(Again, a huge thank you to and 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!
Lookit, I'm posting a chapter of this fic - the world must be coming to an end!
For those who wondered, no, it hasn't been abandoned. I've been writing away steadily (to the tune of at least one notebook filled, thanks!) on this, and also my other stories. I've just not been posting.
We'll just see how that goes from here.
Thanks for reading and remember - feedback is always appreciated. I'm writing for the love of it, but it's always nice to hear the opinions of others.
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.
Once they'd both taken their turn in the bathroom, they climbed into bed together. Still in their sweats and t-shirts - they certainly weren't about to risk being tempted by undressing. They lay facing one another, and Mark reached out to tuck Harley's hair behind her ear gently.
"I think I could get used to this," he smiled.
She nodded, smiling back at him. He moved a little closer and leaned over to kiss her very gently. And suddenly, she was lost. The simple emotion of that one act, on top of their earlier intimacy, coupled with the knowledge that tomorrow would see her on a plane away from him, crumbled what was left of her inner defences and she dissolved into tears.
Mark did the only thing he could think of - he moved closer and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him gently.
As he suspected she might, Harley resisted him for a moment, but eventually she came into his arms, burying her face in his chest as she sobbed quietly.
It never occurred to him to ask what was wrong - he had a fairly good idea. If truth be told, he felt a little emotional himself. The intense intimacy they had just shared, were now sharing, only served to remind him how much he liked being with her. How much he liked her. And how much he was going to miss her over the coming weeks.
He knew he couldn't do anything about that, or even say anything that would make her feel any better. All he could manage was to comfort her the best he could.
Almost without thinking about it, he found himself rocking her gently as he held her close, stroking her hair. Gradually, she calmed, and he could feel her relaxing against him, her body a welcome warm weight in his arms.
As her breathing became slow and even, and he realised she was falling asleep, he thought he should turn out the lights. In just a minute, because he didn't really want to let her go.
He was asleep before the minute was up.
When Mark woke to the lights on, it took him a moment to realize why that was. His first thought had been that Harley was up before he was, but the familiar feel of her head on his chest immediately discounted that notion.
He was just remembering his intention the night before - and realizing he'd failed in the endeavour - when the alarm on Harley's watch began beeping. He flicked a glance at the digital clock by the bed, idly noting the time, as she began to stir against him.
And he was lost for words. It wasn't that this was some kind of awkward morning after moment - it was just that almost everything he wanted to say seemed to be stating the obvious.
Like, "I don't want you to go." Or, "I'm already missing you."
Both very true, but not exactly helpful. They were also likely to provoke intimacy issues, and he didn't want to push her away. Especially this morning.
He was spared having to come up with something when she raised her head to look at him. And the expression in her blue grey eyes spoke volumes. He leaned up to kiss her, running his hand over her hair gently.
She broke the kiss slowly and brought her own hand up to caress his face. "I need to go."
He nuzzled to her hand. "I know, sweetheart."
She got out of bed, and Mark sat on the edge of it, watching as she found her shoes and put them on. He rose and picked up her hoodie, holding it for her as she put it on, and then folding her into a warm hug.
Harley clung to him for a long moment before stepping back, looking up at him.
He bent to kiss her softly. "Travel safe, Kate."
"I will, Mark."
"I'll call you, okay?"
She smiled. "I'd like that."
He wanted to grab her, hold her close and refuse to let her go. And so it was a wrench when she went to the door, giving him a smile before she left. The closing of the door behind her sounded loud in the silence of the room.
Harley's first day in Orlando had been a long one. She and the senior crew had unpacked the inferno match rig while the rest of the crew worked to set up the ring.
With the manual and schematics laid out, more for Harley's reference than anything else, they'd put the rig together for the first time, making sure they had everything they needed.
The tanks of methane, with an additive to assist with the continuous ignition issue, were delivered mid-afternoon and they did their first live test.
She had to admit, the rig was spectacular. The methane burned with an orange flame, and she spent a few minutes at the motherboard, getting a feel for the controls, seeing what effects they would produce. When she turned the dials up to full, which would accompany the biggest moves, there was a dramatic "whoosh" as the rush of additional gas ignited in a spectacular wall of flame.
Troy, seeing the grin on her face at that, just laughed. Her safety concerns, which she'd been very plain about right from the start of the day, were now being tempered with what he'd come to recognise as her flair for showmanship.
Once she was satisfied that the rig was operating within the rated parameters, they spent the rest of the day practicing with the set up and dismantling of it, ahead of the fire marshalls' visit in two days time.
As she'd explained to the crew who'd be working with her on the inferno match, it was critical they had that down pat for the fire marshalls, who still had to sign off on the rig being used for the Pay Per View.
They'd worked hard, and Harley was confident they'd have it perfected by the time of the fire marshalls' visit.
When her wrist watch alarm beeped the following morning, as usual it took her a moment or two for the sound to register, but she was soon roused by it, giving a lazy stretch, still half asleep.
The sound of her cellphone ringing woke her most of the rest of the way up, and she grabbed for it. "Hello?"
"Morning, sweetheart," came a deep voice, with a very familiar drawl.
"You expecting someone else, Kate?" His voice was scratchy with sleep, and he sounded only half-awake.
She smiled, even though he couldn't see her. "I wasn't expecting anyone."
"Good. Wanted it to be a surprise," he drawled, and she had an idea he was trying to wake himself up properly.
"It worked. But, why?"
She could hear him yawn, and this time he sounded slightly more alert. "Figured since I wasn't waking up next to you, which I am getting to be awful fond of, I may as well wake up with you the only way I can."
"Aw, hell," she whispered.
"That okay, sweetheart?"
"Yeah, it's okay, Mark," she said, touched deeply by his thoughtfulness. "But how did you know what time to call?"
He chuckled, still a little sleepily, "Saw the clock yesterday morning when your alarm went off, and figured I'd give it a shot you hadn't changed the time on it."
"That's . . . that's so nice, Mark."
He caught her tone. There would be no heartfelt declarations, but he wanted her to know he was thinking about her. "So, you looking after yourself, Kate? Not lifting things you shouldn't?"
She chuckled softly. "I am, I promise. And no, not lifting anything."
"Good. Okay, I know you got a busy day ahead of you, so I better let you get about it."
She couldn't help her smile, which he could hear in her voice. "Thank you, Mark."
"Anytime, sweetheart. You have a good day now."
"You too, Mark."
She was still smiling as she put her phone down and got up, heading for the shower. He was right - it may not be as good as waking up next to him, but it sure as hell beat waking up alone.
Harley was kept very busy all week. The fire marshalls signed off on the inferno rig on first inspection, to her relief, and Bob's, when she called him to let him know. However, she and her crew continued to have daily run-throughs, wanting to be as prepared as possible for the Pay Per View.
In between that, she had them pre-assembling pyros and lighting rigs, so that the minute they gained access to the main arena, they could complete the set build without delay.
It was crucial they had the ring in place in the main arena by Thursday, because from Friday on, Mark and Glenn would need access to it, with the inferno rig in place, to get as much match preparation as possible before Sunday night. They would leave this ring in place, in the adjacent part of the arena, for other superstars to get their run-throughs done.
Harely continued to practice with the motherboard for the rig, wanting to know exactly what kind of delay there was between the controls and the flames produced.
Mark called her every morning, and she was even more touched by that when she realized that he was an hour behind her. Her early starts meant even earlier ones for him, but when she asked him about it, he merely said it meant he had more time for his morning workout.
Even when he went on the road for the dates in Detroit and Indianapolis, he called her, and there was no way he needed to be up that early when he was working. She would have argued with him about it, but the sound of his voice, scratchy with sleep, as she was waking up was something she was fast becoming very fond of.
There was no way she was going to let his kindness go unacknowledged, so she refused to take no for an anwer when she volunteered to pick him up from the airport on Thursday.
And she was just as stubborn as he was, so come Thursday, when Mark walked out of the jetway, Harley was learning against the wall opposite the gate.
She'd come directly from work, he surmised - she wore cargo shorts, in deference to the warmth in Florida, and her workboots, but with a tank top rather than a crew t-shirt. No sense advertising her connection to the WWE in public, he figured.
He gave her a warm smile. "Howdy, Kate."
Her smile was just as warm, if a trifle bemused. "Hey chief. Welcome to Orlando."
In the middle of a busy airport, Mark wasn't about to draw any more attention to himself, or to Harley, than could be avoided. So they simply walked side by side towards the luggage carousel.
While Harley waited for him to retrieve his bags, her expression grew more bemused, and his curiousity finally got the better of him as they walked out into the Florida sunshine.
"What's so funny, Kate?" he asked, pulling his sunglasses down from on top of his head to put them on.
She chuckled, digging car keys from one pocket. "I was having a moment."
"What kind of moment?"
She looked him up and down - he wore a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and his rather distinctive red hair was covered by a bandana. She grinned. "Well, if you must know, I was checking out how many woman were checking you out."
He looked almost embarrassed. "Jeez, Kate . . . "
She laughed. "Oh please, Mark - ain't many men rock a pair of blue jeans the way you do! But while I was noticing them checking you out, I might have been feelin' the tiniest bit . . . smug."
He raised an eyebrow. "Smug?"
It was her turn to blush. "Yeah. I was kinda thinking they could look all they wanted, but you were leaving with me."
They looked at one another for a long moment, and then Mark grinned. "Yeah, I am."
Harley grinned back and pointed the remote in her hand towards the line of vehicles they were approaching.
To Mark's surprise, the one that responded with a flash of turn signal lights wasn't the usual truck, but a gleaming black Hummer. His eyebrows went up again.
Harley noticed the reaction and chuckled as they approached the H3. "Okay, so when I flew in last week, I might have been feeling a little sorry for myself. So when I saw this beast in the lot of the rental place, I kinda persuaded 'em to let me trade up from the truck the company hired for me. I did make up the difference myself," she hastened to add.
Marke chuckled and gave her a quick one armed hug before heading for the passenger side. "Nothing wrong with spoilin' youself occasionally, Kate. Hell, if I'd known, I would have done it for you myself."
She looked over the hood of the Hummer at him, smiling. "And spoil my perfectly good pity party? B'sides, you did one better, calling me every morning."
At the hotel, Harley waited while Mark checked in. Most of the roster wouldn't arrive until the following day, but she'd been again touched when he'd told her he planned to come in a day early to see her.
In the elevator, Mark checked his room key and punched the button for his floor. His hand hovered near the panel as he asked, "What floor you on, Kate?"
She reached out and placed her hand over his gently moving it away from the buttons. "I got a suite on twelve."
And she wasn't wanting to go there right now. Which made him smile.
He opened the door of his hotel room and stood back to let her enter, following her inside, and closing the door behind him. She waited until he'd put his bags down before approaching him.
Pulling her gently into his arms, he bent to kiss her, murmuring, "Hello, sweetheart. Did you miss me?"
She wound her arms up around his neck, smiling. "Mmmm, surely did miss you, Mark."
His hands linked at the small of her back. "You have to go back to work this afternoon?"
She nodded. "Yeah, for a little while."
"So how long do I get to keep you before that?"
Pulling him down to kiss him, she smiled. "Long enough for a few more kisses, at least."
He grinned and scooped her up easily into his arms. "Hot damn! Let's get to it then!"
Laughing, she didn't protest when he sat down on the sofa, cradling her on his lap. Keeping one arm wrapped around her waist, he raised the other hand and gently brushed her bangs from her eyes.
"Missed these pretty eyes, Kate."
She knew he wasn't one for empty flattery - that was a Lost Boy tactic. But she certainly understood the sentiment behind his words, bringing her own hand up to caress his face.
"I missed this smile."
He said nothing, but pulled her closer to him, wrapping both arms around her. She snuggled into him without a moment's hesitation. Because this was what she had missed the most. This closeness.
Despite the suggestion of kisses, Mark was content simply to hold Harley close. He had missed her far more than he had expected. And not just because of his desire for her. That wasn't even raising its head right now. He had just missed being with her. As had happened before, having her in his arms was a panacea for anything that bothered him.
Concerns about the inferno match, his usual irritation with the boredom of travelling, even his tiredness from an early start all seemed to fade away as he rested his cheek on the top of her head.
Far too soon for his liking, she stirred against him, patting his chest gently. "I should be getting back to work, Mark."
His arms tightened around her for a moment before he spoke. "Will you have dinner with me, Kate?"
She sat up to look into his face, smiling. "I would love to have dinner with you, Mark."
He grinned, leaning in to kiss her. "Great!"
"Oh!" she exclaimed, and started patting her pockets, finally coming up with a keycard, holding it out to him. "This is for you."
"What's this?" he asked, taking it from her.
"Key to my suite," she smiled.
His eyebrows rose.
She chuckled, leaning in to kiss him. "I'm kind of fond of waking up next to you, you know. But you're off limits from Sunday, so I'll want that back then!"
"And why am I off limits from Sunday, sweetheart?" he smiled. "Got some notion about no sex before competition? 'Cause I'm here to tell you, that ain't how I usually roll!"
Laughing, she shook her head. "It's not that! It's just that's when my folks are flying in to visit. And they'll be staying with me." she explained.
"Ah," he nodded. "Guess you don't get the chance to see them much, travelling the way we do."
It was her turn to nod. "Plus, they haven't really been able to see me work either. Rock concerts aren't exactly their speed."
He laughed. "And wrestling is?"
She grinned, nuzzling him playfully. "My daddy remembers guys like Mario Milano and Haystacks Calhoun, I'll have you know!"
He couldn't resist then, reaching for that ticklish spot on her ribs with a grin. "You'll have to introduce him to their modern day counterparts then!"
"And who might they be?" she asked, grinning back.
"Santino Marella and the Big Show, who else?" he laughed, continuing to tickle her.
Giggling helplessly, she tried to squirm away from his tickling fingers, and he finally relented, pulling her gently into a hug.
She sighed with contentment, and then leaned up to kiss him. "Okay, now I really do have to get going."
"Give me a call when you get back, Kate, and let me know when you'd like to go to dinner."
"Surely will, Mark," she smiled, slipping off his lap and heading for the door.
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