The knock came just as John Cena was hopping out of the shower. He pulled open the bathroom door, glancing curiously at the outer door. Who would be knocking at his door at 8 am in the morning?

 "Just a minute!" he called, rapidly toweling himself off and pulling on a pair of track pants. His eyes fell on the room's second bed, still perfectly made, as he strode out into the main room. Perhaps his missing roommate had lost his key.

 He pulled the door open, finding before him a rumpled, slightly sick looking Carlito Cool. "Hey." John eyed Carlito. The signs of a night of excess were clearly visible; same clothes, uncombed hair, and reeking of alcohol. Still, John had seen Carlito drunk before, and seen the morning after, but Carlito seemed more troubled this morning. He was staring resolutely at the carpet, not even glancing up at John. "You ok?" John questioned, trying to get a look into his roommate's eyes.

 "I'm hung over," Carlito muttered, walking slowly into the room. He still hadn't raised his eyes from the carpet.

 John closed the door, his eyes following Carlito with concern. "I was worried when you didn't show up lost night. Tried your cell, but it was off."

 Carlito heaved a deep sigh, sitting down on one of the beds and hanging his head. "I'm never drinking again," he whispered softly. "Never, ever drinking again."

 John hadn't known Carlito for long in the scheme of things, but they had been spending a lot of time together lately, and he liked to think they had struck up a good friendship. A friendship which he hoped might become more, although he had kept those feelings to himself. He had seen Carlito's "drinker's remorse" before, but those times it had been more tongue-in-cheek; moaning about a hangover, then grinning over a great night of partying. This morning there was no trace of humor in Carlito's face; he just looked troubled, and almost guilty. John was almost afraid to ask what happened; so he didn't.

 "Hey," he said soothingly, sitting down next to Carlito and patting him on the back. "Everyone gets out of control every now and then. You just have to learn to laugh over making a drunken ass of yourself and move on."

 Apparently, it was not the right thing to say. Really, really not the right thing. Carlito stiffened, and John thought he heard a suppressed sob escape the young wrestler. Carlito stood and stepped quickly towards the bathroom, but John caught his wrist before he could make it more than two steps.

 "Hey, I'm sorry." John held Carlito's wrist, as gently as he could without letting the man escape. Carlito stood stiffly, head still bowed. Since the other man didn't seem willing to move, John stood, placing his hands on Carlito's shoulders. He tried to meet Carlito's eyes, but Carlito's gaze was still locked on the carpet, his eyes now appearing a bit watery.

 "Carlito, whatever happened - I'm here for you." It might be a phrase that people made jokes about, but John knew that, sometimes, it was what a person in pain really needed to hear. Carlito didn't move, although John could make out another soft sob. He wasn't quite sure how to proceed, so he did what always seemed to work best when he couldn't reason out the next step; let his instincts take over. He pulled Carlito into his arms, wrapping him in a strong, supportive hug. Carlito stayed stiff for a moment, then he almost collapsed into John, letting the other man support his weight as the tears began to flow. His hands clutched at John's back as he sobbed, his wet face shifting between John's neck and shoulder.

 The torrent of tears went over for several minutes. John just held his friend, rubbing his back comfortingly. Wrestlers were known for being too tough for their own good, and Carlito was no exception to that rule. For him to break down like this, something must have gone horribly wrong the previous night.

 As the flow of tears began to lessen, John inched them back towards the bed, not releasing his hold on Carlito as he guided them back down to sit. Carlito was sniffling against his shoulder, his breathing still a bit heavy, but calming rapidly. "I'm sorry," he whispered in a hoarse voice.

 "S'ok," John whispered, hands still softly rubbing Carlito's back. "I'm here, if you need to talk."

 Carlito took a deep breath. "Can't," came his choked voice. His eyes were closed, his head buried in John's shoulder.

 "Anything you say's just between us," John murmured softly. "I won't say a word to nobody." He knew Carlito needed to talk. The man was hurting, and he knew what that felt like. He knew it, because he had been there. Unfortunately, he had been alone most of the times he really needed to talk. He wasn't about to let someone else go through that pain alone.

 Carlito took another deep breath. He was quiet for a moment, then he spoke. "I had that match against HHH last night," he said quietly, his voice weak, but steady. "After our bit was done, Hunter came up to me. He introduced himself, and we started chatting. It was so cool. He's "The Man" around here, you know? And he was nice. Then Batista and Randy found us, and invited Hunter out for a drink with them. Hunter joked about being tired out from his match, but up for a few drinks. Then he looked at me, and asked if I wanted to come. Hell yeah I did! It was so cool, getting to go out with three champions! Brilliant move, right? Go get drunk with three guys you don't know, who you just met, who you've only seen on tv! And I didn't even think about it. Not for one moment."

 He took a deep breath, turning his head so his cheek was resting against John's shoulder, his eyes gazing out into space. "So we went out to a club. Randy knew the manager, got us a private table. We got free drinks. They decided to play 'Guess Carlito's favorite drink', and kept ordering different things for me. Batista got me a Cosmopolitan. Randy got me a Margarita. Hunter got me an apple martini. It went in a round. I can't even remember what they were drinking. I think Hunter stuck with beer. Batista seemed to be into anything filled with Vodka. Randy...I think he was sucking down anything that came his way. Seemed to be big on tequila."

 Carlito was breathing normally now, and he sounded relatively calm. John was still rubbing his back occasionally, well aware that Carlito was recalling every detail he could in order to delay talking about what he really needed to. Talking about whatever had happened, the events that were bad enough to make him break down, would be the hard part.

 "They laughed over all striking out on their first guess," Carlito continued. "I was getting a bit tipsy. The drinks were strong. Batista got me a Sex on the Beach. I told him that was pretty high on my list, but not quite my favorite. Randy got me a Tequila Sunrise. I was having a pretty good time, but around the time I downed that Tequila Sunrise, Randy started making me uncomfortable. He wasn't doing anything to me, but he was drunk, drunker than I was at that point, and he was pretty much throwing himself at Batista. Really aggressively, I mean. Hunter said something earlier about them being together, or having been together, but something really didn't seem right."

 He stopped for a breath, then continued. "Randy kept touching Batista; grabbing his pecs, or his thigh. Batista was just growling and kept shoving him away, but Randy just kept coming back for more. Hunter seemed amused by it. He said something to me about how Randy was gonna be well fucked tonight, then he ordered us all a round of shots. I can't remember what he ordered. It was a mix, and it was really, really strong. Randy took one sniff and refused it, and he took Batista's right out of his hand. He said something about not being willing to give up being fucked because Batista drank too much and couldn't get it up. Batista looked pissed."

 John listened quietly. He wondered briefly what was going on with the SmackDown champion and the boy toy. But he really didn't know either of them, so he couldn't breath too much into their actions. He did feel anger at the three men for encouraging Carlito to drink so damn much, but fairly he couldn't put too much blame on them. Binge drinking was not exactly rare in the WWE, especially when celebrating after a big show. He had been involved in it often enough to know that firsthand.

 "I had downed mine right away, so Hunter grabbed their shots and put them in front of me. I was drunk enough that I downed them without even thinking about it. Hunter laughed and said I was a hell of a drinker, and he offered me his shot, which I also downed." Carlito shook his head, his fluffy hair rubbing against John's neck.

 "Randy was still all over Batista, and Batista seemed to be getting more and more pissed about it. Randy was just loving it. He went in for another grope, and he grabbed Batista's crotch this time. Batista grabbed his hand, stood right up, and said, 'Hell with this, we're going back to the hotel.' He was twisting Randy's arm, and starting marching him out of the bar. Hunter called after them that we'd share a cab, and he helped me up. That's when I realized how trashed I was. Those shots hit HARD, and Hunter had to help me stumble to the door."

 He paused for another deep breath. John had a feeling they were getting close to the hard part. The tremor in Carlito's voice as he spoke again confirmed that suspicion. "We took a cab back to the hotel. I can't even remember the ride. I was so drunk. Hunter helped me stumble into the lobby. Batista dragged Orton right to the elevator, pretty roughly. Then they were gone, and suddenly Ric Flair was standing next to Hunter. I can't remember what they were chatting about. Ric said something about a drink in the hotel bar, and Hunter agreed. He led me into the bar, and we got a table. Hunter and Ric were just talking for a while, and I sitting there, the room spinning around me. Then Hunter turned to me and said that he still hadn't guessed my favorite drink, and he thought he'd figured it out now. I think I shook my head and muttered something about no more drinks, but he said he was sure he was right this time, and went over to the bar to fetch it. It was a Pina Colada, which is my favorite drink. He and Ric cheered that he'd gotten it right, and I remember Ric saying to me, 'Drink up, Champ!' I was so drunk that I barely managed to get it in my mouth instead of down my shirt. It was strong, I think. I could hardly taste the alcohol by that time."

 John was glad that Carlito was looking away from him, because the sympathetic expression on his face was quickly turning into a scowl. Drinking a bit too much while out partying was one thing, but encouraging someone already that drunk to drink more was quite another. That was getting beyond the point where it could be written off as 'harmless fun'.

 Carlito continued, his voice increasingly choked up as he spoke. "Ric said something like 'Man, he's really wasted', and said something about getting me into bed. Hunter laughed and agreed, and he helped me stand up. He practically carried me to the elevator, I was stumbling so badly. I think he asked me about my room, and I think I tried to blurt out some numbers, but he didn't understand me. So we stumbled down the hall to his room. I would've just collapsed on the floor, but he helped me over to the bed and laid me down. Then he went off somewhere for a minute - I couldn't see what he was doing. I was so out of it, I was just staring up at the ceiling, watching stars run across my vision." His voice faltered, and he stopped, taking several deep breaths.

 John's blood ran cold. This was it. The hard part was next, the event that had made Carlito break down crying in his arms this morning. And given the point Carlito's story had left off, there was really only one thing it could be. The very thought of it made John feel sick.

 Carlito squeezed his eyes shut, taking one more deep, shuddering breath. "Then he was back," he choked out in a pained whisper. "And he...he was naked. And I was too. I...I don't even remember him undressing me. And...and then, then he was getting on top of me." Fresh tears came to his eyes, and he sniffled as he continued. "I...I know I said, 'Hunter, I'm drunk.' And I said it again. I'm drunk. I'm drunk. I'm drunk. He told me to relax, that it was ok, he'd use a rubber. And he was on me, and he was touching me, and kissing me, and...and he was..." Carlito's arms tightened around John's back, his face pressing into John's wet shoulder. "He was...was in me," he choked out, sobbing softly, fresh tears wetting John's shirt.

 "I didn't do anything," he sobbed. "I didn't push him away. And I didn't tell him to stop, to get off me. I didn't want him on me, John. I didn't! But I...I didn't do anything. I just, let him. And I...I know I came, so I guess, I guess I must've...must've enjoyed it. The last thing I remember was him lying on me, stroking my thigh...and then I woke up next to him this morning." Carlito stopped to take a deep breath, his sobs quieting, but his voice still strained. "I couldn't move. Last night was just...playing over and over in my head. Then Hunter woke up, and he looked at me and smiled, said, 'Morning, baby. Man, how drunk were we last night?' And he laughed. I got up, and I threw on my clothes, and I left. And I came back to my room." He was quiet, no longer sobbing, but his arms were locked around John in a vice-like grip.

 John tightened his hold on Carlito, resting his head on Carlito's shoulder. They sat in silence for a moment, John hoping that Carlito would take comfort from the hug. He needed a moment to think about what to say. Right now, he was so angry, he didn't even trust himself to speak. Hunter was the top guy in this business. There was no way he would have trouble getting laid, yet he had stooped to rape. Rape. It was one of the most frightening words John knew, but he had no doubt that it applied here. That pervert must get off this. He was probably a power freak. And he had probably been setting poor Carlito up the whole night. Those other bastards from Evolution were probably in on it too, helping Hunter get Carlito so drunk that he wouldn't be able to defend himself.

 John felt tears leaking out his own eyes. He felt at the same time murderously angry, and heartbroken over what had happened to his friend. Carlito was a good man. He was a good friend. He was the man that John had hope might become more. He was the man John had dreamed about taking out on a romantic dinner, dreamed about kissing, dreamed about cuddling together with in bed on a chilly morning. Lately, his hopes had been rising that Carlito was interested in the same thing. Nothing overt had passed between them, but there had been smiles, a few lingering looks, and a few gentle touches that were a bit more than just those shared between friends. It was the first degree of flirting, only the lightest, most tentative forays.

 "I'm sorry."

 John blinked, the words surprising him. "You've got nothing to apologize to me for," he murmured soothingly, his hands rubbing Carlito's tense back again.

 "No, I do." Carlito pulled back, for the first time looking John in the eyes. "John, I - I know neither of us has said anything yet, but I...I really like you. And if I'm reading the signs right, I think you feel the same. But nothing's even started yet...and I guess, now, it won't. And I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for that, because I really wanted something with you."

 John was taken aback by his friend's words. "Carlito, what happened does not change who you are," he said softly, but with conviction. His hands still rested on Carlito's back, their faces only inches apart. "I was interested in you Carlito, and I most definitely still am."

 John was so tempted to kiss him. Their faces were so close together, and Carlito looked like he needed reassurance, needed it so bad...but now was not the time. Not now, not yet. Instead, John pulled Carlito back into his arms, and just held him in silence. There would be time for both talking and action later, and a lot of both would be needed before this raw wound would heal.

 John wasn't quite sure what he would do. Maybe he would go break down Hunter's door and strangle him. Maybe he would go after Batista, Orton, and Flair. Maybe he would figure out another means to help the Game get what he deserved. But he would think about all that later, because none of them were important right now; Carlito was most important, and John would, first and foremost, be there for him.

 He was going to be there for Carlito, and, when his friend was ready, he would help him get the counseling he needed. He had never dealt with something like this before, and he really didn't know how to help Carlito deal with it. He had heard that rape victims often felt guilty for "allowing" the rape, and he knew that Carlito was carrying that guilt. He could only imagine how Carlito was feeling, so he would do the best he could, and be his friend's pillar of support.

 And then...then, when the time felt right, they could give falling in love a shot.


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