Upside Down

 

Chapter 1

 

Just another day.


Lavani stepped inside the Freedom Hall arena in Louisville, Kentucky in a faded blue jean skirt with a black and blue open-shoulder top that had a V-shaped neckline and hugged her curves nicely.  Her raven hair currently had blue streaks in it that matched the shirt and currently had it swept up on top of her head, tendrils framing her face.  It was hot in Kentucky, there was no way she having her hair stick to her neck.  Most arenas the WWF traveled to didn't have great air conditioning so she had to keep herself cool the best she could. 

 

Flat out refusing to wear sandals though, Lavani instead opted for simple tennis shoes.  She had them in every color and tonight she wore blue ones.  Lavani worked for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) with the McMahon-Helmsley Faction.  She was their personal assistant/lackey of sorts, but they did treat her with respect for the most part.  Lavani didn't take any grief, she'd worked for the company for the past two years, since 1998.

 

It was now the year 2000 and her two year anniversary had just recently passed, having started shortly before WrestleMania in 1998.  She loved her job for the most part and put the boys in their places when they stepped out of line, which her boss Vince McMahon appreciated.  Tonight would be no different...or so she thought.

 

Shane McMahon was suddenly at her side, smiling down at her.  This was the golden era, the McMahon-Helmsley Era, and they were referred to as either the McMahon-Helmsley Faction or sometimes M-H Regime.  Him, Hunter, Stephanie, Tori, X-Pac, Billy Gunn, Road Dogg Jesse James, his father...and in a completely off-TV way, Lavani.

 

“Blue is your color.” He greeted with his ever-present charming smile, adjusting his cufflinks and pretended he wasn't sweating down the back of his suit.  This was one of those days when he wished he could just show up in jeans and a t-shirt.

 

Because Lavani wasn't an on-screen character and kept to the backstage area exclusively, she didn't have to dress up unlike the others she worked for. “For this week, yes.”

 

She smiled up at Shane, carrying her purse -suitcase is what the rest of the Faction called it due to how big it was- along with her case that had all of the paperwork for the Faction in it.  Airplane tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals...important documents.  Lavani changed her color every week, going home for two days every week, which was on the weekends. 

 

That gave her time to change her wardrobe out for a new color.  She was weird, Lavani would be the first to admit it, but the streaks in her hair only changed every six months.  Since working for the WWF, she had red, purple, orange -that was definitely a different experience- green and had recently changed them to blue about a week ago.

 

“You boys ready for tonight?”

 

Shane figured Lavani had some mild form of obsessive-compulsive disorder –OCD- that pertained directly to her attire.  She was one of the weirdest women he had ever met in that aspect.  In the WWF, weirdness in attire was actually considered normal.

 

“Of course.” He scoffed, winking down at her before turning a corner and halting, opening the dressing room door for her and bowed. “Ladies first.”

 

He was considered a playboy, or man-whore, depending who asked, by some.  However, Lavani was one of the exceptions.  He knew she was a gem professional wise and he wasn't about to mess that up with unprofessional, intimate relations.

 

“Kissing ass this early, Shane-O?  My, my I wonder what you did.” Lavani chortled, stepping inside the room and greeted everyone. “So what did he do this time?”


“You totally missed it.” Billy stated, laughing. “This idiot decided to pull a prank on Show.”

 

Lavani raised a slow eyebrow, sitting down while pulling out some documents she had to have Vince sign for approval. “Do I even wanna know?” She asked resignedly.

“Man it was GREAT!” Sean ignored Shane's glare. “Tell her what you did, Shane-O!  You can't leave Lava outta the loop!”

 

Stephanie merely rolled her eyes. “I think she might prefer to be left out of the loop, X.”

“Now what fun is that, Princess?”

 

Sometimes Lavani wondered how the hell she'd put up with all of these morons for the past two years.  Shane cleared his throat, looking a bit uncomfortable, and not entirely due to the stifling heat even though their room had been outfitted with at least a million fans.  He did have a bit of a...unprofessional, immature streak and attributed it to the people he was running around with.

 

“Well, you know the wardrobe department custom make all his trunks...” Shane began, making sure the door was closed because so far, Show didn't realize it was a joke. “I may have...been in that area the other night when they were washing some newly made trunks...and shrunk them-”


“On purpose.” Jesse added, winking at the giggling Tori.


“So now, he may or may not think that he's growing...again...”


“The poor guy was practically in tears, Shane!”

 

“Just remember when he finds out that you did it, don't come crying to us for protection, Shane.” Hunter reminded, snorting while wrapping his hands in tape, getting ready for possibly the biggest match of his career that night.


“I swear, I think I'm losing IQ points being around you guys...with the exception of the women.  Since you know, we actually THINK before we act.” Lavani smirked when Stephanie and Tori started laughing, shrugging when she received glares from all the men in the room. “I'm right and you know it, so get those sour looks off your faces or I'll make sure you have to bunk together again.”


“You wouldn't.”


“Of course she wouldn't!”


“Try me.” Lavani smiled sweetly, though it didn't reach her light brown eyes that reminded most the color of toffee.

 

Billy immediately threw his hands up, nodding. “Fine, fine we'll stop.” He REFUSED to bunk with any of the guys again after what happened last time. “I refuse to have another dick pressed against my ass.”


“HEY, it was a JOKE and it was a dildo!”


“Mr. McMahon, can you sign these for me please?”

 

Vince, who had been rather quiet throughout all this, nodded and accepted the forms she handed to him.  For a very good reason, he didn't want to suffer permanent brain damage by associating in some of these conversations.  Automatically he read over them, a habit he had adopted early on, before signing.

 

“If he finds out it was me, it was because someone TOLD him.” Shane said, still continuing with Hunter.


“That dildo thing was just cold, Sean...” Jesse personally preferred staying in motels, he'd take bedbugs over anal rape via his friends any day.


“I honestly don't understand why we continue hanging around you clowns.”


“No kidding...” Tori shook her head before smirking at Lavani. “It must because we're well compensated for it, eh?”

 

“Pretty much.”

 

Lavani smirked right back at Tori, looking over the paperwork to make sure everything was signed before placing them back in her bag.  She would find a fax machine and send them over to WWF headquarters once back at the hotel.  Lavani tuned them out after the dildo remark, keeping to herself mostly.  She was friendly, but wasn't afraid to speak her mind if necessary.  Vince had offered to put her on-screen several times, but Lavani declined, enjoying being backstage and not in the madness part of the company.

 

“Okay I need java badly, anyone want anything?” She announced, standing up, the pay-per-view having already started a little over an hour ago.


“Just bring a pot back with some cups.” Stephanie suggested, knowing it would be easier for Lavani to carry. “But I want a cappuccino, if they have a machine.”


“Keep drinking that shit and it'll burn a hole in your stomach, Steph.” Lavani winked before exiting the room, heading down the hallway toward the cafeteria.

 

“I'll go help her.” Jesse volunteered, not about to stay for the second round of jokes that were starting, wondering why Vince didn't say anything.  The old man couldn't be very impressed by a nightly 'dick joke' session.  Poor old geezer. “So, do you have an opinion on the iron man match?  Because Sean, Billy, Shane and I have a betting pool going.” He grinned when she just gave him a look. “I'll give you some real good odds if you want to get in on it.  So far, everyone is betting Rocky takes Trips to the cleaners.” Mainly because...no one liked Hunter at the moment; he had gone into prick mode to most people outside their little clique.

 

“I could care less who wins that match, Jesse.”

 

Though secretly, Lavani did hope that Hunter got his ass handed to him.  But she knew better than to voice her opinions when it came to Hunter, loving her job far too much to lose it over him.  He'd already had several people fired, though they didn't contribute that much to the business.  He had Stephanie wrapped around his finger, which was dangerous in Lavani's opinion.

 

“And you do realize if he heard you talking like this, you'd probably be out of the Faction, right?  So no thanks, I'll pass.”

 

“Nah, he'd beat my ass, but then he'd have to beat Shane's, Billy's, and Sean's too, that's a lot of asses to whip.” Jesse drawled thoughtfully.  He was an easy-going, laid back kind of guy, which sometimes got him in trouble, along with the fact that when he said something.  He usually didn't think in terms of 'who is this going to piss off?’. “Besides, I'm the D-O-Double G baby, I-”


“Need to shut the HELL up before I plant my B-double O-T up your annoying ass!”

 

It was always nice to run into Rocky.

 

Lavani had to bite her lip very hard not to start laughing and failed miserably, shaking her head at The Rock. “I knew there was a reason I liked you, Dwayne.”

 

She smiled when he simply cocked an eyebrow down at her, ignoring it.  Lavani called most of the guys by their birth names instead of their gimmicks.  There were just a few choice people on the roster she knew better than to cross, Dwayne was definitely not one of them.

 

“Why don't you gentleman stay here and have a chat while I go get my java?” She suggested, slipping away and leaving Jesse to try to battle Dwayne verbally. 

 

As much as Lavani liked Jesse, he could be annoying like the rest and right now she just needed a minute away from all the Faction.

 

“Wait there, mama, you can't leave me with him, he hates me!”


“Everyone hates you.” Dwayne said flatly, having absolutely no love for anyone in the McMahon-Helmsley Faction.

 

They had taken their little 'idea for a storyline' and blew it out of proportion, mainly thanks to Hunter.  Everyone knew he was a power hungry, egotistical jackass, who was definitely taking every advantage he could right now.  Dwayne knew without a doubt if Hunter wasn’t screwing the boss’s daughter, he wouldn’t be getting the push he was at the moment.


“My fans don't hate me...” Jesse argued.


Dwayne snorted at that.


“You don't have fans.” Mick Foley said as he passed by, carrying his own cup of coffee. “Al Snow has more fans then you.”

 

“Call me mama again and watch what happens, Dogg.”  Lavani shot back over her shoulder, along with a glare, wondering if the man had a death wish. 

 

She had all control over where he slept at night.  If the man was smart, he wouldn't call her mama, like she asked him to several times.  Lavani made it to the cafeteria alone thankfully and headed straight for the coffee, noticing they didn't have a cappuccino machine.

 

‘Poor Steph.’ She thought sarcastically, deciding to just get herself from java since nobody else spoke up. 

 

She would simply tell Stephanie there wasn't a pot available to bring back to the room.  Stirring the creamer and sugar in her coffee, Lavani decided to take a few more minutes to enjoy the silence that surrounded her.  Silence was golden and it didn't exist in the Faction.

 

“LavaBean!” Silence was not to be hers, not tonight; it was a pay-per-view and everyone was geared up. “You are looking, like, totally hot!”


“Totally, E, does this woman not reek of awesomeness?”


“Not as awesome as us, but almost!” Edge chirped, smiling evilly when Lavani slowly turned around, knowing it drove her up a wall when they did this to her. “Hi Lavani, how are you tonight?” He asked in his normal tone of voice, leaning against his best friend and tag team partner. “Ah...one of those nights?”


“How do you know she's having one of those nights?”


“Her eyes are narrowed.”

 

Edge and Christian, though Lavani knew them better as Adam and Jay, two men who had befriended her when she first started in the company.  They drove her crazy a lot of the time, but for the most part she tolerated them.  Not to mention, she'd worked closely with them during a darker period in the WWF when they were part of the Ministry of Darkness angle briefly.  How those days seemed so long ago.  Lavani mostly worked with the McMahons, but during that time, things were very hectic and sometimes she was assigned different tasks every night.

 

“Yes it's one of those nights where I really don't want to hear about reeking of awesomeness or about dicks.” If she heard one more dick joke from the Faction, Lavani was pretty sure she'd blow her head off. “So if you want to talk to me, do it as your normal selves, please and thank you.”

 

“Gotcha LavaBean.” Adam saluted her, then frowned. “Wait a second, rewind, I could have sworn you just said-”


“Dick jokes?  We do not make dick jokes, that is one of the lowest levels of humor.”


“Right next to the pun.”

 

Jay took position on one side of her while Adam took post on the other side, both men wrapping arms around her. “They being their normal 'fun' selves?” He asked sympathetically, 'they' being the people she sadly had to work with.

 

“When aren't they?” Lavani retorted and took a sip of her java, sighing with relief. “Caffeine is my best friend.”


“Hey!  I thought we were your best friend?”


“Yeah, nobody can compare to E & C, LavaBean!”


“Did you seriously just try to rhyme?” Lavani couldn't help laughing when Jay shrugged. “Well as much as I've enjoyed your company, I have to get back before they send a search party out after me.”


“Okay but before you go, how bout we get together tonight after work?”


“We haven't went out in awhile and we miss you.” Adam leaned his head against her shoulder, batting blue eyes at her. “Please?”


“I'll think about it.  Ciao for now boys.” She winked, walking away from them and headed back to the Faction's locker room reluctantly.  In the distance, Lavani could hear a rumble, wondering if a storm was brewing in Kentucky. ‘Oh wow, I was gone that long?’ She wondered in thought when Hunter and Stephanie stormed past her, along with Vince, everyone having their game faces on.  That meant it was the sixty minute Iron Man match against Dwayne. ‘Go Rocky.’ She cheered in her head, stopping when she heard that rumbling again and frowned.

 

That rumbling was the man arriving, fully prepared to reclaim his yard.  He had watched this joke of a faction slowly take over and heard from various sources about the extreme inflate in egos and backstage politics.  He had decided it was time to announce that he was back and one hundred percent in each and every way.  No one in the ring heard a thing besides the fans screaming, the beating of their own hearts and the blood rushing through their heads.

 

None of them were expecting what was coming.

 

Chapter 2

 

Lavani sat in the Faction's room doing paperwork and glanced up every now and then at the monitor, enjoying an almost a full hour of quiet because the rest of the Faction was waiting to ambush the ring if necessary.  There was about a minute left in the match when something caught Lavani's ear, raising an eyebrow.  It was the little girls again, there had been videos playing of little girls saying 'He's Here' for a couple of weeks now, but nobody knew what it was about.  They were about to as a huge man on a motorcycle suddenly roared down the ramp to the ring, gunning straight for the ring.


“MY GOD IT'S-IT'S THE UNDERTAKER!!  HE'S GUNNIN' FOR MCMAHON, YOU GOTTA BELIEVE, OR IS HE?”

 

King squealed out, eyes wide. “YES!!”


“THE UNDERTAKER IS WHIPPIN' ASS!!  THE PHENOM - CHOKESLAM TO HELL!!” JR roared into his headset, completely unhinged along with the rest of the crowd.

 

Lavani couldn't believe it and looked up when the door suddenly tossed open, both Adam and Jay standing there breathing heavily.


“HE'S BACK!!”


“TAKER'S BACK!!  THAT'S TAKER!!”

 

Lavani hardly recognized the man and wasn't happy when Hunter won the WWF title due to Undertaker's return.

 

Hunter had won the title, but ultimately, triumph was his because Taker was the one standing tall in the ring while everyone else was nursing some sort of injury.  He hadn't spared anyone and that was his way of putting the WWF, and these clowns scattered about him, on notice.  The Undertaker was back and he was reclaiming what belonged to him.


“He looks-”

 

“Way different. Vani, I do not pity you-”


“Right now, they are going to be PISSED!”

 

“Thanks for pointing that out, guys.” She grunted, standing up from the chair, trying to wrap her mind around this. 

 

Lavani hadn't worked closely with Undertaker, Vince always kept her at arm's length away from him because the man fully lived his character.  He'd been gone since mid-1999, over a year.  People thought the man had retired, only he stood in the center of the ring currently, looking like someone in a motorcycle gang.

 

“You two need to scram before they get here.  I'll call you later.”


“Got it.”


“Gone.” They darted away.


“THAT SON OF A BITCH!!”

 

It was time for Lavani to leave as well.

 

“Calm down, Hunter, calm down!” Stephanie pleaded, though her voice was reaching the level everyone referred to as screechy, which indicated she wasn't all that calm herself. “Daddy, what was he doing here?!”


“Kicking our asses...”


“Shut up.”


“All of you! “

 

Vince had no idea what Taker was doing there.  They had tentatively been discussing his return through phone calls, but nothing had been concrete.  While Judgment Day had been tossed around a time or two, they sure as hell hadn't talked about THIS. 

 

The reason why Vince hadn't made any final arrangements with Taker's return was due to the fact that his wife, Linda McMahon, had taken care of it.  Of course, Vince didn't know that yet, but he would in due time.  Sometimes, Linda just had to do things behind her husband's back that was good for the company, like resigning the Undertaker to a contract.

 

Lavani knew to keep her mouth shut and not say a word when Vince's mood was foul like this.  Apparently, none of that was supposed to happen, but then again, everyone jumped script a time or two around here.  It wasn't uncommon.  She simply sat there while Hunter and Vince ranted about Undertaker being back.  She took that opportunity to sneak out of the room, everyone too preoccupied with what just happened.

 

‘He got the title, I don't understand why he's bitching so damn much.’ She thought, completely annoyed and now had a headache.

 

Thanks to the hallways being packed tighter than a room full of assholes, Lavani wound up getting shuffled towards the ring entrance, which is where he was just coming from.  Having soaked up his return, Taker was thoroughly enjoying being back in that ring.  The rumbling of his motorcycle was everyone's cue to get the hell out of his way or get ran over, though he did come to a full stop when a woman, who was obviously having a rough night, was suddenly right in front of him.


“Sorry Lavani!” Chris Jericho called out, having been the one to inadvertently put her there.

 

Taker knew her, the color-coding woman that Vince had tried to hide from him.  He idly wondered if she was still working directly for Vince and peered at her over the top of his sunglasses, a predatory grin spreading across his lips.  If she was…well, he couldn’t have that now could he?

 

“Irvine...” She growled in a mutter, knowing it was a really bad time to leave the Faction's locker room, but Lavani couldn't handle hearing Stephanie's screeching voice or Hunter complaining to Vince about having his ass whooped. 

 

Though right now, Lavani was staring directly at the Undertaker, glad he hadn't ran her over and still couldn't believe this was him.  The last time she'd saw Taker, he had an overgrown beard and straight black hair.  This man before her was completely different and actually incredibly attractive.  Lavani stepped to the side to let him through, having to hop up to sit on a trunk in order to do so.

 

He inched the bike forward, taking in the denim skirt she wore and his smirk just grew wider when she visibly clamped her knees tightly together.  His attention was drawn away for a moment when he seen Shane McMahon's head poking out of a room, followed by the worm trying to holler over the ruckus, his beady eyes on Lavani.  She did work for them, still; nice to know some things were the same as always. 

 

Then Shane spotted him, disappeared for a moment and the next person to come out was Hunter, who seen Lavani, and then him sitting there and the man's face went red.  He made a split decision right then and there, deciding to add icing to Hunter's shit-filled cake.  Chris was not the only one who jumped out of the way when the Titan revved after Taker plucked Lavani off the trunk and right onto his lap, all eyes watching as he drove off down the hallway.

 

“Dude...that was a hellacious return!”

 

It was a good thing Lavani had a tight hold on her purse and bag with the paperwork or else she'd have serious hell to pay.  Though that was the FARTHEST thing from her mind because she was currently trying to keep her denim skirt from flying over her hips, thanks to Taker kidnapping her!  Her big toffee eyes were currently bugged out and Lavani could only cling to him so she didn't fall off the Titan.  Even if she wanted to yell or scream, it wouldn't have done any good because of how loud the damn machine was.

 

She was struggling to hold on to her precarious perch, her things, and her skirt...Lavani could drop the crap, cling to him and say to hell with the skirt for all he cared.  As it was, he did free one of her hands to guide to his shoulder.  Strictly for safety reasons. Once they had cleared the building and were in the streets, he did a u-turn in front of traffic and cut right back into the parking lot, never losing control of the motorcycle once.  He idled to a halt again and cut the ignition, looking down at her.

 

“Darlin', as much as I love a woman with nails, I prefer them bein' used on me for different reasons.” He drawled, prying her claws out of his skin.

 

“I'm sure you do.” Lavani had to take several deep breaths because her heart felt as though it was going to explode out of her chest. “Forgive me sir, but I wasn't exactly expecting that to happen.” Lavani muttered, slowly pulling her hand away from his shoulder, surprised her blue nails hadn't snapped from how hard she gripped him. “Not to mention this was my very first time on a motorcycle.” She added, flexing her hand a little and knew the Faction was NOT going to be happy about this.  Rumors would instantly start up and...Lavani suddenly felt her headache increasing tenfold with what she knew was coming.

 

“You're first time, eh?” Taker said slowly, his voice dripping with pure wickedness, a seductive roll accenting the words.  Most women would be creaming their panties right about now, Lavani was in a very coveted position. “Well why don't we get rid of this,” He reached for the bag and purse, easily taking them from her and then leaned back to deposit them safely in a saddlebag. “And I'll take you on a proper ride?”

 

Helmsley and Vinnie were probably shitting bricks right about now and his green eyes were reflecting the enjoyment the mere thought brought him behind the shades.  Now Lavani was completely speechless and had to look away from him, a nervous laughter escaping her.  This was surreal, Lavani had to be dreaming because this simply wasn't happening.  He was the Lord of Darkness, the man who had done wicked horrible things to people both in and out of the ring. 

 

Lavani could remember back during the Ministry of Darkness days when he sacrificed Ryan Shamrock, all to get to Stephanie McMahon.  He was frightening back then and the poor woman quit the company almost immediately afterwards.  As far as Lavani knew, Ryan needed serious therapy to get over what this man did to her...and suddenly Lavani found her voice again.

 

“No thanks, I'm good.  You probably have better things to do and I don't want to keep you from them.” That was about as polite as Lavani was getting, her ass starting to hurt in this uncomfortable position.

 

“Nah, not really, kind of you to offer.  You better hold on.” He advised, giving her just enough time to latch onto his neck, before revving the engine, the roar sounding much louder than it actually was in the somewhat underground parking lot. 

 

Right before pulling out, he did reach down and pressed gently on her back, indicating she should scoot forward.  Feeling her doing so, her legs straddling his hips and that skirt wasn't doing her any favors.  Sadly for him, it didn't matter before she was so close to him that even if he did look down, he was only going to see her hair.


“Hey!  Come back!” Shane shouted, running out just in time to see Taker leaving again, with Lavani hanging on for dear life. “Oh...shit...”


“Did you find her?”

 

Shane simply pointed.

 

‘I'M GOING TO FUCKING DIE ON THIS THING!!’ Lavani's mind screamed, which didn't do anything for her headache, burying her face in the man's chest. 

 

This was NOT a proper ride.  Lavani could feel the wind whipping all around her, knowing she was probably flashing everyone they passed and felt her cheeks grow red with embarrassment.  What part of 'no thanks, I'm good' did this man not understand?  Oh wait, Lavani remembered who she was in the clutches of and suddenly pitied Ryan Shamrock.  Whatever Taker wanted, he took and right now he had Lavani, there wasn't anything she could do about it except to hold on for dear life and hoped she survived.

 

If she remembered anything about him, Lavani was probably expecting one of three things, or a combination.  One: he was going to find a chapel, marry her, and attempt to use that for some sort of power –That was total bullshit since she didn't HAVE power.  Two: He was going to make her vanish off the face of the earth only to emerge with her brains addled and completely devoted to him -Midian, for example.  Three: He was going to kill her.  Taker had yet to kill anyone, not for lack of trying however.

 

“Relax!” Taker called down at her, making himself heard and felt her mouthing something against his chest that probably wasn't very nice.

 

“Easy for you to say.” Is what she said against his chest, though he didn't hear it and Lavani was thankful for that. 

 

She did however loosen her grip just a little and slowly opened her eyes, willing herself to just look up for a second.  It was a good thing her hair was pinned up on top of her head or else it would be whipping around both of them by now, blocking his vision.  Lavani noticed for the first time he smelled incredible, a mixture of leather, gasoline and sandalwood.  However, she kept a firm grip on him, nails digging a little into his leather trench coat he currently wore. 

 

The man was nuts, it was hotter than hell outside!

 

Deciding he would save a longer trip for later, Taker took the roundabout way to the hotel he knew they -he meant her and her...group- were staying at.  A place that reeked of money, snobs and...that was the new custom-built bus they tended to travel in a lot.  It would have to be destroyed, but Taker would get to that at a later date, slowly looking down at the woman currently in his lap.

 

“You can look up now.” He said, having noted her peeking once before earlier before hiding her face again. “I'm assumin' you're stayin' here?” He was renting a room for the night over a bar, having every intention of celebrating his return and idly wondered how opposed she'd be to joining him.  The company of an attractive woman, who was currently all but straddling him, not unappealing.

 

Lavani shook her head, flat out refusing to stay at the same hotels as the Faction and even went so far as to rent her own car when they had to drive.  She didn't like the DX bus that was full of obnoxious men, dick jokes that were lame and a whining Stephanie who was constantly complaining about something or another.  No thanks, she'd pass.

 

“I uh actually had a rental car at the arena and was going to drive to the next destination for Smackdown!.” They really had to get out of there before the Faction noticed them; Lavani didn't need any more problems than what she had currently.

 

“Yeah, because I see myself takin' you back to the arena tonight.” He snorted, knowing damn well she could call herself a cab or something. “Tell ya what, Lavani,” Taker smirked when her eyes widened, as if he wouldn't remember her name?  He knew everyone who worked for the WWF and if he didn't know them, he'd remedy that damn quickly. “Why don't you come have a drink or two with me, and then we can discuss your travel arrangements.”

 

To anyone who would go 'what the hell?', he had a very simple answer that came in two parts.  She was unofficially associated with the largest group of egomaniacs and she was attractive.  It was a double win for him.

 

First he abducted her from the arena and now he wanted her to go have a drink with him? 

 

This man had lost his mind and Lavani couldn't believe he actually remembered her.  He'd barely said two words to her the whole time she'd worked for the company and now he wanted to talk.  Lavani's head was spinning slightly, figuring she really had no other choice because he wasn't taking her back to the arena.

 

“Okay.” Lavani had lost her mind officially actually agreeing to this. “But my clothes are in my rental car so you're gonna have to eventually take me back.  And can I please adjust my skirt so I'm not flashing my shit all over the place?”

 

“Eventually and, no, you're not flashing anything.” Taker said, looking down pointedly, not missing the sudden infusion of color in her cheeks and bit back a grin. “Your ass is covered...” He leaned over her shoulder to double check, tugging her skirt down just a bit more, now it was covered. “And everything else,” His voice dropped several octaves again, unable to help himself, he honestly couldn't. “Is right against me, where no one is going to see a thing.”


“Hey, they're here, look!”


“Time to go.”

 

Chapter 3

 

Lavani groaned against his chest when she heard Stephanie's shrill, mentally cursing violently.  Now that drink Taker offered suddenly sounded really good, Lavani would need several after the night she had.  She was going to kill Chris for shoving her right in Taker's path.  Two years of scarceness and finally he'd gotten to her, Lavani figured he wouldn't even know who she was or recognize her for that matter. 

 

When they stopped outside of a bar, Lavani finally looked up again, releasing Taker only after he shut the Titan off.  She blinked when he lifted her by the waist and placed her on her feet, her legs trembling so violently, Lavani had to lean against the building so she didn't collapse.  Being that was her first time on a motorcycle, of course there would be some after effects as Taker slowly dismounted, standing in front of her.

 

“You do realize it's not exactly winter weather outside, right?” Lavani gestured to his leather trench, raising an eyebrow.

 

She was great for giving him openings, it was like she was purposefully fueling him with ammunition. “Darlin',” He began shrugging off the coat, wearing just that sleeveless denim shirt beneath it and folded the coat over his arm. “If you wanted to get me outta my clothes, all you had to do was ask.” At the expression on her face, Taker began laughing, taking Lavani by the hand and led her up the stairs that went to the few rooms over the bar. “Let me put this in here...” He unlocked the door and stepped inside long enough to toss the trench coat onto the bed before turning to her. “How about that drink?”

 

“I don't...” There really was no point in trying to defend herself, merely nodding. “Sure, lead the way.”

 

So he was staying here instead of a hotel, that was definitely surprising.  Lavani followed him down the hallway, looking around and didn't pull away when he grabbed her hand again.  Was there really a point in fighting a six foot ten, three hundred plus pounder?  Nope, Lavani liked her head where it was, on her shoulders.  They arrived at the bar and Taker lead her to a booth, slipping into it after pulling her skirt down so it didn't ride up again.

 

Taker wasn't giving serious thought to his actions or how she might be viewing them.  He was naturally a domineering type of person, so taking her by the hand when they walked didn't strike him as anything out of the ordinary.  He didn't mean her any harm, or he would have done something by now.  He just wanted a drink, with her, and also knew that the fact that he had her was driving the McMahon-Helmsley Faction out of their already jumbled minds.  Returned, kicked ass, and took off with the boss’s assistant: That was a well done night.

 

“What're you drinkin'?” Taker asked after gesturing the waitress over.

 

“A beer is fine...” When he just arched a brow at her, Lavani had a feeling he was talking about straight liquor. “Alright fine, wine is out of the question too so Jack on the rocks.” She requested, looking around the bar and had to admit it had a certain redneck feel to it. 

 

That's what Taker suddenly reminded her of: A redneck biker.  He'd completely changed, she couldn't get over the extremity of it all.  Never in a million years did Lavani think or fathom she would be in a bar with the Undertaker of all people having a drink or two.

 

“My kinda woman.  Honey,” Taker directed that at the waitress, setting his sunglasses on the table off to the side. “Why don't you just bring us two glasses of ice, a couple beers for a chaser and a bottle, hmm?”


“Yes, sir, anything else?” The waitress asked, a bit breathlessly as she stared into his eyes, not even bothering to write any of that down.


“Good question...Lavani, sweetheart, ya want anything?” He purposefully stressed sweetheart, hoping that discouraged the waitress, who was now getting that 'I know this man' look.

 

“A basket of peanuts.”

 

Most bars had those, right?  It would be better than having straight liquor on her stomach.  Lavani could drink, but didn't do it often enough, smiling sweetly at the waitress who walked away to grab their order.

 

“It's been awhile, so bear with me.” She said quietly, waiting for her peanuts and the bottle with their chasers, before taking a swig of her longneck, while Taker poured them each a shot.  What the hell was she supposed to say to this man other than 'welcome back'? 

 

This was awkward as hell; Lavani didn't know Taker and he didn't know her.

 

“So...Lavani,” He began after sliding the full glass of whiskey her way, watching the amber liquid slop just a little bit over the sides of the glass. “How have you been?” Taker knew she probably thought he was fucking with her since their contact back in the day had been...limited by Vince and by the fact that he did have other people to focus on, other lives to ruin. “More specifically, how in the hell do ya manage to work with those assholes?” He knocked back a neat shot from his own glass, eyeing the beer contemplatively before using it to chase the whiskey down.

 

“Never better, business as usual.  And why would I not work for the McMahon assholes?  I've been doing it for over two years now...”

 

Wow, had really been only two years?  Lavani felt like it'd been decades, especially lately with the Faction.  She knocked back her own shot, the burning liquid causing her to cough just a little because it'd been awhile since she had Jack Daniels.

 

“You look...rested.” That was probably not the word for her to use, but Lavani wasn't about to give the man more ammo.

 

“Don't you mean less satanic and insane?” He countered with a knowing gleam in his eye, shrugging his massive shoulders. “Taking a breather and recharging the batteries can do wonders for a person, you should try it sometime.” Taker studied the stripes in her hair, remembering she had originally had red streaks and then purple.  And she was still color-coordinating her clothes. “Still OCD then?”

 

That caught her off guard.

 

“OCD?” When he pointed to her hair, Lavani cottoned on and chuckled, shrugging. “I wouldn't exactly call it that, I just like being color coordinated.  Been that way my whole life, don't know where I got it from because most of my family can't match colors to save their lives.” She downed another shot with him following her chaser beer. “And no, I wasn't thinking that about you actually.  I'm sure you're still the same man you were back then, only now you have a different style.  Clothes don't change the man and neither does hair dye.” She cracked open a peanut and popped it in her mouth.

 

“Hence the reason I asked about you still havin' OCD.” He drawled, knowing she had pegged the nail right on the head.

 

Taker was still evil; he just didn't dress like Satan anymore.  He was Mark with the volume cranked up and this time around, he wasn't intent on controlling the WWF because, quite frankly, that was a headache he no longer desired.  Now he was back to just kick some ass, maybe acquire some gold, and remind people that there was a reason he had been and was still the most feared entity in the World Wrestling Federation.

 

“Right.”

 

Lavani didn't think she had OCD just because she enjoyed color coordinating, but that was on him and anyone else who thought that about her.  She wasn't out to impress people and get their approval.  If people didn't like her, then they could go to hell for all she cared.  Reaching up, Lavani decided to take her hair down and let it pool around her shoulders and down her back in loose curls and waves before downing another shot.

 

“So, darlin'...” He began, stretching his legs out comfortably underneath the table, mindful not to kick her; though his denim clad leg did brush against hers and then drained the remaining half of his glass.  It took quite a bit to get a man his size intoxicated and that would have been without the years of drinking under his belt.  He normally did not get drunk unless he was purposefully trying too. “Tell me why in the hell you're still workin' backstage and not in front of the camera?” Taker had, in a very evil manner, once mentioned something to Vince about using her in a segment during the Ministry days. 

 

Vince hadn't taken very well to that at all.

 

“I prefer to stay in the back and not get wrapped up in the on-screen drama.” Another shot down, Lavani was starting to get a little buzzed and felt more relaxed, leaning back against the booth. “Vince has tried getting me on television for the past two years, but it's just not something I'm interested in.” Lavani refused to be one of the Diva bimbos who went out to the ring and had 'blink and miss it' matches or flashed their assets for the crowd's enjoyment.  She had more morals than that, not to mention dignity. “Now I'm going to answer your next question and that is, why do I work for the McMahons still?  Simple really, they don't screw with me often, just incredibly annoying, but I actually enjoy setting shit up for them and I get paid decently for it.”

 

Though with the Faction these days, Lavani was contemplating either quitting or trying to find a different job within the company because she wasn't sure how much more she could stand of Hunter's cockiness.  Considering the change in the McMahons, namely Princess Stephanie who had gone from quiet and shy to a harpy bitch with looser morals then the Godfather, as well as Hunter's ever-increasing ego...and the juveniles of DX.  The New Age Outlaws, that little fucking idiot Waltman...Taker was mildly surprised she hadn't lost her mind.  When Lavani said 'paid decently' that must have been code for 'they pay me a LOT to put up with this crap'.  There was only one McMahon he would deal with these days and, even then, there was no trust in the relationship.

 

“You sound borin'.” Taker teased, purposefully baiting her just to see what she would do, or say, refilling his glass.

 

“Thank you, I take that as a compliment.”

 

She smiled while popping another peanut, playing absentmindedly with the shells.  Lavani didn't take offense to anything Taker said because, honestly, he was entitled to his opinions.  She was a boring woman.  She went to work and slept, never going out. 

 

Adam and Jay had gotten her out maybe a grand total of five times during her two year tenure with the company.  Other than that, Lavani played it safe, refusing to jeopardize her job...until now.  With every passing second she sat there drinking with Taker, Lavani knew she was more than likely flushing her job down the toilet, but somehow it didn't bother her as much as it probably should've.

 

Either there was a chance for progress to be made or she really was a boring person who admitted it.  Taker wasn't sure which yet, though... “So this has got to be the highlight of your year then.” He said, gesturing for four more beers before leaning across the table and topping off her glass.  Taker figured a few more drinks in her and she was going to be in no condition to ride.  Idly, he reached up to scratch the scruff on his chin. “Why take it as a compliment though?  Don't you ever feel like...” He eyed her loose hair, pausing for a moment. “Lettin' your hair down?  Havin' some fun?  Raising some hell?”

 

“Apparently not as much as you do.” Lavani retorted and looked at her glass, wondering idly if Taker was purposefully trying to get her drunk. “And no, being abducted is not a highlight.” He basically kidnapped her, even though he was willing to drop her off at the hotel the Faction was staying at. “Though I do owe you a thank you for taking me away from those idiots and their bantering.  You really pissed off the Faction tonight with your return.  It was enjoyable to watch...up until Hunter won the match.  Now his ego is going to get even bigger.”

 

Now Hunter winning hadn't been something he had been planning on, but...sometimes one had to break a few eggs to make an omelet.  And she was confusing.  First, he abducted her, but then she was supposing she should thank him?  The woman was bi-polar and apparently did not realize she was in a position many women would give their eyeteeth to be in.  However, since he wasn't Hunter, Taker didn't let his ego take offense, more amused than anything.

 

“I'm sure it's deflated by now, his win meant jack shit because he didn't do it on his own...not to mention, I 'abducted' one of his own.”

 

“One of his own?” Now Lavani looked disgusted and shook her head, her stomach actually clenching. “Let's get one thing straight,” If Taker was trying to make her tick or figure out what made her angry, that was it as fire erupted in her normally toffee colored eyes. “I am and will NEVER be one of 'them'.  I make their arrangements for hotels, cars, plane tickets and whatever else company related.  I'm not part of the Faction.” And she never would be as Lavani downed whatever was left in her glass, trying to take the edge off.

 

Lavani had just downed a lot of whiskey because he had not too long ago topped that glass off and one auburn eyebrow raised as he watched her swallowing it down. “Darlin', hate to say it, but it sounds like you work for and, by extension, with them.” Taker could almost see the steam coming out of her ears at this point. “Whether you like it or not, I guaran-damn-tee that Aitch thinks of you as one of his own.”

 

“He can think whatever the hell he wants, doesn't mean it's true.” Wow her head was really spinning after downing that liquor and Lavani had to lean back a little, her buzz increased tenfold to almost border-lining drunk. “I wouldn't piss on that mother fucker if he was on fire.  I'd just throw more gasoline on him.” She despised Hunter and it showed, the man had grated on her nerves for months, but she hadn't been able to vent to anyone about it...until now. “That is precisely why I will never go on television because then I would be construed as one of them and that's never going to happen.  I leave when I want and I don't travel with them, I show up when I'm supposed to, do my job and get two days off a week to go home.  If I was one of them, I wouldn't be able to have those luxuries.”

 

She was definitely a spitfire when she had...a lot of shots in her and he refilled her glass once more, watching in amusement as she snatched it up, polishing off his own before emptying the rest of the bottle in it. “See now darlin', you need to think outside the box.” He said with a slight smile. “You might be mistaken for one of 'em, but...that's when you do what they do: totally fuck up the principal of 'storyline' and jump ship elsewhere.  But...if you like runnin' their schedules and handlin' the paperwork for them, that's on you.” He shrugged a massive shoulder. No, she was definitely not in any condition to ride. “Is it just because of his ego or is there another reason ya don't care for Hunter?”

 

“He thinks the world revolves around him and the sun shines out of his ass.  I got news for him, it doesn't.  He's not the best in the business as much as he claims he is.  He annoys the hell out of me and has absolutely no respect for anyone else and now that he's married to the princess, he's on a huge power trip...” Then what Taker said to her slowly sank in, Lavani stopping her ranting about Hunter to raise an eyebrow. “Wait what?  Jump ship?  Fuck their storyline up?  Taker, I'm not part of the show.” Lavani reminded him, not fully understanding and didn't down the liquor as quickly as she had before, her blood slowly simmering for the time being.  So instead, she opted for the chaser, cracking open another peanut.

 

“It was just a comment, darlin'.  You said you'd never go onto television because of being portrayed as one of them.” Taker reminded her, watching her add the shell to the growing pile right in front of her, idly wondering if she color coded her clothes in her closet.  That was definitely a random thought. “If you were part of the show...that would be my suggestion.  But like you said, you're not.” He stood up, stretching his arms over his head, attracting the attention of the waitress without even trying though it was convenient since he was ready to go. “Bottle to go.” He instructed, slipping her a bill before eyeing Lavani. “Come on, get up.  Think you can walk?”

 

Lavani nodded, still not understanding why he would bring that up and decided not to question it because her head currently felt heavy.  When he wrapped an arm around her waist to steady her, Lavani was thankful because she would've probably fallen flat on her face.  She leaned against him and let him guide her toward the stairs that lead up to his room. 

 

Chapter 4

 

They arrived inside the place he was staying at over the bar and Taker guided Lavani to the bed, making her sit down, only she fell back staring up at the ceiling. “Too many cracks.” She said randomly, feeling a little better now that she wasn't sitting upright, trying to get her buzz to go down a little.

 

“The Ritz it is not.” Taker said dryly, glancing over his shoulder at her as he unbuttoned his denim shirt.

 

While not his original intention, her getting drunk and unable to ride did work out quite well.  It'd be like grinding glass in certain faces, reminding them that not everyone was subject to the rules they had established.  No, everyone was subject to HIS rules and he was going to make that known. 

 

Lavani had just become an interesting piece in a game that was only beginning.  He disappeared into the bathroom long enough to handle business, wash his hands.  Returning with a paper cup of water, Taker sat down on the edge of the bed and offered it to her.

 

“Drink up, it'll help with the hangover you’re going to have.”

 

“I didn't drink that much.” Lavani looked up at him almost upside down with a smile, raven blue streaked hair surrounding her haphazardly.  She did take the cup of water and sat up slowly, sucking it down in a few huge gulps. “Okay maybe I drank a little too much, but that's nothing a cold shower won't fix.” Then she frowned, groaning as she ran a hand down her face. “And I can't take one because my clothes are back at the arena in my rental...” That was just fantastic, Lavani thought humorlessly, and went back to staring up at him.

 

“Sure you can, you have options.” Taker said, green eyes gleaming wickedly. “You can either borrow one of my shirts or...go naked.” Now that was a delicious thought and, for the life of him, he could not keep himself from wondering if she had dyed the carpet to match the drapes, snorting at himself in amusement. “Personally darlin', I like option two, but...if not, I'm sure I got somethin' that'll....cover ya up, mostly.”

 

“Typical male.” Lavani grumbled and rolled to where she could sit up on the bed, staring at him with unreadable eyes. “If you've gotta shirt, I'd appreciate it.”

 

She wasn't even asking to use his shower, simply heading slowly in that direction.  Lavani wasn't ashamed of her body, she worked hard to maintain it, especially since she ate a lot of junk while on the road.  Once home, she cooked, slept and cleaned; two days wasn't that long to do much of anything else.

 

Not bothering to muffle or attempt to squash his laughter, Taker went to retrieve his bag, rifling around in it until he found a shirt at the bottom.  It was too small for him after an unfortunate incident involving him, a washing machine, and the wrong cycle.  It was an old shirt, but in good condition, and was a prototype that had never gone into production: It bore his symbol on it with Embrace the Darkness on the back in a dark purple, gothic script.  Walking over to the bathroom, he stepped in and held it out to her.

 

“Here, this should...fit...”

 

“Oh thanks.” Lavani took it from him, standing there in just a towel that she'd snagged from the rack and was bent over trying to get the right temperature for her shower. “There we go.  This is going to suck at first, but it'll also feel good with how hot it's been today.” She said more to herself, not caring if he stood in the doorway, but was mindful of it. 

 

So she stepped inside the shower and pulled the curtain closed before taking the towel off, dropping it to the floor and hissed as the cold water came in contact with her skin, enveloping her.  After a moment, he left her to it, knowing she'd have to use the 'complimentary' bottles of shampoo and conditioner left by the proprietor, unless she asked to use HIS, which were in his bag.  The complimentary bottles of shampoo and conditioner sucked, but they would have to suffice. 

 

It took him a moment because...she had been bent over, in a towel -a short, dingy towel at that; like he had said, this wasn't the Ritz- and had given him a view he was never going to forget.  If Taker had been any other man, with lesser control over himself, he would have joined her in that shower.  As it was, he walked back out into the bedroom, discarding the shirt completely and reached down to adjust his sudden problem.  Lavani stayed under the sprays until she was chilled to the bone and sobered up for the most part, suddenly tired.  Turning the sprays off about an hour later, Lavani finally stepped out and picked up the dingy towel, towel drying her hair and then body before grabbing the shirt Taker gave her to wear.

 

‘Embrace the Darkness...’ She read, raising an eyebrow and shrugged before slipping it on after her bra and panties. 

 

The shirt went to her mid-thigh and covered all of her vital parts so Lavani was satisfied.  She walked out, no longer stumbling, her hair hanging down her back in knots and knew they would be a bitch to get out once she retrieved her toiletries tomorrow.  In a rare act of being a gentlemen, as well as not stingy -he was when it came to some of his stuff-, Taker had set out a hairbrush after cleaning it off and a bottle of detangle on the bed.  While she had been in the shower, he had gone downstairs to use the bar's bathroom to clean up, coming back up and changed out of his jeans into a pair of black sweat pants that had been cut off at the knee.  The material clung to his muscular thighs like a second skin, foregoing the shirt, his auburn hair brushed and hanging down over his shoulders.

 

“Feel better?” Taker asked, sitting on the bed with his back to the wall, the TV on to the one local station it pulled in, volume muted.

 

“Much, thank you.”

 

Her toffee eyes landed on the brush and detangle, not believing how thoughtful the Undertaker was.  It could all be a mind game on his part, but Lavani wasn't going to look a gift in the horse's mouth.  She padded over and sat on the bed beside him, beginning the task of brushing her hair out after spraying it down with the detangle substance.  Surprisingly, it worked and wasn't as bad as she thought, wincing just a few times.  She sat Indian style, the shirt stretched over her knees and slowly stopped brushing when he looked down at her, feeling her temperature rise slightly.

 

“What?”

 

“Just watchin' you, that's allowed, right?”

 

Taker wondered if she had given any thought to the fact that they were going to have to share this king sized, lumpy bed, for a variety of reasons.  One: There was no couch, just a chair and a small table.  Two: The floor was made of uneven wood, very uncomfortable.  Three: There was only two pillows, a sheet and the faded comforter. 

 

He really hoped she liked snuggling because he knew he had a habit of using whoever was in bed with him as a body pillow.  Lavani had thought about having to share a bed with Taker, not really bothered by it.  She doubted he was the type to rape a woman, hell the man was gorgeous and could have anyone he wanted.  She was plain besides her color coordinating OCD problem and boring.

 

“Sure, whatever floats your boat, Taker.” She went back to brushing her hair and finally finished, taking her hair out and depositing the ball into the trashcan, setting the detangle substance on the nightstand that was on her side. “So I know we have to share the bed tonight, all I ask is that you try not to crush me.” Lavani flashed him a warm smile before pulling the sheet over her, taking one of the pillows and settled in.

 

“No promises.” He murmured, rolling to his feet to shut off the light, the open windows without curtains allowing the light from the orange illuminated lamps outside to shine into the room and then shut off the TV before sliding into the bed.  Feeling it dipping dangerously under his weight, Taker began chuckling when she involuntarily wound up rolling towards him. “But you gotta promise not to crush me either, Lavani.” He whispered in her ear before gently nudging her back over to her side of the bed, slipping under the sheet.

 

“I don't think that'll be possible considering you outweigh me at least one hundred and fifty pounds.” Lavani whispered in a retort, waiting for him to get adjusted in the bed before finally sinking down against her pillow, laying on her side facing him. 

 

If somebody would've told her she'd be sharing a bed with the Undertaker a year ago, Lavani would've laughed at them and thought they were nuts.  But here she was and Lavani still wasn't sure if it was a dream or not, sighing contently.  She actually seemed pretty comfortable with him given the circumstances -even for him, that was damn weird.  He had taken women to his bed before, after knowing them for only hours, but that was with the understanding that sex was in the cards. 

 

Taker had sort of known Lavani for three years and never been this close to her, due to other's fears of what he might do to her.  For a brief moment, several deliciously evil ideas flickered through his mind, but he dismissed them.  At the moment, he saw no need to employ any of them; this was enough and it would definitely be interesting tomorrow when she eventually was caught up by the McMahon-Helmsley Faction.

 

“Comfortable?”

 

“Yeah, are you?” When he shrugged, Lavani propped her elbow up to rest her head in her hand, staring at him thoughtfully. “You're probably wondering why I'm not running away from you in the opposite direction.  And the truth is, I don't have a clue.  I guess I figure there's no reason not to, you've never done anything to me directly.” Though he had caused Ryan Shamrock a lot of trauma and turmoil, but that was over a year ago.  This was here and now. “Or maybe I'm not even close to what you're thinking.”

 

“No, not really.” Taker agreed, mimicking her and propping himself up on his elbow, resting his head in his hand and returned her stare. “At first I figured you were pretty good and toasted so you didn't have much of a choice, you seem fairly sober now.” Not that she had much of a choice. The bar was closing, his cell phone wasn't receiving signal, the pay phone outside was broken and he doubted she was about to walk the city streets at this hour. “So, Lavani, knowing everything you do about me, you're not scared at all?” He asked, his voice dropping an octave, wondering if she was genuinely brave, crazy or an idiot.

 

“Nope, no reason to be.”

 

She slowly lowered her head back on the pillow, staring up at him and suddenly remembered the beard he used to sport.  He looked so much better with just the goatee, remembering back when she first started in 1998.  He used to sport a tear drop under his eye, for some reason Lavani found it incredibly sexy.  Of course she'd never tell him that, the man probably already knew how sexy he was and didn't need his ego blown up.

 

“Should I be afraid of you?”

 

Taker considered that, reaching out to run his fingers up the sheet along her side before pulling away. “Probably.” He admitted finally. “Don't ever think for a moment that just because I look different, that I am different, Lavani.” He was being serious, giving her one, fair warning. “I'm the same man I was before; I just have different goals this time as well as different ways of obtainin' them.”

 

“And that's supposed to scare me?” Lavani retorted, arching a brow. “I don't care if you're going after the McMahons again.  Hell, I hope you knock them down a peg or three.  I told you downstairs, different style and hair dye doesn't change who a person is.”

 

Taker could give her as many warnings as he wanted, what the hell was he going to use her for?  Vince wouldn't care about her enough to give Taker anything and he hadn't tried seducing her.  Lavani didn't feel that sense of danger and, until she did, there was no reason to fear this man.  That was her logic and she was sticking to it.

 

At that, he began laughing and leaned over to kiss the top of her head. “You do amuse me, darlin'.” He chuckled, not bothering to clarify that he hadn't been trying to scare her so much as give her a onetime only word of warning, just so if he did decide to somehow use her, she would be expecting it.  Settling back down, he lay flat on his back and folded his hands beneath his head, staring at the ceiling. “You were right, there are a lot of cracks.”

 

“Told ya.”

 

Lavani yawned loudly and snuggled further into her pillow, the exhaustion taking over every part of her now that she was fully relaxed.  Granted, she hadn't ate anything and would probably regret that in the morning, but Lavani wasn't worried about it right now.  Though she felt him begin to finger her hair, Lavani didn't tense or move, knowing somehow deep down he wouldn't hurt her.  And she wouldn't give him a reason to either.

 

“Sweet dreams, Taker.” She whispered, closing her eyes and let the sleep consume her. 

 

Chapter 5

 

When Taker woke up in the morning, he was not surprised in the least to find out that his prediction of using her as a body pillow had come true.  She was lying with her face in his bare chest, one arm pinned to the mattress and the other with her hand curled against his shoulder.  He had wrapped both his arms around her, pinning her in place, and one leg was slipped between hers, his thigh pressing right up against her intimately.

 

Lavani stirred a little against him, a soft moan escaping her and couldn't remember the last time she'd been this warm.  She rubbed her nose against his chest without realizing it and snuggled further against him, not ready to get up yet.  Suddenly, her eyes snapped open when she heard a grunt and popped her head up, staring into the amused eyes of the Undertaker.  It took her a few seconds to remember what happened and felt her cheeks flushing, slowly slipping her hand from his shoulder.

 

“Morning.” She murmured, letting out a long yawn, his arms never moving from around her.

 

“Mornin'.” Taker returned, his voice a low, husky drawl, still inflected with sleep.

 

He was too comfortable to move and Taker was sure once he did, she was going to feel the issue he, along with the rest of the world's male population, sported each and every morning.  Made doubly worse by the fact that he was comfortable with her all pressed against him like this.

 

“Sleep well, darlin'?” She must've because she looked quite refreshed and those blue streaks were tousled in with the rest of her hair, reflecting the light that came in through the window.

 

“Better than I have in quite some time.” She admitted openly, knowing that would probably increase his already inflated ego, but it was also the truth. “Did you?” When he nodded and began running his fingertips up and down her shirt covered back, Lavani just sank back down on the pillow, resting her hand on his side over the sheet while the other one couldn't be moved. “What time is it?”

 

“No idea, but I don't think we're in any hurry.” Taker murmured softly, huskily.

 

Figuring since she was probably already going to be in trouble with Hunter, lingering wasn't really going to be much of an issue.  Of course, it wasn't Hunter she answered too but Vince, who would probably think she was going to be faxing her resignation after a night with the Undertaker.  That brought a wicked smirk to his lips.

 

“So I've been thinking about what you said last night.” Lavani reluctantly extracted herself from his arms to sit up, her back against the headboard, having felt his morning issue, but didn't say anything about it. “I can't get it out of my head about what you said regarding jumping ship and screwing up their storyline.  What did you mean by that?  Jumping ship would be working for someone else obviously...”

 

“Obviously, unless you think you could survive on your own.” He said, knowing she would reach the same conclusion he already knew.

 

She would not be able to survive on her own.  If Vince didn't take offense, then Hunter and Stephanie most certainly would.  Lavani would become an outcast and a target, unless she was with someone powerful enough to protect her.  Someone like, oh say...him.

 

“You givin' some thought to a change in the job description, Vani?”

 

“Well, that depends,” Lavani studied him for a few moments and bit her bottom lip, knowing there was no turning back now that she'd brought this up. “Was that your subtle way of offering to be my new change?  Or were you simply telling me that since I'm not happy with the Faction?” There had to be a reason he brought it up and if he was offering his services for her to change jobs, Lavani was thinking about doing it. 

 

“It was my subtle way of offering you a change of pace.” Taker said, which it hadn't been.

 

It had been a subtle encouragement that she should seek a change of pace, mostly because he was about to tear apart that little group and she didn't deserve to get caught up in it.  However, if she hadn't listened to him, then a casualty she would be.  But now, with this interesting new development, he seen a lot of potential for...entertainment, as well as the fact that he genuinely liked the woman, even if she was a bit odd.

 

“Okay then, I'm in.”

 

Lavani could never face the Faction again after her abduction and she needed a new change of pace honestly.  It would be nice not to hear constant dick jokes and about Hunter's ego.  Taker seemed like the type of man who would give her space when she needed it, not constantly be up her ass and agree to her terms as far as going home two days a week like she had with McMahon.  When Taker just stared at her, Lavani merely smiled and slid from the bed, heading into the small kitchen area that the room had.  He lay back down and watched as she located the small, sample sized jar of coffee.

 

“No decaf.” He called, smirking when she simply shot him a 'duh' look before rolling out of bed as well, knowing they were up for the day.

 

Yawning, he stretched before scratching his stomach and looking down at himself, rolling his eyes.  Taker padded to the bathroom to handle morning business and hopefully the issue would resolve itself as it usually did.  With Lavani working with him now...things were definitely about to pick up and he couldn't imagine a more enjoyable, interesting return.

 

Lavani had officially lost her mind. 

 

Agreeing to actually turn her back on the Faction to work for the Undertaker, had Lavani completely lost all sense of reality?  No she was just tired of the Faction's crap and needed a new change.  If Vince wanted to fire her, she would just get a contract from Linda McMahon, who was very fond of her and knew her work abilities.  When Taker walked out of the bathroom, Lavani walked over with a chipped mug full of black coffee, handing it to him.

 

“You're going to have to fill me on everything that you want and need done.”

 

“Same thing as those idiots you were workin' for, only instead of a group, it's just me and you.” Taker said, sitting down on the edge of the bed with the mug between his hands. “Thank you, darlin'.” He added with a grateful smile. “I don't stay at fancy hotels, usually places like this, they're outta the way so that means I don't have to deal with fans or any of the other wrestlers.” He didn't mind fans, Taker just didn't like dealing with the crazy ones that stalked hotels when the WWF was in town. “And I travel on one of my bikes, unless a show requires catching a flight.” This did happen, but for the most part, the loop was steady for awhile before doing a major jump. “I won't ask you to fetch me coffee, outside of this one time.” He added, winking at her before taking a sip.

 

“No worries, I don't mind.  And I didn't travel with them, so if you don't want me traveling with you, I understand.  I usually just have a rental and drive to the destinations that aren't too far away.” She'd done it that way for the past two years and didn't want to get in Taker's way. “I'll start calling as soon as I finish my java, one thing about me is that I'm a coffee addict.” She smiled at him while sipping her coffee, having retrieved her phone from her jean skirt to check her messages. “So do you have specific places you stay at so I can get their numbers?”

 

“A few, but I doubt you'll need their numbers, they generally keep a room open when they know the WWF is comin' to town.  Unless you’re wantin' to stay at them too, which I wouldn't recommend because most are worse than this place.” That and a single, gorgeous woman...in a room in some of these places alone; hell no, Taker wasn't having it.  She could bunk with him in that event. “Or you could stay with me.” He offered, unable to keep the suggestiveness from his tone. “As for travelin', you can do the rental car thing or save yourself some cash by ridin' with me.  It's up to you.”

 

Taker could go from semi-seductive to business in seconds, proof that he wasn't typical male.  Lavani started wondering what the hell Taker needed her for since he apparently already had his places picked out.  Though she knew his schedule was about to get really hectic with his return and there would be a lot of paperwork involved.

 

“Taker, with all due respect, since I am going to be your assistant and jumping ship from the Faction, don't you think it would be smart of me to stay with you?  I wouldn't put it past the Faction to come after me for leaving them with all their paperwork and whatnot, especially Vince.” Lavani wasn't stupid and knew how those assholes worked, frowning slightly. “Even if we're in separate rooms in the same place, I just would feel safer with you close-by until shit blows over.”

 

“No separate rooms.” Taker said flatly, shaking his head as he drained the rest of his coffee, standing up from the bed again and walked to the sink in order to rinse out the mug. “No offense to your abilities to protect yourself, but I don't exactly stay in trustworthy places.” Most people wouldn't fuck with him, obviously, if they didn't know who he was, his sheer size was enough to intimidate most would-be assailants.  Her, on the other hand, she was like screaming bait. “And yes, I think it would be smart for you to stay with me, but I'm not about to offend you by suggestin' it; some women don't take kindly to the 'protective' act.  Glad to see you’re smart.”

 

“I can't take on the Faction by myself, even I'm not stupid enough to underestimate them.” Lavani wasn't a damsel in distress type, but this type of situation called for protection. “Okay no separate rooms, then I'll just stay with you.  It would be stupid if I didn't.”

 

Lavani excused herself to go change back into her skirt and top, pulling the t-shirt off and looked down at it thoughtfully.  Looks like she was about to embrace the darkness by working with Taker as his assistant.  The Faction wasn't going to know what hit them.  Brushing her teeth with her finger, Lavani stepped out, seeing Taker was still nursing his coffee.

 

“Do you have a hair tie or something?  Oh don't forget, we need to stop and get my bag out of the rental at the arena before we hit the road.”

 

Grunting, he gestured towards his duffel bag, arching an eyebrow when she just stared at it. “I promise, if you reach in there, nothing's going to jump out and bite you.  Nor are you going to pull out somethin' disgusting.  I keep my lube in a different bag.” He added that last statement simply for shock value, though all he got was her giving him a look, shrugging. “There's a small drawstring bag in there, I keep hair ties and bobby pins in it, help yourself.”

 

She didn't even want to know why he had bobby pins and walked over to his bag, reaching in to find what she was looking for pulling it out. “Thank the stars.” Lavani whispered, pulling out a thick black holder and pulled her hair back, tying it tightly because she knew she had a motorcycle ride ahead of her. 

 

Then she walked over to put her socks and shoes back on before joining him on the bed, having zipped his bag back up the way he had it.  She made a mental note to remember he took his coffee straight black.  He was the fortunate one because he had clean clothes, though he also needed a shower since washing up in a bar bathroom sink hadn't exactly done much for him.

 

“I'm going to jump in the shower real quick.  If you're hungry, you can order somethin' from down the street, they'll deliver up here, just tell 'em to put it on Mark's tab.” He instructed before disappearing into the bathroom and stripping off the sweats.

 

For her sake, he hoped she owned something besides skirts.  While she looked great in them, and he certainly didn't mind her riding in them, she was going to wind up chafing.  By the time Taker stepped out of the shower and dressed, the food down the street had arrived.  She ordered two pancake breakfast meals that came with bacon, eggs, sausage links, toast with jam and hash browns.  Of course, given the size of her new 'boss', Lavani doubled his order of everything.

 

“I didn't know what you liked so I hope this is okay.  You're going to have to tell me your likes and dislikes food wise whenever I order.” She reminded him, not knowing a thing about him besides he took his coffee straight black and enjoyed whiskey. “Now then, since Vince didn't know you were returning, do you even have a contract with the WWF?”

 

He ignored that question in favor of examining the food.  Since she had ordered it from where he had told her too, everything, absolutely everything, was drenched in syrup.  He had a bit of a sweet tooth, especially when it came to his breakfast.  And she had apparently doubled the order, the woman was definitely used to seeing wrestler's appetites.

 

“Sit down and eat.”  Taker ordered, pointing to the chair, already knowing it wouldn't hold his weight. “And yes, I do have a contract.” He said finally, smirking at the thought.  He had a great contract.

 

“Good.”

 

Lavani did the right thing apparently breakfast wise, filing that information away and proceeded to eat her breakfast, devouring it before Taker finished his.  She was starving, not having ate in about twenty-four hours.  Drinking also increased her appetite tenfold. 

 

She tried taking her time as much as she could, but the food was simply too delicious.  They finished eating and packed up, Lavani helping Taker with anything he needed, which wasn't much.  Together, they headed out of the bar as the sun beat down on them, heading toward the beautiful Titan motorcycle.

 

‘I'll have to change in the rental.’ She thought, deciding to start bringing along more clothes that were bike friendly.

 

He enjoyed the morning ride, up early enough to beat the rush hour traffic as they headed for the arena.  It took a lot less time to get there then it had the night before to leave and reach the bar.  Though that was probably due to the fact that he wasn't dicking around this time, knowing they had to be on the road.  Not to mention not playing the 'let’s stay out of everyone's sight until we're ready to announce this shit' game.  Once he had pulled up alongside her rental, he became aware of something she had already thought of.

 

“So, darlin', where are you plannin' on changing at?” Taker asked as he helped her down, a broad grin on his face.

 

“In the backseat.” She answered promptly, winking and headed over to open the door, thankful nobody had broke into the rental.  Lavani had left it unlocked, thinking she would be taking it back to the hotel the previous night.  My how THAT changed. “Try not to watch.”

 

Chapter 6

 

Stepping inside, Lavani closed the door before sifting through her bag, pulling out a pair of blue jeans.  She slipped out of her skirt and pulled them on, grunting a little since it was a small enclosed space.  Then she pulled her shirt off and exchanged it with a tie dye tank top that had blue and pink swirls, nodding.  That would do since it was still incredibly warm where they were going.  She zipped her bag up, shoving her old clothes in there and stepped out five minutes later, keeping her shoes on.

 

“Alright I need a favor from you, if you wouldn't mind.” When Taker arched a brow, Lavani smiled and handed him her brush, pulling the tie out of her hair. “Braid my hair, please?”

 

Considering that, from behind the safety of his sunglasses, Taker may or may not have watched -he would never admit to either-, he figured the least he could do was braid her hair.  Standing up and dismounting, Taker positioned her in front of him and took the brush, quickly but gently brushing her hair out, working out the tangles the wind had put it in before sticking the handle between his teeth and deftly French braided her hair, accepting the hair tie she passed back to him.  When she stepped away and felt the braid, he shrugged, holding the brush again.

 

“Don't ask.  Ever.”

 

“That is not fair, you got me curious now.” Lavani remarked, rolling her eyes when he growled and handed her bag over to him while he strapped it to the back of the bike.  It was too big to fit in one of the saddlebags. “Fine grumpy, let's get going.”

 

She waited for him to mount the Titan before he helped her on the back, wrapping her arms around his waist.  When he fired it up and asked if she was ready, Lavani nodded and held on as he sped out of the parking lot, leaving her rental behind.  She'd made a quick phone call to have it picked up so she wouldn't get penalized for it, not to mention towing charges were a bitch.

 

They made good time, even though he made more frequent stops then he usually did.  For him, he only stopped when he needed gas, then he'd handle nature's business, grab something to eat and drink before heading out again.  Since she had been a motorcycle virgin until the night before, Taker was a gentlemen and stopped every other hour or so to let her walk around, knowing riding for long periods of time was going to take Lavani some getting used to.

 

“How're your legs?” Taker asked on one of those stops, not surprised that she was walking bow-legged in the least. “Want a massage?”

 

“I feel like I've been on one of those carnival rides for hours on end, the ones that vibrate against your ass and thighs.” Of course he would offer to give her a massage and Lavani was very tempted to take him up on it. “Sure, if you want.” She shrugged and laughed when he raised a slow brow up at her, slowly pulling her blue shades from her eyes, pushing them on top of her head. “What, did you think I'd say no?  I'll take just about anything to get them to stop trembling like they are now and you're a damn furnace.  Heat would relax them faster.” She rationalized simply, wondering if he would actually go through with doing it or if he was all talk and no action.

 

Smirking, he took her by the hand and guided her towards the picnic area, finally coming to a halt at a table and lifted her by the waist up so she was sitting on it.  She was still much lower than he was, but...this wasn't so much of a bend down for him.  And now he wished she had worn a skirt.  Not only would it be more effective then working through her jeans, but...yeah, he was perving on her.

 

“Tonight, you're going to take a hot bath.” Taker informed her, knowing that riding all day, especially on a motorcycle where one did nothing except hang on and get beat up by the wind, with no reprieve from the sun beating down on one’s head, made people tired and achy. “You're probably going to hate me in the mornin' when you wake up stiff.” He added, his hands already at work on her thighs.

 

Lavani had to stop herself from asking if he'd join her in that hot bath and bit her bottom lip to keep from moaning.  His hands felt wonderful against her jean covered thighs, the heat from his palms definitely working magic. “Whatever you say, Taker.” She congratulated herself for speaking clearly because any other woman would've melted in a puddle.  Technically, she was melting on the inside, but remained cool and calm on the outside. “And I won't ever hate you, Taker, not unless you give me a legitimate reason to.”

 

“Trust me, tomorrow mornin', it's going to seem like a legitimate reason.”

 

He chuckled, taking his time and making sure he got every part that must've been aching.  Every part below a certain point at least, though he did wonder how far she would let him go…if she would let him go at all.  She had already proven she was not like countless other women.  Odds were she'd slap the shit out of him, which made him snort.

 

“You know, a lot of people would call what you're doing sexual, even though it's not.” Lavani said randomly, ignoring what he said because she wouldn't hate him. 

 

She might be a little cranky, but nothing coffee and a hot bath couldn't fix.  Several hot baths anyway.  Lavani was glad he wasn't trying anything more, like most men would.  He was a complete gentleman, acting in a way Lavani never pegged him for.  She didn't think of him as a rapist so much as a seductionist.

 

He was a seductionist all right, but he wasn't even trying at the moment.  While he might have those thoughts flitting through his mind every now and again, if he wanted to seduce her, he would and she would be putty in his hands whether she wished it or not.  Taker was simply that damn good.  After a few more minutes, he stepped away from her.

 

“If that was sexual darlin', then I apologize because the throbbin' from riding the bike is going to make it worse.” He said, helping her down off the table, nodding in satisfaction when she walked without looking like she had been riding bareback all day long.

 

“Don't worry about it, Taker.  I'll be fine.” She assured him, her thighs no longer trembling and knew they still had a ways to go before arriving at the next destination. 

 

A coffee later, they were on their way again, Lavani slowly getting used to riding.  She hung onto him, her cheek pressed against his back, trying not to think about how good this felt.  It'd been awhile for Lavani, she slept with one wrestler on the roster in a one nightstand, both of them vowing to keep it between them.  So Lavani hadn't had sex in well over a year and the urging was slowly starting to grate on her nerves.

 

Taker was focused on the drive, intent on making it to their destination at a reasonable time.  Since her legs were probably good to go for awhile now, he figured they wouldn't be stopping again anytime soon, not unless she threatened to piss on his bike or something.  It was nice having a companion with him, even though to talk one actually had to shout.  Just feeling her behind him, her arms around his waist, leaning into his back, it was...nice.  Definitely not something Taker was used too, but knew he could get used to it.

 

Several hours later, they finally arrived at the next destination, the place Taker chose for them to stay at a little nicer than previously.  A little nicer meaning the room was bigger along with the shower, but that was pretty much it...and Lavani didn't mind.  Taker set their bags down while Lavani proceeded to bundle all of the paperwork for Vince, ready to toss it in his face.  They had Raw tonight, it was going to be very interesting to say the least.

 

“Dumb question, but any specific style you want me to wear or is it pretty much a free-for-all?” With the McMahons, she could wear anything she wanted besides straight blue jeans, the blue jean skirt not counting.

 

At that question, all 'Taker could do was stare at her. “That was a dumb question.” He agreed, snorting when she scowled at him. “I don't give a damn what you wear, darlin'.” Though, if she showed up in bright pink, he could change his mind. “You could wear raggedy ass blue jeans and I wouldn't care.  Though...” He stroked his chin, looking thoughtful as his eyes roamed her body. “I also wouldn't mind seein' you in leather pants...” Taker could just imagine leather cupping that perfectly rounded ass, the corner of his mouth twitching upwards into the barest hint of a smirk.

 

“No thanks.” Lavani made a face at the leather pants crack, shaking her head because she knew that was another attempt to try goading her. “Leather not only sticks, but chaffs.  I'll stick with jean material.” She winked and began sifting through her bag, deciding to just change her shirt. “Actually…”Lavani had an idea, grinning from ear to ear and excuse herself to make a phone call while Taker refreshed himself in the bathroom.


“Hello?”


“Hey Janet, it's Lava.”


“Oh my god, Lava!  Girl, everyone has been worried about you ever since last night!  Are you okay?!”


“Never better, listen, I have a favor to ask you.  I hope you can help me out.” Lavani smiled when Janet agreed and told her what she needed done, not going into anymore details regarding her and Taker. “I'll meet you in the parking lot to retrieve it.”

 

The call ended and Janet could only blink, wondering what the hell Lavani was thinking and got to work on her favor.  When Taker came out of the bathroom, Lavani was grinning like a Cheshire cat and that actually made him worry a bit.  A woman who was smiling like that usually had something up her sleeve.

 

“What's the grin for?” He asked, reaching back to begin pulling his hair out of the somewhat messy braid it had been held back in. “You look pretty damn devious when you grin like that darlin’, should I be worried?”

 

“Nope, just had to call in a favor, nothing you need to concern yourself with.” Her French braid had stayed in for the most part, thanks to Taker taking the brunt of the wind during their long ride. “Don't worry, you'll enjoy it.” She was guaranteeing it, knowing Janet would come through for her and knew Taker would be wondering what she was up until it came out. “Do you want me to help you with that?” Lavani asked, seeing he was struggling a little because the tie had gotten tangled with his hair.

 

His response was to drop down onto one knee where she could comfortably stand and get the hair tie, knowing his hair had tangled around it pretty damn good. “If you would.” Taker would enjoy it...somehow he doubted it would be those leather pants. “You nervous at all about any of this?” He asked conversationally, knowing shit was going to hit the fan.

 

Personally, he was looking forward to it.

 

“No reason to be, I'm in good hands.”

 

Lavani smiled and slowly extracted the tie from his hair before unraveling the braid.  Gently, she ran her nails through his long hair, not believing how soft it was to the touch.  She took the brush he handed her and began getting all the tangles out of his hair.

 

“Do you want it braided again or a tight low tail?” Lavani smiled when he shrugged, deciding to just put it in a low tail, his smell of gasoline and leather once again filtering around her. “There all done.”

 

That had taken her less time than he had anticipated, which was a shame because he liked it when someone besides him brushed his hair.  Well, depending on who was doing it.  Some women went crazy and tried cutting or pulling pieces out for keepsakes.  Taker pushed himself up onto his feet and reached back to feel the tail, nodding his head before smiling down at her.

 

“Well, we got a little time before the show, you want to catch a nap?  Get somethin' to eat?”

 

Before Lavani could answer, Taker's stomach rumbled at that moment, causing her to giggle. “I think that pretty much answers the question.  Food, definitely food.”

 

They headed out and ended up getting some sub sandwiches that were piled with everything, though Lavani nixed the hot peppers.  She didn't care for spicy food, it didn't sit well with her digestive system.  They sat at a nearby park on a table, just enjoying the warm breeze and beautiful late afternoon.

 

This was peaceful, it was relaxing, and it was out of the ordinary for him.  Sitting in a park, eating, was not something he did.


“Is that...is that the Undertaker?”

 

And now he remembered why; rolling his eyes, Taker took another bite of his sub, hoping the fact that he was one, eating and two, with someone would encourage these people to ask for their autographs and move the hell on.  Some people were really polite about that sort of thing, others were not.


“He has a girlfriend?”


“Who cares?”


“You've just become my woman, darlin'.” Taker informed her when he realized the women approaching were ring rats.

 

Before Lavani could say anything, Taker yanked her from on top of the table and sat her right in his lap, straddling him. “Subtle.” She muttered, having just finished her sandwich and leaned up more to wrap her arms around his neck.  His woman?  Lavani could handle that for the time being, gently running her nails across the back of his neck, not realizing she was sending shivers down his spine. “So about tonight...”

 

A throat cleared behind them.

 

Slowly, Lavani turned her head to face the two women, who were barely dressed and looked as though they wanted to kill her.  Lavani found it amusing. “Something we can do for you, girls?”

 

She refused to call them ladies, but wasn't about to be rude since they were wrestling fans, ring rats or not.  There was nothing subtle about this; this was as far away from his usual methods as could be and it was all because he did not do ring rats.  Anymore.  There was a time or two back in the day he might've taken one, or two, back to his hotel room but...not these days.  Slowly, he raised his eyes up to the women, snorting blatantly when he took in the way they were dressed.  Yeah, he definitely recognized this type.  They'd wait until the company rolled around, or even followed the loop, and stalk the damn hotels just to catch a wrestler.  It was all about bragging rights.


“We seen your return last night, Taker.” The taller one said, ignoring Lavani completely, fluttering her fake, long eyelashes. “You are-”


“Absolutely gorgeous.” The other finished.

 

“And you say I'm not subtle?” Taker chuckled darkly, burying his face in Lavani's neck.

 

Lavani giggled softly, his goatee brushing against the sensitive part of her neck sending shivers down her back.  The nerve of these two whores to walk up during an 'intimate' moment the Undertaker was having with his 'woman'!  They had no respect.

 

“He is gorgeous, definitely can't deny that.” She looked back at him and ran her blue nails gently down the side of his face, smirking. “You know what's even better?” Lavani glanced over her shoulder back at the rats, watching them shake their heads and turned her attention back to him. “The taste of his lips.”

 

“Your lips aren't too bad either, darlin'.” Taker rumbled huskily, aware the ring rats were listening to his every word. “I particularly love tastin' the ones down...” He ran his hand between their bodies, moving his palm until he was cupping her. “Here...”


“Oh that is disgusting!” Ring rat one shrieked when the Undertaker began kissing his whore.


“You could have us both, what do you need her for?!” Ring rat two demanded angrily.

 

He didn't even bother gracing them with the obvious response, busy coaxing Lavani's lips open with his.

 

It was one thing to pretend that she was the Undertaker's woman in order to get these ring rats to go away, but when he actually cupped her jean covered crotch and kissed her, Lavani wasn't expecting it.  She was shocked to respond so quickly, cupping the back of his neck, moaning as soon as his tongue began entwining with hers.  He did taste amazing and his lips were soft to the touch, Lavani's body was currently lit on fire, something she hadn't felt in quite some time.  She slowly broke the kiss when both of them needed air to breathe, her chest rising and falling rapidly with swollen lips.  Turning her head, Lavani stared at the ring rats with smoldered dark golden eyes, a smirk curving her lips.

 

“I'm all the woman he needs and wants.” Lavani stated breathlessly, watching them both throw their hands up in the air before stalking away.

 

She wasn't lying either.  Taker did need and want her; he was extremely grateful for the fact that he had opted for tight blue jeans today because they were keeping his erection in check.  Though he'd be lying if he didn't say it wasn't exactly comfortable. 

 

He would not be surprised in the slightest if he stood up and his 'problem' ripped the front of his jeans.  That was how much he wanted her right now.  When Lavani turned those smoldering golden eyes back to him, he knew damn well she was feeling something similar to what he was and leaned forward to capture her lips in his again.

 

As heated as this kiss was, Lavani knew the ring rats were long gone and had to stop this before something happened between them. “Taker...” She mumbled against his lips, placing her hands on his shoulders and moaned when he tried coaxing her lips open with his tongue again. “Wait, stop...” With as much strength as she could muster up, Lavani pulled back, tearing her lips from his and swallowed hard at how much desire she saw coursing through his green eyes. “We...really should get going to the arena...”

 

He almost said 'fuck the arena, we should be going back to the hotel', but after that temporary insanity cleared, he realized he had overstepped a boundary or two, and all on the first day.  This was her subtle way of getting him off of her.  Nodding, Taker simply set her upright on her feet and stood up, cracking his neck from side to side, inhaling deeply through his nose as he stared down at her.  A second later, his shades were covering his eyes, knowing she had already seen the desire in them.

 

“You're right, let's get goin'.” Taker said, unable to keep his deep baritone from being laced with what he currently felt.

 

Chapter 7

 

When they arrived at the arena, Lavani immediately went over to where Janet stood, trying to get her mind focused on work.  Those two kisses, that moment with Taker, would have to be put in the far recesses of her mind until later.  There was no way she could start something with him, being his assistant she had to put him at arm's length.  No matter what she was feeling inside.

 

“Hey girl.”


“As you requested.”


“Thank you love.”

 

Lavani hugged Janet, took what she asked for and watched the woman hurry back inside.  Looking down at it, Lavani couldn't help smirking a little and looked over her shoulder at Taker.  Without preamble, Lavani proceeded to pull the specially made tank top over her head and took her old shirt off without showing anything, smoothing the tank down over her upper body.  On the front, in big bold blue lettering, it said 'DEADMAN INC', apparently that was Taker's new gimmick in the company.

 

“There, let's head inside so I can start going over your schedule.”

 

He looked down at her, wholeheartedly approving of her tank top.  Though he noticed the blue lettering which was no doubt because of her color OCD issue.  He let out a low, approving whistle, taking her hand and twirling her around.

 

“Darlin', as much as I love this tank top, you might want to put your other shirt on over it.” He suggested slickly. “This way we can keep the cat in the bag a bit longer.”

 

“I didn't know how you wanted to go about doing this, so I wanted to be prepared.” Lavani explained, shrugging and pulled her other shirt over the tank top, glad he approved of what she did.  Lavani couldn't wear something without blue in it.  Though now that she was working for Taker, she had to take serious consideration in what color to use next. ‘Probably red.’ She thought, heading inside with her hand clasped in Taker's, hoping the Faction hadn't arrived yet.

 

When they had pulled in, Taker hadn't noticed their customized bus in the lot anywhere so unless they had decided to travel like normal people -he sincerely doubted- then they hadn't arrived yet.  He guided her through the hallways, eyes always on the lookout for people, preferring to avoid whoever he could because he had no idea who might be dumb enough to snitch to the McMahon-Helmsley Faction about her still being with him.  Of course, there was also the fact that most people hated those jokers too.  Once they reached his room, Taker ushered her inside, kicking the door shut behind him.

 

“They always run late?”

 

“Sometimes, though I usually arrive after they do.”

 

Lavani really didn't know the McMahon's schedule as far as their arrivals went, just the days they had to be places and times.  Didn't mean they arrived on time, they were the McMahons after all.  Lavani sat down on a nearby bench while Taker looked around the locker room, pulling out the paperwork that she'd clipped together the previous night.  She would be nice and courteous enough to give them to Vince instead of burning them like she should've.  Though if the Faction gave her any problems, it would be handled.

 

“I think I'll hold onto these until AFTER they find out I no longer work for them.” Lavani decided, putting them away and looked up at Taker when he walked out the bathroom. “So any ideas on how you want to tell them?  We haven't exactly established what's going down tonight...”

 

Smirking slightly, Taker settled down in a metal folding chair and set his bag down between his spread legs, bending down to rifle in it. “I guarantee you those idiots will be out in the ring either interrupting someone or borin' the hell out of the rest of us with one of Helmsley's worthless speeches.  I'll be...making my appearance known around that time.” He straightened up, considering her. “Odds are, there'll be some sort of fight. Might be a good idea for you to wait in the wings until I'm back on the stage, then you can come out.”

 

It'd be a bit of a tease, her only showing herself when he was ready to head backstage.  However, at the same time, he didn't want to risk anything happening to her.  Though there wasn't a doubt in his mind he wasn't going to stomp some asses tonight.

 

“You want me out there with you?”

 

Lavani blinked, wondering if he was serious and chewed her bottom lip when he nodded.  She had to admit, the reason she hadn't wanted to be on-screen with the Faction was because she couldn't stand any of them.  With Taker, it was completely different.  Hell, who wouldn't want to walk side by side of the American Badass?

 

“Wouldn't that ruin your image, having a woman on your arm accompanying you to ringside?” She couldn't help asking, standing up from the bench to walk toward him.

 

“No darlin', I don't want you at ringside.” Taker said, repeating himself gently.  Most people, he would have gotten a bit irritated with at having to explain himself twice.  He was giving her a free pass and it had absolutely nothing to do with earlier, no it did not. “There'll be a fight, which I don't need you involved in.  Of course, I'm going to win.” He said that a bit arrogantly, knowing damn well it was true.  Taker had every intention of going out on his bike and really doubted anyone was going to jump in front of the damn thing, though it would be pretty amusing if they did. “You can meet me on top of the stage when I'm done.”

 

Already envisioning the McMahon-Helmsley Faction’s reaction, an evil glint entered his green eyes.

 

“No that's not what I'm talking about.” Lavani was getting a little flustered and knew she would have to ask him again another way. “Sorry, what I meant to ask is do you want me out there with you more than just tonight?  I know you don't want me out there tonight ringside while you whip their asses, I get that.  Totally fine with it.  But...If I go out there on national television and show the world that I'm with you, that I'm part of Deadman Inc...do you get where I'm going with this or am I sounding completely stupid?” She didn't know how else to say it, the mere thought of going out in front of thousands of people flustering her to no end.

 

What they had here was a failure to communicate, he thought, suddenly thinking of Guns-N-Roses and considered that. “We're going to have to take that one night at a time, Vani.” He said finally.  If she wanted to come out with him, he definitely wasn't averse to the idea, but he'd prefer her to not be there at ringside when he knew for a fact there was going to be a brawl.  Taker would protect her, but he'd prefer to avoid putting her right in danger too. “Do you WANT to go out with me?  Not camera shy are ya?”

 

“Then I don't think it would be wise for me to reveal myself to the audience.” It wouldn't be a wise business move bringing backstage politics on-screen.  Granted, shocking the Faction was almost worth it, but Lavani wasn't stupid and learned quickly not to do certain things in this company. “Now then, I'm gonna have to get a copy of your schedule so everything is ready to go.  That and if you need anything changed, that can be done right away.”

 

“Here.” He rifled around in the side pocket of his bag, finally pulling out a several times folded sheet. “It's just for a few weeks since only a select few knew about me comin' back last night.” Taker smirked at that, handing her the paper. “It's all pretty much for basic appearances and house shows since the writer's had no set date for my return, they're probably all over that now though.  But you can pencil in the live shows, no way in Hell I'll be missing those.”

 

While he had been looking forward to the possibility of her publically giving the Faction her 'notice', he respected her decision.  Didn't mean they weren't going to find out, it would just be off-screen.  Lavani nodded and sat back down to look over his schedule, half paying attention to it, but something else was going through her head.  A fact she simply couldn't ignore.  When she felt him sit down beside her and placed a hand on her knee, Lavani slowly looked up at him.

 

“The choice I've made is going to have dire consequences.  No matter what, I'm going to end up out there because I know how the McMahons are.  I know how conniving they are and they're not going to take me defecting lightly.  So if I'm going to end up out there anyway, might as well do it on MY terms instead of theirs.” Lavani slowly stood up and began unraveling the French braid, shaking her hair out a little. “I wonder if Lacey would mind coming down here to fix me up a little.  Gotta look good for my debut.”

 

Lavani snorted, already feeling butterflies erupting in her stomach.  Reaching out, Taker placed his hands gently on her hips, guiding her so she was standing between his open legs and stared up at her intently.  He could see the flicker of apprehension and uncertainty in her toffee eyes, but could also see the determination at the same time, knowing what it was like to have conflicting emotions.

 

“Darlin', if you really wanna do this, then you know I'm right there with you, but if you don't...don't let them bastards intimidate ya.” He said gently. “Like I said, either way it's your call and I'll back you up regardless.  And if the McMahon's even think about fucking with you...well, I've got a chain I keep in the left saddlebag, hasn't been broken in yet, but that can change.”

 

“You think a chain will stop them from doing what they want?  Taker, no offense, I have all the faith in the world that you can protect me, but you're only one man.  You're not invincible and can't be in two places at once.” She pointed out, placing her hands on his broad shoulders, hoping he didn't get upset with her for speaking what she knew was the harsh truth. “The fact is, I know how Vince is and, with how pissed off he's going to be, I wouldn't put it past him to drag me on-screen in some form or another.  I'm not gonna let him choose when and where it happens.  I'm going to fire the first shot before he can because I know he won't keep my defection private.  He'll exploit it, that's what he does and you should know that better than anyone.  Your Ministry of Darkness ended up in the stupid Corporate Ministry because of him and you can't give me a line of bullshit that it was your idea because I know better.  I was there.  I saw everything and I know you were forced into it for storyline development.”

 

“Ouch, Vani, way to totally step all over a guy's ego.” Taker said, though he nodded to show he understood what she meant.  That did not mean, however, that he wasn't going to put the fear of the Undertaker into Vince at the next convenient moment. “I get ya darlin'.” He stood up, watching her step back to give him room, not even about to go into the Corporate Ministry thing.  That, as far as he was concerned, had been a very low point in his career. “Now, you said somethin' about seeing Lacey?” He did not recognize that name, figuring the woman must have come in while he was gone.

 

“Yeah, she's the hair and makeup gal that took over for Janet.  Janet is now strictly wardrobe.  Lacey is the one who does my hair when it's time to change my streak colors.” She fingered a blue one, smiling tentatively. 

 

Lavani hadn't meant to step all over his ego, but she had to get her point across to make him understand that, at the end of all this, there was no choice.  She had to go out in front of thousands and humiliate the Faction before they did it to her.  It was as simple as that.

 

“She'll know how to do my hair that'll go with your new look.”

 

“Darlin', I will have you know this is not a new look...it's my every day look.” Taker informed her, smoothing out the front of his denim shirt with a snort, ignoring her rolling her eyes. “So, are you going to change those stripes anytime soon?”

 

Taker reached out to take a lock of blue hair in his fingers, feeling how silky smooth the tresses were before letting go.  Lavani wanted to go out there on her own terms, which he respected.  However, he also knew it was going to be a huge blow to the Faction and wondered if she had considered the backlash that would be coming.

 

“I meant out in the ring.  You used to look like Satan in black tights.” She reminded him, smirking when he growled and folded her arms in front of her chest. “I'm right and you know it, Deadman.  And not for another five months.  I change them out every six months so I don't dry my hair out.”

 

Lavani knew what it meant to take this next step in her career with the WWF.  At the very least, finally going on-screen like Vince had tried convincing her to do for the past two years would be her ultimate decision instead of by force.  The backlash she would deal with, Lavani was just happy that after tonight she would be rid of the Faction once and for all.

 

Ignoring the cracks about him looking like Satan, Taker knew back in the day with the long black hair, the beard and his wrestling attire.  Not to mention the robe and occasional outlandish pay-per-view specialty attire, he had indeed looked like someone who either was the Man himself or closely related.  At the same time though...his fan base had exploded, particularly the female persuasion of that base. 

 

There was a large hint of irony to this entire situation.  Lavani was going to go public, live, at his side to avoid Vince and the Faction dragging her out into the spotlight against her will.  Back in the day, he had wanted her on-camera with him and Vince had been the one to decline his offer.

 

How the tables had turned!

 

While Taker was in his deep thoughts, Lavani sent a text message to Lacey, who was another friend of hers in the back.  Then she thought of Adam and Jay...they were going to freak out when she stepped out on that ramp later on during the Faction segment that Taker was going to interrupt.  When Lacey arrived ten minutes later, with the hair products in hand, Lavani took one of the steel folding metal chairs and sat down while she got busy.

 

“Thanks for keeping this between us, tell Janet I appreciate it too.”


“No problem honey, though I hope you know what you're doing.”


“So do I.”

 

Chapter 8

 

Taker left them to do their thing, disappearing into the bathroom to grab a cold shower -he didn't do hot ones before shows, ever-, focusing on the upcoming night.  He idly wondered if Lavani knew about him harassing Vinnie Mac a time or two during the Ministry days to let her be used on-camera, having had a few ideas for her after seeing her around the back.  Vince had flat out told him 'no chance in hell' and that had been repeated quite empathetically after the fiasco with Ryan Shamrock, which the very thought of still brought an evil little grin to his face.  When he was done, redressed and ready to kick some ass, Taker stepped back out into the main room, arching an eyebrow.

 

Lavani stared back at her reflection, hardly believing this was her and would have to thank Lacey for her brilliance.  Her raven blue streaked hair hung down her back and over her shoulders in loose long curls, really bringing out the streaks.  Her toffee colored eyes were outlined in midnight blue eyeliner, really making them pop, eye shadow completely natural. 

 

Her lips were painted a clear gloss and she had foundation to hide any blemishes the camera might pick-up.  Though Lacey added something else and that was a blue bandana that wrapped around her forehead and tied beneath her hair, having ironed it to make it as flat and smooth as possible.  Instead of her tennis shoes, she had black two inch steel toed boots with her blue jeans and the tank top Janet had specially made for her.

 

“What about you?” Lacey asked hesitantly when she was done surveying her work on Lavani.

 

The woman was gorgeous and Lacey knew that it wasn't from the makeup or the done up hair.  Those things only enhanced that natural beauty.  She turned towards Taker, unsure if he would want anything done, not knowing if he had done his own makeup and thinking of the Undertaker doing his make-up was a disturbing thought in itself.


“There is no way in hell you're caking my face or putting an eyeliner stick near me, woman.” He said gruffly, eyes fastened on Lavani instead of Lacey, even though she was the one talking to him. “You look beautiful, darlin’.”

 

Lavani grinned, glad she had Taker's approval and winked over at Lacey. “Thanks again, I owe you one.”

 

“Well if this works out for you, I'll be doing this a lot more often.” Lacey pointed out, walking out of the locker room and headed back to her station with supplies in hand.

 

“Glad you-” Lavani froze when she heard the unmistakable shrieking voice of Stephanie, groaning, knowing they couldn't see her yet.  When Taker instructed her to hide in the bathroom and not make a sound, Lavani did as he said, making sure to go in one of the shower stalls, pressing her back against the wall.


“Where is she, Taker?” Vince demanded seconds later, storming into the locker room and glared at the man he thought he'd never have to deal with again. “I saw-”


“WHERE IS LAVANI?”


“Steph, he just asked that...”

 

“Princess...” His voice had dropped to the low, evil baritone he had used during his Ministry days, just to watch her eyes narrow and to see her step behind her husband. “I see you haven't changed...still screaming like the bitch you are.”


“How dare you!” Shane growled, though wisely, didn't move.


“Where is she, Deadman?”

 

Taker shrugged, eyeing them all speculatively. “No idea what yer talkin’ ‘bout.” Then his green eyes lit up wickedly. “Oh, you mean that piece I took off with last night?  Hell if I know, I took her for a...ride...and then dropped her off, can't recall where though.”

 

“That's a lie!  I saw you with her at our hotel!!” Stephanie shouted, though remained behind her husband for protection, eyes narrowed. “You have her and we want her back!”


“Don't make this any harder than it has to be, Taker.” Vince stated, looking around the locker room and stepped back when the giant stood up from his perch, disgusted as some tobacco spit landed on his very expensive shoe. “Why you son of a-”


“Yo Hunter, Sean is down!  Someone attacked him!”

 

Leave it to Jesse to save the day so to speak.  Lavani stood there and even covered her mouth with her hand, not chancing them hearing her breathe.  Hunter growled, not happy with this sudden turn of events.

 

“This ain't over, Deadman.”

 

“Course it ain't, now run along and go see who attacked your bitch.” He made a dismissive gesture before leering at Stephanie. “Your other bitch that is, since queen bitch is right here.”


“Why you-!” Stephanie was still screaming as her brother shoved her out of the room, Vince following with Hunter bringing up the rear.

 

He leaned in the doorway of his room, watching as they disappeared down the hallway before shutting the door and turning towards the bathroom. “They're gone.”

 

“Nice touch calling Stephanie a queen bitch.” Lavani complimented, stepping out of the bathroom and tried to calm her racing heart. 

 

This wasn't good, they were pissed and it's about to get worse.  They made small chatter for the next hour, watching Raw on the small monitor.  Vince had come out at the beginning of the show to talk smack, but then went backstage.  Toward the end of the show, the Faction suddenly made their way to the ring, which was lead by the WWF Champion Triple H, all filing inside the squared circle.

 

“Is it time?” Lavani asked quietly.

 

Watching him nod, Taker pulled his black leather trench coat on, and had to take several deep breaths.  All she had to do was wait for his announcement and then she could step out on the ramp to reveal her betrayal to the Faction.  Just for safety purposes, Lavani hid behind one of the black curtains, her eyes on the monitor that was nearby and waited.

 

He had been listening to the Rock's little speech with amusement, even finding the part where Rocky said Taker had done the right thing in regards to the night before, just at the wrong time since it had been the Rock's time.  He left her there behind the black curtain where no one would see her and went to retrieve his motorcycle, having parked it where he did for a reason.  He was about to repeat last night.

 

Hunter was not pleased, but not all together surprised when he heard what was now a very familiar chorus of little girl's whispering 'He's Here', aiming one more punch at Rocky's head before turning towards the titantron.  The Faction were already moving towards the ramp, barring access to the ring.  Taker parked his motorcycle at the top of the ramp before dismounting it, his entrance music thundering all throughout the arena. 

 

He then stalked down the ramp and began beating the hell out of the Faction, throwing lethal punches and knocked Shane out with a kick to the skull.  He punched Vince and then dragged him to the center of the ramp before walking back up to his motorcycle and mounted it again.  Within seconds, Taker rode his Titan down the ramp, the Faction having to dodge out of the way before they got ran down and Taker circled the ring, symbolically telling everyone that it belonged to him and he owned it. 

 

Though, once he stopped, Lavani knew this was her queue when Taker reached his hand up and made a 'come out' gesture, staring directly at McMahon with a shit eaten grin on his face, pointing to the ramp.  Taking a deep breath, Lavani removed her top from last night and smoothed down the Deadman Inc tank before walking out.  The crowd erupted in frenzy over both Undertaker and her appearance.

 

Even through his foggy brain, Vince could tell who was standing on that ramp and felt his eyes bug out. “WHAT THE HELL?”


“Is that-”


“THAT BITCH!!”


“Lava, what the fuck?!”

 

Backstage there was also an uproar going on as most people knew Lavani had never wanted to be on-camera and, quite frankly, seeing her with the Undertaker, who had officially put himself on the boss’s shit list...well, that was just mind-blowing.  Inwardly smirking, Taker drove up the ramp and came to a stop right beside her.  He could just barely hear Stephanie screaming -that woman was SHRILL- over the sound of his music and the fans, feeling Lavani slipping onto the motorcycle behind him.

 

All Jesse could do was hide his face on the mat where he had fallen as he watched Taker raise a fist into the air, knowing war had just been declared and Lavani had gone and planted herself smack dab in the middle of it.

 

Lavani looked behind her shoulder at the Faction and blew a kiss to them, waving three fingers before wrapping her arms around Taker's waist, both of them disappearing behind the curtain.  Taker didn't stop, already having all of their things in the saddlebags from the dressing room.  They passed by Adam and Jay, who had their jaws glued to the floor with wide eyes. 

 

She merely smiled and waved at them, knowing everyone was in complete shock over her joining Taker's side.  If they only knew the reasoning behind it.  As soon as they were outside in the parking lot, Taker hit the motorcycle full throttle and Lavani just held on for dear life, wondering if he was headed back to where they were staying or someplace else.

 

They were heading back to their room, mostly so he deposit their things, change and then he planned on taking her out to celebrate what had definitely been the highlight of his week.  Taker knew he would be able to catch the replay of what had happened on a local station.  They always aired highlights whenever the WWF came to town, not to mention there would be tapes made from the media truck. 

 

He'd snag a copy.  He had seen the expressions of the Faction member's on the titantron when she had appeared on the ramp, his eyes hidden behind his shades, and it had been priceless.  When they were parked, he dismounted before pulling her up and swinging her around briefly, beginning to laugh.

 

“Darlin', you gave them sumbitches the surprise of their pathetic lives.”

 

“Thank you, thank you very much.” Lavani bowed at him with a huge smile, laughing along with him, the replay of Vince's face seared in her brain. “Vince looked like he shit his pants full and Stephanie turned into a cherry.  That was fantastic, exhilarating and amazing!” Suddenly, she pulled his face down to hers and kissed him briefly, her way of properly thanking him for allowing her to give the Faction the surprise of a lifetime. “I don't know how to repay you, Taker.”

 

“Well you definitely are off to a great start.” Taker rumbled, mildly surprised by the fact that she had kissed him, even though it was pretty much nothing but a quick peck and recalled earlier in the park. Knowing she wouldn't appreciate a repeat of that at the moment, he cleared his throat, returning the smile. “I don't know how the hell you could put up with Stephanie all this time, Vani; that bitch has the shrillest goddamn voice ever.  She was that way back in 1999 too.  If I could've gotten away with it, I would've cut out her vocal chords.”

 

“Believe me, you would've done everyone a favor if you had.”

 

Lavani didn't know what came over her by kissing him and chalked it up to the incredible moment, so many emotions and feelings overwhelming her.  She was finally free of the Faction, having left the paperwork for Vince in the Faction's dressing room.  She dropped it off before heading to gorilla position, once she knew the Faction was out in the ring with Dwayne.  Taker took Lavani's hand and guided her inside the building up to their room for the evening.  She was still on a high, her adrenaline peaked off the charts.

 

“The night is young, we don't have to head out until mornin', what do you want to do?”

 

If she said 'sit here and watch TV', or 'go to sleep', Taker was going to leave her and go find himself a bar and possibly the company of a young woman with black hair and toffee eyes.  He was wired from the show.  It showed in his pacing as he discarded his trench coat, tossing it on the bed before peeling off his sweat damped denim shirt.

 

“I don't know, never really did anything after shows before.  Remember me, boring person?” She could tell he was amped and probably could go for another round of what happened, hell Lavani felt the same way.  It took every ounce of will power for Lavani not to devour his bare chest with her eyes, looking away from him out the window into the night. “You're gonna have to teach me how to have fun and 'let my hair down' as you so aptly described last night.” She finally said, turning to face him and finally grabbed his hand to stop him from pacing. “You're gonna put a hole in the floor if you keep doing that, Taker.”

 

“Fuck the floor.” He retorted, holding onto her hand while reaching out to place his free hand on her waist, drawing her against him. “Let's go out, Vani.  Name a place and I'll take ya.” Taker was in a very good mood because she could have named some ritzy club that would undoubtedly try to kick him out for violating some wardrobe rule and he'd beat every ass who tried just so she could be in there, with him of course. “Hell, we could just go a ride if you wanted too.”

 

“Some place with liquor, food and music sounds great to me.  I don't really know this area well.” She smiled apologetically, not moving out of his arms, actually enjoying the sparkle in his green eyes. “Actually, why don't we grab two bottles, go for a ride somewhere and celebrate under the stars?” Lavani suggested, knowing she would have to change if they were to do that.  She didn't want to draw attention from fans with her tank top after all, no matter what they decided. “Whatever you wanna do, I'll come along for the ride, Taker.”

 

“You'd better grab a jacket or somethin' then because it might get cold in just that tank top.” Taker said, which was his way of saying he liked that last idea, eyeing the Deadman Inc on it with an approving smile.  When she announced she was going to change her shirt entirely, he shrugged and gestured for the bathroom. “Have at it.”

 

He needed to change as well, figuring he'd do it quickly while she was in there.  Once the door had closed behind her, he discarded his boots and jeans, commando beneath them and reached for a fresh pair from his bag.  Lavani hadn't closed the door completely and couldn't help sneaking a quick peek at Taker, knowing it was wrong. 

 

It was very wrong, but that delicious bare chest made her hungry to see more. 

 

Chapter 9

 

When she saw his beautiful bare ass, Lavani had to learn how to breathe again and slowly backed away from the door.  The man went commando, interesting.  Shaking herself out of a desire-filled state, Lavani decided on a grey tunic that went down past her hips and it had a dark blue midnight rose embroidered on the front of it. 

 

Lavani decided to keep the bandana because it suited her, but as far as her hair went, that had to be pulled back again since they were going riding.  She also pulled out a blue zip-up sweater and wrapped it around her waist, leaving her boots on.  Lavani quickly pulled her hair back in a tight ponytail, using two ties just to make sure it stayed.  Once she was ready, Lavani stepped out and stared at Taker, a rush of heat suddenly engulfing her at the sight of him.

 

His jeans, light blue and skintight with a hole in the left knee, were on, though he hadn't bothered fastening them just yet.  He was a bit busy braiding his hair, watching the TV on a local station, which was indeed playing a clip from tonight's show.  His deep laughter echoed throughout their room as the image of Vince and the rest of them was shown, twice.  Snorting, he turned it off after finishing with his hair and turned around.

 

“Make some noise next time, woman.” He said by way of greeting, taking in her tunic while reaching for a black leather vest, shrugging it on.

 

“Sorry.” She had watched the replay and couldn't help grinning from ear to ear, walking over to where he sat. “That's all you're gonna wear?  What if you get chilly or something?” Then Lavani thought about that, immediately waving her hand and telling him not to answer. “Never mind, you're a damn furnace.  So what did you decide on?  Are we finding a place with food, liquor and music or are we going for that ride with two bottles?”

 

He looked delicious in leather, Lavani managed not to look down as he zipped and fastened his jeans, not wanting to be rude or perverted.  Considering that he had just zipped himself up in front of her, which was both rude and perverted all at the same time, he figured if she wanted to watch, she had every right too.  He wasn't a shy man by any means and if they were going to be sharing rooms, she was going to learn that fact very quickly.  Especially when he got tired of wearing bottoms to bed and slipped back into the habit of sleeping nude, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

 

“We're going for that ride with two bottles.” He informed her, then grinned wickedly. “Though I'd make yours something you won't get too fucked up to ride on or you might have to ride up front...again, possibly even strapped to me.”

 

“You'd like that wouldn't you.” Lavani remarked with a smirk, running a single blue painted fingernail down his chest and walked past him toward the door. “Come on Deadman, time to show me how to have fun and raise some hell.”

 

She'd done both earlier today during the show, feeling overwhelming proud of herself for taking the plunge.  Everything she went through would be worth that moment.  Lavani decided she would drink wine since that wouldn't get her nearly as wasted as Jack Daniels had.  First it was go for a ride and celebrate under the stars, then it was raise some hell.  Shaking his head, Taker followed her, gesturing across the street to an all night liquor store.

 

“Come on.”

 

Taking her hand, he led her across the street, not even bothering to check for traffic because even at night he was a hard man to miss.  Especially under these dingy streetlamps, people would probably think he was a demon or something.  When the older man behind the counter seen the near seven foot giant with sleeved tattoos and a rather evil grin on his face walking in with a beautiful woman, all he could think was he was about to be robbed again.

 

“Get me two bottles of sangria wine, Taker.” Lavani requested, watching his eyebrow slowly quirk and giggled, knowing she had probably just thrown him for a loop. “Just because I drink Jack doesn't mean I'm not also a wine drinker.  And tonight if you want me to be able to ride back with you, wine it is.”

 

When he nodded, Lavani turned to face the nervous cashier, flashing him a friendly smile before looking around.  A few minutes later, Taker had two bottles of Sangria wine and whiskey on the counter, making the cashier jump out of his skin.  This man looked like he was about to piss himself and Lavani found it amusing.

 

Paying customers, they were paying customers, the older man reminded himself, really hoping that was true, but when wicked green eyes met his, he cleared his throat.  He had been robbed twice this month already.  He really couldn't afford a third time.

 

“Look, I don't have a lot of money so...please, don't rob me.”

 

In response, Taker opened his wallet and passed over a crisp hundred. “In that case, you better keep the change.” He said, deadpan.

 

“Poor guy.” Lavani murmured as they walked out of the liquor store, staying close-by Taker in case any thugs wanted to mess with them, grabbing his free hand. 

 

They arrived at his Titan and Lavani instantly pulled off her sweatshirt, putting it on and mounted the bike after Taker had.  She held on tight as he roared out of there toward a destination unknown, her hands against his bare chest since he'd left the vest he wore open.  As long as Lavani was with Taker, no harm would come to her, that much she was sure of.  Anything else was up in the air.

 

Poor guy was right.  On one hand, Taker felt a bit bad for the old timer, being robbed twice in a month definitely had to be hurting the bank account.  Then on the other hand, it irritated the hell out of him that just because he looked...rough.  He had automatically been stereotyped as the kind of guy who would rob a liquor store.

 

Taker snorted at that one.  If he was going to take up a life of crime off the screen, he sure as hell would do something much more interesting then rob stores.  Because he was officially in a bit of a mood, he took them zigzagging through back alleyways, enjoying the narrow streets, knowing eventually he would head towards more open ground, where stars were actually visible.

 

Lavani could feel the change in Taker's mood and frowned, wondering what was wrong with him.  She decided not to ask, it was none of her business.  Hell, Lavani had no idea why she was even going out with the man she worked with and for, knowing this couldn't lead to anything good.  That kiss earlier in the park, Lavani couldn't stop thinking about it, or the smoldering look in Taker's eyes when he kissed her again. 

 

He wasn't acting, he'd felt something just like she did, but Lavani knew she had to squash it.  A one nightstand, which only happened once, was enough to last her a lifetime, she didn't need to be another notch on a wrestler's belt, especially Taker's.  Things would have to change because, if she kept trudging down this road with Taker, it was going to lead to nothing except heartache and pain.

 

By the time he had enough of the night life of the seedier sections of the city, Taker headed for higher grounds.  They had gone by more hookers then he could count, at least one gang assembled on a sidewalk who stared as they passed, and a dozen bars even he wouldn't go into simply because it would mean a fight with every son of a bitch inside.  He didn't mind a good brawl, but preferably on his terms and without a dozen broken bottles aimed at his throat.  Taker was smart, not suicidal.

 

“Perfect...” He murmured when he seen a park, noting that it was surrounded by an iron fence and snorted, parking the Titan before shifting enough to look down at her. “You alright back there, darlin'?”

 

“Yes, are you?”

 

When he merely arched an eyebrow down at her, Lavani shook her head as she hopped off the Titan, zipping her sweatshirt up since it had gotten chilly after the sun went down.  Lavani suddenly paid attention to where they were at and swallowed down any fear as she followed Taker inside the cemetery.  There was a small opening in the gate that both of them could fit in, Taker definitely must've been here before.  She wasn't exactly thinking of a cemetery to drink under the stars, but if this is where Taker wanted to be then Lavani wasn't going to complain.

 

He had indeed been here before, but not in quite some time.  She had said under the stars and right in the middle of the cemetery, on top of a low hill, was a rectangular tombstone that would sit them both and not crumble under his weight.  She'd have a beautiful view of the nighttime sky with no buildings or trees to block it.  Not minding the chill in the air, he held his bottle of Jack Daniels in one hand and led the way through the graves, holding her hand tightly in his.

 

Once they arrived at the huge tombstone, Lavani climbed on top of it and took one of her wine bottles he handed to her, opening it and took a long swig while staring out at the breathtaking view.  It was very serene and peaceful, the perfect place to wind down with alcohol after the rush Raw gave them both.  Lavani looked up at Taker once he settled beside her, noticing he'd put a little space between them and didn't say anything as she swallowed some more wine down.

 

“Something is bothering you, care to share?” Lavani finally broke the silence, turning to face him sitting Indian style.

 

He shrugged, twisting the cap off his bottle of whiskey and took a healthy swig, smacking his lips after enjoying the burning sensation it left in his throat and down to the pit of his stomach. “Nothin' bothering me, darlin', just enjoying the night.” Taker gestured around them. “Quietest place I could think of after that ride...” He smirked slightly, green eyes gleaming in the dark.  Dead people didn't talk, that might be why he preferred them over the living on occasion.

 

“It is.” She agreed, suddenly thinking back to that kiss earlier in the day.  This wasn't good. 

 

Lavani couldn't get it out of her mind, her lips still tingling.  There had to be a way to break the spell that Taker casted over her, but so far Lavani hadn't figured out a way to do that.  Not only did she have the Faction to worry about, but now all these budding feelings for Taker were surfacing that Lavani didn't even know existed.  And it wasn't exactly the best feeling in the world, especially with their past history and everything she'd witnessed from this man.

 

He let her have some time to sort through whatever was going on in her head, able to plainly see that she was lost in thought.  Taker knew that feeling rather well; he just generally tried to keep from displaying it since he was the kind of man who 'always' knew what was going on, how he felt.  Perception was everything.  When a few minutes of silence had gone by, he finally decided her time was up.

 

“What's on your mind, Vani?” He asked, his eyes dropping to her full lips when her tongue flicked out to wet them.

 

“I meant to ask you if it's okay that I still have those two days off to go home.  With all the craziness going on, it slipped my mind until now.  I usually go home on Friday and Saturdays since they're just house shows and there's not a whole lot for me to do...unless you want me there.”

 

Lavani always put her work first, but those two days off did come in handy, especially when she ran out of clothes to wear and simply needed a break from the Faction.  Now that she was away from the Faction, Lavani was willing to compromise terms with Taker, knowing Vince was probably ripping her contract up as they sat there in the peaceful starry night in the cemetery drinking together.

 

“Hell darlin', take Sunday off too, unless of course, it's a pay-per-view.” That's what she had been thinking?  This woman really was...fucking odd. “If you wanna stay, then stay, if you want your days off, have at them.”

 

If she wanted to stay on the road, he definitely wasn't going to tell her no, but...he did understand wanting a few days to go home.  Right now his own personal schedule was spotty at best, or would be, once a proper schedule was made for him.  He leaned back on his elbows, long legs dangling over the edge of the stone.

 

“That all that's on yer mind, darlin'?”

 

Of course it wasn't, but Lavani couldn't discuss anything else she'd been thinking with him. “Yeah, I know pay-per-views are off limits.  Though now that I'm on-screen with you, my schedule is going to change like yours.”

 

She frowned, the realization dawning on her with what she did.  No longer was she just backstage only.  Lavani had made the decision to screw the Faction over by defecting to Taker and the consequences were already showing.

 

“So I guess whenever you get time off and go home, that's when I will.” If she needed clothes, Lavani would simply buy them.

 

Taker shook his head. “Darlin’, the house shows don't really mean shit, if you don't wanna do them, then don't.”

 

Undoubtedly Vince would try to make her and possibly even threaten her job, but that could easily be remedied.  Her contract could just be tied to his and that made him chuckle.  Knowing when THAT bomb was dropped, Vince was going to have a heart attack, no two ways about it.

 

“I don't mind doing them.” Lavani assured him, scooting a little closer as the wind picked up. “If I really need a break that badly, I'll go home during one of the house shows, but I don't see that happening.  You don't annoy or repulse me like those assholes did.”

 

No he just lit her on fire with kisses that made her feel like molten lava.  How ironic considering one of her nicknames was Lava.  Lavani took another long swig of her wine and moved her feet back and forth since they dangled off the tombstone.  When she shivered, Taker sat upright and wrapped an arm around her, drawing her against him.

 

“I'm a furnace, remember?” Taker teased, honestly not bothered by the cold even though he was only wearing his leather vest. He suddenly remembered his whiskey and retrieved the bottle from where he had set it on the stone, taking a long pull from the bottle and then offered it to her. “It'll warm ya up.” He drawled mischievously.

 

Lavani knew something else that would warm her up and immediately stopped that train of thought, staring back at the bottle of whiskey.  She had wine, but...Lavani had to take this edge off somehow and reached for it.  She took a long swig and winced slightly at the burning liquid before handing it back to him.

 

“You are a bad influence on me.” Lavani commented with a smirk, leaning further against him and could already feel her body heating up immensely.  Pretty soon she would need to remove her sweatshirt, the liquor combined with what she currently felt and being this close to him feeling like an inferno.

 

At that, he snorted. “Somethin' tells me you've always been a deviant, you've just been hidin' it.”

 

Taker caught the gleam of amber just at the corner of her mouth and without even thinking, bent down to kiss the spot, the tip of his tongue flicking out to catch the drop.  A low rumble escaped his chest as he slowly pulled his face away, green eyes moving to molten gold.  Lavani blinked when he did that, not expecting it and the surprise showed in her toffee eyes.  He wasn't making this easy for her at all.  She briefly wondered if Taker knew what he was doing and purposefully trying to push her buttons, to see what made her tick.

 

“Taker...” She sighed softly when he suddenly pulled her into his arms, kissing the breath right out of her. 

 

Chapter 10

 

Lavani couldn't pull or push him away, returning the kiss, both of them tasting the whiskey from each other and that just intensified it somehow.  Growling against her lips, he pulled Lavani onto his lap, drawing her legs around his waist, his hands moving to run up and down her back, feeling her body melting against his, which only served to fan the flames.  All night long those kisses from earlier had been lingering at the edge of his mind and he was done trying to ignore it or forget it had happened. 

 

Taker wanted her and, from the way she was kissing him, he knew she wanted him.  Trailing his kisses down her jaw to her throat, his goatee brushed against her supple skin as his hand skimmed up the back of her shirt, feeling her warm skin against his palm.  Her brain was screaming at her that this was wrong, it was unprofessional, unethical and morally degrading while her heart told her simply to go with it. 

 

Everything about this was potential disaster. 

 

Lavani had already slept with one wrestler on the roster and really didn't want to sleep with another, but this was the Undertaker...The Undertaker...The man who hurt and used people to get ahead... “No.” Lavani pulled back from him, swallowing incredibly hard and touched her neck, trembling from head to toe. 

 

It was a mixture of fear and desire, her toffee eyes darkened and clouded over.  It took a moment for that to penetrate his lust ridden mind and all he could do was stare down at her, his mind struggling to override his body.  Even though the desire did not diminish in the slightest from his gaze, the haze did give way to clarity and obvious displeasure and disappointment.

 

“No, darlin'?” Taker rumbled, his voice low and rough, and when she shifted as if to get off of his lap, his hands moved from under her shirt to her waist, holding her steady. “I wouldn't do that just yet...” He’d just lift her upright, he did not need her sliding.

 

“Look it's obvious there's sexual tension between us and...I'm not sure where it's coming from, but we have enough issues to deal with.  We don't need to complicate things anymore than what they already are.  I'm not gonna lie, I do want you.” If he couldn't see that, the man was more deluded and blind than Lavani ever thought because it clearly registered in her eyes and body posture.  She was still trembling from just one kiss, no man had ever affected her this way, this rapidly. “We just need to focus on the Faction for now and wait until everything blows over with them.”

 

It was a lame excuse, Lavani admitted it, but that was all she could come up.  What was she supposed to say?  That she wanted to have sex with him, but was terrified from days gone by and of the man he used to be?  No, that wouldn't go over well and the last thing Lavani wanted to do was anger this man who had given her an out with the Faction. 

 

She owed him everything.

 

Taker considered her words, his eyes narrowing thoughtfully. “Lavani, I want you, you want me, and at the moment: I could give a fuck less about focusin' on the McMahons and their little posse.” Taker said finally, bluntly, being completely honest with her.

 

He didn't comment on the complication thing, knowing that would be the quickest way to fuck up any chance of any type of relationship between them.  Men were usually able to think strictly with their dicks, women...another story entirely.  If he said 'things won't get complicated if we keep it strictly sex', she'd probably co-cock him one and call him an insensitive bastard, which he was.

 

“Of course you don't and I don't blame you.  But I am not the type of woman to just jump into bed with someone.  I've been down the road of having a one nightstand and it doesn't feel too good.  The whole 'no strings attached' scenario, that's not me.” Lavani was being blunt and brutally honest with him now, knowing that's how Taker was as she stared down at her lap. “I don't wanna ruin what we have right now, though I'm not even sure what that is.  Sex will just complicate everything, it's best if we just remain friends or co-workers or whatever you wanna call it.”

 

The last thing Lavani needed was complication in this situation because she relied and depended on him to protect her.

 

“Well... if that's how you feel, darlin'.” Taker said, nodding his head once to show he had heard and received the message.  After a moment of silence that wasn't awkward, but not exactly comfortable either, he finally raised her off his lap and set her down on the ground before standing up, towering over her. “Come on, Vani, it's gettin' late.” He stated gently, emptying out the rest of his whiskey, knowing drinking tonight was definitely not in the cards. Silence reigned as they picked their way back down to the fence, finally coming to a halt at his Titan. “Darlin', one thing though,” He added, pausing to help her onto the seat. “I will change your mind.”

 

Lavani merely smiled back at him, knowing there was no hard feelings between them. “Wouldn't expect to hear anything less from you, Taker.” She said, not agreeing or disagreeing with him because she knew firsthand just how persuasive this man could be. 

 

Lavani definitely had a challenge ahead of her and it was probably going to be the hardest one of her life.  When he just smirked and mounted in front of her, Lavani wrapped her arms around his waist as he took off from the cemetery.  She hoped she made the right decision in pulling away from him, suddenly wondering just what he would do and how far he would go to try changing her mind.

 

Taker could always take what he wanted.  He had in the past and worry about consequences later.  Even though she would say no at first, that would quickly change to a chorus of yes.  However...Lavani was presenting him with a challenge AND he genuinely liked her so far, so... seduction it would be.  And she had already given him a leg up, sharing rooms, traveling together...her altering her schedule to his...the woman had given him plenty of future opportunities to change her mind.

 

~!~

 

When the Faction arrived back in their locker room, after having their asses handed to them by the Undertaker, Vince noticed a manila envelope sitting on the nearby couch.  His blood boiled as he went through the paperwork, not believing the audacity of Lavani.  Did she have any idea who she was messing with?


“Daddy, what is that?” Stephanie demanded, walking over to him, eyes widening. “Are those-”


Vince nodded, gritting his teeth and slammed the paperwork down on the couch. “That little bitch is going to pay.”

 

Hunter narrowed his eyes, looking over the papers as well, snorting. “She has the schedules done until...tonight...” That meant starting tomorrow, they would have to do their own scheduling and that didn't bode well with anyone. “What the fuck, Vince?!”

 

Jesse started to wonder if Lavani had a death wish, frowning.

 

“That bitch has some brass balls...” Sean muttered, rubbing the back of his sore head, having been knocked down not once, not twice, but three times total. “Wait, until tonight?”


“Which means,” Billy chimed in. “We're going to have to figure out what comes tomorrow, hotels, all of it...” He groaned, knowing damn well what a hassle that shit was. 

 

He hadn't missed doing that stuff at all.  These idiots were more concerned about their schedules and not the fact that Lavani was with the freaking UNDERTAKER.  Talk about priorities being messed the hell up.  Jesse was giving serious thought to retiring to a nice tropic island and becoming a pot farmer.

 

~!~

 

Lavani could be evil when she wanted to be and decided to let the Faction handle everything after Raw that night.  It'd been two weeks since Lavani's defection and she'd never been happier.  Taker's schedule was quickly becoming full with appearances, autograph signings and more house shows. 

 

Taker was full-time, back and better than ever. 

 

He was also trailing after the WWF championship, which meant they had to deal with the Faction on multiple occasions.  Lavani always made sure to stay by Taker's side and when he went out to battle in the ring, she stayed in the back either in the cafeteria with other people around or with Adam and Jay.  Taker refused to have her out there because he didn't want to be distracted or have to worry about protecting her.


“You're still outta your mind, Lava.”


“Yeah apparently she forgot just what kind of man Taker really is and he DOESN'T reek of awesomeness.”


“I hope he doesn't hear you say that, Adam.  You might end up having your vocal cords ripped out of your ass.”

 

“Whoa, LavaBean, that was way too graphic, totally NOT cool!” Adam said, his eyes wide.


“Why would you even THINK that let alone suggest it?  Dude, seriously not cool.” Jay added, smirking when she groaned, knowing she was about two second away from smacking them both upside their blond heads.  It wouldn't be the first time and probably not the last. “All joking aside...totally serious here, have you lost your mind?”


“No shit, have you?”

 

“You know, everyone keeps asking me that and all I can say is I'm happy.  I'm content.  I don't have migraines on a daily basis, I don't have to deal with shrieking and shrill voices.  I don't have to deal with dick jokes and honestly, it's not that bad.” Lavani shrugged when they both just stared at her like fishes out of water, laughing softly. “So if it means I've lost my mind to work for a man who is well respected and doesn't annoy the shit out of me to where I wanna kill him, then I guess I have.  Now please stop asking me, you two worked for the man.  Why are you so surprised that I would choose to defect from the Faction after everything that's happened?”

 

Adam began shaking his head. “No, no, no, no, LavaBean, that's not what we're questioning.  It's-”


“The Undertaker part we're worried about.  We don't blame you for leaving those assholes, we're just surprised you didn't do it sooner.”


“Yeah, what my bro said.  It's the Undertaker part.  You do remember him, right?”

 

“Respected?  Most certainly.  Why?  Not only because he's...well, the Undertaker, but also because-”


“He's evil, insane, devious...did I mention evil?”

 

They had a point and Lavani wasn't denying it, nodding at Jay, hating them right now for being right. “I know who he is, yes.  I remember everything he did back then...

So you remember what he did to Ryan, right?” Adam asked, sitting down beside Lavani and took her hand in his. “That shit was scary and we had to be part of it.”

 

Jay shivered at the memory of Ryan screaming bloody murder while they beat her brother to a pulp, Taker ripping Ryan up by her blonde hair and calling her a slut.  That wasn't all that happened either, though most of it was off-screen. “If you only knew what she went through...”

 

Lavani didn't want to hear anymore of this and stood up abruptly, trying not to think about her friend being tormented by the Ministry of Darkness. “I really don't want to know.  She refused to tell me even after all of her therapy sessions, which she still goes to.  I don't need to know what happened to her.  He hasn't done anything to me and, until he does, there's no reason for me to fear him.”


“It might be too late by then, Lavani, have you thought about that?”

 

Adam made a good point and Jay looked up at Lavani to see what her response would be, even though he did elbow his best friend in the ribs for the remark.  No one wanted to think about the 'what if it's too late' factor.  In her case, that was just multiplied by a million times past the usual mild worry about said if factor.


“All I'm saying is that we all know what a devious bastard he is...and we want you to be safe, Lavani.  Preferably far, far away from him.”

 

Adam definitely agreed with that.

 

“Well I'm sorry to disappoint both of you, but that's not going to happen.” Lavani informed them in a cool voice, toffee eyes narrowed. “I understand that you're worried about me and I appreciate it, but this is not 1999 and you're no longer in the Ministry...” She looked up when a tap sounded at the locker room door and Taker stepped in, shooting quick warning looks at both Adam and Jay to keep their mouths shut. “Done with your match I take it?”

 

Taker nodded, green eyes fastened on the blondes, wondering just what the hell they were doing here.  During the Ministry era, they were tolerable, mostly because they had had a purpose.  These days however...they were twice as annoying and much less useful.

 

“Hello boys.” He drawled, just to watch them both shirk back as if his voice was somehow going to beat their asses.

 

Adam and Jay exchanged looks, that was their cue to hit the pavement. “Good seeing you, Lavani.”


“Yep, gotta do it again sometimes, but uh, we're-”

 

“Late, really late, got to go.”

 

Lavani shook her head at them and went back to looking over Taker's schedule, making a few notes, while the boys ran out of the locker room like their asses were on fire. “Idiots.” She grunted and tried not thinking about what Adam and Jay said regarding Ryan. 

 

Lavani lived in the same area as Ryan did, so they got together every once in awhile to catch up on things.  They never talked about the past or the WWF, Ryan shut down whenever it was mentioned so Lavani learned to stay away from those topics.  Why did Adam and Jay have to put doubts into her mind?

 

“Don't ask.” She stated when Taker kept staring at her questioningly and refused to tell him what her conversation with Adam and Jay entailed.

 

“That an order or a suggestion, darlin'?” He asked, still in the same drawling tone, walking over to peer over her shoulder. “You scheduled me for the same event twice, in the same time slot...” He pointed out, knowing that was a onetime deal only thing and watched as she reached for the white out to fix it.  Now he knew something was wrong, Lavani did not make mistakes. “They upset you?” Because if they had, he was going to string them up by their blond hair and let them hang until gravity did its work before scalping them with their own body weight.

 

“No not really, just voiced their opinions on some things.”

 

Lavani couldn't let what those boys bother her, especially when she was at work doing Taker's schedule.  She was a master at her job and making mistakes simply wasn't optional.  She always double checked her work so she would've caught her mistake before it was sent away to be processed.

 

“Thanks.” She murmured when he handed her bottled water, even being nice enough to unscrew the cap for her. “I missed your match, did you win?”

 

At that, he blatantly snorted, dropping down onto the bench with his own bottle of water. “Course I did.” Taker grunted, unscrewing it before draining it in one long swallow.  Crushing the bottle in his fist, he tossed it into the trash can across the room before leaning back against the wall and wiped excess water off his chin with the back of his hand. “So...what were their opinions on these 'some things'?”

 

“You're not going to let this go are you?” Lavani sighed as she just stared at her and decided to go for a little white lie, deciding she liked Adam and Jay far too much to be crushed by Taker. “Their tag team championship match that's coming up at the pay-per-view.  They're feuding with Jesse and Billy and wanted to bitch about them a little to me since we mutually hate them.  As much as I enjoyed it, they annoyed me a little too.  That doesn't mean you need to go and knock their teeth out either, they're my friends and friends are allowed to annoy me sometimes.”

 

That just got her another derisive snort.  He sat upright and shrugged off the damp soaked denim vest he wore, letting it drop to the floor.  Leaning back against the wall, Taker groaned in satisfaction as the cool concrete came into contact with bare skin.

 

“I'll remember that the next time I decide to be annoyin', friends are sometimes allowed to annoy friends.” Of course, what he was planning on doing wouldn't really classify as annoying, she'd probably like it. “We're going out for dinner tonight, no more takeout brought back to the room.” He announced out of the blue, smirking when she looked up at him.

 

This was definitely unexpected, Lavani just blinked up at him and slowly nodded, standing up from the bench she occupied. “Alright...” She hated it when he put her on the spot like this because Lavani never knew what Taker had planned.  The man was very hard to read. “Should I change then?”

 

Taker informed her they were going back to the place they were staying at, giving her the option to change clothes if she so desired.  It was another small secluded room that was above a bar, just like the one he took her to his first night back in the WWF.  Packing up her things, Lavani followed Taker out of the dressing room, her conversation with Adam and Jay temporarily forgotten.

 

Chapter 11

 

He hadn't forgotten about her conversation with Dumb and Dumber, more than slightly curious about what they had said to annoy her.  But...he wouldn't press the issue, not right now at least, there'd be plenty of time for that later.  Taker was aware of all eyes on them as they walked down the hallway and reached back to take Lavani's hand.  Pulling her so she was walking alongside him and not behind him, Taker made sure that these nosy fuckers took note of that fact.

 

Lavani smiled and looked up at him, opening her mouth to say something, only to immediately close it as Vince McMahon approached them.  This wasn't good.  She hadn't really spoken to any members of the Faction since her defection.  Taker squeezed her hand reassuringly and all Lavani could do was squeeze it in return, letting him know she trusted him to protect her.  Unless Vince asked her something directly, Lavani was just going to keep her mouth shut and let Taker do the talking, or ass kicking, whichever came about.

 

Vince halted right before them, well...not right before them, a few feet away.  Out of Taker's considerable arm reach, his eyes slowly moving over them both, noting the way their hands were clasped. “So, your decision to...resign wasn't something personal against us so much as...personal for other reasons?” Vince asked, in what would have been a polite tone of voice if people didn't know him.  He was fishing for information.


“And it matters why?”

 

“Well I just find it rather interesting how your first night back here in the WWF, you automatically gun for...her.” Vince pointed his finger at Lavani, beady eyes narrowed. “And I'm curious as to why that is.” Vince hadn't forgotten all the times Taker approached him with the idea of bringing Lavani on-screen and using her in the Ministry.  He turned down Taker at every turn, even going so far as to put his own daughter in jeopardy, thankfully Stephanie forgave him for it. “Though I'm also not surprised considering she's the one you really wanted back then...”

 

Lavani raised a slow eyebrow, wondering what Vince was talking about.

 

Now that was something Vince should have probably kept to himself because Taker could already see this issue becoming a headache between him and Lavani.  His upper lip curved into a sneer.  Before Vince could take even half a step backwards, he had picked his 'boss' up by the throat and slammed him back against the nearest wall.

 

“You just don't know when to keep that fat trap of yours shut, do ya?” He growled, green eyes flashing demonically.

 

“So she doesn't know...” Vince wheezed out, his eyes wide with fright, knowing he overstepped his boundaries. “She...has the right...” He groaned when Taker slammed his head back against the wall, still having his pencil neck in a tight grip, even through the pain a sick smile was formed on his lips.

 

Lavani was more confused than ever, not understanding what was going on.  She was suddenly shoved hard to the side, slamming against the wall shoulder first, wincing. “Taker!” She managed to shout out just as Hunter cracked him over the back with a steel chair.


“Get him Hunter!!” Stephanie shrieked from the side, rushing over to Vince as soon as Taker dropped him, letting her husband deal with Taker.

 

Lavani could only watch in horror while holding her shoulder, fighting back tears that formed in her eyes from the pain.  The chair shot didn't faze him, not with all the anger that was already flowing through his veins.  The subsequent chair shots made him go from pissed off to feeling pretty murderous and he turned on one knee to catch the chair before Hunter could bring it down again.  Gritting his teeth, Taker pushed himself to his feet, ignoring what was soon going to become an ache in his shoulders as he grappled with the smaller, but so far uninjured man, for the chair.


“Get him!  Get that bastard!” Vince ordered, still holding his throat. “Where the hell are the others?  Put him down!  Put that son of a bitch out!”

 

She couldn't watch this happen to Taker, it wasn't right.  Vince had approached and provoked them!  Fighting through the pain, Lavani stumbled over to where Hunter was and dropped the man by jamming her arm right in between his legs.

 

Stephanie gaped, blue eyes widening. “You BITCH!!” She shrieked, rushing over and slapped Lavani across the face as hard as she could.

 

Lavani stumbled back holding her face and spit some blood out on the floor from her split lip before slapping Stephanie, suddenly tackling her to the floor.


“Shit!!” Vince cursed when Taker suddenly had a hold of the steel chair, not believing Lavani attacked his daughter, and yanked Stephanie away from Lavani, who ended up slapping Stephanie once more for good measure. “Let's go, we have to go NOW!”

 

Lavani glared hatefully at the wailing Stephanie while Taker slammed the steel chair down on Hunter, wiping more blood from her lip.  He brought the chair down one more time on Hunter before looking up at Lavani, eyes narrowing at the sight of blood on her lips, some of it trailing down her chin.  Her face was red and when he looked down the hallway, Vince was dragging Stephanie away, who was already bruising.  His own blood now boiling, he kicked Hunter in the ribs with the point of his boot before dropping the chair. 

 

Vince was really regretting his big mouth when Taker turned to stare them down, more specifically his daughter, pretty sure the evil intentions Taker had in mind weren't of the marrying kind this time.

 

“I'm alright...” Lavani whispered as Taker turned his attention to her, checking her over and hissed out when he touched her shoulder. “It's just bruised.” Lavani knew if it was dislocated, she wouldn't be able to move her shoulder at all, not to mention tackling the Billion Dollar Princess. “Are you okay?” She smacked him gently on the arm when he snorted, frowning. “Don't do that, don't act tough right now.” She didn't even realize blood had ran down her chin until Taker wiped it away, snaking her tongue out to run across the gash in her lip, thanks to Stephanie’s acrylic nail.

 

She was hiding something and it took only moments before his sharp eyes noted the way her shoulder just didn't look right. “What happened?” Taker demanded, placing a hand on the small of her back, pulling her closer to him.  When she murmured that she thought it might be dislocated, he bit back the rage that welled up, knowing that would probably be Hunter's doing.  Stephanie had a mean bitch slap, but he didn't see her dislocating someone's shoulder. “Want me to put it back for you?” He offered, watching as she tongued the gash, which only made it bleed more.

 

“I don't think it-FUCK!” Lavani cried out in pain when a sickening POP resonated around them, though her shoulder already felt better.  Taker had popped it back into place while distracting her talking to him. “You son of a bitch...” She whispered, no malice in her voice, but Lavani definitely didn't expect him to do that. “Could've at least warned me before you did that.”

 

“Why?  So your mind could get your body worked up and make it hurt worse than it actually does?” Taker said, calmly, as if she hadn't just called him a son of a bitch. “Feels better now don't it.” It wasn't even a question, of course it felt better, he knew that from experience, having had his own share of dislocated limbs. “Come on, let's get out of here before they decide to regroup or somethin'.” He pulled the bandana off his head from where it had slid down and offered it to her, side that hadn't been touching his hair up. “For your lip.”

 

“It's not that bad...” Lavani sighed when he put the bandana against her lip, not realizing it was still bleeding, but the flow had slowed down immensely. 

 

Tears had poured from her eyes when Taker set her shoulder back into place, so Lavani knew she looked like a mess.  Not to mention Stephanie was a feisty bitch when she needed to be and didn't go down easily.  Taker guided Lavani toward his motorcycle and hopped on, pulling her to simply sit in front of him. 

 

He was worried about her, that much was obvious and Lavani found it both heartwarming and sexy.  So he was capable of caring for someone other than himself, Lavani thought, and leaned back against his chest as Taker took off from the parking lot into the night.  He wouldn't lie, Taker was hoping that with everything that happened after he slammed Vince into that wall, she'd forget that the old man had been shooting off at the mouth. 

 

He'd begin to distract her if she brought it up again, the woman was sometimes too smart for her own good.  He was still livid about Vince, Hunter and Stephanie, but vengeance would wait.  Anticipation would only make it worse for them and he smirked wickedly, knowing they'd be expecting him around every corner.

 

Once they arrived where they were staying, Lavani started walking inside when Taker stopped her, sweeping her up into his arms. “You know I can walk right?  My legs work just fine.” Lavani giggled at his derisive snort and leaned her head against his shoulder, carrying her up the stairs. 

 

She was worried about Taker, knowing those vile chair shots Hunter gave him had to have some kind of effect and it showed in her toffee eyes.  Now that the adrenaline was wearing off, he was becoming aware of the fact that his own shoulders and back hurt and wouldn't be surprised in the least if they were beyond basic bruised.  At least nothing was dislocated, evidence of that being he hadn't dropped her down the stairs.  Once they were in their room, he set her down and reached for the light, automatically peering at her lip.  It had stopped bleeding, probably because she had stopped playing with the cut.

 

“How's the shoulder?”

 

“Sore.”

 

She waited until he sat down beside her before moving to sit on her knees behind him, wanting to check over his back.  He'd been nailed multiple times with that chair from Hunter, Lavani gritting her teeth at the memory.  Reaching up, Lavani slowly pulled the leather vest off Taker had on, removing it for him and gasped at the sight of his deeply bruised back.

 

“Oh Taker...” Lavani stopped him from turning around, gently running her nails down his back and blinked as a few tears slid down her cheeks. “Damn them...You need ice.  Stay put.” She ordered, standing up from the bed and headed into the kitchen area of the room. 

 

Thankful they had a refrigerator that had Taker's ice packs he traveled with.  She took one out, wrapped it up in a towel and walked back over to take her place behind him, beginning to run it around his broad back.  He gestured for her to stop and then lay out on the bed, face down, folding his arms under his head and felt the ice being applied.

 

“Darlin', why don't you just break out all the ice packs and pile them on?  Then you wouldn't have to do that.” Taker offered, much preferring her way but also knowing she needed to tend to her face. “Take one for your face, it'll get the swellin' down.”

 

Stephanie needed slapped...again and he knew if he ever did it, her head would snap off.  But he wasn't a woman beater, not yet anyway.  Then he remembered seeing the Princess's face, bruising only moments after Lavani had gotten her.

 

“Remind me to never piss ya off...” He drawled softly. “You got one hell of a swing.”

 

“Yeah well, I'm not a fighter usually.  But when I saw what Hunter was doing to you, I don't know...Something snapped.  I reacted.”

 

Lavani was a lover, not a fighter, but when it came to people she cared about and loved, all bets were off.  She didn't love Taker.  She cared a great deal for him though and refused to let him get beat down at the hands of that egomaniac Hunter Hearst Helmsley.

 

“I'll be right back.” Lavani whispered in his ear before pulling away to go get the rest of the ice packs, not worried about her face at the moment.  She had to get the swelling in Taker's back down, knowing he was going to be in a lot of pain tomorrow.  She ran out of towels and just spread the towels all over his back before placing the ice packs on top of them. “How's that?” She also had a cup of water with some ibuprofen, slipping two of them in his mouth, knowing it would also help bring the swelling down.

 

“Thank you.” He murmured, staring at her face. “You best have saved one for yourself.” He ordered, reaching out to lightly brush his fingers down the swollen cheek, not surprised that the swelling was in the vague shape of a hand.  When Lavani didn't give a very clear answer, he began pushing himself up. “Woman...”

 

Oh that was hurting now, his bruised muscles screaming in protest.  Steel chairs looked like they hurt from the viewer's perspective, and they did indeed, but the blows were usually lightened. Hunter had not swung that chair lightly at all and he really hoped he had clipped that bastard's head, pretty sure he had.

 

“Get down here.” Taker ordered, gesturing to the bed and twisted enough to send an ice pack down his side, catching it and holding it out.

 

“You need it more than I do.” Lavani protested, grunting when he yanked her down gently but firmly by the wrist, sighing resignedly. “Fine, have it your way stubborn ass.” She mumbled, taking the ice pack and placed it against her cheek and mouth, big enough to cover both areas. 

 

She'd already popped ibuprofen to help with the swelling, her head turned to face him, both of them just staring into each other's eyes.  Now that they were both relaxed for the most part, Lavani started thinking back to what Vince said, wondering what he was referring to.  She was the one he wanted back then...What the hell did that mean?  Lavani wanted to ask Taker, but now wasn't the right time.  All things considered, Taker was feeling pretty relaxed, minus his back, which was well on its way to becoming pleasantly numb.

 

“So much for going out tonight.” Taker snorted, rolling his eyes, wondering if the universe was on her side and against any designs he may have had on Lavani. “And who the hell are you callin' stubborn woman?  You're stubborn enough to make a mule seem tame.”

 

“My stubbornness has nothing on you, Taker.” She retorted swiftly and pulled the ice pack from her cheek and mouth, wincing slightly. “It's okay, we can go out tomorrow night.” Lavani smiled at him, letting him know it looked worse than it felt. “Get some rest.”

 

 A strand of hair fell over his face and Lavani tucked it behind his ear, worry in her eyes.  Even though he was just bruised, that still didn't stop her from worrying about him.  The Faction was going to pay for this.

 

“You get some rest.” He ordered right back at her.

 

Using his feet to shuck his boots onto the floor before reaching down for the blanket, Taker tugged it up.  Taker was not usually a stomach sleeper, but...he did not see himself sleeping on his back and doing the side thing would probably stretch pissy muscles.  Grunting, he wrapped his arm around Lavani and pulled her into his side, kissing the top of her head.

 

Chapter 12

 

Pulling up into the parking lot and cutting the ignition, Lavani stepped out of her Toyota Camry, heading inside the small diner.  She wore a pair of jean shorts with a blue tank top that had a glittering silver skull on the front, her hair left down with blue tennis shoes.  Her toffee eyes searched the diner and Lavani smiled when she spotted the person she was searching for, heading in their direction.  It'd been awhile since Lavani last did this and it felt great.

 

“Hey girl.” She greeted, pulling her black shades from her eyes and placed them on top of her head.


“Do you have any idea how hard it is getting you all to myself?”

 

Lavani laughed and embraced her good friend, Ryan Shamrock, it'd been a few months since they last saw each other. “Yeah well, that's what happens when you have a job that requires traveling two hundred and eighty plus days out of the year.”

 

Ryan snorted, still not believing her friend actually stuck with the WWF and both women took their seats, ordering some drinks to start off with. “So how the hell have you been?”


“You wouldn't believe it if I told you.”

 

“Well you'll never know until you tell me.” Ryan teased, flicking her hair back behind her shoulder as she traced patterns on the table top with her long fingers, studying Lavani thoughtfully.  She would never ever go back to the WWF, but wasn't going to try to talk Lavani into quitting, knowing her friend had built herself a career. “Well?  Spill.” She ordered, pulling her hands back when the waitress returned with their drinks. “Thank you.”

 

“Are you sure you wanna know?” Lavani was surprised that Ryan was actually interested in what was going on in her life, considering 99% of it had to do with the WWF.  Hell everything revolved around that company and Lavani wouldn't want it any other way, especially lately. “Before I tell you, promise me you will keep an open mind and you won't freak out.” When Ryan nodded and did a crossed heart motion, Lavani suddenly became nervous and took a sip of her drink. “I defected from the Faction, the McMahons.” Ryan didn't watch the show, so she had no idea that Lavani was now on-screen as well as in the back. “I found someone else to work for, someone who respects me and doesn't have constant dick jokes that make me wanna retch.”

 

Ryan understood about…eighty five percent of that.

 

She did not watch the WWF and if people tried to talk to her about it, she normally changed the conversation topic or simply walked away. With Lavani, that was practically her life and it had taken Ryan a long time to reconcile that fact. She valued her friendship with Vani so...she dealt with the unpleasant WWF aspect.

 

“Okay, the Faction is the McMahon's and you are no longer working for them?” She asked, nodding when Lavani nodded her assent. “And you found someone to work for who isn't an ass?  Alright, where's the part I was supposed to freak out over?  That doesn't sound bad.”

 

“It's the person I'm working for that you might think is bad.”

 

There was no might about it, Undertaker had completely destroyed Ryan when the Ministry abducted her.  Lavani knew something bad must've happened to her friend to react the way she had, but it wasn't her business.  Honestly, she was afraid that if she knew what really happened to Ryan she would end up despising Taker.

 

“Remember to breathe.” She reminded Ryan, who just nodded and encouraged her to continue. “It's...the Undertaker.”

 

Ryan's reaction was pretty much what anyone who knew her and even had the slightest inkling of what she had gone through thanks to the man would expect. Her hand jerked, sending her drink spilling all across the table and her mouth opened in a sharp gasp, eyes widening in alarm and fear.  She remembered the Undertaker better than she cared to, having gone through a mental breakdown because of him.

 

“Are...are you crazy?” She managed to finally choke out, reaching with shaking hands for napkins, ignoring the waitress who had come over to ask if everything was alright. “The...HIM?  Why?  Why would you do that, Lavani?!”

 

“Because it was my way out, Ryan.” Lavani hadn't expected anything less, knowing how much Taker terrified Ryan and she didn't blame the woman a bit. “He changed his look, he no longer dresses like Satan and...I enjoy being around him.” Her eyes lowered when Ryan's jaw dropped, wishing she didn't have to talk about this with Ryan, but that's what best friends were for. “He treats me with respect, he doesn't annoy the shit out of me and....okay you're probably gonna keel over when I say this, but I have to...he is an AMAZING kisser.  And no I didn't sleep with him.”

 

If her freshly refilled glass hadn't been removed out of her reach, Ryan probably would have spilled it all over the table, for the second time.  He had changed his look.  He respected her.  And he was a great kisser.  Ryan began shaking her head, inhaling through her nose and then exhaling through her mouth.

 

“Vani, that man is evil.” Ryan said in a whisper. “How do you know he's changed?  How could you ever be sure?”

 

“I'm not, sweetie, and I know he is.  But I'm gonna tell you the same thing I told Adam and Jay: Until he does something to make me not trust him or does something to me, I'm not going to judge him.  I don't know what he did to you, Ryan.  And I know he's evil and I should be running in the opposite direction, but honestly, why would I run away from him when he's done nothing to me except help me?” Lavani knew she probably wasn't making much sense to Ryan and couldn't change the woman's mind, but nobody was going to influence her decision when it came to Taker. “And if he is screwing with me or planning something, I guess I'll have nobody to blame except myself.”

 

“If that ain't the damn truth.” Ryan whispered, combing her fingers through her hair in agitation before reaching for her glass, draining it in three swallows.

 

She didn't know what to say, she could barely even think straight.  When it came to the Undertaker, for her, there was no white or shades of grey; everything was black.  Everything he did, there was an ulterior motive.  The man didn't hold a door open for someone without there being something behind the action.  And she knew he was going to hurt Lavani but she could see the determination in Vani's eyes, there would be persuading her to...run.

 

Lavani was going to tell Ryan about the attack from the Faction and what Vince McMahon said, but decided against it.  Ryan looked pale and Lavani knew it was her fault, feeling horrible for her friend.  Ken had tried talking to his sister several times about what the Ministry did, but she wouldn't budge.  Lavani knew the woman was keeping everything bottled up and eventually it was going to crush her. 

 

Nobody could do anything about it, Ryan was going to have to learn how to deal with what happened before it destroyed every part of her.  They had a few more drinks and some food before Lavani parted ways with Ryan, promising to get together soon like always.  As Lavani drove home, she couldn't help thinking about what Vince said and knew she would have to confront Taker about it once she joined him back on the road again.

 

Out of curiosity, and probably a hint of perversion, Taker had followed Lavani home.  Even for a man of his size, he could still remain unseen if he so desired and today had been one of those days.  He had seen her enter the diner, watched through the large window as she hugged Ryan Shamrock, which had brought a bit of a wicked smirk to his lips. 

 

Then he had followed her to her house, memorizing how to get there before leaving, knowing this was her time off and she probably wouldn't appreciate him showing up out of the blue.  Not to mention, that would not be helping him in his goal of changing her mind about them.  If Lavani knew that she was being followed by Taker, she probably would've taken Ryan's warnings a little more seriously. 

 

But she was completely clueless and blissfully unaware. 

 

Lavani enjoyed being home in her two bedroom house, though she couldn't help missing Taker.  She wondered what he was doing, not realizing he was a lot closer than she thought.  Sighing, Lavani curled up with a good book after a shower in front of her small fireplace, enjoying the peacefulness that the WWF simply couldn't provide.

 

~!~

 

Before leaving town, Taker had decided on one last visit.  When at the diner, he had noticed that it looked like little Ryan had a total panic attack.  He knew exactly what had brought THAT on, Lavani had mentioned him.  Well...as far as he knew, Ryan had never told a soul of what had happened to her and, if she was going to break her silence, he'd be damned if it was to Lavani of all people.

 

Ryan was feeding her Persian cat when she heard the backdoor opening, frowning because she knew she had locked it.  She seen it was wide open and damp boot prints on her carpet...huge...prints.  Before she could scream, a hand was slapped over her mouth.


“We need to have a little chat, Ry-Ry.”

 

~!~

 

When Lavani got a call from Ken telling her his sister had to be sedated and put in a mental institution, Lavani was floored to say the least.  Ken explained that he'd shown up at her apartment, walked in and she was rocking back and forth mumbling incoherently.  Apparently, Ryan had completely lost her mind and when Ken went to touch her, she flipped out and attacked him.  Lavani hung up with Ken and couldn't help crying, feeling guilty because of her conversation earlier with Ryan.  Of course, she didn't tell Ken that, Lavani liked her head right where it was...attached.

 

“I'm sorry Ryan.” She whispered softly, hoping one day her friend snapped out of whatever state Lavani had driven her to.

 

Ryan had been institutionalized, now that was... interesting.  All he had done was calmly suggest that she keep her issues to herself and not burden Lavani with them.  He hadn't touched her other than to hold her still, hand over her mouth to keep her quiet, that was it. 

 

And, just in case, he had also suggested that if she were to decide to talk to Lavani about things that were better left unsaid...well, he might have to see that she got a repeat experience.  Apparently that had been more than her mind could handle.  Well...one less thing for him to worry about.  He'd just pay the mental institution bill for her, anonymously of course, it was the very least he could do.

 

When Lavani joined Taker back on the road, she couldn't have been happier, all smiles.  Her cheek was healed along with her split lip for the most part, luckily there would be no scarring.  Her wardrobe had changed too, new shirts, jeans, skirts, the works...though she did have a few tops custom made for her to go out to the ring in with Taker.  Being home was nice, but it also got lonely very quickly and she couldn't wait to be near Taker again.  Carrying her bag into the arena, Lavani headed toward his locker room, having spotted his Titan in the parking lot.

 

“LavaBean, what happened to Ryan?” Adam demanded when he spotted her walking in, hurrying over with Jay in tow.  Everyone had heard about it.  The news had actually made some headlines in the wrestling world given that she used to be a part of the WWF and in one of the biggest storylines to date.


“Is she...” Jay had about to ask 'alright' but that was just dumb. “They're saying she had a breakdown.” He whispered, his eyes wide.

 

This definitely wasn't the first thing Lavani wanted to discuss as soon as she walked inside the arena.  She nodded solemnly, eyes full of worry and sadness for their friend. “It's my fault.” She murmured, walking with them down the hallway slowly.


“How do you figure that?”


“I had a few drinks with her like we always do every couple of months and...I told her about what's been going on with me in the company...”

 

Jay blinked, his mouth dropping open. “Why would you do that, Lava?!  Knowing what he did to her...”

“I can't discuss this right now.” Lavani really didn't need to be reminded of how evil and sadistic Taker was back in the day. “Please, I know whatever happened to her was horrible and I really don't need a history lesson.  I have to work and co-exist with this man and I don't need my head filled with doubts.”

 

“Sweetheart, how can there be any doubt?  Ryan went back to the mental hospital...”

 

Jay shut up, realizing what he had been about to say.  ‘Because you merely mentioned the guy’ would have probably gotten him a slap right upside the head.  He hadn't even finished the sentence and yet Adam apparently knew what he had almost said because as soon as the thought of getting backhanded upside the skull crossed his mind, Adam popped him one.

 

“Damn it!” He growled, rubbing the now throbbing spot.


“We just worry about you, Lavani.” Adam said, seriousness and concern etched in his eyes and face. “It's our job, we're your friends.”

 

“Just say what you were going to say, Jay.  Go ahead.  She ended up in a mental institution because of the topic of our conversation.” Tears stung her toffee eyes and Lavani suddenly didn't want to be around them, knowing that's exactly what they thought, Jay anyway. “Just leave me alone and stop bringing up the past.  It's not my fault what happened to her and I told her because I didn't want her finding out by flipping on Raw one of these nights and seeing me out there with him.  I never meant for her to...lose it the way she did...I have to go.” Lavani brushed past both of them and headed to the nearest women's bathroom, trying to stop the tears from falling and was unsuccessful.

 

“Good job, idiot.” Adam sighed, smacking Jay upside the head for a second time.

 

Jay didn't even bother retaliating, knowing he had deserved that.  Him and his big mouth. “Think we should-”


“Follow her?  No.  I think we should leave her the hell alone.  You've already made her cry.”


“HAS he now?”

 

Jay's eyes flew open when they both heard Taker's voice behind them, swallowing hard. “H-Hey Deadman...” He looked over at Adam, silently telling him now would be a good time to run.


“Uhhh we gotta go.” Adam started pulling Jay with him down the hallway, both noticing the deadly gleam in Taker's eyes and hoped Lavani knew what she was doing.


“N-Nice seeing you...” When Taker started advancing toward them, Jay fled down the hallway with Adam, acting like their pants were on fire.

 

Taker simply shook his head, not bothering to chase after them.  He'd catch up with them eventually, they couldn't run forever.  Sighing, he leaned back against the wall and folded his arms over his chest, simply waiting for Lavani to come out of the bathroom.  He had been right, she thought it was her fault Ryan had gone into the mental institution.

 

That was...amusing as hell.

 

Chapter 13

 

Lavani finally stepped out ten minutes later, having been waiting for the swelling to go down from crying and washed her face.  She was back to her smiling self, even though Jay and Adam had really upset her with the Ryan situation.  She stopped at the sight of Taker leaning against the wall, smiling at him.

 

“Hey, I was on my way to find you.” She said, walking over to him and stared up into his eyes through the black shades, wondering if he missed her as much as she missed him.

 

He returned the smile, pushing away from the wall in order to walk over to her, noting just the faintest pink rimming her eyes. “Seen your friends scamperin' off...” Taker said, trailing off before shrugging, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and guiding her down the hallway towards his dressing room. “How was the time off?”

 

He was going to play dumb about the Ryan thing, wondering if she would bring it up, seriously doubting she would though.  He honestly didn't care about that.  Taker had sent a fat check to the hospital to cover expenses for quite some time, time to move on to more important things.

 

“It was alright, kinda boring though.” She lied smoothly, leaning against his side and smiled when he took her bags from her. 

 

There was no way Lavani could ever tell him about her association with Ryan Shamrock.  That would just open up a can of worms that was better left sealed shut.  The news of Ryan being institutionalized had spread like wildfire.  Only Adam and Jay knew, to Lavani's knowledge, that she was close with Ryan and had remained in contact with the woman after all this time.

 

“Any problems while I was gone?”

 

“Now darlin', why would there be problems?” He asked, cocking an eyebrow down at her quizzically. “I've managed so far on my own, I think a few days without you...I can handle.” Because telling her the truth: Stalking her back to the town she lived in, spying, discovering where she lived and then deciding to drop in on an old pal, who coincidentally, he may have also sent back to the nuthouse…was just not an option. “Enjoy your time off?”

 

“I meant with the Faction, so sorry for asking.” She shot back sarcastically, wondering if his back was healed from those chair shots, but decided not to ask. “I'm glad you can handle yourself, wouldn't want you getting attached to my services after all.” Lavani winked, slipping away from Taker once they were in his dressing room, grabbing the new paperwork that would have his new schedule on it.

 

“Hmm…your services are very...enticin'.” Taker drawled, watching as she peered over the paperwork before bending over the table to immediately begin fixing something she apparently didn't like.  Very enticing indeed. “I took a few days off myself, so anything they were up too... it had nothin' to do with me.” So far as he knew and if they were smart, it wouldn't.

 

“I'm sure they are.”

 

Taker took time off, so that meant he probably went back to Houston.  Lavani lived in the same city as him, but that was information he didn't need to know.  She didn't want the man thinking she was stalking him or something when, the truth was, she'd lived in Houston for years, even before she came to the WWF.  When he bent down behind her to read over the schedule, Lavani could feel his hot breath on her neck and ear.  The man was distracting her on purpose and definitely not playing fair.

 

“I didn't screw up again did I?”

 

His green eyes skimmed the paper slowly, taking his time though he had already read it once and noted there were no mistakes.  She was on top of her game tonight, which all things considered, was surprising. “No darlin, you did not, but it never hurts to have a fresh set of eyes double checkin'.” Taker murmured, turning his face towards her, eyes fastening in on her pulse point, wondering just how fast her heart was currently going.

 

“Can't argue with you there.” Lavani murmured and felt her mouth go dry suddenly because it felt as though he was burning a hole right through the side of her neck. 

 

Lavani had to be strong though and started jotting down a few notes, mostly for herself so she didn't forget certain details about Taker.  There was still a lot to learn, but so far the man wasn't that complex, only liking a few things done a certain way.  Unlike the McMahons, who constantly changed their minds about what they wanted on a daily basis and drove her to the brink of insanity...not in a good way.  Feeling his lips barely brush against her pulse point, Lavani was sure her heart stopped for a complete second and had to close her eyes to fight back full body shivers.

 

“You're distracting me and I need to get this done, Deadman.” She pointed out softly, not daring to look at him because, if she did, Lavani would end up attacking.

 

“Darlin', I'm sure those papers can wait a moment or two.” He murmured huskily, though when she dug her elbow back against his midsection, he stepped away, chuckling under his breath. “Alright then, be that way.”

 

He'd leave her alone, for now, knowing this wasn't exactly the right place to be insinuating anything.  Walking away, Taker went to the opposite side of the dressing room and peeled off his shirt, tossing it over a chair before focusing on an invisible opponent, throwing his fists out.  Preshow warm-up via shadowboxing and it also kept him from attacking her.

 

This man was out to kill her, Lavani simply knew it.  He was on the other side of the damn room not bothering her physically, but was doing it mentally.  She couldn't help glancing up from her paperwork to watch him shadow box, his flying fists sending shivers down her back because they eluded deadly strength.  And not to mention his bare chest...Lavani was delving in her own personal hell and unless she had sex with him, it would only get worse.

 

‘Not happening.’ She thought, a change of panties and cold shower in order as soon as they arrived back in their motel room. 

 

Taker had actually splurged a bit, apparently tired of the rooms above bars and decided on a motel on the far outskirts of town.  Soon, he was working up a decent sweat, his chest, shoulder blades and arms glistening.  Green eyes were narrowed, focusing on what he was doing, though at the same time, he was very aware of Lavani's presence.  It was rather hard not to be and it didn't help that he could practically feel her eyes on him.  Finally he stopped, rolling his shoulders back a few times before picking up a towel, using it on the back of his neck.

 

“Not finished with that paperwork yet, darlin'?” If she hadn't been eyeballing him like the man candy he was, she would have been and he smirked.

 

“Just finished actually.” Lavani stated, slipping the paperwork back in its folder. 

 

Why did he have to be so damn sexy? 

 

All Lavani could picture in her head at that moment was giving him a tongue bath.  She had devoured him with her eyes throughout his entire workout and Lavani knew he probably caught her a few times.  If he wanted to show the goods, who was she not to look at the beautiful man?

 

“You have two autograph signings tomorrow, though there's a three hour break in between them.  It was the best I could do, they really want you to make more appearances and interact more with fans.  Apparently, the American Badass has been summoned, the fans want you.” And so did she.

 

At that Taker snorted, shaking his head. “I hate autograph signings...” He muttered.

 

It wasn't the meeting the fans part he minded, usually; it was the fact that he tended to get stuck sitting alongside assholes and wasn't allowed to hurt them.  He had done that once to Dwayne The Rock Johnson.  They had been doing a signing, Dwayne wouldn't shut his mouth and Taker had finally gotten sick of it.  The kids present had SCREAMED bloody murder and he had been fined to hell and back.  Still worth it.

 

“What's this one?  The Make-A-Wish Foundation?” He arched an eyebrow at that one.  Taker rarely got those, something about being too 'frightening'.

 

“Yeah, there's a little girl named Monica who has been your fan for several years.  She's twelve years old and said you're her hero.  It's her dying wish to meet you.” Lavani smiled when Taker tilted his head, handing him the paperwork about Monica Levark, her heart going out to all of the children who had life threatening illness. “She has leukemia, stage four...and she's running out of time.  They tried getting her to meet someone else, but she was dead set on you.  Must make you feel pretty great being such a huge influence on kids.” Granted, his gimmick with the Ministry of Darkness was downright scary, but apparently kids weren't as impressionable these days as they used to be. “That's your appearance after the autograph signings.”

 

“Wicked.” He murmured, reading over the file. “Cancel the signings.” Taker ordered when he was done. “And give them-” He passed back the file. “A call, let them know I'll be in early.”

 

An hour to visit with the girl, even he found that disturbing.  If Monica's wish was to meet him, of all people, then he would give her more than just an hour of his time.  He had time, she didn't.  Lavani could tell this meant a lot to Taker, especially since he rarely got these opportunities to fulfill a dream, a little girl's at that. 

 

“You got it.” She immediately took her cell phone out and started making the calls, first being WWF headquarters.  Linda ended up getting on the phone, much to Lavani's relief because if anyone would understand, she would. “Hey Linda, it's Vani.”


“Hello dear, I saw you on television a few weeks ago.  How do you like being part of the company fully?” Linda asked, having heard the rantings from her husband that Lavani had defected from the Faction and was happy for her. “And don't worry, your contract is safe with me.”

 

Lavani grinned. “Thanks Linda and it's...different.  I'm getting used to it.  But that's not why I'm calling.  I have a major favor to ask you, actually it's a request from Undertaker.”


“And what does Mark want?”

 

Lavani explained about the Make-A-Wish Foundation and how Taker wanted to spend more than just an hour with the little girl who was hell bent on meeting him.  She'd sent in over two hundred letters to the WWF asking and pleading to meet him, even when he was gone for a year.  Linda listened intently, not saying a word while tapping a pen on her desk.

 

“Surely someone else can take over those autograph sessions...”

 

Linda smiled softly over the phone, nodding. “I know the perfect replacement, tell Mark to just focus on that little girl Monica.”

 

Taker listened, blatantly, to her conversation with Linda and openly snorted when she said 'actually it's a request from Undertaker'.  He hadn't requested anything, he had ordered it.  Damn woman.  Shaking his head, he walked over to his bag to retrieve his things for a shower, smirking slightly as he looked towards the bathroom. 

 

Some arenas were better, and more updated, then others.  This was an older one, which meant that the bathroom was connected to the dressing room with one minor detail missing.  The door.  Not shy in the least, he walked into the bathroom and set his bag down on the small bench, getting the shower going before starting to strip.

 

Lavani busied herself making three more phone calls: One to Make-A-Wish Foundation to inform them that the Undertaker would be spending more time with Monica than originally planned and the other two were to the places where Taker was supposed to have his autograph signings.  When Lavani finished getting everything settled, she turned around and immediately regretted it, eyes shooting open.  There he was standing under the shower sprays, his back turned to her, the water cascading down his rock hard body.  Lavani had a hard time breathing suddenly and tried pulling her gaze away from him, but that was close to impossible.

 

‘Stop staring you perv!’ She scolded mentally and finally managed to pull her gaze away, trying to distract herself with something else while Taker finished his open shower.

 

Usually, he took cold showers before his matches, just to get the adrenaline pumping.  Tonight, he considered the option of taking a hot shower, just because he figured Lavani would appreciate the steam blocking him from view.  Taker had totally scrapped that idea; if she wanted to ogle him, he wasn't going to deny her.  Eyes closed, he turned around in order to rinse his hair, refusing to bend over naked in front of anyone.  He had a rule about exposing his naked ass in that position.

 

Mercifully, Taker's shower ended as he walked out with a towel wrapped around his waist, hanging low on the hips.  Lavani had a feeling he was doing this on purpose and decided to tease him a little bit, thankful with the outfit she'd chosen that night.  It was a black skirt that went two and a half inches above the knee along with a black tank top that had blue trimming on the hems, a blue belt on the skirt for style. 

 

She had two inch open-toed heels on her feet that strapped up her calves, planning on going out to the ring with him that night for his match.  The tank top also had 'Deadman Inc' embroidered on the front of it in blue lettering.  Lavani refused to change how she dressed just because she was on-screen now.  They would have to deal with her quirkiness.

 

“Who are you facing?” She asked, looking up at him and wasn't surprised when he muttered Hunter's name.  Of course Taker would want revenge against the Faction, especially after their attack. “I hope you cripple him.”

 

Given that he was male and so far hadn't kept the fact that he found her attractive secret, he had already given her several once-overs.  Taker didn't give a damn about her fancy shoes, it was the skirt he was most interested in, the tank top running a close second.  Taker suddenly envisioned her slipping through the ring ropes, his eyes darting down to her legs and then the shoes, a lot more interested in them now.

 

“I plan on it, darlin'.” Taker rumbled, flicking his wet hair back out of his face.

 

“Since your autograph signings were cancelled for tomorrow, you'll have to be at Make-A-Wish around noon.” She informed him, feeling his eyes slowly devouring her legs and acted as if she didn't notice.

 

Chapter 14

 

When she saw Taker struggling with his bandana, Lavani decided to take over, walking over to pluck it from his hand. “Sit down.” She ordered, not even asking if he wanted help because it was obvious he did. 

 

Lavani smiled as he did and began running her fingers through his hair, using the brush he handed her.  She stared at him through the reflection in the mirror, wondering what he was thinking and finished tying his hair back in a loose tail before wrapping the bandana around his forehead, tying that as well.  He was sitting here bare ass naked and she was doing his hair.

 

The imagery made 'Taker smile slightly, knowing this was definitely a surreal moment.  When Lavani tapped his head with the brush to indicate she was done, he met her eyes in the mirror, definitely a surreal moment.  He stood up, knowing that while his back was to her, the mirror wasn't exactly hiding anything either.  Not that he had anything at all to hide.

 

“Yer gettin' awfully damn bossy, woman.” He remarked, setting his bag on the table and began pulling out his attire, glancing over his shoulder at her with a slight smirk. “It's kinda hot.”

 

“I only get bossy when the situation calls for it.  You were struggling and I know you hate asking for help, even with the smallest tasks.”

 

Taker could ask her to do pretty much anything and Lavani would do it...within reason.  She refused to degrade herself for anyone, including Taker, but somehow she knew he wouldn't cross that line.  Hunter had once demanded her to go buy him a box of condoms from the local store for him and Stephanie.  She ended up kicking him in the balls and telling him to get his own damn condoms, that she wasn't his servant to push around.  Lavani had noticed Taker's towel dropped and her current train of thought was stopping her from attacking him.

 

“And I'm glad you think so, Deadman.” If he smirked at her one more time, Lavani was going to lose it, hoping she could find the strength to control the desires currently engulfing her.

 

“See now darlin',” He drawled, beginning to dress, working from the bottom up. “That 'glad you think so' can be taken one of two ways.  Either, you're being sarcastic or you're genuinely glad I find yer bossiness hot, which tells me there might be a bit of a dominatrix under that professional attitude of yours.” Taker was just screwing with her, though...the idea was intriguing.

 

“I refuse to reveal my...dominatrix side.”

 

She smirked when he raised an eyebrow, waving him off giggling.  Hell, Lavani had no idea how to be sexy, though she knew outfits like these would get a rise out of men.  As far as being sexy and acting it, she was clueless, a small town country girl at heart.

 

“And you can take it anyway you like.” Lavani wasn't denying or agreeing with him as far as being glad he found it hot at her bossiness.  Sometimes a woman just had to take the initiative. “You better hurry up and finish, your match is next.”

 

“Woman...” He growled, finishing up and wound his thick chain around his neck.  Since he was fighting Hunter tonight and he did owe the bastard one on behalf of Lavani, not to mention he just hated the big nosed prick on principal. “You comin' out or keepin' yer pert ass back here?” Another flash of her going through the ring ropes in that skirt, in those shoes.

 

“I wouldn't be dressed like this if I wasn't, Deadman.” Lavani retorted with a wink, fighting back a shiver at his growl and laughed when he did it again. “And my ass is not pert, it's plump.” She corrected him, knowing full well she wasn't in perfect condition, she did have some fat on her body. 

 

Lavani could tell she was starting to get under Taker's skin a bit with her comebacks, enjoying it wholeheartedly.  They both walked out of the dressing room and headed to gorilla position, where Hunter was waiting for his own cue with Stephanie.  If that bitch tried interfering in the match, Lavani was going to spear her.

 

Along the short walk, he had considered grabbing up two handfuls of her ass, simply to determine for himself which one it was: Plump or pert.  Either way, it was a snatchable ass.  His eyes narrowed behind his sunglasses, taking in Hunter and his tramp wife.

 

“Ready to get your ass kicked, Deadman?  You and that defecting bi-”


“Finish that sentence and I will cram this-” Taker gestured to the chain around his neck. “Down your throat.”

 

“Bitch.” Stephanie finished for her husband smugly, knowing Taker wouldn't dare hit a woman.


“Well if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black.” Lavani shot back, standing in front of Taker so he didn't attack until they were in the ring. “I must tell you though, this defecting bitch should've left your asses high and dry a very long time ago.”

 

Stephanie scowled, not appreciating being mouthed off to. “Hunter...”

“Does hubby have to always fight your battles, Princess?”

 

Stephanie shrieked and went to say something when Hunter's music hit, stalking through the curtain with him.

 

Lavani laughed, grinning. “What a troll.”

 

“I was thinkin' more along the lines of 'what a cunt'.” Taker growled, knowing Stephanie was pretty sure he wouldn't hit her.

 

He did have a bit of 'I don't hit women' policy in effect, but had broken it before and could very easily see himself breaking it again.  Just for her.  He began bouncing in place on the balls of his feet, rolling his shoulders and swung his arms back and forth, gearing up while Hunter did his usual bullshit.  When his music rocked the building, along with the screaming fans, game face on.  Hunter and Stephanie might both have accidents tonight.

 

Taker was pumped and ready to kick Hunter's teeth down his throat, that much was clear as day.  Lavani couldn't wait to see it happen either. “Don't get too banged up, Monica is counting on you.” She whispered to him right before they walked out on stage, nixing the bike for the night. 

 

It was a good thing because Lavani knew straddling that bike was NOT optional.  She clapped while Taker saluted the crazed fans, smiling from ear to ear and walked down the ramp with him, going at his pace.  Walking up the steel ring steps, Lavani smiled when he held open the ropes for her as she slid between them, watching as he did his usual poses with the crowd. 

 

They loved him, even after all he'd done in the company.  She then exited the ring and stood on the outside, opposite of where Stephanie currently stood, both women eyeballing each other hatefully.  Mental note for later: That skirt did ride up a bit when she bent through the ropes, Taker was going to insist she start wearing skirts to the ring for every performance.  Just so he could indulge his voyeuristic tendencies.

 

Hunter didn't give Taker time to finish posturing for the crowd, he attacked from behind, ripping away that steel chain.  He knew if he didn't eliminate that threat, it was going to be what took him out.  Smirking, he tossed it out of the ring.

 

Taker rather hoped Lavani picked it up and used it on Stephanie.

 

Stephanie immediately went after it, but Lavani beat her to the punch, stepping on it with her blue heel. “Don't even think about it, bitch.” She bent down and ripped it right out of Stephanie's grasp.


“Hey!  That's mine!” Stephanie whined, advancing on Lavani and stopped when it looked as though the woman might clock her with it.


“Problem?”

 

Lavani had wrapped the steel chain around her neck, having some of it around her hand just in case Stephanie decided to try something stupid.  If she even attempted to get involved in the match, Lavani was going to knock her out.  Whimpering, Stephanie reluctantly scurried back over to Hunter's side, wincing when Taker began attacking relentlessly with his fists.

 

Considering that Hunter wasn't called 'The Game' for nothing, Taker kept his attention solely on his opponent, knowing Lavani could handle herself if need be.  Or at least, he was hoping so.  He heard Stephanie whining about something in her shrill voice, but instantly pushed it aside, knowing that was pretty much all he needed to hear. 

 

She wasn't happy which meant Vani was doing something right.  He didn't need the chain to whip this boy's ass, though when Hunter actually went for a low blow, he countered, followed that up with a clothesline and knocked him right out of the ring at Vani's feet.  Well wasn't this an unexpected surprise. 

 

Lavani glared down at Hunter and instantly backed away when Taker flipped over the top rope, landing on his feet like a cat and went on the attack on.  She was thoroughly enjoying everything that happened to Hunter, though that changed when Hunter suddenly slammed Taker into the steel ring steps.  Scowling, Lavani took the chain from around her neck and advanced on Hunter, only to be stopped by Stephanie.


“Don't even think about it, traitor!!”


“I'm warning you once, get the hell out of my way.”


Stephanie shook her head, standing her ground.


“Suit yourself.”

 

A second later, Stephanie was out cold on her back while the crowd's cheers echoed in her ears.

 

When Lavani turned around, she was greeted to a very livid Triple H. “That's my wife, slut!” He bellowed before grabbing her by the back of her neck, catching that chain before it could hit him. “Want to play with the big dogs now?”


Taker was up, a hand pressed to his bleeding forehead.  When he seen the position Lavani was in, his green eyes narrowed with murderous intentions.  Hunter shoved Lavani, sending her flying backwards into the guard rail before turning, planning on using the chain on Taker.  He was greeted to a fist directly between the eyes and dropped instantly.  He hadn't lightened the blow but swung as hard as he could.

 

“Better pray you're dead, son.” Taker growled, stepping over Hunter's body towards Lavani.

 

“I'm fine, keep your focus on him!!” She called over the crowd, not wanting him to worry about her right now. 

 

Lavani's lower back was throbbing with pain, though luckily the guard rail was padded enough to where it didn't hurt as badly as it would've had it been pure steel, like the old days.  With Stephanie out for the count, Taker could take full advantage of Hunter's distraction, smiling through the pain when that's exactly what he did.  She picked up the steel chain and used the ring to keep from falling while still favoring her lower back. 

 

When Taker set Hunter up for the Last Ride and pointed directly at her, Lavani felt something leap in her chest and knew it was her heart, the biggest smile lighting her face.  Hunter still wasn't moving, Taker had to lift him and walk the man up the steps and back into the ring.  He was alive, but that punch had definitely knocked something loose. 

 

Or hell, maybe it had even snapped something back in place and the man would wake up and realize he wasn't king shit.  After delivering the Last Ride, he dropped down for the pin, arranging Hunter's fairly lifeless arms crossed over his chest and didn't even bother applying pressure as the referee counted the one, two, three.  He grunted when hazel eyes opened, seeing how out of focus they were.

 

“Touch her again, and I'll aim for yer throat next time.” He promised in a growl.


All Hunter could do was nod.

 

Her smile turning into a full blown grin, Lavani walked up the steel ring steps and slid beneath the rope.  Before Taker could fully stand up, Lavani draped the steel chain around his neck where it belonged.  His arm wrapped gingerly around her waist and Lavani silently nodded, letting him know she was alright.  She could see the worry in his green eyes and leaned against his side while he celebrated his victory.

 

“Time to go.” She murmured when the Faction began coming down the ramp, hoping Taker did the right thing and lived to fight another day.

 

As the rest of the Faction that actually had the stones to fight him were Billy, Jesse and Sean, Taker did not do the right thing.  He did the 'sending a message thing' and began taking them out one by one with the chain, dropping the trio like the worthless meat sacks they were.  Shane and Vince were wisely retreating along with Tori as he stalked up the ramp, Lavani right behind him.  He was still a little hot under the collar, knowing Hunter could have broken Lavani's spine if she had hit that guard rail wrong or if he had pushed her with all his strength.  She was a damn twig compared to them.

 

“You bastard!!” Vince shouted angrily while retreating, pulling Shane along with him while EMT's rushed out to check on Stephanie and Hunter. “You'll pay for this!!”


“Dad, now is NOT the time and place to toss out threats!!” Shane groaned loudly. 

 

Even the Boy Wonder had half the brain not to mouth off to the Undertaker when their defense was currently down for the count.  Lavani just followed behind without saying a word, knowing Taker was pissed because she could feel the anger radiating off his huge body.  Though that didn't stop her from being amused when the McMahons along with Tori hopped into the limousine, hightailing it out of the arena so fast the tires squealed.

 

Since everyone he wanted to beat was already beaten or had run away like the dogs they were, Taker knew he was done for the night unless he picked a random fight.  His green eyes landed on Lavani, who was smirking and then walked around her, one hand reaching out to grab her shoulder firmly when she tried turning along with him.  He raised the back of her tank top up, examining her back.

 

“It's already bruised, darlin'.” Taker said, tracing a large finger down her spine. “Let's go have the trainer take a look at it.”

 

“There's no reason to bother Larry with bruising.  What's he gonna do?  Give me ice, some pain killers and send me on my way?  I'm fine, it doesn't hurt-” Lavani hissed out when he pressed against the bruising with that same finger, glaring at him over her shoulder. “Of course it hurts when you do THAT.” Lavani slapped his hand away, turning to fully face him and sighed when he simply stared back at her.  It was a look that clearly said either she went to get checked out of her own accord or he was going to take her there himself by force. “You are unbelievable.” She tossed her hands up in the air and stormed past him, heading to Larry's office, scowling.

 

Unbelievable, maybe, but Taker had gotten his way.  He wanted to know if it was basic bruising or deep bone bruising.  The difference?  How badly he hurt Hunter the next time they were in the ring together.  Basic bruising, maybe a broken finger.  Deep bone bruising would be a broken hand.

 

“This comin' from the woman who babies me.” He snorted, pointing down the hallway when she whipped around to glare at him. “Get to steppin' wench or I'll cart yer ass.” Taker threatened, thinking it was nice, this turnabout thing.

 

Lavani promptly flipped him the bird, smirking when he actually blinked in shock at her. “And if you don't like that one, here's one to match it.”

 

She flipped him a double bird, doing it while still walking over her shoulders, holding the two one finger salutes.  Snorting when he growled, Lavani ignored him and kept walking.  Starting to head toward Larry's office, Lavani turned at the last minute and ran back to Taker's locker room.

 

“I'm not getting checked out and you can't make me!” She shouted, ignoring the pain that zipped up her back, she was going to be hurting later on for proving a point.

 

Sighing, he quickly caught up to her.  He wasn't in pain minus a slight throb in the forehead from hitting the steel post, whereas she was doing a limping run. “I warned you.” He said gravely, reaching under her arms and lifted her straight up.  Taker wasn't tossing her over his shoulder or carrying her like a princess.  He was going to carry her like this, dangling by her pits. “Kick me and I'll either tickle you till ya piss or pinch a nerve.” He warned her, carting her right back to Larry's.


“What...the...hell?”

 

Lavani was NOT amused in the slightest, tempted to kick him for not listening to her.  He would pay for it later.  She rolled her eyes when Taker explained to Larry why he had to cart her bodily in here and folded her arms in front of her chest, wincing when Larry began pressing against her bruised back.

 

“Easy Larry, Jesus...”


“Deep bruising, down to the bone.” Larry confirmed, handing over some pain killers and ice packs. “That's about all we can do for it, sorry Lava.”


“I already knew that, but thanks anyway Lar.” She glared at Taker, who looked very satisfied and almost full of himself, suddenly smirking. “You know, I think Taker needs to be stitched up.”

 

Now Taker wasn't amused as Larry advanced on him.

 

Chapter 15

 

Taker was smirking when Larry simply used a skin glue since it wasn't a deep or wide gash, holding perfectly still while the trainer patched him up before turning to Lavani. “It was a nice attempt, darlin'.” He drawled, winking at her, knowing she didn't appreciate him bringing her here to be told what she already knew, but wasn't taking any chances. 

 

Then it dawned on him, when the hell had he become this protective of her?  Of anyone?  That made him frown for a brief moment, considering it before shrugging it away.  Time to dwell on that later.

 

“So... ice on the back, huh?” His eyes flashed wickedly.


“Ice packs...and why are you grinning?  Nobody trusts you when you do that, you know that right?”

 

“Don't even think about it.” Lavani ordered, the look in his eyes not promising at all and rolled her eyes when he tried acting innocent. “Larry has a point.”

 

She had noticed the flash of confusion in Taker's eyes combined with the frown on his face, even if it only lasted a few seconds.  She was very observant, both a strength and flaw.  Larry gave Taker some pain killers as well since he'd have a headache from the head injury, no matter how minor it was, in the morning.  They headed back to his locker room to grab their things, wanting to just head to the motel.

 

“Happy now?  You are so stubborn, I already knew what he was going to say.  If it was serious, I would've gone on my own, but it wasn't.  I should start calling you a stubborn ass, you know that?  An overbearing stubborn ass.”

 

“You could darlin', but that nickname is already taken, it's what I like to call you.” Taker shot back with a grin, enjoying the verbal judo they had going, also knowing she was irritated with him. 

 

Considering she had done this to him at least once already that he could recall off the top of his head, he figured she was due for a turn.  Though...he did not want to make it a regular thing.  The idea of her injured, no matter how small an injury, did not sit well with him.

 

“You going to be okay to ride, Vani?”

 

“I'm bruised, not handicapped.” She remarked, wishing he wouldn't be so protective of her because it was a little unnerving. 

 

Then what Vince said suddenly filtered through her mind, a thoughtful frown crossing her face.  While Taker gathered their things together, Lavani wondered if she should finally confront him about what Vince was talking about, not wanting to anger him.  As they walked toward his bike, Lavani decided to just take the plunge so to speak.

 

“Hey, I need to ask you something...and I don't want you getting upset about it okay?”

 

“Darlin', the fact that you started this conversation off with 'I don't want you gettin' upset about it', tells me I'm going to get upset.” Taker informed, already seeing her thinking about backtracking and shook his head, gently grabbing her arm and shifting her so she was facing him. “I promise not to show you I'm upset, how’s that?” He could see the hesitation in her toffee eyes and frowned, tracing his thumb along her cheekbone. “You look almost scared, Lavani...” He nearly whispered. “What is it?”

 

“I'm not scared.” She assured him softly, leaning into his touch and took a deep breath, looking up into his green eyes. “I can't get what Vince said out of my head.  That night we were attacked, he was trying to tell me something and you stopped him.  He said something about you wanted...me...back then or something.  What did he mean by that?” To her knowledge, Lavani hadn't spent any significant amount of time with Taker, especially back then, constantly beside Vince doing her assistant duties and minding her own business. “I didn't fully understand what he said at first, but the more I've thought about it, the more it's making my curiosity burn.”

 

At that, Taker arched an eyebrow, knowing exactly what night she was referring to. “I wanted you on-camera back then, Lavani.” He said, staring down at her, somehow not at all surprised by that curiosity burn comment.  Everything seemed to make her curious.  It was a good trait to have, but he sometimes wondered if she was absolutely sure if she wanted to know the truth or simply thought she did. “I had seen you, obviously, and thought you'd be great on-screen, you have a look about you and you're poised, you'd be a natural in front of the camera.  You are, actually.” He amended, both telling her the truth and not telling her the entire truth all in one. “Naturally, Vinnie Mac, being the paranoid idiot that he is, thought that I'd somehow steal you away from yer job or somethin'.”

 

“Or he was probably afraid I'd enjoy exploring my dark side instead of staying on the Corporation side of things.” Lavani added, shrugging when Taker raised an eyebrow at her, nothing changing about how she felt for him. “Thank you for telling me the truth, Taker.  I'm...honored that you wanted to use me back then on-screen for your angle.  I know it was one of the biggest storylines back then.”

 

Though she also knew he lived the character both in and OUT of the ring, which is why Vince more than likely kept her away from Taker.  She found it amusing that, in the end, she ended up working with Taker anyway, even after all of Vince's attempt to keep her away from him back then.  It was amusing and ironic to say the least.

 

“You're not upset are you?”

 

“Nope.” Taker really was going to have to ensure that Vince didn't decide to run his mouth anymore, just in case she ever wondered just what exactly he had in mind for her back then, knowing that would definitely change her opinion of him. “Should I be, darlin'?” When she simply shrugged, he draped an arm around her shoulders. “Come on, let's go back to the motel and get you iced down.”

 

Nodding, Lavani mounted the bike with Taker's help and instantly wrapped her arms around his waist, pressing her cheek against his back.  He wanted to use her back then on-screen, no wonder Vince had tried convincing her to be on-screen with the Corporation.  Then as soon as the Corporation merged with the Ministry of Darkness, Vince immediately stopped asking her to be on television. 

 

Now she knew the reasoning behind that. 

 

Lavani knew she would've agreed to be on-screen with Taker back then just to get away from the Corporation's clutches.  Then another thought occurred to her: what exactly did Taker want to use her for on-screen?  She remembered Rena Mero -Sable- and Ryan...Lavani couldn't stop the full body shiver from flooding her at the thought of her friend, who was now institutionalized...because of the man she currently held onto. 

 

Mixed emotions again, Lavani hated them.

 

Knowing damn well Lavani had a very annoying habit of rationalizing and thinking things all the way through -Usually a trait he found admirable with people he didn't have reason to hide information from-, Taker was already working out several possible answers and several ways of distracting her.  The distraction techniques involved everything from the 'look there' -At the very desperate end, which he would never hit- to kissing her, which he was considering doing again.  It had been awhile since he had tasted her lips and, all things considered, they both deserved another sample.

 

Arriving back at the motel, Lavani wasn't the least bit surprised when Taker directed her straight to the bed because of her back.  She didn't go there right away though, opting to change out of her work clothes and into something much more comfortable.  A rather old nightshirt that hung off one of her shoulders and went to her mid-thigh would suffice for the night. 

 

Hell, Lavani had already shown the entire world her legs, so showing Taker definitely didn't bother her none.  Not to mention she owed him after his teasing session at the arena earlier that night.  He was starting to get under her skin a bit, but Lavani refused to submit.  She washed the makeup off her face and grabbed a book out of her bag before laying on her stomach on the bed while Taker did his normal routine.

 

He simply stared at her for a moment, having already kicked off his boots and shrugged off his vest, his duffel bag hanging from his hand.  Laying on her stomach, in that shirt, and reading...it was almost...cute, he mentally slapped himself for even thinking that.  When she bent her legs at the knee and crossed her ankles in the air, he was treated to the color of her panties and softly groaned, dropping the bag.

 

“Darlin', you forgot the ice.” Taker drawled, going to retrieve an ice pack.

 

Either she hadn't heard him or was ignoring him -she might still be a bit tetchy about him carting her to Larry -, but she didn't even acknowledge him.  So he sat behind her on the bed and slowly trailed it down her leg and around the crease of her knee before slowly guiding it up her inner thigh.  Lavani jumped at the feeling of the ice pack, having been engrossed in her book and actually dropped it.

 

“Jesus Taker, subtle much?” Lavani demanded, hearing him chuckle and was tempted to reach behind to stick the ice pack down his pants. 

 

That would teach him a lesson.  As it was, Lavani was in a very precarious position because she was lying on her stomach while he was behind her, so he could easily pin her if he wanted to.  When his hand kept inching up past her inner thigh, Lavani didn't dare look behind her and pulled her nightshirt up enough to where he could press the ice pack to the bruised area on her lower back.

 

“How's your head?” She asked, trying to get her mind off where his hands were, trying to distract herself from naughty thoughts that were currently swirling through her mind.

 

“Fine.” Taker grunted, having popped some Tylenol the minute they got into the room while she had been getting changed for bed.  He had washed those two pills down with a generous amount of whiskey, the throb was manageable. “How's your back?” He slowly withdrew his hand, his fingertips trailing down her spine before pulling it out from under her shirt and arranging himself on the side of the bed, staring down at her.

 

“Not bad, the ice helps.” Lavani smiled back at him and pulled her nightshirt down to cover her panties, barely, without jostling the ice pack.  She managed to scoot enough to reach over the foot of the bed, grabbing her book and began sifting through the pages to find the spot where she left off. “You're gonna be gone most of the day tomorrow so I'm gonna go shopping for a few things.  Did you need me to pick up anything for you?” She asked cordially, looking over her shoulder at him again while the ice worked its magic against her back.

 

His green eyes lit up wickedly, knowing she would have plenty of extra time on her hands while he was visiting with Monica. “I need a new chain, darlin', if you think you could find me one.” Taker said, pushing himself off the bed in order to retrieve his own bag, dropping it down on the table to rifle through it. “One for wearin', not killin'.” He clarified. “Something thin.” When Lavani nodded, he plucked a business card out of his wallet, which had been in the bag and walked over to hand it to her. “Jewelry store here in town, they know who I am.  Drop my name and they'll know what to give ya.”

 

Lavani blinked and took the business card from him, looking it over nodding. “So I say Taker and they'll automatically know what you want?” When he nodded, Lavani shrugged and slipped it in her purse, which was thankfully right beside the bed to where she could reach. “Got it.  Anything else?”

 

Lavani planned on going shopping just for the hell of it.  Though it would also help her think and rationalize through everything she'd found out lately.  Taker didn't need to know what she'd been thinking about, it would only upset him, especially when it came to Ryan.

 

“Not for me, darlin'.”

 

Taker chuckled, unfastening the front of his jeans before throwing a pair of black pajama bottoms over his shoulder.  He had made a concession in buying a few more pairs since she had made it clear when they started sharing rooms that him sleeping nude wasn't going to fly yet.  There was no doubt in his mind that very soon she'd be changing her mind about the pajama thing, for both of them.

 

“Though if you want some suggestions for yourself...” His green eyes consumed her body lingeringly before returning to her face, the corner of his mouth curving upward. “Somethin' black and lacy...”

 

“Just a suggestion eh?  I'll keep that in mind, thanks.”

 

The heated look in his eyes made Lavani's mouth suddenly go dry and had to pull her gaze away from him to focus on her book...or trying to at least.  He was undressing her with his eyes, devouring her and there wasn't a damn thing Lavani could do about it.  She should've berated him for that blatant suggestion, but Lavani simply didn't have it in her, finding it rather humbling that he found her attractive in the first place.

 

“Go get your shower, Deadman.” Lavani ordered when he didn't immediately head for the bathroom, rolling her eyes at his chuckle.

 

“Still think you’re a dominatrix in disguise, Vani.” He teased before finally deciding to let her alone for a little bit, slipping into the bathroom and shut the door behind him.

 

She was probably thrilled that there was a door this time around.  Hell, he was too.  He sincerely doubted his ability to not drag her in the shower with him at the moment.  Taker turned the water onto cold and stepped in after kicking off his jeans, bracing his hands against the tile wall as he let the icy water beat down on him, cooling his boiling blood.

 

If he thought she was a dominatrix, he had her all wrong.  Lavani wasn't a very sexual person, at least she didn't think so, not unless she dressed the part.  Honestly, the nightshirt was comfortable and it was simply too hot sleeping in the same bed with Taker to endure pajama pants.  As much as she wanted to try teasing Taker, Lavani knew it would never happen, the man was a master at mind games. 

 

She stood no chance. 

 

Her cell phone suddenly went off and Lavani wondered who it was, slowly removing the ice pack from her back to sit up, flipping it open.  It was Ken informing her that Ryan was asking for her and the sooner she could visit her would be best.  Lavani had already planned on doing that and simply sent a text back promising to do it as soon as she was home next time since Ryan was institutionalized in Houston.

 

He didn't linger in the shower. 

 

Taker was in and out after washing the stench of the arena off of him, mindful of his bruised head.  When he emerged, she was either asleep or just laying there thinking because her head was on the pillow, turned away from him.  Smirking, he eased himself on the bed next to her, pressing his still ice cold body against hers.  When Lavani shuddered, he laughed and pulled away.

 

“Sorry darlin', couldn't resist, you looked so warm and toasty.” He teased, pressing the palm of his hand between her shoulder blades when she twisted, moving to catch the ice pack as it slid down her side off her back.

 

She was more than warm and toasty, Lavani was boiling just from his touch alone, not able to hide the desire in her toffee eyes.  They were slowly turning to a dark brown.  Lavani had to get a hold of herself and merely smiled, gently rolling so she was lying on her other side facing him.

 

“Sure you couldn't.” The tone of her voice clearly told him she didn't believe a word he said, especially with the smirk on his face.  If he didn't stop smirking at her, Lavani was going to lose all control and just attack. “Time for bed, you have a very busy day with a special girl tomorrow and I have a shopping spree to go on.”

 

Lavani reached up and kissed his cheek, letting it linger for a second longer than necessary and then pecked his nose before snuggling back into her pillow, closing her eyes.  Her entire body was exhausted from what happened during Taker's match and she knew his head probably didn't feel too good right now, both of them needing rest. 

 

Chapter 16

 

As per usual, when he woke up, their limbs were entwined together though...there had been a slight change that his foggy sleep-filled mind blamed on her lingering peck from the night before.  Lavani had gotten really warm during the night or he had stripped her.  Either way, her t-shirt was gone and she was pressed against him, bare chest to bare chest.  He spared a sideways glance at the clock and inwardly groaned, wanting nothing more than to take advantage, but...Monica...Cursing under his breath, Taker reluctantly pulled away, his eyes darting down, unable to help himself.  He leaned forward, brushing his lips against her bare shoulder.

 

“Wake up darlin'.” Taker murmured before pulling away.

 

Another cold shower was in order.

 

Lavani mumbled something incoherent and slowly felt her body come alive, having had the best dream involving Taker.  She didn't want to wake up from it, talk about explosive.  Lavani already felt heated and she wasn't fully awake yet, stretching her arms up across the pillow, wincing slightly at her back.

 

“Coffee.” She murmured, slowly fluttering her eyes open and slowly lowered her arms to her sides, still under the blanket. “What the-” Her eyes suddenly shot open as Lavani quickly looked under it, Taker already in the bathroom getting ready.  How the hell did she wind up going to bed with her nightshirt on and wake up with it OFF? ‘Okay don't freak out, there has to be a perfectly logical explanation for it.  Or you could just pretend it never happened.’ Lavani thought, immediately nixing that because how the hell was she supposed to ignore waking up practically naked pressed against Taker?  Toffee eyes slowly narrowed at the bathroom door and Lavani immediately pulled her nightshirt on after swiping it from the floor, scowling. 

 

Taker wasn't playing fair.

 

As much as he would love to take credit for her much improved sleep attire, or more specifically lack of, he couldn't.  Taker honestly didn't remember removing her shirt and he was pretty sure if he had removed it, he wouldn't have stopped with just the shirt.  But...stranger things had happened.  After all, they shared a bed on a nightly basis without anything besides sleeping happening, which was a miracle in itself.  Taker emerged from the bathroom, toweling his hair dry.

 

“I don't know about you darlin', but I need coffee.” Taker yawned, flipping his damp hair back over his bare shoulders before looking at her.

 

“It's already on the counter.” She called over her shoulder, having changed into a pair of black fleece shorts with a black and blue tank top.

 

Her hair was pulled up in a messy style on top of her head, blue sneakers on her feet.  Lavani practically inhaled one cup of coffee and was already on the next, finishing tying her shoe before standing up.  Having opening the window to let the light inside, Lavani was glad it was a beautiful day.

 

“I need you to give me a ride to the local car rental place down the street from here.” She stated, turning to face him and decided not to mention the fact she woke up in just a pair of panties against him. 

 

Whatever happened wasn’t Taker's fault, Lavani had a sexual dream about him and that was that.

 

“I liked the other look better.” He informed her as he helped himself to a mug, straight black, as always.  Like he wouldn't reference the fact that she had woken up pressed against him practically naked?  She had probably known it was coming, that was one he just couldn't let slide. “Though darlin, if I had known you were changing the pajama routine, I'd of skipped the pants last night.” Then they would have been literally fucked this morning.  When Lavani gave him a look that clearly said she wasn't in the mood, he shrugged. “I'll behave, promise.  And why do you need a rental?  Why not hire a cab for the day?”

 

“Because I plan on going to a lot of different stores and a rental is just better.” Not to mention Lavani wanted to blast music and enjoy herself without a cab driver staring at her like she was insane. “I don't like being chauffeured around by strangers.”

 

She walked past him to refill her cup, ignoring everything he said about the previous night, needing all the caffeine she could get.  He moved to stand directly behind her and Lavani could feel his heated body against hers.  His scent enveloped her and shivered when his hot breath puffed against her ear.

 

“Not falling for it, Deadman.” She said in a sing-song voice before taking a long drink of her coffee.

 

“Well why the hell not, Vani?  You know you’re tempted.” Taker drawled huskily, catching her elbow before she could get him and leaned past her for the coffee pot, stepping back to top off his cup before returning it. “Alright woman, stop distractin' me and let's finish up and go.” He ordered, switching from playful and mildly seductive to all business.  He already knew today was going to be bittersweet for him.  Taker had read Monica's file again and had every intention of coming back with a fifth of Jack.

 

“I'm not about to tempt the devil, Taker.”

 

Lavani smirked and grabbed her purse, the only thing she would need before heading out with him.  Since the place was just down the street, Lavani wasn't worried about getting burns on her legs from his bike.  She mounted the bike after him, hanging on as he took off down the road.  Lavani enjoyed moments like these with Taker when she could hold onto him tightly without needing a reason for it, the window whipping all around them.  When he idled the bike in front of the rental place, Lavani hopped off and turned to face him, smiling when he handed over her purse that he'd placed in his saddlebag.

 

“Thanks for the ride, charming.” Lavani leaned up to hug him around the neck, knowing he needed it to get through today with Monica. “Just remember you're her hero.” She whispered in his ear before pulling away, heading inside the shop to get her rental.

 

Taker was more than tempted to pull her back and kiss her right there in the street, but refrained, watching her walk into the shop before shaking his head and pulling away from the curb.  Her last words to him 'you're her hero' played over and over in his mind.  This kid, Monica, had no idea what kind of person her 'hero' actually was and he had no intention of letting her down. 

 

He'd play the hero today for her.  While Taker was indeed a dark, sometimes thoroughly evil man, even he had soft spots.  Dying children definitely claimed one of those soft spots, especially when HE was their request, which was rare.  When he arrived at the hospital, he looked up at the building, feeling humbled.

 

~!~

 

“Hello, may I help you with something?”

 

This was the jewelry shop Taker wanted her to go to?  It didn't exactly look like one, but Lavani wasn't about to let him down, having pulled out the card to make sure she was in the right place.  She'd already went to four other stores and had bought something from each of them, including a new laptop.  It would help her out with the assistance job since she was now Taker's valet.  So it was double duty in a way.

 

“Yeah, umm...Undertaker sent me and...”


“You mean Calaway?”

 

Lavani blinked, nodding almost hesitantly. “Yes...He told me to give you his name and you would know exactly what to give me for him.” She explained, hoping she didn't sound completely insane.


“Hmph, typical.  Right this way, miss.”

 

“You're Lavani?” The shopkeeper demanded, having led her to the backroom and rifled through a safe, finally pulling out two thin boxes.  When she nodded, he grunted again, more than used to Calaway's strange requests at this point.  The man did most of his jewelry shopping here and over the years, there had been some odd requests. “One silver chain.” He opened the case to reveal what most people would call a 'man's necklace'. “Sterling silver, already paid for, and as always, made specifically for him.” And his fat neck, but he didn't say THAT aloud. “Next...” He replaced the chain in the box and slid it to her, opening the second. “One custom made women's necklace...” He pulled out the delicate, fine silver chain. “And an assortment of pendants to match...” He next began pulling them out.

 

Taker had only requested the silver chain, so when the shopkeeper pulled out the women's necklace, Lavani couldn't help tilting her head slightly.  She didn't say anything, just nodded, as the shopkeeper pulled the pendants out, each of them a different color and there had to be over twenty of them.  They went from whitish silver all the way to deep onyx black, blues, pinks, reds, greens, purples...they were truly amazing and sparkled.  Just because the pendants were all different colors didn't mean anything, he could've easily bought this for someone else.

 

“T-Thanks...”

 

Why would Taker get her a necklace?  Hell, what made Lavani think it was for her? Just because the pendants were all blue didn't mean anything, he could've easily bought it for someone else.  Lavani exited the shop and headed back to her rental with tons of questions flitting through her mind.

 

“What the hell?”

 

~!~

 

Taker had completely forgotten about the pendants, his attention focused solely on Monica.  She was a sweet little girl with a very impressive knowledge of wrestling history.  More to the point, HIS wrestling history and he had been wrestling longer then she had been breathing.  And...from the way she looked, Taker would be wrestling long after she had passed, which caused a serious tightening in his chest that he could not recall ever feeling before.

 

“Darlin', other than wrestling, what else do ya like?” He asked gently.


“Unicorns.”

 

Taker stroked his goatee, wondering what the odds of her being allowed out of this damn hospital room were.

 

When Lavani got a call from Taker asking her to meet him at the children's hospital, she knew something was up.  All of her bags, besides the ones from the jewelry store, were up front.  He had asked her to stop by that same jewelry store, if she hadn't already -Lavani had lied and said she hadn't, that she was on her way- and asked to get the biggest spun glass unicorn figurine they had. 

 

He'd already put the call in apparently because, when Lavani trekked BACK to the store, the shopkeeper already had it ready and gift-wrapped in purple wrapping paper with a black bow on top.  There was also something else special in there, though the shopkeeper didn't say.  Lavani pulled into the children's hospital parking lot and headed inside with the wrapped figurine, wondering what Taker was up to now.

 

He had gotten his answer about Monica being allowed out of her room: No.  She had to remain hooked up to all these machines and it was killing him to see this little girl like this.  She didn't even look her age and he knew that was sickness eating at her body. 

 

Though she seemed happy, this brought a genuine smile to his face.  Taker listened to her chatter, sitting right next to her bed, feeling her tiny hand squeezing his and answered her whenever she asked a question or he would ask her a question, wondering how something so fragile had this much life.  Monica was so engrossed that she didn't realize when a strange woman walked into the room.

 

“Do you think I could see your motorcycle?  You rode it today, right?”


“’Course I did, lil darlin'.” He rumbled. “And we'll find a way for you to see it.”

 

Her heart instantly warmed at the sight of Taker sitting at this little girl's bedside, holding her hand and talking softly to her in his low rumble.  It was the cutest thing she ever saw, minus the machines and what this little girl was currently going through.  It made one realize that life was too short, especially for kids with these life-threatening diseases.  When she asked to see his motorcycle, Lavani couldn't help grinning and gently tapped her knuckles against the door, having already gotten permission from the staff that she could go to Monica's room.

 

“Sorry to intrude, but I have what you requested, Taker.” Lavani walked toward him, toffee eyes sparkling down at the little girl as she handed over the wrapped gift to Taker. “You must be Monica.” Lavani extended her hand, the little girl taking it and shook it gently. “It's very nice to meet you.”

 

“I've seen you on TV, you come out with the Undertaker.” Monica said after a moment, her grey eyes thoughtful. “You're very pretty.”

 

Taker agreed wholeheartedly, the smile growing bigger as Lavani gently handed Monica the presents.  The larger was the spun glass unicorn, and the other item was yet another piece of jewelry.  A delicate golden charm bracelet with two charms already on it.  A tiny golden unicorn and his Undertaker symbol, something besides the standard signed autograph and numerous pictures the nurses had taken to remember him by.

 

“Thank you for bringin' them darlin'.” He murmured, standing up and stretching, drawing Lavani near him while Monica examined her presents.

 

“Like I wouldn't?” Lavani whispered in reply and leaned against his side while Monica's grey eyes lit up with life, doing her heart good.  She knew this little girl had a very rough road, countless surgeries to try to get rid of her leukemia, but in the end it had won out, which is why she no longer received treatment. “Now Monica, that is a very special unicorn.” Lavani pulled away from Taker to walk over beside her. “It glows in the dark and makes little designs from the special glass it's made out of on the ceiling.”

 

The shopkeeper had explained it to her and Lavani couldn't believe Taker had put this much thought into a gift for this little girl.  All things considered, he could be a very thoughtful man and usually paid attention to detail.  If he was going to do something, he was a firm believer in doing it right the first time around.  Usually, he did slip on occasion.  His green eyes were focused on Monica as Lavani explained about the unicorn, unable to keep himself from grinning when Lavani just looked at him, wondering what was going through her mind right now.

 

Who the hell was this man is what she was thinking because Taker was nearly unrecognizable. 

 

Not that Lavani was complaining or anything because seeing this side of him showed her he had a heart.  Back in his darker days, when he traumatized Ryan, Lavani fully believed this man did not have one and enjoyed tormenting people.  Now, watching him with Monica, Lavani's doubts were slowly diminishing and it didn't help seeing his softer side was a major turn-on.  It was the wrong mindset to be in, but...Lavani wasn't exactly a saint and turned her attention to Monica when the little girl asked her what it was like being with the Undertaker.

 

“It's definitely an experience I will never forget, sweetie.”

 

No, it was not, Taker agreed, knowing damn well that anyone who was fortunate enough to be able to claim having worked with him…well, they never forgot it.  Sometimes that wound up being a good thing, sometimes a bad.  He had every intention of ensuring that Lavani worked with him for a long time to come and it was definitely memorable.  When Monica next asked, in the innocent way children were wont to do, if they were boyfriend and girlfriend, he leaned back against the wall and folded his arms over his chest.  That question caught Lavani off guard as she blinked at the little girl, clearing her throat awkwardly.

 

“No, we're not.” She answered slowly, not daring to look up at Taker for fear of what she might see, keeping her focus solely on Monica. “We just work together.  We're...friends.” That probably wasn't the word to use considering she'd woken up that morning pressed against him in just her panties.  Lavani knew she had overstayed her welcome and decided it was time to take her leave. “I should probably go, I don't want to take your time away from the person you really want to talk to.” She winked, stepping away so Taker could take his place by Monica's bedside again.

 

“I'll see ya tonight darlin'.” Taker called after her, laughing when Monica giggled.

 

“I think she likes you.”


“Think so, lil darlin'?”


“Yes.” Monica nodded, accepting her impression as a definite fact. “Do you like her?”


“Yes.” Taker answered without hesitation, taking back his place beside her bed and decided a change in the topic was in order, not about to discuss relationship things with an eight year old girl. “Did you see the necklace?” He asked, distracting her, not surprised when it worked.

 

All women loved jewelry, it was a universal law.

 

Lavani headed back to the motel with her bags, parking the rental in the lot provided for the customers.  She cut the engine and just sat there for a few minutes, knowing she would always remember this day for the rest of her life.  Monica was an absolute doll, it was such a shame that she wouldn't be here much longer.

 

“Borrowed angel.” She whispered and stepped out of the car, grabbing her bags of items she'd purchased, along with Taker's, and headed inside to go through them. 

 

Lavani set Taker's bag from the jewelry store on the dresser before sitting on the bed and began going through everything she bought.  It was her distraction from the little girl who had stolen her heart within the span of a few minutes.  Taker was definitely doing more appearances like that, Lavani decided, because the side of him she saw today was one she wanted to see more often.

 

Chapter 17

 

Tonight was a drinking night.

 

By the time Taker finally left the hospital, he was in a mood.  He was pleased with how the visit had went, though towards the end he had seen how much it taxed Monica, how tired she was.  She had seemed to enjoy him being there and adored her presents, but after awhile had set them aside simply to focus on him.  That was...different coming from a child.  It was unjust, that was the way he seen it. 

 

She was eight years old and dying, what the hell kind of deity passed that sort of deal onto a little girl?  He had left all his contact information, along with what he had of Lavani's, with all the necessary people, promising Monica he would come see her again and hoped he was able to keep that promise, knowing her time was limited.  He stopped long enough to pick himself up a bottle before heading back to the hotel.

 

“I already grabbed some Jack Daniels during my shopping trip, but I suppose a second bottle won't hurt.” Lavani said once Taker walked in with the brown paper bag that held his liquor, a sad smile on her face. 

 

It was night time, he had literally stayed all day with Monica until the sun set.  Lavani had watched it, after putting everything she'd bought away, not changing yet.  Her cotton shorts and tank top were comfortable enough to sleep in and Lavani was contemplating it, especially after what happened that morning.  Setting two tumblers out -Lavani had bought them since she knew the motel didn't have anything except plastic-, Lavani took the bag from his hand to pull the bottle out, pouring each of them a healthy dose.

 

Grunting, Taker got into the small refrigerator, knowing there was a small bag of ice in there because he had requested one to be placed there this morning.  He had anticipated his evening.  Not saying a word he dropped the bag onto the counter, breaking up the ice before pulling his tumbler towards him along with the bottle.  He added a handful of ice and then capped it off with more whiskey.

 

“Thank you, darlin’.” He murmured after draining half the glass, wiping his mouth off with the back of his hand.

 

“No need to thank me.  I know today wasn't easy for you.  I'm not even gonna ask if you're alright because that would be a stupid question.”

 

Lavani hopped up on the counter to be almost eye level with him, taking the bottle and topped off the tumbler again before doing her own.  Seeing a little girl with so much life as Monica, Lavani couldn't help feeling heartbroken and knew deep down Taker did too, hence the drinking.  Neither agreeing nor disagreeing, Taker simply took another much smaller drink of his whiskey before stepping away from the counter.  Knowing Lavani was quite familiar with his habit of removing shirts as soon as he possibly could, he shed his top quickly, tossing it over the back of a chair.  He followed that up with his boots and socks then stretched his arms over his head, green eyes closing.

 

“Thank you, for bringing that stuff in today, Lavani.” Taker knew he had thanked her once, but he wanted to do it again. “She fell asleep with that unicorn right on her bedside stand.”

 

“Anything for an angel like her.” Lavani stated, meaning what she said and smiled at the thought of Monica falling asleep with the unicorn right beside her. “She loved it, especially after I explained what else it did.  Hell, it could've been made out of plastic and she would've loved it because it was from her hero.”

 

She didn't move from the counter and simply sipped her own tumbler thoughtfully, leaning back against the cabinet.  She tried not noticing this man was shirtless again.  It didn't matter how many times and how many nights she spent with Taker, it never failed to amaze her how just the sight of him shirtless boiled her from head to toe.

 

“Your other items are on the dresser that you asked me to get for you.”

 

It took him a moment to process that, then Taker remembered that he had asked her to visit the jewelry shop for more than the unicorn and charms.  He walked over to the dresser and spotted the two necklace boxes, opening the first one and nodded at the sight of his chain.  He then turned his attention to the other, slightly wider and opened that as well before turning towards her, holding it out.

 

“It's for you, darlin'.”

 

It was just her luck to be taking another longer swig of whiskey when he said that, which made Lavani promptly spew it right back out, toffee eyes widening. “What?!”

 

He couldn't be serious.  There was no way in hell he'd gotten her jewelry!  Lavani wiped her mouth off and swallowed hard when he merely held it out to her, not saying a word.

 

“You're serious aren't you?” It made sense with all the different colors of charms that went with the necklace and Lavani hopped off the counter to wash her hands in the sink, not taking it from him. “What would possess you to get me something that expensive, Taker?”

 

Lavani couldn't help asking, completely floored that he'd gone to the trouble to buy her something, especially jewelry.  First, she had spewed her whiskey all over the place and then she had mentioned the word expensive.  Taker didn't know whether to be amused or annoyed. Most women would have simply accepted the gift, possibly accompanied with squeals of delight, and not questioned it.  Once again, Lavani had broken the traditional mold he had come to expect.  Yet another reason he wanted her for.

 

“Expensive is usually not an issue with a gift, Vani.” Taker said dryly. “The thought is, and I wished to buy you somethin'.”

 

When she didn't even approach him, Taker sighed and walked towards her, backing her into the counter.  He kept her there while he pulled out the chain and selected a stone that set off her eyes, sliding it onto the chain before fastening it around her throat.  All Lavani could do was look down at the beautiful stone that hung around her neck, a blue sapphire cut in the shape of a teardrop, like all the other charms.  It was gorgeous.  Lavani wasn't sure what to say or even do, slowly looking up into his fathom green eyes.

 

“I'm not ungrateful, this is just...this is the nicest thing anyone has given me and...” Hell, she didn't expect Taker of all people to buy her something like this, it was shocking.  She hoped he understood why she reacted the way she had. “Thank you, Taker.  It's beautiful.”

 

Gently, he cupped her chin in the palm of his hand and raised her face up so he could look into her eyes, mostly checking for tears. “You're welcome.” Taker rumbled, tracing the pad of his thumb along her full bottom lip.  For a moment, he was tempted, very tempted, to bend down and kiss her, but...he remembered the last time in the cemetery and, honestly...tonight he wasn't in the mood for rejection.  Stepping back, he returned to his tumbler and drained it, glancing at her from over his shoulder. “I figure if you coordinate the pendants with your current colors...you should have worn them all in...about ten years.” He teased gently, making the joke more out of habit then anything, dropping down on the edge of the bed.

 

“Oh you're hilarious.” Lavani remarked, rolling her eyes.

 

There was no malice in her tone.  In truth, she found it thoughtful that he would get her all different colors because of how serious she took her color coordinating.  He paid attention.  Most men didn't and that was just one more quality that made her want him more.

 

‘Damn it...’ She thought, finishing off her own tumbler while fingering the charm between her fingers, wondering what would happen if they did have sex.  Could she really do it once like she had with...Lavani shook that out of her head immediately, already knowing the answer. ‘I won't end up like Ryan.’ Lavani thought sadly.

 

That was Lavani's worst fear in all of this, but Taker was not making the resisting easy.  He had drained his glass, but made no move to go refill it.  Instead, he laid out on the bed, folding his arms beneath his head as he studied her.  She looked like she was having an inner struggle and he knew that feeling all too well.

 

“You look like yer havin' issues, darlin'.” He murmured, loud enough for her to hear rolled onto his side, propping his head on the palm of his hand, elbow resting on the mattress. “You look...sad.” Taker frowned, watching as she walked forward and his green eyes narrowed when she reached for his glass, gathering she was going to refill it and caught her gently by the wrist.  In moments, he had pulled Lavani down onto the bed with him, wrapping his arm around her. “Why do you look sad, Lavani?”

 

“It's just been one of those days.”

 

There was no way Lavani was telling Taker what she was really thinking.  He could never know about her friendship with Ryan, knowing that wouldn't go over well with him.  Being this close to him, Lavani inhaled his intoxicating scent and felt his hand run up and down her side soothingly.  Taker looked like he could use a hug and Lavani saw no problem in doing that as she wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly.  She wanted to say and do so many things to this man, it was baffling and Lavani learned right then and there she had a lot of self-control.

 

For a long while, he was stiff.

 

She was hugging him...and Taker knew it wasn't because she was interested in the fact that they were in a bed together, but because she knew that today had pulled on heartstrings he usually did not possess.  After that long while, he finally wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her hair, pulling her flush against him, though mindful not to squeeze her too hard.  When Taker finally relaxed against her, Lavani couldn't help completely melting against him, every part of her relaxing as well. 

 

She didn't say a word, not wanting to ruin this moment and massaged the back of his neck tenderly with her hand.  Lavani could feel tears sting her eyes and was finally coming to terms with something she'd been fighting off since defecting to Taker from the Corporation.  She was falling in love with him.  The gift just intensified it more.  Lavani was in deep trouble and didn't know how much longer she would be able to hold back how she felt without exploding.

 

When he felt something wet hit his chest, Taker gently pulled away from her, seeing there were tears in those toffee eyes.  A frown creased his brow as he wiped it away gently with his forefinger and caught the second when it came sliding down her cheek, this time popping the digit in his mouth, tasting the tear.  He didn't ask why she was crying and he didn't even attempt to understand it.  Taker simply leaned forward and kissed away the next few tears, resting his cheek against hers, drawing in a deep breath.

 

“Sorry.” She mumbled, slowly pulling away to wipe the tears from her eyes and cheeks, sniffling a little.  Lavani had to get a hold of herself and her emotions because she couldn't be releasing them this way. “I'm such a woman.” She half-joked, trying to ease the tension that suddenly filled between them

 

She sighed when Taker just stared at her with those unreadable green eyes.  Lavani just wanted him to say something, anything, even if it was to berate her.  Maybe drinking with him wasn't a bright idea.  Lavani knew alcohol affected her differently and made her inner emotions come out.

 

“That you are.” Taker murmured, rolling her over so she was on her back, hovering over her.

 

He knew her well enough to know that she was feeling awkward at the moment and figured this would probably put her back on familiar ground, she was more then used to him perving on her.  Green eyes took her in, enjoying the feel of her being underneath him before he got off the bed and walked back to the counter, taking his tumbler with him.  Groaning, Taker rolled his eyes and was more than tempted to adjust himself. 

 

That hadn't been the brightest of moves on his part.

 

Lavani didn't move from the bed, just rolled over since she was already on her side and watched him.  While he enjoyed perving on her, Lavani was more than willingly to get her fill of him as well.  She burned every inch of him into her memory, the way his muscles flexed with every movement.  He wasn't roided out, completely natural and had natural curves on his arms that she would love to run her hands down.  Closing her eyes before she ended up tossing all of her morals and resistance out the window, Lavani fingered the charm around her neck and fell asleep, exhausted from everything that happened today.

 

Taker wasn't surprised when she fell asleep.

 

He simply set up shop at the table, drinking and watching her.  It never failed to amaze him that this woman had absolutely no compunction about relaxing in front of him.  That she trusted him enough to just...sleep like that, as if she knew he wouldn't hurt her.  By the time he was done, he had gone through the rest of the bottle, cracked open the second, buzzed enough to simply shed the jeans and say screw everything else.  He slid into bed with her, though...he was polite enough to not slip under the sheet under tucking her in, instead just sticking with the comforter.

 

Chapter 18

 

All smiles, Lavani walked inside the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, heading down the hallway toward Taker's dressing room.  She'd been gone for two days and was ready to get back to work.  It'd been about six months since Lavani defected from the Faction and joined Taker's side both on and off-screen.  Hard to believe it'd already been that long, feeling as though it was only yesterday that she'd made possibly the greatest or worse decision of her career with the WWF. 

 

The Faction hadn't backed off, but at least Lavani and Taker weren't being attacked on a nightly basis.  After Stephanie was sent to the hospital due to a spinning heel kick to the face, which cracked her cheekbone, the Princess decided never to screw with Lavani again.  So they'd had several months of peace with Taker going after the WWF title, which Dwayne -The Rock- currently held. 

 

Tonight, Taker was in a fatal four-way match against The Rock, Chris Benoit and Kane for the WWF championship and Lavani was accompanying him to ringside.  During her two days off, Lavani had made a decision to get her hair done and now sported lovely wine colored streaks.  She absolutely loved the color and wore skintight light blue jeans that had wine colored rose embroidery on her right thigh along with a black tank top that had 'Deadman Inc' across the front in the same color. 

 

It actually cut off just above her midriff and showed off some of her defined stomach, Lavani had started working out with Taker ever since becoming his assistant so her soft curves were becoming a little more defined.  She left her hair down because she knew being on camera, the ladies in hair and makeup would take care of it.  Lavani actually stopped by there first, waiting for Trish Stratus to finish up silently.

 

Trish's brown eyes snapped to Lavani and a warm smile spread across her face.  She wasn't really well known among her peers and some figured because she was…well...drop dead gorgeous, that she was a total mega-bitch when she wasn't.  She was actually a friendly and nice person, most of the time. Trish did have a bitch streak to her, but...for the most part she considered herself laid back and easy going.

 

“I like the streaks.” She commented, testing the waters, then leaned back and closed her eyes as her face was finished.  Thankfully, her hair was already done.

 

Lavani beamed at the compliment, nodding. “Thanks, your layers look good.  Aren't these ladies the best?”

 

Tiffany blushed while Janet chuckled. “Thanks Vani, the streaks really do look great.”

 

“What made you decide to get them and WHO did them?” As far as Janet knew, Lavani didn't trust very many people with her hair.


“A good friend of mine back home.  She recently opened her own salon and, besides you ladies of course, I trust her.  She didn't disappoint obviously.”


“No, not at all.  You ready for tonight?” Janet was helping Tiffany out since it was a pay-per-view, strictly wardrobe usually, and guided Lavani into her seat to start the makeup while Tiffany started Trish's hair. “How was your two days off?”


“Boring, but it had to be done.”

 

“Lord, you make time off sound like a bad thing.” Trish chuckled, more then used to having her hair done, and didn't even bother with flinching when Tiffany began tousling the waves about her face a little roughly, knowing she was trying to inject just the right amount of volume. “Time off is a good thing, Vani.”


“Mm, I don't know about that, if I was working with Sex-On-Legs, I'd hate my days off too.”


“Wait...who is Sex-On-Legs?” Trish asked confusedly.


“That's what we call Taker.”


“Oh...Oh!”

 

“Janet, that is just wrong.” And very true, Lavani mentally added, leaning her head back while the women giggled.


“Come on, admit you haven't thought about him at least once or twice naked.”


“Or better yet, in the shower.”


“The steam surrounding him.”

 

They were purposefully baiting her and it wasn't working as Lavani merely sat there with the same smile on her face. “He's a gorgeous man and he knows it.  I'm not about to stroke his ego anymore than necessary.”


“HA!  So you admit it!”


“I admit nothing.”

 

“Admitting nothing is the same as silently agreeing.” Trish teased, giving her hair a shake when Tiffany announced she was done. “Perfection as usual.”


“I want to get back to the part about stroking his ego...”


“That is so bad Tiff.  But it does raise a good question...”


“Which is?”


“How big is his...ego, do you think?”

 

Trish had to clamp both hands over her mouth to keep from giggling.


“I have yet to hear a single complaint.”

 

Grinning at the flushed looks that both Janet and Tiffany suddenly sported, Lavani simply winked Taker while her hair was currently teased. “I'm sure you haven't.” She remarked, waving at Trish when she departed from the area giggling. “I figured I'd stop by here first to get the hair and makeup out the way before going to find you.”

 

“I see that.” Taker reached out to finger one of the wine colored streaks, rather liking this.  It suited her much better than the blue. “So, I sincerely hope you were defendin' me and my ego to these vultures.”


“She would admit to nothing.”


“Which means...”


“Yer damn right.” Taker snorted, getting the point they were driving at.  Not saying anything meant one normally agreed.  He winked down at Lavani before stepping back to let her get finished up.

 

“See what I mean?  The man has an ego the size of Jupiter, I'm not admitting to anything for fear of blowing it up more.” If these women only KNEW how many times she'd seen this man naked and slept in his arms...it was amazing that they hadn't had sex yet.  Lavani was pleased she had made her point, nodding when Janet asked if putting loose banana curls in her hair was alright and leaving it down. “I want a bandana though like always.”


“I'm not sure-”


“I have one in my bag, this color is pretty hard to come by.  It's plain, but better than nothing.” She handed the wine colored bandana over to Janet, who merely shook her head at Lavani before continuing the transformation.

 

“She's OCD.” Taker said when Trish, who had stuck around for some reason, looked at him, shrugging.


“Want to wear some eyeliner, for old time's sake?”

 

He snorted, eyeing Tiffany speculatively. “Woman, if you think I'm going to sit down and lean back after the dirty thoughts you've been havin' about me, think again.”


“He's afraid you'll rape him.”


“How do you rape HIM?” Tiffany demanded, literally gesturing at him with a stick of eyeliner.

 

Taker cocked an eyebrow, wondering if these women had been sniffing the hairspray.

 

“Vani, stop giggling.”


“Sorry,” She paused, trying to get herself under control, but it wasn't happening. “She has a point though.”

 

Janet rolled her eyes. “You don't have to encourage her, you know.”


“Hey, even the Deadman needs loving at some point.”

 

Tiffany had suddenly grown four shades of crimson red and excused herself to use the bathroom.


“You are horrible.” Janet commented with a grin.


“Tell me something I don't know, Jannie.” Lavani giggled harder when Janet tightened the curling iron a little too hard on her hair. “I didn't do anything!  I was agreeing with her!”

 

“Janet, let her up for a moment.”


“Uh, why?”

 

Seriously?  There had been a time when Taker wasn't being questioned and he smacked his face, rolling his eyes. “Vani, yer ass is mine later, woman.” He informed her in a growl before walking away.


“I will HAPPILY trade spots with you Lavani.” Tiffany sighed dreamily.

 

“Promises, promises!” Lavani called after him and leaned back while Janet finished her hair before turning to do the makeup.  It was simple black eyeliner with a maroon eye shadow that Janet got as close to the wine color in her shirt and jeans as she could, shimmering gloss on her lips, foundation to hide any blemishes on television.  This was a pay-per-view after all. “Thanks ladies, take care.” She walked away, laughing when Tiffany wished her good luck with Taker. “Don't need it, I can handle him.”

 

Winking, Lavani grabbed her bag and headed down the hallway, fingering the silver necklace around her neck that had a maroon teardrop stone hanging from it.  Taker's gift.  She absolutely loved it, only taking it off when she had to shower.  Even then, sometimes she forgot since it became part of her over the past almost six months.

 

“You're just awful Steve, you know that?”


“So they say, honey, so they say.” Steve Austin shook his head with a laugh, walking away from one of the production assistants he had been chatting with.  Turning, he nearly plowed right into... “Lavani?”

 

Steve blinked, looking at the hair and for a moment was confused because that was not the color she had been sporting the last time he had seen her.  But then again, she had always been a weird woman with her six month hair changing color and clothes thing.  When she simply looked up at him, obviously a bit stunned, he quirked an eyebrow.  It took several seconds for Lavani to snap out of her shock at seeing Steve, not having seen him in a year.

 

“Steve.” She smiled when he took a hesitant step forward and Lavani accepted his hug, not believing he was here.  She slowly pulled back, staring up into his blue eyes, hoping this wasn't a mirage. “What in the world are you doing here?  Are you finally coming back to raise more hell?”

 

“That's the game plan, honey.” Steve drawled, blue eyes crinkling at the corners as he smiled down at her, not letting go as his hands settled on her waist comfortably.  Though he did step back enough to give her some semblance of space. “When are you finally goin' to do some gold streaks?” He asked, raising one hand up to take a lock of wine colored hair between his fingers, eyes flickering between that and her own toffee colored orbs. “Bring out the shade of them gorgeous eyes of yers.”

 

“Probably next time.”

 

Lavani picked wine because it fit better with Taker's current image, even though she secretly did want to do amber or gold.  Amber more than likely since it would look more natural than gold.  It felt great seeing Steve here again, Lavani missed him more than she was willing to admit.  He was the only person she could talk to, besides Adam and Jay, about the Faction since he hated them as much as she did...if not more.

 

“I'm so glad you're back.  Things haven't been the same without the Rattlesnake around here.  How've you been?”

 

“I've been good, honey, real good.”

 

Steve occasionally tuned into the show, but for the most part, everything he knew was from what he had heard and been told upon discussion of his return.  So he knew who she was currently working with and had to wonder which of them had lost their marbles: Her or Him.  He never thought Lavani would leave the Faction, especially Vince McMahon, but it was true what they said about the WWF: Anything could happen.

 

“How about you?”

 

Steve laced his arm through hers, guiding her towards the cafeteria, figuring they could both do with a drink and a moment to catch up.  Contrary to popular belief, he did not exist solely on beer.  He had the occasional water.  Not to mention, seeing Lavani again was stirring something inside of him again that Steve thought was long forgotten.  He wondered if she felt the same way.

 

“Never better, especially now that I'm away from the Faction.” Lavani answered without hesitation, walking with him, and had a feeling he already knew she was now on-screen with the Undertaker. 

 

She wasn't going to bring it up if he didn't because the men did not like each other at all.  Their feud back in 1999 was bloody, brutal and intense, especially their First Blood match at the pay-per-view Fully Loaded.  Lavani would never forget that night as long as she lived...for several reasons.

 

“How's Calaway treating you?” Steve asked, knowing she wouldn't mention it without him bringing it up first, she was sensitive that way. 

 

It was no big secret that he despised Taker and Taker reciprocated the feeling.  They had a mutual hatred of each other, which always showed through whenever they were in each other's presence, on-stage or not.  He knew what a bastard the Deadman could be and, if for one second, thought that he was mistreating Vani in some way...well, Steve would make that Deadman gimmick a reality.

 

“Very well actually.  I'm happy working with him.” Lavani knew better than to grin like an idiot when it came to talking about Taker with Steve.  She didn't understand why the two men despised each other, but it really wasn't any of her business. “I'm gonna tell you the same thing I told those two fools Adam and Jay before you even start, Steven.” She only used his full name when she became deadly serious, her toffee eyes mirroring it. “Until he gives me a reason to fear him or anything, there's no reason for me to.  He never did anything to me back then.  And he gave me the perfect opportunity to get away from the Faction.  I owe him a lot, he helped me and I'm grateful.”

 

“Whoa honey, slow down, I wasn't going to bite your head off or tell you to be careful.  You're a big girl, you can handle yourself.” Steve chuckled, not offended in the slightest by the slight attitude that came with that warning, gathering damn quickly from not only the quick leap to 'Taker's defense -as if the ass needing defending-, but the tone of voice she used as well as the look in her eyes. “If you're happy and he's treating you right, that's all I care about.” That wasn't totally true, but Steve wasn't about to start off their reconnection on a bad note either.  He wasn't an idiot.

 

“He's easy to work with, not really demanding and treats me with respect.  It's all I can really ask for honestly.  And I wasn't biting your head off, I was simply telling you because I know you and Taker don't exactly get along.” They hated each other actually, but Lavani wasn't about to say that. “I didn't mean to jump the gun, but I also didn't need to hear the warnings about what kind of person he is and be reminded of what he's done because I already know the risk I'm taking.  And it's worth it.  Because honestly if I had to hear Big Nose talk about his dick one more time, I was going to cut it off.”

 

“Hunt still talkin' that shit?” Steve rolled his eyes in exasperation when she nodded, noting the disgusted look on her face. “That jackass has the smallest pecker out of anyone in the locker room.” He snorted, having had the misfortune of seeing Hunter in all his naked 'glory' in a locker room in Germany.  Not the best locker room he had ever been in and sure as hell not the fondest memory he possessed. “Shit, mental image...” He groaned.

 

Lavani giggled softly, patting Steve gently on the back.  Steve also hated Hunter as much as anyone else in the locker room.  He only got along with a few select people and Lavani was fortunate enough to be one of those.

 

“Want me to get your mind off of it?” When he nodded, Lavani decided to take pity on him, leaning over so her mouth was right by his ear. “The night of Fully Loaded.” She whispered, knowing only he could hear her and what it meant. 

 

It worked like a charm when Steve smirked back at her, blue eyes glinting.  That had definitely taken his mind off of the Hunter incident and put something else much more...pleasurable in there.  When Lavani started moving away, he wrapped a tanned, muscular arm around her waist and drew her back against him.

 

“Well now honey,” Steve drawled, bending down so his forehead was pressed against hers, his nose nearly brushing against hers, their lips only inches apart. “You definitely got my mind on other things...”

 

“That was the whole point of mentioning it.”

 

Lavani's one night stand had been with none other than Steve Austin, right after the Fully Loaded pay-per-view.  She was in the hotel bar having a few drinks and trying to get rid of a migraine Hunter had given her.  He'd beaten Dwayne and couldn't stop bragging about how he was going to be the next WWF champion. 

 

Steve met up with her with a heavily bandaged head, they had shots and one thing lead to another.  It was the only time Lavani had slept with anyone in the company and, as pleasurable as it was, she vowed never to let it happen again.  Though the look in Steve's eyes told her he remembered that night as well and Lavani knew she had to squash it before he thought they could have a round two.

 

“I have to get going.” She extracted herself from his arm and stood up from the table, smiling. “Welcome back Rattlesnake.” Winking, Lavani walked out of the cafeteria and headed to Taker's locker room.

 

All Steve could do was watch as she walked away and shake his head.  Lavani had made it abundantly clear the morning after their one night stand that that was all it was and would ever be: A onetime deal.  And at the time, he had been fine with that.  Well now that she had gone and rekindled some old flames...Steve wasn't entirely sure if one night had been enough.

 

Chapter 19

 

“Taker?” Lavani called out when she entered the locker room and frowned when there was no response, wondering where he was. 

 

His bags and everything where in here so that was a good sign.  Lavani shrugged, figuring he was probably getting ready for his match that night and sat down on the bench to start looking over his schedule.  Being gone for two days, with as popular as Taker was, Lavani knew she had some work to catch up on.  Ever since Taker's visit with Monica, Lavani made it a point to make him do an appearance with one of the wish foundations at least once a week, knowing he enjoyed it far more than regular signings and whatnot.

 

As if he didn't know Steve Austin was back? 

 

It was a very rare occasion indeed when Taker wasn't aware of something, or someone, especially when it related to HIS yard.  He had gone for a stroll, managing to stay out of sight, which was much easier than most people would imagine, and had seen a few interesting things.  All of them promised deadly consequences for someone down the road.

 

Lavani couldn't help thinking back to that night with Steve, the guilt slowly welling up inside of her.  She'd watched that match, remembering all the hype and build up for it.  Mainly because she wanted to see Steve win so Vince would have to leave the company.  That didn't last long, but the time Vince had been away was bliss for Lavani.  She remembered how worried she was seeing both men busted open and how turned on the match made her. 

 

She could be sick and twisted, though that was her little secret. 

 

When she went drinking that night, all Lavani could think about was Taker and it bugged her because she didn't understand why.  She didn't know him at the time and he'd tortured her friend, yet she thought he was still incredibly hot with the long beard and all.  When Steve approached her and asked if he could buy her a drink, Lavani couldn't say no and Steve kissing her just fueled the fire her body had been lit on.  So she had basically used Steve for sex to quench that fire since Taker couldn't.  Now that she thought about it, Lavani was a terrible person and had used Steve like a cheap piece of meat, making her sigh heavily.

 

Taker wasn't exactly in the nicest of moods when he finally stormed back into the dressing room, though he did take a moment to inwardly calm himself, knowing he couldn't go in there and take his anger out on Lavani.  Nor could he pull her into his arms, kiss her until she was senseless and then fuck her into oblivion.  Not just yet. 

 

He grunted a greeting before getting to his nightly ritual, shadowboxing.  Something was wrong, Lavani knew it instantly because he'd gone from somewhat playful with the girls earlier to brooding.  She knew him pretty well, but Lavani also knew when to just keep her mouth shut.  Normally, watching this man shadowbox was a treat for Lavani, especially since he was once again bare from the waist up, but given his mood...Lavani kept herself busy, not looking at him.

 

“You have a meeting tomorrow at two with the creative department because they have a new idea for a shirt.” Lavani informed him softly, crossing that off her notepad and stuffed it into her bag when he just nodded. 

 

He was somewhat aware of her, of the fact that she wasn't doing her usual 'checking him out secretively' bit.  Taker was more intent on the opponent he was currently beating the life out of in his mind. “Anything else?” He demanded, never stopping, though his head did turn to the side to stare at her, his schedule usually pretty full these days.

 

Whatever his problem was, Lavani hoped he got it checked before they returned to the motel that night. “Not tomorrow, but you have a signing the day after along with an appearance at a mall afterwards.  I scheduled you for another wish too.” That got his attention and Lavani smiled tentatively. “It's a little boy, I'll have more information for you tomorrow.  Headquarters hasn't sent it over to me yet.  I want you to look this over and if there's any discrepancies with it, let me know so I can get things switched around.”

 

Not right now obviously, but later on when they were alone, Lavani wanted him to focus on the fatal four-way.  Nodding, Taker finally stopped and walked over to the cooler to procure two bottles of water.  The first was poured over his head, rivulets streaming down his neck, shoulders and chest.  The second he drank, downing it in one long swallow before tossing both bottles into the nearby trash bin.

 

“Did you see the note I slipped in the pile about Monica?” Taker asked after a moment, watching as she shuffled through it. “She's...gettin' worse, so clear a day this week for me; I want to go see her.” Because it would probably be the last time he did and he had gotten attached, against his better judgment.

 

Lavani frowned when she heard that and read the note, closing her eyes, letting out a shuddering sigh. “Alright, I'll make it for Thursday.  You were supposed to do a radio interview, but she's more important.  I'll make the calls and get it straightened out.  That's Thursday, by the way.  You'll have to fly in to see her and then fly back to make it to the house show, unless you just don't want to attend it.” When he nodded, Lavani jotted a note down, doing whatever Taker wanted.

 

The house show could go on without him as far as Taker was concerned, though he didn't say it out loud, well aware that Lavani seemed to be on tenterhooks right now. “You seem nervous, darlin'.” He observed finally, walking over to look down at his schedule, which looked much less annoying now that she had sorted it out. “Everythin' alright?”

 

“I don't know, is it?”

 

Lavani looked up into his eyes, raising a brow.  There was no tint in her voice, she was honestly curious what was wrong with him.  It wasn't that Lavani was nervous so much as concerned about what suddenly put Taker in this brooding mood.

 

“I mean, you were playful with me and the girls earlier while I was getting ready for tonight and now you're not.  You seem...upset or maybe irritated.”

 

“Upset.” Taker admitted honestly. “Got to thinking about Monica.” That part was only half-honest, but he was such a damn good liar that sometimes he almost fooled himself. “So, because I seemed to be in a mood you went into one as well?  You weren't oglin' me like you usually do.” He smirked when she scoffed, purposefully raising an arm and flexing a muscle.

 

“Keep it up and I'm going to deflate your ego.” Lavani warned, shaking her pen at him threateningly, though the amusement shined in her toffee eyes.  There was the Taker she got to know and secretly loved. “And I don't ogle you.  I have no idea what you're talking about, Deadman.” Lavani had learned to play innocent really well with Taker, knowing sometimes he didn't know if she was serious or not, which played in her favor. “Now get busy, you got a WWF title to win and then maybe I'll 'ogle' you.”

 

“Wait darlin', one more thing now that you've mentioned ego...” He drawled, stroking his chin thoughtfully, green eyes flashing with wicked amusement as he recalled the conversation he had walked in on figuratively earlier between the four women. “Why admit to nothin'?” Lavani had seen him naked several times, got woken up on more than one occasion to his 'ego', and knew for a fact he was better endowed then most men.

 

“Because it's a free country and I can.” Lavani retorted, refusing to stroke his ego because the man had a big enough head as I was. “Would you stop staring at me like I just killed your puppy and get back to your warm-up?”

 

She didn't have to tell anyone anything about how he was in the bedroom because, chances were, they already knew.  Not that she knew sexual wise, but Taker definitely would be able to use his equipment in the bedroom.  If she kept staring at her with those damn eyes, Lavani was going to make Taker miss his match, wishing she was sitting on an igloo right about now.

 

“You didn't kill my puppy, darlin', but you may have impaired my chances of ever gettin' it up again.” Taker snorted, smirking when she just scowled at him. “Sorry Vani, you know I'm just teasin'.” He reached out to pat her head before turning to go finish getting around for his match. “With you around, I'm always at the ready.” He threw over his shoulder, ducking the half empty bottle of water that came flying his way, laughing.

 

“That's nice to know.” Lavani muttered, not amused by his teasing because he was simply making the fire inside of her erupt. “And if you pat my head like that again, I'll break your hand.”

 

She smiled sweetly, though it didn't reach her eyes, glaring when he just laughed harder at her idle threat.  Lavani wasn't a child, if he wanted to touch her, he could do a lot better than a simple pat on the head.  There were other areas of her body that needed attending...Lavani stood up and walked past him, ducking while he shadow boxed to grab her water she chucked at him, downing the rest of it.

 

Considering that there were other places he would have preferred to pat, or simply touch and he hadn't, Taker figured he deserved points for behaving.  As it was, her threat of breaking his hand didn't faze him.  He didn't doubt she wouldn't give it her best try, but...not likely. 

 

After being adequately warmed up, Taker began the process of gearing up, focusing his attention on the fatal four-way.  When it was time to go out for the match, Lavani was a little surprised that Taker wasn't riding his motorcycle out to the ring.  Then she figured the fight would spill out of the ring and Taker didn't want his bike damaged.  Not that she blamed him. 

 

When his music hit, they walked out and stood on the ramp before walking down to the ring.  She clapped for Taker while he slipped between the ropes and saluted the fans, staying on the outside letting him have the spotlight.  She was basically out there for sex appeal and didn't want to stay in the back by herself in case the Faction decided to screw with her again.

 

Sex appeal in spades, but then again, she was also a bit of a distraction and one that he knew certain opponents of his would probably try to exploit.  Which meant he was going to have to take them out as quickly as possible.  Most were smart enough to leave her the hell alone, especially since the last person who got physical with her had gone to the ER for a broken eye socket. 

 

However, not everyone was that damn smart.

 

If Lavani knew what Taker thought of her as far as being out there with him, she would be inclined to point he wanted her out there in the first damn place!  But since she didn't, Lavani remained all smiles as the match got underway, watching it closely.  She didn't cheer Taker on because she didn't want to distract him, knowing he didn't need it. 

 

The man was perfection in the ring, or damned near.  Though, when Benoit grabbed a steel chair and struck Taker with it, she was pissed, especially the match ending with Benoit pinning Taker to the mat.  Lavani however had noticed something the official hadn't.

 

“His foot was on the rope!!” She shouted out, scowling.

 

“Shut up and mind your own business, wench!”

 

Lavani went to say something when Commissioner Mick Foley’s music hit and he came out, stating that because Taker’s foot being on the bottom rope, the match was being restarted.  She stumbled back as Benoit shouted profanities and slid out of the ring with the chair, proceeding to hit both Taker and Kane with it repeatedly.  All she could do was stand there watching in horror, rushing over to him as soon as Benoit went on the attack in the ring with The Rock.

 

“Get up, come on!” Lavani whispered urgently, trying to get him back in the ring while Kane remained dazed, not concerned with him. 

 

She smiled when Taker began stomping Benoit repeatedly and then picked the punk up, choke slamming him.  Foley had actually redeemed himself a few notches, but he still had a long way to go, the man was still an idiot.  Taker was beyond pissed at this point, really not appreciating the chair shots from the not so pleased Benoit.

 

Then he went straight through livid when Rock pulled him away from Benoit as he was going for the pin, following that up with a blow to the jaw the minute he was out of the ring.  He stumbled away, shaking his head and turned around in time to see Kane pulling Rock out of the ring and slid back in.  He was greeted by a boot to the gut, Chris had apparently gotten his second wind.

 

There was so many things going on at one time, Lavani was having a hard time keeping up with it all.  Somehow Rock had gotten back in the ring away from Kane and Kane had pulled Taker out of the ring away from Benoit.  So now Taker and Kane were brawling on the outside while that left Benoit and Rock in the ring. 

 

Rock ended up hitting his finishing maneuver, The Rock Bottom, and pinned Benoit for the victory.  Lavani stayed out of the way as Taker kept fighting with Kane after the match, seeing Benoit wasn't happy with her either while Rock celebrated in the ring.  She did the first thing she could think of and that was grab a steel chair, deciding she would be cleaning Benoit's clock if he so much as made an attempt to touch her.

 

When Benoit actually began approaching Lavani with deadly intentions in his eyes, Taker started for them, green eyes widening dangerously.  If the Rabid Wolverine was blaming Vani for the fact that he hadn't won the title like he apparently thought, then he was barking up the wrong tree.  That was all on Foley. 

 

She had just spotted the mistake and called the ref on it.

 

Before he could make it over, Kane grabbed him and whipped him around, he automatically lashed out with a boot.  Really hoping if Lavani swung that chair, she made it count.  While Kane was doubled over, he grabbed a handful of the other man's hair before driving Kane face first right into the guardrail.