Watching Jenna get Tombstoned was perhaps one of the most awkward things she had ever experienced, Kiri decided. One, because she felt bad for her ex friend, even though she had clearly decided this was all Kiri's fault and demonstrated she didn't care about her. Two, anyone and everyone knew Jenna had it coming for her behaviour. And three, Kiri so, so desperately wanted to work with her idol. Had she stuck by Jenna's side, she would have been front and centre for that Tombstone, and possibly have earned one herself. Kiri watched the scene unfold, watched Jenna lay on the canvas just as directed afterwards. Maybe it was a mark of just how serious she had fucked up that Kiri couldn't see any of Jenna's trademark defiance. Any of her usual back chat and tricks. She didn't realise how distracted she was, as she was walking away from the viewing screen until she almost walked in to Undertaker himself as he came backstage.
"You ok Paygan? You look distracted." He asked as Kiri began to walk off once more. He joined her as she made her way further in to the backstage area.
"I…yeah. Yeah I'm just…processing all this." Kiri managed with a wave of her hand. A hand came down on her shoulder and steered her not towards catering like she had planned, but to a quieter area of backstage.
"So, we have a deal. The Undertaker Tombstoned Jenna. You're going for that title run." He said as they reached an area devoid of cameras, and pretty much everyone else. Kiri sat upon a nearby equipment crate and Mark leaned against one opposite her
"I can't do that…" Kiri began, but Mark shook his head.
"That's not what I want to hear."
"I can't, I've never held a belt before." Kiri protested. She shook her head. "It wont matter anyway because Jenna-"
"Who gives a fuck about Jenna?" asked Mark, making Kiri look at him in surprise. "I mean it, why should you care about her? She didn't care about you. She beat the crap out of you, for goodness sake." He looked at her exasperated. Kiri couldn't meet his eyes.
"She doesn't like anyone having the spotlight more than her, Taker." Kiri said as she looked down at her feet. "Especially me. She did me out of a title reign once. What's to say she won't do it again." A hand came under her chin, forcing it gently upwards.
"I say. Come on, Paygan." He watched as Kiri reddened at the mention of her ring name. "Why did you join the WWE, why learn to wrestle if you weren't going to go for titles?" He watched as she went even redder and her hand ran nervously through her hair.
"I…well…I wanted to… to meet you." Kiri confessed.
`"You're serious?" Mark asked, surprised at the admission. Kiri nodded and crossed her heart with a gentle laugh.
"I am. I met you once, as a teenager. You were so nice to me. You were, and still are, my idol, y'know? I hero-worshiped the ground you walked on. I wanted to work with you, to be as good as you. I..uh…I got sent home for uppercutting a kid who'd said you cheated in a match." Kiri said as she tried to avoid eye contact with him still while talking.
"You're kidding me."
"No. I wanted at first just to meet you, and then it was a conversation I was having with…I want to say my dad but I could be wrong, might have been my uncle. About how cool it would be to work with you. And I was like, hell yeah I want to do that." Kiri looked at her idol and was met with a warm smile.
"You joined literally just for the one in a million chance just to work with me? Knowing full well it may never happen?" He asked. Kiri nodded her head. There was an awkward pause as Mark contemplated just how big a fan of The Undertaker Kiri was. "Listen..." He continued, "About what was said the other day-"
"It's ok. I know you don't feel like I do. You didn't even know who I was till all this mess with Jenna kicked off. And that's ok, I can deal with that." Kiri said as she stood up once more.
"Wait a second…I never-" He began but Kiri cut him off.
"You don't feel that way. I might be dumb to a lot of things, Mark, but not that. Please don't hurt me by pretending otherwise." He noticed the use of his real name instead of his ring name. Before Mark could protest, she was on her feet, walking much faster than she should have been for the end of the corridor.
"Well, that went damn well." He said to himself as she vanished around the corner.
That evening found him sat with Roman, Dean and Seth in the hotel bar. He had hoped that by talking to guys around Kiri's age he might get an idea of what to do. They weren't really helping.
"So…I don't know what it is you're after here, Taker." Roman said with a frown. "She's nuts for you we all know that and we've known that for a very, very long time. Just ask her on a date, if you're that way inclined."
"It's not that easy." He said as he cradled the whiskey glass in his hands.
"Then kidnap her Ministry of Darkness style," Dean said with a shrug. "Hold her in your hotel room till you've said...or done…what you wanted to." He got a look from the others that said that certainly was not the best course of action. Dean shrugged and finished the last mouthful of his glass.
"Look. She won't even admit she said the words. Never mind liking me. She thinks I never even knew she existed until this bs with Jenna." He looked down at the table through the bottom of his glass.
"But…how could you not know who she was?" Seth frowned. "I mean, everyone knows who she is, just because well…she's Kiri. The Undertaker's biggest fan. Hell, we teased her about it enough times." Roman and Dean chuckled and agreed. Dean offered to get the next round in, and Mark knocked back his remaining drink.
"Exactly. I knew her, I always knew who she was but…getting to her without Jenna being there was the issue. Now Jenna isn't an issue anymore…I don't really know what to do." He said and Dean nodded at the man to indicate he would get him another.
"Well, maybe her idolising of you is your way in." Roman suggested.
"I don't want her to fall for The Undertaker, I want her to fall for me too. Ah, you know what I mean." He said, waving a hand at the mess.
"I do. But listen. She has this…thing for the Undertaker I don't think anyone could rival. Right?" Roman said, leaning forwards in a conspiring manner.
"Right." Mark agreed.
"So use it. You want to know her? How much would she kill to work with you? Hell, to even be ringside for a match for you?" Roman continued. "We're in Hartford next Monday. I don't need to tell you what happened there, do I?"
"Heh. My debut happened there, that's what. She's going to be excited as all hell." He smiled.
"And then the week after we hit NYC, which means?" Roman asked pointedly
"The gardens." Mark nodded, seeing the logic in the younger man's advice. "She would love to see the gardens. And then when we hit LA, we could go to where the streak started. And New Orleans is soon, we could go to where it ended…" he trailed off at the cringing on the two men's faces.
"Whatever you do, don't do that." Seth said as he shook his head.
"Like every hardcore Undertaker Fan, Kiri was devastated by the ending of the streak. She's only just stopped threatening to castrate Brock Lesnar every time it comes up. She may have had to be held back from doing it a few times after when he came on the show." Roman explained as Dean returned with the drinks. "And then when I beat you…yeah…" He pointed to a very thin scar just in his hairline "She might be a friend of mine, but I didn't escape the punishment for it"
"She slapped him for it." Dean supplied as he set down the drinks. "On the rare occasion Jenna wasn't by her side, Kiri does have a bit of a wild streak. Honestly, I think Jenna knows it, that's why she's keep Kiri close all this time."
"It was more a backhand than a slap." Roman said with a laugh. "But yeah. Don't take her there, or remind her of it."
When Kiri walked into the arena the next day she was thinking hard about if she should take the title shot or not. It would be nice to actually be out of Jenna's shadow for once, she told herself as she walked. Maybe you could do it. Maybe you could have that title. Wouldn't it be nice? To hear people cheering for you because you won the title? The thought plagued her as she got ready, and she found herself walking to the ring. It was empty, not a soul in sight. Kiri allowed herself to walk down the ramp, her brain imagining people chanting, cheering for her. Her hand brushed the railing at the edge of the ring as she passed. Getting up in to the ring she closed her eyes, imagining herself in front of all those fans. Fans cheering for her. She raised her hands to the sky as if she held the belt between them.
"And here is your winner, and NEW WWE Women's Champion, PAYGAN!" She said aloud to herself as she turned from left to right, as if showing off the belt she imagined she'd just won. She laughed to herself as she pulled her arms down. "Yeah right."
"And why not?" Kiri wheeled round to see Mark stood in the walkway.
"How long have you been there!?" She exclaimed, losing her footing as she finished turning and ending up on her backside.
"Long enough to see you allow yourself to dream at least." He replied walking down the ramp towards her. "So. I've heard it said time and time again you're the unofficial expert on The Undertaker here." He climbed the steps as Kiri got to her feet.
"Well…I did tell you yesterday I hero-worshipped the ground you walk on." Kiri replied warily taking a few steps back. She frowned as he stepped between the ropes.
"So, d'you want to go one on one with him?" he asked, gesturing to himself. He watched as her face changed from wary to alarmed and she backed right against the ropes.
"N…now?" She managed. "Right now?" Her reaction caused Mark to laugh.
"What, you aren't going to pass this up are you?" he asked.
"No…it's...just…I'm not ready!" She exclaimed as he began to cross the ring towards her.
"No one ever is. You want to see if you measure up though, right?" He asked, stopping dead in the centre of the ring as she hurriedly stepped outside the ropes. He frowned as she looked down at the top rope, her hand still holding on to it. "What's the matter?" Kiri bit her lip, pausing a moment before answering.
"Something I was told once." She said, only just loud enough to hear. There were footsteps once more and she found him stood next to her.
"Did she tell you that you would never be good enough to face me?" He asked. Anger filled his heart for a moment when Kiri looked into his face and nodded. "She did a number on your confidence didn't she?"
"It's one thing to put on a show, Mark. It's another to believe in yourself." Kiri looked down at her feet once more, before taking a deep breath and stepping between the ropes once more.
"But if I'm asking you if you want to…"
"I can't be that bad, right?" She asked, looking up at him with a hopeful glance. He nodded, putting a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Before he knew what was happening she had him in a standing wrist lock. He chuckled at the fact she didn't wait for him to be ready.
"What, no locking up?" he asked as she put on the pressure a little more.
"Oh please, like there's any point in locking up with you. I'd have more chance of pulling you into Hell's Gate than doing that." She replied before he managed to manoeuvre out of it and put the woman in a chokehold.
"Impress me then. You don't want to end up the end of one yourself, or worse."
"You would never Tombstone me!" She said, and Mark wasn't sure if she sounded delighted or terrified as she began to try escape his hold.
"Yo, Taker, you guys need a referee?" came a yell. He released his hold a little as both of them turned to see Hunter walking down the walkway. Mark replied despite Kiri's protests that he'd appreciate it.
For half an hour, Mark put Kiri through her paces. They drew several onlookers, including the camera crew asking to test links for that evenings show. The sparring didn't end until Hunter noticed the time and called to stop, stating it was almost showtime and everyone needed to get to the backstage area.
"Have fun?" Mark teased as Kiri walked over to the ropes.
"You have no idea." Kiri replied with a jubilant smile. "Did I match up? Was I good enough?" The smile faltered as she waited for the answer.
"You were more than good enough, Paygan. Sure, there's some spots you can improve, but then again there's spots I need to improve. You more than measured up, and I can't wait to do it again sometime." Mark looked at her as the smile almost doubled in size. He couldn't help but grin as she punched the air making those straggling to leave the area laugh. As she bent down to re-tie a lace, Kiri was on cloud nine. She looked up as she knotted her lace to see Mark walking up with Hunter towards the curtain. If I can measure up to The Undertaker... if he thinks I'm good enough…maybe I'm good enough for something else too, Kiri thought to herself as she hurriedly finished tying her laces.
"Hunter…Taker!" She called, making both men pause and look round. "I'll do it." Hunter looked at Mark with a smile before speaking.
"Do what?" He asked, waiting for Kiri to get closer to them.
"I'll do it…I'll take the title shot."
Hope you're enjoying this new story so far! Zelks xxx