentarily locked eyes with this road block before Troy’s voice called his attention back across the room.

"Pretty sure the nurse on duty told you not to get out of bed." Troy pushed a clipboard over to a waiting RN. "Best you start listening to her."

"Now wait just a---"

"Don’t," she whirled to face him, the directive short and cold. "Don't even think about it, or I’ll have them strap you to the bed and wire your damn jaw shut."

It was enough to button him up. After receiving little resistance, Lindsay shook her head, turned toward the exit, and marched away.

"I suggest you calm down, sir," said the security guard, big hand firmly holding the Bad Dog's right shoulder.

Wade didn't acknowledge him, he only watched Lindsay as she stormed through the doors. He eventually shrugged the security guard's hand away.

"I don't care what kinda paperwork ya gotta do, I'm refusin' care," he growled loudly to no one in particular before turning away and heading back the way he came.

"An' somebody better get me my god-damn clothes."


* * * * * * *


The cool evening breeze fluttered the strands of hair on his head. He'd let it grow a bit since he found himself at Kate's cabin. Not too long, a couple inches at most, enough to give it some kind of flow, a tousled look where he used to keep it close to the scalp.

He found himself in an empty park and ride off the highway, leaning against his green '76 Chevy Stepside, beat to hell as it was after its involvement against Hessian. The sun was all but gone, every shade of pink and orange painting the horizon, every shape of tree, mountain or building cloaked in black. The road was quiet, a good time to lick wounds.

And he had plenty.

Nevermind the physical crushing The Murder Show had given him. His ribs were likely fractured, but he could deal with it. His shoulder ached, tight and uncomfortable, but he could get more motion out of it every day, painful as it was. His jaw clicked and popped out of place chronically, but he could still talk, and eat. His eye was sore, but he could see well enough as the swelling finally decided to go down.

To hell with all that, though.

The uphill battle that was trying to make amends with Lindsay Troy was killing him the most. It was exhausting. Every phone call, every attempt to explain himself was stiff-armed by The Queen, and he didn't blame her. Their friendship was a bridge he had lit up in flames over and over again. But not this time.

If there WAS a "this time."

It all weighed heavy on The Bad Dog. For a guy known for packing light and keeping on the move he was sure dragging around a lot of baggage, the good and the bad kind, and it had made him pretty tired, so standing in that park and ride in the cool air was the perfect time to catch his breath.

But that never lasts long.

"You sure went an' got soft, didn'tcha?"

The voice came directly in front of him, snapping Wade out of his thoughts. He squinted, peering into the darkness.

"Who the hell's askin'?" Elliott queried, body tensing.

"You oughta know the answer t' that better'n anybody."

After a moment he could make out the shape of a man walking toward him. Wade's hand instinctively slid around to his belt and over the handle of Alice, his .357 magnum.

"Yer treadin' in a bad neighborhood," warned Wade, a sternness to his voice. He was nervous. That voice...it sounded just like him.

"Well, 'scuse me fer treadin'..." the figure replied with that familiar deep, gravely tone as he lumbered forward, close enough for Wade to get a clear look at him.

..."but I think I'm in the right place."

It took The Drifter quite a few moments to process what he was seeing. Not twenty feet in front of him was...him. A doppleganger. Slight differences here and there. This version wore a thicker beard and had a ghastly aura to it. Most notably, however, was a worn, tattered, gray uniform of the Confederate Army hanging off its frame.

And blood seeping from its neck and onto the collar.

"Who the hell're you?" asked Wade, quietly, eyes still squinted and head tilting.

The imposter laughed a bit, a wheezed and blood-filled guffaw.

"Ah, hell Wade, figgered even you could rec'gnize yer own damned self."

Elliott couldn't respond, but his hand gripped Alice tighter.

"Shee-it, I gotta draw it in the dirt fer ya? I'm YOU ya fuckin' dumbass!"

The rebel Wade spat a deep red wad onto the pavement, clearing its blood-filled throat.

"Ya say that like it shouldn't be that surprisin'," was the original Wade's response.

"Yeah, well, if ya'd spent a little more time listenin' to the other three ya mighta learned sumthin', but they're a bunch've cunts anyway."

"The Three" referred to the ghosts that once followed The Bad Dog: a coyote with the voice of a man, an old, dead Confederate soldier, and the specter of Wild Bill Hikock. At this moment, it would appear there was a fourth.

"I seen ghosts before," said The Blue Collar Brawler, "but you'll 'scuze me if you walkin' in claimin' that you an' me are the same man ain't sittin' well in my head."

"I ain't 'scuzin' you fer shit."

"What then?" Elliott snapped. "Explain t'me how the hell I'm you and you're me!"

"Because we don't die, Wade."

The dead version of The Blue Collar Brawler's words caused the living to relent, with no response of his own.

"We've been called diff'rent names, done diff'rent things," continued the copy. "But so long as this country was gettin' built, we've been around. Hell, we were slittin' the throats of the fuckin' red coats. You've been doin' some nasty things fer a looong time, Wade."

"An' what makes ya think I should believe you? Yer a god-damn ghost that could just be my fuckin' imagination fer all I know!"

"Heh heh, maybe I am, maybe I ain't," hacked the ghost, spitting blood onto the pavement once again. "But it don't change who ya are."

"That right? Then why don'tcha go on and tell me who I am!?" barked The Bad Dog. "'Cause apparently, accordin' to you and the other three dead assholes, I need a lil' help with that!"

"You," replied the ghost, "are a bullet-proof, roughneck son of a bitch who don't need anyone, an' I wanna know what the fuck yer doin' chasin' that cunt around lookin' fer some sort've bullshit redemption!"

The Southern Sparkplug cocked back the hammer on Alice and snapped it from his belt, putting the bead between his mirror-image's steely blue eyes.

"Another word on that subject an' I'll put another fuckin' hole in yer head," growled the true-Wade.

"What?" laughed the copy. "Ya gonna put a bullet in a fuckin' ghost? It's fuckin' true, Elliott! Ya don't need her! You don't need nobody! An' I ain't gon' sit back in the shadows an' watch ya turn us into a fuckin' little bitch!"

"I SAID SHUT YER FUCKIN'..."

And he was gone.

Wade stood alone, gun pointed forward with nothing to aim at, eyes ablaze with rage.

He calmed, lowering his arm, sure the specter had vanished. He carefully pushed the hammer back, returning the gun to his belt. The words of the ghost replayed in his head over and over.

"You don't need nobody...

"No..." Wade whispered to himself.

...not anymore."


* * * * * * *


Cambridge, Massachusetts
Days before ReVolution: The Last Stand



Gray clouds hid the sun from the people of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Drifter found himself in her driveway, leaning against the hood of his truck. He stared at Lindsay Troy’s large home, arms crossed and quiet.

He waited a long time.

He wasn't going to chase anymore, however. He was going to give her time. Let her come to him.

And that took patience.

Lots of patience.

And eventually, after what felt like (and what actually might have been) hours, the front door opened and The Queen came out of her castle. Troy clunked down her front steps, through the front gate, and around to the driveway where The Bad Dog waited.

"You’d better thank your lucky stars I’m the only one here," she started.

Wade shrugged. "Don’t matter who was or wasn’t, I woulda come anyways."

"I see the hospital didn’t keep you like I hoped they would." She crossed her arms over her chest and glowered at him. "What the hell do you want now, Wade."

"I wanna talk to ya. Been tryin' to fer weeks."

"And what part of ‘I don’t want to hear it’ are you not comprehending?" she snapped. "That hasn’t changed just because Hessian cracked some new holes in that thick skull of yours."

"Oh I got the point," replied the Drifter. "But I ain't gonna quit on it."

"Maybe you should start entertaining that idea."

"Lindsay..."

"No." She cut him off with a point of her finger. "You have no idea what lengths I went to or how much effort I put in trying to find you. Days upon weeks upon months I spent. Do you know how hard it was to put aside how pissed I was at you to actually go looking? Again? Twice now I’ve done it, for a friendship that’s been repeatedly torched to the ground and stomped all over."

"Lindsay, listen..."

"No, YOU listen!" Her voice reached an octave that bordered on screeching. From inside the house, a chorus of barks began. "I’m tired of being a broken record on this. Tired! You don't deserve my energy, Wade. I don’t have any more to give, and I'm not going to let myself get dragged into it again. I'm not!"

"I'm sorry---"

"Oh, isn’t that nice. I've only been waiting for those words to come out of your stubborn redneck mouth forever, but you’re a little too late with the apology. Saying 'I'm sorry' doesn’t give you a clean slate or make me forgive you for turning into a ghost multiple times over."

"No. I'm sorry fer not bein' the man I should have been."

Troy made a move for another strike, but after realizing what Wade said, she stopped. A look of confusion crossed her face. Wade rubbed the back of his neck, curling his lips in an attempt to keep steady.

"Ya know how old I was when I ran away from home?" he asked, a sense of urgency in his voice. "Sixteen. I was six. Teen. I ran away from all've it, thought I'd be better off by my lonesome. An' that's what I've been doin' ever since. Runnin' away. Fer twenty-five years of my god-damn life!"

He clenched a fist and smashed it against the hood of his truck, his wide-eyes looking away for a moment as he calmed himself. He took quick, hard breaths through his nose.

"It's took twenty-five years t'figure it out. It's took losin' my Pa, losin' my Ma, losin' my dog, and losin' my best friend and someone I love fer it all t'make sense, to finally click in my thick god-damn skull, that fer twenty-five years I've been doin' it wrong."

He took a step forward, eyes closed, fingers dragging through his tousled brown hair and rubbing his scalp.

"It should've all made sense the day ya missed that plane, and I should've done things different. I shoulda grew up, shoulda been a man. I shoulda just told ya everythin'. Told ya that I care about ya, told ya that I probably even love ya."

He paused for a beat, those words causing a leap in his heart, wondering if the relief he was feeling was going to send him floating up in the air or make him puke.

"But I didn't," he continued, breaking the silence, throwing his hands up to his sides. "I got scared an' pushed ya away. I coulda been that man, but all I did was git jealous, an' git angry, an I kept runnin' off, just like I've been doin' damn near all my life."

He took another step. The gray world around them might as well have fallen away. There was only Wade Elliott, popping under the weight of many, many years of tucking it all away, and Lindsay Troy, frozen, staring as he did so.

"Lindsay, I aint' here to try an' tear ya away. I ain't tryin' to win ya over. Truth is I'm too damn late, and it's took losin' everyone close to me an' a crash I didn't deserve t'walk away from t'git my head straight. If there was any chance fer you an' me, I lost it a long time ago..."

He took one last step. His body was tense, that usual thunder-cloud behind his eyes had become glassy, and his voice had developed something of a rasp. Every cell in his body fought to hold back the floodgates.

"...but God damnit, I ain't gonna lose you completely. I'll fight that battle til' I'm dead if I have to."

He reached forward to take her by the elbow, but she stepped backwards and shied away from his touch. Wade’s words tumbled around inside her head as her angry gaze remained locked on his baby blues. Seconds ticked away, and eventually her eyes wandered away from his and settled on a faded scar that wrapped around his left eye socket.

Had that been there before? She pursed her lips and tried to remember – three years is a long time gone, but her memories of Wade didn’t include any facial marks quite like that. Her eyes fell away from his face and settled on that battered old Chevy truck parked next to Tyler’s vintage ’67 Mustang. It had no trace of a Silverado moniker on the passenger’s side door and the blue Pennsylvania license plates clung to the steel bumper with help from rusted, ancient screws.

Scar, old car, license plates clearly not from the South…relics from three years past that she, in her anger, hadn’t even noticed. Then again, she hadn’t really been looking. Or thinking. Or even really caring, until now. The steely expression on her pretty face softened, and when she lifted her head back up to look at the Bad Dog, it melted completely.

Wade’s eyes had welled up to the point of near overflow, and Lindsay felt hers fill up to match his. There’d been so much anger over a ruined friendship which turned, somehow, into worry after he disappeared without a trace. Discouragement from failed efforts to find him morphed into resignation over him being long gone…or long dead…and the nights spent crying silently in hopes Tyler wouldn’t hear, wouldn’t try to comfort her over this unfixable thing, wouldn’t upset him because of her sadness and guilt, all bubbled up and returned in a tidal wave.

She meant to turn away so he wouldn’t see her cry. Meant to bury her head in her hands and push all those jumbled-up feelings back down and lock them away, but a chocked-up sob escaped her mouth before she could.

Wade stepped forward, wrapped her up in his still-sore arms, and pinned her against his barrel chest.
View Wade Elliott's Biography

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Roleplays

Where's the fun in easy?
By: Katt Wylde
Location: Tokyo
Date: Post-Collossus - Many Months Later
The Deal with the Deadline
By: Hessian
Location: @ Colossus vs. ???
Date: Colossus
Crisis on Alternate Earths
By: Tyler Rayne
Location: There and Here
Date: Colossus
Where the Road Ends (Singles Match vs. Tyler Rayne, Colossus VIII)
By: Wade Elliott
Location: From Chicago to Cambridge
Date: Fall, 2012
The Re-Build (Tag Team Match with Chandler Tsonda vs. Tyler Nelson & Devin Shakur, ReVolution: The Last Stand)
By: Wade Elliott
Location: Phoenix, DC, Massachusetts, and all places in-between
Date: From 248 to The Last Stand
PRIME: Seven years of excellence! Live on HBO!