Leon Cashmere saw Amber Ryan before she ever saw him. In the moment she was lost in the moment on her phone as her fingers typed swiftly at the keyboard. A smile was pulled to his face. Leon wasn’t as recognizable without his wrestling gear on. His long mane of hair was tied up on the back of his head in a tight knot and a baseball cap was pulled over that. The flannel short he wore didn’t stand out, the jeans he wore had holes in them and had been worn out.
Amber was a bit of an enigma. She had friends, but Leon wouldn’t consider himself one. Besides a few pleasant exchanges, they didn’t really talk much besides strategy. The sea of people between them darted in and out, someone ran towing their bag behind them but Leon rolled his bag over towards her and pulled it up beside her and walked a good few hundred feet without her even noticing she had someone walking with her.
“Come here often?”
The voice of Cashmere seemed to jar her from her phone, she looked up to Leon and smiled. She wrapped her arm around his neck in a brief hug and Leon responded with one of his own, but there was nothing behind more so than just a pleasant greeting, plus Leon being from the south he was definitely a hugger. The two began a slow walk towards their gate. Leon met her pace as they walked.
“Funny running into you here. How did you even spot me?”
While the airport was teeming with people darting in all different directions, Leon smiled and nodded to the red hair.
“Couldn’t miss the little red head anywhere, right?”
They both shared a smile as they continued to walk, but the air between them was more awkward than anything, and it was in that moment that Leon realized that the two didn’t really share any sort of bond besides being tag team champions. Literally, they were both good wrestlers and that was it.
Imagine having that type of relationship.
Not awkward at all.
“Fairly missable, except for the sixteen people who have already stopped me. Get through alright?”
Leon nodded as they headed towards their gate. He flashed a smile and pointed a finger up to the hat.
“You see, I can just put a hat on and I look like every other guy with a beard and looks like they just got out of bed.”
They both chuckled. The gate was fairly empty, but the two of them decided to plant down beside each other in the large seats. Leon slumped over to one side as he took his phone in his hands and they sat there in silence. Meeting up with Amber had finally made it real that he was headed back to HSW, and the last time he was in HSW? He got his ass handed to him. Hell, the last time he stepped in a RSR ring he had gotten his ass handed to him as well.
“I got no excuses.”
Leon had told anyone who would listen about his lost to Blair, a man who had ran his name through the mud. The only excuse Leon had was that he showed up just in time to go through the curtains and wrestle, and to be honest he wasn’t completely prepared. That wasn’t how he was raised though, to make excuses. Sometimes he was stubborn to a fault, and he could tell the world about how he didn’t care about Blair and making the town had completely slipped his mind.
But that wouldn't be good for him or HSW if he did that. So he took it like a man, and told everyone that next time he would be better, next time he would take it seriously and next time he would beat Maya Jensen.
The truth was, Leon didn’t know if that was true. Maybe his prime had been crossed when he won the ECWF championship two times. Maybe it had been passed when he flamed out in Monarchy and then left the business for two years. He was happy with his accomplishments, happy with his accolades but the fact of the matter is, someone like him would always be a glory chaser, his ego would always get the better of him.
Amber shifted in the seat next to him and it brought him back to the airport instead of inside of his own thoughts which had been the worst place to be lately. Things hadn’t been great. He hadn’t been in contact with Paragon as much as he should have been. Jack had been MIA to him, the rest had been out of touch.
On paper it looked great, a group of fantastic wrestlers fighting for one cause. On the inside though, Leon thought things could have been better, and it started with the HSW Tag Team Champions, Leon Cashmere and Amber Ryan. Paragon.
Leon watched her as they sat there, he wondered what was going through her head. Wondered how the wrestling world was treating her.In a lot of ways, he wanted to reach out to her, let her know that he was there for her for whatever she needed. Not even in a romantic way, a totally platonic way of course. Since Mallory left, Leon had decided that dating probably wasn’t for him, and he should just stick to pro wrestling.
Nothing came out of his mouth though, instead he just sat and stared blankly into the gate ahead. Sometimes his eyes would follow people, he wondered where they were going and what they were doing. Wondered if they were going to see family or away on business, and it made him miss family, made him wish he were home.
The HSW tag team championship sat atop his carry on. With his hand, he nudged the bag back so he could take a look at it, and then he wondered if it was all worth it. Was it worth being on the road? Was it worth making towns? Was it worth losing to people like Paul Blair and giving people like Maya Jensen the time of day, there was no way she should have ever been in the same ring with that.
Leon Cashmere desperately had to prove that.
Leon asked Amber as he held the phone up towards them. Amber smiled a genuine smile to him and nodded.
“I guess, another one couldn’t hurt, right?”
The two posed for a picture selfie, Leon chucking the deuces and then he leaned back and posted it to a few social media applications. It was all the same captions. “The Tag Champs ready for some HSW action!” But in reality he wasn’t ready, he was ready to get back on the plane and head home.
Leon thought it was akin to when you get up early in the morning and the first thing you think about is when you’ll get to sleep again later that night. It was such a funk he couldn’t shake.
As Amber went back into her phone, Leon scrolled through his with a sigh and then closed it, closed his eyes and leaned back calmly in the chair and attempted to meditate to kill some time as his thoughts were running him ragged. Yeah, he didn’t want to be away from home anymore. Yeah, he wanted to just run a wrestling school, yeah he wanted to wake up and stay home longer than a week without being hurt.
But he couldn’t.
Because of the person next to him. Because of Amber Ryan, because she fought, he would do the same. Even though they didn’t have a close relationship, even though they didn’t even have a friendship to speak of, he would fight for her because she was one of the best wrestlers in the world, and if she was working her ass off? He would have to do the same.
Opening his eyes, Leon went to tell her that he had her back no matter what, but Amber it seemed had went off to grab herself a drink, and Leon just smiled as he watched her go.
In the long run, Maya Jensen didn’t matter, but he wouldn’t let that bring him down. Instead, he would give it his all, instead, he would make up for losing to Blair. And if he lost again? Well, only more to build on. Cashmere watched the red head for a while until his eyes fluttered shut again, and this time he seemed to drift off to sleep.
Life had proven difficult, but it sure as hell wasn’t going to get any easier for him. Everyone wanted to take out Paragon, the challenges would keep coming. Now wasn’t the time to quit, now wasn’t the time to lay down. Now was the time to fight, now was the time to rise up.
And fight he shall.
“The idea of death has always plagued me. I’ve always thought to myself, have I done enough to leave a legacy when I pass away. It’s what drive me to continue to push after Mallory left me. It’s what drives me to keep pushing with my parents health slowly fading. It’s why I continue to run Red State Revolver, it’s why I continue to wrestle. It’s why I continue to hold these HSW tag titles with pride and honor. I wonder, if I passed away. Who would show up? Would there be a big crowd? Would anyone care? What would people say about me? I hope I’ve left enough of a legacy to be missed. I hope… but I feel for some of those people in this world, that think they’ll be missed, that think they’re something without any of the work.”
“Oh, hello Maya Jensen. It’s amazing Maya. I’ve known who you are for… how long now? Yet nobody gives a flying damn who you are or what you do. How does that happen? When I left EWE, I went on to do great things. I got noticed, I left a legacy. What did you do? Curl up into a little ball, suck your thumb and complain about how popular people like me are? Word gets around. I know what you think about people like me. You think people like me are just handed opportunities because of who they are. You think people like me don’t deserve to be on top, but people like you do.”
“I’ve had to listen to your whining your years. I’ve had to witness your pandering and your feel sorry for me posts. It’s sickening, but I believe people like you have a mental illness, Maya. I don’t think you should be in wrestling, and I don’t think that people like me should be up against people like you. This is like a college basketball team versus a grade school team, Maya. There isn’t anywhere on the planet you could step into the ring with me and not get laughed out of the ring by everyone.”
“Yet you continue to push, you continue to try, but you don’t change your ways. It’s still the same woe is me stuff, it’s still going places where you are comfortable, it’s still clinging to the same losers you always cling to because that’s what you know. In this business, more than any business in the world, Maya. If something isn’t going right? It isn’t their fault, whoever they are. It’s your fault nine times out of ten. And with you? I can definitely see it. How? How can someone with the last name Jensen be so… irrelevant. How they can be so… forgettable? How can they be so… invisible? And you try to kick and scream and get people to notice you, and you can’t… why?”
“Because you’ll never be anything spectacular? It’s been what, five years since you debuted and you haven’t improved? I get it. You hate when people like me come in and take spots from people like you because you think just because you’re here every week you deserve something more. No, HSW knew what they were doing when they reached out to me, Jensen. They knew that people like you cannot carry this company. They knew people like you would make this place a laughing stock. They knew people like you would force yourself down peoples throats. They knew Maya Jensen can’t carry a brand, but Leon Cashmere… even if he just showed up part of the time… could get some spotlight on this company.”
“You want to work your way through Paragon, and that’s fine. But we don’t give a shit about you. It isn’t personal, we just don’t care. You challenged me to a match, because you hope and pray that it ends up like when I lost my first singles match in a few years to Paul Blair. You’re hoping and praying that’s what happens for you. That you can just catch me sleeping, come in and get a victory. And that’s sad that you want to win like that. You don’t want me at my best. You want me when I am tired, you want me when I am in the middle of travel. You’re selfish, but you always have been, haven’t you.”
He smiled gently as he nodded.
“When you try and force yourself onto tag partners and into places you don’t belong. And you get so pissy when people don’t want to go along with you. God, you’ve always been this pathetic little whiner, haven’t you? You don’t belong in the wrestling business. I say that with every bit of passion I have inside of you. YOU. DON’T BELONG. And I wish you’d do everyone a favor and LEAVE. You’re not entertaining, you bring nothing to the table, you’re timid, you’re small, you’re stupid, and I could go on forever here. You want so bad to be something your not. You want to be like the Amber Ryan’s and the Leon Cashmere’s and the Paragon’s of the world, because you know why?”
“We run this shit. It doesn’t matter if you beat me, Maya. Nobody knows. Like a tree falling in the woods when nobody is around. The tree still falls, it’s just nobody gives a shit. Nobody cared when I lost to Paul Blair, we’re still tag champions. You had to tell me you were in three companies. I didn’t know, and neither did anyone else. A million times, Maya. You don’t matter. You know how much you don't matter?”
“True story, I had to look on my phone, on the HSW roster to see if I was getting your name right for this promo, because I wasn’t sure if I was getting right. THAT’S LITERALLY EVERYONE’S THOUGHTS ABOUT YOU. You won’t do anything to stand out. You won’t do anything to differentiate yourself from the other wrestlers in the world. Instead you just trudge along, doing the same shit you always do… GOD it’s so annoying. Your very existence is everything I hate. I hate those who refuse to make progress because they’re too fucking stubborn to do so. I hate those who are given opportunities but would rather point fingers at others instead of bettering themselves.”
“We started of on the same foot, Jensen. We both had the same opportunities. One of thrived with competition, and the other one wanted everyone to feel sorry for them and didn’t try and better themselves or improve themselves. You are your own worst enemy, nobody else. No me, not Amber, not Paragon. YOU! You, because you live in this bubble where you think everything you’re doing is important but in reality it’s as forgettable as you are. You want to be a champion but you aren’t willing to make the sacrifices. You want to be the star but you’re too afraid to make that first step.”
“I’ve made that step, Maya. I’ve left friends behind in this business to be where I am. I’ve left family. I’ve made sacrifices, every night I am on the road away from my family. Away from my mother and my father and every day their health dwindles and every day I have to live with the fact that I’m trying to chase dreams instead of spend time with them, and I know when they’re dead and gone I am going to wish I would have spent more time with them, and that I would have let someone else run Red State, or I would have let someone else team with Amber Ryan…”
Leon shook his head.
“But that won’t stop be from leaving a legacy. A legacy… what is a legacy. A wise man once said a legacy is planting seeds in a garden you’ll never get to see. That’s what I’m doing, Maya. What the FUCK are you doing? What legacy are you leaving behind? You just want to play wrestler. You just want to play house. You don’t want to make the necessary sacrifices that I make EVERY SINGLE DAY, Maya. You don’t have to live with that. Keep playing soap opera. Keep playing dress up, because at the end of the day. I know that no matter where I go, no matter what I do. I’ll always be more important than you. I’ll always be the star. I’ll always be the hall of famer, and you’ll just be a let down. You’ll be an afterthought, you’ll be a “who?”
“I am Leon Cashmere. At one point in my career? I was the forgotten future. Now we’re in the future, exactly where I was talking about… and that future is no longer forgotten. What I’ve done will outlive me. What you’ve done? Nobody remembers now… if you died tomorrow and it was announced. Nobody would miss you…”
He looked down, pushed his hair away and looked back up.
“And the wrestling world won’t blink when I put this boot through your skull.”