Features: Undertaker (Mark Calaway)
Rating: NC17 for language and sexual situations Usual disclaimer - own nothing but my original characters, all the other people own themselves, WWE owns the trademark names, I'm doing this to exercise my creativity and for the sheer pleasure of writing. Ask my therapist!
Thanks so much for the feedback so far - so glad to know people are enjoying the story! After a little . . . detour . . . I'm happy to say that things are now moving in the right direction again! Told you to trust me, didn't I? On with the story!
Oh, one more thing - I know rkowhore79 has just been dying for some animal print action -winks- But I lied about the animal prints. That's gonna be in the next part! Guess you'll just have to wait, won't you?
The following morning, the rumour mill was alive with news of 'the pyro chick' and 'Big Red', making Harley just groan and shake her head. Glenn was amused as hell, grinning at her over breakfast, which made her laugh in spite of herself, although she complained to Jeff later in the morning that it was just a bit insulting that everyone was so damned willing to think that she would jump into bed with almost anyone.
He couldn't resist it, looking her with pleading eyes and asking, "Is he bigger than me?"
She snorted the mouthful of soda she had just taken out her nose at that, making Jeff howl with laughter while she grabbed for a handful of napkins and cursed him roundly, in between drying her now streaming nose and eyes. When she finally had herself cleaned up, she glared at him, even as she tried not to laugh.
"Goddamnit, Jeff, that really smarts! You did it on purpose, admit it!"
He only laughed harder, and after a moment she was laughing along with him, pausing now and then to mop at her aching nose.
Between the set build and paperwork, Harley had a fairly busy day. Breaking for lunch, she was amused by the looks she was getting as Glenn came into Catering.
He came over to her, leaning down to kiss her cheek noisily. "How's my little peach?"
She laughed helplessly, grinning at him as he sat down opposite her. "You know, you could refuse to dignify the rumours with any response."
"Where's the fun in that?" he laughed, digging into his lunch.
"God help me - the damn rumours link me to three guys who think it's funny to add fuel to the gossip fire," she complained, although she grinned as she said it.
He winked broadly at her. "How about the four of us hit the bar tonight and then go back to my room? The place'll probably self-combust at that!"
She burst out laughing, shaking her head. "Not gonna happen. Jeff's already expressed possible . . . inadequacy issues since you apparently came on the scene."
"Hey, who can blame him?" Glenn grinned, looking smug.
Her mouth dropped open and she blushed furiously, finding it hard to look at him. He watched her for a moment and then laughed, and she hazarded a glance at him. Seeing his amusement, she chuckled herself, shaking her head as she went back to her lunch.
Later that afternoon, Harley was working backstage on the connections for the big board, deep in concentration as she completed the wiring. Suddenly she felt someone behind her, close enough to feel the heat of their body. Looking over her shoulder, she expected to see Jeff, who was the only person who would normally get so close to her. Her eyes widened as she beheld Paul Burchill, with an unpleasant smile on his face.
She dropped the screwdriver she was holding, her eyes darting around for a way to move away from him, but he had her all but pinned in the corner with the board. She felt the first touches of fear, and she swallowed hard.
"What do you want?" She tried to keep her voice neutral.
"Now that ain't polite, luv - not even a hello? A welcome back after my long absence?"
Her hand tightened on the edge of the board as she looked at him. "Fine. Welcome back. What do you want?"
He grinned, but there was no humour in the expression. "What I want is a some kind of compensation for the fuckin' broken nose your boyfriend gave me."
"I had nothing to do with that - why don't you take it up with Jeff?" She fervently wished Jeff, or someone, would come along right then.
"Because he can't give me the kind of thing I'm looking for, you stupid slag."
His eyes dropped to her breasts, and she tried not to shiver. Burchill apparently was not just a blowhard. Damn it, where was everyone?
"I don't intend to give you a damn thing," she hissed at him.
"Like you have a say!" he laughed, a nasty sound. He stepped closer, his chest pressing against hers, leaning down and lowering his voice. "I have to wonder exactly what tricks you can do with that cooze to have Hardy and that bastard Calaway panting for you. And now Jacobs too. But I don't exactly fancy getting their sloppy seconds. Maybe that mouth of yours is just as talented, hmmm?"
Harley had heard enough. Furious now, rather than scared, she brought her hands up to his chest and gave him a hard shove. He wasn't expecting it, and he staggered back a step. She snatched up the screwdriver she'd dropped on the board and brought it up in in her clenched fist.
"You miserable son of a bitch! Let me tell you something - anything you try to put in my mouth, I will bite clean through, I swear! And if you come near me again, I will make you regret it! Now get the hell away from me before I start screaming!"
Burchill glared at her and went to step closer, and she opened her mouth and sucked in a huge breath. Before she could let loose with a scream, he turned and hurried off.
As suddenly as the fury had gripped her, now it fled, along with the adrenaline rush it had brought. She sagged against the board, the colour draining from her face. She carefully lay down the screwdriver, taking some deep breaths to try to calm herself. After a few moments, she felt better, although it disturbed her that Burchill had even approached her with his vile threats. Still, now that she knew what he was capable of, she knew what she had to do to make sure he didn't bother her again.
She went back to work, but she kept glancing around to make sure she was left alone. She didn't like feeling so jumpy, and she cursed Burchill for making her feel that way. At the sound of footsteps behind her, she whirled around, the screwdriver gripped firmly in her hand, and Mark stepped back with a startled expression.
"Jeez, Kate! Watch what you're doing with that thing!"
She gasped, immediately setting the screwdriver down. "Mark, I am so sorry!"
He looked closely at her. She wasn't normally that jumpy, and she looked a little on the pale side.
"What's going on, Kate?"
She rubbed her fingers over her forehead. "Had a visit from Mr Burchill a little while ago."
"That asshole - what did he do?"
"I don't care to repeat exactly what he said - suffice to say he believes I'm sleeping with both you and Jeff, and now Glenn, and he can't understand why any of you would do so willingly. On the plus side, since he believes you're all, ah, 'plowing my fields', he's declined emphatically to do so himself. Guess I should be grateful." She didn't mention his alternative 'compensation' notion.
Mark growled. "That son of a bitch. I'd offer to beat him black and blue, but I think Jeff might prefer to do that himself."
Harley looked puzzled. "Why would Jeff want to do it?"
"Kate, if Burchill said anything like that to my lover, I'd be damned if I let anyone else administer the beating he had coming."
"Lover?" She still wasn't sure what he meant, but then it became clear. "But Jeff and I aren't lovers. Oh, we slept together a few times, but that was more in the nature of . . . "
"Friends with benefits?" Mark looked a little sceptical.
She chuckled softly. "I was going to say temporary insanity."
Mark was a little surprised at the pleasure he felt knowing she wasn't Jeff's lover. "I thought you two were pretty tight."
"We are. Jeff's a great guy, don't get me wrong, but he's . . . "
She smiled. "He's a Lost Boy. And like all Lost Boys, he's charming and fun and adorable . . . and not at all something to be taken seriously. I've always had a weakness for Lost Boys, unfortunately."
"So he's irresistible, is that it?"
"No one's irresistible, Mark - he was just . . . awfully hard to say no to at the time."
Mark looked at her, his disbelief clear from his expression.
She shook her head. "Oh, you think you couldn't be susceptible to that kind of charm, is that it? Well, think about this, chief," she said, thinking about the current female roster, and then grinned. "How about if Trish Stratus came up to you one day, looking as gorgeous as she always does, maybe wearing one of those little baby tees she seems to prefer. She smells so good, got this real nice perfume on. And she looks at you like you're the only man in the world, with those pretty eyes, maybe out from under her lashes, just as cute as hell. Perhaps she even walks her fingers up your chest, you know?"
She stepped closer to him, unconsciously doing exactly what she was describing. Mark swallowed hard as her fingers moved up his chest. She smiled.
"Now tell me you'd say no if she invited you to come to her room with her."
It took him a moment to find his voice. "I see your point."
"I thought you might," she chuckled.
She stepped back from him, and he felt like he could breathe again. What the hell had that all been about? He had to admit, Trish was definitely quite a woman, but he hadn't been thinking at all about a blonde in the scenario she'd just described. He shook his head a little, and tried to focus on the important things here - first, Harley wasn't Hardy's lover, and second, Burchill had given her a hard time. Hard enough to make her pick up a screwdriver like a weapon. He thought he might be able to do a little something about that.
"You want me to have a 'chat' with Burchill, Kate?" he asked.
She rolled her eyes. "Mark, that's what started this whole mess in the first place! For now, let's just hope he takes my advice seriously and stays away from me."
He felt a certain disappointment. Looking at her, he also realized that if he tried an end run around her and got himself a shoot match with Burchill, she'd see right through it and tear him a new one for his pains. Much as he disliked it, he was going to have to stay out of it. For now. But he was going to make damn sure that there were people who knew that Burchill was up to something - she wouldn't like that, but he could always blame the gossip grapevine for the news spreading and making sure folks were keeping an eye on her.
"If that's how you want it, Kate, you have my word. But anytime you need me, you holler, hear me?" His green eyes were serious as they locked onto hers.
She nodded silently. He reached out and patted her shoulder gently and then made his way down the hallway. First stop - Bob's office. He had the feeling Harley wasn't about to tell anyone about Burchill, and he knew Bob's concerns over the Burchills' return.
Mark only told three people about Burchill. Bob Threadgood made sure the word was passed quietly through the crew to be on the look out for him and his sister. Realistically, the crew were the ones who could keep an eye on Harley best, much as that chafed at Mark. He let both Glenn and Jeff know what had happened, and their reactions had been pretty much what his had been. He'd warned them both not to get into anything with Burchill, but he strongly suspected that the next match Burchill worked, no matter who it was against, was going to see him take some fairly serious lumps.
He wasn't wrong - he was sitting in the locker room, carefully wrapping the wrist tapes of his gloves in preparation for his match when Burchill burst in, followed by Shelton Benjamin, who wore a carefully apologetic expression.
"What the fuck was that all about, mate?" snarled Burchill, slamming his hand onto a locker.
"I don't know, Paul. Just didn't have my head in the match, I guess," Shelton replied, moving towards his own locker.
"Didn't have your head in the match? That's a fuckin' understatement! You were stiff as hell, too - that clothesline almost took my fuckin' head off!"
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that," Shelton said.
But as he passed Mark, he gave a little grin, knowing that Burchill could not see his face any longer. Mark didn't know who'd tipped Benjamin off, but he'd gotten the message loud and clear. Burchill was in one piece, which was a situation Mark would dearly love to see remedied, but he'd be stiff and sore for a few days. Which should be enough to keep him well away from Harley tonight at least.
The company moved on - after a few days off, they were in Montana, for house shows in Great Falls and then Raw and Smackdown in Billings. Glenn and Harley flew in together, and she huddled into her shearling coat as they left the terminal in search of the rental car they were sharing.
"This place must be miserable in winter!"
Glenn laughed. "Chris says Winnipeg is the place to be in winter - nothing between you and the North Pole but the occasional polar bear."
Shaking her head, Harley dumped her case in the trunk and hurriedly climbed into the car. "No thank you! I like it warmer than that. This feels like January weather to me, that just ain't right!"
The dropping temperatures had her foregoing her usual cargo shorts for jeans, and adding a black hoodie over her crew t-shirt, and even then she wanted her shearling coat going to the venue from the hotel. There was a lot of good natured bitching about the cold as the set build progressed for the first of the two house shows.
Given that they were still on Mountain Time, Harley spent time assembling the pyro sets for Raw while they were still in Great Falls, to save time with the build in Billings. She'd been invited to play poker the first night they were in town, and she headed back to the hotel after the show without having made a decision about whether to go or not. Had Jeff been in town, she would have preferred to just hang out with him, but he wasn't flying in until the following day.
She stopped in her room long enough to grab her wallet and headed for Chuck Palumbo's room, where the game was being held. Mark was already there, as was Matt Striker, another of the mainstays of the game. She took Chuck up on his offer of a beer and took a seat at the table, raising the bottle to Mark and Matt.
"Is it just us?" she asked, taking a sip of her beer.
Chuck shook his head, taking his own seat. "Cena's on his way, with some fresh meat." He grinned.
She chuckled. "Sounds like it's time for me to break out my 'gee, I'm only a beginner at this game' look again."
Mark laughed at the look on Matt's face - he'd been taken in by that look the first time he'd played with Harley, and hadn't cared for the experience. Perhaps seeing someone else fall for it might improve his mood.
John Cena arrived with Lance Cade in tow, who looked a little surprised to see Harley at the table. Mark stifled a grin - this could prove to be an interesting evening. They agreed that the twenty dollar buy in would give everyone five thousand dollars in chips, and the blinds started at one hundred and two hundred. Harley waited until everyone else started stacking their chips before doing so herself, and Mark laughed to himself. She could be so damn devious, and it was fun as hell to watch.
Harley's 'I don't know what I'm doing' act only lasted long enough for her to get a handle on the way Lance played, and then she dropped the pretense with a grin. She still played conservatively, compared to some of the guys, but she was surprisingly astute at picking up when someone was bluffing, probably because she wasn't afraid to fold a hand, but still paid close attention to how it played out.
She had stripped off her hoodie early in the game, finding the room warm enough without it, and she stretched back in her chair, her hands linked above her head. Mark didn't miss the way Lance's eyes dropped to her breasts as they pushed against her crew t-shirt. Not that he could blame him, but he really should keep his mind in the game. It didn't take long before Harley was regularly winning hands against him, much to his chagrin.
The blinds had increased to four hundred and eight hundred, and Lance had the shortest stack, thanks to a few unwise hands against Mark and Chuck. It forced him to go all in against Matt and Chuck, and the pair of jacks he held weren't nearly good enough to beat Chuck's set of fives. John was next to go, bluffing on a pair of fives against Matt's pair of sevens.
That win made Matt cocky, and unfortunately for him, Chuck's luck was holding quite well. A couple of disastrous hands had Matt needing to go all in to even meet the big blind, and a pair of kings was no match for Chuck's tens over sevens.
It was down to Harley, Mark and Chuck, and Harley was certainly the short stack, although she did manage to even things up a little by winning a couple of hands against Chuck, but in the end she lost to Mark chasing a flush, and he shook his head as he swept the chips towards him.
"Bad luck, Kate."
She raised her beer to him with a grin. "One of these days I'll learn to stop chasing those damn flushes."
"Sure you will, Kate. When we're ninety and playing for matches in a retirement home."
She had to laugh at that, because she knew damn well she'd never break that particular bad habit.
The game lasted only a few more hands, with Mark's aces over eights not good enough to beat Chuck's set of jacks. Chuck happily took the winner's stake, grinning widely and Harley leaned over to pat Mark's hand.
"Bad luck, chief."
He just grinned at her, picking up his beer. "Shut up, Kate."
She chuckled, shaking her head and stretching again. "Well, gentlemen, it's been a thin slice of heaven. 'Course, I would have enjoyed it more if I'd been the one taking your money home with me, but a gal can't have everything."
Rising from her chair, she picked up her hoodie from the end of the bed where she'd tossed it earlier and draped it over her shoulders.
"You're leaving already, Harley?" John asked.
She nodded. "I've got an early date tomorrow with a stack of paperwork with my name on it. And I need my beauty sleep before then," she tipped him a little wink.
Mark rose from his chair, setting his beer down on the table as he did. Harley looked at him curiously.
"You calling it quits too, chief?"
He had no intention of telling her that he'd be heading back here as soon as he'd made sure she was safely in her room, so he just nodded. There'd been some quiet discussions on planes and in the locker room about Burchill, and he was beginning to think they hadn't heard the last from him on this. The latest was that he was agitating for a match against Jeff - which was pretty unlikely to happen, as he was obviously looking for a shoot match of his own. Being denied that would only make him more determined to get even against Harley directly.
As it happened, Harley had plenty of friends among the crew and roster who were only too willing to take point for her, without ever letting her know they were doing it, but he figured she might be less suspicious of him walking her to her room than anyone else. After all, he'd already told her that he felt it was important to see a lady home.
She covered a yawn with one hand as they walked along the hallway together, and gave him a little smile.
"Sorry - no reflection on the company, it's just been a long day."
He nodded. Glenn had mentioned how far she lived from the airport in passing one day. When the elevator stopped on her floor, he stepped out with her, and as he suspected, she didn't attach any special significance to it, beyond shooting him a little glance and murmuring, "Always the gentleman."
They said goodnight at her door, and once she closed it behind her, he headed back to Chuck's room.
Safely inside her room, Harley's ladylike yawn became a prodgious jaw stretching affair, and soon after, dressed in her pajamas, she crawled into bed, asleep almost as soon as she lay her head down.
Sunday morning found Jeff and Harley in the hotel lobby, waiting on Matt and Amy for the drive to Billings. They were sitting close together on one of the couches dotted around the area, sharing Harley's iPod as they waited, Jeff's arm slung around her shoulder, her hand resting on his leg. Their physical closeness had grown out of their former intimacy - they were comfortable with one another and it showed.
The company had chartered a bus to make the trip between the two towns, but Matt and Jeff usually preferred to drive. For one thing, they liked to be on the road earlier than the company transport usually left, and there were only a few members of the roster beginning to gather to wait for the bus.
When Matt and Amy pulled up in front of the hotel with the rental car, Jeff and Harley disentangled themselves, laughing as they pulled on their coats and collected their bags, waving to the others who were gathering before going outside into the early morning chill to load the car. There was more laughter and amused cursing outside as they fitted their bags into the trunk, the four of them finally piling into the car and driving off.
Paul Burchill's face was set in a sour expression as he watched them drive away. No matter how he approached it, he couldn't get anyone to agree to his request for a match against Hardy. He wanted revenge on that big bastard Calaway too, but he wasn't planning on ever setting foot in the ring against him. Or Batista or Jacobs, either. Like most bullies, he preferred to pick on people who were smaller than he was, which just left Hardy in terms of the ring. And the pyro chick out of it.
His sister shared his desire for revenge, but she failed to realize the depths of his rage at what had happened backstage in Colorado. As far as she knew, he'd gone to put fear into Harley, but he hadn't wanted to admit how the bitch had gotten the best of him. That was a second score he had to settle with her, and settle it he would.
Billings wasn't appreciably warmer than Great Falls, to Harley's disgust. She'd had Matt and Jeff drop her at the venue to check on the set build while they went on to the hotel, and she carried her case into the building with her, huddled into her coat against the wind.
She went over the work plan with her crew and then fished out her paperwork, finding a table in Catering to work at and pouring herself a cup of coffee before she began. Members of the roster drifted in and out, either on their way to the gym or after finishing there, while she worked her way through a seemingly endless procession of forms and reports.
Closing the folder on the report she had just finished, Harley stretched back in her chair, her arms above her head. She pushed her chair back and rose to her feet, deciding to go out to the arena floor and check on the set build, more for the break than any real need to monitor her crew's work.
Of course, everything was going exactly as it should, and she spent a few minutes going over the run sheet with the stage director as more of the matches were being firmed up before deciding to head back to Catering, her hands in the pockets of her cargo pants, deep in thought.
Too deep, as it turned out, as she looked around her in bemusement. She'd taken a wrong turn somewhere in the labyrinthine passageways backstage, and found herself in an unfamiliar corridor. Chuckling to herself, she turned around and prepared to retrace her steps.
Paul Burchill had just come from the gym when he noticed the pyro chick walking down the hallway, and for a wonder, she was alone for once. He followed her at a discreet distance, almost sure that at some point she'd be hooking up with Hardy or Calaway. But to his amusement, she actually ended up heading for an unused part of the complex, still alone. Perhaps his luck was changing after all, he thought, as he followed her.
Harley could hear the noises of set construction as she walked back along the corridors in this part of the arena, shaking her head at her foolishness. She rounded a corner and found herself face to face with Paul Burchill, who smirked at her, his eyes crawling over her.
"Well now, look at what we 'ave here," he sneered.
She rolled her eyes. "Oh, I'm so scared. Get out of my way, Burchill." She made to step around him, and he moved to block her path.
"I don't think so, luv - you still owe me something, remember?"
Her eyes narrowed. "I don't owe you a goddamned thing. Now get out of my way!" She side-stepped again and went to walk past him.
He snarled and his hand flew out to grab her by the hair, pulling her back against him hard. "I don't fuckin' think so, bitch!"
Harley let out a yelp, one hand coming up to claw at his wrist to try to get him to let go of her hair, even as tears came to her eyes from how hard he was pulling it. It only made him yank harder, dragging her off-balance so he could use his other arm to pull her against him. He wrenched her head to one side with his grip on her hair, leaning down to growl in her ear.
"That's better. Now, since you reckon you're going to be a bitch about using that mouth, I'm going to have to try something else." He ground his hips into her ass, and she shuddered at the feel of him. "Of course, it's going to be a lot more painful, but that's your problem, not mine."
Her hand dropped down limply from where she had been grabbing at his wrist and she sagged a little against him. He gave a nasty chuckle, feeling the fight go out of her. It turned into a shout a second later, as pain like he'd never experienced shot though his thigh. He yanked harder on her hair for a second, and then released his hold on her completely as a second bolt of pain shot through him, and she fled down the corridor, not daring to look back.
As she ran around a corner, she collided with a couple of members of the crew, who took one look at her wild-eyed appearance and immediately called for security. Bob Threadgood arrived hot on the heels of the security guard, and had only one question for Harley.
She nodded, pointing down the corridor from where she leaned against the wall. Bob sent the security guard down to find the man, and then stepped over to her side, his voice low.
"Did he hurt you, Harley?"
Her hand came up to her head, wincing a little. "Yanked my hair pretty good, but other than that, no."
"Let's get you checked out anyway," he said, gesturing down the corridor to the trainer's rooms, and she nodded, pushing herself off the wall and walking off with him.
Word spread quickly that there had been some kind of incident between Harley and Burchill, and a knot of people gathered outside the trainer's room while Harley and Bob went inside. Pete, one of the EMTs, had her sit down on one of the stretchers as he donned a pair of gloves, and carefully examined her scalp, making her hiss a little as he touched it.
"There's some hair pulled out here, and a little bleeding, but it's nothing serious."
She nodded, going to get off the stretcher, and Pete put his hand on her arm, staying her for a moment. "Go slow, okay? Delayed reaction might make you shaky."
Bob walked at her side, escorting her to his on-site office and getting her settled there before going to see what had happened with Burchill, who had been found on the ground in the corridor, cursing a blue streak. Security were currently making sure he didn't leave the building, and Bob went back into his office, looking at Harley.
She shrugged. "I wandered into that corridor because I wasn't paying attention to where I was going. He must have followed me, because when I turned around to come back to where we're set up, he was there."
Bob gave her an exasperated look. "Harley, the time for pussy-footing around has come and gone. We're now talking assault, and I have to take action. To do that, I need the full story. Now."
Harley's cheeks flushed as she took a deep breath and relayed the first conversation she'd had with Burchill in Colorado, and then what had transpired this afternoon, up to Burchill grabbing her.
"Jesus wept. So, how did you get away?" Burchill had almost a foot of height on her, and probably a hundred pounds.
She chewed her bottom lip for a moment, and then reached into her pocket and lay an object on his desk. Just over six inches long, it looked a little like a flashlight. She looked at him, giving a little shrug.
"I used this."
Bob picked it up, and immediately recognized it. "You tased him?"
He frowned, examining it more closely. "The cartridge hasn't been fired."
"Contact tasing works better for pain. And it's less dangerous."
He noticed signs the device's cover had been opened, and held it out to her, his eyebrows raised in a question.
She shrugged again. "It's been modified."
"Jesus, Harley!" Bob put his hand over his eyes.
"What?" She looked exasperated. "I'm not going to use the damned thing at a distance, because I don't want to miss and have the guy get me anyway. If I use it, I want to make sure it does what it's intended to - hurt him enough for me to get away. At normal levels, that would mean contact for maybe five or ten seconds. To hell with that - I upped the voltage delivering the charge so I only need a few seconds at most."
"I wouldn't mention that to the police, if I were you."
She lifted an eyebrow. "Do I look like I just fell off a turnip truck?"
"Are these things even legal here?"
"There's no state prohibition. I don't know about city or county statutes." She looked unconcerned.
"Harley, he could get you charged you with assault!"
"So? I can do the same thing, in case you'd forgotten. And with his past behaviour, I think I've got a better case than he does. Particularly when you compare his size to mine. Let him do it - I'll take my chances with any judge." Her chin was up.
There was a commotion outside the office, and Bob got up to look out. He saw Katie Lea Burchill being escorted away, rather unwillingly, and he closed the office door, shaking his head.
"I have to call the police in, Harley," he said.
"Damn right you do!"
He looked surprised. "You want that?"
Harley shook her head. "Bob, Burchill attacked me. I believe he intended to assault me sexually. He followed me into an unused part of the arena - that smacks of premeditation. You think I want him around me after that?"
He had to admit she was right - and it wasn't only her safety at issue. A man didn't just wake up one morning and decide to become a sexual predator. Were there others he had gone after - others who didn't carry a taser and weren't afraid to use it?
Mark was stretched out on his bed at the motel, hands under his head, enjoying the quiet of a rare day off on the road, when there was a hammering at his door. With an exasperated growl, he pushed himself up and went to answer it.
"No need to knock the damn thing down, I'm coming," he grumbled, opening the door, his eyebrows raising as he saw Glenn there. "What's so damned important?"
"If you turned your damn cellphone on occasionally, you'd already know," Glenn said with exasperation. "Burchill attacked Harley at the arena."
"He . . . what?"
"Followed her into a corridor and grabbed her."
Mark felt remarkably calm. "I take it that security's got hold of him now?"
Glenn nodded. "And the cops are on their way."
It was Mark's turn to nod. "You got a car?"
"Care to give me a ride to the arena?"
"Sure. Ah, can I ask why?"
Mark looked at him coolly. "I want to check on Kate, make sure she's okay. And then I have a score to settle with Burchill, and I need to do that before the cops cart him off."
There was something about the look in Mark's eyes that Glenn had never seen before, so it took him a while to realize what it was. Pure, ice cold fury. He almost hoped that Burchill would no longer be at the arena when they got there.
He got his wish - by the time they arrived, Burchill had left. Not with the police, though - he'd gone back to the hotel. Mark and Glenn went looking for Bob Threadgood and found him in his on site office with Harley. They had barely gotten in the door before the sound of running feet in the corridor heralded Jeff's arrival, and he ignored all of them, going straight to Harley's side.
She nodded, smiling at him, and then over his shoulder at Mark and Glenn. "Yeah, I'm fine. Bit shaken up, maybe, but that's all."
Jeff hugged her fiercely, his eyes closed. Harley returned the hug, patting his shoulder gently, repeating her reassurance in a whisper, and he gradually relaxed his hold on her. Turning to Bob, he asked the question on all their minds.
"So what's happening with Burchill?"
Bob shrugged. "The police took statements. And the bosses are deciding what to do with him, given that no charges have been laid yet."
Mark nodded, one hand stroking his beard. He looked at Harley for a long moment, and then seemed to come to a decision.
"I'm glad you're okay, Kate."
She smiled at him. "Thank you, Mark."
"You need a ride back to the hotel?"
"I'm not going back to the hotel."
Jeff frowned. "Don't you think you'll be safe there?"
Shaking her head, she said, "No, I'm not going back to the hotel because I still have work to do here."
Mark stifled a grin. That was the first thing about this sorry mess that was any good - her toughness. She was definitely not a victim, and he admired her all the more for it. It wasn't going to stop him from dealing with Burchill though.
Over Bob and Jeff's objections, Harley rose to her feet and left the office. She wanted to make sure the crews had gone back to work now the show backstage was over, and she still had paperwork waiting for her in Catering.
When she had left, Mark closed the office door and looked at Bob.
"Okay. Now, I know what Kate told me about what Burchill said to her in Colorado. But it's a bit of a stretch from that to actually attacking her. What really happened?"
Bob shook his head. "It's pretty sordid," he said, and he repeated what Harley had told him about Burchill. Mark's jaw tightened as Bob repeated the things Burchill had said to Harley, the threats he'd made. Jeff's hands had clenched into fists, and Glenn was glowering.
"There's no way we can let him walk away from this," Mark said quietly.
"He won't, Mark," Bob said. "He's probably facing assault charges. One of the cops said that even Harley tasing him wouldn't make much difference to that."
Jeff's eyes widened. "She tased him?"
Bob grinned. "Twice."
That made them all grin, and Mark shook his head, chuckling.
"Good for her. But I still think Burchill's got a lesson to learn about how we run things around here." His expression darkened for a moment. "Bob, it's probably better if you don't know about this."
Bob nodded, heading for the door. "I'll make sure Harley's okay while you guys talk."
Mark waited until the door closed, and then looked at Glenn and Jeff. "Burchill crossed the line. I think I can convince the bosses to give him one last match before they suspend him. Jeff, you willing to take it on?"
Jeff's grin was gleeful. "Definitely. And you know Burchill will agree to it, because he's been pushing for a match with me for weeks."
Mark nodded. "Exactly. He won't suspect a thing. Especially not a little assist from the Brothers of Destruction that turns into a doublecross."
Glenn laughed. "You really think you can get them to go along with that?"
It was Mark's turn to grin, but it was without humour. "Yeah, I think I can."
Jeff spoke up. "You know Harley will never agree to this, right?"
"Blame it all on me," Mark shrugged. "Frankly, this is bigger than just her now." And it was - like Bob, he'd already wondered who else Burchill might have assaulted. None of the roster, certainly - those gals would never stand for that shit, but there were plenty of women on the crew who Burchill might have found easy targets, and who may never have said anything for fear of speaking out against the talent.
And that was all true, but underneath it, there was that cold fury that Glenn had seen earlier. Fury that Burchill had dared to lay a hand on Harley. That he'd spoken to her the way he had. That he'd thought to force himself on her sexually. For that, no power on earth would stop him from punishing Burchill as brutally as he could get away with.
An hour later, and it was all arranged. Burchill might think he'd finally gotten his shoot match against Jeff, but he wasn't aware of the run in that was planned for the Brothers of Destruction, or the fact that, while this was a shoot match, it most certainly wasn't his. Bob was going to insist on running the board the following night for Raw, and the match wasn't going to appear on any run sheets other than his. As dark matches went, this was the darkest, except that it would be televised.
Mark hadn't cared for that idea much, but the creative team felt it made for a good angle for the Brothers. Besides, he and Glenn were ratings magnets, and they weren't about to pass up a chance to use them that way.
It did mean that they'd have to be a bit more subtle in the ass-whupping they were going to hand Burchill, but they'd both been around long enough to know the tricks to that. It would look like any other match, perhaps a bit more brutal, but Burchill would be leaving the ring in pretty poor shape. And he'd know exactly why, too.
Harley, unaware of any of this going on, had finished up her paperwork and returned it to Bob's office. Bob looked at her, and shook his head.
"Okay, you're done for the day, Harley."
She looked at him in surprise. "What?"
"It's not that I don't appreciate the effort, but you've done enough for one day. Go back to the hotel, get a good night's sleep and I'll see you tomorrow."
She was about to argue with him, until she saw the look in his eyes. The one that said this was not negotiable. She nodded instead, and headed out of his office, detouring to the women's locker room to collect her coat and case, and grabbed a lift back to the hotel with two of the crew who were heading there.
Once she had left, Bob gathered her crew to brief them on the addition of the final match, tasking them with setting the entrance pyros for Mark, Glenn and Jeff without alerting Harley. Tomorrow, he'd just have to keep her buried in paperwork so she wouldn't catch on.
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