Disclaimer: I own nothing, Dixie Carter and the other TNA management bods own it all.
Author Notes: Inspired by the false rumour that Christy was debuting in TNA as Raven's girlfriend. I'm trying for a bit of a different style with this one and am pleased with the way it came out. I hope you enjoy it, all feedback welcome.FIRST TIMES
The first time Raven saw Christy Hemme she was smiling at him from a magazine. It was a copy of Playboy, one that Alex Shelley and Austin Aries were ogling backstage like kids during recess. They always had a copy of some glossy jerk-off magazine in their back pockets, the sort of magazines that were piled under teenage boys' beds everywhere. Raven could appreciate the perfect outward beauty that the magazines worshiped, but it didn't interest him. There was no fire, no depth behind it, there was nothing worth spending time over and exploring. Why any man would fantasise about something so vacant was a mystery to him. Even the whores he occasionally paid for had to have some kind of life behind their eyes when he employed their services.
"Hey Raven, I bet you've never had an ass as fine as this," Shelly appeared in front of him with a smirk and magazine in hand.
He pushed the pages in front of Raven without another word. At first all Raven could see were glossy red lips, perfect white teeth and a mane of fire passing as her hair. Then it all came together, and he registered the undeniably beautiful face, smooth-looking skin, and naked curves. He'd expected that to be all he saw, the sort of empty beauty these magazines so often employed as enticing centrepieces. But it wasn't her naked body that had drawn him in for a second, more thorough look. It was her eyes; they were bright, intelligent and full of secrets. Raven had raised an eyebrow as he studied her face; there was something more to her that what was presented on the page, an intriguing depth. It wasn't something posed or airbrushed, it was all her. To find that in Playboy surprised him and highly intrigued him. Aries and Shelley had misinterpreted his thoughtful expression.
"She don't do it for you?" Aries had asked, taking the magazine back and raising his eyebrows at the front cover. "She looks hot to me, and she's in the wrestling business. One of WWE's finest."
"Yeah, they signed her after she won that crappy diva search, you remember that?" Shelley had added.
Raven only half-heard them, having walked off as soon as Aries took the magazine out of his hand. Whilst their words looped around his mind, only the important parts staying with him, Christy's image didn't fade. Her eyes stayed with him for a long time afterwards. He assumed that look he'd seen in her would soon disappear after the WWE was done with her.
Over a year later, Raven bumped into her backstage. More accurately, he bumped into Jackie Gayda who was babbling a mile a minute to a redhead whose smile he vaguely recognised. Then he looked into her eyes and her identity became clear. Christy introduced herself with a firm handshake and knew his name before he had to say it. The thing he remembers is that she listened, really listened, as he talked to Jackie about TNA management machinations and Larry Zybysko and Alex Shelley. All the information he and Jackie exchange he expertly filed away mentally for when it may be needed, but the whole time he's vaguely distracted by the shape of Christy's lips and her eyes still full of secrets. When Jackie is soon dragged away by America's Most Wanted for more probable humiliation, Christy turned to him with a friendly wicked smile.
"I'm here to bring the news about your return," she said, waving an envelope. "Orders from the new boss."
"Have you met him?" Raven asked, eyeing the envelope with curiosity.
"No, Slick gave it to me and told me to take it out to Don West after this match finishes," replied Christy. "I don't have any idea who the new boss is, do you?"
They talked about TNA and how she got a contract and the pitfalls of working in the WWE. He found her an intriguing creature, a beautiful girl who wasn't prowling backstage for a management official to sleep with and who was actually interested in the goings-on of the company. A complete rarity indeed, and one that he found a lot more interesting than most of the women he'd met backstage during wrestling events. Then a schmuck in headphones with a busy expression waved her over.
"I think that's my cue," she sighed. "It was so great to meet you."
He watched on a monitor as she made her entrance, sparkling in the flashing lights and clearly loving the moment. The fans erupted and reached for her body whilst Zybysko blustered furiously in his bad shirt as the announcement was made. Christy squeezed Raven's arm when she rushed backstage and whispered good luck. When he locked eyes on Zybysko and the long-building rage erupted, the only light in his head was the memory of Christy's brilliant smile. His skin felt like it burned where her fingers had touched.
He was in a bar when he saw her outside of TNA for the first time. It was a seedy dive with beer-sticky counters, dark corners, and a jukebox stuck in the eighties. But the booze was cheap and it wasn't full of that many tanked young morons, so it was the only bar of choice near the arena. Christy had bustled in with Jackie, the two of them laughing as they entered. She was as lively as a hot wire and accepted Jackie's bet with a laugh. Raven found himself watching her without realising. Even in a pair of patched jeans, and a black tank top with a bandana covering her head, she was the brightest thing in the room. He sat in the corner nursing a whiskey, not listening to Cassidy's endless talk. Nearly all the male eyes were on Christy as she jumped up onto the table eagerly and began dancing to the cheesy song blasting out from the speakers. She moved like water and there was so much light in her eyes that Raven wondered idly what it was like to live life so illuminated. She didn't fit at all into the shadows he'd always lived in so why wasn't he able to stop watching her? He felt like a fool, like so many of the men in the bar watching her. But he knew he was the only one to see her differently than the others, he saw a beautiful girl wrapped around something far more intriguing.
But when he watched her get down and grimy leering men attempting to get an audience, an age-old emotion took him over. The one he got whenever he saw Beulah with Tommy, when Kimona betrayed him, when Molly smiled sadly and disappeared. Christy didn't fit into his predictable pattern of hardened women of the wrestling roads, beautiful under their scarred skin, and too good for the life they were drawn into and were so good at. But he had given all that up, having the occasional brief paid encounter to sate him, but that was all. He had sworn off anything deeper in order to preserve what little was left of his soul. It didn't stop him watching Christy as she smiled.
She was too beautiful for that place. He realised with a jolt that he hasn't thought that since Beulah had first strode back into his life. He drained his glass quickly; a roar in his head letting him know that he needed a lot more alcohol tonight to dull the feeling. With dark eyes, he went to the bar for a refill just in time to see a man clamp a hand around Christy's wrist. Raven felt something particularly foul uncurl in his guts, but with some effort dismissed it. This was nothing to do with him. Then Christy turned and her eyes light up.
"I don't think my boyfriend would like that," she said in reply to a question lost under the music, pulling her arm free and wrapping herself around Raven's waist.
He didn't say anything but looked first at her for a brief moment, then at the unfortunate man who backed off with a cursing grumble. Christy's body felt good around him and there was a smile in her eyes that made his reluctant lips curve in response.
"Thank you," she said quietly. "Some guys never take no for an answer."
"You didn't give me a choice," he pointed out, a token complaint.
She laughed and pulled some money from her boot, putting it down on the counter as his whiskey refill appeared.
"Well you were my knight in torn denim today" she said, humour in her voice at the absurdity of the sentence. "I'm glad it was you."
He knew as he looked at her breathless sunshiny face that there was something intoxicating about this woman, and that he'd already been somewhat ensnared by her striking charm. He felt a little unsteady inside, and immediately put it down to the whiskey that long ago had stopped dampening his senses.
There really was something unusual about her. She'd melted away into the rowdy crowds by the time he'd finished his whisky and it was the last he saw of her that night. He left the bar after a careful search for her red hair and his dreams were full of her when he eventually slipped into darkness.
The first time he tastes her lips he's sweaty, angry and uncompromising. He's lost his place in the King of the Mountain match and worse still, he lost to Jarrett with that rat Zybysko interfering. His dreams of reclaiming his destiny have been shattered again. Rage fills every pore of his being as he goes backstage and everyone clears out of his way, recognising the crazed anger in his eyes. They all remember the last crewmember that got in his way, and ended up being shut into a cargo crate for the rest of the night after Raven jammed the lock shut.
Then there's Christy, watching everything appraisingly, her guile and intelligence shadowed by her beaming grin. She notices him and pulls him over, distracting him with questions. She wants to know what his next move is, how he's going to strike back at Jarrett, Zybysko and their rotting dynasty. She's wrapping an intense conversation around them and he finds himself caught up in answering her perceptive inquiries. He wonders why she's questioning him and then he really looks at her, able to strip back layers with practised ease. He can see her worry and rage in her tightened fists and angry eyes and he can read her body like a book. Underneath she rages at the injustice he's suffered at TNA, at Jackie's dirt-poor treatment and at the death grip that Jarrett and all his cronies have on the company. She's determined to make a difference, to help everyone's light shine and make this company strong and whole again. It defines her and drives her, packaged away expertly under the cover of a Playboy body and a winning eager smile. It's not a disguise, it is all her, but people notice her body and her raw undiluted energy first, and don't bother to look any further, thinking that that's all there is to her.
Their conversation stops as Christy notices his intense stare and works out that he's reading her. She smiles, not one of her usual million-watt ones but a gentle understanding smile. Then she pulls him into the narrow corridor behind her. Maybe it's his raw angry nerves having been so recently shredded but he grabs her towards him and kisses her. She kisses him back, fitting against him achingly beautifully. It's messy and forceful and pathetically needful on both sides. But Raven grasps her roughly, unwilling to let her go. They find what they need in each other. She moans as his tongue greedily explores her mouth and he presses her tightly against the wall. He is touched by the strange feeling that his flesh is somehow becoming part of her's. When they part, they're both breathing heavily. Raven feels her shining before her smile appears, but now he sees the carefully concealed darkness in her eyes. They stay silent for a long time, still drawn tight together but ignored in the frantic worry of backstage. There's more than understanding between them.
"How can I help?" she asks, voicing what really brought her into TNA.
Raven tells her it's always been his fight, that people who join him always betray him and there's enough scars on his soul already. Whilst she hasn't trudged through the mire, blocked at every turn as he has, she has lived in the seedy underbelly. She burns too. And she wants to help. Possibilities open up in his mind, he joins the dots rapidly and works out plans and ploys. Raven smiles.
The first time they sleep together is intense and sloppy. They're both very sober and very frantic, pulling clothes out of the way to make room for hands and lips. The locker room floor is cold, hard and extremely uncomfortable. But that makes it real and Raven would not want her any other way. He can concentrate on her soft skin under his worn fingertips, and her smile as she eagerly pushes up against him. Is this just a release of frustration, something needed after a bad day? Of course, but Raven's aware that he's wanted to touch her like this for weeks; she makes something spark inside of him. From the first touch of her skin he has become addicted. He feels her cup his face, her thumb teasing the corner of his mouth.
"Stay with me," she says, concern and lust warring oddly in her expressive eyes. "You look like you're far away."
He laughs, realising how unflattering his vacant expression could be to her. But she's laughing a little now too, unoffended and worried about him despite being flat on her back. She pulls him impossibly closer and they keep each other warm.
There isn't a significant first time for their night-long chats. Since he first met her she has asked questions and wanted to know his past and he always answers. They spend a whole week of nights discussing ECW. Christy confessed that she never saw much of it but wants to know why the fans are still so passionate about such a small wrestling promotion. So Raven educated her, telling her about Heyman's vision, the locker room full of oddballs and freaks – the leftovers from other promotions, and the Flock that he pieced together. He feels no guilt when he explains Stevie who was like a whipped puppy; always faithful despite the mistreatment he got from his master. He was a useful tool, a lackey who believed and spoke when Raven didn't feel like it. He spends several hours spitting bile about Tommy, his wounds still raw and open after all these years and hatred burning low in his guts. Christy isn't phased when he talks about Beulah, the first woman who opened him up and tore him apart. She wants to know more about this strange and beguiling creature who faked a pregnancy, flirted with lesbianism and ultimately chose Tommy. He even manages to get his lips around Chastity's name, oddly proud of how she betrayed him and how she learnt from him how to beat the system. When he's drank enough whiskey one night in a tiny bar he outlines the war he had with Sandman over Peaches and Tyler. That boy was his greatest work of art, the benchmark he holds all his other schemes and ideas up to.
Everything is covered. Christy wants to know about wrestling and all that he's experienced, soaking up his knowledge as he expounds his theories of the business and the things he's been through on the way. She listens the way he remembers, asking questions as they sit in the corners of coffee shops, or she curls around him amid faded grey bed sheets. She shows him her scars too, telling him about her mother's death from cancer in 2002, the way she was treated in WWE and how many times she said no. Her voice is brittle and angry when she talks about that. She tells him everything he wants to know and more, pouring her heart out because he gave her his. There's comfort and clarity in laying out what went before.
It's several months of hotel rooms before Raven takes her to the dingy apartment he rents. He has never viewed it as his; it's simply a place he sleeps when he feels his frequent urge for privacy. Here is a place he can truly shut the world out from and he keeps the drapes closed. No one else has been here before, but Christy feels like part of the darkness he surrounds himself with. She is safety. Christy takes a quick look around before telling him she's going to buy groceries and she'll make him dinner. It's the first time she's ever done that too.
Later, when she's beating eggs and laughing at a tune she's been humming ever since she came back, Raven feels a sudden rush of tenderness (like a comet arching through a blackboard sky) towards this bright creature who's so brilliantly lighting up everything around her. She deserves to live in the daylight where everyone can adore her but she chose him and his beloved darkness. Raven isn't sure how long what they have will last (he doesn't care; he does not plan for the future), but he is glad he has her, has this happiness for however long he is allowed before she fades out. Christy smiles back at him, the look in her eyes mirroring his feelings, but she doesn't say a word.
When she places his food in front of him, Raven realises how absurdly domestic they've become and laughs aloud. His girlfriend has just made him dinner in his apartment – they could be like so many couples all over this rotting country. But they are different, they never will be like everyone else, and the fact that Christy knows this and stays anyway warms a corner of his heart. The food tastes good and they stay up for hours as Raven teaches her how to play chess. She never does beat him.
Everyone backstage knows they are an item but it doesn't stop at least half the roster hitting on her. Christy always laughs but firmly pushes them away and tells them she's involved with someone else, someone who is important to her. Raven never feels the ridiculous need to hover around her, glowering at any man who looks at her. She's a beauty and was made to be admired. But that is not all she's made for. He sees that and he knows she values that more than any bouquets of flowers that he hasn't bought her. It's all she's ever wanted; to be working in a business she has come to love and to be taken seriously.
But after almost a year has gone by and her birthday looms like a neon sign, Raven feels the need to buy something for her. Something to match their time together so far, a thank you and a sign of his devotion to her that hasn't got a name. Time has gone on and Christy has lodged like a thorn in his skin that cannot be pulled out. He hasn't grown tired of her and she still smiles when she looks at him. There is something deeper here than a purely lustful attraction, and good sex. This might even be meant to last. He is still intoxicated by her and they haven't run out of things to say to each other. So Raven searches until he finds something that chimes in time with his heart and, after she comes back from a celebratory birthday night out with her girlfriends, places a tiny wooden box into her hands.
"What's this for?" she asks, clear-eyed and exhilarated but completely sober. She never needs alcohol to have fun like so many others do, nor to dim or comfort her as Raven does.
Christy smiles, presses a kiss to her favourite part of his mouth, and slumps onto the couch to open the gift, rattling it next to her ear experimentally. She doesn't say he didn't have to because they both know that already. When she pries the lid open, she is clearly surprised and her eyes are a little brighter than before. She pulls out a flat circle of silver threaded onto a fine silver chain. On one side of the circle her name is engraved and on the other side it says his name. She holds it up, admiring it in the midnight light.
"A promise," Raven says, slouching next to her.
That's all the explanation she needs and she rests her head on his shoulder, hand placed in the crook of his nearest arm. The silence wraps around them like a blanket and they fall asleep that way, minds touching.
He was amused at the reaction she got the first time she allowed the audience to see the rawness she hid under perfect skin as she lashed out at Kip James. The audience was quiet, unsure what to say, which brought a laugh out of Raven's throat. Why was anyone surprised? It seemed that everyone chose to see just her pretty curves and naked skin, seeing a weak and limelight-hungry cover girl. Now she was unrefined fire, screaming and purposeful. He had taught her what he taught all who followed him; never go the way everyone else does and always obey his orders. Unlike the others, Christy took what he taught her and twisted it into her own head, never using just the purity of his words.
They had both been moving in new directions recently. He had pieced together a new flock, a Serotonin, and she had broken through the glass ceiling that had been pressing down on her for so long. To everyone else, they were barely in each other's presences. In truth, they often spent time apart; she went out dancing with her girlfriends and he plotted and planned and trained his troops. But his necklace was still clasped around her neck and they slept in the same bed every night. It suited the odd shape of wrestling life. It was a relationship that fitted every part of him perfectly.
"You scared the audience," he informed her when she appeared at his side, high up in his Nest amongst the arena's rafters.
"Good, they need shaking up," she replied fervently. "We get treated like jokes here and I'm doing something about it."
"Good," he echoed, an approving smile on his face that matched hers. "They'll hate you, ingrates like Kip. You're saying things that no one wants to hear."
"That doesn't mean I shouldn't say them," her jaw was determined. "This is what I wanted to do, make a difference. We're both doing it now."
Raven nodded, snaking an arm around her waist to pull her close. He didn't do it often, usually she came to him, but something about the cold air and the night's events compelled him. Christy had wanted to be part of Serotonin, but Raven had refused. She was not part of his vision, and he only had festering memories of how working with a woman you loved could end. Christy had been furious, feeling she was being pushed out because of her gender, and had nearly destroyed his apartment door when she'd kicked her way past the lock to confront him.
Now she was still fighting, but she had a purpose. She wasn't conducting interviews (though she had taken the new blonde interviewer Leticia under her wing and mapped out backstage and its politics as best she could for her) and she wasn't being used for brief television spots anymore. She had broken free of the bindings TNA had placed around her and had created her own space. Something he had done so many times before and continued to do, no matter who he worked for. There was pride mixed in with the usual heart swell as he gazed at her slender form whilst her own eyes were fixed on the crowds below. She had tasted the pain and humiliation tonight that would come from choosing a path no one else dared to tread, but she wouldn't stop. That was what separated them from everyone else. If the pain was sharp and hard, they knew they had chosen the right direction. Even if they were fighting different fights, they had a single purpose between them and Raven wasn't alone anymore.
A few months later, Christy emerged through the laundry room window onto the soft earth of the apartment complex garden. It was a concessionary piece of land, scrubby dry grass and brown earth dotted with splashes of unexpected colour. It was tiny and ill-kept, but it was pleasant to sit outside in the evenings.
Raven didn't bother turning to greet her. He had heard her Harley pull up at the front of the building and her leather-clad footsteps into the building. His focus was on the pad of paper resting in his lap as his ideas flowed through his pen. The wind tried to tug the loose pages away from him and his taped fingers began to go numb, but this was where he wrote. Inspiration always hit him when he was outside and in the dark. Here he wrote his greatest masterpieces, some of which he might use on-screen to inform the fans and cower opponents.
Christy emerged into his eye line, a brown paper bag crushed to her side. Her hair was immediately caught by the wind and he was drawn away from his papers to watch fascinated as the rusty-red strands veiled her face for a moment before she tossed her head and they sprayed down her back instead. Still it's her eyes he is drawn to, even after all this time and the number of nights he has spent tracing her curves and feeling her skin. Her eyes still burn with secrets that only now the world is beginning to see. Raven himself has been unwinding them ever since they came together.
As he moved along the bench to make silent room for her, she had already pulled a bottle from the bag and was unscrewing the lid as she sat down. The pungent smell of Jack Daniels wound around them as she produced a pair of glasses, from some unknown place, and poured generous measures for them both.
"Why?" he asked, accepting a glass.
"You didn't tell me," Christy wagged a finger at him with a playful smile as she drank from her own glass with clear relish. "I had to do some sneaky detective work to find out."
Raven raised an eyebrow at her. For all their night-long talks, there was much still hidden in the recesses of his mind that he hadn't yet drug out to air for her. He couldn't give her everything yet. It had been used as weaponry too many times before. He shrugged at her and took a drink from his glass, taking a moment to savour the taste.
"Well, I found out," Christy continued, taking a quick drink and then resting her glass carefully at her feet. "And I got you this."
She placed a wrapped square box on his lap and retrieved her glass. Her gaze was fixed on the city spread out before her. She loved watching all the lights come on at night and hear the sounds of the other side of the city waking up. Raven pushed his papers together and tucked him into his jacket pocket before contemplating the package. People rarely bought him gifts and when they did, they only very occasionally got it right. Tearing off the wrapping revealed a simple wooden box and, when he slid the lid, off a layer of tissue paper yielded another box, only much smaller. It was surrounded by soft black downy feathers. He raised an eyebrow at her.
"What madness have you given me?" he asked, humour lacing his words through the seriousness.
"I'll explain in a minute, open the box," she laughed as he hesitated. "Come on! It'll make sense, I promise."
Raven paused, his fingers closing around the box. Christy had bought excellent gifts for him before. For Christmas she had presented him with a slim volume of Edgar Allan Poe poems and a bottle or two of Jack Daniels, always his favourite drink to unwind the kinks that seemed permanently etched into his mind and body. They always bought each other Jack Daniels now, since discovering how much the other enjoyed it too. He had bought her her own chess set (to teach Leticia to stretch her mind) and a delicate chain to wrap around her ankle. But this was different. He had hidden this day from her purposely, not wanting fuss or celebration. It was merely another calendar day, an excuse to other people to splurge and embarrass themselves. But Christy wanted it to mean something and had purposefully discovered this day and bought him gifts. It sucked him back to childhood for the briefest moment, before he returned to the present.
He flipped the box open, rough fingers gripping polished wood, and gazed at what nestled inside. Christy's smile was wide and beautiful when he looked at her in confusion, and her eyes sparkled so brightly that they appeared like lights to him out of the darkness. Inside the box was twin to the necklace he had bought her.
"A promise," Christy said, echoing his words back at him.
Nodding in silence and thanks, Raven fastened the necklace around his neck. As the last time the jewellery was exchanged between them, there was no explanation needed. But he smiled, his hand grasping hers. Between them, something hummed slightly. He could feel it, strong and sustaining and stretching out before them beyond the horizon with no visible end. For all the millions of words he had stored in his brain, there really wasn't a need to verbalise it. She knew; she had given him a promise.
He took another drink of his Jack Daniels, his eyes fixed on her lovely face and form. She was his, willingly giving him all of herself. Impulsively he pulled her in for a lingering and possessive kiss. The taste of whiskey on her lips coupled with the feel of her against him sent crazy flurries throughout his entire body. He growled against her neck, biting enough to bruise, smiling a kiss when she trembled with an answering moan. She has remained so intriguing to him; he could have her wrapped around his life forever.
"Whatever remains of my heart is yours."
It's the purest declaration of love he has ever given her. He doesn't believe in whimsical romantic gestures, meaningless in their frequency. He believed in his own truth. She whooped and pulled him into a tight hungry hug, all of her happiness squeezing him tight. Then she dropped a kiss to his hand with a giddy expression.
"Happy birthday, Raven," she smiled, clinking her glass against his. "Here's to forever."
"Whatever that is," he eyed her. They had a promise and a necklace each, that was all they needed. "To teaching the world to see things our way. The only way that matters."
Raven couldn't take his eyes from her. Although most of the company could not believe in their partnership (he heard the whispers and rumours backstage, what did she see in him? How much was he paying her? But never to his face), he and Christy could feel the strength between them. She had shown him that the light and darkness could mesh together with a connection too strong to break. Maybe she wouldn't be with him when he shuffled off this mortal coil, buying him Jack Daniels when he was reduced to the indignity of a wheelchair, but she wanted to last that long. She filled what was left of his soul and understood him and what flowed through his brain. She was so different to the women who had broken his heart, full of a light none of them had possessed. But there was something under her skin that called to him and connected them together. They had a revolution to put into effect in TNA, to shape it to their vision. Christy topped up his glass, he licked a spill of whiskey from her hand, and they watched the rest of the night come alive together.