Adam doesn’t have to wait long before he spots Dax and Cash slowly making their way across the parking lot of Daily’s Place towards their truck and it takes even less time before they notice him leaning comfortably against it.
The casual chatter between them immediately dries up and their open, friendly expressions turn suspicious. Dax drops his bag and silently begins to roll up the sleeves of his bomber jacket.
Adam holds up his hands. “Whoa, whoa, calm down, I’m not here to fight.”
“Then what are you here for, cowboy?” Dax spits.
“I came to apologise,” he says. “About Kenny,” he adds quickly.
Cash puts a hand on Dax’s forearm. “Well? Go on then,” he prompts.
“I’m sorry he acted like that. He doesn’t drink, you see. Which, don’t get me wrong, is no excuse, but he can be a little weird with alcohol and, hell, just a little weird in general, really.”
“Fair enough, that’s his choice and we’d never pressure anyone into drinking, we’re not those sort of guys,” he says, looking at Dax who nods in agreement, “but you and I both know that’s not why we’re pissed off,” he continues.
“You’re right, you’re absolutely right. He shouldn’t have poured it out like that, it was really disrespectful. It pissed me off, too.”
Dax crosses his arms. “Damn straight he shouldn’t have. Shame he doesn’t have the balls to come and apologise himself, though.”
“He will, I’m sure of it. I just wanted to clear the air first, make sure there were no hard feelings.”
“Look, we like you, Page. But speaking frankly? We think you could do a lot better than the guys you’ve chosen to throw your lot in with.”
“It’s…” He sighs in frustration and runs a hand through his hair. “It’s complicated. They’re my brothers.”
“And sometimes brothers don’t always get along,” Dax says bluntly.
“Just because you love your brothers doesn’t mean you have to like ‘em,” Cash adds, unknowingly echoing Adam’s own words to Matt and Nick from earlier on in the night.
“Believe me I know,” he mutters. “Let me treat you both to a couple of beers,” he suggests, looking between the two of them.
“I appreciate the offer, but I promised my kid I’d Skype her before she goes to bed,” Dax says, scooping up his bag from the floor and throwing it into the back of their truck.
Adam deflates, a no problem, see you next week ready on the tip of his tongue, but Cash steps forward and claps him on the shoulder before he can even open his mouth.
“I, on the other hand, am blessedly child free so what the hell, I’ll take you up on that.”
“Really? Great. Awesome. I, er, know a place.”
Dax takes Cash’s duffle bag and pulls him into a hug. They thump each other on the back a couple of times and then, before pulling away, press their foreheads together. “Call me if you need anything. If you need a ride I’ll come get you no matter what the time is.”
Adam’s heart aches at the sight. He’s forgotten what it feels like to have a tag-team partner you’d do anything for, that you want to spend time with outside of a ring.
Adam clears his throat. “I’ll order us an Uber.”
“This is very you,” Cash says as he looks around the bar Adam has brought him to. “Just missing a couple of batwing doors.”
Adam originally came across The Volstead by chance after last year’s Fight for the Fallen and though he was initially impressed by the selection of beers, whiskeys and cocktails, it was the speakeasy attitude and cozy atmosphere that kept him coming back.
They only reopened last week, like most other local businesses they’ve been closed for the last few months thanks to the pandemic, but it feels like barely any time has passed since he was last here. The same music is playing through the speakers and the same bar staff flit around them. In a way, it’s like coming home.
“They have swing dancing on Sundays,” Adam offers unnecessarily, inwardly cringing as soon as it leaves his mouth.
“Oh yeah?” Cash asks, seeming to be genuinely interested. “Is that something you’re into?”
Adam is momentarily thrown. “What, dancing? I mean, not really, but I’m not, like, averse to it.”
“So no one’s ever taken you dancing before?” Cash asks and Adam shakes him head. “Their loss,” he says easily. “For what it’s worth, I think you’d be good at it. Dancing’s a lot like wrestling and you’re good at wrestling, so,” he trails off with a shrug.
“Right,” Adam says, unsure how to respond. “Well, I’ll go get us some drinks. Grab us a table?”
After perusing the menu for a few minutes and eventually deciding on a locally brewed IPA, Adam wanders back through the main seating area to find Cash sitting in one of the comfortable looking leather chairs furthest away from the bar. He has slipped off his leather jacket and hung it over the back of his chair leaving him in the white t-shirt he was wearing underneath. Adam eyes the thin fabric pulled taught around his thick arms and across his chest before wordlessly handing over a bottle and taking a seat across from him.
“Thanks, man.” They clink their bottles together and each take a swig. “Not bad,” Cash compliments.
“I thought we could move onto something a little stronger later if you’re up to it. They’ve got some great whiskeys.”
“Still on you, I hope,” Cash quips. “I’m kidding. Consider your buddy’s indiscretions water under the bridge. Next round’s on me.”
Adam finally relaxes for the first time that night. “Thanks, I appreciate that.”
“I know we celebrated earlier, but considering how that went down, I’ll say it again: congrats on retaining the titles. Best Friends are total fucking idiots, but they’re tough. You can’t teach that sort of chemistry and love,” Cash says. “Can’t fake it, either,” he adds pointedly.
Adam snorts. “You’re preaching to the choir here, my friend.”
A comfortable silence falls between them, the quiet conversation from the handful of other patrons scattered throughout the bar and an upbeat ragtime song dancing in the air providing a perfect backing soundtrack.
Adam slips a fingernail under the damp label on his beer bottle and pushes it up until it gathers into a little speed bump like mound on the side of the glass. Cash shifts in his seat, the leather squeaking under his weight.
“So, any advice on tagging with the Bucks?”
Adam smothers a laugh against the neck of his bottle. “You know, most people would ask for advice on their opponents, not their team-mates.”
“I’m not most people.”
Adam takes a moment to think, but all he can come up with are weaknesses to exploit, like Matt’s bad back. “Don’t let them rile you up,” he eventually decides on.
“So we’re fucked then, is what you’re saying?”
Adam laughs openly this time, loudly and with his head thrown back. Cash grins in response.
“I don’t really know what to tell you, man. Just do your own thing and you’ll be fine. You’re the best tag-team in the world, after all.”
Cash pauses, the top of his bottle resting gently against his glistening bottom lip. “Not one of?” he asks calmly.
“You said we’re the best tag-team in the world, not one of the best.”
Panic spikes through Adam’s chest. Shit. That was more than a slip up, that was a goddamn head-on collision.
But then again, why should he have to feed Nick and Matt’s egos, especially when they’re not even around to hear it? He shouldn’t have to defend his thoughts, his feelings. It’s not like they give a shit about them, anyway, they’ve proven that multiple times over the last few months. So Adam defiantly raises his chin and looks Cash straight in the eyes. “You heard me.”
A blinding smile breaks out across Cash’s face and Adam’s stomach swoops like he’s been thrown round a sharp turn on a roller-coaster. Cash is an objectively attractive man, but when he smiles like that, Adam can’t bring himself to look away.
“I always knew you’d understand,” Cash admits in a rush, leaning forward like he’s telling a secret. “Never had the pleasure of meeting you before, of course, but I could see it in the way you wrestle. You’re just like us. You getit.”
Adam finds himself nodding along, a smile that matches Cash’s firmly in place.
Leaning to one side, Cash fishes his wallet out of his back pocket and holds it up for Adam to see. “So, how about that whiskey?”
They talk the entire Uber ride back to Daily’s Place and after they pick up Adam’s rental, they proceed to talk the entire ride to the hotel they’re all staying at, too.
It’s easy in a way Adam had forgotten connecting with another person could be. So often he finds himself tuning out the conversation when he’s with the rest of The Elite, uninterested in what they’ve got to say. With Cash, Adam feels like he could listen to him read the phone book and he’d be hanging on his every word.
“I must have replayed that video of you sucker punching the guy that went after Bret Hart a million times,” Adam admits as they pull out of the parking lot.
“Damn near split my knuckles open on his dumbass face, but it was worth it,” Cash says with a grin as he curls his fingers into a fist and gently chucks Adam under the chin. “You know, if that was my only claim to fame, I’d be happy.”
“I don’t blame you.”
When they arrive, Cash insists on walking him to his hotel room.
Part of him hopes they bump into the Bucks or Kenny, maybe even someone like Brandon so the word that Adam’s been hanging out with one half of FTR gets back to them, hearing about it second hand would really piss them off, but the corridors are deserted except for one lone cleaning lady.
“We should do this again sometime,” Cash says when they reach Adam’s room.
“Yeah, I’d like that.” And Adam finds that he means it.
Cash holds out his hand and Adam doesn’t think twice about grasping it. Adam notices Cash’s eyes drop down to his mouth and he automatically wets his lips. Cash briefly tightens his grip on Adam’s hand in response before releasing it entirely, trailing his fingers across his palm as he pulls away.
“Right. Well. Night,” Adam says awkwardly, fumbling out his room card and letting himself in.
Adam’s about to close the door when Cash abruptly sticks his boot in the gap, keeping it wedged open. “Hey,” Cash says, his arm resting high on the door frame. “We’ve got your back. Remember that. The Bucks? That’s just business. But you…” Cash trails off and slowly looks Adam up and down. “You’re something special.”
Adam’s so close to doing something really fucking stupid like bridging the space between them or, hell, inviting him in to spend the night, but Cash stuffs his hands into his pockets and steps back from the door. Adam freely admits he may be projecting, but it seems to have taken him quite a bit of effort to do so, a complicated look on his face that suggests he, like Adam, doesn’t know what to do. “I’ll see you next week. Sleep well.”
“You too,” Adam manages.
As Adam gets ready for bed, he finds his mind wandering. He thinks about the tag belts, Kenny upending the beer over the side of the ring, FTR, Cash.
Cash’s arms, his thighs, his smile.
He goes to bed that night feeling lighter than he has in a long time. Almost as if he’s come to an important decision. What has he decided on? Well, he’s not sure he knows just yet.