"Cold White"


Rating: PG-13 (language, violence, adult themes, mondo depressing at times) Disclaimer: I have no association with the WWF as a whole, and I certainly have no claim to Matthew Moore Hardy or Jeffrey Nero Hardy. love it? hate it? want to obliterate me from the face of the earth? email at lmdaddio@cc.owu.edu or IM stardazey9.

Prologue

That was a kick ass match. We'd just fought Al Snow and Steve Blackman in a match. We'd won, courtesy of the Event Omega. My stomach rumbled from neglect. "Hey bro, you want to go grab a late dinner? There's a Cracker Barrel on the way back to the hotel." "No, I'm not hungry. I'll keep you company if you want." I looked over at Matt from across the locker room. I don't think he's eaten all day, and that scares me. Matt can pack it away with the best of us. He's losing weight, too, and, to be honest, he looks like death warmed over at this moment. Okay, maybe he's tired from the match, after all he didn't tag me in for the first seven minutes. Or, it could just be the flu. "How about we swing by a diner or something and get take out? You can get some soup there." He nods as he pulls off his shirt, which he'd actually left on the whole match for a change. Holy fuck.... "Did Allen throw real blows?" "What?" I can't take my eyes off his torso. There's bruises scattered across him. One on his shoulder, another on his stomach, one on the small of his back.... and they can't all be from the match. The one on his side is yellow - it's got to be three or four days old. He shifted uncomfortably under my stare. Shit, he's going to seal up on me now. "Oh, them. They're nothing." "Are you sure you're okay?" I sound like one of those retarded t.v. moms. Are you sure you're okay, sweetie? "I'm fine." Icy daggers fly across the room, pinning me to the wall. "You do know you look like you spared with Glenn for nine or ten rounds?" I'm rewarded with a nervous chuckle and a look that even Mark wouldn't touch. Better to let this one go for tonight. Maybe he'll open up once he eats something. I head to the showers.

For once, I get to drive the car to the hotel. I'm not exactly enjoying the moment. Matt fell asleep in the shower, cracking his head against the tile. Sean Morely had been the one to find him and dragged him into the locker room. When I came back into the locker room, all I could see was the backs of Sean, Adam, and Jay. I heard Matt talking a slow, soft voice. "I'm fine, guys. I swear. Just a little sore." Sean tilted his head to one side. "Matt, you were out cold." "He was what?" Matt had passed out? What?

Somehow, he managed to convince everyone that he was fine. Everyone but me. Even Adam and Jay had told me to lighten up. Lighten up! For Christ's sake, Matt had been unconscious for five minutes! His whole body is bruised; he's lost fifteen pounds in the past month; and he's about as tan as toothpaste. I tell them all this much, to no avail. Matt stumbled the whole way to the car and crawled into the backseat of the two-door sedan. He wouldn't let me take his weight. That whole fucked up I'm the big brother shit has got to go. He's sick, damn it. "Make sure I don't stay asleep too long, alright, Jeff?" So he is hurting. "Only if you let me take you to a doctor." "Tomorrow. First thing. You're hungry; I'm tired. It can wait." His head falls back against the window, tired after such a short speech. He doesn't even make an attempt to brush the hair out of his face. As much as I hate to, I agree with him. Even this weak, he's still strong enough to beat the hell of me in a straight fist fight. I slip one of my Pearl Jam c.d.'s in, losing myself in the chorus. "Where, oh where can my baby be? The Lord took her away from me. She's gone to heaven so I've got to be good So I can see my baby when I leave this world." My ears pick up a soft groan out of time of Vedder's crooning, and I adjust the rearview mirror to keep an eye on Matt. He's curled up in the fetal position, holding himself and shivering in spite of the sweater and leather bomber jacket that he's wearing. Suddenly, I'm not so hungry anymore. Fumbling at the controls on the dashboard, I put the heat on full blast through the back vents. I hit the gas pedal hard. The sooner I get Matt back to the hotel and in bed, the better we'll both feel.

I slowly pulled into the closest open parking space. The ride to the Hilton had only taken twenty minutes. Twenty minutes of absolute hell. Matt didn't talk the entire time. The only reason I'm sure he's still breathing is because, each time I turn or stop at a red light, he moans. I got out of the car and pushed the seat up. Matt hasn't started to move. Looks like it's little brother to the rescue for once. I take hold of his hands - damn, they're warm, way too fucking warm - and gently lifted him to a sitting position. His brown eyes are glazed and distant. "Mattie?" I haven't called him that in years. Haven't needed to. He slowly focuses on my face. Stay calm. Put some of those acting skills to work. "Can you put your arm around my shoulder?" A nod. He's still aware of what's going on. A sigh of relief escapes me, and I help him to his feet. "You just lean on me, Mattie. I'm going to take you inside." We start towards the hotel, slowly. An arctic wind is hitting me in the face like a million needles. "Jeff, I don't feel so good." His cheeks are flushed, appearing bright pink against the pallor of his skin. I don't know if I can handle this.

Part One

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