The aftermath of the main event of episode 10. Prince Puma successfully defended his title against Fenix, but what happened after, nobody saw coming.
He was running. Ran as fast as he could from the locker room, through the crowds of now booing fans, dodging puddles of what he hoped was spilled beer and soda, ignoring the odd fan who noticed him and tried to get a high five.
It- it was too late. Cage was slipping from the ring and the announcers were on there feet, signaling for the refs to both track down the interloper and get the medics. Things they were already on their ways to doing.
Johnny'd been watching on the fritzy tube television they kept in the cantina, right through the locker room, and hadn't believed his eyes when that machine of a man had jumped into the ring after Fenix's flight outta there. Mostly because the TV sometimes shorted, went all fuzzy, showed double images, made a weird grainy noise, then went back to its normal Lo-fi display.
But when Cage hit Puma- Prince Puma in the back of the head, Johnny Mundo had jumped out of his plastic chair, dropped his juice box, and bolted past three other Luchadores. Launching himself over the locker benches before smashing his way through the door. He wasn't gonna let this happen. Not on his watch.
His watch. He should've been watching. He knew Cueto was a two timing snake who'd let and encourage anything and everything dirty and brutal happen in the name of violence, but he hadn't expected- hadn't thought to expect something like this.
He should have been sitting near the ring. Instead...
He heard the Power Bombs, could feel them through the floor, before he was anywhere near the ring. His gut sank with every stride.
Once. Twice. No, not- thrice.
After that match he'd just watched Puma fight, those had to be world rocking. Concussion, concussion, concussed.
He skidded to a stop, heart not even in his chest, and saw Cage exiting through a door on the opposite end of the temple. Darn thug could be in a car peeling out of there by the time Johnny caught up to him.
Then his eyes swept the ring and got caught on the blank, glassy pair which weren't returning his panicked stare.
Was he? No.
Johnny Mundo vaulted two refs, right on over the top rope, and landed within arms reach of the World Champion. He heard, in one corner of his mind, Vampiro and Striker yelling at the refs and the audience, speculating that, "Maybe Mundo wasn't over his and Prince Puma's feud after all!"
He skidded to his knees and shivered at the sight.
Puma hadn't reacted at all to the mat jarring at the weight of someone new entering the ring, and -Johnny studied him desperately for a moment- he wasn't breathing.
Movement, small as it was, caught Johnny's attention out the corner of his eye. Puma's hand was scrabbling against the mat, his leg was trembling, and -Johnny flashed his eyes to the mask known around the world- yes; Puma's mouth was making like a fish out of water!
Johnny Mundo huffed in relief. Prince Puma wasn't... He'd had the wind knocked out of him.
Now that he looked the champ over again: his entire body was taught like a primed bow string, the muscles caught up in a battle against paralysis, pain, and the need for oxygen.
"Puma." No reaction. "It's alright, relax. Cage is gone," he heard the commotion of bodies clambering up the steps and through the ropes, "the medics are here, and you're still champ."
At the last word he saw Prince Puma's eyes snap into focus, and for a half second he hoped they'd meet his, then Puma's entire body went limp and those expressive orbs of his closed with a sickening finality.
"Puma!" Johnny put a hand to the other luchador's chest... then was tackled to the mat by no fewer than three zealous referees.
"And the refs are handling things ringside!
"Vamp, what do you think Johnny Mundo was gonna do there?"
"I don't know, Matt, but I gotta tell you: If he's tryin' to garner sympathy with that affected devastation on his face, it's completely lost on me, brother."
"Well, maybe we'll have the opportunity to ask him once the dog pile realizes he's not trying to get up."
"Heh. Don't count on gettin' the truth outta Mundo. He's always playin' at something when there's a camera around."
"Haven't those been turned off?"
"... Shut up, Matt."
As little as he liked nearly six-hundred pounds of aggressive, black and white striped non-combatants attempting to make him into a Mundo pancake, Striker was correct; he wasn't trying to get out from under them.
He was, in fact, content in his predicament. He'd felt Puma's chest move, and though there was no hope of hearing it over the refs yelling at him to, "Stay down!", he was sure the champ was catching his breath at last.
By that point he was hoping to catch his own breath sometime soon.
"Let him up. If he'd wanted to end Puma's world, he would have." Said with both cynicism and hope by a voice which commanded attention. Everyone became aware of Prince Puma's trainer standing by the side of the ring, leaning on his cane and scrutinizing the scramble taking place up around his eye level. It must have looked like a free for all.
The three officiators took a moment to stop yelling, then they all found their feet in a virtually synchronized move and stepped to the ropes. Hoping to give the medics more room, and to put some distance between themselves and a disgruntled Mundo. They'd mussed his hair, after all.
Johnny took the new found freedom well, not jumping to his feet and causing more hysteria, but instead staring Konnan down as long as his worry would allow. What reason had Prince Puma's trainer to vouch for him? Konnan's face wasn't giving anything away. Unless you count the healthy heaping of disdain, but that was pretty standard fair from the veteran by this point. So... attention back to Puma!
One medic was shining a penlight into a manually opened Puma eye, another was taking pulse from two different pulse points, and the third was glancing over Johnny to make sure his reason for not standing wasn't injury related, presumably anyway, while working open a neck brace and cracking an ice pack in seemingly one movement. Talk about feats of dexterity.
"You see anything indicative of serious injury when you got here?" The medic's voice was both rougher and higher pitched than one might expect, and it was directed at Johnny, of all people.
"Fighters know the difference between a boo boo and an injury. Talk." The words bit out while handing off the neck brace to the medic with the penlight and setting the ice pack down in order to crack two more, over a knee this time. "Besides, you were first on the scene."
"Uh," no one had ever asked him questions like those before.
"Better answer quick, man. We're outta here in t-minus one and Clara, Federico, and I don't like hold ups." Said by the one pulling a definitely not folding chair shaped stretcher onto the mat.
"Right. Um, eyes open, unresponsive, and the wind was knocked out of him. Nothing looked broken though."
"Yeah, well, spines are tricky. So are concussions, so we're moving this poor bastar- fighter ASAP." Johnny wondered to who's benefit the one he figured was Clara had censored that descriptor. Maybe figured folks like him -read; fighters- must not have known their fathers and might just be sensitive about it. Go figure.
"Gabby, we on?"
"Like ugly on an ape. Let's motor." Penlight long stashed, Federico had applied the neck brace and helped Gabby strap the unconscious Puma to the plastic gurney, careful to allow Clara room for the ice packs. "Just don't clothesline yourself on the ropes again. We really don't wanna fumble this one."
"That was once and over a year ago! Give it a rest," growled by an unimpressed Clara, slithering a careful way to solid ground.
"Uh-huh. Don't forget that time-"
"Different sport, Gabby. Doesn't count."
Johnny tried his best to ignore the frankly out of place banter and instead took note of the staunch professionalism exuded by every part of the team. Aside from their mouths. It looked almost choreographed, not unlike a Lucha match in its dance like pacing.
He was glad to be paying such attention to them. Because he had been, he was first to figure out where that strange noise was coming from.
"Wait!" Johnny recognized it as the sound of fingernails against plastic, and it was coming from, "Puma's coming around!"
Because they'd only been pulling up the bottom rope and beginning to maneuver the plastic stretcher for sliding off and out of the ring, they stopped and pulled the penlight back out.
"Sir? Sir, can you hear me?" As soon as Puma's eyes opened, the little penlight was clicked on and shone in one, then the other, making tears form at their corners.
"Sir, can you hear me?" Federico's patient blinked, but made no attempt to speak. "Sir, how many fingers am I holding up?" More blinking, but still no response forthcoming. He switched off and stored the generally trusty and almost never a stupid piece of shi- penlight, and tried again. Making doubly sure to be in the recumbent fighter's easy line of sight.
"Sir, please tell me, how many fingers am I holding up?" Still nothing, and now the Luchador seemed to be realizing he was strapped down. Not always the best way to wake up.
"Clara, he's giving me nothing. Let's get him to the paddy wagon."
"Right," then, in an under the breath huff, "like we were just doing."
"We're gonna have to run an IV then. After that bout he's gotta be dehydrated." The other two nodded in agreement. Probably fluids were Gabby's specialty.
Just as the EMTs were pulling up the bottom rope again, Johnny caught a glimpse of Prince Puma's eyes. There was a flash of recognition there when Puma's line of sight was cleared and he saw Johnny for the first time that evening.
"Wait, wait, wait, guys." The medics paused, still primed to hustle it on outta there, but listening all the same. "Puma doesn't talk..." Was 'much' the right word? Trailing off was probably more accurate.
"He's right." Konnan was suddenly beside Clara, leaning on his cane right next to the ring, near Puma's head. "My fighter talks to nobody, 'cause he doesn't need words to strike fear into his opponents. He's that good." He leered over the top of his glasses at every person in turn, then left their company to handle the situation themselves.
Maybe he had business to attend to elsewhere?
"Let me," Johnny started, pointing between Federico and the strapped down champ.
"Hey, you have 10 seconds, then we're outta here."
Mundo nodded and took the EMTs place, situating himself so he blocked the harsh overhead lighting from Puma's face. Then he took a deep breath. "Puma, if you can hear me, blink once." He blinked. "Alright, blink how many fingers I'm holding up?" Three blinks for three fingers. Well, one was a thumb but he'd let that slide. Trick question after all.
"Once for yes, twice for no: Does anything feel broken?" A pause wherein Puma seemed to consciously pull against the restraints, especially those pinning his arms, then he huffed and gave two blinks.
Johnny all but smiled, then looked up at the medics, all on standby.
"Yeah, we saw that," said Clara, with a scowl.
"Let's just get him backstage then. We can give him first aid and a thorough once, twice over there just fine. Do it enough around here already," Gabby threw in, grumbling the last sentence practically to herself.
"That's how he answered me the first time. I don't know how I missed it," Federico lamented his inadequacy with a sigh. "Good thing you and the coach were here. That would have been an awkward hospital run..."
Puma tensed up, looking like he wanted to shake his head. Then his hands started scrabbling with sloppy coordination, attempting to find the releases on the sides of the gurney.
"I don't think he wants a hospital visit." Johnny chipped in.
"Well he'll get one if he doesn't lay still while we get him backstage. You hear me, Luchador?" Clara got a one blink for that. Satisfied, they all three got him off stage, around a corner, down a fanatical crowd wreathed corridor, and backstage to an area Johnny wasn't all that familiar with.
"Vamp, I don't think I've ever seen medics take that long to get someone off stage."
"Yeah, it's been a while since I've seen another fighter follow them off too. Ulterior motive or no, Mundo doesn't seem to have it out for the champ tonight."
"And the cameras aren't even on!"
"... I hate you, man."
While the announcers went back and forth, helping keep the crowds of faithful in the loop, the EMT team was in an entirely different part of the temple, attempting to lay out the stretcher. Which was proving a bit difficult, considering they wanted somewhere level and clean. They settled on a convenient practice mat, hoping against hope that the smell of alcohol was clinging to it because it'd just been cleaned.
"Okay, Puma, we're going to undo the restraints. We need you to not move though, not even your arms, until we've cleared all threat of spinal injury. Understand?" Puma gave Federico a one blink and glanced around the room, seeming to check for potential threats. Or maybe ice cream machines, though that was less likely.
While the EMTs undid the restraints, Johnny took a seat on a stool, which he made look two sizes too small, situated between them and the door. Trying his best to look non threatening, he stayed quiet and watched them poking and prodding the champ in a manner which closely resembled a game of 'Operation!'. Main differences being: that this was no game, and if you hit a buzzer, you'd have a visit to a real life hospital on your hands.
"You feel that? Good."
"Does me doing this make you wanna scream. No? How 'bout this?"
"Ay, Clara! Stick to the official patter!"
"What? He gets it. Am I right, Fighter?" The question thrown over a shoulder, aimed at Johnny.
"Uh... The name's Mundo," he said, trying to sound arrogant, but missing the mark by at least ten feet.
"Heh, you hear that, Puma? He doesn't like his new nickname," Clara chuckled while doing something to the champ's arm which looked like it was supposed to hurt.
Johnny thought he saw Puma raise an eyebrow at the comment, but it was kind of hard to tell from over on his itty bitty stool.
After another high strung minute worth of seconds, Johnny was surprised by an angry sounding, "Alright, enough of this shi-"
"You're right, Clara," Gabby cut off. "There's nothing wrong with, uh... Puma's spine. Let's get some fluids in him and monitor that concussion for a while." It seemed to take her a moment to remember their patient's name. With a name like 'Prince Puma', just goes to show; EMTs must have a hectic job.
Federico extracted a plastic bottle from a med bag and helped Puma sit up to drink from it, cracking the lid and unscrewing it for the Luchador who most likely wouldn't be doing any fine motor control stuff like that for at least a few more minutes.
"I know it tastes like melted lollipops, but it'll take the edge off that..." At a loss for words, the medic sort of waved a hand to indicate Prince Puma's body.
"I call poking those gnarly bruises!" Clara all but jeered, pointing with eager anticipation at Puma's freshly exposed back.
Puma's head snapped around toward the promise of pain, but the sudden, sharp movement brought him up short. A hissed intake of breath and he dropped the full bottle of goo, which splashed all over the place, spooking him enough that he tried to dodge the wet syrup's rebound. Which in turn overbalanced him completely and sent him sprawling back down.
"Not so fast, Tiger," Johnny said, having scooped an arm behind Puma, stopping him hitting both the mat and the plastic stretcher they hadn't yet cleared away. No one was quite sure how he'd gotten there so quickly. Not even Johnny, who thought maybe he'd seen it coming. Cats and liquids, after all.
It was obvious though that Puma couldn't be trusted to sit on his own, so Johnny scooped the pained Prince up the rest of the way into his arms and carried him over to the nearest, accommodating soft surface. Ignoring the quiet gasp and surprised claw in his forearm, and careful of the "gnarly bruises" beginning to bloom.
He set his -was he allowed to call him this?- friend in a sprawling, nearly upright sit against the overstuffed arm of a ratty sofa. Which he hadn't noticed until he'd needed some place to put someone down. Hm.
"I think you can keep from injuring yourself there. Nice and comfy on a big, soft couch. You look right at home. Like a house cat," Johnny said, hands on hips, barely keeping back chuckles. Especially after Puma's miserable attempt at flipping him off, with one clumsy hand scraping up from under and then out from his chin. He gave it no conviction, and his eyes really weren't selling it.
Yeah, Johnny couldn't hold in the chuckles after that.
"Nice one, Fighter," said an entertained Gabby, stepping up to the couch and plopping down in the accompanying armchair, which Johnny also hadn't noticed till then. "Laughing at the infirmed now? I like it! Suits you."
"Hey now, that's not fair!"
"Yeah, yeah. Save it for the stage, Tall Man," she said while popping the seal on a new bottle of goo. "Here Puma. Maybe don't make a huge mess with this one, buddy? You need electrolytes, and lots of sugars, and-"
Figuring a medic of Gabby's skill and... disposition could probably go on and on about the myriad reasons a Luchador should not survive the next few hours if they didn't drink that magic swill, he cut her off with a polite-ish swipe of the bottle. Seeing as Puma seemed to be recoiling with every new descriptor of what that "melted lollipop" goo actually was, Johnny figured his -could he use the word?- friend wouldn't be keen on accepting it, nor drinking it.
Time for a sure fire technique: Monkey see, monkey do.
"Can't be as bad as it sounds," said a totally not hesitant Mundo, turning the bottle around in one hand while scrutinizing the medical language on the label. With a shrug, he twisted the lid the rest of the way off and held his breath as he took a generous sip. The consistency made him shiver more so than the flavor. It was like drinking a cold loogie.
"Never mind: it is," he said, shaking his head in disgust. "Your turn."
Puma's eyes widened as Johhny moved the offending bottle closer. Puma held out a hand, seemingly to ward off the horrid offering, looking a bit like he was reaching for the ropes from the mat, in the middle of a knock down, drag out fight.
"Come on, man. I drank some, and I haven't even fought today!" Sparring didn't count. Neither did parkouring to work.
With infinite patience, Johnny sighed and moved closer, "Fine, tit for tat, then." Puma hooked a barely visible eyebrow and lowered his arm, which sorta flopped down onto his stomach. "You drink some, I drink some," Johnny said, crouching into a kneel right in front of the sofa. "We'll suffer together."
Puma huffed and rolled his eyes, but in grudging acquiescence as opposed to pure displeasure. Then he flicked his wrist and fingers, indicating Mundo take his turn first.
"Oh no you don't; I already took the first swing. C'mon, take it like a champ, Champ." Johnny snickered, self satisfied, at Puma's entertained head cock. He snickered louder when a shaky Puma paw came up to take the drink for himself.
"I don't think so. Not after that fiasco," he said, indicating behind himself, where the other two medics were still occupied with clean up.
"Really?" Said Puma's entire face.
"You can help." When Puma didn't look swayed, he tacked on a quiet, "Chillón."
Not taking kindly to Gabby's cackling laugh at the taunt, and definitely not taking kindly to being called a crybaby, Puma narrowed his eyes and nodded a, "Bring it on."
As promised, Johnny let the reclining Luchador 'help' to guide the 'drink' to his mouth, and didn't try to force the whole thing down his throat in an effort to expedite the process.
After about one good sized sip, Puma shivered the way Johnny had and, -surprise,surprise- got this close to spitting it out. Presumably, the only thing that stopped him was the knowledge that he'd likely be branded with a new nickname if he did. That, or it kinda got stuck in his throat -like a loogie is wont to- and he was forced to swallow it or choke.
The sputtering hiss had Johnny leaning more toward one possibility than the other.
The not so princely Puma swiped at his own mouth, almost missed it too, and stuck out his tongue with a shake of his head. Then he winced.
"Yep. The whole thing. In your belly. Now," said a leering Gabby. Then her face lightened, as if she's just thought of something delightful. "That, or the IV's making an appearance after all."
Scared straight, Puma took another quick sip, then did a double take at the offending bottle and pushed it towards Mundo's face.
"That one's on you," Johnny grinned out, as he accepted his turn to hit the bottle. He had to dodge when Puma retaliated with an upward swipe, meant to tip the bottle into giving Mundo a bigger mouthful. "Nuh-uh, I went to school; I know all the tricks," he said, accompanied with a 'that is disgusting' cringe.
"Tu eres chillónitos! Haha!"
At Gabby's loud chiding, the two Luchadores peaked around to make sure no one else was suddenly super interested in their... activities.
The two Emergency Medical Technicians not babysitting the two grown fighters were; just finished sopping up the goop off the practice mat, floor, and his own EMT jacket, and shoving the last of the team's med supplies under a four seater table situated next to a mini fridge. Respectively.
If the laughing hadn't caught their attentions, they'd be over there soon enough anyway. Puma and Mundo's eyes met and it was time for a tag team match.
Opponent: Super Gross Loogie Drink!
Johnny definitely didn't blush when a long ago memory of middle school reminded him that, exactly what he was doing right now, would be bestowed the illustrious and ultimately embarrassing moniker of "Indirect Kiss", never to be lived down in the annals of school history. At least for your class and everyone who'd ever met you. They'd probably still snicker about it at the 15 year reunion.
Whatever. That was kid stuff anyway. This was serious, adult, full life consequences, type stuff right here. Just a couple'a grown Luchadores sharing a drink... Literally.
They finished it off, Puma looking a little sour over getting the last shot, in the nick of time. Johnny slipped the bottle under the couch, easily blocking the action from view with his huge frame, just before a pair of boots stopped right behind him. Puma looked concerned.
"Alright, Fighter. Outta the way," Clara offered as explanation while pushing Johnny aside. "This cat needs ice, pronto. Eh," came an exasperated sound when Puma tried to protest. "Stop squirming and it won't hurt! Haven't you used ice packs before? Yeah, yeah, it's cold. That's how it's supposed to feel! How're they gonna ice anything if they're not cold as ice?!
"Clara." Said Federico, now standing behind the crouched tormentor, one hand outstretched and offering a selection of thin hand towels.
"Ugh, fine. Little kitten's afraid of a little biting cold? We'll wrap these suckers up in a buffer of cloth. See if the cold still soaks in effectively why don't we?" Sure, Clara was going off, but it seemed no one wanted to stick their hand in and see whether they still had it come midnight.
"You still feel like crap in the morning, don't come whining to me," said with a threatening finger pointing straight at Puma's half grateful, half perturbed face.
Johnny was pretty sure-, "He's gonna be feeling those marks a little longer than one night," yep. Federico took the words right out of his mind. "Besides, frostbite's a thing. Nasty too."
"You think everything's nasty!"
"I don't think your mom's nasty," he rebuffed, then turned towards Johnny who was still down on one knee, and said, "Gabby's mom makes the best pastries- you wouldn't believe what beautiful forms sugar and flour can take!"
"Uh-huh. Hero worship, much?"
"What? Coming from the person who still has the Millennium album in their stereo?" He quipped, looking Johnny in the eye.
"Brother, don't knock the Backstreet Boys unless you're ready to take it to the mat."
"... Sorry. But your Momma's baking is the best."
"Agreed," chimed in a Clara who'd just finished tucking several hand towel wrapped ice packs between a resigned Puma and the arm corner of the sofa.
Everyone was quiet for a few beats. Long, awkward beats, during which Puma tried not to cringe too obviously, and Clara tried not to inflict too much stink eye on him for it.
Johnny broke the silence by clearing his throat and, just like that, everybody was ready to find themselves seats.
Johnny picked the end of the sofa, just past Puma's feet. Puma, for his part... didn't try to kick him off. Not more than once, anyway.
"So, Johnny, how were you first on scene? Our room is pretty close to the ring." What felt like the opening to a soft core interrogation, delivered by Federico, had Johnny avoiding Prince Puma's eyes and fighting down a blush.
"Uh, heh." He cleared his throat, still feeling that loogie juice there in the back. "Just... bolted through the locker room. Would have been there sooner, but the cantina's TV is a piece of shi-"
"At least you have a TV!" Clara cut in. "All Mr. Cueto gave us was a radio, and it's barely nicer than the one in our paddy wagon!"
"Wait, you listen to the fights?!" Asked Johnny, jumping on the chance to talk about something else.
"Yeah..." Said a reticent Federico.
"Heh, when the Led Zeplin marathon isn't on," Clara crowed.
"What? You wound me!" Said Johnny, putting a hand to his chest.
"Mm hm. Nice to know not lethally. Your heart is on your left side, Mundo."
"How do you know?" He asked the chiding Gabby, as he hid the offending hand behind his back, running the other through his still mussed hair to give off a chill, nonchalant vibe.
"Well," came Federico's turn, "we're basically doctors, or registered nurses or whatever, and pretty much every mammal known to exist on planet earth is set up that way. Unless they have more than one heart; then-"
"Give that a rest, man. You know earth worms aren't-"
"That's exactly my point, Gabby! You never listen!" No doubt a sore spot for Federico, the poor fellow sulked off to grab a juice box, which he would not be sharing, thank you very much.
Fewer than forty seconds later, he ended up coming back with four juice boxes, the softy, and a little milk carton with markered on words scrawled across the face and side in a wrap around fashion saying, "Puma's. Don't touch. You wouldn't like it any way." Signed with a little crown.
How he'd found that in the medic's secret mini fridge, the world may never know.
He distributed the spoils fairly. Winning himself an old school hand from the chin flip off, from Puma as well, Johnny observed. Probably deserved it for touching Puma's property.
"Heh, you're welcome, man." He said with a thumbs up. "Thought you might want it, after that-"
"Wait!" Johnny was saying that quite a bit for one night. "That's a 'thank you'?"
Federico and Puma both nodded. "Yep. Good ole ASL. Uh, American Sign Language," the EMT added, in response to Johnny's blank look. "Though, I think if Puma hadn't just gone an extra round with the 'Machine' out there, it'd look more like this," one hand came out and a little down from his mouth and Puma nodded with a grin.
"Ha, and I thought you were flipping us off," Johnny said, squeezing a Puma foot good naturedly. "Shows what I know."
Puma looked quite amused at that. Then Johnny craned to see over Puma's shoulder, "And you speak Spanish?"
"We're all bilingual, brother. One of the many reasons Mr. Queto keeps us on retainer," said Gabby, practically preening.
"Trilingual," Puma said, by way of holding up three fingers, then pointing in Federico's direction.
"Eh, more like bi-and a half- lingual. It was my elective in college. It's a legitimate language and I'm glad that schools are beginning to take that seriously. 'Course, I also wish I'd taken it seriously. At the time, I just needed to round out my course load, heh heh." His laugh was sheepish, and genuinely apologetic.
Puma just grinned and signed the alphabet letters for OK.
"That, I got, Brother! Good to hear!"
Everybody who hadn't yet, took the time to open or stab their drinks, and took a nice long pull. Refreshing.
In the case of Puma's milk though, he had Johnny open it for him. Soon as Johnny'd downed half his Juice and noticed Puma hadn't gotten at the delicious white contents of his proudly tattooed box yet, anyway.
Not long after that, the EMTs were officially off the clock for the night and so, seeing as no one was, "currently dying right now" -thanks for the visual, Clara-, they gathered up all their more precious, or potentially lethal, supplies and started heading for the door.
"Well, Puma. Johnny."
"It was nice knowin' ya!"
"Don't be strangers! But also, don't get yourselves injured."
"Yeah, long as we're not, like, saving somebody's life or anything, we're always up for some company!"
"Maybe Mundo'd like to learn some spiffy hand signs? Might make tag team easier and secreter, eh?"
"I don't think 'secreter' is a proper adjective, Clara."
"Stuff it. And you too, Gabby, with the laughing."
So, laughing, they left the two Luchadores feelling rather flummoxed by the rapid departure, and with strongly worded instructions to call someone who was on the clock if something that seemed potentially lethal popped up.
"Just... keep keeping an eye on Kitty if you can, alright?" With a raised eyebrow and a nod to let Gabby know he had this, Johnny'd inadvertently given them all permission to leave.
Now he was stuck with a not necessarily healthy Prince Puma and a weighty responsibility on his shoulders. That's a lot for someone who wasn't even supposed to be 'working' that day.
"Um, you doing good?" The only thing he could think to say.
Puma responded with the universal sign for, "so-so," then shrugged himself into a lower sit, sliding down the sofa enough that his still booted feet were resting on Johnny's legs. He seemed smug. He knew Mundo was trapped now.
Mundo knew it too. Figured the best thing for it would be to annoy him back.
"Oh, sure I'll remove your boots for you!" Before Puma could hurt himself trying to scoot back up and away, Johnny'd grabbed one boot firmly by the heel, and begun working loose the laces. By the time he'd worked it completely off and started unlacing the other, Puma'd had a taste of foot freedom and resigned himself to his fate. Eyelids drooping ever so slightly.
"Are you purring?"
Puma rolled his eyes and snuggled in to his comfy corner just a little deeper, before cringing and trying to reach behind himself without causing himself immense pain.
"Lemme get those. Just a sec," Johnny said, removing the remaining boot. Puma stopped the ill advised action and stared at his -could he use the word?- friend, not bothering to scowl when Johnny unceremoniously dropped his only pair of wrestling boots on the floor.
He kept staring as his one time... enemy?... work competitor? reached across the sofa between them, pulled him gently forward, almost into a hug, and rooted around behind him, until every melted ice pack had been evicted and squelched its unassuming introduction to the floor.
Johnny noticed the staring but made no effort to stop it. Puma had a right to be wary, after all. "Well," he started. Not quite meeting Puma's eyes. "I can leave, give you some privacy. If you-"
He hadn't even made a move to... move when a lightning fast paw, slowed some by exhaustion, touched him gently on the center of his chest. They were practically hugging, he realized with a hint of self-consciousness. At least this wasn't the kind of room others were likely to barge on into, see them like that, then run out of and- eh! This wasn't middle school.
Puma pushed him back against the cushions just enough to communicate his meaning.
"Ok. I'll stay a while."
Puma let his hand drop, Johnny helped him lay back in his comfy corner without straining those "gnarly bruises", and this time; both of them were staring.
"Thank you," Puma signed, followed by interlocking his pointer fingers then reversing the hold, in a gesture Johnny didn't know how to interpret. He addressed the part which he did.
"You're welcome, my friend." Yep. He was allowed to use the word! He knew so, judging by the grin breaking up the tenseness that'd been stuck on Puma's face the past little while.
Puma faded fast after that, exchanging light conversation, mostly about how cool the other Luchadores were, until his hands and eyelids were too heavy to lift anymore.
Johnny watched him go to sleep, realizing that he himself was getting dangerously close to dreamland as well, but deciding anyway to stay with Puma a while longer. After all, however unlikely, he didn't want Cage having an easy go of things if he decided to break into the temple and... finish the jo- nope! Nope, not happening! His friend was gonna be just fine.
In the late morning, two Luchadores woke up on the most comfortable sofa in the Underground complex. Inexplicably covered with an old, fuzzy blanket that smelled of stale corn flakes, and wondering why it felt like they were sleeping on another person instead of a pillow.
Johnny Mundo was the first to open his eyes, surprise being his chief emotion upon seeing an up close of a yellow Puma mask, followed by a healthy dose of confusion. What was he doing and where was he- oh, right: Cage had happened. EMTs, sign language, loogie goo, indirect kis- whoa. That all felt a lot like a dream. Except... yep. There was a Puma staring him in the eyes.
Puma felt quite similarly, except that his body was screaming at him to not play in oncoming traffic anymore. Especially not the bus lane.
Neither of them could figure out how they'd ended up sleeping on the same couch, how -presumably- neither of them had fallen off sometime in the night, nor how they'd managed to rearrange themselves thus:
Johnny Mundo, Ender Of Worlds, was slouched over the blanket, resting most of his upper body on what felt like a pair of legs which were essentially spooning his midriff, their shins flush against the cushions of the back of the sofa. Curled in his lap, staring up at him with the sleepiest face he'd ever seen through a Lucha mask, was the rest of the World Champion of their league, Prince Puma.
"Uh, Buenos Días?" Johnny said, through a throat which really wished he had a glass of water near by. He sat up slowly, trying to not jar the extremely comfortable looking Puma and, at the same time, work out the kinks in his side. Won, no doubt, by sleeping for who knows how long in that awkward position.
He ran a hand through his hair, thinking maybe bed head was what Puma was staring at. Without blinking. Or maybe he was still sleeping, but with his eyes open?
Nope. He was just staring again.
For reasons unbeknownst to Johnny, Puma reached out slowly, brought his hand to the back of Mundo's head, and pulled until their foreheads touched. Just for a moment.
Johnny felt a low rumbling coming from the contact and realized that, "Yep. You purr. You're purring right now! Don't roll your eyes at me, I have- I heard that up close! Ow! No, my side is not a scratching post!"
It tickled more than it hurt, and made Johnny double over farther in an attempt to protect his open side. That got him in a good position to help Puma sit up, like a normal person, so the champ stopped kneading Mundo's side with his claws and accepted that it was time to get up.
Didn't stop him hissing in displeasure when his body realized it had been moved against its wants.
"Hold on a sec, stay there, I'll be right back," Johnny said, getting up and disentangling himself the rest of the way from the fuzzy, old corn flake blanket.
He stuck his head in the mini fridge and declared his awesomeness with an, "Ahah!" Then he walked back to the sofa, arms laden with several uncracked ice packs.
When Puma noticed what Mundo was doing, his eyes went wide and he yanked the blanket up to his chin. Stuck out his tongue for good measure.
"Uh huh, don't tell me they didn't help last night." When Puma's expression went sour he knew he'd won a point. "Yeah, we'll do it the same way then," he said, while snatching up and shaking out the spent packs from inside the hand towels.
Puma huffed out his nose and looked up at the ceiling, ignoring Johnny for his transgressions. Would serve him right!
"Right, scooch over. This is happening whether the ceiling is your new best friend or not." With a sigh, the prince conceded and maneuvered his back where it'd been set up for icing the night prior. But he didn't break eye contact with that rather worrying crack running ten feet across the ceiling. All water stained with little black spots of mold running along it, making it look almost like a caterpillar.
One that could bring the whole roof down on you.
Johnny figured there was less complaining this time because of that ratty old blanket, so he thanked whoever had tossed it over them and hoped to the sweet Lord above that they hadn't taken pictures. Or, if they had, that they'd keep them to themselves. Like a polite creeper.
"There, all done!" He clapped his hands together, rather proud of his meager handiwork. He proceeded to flop back down on the sofa, the two of them back to how they'd been right after Puma's fight the last night. "I think we make a good team."
That time it was definitely a flip off.
"Haha! You too buddy! You too."
The next time Federico and Johnny were in a room together, Johnny learned that, between him and Puma, he hadn't been the first to call the other "friend".
It's hard to believe the amount of heart and soul these fighters put into their sport. I went from never having watched any pro wrestling, to being a Lucha Underground devotee in less than one episode.
Then, I started writing fanfiction for it before episode twelve.
Hope we all have great fun with Lucha Underground for a long time to come!
And just a heads up: Chapter two will be up soon!
As a note: I am not a medical professional, neither am I a student of the medical fields. I hobbled together the scenarios and events in this story from things I've read, heard, and seen through my life.
If anything I've written turns out to be medically unsound, I apologize and hope you've enjoyed the read regardless!