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Fireworks
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!  

This is a fairly short one (well, short for me :-p ) but I know you'll appreciate it!

###

The company was in Texas for the Cyber Sunday Pay Per View weekend. House shows in San Antonio and then Austin, the Pay Per View in Houston, and then on to Dallas and Fort Worth for Raw and Smackdown.

Given the scope of the weekend, and the distances involved, there were two crews working, and two sets of equipment, on alternate nights. It was only senior crew who were working all the shows, supervising the set builds and the major details.

Which meant a very busy weekend for Harley, something she was thankful for. While she was busy, she wouldn't be dwelling on the unfortunate events in Kansas. And she hoped she'd be less likely to run into Mark, at least until she'd had the chance to put some distance on her embarrassment.

That was not going to be the case. She'd flown in with Glenn and, to her surprise, discovered Mark at the airport waiting for them, instead of a rental car. Of course, she should have realized that might happen - they were in his home state, after all. She managed a brief greeting, but that was about the limit of her conversation. She sat in silence as they drove to the hotel, looking out the window.

Probably just as well, because that way she missed how often Mark was glancing in the rearview mirror to look at her. She was wearing jeans and a chambray workshirt, which brought out the blue in her eyes. He'd been thinking about her all week, wondering how he might manage to get some time alone with her. Because he'd realized something as he flew home from Kansas - something that should have been obvious to him weeks ago.

He wanted her. He was kidding himself when he thought of her as just a friend, because he'd gone way past thinking about her that way, probably since that night in Vegas when they'd gone out to celebrate his championship. He was happy they could be friends, he enjoyed spending time with her, but he wanted it to move on to something more.

And that was going to be a tricky maneuver, since she was quite obviously still only thinking about him as a friend. More to the point, it appeared she was back to being skittish around him since what had happened in Topeka. Short of taking her out and getting her drunk again, he wasn't quite sure how he was going to get her relax around him sufficiently for him to even hint that he'd like it if she got friendlier with him.

At the hotel, as he was taking her case out of the back of the truck, he gave her a smile.

"We've got a poker game going tonight, Kate, after the show. Care to join us?"

Harley glanced at him quickly. "Ah, I think I have to pass. I'm going to have a real busy weekend, with plenty of early starts. Thanks for the offer, though."

Damn it, he hadn't thought of that. "The guys'll be disappointed - Chuck said he had some fresh meat lined up for tonight's game."

She couldn't help her grin at that. "I'm sure you can show him how the game is played without me - and it gives me an advantage when he's relaxed and thinks he has you guys all pegged."

He laughed. "Kate, you're so damn devious! I dig that about you."

She gave him a sidelong glance, her cheeks colouring a little, and then she headed into the hotel to check in.

###

Later that day, Mark was coming into the arena after an appearance when he noticed Harley standing with a man in a business suit. They were in the public area, and he could see them through the open doors that led backstage. The man handed her a business card, and they shook hands. She stood and watched him walk away, accompanied by one of the arena staff, and then shook her head, tucking the card into her pocket and coming backstage.

She gave Mark a smile as she came towards him, a bemused expression still on her face. He fell in beside her as she walked.

"Hey, Kate. How's it going?"

They were heading for Catering, it seemed - fine with him.

"Busy, but good. Your appearance go okay?"

He nodded, collecting a bottle of water as she got a cup of coffee. They sat together at one of the tables, and he was pleased that at least their friendship seemed to be intact. He took a mouthful of his water.

"Who was the suit?"

She took a sip of her coffee before answering. "Some guy who runs an events management company here in San Antonio."

"Yeah? You needing outside help for this weekend?"

She chuckled. "Nah. He came to offer me a job."

"He what?" Mark was sure she wasn't job hunting anymore.

"He offered me a job."

"I didn't think you were looking for another job, Kate." He regarded her intently.

"I'm not."

"Good."

What in the blue hell? Before she could say anything, Mark grinned at her.

"So if you're not job hunting, why did he offer you one?"

Now she felt on safer ground. "Apparently he heard that Ben Martin out in Vegas had offered me a job. I guess he figured if I was good enough for Ben, I was good enough for him."

"How did he know about that?"

She shrugged. "Pyrotechnics is a small industry, especially at the top levels. News travels - the work Ben and I did on that new pyro for Glenn is a big deal." She chuckled. "I gotta hand it to the guy though - he's got some major cojones."

"How so?"

"It takes a set and a half to walk in to where I work and flat out try and head hunt me into a new job, doncha think?" Her eyes showed her amusement.

He had to grin. "I hadn't thought about that, but yeah, it does!" He took another mouthful of water. "You changed your hair."

Harley's eyebrows raised, and one hand went to her hair, where she was now sporting several hot pink streaks. She would never have figured him for a guy who'd even notice such a thing. "Needed a little change, you know how it goes."

"Not really. But I like the pink - it's spunky."

She chuckled, her hand dropping back to the table. "Thanks."

They sat in silence for a few minutes, and then Harley gave him a smile as she rose to her feet.

"Well, those pyros for Sunday night aren't going to set themselves, so I better get back to work. You have a good afternoon, Mark."

He nodded, watching her leave, trying not to let his puzzlement show. Most women were delighted to be complimented, and yet she had seemed surprised by it. He had hoped she might respond a little more positively, too, which would have given him an opening to maybe ask her to have dinner with him. He didn't think he was that rusty with his seduction techniques. He'd just have to keep looking for that opportunity.

###

Harley was taking a break late in the afternoon, chatting with one of the second crew, when a hand landed on her shoulder. She turned around to see Randy Orton smiling at her.

"Hey, Harley. Long time, no see."

Randy had been out with an injury. If Harley were honest, she hadn't missed him. He tended to believe his own hype, and his ego was pretty inflated. Still, she knew better than to antagonize the talent. She gave him a quick smile.

"It has been. You're back at work?"

"Next week. So, how have you been?" He moved in a little closer, his hand still on her shoulder. The crew member she'd been talking to decided to make himself scarce.

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes and shrug his hand off.

"Oh, same old, same old."

He gave her a slow smile.

"You and I should get together, have a beer some night. Maybe talk about something new for my entrance - I hear you've been doing stuff for the other guys."

She almost laughed in his face then. Of course it was going to be about him. God forbid someone else should have a better entrance than he did, the egotist. But she was used to this kind of thing. She reached up and patted his cheek with one hand.

"Randy, sugar, I'd be happy to meet with you and the stage director to discuss your entrance. Some day when I'm not so busy, like not on a Pay Per weekend."

He dropped his hand from her shoulder.

"Sure, if that's what you'd prefer."

She smiled. "That's what I'd prefer. And now, I have to get back to work. You have a good evening, Randy."

As she walked away, she rolled her eyes. Honestly, for a Lost Boy, he really tried her patience. His manipulations didn't even amuse her much - probably because he was a bit too self-centered to be a good flirt for that purpose.

Harley put Randy out of her mind as she went back to work, unaware that her brief chat with him had had an audience.

###

Mark had watched as Harley had talked with Orton, feeling a surge of anger at seeing that young punk put his hand on her shoulder. He couldn't watch them together very long, turning and walking away. He was in a remarkably bad mood afterwards - particularly when he heard some laughing remarks later about Randy not wasting any time when he came back to work.

After the show, he'd begged off the poker game and had gone to the hotel bar, having a few beers while he stewed over Orton and Harley.

He guessed the rumour mill would finally let go of their assumptions about him and Harley, although he didn't really want them to. He rather liked them thinking that Harley was 'his'. Even if she wasn't. Yet.

He couldn't figure out what was she doing with a kid like Orton, though. Hardy, maybe he could understand - they'd been friends since she'd come to work here, it seemed. But Orton? Was that all it took - a line of smooth talk? She wouldn't respond to his compliment with more than just a thank you, and yet she was more than happy to flirt with Orton.

That night in Topeka, he didn't buy for a second that it had just been the booze talking. There was a spark of attraction between them. But maybe it wasn't enough - Orton was a good looking young buck. He didn't think she was that shallow, but then she had said she had a weakness for, what did she call them, 'lost boys'? Maybe she only went for younger men.

Now that was a blow to his pride. The next time the bartender came his way, he ordered a bourbon.

###

It had been a long day, and Harley was only too glad to get back to the hotel.

She said goodnight to the crew who'd shared the shuttle with her and headed for the elevators. Rather than choosing her floor, she headed instead for one of the bars, thinking longingly of a cup of coffee. Glancing at the clock above the bar as she sat down, she gave a little sigh. It was late. Perhaps coffee wasn't the best idea. She rubbed her temples, trying to decide, and a deep laugh sounded behind her.

"Howdy, Kate."

She turned around to see Mark behind her.

"Hey Mark."

He leaned on the bar beside her, and she realized with a start that he was - well, "drunk" was too strong a word, but he was well on his way to that state. It was an about-face from the situation last weekend, certainly.

"Have a drink with me, Kate."

"Actually, I was thinking more of a cup of coffee. But perhaps that's not a good idea this late. I should just go to bed."

It just felt too weird to be sitting here with their positions reversed - she didn't want to be thinking about last weekend. She didn't even know how she might return the favour and make sure he got back to his room okay.

Mark looked at her and then nodded.

"Come on then, Kate. I'll see you to your room."

Well, that would mean him leaving the bar, and she doubted he'd come back down afterwards. That was close enough for government work, as they said. She rose to her feet.

"Thanks, Mark. What floor are you on?"

"Fifteen." He held the door to the bar for her.

"I'm on ten," she said as they came to the elevators. "You could just drop me there."

He just shook his head silently, standing aside to let her enter the elevator. Still with the whole 'a gentleman always sees a lady home' thing, she thought, giving him a smile and stepping into it. He followed her, leaning against the wall as he looked at her. She was beginning to find his gaze a little uncomfortable, especially since he hadn't said a word since they'd left the bar. On the tenth floor, true to his word, he held the elevator doors open for her and then followed her out.

Harley gave him a quick smile as they came to her room. "This is me."

Mark was standing slightly behind her, and he reached out and ran the tips of his fingers over her shoulder, in a very deliberate caress. She couldn't help the shiver that ran through her at his touch, unexpected as it was. She took a half step forward, fishing her keycard out of her pocket, turning around to face him. She was about to say goodnight when he spoke.

"Saw you with Orton this afternoon."

"Oh?"

"I don't get it - what do you see in a kid like that?"

She frowned. "I'm not following you."

"Is it that he's so damned cocky all the time? Or is it just that he's young? Hell, he's younger than Hardy, Kate - you really such a cradle snatcher?"

"Now wait just a damned minute!" she glared at him. "Where do you get off, sayin' somethin' like that to me?"

"I gotta call 'em as I see 'em, Kate. You and Orton, it ain't right." You should be with me, he wanted to add.

"There is no me and Orton, you idiot! Not that it would be any of your damn business if there was. God, you're no better than anyone else around here - you see a conversation and assume a damned relationship!"

His green eyes locked to hers. There was nothing between her and Orton? Then what was with all the flirting . . . he was struck with a sudden realization. Harley was so used to her damned 'lost boys', she couldn't recognize a man. A man who had no desire to beat around the bush with flirtation and playing games. A man whose approach was far more straightforward.

One big arm darted out and wrapped around her waist, pulling her against him as he bent his head to hers. She gasped in surprise and he caught her lips with his as they parted. And then he kissed her - a long, slow kiss, his tongue lightly tracing her lips before delving into her mouth, tasting her. He felt her moan against his lips, one hand coming up to his chest, first pushing at him and then moving to caressing. Her head came up more, and he tilted his, deepening the kiss for a moment, feeling her body lean into his.

And then he released her - his lips lifted from hers and his arm dropped from around her. He didn't miss how she swayed towards him even as he moved away from her. He didn't say a word, just turned and walked away. Let her chew on that.

Harley stood rooted to the floor in shock. She watched him walk away and could not believe what had just happened. One hand came up to her lips. Her eyes closed and she swayed a little, remembering the firm press of his lips to hers, the taste of him - the bourbon he'd drunk, yes, but then his taste.

Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked around, shaking her head. Still in the damned hallway, and where was her keycard anyway? She found it on the floor, where it had dropped out of her fingers the minute his lips had met hers. Her hand trembled a little as she opened her door, and she leaned against it as she closed it.

"What the hell?" she breathed.

Mark had kissed her. Out of nowhere. And it had been a good kiss too, the kind that almost curls your toes. One minute, they'd been fighting about her and Orton - and where the hell had he got that idea from? And the next, he'd pulled her close and was kissing her. She shivered - there were all kinds of good things to remember about that kiss, about him. The feel of his muscular body, the scent of him - it was deep and musky and all but overwhelming. She had no idea if it was his cologne or just him, and frankly didn't much care one way or the other - he smelled good. Damn good.

But this was utterly out of character for him. Looked a lot like he had the same kind of reaction when he drank that she did. So, tomorrow, she'd just pretend it never happened. Like he was, hopefully, doing with what she'd done to him last weekend.

As she climbed into bed, she made another decision - she was done with drinking on the road. It made things too goddamned weird.

###

Austin on Saturday was as busy as San Antonio had been the day before. Harley was never more grateful to the crew, or to Bob, who'd really been responsible for assembling them. Her own crew had gone on to Houston with the equipment from San Antonio, to start the set build for the Pay Per View. But the second crew were just as reliable, and she had left most of the work for that night's show to them, while she finished the assembly for the last of the pyros for the next night.

She'd woken up in the hotel in San Antonio that morning still reeling from what had happened with Mark the night before. Thankfully, an early start with Bob and the rest of the senior crew meant that she hadn't run into Mark yet, although it was more than likely that would happen at some point during the day.

The more she thought about it as she worked on the pyros in the loading dock, the more she figured it was something that had happened because Mark had had a few drinks. Bourbon - she remembered tasting it on his lips . . . okay, no, she wasn't going to think about that. Because it wasn't likely to happen again.

###

Glenn and Mark arrived at the venue in Austin just before noon, after an appearance that morning. There was something . . . different about Mark, Glenn thought to himself, as they unloaded their gear from the back of his truck. Something more than him just being on his home turf, which is what he'd put it down to when they'd gotten on the road from San Antonio earlier that morning. He was almost chipper, even with a hangover.

However, Glenn couldn't complain - they were about to embark on a program that would lead to him taking the championship from Mark at Armageddon in December. Mark was, as usual, being gracious about his impending title loss, and they had a lot of ideas about making the program enthralling. And he was finally going to get to have it rain fire from the ceiling! In light of that, he was vastly unconcerned about having to lose to Mark the next night.

Their plans for the afternoon included some ring time to go over their match for the Pay Per, as well as catching up with their opponents for the show that night. They headed into the venue, finding the locker room and stowing their gear, and then Mark said something about catching up with him later before leaving. Shrugging, Glenn decided to head over to Catering for lunch before tracking down Dave Batista.

Harley sat back on one foot, holding a wiring schematic in one hand while she traced a path through it with the tip of her screwdriver, glancing from it to the shells in front of her as she checked it. She was engrossed in what she was doing, and didn't hear anyone approaching, so the hand that touched her shoulder came as a complete surprise. She squawked and fell on her ass, looking up over her shoulder at a grinning Jeff Hardy.

"Boo!" he laughed.

"Jeez, Jeff," she complained good-naturedly as she got to her feet, brushing at the seat of her cargo pants, "frighten me half to death, whydoncha?"

He looped an arm around her shoulder, grinning. "Not my fault if you shut out everything that's going on around you."

"Hey, I was concentrating, thank you!"

"You were in another world, Harley. I'm gonna go grab some lunch - you wanna come with?" he smiled.

She shook her head. "I'm right in the middle of this, and I want to get it finished and checked first. I'll probably see you there later."

Jeff nodded and headed off to Catering alone, and Harley bent to pick up the schematic she had dropped.

Hearing footsteps behind her, she chuckled, saying as she turned around, "Forget something . . . " Her voice trailed off, seeing not Jeff as she expected, but Mark. She swallowed hard. "Oh. Hi."

Mark smiled at her. "Hello, Kate."

She smiled back, and he was pleased to see she looked a little . . . off-balance.

"I didn't see you at breakfast this morning," he said.

"Ah, no - had an early start. With Bob."

"I see." He took a step closer to her. "I was hoping to see you, to talk about what happened last night."

"Last night?" She darted a glance into his eyes and then looked away again quickly. "Look, really, there's nothing to talk about."

"Oh, but I think there is, Kate," he said, moving closer.

"No, I understand, honestly. You'd had a few drinks, and, well, things might have got a bit out of hand. I'm prepared to forget it ever happened."

"I don't want you to forget it ever happened, Kate." He reached out and lay his hand on her shoulder, looking into her eyes.

She shivered at his touch. "You don't?"

"No, I don't. Because things didn't get out of hand. And it wasn't because I'd had a few drinks."

Her voice was barely a whisper. "It wasn't?"

"No. And just to prove it . . ."

Before she could say anything, he leaned in to kiss her. His hand moved down from her shoulder, over her back, gently pulling her closer to him as their lips met. There was a faint rustle of paper as the wiring schematic slipped from her grasp and fluttered to the ground. His tongue teased at her lips until she parted them, and he tilted his head, nipping softly at her lower lip with his as the kiss ended.

"See? Completely sober," he said in a low voice.

His hand was still resting on her back, holding her gently. She was looking up at him with wide eyes, but she wasn't trying to move away from him - that was good. He let his fingers move, lightly caressing her for a moment before he removed his hand.

"Now, do you see we have something to talk about?"

She nodded, looking a little dazed. He smiled.

"I'll come find you, Kate. And we'll talk, soon."

Mark turned and walked away from her, grinning. He thought that maybe he had her attention now.

###

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Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
faithinfire
Sep. 5th, 2008 12:03 am (UTC)
O__________O Ooh, quite the shot of arrogance there from Mark! Eh, guys... perfect gentleman right up until he decides he knows better than the lady does, huh? She should totally slap him for all that. (Then she should probably kiss him, but she should at least get the slap in there first, just on principle. *nods* :) )

And y'know, I should've been in bed an hour ago. Clearly this is what I was subconsciously staying up for. ^_^
nephthys_abode
Sep. 5th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
And y'know, I should've been in bed an hour ago. Clearly this is what I was subconsciously staying up for. ^_^

And I didn't even leave any hints I was going to post it!

Mark's played his hand, for better or for worse. Now he has to wait and see what Harley's reaction will be. ;-)
kaotic_princez
Sep. 5th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC)
Oh Mylanta! They finally kissed YAY! Does Harley see it now? Mark planted two very slow hott kisses on her so if she doesnt then she is hopeless lol

Can't wait to see how their talk goes.

Keep up the great writing!
nephthys_abode
Sep. 5th, 2008 04:21 am (UTC)
Oh Mylanta! They finally kissed YAY! Does Harley see it now? Mark planted two very slow hott kisses on her so if she doesnt then she is hopeless lol

Oh she's been hopeless all along!! I do believe she's starting to buy a clue or two though.

Thanks so much for reading!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )