Disclaimer: I own nothing except the idea.

This story will be very different from anything else that I have written, and will have a slightly special place in my heart. I have been working on this chapter for the past few days to get it just right. To set the tone and pace of the story, and to drop hints for things to come. Please let me know what you think.


She loved her job, she really did. But, sometimes, her character managed to get into some rather…sticky situations.

Like being covered in quickly drying beer. And the 'exclusive commercial footage' that they just filmed of her dancing and twirling around the ring didn't help. Her pretty blue dress was plastered to her like a second skin. The tapered ends twining around her leg like a snake. Like they belonged there. Her hair, too, stuck to her face, the smell of beer permeating the air all around her. Not that she wasn't a fan of beer, but she preferred harder liquor, personally.

A towel was waiting for her as she stepped off the stage and through the gorilla position. She gratefully accepted it from a waiting stagehand.

"Thank you," she said, a little breathily, as she gifted the young man with a smile as she walked away. Holding the towel close to her chest, she made her way out into the hall, away from the traffic of people, not wanting to get in the way.

Looking at the pristine towel in her hands, and then glancing at her alcohol plastered body, she really began to wonder where to start. Which spot would make the most difference before moving on to the next? The dripping locks of hair in front of her eyes answered that question for her, as she gently brought the towel up to start sopping at the strands.

"Hey," a gruff male voice interrupted her sad attempts at drying herself.

"Yes?" she said, looking up, surprised to see the man of the hour, Stone Cold Steve Austin, standing in front of her. It was one thing to be hosed down with beer by the man in front an audience of thousands, but quite another to actually have a conversation with him. He was a legend, one of the most popular Superstars ever to be involved with the company, and she was a little intimidated to be honest.

"Great job out there," he complimented her with a nod.

"Oh, thank you," she said, meaning every word. "It was great, actually, a lot of fun."

He almost laughed at her enthusiasm, mostly because beer was still dripping from her hair, her clothing, hell, her entire body. "You really took it well," he continued, "not many of the other Diva's would have done it without complaining."

She laughed, she couldn't help it, because she could think exactly of which women would have done that, complained about getting soaked in beer, hair and makeup ruined, clothing saturated. Some, because they wouldn't want to look bad in front of an audience, didn't want their perfect hair or nails messed up, and others because they felt such stunts were below them. Oh, none would complain outright, and the girls were generally really nice, but she knew what they said, heard things murmured in the locker room. But Maria? No, she was just glad to be out there, to be entertaining. Yes, she loved wrestling, and was steadfastly working to improve her abilities, but she was so grateful every time they wrote for her to be out there.

"Thank you," she said again, moving the towel to press at her face, "that means a lot."

He smiled again, laughing at her eagerness. "Some of the guys are taking me out after the show tonight. After what went on out there, you should come, you definitely deserve it."

Her eyes widened, "Oh, um, thank you. That'd be great. I think I heard Melina talking about that before. In that case, I need to hit the shower. As much as I like beer, I don't think I want to be walking around swimming in it."

Steve just laughed and waved as she walked away, heading back towards the women's locker room.

Once inside, she made her way over to her bag to pull out a fresh change of clothing, her soaps and shampoos. It's like a college dorm, this way, she thought with a shake of her head, as she stepped into the shower.

Half an hour, and one deliciously hot shower later, Maria was beer free and dressed in a clean set of clothing. Getting the smell out of her hair, however, had proved to be more difficult than she thought, having used a good majority of her shampoo trying to get the stink out.

On her way back out to the main area, she nearly ran headlong into Melina. While the two didn't start as friends, they grew steadily closer, now traveling together, once it was established that Maria was in the company to be more than just a pretty face. They trained together down in Florida when they had time, and Melina wasn't spending time with her boyfriend, who happened to be on the blue brand. They even went on a few shopping excursions; oohing and aahing over the latest fashions or expounding the virtues, or lack thereof, of the newest music and movie releases. They each truly valued the long simmering friendship.

"Hey!" the darker haired girl said, stopping short in an effort to avoid running into the taller brunette. "You almost ready? We're gonna meet the others at the restaurant, I think Michelle and Taker went ahead and reserved a table for us all."

"Yeah, sure," Maria replied, as she haphazardly put the rest of her stuff away, shoving it in the bag, figuring that if it was already dirty there was no need to worry about wrinkles. Quickly grabbing a hair tie from her bag, she threw her wet hair up into a bun. She slung her gym bag on her shoulder, and said, "Alright, ready to go. You set?"

Melina nodded, "Yup!"

For how she came across on screen, the tumultuous Jezebel of World Wresting Entertainment, Melina really was a very bubbly person, and usually filled with optimism, which was much how Maria's character was portrayed. People would be shocked if they actually sat down and talked with the girl, all the naysayers and internet 'experts'.

"Alright, you got the keys, right?"

As Melina nodded in response, Maria slung her overly large purse over her other shoulder, and palmed the handle to her Louis Vuitton carryon.


The trip to the restaurant didn't last long, both girls secretly glad that they decided on going to an actual restaurant than their usual celebratory location of a club. Moreover because it was a casual place. Most of their party had red eye flights that night, and thanks to the three hour time difference between the actual start time of the show and the time it aired on the east coast, they had plenty of time to eat and get to the airport without too much rushing.

Upon arriving at the restaurant they found themselves the last to appear. With help from the hostess, they gracefully wove their way to find their table tucked in the back of the dining area. Or, as tucked away as a large group of professional wrestlers could be, what with most of the men being heads above everyone else in the room.

"Hey, baby," Melina greeted her boyfriend of a year with a quick kiss as she took her seat next to him.

Dave smiled as he looked at her. "What took you so long? Didn't think you were going to show," he laughed.

She smiled in response and tilted her chin in the direction of Maria, who had taken the last available seat in between Michelle and Kane. "Well, someone, took a bit of a long shower. Slowed us up, so don't go blaming me," she joked, trying to hold in a laugh.

After Maria sat down, she glanced at the man on her left and murmured a quick greeting. She quickly clearing her throat in an attempt to cover a blush when he replied, turning her face away to speak to Michelle.

Dinner progressed nicely, with plenty of laughter and teasing and embarrassing stories to go around. Luckily for the Diva's though, the majority of the embarrassments were saved for their male counterparts. The girls didn't escape completely unscathed however, Hunter distinctly recalling a few instances when Melina had managed to botch her signature ring entrance ("The rope was slippery, so it wasn't my fault," she came right back with a smirk, "besides, I didn't hear you all complaining, since I just had to do it again!")

Maria took in the proceedings, quietly sitting back, watching and listening, smiling and putting in commentary when the conversation required. As much as she thrived on being in the ring, she loved evenings like this, where she could just sit back, relax, and not worry about thousands of eyes dissecting her every move.

Once the check was paid ("It's on Vince," Hunter laughed, brandishing one of the companies credit cards), the group left the restaurant, passing tired wait staff and busboys who were eager to close up for the night. They took pause for a moment on the sidewalk outside to say their last minute goodbyes to each other.

"Oh, excuse me," a rushed sounding blonde said as she made her way, eyes down, through the group of wrestlers, to meet a car idling at the curb. Waiting with the passengers side door open was a stern looking man.

As the woman came up to stand in front of him, she greeted, "Thank you."

He cleared his throat.

The smirk in her face was evident when she replied, "Sir."

Scowling at her down turned face, he gestured for her to enter the car.

Maria was startled out of her observation by Melina, "Love her outfit," she complimented of the designer distressed jeans and silk, scoop-necked shirt, covered by an unbuttoned plaid Burberry coat. "But, geez, is that a…oh, my God. It is!"

Turning to her friend, she asked, "What?"

"Well, a collar. I mean, it's nice, leather and all, but it's got a padlock on it. Huh. I didn't think people actually did that."

"Did what?" Maria asked, turning back to the couple who had disappeared into the sleek car.

Melina simply shook her head and walked off to the car.

The rest of the group broke apart to head to their respective cars, two pairs of eyes looked towards the direction of the departing car: one was a pair of curious hazel ones, the other was contemplative as it took in the wide-eyed brunette.