The Wrestler's Heart: Betrayed by a Friend

By Joe Kaiser

The bright lights in the weight room made the night sky outside seem even darker. Because the owner had been friends with Titan for quite some time, he agreed to let him and Kaiz use it any time they wanted. The television above the exercise bikes provided minimal noise, not having enough volume to bounce off the blank white walls. Kaiz, wearing workout shorts and a muscle shirt, protected his surgically repaired ankle with an extremely thick brace. He was preparing to attempt his old squat max: 650 pounds. Titan stood directly behind him, ready to spot him if necessary.

"Come on, now," he told his younger brother. "That brace should hold you up. All you got to do is go down and back up once."

Kaiz nodded, grunting slightly as he pushed the bar off the rack, supporting the weight with his shoulders. The ends of the bar were drooping heavily. Taking a deep breath, he began to descend, aiming to get his thighs parallel to the ground. The weight was too much for his ankle yet, and he could not even reach the halfway point.

"Put it back," Titan instructed, his voice showing frustration, "just put it back."

Kaiz obeyed, and moving with a slight limp, exited the squat rack. "Why hasn't this ankle gotten any better yet?"

Titan began to clear the weight off the bar. "That's easy: it took four hours to fix it, and it's been only five months since you broke the damn thing to begin with."

Silently acknowledging his brother, Kaiz turned his attention to the television, on which Tuesday Night Inferno was starting.

"The show's on," he informed Titan, who checked his watch while putting away a forty-five pound plate.

"Time to get on the bikes anyway," replied Titan. "Go turn the volume up."

Kaiz did so, stepping onto one of the stationary bicycles. His brother positioned himself on the bike adjacent to him, both of them watching the fireworks go off everywhere and the fans scream like crazy.

With the orginal noise subsiding, "No Man's Angel" was cued, and The Diva walked through the curtain. Kaiz stopped his peddling, his eyes bugging out upon seeing her attire: a sky blue, tight silky shirt, black miniskirt, and strappy heels.

"You lucky bastard," Titan thought aloud.

Kaiz looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "Lucky?! What the hell's she doin' wearing that on T.V.?"

The lights in the arena were dimmed slightly for Diva's entrance, and her tanned legs carried her gracefully to the ring.

As Diva was handed a microphone, Titan told his brother, "Looks like you're gonna have one hell of a 'welcome back' present!" Ignoring him, Kaiz looked back at the television as the music halted, and The Diva was ready to speak.

"I'm going to take a moment to say a few words to Ashera, the priss I'll be challenging for the Women's Title Sunday." She paused for a moment. Kaiz never blinked as he admired her shapely legs. "Ashera, you take the name of a goddess, and walk around like you should be worshipped as one. Well I'm here to tell you that you ain't worthy of a turd's attention!" She smiled widely at her insult, and immediately, Ashera's theme music was played. Onto the stage strode a six-foot-plus blonde with one hand on her hip and the other possessing a microphone of her own.

"What kind of dishrag wearin' tramp do you think you are, sayin' that crap about me?" she demanded.

Kaiz's eyebrows went cross as he pedaled at a steady rate. "Speak for yourself, bitch."

Diva, however, was fully capable of controlling herself. "Sounds like fightin' words, Ashera. I'm not moving from this ring. Step right up; I'll give you the Final Act in this skirt if I have to!"

Ashera shook her head. "Trash like you ain't worth the trouble. I'll just have to punish you for your infidelity on Sunday." She looked into the crowd. "As for all of you, you will soon bow down and worship Ashera!" Her music signaled the end of the short conversation, and The Diva, with a steely expression, watched her foe disappear behind the curtain.

Kaiz and Titan reviewed what they had just seen during the commercial break, neither person being able to leave the topic of The Diva's new outfit. When the show came back on the air, Invision was entering the ring to his new entrance music, clearly with something on his mind. He would be facing The Mangler for sole control over the Triple Alliance.

Mangler ran out from backstage before his music could be cued, but was met by a hard clothesline from Invision, who went to work immediately. Before Mangler could react, he was being pummeled by countless boots to the abdomen, each of which hit him with full power. The match was quickly being made into a short one.

With The Mangler laying flat on the mat, Invision climbed the turnbuckle and nailed him with the Blinding Light: jumping forward, turning in mid-air, and putting his full weight into his elbow as it came crashing into Mangler's lung.

Mangler was having difficulty breathing as Invision left the ring to grab a folding chair. Returning to where he'd left his former friend, he smacked him in the forehead with an extra charge of adrenaline, knocking Mangler unconscious. Then, he held the chair so that its edge was facing the canvas. With hard thrusts, Invision slammed it numerous times into each of Mangler's arms. The bell had long since been rung, signaling a disqualification; this did not stop Invision. He was not satisfied until he had broken both of Mangler's arms with the chair, which he threw down as he jumped out of the ring. Taking the microphone from the ring annoucer, he addressed the crowd with a harsh voice near the commentator's table.

"I now declare the end of the Triple Alliance era!" he yelled. "We don't need that greedy bastard anymore! Jazz and I will now dominate the Tag Team division!" Dropping the microphone, he apathetically walked past the EMTs on their way to the ring.

"Damn," Kaiz and Titan said together in reflection. They finished their routine, not paying much attention to the television.

Meanwhile, The Diva was wearing holes into the carpet in Legend's locker room with her narrow heels. Clearly upset, she paced around a ten-foot area with her arms crossed tightly.

"I don't know what to do, Tim," she said. "Joe is so obsessed with making his comeback that he barely even kisses me anymore. He says he's got too much work to do."

Legend sat loosely on the oak bench in his street clothes; he had the night off.

"Can't say I know what to tell ya," he replied. "You know how he gets when he goes to work: he doesn't think about anything else until the job gets done."

"He's never been this bad before!" Diva snapped, regaining her composure. "I mean hell, he's more in love with the squat rack than he is with my rack!" Her eyes were overwhelmed with tears, which began to fall down her soft cheeks.

Understanding the problem, Legend stood up and locked her in a gentle embrace. Diva was sniffling rapidly in an attempt to control her emotions.

"I don't know what to do," she whispered. "I feel like he doesn't care about me anymore."

Legend said nothing, trying to stay out of it. Looking up at the florescent light, he wondered if he had already gotten too far involved.

Is she going to make me talk to Joe about this?, he asked inwardly.

"Tim, can you do me a favor?" asked The Diva, pulling away and looking into his steel blue eyes.

Oh God, thought Legend, here it comes.

"Can you take me back to the hotel?"

Legend's heart jumped into his throat. "Sure, I guess." His response earned him a peck on the cheek.

"You're a valuable friend, Tim," said The Diva, leading the way out of the locker room.

"You're gonna need a few more months," Titan explained to his brother. They walked side-by-side into the parking lot of the exercise complex. Hardly any of the overhead lights were functioning, so it was almost pitch black in the open area.

"I know, I just thought I'd be farther along than this right now," Kaiz replied, fishing in the pockets of his leather jacket for the keys to his 1993 GMC Sierra, the truck in which he'd traveled cross-country to numerous arenas since his career began.

"Don't rush it, Joe," said Titan. "I've seen way too many guys who came off an injury too soon and wasted their careers."

Kaiz nodded, concurring silently. "Think I'll be able to win my belt back when I get back in the ring?"

Titan shrugged, unlocking his car. "Maybe. Tim's been kicking some ass lately. You may have to win it from him."

Chuckling, Kaiz opened the driver's door to his truck, which was parked behind Titan. "Piece of cake. He's got nothing on me."

The cold winter evening outside contrasted to the warmth of the bed on which The Diva and Legend lay. Both were naked, remembering the athletic events which had just taken place between them. It had been an eternity since Diva had felt a masculine arm around her, with her lover spooning quite comfortably behind her.

"Marie," said Legend, almost in a whisper. "Do you think we went overboard?"

Diva remained silent for a moment, not wanting to think about that. "Even if we did, it was the best experience I've had in months."

"But what if Joe finds out?"

Turning to face Legend, Diva rested her hand on his chest. "Tim, it may not have been the morally correct thing to do, but I needed you. Joe's all but abandoned me in the past few months. I needed someone to appreciate me." Giving him a small kiss, she continued. "Besides, didn't you enjoy yourself?"

Legend allowed himself to smile. "Yeah, I guess I did."

Diva became instantly excited. "Would you like to top our last performance?"

"We can give it a try," Legend replied devillishly. The Diva crawled on top of him, her silky legs straddling his hips, and they kissed with passionate fervor.

Pushing in the tab on his first Mountain Dew of the night, Kaiz sat lazily on his couch as he prepared to watch the trimonthly pay-per-view. He was inwardly happily, awaiting Diva's championship battle against Ashera, which would be the opening match.

"No Man's Angel" made the fans' cheers maximize, and The Diva walked with a purpose down the ramp. Her wrestling outfit was more casual than usual: windbreaker pants and a sports bra with "Diva" embroidered in gold on the front. Entering the ring, she did a few short movements to keep her muscles loose.

Ashera's music was next, and she promptly ran to the ring, eager to defend her belt. She attacked Diva with a flurry of quick punches, stunning her momentarily. Grasping her hand, Ashera Irish-whipped her opponent into the ropes and met her off the rebound with a strong clotheline.

The Diva was not to be outdone. Ashera stooped down to pull her up by the hair, but was met with an upward kick to the face. Having the advantage for the moment, Diva sprang to her feet, giving her opponent (who was still standing) knifehand chops to the chest and shoulders. This forced Ashera into the corner, where The Diva instantly jumped, grasping her opponent around the neck with her feet and whipping her forward. Ashera had been made a victim of Diva's destructive moonsault.

Kaiz was cheering loudly in his living room, witnessing exactly as he had expected. Anticipating the end of the match, he chugged the last of his Budweiser as he watched The Diva pick her opponent of the mat. The crowd screamed progressively louder, sensing what was coming.

Whipping Ashera into the ropes, Diva awaited her return in the center of the ring. Bouncing back, Ashera was met by The Diva with the Final Act: a thunderous spinning heel kick to the jaw. With the crowd yelling "Ooooh!" in unison, Ashera flipped in mid-air with insane momentum, landing hard on the canvas back-first. She was nearly unconscious. The Diva hooked her arm under Ashera's knee, awaiting the referee's count.

"ONE. . .TWO. . .THREE!" He pounded on the mat, calling for the bell. The fans were ecstatic, each screaming at the utmost volume. "No Man's Angel" could not even be heard when The Diva was presented with the Women's Championship belt.

Kaiz was now moving all around the living room, jumping around, hooting and hollering in excitement. In a short amount of time, The Diva had annihilated her opponent. Stepping into the kitchen to fetch more soda, he imagined himself in that position upon his return.
****Four months later****

Diva awoke from what had been a lovely night of sleep.

I'll have to tip the manager for such a nice bed, she thought. The room looked just as beautiful in the morning light as it had in the dark from the previous night: lavender walls, mahogany furniture, and a spacious bathroom. Reaching beside her, she ran a hand through Legend's blazing red hair.

"I'll see ya later, babe," she said, kissing him on the cheek. "Joe's going to be at the gym in a few minutes." Her comment made Legend jump from the bed.

"You're not going to tell him anything, are you?" he asked with alarm.

Diva smiled with assurance as she strode naked to the closet for her workout clothes. It felt good to have the cool air pass all along her body. "Do you think I'm stupid? He'd kill us both."

Legend, also without clothes, rose from the bed and met her at the closet. "Just make sure you don't make any slips, please."

Diva gave him another peck on the cheek, digging her sports bra out of her duffel bag. "Tim, I'm not going to tell him I've been sleeping with his best friend, particularly with how angry he gets about smaller things."

Changing the subject, Legend gave her a quick hug before turning toward the bathroom. "You were great last night."

"Me?!" Diva replied. "What about you, Mr. Stamina?"

"What can I say? All those years in the ring paid off," said Legend, peeking around the bathroom door. "You gonna join me in the shower?"

"No, I really have to be going." Diva laughed as she finished dressing. When Legend vanished from sight, however, she became instantly tense about how she would keep this secret from Kaiz. She felt guilty about being in bed with someone else for a moment, before the rationalization kicked in.

"He was more committed to the weight room than to me," she told herself, searching for her rental car keys. "Plus, I hadn't been with anyone for almost a year. It was a matter of time."

The Diva looked at the floor throughout her trek through the lobby and into the parking lot, still trying to convince herself that her experiences with Legend were for a just cause. It was certainly athletic, but she questioned giving in to temptation. Getting into her car, Diva did her best to block out the consequences, failing miserably.

"What have I done?" she moaned woefully, slumping her forehead against the wheel.

Meanwhile, Legend was enjoying a shower whose water was of the perfect temperature. He was no longer ashamed of what he was doing; it was like The Diva had a true relationship with him rather than Kaiz. Feeling the hot water pour out of the spigot, Legend converted it to the shower head, wondering how Kaiz could leave such a beautiful woman open for the taking.

"She's into me now," he said to himself, picking up the soap. "Give it a little more time, and she'll be mine for good."

"You ready for tonight?" Invision asked Jazz, walking around the Kiel Center. "Number one contender match." The hall was quite spacious, despite all the staging equipment being strewn around.

Jazz huffed air from his lungs, walking alongside him in the curving hallway. "Took us long enough."

"Yeah, but Dawson doesn't know what true talent is." Invision pulled a pack of chew from his pocket and offered some to his partner.

Jazz declined. "So, who do we face tonight?" He had to step around an amplifier.

"Legend and Titan," answered Invision. "Dawson thought the fans would love that."

"Won't be much left of 'em to cheer for when we're done with 'em," Jazz cracked, touching fists with Invision. "I heard Kaiz would be coming back, soon." Invision scoffed in disbelief, spitting a large puddle of brown onto the concrete floor. "With what Mangler did to him, he'll be lucky to walk without a cane." The two continued to walk, finding their locker room. Jazz chose to remain silent, knowing his friend was the farthest possible distance from the truth.

Kaiz strained against the bar, having only two reps left. They were back in the weight room with white walls, a plethora of machines, this time with even more people waiting to use them.

"Push!" yelled Titan, spotting him from behind.

Keeping his breathing steady, Kaiz found the energy within the fumes he had left to barely squat the 640 pounds on the bar. Ignoring the pain in his ankle, Kaiz pushed for his final rep, with a long, low groan escaping his lips.

Titan patted him on the back when he stepped out of the squat rack. "Your numbers are back up. That's gotta be a good sign."

Kaiz wiped his dripping forehead with his arm. "Yeah, but it'll be a different story when I'm moving around in the ring."

"True," Titan concurred. Both witnessed The Diva enter the weight room, her eyes scanning for Kaiz, instantly beaming when she found him.

"I'll get you some Gatorade," Titan told his brother, leaving the room to find a vending machine. "Be right back."

Diva approached her mate, trying hard to mask her apprehension. "Hi," she said abruptly.

"How's it goin'?" Kaiz responded, reaching with an arm to hold her around the waist. "Ain't seen you in a while!"

Diva paused before answering. "It's going. . .good." She noticed that Kaiz was wearing a much smaller ankle brace since the last time they had been in contact.

"Should be back on TV next week," Kaiz said with delight. "Dawson said he'll see about me being in the ring."

Diva was relieved to think of something else for a moment. She pointed at his ankle. "Just make sure you're careful on that thing."

"It'll be fine as long as I stay away from any chair violence." Smiling at his comment, he saw that Diva's eyes were wandering into space. "You okay?"

"Hmm?" Diva was brought back to reality. "Yeah. I'm fine." She was watching the door, waiting for Titan to return so she wouldn't be on the spot anymore.

"Aren't you excited about seein' me again?" Kaiz asked. "Or about me being back on the road?"

Diva covered her tracks quickly. "Yeah. I'm just worried about you, that's all." Her reponse was partly truthful.

Kaiz gave her a squeeze. "I'll be fine. You just worry about hanging on to that Women's Championship. You've had it for a while now, haven't you?"

"Yeah, I guess so," replied Diva, still watching the doorway.

"You still like your new look?"

"Kinda, but those heels get to be a major pain." The Diva was now staring at her feet.

"Do you need a special foot massage from The Master?" Kaiz raised his eyebrows at her and gave her hips a squeeze.

Diva smiled up at him. "I think so. Dawson says the fans love it, so I'll stick with it for a while."

Kaiz frowned as Titan finally returned with two bottles of Gatorade.

"You'd think they'd have the vending machines somewhere near where the exercising is done," he complained, handing Kaiz a bottle of lemon lime.

Kaiz chuckled. "They want you to do more work getting there." He pointed at his brother's abdomen. "Judging by that gut, I think you need to make a few more trips."

"Screw you," Titan answered with a smirk. "And you owe me a buck." Titan took his own Gatorade with him to the leg press machine.

Kaiz swallowed a healthy dose and looked at The Diva. "Don't let the fans rule what you do. You've always been just fine trusting your own decisions."

"If you say so," said Diva, knowing Kaiz's statement was also only part true.

The sold-out St. Louis crowd tried to get Legend and Titan back into the match. The duo had been losing badly up to this point, and no one wanted the former Triple Alliance members to gain a shot at the Tag Team belts. In unison, the 22,000 people in the seats alternated chanting Titan's name, then Legend's. Legend was dazed in the middle of the ring as Jazz smacked him over the head with a muscular forearm. Titan, sensing the urgency, was screaming at Legend to get to his corner. Jazz took his time walking to his own corner and slapping Invision on the hand.

Kaiz growled in frustration as he watched the television in the locker room that belonged to his brother and him. He knew what Titan would do if he ever got into the match, and also that Legend currently looked like a pathetic rookie. Watching Invision and Jazz perform a double powerbomb on his friend, Kaiz cursed so loud as to be heard down the hall.

"What the hell is he doing?!" he yelled, his arms folded as he sat back in his chair. The Diva knew exactly what was happening as she viewed the match from behind the curtain atop the ramp. His mind was not on the match at hand, but on their tryst from the previous night, and the past four months; something Diva was seriously regretting with increasing thought.

Titan closed his eyes and lowered his head as Invision scored the pin, immediately leaving the ring to celebrate with Jazz. Titan, more angry than he had been in ages, walked into the ring, yanked Legend off the canvas and shoved him out onto the hard floor below. Holding his head, Legend stood up, wondering where that came from.

"Just get up the damn ramp!" Titan ordered, "before I kick your ass worse than they just did!"

The Diva followed them into Titan and Kaiz's locker room as the bickering continued. One chair was upturned; the one Kaiz had previously been sitting on and was now sitting upside-down in the corner.

"You never even tagged me in, asshole!" yelled Titan.

Legend was in no mood for an earful, standing eye-to-eye with Titan. "Yeah, well where the hell were you when I needed help? I had a blast with those two-on-one situations!"

Kaiz, also upset, decided to stop the argument. "Face it, Tim," he said, getting in Legend's face, "you blew it. It's a little hard to see what the hell you're doing with your head up your ass!"

Legend stood up to him, as well. "Look, hotshot. Don't tell me about having my head up my ass, because you've been sitting on yours for nine months now." Kaiz's face now told that he was about to deck his best friend.

"All right, boys," Diva intervened, "let's all just shut up and move on."

Legend threw her a look of disbelief. "What are you taking his side for? You found out plenty of times that I'm packin' more than he could ever dream!" He tried to catch himself, but the words were already out. Diva gasped, unwilling to breathe. Legend, for once, had the verbal edge on Kaiz, something that hardly anyone accomplishes. His pride prevented him from going back; he wanted to make the rare occasion last.

Kaiz shook his head and looked Legend square in the eyes. "Excuse me?"

Diva felt her heart sink. "It's true, Joe. We. . .went to bed together. But it was a mis--"

Legend, still thinking The Diva was in love with him, abandoned his friendship and went for the jugular. "Marie, don't hide it. It's already out, anyway." His brown eyes burned a hole through his friend. "She's enjoyed me many times for the last four months. . .Kaiz!" Kaiz's face looked like someone had just kicked him in the groin. "That's right, Joe. You always think you're a step above everyone else. Well, Big Boy, how does it feel to be human?"

Kaiz forced the air from his lungs with a powerful force. "Great," he grabbed his leather jacket and walked toward the door. "Just fucking great!"

Titan looked at Legend as if to say, "How could you?" The Diva, with wide eyes, followed a furious Kaiz out into the hall. Legend went to follow her, but Titan halted him. "What the hell were you thinking, man? Didn't it occur to you that she's your best friend's woman?"

Legend sounded fully unabashed about what had happened. "Hey, what can I say? Wouldn't you bone a woman as gorgeous as that?"

"Not when she's taken by my brother!" Titan roared. "Don't you put anything into friendship?"

"She was lonely!" Legend reasoned. "And judging by her performance the past few months, she ain't lonely anymore!"

"You're unbelievable," said Titan, adding, "I should break my foot off in your ass right now!" Finished, he hustled after his brother.

Meanwhile, Kaiz was storming to his Sierra. Diva ran close behind him, with tears welling in her eyes.

"Joe, it was a mistake," she pleaded. "I still love you!"

Kaiz stopped abruptly and turned around. "Is that supposed to make me feel better? You probably rode him like a damn stallion!" Without hesitation, he turned back toward his truck, unlocking the driver's side door. "I'm going back to the hotel. You stay here and have some more fun with Tim!"

"Joe, please!" Diva began to bawl. "I'm sorry!"

Before slamming his door behind him, Kaiz replied, "Think about that the next time you screw his brains out!"

The Diva could only watch as Kaiz started the engine and screeched his tires, flying out of the parking lot. Titan had just reached the area, and witnessed the truck zooming down the road. Diva was crying uncontrollably, and he put an arm around her as a fruitless effort to comfort her.

"Come back. . ." she pleaded silently. "Please come back."
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