Title: In Spite of what’s Best for Business
Author name: TheSkyeSkye
Word Count: 3,600+
Genre: Drama, Romance
Characters: Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, mentions of Kane and Triple H.
Pairing: Daniel Bryan/Randy Orton, mentions of past Daniel Bryan/Kane
Summary: A continuation of The Weakest Link.Notes: I know when I posted The Weakest Link I said that it was probably going to be the last fic I wrote for this fandom but after everyone’s kind words and encouragement, not to mention all the inspiration I’ve been getting from the show, this sort of just came to me. I’m a little surprised at myself for how much I’ve been getting into this pairing. Not as surprised as I am that more people don’t ship it I mean seriously guys where have you been are we even watching the same show? Haha. Anyway. I don’t want to get your hopes up for more, but you never know. I’ve been getting more ideas lately and it’s been tempting to keep writing.
As usual there was some music involved in the inspiration of this story. Namely what I’ve decided is my song for this ship. Every time I hear In Spite of by Saybia I think of these two, specifically from Daniel’s point of view. Also, the song that Randy mentions in this, I imagined being Eyes Wide Open by Gotye but you are welcome to imagine your own song. Anywho. I hope you enjoy this brief continuation of The Weakest Link.
Daniels eyes flicked across the featureless hotel room. It looked just like any other hotel room, really. He'd lost count of how many hotels he'd stayed in over the years but he could guess that the number was in the thousands by now. He'd come a long way, really, from sleeping on gym floors or in his car on the rare occasion he needed to, to this. To comfort and warmth every night, even though the comfort and warmth was plainly colored and completely impersonal. Now he could sleep in a king size bed and watch HBO instead of searching for a radio station through the crackling speakers of his car. He could order room service instead of attempt to live off dollar menus and out of vending machines. He had a smart phone and a nice enough car these days that he wasn't holding them together with spit, duct tap, and a little extra hope. Hell... He didn't have much to complain about when it really came down to it.
Save for one thing.
There was one thing in Daniel's life that deserved some level of complaint. That thing had stolen his dream that he'd worked so hard for right out from under him and sent him home with injuries and abuse evident on his form that he didn't deserve. That thing then had the audacity to crawl into bed with him and kiss the places that ached on Daniel's body. It wasn't fair. How could one thing be so drastically two sided and confusing. Furthermore, how was it that he could still manage to want that thing so much after all that thing had done to him, all the pain it had caused him?
That thing was his... What were they now? Had they ever been anything other than physical comfort for each other to begin with? Daniel had thought so at one point but now he was having second thoughts. As he sat down on the end of his bed, wearing sweats and smelling like the ring and a mix of different musky colognes (Ambrose, Rollins, Reigns, Randy--) he silently wished Kane was here. Kane had been so steady and genuine and he'd taken that for granted. Despite the fact that everyone Daniel chose was completely unbalanced, Kane had been, by far, the one who cared the most. He'd loved Daniel. Daniel couldn't say the same for Randy.
The worst part about this was that he'd been warned by Randy himself. The night Daniel had chosen Randy, the viper had slithered up to his ear and whispered that he would never love him, and he was a predator first and foremost. Daniel couldn't really be angry at Randy because he chose to go into this relationship knowing full well what could happen. Daniel knew that Randy had the case. He knew from the moment this started that there was a pretty solid chance that Randy would cash in on him at some point when he was at his weakest after he won the belt (because there was never a doubt in his mind he'd win it from Cena). He was prepared for that.
He'd just hoped that Randy would have given him more than a few moments to appreciate the weight of the belt and the high of the win before crushing him. He'd hoped that there was some part of Randy that was good enough to pause and let Daniel have his moment to shine, because he'd seen good in Randy. He knew it was there. But it didn't matter if he'd seen it, because Randy didn't want to acknowledge his own moral compass. Had he ever, really? Daniel had thought so many things, hoped for so many things, wanted them to be right but...
They were all wrong.
That's what he got for trying to believe the best about Randy Orton. Trust a snake and you're likely to be bitten. He'd been so willing to take that risk and jump in with everything he was. He'd spread his legs before he'd ever truly thought about the consequences. Making that physical connection with Randy now felt like a mistake, and Daniel didn't like having regrets. Regrets made his stomach twist and made him feel sick, he couldn't stand regrets at all-- Though the first time he and Randy... The first time they slept together it was after Randy gave him a lift home from the hospital.
It had been a moment of weakness and relief. Daniel had been so sure he had seriously injured himself, he watched his career flash before his eyes, and Randy picked him up, whispered into his hair words of comfort and embraced him because they'd been so close once... so close to the precipice of connection but there had always been Kane there to hold them back, keep them from making that final leap into one another. Randy had walked him up the ramp and to the back and said to him as the doctors looked him over that he would make it through this. Randy had given Daniel hope.
In that moment all the things that had, up to that point, seemed to matter had melted away in favor of one man understanding the fear of another. And then when Daniel had been medically cleared, Randy came to get him, saw him back to his hotel room just like he had seen him into the trainer's table, and it just happened. They stepped inside the room and the chemistry was electric, the musk of Randy had drawn Daniel in and...
It happened on the floor just inside the hotel doorway (Daniel had carpet burn on his elbows for weeks) and then again in the bed (the sheets were torn from the bed in the heat of it all), and then one more time in the shower (that time there had been a slowness and passion that Daniel could still feel in his pelvis even now). It happened.
When they'd first kissed Randy's mouth had tasted of scope and that kiss had borne the burn of alcohol. At the time Daniel hadn't thought anything of it but now that he looked back, that burning sensation seemed somehow appropriate for everything this thing, whatever it was that they were, was. Whatever it had become. Randy was the one burning him now. And it wasn't just Randy, of course not, there was the added bonus of Hunter.
Daniel stripped off his shirt and tossed it aside as he got up from the bed again. He toed off his shoes on the way to the bathroom for a more private shower. He hadn't been showering off at the arena on the off chance someone (meaning Ambrose and his boy band posse) might jump him when he was completely exposed. It wouldn't have been the first time something like that happened.
Daniel could think back to a time when the Shield had gone after Brad Maddox, isolated and away from everyone, totally vulnerable. The thought made his skin crawl. No, he was safer in his hotel room. He turned on the shower spray and stripped out of the last of his clothes. With his phone set on the bathroom sink, playing one of his many Pandora stations, he stepped into the shower. The hot spray was waiting for him, scalding comfort bringing back memories of boiling hot showers with Kane and the gentleness of the other man's hands as they'd cleaned his body. Why had he ever given that up for this?
Maybe, Daniel thought, I'm a masochist and I just can't enjoy functioning relationships. Maybe I like being mistreated.
Daniel closed his eyes and listened for the lyrics of a not-so-familiar song in the distance. He needed these moments of meditation otherwise he might lose himself to this job and all its pressures.
He let himself slide into deep thought as the water washed over him for what felt like years but also like seconds. Time was at a standstill in that shower, the world could have ended and began again in that period and Daniel would not have noticed. He just let himself breathe in the steam and think. It was harder to breathe in the choking humidity but he didn't mind the way it made him dizzy.
In his deep, meditative state, he got so lost that he didn't notice when his music changed from one song to the next and then the next and-- or when the bathroom door swung open and let a cool draft in from the other part of the hotel room.
"I like this one," came a familiar baritone, "reminds me of..."
Daniel's eyes snapped open and he reached out quickly, fumbling for the tap to turn off the shower. When the spray stopped, everything felt too quiet, even though the soft rhythm continued. He reached out and pushed the curtain back enough to see through the fog of the room that there, in a t-shirt and sweats, bare feet resting on the cool, slick tile floor, was Randy Orton, back to him, hovering over his cell phone. Randy's fists were curled, knuckles pressed against the counter top, and he was leaning forward. His body was a mixture of tension and familiarity. Randy was comfortable enough to leave his back exposed to Daniel and Daniel realized that these days, there was no way he'd do the same.
"Reminds you of what?" Daniel asked, grabbing a towel off the sink counter as he stepped out of the shower. He looped it around his waist and pushed his hair back out of his face; it was slick against his head and neck. They were standing close. Too close for Daniel's liking, and yet he was the one who had stepped up to Randy like this. His inner conflict about Randy reared its ugly head and gnashed its fangs at him while he maintained a cool calm expression.
"Us," Randy clarified with an air of finality. Daniel's stomach twisted up in knots and he knew that was ridiculous. The idea of them breaking things off was both appealing and terrifying. He wished he could just let it go and end it but... It wasn't what Daniel wanted. Then again, what did he want? Beyond another shot at the title, he really didn't know. He'd never been good at thinking this far ahead. He just saw the short term goals. He reached for them and pushed forward, not wondering where he'd jump after he accomplished them. His personal life was constantly in a state of disarray because wrestling ate up every bit of him. No wonder he could only ever keep up relationships with other wrestlers. If you could call this keeping up.
"Whose fault is that?" Daniel's verbal blow made Randy physically shrink somehow. There was displeasure there, and Randy had been, up to this point, completely unable to admit that he was having doubts about this whole situation. It was easy when they were at work, when Hunter was right there whispering in his ear, but here, in the privacy of Daniel's hotel room, things were different. There was no crowd reaction or strong hand on his shoulder. Daniel could see the doubt in the wrinkle of Randy's lips and the narrowing of his sharp blue eyes.
"I'm just trying to do the best I can for my career," they'd had this argument already, more than once, "you'd do the same thing in my position. You know you would. Someone offers you a chance in this business you take it."
Daniel grabbed at Randy's arm and pulled him away from the sink, spinning him so they could look one another in the eye. He gazed up in defiance at Randy who had been so much to him of late, and shook his head. How had they come to this?
"No. You see, I wouldn't have yanked your first opportunity at a title reign out from under you. I'm not like you. I couldn't do that to someone I care about," Daniel growled back, prodding Randy's chest with one finger. Randy turned his head down at the offending finger, then glanced up at Daniel with just his piercing eyes. He might have had the sense to be intimidated if he wasn't so sure that anything Randy did at this point to him couldn't possibly hurt as much as this already did.
Randy pushed Daniel's hand away with a slow, singeing tenderness that made Daniel tense up all over. How dare he still be able to touch with such softness when they were this angry at one another. It wasn't fair and it made Daniel want to back down. He wouldn't, though. Not now.
"I told you when we started I'd probably never love you. Don't just forget that. I'm not like you, Daniel," Randy's growled words that echoed Daniel's own in a way that was meant to be mocking, but really felt desperate meant very little to Daniel in that moment; they were just a diversion from the real issue between them.
"I never asked you to love me. I'm just asking you to stop ramming your nose up Hunter's ass and to return to fucking me, exclusively in the bedroom," Daniel challenged, watching Randy back up a step and turn his head away in that serpentine fashion it often moved. He was fluid motion and Daniel couldn't turn off his appreciation for it. He missed moving with those rolling waves. He missed the way Randy could hold him in place, physically and emotionally. This disconnect brought on by professional issues was killing him. It was ruining the fact that there was a synergy here that they both felt; it was so palpable they could touch, taste, and smell it.
Their relationship was limping along and-- God, Randy looked so hurt. So livid. He wished there was some way he could go back in time and stop himself from ever making this mistake. Randy Orton was not allowed to look hurt because it made Daniel feel like the bad guy here when he knew, in his head, that he wasn't. His heart just didn't want to get with the program. He wished he hated Randy. He wished for that harder than anything he'd ever wished for in his life. Harder than he wished for his title reign he wished that he could rip out this cancerous affection for a man who--
"I'm not brown nosing. I'm doing my damn job and he's protecting me! I'm not going to tell him no. I got bills to pay, same as you, and I'm also not gonna turn my nose up to job security," Randy was trying to put a reasonable spin on it and Daniel outright laughed. It was a dry and bitter sort of laugh, high pitched and breathy, like Daniel could barely stomach letting the sound out.
"Job security? Doesn't this all seem a little too familiar? This is the same man that, at the beginning of your career, lifted you up for about two seconds when you had the title, only to dump you on your head and screw you over! He attacked you in your own home, Randy! You really wanna trust Hunter? Over me? Taking the title is one thing but snatching it with the help of a guy who would gladly knife you in the back if it benefited him when you knew how much this meant to me-- That's what's pissing me off," Daniel was breathing a little heavy and Randy seemed at a loss for words. He was a man of few to begin with, but there was no good answer for this situation at all. It was as if Randy was trying to say forget continuity, forget reality, fuck all of it-- And there was Daniel, staring him down, heartbroken.
"Sunday night, you can try and take it back," Randy said finally, softly, wearily, deflating, his shoulders going slack. Daniel hated that his only impulse in this moment was to cross the distance between them and pull Randy to his chest. He wanted to comfort the man who was causing him so much distress.
"Hunter's sitting in your corner. He's gonna try and screw me. And you're gonna play right along with him. Let's not even pretend I'm getting a fair shot on Sunday. Even though the odds are against me, say I do win... Then what?" Daniel tried to catch Randy's eyes as they darted away from his own.
"Then we keep going. It's business," Randy was whisper quiet with his answer and Pandora had stopped to put up the "Are you still listening?" prompt on Daniel's phone. Too quiet-- It was stony silent between them and Daniel quietly fumed. This wasn't just business. This had become so personal that it wasn't even remotely business anymore. The fact that Randy was trying to make it impersonal only frustrated Daniel further. Who was Randy trying to kid? Hunter could yammer on for an eternity but the truth of the matter was, no one gave a damn about best for business. This was all about personal goals and gain and Daniel was getting the bitter end of it.
And Randy dared use the word business to him--
Daniel didn't realize he was moving on Randy until he had the bigger man's shirt fisted in his hands. He shoved him out the bathroom door and into the wall, losing his towel in the process, though he hardly gave a damn about his physical exposure. The hotel room was glowing with the low lamp light from the bedside fixtures and Randy's face was half cast in shadow but Daniel caught the sneer none the less.
"Get. Off. Me."
Daniel pulled him away from the wall just enough to shove him against it again, his own teeth clenched so tight he could practically feel them bend under the pressure. Or maybe he was imagining that part, it was hard to say.
"Make me, pretty boy."
They were fighting. Suddenly it was all shoving and slamming and they lost footing and Daniel was sure Randy's lip was busted because when he got the upper hand and rolled on top of him their mouths bumped together and he got a metallic tang across his lips. It was a tussle that started and was over so quickly that Daniel was wondering if maybe he imagined it, too.
They were breathing heavy and Daniel's forehead rested against the carpet beside Randy's neck.They'd needed the brief bout of roughness to bring them back to even ground again. Their footing had been so craggy that a brief row was putting them closer to rights again. Things were hardly settled but...
"I'm gonna... assume you'll fight harder than that... on Sunday," Randy muttered between heavy pant, attempting to catch his breath. His chest heaved and lifted Daniel's body just a bit with each inhale. Daniel laughed again, this time genuinely. He was laughing at this whole situation. He was mad at Randy and they were fighting and here he was, being teased in a way that said they weren't really fighting while laying on top of (fully clothed) Randy, completely naked.
This was ridiculous.
Maybe he really was the problem here, he felt, momentarily, like a completely nut job. But then Randy's hand was at the small of his back, sweeping up the curvature of his spine and Daniel wondered if this was going to be their normal. They were so different, and then, in some ways, so complimentary. The one thing they had completely in common, was drive to be at the top. Maybe in his own way, because he'd been knocked down so many times himself, Randy deserved a little forgiveness. Then again, since he'd been in Daniel's shoes, perhaps he should have been more understanding. There were two sides to every story and Daniel hated how introspective he was.
Damn you, empathy, he thought to himself. He arched into that touch as it roved back down again, the simple companionship of it soothed away the frayed threads of frustration for a few moments. Randy had the belt now, but Daniel did have Randy. Whether Randy wanted to admit that or not, it was the truth. Randy was here after all, wasn't he? He'd gone to the trouble of snaking Daniel's extra room key out of his duffel and come up here. His intentions hadn't been too malicious, obviously, so maybe...
"I don't want to end this thing... Maybe that makes me sick or something... Maybe I'm just too stubborn to quit," Daniel muttered quietly into Randy's shoulder as he basked in the feel of that single, firm hand smoothing up and down the broad expanse of his back.
"Huh," Randy seemed surprised, just mildly so, but still surprised.
"Well I came up here because I figured you were gonna break things off. I wanted to beat you to it," Randy replied. Daniel wasn't sure if he was trying to be funny or honest. Either way he laughed.
"God, you need to get over yourself man. You can't win at break ups," Daniel lifted his head and looked down at Randy who, in recent months, had been growing a beard of his own. Daniel couldn't help but think that maybe he had something to do with that. Or maybe that was just his ego talking.They both had a bit of an ego problem, that much was obvious.
"Oh, you absolutely can win at break ups, and if we ever do, I will win," Randy was definitely joking now, there was a quirk of a smile playing at his lips and Daniel quietly wished these moments came more often. These days it seemed they were living between these tiny fragments of what kind of couple they could be but weren't.