When the fragile dawn has spilled across the horizon, into the world and thus in through the small, grimy window of her kitchen, Tory has already been awake for hours. She stands now, tall in front of the window, hands clutching at the sill and eyes wide, glimmering. In this golden light her reflection’s hair looks like a ring of fire around her. A halo set ablaze.
Her reflection though, however nearer the light it may be, fails to shine brighter than the trophy set on top of the fridge behind her. Even in this shitty mirror-world it glints and glimmers. Gold light on gold metal. Midas-touched. It is glorious.
It is glory.
Two days ago, she thought she had captured that glory, it’s writhing, live form cupped between the palms of her battered hands. It was her little butterfly, delicate and just as fragile.
Today, on this quiet morning, in this grimy, distorted approximation of the trophy behind her, she allows herself to see it for what it truly is, for what she has tried to kill dead and bury in the depths of her mind for a little too long now.
It is still glorious, still glory, though it is not a prisoner to anyone, least of all herself. This glory that has her so enraptured is not won, it is given. It has been handed to her democratically by a jury of people who had no fucking clue about the reality of the situation. Had been given to her by a riotous, roaring crowd, by a team who were the same as her yet not, who hailed Cobra Queen and threw their arms around her shoulder. It had been handed to her by the same hand of the girl who would not reach out to grasp hers, by solemn faces in reds and whites, looking like she had beaten them till they bled, and bled, and bled till they had become ashen and grayed.
How glorious are those whose victories are gone uncredited, how glorious are those that take what another has accomplished as their own?
Glory, Tory muses, is many things. A performance art, a great con.
Two days ago, it became another thing. It became hers, and for three hundred and thirty-three more days it will remain hers, it will grasp her hand when she reaches for it. She will house it in her heart and hair and in return it will give her a glimmer of it’s light for her to reflect onto the world. For three hundred and thirty-three more days she will be brilliant, and breathtaking, and when it all crescendos and falls at the next All-Valley, she will go down burning.