Title: All the Difference
Summary: John Cena sets up Dave Batista on a date with RAW's sound engineer, Kate Alistair, to stop him from moping about after his girlfriend breaks up with him. Batista is hardly interested but, as payback, agrees only if Cena will doubledate with him, choosing to set up Cena with his and Kate's friend, Marissa Carlson, a video tech, after learning that she has a crush on Cena. As it seems that John and Marissa may be growing close, Dave and Kate independently decide to keep dating, using each other as an excuse to push the possible couple together, but find themselves interested after all. However, it isn't quite so serendipitous when Kate's nouveau famous ex shows up at RAW and a buxom diva decides she wants Cena all to herself.
Warnings: Rated T or PG-13 for sexual situations, mild language/cussing, and wrestling related violence.
Disclaimer: We do not own the WWE or anything connected to it, we're merely borrowing it. This is not-for-profit fiction. Therefore, poetic licence has been used with the WWE storylines, events, and characters.We have not used wrestlers' real names or families, as that's not something we're comfortable with.It would feel, for instance, that we were writing a story about Orlando Bloom and not his POTC character Will Turner. The views represented in this story are not the views of the WWE, their wrestlers, or the authors. The characters Marissa Carlson, Maddie Carlson, the Carlson family, Kate Alistair, Austin Mitchell, and anyone else you may not recognize from WWE television belong to wandaXmaximoff and Disco Inferno1 -- copyright 2006/2007
Author's Notes: After each independently writing wrestling fan fictions for a number of years, as well as beta'ing for each other, Disco Inferno1 and wandaXmaximoff have decided to team together on a story. While the general pattern was to write a chapter each, we have both collaborated on every chapter of this story and the background work that went into it, throwing ideas backwards and forwards. We hope y'all are happy with the results.
Finally, sorry for the long A/N, disclaimer etc. With a new story, this type of thing is necessary. We hope we didn't bore you to death!
Chapter One: Not My Type
Marissa Carlson's head bopped up and down, her short red hair catching the light, as she made her way around the backstage area of the wrestling arena. The woman was on her daily routine check of the TV monitors before that week's edition of 'Raw'. As assistant video editor and technical engineer for the WWE, it was part of her job to make sure all the television screens were working correctly so that the wrestlers and crew would be able to follow and monitor that night's action while backstage.
However, that was just one of many things on the engineer's list before her duties for that night were complete. She also had to make sure all the footage and vignettes to be shown during the event were ready and make sure every single superstar's entrance video was cued before they went out.
In addition, that wasn't to mention going down to the gorilla position to see Kate. Katherine Alistair - known to her friends as Kate - was the WWE's arena sound engineering technician and Marissa's best friend.
The two had met each other when they were both working in Washington DC's Verizon Center. The women had a mutual interest in wrestling and had soon bonded. As they got to know each other, they discovered they had more and more in common, including a love for music, although their tastes differed.
Walking down to the gorilla, Marissa found Kate hard at work, her long chocolate brown hair pulled back into an untidy ponytail.
"Hey, Kate," Marissa called but the woman had earphones on as she stared at the computer screen. She clicked on a couple of screens and then the redhead yelled at her again.
"Huh? Oh, hey, Cissa," said Kate, looking up and noticing her friend. She pulled the earpieces out and flung them over her shoulder. "So, what's up?"
"Nothing much. How are things going down here?" asked the redhead, checking the monitors within that area of the arena.
"Pretty good. Although, I've been having a time of it with Jeff Hardy's new music. For some odd reason the damn track just won't start in time with the entrance video," replied the brown-haired woman, clicking furiously away on the laptop that stored all of the entrance themes.
"Bummer, want me to go and fetch someone to take a look at it?" suggested Marissa, shoving her hands in the back pockets of her black pants.
"No thanks, I'm sure I'll get it working soon," answered Kate, jerking a plug out of one of the sound boards before staring at it as if warning it that it better work. "So, what's for dinner?" she questioned, finally looking up at her friend.
"I dunno," said the video engineer with a shrug. "It really throws me being back home as I'm so use to eating at the hotel," she mused as she checked the monitor balanced on a table beside Kate's soundboards.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I get so excited when I know we're coming back to DC and then when we finally get here I find it kinda strange," said the sound technician, shoving the offending plug back in. "It's like having a whole week sleeping in my own bed throws my schedule off whack."
"It doesn't help having my father breathing down my throat twenty-four-seven," complained Marissa. "I swear that man has nothing better to do than tell me what a disappointing daughter I am."
"Sorry. I wish he hadn't said anything to you with me around and then act all nice towards me," replied the brown-haired woman, crossing her arms across her chest as she often did when something upset her.
"That's because he actually likes you," teased the redhead, trying to be good-natured about the words she'd had earlier with her father. "Well, I better be getting back to it. I'll see you later."
"Yeah, catch you in a bit, chick," replied Kate as her friend walked off but then called loudly, "Don't forget about dinner."
"I won't," Marissa called back and she left Kate to pull out plugs and stare at them menacingly before reinserting them. The video engineer continued on to make sure all her monitors were functioning as they should.
When she was almost finished, the television screen she was checking started giving her problems. The damn thing was receiving interference from somewhere else and was showing a soap opera as well as the arena that was quickly filling up. She unplugged it a couple of times and twisted it around but to no avail. Finally, she banged the top of it one good time. The screen didn't change. "Oh for pity's sake," she exclaimed, leaving out any curse words.
"Having problems?" asked a deep voice from behind her.
Marissa turned around to see a smartly dressed Dave Batista sitting on a chair behind her.
"Oh, hi, Dave, didn't see you there," she replied. "Yeah, the wretched monitor is playing up. It's my last one too."
Batista chuckled. "Yeah, I could tell you didn't notice me and decided to have myself a seat and wait until the show was over or you hurt yourself, in which case I would have intervened. Did I?"
"What? Intervene before I hurt myself?" she asked with a laugh. "Not unless those things start biting."
"Or until you break one and then break your hand or smash the screen. Why don't you come and join me for a little chat, and take your mind off work for a few minutes?" he suggested, rising from the folding chair on which he was perched and reaching for another.
"Okay then but it's not because I would have smashed the monitor," said the engineer with a grin, getting up from the floor and joining the wrestler in the seat next to him.
"How's little Madison?" the man asked, referring to Marissa's five-year-old daughter.
"She's good, thanks. Glad her mama's home for a couple of extra days but keeping me on my toes as always," laughed the woman and then patted him on the knee. "How are you? Enjoying being back at home?"
"I guess," sighed the black-haired man. "But now I have my mother begging to me to come by and fussing over me."
The red head rolled her eyes. "Oh tell me about it. I have my mother checking if I've eaten properly and my father reprimanding me every twenty seconds."
"I think my mom's getting broody again, wanting to know when her eldest is going to give her grandkids. Since Michelle's two are out of diapers, I think she wants more grandbabies."
"She doesk now you and Alicia broke up?" Batista guilty glanced away and then back at Marissa before giving her a sheepish shrug. "Dave, it's been, what, two months?"
"Yeah, so? I'll tell her on my own time," the wrestler responded. "She really liked Alicia and thought we'd settle down and I want to break it to her gently."
"I think your mom's a wonderful woman but she's got to realize that Alicia couldn't handle you being on the road. Kinda like the rubbish I'm getting from my father," Marissa said but muttered the last more to herself.
Batista couldn't help but laugh despite thinking of Alicia. The two had been like a power couple, like something that would grace the social page of the DC papers. However, the beautiful woman had had enough of Dave being on the road over half the week and, when he wouldn't quit the WWE for her, she quit on their relationship. He was much better off without her, to be honest, but his reticence to date again at the moment was chalked up to heartbreak rather than to the lack of women who wouldn't be pissed at him for being away from home. "Want to go for a coffee tomorrow?" Dave asked, needing another soul to talk to besides Triple H and John Cena. "See if we can cheer each other up."
"Yeah, okay then," replied Marissa and began to rise from her seat but unconsciously dropped back down when she saw John Cena approaching. The woman froze, not knowing whether to leave or stay. Sweat appeared on the engineer's hands and she became hot under the collar. Since joining the WWE just over a year ago, Marissa had had the biggest crush on Cena and it wasn't helped by having to view and edit video footage of him every day on the job.
"Alright, man?" Cena asked inquiring as to how Batista was doing and pulling up a chair next to him. The WWE Champion nodded his head in the redhead's direction and she felt herself nod back, wondering where she found the ability to do so. Oh my goodness, he acknowledged me, Marissa thought.
"Fine, John," replied Batista. "You?" Cena nodded but said nothing more, obviously waiting for Marissa to leave before he spoke to his friend privately. However, the technician had lost all concept of how to speak and remained rooted to her seat. Finally, Batista asked, "You need something?"
The smaller wrestler shrugged and kicked back in the chair as if he was just there to shoot the breeze. A few moments of uncomfortable silence followed as Batista waited for someone to say something. It was actually quite entertaining and he wasn't sure why, maybe because a woman had finally shut John Cena up. He'd find out eventually what the Champion wanted.
Just as Dave was about to say something to make Marissa feel more comfortable, he had no idea why she was uneasy around the other man, the woman finally found her voice. "Well, I better be getting back to work," she said. "I'll see you for coffee tomorrow, Dave?"
The wrestler nodded. "Yeah, do you want to meet at Starbucks around eleven?" he replied.
"Yeah, okay. The one just next to the drug store?" checked Marissa. Again, Batista nodded his head. "Alright, see you tomorrow," said the red head, getting up to leave.
"Yeah, see you then," Dave replied as the technician walked off.
As soon as Marissa was out of hearing range, Cena began to speak. "Who was that? Don't tell me you've actually stopped moping about and got yourself a date?"
The older wrestler laughed. "No, Marissa and I are just friends. I met her a few years ago when I was doing some charity work at the Verizon Center. Then one night before a promo, I thought I recognized her. Turns out a friend of hers had just gotten her a job as the assistant video editor," he replied.
"Oh, right," said the brown-haired man. "Damn and here was me thinking you'd actually decided to stop complaining and found yourself a woman," he teased.
Batista rolled his eyes. "I've told you, man. After last time, I'm not going there."
"No, that's what you said at first," corrected Cena. "Remember you promised to try meeting someone who worked within the company."
"Yeah," replied Batista and defensively folded his arms across his chest. "And I told you there wasn't anyone."
"That's just because you haven't been looking. There's plenty of women around here."
"There's no way on god's green earth that I'll date any of the available divas," insisted Batista.
"Why? Is there one that's not available you're willing to date? I'm sure I could work out an arrangement," the Champion responded with as much seriousness as he could muster. The other wrestler only glared at him. "I don't just mean divas. McMahon has gone on a hiring spree of women. You know, that whole affirmative action thing. There's loads in the crew."
"Okay, you find me one good looking woman, apart from Marissa, who's part of the crew," challenged the black-haired man.
"When did looks become so important? I thought you were much deeper than that," the other man mocked.
"Kiss my ass," Dave replied with a joking glare.
"Okay, okay, what about that cute little brunette that works on the sound? Always in the gorilla position, always cues our entrances. You see her every night you make an entrance. You know, the sound girl, Kate," Cena prodded and then suggested. "I could see if she's available?"
"Kate? Kate Alistair?" Dave questioned as if he wasn't hearing John right.
"Oh, no, you've already done something to piss her off," Cena replied, looking a little deflated.
"No, nothing like that. Kate and Marissa are best friends. You know, Marissa the redhead that was just here that you've somehow managed to not notice, probably because you're so full of yourself you can't think about anybody but yourself."
"Hey, I resemble that remark," John replied, faking offense. "Seriously, what is it with Kate that you wouldn't at least try to date her?"
"It's just…well, she's not my type."
"What? Doesn't wear skin tight clothes and have boobs out to here," Cena asked, rounding his hands in front of his chest to indicate large breasts. "Seriously, man, she's cute. Just consider it and I'll ask her for you."
"Are we in grade school again?" Dave asked, straightening his tie. "No, and I mean no."
"I'm not taking that as your final answer," John replied, rising from his seat and pointing a finger at him.
"Let me tell you, I sure ain't polling the audience or phoning a friend," Batista sarcastically replied, resisting the urge to laugh and flip him off.
With 'Raw' in full swing, Kate was still cursing Jeff Hardy's entrance music. The wrestler would be up in another half an hour and she wondered how thirty more minutes of working on it after three hours already would solve her problems. "Damn bloody thing," she muttered, hoping Jeff…or McMahon, for that matter, wouldn't mind that his entrance video didn't sync with the music.
Someone laughed from behind her and she whirled around, one half of her headphones hanging off her head, to see the WWE Champion, John Cena, grinning at her.
"Unless you're here to help me get this track working, I suggest you get lost," the sound engineer bit out in frustration. John could be a pest wanting to play with her equipment but still, she loved to talk all things music with him.
"Okay then, let's have a look," said the WWE Champion, walking over to the mixing boards.
"Don't you dare," she ordered, extremely protective of her equipment.
"You want it to work or not?"
"And you think that because you cut an album that you know everything?" she teased and moved out of his way, surprised at herself that she was going to let him look at it.
"What's the problem?"
"I can't get the music to sync with the video," Kate replied, pointing at the computer screen. The system was rather sophisticated to look so simple. All the tracks she would need were stored on the laptop and it only took the click of one button that choreographed the entrance video and the pyrotechnics. The two thirty-two channels boards, still looking so simple, were plugged into every audio outlet source in the arena. She was the master of volume and, if she so chose, she could rock the rafters of any venue…or cut off certain superstars' microphones, although she didn't have the authority to do so as much as she wished she did.
"There's your problem," he said, pointing at particular box with the track info. "You've got it on manual."
"No, I don't," she quickly replied, not wanting to admit that she had checked everything but that, simply because she just knew she had already done so.
"When the track hadn't started immediately, you always clicked on it again, right?"
"Yeah," she replied slowly because he was right and it bothered her immensely.
"There you go then," said the brown-haired man, trying to turn off the manual function.
"Move," she ordered, reaching out with her left hand and right clicking. "Left-handed mouse, goober."
"That's the thanks I get?" he asked with a grin as she repositioned her headphones and started to turn away.
Kate snorted. "It would go to your head and why would I want to inflate it anymore?"
"Fine, then," John angrily replied but she knew he was joking.
"Seriously, thanks," replied the brunette. "Just gimme a shout if you ever need anything in return."
"Actually," said the WWE Champion, acting as if he had just come up with the idea when in all reality that was why he was there in the first place. "There is something you could do to repay me."
Kate raised a questioning eyebrow. "Oh no, don't tell me you're as bad as Randy Orton and you're going to start hitting on me too," she said. "I know you better than that…or at least I hope I do."
Cena laughed. "Well, not exactly. I was hoping you'd agree to go on a date with a friend of mine," he said.
"What's wrong with him that he can't find women on his own?" questioned the brunette, nodding at her assistant who signaling her to remind her of Umaga's run-in for the current match.
Again, the WWE Champion laughed. "Nothing, I promise. It's just he's a little shy, especially when it comes to beautiful women," he replied, turning on the charm, hoping to twist her arm.
Kate scoffed. "I see right through you, buddy. Don't even try."
"No, really, he's sorta shy about this kind of thing."
"Okay, maybe. But first you have to tell me who it is," Kate replied but then held her hand up to stop John. "You ready?" she called to Umaga, who had just appeared. When he nodded, she adjusted a few channels and then added, "You're on, big man."
"Thanks," the wrestler called back and stepped up to the black curtain.
John watched as Kate pulled on her headphones, started the track, and reduced one of the channels. When the pyro went off, the floor shook under them. "Love it every time," she said, pulling her headphones off and then turned back to Cena. "So who is it? You don't tell me, I won't go."
"Alright. It's Dave Batista," replied Cena.
"What? That guy is having trouble finding dates?" insisted the sound engineer.
"Yeah," said the brown haired man, shaking his head. "It's kinda sad really, but he's been moping around like a lost soul. You'd be doing me a real favour by agreeing to go out with him."
"Dave Batista shy?" Kate said to herself, shaking her head. John had to resist the urge to laugh because he knew it wasn't exactly true. "No, thanks."
"Because he's not exactly my type," she replied.
"What? Tall, dark, and handsome?" he asked and then added, "Just remember you said if I needed anything in return."
"Okay," conceded Kate, watching the monitor instead of looking at John. "But only because you helped me out just now."
Once again, she held up her hand and then clicked on the cued track to signal Umaga's devastating destruction of both opponents in the ring.
"Great, it's a date then. Dave will be really pleased," said Cena, grinning broadly at his plans that were starting to come together.
"Yeah, well, he better," Kate replied.
"I'll get back with you about the details later," the wrestler added before walking off.
The brunette tugged her earphones in place and checked the card for the next superstar to need a microphone so she could adjust the output levels all the while thinking about what she had just committed to. Not only was Batista not her type, she wasn't histype. He was rich, full of himself, and loose. She didn't care if Marissa said that he had just broken up with a steady girlfriend. The kind of man he was and the position he was in, he slept around.
However, she would admit that were things different, she might be interested. He was extremely good-looking. Put him in a suit and she would at least do a double-take. They had never said a word beyond his 'thanks' or 'okay' in response to her cues for his entrance music. He had never really given her a personal reason to dislike him and it wasn't that she disliked him, she just didn't like him in any other way. Kate sighed, flicked a couple of buttons for the hell of it during the commercial, and thought, Well, it's only one date. How bad can it be?
Cena practically skipped down the corridor to the men's lockerroom --Batista couldn't back out now. Pushing the door open, he waltzed in and straddled the bench that Dave was sitting on, pulling his elbow brace up his forearm.
"What?" the larger wrestler asked without looking up --he had already seen the wide grin on the other man's face out of the corner of his eye.
"I just talked to Kate Alistair."
"Good for you, you know how to carry on a conversation with another woman," Dave facetiously replied, turning away to pick up a water bottle.
"Oh, stop with the sarcasm, would you?" Cena asked and the other wrestler turned back around, waiting to hear what he had to say now. "Kate is expecting a date with you. So now you have to say 'yes'."
"What?" the dark-haired man exclaimed.
"I asked Kate if she would go on a date with you and she said 'yes', so you have to go now."
"No," Batista tersely replied. When John started to protest, the number one contender to the belt cut him off. "Don't you have a match to get ready for? You know, ourmatch, where I get to beat your ass on a DQ?"
With Dave looking him over, Cena replied, "I've just got to change my shoes. Now, back to Kate. You're gonna break her heart."
"Wouldn't be the first heart I've ever broken."
"Dave," the Champion chided.
"Okay, if I agree though, you've gotta come with me," insisted the other man, folding his arms across his chest.
"Alright. But to be honest, man, there's no other hot chicks within the technical crew."
"Now look who's being shallow."
"Sorry. There's not any more intelligent, interesting women in the crew," John replied in a 'whatever' tone.
"Yeah, pickings are pretty slim when you put it that way." Batista paused a moment. "Wait...hang on... I've got an idea. I could ask Marissa to go with you. She's really nice, you'll have a laugh with her," suggested the older wrestler.
"What, that redhead from earlier?"
"If your head wasn't screwed on, you'd forget it. Yeah, her."
"Okay, but only to stop you sulking around your hotel room," conceded the brown-haired man with a shrug.
"I'm not sulking--" Dave paused when John mutter a 'whatever.' "You got me into this and you're going despite whether or not I quit 'sulking'." Batista made rabbit ear in the airs with his fingers.
"You really need to relax, you know that?"
Batista rolled his eyes but ignored the comment otherwise. "I'll ask Marissa when I meet her for coffee tomorrow," said Batista. "For your sake, you better hope she doesn't say 'no'."
"Really? What are going to do, power bomb me? No, wait, you're already doing that tonight anyhow," Cena replied with a laugh.
"Just get ready," Dave replied, popping up from the bench and heading out of the lockerroom to stretch.