(A/N: This update contains a scene of physical assault which may make some readers uncomfortable. Proceed at your own discretion. If you or someone that you know is experiencing abuse or a domestic crisis, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or text START to 88788)
Mitch considered himself to be a man of his word more often than not. So, provided nothing too egregious went down between dinner and dessert, he’d go back with Toby and spend the night. Wouldn’t be the first time that his heart wasn’t in a fuck; probably wouldn’t be the last given the trajectory of the last decade. But within the next 24 hours, he needed to break it off for good.
Matters escalated to a fever pitch when he found himself seated between Toby and Avi at dinner. He made multiple attempts at escape by getting up and making sure the allergy-free food was kept separate from everything else, or trying to get a load of dishes done, until Jodie loudly asserted that he needed to sit his ass down. “You already did enough,” she chastised, then informed the table that -with the exception of the turkey- Mitch was responsible for everything they were eating. “So if it sucks, blame him.”
His face flushed and he kept his head down. It was meant to be a compliment, he knew that, but now everyone’s attention was on him when all that he wanted to crawl into a hole and decompose in peace. He hated this stupid holiday with every fiber of his being, but there were so many people around, so he couldn’t react without it turning into a potential scene.
Even Avi’s kind words and gratitude about the vegan dishes didn’t help, especially not with Toby simultaneously upping the bullshit by grabbing Mitch’s knee under the table. He jumped in place when contact was made, then pushed his seat back and quietly excused himself.
Though it was physically painful to stand outside due to the frigid temperature and strong winds, Mitch needed a smoke so badly that he preferred the biting cold to whatever the fuck was going on inside. He stood on the back deck, trying and failing several times to light the cigarette, then succeeding after he almost burst into tears. But the relief was short lived, and minutes later he was joined by Toby.
“Hey can I ask you something?” Toby spoke up. Something was in his voice that Mitch couldn’t get a reading on.
“Shoot,” Mitch mumbled around the filter.
“Does Avi have a huge crush on you? Like what’s his deal? I thought you said he wouldn’t be here.”
Mitch almost choked on the butt, then composed himself. “His flight was canceled. And no, he has a girlfriend. I already told you, he’s very friendly. That’s all it is.”
The words fell from his mouth, and Mitch became cognizant of what he at last revealed. Somehow, the air dropped several more degrees, rivaling the arctic circle, the depths of the ocean, the vacuum of space, the void itself. “Oh!” Toby gasped. “Oh my god, it’s him, isn’t it?”
“What, famous independent wrestler Avi Sher? Sure is. You want his autograph? I know the guy, I can probably get you one.” Mitch rattled on like he was funny, still trying to smooth this over though he knew it was futile. The jig was up, he’d shown his entire hand.
“No, that’s the-” Toby slapped his forehead, the noise that it made far more violent and sickening than Mitch had ever heard, including the time his head hit the concrete floor. “That’s the ‘straight guy’, isn’t it? The one that you-“
“Tobes,” Mitch warned, but Toby took one step forward, followed by another, crowding into Mitch’s space and forcing him backwards until he was up against the house.
“Are you fucking kidding me?!” Toby started to shout.
“Keep it down,” Mitch hissed, his heart racing out of his chest. It occurred to him that his entire life was about to unravel, which was appropriate given the web that he’d woven was haphazardly done.
“You’re the absolute worst! You crawl into my bed and climb on my dick because you can’t get your roommate’s?!” Hands forcefully shoved Mitch’s shoulders, and he was slammed into the side of the house. The back of his skull collided first and his vision blurred as the cigarette flew out of his mouth. His cheek stung, and it didn’t dawn on him that he’d been slapped in the face until he saw Toby wind up to strike again. The scene was familiar, though vague and hazy. He couldn’t remember any of the details, but this happened before, when both of them were out of their minds and strung out on a multitude of substances. His brain must have fought tooth and nail to bury that one. Is he fucked up right now? Mitch wondered. “You pathetic slut,” Toby’s voice barged through the repressed memory, bringing Mitch back to the present. “You needy motherfu-“
The sentence wasn’t finished and the second blow never came. Before Toby made another move, he was launched onto the lawn, then Avi tackled him at full speed. It happened all within the blink of an eye. For Mitch, time stood still: one of Avi’s fists twisted in Toby’s shirt, while the other was raised in the air, ready to strike; his eyes wide and wild, jaw practically unhinged while spit flew everywhere. Victor and Arin suspended in mid air, defying gravity as they both floated towards the fray.
Mitch blinked again, and in the next scene Victor and Arin successfully apprehended Avi before he could swing and get a clean hit. Several other roster members spilled outside as well. Another blink, and Avi was trying to break free, but enough hands finally held him back. He thrashed about like an enraged bull that’d at last been corralled in much too small of a pen, terrifying and powerful. Beautiful in a way as well, like how Goya painted violent scenery.
Feeling high, Mitch’s attention shifted clumsily, from the conflict going on in the backyard to Jodie cradling his face and asking if he was OK. He nodded despite being disoriented from the elevating tinnitus, and seconds later Wil took her place as she rushed over to the commotion.
“Wait, what’s going on?” Mitch asked as Wil ushered him inside. They passed by the crumpled storm door that was torn from one of its hinges, and stepped through the scattered contents of the now-toppled recycling bin. Wil led Mitch over to the couch, and Mitch sat down at his request, then allowed him to manipulate his head and check his eyes; Wil used to be an EMT, Mitch reminded himself, so he knew what he was doing.
“How many fingers am I holding up?” Wil asked, displaying his index, middle, and ring fingers in front of his face.
“Three. Wil,” Mitch placed his hand on Wil’s wrist and lowered it. “I’m OK.”
“Let’s hang out in here for now.” He cupped Mitch’s hand with his own and firmly held it in place. Mitch surrendered and nodded.
Minutes later, Avi stormed through the front entryway and up the stairs, his head hung and shoulders hunched as he moved. The procession slowly rolled into the house behind him, with the exception of Jodie and Toby.
Guilt ate Mitch alive. He ruined the holiday that Jodie took solace in and worked tirelessly for, all because of his guest. He should have never invited Toby, never gotten back together with him. What the fuck was he thinking, why did he let it drag on like this? In what universe did he honestly believe that they had a chance?
And he used Toby. Maybe deep down, he got off a little on leading him on. He didn’t even realize that he was doing it, but subconsciously, there had to be some reason that he stuck around.
All of this for what, scraps of affection? Mediocre sex? That had to be some sort of cardinal sin in someone’s handbook. Toby was right, he was a pathetic slut.
Jodie entered the room some time later. Though Mitch promised that he’d compose himself and take whatever on the chin that was coming to him, when he saw the way that her eyes shone, he broke down. In front of everyone. He was the asshole, the one at fault, yet he was the one that needed consoling.
Gathering him into her arms, Jodie brought Mitch upstairs.