It was Ragnarok also,

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  • Sinnocence
    Sinnocence

    November 26, 2017

    The waiting room of Mount Auburn hospital was quiet, but a little sterile in decor. It was hard to be here, but she hadn’t been able to muster the will to get up from her seat….and the angel next to her was in no hurry.

    Lilah held the former EWA World Champion’s hand in her own, glad that her fellow former-stripper finally got a diagnosis for her health issues. She was glad that Josh came to her when Jada was out of the house, the memory of the young man shaking in the kitchen to tell her a few days ago that his mother had collapsed again. It wasn’t fair to hold the teenager to secrecy, especially after he watched her decline so quickly. Josh knew that the one person in all the world who could bully the obstinate Jada Kaine into going to the doctor was her former lover and manager of Valhalla.

    The former stripper had waited until Jada got home from the gym before marching upstairs after her. Josh had heard the quiet, yet heated, discussion from his spot on the stairs—and the glare his biological mother had given him after she left her second floor bedroom had been enough to confirm he’d made the right decision.

    Kudzu squeezed the Viking Queen’s hand a little, speaking quietly. “Are you ready to go?”

    Jada shook her head.

    “I’m gonna go get some coffee for you from the machine down the hall then. It won’t be as good as mine, but it’ll do for the time being.” Lilah patted the top of Jada’s hand and let her go before standing up to meander down the hall…her heels clicking against the linoleum flooring.

    “Ya gotta get her to go, Miss Lilah.” Josh’s voice was verging on breaking as he spoke. “The guy she’s training said she collapsed…two steps out the door and boom, down she goes. She ain’t listenin’ to me. I ain’t allowed tell no one either. Not even Nik or Moe. I just…I dunno what else to do. She’s gonna kill herself.”

    “Oh honey,” Lilah crossed the room, wrapping an arm around him and bending down slightly to press a kiss to the teenager’s temple. “I’ll make sure she goes. Even if I have to knock her out and drag her there.”

    “She was bad last year, was always huffin’ for breath when she was trainin’ me…but now she’s just like she’s gonna keel over at the table and we’ll just find her cold and–”

    “She ain’t gonna die, Sweets. Too stubborn a bitch to die.”

    As much as she believed her own words, the way Jada had just walked out and sat down like that put a chill up her spine. Jada was as steely as the blonde was, but she was probably more wrapped up in an illusion of invulnerability from surviving as much as she had, at least Lilah thought. And more likely to try to fold herself back in that armor, keep going heedlessly.

    When she came back, it was with warm liquid comfort, after giving Jada a moment to find herself. “Do you wanna talk at all yet? I mean, your face has already started the conversation without ya about this being bad news, honey.”

    “Gonna die, Kudzu.”

    It was mumbled and it took another few moments of uncomfortable silence before she turned her head and looked to the manager of Valhalla. “Not today, but—hearin’ it is like a hammer to the chest, yanno?” She took the offered cup for a sip of the hot coffee before handing it back. It definitely wasn’t Lilah’s coffee from home. “Gonna…gonna die. Can’t fix it. —‘m too far gone.”

    She fussed with both cups for a moment, setting them aside to be forgotten before she ended up white-knuckling and crushing them both. ”Just… what was it, heart or…? We’re finding a second opinion, god dammit.” Which was not a curse that came out of her mouth often. Something had to merit the level of blasphemy, even without true faith as a part of her life. ”No offense to the good doctors here, but I’m not accepting a death sentence on you without another hearing.” Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck. How would they ever tell the kids about this? They’d have to eventually, because just letting it happen without warning would be the worst thing they possibly could do.

    “It was everything. Heart, liver, nervous system.”

    She reached over, taking the blonde’s hand in her own and squeezing tightly. Faced with the prospect of her own mortality…it was not something she’d expected so soon and not so bluntly from the doctor. There was little chance of fixing the damage she’d done to herself in and out of the ring. “Damage is done, Kudzu…and I got so much left to do.”

    Her voice was a bare whisper.

    “And Josh…poor kiddo just found me. Gonna lose me like he lost Kris.”

    ”We’re all gonna lose you. Max… it’s gonna break Nikki’s damn heart. Just gotta hope she doesn’t go the way Sahara did, ’cause we won’t have you to right ‘er.”

    The tears were starting. Lilah didn’t want it to be real yet.

    ”And I don’t suppose you’re gonna listen to me telling you to watch ’em sparring from the outside and yell advice, or to cut down on the damned drinking, so as we can have you a little longer. But you know I’m gonna be nagging you on it anyway, yeah?”

    Jada moved to the chair until she rested just in front of her favorite blonde, leaning forward to embrace Lilah, their cheeks touching. “Don’t ever want you to go, Kudzu. I bought the house behind us for you…as a surprise, so you’ll stay around…put down those roots.”

    She pulled back just enough to press her lips to Kudzu’s in a gentle kiss. This was…this was easier. Comforting her longtime companion, rather than trying to process her own death sentence right now.

    “I can’t stop. Blondie Monster isn’t going to just let me rest after what I did…and I ain’t keen to give up so quick. We’ll go get another doctor. I’ll try to cut down…I’ll just yell at the kids…fuck I gotta tell the kids. Max and Nik and Moe and Josh…fuck, darlin’…you. I ain’t givin’ up, Kudzu. Not—not…” She couldn’t find the worlds in the tornado of emotion in her brain.

    It wasn’t right for the southern blonde to cry right now. It was Jada’s time to deal, hers would come when everyone was managed and the house was quiet and she’d pulled out some late-night merlot from where she’d been hiding it to save for the worst days. And maybe the rain was falling outside, to hide those quiet sounds she’d make.

    But her emotions had slipped the leash, and that, as far as Jada had seen, might be a first-in-a-lifetime happening. She was the one crying into Jada’s shoulder now. ”I’ll help. I’ll be… I’m staying through the end, and then I’ll take that house. And if your prettyboy addict has something to say about it, then he shoulda damned well been here. She might’ve ceded to Henrik in that fight until now, but no. Her quiet irritation with the German she’d never even met might’ve been discreetly tucked away before, but there was no time for that now. ”V can get in the ring with ’em, Josh could learn a thing or two off him anyhow.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. ”And just… dammit, fuck fuck.”

    She wiped the few scant tears from Lilah’s cheek with the pads of her thumbs before pressing another kiss to those lips she lived for. The blonde had been here when Jada needed her. Sinnocence understood why her addict lover stayed away, he needed to get clean and the only way he could was in a rehab facility…but she still wanted him here. Things like this were always easier to get through with a sense of humor like Henrik’s around.

    “You got your roots growing through me, Kudzu. Ain’t never gonna let you go. Tarzan can help with the kids, you’re right.” Another soft press of her lips against Lilah’s before she pushed herself to smile weakly. The viking queen didn’t want her beloved Kudzu to show such a sour face. Lilah Hurst was an angel Jada Kaine didn’t deserve.

    “My damn Henrik…he’s gonna be terrified of you if he does ever come back home. I love you so much, Sweetface, you ain’t got no idea how much.”

    The sobs drew back into sniffles, Lilah wiping at her face. ”If he does come back, he can follow house rules or he’ll really have something to be terrified about.” Deep slow breaths, trying to draw herself back together. “You deserve better coffee, love. Nobody’s got time to waste on the shit they’ve got the gall to charge money for here. Least of all us.”

    “Home then.”

    Jada pushed herself up from the chair. Today was a day where everything hurt. “Home and a soak in the tub with some…well, wine for you. I’ll just watch you enjoy it tonight, probably ain’t smart to go home and drown my misery in a bottle of Stoli.”

    She leaned on the leggy blonde all the way out to the truck. Lilah handled the black beast in those stilettos like she was born for it.

    Jada didn’t want to process this right now, but she was going to have to. The truth about her health would come out eventually and she would have to be ready to field those teary-eyed questions from her kids. From the fans…from everyone. Alcohol-related neurologic disease, it was an umbrella diagnosis to cover the range of things that had been going wrong with her. The tremors, the blackouts, damaged organs…most notably her liver and heart–brain too, of course. Damage done from so many years in the ring, along with her habitual drinking was irreversible. She would die from it.

    Perhaps not today or tomorrow, but the doctor’s prognosis had been grim. Perhaps another two or three years if she was lucky. If she stopped drinking. If she ceased all strenuous activity.

    That in and of itself would probably kill her faster than the drinking.

    Still, the EWA legend now had to contend with her own mortality, along with her legacy. Thinking about the hole her absence would leave behind hurt. She knew she had people that loved her, that called her dear friend and lover. Leaving them so soon only made the pain that much worse.

    Lilah hopped up into the truck, leaning over to extend a hand to her former lover and help pull her in. The doors were closed and before she turned the key in the ignition, the blonde turned to the older woman and sighed softly.

    “Tell me now, then we can go home and figure out a plan.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    January 14, 2018

    The private ward was quiet when a hooded man entered, accompanied by a much larger titanic figure. It made sense for it to be quiet, it was the wee hours of the morning…barely forty-eight hours after the end of This Means War.

    The shorter of the figure pushed back his hood as they entered, his knife blue eyes scanned the hallway and eventually stopped on a partially open door. He signaled to the mammoth man beside him as he began to walk towards the dimly lit room, his eyes flicking to the chart hanging outside…the name on it—

    JADA KAINE

    The gentle beeping of a heart rate monitor and other vitals machinery the only sound as they pushed open the door to reveal the wounded dragoness splayed out on a bed with her spawn hunched over at the side. A mask over her face to deliver oxygen, a steady morphine drip to dull the pain from the emergency surgery to stop the internal bleeding…the harsh bruising on the side of her face from the final blow of Sahara’s brass knuckles. She’d been thoroughly destroyed, but she was still fighting for her life.

    An almost tender smile bloomed over Indrid Calder’s face.

    Sinnocence had turned into Dr. Frankenstein, creating a monster in Sahara, only to be brought by down the salty demoness. It was an ancient story, yet fitting.

    And the defeated viking queen struggling to take every breath was inspiring.

    How thrilling it would be to turn off the oxygen…to watch her eyes panic as the air was taken from her and then to watch her glaze off into the slow slumber of death, but that was not an end for the likes of her. Her who’d created his latest project, gave a once meager supplicant to the God Queen the power to rise above all and take everything she’d ever desired. She who unleashed the bottomless pit of desire and rage known as Sahara upon the world.

    What he would give to take such a creator from the world?

    The monster at Indrid Calder’s side spoke up, elbowing his companion with a chuckle. “Pup’s still clingin’ to her skirts like she’s gonna protect him in that state. He’s gonna need someone to turn him from a pup to a damn junkyard cur. She ain’t gonna be able to.”

    The man with the knife-blue eyes could admire the bond Josh Kaine had with his mother, the woman who’d given him up…but the thirst for glory in their blood made the young pup seek her out to follow in her footsteps.

    “She’s clinging to life.” [/color]Calder noted, eyeing the boy at her side. “And so is he.”

    “That salty bitch is gonna tear him to pieces too.”

    “No, my monster…” Calder shook his head, the curt smile still in place. “She won’t lay a finger on him. That’s why we’re here.”

    A noise from the bed drew their attention.

    Green eyes opened, though only one of them worked worth a damn. A green-eyed mother of monsters…mentor to Cerberus and the Killswitch…and the one who destroyed her. A single finger came up to the oxygen mask, a signal for them to be silent. Her cub was still asleep…and deserved a few hours of undisturbed rest.

    A nod from Calder.

    “You had a message sent to me.”

    A nod from Jada as she pointed to a leather satchel on a table near the door. The shorter of the two men in her hospital room went to retrieve it, opening it up for her. Sinnocence’s hand reached in, retrieving a stack of papers and a pen. With her IV-laden hand, she pushed back the top few pages after pulling the oxygen mask away. Her voice was raspy with sleep and pain medications as she spoke.

    “It’s the only way to control a dragon consumed with greed.”

    The Titan just a few steps back from Calder raised an eyebrow to the beaten she-wolf on the bed, the Stranger moving to lift the pages as she signed in the necessary spaces.

    “Yer just signin’ all of that bitch’s image and likeness rights over to Indrid?”

    “I’m done with her.” She spat up at the monster, though it was quiet. Jada did not want to awaken Josh. “You can only try so many times to beat the same lesson into a dumb fuckin’ animal.”

    “As I said, my friend. That is why we are here.”

    Calder grinned, his voice barely above a whisper as he too leaned over to sign the necessary paperwork. “What better bargain to make with the mother of monsters than to nurture her most precious flame?” He nodded to the sleeping youth. “You have an eye for greatness, Rayner. She’s giving us her cub to turn in a blood-thirsty hound of hell…you’ll be able to do what you spoke of.”

    Those last few words brought a smile to Rayner’s scarred face as Jada struggled to breathe.

    “She thought she won. She was wrong.”

    A ragged smile crossed her face as she laughed to herself.

    “I get to keep my glory and sell her off down the river. The look on her fuckin’ face when she finds out.”

    It was a struggle to breathe without the mask, so her trembling hand moved it back into place. She was glad Josh slept like a rock when he was tired. Sinnocence looked back up to her guests, shoving the stack of papers back into the satchel before Calder kindly put the bag back on the table.

    “What about the kid?”

    Rayner was curious as to why they were just leaving the boy here. Best to just drag him out now, wasn’t it?

    The Stranger shook his head, reaching back to pull his hood up.

    “We’ll get him soon, my friend. He’s safe here. Another night at dearest mother dragon’s skirts won’t hurt him.”

    He watched with the icy blue depths as her fingers softly threaded through the tendrils of Josh’s black as night hair. The devotion she had, a creature who’d overcome her own selfishness to spawn a slew of monsters after Sahara untainted by that greed was almost…nauseatingly inspiring. What a pleasure it would be to watch Rayner break the boy down into a rabid mongrel, hungry for anything it could sink its teeth into!

    Calder could hear her whisper to the boy as they turned to leave.

    “It was Ragnarok also, and the television screens showed us A ship built of dead-men’s nails, a serpent, a wolf, all bigger than the mind could hold,” Another staggered breath behind the mask “…you’ll be bigger than the mind can hold, Josh.”

    A wolf…bigger than the mind could hold.

    The boy could certainly become that.

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