“Miz…..you got a minute?”
Miz hesitated. He was supposed to be meeting up with John, but a minute couldn’t hurt. He walked over to where the two of them were standing.
“Ken, would you mind, um, giving us a minute?”
“Sure. Catch you later, bow” he kissed Jeff’s cheek, then walked off.
“Bow?” Miz couldn’t help but ask.
Jeff blushed slightly.
“It’s kinda…..a nickname. You know, they always call me the rainbow-haired warrior. Bow is, um….the most manly shortened form of that”
“Right” Miz restrained his amusement with some effort. “So…..what’s up, Jeff?”
“You on your way to meet John, I take it?”
“You two are ok, then? You weren’t out there…..just wondered why”
Miz shrugged, concealing his true feelings.
“John don’t need no babysitter”
Jeff shook his head.
“Never said he did, Miz…..I was just surprised to see John without his partner” he paused. “But it’s good….good to hear you two are fine. Hey, looking forward to the Halloween party this year. Matt tells me, you two have the hosting duties”
“Oh….yeah. Can’t wait”
“Cool. Well I should hit the showers. I’ll catch up with you later, Miz. Have a good one”
“Yeah, you too”
Jeff smiled at him, then walked away down the corridor. Miz started back on his walk to his and John’s locker room, not looking forward to getting there, a reluctance he knew he had never felt before.
Finally though, for all his feet-dragging, Miz opened the door to their locker room, and stepped inside, closing the door behind him. John was sitting on the couch, taking off his wrestling boots.
“You took your time” he said, without looking up.
“I ran into Jeff” Miz really wanted to share the ‘bow’ thing with John, but knew this was not the time.
“Yeah” John slid off both his boots, setting them down on the floor, and stood, unbuckling his belt.
Miz knew all to well what came next. First the tights came off, then the jockeys John always wore in the ring, never out of it, then the naked walk to the shower. A shower he rarely took alone……it was too fucking much.
“He wanted to know, John……why I wasn’t out there with you!”
“What?” John had his belt off, but still had it in his hand. “What did you tell him?”
“That you didn’t need a fucking babysitter!” Miz ran his hands through his spiky hair, clinging to his anger, rather than drop into the hurt lurking underneath it. “Jeff was just curious why you didn’t want your fucking partner out there…..he couldn’t understand it, for some weird fucking reason”
John shook his head.
“I don’t know what you’re so upset about. You hardly ever come out for my matches”
“You’re always there for mine!”
“Yeah……because usually I do commentary for them”
“Fucking….” Miz walked across the distance between them, and yanked John’s belt from his hand, throwing it at the wall. “You’re there, John….you’re there, that’s what fucking counts! What, it’s too much for me to want the same thing? We’re a fucking tag-team, that’s what fucking tag-teams do!”
John dropped his gaze.
“That’s not why you want to be there though, is it?” Miz didn’t know what to say. John’s reaction had done nothing to bolster his anger, which was rapidly bleeding away, leaving only the bare hurt in its wake. After a moment of silence, John looked up at him again, his brown eyes serene, then to Miz’s total surprise, John put his hands on his hips. “Babe, be honest. This isn’t about us being a tag-team, is it?”
“It’s a good cover” Miz said, knowing it for the lame response that it was.
John smiled, shaking his head.
“You’re as good at lying as I am” he paused. “I know how badly you want this, babe, and the ‘real’ reason why…..but it’s, it’s important to me, that I can stand on my own, in the ring anyway. Can you understand that?”
Miz shook his head.
“No. I want to be there with you…..for everything, all the fucking time, but, if you need this….I’ll try and learn to understand it. That’s the best I can fucking do”
John tugged him close, kissing him softly.
“You know, babe…this feels like a victory, don’t you think?”
Miz nodded, kissing him back.
“Oh…..I think definitely, baby. Fucking definitely”