Title: To Be Loved
Featuring: Pop Culture Phenoms
Date: September 8, 2020
Location: In The Tiger Cage

At dusk, roughly an hour after the Tiger Cage Match.

"I FOUND IT!" The D screams from outside of the Tiger Cage. A sigh escapes the lips of Elise Ares as she stares blankly straight ahead. Mark Shields begins waving his hand in front of her face, but receives nothing but a quick glance from the Queen of Sports Entertainment Style before Klein, O-Face, and Flex Kruger erupt into cheers. He shrugs. Quickly the trio open the door for The D and usher him over towards Elise, still latched into her tiger collar on the ground. Shields takes the key from The D and unfastens her collar, now fully completing his officiating duties.

"There. I'm done." He says with a click.

"Thanks for nothing, Shields. As usual." The D responds before Mark blows him off and tosses Elise the keys that released her from her collar. It rattles to the ground, but she remains sitting motionless with her knees against her chest. There's no movement or reaction as the keys bounce off of her shoulder and into the dirt next to her. Her eyes don't follow Shields out of the enclosure as he pulls out a smoke. They don't react to the Pop Culture Phenoms surrounding her on the poorly cultivated "grassy" floor. 

She stares straight ahead. 

Her beautiful brown eyes don't even seem to blink when The D offers her a hand.  Klein gets down on one knee and begins to poke her, moving her slightly with the impact but not getting the reaction he desired.

"I think we finally broke her." Flex responds, shaking his head in disappointment.

"Klein." The D quickly suggests, "Try turning her off and back on again. I think she froze."

The Leading Lady of DEFIANCE's lips quiver just a bit as she clenches her jaw. Klein begins walking circles around her confused as O-Face facepalms. Flex steps in and puts his hand on Klein's shoulder, stopping him in his search for Elise's power button.

"I'm pretty sure he was joking." Flex explains as Klein shrugs his shoulders. He doesn't know what else to do... no one does. The trio look down at Elise before looking back at The D for further instructions. He seems just as baffled as they do, smoke practically comes out of his ears before as he stares into the eyes of his actress.

"Pick her up." He finally directs, "Just bring her with us. We'll figure out what she needs once we're out of this place."

A single tear begins to run down Elise's face while they begin to discuss the best way to approach lifting her and loading her into their rental car. Their voices begin to fade into just noise in her mind while she stares blankly at the ring. They don't notice the second tear either, running down the other eye when her jaw tenses even further. Her hands grab each other into tight fists, pulling her knees even harder into her chest when Flex and Klein reach down and grab her under her arms.

"Don't." She finally speaks. The words leave her mouth like the scream of scorching hot air busting loose from a pipe. Her rivets were practically shaking. Everyone takes a step back to assess the situation, realizing she's bursting at the seams. The D winces as he goes down to one knee, his own body shaking in pain as he looks into her eyes.

"Look, I know this isn't how we planned this... but it's happened before and it'll happen again." He tries to calm her choppy waves, "Let's check in at the WrestlePlex, go home, and heal. Get some shut eye and get together again in a couple days. We have a ton of ideas and you know it. We'll start talking, get excited about something, then go ahead with the next thing just like we always do."

"I'm tired of this." Her response is short and completely lacks the tone of voice she normally has.

"I'm tired of losing, too." The D reassures, "These things come and go, Elise, you know tha..."

"No." She interrupts and you can almost see The D's heart sink. O-Face reads the room and takes a step forward, putting her hand on The D's shoulder as Flex and Klein look at him confused.

"You can't be talking about movies..." The D's voice is a little shaky, his mouth moves faster than his brain. "We've been through this before. I need you. You need me. We weren't nearly as great on our own as we are as a team. Look around, we're whole again. You can't seriously want to tear this family apart, Elisa?"

That would normally go over huge. Instead, it goes over like a fart in church. Bad time for a The Room joke.

"Not movies." She still stares blankly ahead, "This. Life. Everything."

"Do we need to go to a hospital?" Klein speaks with grave concern. "This might be serious."

"Are... you depressed?" The D reluctantly asks, "That's a thing that can happen to you? You're amazing. Ask anyone! Especially you. Please tell me Elise, what do you think of you?"

"I..." Elise struggles with genuine emotion that strangles her as she strains out words, "...just want people to like me."

"We LOVE you, Elise." The D exaggerates a motion for everyone to get around his star, "What are you even talking about? Did those giant oafs shake your brains or something?"

"When those people cheered for me... it made me so happy. I didn't used to care, and I know I shouldn't... but I did. It made my heart do this... wiggle thing. I liked it." She tries to explain, "I did everything to feel that wiggle again. Have you ever REALLY REALLY wanted something? Then when you got it you wanted MORE of it? So you'd start doing more and more things to get MORE of that something? Then your entire world revolved around getting more of that something and eventually that something just... stopped?"

"Like money?" The D asks. Elise shakes her head no.

"Muscles?" Flex asks with no success.

"Oh! Boxes?" Klein takes a shot.

"Drugs?" O-Face asks and everyone looks at her in shock. She shrugs her shoulders, "It sounds a lot like drugs. I'm just sayin… I know a guy."

"I wanted to be the greatest so bad." Elise's voice cracks, "Why didn't they like me?"

"I can never tell what those idiots are going to like, Elise." The D attempts to explain, "We make things that WE like... and sometimes people like it a lot and sometimes people don't like it a lot. It's the nature of this business."

"I tried to beat the person who they all said was the best and they didn't like me." Elise mutters before rambling on, "Then I DID beat the person who thought was better than me and they didn't like me. Then I tried to be like 'Hey, you guys really liked PCP! So surely if I bring that back you'll like me!' and they didn't. Then I was like... OH, maybe you just want a new movie! We LOVE movies! So I worked SO HARD making a new AWESOME, AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, TRASHY, TIGER-FILLED movie and they still don't like me."

"They're a bunch of assholes, Elise." O-Face chirps in, "We know that already. What's your point?"

"My point is... why don't they like me?" The Leading Lady of DEFIANCE buries her head into her arms and knees, "What else can I do?! I’m tired. I hurt. I just want them to like me. Again."

“I like you.” Flex chirps in as O-Face silently shakes her head no.

“Just leave me alone.”

The rest of the Pop Culture Phenoms look around at each other as Klein shakes his head, overcome by sadness. He picks up the Leading Lady of DEFIANCE, cradling her in his arms and rubbing her back before motioning towards the exit. In silence, the rest of PCP follow, leaving Tiger Queen behind. Forever.



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