Next To You


Part 1




“Maria… Maria…”


Maria shook her head, smiling automatically at the cameraman. “Sorry, Roger, I zoned out there for a moment.”


“I noticed.” He grinned at her, glancing down at the LCD screen to review the footage. “Perfect, I don’t think we’ll need to do another shoot, this one should be fine.”


“You sure?” John casually draped his arm around Maria’s shoulders, oblivious to the shiver that ran through her slight frame. “I don’t mind puckering up again.” He made kissy noises by her ear, laughing when she lightly elbowed him.


“Put your lips away, John.” She chided, turning to smack his chest with a limp hand; laughing when his blue eyes crinkled at the corner, the smile on his own handsome face making her heart give a painful little lurch.


He puckered them, bending down; still making the kissy noises. At the last minute, he pulled away, rolling his eyes. “You’re no fun, you’re supposed to kiss me back.”


She was staring at his lips.


Roger shrugged when John looked at him.




“Give it up already and just GO there.”


“It’s not that easy, Mickie.”


“Sure it is.” Mickie shrugged, running a brush through her brown hair. “You like him, there’s a really good chance he likes you. You walk up, ask him out and hope for the best.”


“Gee, when you say it like that…”


“It’s not that hard Maria.” Mickie said, turning to stare at her friend. “If you don’t say something soon, you might lose your chance. Good looking guy like John, he’s not going to be single forever you know.”


“I know.”


“I mean, he’s nice; easy on the eyes, funny… Charming, sweet…” Mickie watched Maria’s face intently, not surprised to see the dreamy expression Maria was now sporting. “And his ass, it’s just so… snatchable, you know? I could literally reach out with both hands and just SQUEEZE.”


Maria was now frowning.


“I know a lot of girls who think the same thing I do, maybe-“






“Hey John, got a minute?”


John looked up from his duffel bag –in which he was trying to stuff his gear- and flashed Maria a smile. “Sure kid, what’s up?”


Ignoring the ‘kid’, she stepped into the room and closed the door behind her; chewing on her lower lip nervously. “I’ve been thinking and…” She trailed off to watch with an arched eyebrow as he made another attempt at folding his shoes into the bag. “Here, let me do it.”


Holding his hands up, John stepped away from the bag. He watched in amusement as she began pulling his clothing and everything else out, not so amused when he seen she was folding them. “What are you doing? They’re dirty.”


“I know, I can smell.” Maria wrinkled her nose. “But if you want everything to FIT, then you can’t just stuff it in there.”


Groaning, he moved to help her; watching her small hands seemingly make such short work of the job he had spent five minutes on. “I give up, women are the smarter sex.”


“Well I could have told you that.” She giggled, zipping the duffel bag up and patted the top. “There you go.”


“Maria, I love you.” He sighed gratefully. “So, what’s up?”


“Oh…” She hesitated, having been mercifully distracted and was now back to the task on hand.


Asking him out.


What did she have to be nervous about? She wasn’t ditzy like her on-screen appearances tended to suggest and she knew she was pretty. She had been told she was funny and a good listener, all those traits made her an attractive person, right?


Well, they hadn’t done anything for her confidence.


“I was wondering if-“


“John, you ready?”


They both looked towards the door when there was a soft knock followed by a woman with dirty blond hair poking her head in. She hesitated when she seen Maria, smiling uncertainly.


“Yeah, Dee, hold on.” John held up a finger, still staring down at Maria; his blue eyes intent. “Wondering if?” He prompted softly.


Maria slowly turned her gaze from the woman –Dee- back to him and shook her head. “Nothing, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to keep you.”


John started to say something but the words died on his tongue when she all but ran out, shaking his own head and inwardly sighed.


“Was I interrupting?”


He wrapped an arm around his cousin’s shoulders, his mouth turned down into a frown. “No, I guess not…”


For a moment, he could have sworn she was going to ask him out.


“Damn…” He thought.




“I should have listened.” Maria cried, burying her face in the crook of her elbow.


Melina was thinking ‘yes, you should have’ but even though she had been treated like dirt for the past few weeks, she was a good friend. As a good friend, she didn’t say what she was thinking. Instead, she just patted Maria’s shoulder, rubbing her back and murmured nonsensical words.


“How could he just… I was…”


“Maria, let’s go upstairs and we’ll put in Casablanca, order pizza and drink cheap wine.” Melina suggested, knowing tonight was for the pity party, in the morning it would be Dolph Ziggler bashing.


“I was *this* close to winning-“


Speaking of Mr. Ziggles


Rolling her eyes while cursing silently under her breath, Melina tried pulling Maria out of her seat at the booth they were scrunched in. Why she had allowed Maria to come down to the hotel’s bar/restaurant was beyond her, most of the show’s Superstars tended to come together for a nightcap, winding down and all that.


So she should have been expecting Mr. Ziggles (she was never going to get that out of her mind) to show up sometime. What she HADN’T been expecting was him to have a busty blond on his arm, a woman who possibly used as much hair gel as Dolph himself did.


Well, she hadn’t been expecting him to flout a floozy only hours after breaking up with Maria. She had always pegged Dolph for a sleaze, but Maria hadn’t been keen on hearing it.


Maria was stiffer than a board, her large eyes filling all over again with tears as she watched Dolph and his arm candy walk up to the bar; apparently oblivious to her misery.


“Maria, wait!” Melina called when Maria got up and bolted, groaning out loud. A moment later, she was pouring her still full tumbler of vodka and orange juice over Dolph’s head. “Pig!” She shrieked in her ‘ring voice’, making sure everyone’s attention was on him before chasing after her friend.


Part 2


Maria spent the next day locked in her hotel room with a carton of ice cream. She hadn’t even bothered showering, preferring to sulk in the unmade bed in an old pair of brown sweat pants and one of Dolph’s shirts that he hadn’t bothered reclaiming.


So she was rather upset when she heard knocking on the door; scowling and hurled the TV remote at it. She wasn’t too bothered when it came apart, the batteries had been dead anyway. “Go AWAY, Melina!”


The knocking persisted.


Now she was angry. Letting out a string of curses that would have made a sailor blush and the people who knew her give her odd looks, she clambered out of the bed and stomped to the door; pillow in hand. “I said, leave me the hell alone!” She shrieked as she opened it, beginning to bash the pillow.




The pillow dropped from her hands, shock on her face make-up free face. “John?!”


He held his hands up in a surrendering gesture. “What the hell was that for?”


“I thought you were…” She trailed off, reaching up to tug on the sloppy ponytail she had tossed her hair in, frowning. “Why are you here?”


“I seen what happened with Ziggler.” He said quietly, lowering his hands down and stuck them in the front pockets of his blue jeans. “I wanted to make sure you’re alright.”


“I’m fantastic, John.”


“You don’t look fantastic.”


“Gee, thanks.”


“Maria, don’t, you know I don’t mean it like that. You look like shit.” He said bluntly, gently backing her into the room. “And you’re wearing…”


“I’m out of clean clothes.” She said defensively, folding her arms over the front of the shirt. “Look, I really just want to be left alone, John.”


He arched an eyebrow, his gaze moving from her to the room; finally landing on the half eaten carton of ice cream. “Sulking isn’t healthy.”


“Hello! My boyfriend broke up with me on TV last night! I think I’m entitled to a bit of sulking!”


“I come all this way-“


“I didn’t ask you too!”


“Just to see you, and first you beat me half to death with a pillow-“


“You’ll live.”


“And then scream at me-“


“You’re going to die.”


“And now threaten me?” His blue eyes were crinkled at the corners even though his lips were turned down, hiding his amusement.


Maria seen that, her hands curving into claws at her sides, not amused in the least.


John wasn’t prepared for her shriek of rage, or when she leapt at him. Surprised, he caught her waist and turned his head, avoiding a smack as they went falling backwards. Thank God for the bed, he thought, beginning to laugh when she started slapping his face and chest. “Go ahead, vent on me.”


Maria vented all right. She began cursing all over again, raining words and blows down on him; tears beginning to stream down her face. Every kiss, hug, tender moment, their nights together had meant NOTHING to Dolph. She had meant NOTHING.


John wrapped his arms around Maria when she finally slumped on him, letting her now cry on his sorely abused chest; running his fingers up and down her back and neck soothingly. He could feel her body move with each heart wrenching sob, his own heart breaking for her.


When it seemed she had no more tears to cry, Maria let out a long; shuddering sigh and turned her head so she could breathe. Somewhat, her nose was clogged so she breathed through her mouth; dimly aware the front of his shirt was soaked in tears and possibly snot.


“Here…” John reached onto the night stand and passed her a tissue, slowly helping her to sit up. He took in her red and splotchy face; how puffy her eyes were and yes, the hint of slime beneath her nose.


Maria was more than aware he was staring at her, knowing she looked like Hell but honestly, she didn’t care. Why should she? Obviously she was an undesirable person, look at what had happened. Dolph had broken up with her only to take up with the first blond who had more tits than brains.


“He’s a moron.” John said quietly as if somehow reading her mind. “And he’s going to realize what he let get away was worth more than that gold belt.”


“No, no I’m-“ Maria’s eyes widened when his finger pressed against her lips; her eyes crossing in order to stare down at the digit.




“How are you feeling?”


“Much better actually.”


Melina studied Maria critically, wondering if she was on drugs or something. She looked… insanely happy. She was dressed, hair and make-up done and no hint of ice cream.  “Are you… tripping?” She asked finally.


“Nope, just in a good mood.” Maria chirped, browsing the selection of muffins before opting for a mixed berry, adding that to her bag. She caught Melina staring at her and shook her head, trying not to smile.


How did she explain that John was the reason she was so damn happy?


That he had gone completely out of his way just to come see her and make sure she was alright? That he had spent all day and night with her, listening to her alternate between crying and cursing until there was nothing left to cry or curse about.


Then he had cheered her up.


“Okay, what the HELL has you in such a good mood?” Melina demanded. “I mean, I’m glad you’re in a good mood and all but only two days ago you were…”


“A mess.”


“Yeah, that. So what gives?”


“Oh, nothing.”




“You flew there just to make sure she was alright and DIDN’T bother telling her you’ve been crushing on her for a year now?”


John almost groaned, the look Mickie was giving him wasn’t helping any. “Yes?”


“John Cena you are the DUMBEST man I have EVER known! And I’ve known a lot of dumb men in my time!” Mickie threw her hands up exasperatedly. “Why didn’t you just TELL her?”


“Because she was moping about Mr. Ziggles and I don’t want to be a rebound?” John said with a hint of acid. “Look, even… even if she wasn’t just out of a relationship, I don’t think I’m in her league.”


Mickie arched an eyebrow.


John missed it, now staring at the toe of his sneaker.




“He thinks what?”


“That he’s not in your ‘league’.” Mickie was probably breaking some unwritten friendship law with this phone call but after a week of watching John mooning around, she had HAD it. “I know you’re still getting over-“


“Oh no, Mr. Ziggles isn’t worth anymore of my tears.” Maria giggled. “I’m over him. The jackass wound up with syrup all over his head and had to shave his hair off.”




“Melina and JoMo.”


“Who the hell is JoMo?”


“John Morrison, it’s something Melina and I seen online.”


“Alrighty then…” Mickie cleared her throat. “Anyways, I know you’ve always had a thing for John, and…”


“And now he has a thing for me?” Maria sounded almost amused.






Mickie stared at her cell phone when she got the dial tone, frowning. “Well that wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”




He was going to go crazy at this rate. She was single again. Granted, they were on opposite shows but that didn’t matter, if she’d give him a chance, he’d make sure they worked. Sighing, John stood up; his muscles flexing as he reached for his shirt. He was tired, he hadn’t done so good out in the ring tonight. He was fairly certain he had botched a very easy move.


Maria was going to be the figurative death of him and she wasn’t even here!


“Hey honey, what happened out there?”


Or maybe not.


Masking his surprise, John just shrugged, turning to face the wall as he pulled the shirt on. “Bad night.”


Maria pushed away from the doorframe, stepping into the room. “John, can we talk?” She asked quietly, having a moment of déjà vous as a memory of doing something similar to this presented itself. Only things were a bit different, for example, she knew if she didn’t say something then John probably wouldn’t.


They both had shyness issues or something.


“Sure.” He turned around, hesitating at the determined expression on her face. “Maria?”


She hesitated, the bravery beginning to flee.




“Oh this is just stupid!”


Blue eyes widened when she actually stamped her foot, watching as her face set with an almost determined expression. Before John could say anything, he felt her small hands grabbing the back of his head; pulling him down to her.


How long the kiss lasted, he didn’t know. He had snapped out of his shock and wrapped an arm around her waist; drawing her against his body, the other hand burying itself in her hair as he returned the kiss; deepening it.


When they finally parted for air, Maria’s swollen lips were curved into a smile. She stared at him, trying not to giggle. He was wearing a dreamy expression reminiscent to the one she had sported for that segment all those months ago.


“You are not out of my league, John Cena.” She told him sternly. “And if you think you can just be totally sweet and awesome to me and then NOT ask me out, you’re insane.”


He blinked, coming out of the daze.




“Well what?”


“Are you going to ask me out or not?”


He smiled, chuckling quietly. “Maria, would you like to go out with me?”


Maria appeared to consider it, rolling her eyes upward before kissing him again.


Mickie had been passing by and halted long enough to see the two all wrapped up with each other. About time, she thought as she pulled the door quietly shut, giving them some privacy.