(And a huge thank you to panthologyand her mad skillz for this graphic!)
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!
It has been a long time between updates - blame that nasty old beastie RL! And the annoying need to work for a living - the world would be a much nicer place to be if I could just write full time! ;-)
Thanks for reading and remember - feedback is love . . . /end obligatory attention whoring!
And since it has been such a long time between updates, and to save you trolling back through the archives (although I have helpfully tagged all the chapters!), you'll find links to all the earlier chapters here.
Harley was kept hopping during the afternoon. While she was pretty much out of the preparation for the evening's broadcast of RAW, except for the walkthrough with Bob and the stage director, she was up to her ears in paperwork.
She did get a reprieve for a time when she sat in on the first meeting between Creative, Mark and Glenn concerning the inferno match.
Bob accompanied her, to make sure Creative listened to her as the crew representative, and to help her out with knowing the right questions to ask, given this was her first involvement so closely with a match.
It was fortunate that he had, because it seemed that Creative were far more focused on the spectacle that an inferno match afforded than they were with any of the safety or logistical aspects of such a match.
More than once, Bob and Harley had to haul them up short and remind them that, spectacle aside, this was actually a very dangerous undertaking and needed to be approached with a certain amount of caution.
Harley voiced a question that had been concerning her since Bob had first handed her the operations manual for the match, which sat on the table in front of her, along with her planner, crammed with notes and reminders.
"How exactly do you propose that Mark win this match?"
There was a moment's pause at her use of his given name rather than the more familiar " 'Taker" they were used to, and then glances were exchanged among the Creative team.
"How did you know 'Taker was going to win?"
Harley rolled her eyes. "Uh, hello? In charge of pyro effects, remember? Glenn's already got his new rain of fire effect booked for Armageddon. Doesn't take a genius to work out that means he's going to lose this one."
Glenn gave her a broad grin and a wink, then turned to Creative. "I'm kinda curious about that myself. Since it's going to be me that gets set on fire. Been a while since that happened, and I'm not wearing sleeves and a glove like I did then."
Another pause, and Harley began to see why dealing with Creative usually had Bob tearing his hair out. "You haven't thought that far ahead, have you?" she asked.
The answer was more than a little defensive. "We thought we could leave the details up to 'Taker and Kane."
While it was true that Mark had already been putting some thought into that, seeing as how he was the one who suggested the match, even he was surprised at that response. "Well hell, how about if we start just planning our own storylines while we're at it?"
"Storylines are our responsbility!" Defensive with a side order of territory marking, thank you.
"And safety is my responsibility!" Harley resisted the urge to snap. "You want to set a performer on fire - I need to know exactly when this is going to occur, and how. Without that, this match is not going ahead!"
"You'll be right at ringside - you'll be able to see when it happens," one of them tried a conciliatory tone.
Harley slapped her hand down hard on the table as she rose to her feet, staring coldly at them. "Let me make one thing perfectly clear here," she did snap this time, her Southern accent very pronounced. "The reason that there's a senior pyrotechnician at ringside for an inferno match is first and foremost to guarantee the performers' safety, and that of the audience and crew. Creating a spectacle comes in a very distant second. As that senior pyrotechnician, my attention is going to be on the controls in front of me, not on the damned ring. So if you're thinking I'm gonna be watching this match intently, except to monitor the safety of the performers, you got another think comin'!"
Bob Threadgood grinned broadly, though he said nothing. The Creative team just looked stunned as Harley resumed her seat and Glenn chuckled.
"That's my little peach!" He glanced at Creative. "Want to rethink that, fellas?"
Mark sat silently, his face expressionless. Which was enough to have the Creative team falling all over themselves to reassure him and Glenn that of course their ideas were valued and to ask deferentially if they would perhaps like to share them.
At a nod from Mark, Glenn advanced a radical notion - that the match end not with a clear win but with both of them set on fire at once. They'd been experimenting with simultaneous clotheslines, which would sweep them both off their feet, bringing their boots into line with the firebars if they hit it exactly right.
Now it was Harley's turn to sit silent and expressionless. Both of them?
Creative were ecstatic at this idea. Bob nodded slowly - they could have the flames shoot up at the clotheslines, which would give Mark and Glenn time and cover to shift into position even if they hadn't landed perfectly, and once the flames subsided, they'd both be on fire. And putting them in boots that could be safely ignited was certainly possible - that's how he'd figured the match would end, given their current costuming.
As the discussion continued, Harley made more notes in her planner as Bob asked the pertinent questions. Between him and Glenn, nobody from Creative really noticed that neither she nor Mark said anything more during the meeting. After they broke, Bob headed back out to check on the set build. Glenn walked out with the Creative team, having now moved on to some of the matches they had planned for after the Pay Per View.
Harley took her time gathering the match manual, making a last notation in her planner before standing up. As she stepped away from the table and turned around, she found herself face to face with Mark. Well, face to chest anyway. She looked up into his eyes and a gasp caught in her throat at the expression there.
He spoke through gritted teeth, his voice little more than a growl. "You have no idea how close I am to tearin' your clothes off and just takin' you right here on this table, sweetheart."
She blinked in surprise and swallowed hard, because that look in his eyes was provoking a major hormone alert of her own. She shivered, fighting a sudden urge to throw herself into his arms. Damn those eyes of his! But she was still confused about his reasons. "Why?" was about all she could manage to get out though.
"Do you have any idea how magnificent you were, standing up to Creative like that? That was so fuckin' sexy!"
Well, what do you know - she'd just found a cure for a hormone alert. He thought that was sexy, did he? She glared at him, her hands on her hips.
"You idiot! I'm trying to do my job here and keep you safe, and you and Glenn come up with a second bone-headed idea, as if the first one wasn't bad enough!"
He did growl this time as he glared right back at her. "Oh, so now our ideas are bone-headed?"
She threw her hands up in frustration. "It's not bad enough this has to be a goddamned inferno match, but now both of you are going to be set on fire at the end of it? How much more bone-headed can you get?"
"It's wrestling, Kate. It's a full-contact sport, not fuckin' needlepoint! What the hell do you expect?"
"Goddamnit Mark, I know that!" she hissed. "What I expect . . . I don't know! It wasn't scary enough, thinking of you in the ring with all that damn fire around you. Now I get to deal with knowing you're actually going to be set on fire as well! Jesus wept, I was worried enough about that happening to Glenn!"
Surprise crossed his face. 'You're . . . worried?"
"Of course I'm worried!" she snapped. "The potential for either of you to be injured in this is off the damn charts! Add being deliberately set on fire into the mix and it's going to be a minor miracle if you don't end up . . . "
Mark found his temper suddenly completely defused, looking at the expression on Harley's face. She was worried about him. Worried about him being hurt. That came as one hell of a surprise - he was the big dog, biggest one in the yard, toughest sonofabitch in the locker room. People worried about coming up against him, not about what might happen to him.
When he finally found his voice, it was husky. "That's not part of the plan, sweetheart."
"It never is!" she said helplessly, dragging one hand through her hair. "But I couldn't stand it if anything happened to you . . . either of you," she amended hastily, but he'd caught the hesitation.
Suddenly, he was right back to wanting to drag her into bed and never letting her leave it. Only it wasn't about sex - well, it was, but not just about that. How long had it been since someone had worried about him? Cared about him that way? That was as sexy as hell too.
He stroked one hand gently over her hair. "I'm not going to make you a promise I can't be certain I can keep, Kate. But neither Glenn nor I want to get hurt in this match, and we've got enough experience with inferno matches between us to make it a pretty good probability we won't."
Harley looked up at him. He wasn't just giving her platitudes, or trying to mollify her. He was being honest with her, and that was more comforting. And more appealing. A wry smile quirked her lips - he was all man, definitely. A Lost Boy would have tried to bring her around with charm.
Once he saw the smile, Mark relaxed a little. "I'm not going to tell you not to worry, sweetheart, but . . . are we good now?"
There it was again, Harley thought. Damn, how could she have spent so many years thinking Lost Boys were so appealing, when a real man was like this? She nodded. "Yeah Mark, we're good."
He opened his arms to her, and she only hesitated for a second before stepping into them, wrapping hers around his waist as he hugged her gently. She sighed very softly, her face nuzzled against his chest. He felt rather than heard it, his only reaction to hug
her just a little tighter.
The one good thing about a live show, Harley thought during a moment's pause in the mad dash of preparation, was that it really did keep her too busy to think over-much. Which was to the good, as she had a few things she might well be dwelling on, given leisure to do so. Things like the inferno match. And her upcoming work stint in Florida, which would keep her away from Mark.
Both of which had dampened her mood during the afternoon after the meeting with Creative. And paperwork did nothing to divert her attention sufficiently. Even being with Mark for dinner didn't help, because it only reminded her that soon she'd even be deprived of that pleasure.
It fell to both Jeff and Glenn, each one a clown in his own way, to lift her spirits during their dinner break, something for which she was very grateful. After that, she was fully occupied with the show - running the big board, keeping tabs on the crews and working with the stage director and the production truck.
As a rule, she paid very little attention to the roster during the show, except to note when they were in position. There were exceptions to that, of course - Dave Batista, for example. His entrance pyros were matched as closely as possible to his movements, and so she watched him on a monitor, trying to judge when he would throw his arm so she could detonate the final shell. It was a running joke between them that he had no sense of rhythm, because he never got the timing the same from one night to the next.
So, while she knew from her run sheet that Mark had the final match of the card against Paul, she hadn't really noticed him, except in a very cursory fashion. As usually happened during the live show on Monday night, the crew were already beginning load out as the show was in its latter stages, so her attention was divided between monitoring progress of the match and tasking the crew with work that could be begun before its completion.
Wardrobe and makeup were largely packed once the last of the roster were prepped for their appearances, with only emergency costume changes for those people remaining. Props were the same. About the only department that remained fully operational to the absolute end of the show was the trainers' rooms and EMTs, but those folks were pretty quick to pack it up when the show was put to bed.
Which, from the noise levels in the main arena, had just happened, Harley noted. There would be a frenzy of activity backstage as the audience left, and then the crew would move out to dismantle the set and ring. She stayed on station to make sure that the broadcast had ended before taking off her headset, already thinking ahead to getting the rest of the load out started.
Turning around, she almost whimpered as she saw Mark. Fresh from the ring, he was still breathing heavily from the exertion of his match. He had stripped down the straps of his singlet, leaving his chest bare. As she stared, spellbound, droplets of sweat rolled down over his skin.
His hair, which had been wet to start the match, both to keep it tamed and to keep him cool, had conversely now dried and framed his face in tangled waves. He had been unwrapping the tapes of his gloves from around his wrists as he came backstage, which flexed the muscles in his massive biceps.
Her own breathing felt ragged as he approached her, and her hands tightened on the headset she held. Up close, he was once again very much all man. She bit her lip unconsiously as she drank in the sight of him.
His voice was rough and low as he spoke. "You going back to the hotel, Kate?"
Forget alert, what she felt now was a complete hormone meltdown. She wanted to back him up against the wall and rub herself against him like a cat in heat. She wanted to grab that tangled hair and pull him into a kiss that lasted into the next week.
And . . . she had an early morning flight to catch. Which made her want to throw another temper tantrum, even as she realized that going back to the hotel with him was going to lead them both into trouble.
"I can't, Mark," she kept her own voice low as she replied.
He looked at her steadily, and could clearly see the desire in her eyes warring with her words. It reminded him of his own responsibilities, which included an appearance in Milwaukee the following morning. But he didn't bother to hide his sigh, even as he nodded.
"I understand." He wanted to kiss her. Very badly. Not just a kiss goodnight, either. But, as he'd told her the night before, there were public displays of affection, and then there were displays of other emotions that really had no place in public. Particularly not when "public" meant "surrounded by colleagues".
He stripped off one glove and settled instead for cupping her face in his hand gently, looking into her eyes as he brushed his thumb over her cheek lightly. She nuzzled her cheek to his palm, her blue eyes dark with longing. That urge to drag her into bed was back with a vengeance, and it was a long moment before he managed to make his feet take him along the corridor to the locker room.
Harley actually closed her eyes as Mark walked away, firmly pushing the images of him away from her mind. Because they were going to be a major distraction, especially since she still had work to do. She forced her attention back to that, heading off to get the load out brief done.
Mark let himself into his hotel room, dropping his bag on the floor as he locked the door behind him. He resisted the urge to kick it across the room, barely, tearing off his jacket instead and hurling it at the bed.
He was very aware he was being childish, but what the hell - there wasn't anyone here to see it. Goddamn it, sexual frustration was for the fucking birds! He sank down onto the end of the bed. Except it wasn't just sexual frustration that was making him bad-tempered.
He wanted to spend time with Harley, pure and simple. He wanted to sit and talk with her, kiss her goodnight and then wake up beside her. But instead, she was heading to Florida the day after tomorrow and he wasn't. Hell, he'd considered giving up his own days off to go with her, until she'd reminded him that she'd be busy as all get out and wouldn't have any time to spend with him even if he did.
And this was all his fault. Because of that stupid idea for an inferno match. Which was going to be a showstopper, make no mistake about it, but the timing just sucked.
Then again, in some respects, it was probably just as well that he and Harley were being forced to spend some time apart. Because the way they were going, something was going to have to give, and it was likely to be whatever self-control they were still exerting.
He groaned softly, thinking about her. That lithe body against his, the softness of her lips, the scent of her hair - he wanted her so much. All of her, never mind the offer she'd made him the night before. He shifted a little on the bed, thinking about it, before he shook his head. That was not going to help matters.
Bending down, he took off his shoes and then stripped off his t-shirt, draping it over the back of a chair so he could wear it in the morning. Barefoot, he wandered into the bathroom to brush his teeth before shutting off the lights and coming back to the bed.
He turned the covers down before his hands went to the fly of his jeans. He pushed them down his legs and tugged them off, tossing them onto the other bed and then sat down on the cool sheets, scrubbing his hands over his face with a tired sigh. Laying back, he reached out to turn off the lights, expecting that sleep would claim him fairly quickly.
Except he was wrong about that, because thirty minutes later, he was still laying there, staring up at the ceiling. His eyes had adjusted to the lack of light, and he could pick out faint details around the room. Not that he was really looking at them, because his mind was fully occupied with thoughts of soft hair with spunky pink streaks, and a pair of blue grey eyes. Which was why he couldn't sleep.
He was also thinking about sweet little breasts and trim hips. Which was why his dick was twitching as it hardened, without him so much as touching it. His mind replayed what had happened the night before - starting with that heady moment as Harley had straddled his lap as they kissed on the couch.
Now his hand found its way to his hard shaft, and he wrapped his fingers around it loosely, stroking himself slowly, remembering the feel of her body pressed to his as they kissed hungrily. That delicious sensation as she ground herself against his erection. Which made his dick throb even harder.
He recalled holding her hips in his hands as he thrust up to meet them, and his hips came off the bed in unconscious memory of that moment. He wondered how it would feel to be thrusting up inside her as he held her hips, how her skin would feel to his touch. He groaned softly. To be inside her, holding her, exploring her with his hands, with his lips - to know her in every sense of the word.
And to let her know him - oh, now there was something to look forward to. He wondered what those capable hands would be like, touching him. Even better, how her soft lips would feel on his skin. Or wrapped around his aching cock.
His hips thrust up harder now to his pumping fist as he lost himself in longing thoughts of Harley being with him, touching him, stroking him, welcoming him into her body as they made love over and over again.
Breathing harder, he could almost feel her silky hair against his face, hear those delightful sounds she made, the soft moans, how his name sounded as she whispered it against his lips. He panted her name then, in the silence of his room, "Oh God, Kate . . ."
A moment later, he gave a deep groan as he came, his eyes tightly shut as he envisioned her face. He felt the warmth of his release on his fingers, and the rapid pound of his heartbeat, when he came back to himself, panting harshly in the aftermath of his orgasm.
An orgasm that did nothing to quench the longing he felt for her, but at least left him feeling more relaxed. His eyes slipped closed as his breathing returned to its normal rhythm and then slowed as he fell asleep.
Harley had stayed at the arena as long as she could, futzing around with paperwork, driving her crew nuts with kibbitzing, until Troy finally turned to her and all but ordered her to get out of their hair.
She couldn't even be mad at him, because he had a point. The truth of it was, she was hanging around the arena until she was damned sure that Mark had gone back to the hotel. She didn't want to chance running into him on his way back, because she just knew that would end up with her going back to his room. Or him coming back to hers.
Wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference which room they ended up in, though - the end result would be the same. A screaming case of sexual frustration. And she most definitely did not need that - hell, she still had most of the one they'd given one another the night before.
By the time Troy had reached the end of his rope and tossed her out before he decided to tie a noose in it, the roster had long since gone. With a tired sigh, Harley finished locking up the paperwork and grabbed a ride back to the hotel with the trainers.
She had undressed and crawled into bed. And promptly tossed and turned for what seemed like forever. Every time she closed her eyes, all she could see was Mark, his bare chest glistening, his hair a wild mane around his shoulders. Those massive arms flexing.
She whimpered softly. She wanted those arms around her, holding her against that chest. While she tangled her hands in that hair and kissed him. Hard. She could almost feel the firm press of his lips against hers.
Now that song by Christina Aguilera drifted through her mind. Those lips weren't sweet but they were, as she had once speculated, very kissable.
Another fragment of the lyrics came to her, and this time, she moaned out loud. A "real big uh". Could she get a hell yeah?
She honestly didn't know what was the bigger turn on - feeling that part of him hardening against her, or how husky his voice would get when it did, when he told her how much he loved what she did to him, how she made him feel.
She thumped her fist on the bed in frustration. Damn it, she wanted him so much! It was hell to be apart from him, given how much she enjoyed his company, but it was torture not being able to give in to her desires.
She writhed on the bed, rubbing her thighs together. What was it he'd said, about spending the evening with his own hand? It should be her hand, damn it - she'd turned him on, she should be the one getting him off. Her eyes closed, imagining it - him stretched out on the bed, naked, as she lay beside him, her hand travelling down over his stomach, over that one intriguing tattoo, to his hard cock.
Her hand traced a path down her own body, moaning as her fingers moved easily through her slippery folds - she was so wet, thinking about him. She'd probably come just from touching him, from letting her fingers explore that hard length. She bit her lip as her hips rocked unconsciously, her mind skipping from thoughts of Mark stroking his cock to doing it herself.
It would be so good, she knew that - the way he kissed, he was a sensualist to the core. He'd abandon himself to the feelings, the sensations. She whimpered softly, her fingers moving faster as she thought of him, head back, moaning with pleasure as she stroked him slowly. Definitely slowly. She wanted to savour every touch, every sound.
Better than that, she thought with a moan, every taste. The taste of his mouth, his skin. The taste of his cock. She shuddered, her fingers pressing harder into her wetness - God, she wanted to taste him! Surely that wasn't too much to ask, to feel that little hitch as he gave up his pre-ejaculate, to feel it on her lips, her tongue. And then the taste when he came, in creamy spurts.
The only thing better than that would be feeling him inside her. Long and slow, or rough and hard, her inner walls clenched at the very thought, and her breath caught in her throat as her fingers pressed more urgently into her heated flesh. Either way, she was sure it would be bliss.
Her head arched back on the pillow and she cried out as her orgasm swept through her in a wave. Her hips bucked up sharply, and in the midst of those pleasurable sensation, her tummy muscles gave her a sharp reminder of why she was here alone and not in a tangle of sweaty limbs with Mark.
And yet, in spit of the wince that caused, she still longed for it, for him. The pain faded as her racing heart slowed, and she sighed softly as she finally began to relax.
She reached for a pillow, wrapping her arms around it as her eyes closed, his name on her lips as sleep eventually claimed her.
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