The softly voiced command halted Molly in her tracks. She'd thought she was alone in the dressing room. She certainly hadn't expected to be sharing it with a male. Looking over her shoulder, she sought to locate the intruder. As she did so, Raven stepped out of the shadows.
"You!" Oddly, she felt more exasperated than frightened. "What do you want?"
He stepped a little closer to her, "I-"
She held up an imperious hand. "No, wait. Let me guess. You did Pride and you did Greed. *I'm* the lucky girl whose been chosen to be Gluttony!' She twirled around, exhibiting her black and white clad form. "I must say, you couldn't have made a better choice. Look at these thighs! Look at my butt! I-"
Raven grabbed her hard by the shoulders. Her diatribe faded away as she looked up into his furious eyes. She opened her mouth to say something else, but thought better of it when he shook her slightly.
"Don't *ever* say anything like that again," he growled warningly.
"Or you'll what?" She must be insane to antagonize him like this, but she couldn't seem to stop herself. She was fed up. She'd had enough of dark matches and being mocked. Of having her pants pulled off and of being slapped around by Stacy of all people. She'd had it. This was just the final straw. "What are you going to do, Raven? You can't insult me, I've heard it all. You could hit me, but I've been hit before. There aren't too many other options open for you. You're an outcast, like me. There isn't *anything* you can do to me."
His grip on her tightened painfully even as he shouted, "I don't want to hurt you!"
Molly stared at him pointedly until he realized what he was doing and loosened his grip. After her outburst, some of the anger had dissipated. It wasn't really Raven's fault. Hell, he'd had his share of being mocked and would probably hear much more now that he was back on Raw after his exile to Heat. "What do you want?"
He stared at her for a moment, seemingly making a decision. Then he took a step back and jerked his chin at the wall. "Sit down over there."
Rolling her eyes, Molly obeyed him. 'Might as well see what he's up to. God knows this is the most interesting thing to happen to me in months.' She seated herself on the floor, back against the wall, and waited.
Raven looked down at her, eyes dark with some unidentifiable emotion. Then, without warning, he lay down next to her and rested his head in her lap.
'Okay, *this* is weird.' She stared straight ahead, waiting for whatever he was planning to do next.
Evidently he wasn't planning to do much of anything except lie there. She raised an eyebrow and looked down at his still form. He was breathing but that was the only spark of life showing. 'This is very weird.' For lack of anything better to do, she took a good look at him. "Jeans? What made you abandon the skirt?" She frowned when she realized her tone wasn't quite as acerbic as she had intended.
"Shhh..." he breathed softly. Then, reaching out blindly, he took her hand and placed it against his head.
His hair was soft, Molly noted. Especially since he seemed to have given up on those bizarre braids. 'New look for a new year. Maybe I should try that too.' Without really thinking about it, she ran her fingers through his hair, stroking him like she would a cat.
For the first time, she noticed how tense he was, how stiffly he held himself against her. For the first time in a long time, she began to feel sorry for someone other than herself. She placed her hands on his neck and shoulder, trying to massage away some of the tension. His breath caught, but otherwise he didn't react.
Seeking to comfort this strange man, Molly slid her fingers into his hair, scratching her short nails lightly against his scalp. "It's ok," she murmured, not really knowing what she was saying or why she was saying it. "Everything's going to be fine."
With that he whimpered and rubbed the side of his face against her leg. 'Like an animal,' she reflected. 'Is this what you wanted from me then? Just someone to touch you?'
She ran her hand soothingly down his arm. When she reached his wrist he quickly laced their fingers together. Molly continued to stroke him with her free hand. Was this really the same man she'd been so terrified of two years ago? The same man who made people eat sandwiches he'd stepped on? Here he seemed so... sad. She couldn't help but feel pity for him. Was he lonely enough to seek comfort from a woman he didn't even know, just because she was a misfit too?
As it hearing her thoughts Raven stirred a little and whispered, "I watched you."
Her hand stilled momentarily. "You watched me? When?"
"All the time. In WCW. Here. All the time."
"You mean, like, on TV?" She hoped that was all he meant. Otherwise she was even more oblivious than she thought.
He shook his head slightly. "Followed you."
She stopped moving entirely. 'My very own stalker. Thanks Mom! That's just what I wanted for Christmas! Dear God...'
He was still talking, not seeming to notice her discomfiture. "Made sure nobody hurt you. Nowinski wanted to. Made him go away."
There was one mystery solved. She'd been wondering why Chris just suddenly lost interest in her. She'd assumed he started listening to her ever-unkind press. 'Guess not.'
But wait... "You weren't even on Raw then. How did you-"
He shrugged as best as he could while lying down. "People don't look into shadows."
Good grief, he really *had* been following her all this time. Up until a very short while ago, Molly would have found that creepy in the extreme. Now... well it was still creepy. But at least he seemed harmless enough. "Why?"
She started stroking him again as he replied, "You're so very beautiful. And so sweet. But you're dark like me too."
Snorting softly, she said, "Sweet? I'm not sweet anymore."
"You are right now," he corrected her gently.
Dammit, he was right. Evidently there was some core of essential Molly-ness that she would never quite get rid of, no matter how hard she tried to be ruthless. She always had liked the underdog, the downtrodden. It was probably why she'd fallen for Spike.
She snorted again as she thought about his words. Beautiful. Sweet. He sounded like a teenager with a crush. This was Raven who spouted poetry and spoke in riddles? Then she thought about the meaning behind those words and realized what it must have taken for him to say them. She *was* like him. She hid behind her purity; he hid behind big words and arrogance. This vulnerability, she figured, was something very few people ever got to see. "Thank you."
He squeezed her hand. "You're welcome."
Molly wasn't sure how long they sat there in silence before Raven turned over to look up at her. With fingers that trembled, he reached out to caress her face. Molly leaned into the touch, eyes fluttering shut.
They immediately popped back open as she felt a pair of warm lips press gently against her own. He pulled back slightly, before doing it again. Unlike some of the other men in her life, he didn't try to part her lips or deepen the kiss. Instead he kissed her chastely, seemingly content just to have his mouth touching hers. Hesitantly, she raised a hand to his face and kissed him back.
He pulled away after a moment and looked deeply into her eyes, this time with an expression she did recognize. "Lust, then? Instead of Gluttony- am I Lust?"
Raven smiled faintly. "Never that. You're above all that."
Was that an insult? Was he saying that she thought she was too good for anybody? There had to be a trick in all of this somewhere. Raven simply did not do things like this.
That fact didn't seem to deter him. He leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss to the side of her neck. "My soul screams your name," he whispered, not looking at her. "It's too intense for friendship, too pure for lust."
Molly tried to get a look at his averted eyes. Not friendship, not lust, that only left... but no. He couldn't possibly be saying that he loved her. Could he?
He pressed his lips to her forehead in a long caress that was more of a benediction than a kiss. Then he stood up and began backing away from her. "I shouldn't have come. I just wanted... I wanted to touch you. Just for a minute. Have you touch me. I shouldn't- Goodbye Molly."
By the time she had regained her wits and her feet, Raven was nearly to the door. "Wait!" she cried, darting forward and catching his wrist. "Raven... Scott... I-"
He smiled bitterly at her use of his given name. "I'll bring you down, Molly. I won't mean to, but I will. It's better like this. Goodbye."
As suddenly as he had appeared, Raven was gone. Molly blinked, wondering what on earth had just happened. Raven- the birdboy, the freak, the exile- was he nothing more than what he'd shown her? This sad, desperately lonely man, was that the real Raven?
She should be relieved that he was gone, she told herself. He'd stalked her, invaded her privacy... 'But he never hurt me. The ninja girl thing doesn't really count, that was business. He's never made fun of me like the rest of them. He even protected me.' An hour ago, if she'd even bothered to think about Raven, she would have said that she couldn't stand him, that his arrogance was appalling. Now she wasn't so sure.
'He can be a bastard. With the sandwiches and making fun of Jackie and the general stepping all over people. But if that's just an act...' It could easily be an act. She should know. It wasn't as though she *liked* wearing frumpy clothes and insulting the other divas. It had just sort of... happened. She'd wanted to toughen up so she could get ahead and she'd gone a little too far. Now she didn't know how to get back. It could be the same for him.
'Maybe we can help each other.' Molly realized that her decision had already been made. Raven seemed to need her, even love her. Perhaps in time she could love him back. If he kept saying things like he had earlier, it wouldn't be much of a struggle. Besides, he was the first person in a very long time who'd made her feel anything at all. When she was with him, something inside her came alive. She was already addicted to that.
Naturally, once she had made up her mind, Raven proved impossible to find. 'It's been ten minutes, how far could he get?' Of course if he'd been following her around for the past four years he must be fairly good at being invisible. 'He could be looking at me right now and I wouldn't even know it.' Strangely the thought sent a rather pleasant shiver through her as she wondered what exactly he'd watched her do over the years. 'It's not my fault. I didn't instigate it. I didn't know. If he saw me... do anything, if he enjoyed it, it's not my fault. I'm not bad.'
Molly put the thought out of her head, concentrating on more important things. If he'd been stalking her, he'd probably still be close, just out of habit. What was it he'd said? 'People don't look into shadows.' She froze in place in the middle of the hall, closed her eyes, and reached out with her senses. Where would he be? She turned, eyes still closed, to the dark corner where the door that bisected the corridor met the wall. Opening her eyes, she saw nothing. With a sigh she started to turn away, then jerked her head back. 'Look into the shadows, Molly, not just at them.'
She squinted slightly, then smiled. He really was very good. Stepping forward, she held out a hand that Raven took hesitantly. "Still following me?"
He ducked his head, abashed. "I'll stop. I'm sorry. I just couldn't help it."
Smiling brilliantly, Molly shook her head. "I don't want you to stop."
"Good." He laughed ruefully. "I'm not sure that I can. I-"
She placed a single finger against his lips to stop him. He swallowed convulsively, then looked at her with wide, uncertain eyes. Moving her hand to cradle his face, she let her smile fade into a more tender look. "Maybe I can bring you up instead. Did you ever think about that?"
Wordlessly, he shook his head.
"Maybe you should start."
"Maybe I should," he breathed before pulling her tightly into his arms and burying his face in her hair. Molly smiled into his chest. Rav- Scott, she had to start thinking of him as Scott, couldn't bring her down. She couldn't possibly go any lower than she already was. But maybe, just maybe, they could help each other get back up.