Ready, Set, Don’t Go


She's gotta do what she's gotta do
And I've gotta like it or not
She's got dreams too big for this town
And she needs to give 'em a shot
Whatever they are.

"Shawn, help me!"

Shawn snapped out of his reverie; staring at his adopted daughter and hastily brushed his knuckles over his slightly wet eyes. Raine stood on a small stepping stool in the middle of the room; surrounded by mirrors, wearing a wedding gown.

In one hour she would be walking down the aisle with Mark Calaway, her boyfriend of over two years and Shawn's old co-worker. Technically, Stephanie or Michelle, one of the other girls, should have been in here helping but Raine was nervous and had only wanted him present.

Hell, he had been nervous too. But now, as realization that his little girl was about to be a married woman sank in, he was sad.

Raine wasn't exactly his little girl anymore, she hadn't been in years but that didn't change this suddenly feeling of 'she's leaving the nest' he was having at the moment. She had lived only ten miles away from him, now she would be moving across the country with Mark so they could work for the WWE at its training camp in Florida.

Another world away it seemed.

"Daddy?" Raine interrupted his musings; her hands playing with her still undone hair. "You alright?"

"Yeah baby, just… just give me a minute…" He turned his back to her; closing his eyes and took a deep breath.

Looks like she's all ready to leave
Nothing left to pack
Ain't no room for me in that car
Even if she asked me to tag along
God, I gotta be strong

He remembered the day she had come to live with him, she had been a sad; scared little girl of only ten years old though she had also been defiant; refusing to show the pain that he could feel rolling off of her.

"Raine, do you remember me?" Shawn asked kindly, squatting down until he was eye level with his god-daughter; watching as her green eyes slowly raised from the airport tiled floor to meet his gaze.

"I remember you, Mr. Michaels." She said quietly, her pinched little face an unhealthy color. "I seen you last year at-" She hesitated, looking like someone had socked her in her stomach.

Shawn felt his heart breaking for her, knowing she was about to say her parent's Christmas party; the last time he had seen his best friend and his wife alive. It had been three months since their deaths and he had been fighting ever since for custody of Raine; having found out she had been sent to live in a state orphanage while arrangements for her were being made.

No relatives had stepped up to claim her, so Shawn had. It hadn't been easy either, not with having to prove himself a fit party to care for a child; especially with his job and being on the road for the better part of a year.

But he would make necessary sacrifices if he had too, such as retiring.

"Come on," Shawn held out his hand; smiling when she immediately slipped hers into it, gently squeezing. "Let me take you home."

She's at the startin' line of the rest of her life
As ready as she's ever been
Got the hunger and the stars in her eyes
The prize is hers to win


Shawn felt his heart take a wild lurch at Raine's frantic scream; scrambling from his recliner and hauled ass up the stairs. "Rai?" He glanced into her bedroom; frowning when he didn't see her and heard her ragged crying, following the heart wrenching sounds until he was in his own bedroom.

After a moment, he got down on his knees and peered under the bed. At thirteen, Raine was a bit too old and too big to be crawling beneath there but she still did it, especially when she was frightened.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" He asked softly; uncomfortable as he laid out on the wooden floor; feeling the mattress pressing against his head.

Raine lay half curled on her side; her unruly hair matted against her face, wet from tears. She took a deep shuddering breath and mouthed something.

"Honey, I can't understand you when you don't actually speak."

"I'm dying." She repeated in a terse little whisper.

"What?" He felt the grip of panic clutching at him again. Raine had a slightly unhealthy obsession with death that he kept hoping she would grow out of, he knew why she had it, he just found it morbid for a child to dwell on. "Honey, you're not-"

"I'm bleeding."

Now he was confused; looking at her the best he could for some sign of a wound. "Rai, baby girl, I don't understand…"

She began crying again.

Sighing, Shawn scooted out from under the bed and walked around to the side; crouching down again to grip her by the calves and gently drag her out where he could see her. One glance at her faded blue jeans told him the story.

"Aw hell, you're not dyin'…" He said gruffly, looking anywhere but at his teenage daughter.

Raine immediately stopped crying.

"You're…" He raked a hand through his hair; wondering what the Hell he was supposed to do now.

She stared up at him, breathing heavily out of her mouth.

"It's well, when a girl becomes a woman and…" Shawn was turning red, not helped when Raine sat up; still staring at him. "Do you know what… what menses is?"

She arched an eyebrow. "Cancer?"

Shawn slapped his face.

She's waitin' on my blessings
Before she hits that open road
But baby get ready, get set, don't go

"Shawn, seriously, I don't need a babysitter."

Shawn narrowed his eyes as he stared at his fifteen, soon to be sixteen, year old daughter. "There is NO way in HELL I am leaving you BY yourself… You're just going to have to suck it up and stay with Mrs. Miller."

She narrowed her eyes right back at him, popping her bubble gum loudly. "Ain't no way in HELL I'm stayin' with that old crone. She makes me pray before meals and recite rosaries with her. We're not Catholic, are we?"

He growled. "Non-denominational, don't be a smartass and don't be rude. She's-"

"Not happenin'." Raine slung her book bag over her shoulder. "How long are you going to be gone, daddy?"

He did not miss the sweet tone her voice took on, eyeing her suspiciously. "Four days, why?"

"I'm fifteen, I can stay by myself. I promise, no friends over, no getting into anything." She held up her right hand. "Please? I really don't want to go stay with battly ol', I mean, Mrs. Miller."

"Damn it, Raine, I don't have time for this." Shawn glanced at his watch; then out the window. She was waiting on the school bus, he was waiting for her to leave so he could lock up and head to the airport.

"You could take me with you." She suggested with a grin.

Shawn could only imagine his daughter running loose in the locker rooms, then gave her a look and shook his head. "I'll let you stay by yourself on ONE condition."

She nodded eagerly.

"Mrs. Miller comes over EVERY DAY to check on you."

She hesitated before nodding again. "Deal."

She says things are fallin' in place
Feels like they're fallin' apart
I painted this big old smile on my face
To hide my broken heart
If only she knew

"I can't believe you're sixteen already." Shawn said as he danced with Raine; smiling down at her. "What happened to that scrawny kid with knobby knees?"

"My knees are still knobby, pops." She laughed; trying not to trip on the hem of the dress he had bought for her; which was the ONLY reason she was wearing it. Raine hadn't wanted a sweet sixteen birthday party but Shawn had thrown one anyway. At least she got to see Stephanie Levesque, Shawn's best friend's wife.

Who also happened to be her current role model.

"There's the birthday girl!"

Shawn stepped back to allow Paul through; shaking his head when Raine was snatched up into a bone crunching hug. Sixteen already, where had the time gone?

"Next thing you'll know she'll be graduating and going to college." Teased Stephanie, gently hugging Raine when Paul had let her go; gesturing to her brother Shane. "Rai, this is Shane."

Shane politely shook her hand.

She smiled at him.

"Then marriage and babies." Paul chimed in.

Raine and Shawn both paled.

This is where I don't say
What I want so bad to say
This is where I want to
But I won't get in the way
Of her and her dreams
And spreadin' her wings

"Anything BUT this, Raine, please?"

Raine, now a young woman of eighteen firmly shook her head no; crossing her arms over her chest. "I'm an adult and a high school graduate, I think I can make up my own mind, pops." She said firmly.

Shawn let out an exasperated sigh. Of ALL the things in this world she could have grown up to do and become, WHY did it HAVE to be a wrestler? "Raine, it's not an easy life, you know this honey. Think real long and hard about it."

"Shawn, I have, I LOVE wrestlin'. I WANT to be a wrestler." She reached out to affectionately muss his hair; dodging when he mocked backhanding her. "Just like my idol, who I want to train me by the way."

"Damn it, don't turn them big ol' green eyes on me…" He groaned when she did, rolling his eyes heavenward when Raine actually jutted out her lower lip in a pout. Exasperated, he threw his hands up into the air. "Fine, but I have some stipulations."

She nodded, tucking back in the lip.

"First, I want you to go abroad for a year, just one year." He held up a hand when she went to protest. "Rai, sweetheart, your momma wanted this for you. She had a tour all planned out for you and… and I think you should go." He cleared his throat awkwardly.

After a long moment's silence, she nodded; glancing away and blinked rapidly. "What else?" She asked finally.

"If I train you, you will LISTEN to me in ALL things."

"Don't I do that now?"

He fixed her with a piercing stare. "Considerin' you're my daughter, you SHOULD, but you DON'T."

She smiled sheepishly. "Wonder where I get that from, hmm?"

He arched an eyebrow.

She arched hers.

She's at the startin' line of the rest of her life
As ready as she's ever been
Got the hunger and the stars in her eyes
The prize is hers to win

She's waitin' on my blessings
Before she hits that open road
But baby get ready, get set, don't go

Shawn snapped out of his trip down memory lane when he felt Raine's gloved hand resting on his shoulder and heaved a deep sigh. Knowing he couldn't hide it from her, he slowly turned around, staring at her and managed a smile. "I still can't believe you're gettin' married."

"Me either." She admitted nervously; her brown eyebrows drawing together in a frown as she took in the wet trails on his tanned, weathered cheeks. "Dad, why are you cryin'?" She asked softly.

Shawn took her hands in his. "I don't know… All things considered… it's really stupid, sweetheart."

"Tell me."

He took a deep breath. "It feels like… like I'm really lettin' you go this time, Raine."

Raine looked politely puzzled, which Shawn supposed, made sense. She had been living on her own and then with Mark for several years now, but just a few miles down the road. She was close to home, close to him where he felt like he was still part of her life.

Throughout her short lived but history making wrestling career, he had been there; her trainer and mentor as well as parent. Her relationships with Shane, Mark and Matt, the incident with David. Her coma…

He had been there, right with her.

Now… she would lean on Mark completely for support, maybe call Shawn once a week, if she remembered.

It took him awhile, but eventually he managed to convey all this to her.

Raine looked surprised; tears shimmering in her eyes as she hugged him. In typical Raine fashion however, she said: "Don't be stupid, pops, you know I'mma call you every damn day just to turn your hair gray."

Shawn laughed, stepping back and surveyed her. He knew however that things would change. Even though she had been in committed relationships before, marriage was different. Every little girl was a princess to her daddy and every daddy was the main man in his little girl's life.

At least until marriage.

He had never understood that sentiment until now.

"Raine, Shawn, it's time!" Michelle hissed, poking her head in; looking wide eyed and excited.

"Ready, daddy?" Raine asked, sounding nervous.

He forced himself to be calm and smiled down at her, taking her arm in his. "Of course." He kissed her cheek gently. "Calm down, kid, you'll do fine. Mark's out there waiting on you."

"Mark's BEEN waitin' on me." Raine said with a snort, looking somewhat guilty.

Shawn knew she meant pretty much her and Mark's entire relationship.

"Well, let's not keep him waiting anymore, alright?" Shawn grinned, projecting a calm and confidence he didn't actually feel. He had to keep her calm, this was her day, there would be enough time for feeling sorry for himself and sad later.

She smiled at him. "Thanks, dad."

The doors opened and he was guiding her down the aisle.

Letting her go.

She's waitin' on my blessings
Before she hits that open road
But baby get ready, get set, please don't go

Don't go, mmm don't go
She's gotta do what she's gotta do
She's gotta do what she's gotta do