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!
Appreciate so much the feedback - I write mostly for my own amusement, so it's very nice to know that other people are enjoying the story!
Once Harley had showered and changed, she got out her laptop and planner, and the inventory lists that went everywhere with her. With all this extra work with the inferno rig coming up, she needed to make a start on designing the opening pyro display. She flicked through the files on her computer, looking at what she'd done recently, and jotting down ideas on what she could try this time, referring to the inventory lists as she went.
She was deep in thought when a knock came at her door. She went to answer it, checking the spyhole first, seeing Mark there. She opened the door to him, giving him a smile.
Mark smiled back at her. "Hello Kate. Can I come in?"
She blushed a little and stepped aside, beckoning to him. "Of course, Mark, where are my manners?"
He waited until she closed the door and then reached out to take her hand, drawing her close to him and bending his head to kiss her gently.
She leaned up to his kiss, her arms around his waist, sighing softly against his lips as his arms wrapped around her. When their lips parted, Mark straightened up, and she rested her cheek against his chest. His hand came up to stroke her hair gently. She nuzzled her head to his hand for a moment, and then withdrew her arms from around his waist, taking his hand and leading him to the sofa that sat against the windows. He sat down, stretching his legs out in front of him, and she sat beside him, smiling when he wrapped one arm around her shoulders. She leaned her head against his chest.
"Did your appearance go well?"
He nodded, his voice a low rumble against her ear as he spoke. "Yeah, it was good. How about your meeting?"
The question reminded her about those things she'd been worrying about earlier. He felt her shoulders tense under his hand and frowned. Before he could speak, she sat up from where she had been leaning against him and turned to look at him. Those blue eyes held a glint of steel.
"I heard about your inferno match."
Uh oh. "Kate, it's no big thing. Not like we haven't done it before."
She shook her head. "You've done it twice, Mark. The whole idea's only been used four times! Granted, Glenn's been involved in all four of them, but it's still not exactly what I'd call a lot of experience, considering how badly the two of you got hurt in a steel cage match, an atrocity that happens far more regularly, so I'm told."
"It'll be fine. Honestly."
"Well, it's going to be as fine as I can make it, anyway."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm in charge of it."
Whoa! He hadn't counted on that - he figured Bob would be taking the lead, keeping Harley well away from it. "You?"
She nodded. "I can't take over as crew chief while I'm still on restricted duties, so Bob's had to throw me in the deep end. He's not exactly thrilled about it, but there's not a lot we can do."
"Aw hell, Kate, last thing I wanted to do was make things hard for you - Glenn and I just figured it would be a showstopper for the Pay Per before I lose the belt to him."
She looked into his eyes - for a moment, he looked a lot like a Lost Boy. One who's discovered his fun and games have actually hurt someone. It wasn't that he was thoughtless, or unaware of how much work went on behind the scenes, more that he was so passionate about the business that the ends to him justified the means. He wanted the boys in the back to be impressed by what he was doing as much as he wanted to entertain the fans, just the way she did, and for that, she had to love him, just a little. She smiled suddenly and leaned in to kiss him.
"It will be a showstopper - we'll make sure of it. While at the same time making sure neither you or Glenn gets hurt."
The grin he gave her was as carefree as a man half his age, and he pulled her into a warm hug.
"I like the sound of that 'we', Kate."
She pulled away from him a little. "You might not like it so much when I tell you what this all means for us."
He looked puzzled. "What do you mean?"
She ran one hand through her hair with a sigh. "I'm going to be working my tail off between now and Orlando. Including skipping the Detroit dates next week."
"You won't be coming to Detroit?"
"Nope. I'll be flying to Orlando straight from Milwaukee."
"You're not getting any time off?"
"I'll have a few days next week."
Mark shook his head. "Kate, you're barely out of hospital! You can't work like that!"
She raised her eyebrows. "Can't I? You just watch me!"
"Damn it, Kate, that's not what I meant!" he snapped in frustration. This was not happening! They'd talked about spending more time together, including Harley maybe coming back to Texas with him before the Detroit dates. Now it appeared that was not on the cards - all because he and Glenn had come up with the brilliant idea of making their match at Survivor Series an inferno match. "Look, I'll talk to Glenn and we'll tell them we changed our minds."
"You know they're not going to accept that, Mark. The writers were practically salivating at the meeting this morning. They've probably already started the art department working on promotional material for it. And Bob and I have already called in the second crew to start after Milwaukee - those folks will be making travel plans as we speak. It's gone too far to be stopped."
She was right, of course. Trying to get a match changed because it was interfering with his personal life was . . . well, it was pretty damned lame. Sure, he was concerned about Harley needing to work without time off, but really, what was bothering him was not being able to spend time with her. He rubbed his hand over his eyes.
"Our brilliant idea suddenly seems pretty damned stupid, for all the grief it's causing."
Harley shrugged. "You won't be saying that if it's a great match, though. That's what it's all about, isn't it - putting on a great match?"
He reached out and took her hand gently.
"It is, yeah. And I'll be honest - I've never had to really think much on the backstage stuff. I mean, I know you guys work damned hard, and I appreciate the hell out of it, but knowing what goes into making a match like the inferno happen just isn't something I've even considered." He smiled at her, gently squeezing her hand. "It's probably time that changed."
She smiled back at him. "You don't need to know all that stuff, Mark. What you do need to do is communicate your ideas a little earlier. A quick heads-up to Bob that you're thinking about something at least gives him a chance to tell you that there's not really enough time, or that he'd like a chance to get some plans in place before you let the pencil necks in Creative in on your thinking."
He chuckled, and pulled her close to him. "That was very diplomatic, Kate!"
"Hey, I'm trying to improve my own communication here too!" she laughed as she cuddled into his side.
"And you know, we resolved this without an argument. Well, without much of one, anyway."
"Who knew we could do that, huh?"
In hindsight, their self-congratulations were probably premature.
Monday morning. Harley yawned a little as she waited for the elevator. She and Mark had gone out to dinner the night before, and then had gone back to her room to talk late into the night. Probably a little too late, in retrospect, but they just found it hard to say goodnight. She was due at the arena early to start work, but Mark had promised to meet her for breakfast anyway.
She scrubbed her hands over her face as the elevator came to a halt, and then pushed herself off the wall, making her way to the restaurant. She spotted Mark sitting with Glenn, already deep in conversation, and headed for their table, giving Jeff and Matt a wave as she passed. She lay a hand on Mark's shoulder as she reached the table, leaning down to kiss his cheek.
"Don't get up, Mark. Hey, Glenn," she smiled at them as she slipped into a chair next to Mark.
Mark smiled and leaned over to kiss her lightly. "Good morning, Kate. Sleep well?"
She chuckled, unfolding her napkin. "The bed wasn't a patch on the one in your guestroom, but I did okay. You?"
"Pretty good," he replied.
Their eyes met for a long moment, and he reached out to pat her hand gently before continuing his conversation with Glenn while she perused the menu and ordered. The first cup of coffee was very welcome, and she sipped it as they all talked. She mused as they ate breakfast that, their new relationship notwithstanding, she was enjoying her deepening friendship with Mark. He was more relaxed around her, and that made him more genial. He and Glenn cracked jokes and told stories, and breakfast passed very pleasantly.
Bob caught her attention as he was leaving, and she put down her coffee cup with a quick smile at the two men.
"That's my ride."
Glenn gave her a little wave, and a blown kiss, which made her laugh. Mark leaned in to kiss her, and then smiled at her.
"I'll see you this afternoon, Kate."
She nodded. "Yes, you will, Mark."
He took her hand for a moment, giving it a gentle squeeze, and then she left, hurrying out of the restaurant to catch up with Bob. On the ride to the venue, they discussed the workplan for the upcoming Pay Per View as well as the day's set build. While Bob supervised the crews, Harley once again worked in his office, catching up on the backlog of paperwork, and then trying to get a head start on some of the reports that would be due in the next few weeks.
When the crews broke for lunch, she and Bob sat with the inferno match manual, and he went through it in detail with her while she made notes in her planner of the various things that would need to be done. She spent the rest of the afternoon going over the manual again in more detail, and doing an abstract search through the PGI archives for solutions to the ignition problems they'd encountered the last time they'd used the rig, printing out some articles to read later.
By mid-afternoon, she was more than ready for a break. She got herself a cup of coffee from Catering and then wandered out into the arena, more from the need to walk around a little than any desire to check up on things, although that was a habit that was pretty hard to break.
The set build was finished, with the crews working now on lighting and pyros while various members of the roster used the ring in roughing out their matches. This was a part of the show she hadn't had much to do with before, always too busy with set builds to take much notice, even if she was working in the arena. Remembering what Bob had said about needing to sit in on run-throughs for the inferno match, she sat down on a chair at one of the announce tables to watch.
She was quickly engrossed. The wrestlers tried various moves as they worked, talking over how they wanted the match to go. Harley leaned forward, her elbows on the table, sipping her coffee as she concentrated on what was happening in the ring. A voice in her ear made her jump.
"This isn't your usual hang out."
She turned to see Jeff grinning at her. She gave him a smile and shrugged.
"No, it's not. But I'm gonna need to know what's going on in there if I'm gonna handle this inferno match at the end of the month."
Jeff dropped into the chair beside her.
"For real? I thought Bob did stuff like that?"
"He does - but I can't act as crew chief while I'm still on restricted duties. So I'm getting the crash course on how to run the inferno match, including sitting in on match run-throughs." She gestured to the ring.
He nodded. "Inferno matches are pretty scripted - no one wants to take chances winging it with all that fire around. And it's Mark and Glenn too."
"Why does that make a difference?" she asked, taking another sip of her coffee.
"They're perfectionists - they'll want to make sure they know exactly how it's going to go. You'll be sick of the sight of them by the time the Pay Per rolls around!" He winked at her.
That made her laugh. Jeff stayed with her, explaining what she was seeing in the ring, giving her the names for the moves. When he started quizzing her on them, she joked that it felt like Wrestling 101, and complained that he hadn't told her there would be a pop quiz.
"Well duh!" he grinned. "That's why they call 'em 'pop' quizzes!"
The wrestlers in the ring, Dave Finlay and John Layfield, were finishing up with their run-through when Limp Bizkit suddenly blared out through the sound system:
There was laughter among the wrestlers and crew gathered, but Harley and Jeff didn't get the joke until Mark and Glenn appeared in the ring. Mark was chuckling, and Glenn took a mocking bow as the audio track was cut.It's just one of those days
Where ya don't wanna wake up
Everything is fucked, everybody sucks.
You don't really know why
But you wanna justify rippin' someone's head off
No human contact
And if you interact, your life is on contract
Your best bet is to stay away, motherfucker!
It's just one of those days!
It's all about the he says, she says bullshit
I think you better quit, lettin' shit slip
Or you'll be leavin' with a fat lip!
It's all about the he says, she says bullshit
I think you better quit talkin' that shit!
Dave Finlay grinned at Mark. "Your reputation precedes you."
"I'm not bad . . . "
"But the bad don't mess with you," Glenn finished for him. "Yeah, yeah, we've heard it all before, Mark."
"And no one believes a word of it," chuckled Dave. "Hence that reputation that arrives everywhere five minutes before you do."
Harley couldn't help the laughter that bubbled up in her. There was a time, when she'd first joined the company, that she would have believed Mark's reputation as a bad ass to be completely true and then some. Now, though? On closer acquaintance, she couldn't characterize him as anything remotely like that.
Mark heard familiar sounds of amusement and crossed the ring, his eyebrows raising when he saw Harley sitting at ringside with Jeff. He leaned on the top rope, smiling at her.
"Howdy, Kate. Jeff."
Jeff sketched a little salute, and Harley smiled back at him, her laughter tapering off.
"Ain't seen you out here before - everything okay?"
She nodded. "Just getting a few pointers in Jeff's Wrestling 101, so I don't end up looking like too much of an amateur when I start sitting in on the run-throughs for your match in Orlando."
He chuckled and looked at Jeff. "She passing the course?"
Jeff held up one hand in a seesawing motion. "Didn't do too well on the first pop quiz."
Harley laughed and smacked Jeff's arm playfully. "Rat me out, whydoncha?"
Mark just grinned. "That's okay, Kate - maybe I can give you some . . . extra tutoring."
His expression was decidedly lecherous, which made her blush a little, and Jeff laughed. Glenn tapped Mark on the shoulder.
"Ah, when you're done with your foreplay? Which is creeping me out, seriously, so let's not do that again, please. Hey Harley - how's my little peach?"
Glenn waved to Harley with a grin, which she returned as she waved back. Mark turned to look at Glenn with a decidedly 'Taker-like growl.
" 'Foreplay'? The beating I hand you in our match tonight is gonna seem like foreplay in comparison to what I'll do to you if I hear you refer to my woman as 'your' anything, with the exception of 'friend', again. Got that?"
Harley's eyebrows were in danger of disappearing into her eyebrows, and she was on the verge of a full-on seethe when Glenn just laughed, and Mark turned to give her a quick wink.
"Oh Mark, you're so bad ass, I'm so afraid," Glenn said in a sing-song voice, which broke everyone up.
Mark just made a 'get on with it' gesture with a roll of his eyes, and they settled into going over their match for the night. Harley watched with a little more interest than she had the previous walk-throughs, but then she turned to Jeff with a question.
"So why are Mark and Glenn having all these matches when the Pay Per is coming up?"
Jeff chuckled. "Well, Mark is the champion, and he is meant to defend the belt against all comers. And Glenn's pretty dominant right now, in terms of storylines. Plus, the fans love seeing them go against one another. I don't know for sure, but I'm assuming that Glenn's gonna get the occasional win between now and the Pay Per, to make it look like an even money bet who's gonna win it there."
She guessed that made sense. As much sense as some of the moves she'd seen so far, which was to say, not very much. Mark and Glenn were fairly low key in their match preparation. They'd known one another a long time, and had worked together almost as long. Their familiarity with one another's moves meant that they could fairly quickly string together a series of moves that would bring a match to life.
Jeff continued to name the moves for her, although she was pretty certain she wasn't going to remember any of them. She stifled a giggle, thinking about the "extra tutoring" that Mark had offered and wondering idly if playing dumb - well, dumber - might be a good idea. However, once she started thinking about that, it was damn near impossible to think about anything else.
It didn't help to be watching the way Mark moved in the ring, either. For such big men, he and Glenn were very athletic, and in the sweats and t-shirt he wore, Mark had an almost careless grace about him. And such broad shoulders. Not body builder broad, like some of the guys, just . . . big man broad. Solid. She could vividly remember how it felt to have her cheek against his back, and her arms wrapped around him, that day he'd taken her out on his bike. And how it felt to have his arms around her, and be held against that chest.
This was not good - she was meant to be concentrating here! Although she was damned if she could remember a single thing Jeff had said to her about the moves Mark and Glenn were talking about. Perhaps she just needed to get this out of her system now, then she'd be better able to focus when she needed to. Like that was gonna happen, she laughed to herself. She tried another tack, tearing her eyes rather regretfully away from Mark as he lounged against the ropes in the corner of the ring and turning to Jeff.
He was saying something about a clothesline, which went in one ear and out the other as she heard Mark chuckling behind her at something Glenn had said. Could she help it if the timbre of Mark's voice was so seductive? Those deep rich tones, like warm caramel. Finally she just gave up. With an apologetic little grin at Jeff, she turned back to the ring, leaning on one elbow on the announce table as she just enjoyed watching Mark move.
Mark didn't fail to miss Harley's rather rapt attention, and he stifled a grin, although he found himself a little distracted by thoughts of her at ringside. Fortunately, all those years of working together meant it didn't take him and Glenn long to plan their matches, and soon enough they were relinquishing the ring to the next pair of wrestlers. Glenn headed off for the gym, and he came around to the announce table, giving Harley a grin.
"So. Learn much?"
She couldn't help her giggle. "Plenty. Oh! You mean about wrestling?"He laughed. "Very funny, Kate." It didn't stop him leering at her all the same.
Harley just winked at him.
Jeff, who had been leaning back in the chair next to hers, suddenly laughed. "Man, I can see Glenn's point about the foreplay! You two should just get a room, already!"
"Yeah, she looks to me like she's bucking to end up an A-plus student, there," Jeff grinned at Harley and fled when she shook her fist at him, even as she giggled.
Mark took advantage of Jeff's abrupt departure to come around behind the announce table and sit in the chair beside Harley. Her eyebrows went up as he reached out and took the arms of her chair and turned it towards him on its castors, bringing her around to face him, the chair pulled in between his widespread knees.
"Now, what were we talking about?""I think we were talking about me learning some things. About wrestling," she added, almost as an afterthought. Her hands came up to cover his where they still rested on the arms of her chair, and she stroked her palms lightly up his forearms.
"Mmmm, yes, wrestling. Lots of different . . . holds . . . in wrestling." His hands moved from the arms of the chair to her waist, pulling her forward on the chair a little.
"And I suppose the aim is to get out of these holds?" Her hands slid slowly up his arms to his shoulders, her eyes locked to his.
"It is. But some holds are trickier than others." In a swift movement, he tugged her into his lap, kicking her chair away with one foot. "Some opponents, too."
She gasped, clutching at his shoulders, but once she realized how securely he held her, she just chuckled, leaning in to nuzzle at his neck. "Oh I know this part - this is where I try a counter to your move."
His arms wrapped tightly around her waist, holding her close. "Ah, Kate? A counter-move is supposed to be aimed at getting you out of a hold, not held more firmly in it." His voice held a hint of laughter.
She kissed behind his ear, whispering, "Oops. My bad. See how much extra tutoring I'm going to need?"
One big hand moved in a slow caress to cup her hip as he leaned back in the chair, chuckling. "And we haven't even gotten to submission moves yet."
Harley nipped softly at his earlobe with her lips. "Ohh, those sound like fun."
He gave a little groan at that. "Only for me, sweetheart."
"And why," she placed a soft kiss just below his ear, "is that?"
For a moment, he was lost for words, feeling her breath tickling his neck, his arms tightening around her. His voice was husky when he finally spoke. "Because I've never submitted to anyone."
Her response to that was a low chuckle, followed by a whisper. "There's a first time for everything, Mark."
He pulled her closer, bringing his lips to her ear. "If we keep this up, the first time might well end up being right now, here in this chair, Kate."
She gave a little shiver against him, and then rather belatedly remembered just where they were. He could feel the heat of her blush against his neck, and he rubbed one hand gently over her back with a soft chuckle.
She lifted her head from his shoulder and looked at him, her eyes twinkling. "You started it."
He just grinned. "And?"
Giggling, she leaned in to kiss him lightly. "I got nothin' beyond that! But it was fun!"
"Then we'll have to do it again," he laughed. Then he leaned in close to whisper, "Someplace where I won't have to worry about anyone seeing just how turned on you can get me with a little fooling around."
She chuckled, her voice low. "Oops. My bad?"
That spark was back in her eyes, and he grinned. "Oh hell yeah, you're bad. Remains to be seen exactly how bad, but I have high hopes so far, Kate."
Harley glanced at her watch and gave a little sigh. "I hate to tease and run, but I really should get back to work."
Mark nuzzled her neck. "It's not teasing, Kate - it's foreplay."
She arched her head back with a soft laugh. "I thought you picking a fight with me was foreplay?"
"There's all different kinds of foreplay."
"So I'm discovering. Probably just as well it's all we're doing for the next six weeks - it'll give me a chance to . . . bone up."He snorted laughter and tried to ignore how his body was responding to her. The combination of her physical attractiveness to him and her wit and attitude was proving pretty potent. But now was definitely not the time to explore that any further.
He patted her hip gently, keeping his voice low as he spoke. "You sit on my lap any longer, and you'll be 'boned up' for sure. Come on, I gotta get you back to work so I can go take a cold shower."
She tried, with limited success, to stifle her giggle at that, but she did stand up and step away from him. He rose to his feet and took her hand, and together they walked backstage, parting at the entrance to go their separate ways.
Over the next few hours, activity ramped up as they grew closer to show time for Raw. Harley met with Bob and the stage director to go over the run sheet for the evening's show, and she took a quick break for dinner early in the evening, sitting with some of the other crew as they went over the arrangements that would be in place while she was in Orlando.
She was going over the final run sheet at the big board when Mark came up behind her later, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her gently back against him. He leaned down to kiss her cheek with a smile.
"Everything okay, Kate?"
He chuckled. "Wanted to see you first - I can't hide anything while I'm wearing those tights, sweetheart."
As he hoped, that made her giggle. "Does this mean you're going to avoid me like the plague while you're in costume, now?"
"Well, before matches, definitely. After matches . . . who cares if there's some stretching then?"
She giggled again and smacked his hand playfully. "What are you, twelve?"
He just hugged her close, smiling. "Want to get together after the show, Kate?"
"Yeah, I think I'd like that. Shall I meet you back at the hotel?"
He shrugged. "We got the last match on the card - you going to be here much after that?"
"Probably not. Just need to do the load-out brief, that shouldn't take long."
"Then I'll wait and give you a ride."
She turned and leaned up to kiss him lightly. "Sounds like a plan. Have a good match, Mark."
"See you later, sweetheart."
She watched him go down the hallway, smiling.
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