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!
And yes, just for rkowhore79 - animal print action!!
Arriving at the hotel, Harley finally checked into her room and went upstairs, sitting down to take off her workboots and then stripping out of her clothes and heading in to take a shower. She stood under the streaming water for a long time, trying to wash away the bad taste the afternoon's events had left her with. Finally, she shut off the water and reached for a towel, wrapping it around her before reaching for a second one to towel her hair, wincing a little at the soreness of her scalp.
She was just drying her hair when she heard the knock at the door, and she peered out of the spyhole, smiling when she saw Jeff standing there. She opened the door, mindful of the towel she was wearing.
"What are you doing here, Jeff?"
"Was wondering if you had dinner yet, actually," he smiled at her.
Harley shook her head, and then laughed as Jeff brought his hand around from behind his back, holding up a large pizza box.
Her smile grew wider. "What, no garlic bread?"
Jeff winked and brought his other hand around, placing a foil wrapped loaf on the pizza box. Now that she could smell the pizza, her stomach rumbled, and she laughed again.
"You know me too well!"
"Ah, but I'm not done yet," Jeff grinned, reaching down and picking up a market carry bag. "I also have beer."
"Well, that's sold me!"
She opened the door wider, and Jeff held out the carry bag to her. She took it, and he bent again, picking up his black backpack and carrying it and the pizza into her room, leaning in to kiss her cheek as he passed by her. Blinking in surprise, she closed the door after him and followed him into the room.
"Hey, wait a second - what's with the bag?" she asked, setting the beer down on the table beside the pizza.
"That's my bag," Jeff grinned.
"Well I can see that," she chuckled. "What are you doing bringing it in here?"
"Because I need it."
"I just know I'm going to regret asking this, but why do you need it?"
"Because I'm staying the night." Jeff grinned at her, sitting down on the end of the bed to take off his sneakers.
Harley's eyebrows raised. "Oh are you now?"
He looked up at her, nodding. "Yep. Word to the wise, Harley - you probably shouldn't deal with door to door salesmen. You forgot the first rule, because you let me get my foot in the door. Now you'll never get rid of me!"
She laughed in spite of herself, and he rose to his feet, leaning in to kiss her cheek again.
"Now, you need to go get dressed. Pajamas on, please."
He turned and opened his bag, dragging out a pair of blue sweatpants and a t-shirt. He turned to look over his shoulder at her.
"You still here? Go on, you change in the bathroom - I don't want you watching me while I change into my jammies."
She laughed helplessly. "I don't get why I have to wear my pajamas at all, or why you do!"
"How can we have a sleepover if we're not both in our jammies? It's bad enough we don't have sleeping bags. Now, scoot!" He grinned at her.
Shaking her head, but laughing all the same, she lifted her case up to the ledge and opened it, taking out her pajamas and heading into the bathroom to change into them, turning the light off as she came back into the room. Jeff looked up, taking in her leopard print pajamas, complete with hot pink piping, and grinned.
"Animal print - sweet!"
He turned back to his bag, lifting out his laptop and a handful of DVDs as she climbed up on the bed, sitting cross legged as she watched him connect the laptop to the tv, craning her neck to try to see what movies he had chosen.
"Please, not American Beauty!" she chuckled.
He turned around and stuck his tongue out at her. "We're not watching Steel Magnolias either!"
His selection included Glenn's horror film, which they decided to save for later in the evening, on the basis that horror films were always best right before bed, and a handful of animated movies. As he spread the movies out on the bed, she smiled - they would be a perfect way to unwind. Once the all important first movie was chosen, they sat together on the bed with the pizza and a beer apiece. As Over the Hedge started, she leaned in to kiss Jeff's cheek.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and hugged her, smiling.
It didn't take them long to demolish the pizza, laughing and giggling at the movie, and then they relaxed against the pillows and the bedhead with fresh beers. Harley was loving the movie, and Jeff was as entertained by her reactions to it as he was by the images on the screen. When the knock came at the door, Harley had to wipe tears of laughter from her eyes as she climbed off the bed to go and answer it, calling over her shoulder to Jeff to pause the movie for her. Opening the door, still giggling, her eyebrows raised when she saw Mark standing there.
"Hey, chief. What brings you to this neck of the woods?"
Mark looked her up and down, shaking his head with a chuckle. "Nice pajamas. You borrow them from Hardy?"
Jeff, coming over to the laptop to pause the movie, laughed. "I heard that, 'Taker!"
Giggling, Harley poked her tongue out at Mark. "What are you, a door to door fashion critic?"
"Shut up, Kate. I just wanted to check on you, make sure you were okay."
Jeff leaned against the wall behind Harley, and Mark found himself glad to see him there with her. He didn't even care if it was on a friends with benefits basis, so long as someone was staying with her tonight. In case Burchill got any bright ideas about finishing what he'd started at the arena. His hands itched to curl into fists just at the thought of that.
Harley smiled at him.
"That's real nice of you, Mark - thank you. Hey, you want to come in for a beer? We're watching movies. You could hang around and help us laugh at Glenn's big screen debut." She winked.
"A tempting offer, but no thanks, Kate. Some other time, maybe."
Some other time when Jeff wasn't around, he thought, even as Jeff's eyes met his and the younger man gave a little nod. They understood one another - Jeff was there to look after Harley. He had that under control. And Mark trusted him.
Harley nodded, smiling again.
"Okay, Mark. I'm gonna get back to my movie then, okay?"
"You do that. And I'll catch up with you tomorrow." He smiled at her.
"Yeah, 'night Kate, Jeff." He raised a hand to Jeff, who nodded at him.
Harley closed and locked the door as Mark left, and went back to climb onto the bed again as Jeff restarted the movie.
They ended up sticking with the animated movies, giggling their way through Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride and Open Season before finally turning the tv off. There was an easy familiarity about getting ready for bed, taking turns in the bathroom before climbing into one bed together and turning out the lights.
Jeff was closing his eyes when Harley whispered, "Cool sleepover, Jeff, even without the sleeping bags."
"Glad you enjoyed it. Goodnight Harley."
Jeff came awake instantly at those whimpered words, reaching for the bedside light. Soft light bathed the bed, and he could see Harley's face drawn into a mask of fear, her hands coming up to ward off someone in her sleep. Very carefully, he reached out to touch her shoulder, keeping his voice low.
"Harley, wake up. It's okay."
Her eyes flew open at his touch, knocking his hand away as she drew away from him, fear still in her eyes until she woke up properly. He held his hands up.
"It's okay, Harley. You were dreaming."
"Jeff?" Her voice was sleepy and confused.
He moved over to her then, wrapping his arms around her as she trembled, one hand stroking her hair.
"Shhh, it's just me. It's okay."
She clung to him, coming more awake and leaving the nightmare behind her. "He was there, and I couldn't get away from him." There was no need to explain who 'he' was.
"It was just a dream, you're safe. Safe here with me," Jeff reassured her.
Gradually, the trembling stopped, and Jeff reached over to turn out the light again, cuddling Harley close to him as she drifted back to sleep. Burchill was racking up quite a bill he was going to have to pay tomorrow night, he thought as he fell asleep.
The following morning at breakfast, both Harley and Jeff were much more subdued than usual. Most people had heard about what had happened at the arena the previous afternoon, and assumed this was a part of that. While Harley was talking with Bob, Mark approached Jeff.
"Everything okay?" he asked. Patently, it wasn't, but he was pretty sure that wasn't Jeff's fault.
Jeff shook his head. "She woke up a few times last night with nightmares about Burchill. Harley never has nightmares, Mark."
That cold fury was back. At least someone had been with her, though, to help with the nightmares.
"We'll deal with the cause tonight. Later this afternoon, the three of us need to get together and discuss the match."
Jeff nodded. "I'm probably going to have to meet with Burchill too, make him think I'm dumb enough not to realise he's planning a shoot."
Mark chuckled. "I wouldn't bet on that - he's made himself fairly scarce this morning, apparently. I suspect that he's planning to run the line that he looked for you to discuss the match, but you avoided him, which is why he had to go without a script."
"He'll be going without a script alright," Jeff said, and Mark clapped him on the shoulder.
They understood one another perfectly.
Harley spent her morning catching up on paperwork, as Bob intended. She sat in Catering, and it wasn't lost on her how often her colleagues and friends from the crew and roster dropped in to say hi. In fact, if she were honest, she appreciated it.
She'd been plagued with bad dreams last night, which she knew intellectually were just her mind's way of dealing with the events of the previous afternoon. And she would be eternally grateful to Jeff for being there every time she woke to reassure her she was safe. But the plain fact was that she'd had a disturbed night's sleep, and it was showing.
She was pouring another cup of coffee, yawning, when Mark came into Catering just before lunch. He noticed the yawn, and the dark shadows under her eyes, and he lay a hand on her shoulder gently.
"Everything okay, Kate?"
She looked up at him. "Just tired, Mark. Didn't have the best night's sleep last night."
"Jeff told me," he nodded, his hand still on her shoulder.
"You checkin' up on me, chief?" Funny, that notion didn't bother her in the slightest.
He chuckled. "Guilty. Hey, what can I say - a gentleman should always be concerned about the welfare of a lady."
Nope, that didn't bother her at all. In fact, Harley thought with a smile, she kind of liked it. Her next thought wiped the smile from her face though.
"You heard anything about what's going to happen with Burchill?"
He heard the note of fear in her voice, and that coldness filled him again. That bastard Burchill had a lot to answer for. He didn't want to lie to her, but he had to tell her something.
"No word from the police yet, but I get the feeling that's not going to swing the bosses one way or the other." Both he and Bob Threadgood had been in their ears, hammering that point that Burchill was a danger to every woman working with them, not just Harley. The decision about whether a local police force felt they could successfully prosecute him for assault and attempted sexual battery should have no bearing on whether the company would tolerate his behaviour.
She rubbed her free hand hand over her arm with a little shiver. "I just wish it was over, one way or the other."
A thought hit him suddenly. "What would you do if the bosses decided not to release him?"
The expression on her face didn't change. She'd already considered that possibility. "I'd resign. I couldn't stay here with him - I wouldn't feel safe."
That did it. He patted her shoulder gently. "I'm sure it won't come to that, Kate. Why don't I see what I can find out for you?"
"Would you, Mark?" She looked up at him. "I'd really appreciate it."
He smiled at her. "I'll be back soon, Kate, okay?"
She nodded, moving back to the table where her paperwork was spread out. Mark watched her for a moment, and then set off to find Bob Threadgood, finally locating the man in the arena, where he was talking with the stage director. Bob took one look at Mark's face and ended his conversation with the stage director and headed towards Mark.
"Something wrong?" he asked.
"There could be," Mark said, his voice tight with anger. "Did you know that if the bosses decide to let Burchill stay, Kate's going to quit?"
"Quit?" Bob was thunderstruck.
"Quit. She says she couldn't stay because she wouldn't feel safe."
"Son of a bitch! I had no idea. But then, I can understand her point of view," Bob shook his head.
Mark looked at him levelly. "I've said my piece with the bosses, Bob. They know I speak for the locker room - none of us want the man around, not if he's like that. It's not like he's the most spectacular worker out there - he can be replaced, and we know it. But can you replace Kate that easily?"
"You know damned well I can't, Mark." Bob headed for the door. "And I'm going to go and tell the bosses that, right now."
Mark nodded. "Let me know what they decide, Bob. I promised Kate I'd let her know."
Bob headed for the offices set up for management, determined to force them to the right decision on Burchill. As he did, he thought about his conversation with Mark. In fact, to the man's reaction to this whole situation. Not that he was the only one outraged by Burchill's actions, but Mark seemed to be taking this almost personally. Even Jeff Hardy's reaction wasn't as off the charts as Mark's seemed to be. And that wasn't even accounting for what he was sure Mark wasn't showing - the big man never wore his heart on his sleeve, ever. He'd come a long way from those early days when he could barely stand to be around Harley, it seemed.
The police had decided that Burchill's alleged minor assault and alleged attempted sexual assault on Harley were not sufficiently well established to warrant criminal charges, but he had been officially cautioned regarding his behaviour. They had reported to the company that his reaction to this cautioning had shown no remorse or even acknowledgment of wrongdoing.
That had been the deciding factor, ultimately. Advice from Human Resources was that, given that the company was now aware not only of Burchill's behaviour, but his reaction to being caught at it, keeping him as an employee posed an unacceptable level of risk should he commit another assault. It would leave the company wide open to charges of failing to provide a safe working environment.
The question then became, what to do about Katie Lea? She had been brought in with her brother, and no real attempts had been made to develop her as a character without him. Unfortunately for her, the company felt that her continued presence would give her brother an excuse to be in attendance at shows, which would defeat the purpose of releasing him from his contract.
And finally, given the volatile nature of the parties involved, no mention of the contract terminations was going to be made until the following day, when the Burchills could be immediately taken to the airport and placed on a flight to their native England. That would require some arranging - their visas would be revoked, on the grounds that they were no longer employed, and officials from Citizenship and Immigration Services would need to supervise their removal from the country.
It was two hours before someone came to give Bob the news, on the proviso that he only tell Harley, given her fears. Bob went instead to the locker room to find Mark - anything that would help keep the peace between him and Harley, Bob wasn't going to stand in the way of. Drawing Mark away from his match planning with Glenn and Jeff, Bob swore him to secrecy about the Burchills' impending deportation and left it to him to tell Harley of the decision.
Mark stood in the hallway as Bob walked away. They were right in the middle of planning the action for the match with Burchill, and yet he wanted to go straight away and tell Harley of the decision, if only to ease her mind. He looked back at the locker room door and then towards Catering, and decided. Poking his head into the locker room, he told Glenn and Jeff he'd be right back, and then set off for Catering.
Harley was having limited success with her paperwork - her concentration was drifting, and she was tired. She propped her head on her hand, going over the figures of the inventory for perhaps the fifth time, with no better result. She lay her pen down with a little sigh.
Mark took one look at her and knew he'd made the right decision. He crossed the room, and pulled out a chair beside him, smiling at her gently as she looked up. He leaned in a little and put his hand on her shoulder, his voice low as he spoke.
"It's not going to be made public knowledge until tomorrow, but the Burchills are being released. And because that will mean their visas are no longer valid, they'll be deported. They should be out of the country tomorrow morning."
She looked at him, her eyes widening as she whispered, "Deported?"
He nodded. "They were only in the country as WWE employees. As of tomorrow, that won't be the case. It's also why no one's being told, including them, until tomorrow. It has to be handled properly. But the bosses agreed you should be told, to give you peace of mind."
Closing her eyes, Harley held back tears, and Mark could feel the tension in her. He wished he had enough of a friendship with her to hug her, but he settled for gently rubbing her back as his heart went out to her. She'd had a rough couple of days.
For her part, Harley was fighting an urge to bury her face in his chest and cling to him in sheer relief. Probably enough to send the poor man screaming for the hills, given their rather checkered past history. And only an urge to equate the bringer of the news with the message itself, most likely - shooting the messenger in reverse, sort of. She blew out a breath, getting herself back under control, and looked at him, giving him a smile.
"Thank you, Mark. That is a weight off my mind."
He patted her shoulder gently. "My pleasure, Kate." He pushed his chair back and stood up.
She smiled at him again, and nodded before going back to her paperwork, able to concentrate a little better now. He walked towards the door, pausing there a moment longer to look back at her before leaving.
On his way back to the locker room, Mark realized he was going to have to tell Glenn and Jeff about Burchill's impending departure. Up to the point when he'd been called out to talk to Bob, their ideas were certainly going to leave Burchill bruised and battered. Seriously bruised and battered. They might have to rethink their strategy if he was going to be handed over to immigration officials the following morning and stuck on an international flight. Who knew if seeing one of their citizens returned to them black and blue, and possibly pissing blood, might not spark an international incident with the Brits? And he'd have to be well enough to get on the damned plane in the first place.
Mark scowled. That really was going to take a lot of the fun out of the match. He pushed open the door of the locker room with a disgusted shake of his head.
Bob was pleased to see Harley looking less stressed, but he still had to keep her out of the way for the evening. He thought about sending her back to the hotel, but reasoned that she wouldn't go for that two nights in a row. Instead, he tasked her with working with someone from her crew on the Smackdown pyros for the following night. That would keep her busy.
Harley joined Jeff for dinner as usual, and he noticed how tired she looked. Fortunately, the show would be over early tonight. He counted himself lucky that she was tired, or she might have asked questions about his match, and he certainly didn't want to lie to her.
She was wearing her headset around her neck in the loading dock where they were working on the pyros, because it was second nature to do so while a show was on. Josh, one of her senior techs, hadn't been able to think of a valid reason to ask her to take it off - he was under orders from Bob to keep her well away from backstage until the show was over.
Jeff had been on tenterhooks waiting for his entrance, praying that Harley would stay away. She wouldn't understand his need to do this, or Mark's, or Glenn's. There were some things that just didn't cross the gender barrier.
At the tap on the shoulder from the stage director, he relaxed a little, and moved up the stairs to begin his entrance. Nothing was going to stop him now.
Burchill waited for him in the ring, wearing a smug look. The audience pop was huge, and he played to it as usual. He figured that would make Burchill even more smug, thinking he was about to take down someone so over.
After the referee's instruction, they faced off, and Burchill muttered to him, sotto voce, "Pity you couldn't make yourself available to go over the match, Hardy. Guess we'll just have to wing it, won't we?"
Jeff wanted to laugh - Mark had been dead right in his prediction. He just shrugged instead and replied, just as quietly, "Sounds good to me. How you want to start this?"
They were moving around the ring, still facing off, and suddenly Burchill lunged for him, and Jeff threw himself backwards just in time to avoid what was likely a very stiff clothesline. It helped to have been wrestling since he was a kid, he thought with a chuckle to himself. It was unlikely Burchill was going to really hurt him, if he kept his wits about him.
In spite of that, Burchill did manage to land a couple of hard blows, and Jeff winced as he got up from one of them, a scoop slam that had been brutally hard. But he was still in there, much to Burchill's disgust.
"Why won't you lay down, Hardy? Do I have to really hurt you?"
Jeff flicked his eyes to the referee, who gave him a barely imperceptible nod. It was actually time to lay down - or at least, to make Burchill think he would, anyway. He needed Burchill to try his neckbreaker finisher.
"Fine, you want me to lay down, I will," he murmured to Burchill.
With a grin, Burchill whipped around behind him and grabbed both of his arms, pulling them back far harder than he needed, given Jeff wasn't actually resisting him. The wince that crossed Jeff's face wasn't faked, but the groan was purely for the cameras. Burchill's large boot was suddenly in the centre of his back, and as he pushed down with it, the pressure on Jeff's arms increased painfully until Burchill let go, and Jeff fell face first onto the mat.
He hid his grin - this was perfect. Now Burchill would drag him up and try to put him into that neckbreaker. Sure enough, a large fist suddenly grabbed hold of his hair, and Jeff grabbed for Burchill's forearm to give himself more leverage, quickly getting his feet under him.
Before Burchill could straighten up any further, Jeff kicked off from his bent back position with his feet, propelling his body up and over Burchill's shoulder. Burchill's startled exclamation made what was about to happen even sweeter, as Jeff looped his arm around Burchill's neck in an inverted facelock before giving him an Extreme Twist of Fate.
Josh thought he'd done pretty well - the show was almost over when Harley stretched and gave him a satisfied nod. The last of the pyros had been assembled, and they were just finished loading them into one of the trucks. Harley went to take off her headset to leave it with her toolbox, and a fragment of the stage directions caught her ear.
"Okay, get a camera on Burchill, be ready for Hardy's move."
She gasped, her eyes widening. "What the hell?"
He groaned to himself and tried to take the headset from her. Ignoring the attempt, she put it on properly, glaring at him.
"It wasn't my idea!" he protested.
Back in the ring, Burchill was laid out, and Jeff was moving slowly towards a pin when the arena darkened, and a voice in Harley's headset cued a simultaneous pyro effect for Kane and the Undertaker's bell toll.
Shaking off Josh's restraining hand, Harley headed backstage at a dead run, just in time to hear the massive crowd pop as Glenn and Mark entered together. She glanced helplessly at Bob, who couldn't take his attention from the board, and headed out to the side of the Titan-tron, where the crew usually stood to watch matches if they could.
Burchill was still laying in the ring, heavily winded from the Twist of Fate, as the Brothers of Destruction entered. Jeff backed off to the opposite side of the ring. Mark and Glenn took up positions on either side of Burchill, and then bent down together to pick him up, Glenn making exaggerated motions of brushing him off while Mark leaned in to tell him he had a match to finish.
Looking from Mark to Glenn, Burchill seemed confused at their assistance, but the referee didn't seem surprised, so he figured it was part of the script. Since they'd let him get away with everything to this point, he was willing to go along with it. Jeff was hanging onto the ropes, looking exhausted. He was meant to pick up the win here, he thought, and he headed for Jeff, bending to grab him for a scoop slam.
What he was not expecting was for Jeff to throw off any pretense of exhaustion and counter with a sitout jawbreaker that jarred him from head to toe. Across the ring, Mark and Glenn stepped outside the ropes to the ring apron, staying out of the match.
As soon as Burchill could get his feet under him again, he glared at Jeff and rushed him like a wounded bull, head down. Jeff stepped smartly aside, and it looked to Harley as if Glenn deliberately moved along the ring apron so that when Burchill hit the ropes to halt his momentum, he knocked Glenn to the arena floor.
Mark looked down at Glenn, and then moved deliberately through the ropes into the ring, shaking his head at Burchill. Harley heard one of the producers on her headset to Jim Ross.
"Goddamnit, they've gone off script, Jim. Do the best you can with it."
Off script - Harley blinked in surprise. Jeff had explained that to her one night, something about the wrestlers deviating from the planned action. Whatever was about to happen wasn't planned, and it involved the two men who'd been involved in the original confrontation with Paul Burchill. A cold chill worked its way along her spine.
In the ring, Mark gave Paul a hard shot to the ribs with his fist, and almost grinned as he heard Jim Ross at ringside use that old line about him being the "best pure striker in the history of sports entertainment". Burchill was about to find out how true that was.
He didn't bother to pull the punch, and leaned in closer to Burchill for a moment, his lips barely moving as he murmured, "Your first mistake was pissing off Hardy about his friend Harley."
Burchill started swinging wildly, but Mark dodged his fists easily and then gave him a sharp open handed slap across the face, once more leaning in to him. "Your second mistake was putting your filthy hands on my friend Harley."
Behind Burchill, Glenn was climbing into the ring, and Mark grabbed Burchill and threw him into an Irish whip. His greater size and strength slammed the man hard into the turnbuckle nearest Glenn, who turned and hit him with a hard uppercut, which he did pull a little. Even so, it rocked Burchill's head back hard.
"Payback's a bitch, Paul."
Burchill, reeling a little from the punch, looked at the referee, his expression plainly baffled, and Mark stalked towards him, getting right in his face.
"Don't be looking to him for salvation. You're in my yard now, boy, and bad things happen in my yard."
He dragged Burchill away from the turnbuckle with a wrist lock, and then gave him a hard shoulder block. Glenn tapped Mark on the shoulder and gestured to the top rope, which caused a roar of approval from the crowd. Mark pantomimed thoughtfulness, while hitting Burchill with another shoulder block, twisting his wrist painfully as he did so. Glenn looked at Burchill, his expression warning him not to get cute with any of this.
Finally Mark shrugged and twisted Burchill's arm, the crowd screaming for Old School as he climbed the turnbuckle and did his rope walk, putting as much of his weight into the flying chop onto Burchill's shoulder as he could.
Burchill groaned as he collapsed onto his knees. Mark landed beside him, grabbing him by the shoulder and hair, hauling him back upright, grinning at Burchill's protests.
"I'm sorry Paul, I thought you liked hair pulling."
He gave Burchill's hair another sharp yank, nodding at Jeff, who had been lounging against the ropes. He nodded and darted across the ring, running up to the top turnbuckle and flying into a Whisper in the Wind, Mark stepping aside at the last minute.
The crowd roared in approval, which was of course what Mark expected them to do. They were focusing more on the "fun" that he and Glenn and Jeff were having, setting Burchill up for one another's moves, and not on the fact that they were, in the process, beating Burchill like a government mule, as Jim Ross would say.
Harley could hear cursing through her headset, as two additional cameraman ran past her towards the ring and were directed into position by the techs in the truck, with instructions to follow the action as closely as they could.
As Jeff rolled to his feet, he grinned at Glenn and pointed at the top turnbuckle again. Glenn shook his head and gestured instead to Jeff, who pointed to himself with a quizzical look. The crowd were lapping it up. Glenn and Mark hauled Burchill back to his feet as he protested weakly and looked at the referee with pleading eyes.
The referee made a gesture that meant "I need instructions", and Harley head a voice in her headset respond.
"There's no way we can stop it, let 'em go and follow their lead."
The referee gave one small nod, indicating he'd heard and understood, and then looked at Burchill with a little shrug. Mark had suspected this might happen at one point, and it appeared the bosses had reacted just as he thought they would - they wouldn't be stopped. Burchill's face fell, and he leaned in with a low chuckle.
"What's the matter, Paul? You aren't enjoying being assaulted by guys bigger than you? You should have thought about that before you laid hands on a woman."
Jeff, meanwhile, had climbed through the ropes and was ascending to the top turnbuckle, waiting in a crouch just as Glenn usually did, and the crowd were on their feet. Mark and Glenn stepped away and Jeff jumped from the top turnbuckle, hitting Burchill with a diving clothesline and quickly rolling to his feet. Glenn made a "my turn" gesture, and Jeff hauled Burchill into a sitting position. Glenn ran across the ring and launched himself off the ropes into a dropkick, which hit a dazed Burchill like 300 pounds of bricks, slamming him back to the canvas.
Mark pushed himself off the ropes, giving Glenn a little round of applause, and reached down to pull Burchill up by his hair again, making sure to yank hard. Once Burchill was on his feet, Mark launched him towards the corner of the ring, following him at a dead run and landing the body splash with his full weight. Burchill sagged against the ropes as Mark stepped away, and Glenn grinned, leaning in to grab Burchill's wrist, pulling him out of the corner and spinning him around, heading him into the opposite corner and hitting him with a body splash of his own.
Against the roar of approval from the crowd, Jeff stepped up and tapped Mark on the shoulder, gesturing to Burchill with a "Can I try that?" look. Mark nodded, and Jeff stepped in, taking hold of Burchill's wrist, and trying to pull him from the corner. To the crowd, it looked like Burchill was resisting, but the truth was that Burchill was dead weight, and Jeff was having trouble getting him to his feet. Mark solved the problem, moving in to grab Burchill and whip him towards the opposite corner, and Jeff followed him with a body splash of his own, jumping from the canvas at the last minute to give him enough height to slam his knee into Burchill's groin.
As he dropped to his feet in front of Burchill, who groaned, Jeff leaned in to him. "That's for Harley, you son of a bitch."
Stepping away from Burchill, his fists clenched, Jeff tried to gain control of his emotions, and Mark patted his shoulder, nodding approvingly, apparently congratulating for the splash, but his words said otherwise.
"Don't lose sight of the match plan, Jeff." It was important they didn't hurt Burchill too badly, which could easily happen if any one of them allowed their temper to control their actions.
Jeff nodded, and then they both stepped aside as Glenn hauled Burchill out of the corner and tossed him across the ring. This time, Burchill didn't remain upright, but slumped to the canvas in a sitting position. They'd planned for that too, and while Glenn looked disappointed at not being able to splash him, Jeff tapped his shoulder and gave a "May I?" gesture, and then ran in and hit Burchill squarely in the chest with a rope assisted drop kick that made the crowd groan in sympathy.
That was the cue they were waiting for - the crowd were acknowledging the beat down had gone on long enough. Mark and Glenn bent down and grabbed Burchill's ankles and hauled him into the center of the ring, and then the three of them "discussed" who would do the pin. Finally, Mark and Glenn stepped back and Jeff dropped onto Burchill with a hard elbow, and then dragged his leg up while the referee counted the pin.
Harley was barely hearing the voices in her headset as they scrambled for Jeff's theme and fed Jim Ross some words to finalize the show. Her attention was only on the ring, and that cold shiver was still there. They had gone off script, the three of them. Against Burchill. Because of her.
She was torn between fury at them for doing such a thing, for sinking to Burchill's level, and a dark thrill of pleasure that they would take up for her that way.
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