PROGRESSIVE Championship Wrestling was a dream come true for Brad Fraser. From early days of pounding his brother to a pulp in the name of research to that first dive off the balcony onto a mattress, from the first tryout all the way through to making it up to the main roster, he was proud of his accomplishments. Wrestling was the one goal he’d relentlessly pursued.
In a word, Brad was beautiful, and he did not fit the mold of the typical wrestler. Blond haired and blue eyed, he had boyish good looks. He was slightly built, and in the early days, his stature had put him at a disadvantage. It had been insinuated to him by more than one promoter that he was too short to ever make it to the big leagues. He had happily proved them all wrong.
Things happened inside the pro-wrestling circuit that people outside never knew about. Brutality was a way of life for these men. Many people thought what they did was fake, but the wrestlers knew the difference. The mat was solid, and the ring was strung with steel ropes. Chair shots were performed with real chairs. In essence, these men made a living beating others and being beaten in return. Behind the cameras they were nothing more than a group of friends and enemies. In countless backstage areas around the country, they lived their lives with no off-season.
Brad embraced the life wholeheartedly and never complained about the pain. It wasn’t that he was a glutton for punishment; he just had a genuine love for the sport. The things that bothered him tended to be more of the creature comfort variety. He found he had to be creative in coming up with ways to balance the unending travel and inherent pain that came with tossing his body around, and the boredom of the nomadic life on the road. Many times this creativity bit him in the ass, and too much of a good thing turned bad in a heartbeat.
There is no crying in wrestling, and as much as Brad knew that, he still fought back tears as he struggled with the sugar packet. They were in some nameless arena in a town he had already forgotten the name of, but everything else was the same as it always was. Tonight hadn’t been a televised show, fortunate because he knew the cameras would have accentuated the bags under his eyes. All he wanted to do was get a coffee in catering and disappear into the woodwork. If he was honest with himself, he knew he got into these messes because of his incessant risk-taking behavior. Never content to read about the thrills, he felt he always had to experience them firsthand. Whether smoking a joint behind the dumpsters or falling from one bed to another, his next fix was always right around the corner. The excesses of the previous night were creeping up on him now with a vengeance.
Sugar exploded from the packet, spilling all over the table. “Shit,” he said, and as he reached for a napkin, his sleeve brushed against the Styrofoam cup and spilled coffee all over the table and the floor.
The tears spilled over as he knelt down to mop up the coffee, and his vision blurred as a pair of heavy boots stepped right into the mess.
“There you are.” The voice above him was low with menace. Without looking up, Brad knew that it was Bruiser, a veteran wrestler that all the men knew they could go to when they wanted to score drugs. Younger, pretty boys like Brad were expected to pay with sexual favors. Brad raised a hand to dash his tears away, and whispered, “Please.” Although he had expected to pay for the joint with a blow job, he hadn’t been expecting the rough treatment afterward.
Bruiser reached down and fisted his hand in Brad’s hair, hauling him upright. “Please,” he mimicked. “You weren’t this eager last night, but I told you that you’d come around.” He had the audacity to wink before he leaned in closer and said, “You ready for more?”
“No,” Brad said, “I just….”
“You just what?” Bruiser lifted his hand slightly, unmoved by Brad’s wince.
“Leave me alone,” Brad whispered, “please.”
“Ah, now see, it don’t work like that,” Bruiser said, his lips drawn back in a humorless grin. “Now take that sweet little ass down to my dressing room, and wait for me.”
Even with Bruiser’s hand tangled painfully in his hair, Brad sagged forward and didn’t care if he fell back to the floor when he was let go to carry out the command. In his peripheral vision he saw someone approach, and he closed his eyes in misery.
“I think he’s had enough,” said a cool voice.
“Stay out of this, O’Doul,” Bruiser snarled, “it don’t concern you.” And he released his hold on Brad’s hair, letting him tumble to the floor.
“Ah, but it does,” Scott said. “I distinctly heard him tell you no.” He stepped in front of Brad’s prone body.
Bruiser shifted his gaze from Scott down to the trembling Brad, and then straightened up to his full height. “This ain’t over,” he growled softly.
“I think perhaps it is,” Scott replied.
The encounter had not gone unnoticed, and several people watched surreptitiously. Bruiser clenched his hands into fists, not willing to let Scott get the better of him in front of a crowd.
“Listen, you little prick,” Bruiser said, his muscles rippling under his tight T-shirt. “Just because you dress in suits and gel your hair, don’t mean you own this joint.”
Scott tipped his head to the side and spoke softly enough that only Bruiser heard him. “Try me, but run the risk of me besting you in front of the rest of the boys. I won’t hold back the way I do in the ring.”
“Fuck you, asshole,” Bruiser growled.
Scott clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, and raised his voice so that all heard. “Find someone else for that.”
Bruiser raised his hand, and Scott caught it neatly. With a growl of outrage, Bruiser tore away. “You ain’t seen the last of me, Scott O’Doul.” He turned and stalked down toward the row of dressing rooms.
Once he was gone, Scott bent down and helped Brad stand. Side by side, Scott was several inches taller than Brad. At a glance, Scott’s muscular build fit the mold of wrestler far better than Brad’s smaller frame.
“Are you okay?” he asked gently.
A bit of Brad’s natural spunkiness returned. He attempted a smile and said, “Fine, thanks.” But as he took a step, he stumbled and would have fallen had Scott not caught him.
“You’re not fine.” Scott put his arm around Brad, supporting him. Affixing a smile to his handsome features, he turned to those still idling about and said, “Nothing to see here, move along.” He then guided Brad out the back door of the small arena.
In the parking lot, Scott settled Brad into the front seat of his car.
“Where are you taking me?” Brad asked, his cheeks trembling with the effort to hold back the tears that threatened once again.
“Try and sleep,” was all Scott would say.
Brad leaned his head against the cool glass of the passenger window and fell silent. After a while he closed his eyes to block everything out. Before long he did in fact drift into a light doze.
By the time they reached the hotel, Brad was for all intents and purposes unconscious. Scott carried him from the car to the room, cradling him gently in his strong arms. With almost clinical detachment, he stripped Brad’s clothes from his body and stood back to note the bruises that peppered his torso and thighs. Although he knew Brad would be out for a while, he was gentle as he shifted him under the covers.
There was a small coffee maker in the room, and Scott brewed the coffee strong. He drank several cups, refilling the machine once as he watched over Brad’s sleep. He sat in a chair along the wall of the room, far enough away to resist temptation.
When Brad finally woke, he was disoriented, and when he shifted, he discovered he was naked under a rough sheet. His eyes fluttered open, and he found Scott sitting in a chair watching his confusion.
“Where am I?” Brad asked, his voice hoarse with sleep.
“In my room,” Scott said.
Soft color covered Brad’s cheeks, and he said, “I… did we…?”
“Not yet,” Scott said. He dropped his hands to his lap and sat forward. “Bruiser forced you, I take it?”
Brad struggled up in the bed and sat against the headboard, making sure to keep the sheet pulled up tightly against his chest. “Yeah.”
“And you did some drugs?” Putting one hand up to cover his face, Brad nodded. “Look at me,” Scott said, his voice soft with command.
Slowly Brad dragged his hand away from his face and looked forlornly at Scott.
“While I agree that drugs and sex can be quite pleasant when done right, every man has his limits.” Scott tipped his head to the side, then said softly, “Everyone wants something, Bradley. Sometimes it’s as simple as a nice soft bed, but other times it’s a bit more complicated. What is it that you desire most, hmm? Is it something I can give you?”
A frown puckered Brad’s brow. “I don’t know what you mean. You already gave me what I wanted, protection from that asshole.” He shifted away from the headboard and ran his tongue over his lips as he moved a bit closer. “The way this usually works, there’s something I can give you, you know, to pay you for the favor.”
“I’m not interested in the way things usually work,” Scott said. “I didn’t bring you here to take advantage of you.” He sat forward in the chair. “The truth is that I’ve had my eye on you for a while, just waiting for you to break free from that cycle on your own.” He paused and ran his gaze over Brad’s body. “I’m only asking you what you want so that this first time is pleasurable for you.”
Smirking, Brad let the sheet drop. “Maybe you figured this out already, but I like things a little rough. The thing I can’t figure out is, if you wanted me, why didn’t you just ask me?”
“Define rough, Bradley. It means different things to different people,” Scott said.
“Are you going to answer my question?” Brad asked.
“When you answer mine,” Scott countered.
Brad shifted back to lean against the headboard again, the sheet riding dangerously low over his growing erection. “A little bite of pain with my pleasure, a smack on the ass, pull of the hair. Nothing really over-the-top, I just don’t like it when people hold back.”
Scott smiled and stood. He walked closer to stand beside the bed. “If anything gets over-the-top, will you tell me?”
“I will,” Brad said.
His hand a gentle caress on Brad’s hair, Scott said, “If you agree, then this isn’t just for tonight, and you won’t have to give in to Bruiser or anyone else like that ever again.”
“I’ll agree,” Brad said, “after you tell me what it is you want because there are lines I don’t cross.”
“What I want,” Scott said, “is the illusion of control.”
Brad squinted as a shiver chased down his spine. Scott’s eyes were in the shadows so it was difficult to read his intent. “And if I say stop?”
“We stop,” Scott said. “I have given you that promise.”
Turning his head to press his lips against Scott’s wrist, Brad said, “Why just the illusion? You could have complete control if you wanted.”
Scott looked at him in silence for a moment, and when he spoke, his voice was quiet. “The traditional way one takes control over another is mundane. I don’t want complete control over your life in that way. I’m a rule-breaker, not a follower. I’ve been looking for someone who has balls enough to take the risk of illusion. I think you are that person, Bradley.”
“I got the balls,” Brad said, “and I’m willing to take the risk.”
“I knew you wouldn’t disappoint me,” Scott said with a catlike smile.