Blessed, Not Unlucky
Summary: Cheryl Ellis, known in the ring as Cherry Leigh, is brought up from OVW to fill a vacant spot in the women's division on RAW and Stacy Keibler holds a grudge against her from the start. Yet, she forms a relationship with Dave Batista but won't fully commit to him, or maybe she can't give all of herself to him.
Rating: T or PG-13 for the usual warnings for WWE wrestling—mild swearing, in-ring/arena violence, and sexual situations.
Disclaimer: I do not in any way lay claim to any name or character in the WWE. This is not-for-profit fiction. The only profit received is pure entertainment. Original character of Cheryl "Cherry Leigh" Ellis is copyright of Disco Inferno1, 2004-05.
Personalities presented within are not necessarily those of the characters in real life nor are the views presented within necessarily those of the author. Poetic license has been taken with character personas and television canon.
Even though the fic is based on "reality," I have not used wrestlers' real names or their families' names (which I have subsequently made up). I am highly uncomfortable doing so since it feels as if I am writing a fic, for instance, about Sean Bean instead of "Boromir."
A big, big, big, BIG, BIG, BIG thanks to my beta Liz. Not only is she a fantastic beta reader, but she's an incredible author. After you read and review my chapter, scoot over to her page and read her awesome stories. Her pen name is lucyzigg and her author ID# is 394871.
Chapter I: Speaking of Cherries
The Harley's hum could be heard outside on the street before it careened into the covered parking lot. The driver slowed to a stop before the entrance and revved the engine twice before cutting it off. The camera zoomed in on the driver's boot nudging the kickstand in place. As the second of the pair of black boots joined the first, the camera panned up the long legs encased in jeans that molded to the defined muscles and then up past a red leather jacket. Reddish orange hair fell from the black helmet, streaked with red flames. The woman shook out short, loose curls that framed her face, tucked the helmet under her arm, and confidently strode through the open doors, tugging off her black leather gloves and stuffing them in the helmet.
"That does it, Miss Ellis," a male voice called and she quickly returned the way she came.
"Was that alright? I can do it again if—if you need me. I don't mind," the redhead nervously replied.
"Nope, it was fine, Miss Ellis," the director replied.
"Call me Cheryl."
"Thanks for that concession but we're not allowed to use first names."
"Oh," she quietly replied and laced her fingers together.
"Don't change a thing," the man said, nodding at her jacket, "and we'll come get you for the vignette with Evolution. It'll be a while, so get yourself something to eat if you haven't yet."
"Okay, thanks…" she trailed off, trying to remember the director's name but to no avail and only excusing herself.
Six weeks earlier, Cheryl Ellis' WWE career was being weighed by the creative team. The group was gathered around a long conference with Bruce Pritchard at one end and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley at the other. Leather portfolios were open to legal notepads since laptops had been banned after one person was caught playing Solitaire and two more were caught sending nasty instant messages about a few members of the team.
Pritchard crossed off a finished item on the agenda and dropped his pen with a sigh. "We now have a dilemma with the women's division. As of yesterday, SmackDown! had three competing female wrestlers. As you know, Sable was released and, no, I won't go into details. No matter what Torrie does, she's still not up to par as a wrestler. We're left with Jackie Gayda and Dawn Marie." He stopped and glanced at all the faces around the table to be sure they were following him because it was about to get trickier. "Now, RAW has the majority of women but Jazz and Trish Stratus are injured. Lita can't wrestle because of the Kane storyline we put her in. Our current female wrestlers are Gail Kim, Nidia, Victoria, and Molly."
"There's Stacy," one young man piped in.
"No there's not. I'm tired of hearing complaints about how she can't wrestle. I want to reduce her to a non-wrestling role."
"Let's send Molly over to SmackDown!" Stacy's advocate replied. "It's not like she's a male favorite anyway. That gives you three wrestlers there and three on RAW and each show has one that doesn't wrestle. There's your solution. It's all equal."
"That's still a problem," a woman piped in.
"RAW needs another woman competing for the belt so that only the three of them don't grow stale," Stephanie cut in.
"But you're adding the RAW diva contest winner."
Pritchard tried to hide the look of disgust on his face. "The ratings haven't improved with the contestants and not one of them can act. There's potential but I plan on burying her fast and quick until she can get her butt in gear. Plus, she won't be wrestling."
"So what are you suggesting?" Stephanie said, slapping her pen down to show her anger at his comments about the contest, which was her idea.
"Look, all I want to do is bring up another woman from OVW," Pritchard answered.
"Unless she gets a push, she's not gonna make it. What brilliant idea do you have to get her over?" Vince's McMahon's daughter asked.
"I was thinking about bringing up Cheryl Ellis. Her ring name is Cherry Leigh," he replied, seeing some looks of recognition, and began passing out identical folders.
"She's not ready," someone interrupted.
"She's close enough, especially if we pair her with a character like Triple H." Stephanie's eyes went wide and Pritchard added, "As his half-sister. No romantic angles involved." Folders were opened and a few seconds of silence passed as the team perused a brief version of her portfolio. "Not that we care if there's any resemblance, but Cheryl could possibly pass for Hunter's half-sister. She may be red-headed but it's okay since Hunter's has a red tint to his. She's right at six feet and hasmeat on her bones unlike the majority of the other divas. But that's beyond the point."
"What is the point?" Stephanie asked, a hint of annoyance in her voice.
"We'll find her a storyline of some sort just so long as she's introduced as the younger Helmsley, keeping her own last name," he added, seeing that perturbed look on Stephanie's face again, "and seen ever so often with Evolution or maybe coming out to occasionally help. That's all." He said the last phrase staring down at the youngest McMahon, thankful that her husband was not in attendance for this meeting. If the creative team approved it, Mr. I'm-meeting-with-a-director-to-star-in-a-movie would hopefully be stuck with it.
"Why Ellis?" another member asked.
"Luck of the draw. There's three other women down there right now, all at about the same level, and she just happens to fit the physical profile to be related to Triple H. I want her to make her debut the Monday after Vengeance."
The team was chomping at the bit to get to other storylines with their main characters and quickly agreed to begin thinking of what to do with "Cherry Leigh Ellis."
Right now,Cheryl was thinking of what she was going to do about herself. Food would be impossible to stick down her throat, constricted from nervousness. She had wanted to be introduced to those she would be working with last week but she had been put off and was now wondering the halls of the arena, terrified of meeting any of the superstars for fear that they would think her a weirdo fan. Luck had it in for her and she met no one she recognized but chance dwindled and introductions were now forced when she pushed the door open to the women's lockerroom to find the assembly of women.
Lita quickly stood and the others followed suit. "Cheryl Ellis?" she asked, holding out her hand.
"Yeah, that's me," she replied with a smile, which quickly fell into a bout of lip chewing, and returned the handshake. Besides Lita, the women she knew as Gail Kim, Stacy Keibler, Trish Stratus, Victoria, and Nidia were in attendance and introductions were made around the room.
Not that Cheryl was a loner but she felt smothered by so many people she didn't know. Fans were a different story. She was a character to them. Here, she was a real person as Trish quickly reminded her by asking, "So, where you from?"
The redhead tucked a leg under her as she settled in the folding chair and answered, "Hilton Head, South Carolina."
"Married?" she followed up.
"Was," Cheryl replied and switched legs, hoping to not have to share her life story to people she just met.
"Messy divorce, huh?" the blonde prodded.
She paused a second but decided honesty was the best policy and quietly replied, "Uh, no, widowed."
"Oh, what happened?" a nosy Stacy asked.
"It's not something I usually talk about," she replied, attempting to keep the edge out of her voice. Under any other circumstances, she could talk about her deceased husband without clamming up or breaking into tears. Yet, something in Stacy's tone hinted at insincerity and Cheryl pegged her for a gossip.
"That bad, huh? Any children?" the blonde responded.
Cheryl glanced down at her hands, twisting them together to contain her fidgeting, and shook her head. "Knock it off, Stacy," Lita quietly ordered and elbowed the taller woman.
The leggy blonde's questions had put a damper on the conversation and now the women turned to stilted niceties in front of the new girl. First introductions suck, but they can't suck this bad, Cheryl thought. With a lull in the conversation, she dug her script and reading glasses out of her gym bag and read through the dialogue again even though it had been fully committed to memory much earlier. Just when she thought she had been forgotten, a go-fer knocked on the door and called her name. She excused herself and tried not to rush away from the tension in the room.
The door was not even closed when Cheryl heard Stacy indignantly say, "So that's the bitch that beat me out for a push? I doubt she'll last." Her face must have turned redder than her jacket since the go-fer politely asked her if she was feeling alright. She nodded and they continued on as the inside of her cheek became a human chew toy.
The film crew was set up in a hallway in one of the quieter areas of the backstage. Vince McMahon was talking animatedly with his son-in-law while his daughter stood by and listened. They broke apart as Cheryl approached. A scowl formed on Stephanie's face as her father rushed forward to shake the new wrestler's hand. They had met upon the signings of Cheryl's OVW and WWE contracts.
"This is Cheryl Ellis," Vince announced, nudging her towards his daughter's husband. "Cheryl, you'll know this wonderful man as Triple H but I want you to meet my son-in-law, Hunter."
A meaty hand closed over her own and she met his smile. "Ready to get this thing started?" At a loss for words, she only nodded, having been warned about acting starstruck around the wrestlers. As Hunter led her away, she realized she hadn't been introduced to Stephanie. Hoping that the woman wasn't angry at her, she quickly turned around and found her tongue. "Ms. McMahon-Helmsley, it's truly a pleasure to meet you also."
Stephanie shook Cheryl's hand and dryly replied, "Likewise."
The redhead quickly returned to the group now gathered and introductions were made to "Evolution." Neither Ric Flair nor Randy Orton were her favorite characters but she put that aside and found them to be quite congenial during introductions. However, her gaze lingered much longer than was necessary on Dave Batista. Television didn't do the man's body justice as his muscles rippled at the slightest movement. A little tingle shot through her that surprised her but the director's voice brought her out of the moment. "Alright, introductions asides, let's go," he announced, blocked the scene out for them, and then counted down for action.
Now in her element, Cheryl rushed up to the group, the bike helmet tucked under her arm. "Hunter!"
"Oh my god, what are you doing here, Orange?" he replied, hugging her to him.
Orange? That was definitely not in the script, she thought and then recovered. "Red, Hunter, it's red."
"No, this is orange," he said, twirling a lock of her hair that brushed her collar. "This is red," he added, poking her in the shoulder of her jacket.
She rolled her eyes and murmured a 'whatever.' "I've got my first match tonight. I wrestle for WWE now."
Hunter narrowed his eyes. "You what? I thought—"
"Hey, champ, are you gonna introduce us to this lovely woman?" Ric Flair interrupted.
"Yeah, guys, this is Cheryl—"
"You can call me 'Cherry Leigh,'" she corrected and held her hand out to Ric.
"Speaking of cherries," Randy Orton began and started to cross the circle, a suggestive look on his face.
"Don't think about it," Hunter growled, slapping a hand on Orton's bare chest. "She's my little sister. Hands off."
"Just half-sister. So only one hand off," she purred. Hunter whipped around with a glare as the other three guys laughed.
"We'll talk later," he said to Cheryl. "What I said about 'hands off,' I mean it. I'll break every finger of any guy who touches you."
"I am an adult now," she replied with a frown.
"But you'll always be my little sister," Triple H said where the rest of Evolution could hear. He then turned to her, blocking the others' view, and grasped her upper arm. Cheryl acted as if he was hurting her and pried at his fingers. "We'll talk later," he whispered angrily and then let go, giving her a slight nudge. She plastered on a smile and waved 'bye' to the other guys and then exited from the camera angle to let the guys finish the scene.
Dave Batista had watched her first vignette on the monitor before the commercial break and now the one they had filmed was playing after the same set of commercials. He had had his doubts about her as she seemed to shake with fear before the scene. Yet, on screen, she came across as if she had been doing that for years. He briefly talked with her afterward, along with the others, welcoming her to the business and wishing her well. She seemed to be less tight as they tried to make her more comfortable with the small talk. He had offered his services before he knew it, telling her she could call on him for anything she needed to get settled. She was different but he couldn't put his finger on why. He considered her to be cute instead of model type beautiful, her hair something he had a weird desire to good-naturedly tease her about. She carried herself differently, as if she was unsure of herself, unlike other divas he wouldn't name that strutted around like they owned the place. He just assumed she would relax when she got into the swing of things.
Out of curiosity, Batista found himself in front of the monitor again during her match, the second one of the final hour. He assumed she was going to be fed to one of the other divas as it was her debut and it seemed that only Gail Kim was lucky enough to come out on top of her first match, particularly with a belt.
Victoria was to be Cherry Leigh's opponent and the black-haired beauty waited in the ring. The intro of Trapt's "Headstrong" thumped into the sound system before the remixed song headed straight for the chorus and Cheryl bounded out from behind the black curtain into the red-hazed light. She was dressed in black patent leather pants, sporting two cherries on one butt cheek, and a red halter top of the same material, all skin-tight. The same cherry design, but much smaller, was tattooed on her right shoulder.
She abruptly stopped at the top of the ramp, threw her head back, and planted her hands on her hips. With a smug look, her gaze trailed across the audience, provocatively twisting her shoulders in tandem with her eyes. "Back off, I'll take you on. Headstrong to take on anyone. I know that you are wrong. Headstrong, we're headstrong." She then slowly sashayed down the ramp, head held high to reflect the lyrics as they repeated themselves. Climbing the steps and slipping in between the second and third ropes, she centered herself in the ring and fluidly faced each side of the ring with the same haughty look with her arms held out from her sides as if to say the words that Trapt's song blared, "This is not where you belong."
The red light faded and the bell rang. Batista considered nothing in the match to be any different than any of the others in which the divas participated, outside of the gimmick matches. Cheryl performed on par with the other women and he was grateful that she didn't suffer a repeat performance of Jackie Gayda's singles debut. He laughed to himself when she used the facebreaker, apparently a way to connect her character to Triple H. Looking forward to seeing what this limber woman had up her sleeve as a finishing move, he was disappointed to see Trish Stratus interfere in the match, something the wrestler herself was disappointed in also. She was proud of the Cherry Stem, the inverted step-over toe hold face lock she had worked for months on end to get right.
Cheryl paused at the top of the ramp after the other divas had entered and, looking out over the ring, mouthed, "That's for you, Pierce." She then accepted the congratulations offered to her, slipping a little out of her aloof shell. She felt she didn't deserve the praise because there had been so little establishment of her character and it was just an everyday match. Cherry Leigh was to begin as a neutral character, teetering on the edge as she struggled with siding with the likes of Victoria and Lita (or whoever was a face that week) but still being faithful to a brother she loved. The long-range plans were to turn her heel and have her do the occasional dirty work for Evolution. She would be the reason for an occasional feud as Triple H pounded any of the guys that looked twice at her. She was going to be an experiment, a diva who could be one of the guys, hence the motorcycle at the beginning but also later bouts of beer swilling. Sad thing was the new wrestler had no idea if a championship run was in that future but that wasn't why she was here.
With the show in full swing, the women's lockerroom was a flurry of activity throughout the night and the introvert Cheryl had stayed in her corner and spoken only when spoken to. Introverts are mistakenly thought to be withdrawn into themselves but solitude is where they draw their inner strength. Cheryl was no different. She could handle herself in a crowd but not for long periods of time. That time had just about ended and the quiet of the hotel was calling her name. As the odd woman out, she was lucky in having a room of her own, one she hadn't had time to check into until now since the show was over.
The redhead tapped her keycard against the attendant's desk as the paperwork was being taken care of. She was just antsy to be in her room and out of the dress suit she was in. The decree that they had to travel professionally dressed didn't sit well with her either but she wasn't about to tempt fate and chose to show up at the hotel in a suit. Finally, she was able to leave the front desk and passed by the bar that was crawling with people.
Dave Batista was stepping out of the second elevator as Cheryl was stepping in the first one. Seeing her disappear inside, he wondered if anyone had invited her down for drinks as was the norm for a bit of after partying. He went on by and then decided that it would only be right if the new girl was invited to this "ritual." Hurrying back to the elevators, he watched the floor numbers light up until it stopped and then he raced up the stairs to see her navy blue suitcase trail after her into one of the rooms. He waited a moment and then knocked on her door.
"Just a minute," Cheryl shouted from the other side, her eye to the peephole, and then quickly dug through her suitcase for the mint green terrycloth robe as she had flung off the suit before she was barely inside the room. Even though she was completely bewildered as to why Dave Batista was knocking on her door, she plastered on a smile and pulled the door open. "What can I do for you?"
"Good job tonight."
"Thanks," she replied with a nod.
"Did anybody invite you down for drinks?" he asked, propping a hand on the doorframe.
She chewed on her bottom lip for a moment, trying to remember if anyone had. "I don't think so."
"Well, consider yourself invited."
"Thanks, but I'm gonna pass. Tonight was exhausting and I don't think I can handle anymore," she replied, running her left hand through her hair.
Dave noticed a gold glint on her ring finger but couldn't determine if it was a wedding band. Not wanting her to think he was coming on to her, he passed on asking if she was married and if not going down was her way of avoiding men asking her out in the bar. "Alright, then, if you change your mind, we'll be down there for a while," he said.
"Thanks, again," she softly replied and eased the door shut. Even though Batista was physically gone, his presence was still with her as the heady scent of his cologne hung in the doorway. Maybe I should go down, she thought and picked the suit up off the floor. Then, another tingle like the one when she had first met him ran down her spine when she thought about running her fingers through his black curls. She hadn't had those kinds of tingles since she had met her husband. The diva decided that there was no point in opening that possible avenue and that it was better to remain in her room then think about those curls with him bodily there. Choosing to stamp down those ideas, she called her older brother and then her parents to report on how her first night had gone.
Batista kept his eye on the doors for half an hour, watching for Cheryl and barely listening to the conversation at his table.
"Man, you haven't paid attention to a word I've said. What girl are you looking at?" Randy Orton asked.
"Huh?" Dave said, whipping his head back around. "Oh, it's nothing. I'm just a little distracted."
"Well, snap out of it because those girls over there are oogling us," Randy replied and pointed to his right.
"Yeah, okay," he responded, a little surprised at himself for hoping that the new girl would come down.
Author's Notes: Well, here I am again. I got enough comments in Loyalty of Friendship about Batista and Samia hooking up that I thought I'd do Dave and my readers right. I hope y'all enjoy!
Don't know who's who so I filled it in, such as Pritchard heading up the creative team meeting (although I heard he had been fired shortly after I wrote this and that he's supposedly back, only having taken a break for vacation, but it works all in the name of fanfic). I have no idea who heads up filming the vignettes. Let me know, nicely, if I get something wrong. Just a heads up so you won't be disappointed when it doesn't come up but Cheryl Ellis is not kin to Triple H in any shape, form, or fashion even though they slightly resemble each other.