Patience

 

 

Chapter 1

 

“Sava, we need you out there in 20.”

 

Savalyn nodded in acknowledgement, sitting in the makeup chair being dolled up before going out in front of thousands of people to announce matches.  Howard Finkel ‘The Fink’ had taken Savalyn under his wing the moment she stepped foot in the WWF almost 8 years ago.  Damn, had it really been that long already?  She walked in thinking she would be working backstage, but the moment Howard laid his eyes on her, he saw potential.  The women in the WWF were for show for the most part, the whole ‘sex sells’ type of deal and Savalyn didn’t want to be portrayed as a bimbo.  So Howard approached her with the offer, after talking to Vince McMahon, their boss, to do ring announcing and Savalyn immediately took a shine to it, having a photographic memory helped immensely.

 

Having a photographic memory did help because all she had to do was see a performer's stat sheet once and she had it memorized for life.  Or until the updated version was presented to her.  Howard could not believe that the idiots who had hired her almost wasted her precious talent on something as mind numbing as becoming another bimbo.  There was a place for it, no doubt, especially in this business, but Savalyn was definitely one of a kind.  Also, the first of her kind and him being her mentor, of sorts, was a point of pride for Howard.  If she could make it, she'd go down in the history books and not be brushed under the rug like forgotten dirt.  And he'd be someone who had helped her get there in the process, so she would have appreciation for him.

 

Howard was not only her mentor and trainer, but also a great friend Savalyn often confided in.  He helped her with whatever questions she had regarding the wrestlers’ stats and whatnot, especially if there was a change.  For the most part, she had every single one of them committed to memory.  Smiling once Stacy stepped back to allow her to look in the mirror, Savalyn grinned at the reflection staring back at her.  Foundation, thin black liner and a silver shadow that made her pale blues pop.  Her attire was always a dress of some kind, simple yet elegant.  Tonight’s dress was silver, long sleeved with a hoop neckline and it rested 2 inches above the knee.  She also had silver heels on, silver bangles on her wrists and silver hoop earrings, not bothering with any other jewelry.  Ring announcing was tough work, contrary to popular belief, especially since she had to stay out there for the duration of the show to announce every single match.  Nodding when the final call for her to get out there, Savalyn fluffed her chestnut hair that was left down for the evening and headed out, joining Howard moments later.

 

Still doing main events, Howard remained the go-to announcer for pay-per-view events and Monday night Raw.  Anything important, he took care of.  It just depended on the line-up on that particular night.  Savalyn had 'graduated', so to speak, and was manning Sunday Night Heat solo, though it wasn't a two hour show nor was it occasionally live.  He reviewed her work, gave her pointers where needed, but for the most part the woman was a natural.  She wasn't skittish either, which was something Vince had worried over.  Vince had also noticed her potential, but compared to a lot of the boys, she was a tiny thing.  When they decided to go 'all out', people who weren't professionally trained meatheads tended to get hurt if they didn't move out of the way quick enough.

 

So far, in the span of 8 years, Savalyn never once got hurt being at ringside and proved to everyone, including the head honcho of the WWF, she could do this.  She had what it took to be possibly the best ring announcer, aside from Howard of course.  Smiling at him, Howard nodded silently at her with his own grin and Savalyn immediately placed her game face on as the pyro went off for Sunday Night Heat.  This was her show and where she shined most, her pale blues glistening under the lights above.  The first match of the night was a hardcore match, pitting Hardcore Holly against Tazz.  Clearing her throat away from the microphone, Savalyn stared into the camera and waited for the signal before beginning.

 

“The following contest is scheduled for one fall.  Pinfall or submission.  Coming to the ring first, from Glendale, California and weighing 235 pounds, HARDCORE HOLLY!!” Savalyn had a voice that was warm as honey and intense at the same time, making her a perfect candidate for in-ring announcing.

 

A female ring announcer.  The WWF never ceased to amaze or amuse him.  She was precious looking like a little disco ball down there in the center of the ring.  All that silver Savalyn sported made her glitter and quite visible to him up in the catwalks.  Heat was not a show he generally graced, but... he had business here tonight.  And of course, seeing Savalyn was quite the treat. The corner of his mouth curved into a smirk as he gracefully moved from one side of the walk to the other, one foot confidently in front of the other.

 

He'd make it a point to…drop in on her.

 

There was a chill in the air as Savalyn felt goose bumps erupt over her skin, half-expecting to see her breath when she breathed out.  She could feel someone watching her, but then again she was in front of thousands of people.  Heat was always taped prior to Raw kicking off.  She was losing her mind and had to focus, managing to second-guess herself without actually showing it.  Her work was flawless, very rarely did Savalyn make a mistake and tonight would not be one of those nights.  Once she announced the second contest of the evening, Savalyn stepped out of the ring and sat down on the metal folding chair, looking over the list of matches and whatnot to make sure she didn’t miss anything, even though she had the paper memorized.  That chill never left her, though Savalyn did her best to push it aside and chalked it up to a momentarily lapse of insanity.

Sometimes being him had perks, such as having control over specific things.  Also, talking people into seeing things his way.  He could be so charming when he wanted too.  Some things just didn't need to be 100% scripted, not everyone needed to be in the know and, when he spotted Savalyn rub her arms again, he smirked.  She was having some minor issues from knowing she was being watched.

 

“Clever girl.” He rumbled, watching her for a few more minutes and knew he had to leave the catwalk to get on with his plans.

 

Grabbing hold of the safety bars to the ladder and swung himself onto the rungs, working his way down.  Spotting Howard watching her, out of sight, his smirk broadened.  The Fink was about to have the rest of the night off.

 

The second match had ended and Savalyn looked at the clock, waiting for the signal to head back into the ring.  The Hardy Boyz weren’t having the best luck lately and had lost against Edge and Christian of The Brood.  Luckily, their entrance with Gangrel spitting ‘blood’ or some kind of red liquid was on the opposite side of where she sat, so she wasn’t sprayed with it.  Stepping back into the ring once everyone vacated, Savalyn put the microphone to her mouth and stared into the camera, that chilling feeling increasing tenfold.  Hold it together, don’t fall apart, she mentally coached herself, taking a deep breath and kept the smile firmly plastered on her face while the crowd continued cheering.

 

Heat was ending and Raw would begin shortly. “Stop squirming or I'll eat your face with hot sauce.” He threatened, baring his rather sharp teeth down at the struggling, bound and gagged Howard Finkel.  It didn’t surprise him when Howard's eyes widened and he stopped the squirming. “Now, you know me well enough to know this is going to play out one of two ways.  Hard way.  My way.  Pick one.”

 

Howard sighed through the gag and simply nodded.
    

“Good.  Now try not to flinch.”

 

The last thing Howard seen before he was knocked out was a flash of white, he was assuming Undertaker had grinned and then darkness enveloped him.  Humming under his breath, Taker stooped to scoop up the smaller man, tossing him over his shoulder.  He was playing budding cult leader on-screen, but truth be told he always did like to get his hands dirty.  Quick pit stop to stash the Fink where nobody would find him until the end of the show and then his own fun could begin.

 

“Perfect.”

 

Once the final match of Heat ended with Viscera of the Ministry of Darkness winning over the Corporation’s Ken Shamrock, it was time for Savalyn to head to the backstage area.  Or so she thought.

“Sava, stay where ya are, doll.” Jim ‘Good Ol’ JR’ Ross ordered, having pulled his microphone set from his head in order to speak to her.

“What’s going on, JR?” She asked quietly, keeping her voice down so the fans behind him and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler couldn’t hear.


“Nobody can find Howard; we need you out here to announce the matches.”


Pale blues grew wide in shock and all Savalyn could do was look back at the ring, wondering what happened to Howard.  She’d never done a Raw before! “O-Okay…” Savalyn swallowed hard, knowing she would be LIVE and hoped her appearance looked alright enough to be on television. “I can do this, I can do this…”

“If you gotta throw up, do so now before we go live.” Jerry suggested, deadpan. “No, seriously.” He added when Savalyn looked at him with something that wasn't amusement in her eyes. “There's a bucket under the ring.”

 

“You're helpful.” JR scowled, looking at her sympathetically. “You'll do fine.  You got everyone's stats down, and there's someone on the way to bring you the card list.”

 

“Thank you, JR.” Savalyn smiled warmly at him, knowing he was on her side with this situation and took another deep breath. 

 

This was hilarious.  Everyone was freaking out about Howard and Undertaker was busy ensuring his devil's beard looked appropriately sinister; his acid green eyes alight with amusement while feigning boredom. “Mideon... did you do as I asked?”
    

Mideon simply nodded, wrapping tape around his wrists.

 

One of the technicians jogged down to the ring and handed her the necessary paperwork before heading to the back.  Savalyn decided to take this one step at a time, reading the first match with the contenders and set it aside, nodding.  She took the microphone she’d used on Heat and stepped into the ring to face the camera.  This time, she would be live, no mistakes could be made.  With Heat, it was taped, so if she screwed up it could be nixed out of the program.  However with Raw, this was all live and Savalyn had to get her nerves under control, standing there with squared shoulders waiting for the pyro to ignite on the stage.  Bringing the microphone to her lips, Savalyn waited for the music of Raw to stop before announcing the first match of the evening perfectly.

 

She was handling it like a pro, which brought a small smile to some old nostalgic side of him, buried way down deep.  Savalyn always was fairly decent at taking things in stride, definitely one of her more admirable traits.  It also gave Undertaker a bit of a challenge.  Spooking Savalyn wasn't the goal tonight, but it was a side amusement; if he could do it, he would.  If not, well... another time.  When Mideon handed him a blueprint, he took it and opened it, gesturing his minions around to begin laying out tonight's plan.

 

“This one... this one leads up underneath where the ring is set up; they used to use it for theater." Taker explained, tapping where he would be heading. “And Mideon has already prepped.” He looked at his men. “Everyone know what they're doing?” The chorus' of 'yes' wasn't surprising.  He hadn't picked these men for nothing; each had been chosen for a reason. “Good.  Go on.  We need to start moving now.” He was nixing his robe tonight; the last thing he needed was for it to get caught on something.

 

It was one of the qualities Howard saw in her that nobody else had.  After the first hour passed by, Savalyn looked at the paper again and swallowed hard, knowing the Corporation and the Ministry of Darkness had been feuding lately.  She stepped back inside the ring with a smile and began the announcement of the Corporation’s Test.  She ignored him trying to get her to loosen up and merely shook her head, keeping the smile on her face.  Suddenly, the lights went out in the arena just as the microphone rose to her lips and Savalyn felt her heart nearly jump in her throat, the sound of the Undertaker’s theme – The Ministry of Darkness – blared through the speakers.  What the hell was going on?  Savalyn slowly took a step or two back, feeling her back press against the ring ropes and knew she couldn’t go anywhere without some kind of light.

 

Mideon had done a great job.  He was able to navigate the path easily, his men, minus Viscera, who risked getting stuck and thus was scheduled to face Test instead.  Test – what horrible ring name, he thought in a sneer.

 

“Up.” It was a mere command all of his minions followed without preamble.

 

Taker stepped aside, watching them all climb up and out.  He followed behind, inhaling the scent of the canvas, sweat and grime.  He loved his work.  Feeling along the edge catching the loose thread that marked his entrance, Taker began tugging until he was able to get a finger hooked.  Holding the material taut, he felt for the waistband of his tights, procuring a small knife and got to work.  Savalyn's first night soloing RAW would definitely be memorable.

 

This wasn’t funny, not anymore and Savalyn was literally stuck in the ring where she stood.  She managed to move along the ropes and pressed back against the turnbuckle, pale blue eyes wide.  Test was cursing, trying to figure out what was going on as much as she was.  Savalyn could not lose her concentration and focus, no matter what was happening.  How the HELL did Howard deal with all of this?  Undertaker was known for breaking script and doing things his way; she knew him better than most.  When the lights slowly came back up, Savalyn could only swallow hard at the sight of a giant standing in front of her.  Apparently, she picked the wrong turnbuckle to stand against.

 

Chapter 2

 

Really, messing with her wasn't on the agenda and served no practical purpose.  She wasn't a plot device for this storyline Vince thought he was in control of or someone in the know, who had information he could use, but that didn't stop him nevertheless.  He simply stared down at her, no expression on his pale face except for the flicker of wickedness in his eyes.  Taker bent down until his nose was almost brushing hers, his hands resting on the ropes alongside of her.  His long black hair was loose tonight, cascading down his shoulders around them in a curtain.

 

“Delicious.” He rumbled darkly, rather enjoying the way her glossy lips had parted as she apparently fumbled around with what to say or think.  His men were in the ring, surrounding Test ready to pounce at his order. “You should run, Savy.” He ran the tip of his tongue slowly along his upper lip as he regarded her.

 

That tongue…she knew all too well how it felt against her skin, his lips on hers and the way his hands molded to her body.  No!  Savalyn could not take on that thinking process and nodded stiffly, pale blues locked on acidic green.  Granted, his look had drastically changed over the past 2 years, but deep down inside, Savalyn knew the man she fell in love with was in there somewhere, even behind the wall of darkness he hid behind.  Without a word, she stepped through the rope and hopped down, immediately being pulled to the side out of harm’s way as the Ministry of Darkness began beating Test to a pulp in the ring.  Soon, the Corporation was out ambushing the Ministry and the fight was on.  All she could do was watch and silently hoped Undertaker made it out of the fray unscathed.

 

He had seen it.  That brief flash, the way her pale blue eyes had darkened for just a moment, darting down to his mouth and inwardly he purred.  Once they had been a thing, an item, but things hadn't worked out.  Not that they had parted on bad terms, they hadn't.  Maybe that was why he had given her a warning to vacate as opposed to doing something more... hands-on.  Pushing the thought of Savalyn to the backburner, Taker focused on surviving the melee this had become, rather enjoying himself.  His enjoyment increased tenfold when he busted open one of the Corporation idiots and spared a sideways glance outside the ring towards Savalyn.  Was she enjoying his show?

 

It was always a pleasure watching him perform in the ring, in any capacity.  Savalyn still couldn’t believe this was the same man who whispered sweet nothings into her ear and made sweet love to her for 6 months.  Mid-98 is when they parted and went their separate ways, right before Undertaker turned into the Lord of Darkness, as he liked to call himself.  Honestly, she missed him, but would never admit it.  People backstage knew about them; it was very hard to keep a relationship under wraps in this business and she’d suffered scrutiny dating the Undertaker.  Still, Savalyn wouldn’t change it for anything and had to take several deep breaths to slow her suddenly racing heart.  Once the Ministry of Darkness demolished the Corporation and the show changed to commercial break, Savalyn took the paper given to her earlier and began reading over it to see what was coming up next.  Back to business.

 

“My, my... what a professional.”

 

Back to business indeed.

 

Officials helped out the injured, getting the wrestlers backstage and tried to get things back in order before the break was over.  He waved a hand, sending the technician who dared approach him scurrying and ignored the crowd screaming around them as he surveyed Savalyn over the ring rope, leaning into them.  Taker grinned suddenly when she looked up at him, using the ropes to flip himself over and out of the ring, boots landing heavily on the mat covered floor.  His right fist, the knuckles, were covered in blood and sweat beaded his forehead, his eyes still alight with a glow from the fiasco that had just occurred.  She was so bound and determined to be professional, to do her job without a hitch... he was going to help her with that.

 

“Tell me, pet, with that photographic memory of yours...” Taker reached out to cover the paper with his hand, forcing her to give him her attention. “Do you ever think about me, hmm?  Maybe alone in your room... in the dark, in bed...” That memory thing, when she had told him of it, he had gone to great lengths to ensure she would definitely remember some of their finer, intimate moments.

 

Damn it, Savalyn thought instantly, already feeling her cheeks grow a deep crimson red.  Why did he insist on messing with her when she was TRYING to be professional?  Of course she thought about him, more than she probably should have.  They had a relationship, shared intimate details about each other and Savalyn didn’t regret a single moment of it.  She could feel the heat of his hand through the paper searing right through the dress she had on, the temperature in the arena kicking up several notches.

 

“You’re bleeding.” She pointed out softly; remaining seated and knew she couldn’t get up with him hovered right over her.  It was also a very…interesting position to be in since his lower extremities were right in her face. “Undertaker…” She practically breathed out his name and cleared her throat, crossing one leg over the other.

“About to go live again, we need you in there, Sava.”

“Go get that looked at, please.” She flashed him a smile before walking past him and stepped into the ring through the ropes, having a job to do.

 

It wasn't his blood, but he did need to wash it off.  He didn't trust any of Vince's lackeys to not have STDs or something.  Taker made a mental note to have Paul schedule him a test, just to be on the safe side.  He knew for a fact Shane McMahon had gotten a lovely itch from a ring rat.  Apparently, money didn't buy brains or condoms.  He retreated backstage; he still had his own match to put on later, so there was plenty of time to give his gorgeous ex another go then.

 

“What the hell, Taker?!” Vince was livid and protected; refusing to confront the man he regularly pissed off without security between them. “What were you thinking?  You don't run this show; you don't jump script; you don't-”
    

“Remind me again... where's Finkel?  Having her out there, Vince... bad things could happen.”
    

Vince knew this bastard had a hand in Howard's disappearance.  He didn't know how, or why, but Taker had done something.  It was ALWAYS Taker.

 

With another commercial break, JR managed to call Savalyn over to the announcer’s table, truly concerned for the woman. “Are you alright?” Undertaker had transformed into a monster and nobody within the WWF trusted him.

 

“I’m fine, I promise.  I got this, gentlemen.  There’s no need to worry.”

 

Jerry cleared his throat, shaking his head. “He’ll be out here again, if you read the paperwork.  He has a match in the main event tonight…”

 

Savalyn already knew that, having looked over the rest of the paperwork and nodded. “I’m not afraid.  This is a job and I will do it to the best of my ability.  Has anyone heard from Howard?” She was truly concerned for her mentor, hoping Undertaker didn’t do anything to him.

Both men shook their heads and watched the chestnut haired beauty step back into the ring to resume her job.

No matter what, she couldn’t let her ex-boyfriend –wow that sounded weird just thinking of Undertaker in that manner- distract her, her focus completely on the next match she had to announce.

 

~!~

 

Howard was awake and uncomfortable.  He had woken up in what he quickly learned was the Ministry’s locker room and in one of the larger lockers.  That would explain why no one had found him yet; nobody was stupid enough to come venturing in here, even if Taker was a prime suspect.  Which he may not be, as maybe someone assumed Howard had just disappeared, even though that was not like him at all.  His eyes shut when light hit them, hearing Undertaker chuckling at him and sighed through the gag.

 

“So... Fink, let's have a chat about your protégé.” Taker grabbed the bindings holding Howard’s wrists tightly together and pulled the smaller man out into the room.

 

Howard grunted, already knowing all about the Undertaker and Savalyn’s relationship and sighed with relief when the gag was removed from his mouth.  Undertaker hadn’t taken an interest in Savalyn ever since they parted ways.  Yes, she confided in him after the split because she couldn’t focus on her job and Howard had to put her in her place in a friendly way.  So what the hell did the Phenom want with her now?

 

“What about her, sir?” He knew better than to call Undertaker anything else, not even Taker, considering he was a bug the monster could very easily squash.

 

“I need to know her schedule.”

 

Because ring announcers tended to pull other jobs, such as voiceovers for the weekend morning shows and pay-per-views or reporting for little side projects on those when the WWF was involved in something else or sponsoring a specific event.  Modeling was also something else he’d noticed Savalyn do in order to sell merchandise to the fans.  He tried not to pay too much attention, but... Also, days off would be good, he suddenly thought.

 

“And I know you have it.” Fink helped with all of those side quests for the company and set some of the schedules up for him and Savalyn. “So...” He snapped his fingers and a black notebook was passed to his already waiting hand, followed by a pen. “I'm going to turn you loose and you're going to write down everything I want you to.” Hell, Taker might also tap Fink for information related to his other pet projects.

 

Blinking at the notebook and pen, Howard could feel his nerves finally set in and hesitated writing down the information Undertaker wanted.  How could he give up Savalyn’s personal information? “No.  I won’t do it.” He’d been with this company for a long time and Undertaker had officially gone off the deep-end. “Y-You need to l-leave her alone, Undertaker…” Maybe he would die on this night, but at least Savalyn would be protected because he REFUSED to divulge any information on her to this monster. “If you want to know her information so badly, Undertaker, you should ask her yourself.  I-I won’t…tell you a thing.”

 

“No, you will.” Taker informed him with a vicious grin. “Because if you don't, I'm going to send the Acolytes down to that ring, drag her backstage by her hair and she'll be joining you in the trunk of my car until we hit those caverns outside of town.  You know the ones I'm talking about, right?  They use it as a tourist spot now during the summer.  Pretty empty this time of year, so I doubt anyone would find either of you for months.  If you manage to survive the cold... and don't fall to your deaths.” When Howard shook his head again, Taker sighed resignedly. “Fine.  Boys, fetch.”
    

They headed for the door without a word.

 

If Howard was daft and stupid, he would’ve fallen for that idle threat and folded his arms in front of his chest, eyes narrowed on the Phenom. “No you won’t.  You won’t hurt her.” He stated confidently, wondering when he decided to sprout balls of steel and took a step back at the acid boiling in the Undertaker’s eyes. “Do whatever you want to me; you’re not getting a word outta me about Savalyn.” He watched the Acolytes leave the locker room and sucked his cheeks in tightly, remaining steadfast in his decision.

 

He merely arched a black brow at the piss ant’s defiance. “Howie... just because I've tapped her ass, more times than Shawn Michaels has done blow, doesn't mean I won't harm her.  Or more accurately, allow harm to come to her.”

 

Taker didn't have to have a hand in the actual destruction.  All he had to do was lay out the map and let his crew do the driving.  When the Ministry's music tolled, he turned towards the monitor.  It wasn't as if they were interrupting an actual match.

 

The women of PMS didn't wrestle.

 

Howard’s eyeballs nearly fell out of his skull at the site of the Acolytes storming down the ramp, going around the ring and both stopped right in front of the female ring announcer. “No, Sava, run!” He shouted at the monitor, looking back up at the Undertaker.  Maybe he did underestimate just how much the monster valued Savalyn. “Y-You can’t h-hurt her!”

~!~

 

What the hell was going on?  Savalyn looked from Bradshaw to Farooq of the Ministry of Darkness, swallowing hard at the rigid expressions on their faces.  Her sky blues grew wide as each man took one of her upper arms and forcefully pulled her out of the chair, beginning to guide her none too gently toward the back.

 

“I-I have a job to do…” Was this part of the show??  Savalyn didn’t bother struggling against the giants that had a hold of her and hoped when she got to the backstage area, this would all be explained.

“JUST WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!” Vince McMahon exploded the SECOND the Acolytes came through the curtain. “Release her NOW!”

Now Savalyn was REALLY confused.

 

“Sorry Vinnie, bosses orders.” Bradshaw said flatly, not at all impressed by the way that vein was bulging in Vince's temple.  The man needed to lay off the steroids.  His grip on Savalyn was firm, but not bruising, unless she tried to get away. 

 

So far, she was being quite calm about all of this.

 

“I AM the boss.”

 

Farooq snorted at that, sidestepping them all alongside his partner, guiding Savalyn down the hall.  He wasn't surprised that Vince was following, bellowing at them. “Keep that up and He's going to come set your ass straight.”
    

That made Vince hesitate for a moment.

 

Question marks were swirling around Savalyn’s head because of this sudden turn of events.  He?  Did they mean Undertaker?  Did Undertaker order this to happen?  Why?  They parted on good terms and he hadn’t even looked her way since their relationship ended nearly a year ago.  Savalyn needed answers, continuing to walk with the Acolytes and, thankfully, they weren’t being rough with her.  She probably should’ve tried getting away from them, but what good would it do?  Obviously, Undertaker had something to say to her and hoped her job wasn’t destroyed because of him.

 

“Howard!” Savalyn felt the Acolytes release her and she rushed over to him, sky blues giving him a cursory onceover to make sure he was alright.

“Sava…” Howard wished she would’ve fought or tried getting out of the arena, swallowing hard. “Are you alright, sweetheart?”

“Yeah, they didn’t hurt me.  Why am I here though?” She directed that question to her ex-boyfriend, arching a confused brow.  It wasn’t a demand; her voice remained warm as honey and soft.

 

“Howard isn't playing nicely with us.” Taker informed her matter-of-factly, as if they were discussing the weather.  Which was cold and wet last he knew. “So... because he decided to try playing hero...” He trailed off, offering what might have been an apologetic shrug before looking her up and down. “You look gorgeous, Savalyn.  Too bad you didn't wear layers.”
    

Howard's eyes widened when he was hoisted up again.  Was Taker serious?  No... No, he wasn't.  He couldn't be, right?
 

“Paul, warm up the car.” At least he would be comfortable.

 

Chapter 3

 

“ALRIGHT!” Howard yelled out and hit the concrete flooring with a sickening thud, groaning as his hand shot up to hold his upper arm. “I-I’ll do it!  Let her go and I’ll do it, Undertaker!” He was officially scared out of his mind and worried for Savalyn’s safety.

 

Savalyn frowned; not understanding what was happening and knew Undertaker had a reason for doing this.  He was calculating and never did something without a reason. “Howard, what-?” Her question was cut off when she was dumped unceremoniously outside of the Ministry locker room, the door slamming in her face. “Okay then…” She was pulled away from doing her job for THIS?  Scowling, Savalyn rose to her feet, dusting herself off and stalked away from the Ministry locker room, shaking her head.

“Give me the notebook and pen.” He snatched it from Mideon and began writing down all the information regarding Savalyn’s schedule, handing it back over to the Phenom a few minutes later. “If you want a copy of it, I can get that too.  Now can I go?”

 

“I knew you'd see reason.”

 

Taker still wasn't sure if he'd actually go through with it, concerning Savalyn.  She hadn't done anything wrong.  Or anything to piss him off.  Howard on the other hand…Taker had no qualms about dropping him off in the middle of those caverns without a light and wishing him all the best.  He eyed the paper, unlike Savalyn, he did not have a photographic memory and relied on just being that damn good.

 

“If I find out you lied…I'm going to string her up in the ring.” He informed the cowardly Fink gravely.

 

“I can get a copy of her schedule just in case I forgot anything.  I don’t have her memory talent.” Howard admitted grudgingly, seeing the sick smirk curve on Undertaker’s lips and had to look away, hoping Savalyn would be alright.  He left the Ministry locker room, cursing under his breath and went to track down his protégé to make sure she was safe.

 

~!~

 

Vince sent Savalyn back to the hotel after what happened; assuring her everything was fine regarding her job.  None of it was her fault.  Savalyn was still very confused about Undertaker’s actions tonight.  To her knowledge, he was done with her, but maybe that wasn’t the case.  There was only one way to find out just what was going through his mind, or at least get some answers to all the questions burning within her.  A quick stop at her hotel room, Savalyn changed into a pair of red cotton shorts and a matching tank top, her usual sleep attire.  Savalyn wasn’t fancy, hating the dresses she had to wear in the ring, but it was part of the image factor within the company, so she dealt with it.  Besides, they offered all the clothing anyway.  Once she changed, Savalyn quickly found out what room her ex-boyfriend was in, knowing he was back at the hotel already and stood outside of his door, taking a deep breath before knocking twice on it gently.

 

Somehow, her being there wasn't surprising.  Taker hadn't known who would be at the door when there had been a knock.  It could have been Vince, providing the old man had found someone ballsy enough to come with him as back-up.  Could've been one of his boys, but they also knew how to pick up a phone as opposed to disturbing him.  Or it could have been a crazy fan who managed to suck someone out of his room number since that had happened a time or two.

 

“Well, well...” He rumbled, pulling the door wide open and leaned in the frame, staring down at his ex.  Taker had showered and changed into night attire, though when he actually went to bed, it'd be nude.  Black, drawstring bottoms that hung low on his waist, his black hair freshly washed and half-assed towel-dried hanging about his shoulders. “I didn't realize I ordered dessert off the menu...” He grinned down at her, eyes roaming her body.

 

Instantaneously, her cheeks turned a deep crimson red, her entire body flushed at the mere sight of him.  Savalyn had to get herself under control, knowing Undertaker would prey on her vulnerability and clasped her hands in front of her. “I need to talk to you about something.  May I come in for a minute?”

 

When he stepped aside, Savalyn smiled and walked past him into the room, immediately turning back around to face him.  She didn’t want him behind her because he would attack her neck and she would end up falling into bed with him again.  That couldn’t happen; they were exes for a reason.

 

“I would like to know why you kidnapped Howard tonight and why you decided it would be a good idea to have your men come down to ringside and drag me away from my job.  I thought we…we parted on good terms and there were no hard feelings between us.  If I’ve done something to piss you off, I’d like for you to talk to me about it directly.  You know me, I’m an open book and I’ve never lied to you.  We haven’t really…spoken in a while like this…” While talking, Savalyn began pacing back and forth in front of him, chewing the tip of her thumb nail.

 

She would get going and be this way for hours if he didn't stop her now.  Savalyn would wind herself up... it was amusing and, back in the day, could have been termed cute.  Now... no, couldn't be that way.  Taker reached out and placed his hands on her shoulders, stopping her from pacing.

 

“First off, why I kidnapped Howard is on a need to know basis, so you'll have to forgive me if I don't tell you.  Second, we did part on good terms.” It was the truth.  She was the most amicable ex he ever had. “I had you pulled from the ring to give Howard... incentive.  I wouldn't have let anything happen to you.  Third, you still need to work on that rambling.”

 

“Sorry.” She murmured, enjoying the feeling of his hands on her shoulders and wondered if he still harbored any kind of feelings for her.  Granted, he was deemed the Lord of Darkness nowadays and had a following with the Ministry, but…he couldn’t have changed all that much, right? “There’s nothing to forgive.  I just wish…I wish you would come to me if you need something from me, that’s all.” Savalyn was worried about Howard’s safety, which made her come here and rambling wasn’t getting her anywhere, not when it came to Undertaker. “I trust you.  I’ll always trust you.  Just…try to keep me out of your…business from now on.  I really don’t want to lose my job.  Contrary to what people say in this company, I enjoy my position and where I’m at right now.”

 

“You won't get fired because of me.” He informed her, fairly casually though it was in fact a vow. “And just to put your mind at ease, none of this had anything to do with you.  However, you seem to be important to Howard and were in the immediate vicinity for what I needed.” Howard had been in the business for quite some time and had access to a lot of information; there was no need to associate Howard with Savalyn necessarily. “Unless... you're hoping I need something from you?” The grin had changed into a leer, acidic eyes slit with wicked amusement.

 

I’m always hoping, she thought, refusing to say those words aloud because of what happened between them.  His leer sent shivers down her spine and Savalyn felt the goose bumps break out on her skin for the third time that night. “I have nothing you want, as far as I know.” She returned with a smile of her own, taking a step toward him and slowly reached up to stroke the beard he’d grown out considerably since the last time they were together. “You don’t harbor any feelings for me anymore…right?” She had to know, sky blues searching his for any sign or indication he might’ve felt something toward her.  There was none. “Good night, Undertaker.” Walking away from him, Savalyn set her hand on the handle of his hotel door, ready to leave to go back to her own room.

 

"Good night, Savalyn."

 

As if he would deign to answer that rather impertinent question one way or the other.  The woman was daft.  He could have sworn he seen her shoulders sag just a fraction, for a moment, before opening the door.  Taker would let her walk out that door with things just the way they were.  They had parted on good terms, didn't fight or do anything except maybe nod or acknowledge one another whenever their paths did cross, which was surprisingly rare.  He had almost corrected her, like he used to do back when they first met, to call him Mark, but…he didn't.

 

The reason she didn’t call him Mark was simple.  He preferred being called Undertaker and she had no right to call him anything else.  They were coworkers and nothing more.  Her heart still hurt every time she passed by him in the hallway at the arenas and coming to his room tonight…what the hell was she thinking?  It took a while for her to get over him, to come to terms with the end of their relationship, even though she wanted to fight for him, but didn’t.  If he didn’t want to fight for her, why should she fight for him?  Undertaker had been the one to bring up ending their relationship and, after a long talk with Howard and a few other friends of hers within the company such as Stephanie McMahon and Ryan Shamrock, she gave him what he wanted.  A clean easy out with no hard feelings or obligations.  Pushing open the door to her hotel room, Savalyn pressed her back against it and let the tears finally fall from her eyes, looking up at the ceiling for any kind of sign to help her through this.

 

“Damn it, I miss him.” She whispered, pushing away from the door to slide into bed.  It’d been a very long night and she desperately needed some sleep.

 

~!~

 

“I heard what happened.”

 

Of course Stephanie had heard.  She might have been a model for the WWF, but she was still a McMahon and heard everything.  That was how Shane had started as well, working behind the scenes.  He had been an order filler, working in one of the warehouses before finally moving out.  Vince did not believe in giving hand outs, not even to his own offspring.

 

“Are you okay?  He totally broke script and Dad was pissed.”


“Yeah I’m fine.  Nobody hurt me.  He…would never hurt me.” Savalyn spoke quietly, lowering her voice and Stephanie knew who exactly the ‘he’ was she referred to. 

 

It’d been a few days since Howard was abducted by the Ministry and Savalyn’s visit to Undertaker’s hotel room.  She tried in vain not to think about her delicious ex-boyfriend, but it was impossible not to, not when she still had deep feelings for him.  Nobody, not Stephanie, Howard or Ryan, knew about her visit to his room either and she was taking that information with her to the grave.

 

“Hopefully, he doesn’t break script again.” It was a mere house show they were at instead of a televised event, but that still didn’t mean she had the night off.  Oh no, Savalyn had work to do and began doing it alongside Stephanie.

 

“Yeah, as if.  Daddy is talking about having extra security on hand for Raw on Monday.”

 

Stephanie tugged at the front of the WWF t-shirt she wore.  She got to work the front tables tonight.  Vince had been talking about letting her move up the ladder, like Shane had, so she was trying to be patient and hold out for that.

 

“He's gotten worse over the past few months.  People are... scared.  Did you ever find out what he wanted with Howard?"

 

Along with her job, because she had the body for it, the WWF made her a model for their merchandise as well.  Savalyn didn’t mind so long as all of her major assets were covered and never shown on camera.  T-shirts were fine and currently, she had an Undertaker one on.  Fate really was a bitch and out to get her.

 

“No, I didn’t talk to him much.  He just said Howard wasn’t cooperating with him and he needed…incentive.  Oh well, it’s done and over with now.”

 

She eyeballed the WWF t-shirt her friend had on and immediately turned to face the camera, not realizing the merchandise she was supposed to wear for this shoot had been switched secretly.  Stephanie had no idea what Savalyn was supposed to be wearing since they were given clothes and that was it.  She personally thought Savalyn wearing an Undertaker shirt of all things was a bit... odd, given what had just happened.  However, none of her business and she simply shrugged, doing the posing and positioning she had learned and done so many times she could probably do it in her sleep.
    

That was amusing and, while petty; Taker congratulated himself on a job well done.
    

“What the hell is she wearing?”

 

He slinked back into the darkness, smiling.

 

“Excuse me?” Savalyn blinked at the photographer, sky blues widening.

“That is not what you’re supposed to be wearing, Savalyn.”

“WHAT?” Savalyn frowned, not understanding what was going on. “This is the t-shirt that was on my chair when we walked in.” She looked at Stephanie, hoping her friend defended her.

“They always leave them out for us and we just put them on.  I was wondering why she was wearing an Undertaker shirt…” Stephanie looked just as confused as Savalyn, both women staring at the photographer like he’d grown a second head. “So what IS she supposed to be wearing?”

“DX, here.” The photographer tossed the RIGHT shirt to her. “Go change and we’ll continue.”

Savalyn took off to the dressing room to do so.

 

“What the hell were they thinking?” It was always one thing or another lately it seemed.  Shaking his head, the photographer held up a finger towards Stephanie. “Give me a minute, I'm going to check that nothing else is going to be…out of place.” Because apparently it was going to be one of those nights.
    

That left his actual prey all alone.  Savalyn - seeing her was a nice bonus, but at this point not part of the ultimate plan.  She was a distraction at best. “Oh Stephanie...”

 

Stephanie whirled around, staring down a dark corridor that wasn't being used; pretty certain she had heard her name being called.

 

Stepping back out a few moments later with a DX t-shirt on, Savalyn frowned at the pale complexion on her friend’s face. “What’s wrong?  Are you okay?” She placed a hand on Stephanie’s shoulder and looked down the long corridor, raising a brow.

“N-Nothing.  I thought I heard…something.  My name being called.” Stephanie waved it off, shaking her head.  Being 22, she was a bit naïve and hadn’t experienced life yet while Savalyn was a ripened age of 28. “Where did the damn photographer go?” She blinked when the lights suddenly went out.

“Great, what the hell is going on now?”

 

Chapter 4

 

Now that wasn't him, at all.  But it was just so perfect, as if god himself was finding this amusing and had decided to pitch in a hand.  Taker began laughing, a deep booming sound that echoed off the old cinderblock walls.  His laughter only grew louder, a shade more evil, when Stephanie began screaming like a banshee.
    

“What the hell is going on?!”

 

The photographer was this close to quitting!  This was ridiculous.  Who did photo shoots at arenas anyway?  Why couldn't they be like normal people and do them in studios?
    

Savalyn could place that laugh anywhere and felt Stephanie shaking like a leaf, pale blues trying to pierce through the pure darkness surrounding them. “Come on, we gotta get out of here.” She nearly jumped out of her skin when a flash of lightning lit up the only window in the room they were currently in, followed by a LOUD crack of thunder.  Storms normally didn’t freak her out, but this one was different. “Don’t let go, no matter what.” Feeling the wall, Savalyn began heading down the hallway cautiously with Stephanie in tow and the photographer. “I really hope we’re going the right way…”

 

“Can you see anything?  Maybe we should stay where we are…”

“No, the power could be out for hours and I don’t wanna be stuck here!”

 

None of this was planned; this was great!  Given that Taker had been lurking in the dark for awhile, his eyes had adjusted quite nicely.  It also helped that Stephanie and the photographer were loud, so he could follow their voices.
    

“There are people in the seats; they can't leave the place like this.”

 

House show it may be, but given the crowd, power would have to be on soon or they would have to rely on the portable generators to at least get people out of the building.  However, it would take a good 10 minutes or so to get those generators going.  Taker fell into step behind the photographer, staying completely silent including his footsteps.

 

What the hell was Undertaker’s game?  Scaring Stephanie like this was uncalled for!  He knew they were friends and she adored the youngest McMahon, the only daughter of Vince.  So why was he purposely coming after her?  Savalyn kept heading down the hallway, keeping one hand on the wall and had Stephanie’s clasped tightly in hers.

 

“I think this is catering.”

 

Why hadn’t the backup generators kicked in yet?  Again, she knew this was the Undertaker’s doing because of that laugh earlier.  There was NO way she’d tell Stephanie or the photographer, Frank, that though.  They’d be even more panicked than they already were.

 

“Steph, you hanging in there, sweetie?”

“Y-Yeah…”

 

Frank wasn't.  He was currently unconscious back some ways.  Stephanie was now holding Undertaker’s hand without realizing it.  Squeezing and he was returning it, just enjoying her being afraid.  Savalyn sounded more irritated then anything and he wondered what she was thinking.  This hadn't been the plan; this was unexpected, but it was amusing.  His only minor neurosis was Savalyn being here, getting pulled into his diabolical plan.  An ear piercing scream from Stephanie echoed throughout catering when she realized she wasn’t holding the photographer’s hand.  Savalyn tightened her grip on Stephanie’s hand, basically playing tug of war against whoever had scared the hell out of her friend.

 

“Let GO!”

 

She kicked at the complete darkness and heard a howl of pain, the person releasing Stephanie to collide with Savalyn as they both went toppling over one of the tables.  Savalyn scrambled up to check on Stephanie, her heart beating furiously in her chest and hoped she didn’t just kick her ex below the belt.  The lights suddenly flickered on and it took several seconds for Savalyn to adjust her eyes to the newfound light.  Before them stood no one; it was as if everything that just happened was a figment of their imagination.

 

“Let’s go find your Dad and tell him what happened.”

 

“You kicked me!” Stephanie rubbed her knee furiously, blinking back tears from her baby blues, her face a brilliant shade of red. “Why'd you kick me?  Where'd Frank go?  Who was-?” She shut up when Savalyn began tugging her out of the hall towards the safety of others.
    

Taker was also a brilliant shade of red from laughing so hard and trying not to let it out, biting on his clenched fist, shoulders shaking as he lurked in an empty room.  She had kicked her friend…his sides were killing him.

 

Vince snapped his head up when his office door opened and in walked a crying Stephanie with a guilt-ridden Savalyn following suit. “What the hell happened?!” He demanded, rushing to his daughter’s aid while Savalyn stood there looking like a regular fish out of water.

How the hell was she supposed to explain this without sounding out of her mind? “Umm I thought someone was grabbing Steph because she started screaming during the blackout.  We made it to catering and…well…I tried protecting her because she was scared and…I uh…kicked her…” She lowered her head in shame, waiting for the explosion from her boss to happen. “I’m sorry, Steph…”

“I hope my kneecap isn’t cracked…” She mumbled through tears, not believing how HARD Savalyn kicked her.

 

“You…kicked her?” Vince echoed in disbelief, looking at Savalyn who was red in the face and ashamed, then to Stephanie who was also crimson and crying.  His eyes landed on her knee, which she was holding and nodded, getting up poking his head out the door. “Get me an EMT, damn it!”


Taker was on his way out, still laughing.  That had gone better than expected.  However, Savalyn was going to be a problem if she kept being in places she shouldn't.  Funny how that modeling thing wasn't on the list of her schedule.  He was planning on breaking Fink's fingers.

 

~!~

 

Suspended for 2 weeks without pay…Savalyn felt like ripping her hair out of her skull!  For striking Vince’s baby girl accidentally!  In Stephanie’s defense, she had tried to make her father go more lenient, but…alas, Vince McMahon was a bastard at heart and showed his true colors.  Stalking into her hotel room, Savalyn pulled her bag out and began packing her things since she had to go home.  She was not allowed on the road with the company during her 2 week suspension.  Shaking her head, Savalyn had a feeling her career was about to go up in smoke all because she tried protecting the youngest McMahon daughter.

 

“Screw it, maybe going home will make me forget…everything…” She mumbled, continuing to pack and wiped a few angry tears from her eyes.

 

“You're lucky he didn't fire your pert ass.” Taker knew what had happened; he knew a lot of things he probably shouldn't. “Now pet, you weren't aiming for me with that vicious kick, were you?”

 

Taker had watched her begin packing in amusement.  She was so distraught and distracted she hadn't even noticed him in her room.  He hadn't missed the 'everything' and idly wondered just what she had going on to make her say that.  As far as he knew, her life was relatively boring.  Not that he was keeping tabs or anything.

 

Savalyn had been through enough for one night, immediately drying her tears up. “How did you get – nevermind, stupid question.” She waved her hand as if brushing it off and plopped on the bed, heaving a sigh. “I knew that was you tonight.  Your laugh is…memorable.” She turned to stare at her ex-boyfriend, a million questions flowing through her pale blues and frowned deeply.  He wouldn’t tell her what he was planning, but she didn’t want anything happening to Stephanie either. “Yes, that kick was aimed for you because you were scaring the hell out of my friend.  I didn’t know for sure if it was you…until now.” Lying to him was pointless and it would only anger him further. “Please don’t hurt her.” It was a mere whisper as Savalyn began tossing her things in her bag again.

 

“I'm not going to hurt her.” Taker spoke after a long moment, considering her thoughtfully.  At least he had no intentions of hurting Stephanie, so long as no one gave him a reason to.  Plans were always subject to change, as tonight had proven. “I need you to not interfere, Savalyn.” She had an uncanny ability to sense when he was around and, apparently, his laugh was memorable. “Promise it.” Because if she didn't, he would have to remove her if she continued being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Much like he would remove her mentor.

 

Trusting this man was probably the dumbest thing she could possibly do, but love made people do stupid things.  What did he have planned for Stephanie?  Did he…desire her?  That mere thought made her nauseous, but Savalyn hid it well, shutting her eyes briefly to contemplate his order.  Promising not to interfere meant she would be betraying her friend and god knows who else.  There were so many questions she wanted to demand him to answer, but had to keep reminding herself this wasn’t Mark…at least the Mark she remembered.  He was Undertaker, plain and simple.

 

“What do you need me to do, Mark?” She finally looked back at him, deciding if she was going to promise him something, it would be by his birth name and not the character he portrayed on television. “Tell me what to do…and I’ll do it.  I trust you…”

 

“Stay out of the way, Savalyn.  Don't try to be a hero and help others.  Don't try to help me.” She was so easy.... it was tempting; he wasn't going to lie – to use her.  Savalyn was practically begging for it, vowing to do what he wanted, trusting him.

 

“Well I’m gone for 2 weeks, so you’ll have free reign without worrying about me interfering.  I don’t mean to do it, just so you know.”

 

Savalyn knew what this meant.  She wouldn’t be able to hang around Stephanie until Undertaker’s plan regarding her friend came to fruition.  Whatever he had planned for Stephanie still baffled her because she was just…a girl, a child.  Was she the reason he ended things between them?  Because of whatever this plan was he had to go through with?  She was a woman compared to the McMahon girl and highly doubted Stephanie could pleasure him the way she could.  Jealousy, she admitted it only to herself she was covetous of the attention being given to Stephanie from the ex love of her life.  Being someone’s hero?  Hardly.  She was just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time lately.

 

“And me helping you is laughable, truly.” That was downright droll and it showed in her now twinkling eyes, zipping her luggage bag up.

 

Given that she had just offered to do whatever he needed because she trusted him, Taker figured she might try to help if he had wanted it.  Or perhaps, she was being more agreeable then he thought she was capable of and going along with his warning to stay out of his business.  Her eyes were sparkling, she was in a good mood; all things considered that was odd.

 

“Just how hard was that kick?” He asked curiously, just a hint of amusement peeking through in his own tone.  She had meant it for him after all.

 

“It was-”

A firm knock sounded at the door followed by the voice of none other than Shane McMahon. “Savalyn, I know you’re upset, but we need to talk.  Please open the door.”

 

He’d had a long talk with his father, after Vince calmed down, and convinced the old man not to suspend one of their only ring announcers and backstage interviewers.  Those weren’t the only jobs she did for the company, but the main two.  Pale blues shot open to the size of saucers as Savalyn turned to stare at the door before snapping her head back at Taker.

 

“Just a minute!” She called out, immediately lowering her voice to talk to her ex. “Please go in the bathroom while I talk to him.” Nobody in the company needed to know they were speaking outside of the arena since they weren’t in a relationship anymore.  Talk about awkward. “Please?”

 

“Come on, Savalyn, we gotta talk!”

 

She was kidding, right?  She had to be.  Taker folded his arms over his chest, cocking a black brow down at her.  He was not going to hide in the bathroom while she conversed with Shane McMahon.  And just why was it necessary for her to chit-chat with that dipshit anyway?  He could already feel his mouth turning downwards into a frown when she began pushing on his chest, trying to actually move his 328 pound frame when he didn't.  Then he realized, if he was found in here…his plans would be compromised and Taker groaned, grabbing her hands to stop her and squeezed warningly.

 

“We're not finished, Savalyn.” He growled down at her, slinking into the bathroom, feeling stupid for actually agreeing to do this.

 

“I know, thank you.” She whispered, closing the bathroom door to hide him completely out of sight and rushed over to the door, wondering what the hell Shane McMahon wanted.  Opening the door, Savalyn had a neutral expression on her face and stood in the doorway, refusing to let the McMahon heir in if she could help it. “What can I do for you, Shane?” She asked politely, folding her arms in front of her chest and hoped Taker stayed in the bathroom.

 

Shane didn’t appreciate being kept waiting, but since she was a beautiful woman, he would let it slide…once. “I’m glad you haven’t left yet.” Obviously or else she wouldn’t have talked to him through the door. “Look, you’re not suspended.  My Dad was just…angry at what happened to Stephanie and he took it out on you.  He knows you were trying to protect her and so do I.  So don’t worry about catching your plane, unless you do want a few weeks off…” He trailed off, testing and gauging her reaction.

 

No suspension? “Umm…okay, no that’s…that’s great.  I won’t go home.  I do love my job, contrary to popular belief.” Savalyn felt her heart rate speed up a little, not expecting Shane McMahon to come to her hotel room to give her this news. “Thank you for telling me.  Did you need something else?”

 

“Well actually…” Shane cleared his throat, rubbing his hands in front of him nervously. “We’ve been friends for a while and…I was wondering if you’d let me take you to dinner.  Just to sweep everything under the rug and there’s no hard feelings.  What do you think?”

 

After agreeing with reluctance to go out to dinner with him the following night, Savalyn shut the door and turned around, not surprised to find Taker stepping out of the bathroom. “Looks like I’m staying on the road after all.  I won’t get in your way; I’ll stay away from Stephanie until you’re done doing…whatever it is you’re doing.” She was still in shock to discover her suspension had been lifted.

 

Chapter 5

 

From the ex-boyfriend point of view, that was messed up.  She had agreed to go on a date with Shane McMahon while he hid in her bathroom like some one night stand she was ashamed of!  Taker had to take a moment to let rationality take over.  This would work out just fine.  In fact, he could work this to his advantage – use this.  He could then kill McMahon after the fact, so it was a win-win.

 

“You and Shane, hmm?”

 

“Not the way you think.”

 

Did she detect a hint of jealousy in his tone?  No, this man didn’t get jealous, it was impossible.  Then again…maybe she didn’t know him at all.

 

“It’s just dinner to smooth everything over that happened with Stephanie.” Savalyn had to wonder why he cared who she went out with since he obviously didn’t want to be with her.  They were exes for a reason. “I don’t think of Shane like that.” Honestly, how the hell could she compare the McMahon heir to this specimen in front of her who once shared her bed and still had her heart in his cruel hands? “If you don’t want me to go, I won’t, Mark.”

 

Why did she insist on calling him Mark?  It didn’t displease him, not that she needed to know that.  Right then and there, Taker made an executive decision for the both of them.  Until this was all said and done, he would have to be cruel to be kind.  And…this would also roll things more in the direction he wanted, no needed, them to go.

 

“I don't care who you date, Savalyn.” He informed her flatly, sniffing slightly. “I just find it interesting…” His green eyes flashed wickedly down at her. “You are quite close to the McMahons; I didn't realize you were that close.”

 

That struck her hard in the heart, but Savalyn couldn’t let him see it bothered her. “Didn’t think you were either.”

 

That was a straight remark regarding his plans with Stephanie.  She didn’t bother responding to his lewd words regarding Shane.  If he wanted to believe there was more than what met the eye between her and Shane, so be it.  Savalyn smiled somewhat coldly and turned away from him to unzip her luggage bag, letting out a shaky silent breath.

 

“If you don’t need anything else from me, you can take your leave.” Pulling out her night clothes for bed, Savalyn headed toward the bathroom, but not without giving one final parting shot. “Do us both a favor and stay away from me.  It’s better for both of us, Taker.” Shutting the bathroom door behind her, Savalyn flipped the lock on it and started her shower.

 

He let her hear his laughter, his baritone dripping with dark mirth and a hint of pity. “Darling, staying away from you has never been the problem.” Taker chuckled, knowing well she could hear him through that flimsy door.  The locking of it, so audible, had been almost insulting.  As if a door would keep him from her? “It is keeping you out of mine that seems to be our issue.” He decided to leave her with that, knowing she wasn't going anywhere since her suspension had been lifted. “Sweet dreams, Savalyn.”

 

Refusing to show how much his words bothered her; Savalyn had her shower and stepped out of the bathroom, not seeing Taker anywhere.  She could feel him though; his presence and the smell of him surrounded her.  Savalyn never felt so alone and betrayed in her life, his words cutting her like a sharp knife.  Blinking, hot tears streamed down her face as she poured herself a much needed drink with a high volume of alcohol and laid down in bed, wondering what Taker had planned for Stephanie.

 

“Forget him; I just have to forget him.  Please let me forget him.” She prayed quietly, the tears not stopping as she curled into a tight ball and eventually fell into a deep slumber.

 

Taker had retired to his own room, on a completely different floor, and let the mask fall completely.  He was perhaps too good at what he had done.  Or perhaps Savalyn was just that easily fooled, so little was her opinion of him, of what they had, as brief as it was.  Or maybe he was over thinking the situation and needed to let the future take care of itself.  He settled on the bed, leaning back against the headboard with a glass of whiskey in hand.  Either way, this was for the best and, at the end of everything, she'd thank him.  Maybe not personally, maybe not out loud, but she would.

 

~!~

 

“Hey sweetie!” Ryan Shamrock greeted with a smile, jogging to catch up with Savalyn, one of her few friends in the company. “Oh no, you look like you didn’t sleep well.”

 

It was Monday night.  Raw Is War.  The warzone would be ignited tonight.  Savalyn wasn’t excited about it, though she tried to show it.  Shane had to cancel their dinner plans on her and he hadn’t rescheduled.  Taker’s words kept replaying in her brain; she would never forget them as long as she lived.

 

“I’m fine, just need some coffee.” She flashed a smile toward Ryan, both women entering the building. “So is your brother still going apeshit over the fact you were hired to valet Morley?” Sean Morley was known in the WWF world as Val Venis, a porn star ladies man. “Or wait, who are you valeting now?”

 

Ryan laughed, shrugging. “I have no idea; it changes on a daily basis it seems.  I guess the company enjoys making me out to be a slut.”

 

“Guess so.”

 

“Don't feel bad, doll.” Terri Runnels, who was happily married, was regularly made out to be a slut and overheard that bit as she walked alongside her friend Jacquelyn, the third member of PMS. “They do it to all of us at one point or another.”

 

“Unless you're Sable, and then it's not acting.” Jackie snorted, waving at the duo as they passed by.  She was a legitimate fighter, but real matches were few and far between for her, so... she had to eat and this job put food on the table and a roof over her head.

 

Sable was the only WWF woman people had a problem with simply because everyone knew she slept her way to the top.  She didn’t earn anything the company gave her.  Every other woman on the roster Savalyn had made friends with, but Ryan and Stephanie were the closest.  Of course, because of Taker’s plan with Stephanie, she had to stay away from the McMahon woman until the ordeal was finished.  She promised and wouldn’t break it, no matter what.  Going on auto-pilot, Savalyn picked up the paperwork for tonight’s show and then got her hair and makeup done early before Janet and Tiffany were swamped with the other girls.  Once that was done, it was time to practice with Howard and do her job, what she was brought into the WWF to do.  Taker was in the far recesses of her mind and hopefully, in time, she could forget about him or at least pretend he didn’t exist in the company.

 

Generally, Savalyn didn't do Raw, not very often.  That was Howard's slot, his prime time and, while he was her mentor, he wouldn’t give away all his spotlight.  Share it on occasion, yes, but she hadn't earned her place, -his place- not yet.  She would; she was a natural and well on that path, but not yet.  Well, that was how it was supposed to go.  According to the new 'deal', he had cut; he would let her start opening the show, which was always a trip in the WWF.

 

“So, about tonight…” He said by way of greeting when he spotted her coming towards him.

 

Unbeknownst to Howard, after she was forced to do all of Raw the week prior, thanks to Taker kidnapping him, Savalyn had caught the eye of the boss, Vince McMahon.  So before Howard could utter a word, she blinked as Vince walked up to both of them and pulled the announcer and announcer-in-training aside. “Howard, she did exceptional out there the previous night.  We want her out there with you again, doing every other match.  Both of you can do it together.”

 

Savalyn didn’t expect this, wondering if Taker had something to do with it and immediately dismissed that thought.  He didn’t care about her; she had to keep reminding herself of that fact. “Mr. McMahon, with all due respect, I don’t think…”

 

“You’re ready, don’t doubt yourself, Sava.” Vince cut her off with a warm yet tight smile.  What the boss wanted, the boss got. “Do you have a problem with this, Finkel?  No?  Good.”

 

Well, part of him didn't because that meant the Undertaker wouldn’t cut him up into itty bitty pieces and feed him to the Ministry with hot sauce.  On the other hand…Howard didn't think she was ready, not yet, and even then, what the hell?  His spot.  At least until retirement in a few years, or being moved somewhere higher up in the company, which Howard also angled for.

 

“Well…that's just great, Mr. McMahon.” Howard smiled weakly.
   

“Glad you agree.  Now, here's tonight's line-up.” Vince had other fish to fry and passed over the paperwork before turning and strutting away.

 

“Thanks…”

 

Savalyn could only stare down at the paperwork in her hands, wondering what the hell was going on.  Did Vince really think she was ready for this?  She had all the respect in the world for Howard Finkel and the last thing she wanted was to steal his spot.  Frowning, Savalyn finally looked up at Howard and could see the anger in his eyes, swallowing hard.

 

“I’m sorry.” She whispered before walking away, just needing a few minutes to look over the paperwork and get her nerves in order.  Raw would definitely be interesting tonight and she had no idea just how right she was in that assumption.

 

He knew Finkel could feel his gaze because the idiot started rubbing his arms through his jacket and looking every which way, not that he'd ever find the Undertaker.  No.  He could make himself invisible if he wished.  Vince had gone and one upped him unknowingly, but it worked out.  He had made that 'deal' with Finkel for his own reasons and Vince had ran with the ball he didn't even know was in the court.  Most amusing.  He watched Savalyn walk away obviously upset and could not understand why.  She was being given a shot most people only dreamed about, so what the hell was her deal?

 

“Women…”

 

It wasn’t that Savalyn was upset about Vince’s decision; she felt like she was betraying her mentor.  She never wanted to take his spot, not until he was completely ready to hand it over.  Howard had been here for a long time and she was a nobody compared to him.  Was it because she was a woman that wore shiny dresses and looked good on camera?  Savalyn gritted her teeth at the thought of being used for her sexuality.  Rubbing her temples, Savalyn could feel a headache coming on and had no idea how to make this right with Howard.  She had to do what the boss said; there was no way out of this.  Once again, Taker tried creeping into her mind and Savalyn shook herself mentally, shutting her eyes briefly.

 

“Go away.”

 

She pushed Taker back into the box she’d planted him in earlier that day during the long drive here and opened her eyes to look straight ahead at the darkening sky.  Passing up this opportunity wasn’t an option.  It would be foolish to do so.

 

“Talkin’ to yourself is considered one of the first signs of insanity, honey.”

 

Stone Cold Steve Austin was just now coming in, eyes peeled because it seemed lately everyone and their brother wanted a piece of his fine bald backside.  He knew Savalyn by sight, but that was about it.  His attention had been drawn to her the night Taker had pulled that stunt by coming up from under the ring, the night Howard had come up missing.  That was more than likely Taker's doing just because he was the Lord of Dickness.

 

Savalyn jumped slightly at the low southern accent behind her and turned to stare back at Undertaker’s top nemesis, swallowing hard.  Anyone who DIDN’T know who this man was, and worked for the WWF, needed to leave the company immediately.  Up until this moment, they hadn’t said more than two words to each other, so Savalyn instantly put her guard up.

 

“Maybe I am going insane, Mr. Austin.”

 

She had no idea what else to call him since they really didn’t converse, especially during her time with Undertaker 2 years prior.  Never admitting this aloud, but the man could definitely wear a pair of jeans like no other that showed off his delicious backside and strong thighs.  The t-shirt he currently had on looked ready to bust off his body, his arms bulging and muscular as well.

 

Painted on blue jeans, a shirt that hugged him in all the right places, ball cap and steel toed black boots with his bag over his shoulder.  Steve Austin was a low key man. “Steve honey, just call me Steve.” He extended his free hand to her, noting she was a bit skittish and smiled slightly, trying to put her at ease.  So long as he wasn't jumped and she caught in the crossfire, she'd be fine with him. “You're Savalyn, right?”

 

His eyes were a beautiful shade of light blue, crystal like the ocean.  That’s what they reminded her of anyway. “Yeah, most people call me Sava though.” She shook his hand, smiling tentatively back at him and could see his guard was up with her as well.  It was public knowledge her and Undertaker had dated back in 1997 and he was on the rise to the top of the company back then, so he had to know she was the Deadman’s ex. “Steve huh?  Not Austin?” She had overheard several coworkers calling him that and figured he’d prefer to be called by his wrestling name instead of merely Steve, especially when it came to her.  The moment their hands met, a spark ignited between them and Savalyn could feel the electricity rush up her arm, slowly pulling her hand out of his after shaking it. “Nice to finally meet you, officially.”

 

“Pleasure's all mine, honey.”

 

Austin – Steve – whatever, but usually women called him by his first name, providing they weren't women like Sable.  Then it was don't call, period, because he was not into all that baggage.  He knew she had dated the Undertaker, if anyone actually dated the man, how did you date a walking corpse?

 

“Sava…” He sounded it out, rolling it on his tongue as much as he could as that was a short nickname.  He had felt the spark and met her pale blues, eyes that could have matched his and probably did. “I like it.”

 

She flushed at his compliment and couldn’t stop the smile from spreading on her glistening lips, thanks to the gloss painting them. “Thank you, Steve.” His name sounded warm and gentle coming from her mouth with a hint of seduction, without Savalyn realizing it.  She had a voice warm as honey and it was low enough not to sound manly, purely feminine.  Unlike a lot of other women who had the higher pitch to their voices. “I-I should really get back inside and prepare for the show.  I’ll see you around?” Not waiting for a response, Savalyn made her way back inside the arena and couldn’t remember the last time her heart fluttered in her chest like it currently was. 

 

It felt nice; definitely a change was in the air.

 

 

Chapter 6

 

Well that was interesting. 

 

Usually, Steve had to dismiss a gal, not that he was trying to brag or boast, but he was a fine looking roughneck and some women seemed to really dig that.  Now his interest was just a little higher, but he knew she had to work, so did he.  Or get jumped, same thing these days really.  Steve caught up with her quickly and fell into step alongside of her.

 

“How about later tonight?”

 

“Sorry?”

 

Savalyn stopped the same time he did; looking up at him wide eyed and could tell he was completely serious about that suggestion.  Did he know she was Taker’s ex?  Or maybe he didn’t care.  Maybe it didn’t bother him, even though they were enemies.  It’d been so long since she had a date, an actual date, with someone who wanted to pay attention to her.  The burning longing deep within to be held and not go home to a cold bed at the end of the night was overwhelming.

 

“Okay, what did you have in mind, Steve?” She asked, beginning to walk with him again down the hallway and couldn’t wipe the smile from her face or get rid of the roses in her cheeks.

 

“Food, probably.” Steve answered with a grin, knowing exactly who she was and it didn't matter.  Sure, the woman's taste in men seemed to be on the poor side, but maybe it had changed.  He definitely gave her points for agreeing to go out with him, showed she had developed some sense. “Nothin’ major, sweetheart.  It can be hard to find anything worth callin’ a proper date after a show.”

 

Mainly because ring rats tended to shadow the boys.  Sometimes that was alright, but for the most part it was unwanted.  He figured they could have a 'get to know each other' meal and go from there.  His soft baby blues warmed her from the inside out.  Going out with Stone Cold Steve Austin wouldn’t make Taker very happy, but…he made it clear he wasn’t interested or wanted her anymore.  Savalyn had to move on and this beautiful bald man in front of her wanted to take her out for a dinner.

 

“Some place with beer, right?” She teased gently, the smile on her face genuine and full of life.  It was almost as if she was reborn and the life had entered her pale blues again – the life Taker had nearly extinguished when he ended their relationship. “Do you want me to meet you in the parking lot after the show?”

 

“Beer is completely optional.”

 

Of course there would be beer, not that he had to have it over dinner.  He loved beer, that was obvious to everyone, but that didn't mean Steve couldn't put it down and focus on the company.  Especially when the company was as delectable as she was.

 

“I'll meet you here after the show.  We can figure out the ride issue then.” He had no idea if she travelled solo or with others.  It couldn’t be very easy on her pockets to rent a car all the time, but Steve didn’t know her personal situation either. “That okay?”

 

“Absolutely.  See you then, Steve.”

 

Touching his arm for a second, Savalyn took her leave from him to go get ready for the show and felt like a giddy teenager.  How refreshing!  It felt like the weight of the world was off her shoulders and the dark cloud that had been following her around had disappeared.  Steve was quite the charmer, though she wondered if he was just putting up a front with her.  Savalyn didn’t sleep with anyone on a first date, not even Taker, though he did try seducing her anyway.  Pushing him in the far recesses of her mind, Savalyn focused on getting ready for Raw that night and felt better about replacing Howard Finkel.  If the man couldn’t understand or comply with what the boss wanted, well, that wasn’t her problem.

 

That was disgusting.  Taker could feel vomit in the back of his throat as he watched Stone Cold Steve Austin, of all people, walk away with a stupid grin on his revolting mug.  He actually scrapped his tongue against his teeth, trying to remove the film of gross that was now coating the entirety of his mouth.  Briefly, Taker considered ensuring Steve had an accident so there would be no date.  But…detrimental to his plans and actions from the other night.  He needed to stay back, out of her business, for now.

 

“Okay out with it.  What has you so…happy tonight?”

 

“Oh nothing.” Savalyn grinned up at Tiffany while her chestnut locks were teased in spiral loose curls, trying not to think about Steve too much.  It was hard not to do though. “Just excited about being on Raw again.” Flat lie, but she didn’t want people knowing her personal business when it was solely hers.  Besides, if this was just a onetime deal with Steve, she didn’t want rumors being spread around about her screwing both the Undertaker and the Rattlesnake.

 

“Well whatever has you so happy, keep it up.  You look radiant when you smile.”

 

“I smile all the time.”

 

“Not genuinely, like you are now.”

 

Savalyn hopped up from her chair and hugged Tiffany. “Thanks hon.” Then she went on her way to wardrobe to see what Janet had picked out for her that night.

 

Edge was a man on a mission.  His mission came straight from the boss and he knew this was his ticket out of being a bitch boy.  All their tickets actually.  Nobody had gotten their spot because they already had it made.  No, they were all vague no names or people who had been lurking for years without a real chance to shine.  They were getting that now.  He was getting that.  His best buddy was getting that.  All he had to do was ride out the waves and wait for the payday he knew was coming.  Edge knew where his loyalty was, to the guy giving him a break.  And if that meant tailing the chick who hung out with the Princess McMahon so much, he'd do it.

 

When Janet asked her what color of dress she wanted to wear to the ring tonight, Savalyn immediately answered with blue.  Simply because the color was on the forefront of her mind.  She smiled, surveying herself in the full length mirror and smoothed down the ocean blue dress that shined under the lights.  Instead of a silver disco ball, this time around she looked like a blue star with matching heels to boot.  The dress itself was strapless and rested just below her knees, skintight.  Her makeup for the evening was a smoky blue that really made her pale blue orbs pop and clear gloss with foundation to hide blemishes.  When she was finished being dolled up, Savalyn thanked Janet for another masterful job and nodded to a technician telling her it was time to head down to ringside.  Howard was already there and Savalyn didn’t say a word to him, simply taking her seat and waiting for instruction on when to get in the ring to announce the matches.

 

She was hot, no doubt about that.  Not that Edge would ever voice that outside of his own head.  He liked living and preferred keeping all his teeth intact.  Edge knew the Undertaker had a thing with Savalyn back in the day and she was close friends with none other than Stephanie McMahon.  Both things made her important in the grand scheme of things.  Speaking of McMahon…He checked the inside of his trench coat before zooming back to the boss.  He had a package to deliver personally for tonight’s events.
    

Howard glanced at Savalyn, wondering if she was mad at him.  It should have been the other way around, he should’ve been mad at her.  He wasn't, not anymore -he had never been truly angry to begin with, just annoyed- just resigned and tired. “Ready for tonight?”

 

Maybe he wasn’t mad at her after all for all of this happening. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

 

She smiled at Howard and took his hand, squeezing it to assure him they were alright.  He was her friend and she didn’t want him thinking she didn’t appreciate what he did for her.  Vince’s decision to put her in the spotlight instead of Howard was a complete surprise, but she had to handle it with poise and couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  That would be career suicide.  HBK, Mankind and Stone Cold Steve Austin kicked off the show.  HBK was the WWF Commissioner while Mankind was the current WWF champion and Stone Cold Steve Austin had secured his spot at the upcoming PPV known as WrestleMania for the number one contender at the previous night’s PPV St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.  There was no need for the introduction, but the moment Steve came out in his Austin 3:16 black t-shirt with the red lettering and tight blue jeans, a camouflage Austin 3:16 hat on his head and silver chain around his neck…Savalyn had to learn how to breathe again watching him.

 

Savalyn being out there was just icing on his cake tonight.  Steve caught her eye on the sly, though he knew better than to acknowledge her in any way, shape or form.  She looked delicious and was apparently now sharing duties with Howard Finkel.  That was odd, but…he would enjoy having her out there during his segments a lot more often.  Then again, Vince was all about tits and ass these days, so putting her out in the ring was a smart move.  Howard wasn't as easy on the eyes as she was.
    

There was that taste again.  Taker accepted the envelope Edge handed him, eyes on the monitor.  It was show time; he had a plan to execute flawlessly.  Slipping his arms into his robe, Taker mentally went over what he planned on saying and doing tonight.

 

Pale blues sparkled up at Steve while he ranted in the microphone to a beaten and battered Vince McMahon, who was on the top of the ramp with a brace around his neck and bandage on his forehead.  The crowd was going ballistic for Stone Cold Steve Austin, but that was the normal.  Savalyn didn’t notice it until tonight, her heart pounding a little faster every time he glanced in her direction.  When Steve signaled for beers to be tossed up at him, Savalyn chuckled as Howard quickly moved her out of her seat to the side where they wouldn’t be sprayed with beer.  After Steve went to the back and the segment ended with Mankind, Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels, the show progressed as usual with matches.  She stepped inside the ring, held the microphone to her lips and said from memory the next match.  Jeff Jarrett with Debra against D’Lo Brown with Ivory.  It wasn’t until halfway into the show; things began to become extremely interesting, twisted and dark.

 

“Ministry.” Was all Howard had to say, the pale complexion on his face proof he’d been scared to death of what the Undertaker did the previous week.

 

Swallowing hard, Savalyn nodded and could only watch as the Ministry of Darkness slowly made their way to the ring with Undertaker leading the way.  Taker kept his eyes forward as they made their way down to the ring, listening as Paul chattered and cackled from beside him, knowing he could not have picked a better second for this.  Not to mention, the man had an annoying streak that Taker rather enjoyed putting to use, just to watch people cringe when Paul took a microphone.  Acidic eyes flickered to Savalyn and Howard, noting that tonight she did not look like some 60's disco ball and snorted.  She had better remember her promise to him: Stay out of his business.

 

Tonight, the fun really started.

 

Savalyn planned on doing just that, not wanting any part of the plan Taker had going, whatever it was.  All she knew was it involved Stephanie McMahon, her friend, but…Savalyn had herself to think about.  The lights came on as she watched Undertaker roll his eyes in the back of his head and everyone in the arena could feel the sheer power and presence of the Lord of Darkness.  He still looked delicious as ever, but he wasn’t hers just as she wasn’t his.  Savalyn crossed one leg over the other, the microphone laying on the table in front of them and listened to the promo, arching a brow.  What did he mean he held the key to Vince McMahon’s heart and soul?  Heart and soul…key…was that supposed to be Stephanie’s part in all of this?  She knew how much Vince loved his daughter and would do absolutely anything for her, including trying to suspend her daughter’s friend for simply trying to help her.  Don’t get involved, not your business, Savalyn kept reminding herself mentally, lowering her eyes to the floor to wait for the segment to end.  Little did she know this wouldn’t be the only time the Ministry would make their presence known that night.

 

Boss Man was hilarious as hell and, any other time, Taker would have perhaps admired the balls on the guy.  As it was... given what they had done to the idiot very recently…more balls than brains.  Not working in Ray's favor.  But what did he expect?  The idiot had aligned himself with the Corporation after all.  His gaze wandered, landing on Savalyn briefly and then narrowed.  He could practically see her gnawing her lip, reminding herself no doubt of their conversation.  Or perhaps, she was considering her date with Austin.  Maybe Austin could serve a purpose after all.  Yes, that would do nicely.  He needed Savalyn to stay out of his way; out of his business…she needed a distraction.  That taste was back in his mouth, but Taker was too practical to not consider this a win.

 

It was a little later in the show and The Corporation VS the Ministry of Darkness was going on.  That was until all hell broke loose.  The Ministry all made a wall and stood their ground while the Acolytes brought what looked to be a beaten and terrified Shane to kneel in front of Undertaker.  Shane, Savalyn’s mind screamed, pale blues wide in fright for her friend’s brother!  He was also a friend of hers, even though he asked her out to dinner.  Purely platonic, there were zero romantic intentions with that offer and Shane hadn’t contacted her to reschedule. 

 

Savalyn had to stop herself from jumping up out of her chair at the sight of him being dragged out from the back to kneel in front of the Undertaker.  She listened to Taker intently and watched as Shane was given a manila envelope, ordered to give it to his father.  What the hell was in the envelope?  This was becoming more confusing by the minute and she didn’t understand anything.  Suddenly, Savalyn wished the show would end so she could leave the arena and be with Steve instead of enduring this insanity.  Stephanie…maybe calling to check up on her friend wouldn’t be a bad idea.  As long as she didn’t get in Taker’s way, she could still converse with Stephanie, she reasoned.

 

The best part of this segment had been hearing Shane squealing 'don't kill me, please don't kill me' like the little punk bitch he was.  The second part was knowing what was in that envelope and how delicious it would be once Vince had seen the contents.  Of course, Taker needed to be gone by that time.  He wouldn't put it past the McMahon patriarch to attempt having him arrested or some such nonsense and that just wasn't happening.  Everything was being done on the shows, where it could be explained away as part of the program and the excuse of storylines got carried away sometimes.

 

It was the perfect scapegoat for his atrocities committed against the McMahon family.

 

Chapter 7

 

An hour later, Savalyn stood in the parking lot of the arena in a pair of blue jeans and a long sleeved white top.  They were in Birmingham, Alabama so it was a crisp 55 degrees outside, still chilly enough for long sleeves.  However, the sleeves of the top were sheer.  Savalyn pulled her cell phone out since there was barely any reception in the building and pursed her lips tightly together.  What if this went against what Taker asked her to do?  Why did she care if she got in his way after the horrible things he said to her?

 

“I made a promise.” She whispered, knowing she couldn’t break it.  However, she called her friend anyway and waited for Stephanie to answer.

 

“Hello?” Stephanie answered after the third ring, the reception fading in and out. 

 

She knew something had happened at the show, but not what.  Her Dad had told her to just stay in tonight and that had been the last she’d heard from him.  Of course that had been prior to what she had seen on the TV.

 

“Sava?  Hello?” Stephanie sighed when she heard her friend’s voice coming through over the line, static and all. “Was it as bad as it looked?” She was sure she'd hear all about it, including the part where Shane might have wet himself. “Shane was more scared then anything, right?”

 

“Yeah…” Thank goodness Stephanie was safe and sound. “Listen, I don’t know what’s going on with Undertaker, but…watch yourself, okay?”

 

It was the only warning she could give her friend without breaking her promise to her ex.  She wasn’t getting involved in his business, not directly, but Savalyn couldn’t stand back and watch her friends be hurt either.  Shane looked really roughed up by the Ministry of Darkness and Savalyn could only imagine what they did to him prior to dragging him out in front of the crowd to receive the suspicious manila envelope.  What the hell were the contents anyway?  Did they link to Stephanie?

 

“Damn it, this reception sucks!”

 

“The Undertaker?” Stephanie suddenly came through clear. “He's after Dad.  I'm fine.” She cut out again. “Sava?  Savalyn?  Get…a phone…that works.” She hung up when she heard static, sighing.  Cell phones were so touch and go; she was definitely keeping the landline for now.
    

Steve was making his way to where he told Savalyn to meet him, eyes peeled just in case.  He had been jumped a time or two in the hallways before and after shows, not about to let it happen again, especially tonight.  Things just seemed to get crazier in the WWF these days.

 

“Shit!”

 

Savalyn tried dialing Stephanie again, frowning when a busy signal echoed back at her and sighed, closing the cell phone shut after pushing the antenna down.  What the hell was Taker planning?  She had to find out.  After what she saw him do to Shane that night, it was nothing good and she had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach Taker had evil intentions for her friends.  Savalyn didn’t realize just how right she was.

 

“Come on Steve, where are you?” She whispered, looking behind her and all around, not seeing him anywhere.  Maybe he changed his mind.

 

“Hey sweetheart,” Steve's voice echoed towards her, followed very closely by the sounds of his boots tromping pavement, not wanting to spook her.  She already looked... peaky.  Hell, he imagined a lot of people did tonight after that stunt Undertaker had pulled. “Didn't mean to keep you waitin', Savalyn.” He halted beside her, smiling down at her and frowned when he realized she was hugging herself as if cold. “You all right?”

 

A sigh of relief escaped her the moment Savalyn heard Steve’s voice.  She smiled up at him and nodded, refusing to tell him about her fears regarding Stephanie and her ex. “Never better.  Ready to go?”

 

At his nod, Savalyn followed him toward his rental vehicle, a truck, which wasn’t surprising.  He was a redneck Texan through and through, incredibly gorgeous with a very nice backside.  She thought back to how the show ended that night with him closing it out, smashing beers together to please the crowd.  Some of it had gotten on her dress, but luckily she didn’t need a shower and simply changed into her regular street clothes she came to the arena in.  Once they were seated in the truck, Savalyn buckled up and turned to look at the blue eyed god that made her feel alive again.

 

“Any particular place you wanna eat at?  I’m not picky so you choose.”     

 

“I know a few places off the beaten path where we won't be bothered.”

 

Steve knew there would be people -rats- following some of the boys out of the parking lot.  Some guys had developed a system.  Women to take care of them in every town.  Saved the guys money, gave them a place to stay and free food, not to mention sex.  It was a messed up system, but for as long as he'd been in the business, it'd just been another 'thing', something normal for the wrestlers.  Him, not so much.  Steve had some self-respect, helping her up into the truck, noting the change of clothing.  He had to change his as well, just so he didn't smell like a brewery.

 

“Splashed ya, didn't I, honey?”

 

“A little, but I usually change out of the dresses before leaving the arena anyway.  They’re not comfortable.” Savalyn reassured him with a smile, reaching over to squeezing his forearm before pulling back to clasp her hands in her lap. “I enjoyed watching what you did tonight.” She said offhandedly, not sure if it was meant as a compliment or a simple statement, maybe a mixture of both. 

 

This was a little awkward because she didn’t know what to talk about with this man, her thoughts reverting back to Stephanie and what happened during the show that night.  When she finished with Steve, she would definitely call Stephanie again just to check on her.  It was probably both a compliment and a statement; he was very matter-of-fact and bluntly honest.  Steve had no idea Savalyn's thoughts weren't entirely on him and chalked her quietness, and seeming to be somewhere else, up to shyness and being uncomfortable as she didn't really know him well.  He kept the conversation going well enough, prodding her to contribute when it seemed her mind went straying too far.  She'd come back from drifting off with that dazzling smile of hers, finally at least giving the appearance of relaxing and enjoying herself.

 

Surprisingly, Savalyn enjoyed herself with Steve, but her mind couldn’t leave Stephanie, truly worried for her friend.  Something was wrong; Taker had something planned for the youngest McMahon, but she had no idea what it was.  Her conversation with Steve was smooth for the most part, though Savalyn lost count how many times she’d apologized during their time together.  What he thought was spacing out was actually her worrying over what could be happening to her friend.  There was no way Steve would want to take her out again, that much she was certain, but at least it was a nice outing nonetheless.  He was even gentleman enough to walk her up to her room and Savalyn kissed his cheek, thanking him for a lovely night.  Now she sat in her hotel room alone, staring down at the cell phone in her hand and contemplated calling Stephanie, even though it was going on 2 AM.  Maybe she would wait and call at a more appropriate hour.

 

She didn't have to wait because Stephanie had been trying to call Savalyn for quite some time now.  Cell phones were always spotty and reception usually sucked.  She had been trying Savalyn's hotel room phone as well, not bothering to leave messages because there was never a guarantee Savalyn would check or even get them.  Stephanie was currently in her own personal version of hell and even this phone call was being listened in on, by her own father and his security, as if Savalyn was some kind of threat against her.

 

“You're safe, right?” She asked quietly when she heard her best friend's voice, having shed plenty of tears earlier before a strange tired calmness had overtaken her.

 

That question caught her completely off guard. “Y-Yeah, of course I am.  I was just about to ask you the same thing.” She could hear the stuffiness and gruff tone of her friend’s voice, a deep frown stretching across her lips. “Steph, I tried calling you earlier to check on you.  I know you saw what happened to Shane…” Who the hell hadn’t? “I just had to make sure you were okay.  I don’t care if you’re mad at me and…wait a minute, why are you asking ME if I’m safe?  What’s going on?” Now she was really confused, her tone implying it.

 

She truly didn't know.  Stephanie found that weird, but then again, maybe not so surprising.  Maybe she was just being paranoid.  But everyone knew Savalyn and the Undertaker had been a thing in the past.  Not a major thing apparently since they hadn't been together all that long, but in a relationship nonetheless.  Not that Stephanie really knew that much about the Deadman outside of what he made known about himself.

 

“Oh God…I don't even know where to begin, Savalyn.” Stephanie sniffled after a long moment, heaving a deep sigh. “You remember what happened tonight, right?  With Shane and the Undertaker?”

 

Swallowing hard, Savalyn had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach she was about to hear something she would not like.  The manila envelope – she’d thought about it long and hard throughout her date with Steve Austin.  Between worrying about Stephanie and the envelope contents, Savalyn knew she’d made a piss-poor impression on the Rattlesnake.  Shaking herself mentally, there was plenty of time to think about that later.  Right now, Savalyn had to do her best to stay calm while Stephanie fell apart over the phone.

 

“Do you want me to come to your room?  We can talk face to face instead of over a stupid phone with lousy reception.”

 

“Yeah, hold on.” Stephanie put the phone down to glance at her Dad, who had barely left her sight since seeing the contents of that envelope delivered by Shane from the Undertaker. “Well?” When he finally nodded, she rolled her eyes. “Savalyn?  Come on down, Dad's being paranoid and has this entire section of the hotel under watch.”

 

She wasn't even joking, there were guards at the entrances and exits, beginning of the hall, at her door, the whole nine yards.  Hell, with Savalyn there, maybe Vince would go worry himself in his own room, which was now adjacent to hers.  She hadn't seen Shane since earlier, he had been green about the gills and retired early, not that anyone but her had noticed.

 

“If you don't mind?”

 

“Nope.  I’m on my way.  Just try to stay calm, alright?”

 

Savalyn waited for Stephanie to promise she would before ending the call, placing the phone back on the hook.  What the hell was Taker thinking?  What had Vince McMahon shaking in his boots?  The manila envelope, what the hell was in it?  Something told her it had to do with her friend and that thought alone made her stomach twist violently.  Sighing heavily, Savalyn frowned and grabbed her bag, thankful it was already packed because something told her she wouldn’t be able to come back to her room.  Not with the lockdown Vince had on a good portion of the hotel.  His Corporation was more than likely sticking together like glue because of the Ministry of Darkness lurking around.  Once Savalyn grabbed all of her belongings, she walked over and opened the door, only to run into what felt like a brick wall.

 

“Shit!”

 

“And just where do you think you're going, little darlin’?” Bradshaw asked with an arched black eyebrow. 

 

Once Savalyn's return, he and Farooq had been put on 'keep her in her room' detail.  Unfortunately for her, she was best friends with the McMahon Princess and predictable as hell.  Boss wanted her to stay out of his way and quit being a pain in his side.
    

“Her bag is packed.” Farooq rumbled, eyeballing it thoughtfully before taking her in.  They all knew she had been out with Steve Austin; that information was making its way around the superstars. “Boss says you stay put.”

 

“Boss?”

 

Savalyn pinched the bridge of her nose and fought back an eye roll.  Since when did she take orders from her ex-boyfriend?  They were equals when they were together and that would not change now that they were apart.

 

“Not happening.  I’m checking out to drive to the next location.” It was a little white lie.  She could easily sneak back into the building or simply call Stephanie to have Vince send one of the Corporation members to come take her to the McMahon room. “So tell your ‘boss’,” She did the quotations with her fingers, sarcasm dripping in her voice. “I don’t need to be followed or watched.  I’m staying out of his way.” As much as she could anyway. “Now move or else you’ll be paying my late fee since the room is just about to become expired.”

 

Farooq stared at her curiously, wondering if she was serious.  This little thing trying to bluster her way past them.  He was tempted to just let her go and see what happened.  Apparently he wasn't the only one thinking it.  This little slip of a woman had spunk.  Too bad her spunk would get her nothing except grief.

 

“As you wish, darlin’.”

 

Bradshaw bowed while sweeping his arms mockingly towards the exit door.  Off to the next location…she was precious.  Taker would probably be pissed, but even the Deadman would see the humor in this.  He did have a jacked up sense of humor.

 

Nodding at them silently, thankful they hadn’t tried anything; Savalyn stepped onto the elevator with her luggage and waited until the doors closed before whipping her cell phone out.  Damn it!  She didn’t have reception in here!  Instead of pressing the button to go to the lobby, Savalyn took a chance and went to the floor she knew the McMahon family was on, more importantly, Stephanie.  As soon as the doors slid open, she wasn’t surprised to see Test standing there to keep watch, hoping the Acolytes hadn’t followed her.

 

“I take it you’re escorting me to Stephanie?” At his nod, Savalyn silently followed and had a feeling she was about to step into a world of trouble.

 

Test's real name was Andrew and, unbeknownst to the McMahons in charge, he had a bit of a personal interest in Stephanie than just business.  Not that he ever expected her to share that interest nor would he let it be known on his end because he liked his job and wasn't going to lose it.  Maybe if he had a snowball's chance in hell, but he didn't.  He nodded at the security guard posted in front of Stephanie's door, knowing in the room right next to hers was Vince.  The man was full blown paranoid tonight, not that Test blamed him.

 

“Vince has been up her a-…with her all night.” He corrected himself quickly, quietly. 

 

“I figured.  Thanks.” Savalyn flashed him a quick tight smile before entering Stephanie’s suite.

 

Chapter 8

 

Immediately, Savalyn was clobbered by a sobbing Stephanie with a tight hug.  She hadn’t even fully made it through the door and all Savalyn could do was blink, rubbing the woman’s back soothingly to try calming her down.  Stephanie was trembling from head to toe; Savalyn could FEEL the fear oozing out of every pore of her friend’s body.  What the hell had Taker done?

 

“Come on sweetie, let’s sit down and talk.” She coaxed, gently peeling Stephanie off of her long enough for them to take a seat in the sitting area of the suite. “Try to calm down, take deep breaths while I get you some water.  You don’t need to hyperventilate and pass out.”

 

“I've already done that once tonight.”

 

It had probably been at least twice and Stephanie had a stack of plain brown paper bags, just in case she did start hyperventilating again.  Andrew had procured them after her second round with passing out.  She didn't know whether to be amused or insulted by it, but tonight was not the night to read into other people's actions, not people like him anyway.  He was hired help.  Not that she was trying to be mean, it was just a fact and how she thought.  Stephanie perched herself on the edge of the settee, watching Savalyn bustle around the small kitchenette, pouring them both water.

 

“I didn't mean to ruin your date.  You weren't still on it, were you?” She hiccupped, accepting the water Savalyn handed her.

 

Savalyn shook her head. “No, it just ended when you called my hotel room.” She answered softly, walking over with the cup of water and handed Stephanie hers, taking a seat beside her friend.  Stephanie looked completely rattled and scared, legitimately terrified would be the better phrase to describe how her best friend looked.  Reaching over, Savalyn took Stephanie’s hand in her own and squeezed it, those tear-filled bloodshot, swollen big blues locking on concerned sky blues. “I want to ask you what happened, but…I don’t want to upset you all over again.  So you can tell me what you want and I’ll help you the best I can.  I’m not going anywhere.  Even brought my bag so we can bunk up.”

 

Stephanie took a deep calming breath, staring down into her glass of water before draining it in one long swallow.  She had been thinking about it all night, but not rationally.  Maybe with Savalyn here... she could get through it without a breakdown.

 

“That envelope the Undertaker gave Shane earlier on the show... it was filled with pictures.” She explained quietly, her fingers tightening on the glass to the point of her knuckles turning white. “Pictures of me…” And by extension, Savalyn, though there was no doubt her friend wasn't the focus on the images. “Lots of pictures…in different places.” Like home, for example, in her bedroom.

 

“Pictures…” She echoed, her voice trailing off sounding distant.  Stephanie didn’t have to elaborate. 

 

Savalyn was smart enough to decipher and read between the lines, feeling her blood both run cold and ignite on fire.  What the hell was Taker’s game?  Why was he doing this to her friend?  Stephanie never did anything to him and, yet, he was targeting her!  Maybe he was trying to get under Vince’s skin, but there were other ways to accomplish that.  Stephanie didn’t bother hiding her tears and broke down again, making Savalyn pull her into her arms hugging her close.  It shocked Savalyn to feel her own tears fall along with Stephanie’s, truly caring for the younger woman and had since the moment they met.

 

“It’s gonna be alright, sweetie.  Everything is gonna be alright.” Savalyn sincerely hoped she wasn’t lying through her teeth.

 

GTV was his little brain child.  One: It helped him spy.  Two: Nobody besides a few trusted technicians knew anything about it.  Three: It was great for ratings.  Vince had, with no shame, made sure a few strategically placed cameras were positioned throughout Stephanie's suite.  There were cameras throughout the hallways as well, just because he had paranoia now thanks to the Undertaker.  He didn't want to invade his daughter's privacy, but she needed protection around the clock now – that was obvious.  Vince saw how she relaxed a bit with Savalyn there and stroked his chin, his mind working overtime as he considered several different courses of action to take.

 

Eventually, Stephanie fell into a deep hard slumber and Savalyn was pretty sure blowing a foghorn in the woman’s ear wouldn’t awaken her.  However, she remained awake and restless, pacing back and forth in the living room part of the suite.  Stephanie was in her room while Savalyn took over one of the other ones.  Still, sleep evaded her.  How could she still be in love with a man who stalked and took pictures of one of her best friends?  Taker promised not to hurt her, but apparently he only meant physically – not mentally or emotionally.  Savalyn heaved a sigh, sinking down on the couch and finally managed to pass out on top of it just as the sun rose over the horizon, wondering what would happen now.

 

It was decided.  Not by Savalyn, or Stephanie, but once he explained some of his reasons, he knew they'd both be on board with it.  Besides, Vince had just upgraded Savalyn's position in the company from part-time announcer to basically full-time.  He had given her an equal share of Howard's spotlight.  She owed him at this point and he was going to collect.  Vince made sure schedules coordinated, put everything for her in along with Stephanie's, his as well by default, and made one more little arrangement.  Now, it was time to explain it and he was hoping everyone had gotten a good night's sleep because change was about to happen.

 

After listening to her boss basically order her to start traveling with the Corporation and share a hotel room with Stephanie, Savalyn could only nod.  What the hell was she supposed to do?  Tell her boss no?  No, that would not go over well at all.  It wasn’t a surprise to find her schedule had been completely changed along with all arrangements, her rental cars cancelled since she would be sticking by Stephanie’s side like glue when not doing her job.  Savalyn didn’t mind bunking with Stephanie, knowing the woman needed support and friendship more than anything right now, but she also wasn’t daft.  Vince was keeping her close-by to watch her because of her history with Taker.  It irritated her, but she didn’t show it and merely smiled at the boss, going along with whatever he wanted to do.  At least for the time being until this matter was resolved.

 

If Savalyn decided to become bold enough to bring up her history with the Undertaker and her current new situation, Vince had a backup plan.  He would merely smile and inform her that, since she was Stephanie's best friend, as well as a useful calming influence on his daughter, he wanted her close by.  Also, given her history with Taker, her being friends with the McMahons might set him off and this was just as much for Savalyn's protection as it was for Stephanie's peace of mind.  That was the official line.

 

Being ordered to hand over her cell phone to replace it with a new one left Savalyn feeling extremely uneasy.  She understood why Vince did it though.  It was a better contraption and had excellent reception compared to the one she had.  All of the Corporation numbers were programmed into it along with her previous numbers.  Luckily, she had deleted Taker’s number out of her contacts when they broke up, though she knew his number by memory.  It would be forever seared in her brain, no matter how hard she tried forgetting it. 

 

Even after 8, almost 9 months, she longed for him and hated herself for it, especially with what he was doing to Stephanie.  The only reprieve Savalyn had was being able to go home for 2 days during the house shows.  Stephanie was sent to a secluded location and Vince didn’t want Savalyn knowing about it, again for obvious reasons.  So she headed home, promising to meet up with the Corporation Monday night for Raw and wished everyone, especially Stephanie, well.

 

Not a lot had changed in Savalyn's house.  Same furniture, pictures, including one of them tucked away in a far corner, as if it were almost hidden.  He scowled down at it.  It had been taken without his knowledge, though she was smiling into the camera.  Taker didn't remember who had taken it, but they had been in a group setting in street clothes.  His arm was draped along her shoulders and he was looking at someone off camera.  He took that picture and popped it out of the frame, tucking it in the inside pocket of his duster.  Hmm…New bed…His lips curved upwards unwillingly.  They had broken her old one with its old style flimsy brass frame.

 

Maine.  It was a state unlike any other, beautiful and secluded, surrounded by water.  She lived about 20 minutes away from the ocean, so there was no view of water, just trees upon trees.  Sighing, Savalyn pulled into her driveway and cut the ignition, leaning forward to press her forehead against the steering wheel.  It was good to be home, but…she felt guilty leaving Stephanie, even though the extra security measures made her perfectly safe.  Still, Taker was unpredictable and more than likely knew about the change in her travel arrangements.  She hadn’t heard anything from him the entire week. 

 

It was now Friday evening and raining heavily, the sky opening up the moment she left the airport to make the drive home.  Knowing she would end up soaked and unable to prevent it, Savalyn hurriedly stepped out of the car, grabbed her luggage and rushed to the front door, unlocking and tossing it open moments later.  She looked down at herself and groaned, looking up at the ceiling, slamming the front door shut before peeling the sopping wet clothes off her body.

 

If she were anyone else, he would have called them an idiot for not being more aware of their surroundings.  As it was Savalyn, he would concede that she was a beautiful fool.  She, of all people, should have been just a bit more paranoid, but she wasn't.  Savalyn was so innocent, so naïve…and practically naked.  It was dark outside and in, thanks to the weather and the trees surrounding the house, but his eyes had long adjusted.  She hadn't even turned on a light, just began shedding clothes and he could feel himself rising to the occasion.

 

“Wench…” He hissed viciously, seeing her head whip upright in shock before lunging and pinning her to the door, pressing his body against hers.

 

Savalyn had barely gotten her top and pants off, which left her clad in a white bra and panties, when her back collided with the door and a hard muscular body pressed almost violently against her.  It didn’t take her long to get her equilibrium back on track or conclude who had invaded her home.  Hell, Savalyn didn’t bother retrieving the key to her house back from Taker and assumed he’d tossed it.  Another naïve mistake on her part because, at one point, she trusted this man more than anything and thought she knew him.  The smell of him engulfed her – sandalwood, leather and gasoline mixture along with his own musky scent.  It always made her heady and now was no exception, even if he was an evil bastard.  Remembering the last time they had been in a similar situation in her hotel room, his vicious words sliced through the hazy desire flooding her mind, body and heart.

 

“Didn’t expect to find you here.” She managed to find her voice, her tone warm as honey like always,

 

“I didn't expect to find you shacking up with the McMahons either.” Taker muttered darkly, trailing hot kisses down her throat, not surprised at all when she instinctively arched her neck to give him more access. “Especially after my warning.” His hands ran down her sides and back up, along her arms and to her wrists.  He pinned them, arms back against the door and bit down on her collarbone.

 

“I’m not…Mmm…” Savalyn purred, leaning her head back against the door and allowed him to torture her, like he did so many other times. 

 

The bite on her collarbone wouldn’t leave a mark, though Savalyn wouldn’t mind if it did.  Everyone knew it, even if they weren’t together anymore, she belonged to Taker.  Whether it was possession and degrading, Savalyn’s heart was in his evil demonic hands, just like it had been ever since they went on their first date.  She could feel the anger mixed with desire piercing through him for her, not understanding why he would be mad at her.

 

“Vince…ordered it…” Feeling him pull back to stare down at her through acidic eyes, Savalyn’s eyes had adjusted to the darkness and swallowed hard at the intensity coursing through them. “He’s keeping me close to him.  He doesn’t trust me because of our past.  I can’t tell the boss no, Mark, you know that.” Her voice remained soft and low, not a hint of malice in her tone despite what he did to Stephanie.

 

No, she couldn't.  He stepped away from her, raking a hand through his loose dry hair and pursed his lips while staring down at her.  Coming here had been a mistake, letting himself be here when she walked through that door had been sheer stupidity on his part.  Taker was putting everything in jeopardy and, if she even entertained the notion of telling Vince to go screw himself sideways with a rusty pole, the old man would be right in his suspicions that she was involved on whatever Taker had planned.

 

“I won’t…stand in your way.  I promised…”

 

As if reading his mind, Savalyn was stupid and reached out to take his hand, forcing his eyes to snap back down at her.  She didn’t flinch, having seen that look many times and, even with his new look, deep inside she knew Mark was still there somewhere.  Vince could make her travel with the Corporation all he wanted and bunk with Stephanie, but Savalyn would not betray the love of her life.  Even if he no longer felt the same way about her.  That thought alone made her release his hand and walk away to retrieve her wet clothes, needing to throw them in the washer before they mildewed.

 

“If you don’t care about me, why have me followed?” She suddenly turned to face him, holding the clothes against her with so much confusion flowing through her sky blues. “Why send your minions to try ordering me to stay put?  I would think a person who doesn’t care about someone wouldn’t go to all that trouble.  I could be wrong though.” Walking past him, she headed down the hallway to the laundry room, flipping the hall light on.

 

He had ordered it because, to people looking in, it appeared he was having her harassed, which would then be attributed to her connection with the McMahons or more to the point: Stephanie.  That and he didn't trust Vince to not exploit that connection himself, which it seemed the king of hell had already thought about and began doing.  Not that Savalyn needed to know any of this.

 

“You could also be in my way and need removed.” Taker informed her, watching as she halted in the doorway to the laundry room.

 

Need removed?  What did that mean?  Savalyn bit back the question because she didn’t want to know the answer.  She had no idea how to respond and felt him stand directly behind her, willing and fighting her emotions to stay dormant.  His words stung her deeply, far more than she cared to admit or show. “How about removing the stick from your ass instead?” Savalyn couldn’t stop herself from saying it and stepped away from him to toss her clothes in the washer, starting it up before turning to face him, folding her arms in front of her chest.

 

“Damn it, you make me crazy, Mark!  And no matter what you say to me or do…” Trailing off, Savalyn didn’t want to talk anymore and took what she wanted, suddenly grabbing his face in her soft hands to bring his mouth down on hers to taste him again. 

 

Just one last taste and touch from him would be enough…she hoped, even going so far as praying for it to be.

 

Chapter 9

 

If he really wanted to push her away, make it absolutely clear without a shadow of a doubt that he was finished with her, that they were through and she was nothing more than a pawn in his new game, with his new toys, Taker could do it now.  But then she kissed him and he was distracted, most rational thoughts flying right out the window.  He groaned at her taste, hands moving to her hips.  Without realizing he was doing it, Taker lifted her up and planted her on top of the running washer, feeling her legs encircle his waist.

 

The vibrations from the washer combined with the feeling of him pressed against her sent Savalyn’s world spinning off its axes.  She wanted him and the way he responded to her kiss told Savalyn he wanted her just as much.  Maybe it was purely lust with him, but Savalyn made it clear in her touch and kiss how she truly felt for him.  Unconditional, irrevocable love.  It didn’t matter what he did to Stephanie or Vince or anybody in the company.  None of that mattered in this moment and all Savalyn wanted to do was freeze it, make it last forever.  Pulling back, sky blues had darkened to cloudy cerulean as her hands slid up his leather duster sleeves to push it off of him, giving Taker plenty of time to turn back and stop this.  When he made no move or uttered a word, she ripped open the black buttoned up top he had on and pushed it from his body next to join his duster on the floor.

 

“Mmm mine…” She declared, the amount of lust and love in her voice unmistakable.  He was hers just as she was his, even if he continued denying it.  Her hands began roaming the expanse of his muscular chest, feeling them ripple beneath her soft hands and touch, beginning to press warm kisses all around it while he busied himself removing her bra. “I need you, Mark.” It was a whispery moan full of exactly what she begged him for, her voice low and seductive.

 

Temptation to take over and show her just who belonged to who was strong…and conflicting with other desires and appeal.  Eventually, Taker would either have to put up or shut up and, for now, just shoved everything out of mind.  He'd deal with the consequences afterwards.  Taker heard her breathy moan and those words from her sweet lips did things to him he'd later deny, such as send liquid fire rolling through his veins.  The moment, the second, she felt Taker slide inside of her, Savalyn couldn’t help moan in sheer satisfaction.  She hadn’t felt this complete since…since their relationship ended.  They ended.  Yet here they were now, together, having sex in her laundry room of all places.

 

“Mark…” His name fell from her lips, breathing heavy and felt her legs clench around his waist tighter, almost in a vise. 

 

Every other thought and doubt was pushed to the far recesses of her mind; Savalyn wanted to focus primarily on the man currently making her breathless.  Her head lulled back as his mouth captured one of her pert nipples in his mouth, drawing her closer to his body and dug her nails in his chest, slowly gliding them down to leave red marks the faster he pumped in and out of her receptive frame.  One of her hands slid back up over his shoulder and buried in his hair, her body on the verge of exploding from being worked into a frenzy.  Only one man could do it to her, make her feel this way and it both mended and broke Savalyn’s heart to know, once this was over, he would leave her again.  She would have nobody else to blame except herself for sheer stupidity, but deep down, she knew the emotional and mental abuse would be worth just this moment in time with Mark. 

 

Not the Undertaker. 

 

Just Mark Calaway.

 

If she thought he was mentally and emotionally abusing her with what he was doing then, Taker was basically committing self-suicide with what he was doing to himself.  Try as he might, even during this, there were still those stupid voices in the back of his head, letting him know just how stupid this was.  He was jeopardizing everything he had worked for just because he felt the need to get his dick wet.  Taker could screw any number of women; there wasn't anything special about her, or so he tried convincing himself.  What was he doing?

 

“Fuck…” He hissed, knowing he wasn't far off and, if the way she was beginning to tremble and shake violently was any indication, neither was she.

 

Because of how long it’d been since she last had sex, which was with him coincidentally enough, it didn’t take long for Savalyn to reach her climax.  She didn’t bother crying out his name, just choked out a throaty moan, overwhelmed with intense emotions.  Savalyn smiled in spite of what happened and what would transpire next, trying to regain her breath and slow her racing heart.

 

“Just as I remember.” She murmured, breaking the silence between them and could feel Taker’s tensed body, reluctantly slipping her hands to rest in her lap while he hastily redressed.  What the hell was she supposed to say to him after that? “Thanks, I needed that.  You can leave now, if you want.  Just be careful since it’s pouring outside.”

 

Acting nonchalant would be in her best interest at the moment, especially with his cold demeanor towards her.  She grabbed a robe that was hanging on the door and wrapped her body in it, tying it tightly around the waist and walked out of the laundry room to go fix herself a much needed drink.

 

He had heard the rain once the pounding of his heart in his chest settled down to a barely audible, but still annoying level.  His vehicle wasn't parked far off and, given the season and being Maine, he was glad to have foregone his motorcycle in exchange for a rental.  Taker would rather mess up someone else's ride instead of his own.  He noted her tone, how casual and dismissive she was of him and felt irritated.  Those were his lines, his tones…words he used on her, not the other way around.

 

“Well, keep dating Austin and I'm sure you'll be taken care of.” He sneered once he was fully dressed, shrugging his arms into the sleeves of his duster.

 

Of course he would throw Austin in her face!  She’d gone out with him once – ONCE – and because of his idiocy with Stephanie, she hadn’t even enjoyed herself!  Hell, the man wanted nothing to do with her, not that she blamed him.  There was no way she could ever have sex with Steve, even though he was a fine specimen of a man.

 

“Now why would I do that when I have you so willingly coming to me, Mark dear?” Her tone sounded sweet as honey, but had a condescending tone laced within.  His words really stung her, but Savalyn would not show it, not until after he left. “Admit it; you’re just pissed at yourself because you gave into me, surrendered to ME, and not the other way around, precious.  Now exit the way you entered since I’m done with you for now.” If he wanted to hurt her with his words, then she could try to do it right back to him.

 

“Oh, I'm leaving sweetheart, I just wanted to come get my last taste.” He sneered, flicking at the air lewdly with his insanely long tongue, emerald green eyes acidic. “Before you sell the rest of yourself to the McMahons.”

 

That, of course, was an implication on her sudden elevation to sharing Howard's spot.  He could be a bastard too and had more practice at it.  She was welcome to try stepping up to the big leagues, but he wasn't called the master of mind games for nothing.  Taker could think what he wanted.  Savalyn would not show how much his words destroyed her, not until she was completely alone.  She wouldn’t have had to ‘sell’ herself to the McMahons, to obey her boss, if it wasn’t for her connection to him, their history.

 

“Before you leave,” She watched him freeze in the doorway and plucked something from inside her robe, having grabbed it on her way out of the laundry room. “You might want to take this with you since you were so inclined to steal it in the first place.”

 

It was the picture of them happy and in love before everything fell apart.  She flicked it at him, watching it bounce off his chest and walked into the downstairs bathroom, slamming and locking the door behind her.  As soon as she heard the front door shut, Savalyn dropped the glass in her hand as it shattered against the marble floor and slid down the door, burying her face in her hands in a sobbing heartbroken mess.

 

She probably shouldn't have insisted on the parting shot because, as much as it angered him, in the deepest areas he refused to acknowledge, it hurt the feelings he wasn't supposed to have.  He'd spent the last nearly 9 months cultivating his darkness, his sadism, the evil inside and she was out to totally screw everything up.  His plans.  His facade, all of it.  Hurt and anger warred for control and in their place grew something born of the two: spite.  Nothing done in spite was ever a good thing.

 

~!~

 

Savalyn wanted to be anywhere else when Monday rolled around, having contemplated quitting her job and finding a new company to work for.  Even if it was an Indy corporation, which she’d heard had gotten off the ground recently.  Anything to keep her from having see Taker.  Throughout the 2 days, all Savalyn did was cry and slowly but surely locked her feelings and heart away in a safe deep inside.  Then she poured concrete over the locked metal safe, knowing no man would EVER be able to penetrate through it.  She had taken her heart from Mark after their last encounter and refused to have anything more to do with him. 

 

No longer would she be consumed with thoughts of him or miss him to the point where she felt like she was drowning.  Those days were over.  Pure intentness filled her once life-filled baby blues.  They were nothing more than ice now along with her heart.  Walking into the arena, Savalyn didn’t bother greeting anyone and headed straight for the Corporation locker room, wearing pure black with shades over her eyes.  2 knocks later, she entered and nodded once at Vince and Shane before sitting down beside a terrified looking Stephanie.  Taker had apparently struck again.

 

He had indeed.  Spite was not a good thing, he knew this; he knew he may regret some things later down the road, but for now…now he was focused on his task – on his ultimate goal.  Consequences would have to wait and be paid at a much later date.  Maybe Taker wouldn't be able to pay them, but that was his cross to bear and, until then, he'd do what he had too.  Admittedly, some of the stunts he had just pulled wasn't necessary to the plan, but they would gain McMahon’s attention.

 

“Savalyn, there’s something we need to warn you about for tonight’s show.” Vince was livid, to put it mildly, especially after receiving another uncomfortable delivery from the Undertaker.  Mideon, to be more specific.

Her brow slowly rose at the boss, seeing the gears in his head turning. “Okay…What is it?” She asked almost hesitantly, having a red strapless dress on that glittered under the lights in the dressing room and rested just above the knee, a sweetheart neckline.

 

“Tonight’s main event will be a little…hot.” Vince cleared his throat, rubbing his hands together. “Very hot…and fiery.  There will be an Inferno Match pitting Kane against…” He paused for dramatic effect, watching her sky blues widen slightly and smirked. “That son of a bitch – The Undertaker.”

 

Oh fuck, was all Savalyn could think and nodded mutely, exiting the dressing room to go down to hair and makeup to prepare for the show.

 

~!~

 

Savalyn thought it, Shane said it out loud. “Oh fuck, you're kidding me right, Dad?”

 

                          

Considering everything Taker had done up to this point…and Vince would go out of his way to provoke him even more?  With Kane of all people?  Was Vince trying to get them all killed?  When Vince turned those beady eyes on him, Shane swallowed hard.

 

“I mean…with everything that's happened, is that…a good idea?"
    

“I'm confused.  What's the deal with Kane and the Undertaker?”

 

Shane giggled nervously.

 

“Nothing you need to concern yourself with, princess.” Vince smiled down at his daughter, placing a hand on her shoulder and shot Shane a death glare that told him to shut the hell up.

Shane listened, not wanting to anger his father further.

 

~!~

 

After having her hair braided back to hang over her shoulder, -it would be hotter than Hades out by the ring during that Inferno match tonight- Savalyn closed her eyes while the black eyeliner was applied.  She kept her makeup as natural as possible, just enough to accentuate her natural beauty.  Once finished, Savalyn thanked the ladies and headed toward gorilla position, knowing Howard would be waiting for her.  Another night in paradise, she thought with a soft snort, shaking her head.

 

Howard, unfortunately, had been briefed about the match and he had come prepared.  Things between him and Savalyn had been a bit strained as of late, what with all these changes, on top of these issues with the Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness and McMahon's Corporation.  But she was still his protégé and, beyond that, his friend.

 

“Before the main event, there's a flame retardant gel by the announcer's table.  Put some on." He suggested softly, trying not to let his hands shake as he fumbled with his tie.

 

Noticing how nervous Howard was, Savalyn took over fixing his tie for him and flashed a smile, though it didn’t quite reach her eyes.  What did she have to be happy about?  There was a huge possibility she would watch the love of her life, even if he was an evil sadist, be burned alive tonight during this dangerous match.  Savalyn wasn’t looking forward to it, not wanting to be out there during the match, but it was her job and she had no choice in the matter.

 

“There, come on we should head out there.” She murmured quietly, allowing Howard to guide her out to ringside and both took their seats.  Howard would be doing half of the ring announcing tonight while she took care of the other half, both working as a team. 

 

All Savalyn could hope and pray was that Taker made it out of the arena tonight in one piece instead of ashes.

 

Chapter 10

 

Howard really hoped and prayed nothing bad happened tonight, but he knew that was a long shot.  It was an inferno match between two people who had legitimate hatred for each other and desire to do each other great bodily harm.  Someone was leaving here in an ambulance, of that he was certain.
    

Kane growled when Stephanie shot him a quick peek, adjusting his black leather glove.  The match wasn't for some time, but he was more than ready for it at this point.  Vince was an asshole.  An evil asshole.

 

Savalyn did her job perfectly, standing in the middle of the ring with the lights on bright and using her warm honey voice announcing matches.  The night progressed and her stomach tightened the closer the Inferno match approached.  After announcing the Corporation halfway through the show, Savalyn stepped out of the ring and stopped when Vince grabbed her arm, forcing her to hold the microphone for him.  It was uncharacteristic of him, but she did as she was told with a smile, keeping it plastered on even with the announcement of the Inferno match.  She glanced at Kane very briefly before her eyes went back to Vince, sending another prayer above this all worked out and nobody ended up in the ER.

 

Vince knew exactly what he was doing and he knew the Undertaker would be watching the monitor right there at gorilla position, see this and fume, providing he wasn't already.  He was sending messages tonight.  He was not going to be jerked around.  His family, his daughter particularly, would not be harassed and threatened.
    

The old man was going to die a slow, painful death.  An Inferno match, against Kane of all people.  He had officially lost his mind, bound and determined to take everyone he had ever loved, hell everyone he had ever even briefly met, down with him.  Now Taker was more than ready to tear apart Vince's world and anyone who happened to have set foot in it.

 

Once the Corporation segment ended, Savalyn stepped out of the ring after being reminded to mind her manners at ringside during the match.  She nodded once at Vince, letting him know when her eyes she wouldn’t interfere.  Sitting down, Savalyn nodded when Howard asked if she was alright and clasped her hands in her lap while he went up to announce the next match.  Before they knew it, the Inferno match arrived and Taker made his way down to the ring, surprisingly alone.  Savalyn did her best not to lock eyes with him or acknowledge his presence, simply staring straight ahead while the flames began licking at the ropes the moment Taker stepped foot inside the ring with Kane.  Please be careful, Taker, please, she silently prayed, having put the anti-burn ointment on prior to the match beginning as Howard instructed.  This was going to be terrible.

 

Taker was being careful, it wasn't his backside he wanted burnt to a crisp.  While he was normally calculated each move in his matches, Kane tended to bring out pure brutality and aggression.  The flames surrounding them only dampened the urges to murder his idiot half-brother, not ridding it entirely.  The fact that McMahon had set up this match, with this person, with Savalyn out here…Vince quite literally was playing with fire and he knew better then to acknowledge anyone except Kane as they fought simply because Kane was a mad dog.  If there was a wild card in this equation, it was Kane.

 

Her body was drenched from head to toe in sweat, the flames emanating some major heat in their direction.  Every time Taker and Kane hit a big move, the flames shot up past the top rope and it made Savalyn consume bottle after bottle of water.  Howard did the same thing.  She knew he was sweltering in that suit and felt terrible for him, but at least she was smart enough to dress appropriately.  Being this close to the flames made her heart jump in her throat whenever the men got too close to them.  Somehow, she managed to keep a poker face until she spotted Paul Bearer coming down the ramp to ringside, carrying what looked to be a round box with a black silk bow on top.  What the hell?  She could only watch, bewildered sky blues following his every move and watched Vince open the box, only to become completely distraught.  She was even more astonished when he pulled out a teddy bear and knew this had to be another mind game from Taker. 

 

First pictures and now a teddy bear? 

 

What the hell was going on in her ex’s demented mind?

“Damn, he’s on fire!” Howard grumbled, watching Taker plant Kane’s foot in the flames and shook his head, thankful the match was over, but feeling sorry for the Big Red Machine too. “Fire extinguisher!”

 

At least it was his heavily booted foot and not any other part of his anatomy.  Savalyn looked past him to watch Taker from across the ring through the flames and her hand covered her mouth at the sight of Taker burning the teddy bear in front of Vince.  The boss, the powerful Vince McMahon, was reduced to tears and dropped to his knees, reaching out to the burning teddy bear with Taker backing up the ramp.  What did that teddy bear signify?  Did it have something to do with Stephanie again?

 

Oh yes indeed it did and that had been what his minions had been informing him was hilarious.  Taker was a sick, spiteful bastard and it was all worth it.  Seeing the expression on Vince's face, the fear in his eyes fighting against his hatred, the swell of tears…it was enough to give the Devil a hard-on.  His acidic gaze flickered briefly to Savalyn who was looking faint, aghast and the spite swelled.  Let her suffer too.  She'd learn soon enough along with all the rest of them.

 

Why?  That was the only question searing through her wide sky blues as officials rushed toward the teddy bear to put it out with the fire extinguisher.  Kane was already helped to the back for medical attention and luckily, Savalyn and Howard hadn’t been burned by the flames.  Why was Taker doing all of this?  Why had he changed so much from the quiet and warm man she’d once known?  What happened to make him change so drastically and to target the McMahon family?  Sighing, Savalyn wished she had the answers to the questions and headed toward the back once the officials told her it was safe, immediately changing out of her dress.  She was informed Kane was headed to the hospital for medical treatment, having third degree burns on his foot.  So that was her next destination to check on him.

 

As far as he was concerned, Kane deserved what had happened because nobody had forced little brother to participate in that match.  Quite frankly, nobody made Kane do anything Kane didn't want to do.  The mental hospital facade, being afraid of fire, that was all gimmick.  Scars, not so much.  Brothers, that they were, same mother different father.  Paul really was Kane’s biological father, much to Taker’s annoyance.  He could enjoy his third degree burns and next time; remember to mind his own business.

 

Once she changed into a pair of jeans and a long sleeved burnt orange top, Savalyn made her way out of the arena.  She could feel a presence behind her, but didn’t stop, knowing Taker wouldn’t stop her.  He was simply following and tormenting her because that’s the type of man he had turned into.  Someone who enjoyed causing misery for others.  She let Vince know ahead of time she was going to the hospital to check on Kane, to which he just nodded mutely at her.  The man was scared to death for his daughter’s safety and looked haunted after that burning teddy bear incident.  Once outside, Savalyn stopped and squared her shoulders, pursing her lips tightly together before looking up at the starry night sky.

 

“I’m glad it wasn’t you.” It was the only thing she could say, especially after the last time they spoke.

 

“And why is that?” Conversing with her was a mistake, another one to add to his list, but Taker was mildly curious why she didn’t want him to be the one to be burned. “Given what happened between us at your home, I figured you’d be more than happy to watch me burn.”

 

The ice began melting around her heart, the concrete cracking as little pieces fell away down to the pit of her stomach. “Why do you think?” She shot back softly, wishing she could inject some kind of malice into her tone.  It just wasn’t possible with this man. “You know why.  I don’t know why you insist on asking a question you already know the answer to.”

 

His upper lip curled in a sneer, not because he was displeased by her words, but much they rang true. “Sava…” Taker hissed out her name, stepping up to close the distance between them and had surveyed the area to make sure they were completely alone. “Do not tell me you still care for me, not when you’ve spent time with my main nemesis” He still couldn’t believe she agreed to go out on a date with Steve Austin, knowing how much he detested the man.

 

“Believe me; I’d give anything not to care about your wellbeing.” She spat, folding her arms tightly in front of her chest and shut her eyes the moment his hands landed on her shoulders.  Instantly, her body responded and her blood turned to molten lava. “But that’s what happens when you’re with someone you DO care about.  No matter how many times you hurt me, I’ll never stop not caring about you, Mark.” And loving you, she added in thought, flat out refusing to utter the L word to him.

 

The scent of her always made him heady, though Taker still had perfect control over this situation. “And pray tell, why is that, pet?” He demanded, hiding the fact her words really stung and cut through him.  They bothered him more than he’d ever admit. “Is it my appearance?  My devotion to claiming the McMahon princess for my own?  Why exactly do you not want to care about me anymore?” His large hands squeezed her shoulders, pulling her to where her back pressed against his muscular chest, which was covered in a black thermal top.

 

Savalyn scoffed, rolling her eyes and shook her head. “Your appearance has never been an issue to me.  You grew a longer beard and got rid of your goatee part of your facial hair.  Big deal.  You still look the same to me.  Your attitude and, yes, going after Stephanie, one of my best friends, is part of the reason I wish to god I could stop caring about you.  I wish I could forget you ever existed and everything we had together, actually.” Is that what he wanted to hear?  Her heart clenched with pain the moment those words came out of her mouth.

 

His pride along with his own heart took a beating with what she said, though once again Taker didn’t show it. “With that delectable photographic memory of yours, pet, there is no way to do so.  I made sure to burn your memory with me, all the times I fucked that delicious pussy of yours and claimed you as mine.” She still belonged to him, even if they weren’t together at the moment.  And it was for her own good, though Savalyn didn’t need to know that detail. “Mmm even the last time I tasted you…”

 

“You mean the last time you surrendered to me, in my own home?” Savalyn had to find some way to gain the advantage over him, not wincing when his grip on her shoulders tightened. “Still bothers you, I see.”

 

Snarling in her ear, Taker suddenly whipped her around and dragged her behind one of the trucks, pinning her against the wall of the arena.  They were completely out of sight, so whatever he did wouldn’t be seen by anyone.  Only remembered by her, which is exactly what he wanted.  She just had to keep reminding him of that momentary lapse in judgment.

 

“You surrendered to me just as much.  And yet you try to convince yourself not to care about me, even as your heart and mind refuse to allow it.” Taker knew this was a dangerous game to play, especially with his plans, but if this stubborn woman only knew the truth… “You will never forget me, Savalyn.”

 

Before she could open her mouth to respond, Taker quickly captured it with his, pressing her back against the building somewhat harshly.  Savalyn melted, not bothering to fight him off and grabbed a handful of the leather duster, the same one he wore last time they kissed, pulling him closer.  Taker growled, lifting her to forcefully wrap her legs around his waist and used the wall for leverage.  If he wanted, he was sure Savalyn would’ve let him sex her up right here and now, not caring they were outside in the cold.  Goddamn, she tasted sweeter than the last time and felt incredible in his arms.  Just a little longer and then he would have her again permanently, but not until his plan was completed.  Only then could they truly be together and happy without any interference.

 

“Do you trust me?” He demanded hoarsely, breaking the kiss abruptly and set her down on her feet, not releasing her waist.

 

“What kind of question is that?” She shot back, tears filling her eyes and the confusion once again engulfed her. “What the hell is your game?  You said-”

 

“I know damn well what I’ve said, woman.” Taker growled impatiently, needing to hear her answer and squeezed her hips a little harder. “Now answer me.  Do you trust me?”

 

Savalyn was sick of the games, not sure what happened to her sweet loving Mark, the man she’d met back in ’97, but this certainly wasn’t him. “Let me go.” She ordered in a whisper, refusing to answer him and lowered her eyes, looking to the side. “It’s late; I need to head back to the hotel before the boss starts getting suspicious.  After all, I sold myself to them, remember?”

 

Sneering, Taker didn’t appreciate his words being tossed back at him.  Talk about eating his own words. “Very well, pet.  You should get going, you’re right.” He did as she asked, releasing her and stepped back, folding his arms in front of his chest.

 

Before she left, Savalyn would give him one last parting shot. “I told you once I trusted you completely…and I meant it, Mark.  I just wish you’d trust me enough to tell me what the hell is going on with you.  Good night.” Continuing on her way to her car, Savalyn slid behind the wheel and drove off toward the hospital to make sure Kane was alright.

 

“Idiot.” He grunted dryly, watching her peel out of the parking lot.

 

She truly was an idiot.  He had gone out of his way to hurt her.  She had gone out of her way to try hurting him.  That just made things worse because he had unleashed his inner dick and gone to town on the McMahons and, by extension, her.  Savalyn just didn't know the full impact of it just yet.  But she was still glad it wasn't him who was fried tonight... and that somehow made everything…feel worse.

 

“Idiot.” He repeated, though this time at himself.

 

“I’m such an idiot.”

 

Even though he’d hurt her with his harsh words, and she’d locked her heart away, didn’t mean Savalyn wanted to see Taker burnt to a crisp.  She felt bad Kane had lost and was the one burned, but relieved since it wasn’t Taker currently at the hospital.  Her words rang true, she truly was thankful it wasn’t Taker who was set on fire tonight, even though he deserved to be.  She didn’t even need to turn around to look at Taker to know he was there.  The man had a presence about him that was uncanny, unearthly and powerful.  She could always sense when he was around, not understanding why. 

 

It’d always been that way between them. 

 

Chapter 11

 

Pulling into the parking lot of the emergency room, Savalyn took a deep breath and stepped out, heading inside to ask for Glen Jacobs’s room.  If she said Kane, the nurse would’ve looked at her like she was out of her mind.  Hesitantly, the nurse told her what room he was in, asking if she was family and Savalyn simply nodded, reaching for a little white lie claiming to be his sister.  Had her and Taker gotten married, they technically would’ve been in-laws.  Once the nurse was satisfied, Savalyn headed toward the room Kane was in and knocked gently before entering, closing the door behind her.

 

“Kane, it’s Savalyn.  I came to check on you, can I move the curtain back?” It was currently shielding him from prying eyes.

 

“Yes.” He called back gruffly, after a moment.

 

The voice box was for show; he could speak quite well and loud enough without it.  The hoarseness in his baritone, however, was not fake and a lovely memento of the fire he had been scarred by.  He wasn't overly ashamed of his scars either, but they made other people uncomfortable.  They were a reminder to him of what he had endured.  And…When Taker wasn't acting like he was Satan, it was amusing to see the occasional regret flicker in those snake like green orbs.  Not that he’d started the fire, like the storyline called for, but he wasn’t burned to the point of having to wear a mask for the rest of his life.  Just a few scars on his arms that were easily covered by tattoos.

 

Slowly pushing the curtain back, Savalyn frowned at the big man in the too small hospital bed, her eyes immediately landing on the heavily bandaged foot. “I – um – I heard you had third degree burns and…I wanted to make sure you were alright besides the obvious.” She spoke quietly, always with Kane and shut the curtain behind her before stepping up to the side of the bed.  His mask was currently off, the brown curls dangling in his slightly scarred face.  Honestly, she didn’t understand why he felt the need to hide who he was, but didn’t voice her opinion. “Can I get you anything?  Better question, why the hell can’t they provide a bigger bed for you?” She grumbled that last question, shaking her head almost in disgust.

 

His hair tended to do what it wanted and he flipped his head back, curls moving with it and for once staying put, revealing his face properly to her.  He studied her thoughtfully, mismatched blue eyes taking her in before looking down at his bed, which his feet hung off of and there was no chance in hell they could use the guard rails.  Kane was taller than his brother.

 

“This was the biggest.” He said finally, amusement in his voice.  Kane looked down at his foot, which was wrapped and carefully positioned it away from anything that it could bump into.

 

“I figured as much.” Savalyn muttered, more to herself than him and settled down in the chair beside the bed. 

 

She smiled at the giant, his scars not bothering her in the least or his voice.  When her and Taker were together, Savalyn had somewhat befriended Kane, in spite of their hatred for each other, thinking it was just regular sibling rivalry.  The fire had been an accident and both of their parents paid the price for it, along with Kane, who she knew sometimes wished hadn’t survived just because of the scars he had to carry in life.  Savalyn assured the first time she saw his face she wasn’t afraid of him and never had been, just like his older brother.

 

“What did they say about your foot?  Will it scar or did your foot take the brunt of the burn?” Still, even with a boot on he received third degree burns and Savalyn suddenly hated Vince McMahon for doing this to Kane.

 

“Third degree burns are going to scar, regardless of where and what else took the brunt.” Kane informed her with an eye roll. “I was lucky they were able to remove my boot from the flesh.” Because it had melted into his skin, muscle…it apparently had been very gross and he was still in the process of sweet talking the nurse into letting him have the pictures that had been taken for study.  Kane wanted to see the aftermath after they’d pulled the burnt flesh off his foot. “It'll be fine.  I'll be back in no time."

 

There was high doubt and he meant that literally because he doubted Vince would let him have much, if any, time off to heal.  So he'd be working on pain medication, which was fine by him.  Kane was on it now; it didn't fog his mind, just numbed the pain enough to make everything else tolerable.

 

“You should take the rest of the week off to recuperate.  That was a nasty match and your foot needs time to heal or else it could get infected.” She held her hand up before Kane could open his mouth to protest. “I will tell you right now, every doctor and nurse in this hospital will tell you the same thing.  So you’re not hearing anything from me they’re not gonna tell you.” She said in a matter-of-fact tone of voice, scooting his good unburned foot over to sit on the edge of the bed and placed a gentle hand on his arm. “I know we haven’t spoken a lot since…well, you know, but I had to come and make sure and see with my own eyes you were really okay.  I still think of you as a friend, Kane, even if you don’t think of me the same way.”

 

Another reason she didn’t show Kane much affection or talk to him was Vince thought of Kane as his instrument of destruction and nothing more.  She didn’t want to give the boss more ammunition to use against Kane by using their friendship.  Savalyn tended to mother hen and it was both amusing and irksome.  That do-gooder attitude of hers.  It made for a weird friendship, that was for sure.

 

“They've already told me.” He muttered dryly, eyes sparkling in amusement. “You don't think you got in here because of your pretty face, do you?  I've been seen, treated and this little slice of heaven is recovery.” Kane assumed beds in hell fit people his size properly. “Why, exactly, are you with the Corporation now?” That was something he was curious about.  He knew why they hadn't talked overly much in the last several months; it didn't take a genius to figure out.

 

“Vince.” Savalyn lowered her eyes from his, heaving a sigh and could feel the overwhelming anger welling up inside of her. “He thinks I’m stupid and I don’t know what he’s trying to do.  He doesn’t trust me because of my past with M-Taker.” She caught herself, cursing mentally for nearly using the man’s real name and pulled her hand away from Kane’s arm to fold hers across her chest. “I may be Stephanie’s friend and think of her as one of my only ones, but now that He’s after her, Vince wants to keep me close by.  He thinks I’m part of whatever Taker has planned for Stephanie, which I’m not.  I’ve tried asking him about it and he refuses to tell me.” She would not get into the whole screwing her ex during her days off and the harsh words that were exchanged.  No definitely not. “He ordered it, I had no choice and couldn’t say no to the boss.”

 

“Well you could, but Vince doesn't seem to take hearing it all that well.” Kane folded his hands behind his head, frowning when the IV line was tugged and rolled his eyes.  Overkill in his opinion, but apparently that was the 'best method of pain management', as if he couldn't remember to swallow a pill every 6-8 hours. “Does he think you're part of the grand plan or does he think you're bait, Savalyn?” Or maybe both.  If Vince was the paranoid bastard everyone thought him to be, she was definitely both.

 

“What do you think?” Savalyn retorted with a smirk, though once again her eyes were full of sadness and no amount of jokes or kindness would make it disappear. “Hell, why would I help my ex get with one of my best friends?” She snorted, disgusted at the thought and hoped to god that wasn’t what Taker had planned for the McMahon woman. “Believe me, if I could avoid it I wouldn’t be traveling with the Corporation right now and bunking with Stephanie.  I like my space and own room, but Vince is adamant about keeping me close until this ordeal with Taker is over.” Glancing at the clock, Savalyn could see it was getting late and frowned. “Are they forcing you to stay overnight or are you being discharged?”

 

Help her ex get with one of her best friends…that was an interesting train of thought.  Kane briefly considered the idea, mulling it around.  No, he had no doubt Stephanie was Taker's target, but he just could not see his brother making the McMahon princess his end goal.  No, there had to be something more, something larger – grander.  Else wise, Taker was just as big a dumbass as the rest of them.  One did not go through all that work for pussy – not even pussy that was lined in gold.

 

“I could be discharged if I wanted I suppose.  I prefer the night without McMahon and his cronies breathing down my neck, though.” Kane admitted, holding up a finger to his lips in a playful, rare manner.

 

Sky blues twinkled back at him as Savalyn moved further up the bed until she was snuggled up against his good side, the smile never leaving her face. “You know what?  That’s one of the best ideas you’ve had in a while, Big Red.” It was her personal nickname for him. “You don’t mind having company, do you?”

 

She didn’t bother waiting for a response, already planning on staying and draped an arm over his chest to rest over his heart while he flipped idly through the boring channels the hospital provided.  Vince wouldn’t be able to fault her for keeping an eye on Kane; hell, he’d probably commend her on a job well done.  That caused an eye roll and quiet snort, shifting briefly to get more comfortable against Kane, sighing in contentment.

 

“Kane, you know him better than I do…at least I think you do.  What do you think he’s after with the McMahons?  You don’t really think he’d…choose Stephanie over me, do you?”

 

As far as Kane knew, Taker had been the one to call things off with Savalyn and, apparently, she still carried a torch for him.  Kane would never understand that one.  He got the general idea of the attraction: light and dark, opposites attract and all that, but big brother was just plain evil while she was an angel.

 

“I have never, and will never, claim to truly understand him or his ways of thinking and methods." He spoke, after a long moment of silence. “But I don't think this is about Stephanie…at least, not all the way.  It isn't like him.”

 

The mind games were, but not just the woman.  The more Savalyn thought about it, the more what Kane said made perfect sense.  He was right.  This wasn’t who Taker was.  Something was driving him to do this, to terrify Stephanie to the point where Vince had doubled security in every hotel they stayed at.  The old man was scared of the Deadman.

 

“Maybe Vince knows more than he’s letting on.” She finally spoke after a few minutes, slowly sitting up in the bed to look up at Kane.  He still towered over her even with them lying in the small hospital bed together, albeit uncomfortably. “I just…I don’t understand any of this.  I don’t understand why he ended things between us all those months ago.  We were happy – at least I was.  And I thought I was enough for him.  I thought…” So many times Savalyn dreamed of their future together and even having Mark’s children, giving up everything she worked for in the WWF just to be with him. “There has to be more to this and I’m gonna find out what it is, no matter what I have to do.”

 

Maybe that sounded ominous, but Savalyn was tired of being left in the dark and needed to know the truth, even if it was harsh, on why, out of the blue, Taker decided their relationship wasn’t worth anything anymore.  The most messed up part about all of this was they rarely fought, got along well and the sex was mind-blowing.  So what the hell was the missing piece to this infuriating puzzle?

 

Kane stared at Savalyn intently, finally shaking his head. “If I were you, I'd stay out of it as much as you can until whatever Taker wants finally comes to light.  Don't put yourself on the board, Sava, not anymore then you have.  Both he and McMahon are ruthless when it comes to getting what they want and it'll be you getting burnt if you get too involved.”

 

She was already a pawn, not needing to upgrade that role.  But knowing Sava, she'd do what she'd do regardless.  Women and curiosity.  Kane was curious himself, but patient enough to wait – to watch.

 

“I don’t want to be involved in this.  Honestly, I was just worried about Stephanie and, the moment I checked on her, that’s when all hell broke loose with Vince.” Savalyn never should’ve made that phone call because now she was stuck with the Corporation, somewhere she DIDN’T want to be. “I’m doing my best to stay out of this, I promise.  It just seems like whatever I do, somehow or someway, I end up in the crossfire with Taker’s plan.  And now being forced to stay this close and bunk with Stephanie, I’m smack in the middle of whatever will happen.  And there’s no way out.  I just have to weather the storm and hope this ends sooner rather than later.  Maybe they’ll even let you go.  Why ARE you working for the Corporation anyway?” As far as she knew, Kane hated every single person in the group.

 

“Because Vince asked nicely.” Kane deadpanned, snorting when Savalyn called his bluff.  She wasn't wrong. “Same reason as you.  He thinks I know more than I do and he also knows it'll irk Taker because we happen to share some DNA.”

 

Vince apparently didn't realize the true hatred that ran deep between the brothers.  There was a reason the storylines came across as realistic.  A lot of times, there was more than just a hint of truth in them.  Kane blamed Taker for the fire, even though he didn’t start it, but he had the flammable liquids and knew better than to mess with them.  If big brother would’ve left them alone, the fire would’ve never happened when their father went downstairs in the basement to light a cigarette.  Luckily, the boys hadn’t been home during the explosion that took both of their parents and childhood home instantly.  Taker hated him because Paul Bearer –Bill- was actually his real father and not the man they grew to love and called Dad.

 

“Oh Kane, I’m so sorry.” Savalyn murmured, realizing for the first time both of them were being used and, somewhat, abused because of their relation to Undertaker. “You’re not alone in this.  We’ll get through it together and then tell Vince to kiss our asses when the time comes to finally leave the Corporation.”

 

She grinned, trying to get him to smile back at her and snuggled down against him, once again resting her hand over his gently beating heart.  Even though she hated hospitals, it’d been a long night and she was exhausted, just wanting to go to sleep and could already feel her eyelids growing heavy.  Within an hour, she was fast asleep with her head on Kane’s chest and his on top of hers, both of them content for the first time in what seemed like forever.

 

That was disgusting.  Absolutely vile.  Playback, sadly, was without sound, so whatever Savalyn and his half-brother Kane had been chit-chatting about, he had no idea.  But the view of them curled up together in that too small hospital bed made Taker want to vomit.  It was so sweet and innocent; he regretted the impulse to have the nurse Bradshaw had paid off to plant that miniscule camera in his room, while Kane had been in surgery having bits of his boot extracted from his burn wound.  He had wanted to see the damage himself, just like Kane, needing to know whether or not he could expect baby brother back anytime soon and gotten a bit more than he had bargained for.

 

If Taker had sound on the footage, he would’ve clearly heard the longing and heartbreak in Savalyn’s voice while she spoke to Kane.  They were friends and nothing more.  There were no romantic feelings between them and never would be.  Her heart, even if she tried sealing it away, would always long for and want Taker.

Chapter 12

 

Vince was not happy with Savalyn and made it known the moment she stepped foot inside her and Stephanie’s shared suite.

“Where the hell were you all night?  My daughter was worried sick and you’re supposed to be here keeping her company!  What kind of friend are you?!”

 

Savalyn had to bite her tongue hard so she didn’t yell back at her boss and merely lowered her eyes to the floor. “I was at the hospital with Kane, checking on him.  I fell asleep while there, I’m sorry…”

 

Vince huffed indignantly and went to yell at her some more, when Stephanie stopped him with a simple hand on his arm, big ocean blues begging him to let it go.

 

“Thanks.” Savalyn whispered once her and Stephanie were alone and went straight to her room, the frown on her face turning into a smile.  At least she had one free night away from the Corporation.

 

“I'm sorry about him.  This…stuff with the Undertaker is making him not act like himself, making him crazy.” Stephanie apologized, then offered a slow smile. “Crazier actually, he's always been a bit off his rocker.” She took Savalyn's hand and guided her friend into the main area of the swanky hotel suite. “You went and seen Kane?  Why?” She asked curiously, her knowledge and experience with Kane were limited. 

 

What Stephanie knew of him could fill a thimble and, quite frankly, he scared the hell out of her.  Stephanie’s question immediately raised red flags, but Savalyn quickly surmised it was because of Vince forcing her travel arrangements.  Friends…her and Stephanie were friends before any of this happened and Savalyn trusted her wholeheartedly.  So why would she stop now?  Why would she keep anything hidden from Stephanie?

 

“I was worried about him.” She quietly answered, hoping this wasn’t a mistake on her part. “When I was with…Him, I became friends with Kane…”

 

The questions in Stephanie’s eyes heightened and Savalyn suddenly wondered if Vince kept the fact Kane and Undertaker were related a secret.  It wouldn’t surprise her.  Well, that secret was about to blown wide open.

 

“Kane is Undertaker’s brother, Stephanie.  Half-brother – same mother, different fathers.  I got close to him while being with Undertaker and…I had to make sure he was alright after that stupid match your father forced him into last night.  I had to make sure with my own eyes he was okay.”

 

“Wait, so they really are brothers?” Stephanie breathed in awe, wondering what else wasn't fake in this business. 

 

She had been, until recently, just a model for the company.  Starting out with low key jobs, like Shane had, before Vince had brought him into the fold.  She had been shoved into it, thanks to the Undertaker, so this was all... interesting.  Scary and interesting.

 

“Wow…Yeah, I can see that.  You have a good heart, Sav.” Stephanie complimented softly, trying to keep her voice down just in case.  She did not trust her father, or too many other people for that matter. “How is he?”

 

“Besides having third degree burns on his foot, never better.” Savalyn did the same thing as Stephanie and kept her voice down, thankful her friend wasn’t immediately running to her father. “I stayed with him all night, just to make sure he was alright.  They were going to release him, but…” No, she wouldn’t tell Stephanie the truth about how much Kane loathed the Corporation and he’d been forced into it just as she had been by her Daddy. “They wanted to do an overnight observation just to make sure he didn’t get an infection or anything.” It was a small white lie that wouldn’t do any harm. “And yes, they are half-brothers.  Kane’s actually a giant teddy bear, believe it or not.  And fiercely loyal to those who don’t betray and hurt him.  I’m sorry I left you here alone last night, but I really had to make sure he was okay.  Did anything happen last night?”

 

They sat down on the sofa while Stephanie retrieved a pot of coffee and two mugs.  Stephanie wasn't telling her father anything because he'd just use it in this way too personal war he had going on with the Undertaker.  Granted, it got personal fast once she had been dragged into it, but now Vince went above and beyond protecting and defending.  He was actively engaging and trying to harm the Undertaker, by any means necessary.  She'd pass on all the crazy, just wanting her normal life back.

 

“Well, yes…” Not that she felt the need to rehash it again, remembering that teddy bear being burnt and frowning. “I don't know…it could’ve just been Vince blowing smoke.”

 

Frowning, Savalyn recalled the teddy bear being burnt and how Vince had dropped to his knees, acting like the world was ending over it being destroyed. “Last night, that teddy bear…” She trailed off, not sure how to phrase this question and could see Stephanie’s eyes avert to her lap, noticing the grip on her coffee mug tightened ever so slightly.  Even though she promised not to get in Undertaker’s way, that didn’t mean she would let her friend live her life in fear either. “Look, I don’t think Undertaker is after you.  At least, I don’t think and Kane doesn’t either.  Whatever this plan is, I think it’s all to scare Vince and get under his skin.  And if it makes you feel better, Undertaker told me he wouldn’t harm you.  Though, I’m sure he only meant physically since he is a master of mind games.”

 

“Yeah, that's not much help, Savalyn.” Stephanie muttered, blue eyes squinting as she frowned down at the carpet. “Physically he won't harm me, but we all know his specialty is mind games and mentally breaking people.” Her lower lip quivered as she really gave thought to that one, having seen just how evil and sadistic the Undertaker could be.  He had slit his own wrist on national television just to sacrifice one of his minions, who was now named Mideon. “I don't…I don't want him to break me.” She whimpered finally, burying her head in her hands.

It broke her heart to hear those words come out of Stephanie’s mouth and Savalyn immediately pulled her in for a warm embrace, rubbing the younger woman’s back. “I wish there was something I could do to stop him.  He doesn’t want me though, not anymore.  Believe me, if I thought for a second he did, I would go back to him in a heartbeat and let him use me for this plan, whatever it is.  Just so you wouldn’t have to endure his cruelty.” Kane’s words flowed through her mind suddenly and Savalyn wondered if Taker really did have a bigger agenda than he was letting on.  That this was all bigger than the McMahon princess. “If your father has any say-so in the matter, I don’t think he’ll have a chance to break you.  Hell, I don’t even think god himself could break you.  You’re a McMahon, which means you’re stubborn as a bull and won’t bow down to anyone, not even Him.”

 

“I love you, Savalyn, but if this is about Vince somehow, if His plan really doesn't focus on me-” That sounded vain, Stephanie knew it and flushed crimson, not meaning for it to come out that way. “Then I don't think it's about you either.  You're not the best way to get to Vince.”

 

Savalyn had no family ties, financial, personal ties, nothing…Stephanie couldn't see the endgame, but after hearing Savalyn and Kane both agree it had nothing to do with her, not really, she did feel better.  Nobody would figure out what was on Taker’s mind, no matter how much time was spent pondering and thinking.  It was all assumption.  The only person who could truly give them the answers to all these questions, to put it to rest, was Undertaker.  The Lord of Darkness.  Sighing, Savalyn didn’t know what else to say and simply patted her friend’s shoulder, standing to walk into the mini kitchen to set the now empty coffee mug in.

 

“I have a few things to do today.  A voiceover for the upcoming pay-per-view event, WrestleMania.” The WWF’s super bowl.  It was the biggest event of the year. “Sable was supposed to do it, but she got roped into doing something else, so Vince asked me to do it.” Or rather ordered. “What do you have planned today?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

Stephanie shrugged her shoulder limply, pushing herself off the bed and then caught sight of herself in the mirror over the hotel credenza.  Her hair was limp and lank, she was paler than usual….honestly, she looked like crap.  Hardly any sleep and constantly worrying did that to a person.

 

“A shower, I guess.” She smiled weakly, already knowing Vince wouldn’t let her go out by her lonesome. “Could I come with you?  Keep you company?”

 

Savalyn contemplated that and shrugged in return, not minding the company. “Better go ask Daddy to make sure it’s alright.  If you leave this room, you know he’ll be stark raving mad.”

 

They both laughed the sound reverberating off the walls.  Kane was resting, so someone else from the Corporation would have to follow them around.  A smirk curved her lips as a light bulb went off in Savalyn’s head, sky blues twinkling mischievously.

 

“And ask him if Test can accompany us to keep an eye on things.  He can be our personal bodyguard today.” She knew Test had feelings for Stephanie, even if the man was too scared to admit it openly.  One could simply look at the man and see the desire in his eyes for the princess. “Take a shower first, you stink.”

 

"Andrew?" Stephanie looked bemused at why Savalyn would suggest him, shrugged and then raised an arm in order to sniff her pits. “Oh god I do…I smell like hardworking, blue-collar people…”

 

She was joking of course because, while she had grownup not rich, but comfortable, definitely middle class, she still had to work to get anything she wanted in this world.  They all had.  Vince hadn't cut his children any breaks.

 

“Okay, give me 20." She gathered up her stuff, trying to figure out why Savalyn had mentioned Andrew – Test – to watch over them.  Such a ridiculous ring name, she thought, wondering who came up with it.

 

Surprisingly, Vince didn’t put up a fight with Stephanie’s idea to go with Savalyn to the local studio.  It wasn’t far away from the hotel and Andrew was more than capable of protecting them.  However, he also made The Big Boss Man –his real name was Ray Traylor JR- accompany them along with Test –Andrew, according to Stephanie’s insistence.  It was cute watching them interact with each other.  Sometimes, Savalyn could be devious when she wanted to be and enjoyed watching Test squirm like a worm on a hook. 

 

Ray wasn’t a major problem, though Savalyn simply didn’t like him and silently wished Taker had sacrificed him a few weeks back when he was taken hostage by the Ministry.  Of course, she kept all of these thoughts to herself as they entered the studio and took the elevator to the 18th floor for the daily job.  Savalyn had never done something like this before, so she was nervous, but her photographic memory allowed her to memorize everything that had to be said almost instantly. 

 

A plus in her book.

 

Ray did not care for Savalyn in the slightest.  Before the Undertaker decided to make an example of him, Ray wouldn’t have given a flying leap who she was.  Now, however…She was the Undertaker's ex-girlfriend, ex-fuck meat.  And Ray was still angry over what had happened to him.  It didn't make sense, not really, but since he couldn't go out and beat down the Undertaker…he could screw with the Undertaker's bitch.

 

“This shouldn’t take long.  You two have fun.”

 

Savalyn winked at Stephanie before walking into the room with Ray.  Andrew would watch over her while Ray had the duty of protecting Savalyn.  Placing the headphones over her ears, she waited until the producer of the upcoming WrestleMania video instructed her to speak.  Since Ray was also part of WrestleMania, in a match that hadn’t been announced yet, he too had a voiceover to do for the video.  If she knew a fraction of what Ray was currently thinking, Savalyn would’ve bolted out of that building as far away from him as possible.

 

Ray stuck to his scripted lines, knowing better than to be screwing with anything that would be shown on one of the shows.  That right there was a firing offense simply because it was his voice.  He was logged in as to being here, too much evidence.  That did not mean he stopped staring at Savalyn from behind the sunglasses he wore even inside, eyes narrowed considering her.  Undertaker's fuck buddy.  Stephanie McMahon's best friend.  A rookie ring announcer who had suddenly risen up in the ranks overnight.  She was obviously easy and jumping on a lot of pecker.  He smirked at that, knowing his own nightstick would be next.

 

Too busy with the task at hand, Savalyn didn’t notice the pure evil intentions glowing in Ray’s eyes.  Or what he had planned for her for that matter.  All she wanted to do was her job to the best of her ability.  Sure, she slept with the Undertaker and had an actual relationship with the man, but that didn’t mean she got to where she was at because of him.  Savalyn would never let that happen.  Hard work and determination were what rose her to the status she was at now and even Howard was on board with sharing his spotlight with her on Raw. 

 

Once they finished an hour later, it was time to head to the arena for the upcoming house show.  Because it was WrestleMania season, even the house shows were important to attend, even though there were no ring announcers.  However, Savalyn still had to model the new WrestleMania t-shirts coming out with Stephanie and Ryan, who they really hadn’t spoken with lately.  On the way to the arena, in the back of the McMahon limousine, Savalyn could only sneak glances at Andrew and Stephanie mindlessly flirting with each other, trying like hell not to think of those days with her ex.  Where everything was right in the world and he wasn’t a psycho stalker after one of her best friends.

 

She had no idea how it happened but throughout the day Andrew had seemed to just…fill her vision.  Maybe it had been Savalyn mentioning him specifically or maybe Stephanie was finally noticing the people around her as more than just the moveable bars to her mobile cage.  Not Ray though; she glanced away from Andrew to Ray and then back again, a frown creasing her brow.  He was an evil son of a bitch.  She could just feel it emanating off of him in waves.

 

Savalyn had too much on her mind to notice, seeming to be a million miles away.  They arrived at the arena and walked inside, once again flanked by both Andrew and Ray.  The modeling commenced with the new WrestleMania XV gear, t-shirts and tank tops to be more specific.  They laughed when Stephanie put on a tank top that looked WAY too small on her and Savalyn’s was huge.  So they had to swap them and laughed every time they thought about it.  Would the crew ever get their sizes and gear correct?  Probably not.  Once that was finished, Savalyn stepped into the private dressing room while Andrew detained Stephanie to talk to her about something.  She’d just peeled off the WrestleMania XV tank top when the door slammed shut and she whipped around, standing there in a black lace bra and jeans, sky blues wide.

 

“You don’t need to be in here while I’m changing, Ray.” She stated, holding the tank top against her chest to try covering it and for the first time saw the evil intentions in the man’s eyes.  Oh no, she thought, backing up with every step he took and could feel tears already forming. 

 

They were liquid fear.

 

Chapter 13

 

Ray hadn't even said or done anything besides come into the room and already she was starting to tear up.  That sent a feeling of heady power coursing through him, only emboldening his premeditated actions.  It also added fuel to the flames of desire that had been licking at him ever since realizing what kind of slut she was.

 

“Sure I do, honey.” He drawled slowly, unhooking his nightstick from its holder at his belt. “You look like you need some…help.”

 

Stay calm, she mentally coached, not taking her eyes off of him for a second.  It would be over if she did.  There had to be a way out of the room besides the door he entered through.  This particular room had no private bathroom because, if so, she would’ve flown into it to try locking him out.  Savalyn swallowed hard at the sight of the hard nightstick in his hand and felt her back hit the wall, feeling her heart thrum powerfully against her chest.

 

“N-No I don’t, especially not from you.” She cursed her shaky voice and knew she was giving him more fuel, refusing to let the tears fall.  Not yet. “You need to get out of here now.  I need to finish changing and you need to clear your head before you do something you’ll regret.” Maybe talking him down to reason would work. 

 

“Why not me?” It came out a mere demand instead of the question it was meant to be. “You're obviously giving it to everyone else.” He snorted when she began shaking her head. “Don't lie, Savalyn.  Pretty little thing like you ain’t even been in the company that long, but you've already been knocking boots with the big boys.  We all know how you got your new spot, Howard's spot, and why you're now the McMahon pet.  Not to mention, you were Undertaker’s fuck meat.  Probably still is too.  You can be my fuck meat too.”

 

Ray was approaching her slowly, ready for her to attack or do something stupid.  She was giving it to everyone else, willingly no less, but not him?  He was beginning to see red.  Savalyn clenched her fists at her sides, not believing the audacity of this prick and the tears in her eyes turned from liquid fear to liquid rage.

 

“Fuck you.” She hissed, refusing to back down from anyone in this company, especially a nobody like him. “I haven’t given myself to anyone except Mark Calaway, you bastard!  I don’t know who the hell you think you are!  Before McMahon hired you to be the hit man on Undertaker, which is laughable to be frank, you were a nobody!  You weren’t even on television or in any matches before this fiasco!!  So you need to get over yourself because, honestly, you’re not worthy of being with me, asshole!!  Now if you know what’s good for you, you’ll get the hell out of here and leave me alone!”

 

Everything that came out of this whore’s mouth was pure poison.  She couldn't physically take him on; there was simply no way.  But she could hurt him, wound his pride, and that was exactly what she was doing.  Ray snorted, twirling that baton as he approached her in a roundabout fashion, his free hand moving down to the front of his pants, more to the point, his zipper.

 

“Oh sweetheart, for that, you're definitely looking at some hard time.” He spat through gritted teeth.

 

“Hard time?” Savalyn snorted, wondering if he was serious and tried not to become nervous at the sight of his hands going to the zipper of his pants.  If he even ATTEMPTED to point that thing in her direction, she would find a way to castrate him.  Sky blues iced over the closer he came toward her and Savalyn scooted against the wall away from him. “Get the hell away from me!!  I won’t fuck you, EVER!  Get it through your head!!  Take your limp dick and go fuck yourself, asshole!!” Her breathing had turned ragged, the fear oozing out of every pore of her body, but Savalyn had to keep herself calm or else she would be frozen in fear. “GET AWAY FROM ME!!”

 

Her bellowing that, screaming to get away from her was what made Ray lunge.  The hand that had been toying with his zipper was now on her face, palm covering her lips and nose, fingers digging into her cheek hard enough for his nails to leave crescent shaped wounds behind.  Ray used his body to pin her to the nearest wall, bringing the nightstick up and pressing it into her throat, hard enough to make her gasp for air.

 

“You're going to pay for that.” He promised, eyes roaming hers before he replaced his palm with his lips.  His now free hand moved to her breast, fondling her roughly.

 

“N-No!” Savalyn choked out, gasping for air and felt the tears finally slide down her cheeks, not believing this was happening. 

 

There was nothing she could do.  Ray outweighed her by at least 200 pounds!  The nightstick against her throat would no doubt leave a bruise and she could feel the imprints from his nails in her cheeks.  Whatever this monster did to her tonight, he would pay for because she would immediately file an assault with Vince.  She was Stephanie’s best friend; didn’t Ray know who he was assaulting?!  Maybe he didn’t care and, an even scarier thought, maybe Vince ordered him to do this to her.  Closing her eyes tightly shut, Savalyn continued coughing and gasping for any kind of oxygen, choking out a cry when her bra was ripped from her body.

 

“Oh, look at them pert nips…” Ray moaned with pure lust, having put his hand back to cover her mouth so he could ogle the flesh he had just uncovered. “I could suck on them titties for days, sweetheart.” He grinned into her face manically before lowering his head. “Too bad we only got us a little bit of time, eh?”

 

Leaning forward to draw her nipple into his mouth, Ray let the baton fall to the side so he could utilize the other hand to work on her lower half.  Time was against them and he'd have to move along if he wanted to get at least some of his fill of her.  Screaming against his hand, Savalyn knew her only chance of getting out of this was to fight.  If she was raped, at least she wouldn’t go down without swinging.  The moment Ray was moronic enough to actually bend down and lower to his knees in front of her, Savalyn reacted instantly.  Her knee thrust up and cracked him right in the nose, his hand immediately uncovering her mouth as his baton went flying across the room.

 

“FUCK YOU!!” She shrieked at the top of her lungs, watching blood pour out of his nose and shakily ran for the door, managing to grab one of the t-shirts she modeled in earlier on the way out. 

 

She didn’t get very far as Savalyn slammed into a brick wall, or so it felt like, just outside of her dressing room, her entire body trembling from head to toe with the t-shirt clutched tightly against her chest.  Her cheeks were streaked with tears and little droplets of blood slid down her cheek from where Ray’s nails had dug into her flesh.  When she looked up and saw none other than Bradshaw from the Ministry, Savalyn felt her knees give out on her sobbing uncontrollably.

 

That wall she had slammed into was John Bradshaw’s bare, yet to be painted, chest and he could feel a bit of liquid, frowning.  He realized that she was crying and there was blood, bending down to catch Savalyn when her knees gave out.  It didn’t take a genius to figure out why she was crying and shaking like a leaf.

 

“Who did this?” He demanded gruffly, not caring a lick who she was or what group she ran with.  She was a woman who had obviously been assaulted and needed that shirt on.  Bradshaw tugged it out of her hands and over her head, helping to guide her arms through the holes.

 

“Where is he, Savalyn?” He lowered himself to one knee before her, holding out his hands, palms up to show he just wanted to help.

 

Her breathing was so hard and rough, she was sure her heart would leap out of her chest from how fast it thundered against her chest.  Savalyn wasn’t scared of Bradshaw and never had been.  He was a trustworthy man or otherwise Taker would’ve never recruited him.  Granted, he had followed her around for a while and she knew it, but at the moment she was very grateful for him being just outside of her dressing room.

 

“D-Dressing r-room…” She stammered out, stopping Bradshaw from going in there and shook her head, sky blues pleading with him not to leave her. “I-I c-can’t b-breathe…” Covering her face with her hands, Savalyn couldn’t stop trembling or calm down, the aftershocks of her sexual assault overwhelming her. “P-Please…please…” At this point, she had no idea what she was begging for and longed for Taker’s arms, sobbing harder.

 

The chestnut curly haired beauty would hyperventilate and Bradshaw kneeled back down with her, cupping his large hands gently over her mouth and nose. “Breathe in and out, Sava.” He instructed softly, dark eyes watching as she did. 

 

Once she seemed to be a bit less likely to faint, he took in her face.  Whoever had done this had some manky nails because the crescent shape wounds also were ragged, like flesh had caught on the nails.  It would heal just fine, but it'd look and feel like hell for a day or so.

 

“Did he…?” Bradshaw trailed off, guiding her into an upright position and out of the hall, not wanting to be jumped at this particular time. “Did whoever…did they get…how bad is it?" How was he supposed to ask that?

 

“N-Not all the w-way…” Her stammering was slowly tampering off, but it would be a while before she could talk clearly and calmly. 

 

Savalyn had a hard time wrapping her mind around what just happened…and it was all because of her past with Undertaker.  Dating and being with him was risky, she knew that, but to go as far as being attacked at the arena in her own dressing room, after doing a job, was…there were no words.  She buried her face in his chest, a fresh batch of tears and sobs slicing through her small frame and felt his arms wrap tightly around her to engulf her in his warmth. 

 

“I’m s-sorry…” For some odd reason, she felt safe in Bradshaw’s arms and needed his strength and warmth at the moment, clinging to him for dear life. “P-Please…” Mark was the only one flashing through her mind; it was the only way to keep her mind from completely crumbling over what just happened to her.

 

Bradshaw doubted she had any idea what she was trying to say at this point and did the only thing he could think of.  He scooped her up into his arms, while telling her he was doing as he did it. “Don't be sorry, you have nothing to apologize for.”

 

The bastard who did this was the one who would wind up sorry, as soon as she divulged a name.  He couldn't take her to the EMTs, not about to risk getting his own backside handed to him by the Corporation.  Or worse, being accused of assaulting her.  Bradshaw doubted anyone would take his word for it and she would just be ignored.  So, he took her to the Ministry locker room, hoping Taker hadn't arrived yet because he had no idea how to go about explaining this one.

 

Burying her face in the crook of his neck, Savalyn didn’t bother trying to stop crying because it was impossible.  Her jeans were thankfully still on, but unbuttoned and ripped at the waist, so they were slowly sliding down to hang low on her hips.  The t-shirt she had on was ruffled and she had no bra on underneath, her breasts sore from the groping and assault Ray gave her.  She shivered with dread at the memory and kept her eyes closed, not caring where Bradshaw took her.  As long as it was far away from that dressing room and somewhere safe.  What Savalyn didn’t expect was to be brought to the Ministry locker room and, as Bradshaw feared, every single member, including the leader, was already there.  They’d been waiting on him, wondering where he’d ventured off to.

 

“What the hell?” Mideon blinked, his eyes wide as saucers along with the rest of the Ministry and immediately looked at Taker.

 

“Man, I’ve been looking EVERYWHERE for you!” Farooq stepped up to his partner and frowned when Bradshaw immediately backed up, clutching the sobbing woman in his arms. “John, it’s alright…” He frowned at the horrified, truly scared, look in his friend’s eyes.  What the hell happened to him and, more importantly, wasn’t that Savalyn sobbing in his arms?

 

Edge, Christian and Gangrel –they were collectively known as the Brood- just shared looks with each other, recognizing the woman as the ring announcer they’d screwed with a time or two, at Taker’s request.  They knew Bradshaw had been sent to keep an eye on her, again at their master’s order.  All 3 men sincerely hoped Bradshaw hadn’t harmed her in any way because Taker looked ready to snap at any second and they didn’t want to lose Bradshaw as a soldier in battle.

 

He knew Bradshaw and trusted the man.  Taker had to keep reminding himself of this as he took in the scene before him.  Savalyn was bawling and Bradshaw looked terrified.  Whether or not it was due to Savalyn's own tears, the fear of being accused of whatever had happened or both, Taker had no idea.  He took in what he could of her, noting the pants, the wounds on her face, the ripped shirt and could quite easily deduce what had happened.

 

“Paul?” He ordered flatly, no emotion in his tone, somewhere it registering that he was handling an obvious assault on his ex-girlfriend with remarkable ease.
    

“I'll get the first aid kit.” Paul already knew she would need medical attention, possibly a rape kit, but also wondered if she would let go of Bradshaw.  Her hands were gripping his neck rather hard.
    

“I got her.” Bradshaw said quietly, relieved he wasn't in for an ass kicking. “I found her…like this.”

 

Savalyn immediately relaxed in Bradshaw’s arms the moment she heard the deep baritone of her ex-boyfriend and simply cried, the sobbing subsiding now that she was near him.  Taker…No, Mark would keep her safe, despite what happened between them in the past.  Or maybe she had too much faith in the man, but either way, at least she was far away from Ray as she could possibly be.

 

“Savalyn, can you hear me?” Paul asked softly, not reaching out to touch her and watched her nod. “I need to examine you…can you-?”

 

“No.” Savalyn shook her head, not wanting to show anyone what Ray did to her and took a deep shaky breath, slowly lifting her head from Bradshaw’s neck to look directly at her ex. “I – He – I mean…” She couldn’t form the words and covered her face with her hands, knowing she had to get a handle on the situation. “Ray – Boss Man, I mean.  He…did this…called me your fuck meat and…” Savalyn couldn’t go on and simply buried her face back into Bradshaw’s neck, refusing to let him go, even though she wanted it to be Mark who held and comforted her.

 

Chapter 14

 

“I see.” Taker said impersonally, giving a slight shrug of his shoulders when the Ministry looked at him. “It isn't a secret Savalyn and I had a…dalliance several months ago.  The fact, however, that it is being used as justification for sexual assault…”

 

That was not acceptable and, while a part he needed to squish and bury wanted to take her from Bradshaw and tend to her himself, there was a stronger part that reminded him he still had a plan to follow.  One that would need to be adjusted ever so slightly to include Ray's impending death.  He would pay for touching and harming the love of his life.

 

“Savalyn, you need to let Paul look you over.”

 

“Sweetheart, do you have a friend who could come…help?  Or do it instead of him?” Bradshaw asked softly, inclining his head so he could speak softly in her ear, feeling her trembling still. “What about Ryan?”

 

They were friends, right?  He could sort of recall seeing them a time or two together, usually with Stephanie.  Asking for Stephanie was definitely out of the question along with Finkel.  Bradshaw couldn’t think of anyone else to contact for her, not realizing she was also close friends with the Big Red Machine.

 

“Or I could help you clean up, find you some clothes.”

 

Nodding at Taker’s request, Savalyn had to take another deep breath as Bradshaw very gently set her down on her feet, his arm around her waist keeping her from collapsing.  Her legs felt like numb along with the rest of her body.  Taker’s cold demeanor about the situation didn’t bother her nearly as much as being sexually assaulted by a fellow coworker.

 

“Bathroom.”

 

She refused to be examined with all of these men around and followed Paul inside, stopping Bradshaw from entering with a gentle hand on his chest.  Her sky blues were red and swollen, begging him not to come inside because she didn’t want anyone else to see what Ray had done to her.  When Bradshaw reluctantly stepped back, Savalyn cracked the barest hint of a smile and shut the door behind her, allowing the examination to commence.

 

Bradshaw wasn't overly surprised by her not wanting him to be there.  Hell, she didn't want this to be done, period, and he didn't blame her.  But few actually argued with the Deadman.  He also wasn’t shocked to find Taker right there in his face when he turned around either.

 

“Yes, boss?”
    

“Find out if he's left the building.  Farooq, go with him.”

 

Nodding, the Acolytes took off.
    

McMahon was hiring rapists…would nothing ever surprise him anymore?  Taker glanced at the door, frowning for a moment.  Savalyn had obviously gotten away before Ray could do too much damage, but the bastard had done enough.

It took an hour.  Savalyn had explained, through a shaky voice and tears, what happened to her.  How Ray invaded her dressing room after her modeling job for the company and what he said about her giving herself to everyone else except him.  Calling her Undertaker’s fuck meat…everything.  She didn’t leave any detail out.  Paul applied cream to her heavily bruised breasts and throat, where the baton had pressed harshly.  She was lucky not to have a broken windpipe or trachea.  Luckily, Ray hadn’t gotten far and she hoped she broke the bastard’s nose with her knee, also telling Paul that.

 

While she finished cleaning up with a shower, Paul exited the room to inform his Phenom what happened.

 

He grew grimmer, if that were possible, with every word that came out of Paul's mouth.  Ray hadn't been able to penetrate her, but apparently that was only due to him being an idiot and Savalyn taking the opportunity to go on the offensive, fighting back.  Taker waved a hand, dismissing everyone and just stared at the bathroom door broodingly.  He wanted to go in there, promise to make it right, but he couldn't.  Not yet.  Her being with him 9 months ago was affecting her now…a relationship that had only lasted 6 months while she’d been working for the company a lot longer than that.  It had come back to haunt her viciously.  He could only imagine what would happen if he caved…No, he had to stick to the plan.  For both of their sakes, Taker would make this right.

 

Stepping out of the bathroom with the fresh clothes on Paul gave her, Savalyn immediately noticed it was just her and Mark in the room.  He would always be Mark to her, not Taker.  She wanted to go to him, to beg him to hold her and make everything alright again.  The longing was plain as day in her eyes and it was only for him.

 

“I didn’t tell Paul this, but…I think Vince is behind my attack.  He ordered Ray to follow me and Stephanie, along with Test; they were supposed to be our bodyguards.” She spoke quietly, slowly walking over to him where he sat in a large chair and kept her eyes on the floor. “I know for a fact Vince doesn’t trust me.  It’s the same reason he forced Kane into the Corporation too.  I – I don’t want to travel with them anymore, Mark.  I can’t…” Getting hysterical wouldn’t solve anything; Savalyn had to be strong and clenched her fists tightly at her sides. “I heard a rumor you were going to face that bastard at WrestleMania, is it true?  Because if it is, I’m asking you – no, I’m begging you to hurt him badly.  Y-You don’t have to do it for me, but…please hurt him.” She whispered that last part, doing her best not to start crying again and had no idea what she would do as far as traveling went. 

 

So much had happened and changed in the span of hours; she was overwhelmed to say the least.

 

“Quit your begging, it only makes this all that more pathetic.” Taker turned from her, presenting her with his back while his cold flat words rang about them, refusing to let her see anything in his eyes.  He was having issues controlling his temper, his anguish and took a deep breath, struggling to regain his composure while exhaling through his nose. “I doubt Vince ordered Ray to assault you, even he is not that despicable.”

 

As much as it pained him to admit, it made little sense.  Ordering an assault on Stephanie's best friend?  When Savalyn would be able to clearly identify her attacker?  Other than potentially pissing off the wrong people and obtaining a new lawsuit, where was the benefit to Vince?  Taker couldn't see one.

 

He was hiding from her again, trying to make it seem like he was a callous bastard when he really wasn’t.  It was unnerving.  Savalyn knew this man better than most in the company, both personally and professionally.  Acting like her assault didn’t bother him just made Kane’s words rang true in her mind.  She wouldn’t hate him for it because, whatever was going on in Mark’s head, he had to figure it out.

 

“You know, you can fool a lot of people in this company with how you act and speak, but not me, Mark Calaway.  You’re hiding something.  This plan of yours, there’s a reason behind it and I know it doesn’t have to do with Stephanie, as much as you claim it does.  You don’t want to be with her.  And you can try convincing me all you want, but I know deep in my heart, you’re still the man I fell in love with.  You can’t even look at me, not that I blame you.  And as far as Vince being innocent, I don’t believe that either because he is cold and callous enough to send that bastard after me, just to prove a point.  But again, you’re going to say, think and do what you want anyway.  Maybe it would be better if I just left the WWF altogether and we’d never have to see each other or put up with each other again.” The tears had returned and Savalyn’s voice sounded completely broken, lifeless and full of fear. “Or maybe Ray will track me down and finish the fucking job he started.”

 

Fleeing from the room, Savalyn couldn’t bear another second with her ex-boyfriend, the man she loved, and wished he would just tell her the truth about everything.  As much as he wanted to go after her and either affirm or deny her assumptions, he didn't.  Taker let her run.  Maybe it would be best if she left.  At least, for a little while, until this was all over with and then he'd go to her.  Fix these bridges between them, bridges he had helped burn, but not now.  Now…for her own safety, she had to believe he didn't care.  Vince had to believe it.  Taker didn't believe Vince had sent Ray with the intentions of Savalyn being assaulted, watched yes, but not assaulted.  But if Vince found out the Undertaker had declared holy war over it, he'd probably take advantage and do worse.  Maybe.  Taker rubbed his temples, needing this to end before she wound up too broken for even him to mend.

 

~!~

 

Against her better judgment, Savalyn stayed put in the WWF after having a long cry and a lot of time to mull over her options.  Leaving would mean she’d have to start her life over and find another profession to venture into.  She loved being a ring announcer, she loved the company; it just had bastards in it.  Vince had tracked her down, asking her to come to his room and Savalyn did, telling him everything that happened with Ray.  Whether the old man believed her or not didn’t mean a damn to her, honestly.  She ordered him to let her have her own room from now on, even if it was attached to Stephanie’s.  She wanted her space and time to herself after being sexually assaulted by one of his employee’s.  Vince was smart and let her have that, immediately changing their rooms. 

 

Thankfully, the hotel had one suite available with two rooms attached by a single door.  Savalyn had just stepped out of the tub, after another long cry and dressed in a pair of black pajama pants and a spaghetti strapped tank top.  She froze when a knock sounded at her door, frowning and hesitantly took a step toward it, immediately opening it the moment she heard a familiar voice on the other side.  It was Bradshaw and she pulled him into her room so he wasn’t spotted by the rest of the Corporation, knowing a few members were lurking the halls watching over their floor.

 

“What are you doing here?” She asked softly, looking up into his dark eyes and released his wrist, turning her back to him.

 

Being stupid was the answer that popped into his skull, knowing well if anyone seen him knocking and being let into her room, he'd wind up eating his next meal out of a tube from inside a hospital.  Bradshaw was still on stalking duty along with a side of, if anything else happened to her, Bradshaw would be held personally responsible from the Undertaker.  So he had followed and watched, not under orders to talk to her.  This was his own doing.

 

“I just wanted to see how you were doing, Savalyn.” Bradshaw admitted, rubbing the back of his neck as he stared down at her before looking around, taking in the doorway that led to Stephanie's room.

 

Shutting her eyes, Savalyn had no reason to fear Bradshaw and hated that she wished it was Mark at her door instead of him.  It was incredibly sweet of him to check up on her, nonetheless.  Even if she knew he was only keeping an eye on her because of her ex.

 

“I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t been there for me tonight, John.” She slowly turned her head up to look at him and took his hand to guide him over to her bed so they could sit down. “Since you’ve been ordered to watch over me, you might as well do it face to face instead of in the shadows.  Thank you for helping me.”

 

Then she did something completely normal, at least to her, and wrapped her arms around his neck hugging him tightly.  Bradshaw wasn't surprised that she knew he had been ordered to watch over her.  Of course, his thoughts about it and hers were two very different things; he wasn't thinking it being related to any lingering feelings of love on Taker's part so much as prior girlfriend with the McMahons.

 

“I wasn't ordered to come here and knock.” Bradshaw informed her, raking his eyes over her, nothing except concern in his once she had let him go, though he did take her hands in his. “How're you feeling?”

 

“Scared and confused.” Savalyn admitted openly, looking down at their clasped hands and back up into his dark friendly eyes. 

 

There wasn’t a hint of lust or desire in them, just pure concern for her wellbeing.  It meant more to her than he could possibly know considering what Ray said to her earlier that night.  Did everyone in the company really think she’d slept with countless wrestlers and fucked her way to the top?  All because she’d had a relationship with one of their top stars?  If that was the case, her reputation was ruined and buried; she was no better than Sable.

 

“I want to sleep, but I can’t because every time I close my eyes, I see him.  Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to being alone tonight.  So I’m really glad you’re here.”

 

From his understanding, she had been sharing a room with Stephanie lately.  Bradshaw was a bit surprised she wasn't bunking with her friend tonight, of all nights, unless she didn't want to explain what had happened.  Or worse, feared that the McMahons had been in on it, including Stephanie.  That one he highly doubted, but then again he didn’t trust the family at all.

 

“You need to sleep, sugar.” He murmured in a low rumble and reached out slowly, watching her for a sign to stop or fear in her blue orbs.  Bradshaw saw none and trailed his fingertips over the wounds on her face, frowning. “It'd do you some good.”

 

“I know.  I just can’t.” Savalyn whispered, feeling pathetic at how weak she was and leaned into John’s finger the moment he touched her face. 

 

He was so kind and gentle, not a hint of fear flowed through her with him the way it had with Ray.  There was no hidden agenda with this man.  He didn’t want to sexually assault and rape her for kicks.

 

“Maybe if I’m not alone, I can try to get a couple hours of sleep.  Will you stay with me, John?” She asked in the sweetest honey warm voice, reaching up to brush a strand of black hair from his forehead and stroked his cheek with her thumb. “I feel safe with you.” And she had no idea why.

 

Probably because he was the one who had been there immediately afterwards and taken care of her in his limited way.  Bradshaw could understand that.  Kind of like how people clung to first responders, those were the ones who seen the immediate damage, the first glimpse of what had happened before it was cleaned up.

 

“I'll stay with you until you fall asleep, Savalyn.” He promised, catching her hand and holding it against his cheek, eyes moving towards the pillow, which she had not used.  There was no indent or indication she had tried to rest. “Lie down and try to sleep.” Bradshaw would sit here all night and hold her hand if need be.

 

“Only if you do the same thing.  You look dead on your feet, John.  So lay down with me.”

 

Savalyn didn’t give him a chance to protest and scooted up on the bed, pulling him down with her.  She snuggled against his side, draping an arm over his chest and sighed, burrowing her head against his shoulder.  His body heat combined with her sheer exhaustion made Savalyn’s eyes droopy, the darkness welcoming her with open arms.

 

“Good night, John.” She whispered, falling into a deep slumber and didn’t move an inch away from him.

 

Chapter 15

 

“Where are we going?” She asked in a breathless laugh, feeling Mark clasp her hand as they rushed out of the arena and stopped at the sight of his motorcycle staring back at her. 

 

They’d been together for a month, the happiest of her life that she could recall and was sure her cheeks would be sore from smiling so much.  They were on the road to WrestleMania XIII, where he would be getting a title shot against Psycho Sid, which Savalyn was looking forward to.  If anyone in the company deserved to be champion, it was Mark.  He’d worked his backside off for the past almost 6 years and it was time for the championship to come to the dark side.

 

“Mark…”

 

"What, Sava?" He shot back with a teasing grin, looking from her to the motorcycle and back again.  Mark was on a high after finding out from the boss he would become the next champion at WrestleMania and wanted to celebrate with her. "You can ride, right?"

 

He pushed his dark auburn hair back over his shoulders impatiently as he waited on her response.  She knew he rode, but he had never tried getting her on one, not until now.  The weather was perfect for it, they were both in great moods and he had a surprise for her.  Mark hadn't been with her that long, but it had been long enough to know this was something special, something different from his usual short-lived relationships.

 

“Never have, but I trust you.  Help me get on it?”

 

Pale blues batted teasingly at him and Savalyn squealed softly when he lifted her off the ground, spinning her around in a circle and planted her on the back of the motorcycle.  Mark mounted in front of her seconds later and fired up the bike, her arms instantly encircling his waist to hold on.  The smell of sandalwood, gasoline, leather and his own personal scent filled her nostrils, the shampoo he used to wash his hair just intensifying her desire for this man.  Savalyn never thought Mark would give her a second glance, so when he approached her to go to dinner after the show a month ago, she couldn’t deny him.  He truly was a beautiful man, sweet and kind, making her heart soar to the heavens.  It sounded cliché, but she didn’t care and snuggled further against him the faster he went, wondering where he was taking her.

 

They hadn't been together all that long, but a month for him was…special.  He usually found someone to keep him entertained for a few weeks and called it a day, usually due to boredom or just lacking compatibility outside of the bedroom.  Since they were in one of his favorite cities and it had been a month, he figured he'd take her out somewhere special, somewhere private.  Mark felt her resting her head against his back and smiled against the wind.

It was a good thing she wore jeans and a long sleeved pale blue top or else Savalyn would’ve been freezing.  She didn’t expect to go for a motorcycle ride with him, trying to always be prepared for anything.  The man was a mystery, she was still trying to unlock him and figure out what made him tick.  For the most part, the month had been nothing short of amazing and Savalyn never wanted it to end.  Somehow, she could tell Mark felt the same way she did or else he wouldn’t be with her.  When the motorcycle rumbled to a stop, her head lifted from his back to survey their surroundings and watched Mark dismount, extending his hand to her.  She took it without hesitation, dismounting the bike, or trying to, the same way he did and let him guide her toward his surprise.

 

Where he had brought her was a lake.  It was a busy night and the lake people were out doing their thing on their boats, but he had brought her to a quiet secluded access point where they would be alone yet could see out onto the water and the people out there lighting it up.  Mark had also worn a long sleeved top and jeans; they would afford them protection from any lingering bugs though he doubted there would be all that many.  Not if the guy he had hired to come out and set up the candles had done his job.  Candles and a picnic hamper.

 

“All right, darlin’.” He stopped, glancing down towards the path that led to the set-up. “Close them eyes.” Mark knew she trusted him and would do as he asked.

Smirking at him, Savalyn could only imagine what he had planned and closed her eyes, trusting him wholeheartedly. “Always full of surprises, aren’t you?” She murmured, feeling him pull her further down the path toward the lake. 

 

Savalyn’s photographic memory kicked into overdrive and she’s already mapped out the entire area in her head or what she could see of it anyway.  So when they made a left, it caught her somewhat off guard, but she kept her footing, gripping Mark’s hand a little harder.  Once he stopped, she did as well and slowly fluttered her eyes open at his command, sky blues taking in the scene before her.  White candles and the smell of vanilla permeated the air, bathing both of them in a soft illuminate glow.  As if the candles weren’t surprise enough, Mark had also planned a picnic for them with all the fixings for sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, chips and beer.  Neither were wine drinkers.

 

“This is…This is incredible.”

 

She looked up at him, wondering when he had time in their busy schedules to plan something like this.  Savalyn beamed from ear to ear, reaching up on her tiptoes and wrapped an arm around his neck to force him down to her level, softly kissing him to show how much she loved his surprise.  It was way too easy to fall into the same routine trap, especially since they were on the road so much.  Grab a bite at a diner or fast food, watch TV, maybe have some sex and call it a night in order to hit the road and a gym again.  Mark meant to show her that, even with their busy schedules and everything else, he wouldn’t get comfortable.  He would keep her on her toes and things interesting.  Also…her smile and the look on her face when she seen the spread had been worth it.

 

“This is nothin’.” He rumbled huskily against her lips, guiding her down onto the blanket.

 

“Yes it is.” He was insane to think otherwise as they both settled down on the blanket already strewn out. “You didn’t have to do all of this, but you did anyway.  I would’ve been just as happy back at the hotel with you, eating room service and falling asleep in your arms, Mark.” Savalyn caressed his face tenderly with her hand, staring deep into his eyes and could honestly do it for hours on end. “My point is: I’m happy with you, no matter what we’re doing or where we are.  So this isn’t nothing; this is everything.  This is more than I could ever have hoped for.  Just having you is all I need; the rest is a mere bonus.”

 

“Darlin’, if you're tryin’ to sweet talk yourself into my pants, you're doing a great job.” Mark informed her, though the smile curving his lips told her he was picking on her. 

 

Her words meant quite a bit to him actually, or more to the point, the actual meaning did.  She meant what she said.  He had heard that line or variations of it before, but never with that genuine meaning to it.  Mark pulled away from her, gesturing around them.

 

“So just a bonus?”

 

She nodded firmly, not going back on what she said because she meant every single word that came out of her mouth. “All a bonus because I already have the prize.  You.  Though I will admit, you outdid yourself tonight, handsome.” Savalyn winked, resting her forehead against his and breathed him in, wishing she could freeze this moment and live in it forever.  They didn’t know what the future held, but she hoped it involved them beating the odds and sticking together through anything and everything. “Thank you for bringing me here.  I promise not to let anyone else in the Fed know you have a soft side.” She giggled softly, sliding her fingers through his hair and kissed him again.

 

He mock scowled at her, letting his eyes roll into the back of his head until nothing except the whites showed. “How dare you mock the Undertaker!” Mark growled, beginning to laugh at his own self, knowing what an arrogant prick he sounded like and planted a relatively chaste kiss on those beautiful lips. “All right woman, stop tryin’ to seduce me.  I'm tryin’ to wine and dine you.” That and he figured he'd do some sweet talking, something he wasn't so good at unless it involved getting a woman into bed.  

 

Mark didn't need to do that with her; she'd come quite willingly.

“I’m not with the Undertaker though.  I’m with Mark Calaway.” She shot back cheekily, laughing harder and held her hands up in surrender. “Okay – okay, I promise to behave.  Go ahead and wine and dine away.”

 

Savalyn watched him pull out two cans of beer, thankful he hadn’t bought those ridiculous plastic champagne glasses and cracked hers open.  Mark pulled out the food, setting it out accordingly while she sipped her beer, looking out at the lake thoughtfully.  She’d never been treated this way by a man before, it was overwhelming and sometimes she told jokes at the worst times.  Like now when he was trying to romance her.  His hand on the small of her back jolted her out her thoughts as Savalyn looked back at him, tapping their beers together and snuggled against his side, letting him feed her a couple pieces of fruit and reciprocated the notion.

 

Candles, the blanket, the food…that he could do.  Mark was good with that kind of thing.  Anything beyond that, like champagne glasses or a ton of rose petals leading somewhere probably wouldn’t happen.  Not outside on the rose petals, though he stared at her as that thought refused to leave his mind.  The delicious vision of her on his bed, wrapped in his black silk sheets with white rose petals all around her.  Hmm…he might do that one and stored it away for another time.

 

“I want you to come home with me, Savalyn.” He confessed quietly, frowning when it sounded like she coughed on that last bit of fruit and gave her a moment to clear her throat. 

 

Mark hadn't taken her home, not yet.  They hadn't been together that long, but…he knew he was in this for the long run.  Savalyn was staring at the lake, not him, and he began to feel panic edging in.

 

“...Savalyn?”

“I heard you.” She softly spoke, feeling breathless at his request and tried slowing her heart rate down so the organ didn’t explode inside her chest. 

 

Home with him…did he really just ask her to do that?  It’d only been a month, but she knew this was a huge step for Mark.  He didn’t just take anyone to his home, or so she assumed.  The man was extremely private, not letting anyone into his personal life unless he wanted it to happen.

 

“When do you want to do this?  Take me to your home, I mean.” She clarified, her voice warm as honey and letting him know she was perfectly fine, the shock having worn off.

 

Mark let out a slow breath of relief, afraid she would’ve turned down his offer.  He rarely brought anyone home and usually not women, generally just his friends.  Honestly, he hadn't met a woman he wanted to introduce into his life as far as bringing her into his sanctuary, his personal space.  That gave them a bit of power over him, let them see his vulnerable side and Mark hadn't trusted anyone until now.  Until her.

 

“I have this weekend off.” His last in awhile actually and he knew she had it off because he had checked with Howard Finkel. “What do you think, darlin’?”

“Yes.  I want to go home with you.  Just the two of us.”

 

It sounded heavenly and perfect.  She would be able to get a really good glimpse of who the man behind the Undertaker was.  Because that’s who she wanted to be with, who she was falling for, not the character he portrayed in the ring.  All Savalyn wanted was Mark Calaway and she looked forward to seeing where the man lived and went whenever they weren’t on the road.

 

“I’ll assume you already have a plane ticket ready for me.” She smiled cheekily, shifting and moved to straddle his lap, draping her arms on his broad shoulders. “That’s how I always want it to be, Mark.  Just the two of us together, knocking every obstacle down in our path.  Because I’m in this for the long road and I hope you are too.  Because I…I love you.” It was the first time Savalyn admitted those words and could feel the emotions welling up inside of her, swallowing them down so he didn’t become scared or freaked out. “It’s probably too soon to say that, but…it’s the truth.  I love you.”

 

Too soon?  Probably.  Was she intense?  A bit scarily so, but it also seemed to match his own intensity quite well.  Was this how it was for other people?  Who were on the receiving end of him?  That feeling of being shocked, but also knowing that the speaker was certain, knew without a doubt that what was said was it, the truth and that was final?  He seen Savalyn holding her breath and pulled her into his lap, ignoring the beer that spilled and captured her lips with his.

 

“Not too soon…” He growled between kisses, raining them over her face.

 

Savalyn melted into his arms, kissing him with equal amount of passion and felt him shove the food to the side to guide her down on the blanket.  Nothing else mattered at that moment except being made love to by the man of her dreams.  And the same man who would ultimately destroy her with heartbreak for his own selfish reasons.  At that particular moment, however, Savalyn didn’t know what the future held or else she would’ve bolted in the opposite direction.

 

~!~

 

Snapping her eyes open, Savalyn stared up at the ceiling and frowned, noticing she was alone.  Bradshaw probably had to get back to the Ministry part of the hotel before he was spotted by the Corporation.  Or maybe he really did check on her as an order by his master?  She snorted, pushing the covers off and swung her legs over the side, trembling from the vivid dream she just had.  A dream that was from the past – it really happened, including her telling Mark she loved him. 

 

He never said it back, not that night or any other time. 

 

And she never repeated it again, waiting for him and instead, she ended up with a shattered heart. 

 

So much time and effort, 6 months, put into a relationship that crashed and burned out of nowhere.  To this day, she still had no idea why Mark abruptly ended their relationship and walked away from her.  She probably never would either.  Sighing heavily, Savalyn knew she wouldn’t get anymore sleep that night and decided a shower was in order, her body caked in sweat from the dream.

 

Chapter 16

 

The bathroom light was on and the door ajar, one bare foot sticking out.  Bradshaw heard Savalyn's sharp inhale of breath and drew his leg back enough to nudge the door open, offering her up a tired smile.  He had said he'd stick around, but hadn't been able to sleep and knew better than to fall asleep in this room of all places.  That'd just be suicide.  He had instead retreated in here, where the light wouldn't bother her and began reading the paperback novel he had taken to carrying in his back pocket for something to do while tailing after her.

 

“Didn't mean to startle you, Sava.” Bradshaw apologized, pushing himself up into a standing position.

 

It surprised her to see John really did stick around, feeling terrible he couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.  It was 4 AM, still night time.  She figured he was nocturnal much like Mark, which wouldn’t be surprising considering he was part of the Ministry of Darkness.

 

“You didn’t.  I hope I didn’t wake you up.” At a shake of his head, Savalyn cracked the barest smile and walked past him into the small kitchen attached to her part of the huge suite, Stephanie occupying the other side. “I’m gonna make some coffee, do you want some?” She asked cordially, sounding tired, but she was wide awake and hated reality at the moment. 

 

The harsh reality of not being with Mark – of being nearly raped while working by a fellow coworker – by being watched by one of her ex’s followers – by being forced to travel with people she sincerely didn’t want to…Savalyn felt more lost than ever.

 

“No, thanks.” Bradshaw had followed her, returning the worn novel to his back pocket and yawned, stretching his arms over his head. “If you're up for the morning, I'm gonna head back to my room and get some sleep.” Because in a few hours they would be moving on and he was hoping Ron cut him a break and let him sleep on the drive. “You need anythin’ before I go, Sava?” He was tired and it showed in his Texan drawl becoming slower, more pronounced.

 

Savalyn moved to stand in front of him and leaned up, brushing her lips against his cheek. “No.  Thank you for staying with me, John.  Now go get some rest, you really need it.”

 

She then went back to fixing herself a much needed cup of coffee, looking forward to the next 2 days off.  Her flight was leaving in 2 hours; she had one to get everything ready, which wouldn’t be difficult.  She never did unpack her luggage completely because of how much they traveled.  Hearing the door shut, Savalyn finally let a few tears fall she’d managed to keep hidden and drank her coffee before dressing to leave for the airport.

 

~!~

 

Bradshaw wasn't surprised to find Ron up and waiting for him, shaking his head when he got a questioning look and took the cup of strong black coffee his friend held out.  The fact that Ron, or Farooq, as he was better known, was up told him he wasn't going to get to sleep.  They would be leaving soon.

 

“Thanks, man.”
    

“How is she?” Ron had even gathered up his friend's things, knowing where Shaw had been.

“She slept some.”

 

“The boss is pissed.” Ron spoke quietly, knowing they were alone since they shared a room while Mideon and Viscera bunked together.  That was a disturbing image, but it was the truth nonetheless. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so pissed off.  He wants us huntin’ Boss Man down for the next several days until Raw on Monday.  I don’t think we’ll find him, but…” He shrugged, having his belongings packed already and both looked up when a knock sounded at the door, Paul trudging inside.

 

“Bradshaw, you’re being summoned to the boss’s room.  He has a special assignment for you.  You won’t be going hunting with us.  Come.”

 

Pissed would've been an understatement.  Taker was more than pissed.  He knew better than to let it overtake everything else, but that did not mean he wouldn’t send Ray to a special place in hell for what he did.  Just to make it look like they weren't directly assaulting the Boss Man, he would have a few other members of the Corporation beat down.  He'd been up all night, pacing a hole in the floor and arguing with himself over why he shouldn't go to Savalyn, why he shouldn’t hunt down Boss Man himself, why he shouldn't murder Bradshaw for not protecting her.  Taker whirled when the door opened, not surprised to see the impending murder victim.

 

He had yet to decide.

 

Bradshaw was nervous and didn’t bother hiding it.  This man always gave him the creeps, but when the Undertaker, of all people, approached him and Ron to join his crusade within the WWF, they couldn’t deny the opportunity.  Who the hell would?  Working alongside Undertaker and soaking up all of his knowledge, along with apparently abducting and brainwashing people, –that he didn’t care to do, but work was work- was once in a lifetime chance.

 

“You asked for me, sir?” Nobody else in the Ministry dared called him anything else, that one word holding more reverence than all the rest. “If this is about the girl…”

 

“Savalyn, her name is Savalyn.” Taker corrected with a heavy sigh, halting in his pacing and pinched the bridge of his nose.  He had to remind himself this man was his friend. “You're on detail with 'the girl' still.  She has a few days off.  Follow her home, make sure she doesn't get any unwanted visitors.” Such as Ray coming back to finish the job.  He wasn't having it. “Ray has messed up and not just with us.”

 

Word through the grapevine was that he had shown up injured last night to some Corporation malarkey and, with Savalyn also missing last night for awhile, Vince had gotten suspicious.  McMahon was a devious bastard, but Taker figured even he'd stop at rape.  That or Vince was afraid of the outright murder that would happen if he had ordered such a thing on Savalyn.

 

John didn’t like calling Savalyn a girl, but when it came to Taker, he never knew what the man was thinking or how he’d react.  Savalyn was a sore subject for the boss and John had tried getting him to talk about why they ended, but Taker was steadfast.  All he said was ‘it’s for the best right now’.  It would interfere with his plans to bring down McMahon once and for all.  Why he wanted to do that, John had no idea, and couldn’t even begin guessing all the reasons.

 

“Mark, we’ve been friends a long time.  Yer like a brother to me and you can knock my head off my shoulders for sayin’ this, but I don’t think I’m the one she needs right now.” Savalyn had whispered Taker’s birth name a few times while she dreamt the previous night, which was one of the reasons John had slipped out of bed to go read in the bathroom. “I’ll go, but it’s really you who should be goin’.  She already knows why I’m followin’ her and why I was outside of her dressin’ room last night.  She knows you’ve ordered me to follow her.  Do you really think she won’t find out the truth sooner or later?”

 

“It had better be later, Shaw.” Taker cautioned flatly, giving his friend a warning not to be opening his mouth. “Your concerns are noted, not needed, but noted.” If they had been in front of the others, he'd of had to lay Shaw out for opening his mouth.  As it was, since they were in private, he'd allow it. “Not another word about who or what she needs.  I'm doing this for her.” That was all he was going to say at the moment, though later tonight he'd probably get himself good and drunk.

 

“I won’t say anythin’ to her.  I already told ya that when you first assigned me to follow her.  But she’s an intelligent woman and sooner or later, she’s gonna figure out why yer doin’ all this and why you really left her.” John knew better than to say this in front of the entire Ministry of Darkness, but when it was just the two of them, Mark came out of the shadows briefly.  It wasn’t Taker he was speaking with at the moment. “And between you and me, man, I don’t think you are doin’ this for her.  I think yer doin’ this for yerself.” He left the boss with that thought, closing the door behind him and went back to the room he shared with Ron to grab his things. 

 

Apparently, John had a flight to catch.

 

Apparently John was going to have to be reminded that his freedom of speech was conditional and Taker would remind via his fists.  It would be like therapy…without the need for a shrink.  He sighed, ran a hand down his face and sank down onto his bed.  Taker wasn't doing this for himself, at all.  If he wanted to do it for himself, he'd just outright kill McMahon.  No, he was preparing to take an empire and claim it for Savalyn, give her all the things he had promised her, including a safe future where despotic bosses had no sway over them.

 

~!~

 

“Home sweet…” Her words trailed off the moment Savalyn flipped the light switch on and saw John Bradshaw sitting on her couch, waiting for her.  All the blinds were drawn closed, so it was dark in her house unless they were opened.  She sighed, having a feeling Mark gave him the key to her house and set her things down by the door, closing it behind her. “Home.  I would ask why you’re here, but I already know the answer.” Savalyn was too exhausted to care who was in her house, unless it was Ray or anyone from the Corporation.  John was more than welcome in her home. “When did you get here?” She sat down on the couch beside him, placing a hand on his jean covered leg and looked up into his dark eyes, leaning back against the cushion with a soft sigh.

 

“Few hours ago.” He answered quietly, having already combed over the house for signs of intruders as well as the property.

 

He hadn't gone through her things or overly invaded her personal space.  Just made sure she was coming home to a house devoid of anyone except him.  Bradshaw had also made note of things that needed to be repaired, figuring he might as well do something to be useful since she was stuck with him.

 

“I won't be in your way much, Sava." He promised, already planning on sleeping out in his truck while he was here, assuming she would be very irritated with him being here.

 

“You’re not in my way, John.” Savalyn assured him softly, leaning her head on his shoulder and smiled genuinely, feeling at ease now that she was home away from the road and WWF. “I’ll make us some lunch and then show you the guest room.  It’s right across the hall from mine.  Don’t worry, I’m not mad.”

 

She expected this, especially after being sexually assaulted.  Either Mark didn’t want her being alone or John had come of his own volition.  It didn’t matter why John was here; she was appreciative of it and hadn’t been looking forward to being alone.

 

“Feel free to take over the television while I go unpack.”

 

Kissing his cheek, she stood up from the couch and grabbed her bag from the door, heading upstairs to her room.  John wasn't a big TV person, not unless it was some news programming he was interested in keeping an eye on financial things, stocks and such.  Just not at the moment and he got up, not wanting her to feel like she needed to wait on him or accommodate him.

 

“Sava, you don't have to.” He insisted, knowing if he slept in the guest room, Taker would eventually find out and all bets would probably be off.  The man had sent him sure, but that didn't mean he was happy with the situation.

 

“Yes I do.” Savalyn insisted, not minding being followed into her room and unzipped her bag, pulling clothes out to set on the bed.  Everything would have to be washed. “I don’t want any arguments.  You’re going to sleep in the guest room and you’re going to eat a nice hearty meal I make.  Because you’re my guest and I refuse to be a bad hostess.  I don’t mind that you’re here.  I’m thankful for it actually, gives me a distraction so I don’t think about what almost happened to me.” And who I really want here, she added in thought, turning to face him while he leaned in her doorway. “I’m not taking no for an answer, so you can either accept my hospitality or keep brooding like you are now and do what I want anyway.  We’re stuck together, might as well make the most of it.”

 

“I’m not your guest, Sava.”

 

Bradshaw felt guilty that he was there, but also oddly pleased with her choice in words.  He knew better then to dwell on the warmth that coursed through him.  That was something that'd have the potential to lead to a path he shouldn't even think about straying down.

 

“I'm your stalker.” Was it still stalking if she knew what he was doing?  Or potentially suffered from Stockholm syndrome?

 

Savalyn started laughing at his stalker comment, shaking her head. “John, if you were a stalker, I wouldn’t be this welcoming.  You saved me and came to check on me when I needed it most.” She walked over to where he stood, pressing a finger to his lips to stop him from arguing with her. “I trust you and yes, you are my guest.  I knew you would be coming.  Whether Mark sent you or not, I don’t really care.  You’re my hero and I will not treat you as anything else.  Now, do you have any clothes you need washed?  Because I’m gonna do a load of laundry.”

 

She used to do Mark’s laundry all the time whenever they were off the road and came here on their days off.  They alternated between Texas and Maine, so each had time at their own home.  Bradshaw was confused.  She was a beautiful, intelligent woman who apparently had a serious innocent streak or perhaps naive was a better way to describe it.  No wonder Savalyn attracted dangerous men…she was like a beacon, shining and luring them in.

 

“No.” Bradshaw shook his head.  All his stuff was clean and he wouldn't feel right with a strange woman washing his boxers anyway. “I'm gonna go out and repair that front step.”

 

“You don’t…” Savalyn trailed off as he walked away and down the stairs, making her sigh heavily. 

 

She didn’t want John to feel like he had to repair the odds and ends around her house since he didn’t own the land.  Her job made it possible for her to buy the house outright along with the acre of land surrounding it.  Just enough to where she wouldn’t have nosy neighbors peaking in on her. 

 

Chapter 17

 

After throwing a load of laundry in, Savalyn sifted through the kitchen and groaned, knowing she would have to go grocery shopping for the next 2 days they’d be here.  She could hear banging outside of her front door and wondered if John would want to come with her shopping, frowning.  He wasn’t happy being here and maybe she’d been a little pushy, but if he thought he was sleeping in his truck for a second, she wouldn’t let it happen.  Opening the front door, Savalyn stood over him in a pair of blue fleece pants and long sleeved shirt; Maine was incredibly cold this time of year.

 

“I have to go to the store.  Do you want to come with or stay here?”

 

He didn't think she was being anything except overly accepting of her situation.  Bradshaw knew he wouldn't be.  He'd of raised all holy hell if he had been in her shoes.  Too many choices were being taken from her, too many impositions.  Since he was here and she was treating him as something besides the nuisance he was, Bradshaw would humor her.  Her house was nice and in fairly good condition, but there were some odds and ends he could improve or mend.  Her porch step was one of them and it looked like the swing that hung on the porch could use a good sanding and painting.

 

“Sure, I’ll come.” He was under orders not to let her leave by herself, so he apparently was going shopping.

Savalyn stepped forward and placed her hands on his shoulders, those dark eyes shooting up to meet warm pale blues. “I don’t want you to go because you’ve been ordered to watch over me.  I want you to go because it’s your decision.  You don’t have to follow every order Mark gives you.  Nobody else is out here except us, so if you wanna stay here and continue working on the step, feel free.  The store isn’t far away and I won’t be long.  But I figured I’d offer you the choice to come with me in case you wanted to grab a few things you like to eat and drink.  I don’t have a lot here, unfortunately…” Being on the road 300+ days out of the year was to blame for that.

 

“You know him as well as anyone else; you really think I’d risk it?”

 

Yet, he grinned down at her, not wrong in what he said.  Given it was her, he wouldn't be surprised at all if Taker had another pair of eyes and ears out here, just to spy on the spy and make sure nothing…untoward was going on.  Not that Bradshaw was that kind of man.

 

“I’ll come with you.  There’s a few things I need to get.  Is there a hardware section or store roundabouts?”

“There should be, yeah.” Savalyn smiled back at him; seeing he was slowly warming up to her and felt the relief wash over her.  She really didn’t want them being awkward with each other the entire time they were in Maine. “Come on then, big man.  No time to waste!” Grinning, she bounced off the steps past him and felt him follow suit, having shut the locked front door.  Savalyn slid behind the wheel of her dark blue Ford Escape and waited for John to join her before pulling away from the house, turning on the radio softly. “Thank you for fixing my porch step.  I’ve been meaning to get someone out here to do it, but never have the time.” Mark actually promised to do it for her before he decided to end their relationship.

 

Bradshaw shrugged his shoulders, but also nodded his acknowledgement. “You’re welcome, ain't a big deal, Sava.” She needed a man around the house, so to speak, not that he was volunteering.  Maybe under different circumstances he would have.  There he went again, thinking things he had no business having.

 

“While I’m here, I might as well be useful.  You point me in the direction of what needs done and I’ll get to it for you before I leave, if I can.”

Since that’s what Bradshaw wanted to do, Savalyn wouldn’t deny him.  He felt he had to make things up to her, for what she had no idea.  She didn’t think of him as a stalker, hell at least he wasn’t sexually assaulting her at work and thought he was untouchable.  While she gave him warm home-cooked delicious meals, Bradshaw made himself busy around the house fixing odds and ends.  Her stair railing for instance had nearly fallen apart before he sanded it down and now it looked brand new along with her porch step. 

 

By the time Monday morning rolled around and it was time to head back on the road, Savalyn and John had established a friendship she hoped strengthened over time.  She honestly enjoyed having him at her home and wouldn’t mind bringing him back again, not just for the free labor either.  Unfortunately, it was time to go back to reality and get back to work; luckily, the bruises on her neck and cheek were gone, thanks to a salve Mark had left at her house the last time he stayed with her.

 

John had gone all ‘man of the house’ in regards to tending to what needed done that she either couldn't do herself or didn't have time to get someone out there to do.  He figured he might as well and, honestly, he liked working with his hands.  Bradshaw didn't have much time for this sort of thing being on the road as much as they were, so being able to indulge a bit at her place had been good for him.

 

“If you want, I’ll come back some time and trim those trees for you, sugar.” He offered as they made their way towards the car, tilting his head back to look up at the branches overhanging her house.  The trees were healthy, but a few of those branches were going to come down with a really good winter and it being Maine, probably this one.

 

“Is that your subtle way of telling me you want to come back and enjoyed yourself here?” Savalyn retorted cheekily, laughing when he growled at her and wrapped an arm around his waist, giving him a quick hug. “Just so you know, you’re more than welcome to come back here anytime.  And not just to be my fixer-upper either.”

 

John loaded their luggage into the back of the Ford Escape before taking the keys from her, insisting on driving.  Savalyn didn’t get a lot of sleep the previous night and actually snuck into the guest room to snuggle in bed with John, not wanting to be alone.  She was having anxiety over going back on the road and having to face Ray.  Despite what happened, she had a job to do and wouldn’t let anyone, especially an asshole like him; keep her from what she loved.  She would just have to swallow her fear and keep moving forward, knowing the past couldn’t be changed.  It just wouldn’t be repeated, not if she could help it.

 

“Just remember you said that.” Bradshaw snorted, shaking his head as he backed out of the drive, shooting her a quick smile.  He had learned she could cook, feeling like he had died and spent a weekend in gourmet heaven. “I’ll come back for the food and completely eat you out.” He nearly slammed his head into the steering wheel when he realized how that had come out and turned 50 shades of red. “Of food, I mean.  I – Fuck's sake...” Stopping the car, Bradshaw put the car in park and facepalmed himself for being such an idiot.

 

Savalyn heard that clearly and covered her mouth with her hand, trying very hard not to laugh.  Laughing would not be a good idea with this red-faced giant of a man behind the wheel of her beloved car.  No, it definitely wouldn’t.  However, she too had turned a deep crimson red and chewed her bottom lip, wondering for a few seconds what it would be like to be eaten out by John.  Now it was her turn to facepalm.  It’d been way too long since she last had sex and Savalyn was sure this was her mind and body’s way of telling her it was time to clean out the cobwebs.

 

“I know what you meant.  It’s okay, John.” She spoke when she felt she could without bursting out in laughter and reached down to take his hand, holding it to show him she didn’t take offense to what he said.

 

He knew she forgave him.  She was trying not to laugh at him; he had caught the way her face had gone read, the facepalm of her own and the way her shoulders had shook while chewing her lower lip.  Bradshaw knew that look.  He had had it a time or two when he had to hold in his own laughter.

 

“I'm a jackass.” He sighed, straightening up and squeezed her hand back before resuming driving. “I should probably start thinkin’ before I speak.”

 

If he had known about the thought that had crossed her mind, he might've said something else entirely.  Honestly, if Savalyn wasn’t so hung up on her ex-boyfriend, she wouldn’t have thought twice about giving Bradshaw a run for his money.  He was a very good looking man, handsome and strong.  Sweet as honey, but lethal when someone he cared about was hurt and fiercely loyal.  He reminded her a lot of Mark and she understood why they were friends, even if Mark had recruited John.  She sighed to herself, looking out the window and wondered what it would take to finally move on from Mark Calaway. 

 

He consumed her every thought and dream, was she never to have any peace?  Maybe sleeping with someone else would help the moving on process along quicker.  Savalyn knew for a fact John wasn’t interested in her romantically, only doing what he was told by Mark and nothing more.  They were friends; nothing could ever develop between them.  Besides, why would the man give her a second glance when she was known as Undertaker’s fuck meat?

 

Her theory was wrong, but apparently neither of them would act on anything.  Savalyn didn’t think Bradshaw would be interested and Bradshaw didn't believe a woman as gorgeous as Savalyn would want to even consider a roughneck like him.  After hours of relative silence, he hit a rest stop for them to stretch their legs, use the bathroom and grab a snack or something to drink.  Bradshaw sighed in relief when he stepped out of the car, stretching his long limbs in delight.  Across the hood he noticed the expression on Savalyn's face.  She looked…sad, dejected and he didn't like it a bit.  Bradshaw made his way around the car and cupped her chin gently in his palm, tilting her head back so he could see her face properly.

 

“What’s got you down, Sava?” He asked quietly, wondering what had taken away her smile.

 

Did she tell him the truth or keep it locked inside?  What if he went back to Mark and reported everything they discussed?  Then again, what did it matter when Mark wanted nothing to do with her?  He made it clear he didn’t want to be with her anymore.  So why should Savalyn care what he thought or how he felt?

 

“I’m worried about going back to work after what happened.  And the fact there’s people I work with that think of me as nothing more than the Undertaker’s ex-girlfriend.” She scoffed, folding her arms tightly across her chest and looked away from him, looking to the side out in the clearing. “I deserve more credibility than that and respect.  I’ve been working for this company for 8 years now; I was only with him for 6 months out of those 8 years.  That’s 7 ½ years worth of devotion, time and energy I’ve given to the WWF.  I just hate how that relationship is defining who I am to my peers and coworkers.  And honestly, I just want to be happy again.  He doesn’t want me and I keep pining away for him like some lovesick fool.  Hell, I AM a fool.  I just want to move on and I don’t know how to do it or where to start.  Having a relationship outside of the company is impossible, or close to it.  And even if I was interested in someone in the Fed, they won’t come near me because of him.  It’s just not fair.  I feel stuck and trapped and I just want to be free.” The agony and longing in her voice wasn’t missed, ringing clear and Savalyn shut her eyes, letting out a shaky breath.

 

That was a lot sitting on her chest and he’d bet anything she was probably relieved to have been able to voice some of it.  Bradshaw was also in disbelief. “Wait a minute, sugar…” He held a hand up, not missing the longing in her tone when it came to Taker, but that wasn’t something he could help her with; at least, he didn't think he could.  Bradshaw walked around the car to take her gently in his arms. “Sava, look at me.” He ordered, smiling when she reluctantly did. “Nobody thinks that about you.  That was Ray just runnin’ his jaws and tryin’ to tear you down.  Don’t let him.”

 

“I don’t want to believe it, but…” Savalyn could feel the dam threatening to burst open, not wanting to cry in front of him.  It wasn’t that she was ashamed of her tears; she just didn’t want Mark finding out she was still shedding them over him. “What if people do, John?  Word gets around fast in this damn company and…” Her reputation meant a great deal to her and the fact she’d recently been bumped to Raw status alongside Howard Finkel must’ve rose more than a few eyebrows and suspicions. “I’m sorry; I don’t mean to burden you with this.  I’ll be okay; we should get back on the road.”

 

“We got time.” Bradshaw kept a hold of her hand and guided her towards the buildings. “Look Sava, I’m tellin’ you the truth.  Nobody has said anythin’ like that and, if they did, it hasn’t been said much because it hasn’t made an impact until now.” When Ray had said it. “People lie and gossip viciously all the time in this company, but this isn’t that.  This is Ray and what he said.  He was tryin’ to hurt you, sugar, don’t let him.  Don’t give him that.”

 

“I really need to grow a thicker skin working for the Fed, huh?”

 

It was a rhetorical question and brought a very small smile to her face.  Their hands clasped together felt good, she hadn’t held a man’s hand since…Steve Austin, actually, but that’d only been briefly.  With John, it felt different and…right, in a way.  Not right like it had been with Mark, but…still right nonetheless.

 

“He did take something from me, but I’m determined to get it back, no matter what I have to do.  I won’t let him win and I won’t stoop to his level either.”

 

Chapter 18

 

Savalyn looked up at him the same time he looked down at her, pale blues locked on dark chocolate brown. “Thank you.” Overcome with emotion, she released his hand and stood on her tiptoes to wrap her arms around his neck, hugging him close and buried her face in the crook of his neck. “You’re really one of a kind, John.”

 

“You are too, Sava.”

 

Lord she was.  She was something else entirely and definitely too kind and good-hearted for the WWF.  For the likes of the McMahons, the Undertaker and him especially.  Bradshaw truly believed that.  She was way out of his league.  Ray had taken something from her the night he sexually assaulted her.  Not what he had wanted too, but still taken a part of her with him, even though she’d gotten away.  Her confidence, her shine…and he could see it peeking from behind the cloud that had covered her since the incident.

 

“You really are beautiful, you know that?” He murmured against her hair, meaning both inside and out.

 

Savalyn shut her eyes, those words washing over her like a tsunami wave.  They felt wonderful to hear and crushed her all at the same time because it was one of the last things Mark had said to her.  Their last night together, actually.  They’d made love and Mark held her from behind, spooning with her and laced his fingers with hers to rest over her heart.  He’d whispered those exact words to her and she’d responded by merely rolling over to passionately kiss him.  How she longed to feel a man’s mouth on hers again, just once. 

 

Mark threw her away like she was nothing, made her feel she wasn’t worthy of being loved.  And here was John, whispering the sweet words, just as her ex did, in her ear and something suddenly came over her, a hunger Savalyn couldn’t describe.  Maybe it was a survival instinct to feel alive again or maybe she just needed to be kissed until her toes curled.  It’d been too long.  Who cared if she initiated it?  The last time she’d been kissed was at her home with Mark in the laundry room, but that hadn’t been full of love.  It was all meant to be a goodbye, a way for her to move on.  Pulling back, Savalyn slid her thumb over the top of his goatee and reached up as far as she could, softly pressing her mouth to his in the gentlest kiss.

 

A part of him weakly wished she hadn't done that for a variety of reasons.  One of them being his boss was liable to kill him, either of his bosses actually.  Another being she had just gone through a traumatic experience and was looking for validation of herself as a woman – a person.  Yet another, Bradshaw wasn’t good enough for her.  However, he kissed her back, just as softly, letting her control the pace for a few moments, enjoying the feel of her soft lips on his as he snaked an arm around her waist, drawing her flush against him.

 

John Bradshaw was a great kisser and his lips were a lot softer than Savalyn would’ve guessed.  Those were the first thoughts that ran through her mind.  The third being how incredible it felt to be pulled against his rock hard body again by someone who actually wanted her.  At least, that’s the signals she was getting from this man.  She didn’t pull away, not for a second and slid her fingers through his black hair as the kiss deepened little by little.  Soft moans escaped her, letting him know he was making her feel the way she needed at that moment.  The moment his tongue swiped across her lips, Savalyn instantly gave him access and gasped softly, thoroughly enjoying their tongues dueling and coming together as one.  It was a dance, sheer physical raw beauty and she never wanted it to end, her heart pounding a furious tattoo against her chest. 

 

She tasted sinfully delicious and he took advantage of the access, the permission given.  Bradshaw was a tall man and hunched like this was not doing either of them any favors.  His strong hands moved down gently to cup her pert backside, pulling her up until her tiptoes were brushing the ground.  Her body firmly aligned with his, allowing her to feel every muscle and him every beautiful curve, which was only heightening his desire for her further.

 

Needing to feel him more and knowing the height wasn’t doing well for him, Savalyn broke the kiss momentarily to push up on his shoulders.  It gave her the boost she needed and told John silently to lift her up, wrapping her legs around his waist to lock herself against him.  Then she went right back to kissing him, picking up where they left off, and felt her back meet the wall of the building they stood in front of.  The car was a couple hundred feet away to where they could see in case some hoodlum got any bright ideas and tried stealing it.  That was if they could pull their mouths apart long enough to stop it from happening.  As it was, Savalyn was in no hurry to leave or move, trembling from head to toe and caressed his muscular arms and shoulders, getting completely lost in the moment.

 

They could have attracted a crowd and John wouldn't have cared.  Hell, he'd of told them to take some pictures, some notes and pass them along to him afterwards just so he could have something to remember this by.  It wouldn’t last.  Eventually, she would come to her senses and pull back, muttering some kind of apology for kissing him.  She was trembling against him and he knew it wasn't from fear only desire and that sent something warm flushing through Bradshaw.  Knowing he was the reason she was trembling, feeling wanted again after what Ray did to her.  He broke the kiss, hearing her inhaling deeply and moved his lips down along Savalyn’s jaw line to her throat.  It would’ve been incredibly foolish of her to push him away now, especially since she initiated the kiss in the first place.  She didn’t want this to end or stop, tilting her head back against the building as his lips burned a path down her neck and back up to her ear.

“John…” She moaned out softly, feeling his cock come to life as it pressed against her jean covered crotch and both groaned at the friction. 

 

The need burned a hole through her and she was pretty certain it was doing the same thing to the Texan.  Skipping the show was an option, but she would pay dearly for it and so would he because of Mark.  They were both expected to be there, but damn his mouth felt too good against her soft skin.  Savalyn could not bring herself to utter the word ‘stop’ and instead slid her hands up the front of the long sleeved shirt he had on to touch his skin.

 

It was the giggling behind him that reminded Bradshaw that they were in a very public location and he could tell by the tone it was a child.  For fuck's sake, he thought, reluctantly tearing his head away from her after planting one last kiss on her pulse point.  He turned his head and sure enough a pair of boys were there, giggling like the trolls they were.  Sighing, he stepped away and let her slide gently down his body, careful not to let her back hit the building.

 

“Damn.” He whispered, staring down at her intently, knowing it was over now that she’d come back to reality and regained her senses.

 

“Damn is right.” Savalyn murmured, snaking her tongue out to taste her swollen lips and stared back at him with cloudy dark cerulean eyes. 

 

His were black onyx, hungrily devouring her from head to toe.  The boys may have interrupted them, but Savalyn had a feeling this was FAR from over.  She pressed a finger against his mouth when he went to talk, probably to apologize for letting the kiss get out of hand and couldn’t bear to hear it.  If he regretted it, he could keep it to himself because she damn sure didn’t and wouldn’t mind doing it again.

 

“Later.”

 

Taking his hand, Savalyn leaned her head against his arm while they walked back to the rental and reluctantly let him go long enough to slide behind the wheel.  Once they were settled and back on the road, Savalyn took his hand again and didn’t say a word, feeling content for the first time in what felt like ages.  As far as she was concerned, they didn’t do anything wrong and hadn’t betrayed anyone, especially since Mark was going after Stephanie.  She just hoped John didn’t have second thoughts about what happened between them or felt guilty for it because of his ‘boss’.

 

Oh John wasn't having second thoughts, though he was aware when it got back to Taker, and eventually it would, he'd probably lose a few teeth, maybe a finger or something.  What he had been about to say was that, if she were amendable to it, he'd love to continue this somewhere else.  Somewhere they wouldn't be interrupted by giggling schoolboys.  Good god, had he sounded like that at that age?  Bradshaw didn't let go of her hand as he drove, just caressed it with his fingers, unable to keep the smile off his face.

 

Silence reigned between them until John pulled into the arena parking lot.  Savalyn couldn’t handle the silence anymore and looked over at him, knowing she would have to be the first to break it.  She was taken aback by the smile on his face; he looked like a cat that just had the best canary of his life.  That made her feel warm and tingly inside, maybe he didn’t regret what happened between them after all.  Hell, what did she even say to him after sharing a passionate kiss like that?  Unfastening her seatbelt, Savalyn scooted over to be closer to him and looked up into his dark eyes again, reaching up to caress his face with the back of her hand.  She smiled the moment his mouth descended on hers and returned the kiss with equal passion, becoming lost all over again.

 

That was not what Taker had sent John to do.  No, he was sent to watch and protect, not bone his ex-girlfriend.  Bradshaw knew, even without really knowing all that much about her, it would be worth it.  Every pain.  Every moment he'd likely get his backside handed to him would be worth it.  He fumbled down, finally reaching the lever and pushed the seat back as far as it would go, giving her just enough room to sit sideways on his lap.  Her back faced the window, legs stretching out into her now vacated seat, neither breaking the kiss.

 

Only when they needed air to breathe did Savalyn break the kiss, this time rubbing her nose against his affectionately.  Yes, he was ordered to watch and protect her; John had done both of those things and in turn had gained her trust.  She had feelings for him, though they didn’t burn nearly as deep for him as they did for Mark.  That would never change.  Savalyn was tired of being and feeling alone.  John made her feel alive and like a woman again.  Hell, maybe one day her feelings for him would grow and eventually turn into love.  It happened every day and she was resigned to the fact she would never be with him again.  However, she felt she had to be honest with him before they went any further with this.

 

“John, I’m not…I want this.  I want you.” She spoke in a warm honey filled voice, searching his eyes for any sign he didn’t want the same thing she did. “But I don’t want to lead you on either.  I’m still…getting over what Mark did to me.  And I don’t know how long that’s going to take.  So if we’re gonna do this, I need you to be sure.  Because it could be a while before I…Before I mend.  I hope you understand what I’m saying…”

 

John had gotten that message already when she had her little mini-breakdown and admitted where her issues stemmed from, including with the Undertaker.  He was Mark, sure, but John had a hard time of thinking of his friend as Mark when he was so immersed in the on-screen persona he had built for himself.  Not to mention the plan he had for McMahon, which involved stalking Vince’s daughter in order to make him suffer.  That part, Taker hadn’t divulged to his Ministry and John still wondered why his friend was doing all of this.

 

“I know that, honey.” He said softly, having had plenty of time on the drive to think about everything. “If you'll let me, I'd like to try to help you get over him.” By putting himself right in that coveted position.

 

The truth shined in his eyes, igniting a fire inside her heart she hadn’t felt in ages. “You really do, don’t you?” It was a mere statement, a testament to the words he spoke and told her. “If anyone can do it, I’m sure it’s you, handsome.” Savalyn smiled, shifting to straddle his lap and softly kissed his lips.  If they could, she would’ve spent the rest of the night out here with him just kissing, touching and exploring, but unfortunately they both had jobs to do. “I’ll get out first.” Luckily, the vehicle they came in had tinted windows, so nobody could see who was inside unless they looked directly into the windshield. “Meet me in the parking lot after the show and we can figure out how to stay together tonight.”

 

Since she traveled with the Corporation, unwillingly, and he did the same with the Ministry of Darkness.  That was about to change, though John didn’t know what she had planned.  At his nod and with one final kiss, Savalyn stepped out to head inside the arena with an extra kick in her step. 

 

As long as Taker kept him on guard/stalker duty, he didn't see any issue on his end stemming from the Ministry.  It was just a matter of getting past the Corporation and avoiding seeing Ray.  John knew the moment he saw that rapist prick all bets would be off.  He'd wind up sending that prick to the ER while he went to jail, probably laughing his backside off.  On that account, he knew Taker would be good for the bail money just because the Deadman wanted to see Ray injured just as badly, if not worse.  He watched her walk away, waiting until she was in the building before following, trying to keep the extra kick from his step.

 

Chapter 19

 

“Savalyn.” Vince walked up to her while she sat in the makeup chair, preparing for Raw that night.  It would be a spectacular show; he had quite the plan in store for Undertaker. “I trust your days off went well?” He didn’t bother letting her answer, waving his hand. “Now that you’ve had some time to clear your head…”

 

Her eyes opened once Tiffany finished her eyeliner and immediately tensed in the chair, pale blues narrowing at Ray the rapist staring back at her.  Of course Vince didn’t believe a word she said about the sexual assault!  He said he’d ‘take it under advisement’ and sent her home for 2 days to ‘think things over’.

“Now then, I think everything can be resolved if we…”

 

“Go take your worthless apology and shove it up your ass, Vince.  And if you even THINK about firing me, I will go straight to your wife, the actual CEO of this company, and tell her what your employee did to me.  Got it?  I will be traveling alone from now on.  I want no part of this issue you have with the Undertaker.  I will leave Stephanie alone and let you resolve this issue yourself, but I’m here to ring announce and work.  That’s it.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a show to prepare for and so do you.”

 

Stalking away from her boss, Savalyn was trembling with barely contained rage, clenching her fists at her sides and willed the tears not to fall from her eyes.  If Vince knew what was good for him, he would leave her alone or else Linda would have his balls for a snack.  Sadly for Savalyn, Linda was out of the country doing a charity event and would be gone for quite some time.  Reaching people on an international level in this day and age was , but not always practical.  That and, when things with the Undertaker had started getting a bit too personal, it was time to get his softheaded and equally softhearted wife out of the country.

 

“Bring me Stephanie.”

 

~!~

 

This was awkward.  Bradshaw had made his report, leaving out a few key personal details and now sat under the piercing stare of the Deadman.  He almost felt like squirming. 

 

Ron wasn’t stupid and could tell something happened with his partner, but he couldn’t figure out what it was.

 

~!~

Raw kicked off without any further problems…and without Howard.  Where was he now?  Did Taker hold him captive again?  Her eyes looked up from the paperwork in her hand when Howard joined her only moments before Raw came on the air.  He was never this late, what the hell had kept him?  She bit back a frown, chewing her bottom lip nervously and saw Mark was going up against Mick Foley tonight – his character of choice being Mankind. 

 

Did Vince really think this would work?  That the idiot Mankind would be able to teach Undertaker a lesson for screwing with his family?  Savalyn merely shook her head and proceeded with her job, nodding at Howard to acknowledge him.  She hoped this night went without problems, just wanting to do her job, go back to the hotel with John and fall asleep in his strong embrace.

 

Howard was late because the backstage was just crawling with people.  It was usually clustered to begin with, but tonight it was like a free-for-all.  People were just milling around it seemed, but everyone was tense and alert, like there was something going on nobody knew about.  It made him feel uneasy.  He held his own paperwork in his fist and smiled nervously at Savalyn before unrolling it, his eyes skimming the card line-up.

 

“They're joking, right?” He demanded once he got to the Foley VS Taker match.

 

“No, they’re not.” Savalyn replied gravely, not a hint of happiness in her tone like there should’ve been. 

 

Too much had happened and they were always on edge whenever the Ministry of Darkness came out to do segments and matches.  Before long, the Corporation came out to the ring, Vince boasting about getting revenge on the Undertaker and his Ministry, bringing them down to size.  Mankind ended up coming out during the segment, begging for a chance to prove himself worthy to McMahon.  Vince did, giving him a match against the Undertaker and suddenly, the lights went out. 

 

Up on the Titantron, with lights only on the ring and the rest of the arena blanketed in darkness, the Undertaker’s voice came over the speakers.  Her eyes grew wide at what he said, about what he planned on doing and taking.  That evil laughter engulfed the arena, sending shivers down Savalyn’s spine and Vince looked absolutely livid in the ring.  She already knew it was Stephanie her ex was talking about and couldn’t help feel a sick sense of satisfaction at the boss’s distress.  Good, maybe he would think twice before letting rapists work for his company, though she doubted it.

When it was time for Undertaker’s match against Mankind, Savalyn was the one who had to announce the match.  She swallowed hard, looking back at Howard briefly and then stared into the camera just as they went live.

 

“The following contest is scheduled for one fall with a 20 minute time limit.  Coming down the ring is…” Her head slowly turned at the sound of Vince McMahon’s music blaring through the speakers and Savalyn immediately composed herself, taking a deep silent breath. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the principal owner of the World Wrestling Federation – Mr. McMahon!”

 

Instead of getting in the ring, he went around to the side where the commentary table was and took a seat, placing the headset on his head alongside Michael Cole.  He was JR’s replacement since he was out with an undisclosed personal issue- and Jerry.  Savalyn kept staring straight ahead just as the arena went dark and the unmistakable music of the Undertaker began, the tolling of the bells.

 

“Coming down the aisle, weighing 328 pounds, from Death Valley, he is the Phenom of the World Wrestling Federation – The Undertaker!”

 

She stepped to the side to stand near the turnbuckle while he raised the lights, rolling his eyes in the back of his head and stepped through the ropes with Paul Bearer in tow.  Next was Mankind’s turn to be introduced as Savalyn did her job to perfection, refusing to stand in the middle of the ring with Undertaker prowling around, keeping his acidic eyes locked on Vince.  She could feel the anger radiating off of him and hoped he destroyed Mankind just to spite McMahon.

 

Vince was practically begging to die at this point and his emerald green eyes seethed with acid as he took in the McMahon Patriarch, wanting nothing more than to rip his pompous little head off his pompous steroid pumped body.  Taker noted Savalyn kept her distance and spared a brief glance her way, trying not to be irritated with her.  This wasn't her doing.  It was His.  He openly sneered when Mick 'Mankind' Foley slid into the ring and cracked his neck.

 

“This is a joke.” He growled, not amused.

 

Savalyn had already vacated the ring and sat back down as the match started.  Please be careful, Mark, she thought, silently hoping he made it through this match unscathed.  She would NEVER forget the Hell in a Cell match he had with Mankind at King of the Ring ’98.  Savalyn would never forget the sheer brutality that match held.  Foley had landed on the announcer’s table, after being thrown off the top of the Hell in a Cell, 20-feet or so.  Savalyn could still hear the impact echo in her ears, thinking about that match every time Mark had to wrestle the hardcore buffoon. 

 

When the match spilled outside of the ring, Savalyn was shoved aside by Mankind out of her chair, making her back up toward the announcer’s table to stand beside Jerry Lawler.  He placed a hand on hers, letting her know she was safe and she nodded back down at him silently while the commentating continued.  Suddenly, Mankind ran full force at Taker with the chair and received a boot to the face, the weapon backfiring on him.  Then Taker proceeded to blast him over the back with it for good measure before attacking Vince at the commentary table, punching him directly in the face. 

 

Savalyn covered her mouth with her hand, sky blues wide and watched Mark toss Vince on top of the announcer’s table, joining him moments later.  He stood, towering over the boss and was about to deliver a chokeslam when somebody brushed past her to nail the Phenom in the back of the leg.  It was the Boss Man!  No!  Savalyn could only watch as Mark was nailed repeatedly in the face with the nightstick, enough to daze him.  She stood directly behind the announcer’s table, staring at both Vince and her rapist with terror-filled eyes.

 

The next thing she saw was darkness.

 

Through the blackness threatening to overtake him, Taker seen Boss Man heading for Savalyn and tried pushing himself up.  He tried getting to his feet, but couldn't.  Taker heard the commentators shouting, screaming about Savalyn and he managed to get his head up one more time, seeing she had just been whacked across the face by Boss Man’s nightstick.

 

Bradshaw, along with his cohorts, were already on their way down to the ring, all of them for various reasons.  Ron couldn’t believe what he witnessed from backstage alongside his comrades, all of them making a beeline for the ring.  Bradshaw lead the charge, sheer worry on the man’s face.  What was going on between him and Savalyn?  He immediately shook that thought aside, focusing on trying to get to the Boss Man to beat him to a bloody pulp.  It wasn’t a surprise to find Boss Man and Vince McMahon were long gone, having escaped through the crowd. 

 

Somehow, someway, the Phenom was on his feet and slid in the ring where Mankind was slowly trying to pull himself up.  Ron glanced over at the fallen Savalyn as EMT’s tended to her, planting a firm hand on his partner’s shoulder, silently telling him not to go to her right now.  The EMT’s had it handled and they had to be there for the boss.  Mankind received a chokeslam for his troubles as the Ministry gathered in the ring and Ron shivered, watching the Phenom roll his eyes in the back of his head angrily.  They could literally FEEL the rage pouring in waves from the boss’s body.

Meanwhile, the EMTs had taken Savalyn to the backstage area for treatment.

 

Stephanie was already on the scene, having fought tooth and nail to get out of the Corporation locker room.  Finally, she had resorted to ordering everyone about, her voice reaching levels of 'screech' no one had known she possessed.  Accompanying her were the two people she actually trusted anymore outside of Savalyn and Ryan: Andrew and Kane.

 

“What the hell happened out there?” Stephanie shrieked, stepping back for the EMTs to get through. “Why’d he attack her?”

 

Kane's eyes were on the monitor, watching as his brother rolled out of the ring and nearly collapsed, swaying on his feet.  If they all thought things had been ugly before, it was nothing compared to what was about to be unleashed.

 

Test swallowed hard, standing behind Stephanie and also noticed the monitor, knowing they couldn’t stick around here.  Not with the Ministry of Darkness and Undertaker on a rampage.  Kane would be able to handle himself, but he was more concerned for Stephanie.  Undertaker was stalking her and he didn’t understand why; nobody did.  Vince was being tight-lipped about everything and it was getting rather annoying.

 

“Stephanie, we have to go…” He also knew about the sexual assault that happened, but Vince made the Corporation swear not to open their mouths about it. “Kane, are you staying here to wait for an update?” When the man silently nodded, Test dragged Stephanie away back to the safety of the locker room, making Kane promise to inform them on Savalyn’s condition.

 

Groaning, Savalyn slowly opened her eyes and hissed at a finger prodding at her heavily bruised, bloody cheek. “That…hurts…” She gasped out between her teeth, immediately shutting her eyes against the bright lights above her.  What the hell happened?

 

“No shit.” Kane quipped dryly, standing out of the way of the EMTs, but since he was so tall, he towered over them and could see over their heads, allowing her to see him.  Or, she could have seen him if her eyes would open. “You look beautiful.” He lied flatly.  She looked swollen, bruised... like an overripe cantaloupe that had been dropped onto pavement.  Boss Man had not lightened the blow at all. “Taker and the Ministry are on their way back.” Kane guessed Savalyn had been unofficially kicked out of the Corporation.  He was probably the only member of the Corporation who did not know what had happened that night. “Why’d that happen, Savalyn?”

 

Kane needed to know fast before big brother reached them and decided to start something simply because of who he was and who he was currently working with.  The big man didn’t know what happened with Ray.  Why wasn’t she surprised?  Savalyn reached a hand out to him and felt him take it, stepping up to stand at her side while she lay on the bedding.  The trainer, Larry, had excused himself to go grab some more medical supplies, giving them a moment to talk.

 

“Boss Man – Ray – attacked me a few days ago.” She whispered, knowing if she spoke with a regular voice, it would hurt her injured cheek further. “Sexually assaulted me.  I-I’m not going into detail about it.  Vince is keeping it quiet and I told him tonight I wasn’t traveling with the Corporation anymore…” Savalyn had to stop to take a deep breath, fresh tears sliding down the sides of her face and shut her eyes. “I think…No, I know Vince sent Ray after me with the attack and what happened tonight.  I can’t prove it, but…I know this was punishment for what I said to Vince earlier tonight before Raw started…” She couldn’t talk anymore, her cheek throbbing with pain and hoped her cheekbone wasn’t cracked.

 

Kane's free hand, the one that was gloved for show as well as cover the shiny lovely burn scars on it, clenched tightly.  The leather actually squeaked and it was a good thing he wore his mask because his reaction was to gnash his teeth and growl loudly.  Something he was unable to do with the leather straps holding it in place.

 

“You rest, Savalyn.” He said soothingly, harnessing his temper and stroked her hair back from her face, noting the blood that streaked across her forehead with it. “I’ll let them do what they need to.” And he'd eventually be at the hospital she no doubt was going to be shipped too.  Probably with company that he intended on putting there himself.

 

“K-Kane, be careful…” Savalyn pleaded softly, feeling his hand slip out of hers and heard the door close, leaving her alone for the time being. 

 

She had no idea what happened past watching the Boss Man blast Mark repeatedly in the face with the nightstick.  What if he was severely injured?  He should’ve been here with her getting treated!  Savalyn swallowed hard, hearing the door open and thought it was Larry, so she kept her eyes closed. 

 

Chapter 20

 

Imagine her surprise when the deep baritone of her ex-boyfriend resonated around the room, making her eyes flutter open to gaze up at him staring hardening down at her. “Mark…” Savalyn whispered, reaching her hand up to touch his chest and breathed a huge sigh of relief he was alright, standing and walking. “Thank goodness you’re alright…”

 

He was fine for now, riding high on rage and adrenaline.  Taker hadn't been looked at yet, refusing to be – not yet.  He spat out a bit of blood from a cut on the inside of his mouth, eyes surveying her intently.  Impatiently, he took her hand and moved it aside, bending down until his nose was nearly touching hers as he took in her battered bloody face.

 

“I'll kill him, Savalyn.” He promised darkly, his deep voice filling the near empty room with its malice. “I will destroy them all for what they've done.”

 

What did that mean?  There was so much confusion when it came to this man, it boggled Savalyn’s mind.  Currently, her mind was on the fritz from being blasted in the face with a nightstick, her bruised and bloody forehead and cheek proof of that.

 

“I know.” She had to say something to calm him down, feeling the rage pouring out of him much like his Ministry had earlier in the ring. “I know you will.”

 

Cupping his face in her soft hand, Savalyn felt his forehead very lightly rest against hers, her blood smearing his, but neither cared.  She didn’t at least.  Just being this close to him sent her heart racing, the pain she was in temporarily forgotten, breathing every drop of his scent in she could.

 

“You're going to the hospital.” He ordered after a long moment, sighing as he pulled away and caressed her forehead with his thumb.  It only smeared the blood, but made him smile grimly, not an ounce of happiness in it. “Bradshaw will be accompanying you.” Since she already knew she was being stalked, there was no point in wasting either of their time or energy on lies at this point.  At least, not lies such as this. “Steer clear of the Corporation for as long as you can, Savalyn.” Taker gave her as much a warning as he could right now, resisting the temptation to kiss her.

 

It was almost over.

 

So, so close.

 

“I told Vince tonight…I’m not traveling…with them anymore.” She had to speak in between breaths, fresh tears swelling in her eyes, but she managed to fight them back.  Savalyn watched his black brow raise in question and looked away from him up at the ceiling. “Vince is behind my attack from the Boss Man…both of them.  I can feel it, Mark.  I don’t know how I know it, but I feel it and I just…know.”

 

She couldn’t hold back the tears anymore, feeling them pour down her cheeks and knew he was about to leave her.  Again.  When she needed him most.  Though it was a comforting thought to know John would be accompanying her to the hospital.

 

“Tonight was punishment for…telling McMahon off…” Taking in another sharp breath, Savalyn managed to slowly sit up on the bedding and waved away Mark’s hand, wincing at the pain in her face. “Be careful, Mark.  Please, I don’t know what’s going on with you and why you’re going after McMahon, but…I don’t want you getting hurt.  And don’t brush me off like you always do.  Just promise me you won’t get hurt and everything will be okay.”

 

“I'm not promising either of those things, Savalyn.” He said coldly, his stare turning acidic. 

 

Because he had lied to her enough to last him several lifetimes, to last them both.  And he couldn't promise that he wouldn't get hurt, obviously, look at what had happened tonight!  Taker couldn't even promise to protect her, not let her get hurt.  He could definitely not promise everything would be alright, not anymore.  Not after tonight.  All those carefully made and executed plans…they were crumbling around him.  Taker had underestimated his own ability to not care for her, to shove all that aside for the greater good and failed miserably.

 

“Keep her safe.” He ordered when he heard the door open, hearing his man murmur assent.  It was Bradshaw.

 

“Mark…”

 

Savalyn dropped her head as he stalked out of the room and shut her eyes tightly, knowing she screwed up again.  She hadn’t meant to order him to be careful, but…at the same time she did.  If anything happened to Mark with whatever he had planned, Savalyn would lose her mind.  Damn it, why did she care so much about him?!  And why did he bother checking up on her if he didn’t care about her or want her?  Savalyn felt a huge headache coming on, clutching her head in her hands and just sat there crying.  She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up into the dark eyes of John, immediately tossing her arms around him, once again blocking her pain.

 

“Get me out of here, please.” She whispered in his ear, feeling him lift her in his arms and continued crying, her cheek stinging with each tear coming in contact with the small gash.

 

Bradshaw was assuming the tears were from her assault, the pain of it, and probably the betrayal from the McMahons.  He wasn't going to dwell on that one because, as far as he was concerned, the McMahons were a family of faithless bastards. “You need to go to the hospital, sugar.” He soothed, cradling her against him gently, wondering where the hell Larry had gone off to.  She was going to need a few stitches. “Want me to take you?” Because the alternative would be waiting on the ambulance and perhaps another attack by the Corporation.

 

“I don’t want to go to the hospital.” Savalyn whispered softly, looking up at him tearfully, just wanting to go back to the hotel and snuggle in his arms.  Actually, she wanted Mark’s arms – she wanted Mark, period – but once again that wasn’t possible.  Her tears were for both her pain physically and emotionally from all the games Mark had played with her lately. “Just let Larry get back here and look me over.  If he thinks I should go, I’ll do it.  But I want his opinion first.” Whether Mark liked it or not, she wouldn’t go to the hospital if she could help it. “I need you to do me a favor and make sure he gets checked out.  I saw how hard he was hit with that damn nightstick and I know he’s being stubborn about it.  Please John, I don’t want anything happening to him.”

 

Bradshaw had known that was coming and, if he could have, he would’ve dragged Taker himself, but that wasn’t an option. “He won't go.  You won't either.” He reminded her gently. “He has Paul to take care of him.” He knew it would take time to get over her ex-boyfriend, his current boss, but at least he could help ease the pain and memory of the man she had known. “Let me take you to an out of the way ER at least, Savalyn.”

 

The amount of worry in his eyes made Savalyn sigh resignedly, knowing he wanted to get her out of the arena as quickly as possible. “Okay.”

 

If it made John feel better for her to go to the hospital to get checked out, she would do it.  Savalyn felt him scoop her up in his strong arms and leaned her head against his shoulder, the pain radiating in her face returning.  Mark was the distraction from her pain and now it was back, making fresh tears slide down her cheeks.  Once they were inside the vehicle and John was on the road, Savalyn reached over to take his hand lacing their fingers together.

 

“I know you’re traveling with the Ministry, but…I don’t trust staying alone tonight after what happened.  So I hope you let me stay with you or maybe we can get our own room, even if it’s at a different hotel.”

 

“We can get our own room.” He agreed, after a moment. 

 

Bradshaw had been, in theory, bunking with Ron and they usually stayed in a hotel wing occupied by the Ministry.  However, he had been keeping tabs on her, which meant his bag slept in his room while he generally slept in a hallway or stairwell.  Or in the car the next day if he had managed to keep himself up all night.  Given how hard she had been hit in the face, Bradshaw was worried she might have something broken or a concussion.

 

Miraculously, her cheekbone wasn’t cracked and all she had to worry about was a lot of heavy, down to the bone, bruising.  Savalyn didn’t have a concussion, just a small headache from the blow.  Either she had one hell of a hard head or someone above was watching over her during Ray’s attack.  Either way, she left the hospital a few hours later with painkillers she wouldn’t take and some ice packs. 

 

It was around 2 AM when they walked into their room in a motel on the outskirts of the city, far away from the Ministry and Corporation.  Savalyn kicked her shoes off and dropped back on the bed, her headache gone thanks to the Tylenol the hospital gave her.  She was a light weight when it came to medication.  Savalyn turned her head to look at John when he joined her, reaching up to caress his cheek with the back of her hand and cracked a small smile.

 

“Stop worrying about me, I’m fine.” She murmured, still seeing a hint of worry in his dark eyes and slowly sat up to turn to look down at him, caressing his lips with the pad of her thumb. “You’re exhausted, come on we’re going to bed and you’re gonna get some actual sleep tonight along with me.”

 

She was right, they both needed sleep.  Given what had happened earlier, this was not exactly where he had seen his night going.  He doubted she had seen it ending this way either.  Bradshaw nodded, retrieving their bags and set hers down beside her on the bed, slinging his over his shoulder.

 

“I'll change in the bathroom, give you your privacy.” He grinned at her, though his dark eyes narrowed slightly as he took in the damage Ray had caused. “You sure you don't want to take something stronger, Sava?”

 

This night had gone from amazing to horrible in the span of hours.  What Savalyn had expected to happen was getting naked and cleaning the cobwebs out of her vagina with John, picking up where they left off at the rest stop and parking lot of the arena.  Ray had ruined that.  Maybe it was fate kicking her in the backside telling her not to sleep with her ex-boyfriend’s friend.  There had to be some kind of rule against doing that, right?  Savalyn sighed, changing into a lavender nightgown and slid into bed, staring up at the ceiling.  Her thoughts suddenly turned to Mark and hoped he’d gotten checked out.  Even apart and with another man, she couldn’t stop worrying about him.

 

John had seriously considered beating off in the bathroom, going as far as to turn on the faucet and let the water run.  Not because he was in dire need of tension relief at the moment, but because he knew if he was sharing a bed with her, eventually his dick would act of its own accord.  Bradshaw wanted to prevent that by wearing it out ahead of time.  He nixed that idea and slipped on his black pajama bottoms and a plain old tank top, slipping out of the room and took her in, inhaling sharply.

 

Savalyn put some salve on her face to help with the bruising, her forehead and cheeks stitched up.  They would dissolve in a few days, the gashes weren’t as deep as originally thought.  Head wounds were always superficial and bled a lot more than others.  She smiled gently up at John and waited until he slid into bed before scooting over to snuggle against his side.  His arm went around her and Savalyn bit her bottom lip to keep from moaning out since his hand resting on her back seared through the thin material of her nightgown.  They couldn’t have sex, not tonight after her attack, but damn if Savalyn wasn’t tempted.  Instead, she just lay there with her head on his chest, caressing his side with her nails and sighed in contentment.  At least she wasn’t alone tonight.

 

~!~

 

“Savalyn was attacked tonight, Dad, by your own man!  You…you were…you…”

 

Stephanie didn't even know how to say it, how to voice what she knew.  Her father, the one who was supposed to be protecting her, was instigating this war with the Undertaker and having people attacked.  People like Savalyn, her best friend, who had done nothing at all to warrant it.

 

“What have you done?!” She finally screeched, her face turning a brilliant shade of red.

 

“WHAT I HAD TO DO!” Vince roared, standing up and couldn’t believe his baby girl, his princess, was screaming at him like a banshee.  She was being disrespectful and he didn’t appreciate it, not one bit.  Shane never raised his voice to him and Vince would be damned if he let Stephanie get away with it. “Your friendship with Savalyn is a liability!  You know her past and who she was with!  What makes you think she hasn’t been working with that monster this entire time?!  I took precautions!  Now Ray got a little out of hand, I admit it…” He held his hand up, admitting that much, though if his daughter knew the truth she would’ve probably kicked him square in his balls. “But he apologized and we need to move on from this.  Now come on, off to bed with you.”

 

Stephanie began laughing, shaking her head so hard that her brown hair spilled down out of its loose ponytail. "Off to bed? It's always that easy for you, isn't it, daddy?" She said that last bit scathingly. "Just send your little princess off and you'll 'handle' it. Like you handled Savalyn?" She was backing away from him, away from the two men who flanked him, ready to bolt out the door behind her. "She was not a liability, not then. But now, now she probably is, you know that? All you've done is made an imaginary situation real and hurt MY FRIEND." She picked up the nearest item and hurled it at his head. The guards watched the object fly and she took the diversion to dart out of the room.

 

“STEPHANIE!!” Vince shouted, eyes wide in fear for his daughter’s wellbeing. “DAMN IT, go after her!!”

 

Was she out of her mind?!  The Undertaker was in the same hotel as they were, due to the fact all WWF employees were supposed to stay in the same building.  It was Vince’s rule and, when he made it, nobody was going after his precious baby girl.  What was she thinking running out of here like a bat out of hell?!  Didn’t she realize the amount of danger she was in?!

 

Chapter 21

 

Stephanie didn’t go back to her room, refusing to listen to anything her father said.  This was too much.  Savalyn didn’t deserve what happened to her and something told Stephanie her father was responsible.  She didn’t know how she knew, but she knew.  Just like Savalyn had.  That bad feeling about Ray she’d had when he first began protecting them only grew and now she wanted nothing to do with her father or his stupid Corporation.  Before she knew what she was doing, Stephanie had managed to find the floor of the Ministry of Darkness and froze at the sight of Edge and Christian coming toward her.  Instead of running, an idea popped in her head and she squared her shoulders, knowing this could end very badly for her if said idea went south.

 

“Take me to the Undertaker, please.” She requested, watching both men quirk eyebrows simultaneously and held her hands out to show this wasn’t a trick. “I need to speak with him.”

 

When Edge and Christian finally nodded and gestured Stephanie to go ahead of them, both of the blondes looked around furtively as if they expected this to be a trap.  Kane grabbed Test by the arm and pulled the younger man back before he could stop the princess.  Seeing Stephanie go flying out of the room Vince had holed himself up in, followed shortly after by two guards, they had followed.

 

“You’ll do her more good here.” Taker would probably cut a deal with the McMahon princess, but not Test and certainly not Kane. “Let's find out what's going on first.”

 

“Boss, sorry for the interruption,” Edge glanced back over his shoulder. “But you will not believe this…”
    

Stay strong for Savalyn, Stephanie thought, coaching herself mentally as the blondes explained to their master who wanted to speak with him.  His deep dark voice sounded mildly intrigued and ordered the blondes to usher her inside.  Stephanie nodded to them, stepping into the room and had dried her tears from the outburst with her father.  The room was pitch black except for a small lamp lit in the far corner, just enough light to illuminate the frame of Undertaker.  He was even bigger in person and Stephanie could feel her stomach clenching tightly, knowing she could not, under any circumstances, freak out.

 

“Thank you for agreeing to see me at this late hour…Undertaker.” She almost made the mistake of calling him Mark and caught herself, keeping her eyes on him because looking down may have been a fatal mistake.

 

“Oh Princess,” Taker hissed from his place leaning against the window, where he had been staring out mindlessly at the night. 

 

Even for the city, it seemed so dark and reflected his mood.  Though he would admit to being curious.  Stephanie McMahon, the current object of his desires, was here.  She had come to him willingly.  He was intrigued to say the least.

 

“This is indeed a welcome surprise.” He briefly considered snapping her neck and sending her back, broken, to Vince just for retribution for Savalyn. 

 

However…he curbed that impulse.

 

Stephanie had to fight back shivering and wrapped her arms around herself, suddenly feeling extremely vulnerable.  Maybe this was a bad idea.  Maybe she should’ve spoken to Savalyn about this first before simply walking into the lion’s den.  Oh well, it was too late now.  There was no turning back because, unless Undertaker got what he wanted, she wouldn’t be leaving this room.

 

“I need to talk to you about Savalyn.  About what happened to her…tonight and…what Boss Man did to her.” She hesitated in saying those last few words, trembling from head to toe. “M-My father…he told me he did what he had to do when I confronted him about it tonight.  I don’t know what that means, but I can only assume he’s responsible for what happened to her.  And she’s my best friend.  I love her dearly and I would never want anything to happen to her.  So, I want to pay my father back…and since you want to make his life a living hell, I think we can come up with some kind of negotiation to where we both get what we want.”

 

Interesting but pointless and Taker turned towards her, reaching out to flip on the actual light to let her see him.  His face was a disaster and he smirked when she visibly flinched.  He was out of his wrestling garb, wearing a pair of simple black sweat pants and nothing else, his massive heavily tattooed arms folded over his bare chest.

 

“What kind of negotiation, Princess?  Just what do you have to bring to the table that you have not already delivered to me?” Because, here she was, all he really needed.

 

Now it was time for Stephanie to roll her eyes, not believing he was STILL trying to convince her, as well as everyone else, he desired her. “We both know this is about leverage against my father and nothing more.  You don’t desire me or want me… like that.” Savalyn’s words pierced through her mind about Taker having a much plan than simply wanting Stephanie. “My question to you is this: What kind of leverage are you looking for?  Because I’ve tried getting Vince to spill it and he won’t.  He’s kept a lot from me, actually.  So tell me what you want and I’ll do whatever I can to make it happen, anything to help Savalyn…and you.”

 

She was both smart and an idiot.  Kind of like Savalyn: a beautiful idiot. “Stephanie, if you've finally learned your father's true colors then you already know you have nothing to offer me that I do not now possess.  True, I do not want you for carnal purposes.” She was also a McMahon and every one of them was rotten to the core; as if he'd tell her anything beside that. “However, you may stay and fulfill your purpose.  Do so willingly, without questions, and all will be revealed.” Taker wouldn't have to harm her either.  Her being here allowed him to speed everything up.

 

“No offense, but if that asshole finds out I came here willingly, everything will be ruined.  I don’t want him to know I’m working for you.  He has to believe I’m still that terrified little princess who needs Daddy’s protection.” Stephanie didn’t bother hiding the disdain in her voice for her father, not after what she found out earlier that night.  Hurting Savalyn was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. “So if you ‘want’ me here with you, it’ll have to be done another way.” She began pacing, her mind working and coming up with a plan both would be satisfied with. “Focus on WrestleMania first and the Boss Man.  He really hurt my friend and I want him to pay for it, and something tells me you do too.  After that, then focus on coming after me again.  Make Vince THINK you’ve tapered off in your pursuit of me and, when he least expects it, abduct me and do whatever it is you were planning on doing.  That way we both get what we want.  I trick him and get my revenge and you’ll get whatever it is you’re after.  And when you do abduct me, I’ll go without a fight, I promise.  Hell, we could even get Ryan in on this since she’s also a close friend of Savalyn’s, if you want.”

 

He had heard enough.  While appealing, and she had many points, the main key on this little plan of his had been the fact that no one outside of him knew all the details.  Taker wasn't about to start plotting with Stephanie McMahon, of all people.

 

“Be seeing you, Princess.” He said dismissively, waving a hand at her with a yawn. “Remember, you will need to fight.” That was as close to an assent from him as she was getting tonight.  He had to think and mull over her words. “Or else it'll look suspicious, now wouldn't it?”

 

“Yeah well, just looking at you should put the fear of god into me, shouldn’t it?  I’ll fight in my own way, but you’ll end up getting whatever it is you want in the end.” Stephanie breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing he was letting her leave his room to go back to her own and would work with her in order to bring her father down. “Good night, Undertaker.  I hope your face heals up.” She meant that, feeling terrible for him and walked out, nodding at both blondes of the Brood before turning the corner to head back to her own room. 

 

Only to run right into Andrew and Kane.

“Just what in the hell are you thinking?!” Andrew hissed, taking her arm and pulled her against him for a tight embrace, cupping the back of her head. “Are you okay?”

 

“No, but I will be.”

 

Kane studied her thoughtfully, stroking his chin, having taken off his mask though his hair was hiding his face. “What did you give him?” He asked finally, knowing his brother well enough to know that Stephanie had not left the one place she shouldn’t be walking into without having offered something up. 

 

The Undertaker did not operate out of the goodness of his heart.

Lowering her eyes from both Kane and Andrew, Stephanie shook her head. “I can’t tell you that.  All you need to know is everything is going to be set right soon enough.” She looked up into Andrew’s worry-filled eyes and stroked his cheek with the back of her hand, cracking a small smile. “I need you to trust me.  I’m not in any danger, that’s all I can say for now.  Savalyn was right.” That was directed at Kane and she knew he’d understand what those words meant. “Come on, we better head back to my room before my father gets suspicious.”

 

He already was.  Kane knew how to fix that. “Test, you better suck it up.” He ordered flatly, his only warning before snatching Stephanie roughly by the arm, causing her to shriek out. 

 

They had entered the Corporation's corridor and Vince had sent everyone out looking for her.  The boys had all looked everywhere, minus the one place Stephanie would never venture.  Or so they assumed, the fools.

 

“Keep shrieking.” He muttered, snorting and shot Test a dark look when it looked like the idiot was going to intervene. If he wanted Stephanie to sell her charade, he'd better step up and play his role.

 

“Let go of me!!  I don’t wanna go back!!”

 

Stephanie struggled, shrieking to the point where she was making Kane and Andrew’s ears bleed.  It was the only way to sell how unhappy she was to be back in the Corporation’s clutches.  And with her fit, her father wouldn’t question where she’d run off to.  He would assume Savalyn or Ryan and be done with it.  Vince could be really stupid when the situation called for it, like now.

 

“Dad, tell him to let me go!”

 

“Lock her in her room.  Make sure she does NOT escape again.”

 

Stephanie was shoved into her room, the door slamming shut moments later with Kane and Andrew ‘guarding’ her. “Do you think he bought it?” She whispered once she was sure they were all alone again.

 

“I think you’re insane and you better hope this plays out in your favor and not HIS.”


Stephanie smiled gently, blue eyes turning to Kane. “Thank you for helping.  I know Savalyn means a great deal to you like she does me and what I’m about to do is all for her.” She touched his arm and headed into the bathroom to change into her night clothes.

 

Kane shook his head.  He was fine with Savalyn, but he wasn't about to become friends with Stephanie. “They're all idiots.” He muttered, ignoring the disbelieving look Andrew shot him and stepped out into the hallway to 'guard the door', folding his arms over his chest. 

 

Given that Stephanie had come back…he knew it.  Savalyn had been right in her assumptions.  This had nothing to do with Stephanie.  He turned everything he knew over and over in his head, contemplating Taker's end game.

 

“Stephanie, tell me what happened.” Andrew demanded after Kane left, reaching out to take her hand. “Why did you run out of your Dad’s suite and away from him?”

 

“Because he hurt Savalyn.” Her voice sounded low and somewhat evil, which was out of place for the McMahon princess. “And I’m going to make sure he pays for it.  Everything he’s done, he’s going to answer for.  I can’t tell you anything, Andrew.  I wish to god I could, but I can’t or everything will be ruined.  Just know that…when the time comes, you need to step back and not protect me.  I’ll be safe and I know what I’m doing, but I need your word not to interfere in what happens.”

 

Andrew swallowed hard, not sure if he could do that and leaned down to rest his forehead against the side of her head. “Stephanie…” He murmured, tilting her head up until those beautiful ocean blues met his, wishing he could read her mind to find out what she had planned. “I don’t understand.  Or maybe I should just go to your Dad and…”

 

“No!” Stephanie snapped, shaking her head and pressed her hands against his bare chest, caressing his skin. “Please Andrew, don’t say anything about this.  All you need to know is I have a plan and it’s going to work.  And the Undertaker is involved.” She whispered that last part, not wanting to take any chances of her father finding out what she’d done. “I made a deal with the devil and we’ll both get what we want from it.  Now please stop worrying.”

 

“What if he hurts you?” Andrew couldn’t bear the thought of something happening to her and cupped her face in his strong warm hands. “What if he doesn’t get what he wants and he ends up hurting you to send a message to your old man?  That’s not a risk you should take!” He kept his own voice down, not trusting the Undertaker one bit.

 

“I’m willing to risk it though.” Stephanie could feel tears burn her eyes at the memory of her father’s words about Savalyn. “Andrew, he hurt my friend – my BEST friend – and I won’t rest until he pays for it.  If that means making a deal with the devil in order to get my revenge on behalf of Ava, so be it.  He doesn’t want me intimately, not the way you do.  But there is something I have that he wants and in order to get it, we have to go through my father.  So whatever it is, I’m giving it to him without question.  Because if Savalyn trusts him, even after everything he’s done, than so do I.  My father sent Ray after her.  There’s no proof of it, but he told me tonight he did what he had to do when I confronted him about it.  So guess what – I’m gonna do what I have to do to avenge my friend.”

 

Either Stephanie was crazier than he originally thought or an evil genius, Andrew thought, hoping all of this didn’t blow up in her face.

 

Chapter 22

 

When Raw rolled around the following Monday, Undertaker was on a rampage backstage.  Naturally, Vince didn’t think it was wise to put a battered woman on television, so Savalyn was given the night off.  All of her jobs either consisted of modeling in merchandise or showing her face on the television either ring announcing or backstage interviewing.  Savalyn wasn’t happy about the circumstances, but there was nothing she could do.  John was worried about leaving her alone because of the Corporation lurking in the shadows, so she was forced to stay in the Ministry’s locker room.  All she could do was watch on the monitor as first the Ministry destroyed several wrestlers in their locker room, after Undertaker demanded to know where the Boss Man was.  When they gave him the answer he didn’t want, he simply sent a message the hard way. 

 

Then the Ministry had interfered in not one, but two matches that night, beating down the competitors and demanding Boss Man to show himself, promising there would be a sacrifice that night.  Savalyn looked up when the locker room door slammed open, jumping slightly and immediately lowered her eyes at the sight of her enraged ex-boyfriend.  The rest of the Ministry was patrolling the arena, waiting for Boss Man to arrive and she could tell he was losing his patience quickly.

 

He shot her a dark look, wondering what the hell she was doing here.  Taker knew Bradshaw asked her to stay in here, but why?  She was no safer here than at her house in Maine.  Actually, just being here was dangerous for her since his locker room had been invaded a time or two by the Corporation idiots.  Taker could only imagine the carnage if she was caught here.  He knew his anger wasn’t really at her, it was at Vince and Boss Man, both men trying to evade him tonight.  He was going to rip out Vince's lying tongue and feed it to Linda and cut Boss Man up into tiny pieces to send back home to the broodmare the man called a mother.

 

Savalyn wanted to say something to him, anything to calm him down.  She’d never seen Mark so irate in his life and she had to wonder if it was because of what happened to her or himself.  His face was healed up for the most part, along with hers, though the stitches were still in her cheeks.  They would dissolve with another shower, she hoped anyway and luckily, no scars would be left behind to remind her of Ray’s brutality.

“Taker, he’s here.” Gangrel informed him gravely, following orders to tell the boss as soon as the rapist arrived.  He completely ignored Savalyn’s presence.

 

Even though it wasn’t safe anywhere in the arena, and she should’ve stayed at the hotel, Savalyn didn’t know she wouldn’t be working until AFTER the fact.  She’d traveled with John over the past week for both protection and it gave them both an opportunity to get to know each other better.  He even came home to Maine with her again for their days off since John wasn’t needed for house shows.  The Ministry rarely did them unless they specifically requested it or Taker ordered it.  Either way, John was free to do what he wanted as long as he stuck by Savalyn’s side.

 

“I want him.” Taker snarled, clenching and unclenching his fists as he began pacing, tension rolling off of him in waves. “I want them all.” Dead, his tone pretty much made that clear.  Vince had been crossing personal boundaries, interfering in personal lives -namely his and Savalyn’s- far too long and it was time to end it. “Where's Stephanie?” That was probably a twist in the conversation, but... he needed to know where the little princess was currently.

 

“With Daddy dearest, of course.” Gangrel sneered, nodding at his master’s order and left the room without preamble to track down Boss Man.

Savalyn could only watch the monitor, knowing whatever happened to Ray would be live for the world to see.  She wasn’t disappointed.  Backstage, Ray had pulled up in his truck and stepped out with Mark waiting on him, Paul behind him.  The rest of the Ministry flanked, beating him down with John at the front.  She smiled at that, knowing he absolutely loathed and detested the man for what he did to her.  It made her heart do a leap in her chest; he really did care about her and Savalyn truly felt the same way about him.  There was no love though, she wasn’t nearly ready for that step and didn’t know if she ever would be.

 

Bradshaw did as he was told, dragging Boss Man out on the stage with the Ministry and strapped him to the boss’s symbol.  A simple T with spikes. “You see, McMahon, one-by-one your Corporation will fall…until there is ONLY one.  And then, she too, will be MINE!” Undertaker promised darkly, staring up at Boss Man with contempt and hatred for what he did to Savalyn. 

 

Just as Boss Man rose in the air with nowhere to go as the Undertaker spoke to him demonically, the Corporation hit.  The war ensued with the Ministry gaining the upper hand…until Undertaker made a mistake.  He struck a police officer unknowingly, having been grabbed from behind by the arm.  It was accidental, but he was arrested nonetheless for the crime since he’d proceeded to strike several of them who advanced.  With a quick whisper in Paul’s ear and the symbol exploding in flames, after Boss Man managed to get free, the cuffs were placed on his wrists and Undertaker was taken backstage with the Ministry standing there dumbfounded, ordered not to move or do a single thing.

 

“Mark!” Savalyn flew out the door and didn’t get far, being dragged into a nearby room looking up into the mismatched blue eyes of Kane. “We have to help him!  We have to get him out of there!  Why aren’t they doing anything?”


“And do what?” Kane demanded hotly, wondering just what she expected anyone to do. “He attacked a cop, Savalyn.” Actually, Taker had attacked several cops after realizing he had accidentally nailed a boy in blue.  Taker was going quietly though, his face not revealing anything, though Kane was pretty sure he could detect a gleam of amusement in those acid green eyes. “Let it be.  He ordered everyone to stand down so he's not to upset with this.”

 

“Damn it!”

 

Savalyn flipped over a metal folding chair and buried her face in her hands, knowing Taker had gone berserk because of her.  Well, he’d been attacked too.  Hell, she didn’t know what to think or believe anymore, worried for her ex-boyfriend being locked up with a bunch of criminals.

 

“He was grabbed from behind.  You saw it clear as day.  Those idiots grabbed him and he reacted out of instinct.” Kane nodding didn’t make her feel any better or the fact he was still blocking the door. “He’ll have to be bailed out and I can get the money to do it.  Come with me if it’ll make you feel better, but I’m going, Kane.”


At that, Kane grabbed her gently but firmly by the wrists and pinned her arms behind her, sighing. “Savalyn, you know him.  He rarely does or allows something to happen unless he wants it.” He said, wondering why women couldn't just flip off their emotions with a switch and see the big picture.  Kane hadn't had a proper discussion with his brother in a few years and even he knew Taker would work this to his advantage. “It doesn't matter who attacked who, they're officers of the law.” He was snickering at that one; his experience with cops was never positive. “And he can bail himself out if he wishes.  Let him be.”
    

Currently, Taker was in the back of the cop car, laughing.

 

Savalyn saw it, watching Vince berate and scream at Undertaker while he simply just laughed, rolling his eyes in the back of his head.  What was wrong with this man?  She looked back at Kane once the screen went black and shook her head almost sadly.  He was laughing over hitting cops and getting arrested!!  The Ministry was probably back in the locker room by now and Savalyn knew John would be worried where she’d gone off to.

 

“I need to go back to John.  I promise not to go near Mark.  I’ll…let him be.” She hugged Kane, kissing his cheek since the mask was currently off. “See you later, big man.” Then she left, keeping her eyes peeled for any sign of the Corporation and managed to make it back to the Ministry’s locker room unscathed.

 

Paul was Taker's right hand man at the moment, coordinating all the events, times, where people needed to be both onscreen and off and already working on getting Taker out on bail.  The man would have to be booked and all that fun stuff, but providing the police could be reasoned with, the Deadman wouldn't spend any time behind bars.  Not right now at least, he'd definitely have to come back for a court hearing.  He nodded when Savalyn walked in, not surprised by her presence and turned his back to her, waiting patiently since he had been put on hold.
    

“You all right?” John asked when she made it to him, draping his arm around her shoulders gently.  She looked like she had had a moment or two.

“Yeah, just felt a little claustrophobic.”

 

Savalyn leaned into him, not caring what the other Ministry members thought about them being together.  Taker hadn’t said a word when John actually kissed her forehead in front of him earlier in the night.  He said he didn’t care who dated, so it shouldn’t have come as a shock to see her and John had hit it off.

 

Personally, Ron was worried for his partner’s happiness and mindset, not wanting Savalyn to use him as a means to an end.  She still loved the boss and, yet, she snuggled against Bradshaw like they were lovers.  He tried questioning Bradshaw about it during their search for Boss Man and all John told him was to mind his own business.  He had it covered.  Yeah, he just hoped this didn’t end with Bradshaw having his heart ripped out of his chest.

 

“Time to go?”

 

At John’s nod, Savalyn grabbed her coat and walked out with him, clasping his hand in hers tightly.  This is what Taker wanted, for her to be protected and watched, but he’d said nothing about John not pursuing her.  It was his order, nobody else’s and, if it’s not what Taker wanted, he had nobody to blame except himself.

 

    John knew the stakes, he knew where he stood. He knew where Savalyn’s heart still belonged. Rome hadn't been built in a day and broken hearts didn't mend overnight. It was a process, one that might not be seen through for whatever reason but that didn't mean he didn't want to try. It wasn't like he was in love with Savalyn, because he wasn't. He was in like and in lust. As long as Savalyn wanted him, he would be there.
    "He's already pissed them off enough to keep him overnight before they consider bail." Paul said once John and Savalyn were gone, wondering what the hell 'Taker had up his sleeve.

 

Over the next several weeks leading up to WrestleMania, things had gone from bad to worse for Vince.  There was a very good reason why Taker kept himself in jail longer than normal.  Upon getting out, he instructed his Ministry to head to the airport because they weren’t going to any of the house shows that week.  Vince had ordered it, but his minions only listened to him and they had bigger fish to fry.  With the princess on his side, there was nothing stopping Taker from gaining the advantage over Vince.  Stephanie had been kind enough to give him a key to her father’s mansion, her home, in order to put the fear of god into her old man. 

 

Everything done was filmed ahead of time without Vince’s knowledge.  It was all one masterful mind game and Taker had to give himself a pat on the back on a job well done.  When Raw rolled around the following Monday, footage from the week was played throughout the show with Undertaker talking directly to Vince.  The Ministry had invaded his property and home, though the only video footage shown was outside of his mansion.  Undertaker had his minions go inside for a few snapshots and instructed them to mess up Stephanie’s belongings a little, but nothing was to be broken or damaged. 

 

Undertaker goaded him on, making him think the Ministry was there, when in fact, he’d been in the arena the entire time.  Prior to this happening, Undertaker had cut a deal with his little brother after finding out how irate the man was over Savalyn’s assault.  Kane wanted to kill Boss Man, but Taker assured him he had something even worse planned for the prick.  That seemed to calm Kane down enough to hear his big brother out, agreeing to help him trick Vince just once.  He’d handed over his gear and left the arena without a word, along with Stephanie, since he was her guard dog along with Test.  For a couple weeks, Kane had been feuding with Triple H and had accidentally hurt Chyna by shooting a fireball at her, nailing her in the eye.  So Triple H was out for revenge on behalf of Chyna and Kane had answered the call-out, though nobody realized the switch.

 

It amused Taker to no end how, even though him and his brother were built a lot differently, nobody could ever tell whenever they swapped places as far as their gear went.  This wasn’t the first time Taker had dressed in Kane’s gear and wore the mask and it probably wouldn’t be the last.  As long as he got his hands on the boss, even for a moment, that’s all Taker cared about.  Just to scare him enough to make him think twice before crossing the Deadman again.  Vince had stormed down to ringside, demanding Kane help him by talking to Taker about invading his property and got the surprise of his life when Taker ripped the Kane mask off to reveal himself to the old man.  Vince looked like he wanted to piss himself and.

 

Back at the hotel, Stephanie had watched cackling wickedly, passing the bowl of popcorn to Kane and then Test.

 

After a simple message, the lights went out and Taker was gone, leaving Vince standing in the ring looking more terrified than ever.  Mission accomplished, Taker thought, chuckling wickedly while he made his way backstage to the Ministry locker room to change into street clothes.  He’d noticed Savalyn laughing along with Howard at ringside and felt his heart do a funny leap in his chest, her smile always lighting up the darkest part of him.

 

After that switch happened, Vince had to keep a hawk eye on Kane while trying to do damage control within the Corporation.  Nobody trusted Kane, even though the man had been found back at the hotel watching over Stephanie.  He had an ironclad alibi and Stephanie vouched for him, playing the part of the helpless little princess to perfection.  War ensued over the next week with the Boss Man getting his backside handed to him every time he stepped foot in the ring with Undertaker or any member of the Ministry of Darkness.  Finally, it was the night before WrestleMania XV and the company had thrown a party, filming it for the fans worldwide to see.  They called it the WrestleMania XV Rage Party, where various Superstars came out to claim what they would do to their opponent. 

 

Naturally, Savalyn had to attend and could only watch from the sidelines as Mark made his entrance with the Ministry of Darkness, debuting a new theme song in the process.  She loved it, slowly moving her head back and forth to the beat and felt goose bumps erupt on her skin hearing his voice within the song.  All she wanted to do was accept the Lord of Darkness as her savior and be with him in every way.  Savalyn listened to his words, the promise in his voice to send Boss Man straight to hell and suffer every second of the way of the trip.  She grinned, not able to wait until that moment happened and cheered once the promo finished, the Ministry making their exit.

 

Unbeknownst to her, Taker had a hell of a surprise in store for Boss Man inside Hell in a Cell and it would be in honor of Savalyn.

 

Yet another piece of vital information she would never know about.

 

Chapter 23

 

WrestleMania night had arrived. 

 

Savalyn stood in the full length mirror, wearing a sequined long black dress that had slits up both sides that went to mid-thigh.  It was spaghetti strapped, hugged her curves and her hair was piled up on top of her head in a bunch of pinned up banana curls.  Everyone was ordered to dress up since WrestleMania was their super bowl, so she wasn’t the only one in formal wear.  Once her makeup was done, Savalyn proceeded to take the paperwork handed to her to look over the list of matches, the information instantly searing to her memory.  Hell in a Cell with the Boss Man…Savalyn hoped Mark maimed the man and sent him out on a gurney.

 

Oh this was going to be a great night!  Taker had a match, finally, against that rapist prick Ray and had already made his plans for it.  A Hell in a Cell match... it would be amusing.  Others seemed skittish, mixed with the same fervor WrestleMania seemed to bring on every year.  This was it, the Big One, their Super bowl and here he was, marring it with his satanic fashion, attacking the McMahons in the process.

 

“Paul?”

“Everything is ready.”
    

One part of vengeance for Savalyn would be achieved tonight, that was a promise.  Speaking of Savalyn, Taker nearly halted when he spotted her down the hall, taking paperwork being handed to her.  Where the hell had she gotten THAT dress?

 

Feeling eyes on her, Savalyn glanced down the hallway just a few hundred feet away and felt her breath catch in her throat.  Mark was staring at her and, even from that distance, she could feel the heat emanating from his eyes.  She smiled back at him and mouthed ‘good luck’ for tonight’s match, even though he wouldn’t need it.  The HIAC was his kind of match, his playground.  The Devil’s Playground, they should’ve called it.  Howard would be doing half of WrestleMania while she did the other; this was the biggest opportunity of her life and Savalyn pushed aside any doubts about her capability to do her job.  This was her time to shine, with Howard’s help.

 

“Thanks.” She nodded at one of the technicians handing her a cup of water, feeling a little parched and went back to looking over the paperwork.

 

“Hey.” John appeared, smiling down at her, ready for the night in his wrestling attire, chest painted and hair wet.  He grinned when she tried greeting him with a mouthful of water, reaching out to brush away a stray droplet with his finger. “You look…” John looked her up and down, whistling appreciatively. “Delicious.” Indeed she did; she looked like a goddess that’d come straight down from heaven.  Or maybe a hell’s angel. “Nervous about tonight?”

 

“No…” When he looked a little harder at her, Savalyn caved and pressed her forehead against his chest in a place not painted. “Okay yes, but only a little.  It’s WrestleMania after all – big deal.  I screw up and I’ll probably be on the unemployment line.”

 

She smiled at the attempted joke and brushed a strand of wet black hair from his face.  His delicious comment didn’t go unnoticed as Savalyn pulled him away from the makeup table so others could use it.  Sliding a finger down his rock solid chest, Savalyn peered up at him through slightly darkened blues.  They hadn’t slept together yet and the need between her thighs pulsated powerfully.

 

“I’m not the only one who looks delicious tonight, John.”

 

John considered himself a patient man, especially when he knew good things would come his way and Savalyn was definitely a good thing.  However, given the chance to bed her, he would have jumped.  She was a beautiful, desirable woman who did some strange things to him.  He wasn't complaining about what they had though: they kissed and made out heavily, just no sex…yet.

 

“Thank you, sugar.” He murmured, pulling her hand up to his mouth and kissed her palm before reluctantly letting go. “I'm tempted to steal you away.” He winked down at her.

“Tonight, you can steal me away and have your way with me.  That’s a promise.” Savalyn was done waiting, appreciating his patience and leaned up on her tiptoes, even with 2 inch black heels on, to softly brush her mouth against his. “First, we have a show to put on.  Do me a favor and thank the blondes for that blood bath they gave Boss Man.  That was hilarious.” They both laughed since it happened on Heat, which she didn’t do anymore.  That was Tony Chimmel’s new job since she was now sharing Raw with Howard. “I should head out there before Howard comes hunting me down.”

 

“Let him.” Bradshaw murmured, feeling a little dazed as he stared down at her, suddenly realizing what she had said about the blondes.  He was tempted to tell her about the surprise for tonight, which had been dedicated in her honor, but didn't.  It wasn't his place to tell her. “I’ll tell them.” He pulled her back to him, lowering his head to capture her mouth with his, letting her feel just how much he desired her, what he felt for her – everything. “See you later.”

 

“Definitely.  Be careful with whatever you’re doing tonight.”

 

She slid the pad of her thumb over his lips to wipe the gloss away and winked, walking away toward gorilla position.  Howard was in a spruced up black suit with a white undershirt beneath and black bowtie, looking handsome for a man his age.  Together, they linked arms and headed through the curtain before the show actually started.  Heat was ending in a matter of minutes, so they would sneak down to ringside while the final match was going on.  The camera wouldn’t catch them and if they did, oh well.  Once seated, Savalyn felt butterflies erupt in her stomach as she looked around the arena, not believing how many people surrounded them.  Even after 8 years being in the WWF, it still took Savalyn’s breath away every time WrestleMania rolled around.

 

This was Savalyn's first WrestleMania calling for the big leagues and not modeling the merchandise during the breaks between matches.  Howard would admit, he was proud of her.  Of how poised she seemed.  He could tell she was nervous; hell, even after all this time he was too, this was it.  Big Game Day.  Nobody stepped on this stage without feeling butterflies.  He reached over to pat her knee, flashing her a reassuring smile.

 

“You’re going to do great, Savalyn.” He stated confidently with a firm nod.

 

“Thank you, Howard.  I mean it, thank you for everything.  For helping me and being my mentor, my friend.  I will always be in debt to you for everything you’ve done for me.”

 

Savalyn smiled tearfully, kissing his cheek and blinked the water out of her eyes, refusing to ruin her makeup.  She meant every word she said to the older man and hoped he took them to heart.  There wasn’t a hint of sarcasm in her tone, just genuine appreciation and admiration.

 

“That’s your cue.” She winked, watching him stand to walk into the ring to announce the first match after the country’s anthem was sung.


As usual when she was being affectionate, Howard felt that familiar twinge of guilt blossoming in his chest.  He squished it down; he'd deal with it another time.  Howard had done it with the best of intentions, mostly.  Nobody knew his secret and what he’d done.  He pushed the guilt eating away at him aside, having a show to put on.  Vince might've elevated her to this position, -honestly, Howard expected Vince to take it away from her since she had apparently fallen from his grace- but this was Howard's spot.  He opened the show.  One day she would, but not today as he took a deep breath.


Taker sat in the back watching along with everyone else, stroking the white rope that rested on his thigh.

 

As the show progressed, without any problems, the second to the last match began.  Savalyn had the WORST luck because she had to announce the Hell in a Cell match between her rapist and Mark.  Boss Man and the Undertaker.  This was just…peachy.  Howard asked if she wanted him to take over this match and she declined, assuring him she would be fine.  Stepping into the ring, Savalyn had to swallow back the fear and chunks rising in her throat, plastering on a dazzling smile for the audience.

 

“The following contest is scheduled for one fall.  Coming to the ring first, from Marietta, Georgia, weighing 330 pounds, he is the Boss Man!”

 

She did it to perfection, despite what happened and stepped aside while the Hell in a Cell lowered around them.  They would let her out before the match took place.  A slow smirk crept across her face momentarily once the lights went out and the unmistakable music of the Undertaker filtered throughout the arena.  Even as a heel, Mark was loved by many and would always have a fan following, no matter what.

 

Accept the Lord of Darkness as your savior
Allow the purity of evil to guide you

 

“His opponent, accompanied by Paul Bearer, representing the Ministry of Darkness, weighing 328 pounds – The UNDERTAKER!!” Savalyn immediately stepped through the bottom rope and walked out of the cell, walking around it to go take her seat next to Howard, feeling her heart pounding a furious tattoo in her chest.

 

Taker was almost smiling in a demonic sort of way – almost.  Anyone who knew him, really knew him, would probably see the mirth in his emerald gaze.  Ray sure did because the prick suddenly looked aware of what was about to happen and began talking out of his backside.  He let the idiot run his mouth.  Taker had an ace up the sleeve and tonight…tonight would be a WrestleMania to remember.  They locked up, he gave it the appearance of a genuine match and it would be, but he made sure everything he did hurt the bastard too.  It not only looked painful, it actually was and Boss Man had to actually defend himself for real if he wanted to walk out of here alive.  If Taker’s plan went through without problems, he wouldn’t walk out of here of his own volition.

 

Every single thing Mark did to Ray was methodical and deliberate, every shot to the ribs, face and anywhere else on his body.  Savalyn really enjoyed Mark’s new attire, how the T with the X was cut out in the middle of his chest, showing off just a glimpse of it.  She watched him, unable to take her eyes off the match and, more importantly, her ex.  So much love she felt for him.  She missed him so much, it physically hurt her being away from him, no matter how much time she spent with John.  Savalyn felt guilty for being with John, even though she shouldn’t since Mark had been the one who left her with hardly any explanation. 

 

When Ray handcuffed him to the Cell, Savalyn felt nauseous and swallowed hard, looking away the moment the nightstick connected with his forehead.  It only took one shot and Mark was busted open, but the handcuff had broken off his wrist, so at least he wasn’t locked up like an animal.  Mark please, she thought, pleading silently for him to walk out of this and felt her heart clench painfully in her chest at the blood running down his face.


If he had known what she was thinking he would have shot her a stony glare.  Walking away was never on the menu, ever.  Not from this piece of garbage, not away from what he had done to her.  Taker was dazed though and it showed as he blinked rapidly, trying to clear his head, pushing away the pain.  Trying to get his equilibrium back on track, he licked at his lips, tasting blood and mentally cursed.  If he were a vain man, he'd be pissed because his face would wind up battered after all this.  Taker tapped his thigh, knowing backstage the gesture would be caught.

 

It didn’t take long for Mark to gain the upper hand, a chair used and a few minutes later, a Tombstone piledriver was executed perfectly.  Savalyn grinned, clapping once the match ended and Mark stood tall in the ring while Ray was sprawled out on the mat.  She thought that was the end of the match, but Savalyn couldn’t have been more wrong.  As the music of the Ministry played, Mark lifted his arms up and suddenly, the Brood descended from the rafters on lines, landing on top of the Cell.  They broke through the center of it and Savalyn watched wide-eyed as a noose was dropped down to the ring, tied to the top of the cage. 

 

Mark lowered on his knee, wrapping the noose around Ray’s neck and her hand covered her mouth the moment the cage began to rise.  They were hanging him!  They were hanging him literally from by the Cell!  Her breath caught in her throat as Mark locked eyes with her while Ray hung there, struggling at first and then went completely limp, his face crimson red and turning nearly purple, slowly choking to death.  What should’ve been feelings of fear and disgust was nothing more than love and adoration for what he did…for her.  The hanging was symbolic for her, for what that piece of garbage did to her and Savalyn’s heart exploded with newfound love for Mark, tears sliding down her cheeks freely as the lights went out.

 

His gaze shifted from her up to Ray, who was struggling and making some very interesting noises that Taker would have loved to had made into an audio book, just so he could listen to it over and over again.  Music to help him relax and sleep at night; he would sleep like a king tonight, knowing this scumbag had finally been dealt with.  Taker watched impassively as Ray's rapist abusive backside was lifted out of the ring, knowing up top was his Acolytes, who had been quite eager to assist with this, just as the Brood had.  He bet they were no longer on camera, something else was, because officials were already on their way to stop this.

 

~!~

 

Andrew could only imagine what was going through Stephanie’s mind as she watched from backstage, seeing the huge tears sliding down her cheeks and wrapped an arm around her. “Still think working with HIM is a good idea?” He asked quietly, watching her look up at him and he was taken aback by the massive smile on her face.

 

“Look what he just did for her.  He loves her as much as I do.” Stephanie sniffled, knowing she sounded insane, but her heart melted at what the Undertaker did for his ex-girlfriend, her best friend. “I didn’t think he’d go that far, but…I’m glad he did.  That bastard deserved it after what he did to Savalyn.”

 

“Stephanie!” Vince rushed into the room, seeing the tears on his daughter’s face and immediately pulled her into his arms. “We’re getting out of here, come on.”

“The show…”

 

“I don’t give a damn about the show!  Did you see what that lunatic did out there?!  It was a message, Stephanie.  We have to get you out of here.”
“Test can take me back to the hotel.” She looked up at him with pleading watery ocean blues. “Please Daddy, don’t leave your show until the end.  I’ll be fine with him.”

 

The moment they were out of the arena and in the car, Andrew shook his head as Stephanie burst out laughing. “You are truly twisted.”

 

~!~

 

“We got to get you out of here, boss.  Vince has already set loose the guards because that was not in the line-up or discussion.” Bradshaw informed once they had all met backstage, looping an arm around his boss and friend's shoulder to steady him when the Deadman weaved a bit. “Unless you want to go back to jail?”

 

He knew now why Taker had gone last time.  It let Vince drop his guard, thinking the Undertaker was in jail.  That was how they got so close to the McMahon mansion and Stephanie’s assistance helped tremendously as well.  Taker shook his head, knowing what he needed was Paul tending to his head and looked up at John.

 

“Stay for Savalyn.  Keep her safe.  If McMahon thinks she was in on this, and he will…” Taker needed her safe, but he wasn’t in any condition to do it.  If Vince thought for one second Savalyn had her hand in this, because of what Ray had done to her, he’d target her. “Go.”

Chapter 24

 

Once WrestleMania ended, Savalyn was immediately escorted out of the building by John, both of them hurrying across the lot toward his rental. “What’s going on?” She demanded once they were on the road, noticing how tense and coiled John was.  Thinking back to the match, Savalyn frowned at the memory of Ray hanging from the Hell in a Cell and looked over at John again, cursing under her breath. “It wasn’t scripted, was it?  He did that…he broke script to do that.” John didn’t have to nod or shake his head to tell her she was right on track with her assumptions. “Oh my god, just tell me he’s okay.  Tell me he’s not in jail again.  That’s all I care about is he’s okay and getting medical treatment for that cut on his forehead.”

 

“He's fine, Sava.” John assured quickly, knowing she wouldn't let herself be protected or calmed down until she knew what was going on with the Undertaker.  At this point, Savalyn was becoming predictable when it came to the man, which was a good thing because it meant he knew how to deal with how crazy she could get when it came to Taker. “He left earlier and Paul took him somewhere safe to be treated.” He ushered her into the car, literally seeing her body relax at the news. “We gotta get you out of here now.”

 

It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why he was rushing her out of the building.  Vince would think she had a hand in what Taker and the Ministry did to Ray, his personal rapist.  She slid into the car, making sure not to bunch her dress up too much and buckled up while John peeled out of the parking lot.  Her hand found his, lacing their fingers together and the tension John had in his body slowly diminished at her touch.  She smiled, knowing it was because of her he was a lot more relaxed being away from the arena.  Savalyn would sleep well that night knowing Ray was in the hospital with possibly a broken neck from the hanging.  It also made her wonder why Mark did that if he claimed not to care about her and didn’t want to be with her anymore.  Once again, he was sending mixed signals with his actions, contradicting his words.

 

“What’s on your mind?” John asked after a long period of silence, having felt the tension leave his own body once they cleared the inner city.

 

Paul had made sure their things were in the backseat and, while in theory the Ministry was booked at the same hotel as the rest of the WWF, none of them were actually staying there.  They were all splitting up for the night, which had been planned beforehand.  On the grounds Vince would lose his mind and temper over them breaking script on WrestleMania of all nights.

 

This time, Savalyn decided to keep her thoughts about Mark to herself and unfastened her seatbelt to scoot over to him. “You and what you said about stealing me away earlier.”

 

She leaned her head on his shoulder and stroked his t-shirt covered chest, knowing the Ministry didn’t abide by Vince’s dress code, not even for WrestleMania.  Savalyn had no choice because she was a ring announcer and had to dress to the nines for her position in the company.  John had a lot more leeway.

 

“I meant what I said earlier about you having your way with me.  If you’re up for it, that is.”

 

He instantly had a problem and was glad for the tight jeans because he didn't think his erection would tolerate her being this close to him.  John would wind up erupting and embarrassing himself.  Tight enough to be painful and keep things in check.  Savalyn was really offering herself up again, after the night she had.  The woman was too good to be true.

 

“Sava, sugar, you don't have-” John stopped talking when she pressed a finger to his lips to shut him up and pushed down on the gas.  They needed to reach their destination now.

 

~!~

 

“Well that was…nice.” Savalyn murmured quietly an hour later, laying in bed beside John with both of them staring up at the ceiling. 

 

The sheet was drawn up to cover her chest and part of his, neither touching.  She was lying through her teeth.  The sex she expected wasn’t what transpired.  Savalyn was sorely disappointed, if she was being honest.  John was a sweet man and could kiss like no other, but below the belt he had…issues.  The sex lasted maybe 5 minutes, though they’d done a lot of foreplay beforehand to rile each other up.  That should’ve helped, but apparently it’d done the job a little TOO well.  John had slipped inside of her, a couple thrusts and it was over before it could really begin.  Now they lay in bed side-by-side, feeling extremely awkward and not having a clue what to say to the other.

 

“No, it sucked.” John grunted with a snort, feeling a bit like a 14-year-old boy having sex for the first time.  He'd been celibate for awhile now and with all the making out, kisses and foreplay, he apparently had gotten to the point where it was a 30 seconds or less deal. “I'm sorry, sugar.” He rolled over, forcing her onto her back and stared down at her intently. “Let me make it up to you, Sava.” He was good for a second round without spurting like a premature moron.

 

Maybe he was right.  They were both nervous and she hadn’t had sex since being with Mark.  Perhaps John hadn’t done the deed in a while either.  Who was she to deny him a second round, a second chance?  After everything this wonderful man had done for her, it was the least Savalyn could give him.

 

“It wasn’t that bad.” She murmured, caressing his face with the her hand and brought his mouth down on hers, this time going slower.  The first time had been rushed, which was a mistake. “John…” She moaned out as his mouth sealed to her neck and arched her body against his, doing everything in her power to enjoy what he was doing to her.

 

John already knew he was competing with her memories of the Undertaker, likely being compared to those bouts and he had failed brilliantly.  Well, this time around he wasn't risking popping his cork early.  He'd never had any complaints in the bedroom before -not counting teenage years- and this  wouldn’t be a scar on his memory.  John made sure to take his time, not rushing like they had before and showed her what he should have done the first time.  They could be good together.

 

John more than made up for their first time together and, as far as Savalyn was concerned, it was just a trial run.  THIS was the actual game, the run of a lifetime and for once, Savalyn only had her mind on John.  Mark didn’t invade her thoughts once, she was completely consumed by John in every way, even her heart.  Though it would only be temporary.  The lovemaking was raw, passionate and Savalyn could feel the need from both of them exploding for one another.  Her cries of his name echoed throughout the hotel room as John took her to heights she knew they could reach.  His grunts and growls of approval just made the moment much more intense. 

 

Savalyn collapsed on top of him, ending their torment riding out their releases and climaxing together, trying to catch her breath.  They’d switched positions multiple times, John always slowing down before reaching the end and Savalyn knew he’d done that purposely to prolong the inevitable as much as possible.  Savalyn could barely lift her head to brush her mouth against his before passing out sprawled on top of him, completely spent after the night’s events.

 

Now that was better and his wounded pride was assuaged quite a bit.  John kept his arms wrapped around her, kissing the top of her head long after she was asleep.  When there was a knock at the door, light but audible, John tensed.  No one knew they were here, not even Paul as far as he knew.  Nobody was supposed to know anything about the other, just in case.  He shifted Savalyn onto the bed, ensuring she was still asleep before creeping to the door.  He was not surprised to find Taker there, but not pleased either.

 

“The hell, man?” John rumbled tiredly, staring at his friend.  And it was his friend. 

 

Taker was dressed down in faded blue jeans and a long sleeved buttoned up top, hair pulled back, revealing his bruised face. “How is she?”

 

He had come to make sure Savalyn was all right, that she made it out of the arena unscathed.  This no contact thing, on top of being unconscious a few hours, hadn't left him with much information to go on beyond what little Paul had known.  He took Bradshaw's state in; he could smell the sex and, while the anger flared, it was very half-hearted.  Taker had lost her a long time ago and only pushed her away in recent times.  For a cause, a reason, that right now he barely remembered; he was that worn down.  If John made her happy, then who was he to stand in her way?
    

“She was terrified for you.  Scared, nervous.  She's tired, and I wouldn't be surprised if she woke up crying.” Because he was not Mark and he knew it.
    

“She'll eventually get over it.” His words weren’t callous, just resigned. “Take care of her, John.”

 

“You could-”

 

“I’m seeing this through and you’re a good man.  She deserves a…a good man.” Which he was not.
    

John could only watch as his old friend turned and walked off, quickly disappearing into the darkness.

 

~!~

 

Stephanie received a phone call on her personal cell, instructing her to leave her room to go to a specific location.  She did as she was told, knowing who wanted to meet with her and it had to be in secret.  Andrew was sleeping and Kane was in his own room, so she quickly dressed and headed out.  Halfway there, she was grabbed from behind and felt a huge hand clamp over her mouth, her body stiffening.  She didn’t scream, knowing who it was and let him drag her off wherever he wanted so they could talk.

 

“Subtle much?” Stephanie muttered once they were in a secure location, which was the bowels of the hotel.  It was an older building that actually had a basement unlike the others. “Sorry.  What do you need at this time of night, Undertaker?”

 

“Princess, if you're being followed, then there's going to be talk if I take your hand and lead you out.” Taker retorted flatly, gesturing her towards the table where a lot of paperwork sat. “We need to talk, Stephanie.  I think it's time I let you in on what's going down.”

 

Eventually, at some point, he would have had to deal with the McMahon spawn and Linda.  Linda was not a woman to be manipulated unless one already had her kids in their pocket.  Taker was about to pocket the princess.  Not to mention, he'd need at least the women of the McMahon family to sway the board to approve the changes Vince was about to make by signing over control.  Since Stephanie was proving amendable, he was taking the opportunity to lock her down in case she had a change of heart.  She smiled back at him, nodding in understanding and sat down at the table while he took the seat in front of her, looking over the paperwork.  As she read, her eyebrows furrowed together in confusion and slowly looked up at him, wondering if this was a joke or he was serious.

 

“You want controlling interest in the WWF.” Stephanie wanted to make absolutely certain she was reading these papers correctly.  She set the papers down and leaned back in the chair, eyeing him thoughtfully. “Why?  And I’m not asking you that to be condescending.  I’m genuinely curious as to why you would want to control the company you work for.  What do you gain from it?” Granted, he’d be able to have as many title shots as he wanted against the current champion, Stone Cold Steve Austin, but something told Stephanie this went a lot deeper than that. 

 

What was the connection between gaining controlling interest in the company and Savalyn?

 

“Because at this point, princess, I cannot do anything worse to the people in this business than Vince has.  It has become his personal fucking playground and he is god with all our lives.” Taker answered honestly, dropping the Undertaker voice for a moment. “I don't care about the title shots.  I want to earn those and I know I have already, but Vince holds it over me.” It wasn’t right since he had been a pillar of this Federation for years now, carrying its weight with few others. “He has…manipulated and threatened a lot of us to get his way, what he wants.  If he doesn't think something is good for his company, no matter if it's personal and not related to business in any way, he will destroy it.” Taker shook his head, frowning. “I'm not looking to step into his shoes; I'm looking to do a giant reset without him at the helm.  Shane and you, maybe, if you could prove you’re not going to be newer versions of him.  But not him, not any longer.” He knew Stephanie had more Linda in her. 

 

Shane had been openly defiant of his father for several years now, so that was a toss-up.  Stephanie mulled over his words, remaining silent for a few moments to let it all sink in and felt her eyes slowly widen in realization.  She was a lot smarter than people thought and could read between the lines.

 

“No matter if it’s personal and not related to business…” She murmured in an echo, feeling her heart break because, up until this point, nobody knew why Savalyn and Mark ended. “He’s the reason you and Savalyn split up, isn’t it?  It makes sense, but I never thought he would stoop to THAT level…” She stood up from the table, shaking her head and suddenly took the one piece of paper that required her signature, scrawling it without hesitation. “See, I knew deep down you were still that same kind man I met when I first came into the company.  This place will be better off with your direction, I wholeheartedly believe that.  And if you need my help, even though I don’t have a lot of experience, I’ll do what I can.  I just hope you’re not biting off more than you can chew, Mark.”

 

He cocked an eyebrow, rolling up the documents and stuffed them into the lined pocket of his duster. “We're not on that good of terms, princess.” He informed, amusement and annoyance vying for control and it showed in his eyes. “Taker is fine.” And he would let her think whatever she wanted because he had said more than enough. “Get back to them; game day comes fast.” Game day being the day his coup was complete and Vince had no choice except to sign everything over what hadn't been given by his children.  He smiled grimly.

 

“Tomorrow night, right?” She asked, just to make sure she had the date and watched him nod, smiling in return. “Until then.  Get some sleep, Taker.  You really need it.”

 

Stephanie left, feeling marginally better and snuck back to her room, miraculously without any of the Corporation knowing.  Hell it was 4 AM, nobody was up at this late hour.  She slipped through the door and closed it behind her, seeing Andrew still sleeping in the bed after their own night of passion.  Her father would kill her if he knew his princess had been deflowered by a wrestler.  The thought made her smirk as she rejoined him, making sure to change into what she’d fallen asleep in prior to meeting Undertaker.  Hopefully, tomorrow night’s plan went through without any problems.

 

Tomorrow night.  Taker sighed and leaned back in his chair, running a hand through his long tresses tiredly.  He felt like this entire debacle had aged him at least 20 years.  It probably did.  He had known how vicious Vince could be and lived it firsthand, but even in his own darkest thoughts, he never imagined Vince could be capable of the atrocities he’d done.  Ordering a hit on a woman for telling him off?  That was something common low thugs did. 

 

It was time to end it all.

Chapter 25

 

Savalyn was up before John awoke and left the motel they’d shacked up in, needing time to herself.  Yes, it was dangerous being alone right now, but honestly, she couldn’t bare waking up to look in those dark eyes and hers being full of regret.  That’s all she felt the moment her eyes opened earlier that morning.  Raw, painful regret.  Why the hell would she sleep with another man when her heart still belonged to Mark?  It was cruel of her, though she had warned John ahead of time where her heart remained.  Where it would always remain.  The tears finally came while she drove, her heart shattering all over again and she finally had to pull over on the side of the road to finish her sob fest.  Leaving was the right thing to do, Savalyn couldn’t let John see her in this condition and hoped he understood.

 

John had known Savalyn would wake up with regret.  He had been prepared for that.  He had known from the beginning where he stood and that her heart still rested with the Undertaker.  What he hadn't been prepared for was her not being there and the car gone as well.

 

“For fuck’s sake…” He groaned, raking a hand through his tousled black hair, knowing he would get his backside handed to him by Taker for this.

 

“What the HELL happened?” Ron demanded once John got into the car later on that day and received a smack upside his head for being nosy. “Man, fuck you too.  Taker is pissed, just a fair warning.”

 

~!~

 

Raw was at the arena just down the road from where WrestleMania had been, so Savalyn didn’t have to go that far.  She just went to another hotel and signed in under a different name, not wanting anyone to find her.  All she did for the majority of the day was cry and then slept, setting the alarm on the nightstand for Raw.  After a shower and some makeup, Savalyn looked good as new and there was no sign she had sobbed her heart out most of the day.  She stepped out of her vehicle, grabbed her purse and felt a hand wrap around her upper arm, whipping her around to stare into acidic orbs glaring back at her.

 

“What the hell, Mark?” She snapped, not expecting to be grabbed like that and ripped her arm out of his grasp, anger flashing in her sky blues for just a second before it diminished. “Where did you come from?”

 

He snorted at that, flipping his hair back from his face, wondering if she had lost her mind. “Since you decided to ditch Bradshaw,” Taker knew they were in the endgame, the goal was in sight, within reach and he would finish it out.  That meant shoving back down the bit of humanity that had somehow seeped out last night. “I followed you.”

 

He knew her habits and little alias’.  There’d been a few times she’d been angry with him and gotten her own hotel room for the night, only for him to track her down to beg her to forgive him.  It only happened a couple times in the 6 months they were together and Taker remembered every alias she’d used, which hadn’t changed.

 

“You need to be careful tonight, Savalyn.” He warned in a soft rumble, trailing a finger along her lower lip as he considered her, eyes narrowing in on the love bite just peeking out from under her collar.

Just that simple touch from him ignited her body from the inside out and Savalyn leaned into it, heaving a sigh.  Tears of remorse, regret and pain filled her eyes, tears she didn’t want him to see.  She didn’t want anyone to see.  He knew about her and John sleeping together since he followed her, so why did he continuously torture her?  Savalyn looked away from him, not able to meet his eyes and nodded.

 

“I’ll do my best.” Her voice came out soft and monotone, no longer holding the sweet honey quality it once did. “Please do the same.  Who knows what Vince has up his sleeve tonight after what you did to that asshole last night.”

 

“Focus on getting through tonight and let me deal with Vince.” Taker was actually trying to make that sound reassuring, knowing being betrayed by the McMahon patriarch had probably shaken something within her core.  She was Stephanie's best friend, had known Vince as something besides just a boss.  He had given her the spotlight and then beaten her out of it. “You should probably stay close to…John, if you can.” Parting jibe, not exactly a good thing, but Taker couldn't let her think he was regaining a heart, not just yet.

 

“No.” Savalyn shook her head, pulling back from him and still kept her eyes to the ground. “I’ll be careful and watch out for myself.  I-I don’t need a protector.” Unless it was the man standing in front of her, which would never happen. “Besides, I don’t think he’ll want anything to do with me.  Staying away from him is for the best.” She wouldn’t elaborate because Mark knew everything at all times and was always one step ahead of everyone, or so he claimed to be. “Have him help you fulfill whatever it is you’re doing.  He is part of the Ministry, after all.  It’s wrong to use him as an errand boy.” Shouldering her purse, Savalyn walked past him toward the building and willed the tears to stay in her eyes, ignoring the cold wind whipping around her.

 

However, Taker knew something she didn't.  Bradshaw had been behind her, just out of sight and thinking he was out of Taker's line of vision.  No…he had known the other man was there.  If Taker wanted to be technical about it, his rival, Savalyn had hurt John.  He could see it in John's stance.

 

“You’re a cruel son of a bitch, you know that?”

 

“Follow her, errand boy.  After this is done, she can make her choice.”
    

“She already did.”

 

~!~

 

Stephanie could tell something was off with Savalyn, but for the sake of Taker’s plan, she couldn’t engage with her friend.  So instead, she asked their mutual friend, Ryan, to find out what was going on.  That lead Ryan to track Savalyn down, finding her in wardrobe trying to find a dress for Raw that night.

 

“I like the color yellow, myself.” She said from behind, her way of greeting the troubled looking woman. “Sava, what’s wrong sweetie?”

 

“Nothing.” Savalyn whispered, shaking her head and gave up trying to find a dress, just plucking a random one off the rack to put on.  It was surprisingly yellow and that’s exactly what she was – a yellow coward.

Ryan narrowed her eyes and pulled Savalyn away from wardrobe with the dress in hand, guiding her into one of the empty dressing rooms nearby. “Out with it.  What happened?  Are you okay?” She’d heard what the Boss Man did from Stephanie, but promised not to mention anything about it unless Savalyn brought it up first. “Sweetie, I’m your friend and I love you…”

 

“I made a mistake, Ryan.” Savalyn buried her face in her hands, the dam bursting open. “A horrible mistake…”

 

Ryan could only stare at Savalyn, not entirely sure this was something she knew about.  She had watched, been in contact with Stephanie, but with everything going on…and, considering her own little incident, she had tried keeping out of the fire as much as possible.  So when Stephanie approached her with a very surreal opportunity and idea, she couldn’t pass it up.  First, she had to find a way to calm their friend down, who looked to be on the verge of a breakdown.

 

“Savalyn, sweetie, what’s wrong?" She asked, her tone much softer than before, reaching out to pull Savalyn’s hands from her face. “What could you have done that was so bad?”

 

Sitting down on the bench with Ryan, Savalyn calmed down enough to talk without stammering.  She hated crying and knew her makeup would have to be redone before tonight’s show.  Luckily, it was still a couple hours away from starting, so she had time to completely settle down.  Slowly, she explained everything that happened lately with John Bradshaw, how he’d been sent to watch over her, stalk her in a way, though she never saw him that way.

 

“I…slept with him last night.” Her sky blues lowered from Ryan’s shocked brown, shutting them tightly and pulled her hands away from her friend to clasp them tightly in her lap. “I wish I could say I didn’t mean for it to happen, but that’s not the truth.  I figured if I slept with another man, I would get over Mark and be able to move on.  It didn’t work.  I woke up feeling lower than ever and filled with regret for having sex with another man and not just any man, but one of Mark’s followers.  I just…I feel like I betrayed Mark.  How stupid is that?”


“Pretty stupid.” Ryan agreed, though she wasn't referring to Savalyn feeling like she had betrayed Undertaker.

 

From what she had been told, and what she wasn't allowed to say, her understanding was the breakup was on Taker’s end, but it didn't seem like he had been fine with the idea.  He was doing this stuff now for a reason and it seemed to center on Savalyn.  At least, that was what Stephanie had told her.

 

“But I meant you sleeping with Shaw to get over…Mark.” It felt weird calling the man by his birth name. “It doesn't work that way, sweetie.  How do you feel about Shaw?  Just friends?  I'm sure he doesn’t hate you if you’re worried about that.” She wrapped an arm around Savalyn’s shoulders comfortingly.

 

“Nothing.  I feel nothing for him.  And I’m pretty damn sure after what happened between us last night, he’ll want nothing to do with me.  I snuck out while he was sleeping because I needed time to think.” Savalyn leaned against Ryan, not bothering to wipe her tears away and felt hopeless, staring straight ahead. “I can’t help loving Mark.  I fell in love with the brute the moment I laid eyes on him and when he asked me out on a date, I thought I was dreaming.  I thought I’d died and gone to heaven and it wasn’t real.  For 6 months, I was the happiest I’d ever been with a man and I fell in love.  And then it all came crashing down and I STILL don’t know the reason why.  Maybe if I knew that then I’d be able to move on…” She didn’t know anymore because Mark’s actions contradicted the poisonous words he shot at her every time they saw each other. “I knew Mark was complicated, but this is just overkill.  I wish he’d be honest with me on what’s going on.  He’s hiding something from me and I need to find out what it is, somehow…” Little did she know that both Stephanie and the woman she was currently confiding in were working with her ex-boyfriend to bring their vindictive boss down.

 

“Sweetie…did you ever stop and consider that he's hiding something for a reason?” Ryan asked patiently, not even bothering to sort through what she had been told.  This was just plain girl talk, that was something she could do. “And if you push at him, you know he’s going to shut you down.” Ryan had to hide a shudder at the thought of the Undertaker shutting anyone down; the man was more than a brute, as Savalyn had so eloquently put it. 

 

He was downright scary.

 

“He already has.  Multiple times.” Savalyn muttered, standing from the bench and folded her arms in front of her chest. “That doesn’t mean I won’t back down from him either.  He knows me just as well as I know him.  And I know pushing him is the only way to get him to tell me what the hell is going on.”

 

It would have to be done carefully though, with a little finesse.  She could handle that.  After all, since he was hell-bent on making sure she was safe, he would have to be the one who followed her from now on.  Or else she would simply keep evading the minions he sent after her since John would surely stay away from her.

 

“I gotta go get ready for the show.  Thanks for the talk, Ry.” Hugging her friend, Savalyn left to go change into the dress she picked out and then went to get her hair and makeup done.

 

Closing her eyes, every part of Savalyn’s body tensed and tears formed.  She’d just gotten her makeup and hair done, there was no time to fix it if she started crying now. “I know.” She murmured, slowly turning around to face him, deep turmoil and heartache burning in her watery blues. “I wish I could give you a chance, John.  You have no idea just how much I want to take that leap with you, but…I can’t.  I’m damaged and there’s no fixing me.  You deserve someone much better than me and I know that’s cliché to say, but it’s the truth.  Last night never should’ve happened and I only did it because I thought…” Blinking, unstoppable tears slid down her cheeks. “Damn it, I thought sleeping with you, being with you and taking that step would start the healing process.  And all it did was make me feel worse.  I couldn’t face you and that’s why I left.  I couldn’t bear seeing the look in your eyes you have right now.  I-I’m sorry…” 

 

That hurt and he had known it would.  However, it was also what Bradshaw had been expecting deep down.  She had made it known she still had feelings for the Undertaker, for Mark, and if they hadn't gone away after 9 months, she was probably going to keep on burning the torch.

 

“Don't be sorry, sugar.” He said finally, clearing his throat and reached out to pull her into his arms, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. “I knew from the start where I stood.  I guess I thought I could help you mend.”

 

He was such an understanding sweet man and it made Savalyn hurt worse. “If I met you first, I know we would’ve been happy together.” That wouldn’t make this situation any better and she knew it, but felt the need to say it anyway. “I wish I could stop loving him, but it’s impossible, even after 9 months.” Nodding at a technician walking up to hand her paperwork for the night’s event, Savalyn pulled back from John to take it, thanking the woman.  She looked up into the sad dark eyes and stroked his face with the back of her hand, knowing she had to cut ties with this man for his own good. “Bye, John.” It was a mere whisper.  Savalyn walked away from him and went to the nearest bathroom to clean herself up, hoping her makeup wasn’t ruined from crying.

 

Yes because giving him a ‘Dear John’ letter would work.  If it wasn’t him tailing her, it would wind up being Taker.  Until tonight was over, the boss had told him in very short words Bradshaw was to watch Savalyn’s backside, not tap it, for the foreseeable future.  If that wasn’t a dead giveaway that the Deadman still had some lingering feelings for Savalyn, Shaw didn't know what was.  He scratched the top of his head, sighing.

 

Chapter 26

 

Incredibly nervous, Stephanie paced back and forth in the office her father holed her up in along with himself and Shane.  The show began and she smiled at Savalyn stepping in the ring to announce the first match of the night.  It was the women, she didn’t remember their names, but Sable was out there.  She sat down as Vince and Shane walked back inside, having security guards outside the door, smiling softly up at both of them.  All she really wanted to do was rip her father’s heart out of her chest and stomp on it.  All in due time, she thought, clasping her hands in her lap.

Suddenly, the Ministry’s music blared through the speakers as the Ministry flanked down to ringside, not giving all the women time to escape.  Sable was the only one left in the ring and she was scared out of her mind, not sure what to make of this.  All she knew was any time the Undertaker and his Ministry got in the ring, something horrible was bound to happen.

 

Was he going after Sable now, Savalyn thought, staring at the scene before her and listened to what her ex said.  She rolled her eyes as Sable began gyrating her body trying to show the Undertaker what she had, as he requested only to be throttled with a large fingerless gloved hand.  The command for McMahon to come out to the ring was clear as a bell and Savalyn swallowed hard, wondering if the boss had enough guts to show up.  Then something occurred to her while looking in the ring, noticing two very important members of the Ministry were missing. 

 

Bradshaw and Farooq – The Acolytes.

 

Vince had the guts, sort of.  That was one of his biggest draws right there, the most well-known female superstar in the company.  Yes, she was definitely a meal ticket, as the Undertaker had called her.  He stepped out cautiously onto the stage, microphone in hand. “What kind of man are you?” He demanded weakly.


Taker just stared at him, the hatred burning in his eyes as his grip on Sable’s slender throat momentarily tightened, eliciting a strangled yelp from her.
    

Vince's face slowly drained of color as he took in the scene before him.  More importantly, what wasn't before him and WHO was missing from Undertaker’s Ministry. “Stephanie!” He cried out, dropping the microphone on the stage and rushed backstage.

 

Sky blues snapped up to watch the Titantron as Vince rushed back to the office he’d left Stephanie in with Shane watching over her.  The prodigal son had left momentarily for some reason and Savalyn already knew what happened.  Stephanie had been abducted by the Ministry, finally.  Mark had gotten what he wanted and her heart clenched painfully, hoping Stephanie was alright, hoping he kept his word about not harming her friend. 

 

She looked back at Howard, seeing the horrified expression on his face along with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, all of them not really knowing what to say or make of this situation.  Once the Ministry exited the ring, Howard stood up to go announce the next match and did it with perfection, not allowing anything to keep him from doing his job.  Savalyn had to have the same mindset and took a deep breath, pushing what happened in the far recesses of her mind to deal with it later on once the show was over.

 

“Do you have any idea what they want with her?” Jerry asked Michael Cole the moment they cut to a commercial break.  He frowned when Michael began shaking his head negatively.  Contrary to the person he appeared to be, Jerry was a fairly decent guy and, to see all of this happening and knowing it was unscripted, was a lot to digest. “I hope he doesn't hurt her.”

 

“I'm trying not to think about it.” Michael shuddered, adjusting the collar of his shirt with a trembling hand.
    

“Why not just have him arrested?  Or suspend him?”
    

“Because it's better to have the devil before you than behind you, I guess.”
    

Stephanie was definitely not in that locker room.

 

~!~

 

“Come on, hurry.” Bradshaw ordered, taking Stephanie by the hand and guided her down the ladder that lead down to the bowels of the boiler room. “You’re gonna stay down here until it’s time to leave the arena.  We gotta make it look like you disappeared.” He explained in a low voice, nodding to Ron and took the paint his partner held out. “This will wash off easily, now close your eyes.”

Obeying, Stephanie had nothing to be afraid of and closed her eyes, feeling the paint on her forehead.

A few minutes later, Bradshaw pulled back to reveal Undertaker’s symbol painted on Stephanie’s forehead in black ink.

“Now remember, stay put or else the agreement is broken.”

 

“Got it.”

The chaos that erupted in the aftermath of Stephanie’s kidnapping had him darkly amused.  People were scurrying about, a cameraman was tailing Vince who was acting like his backside was on fire.  Guards were trying to question people, but everyone was in an uproar.  Everyone was scared.  If this could happen to the boss’s daughter, it could happen to anyone…what else could happen?  Well, weren’t they all in for a surprise!  His eyes shot to the monitor when he heard Savalyn announcing the next match, sighing heavily.

 

“Soon.” His finger slid down the monitor, missing her fiercely.

 

~!~

 

Luck was not on her side tonight.  It was Ken Shamrock against Gangrel.  Ken had promised Vince he would get the answer to Stephanie’s whereabouts, even if he had to break the man’s ankle in pieces.  The tension was thick in the arena, everyone was scurrying around trying to locate the woman.  Savalyn sincerely hoped Stephanie wasn’t in the building because, if Mark’s plans were foiled, she had no idea what he would do. 

Ken looked at Gangrel and then snapped his head toward Savalyn, immediately coming toward her.

 

“Where is she?” He demanded, keeping his eyes on Gangrel while backing the suddenly terrified ring announcer into the ring corner. “WHERE IS STEPHANIE?!”

 

“I-I don’t k-know…” Savalyn swallowed hard, shaking her head and dropped the microphone, knowing this wasn’t scripted. “Please…”

 

Gangrel’s eyes narrowed as he approached Ken Shamrock and grabbed him from behind, giving Savalyn the opportunity to escape the ring, the match finally getting underway.

 

“Go backstage and calm down.” Howard ordered, knowing the camera wouldn’t focus on her while a match was going on. “Now.”

 

Nodding, Savalyn made her way to the back and immediately ran to the nearest bathroom, having been scared out of her mind.

 

Considering the strain Taker had been under for awhile now, along with the near misses they had and all that had gone on…seeing that set Taker off.  He was currently being restrained by his own men to keep him from storming ringside to both rescue Savalyn and tear Shamrock’s head off.  Ken Shamrock was a loose cannon.  He was methodical, cold and everything was calculated.  Shamrock acted without thinking and it was usually brutal violence, making him out to be a rabid dog.

 

“Find her.” Taker ordered gravely, catching her head along the bottom of the monitor and knew she was obviously running away from what could have happened. “NOW!”

~!~

 

When was Vince going to realize she had nothing to do with this plan?!  She wasn’t with Mark and definitely not his keeper!  Savalyn tried to get her breathing under control, knowing what could’ve happened to her had Gangrel not stopped Shamrock from advancing.  The man was out of his mind and didn’t think before he acted.  A true fighter, nothing he did in the ring was fake.  Just as she walked out of the bathroom, after calming down, Savalyn was grabbed from behind and hoisted over a broad shoulder, trying to see who had a hold of her.  When she was set down, she looked up into the mask of Kane and immediately relaxed, pressing a hand over her racing heart.

 

“Jesus big man, you scared the hell out of me!” She gasped out, scrubbing a hand down her face.  There was no way she could go back down to ringside tonight, it was too dangerous. “How did you know where I was?”

 

“I’m psychic.” Kane deadpanned, looking around furtively. “Taker has people out looking for you.  Not many know it yet and we need to keep it that way.”

 

He knew she had no idea what was going on with her ex-lover, but he had a good one himself and had been let in on a few loops.  However, she had been attacked for her prior association with the Deadman, so therefore she was a target tonight.  If Vince thought Savalyn could be used as leverage to find Stephanie, he'd do it.

 

“Come on, you need to get out of here.  I can get you out or you can go hide with him.” In which case, he'd walk her to the door and that was about it because Kane and his brother were still not on speaking terms.

 

It took exactly 3 seconds for Savalyn to decide what she wanted to do. “I’ll go with you then.  You don’t have anything going on the show tonight?” His firmly shaking head gave her the answer. 

 

Savalyn knew Mark didn’t want her near him, not when he was in the middle of completing his plan and she would just be in his way.  Kane wanted to protect her, who was she to deny his offer?  They were close friends and she trusted him, at least he wouldn’t make her feel guilty for sleeping with him to try getting over her ex like John.  The more she thought about it, the more she realized just how messed up this entire situation was.