Better Red Than Dead
Member No.: 6
Joined: 6-August 07
Whenever someone asks Natalie Snow to describe the story of the mome when she realized that she had strong feelings toward the man that she ultimately married,and the point what she caused her to fall so madly in love with him, there is one story that she always relates to them in order to respond to this question.
She always begins this tale by telling her inquisitor of the time when she was employed as a backstage reporter in the federation known as Total Non-Stop Wrestling, and of how she hated Terminus when he first became a member of the roster because it always seemed like he was testing her, and making the job of interviewing more difficult than it needed to be. Eventually, she came to realize that the reason why Evan Andrews was doing this was because he was probably the only competitor in TNW who regarded her as being something more than the federation's Token Hottie and the two were able to forge a pretty solid friendship once she came to this understanding.
That was the reason why Natalie decided to seek him out she after the federation closed its doors for good; because she felt as though he understood why this was important to her, and would provide any assistance that he could as she went about the task of trying secure another job as a backstage reporter- this time with the Premiere Wrestling Alliance. And she was right; Evan did everything possible to make certain that happened...And in fact appeared to be just as crestfallen as she was when Natalie wasn't able to secure the position that she had been desperately trying to land.
Natalie's lips always part into a slight grin when she tells them the next part of the tale, because she remembers very well how ridiculous the two of them must have appeared to others in the hours that followed.
Clad in the same skimpy pink bikini that she wore during the bikini contest that served as then-owner Chris Wilkins' idea of a job interview, Natalie went to the nearest bar and began to order as many drinks as she possibly could in an effort to drown the sorrow that she was feeling. But, she had only finished her first couple of drinks when Evan arrived, still clad in his wrestling attire following an unsuccessful challenge for the PWA World Heavyweight Title at the Gold Rush PPV.
Evan did his best to console Natalie during the hours that followed her rejection, and seemed more than willing her to listen to her drone on and on about the disappointment that she was feeling, and the fear that she had about never again being able to be a part of the industry that she had come to love. When she finally finished, he considered her words for a moment, slowly nodded his head, and then spoke a little about his own hopes and fears, and then in a cool, calm tone of voice, proceeded to outline the dreams that he had for the future and how he had been hoping that these plans might involve her in some capacity.
That was the moment that Natalie found herself taking a deep breath as she broke out into a wide grin, and realized the full extent of the feelings that she had for this man. That was the moment that she made her own feelings of attraction known by kissing him as passionately as she could, and then leading him by the hand back to their hotel so that they could act upon these feelings in the most intimate manner possible.
That was the moment when Evan Andrews captured her heart.
That moment occurred two years ago, but up until very recently Natalie Snow could close her eyes and relive that memory as though it had only occurred the day before. She could quote every single word that Evan said to her without any hesitation, and could describe in perfect detail the exact detail the exact way that he appeared, right down to the look that appeared in his eye as he was talking to her.
Yet, something has changed in the past few weeks, and whenever Natalie Snow lets her mind drift back in time to those events, the image of her husband doesn't seem to be quite as vivid or as lustrous as it once was. And whenever she tries to remember what he said in those hours when the two of them were sitting at the bar, she finds that she's no longer capable of quoting him word for word, and of relating the exact message that he conveyed to her during the course of that conversation.
Natalie stands on the balcony of the Halifax apartment that she shares with her husband, takes a deep gulp of warm summer air, and then releases it from her lungs with a prolonged sigh as she thinks about why this might be the case.
In truth, she already knows the answer to the question that she just asked of herself. She already knows that Evan Andrews just isn't the same person as the man that captured her heart on that sultry September evening.
Oh, he's still as kind and considerate to her as he's always been; and he's just as attentive to needs and desires as he was on that late summer evening when the two of them got back to Nat's hotel room and made love until they were completely incapable of speech, thought, or movement.
But something has changed in Evan since that time.
And that's the aura of quiet confidence and composure that he used to project on a continuous basis. Natalie has always admired her husband's ability to retain his sense of focus and cool even at those points when he was forced to contend with severe forms of adversity. It's part of the reason why she fell so hard for him, and she came to rely upon it as a sort of touchstone; for whenever he was with her, she always felt as though no matter what was happening he would always be able to retain control of the way he was going to act in any given situation.
But that has been present in Evan for a while now. During the course of these past few weeks, he's seemed a little uncertain about how to act or what to say, and this is never more apparent than those occasions when he's forced to interact with the black-clad man who is lingering near the balcony's entrance, and drumming his fingers impatiently upon the coffee table as he awaits Evan's arrival.
Simon Rettter: You did tell your husband that I was here, did you not?
Natalie in an annoyed tone of voice: Yes, Simon. I did...Evan understands that and said that he'll be arriving very shortly.
Simon: Of course. It's just that this is a matter of critical importance, and it's imperative that the two of you understand the strategy that needs to be employed during the course of the Hunt that is scheduled to take place...
Natalie: I'm certain that Evan will be here at any moment, Mister Retter.
Simon: I hope you're right, Mrs. Snow. You can imagine how much it would displease me if this didn't happen to be the case.
Natalie suppresses the urge that she feels to scream curses at the top of her lungs as she stares through the door into her living room and stares through narrow eyes at the man lounging casually on the sofa before her while limiting her reaction to the slightest nod of her head.
She's really not looking forward to the conversation that's likely to take place in a few moments...
For, while she appreciates the fact that Simon now holds her in high enough regard to include her in this hunt of his, she is still not altogether fond of this man. In fact she still doesn’t like him very much at all.
She dislikes his arrogance and abrasive personality, and his tendency to appear before them without a moment's worth of notice so that he can discuss matters that he considers to be of importance for hours at a time. She's not one bit thrilled about the fact he appears to regard the two of them as being little more than a pair of attack dogs whose sole purpose is flush his designated prey out of their hiding place.
But what she really hates most about him is the fact that she knows very well that he is the one who bears responsibility for the change that's taken place within her husband's psyche. For, ever since Simon was able to secure Evan's services by threatening to expose a secret that her husband doesn't wish to be revealed, he's able to dictate the terms of every conversation that has taken place between the two that has occurred since that time.
She hates the fact that her husband no longer seems to have any control over the topic of these conversation and that way that it flows.
She hates the fact that Evan has been forced to acquiesce to this man's wishes, and that he now seems content to do this man's bidding without having any apparent say in the matter.
She hates the fact that he has no apparent say in anything that seems to be taking place in his life, and this bothers her to no end because it wasn't very long ago that it would have seemed utterly inconceivable to her that she would be able to say such a thing.
That's why she's not she's not looking forward to this conversation, and that's why she feels her heart drop into the pit of her stomach as she watches the front door swing open so that her husband can emerge from the entrance.
Terminus: Hi, Natalie. Hello, Simon. I'm sorry to keep the two of you waiting...
Simon: Yes, well it's good that you finally decided to show up, Andrews. Now then...This is what I want the two of you to do this...
Terminus: One second, Simon.
Natalie feels herself going wide-eyed as she watches Retter's head whirl around on his shoulders so that he can glare at her husband, but if Evan takes any notice of this reaction, it isn't apparent for he simply makes his way over to her, and smiles slightly as he wraps an arm around her shoulder.
Terminus: Good to see that you're finally up and about my dear. How are the ribs?
Natalie, smiling despite herself: Much better, thank you for asking. I can finally breathe in deeply without feeling any shooting pains in my body.
Terminus: I'm really glad to hear that...
Simon, in an impatient tone of voice: Yes, yes...that's truly wonderful. Now, as I was saying-
Terminus, as the smile grows slightly wider: Sorry to interrupt Simon, but one more issue of importance that needs to be addressed before we proceed any further...
Simon: And what, may I ask would that be...?
Terminus, turning his attention to Natalie: Did you happen to make any coffee?
Natalie, giggling: Yes...I did, as a matter of fact. There should be enough left for two or three cups.
Terminus: Cool. Did you want any, Nat?
Natalie: Sure, I'll take another cup. Did you want any, Simon?
Simon, in an ice-cold tone of voice: I'm fine...
Terminus, arching an eyebrow at Retter: You sure? It's quite good....
Simon: I said I'm fine, Andrews!
Natalie lowers her head to the floor and turns her head so that Retter can't view the smile that's flickering across her lips at how out of sorts he appears to be at the moment. For his part, Evan's expression remains impassive as he watches Simon fidget in his chair and simply shrugs his shoulders and goes about the business of pouring the contents of the pot into two cups.
Simon: Well, now that we have that important issue out of the way, maybe we can discuss-
Terminus,. calling from the kitchen: You just take it black, right, Nat?
Simon: Oh, for the love of-
Natalie, as her smile grows wider: Yes, please.
Terminus: Ok, have a seat, then. I'll be right over.
Natalie nods her head and plops down onto the other sofa in the room and then watches her husband stroll out of the kitchen, and place the cups of coffee on the table before them as he takes a seat beside her.
Terminus, leveling an even gaze at Simon: So...
Simon: Are you done yet? Can we proceed?
Terminus: Yes, of course.
Simon, in a voice that drips with sarcasm: Why thank you. Now...
Natalie watches Simon produce two manila envelopes from his coat pocket and then slide one of them across table toward her before handing the other to her husband.
Simon: ...I took the liberty of designating this week's targets, and of outlining in some detail the steps that I wish you to take to ensure that these people understand just how grievous an error it might be should they refuse the generous offer that I'm about to extend to them.
Natalie's examines the contents of her envelope and feels her eyes go saucer wide once more as she notes some of the individuals depicted in the photos that are contained within this packet.
Natalie: Simon, with all due respect, are you certain that this is the proper strategy to employ?
Natalie feels the blood in her veins begin to boil as she listens to Simon respond with a condescending chuckle and a shake of the head.
Simon: Rest assured, Natalie, I have given an immense about of thought to this particular matter, and have come to the conclusion that the tactics that I wish you to use are the most logical-nay, the only-actions that can be taken to ensure that my goal...our goals are achieved.
Natalie, sounding unconvinced: But, some of these people are extremely influential, and have considerable resources at their disposal. More to the point, some of these people haven't done anything to deserve the fate that you appear to have in store for them...Not to us, anyway.
Simon: Natalie, you know very well that a snake is still a snake, regardless of whether it bites you personally or not. Now, I'm only to going to explain this once to you, all of these individuals are extremely dangerous, and it is for the best if their influenced is either nullified, or that the very least directed in a more constructive fashion as soon as possible.
Do you follow what I'm saying, Natalie. Or shall I use less complicated terms to explain myself?
Natalie, as she glares at Retter: No, I understand very well what you're trying to say, Simon.
Simon: Excellent: Now then, as for you, Evan...
Any message that Retter wished to convey to her husband vanishes as the other masked man in the room stares at her husband and then lets out a loud sigh of exasperation. Natalie turns her head to find out what caused this reaction and blinks her eyes at the expression that she sees on Evan's face.
Evan's eyes appear distant and dreamy at the moment and the envelope before him remains unopened. Yet Natalie knows him well enough to note that there is something else contained within his eyes...
Those eyes contain nothing less than the most acute focus that a person could possibly have, and the serenity that comes from knowing that he is completely in control of himself and of this situation.
It's an expression that she hasn't seen on her spouses face in a while, and she must say, it certainly is a welcome sight to behold.
Simon: You haven't opened your envelope, Andrews. Have you been listening to a single word that I said!?
Terminus, smiling slightly: Yes, I have.
Simon: So, what are your thoughts on the matter?
Terminus, as the smile grows just a little bit wider: I haven't really given the matter much thought, to be honest. Nor do I intend to do so...At least until such time as I complete my own Hunt.
Simon, shaking his head and growling: Oh yes. That's right...How could I possibly have forgotten your desire to cleanse the PWA of those individuals who were responsible for your extended leave of absence?
Look, Evan...I know that this matter of importance to you, and I can promise that I'll do everything that I can to assist you in this matter at a later date. But, right now...
Terminus: Actually, I wasn't referring to that matter at all, Simon. Instead, i was referring to a much different type of hunt, against an opponent that appears to be much more honorable than that particular set of vermin...
And quite possibly a bit more dangerous as a result.
Simon: I see. What target are you referring to, then?
Terminus: I'm referring to the man who I shall be facing inside the ring at Conflict 5 this Wednesday, Retter. I'm referring to the man who goes by the name of Slade.
Simon: Oh, I haven't time to discuss this, Evan. We have better things to discuss than an insignificant match that you're going to have with an aging, personality-challenged powerhouse!
Natalie, nodding her head : Evan, as much as I hate to agree with Simon about this matter...Or any matter, really...I must confess that I'm a bit surprised that you would think so highly of this particular opponent.
After all, from all that I've heard about him, his lumbering, predictable offense doesn't present that much of a threat to you at all. In fact, from what I can see, the real threat that he presents is the possibility of boring any of his opponents to death with that incessant series of threats that spews from his mouth on an almost continuous basis.
And, it's not even like these threats are particularly evocative, Evan. They're more like the standard-issue fare that are used by any number of generic would-be badasses!
Natalie listens to Evan chuckle at the comment for a moment, before his smile fades as he stares intently at the other two individuals in the room.
Terminus: I think that you might well have been better served to focus less upon the words that Slade might have said throughout the course of his latest appearance, and to concentrate more upon the tone of voice that he used to deliver this message.
I, too, didn't really take much interest in any of the promises that he made to shed copious amounts of my blood or to make me beg for mercy in order to escape any further abuse, because I couldn't even begin to tell you how many of my opponents have threatened to the same thing to me, and I've lost count of how many of them have failed to make good on these threats.
But, I have to admit, the way there was something contained within the sound of his voice that caught my attention, and made me consider the possiblity that Slade might indeed be somewhat different from simillar individuals that I have faced throughout my career.
Well, what were you able to detect in the sound of his voice that I might have missed, Evan? Because the only thing that I heard when I listened to him speak was tht of arrogance and pride when he began to drone on at considerable length about his accomplishments and the fact that he managed to overcome some tough times in his life.
Terminus, shrugging: well, I think that he's within his rights to feel proud about what he's accomplished, Natalie.
Natalie: and you would be within your rights to feel proud about the fact that you've accomplished just as much as he has in your career. You've also won a World Heavyweight Championship on two separate occasion and been the standard-bearer for the federation that you call your home. And, you've also proved yourself to be capable of dealing with the type of adversity that would cause most battle-hardened veterans to defecate in their pants!
It's not like Slade is the only person on the planet who has been required to deal with desperate times, Evan. You've had your share of them as well!
Terminus: That's very true, my dear...I have an acute understanding of what it feels like to be desperate. And that's why my attention was captured when I heard that emotion creep into the voice of my opponent as he talked about the places he was willing to go in order to regain a measure of the glory he once had.
That's why I feel some measure of respect for the man...Because, for all of his bravado and arrogance, Slade realizes that he's still an aging lion who is going to have to rely upon something more than his physical prowess if he wishes to keep pace with younger and sleeker creatures that exist within this realm. He seems to understand that he's going to have to force himself to enter places which are so dark that they are capable of consuming one's very soul in order to have any chance at survival, and he's desperate enough to take that risk.
That's why my attention is going to be focused upon this hunt, and this hunt alone until such time as it's been completed..Because as far as I'm concerned, it's of critical importance to hunt down this aging, desperate lion and to make certain that I capture victory at his expense.
Natalie watches the look of passionate intensity that has appeared in the eyes of her lover, and nods her head as she begins to understand why Evan feels so strongly about the need to focus his attention entirely upon this match. However, Simon doesn't seem to be nearly as convinced, and responds to Evan's statement with a dismissive shake of the head.
Simon: That's all well and good, Andrews, but a victory over an aged and toothless lion, no matter how desperate, really doesn't do very much to advance the cause of the Hunt that is of concern to me, does it? It really doesn't prove anything.
Natalie watches Evan smile slightly as he takes a sip of his coffee and then leans forward so that he can level an unblinking stare in Simon's direction.
Terminus: I beg to differ. As far as I'm concerned, a victory over Slade proves quite a bit.
It will prove that I'm capable of returning to the dark places that Slade spoke of in his previous adress...Places that provided me with the strength needed to inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon any adversaries like my best friend when I found myself in a positon wher I was required to hang him in the air by his neck.
It will prove that I am capable of doing so without having to rely upon animalistic behavior...that I can remain in such a place while retaining the sense of cool and focus that made me such a capable hunter in the first place.
It also shall prove that I'm still capable of withstanding the "legendary onslaught of a desperate predator and return it in kind by issuing a beating of mythological proportions until such time as Slade's body can no longer obey his brain's command to keep fighting and is forced to slump lifelessly to the mat.
And it proves that I'm still capable of being the hunter that you want me to be, Simon...that I want to be in the weeks to come.
Because if I'm capable of hunting down and defeating a lion, no matter how aged, then the task of rat-catching and snake charming doesn't seem nearly as daunting...
Wouldn't you agree?
Natalie stares in the direction of Retter and watches him consider these words in silence for a moment before finally responding with a short, bitter chuckle.
Terminus, as his smile grows just a little bit wider: Excellent. So, with that in mind, I'm certain that you'll now understand why I wasn't in any position to devote my attention to the initial topic of discussion, and really won't be able to do so until such time as this matter is addressed...
Of course, I'm certain that Natalie will certainly be willing to act on my behalf in the interim, and I am happy to state is more than capable of completing any task that you wish to assign to her.
Isn't that right, my dear?
Natalie gives Simon a dazzling, if totally insincere smile as she nods her head.
Natalie: Absolutely, Simon. I'll be pleased to dicuss this matter with you at any later time...
Simon, after a momentary pause: I was actually under the impression that this was what I was here to talk about...
Natalie: Yes, well I'm sorry that you came all the way out here for nothing, but now that I realize just important this week's match is to my husband, I now feel obligated to do everything I possibly can to help prepare him for this encounter.
Terminus: Any help would be appreciated...
Natalie: Perhaps it would be best if we discussed this matter at a later time, Mister Retter.
Natalie watches Retter regard the couple in stony silence for a long moment before the former Board of Director lets out a disgusted sigh as he stands up and makes his way to the door.
Simon, sounding not the least bit impressed: I see...Rest assured, I shall be back to discuss this matter with the two of you. And I will make absolutley certain that it occurs at a point when you're not so...preoccupied.
With that, Retter storms through the exit of their apartment and slams the door behind him without saying another word, and Natalie is left alone in the living room with the exact same man that she fell in love with on a night like this two years earlier.
Terminus: Well, I think that conversation went rather well, actually. So...now that we have the rest of the night to spend together, what do you think we should do?
Natalie doesn't respond verbally. Instead she simply bursts into eleated laughter as she leaps into his arms, kisses him passionately, and prepares to relive an extremely pleasant memory that occurred on a night like this some two years earlier.
She simply can't wait for that to occur...
And she just can't wait for her husband to go about the business of hunting down his prey and capturing victory...
In fashion that's impressive as it was when he captured her heart.