The Right Thing
Rated: Mature for violence against women, and general violence
Pairing: Steve/Debra, possible Kurt/Debra
Characters: Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Jeff Jarrett, Debra Marshall
Summary: There's always something new to learn backstage.
Disclaimer: Not my men or gals

September 1999

Kurt stood in the doorway of the locker room, fixed on the spot as if his legs were filled with cement and glued to the ground with guerilla glue. His hands shook, his body shook, and his heart pounded nearly out of his chest with each passing second. There adjacent to him stood Steve and Jeff, while Debra was on her knees on the ground cradling her face. He could see the blood pouring down from her nose, staining her delicate skin as she tried so hard not to cry.

"She's my fucking girlfriend ya stupid faggot!" Steve's hands clenched into Jeff's Don't Piss Me Off shirt tearing it as he threw the other man right into the lockers making the smaller man's head bounce against the metal with a sickening sound.

"She's my friend, ya can't smack her around like that!"Jeff's voice wavered as the words fell out of his mouth. He looked dazed from the blow to the back of his head and while he grabbed and Steve's arms in an attempt to get him to loosen and let go, Kurt could tell the gesture was weakened from what it should be. "You're a fuckin' dirt bag Steve, hittin' on a woman ya damn coward- take it out on me if you want to prove how tough ya are."

Debra's shrill shriek echoed off the locker room walls as the force of Steve's punch sent his head snapping to the side. Jeff's yellow glasses flew off his face sliding across the tiled floor. "Steve stop! Ya'll kill him! Leave him alone, please!" She begged and grabbed on to his arm for dear life before Steve could throw another punch at the other man. Though they were roughly the same size, Steve had way more power, more mass, and what she felt might be roid rage coursing through his system.

Steve pushed Debra from his arm, knocking the woman back down to the ground. He threw Jeff to the tiled floor, stepping on the side of his face with his boot. "Don't meddle around in things you don't understand." He hissed out, watching as Jeff's profile winced. He stepped off his face and brought his foot back, kicking him hard in the stomach. The other man howled in pain, holding his torso protectively as he rolled onto his knees. "You're a loser, Jeff. You think I'd ever drop a belt to you or give you a chance? You're on crack if you think ya belong on the top. You're lucky ya get thrown a bone once in awhile." He brought back his foot again, kicking Jeff in the ass. Steve reached back grabbing Debra by the arm and hauled her up to her feet. She sobbed softly into her free hand as the two of them passed by Kurt on the way out.

Steve's arm knocked into Kurt's, Kurt turning to stare at Steve in utter shock. "What? Ya got a problem with somethin' son? This is how things are done back here- ya've been here for a year ya should know this by now. 'Sides a man's gotta protect what's his from everyone, including faggots. Don't you let me catch you makin' eyes at my woman, Kurt. I'll screw you up like I did him and wouldn't think twice about it." He snorted and kept an arm around Debra leading her out of the room.

Kurt felt a knot of rage form in his throat that he had to swallow like a bitter pill. He heard the rumors about Debra and Steve, the whisperings from the girls in charge of hair and makeup but he never witnessed it anything like this. He ran a hand over his face as the shock finally wore out of him and the mobility came rushing back to his legs. He staggered into the locker room, putting his hands on the bench as he leaned over in an attempt to catch his breath. Even though his eyes were open, it took a few moments to register what he was seeing. Jeff was on the ground still, lying motionless on the bloody tile. With an uneasy hand he reached down and touched Jeff's arm. "Jeff?" He whispered.

Jeff blinked one side of his face visible while the other was still pressed up against the tiled floor. Kurt saw the bruising already forming where Steve hit him. His eye and cheek were darkening up with each passing moment. He shut his eyes and let out a soft sigh. "Hi Kurt."

"Can… can you get up?"

He let the thought cross his mind. He was more than willing to count the dust bunnies collecting slowly underneath the bench at the moment. His career had hit the skids pretty hard, he reached an inescapable plateau. Russo was his only ally in the back, and that was for reasons he barely wanted to think about. He lost his best friend; he lost another to Steve who he couldn't save no matter he did. Counting dust bunnies was all he was good for. Jeff let out a sigh, looking up to Kurt with one swollen eye socket while the other leaked what he was hoping were just tears. His body screamed from the kicks. He shook his head.

Kurt reached down and picked him up, mindful of where he saw Steve kick him. Jeff looked weak, barely standing on jelly legs. He kept his arms on his hips, fighting to keep down a wave of rage and nausea as he took in the full sight of Jeff's damaged face. It was swollen in places from the punch, cut up from the tile, bleeding and bruising at a rate that made his stomach churn. "I'm sorry I didn't-"

"Don't be." Jeff shook his head, cutting him off fast. "People get like that. Like… statues. They can't move. They can't do a damn thing but stare for whatever reason. Maybe they're scared a Steve. Maybe they're scared they'll lose their jobs. Maybe they're jus' shocked at the brutality or somethin' ah dunno." He murmured and shook his head. "Mmnot mad though, I don't expect no one to help me. If they won't help Debra, why would they help me?" His body shook and trembled, lurching over in pain as he coughed a sizable amount of blood right in Kurt's face.

Kurt blinked at the sudden warmth on his face. He knew what it was when he saw the remainder of the crimson fluid trail down the corner of Jeff's mouth.

"Oh gawd. Look what I did, I'm sorry, Kurt." Jeff murmured stumbling away from Kurt to fetch a towel from his bag. He limped back over, trying to clean it off of Kurt's cheek. "I'm so, so sorry. I didn't mean to. I didn't even know…"

Kurt stopped him, putting a hand on top of Jeff's. "Jeff, stop. Stop, it's okay."

Jeff stopped moving his hand, looking at Kurt with a sad expression. "No, no it's not okay Kurt. Nothin's okay. Nothin's ever gonna be okay. There's so much wrong, nothin' can be right." He dropped the rag and hung his head, turning around to collect his things. "'Appreciate the concern though. Ya seem like an okay guy, Kurt. Don't let this place change that."

Kurt gingerly put his hand on his shoulder. "Jeff, you should go to the hospital."

"I will." He said through gritted teeth. That was a lie. He didn't want to face the doctors wanting to know what happened to him. "Thank you for your concern Kurt. You don't have to feel guilty. I'm freein' ya of any responsibility ya may feel after witnessin' whatever it is ya'll saw. …But maybe next time ya'll do the right thing." He pulled his shoulder from Kurt's grasp. "See ya 'round, Kurt."

One month later, Jeff was gone. Amidst the rumors and snickerings of people backstage, Jeff was headed to WCW. Kurt sat on the bench, playing the strap of his bag. Admittedly he didn't know Jeff well. He was polite to him and Debra, but mostly kept his distance. Apparently it was not a good idea to get too close to the other man. Whispers of his company loyalty along with accusations of his sexuality, coupled with mentions of his previous gimmick dragging another guy down were enough to make Kurt a little leery of hanging around him too much. However, last month watching Jeff try to save Debra while he stood idly by brought a familiar stab of guilt to his stomach.

Jeff was brave. Braver than most, judging by the few words he uttered to Kurt on that day despite what most others said. He slung his bag over his shoulder heading down the arena hallway. He heard the sounds of sniffling down one of the darkened hallways. He stopped and looked down the hallway for the source of the noise. There was Debra, her head buried in her arms as she cried gently. He approached her, kneeling down beside her. He placed a hand on her arm. "Debra?"

"Kurt, don't look at me." She whispered and inched away.

"Debra, let me see." He said in a firmer tone, carefully reaching out to lift her chin. She didn't fight him, letting him lift her face up. Her makeup smeared showing the ugly black and blue marks underneath. Tears streamed uncontrollably down her face from her puffy blue eyes.

"Ah miss Jeff." She whispered her voice heavy with emotion. "Ah miss him so much. When it was the three a us, it was so much fun. I loved my job so much but know I'm scared to even show my face!" She put her arms around his neck, sobbing softly into his shoulder. "Everything is so different with him gone an' I'm scared! Jeff was the only one who tried to… to… well… ya saw."

"Debra, why the hell are you even with that guy? You could do so much better."

She searched through her purse, blowing her nose into a tissue. "Cause at first it was great. He seemed like my kinda guy, ya know? Tough, manly… I did not realize how possessive an' jealous he was. Now I'm scared he'll hurt me if I break up with him. The things I get my stupid self into, Kurt I swear…"

"You're not stupid, Debra- you're really not. You're a beautiful, smart woman." He held onto the crying woman as she rested her head on his shoulder. The motion was so gentle, it bothered him to think any man could lay his hands on her in a violent way. "He doesn't deserve you. You don't deserve to be smacked around like that." She felt so small and vulnerable in his arms; he wanted to bring her in closer but kept his hold loose in fear of hurting her.

"Jeff would say that." She murmured. "Said Steve's jus' a bully. I didn't listen to him, god Kurt I'm so dumb."

"You're not dumb." He muttered staring at the wall in the darkened corridor. "Steve's the dumb one. Come on." Kurt reached down and picked her up into his strong arms. He carried her out of the darkness, glancing down at her bruised up face. A flash of anger washed over him but he swallowed it down. As he passed by people he knew, he muttered greetings. Normally his coworkers greeted him back, but today they kept their mouths shut and their eyes cast forward. No one wanted to acknowledge him.

He felt a hand on his shoulder, spinning him and Debra around roughly. He stared into Steve's angry face, Kurt's blue eyes narrowing hard at the other man. "What the fuck are you doing with my woman?" Steve shoved him roughly, disregarding that his woman was in Kurt's arms.

Kurt stumbled back, holding on to Debra to prevent her from falling. He set her back on her feet, standing in front of her. "She's not your woman Steve. And I'm not going to let you touch her."

"This don't concern you, Kurt. Do you want to end up like Jarrett? Run outta here like a damn dog?"

"I'm not Jarrett. If more people were, you wouldn't have gotten away with this for so long." Kurt took a step forward. "You can't push and shove me around as easily, though I'll give you a free shot if you want to try. Go on Steve, hit me. Hit me like you hit her. Afraid your hand'll break if you hit something hard instead of soft for once?" He shoved Steve back. "Come on Steve, hit me. Go on. Free shot. Right across the face, because you're a man right? Real men hit women and guys like Jarrett for trying to stick up for them- guys like that aren't real men. So come on Steve, hit me. I know you want to."

Steve fumed, his nostrils flaring and contracting as he snarled. He balled up his fist and cracked Kurt across the jaw. The fight broke out in the corridor, punches, profanity, and anger filled the narrow space. The two men were finally pulled apart by the trainers, bloody and bruised.

Kurt held up his arms and backed off, showing them that he was done. He got his point across multiple times to Steve's face.

"Debra, come on! We're gettin' the hell outta here." Steve demanded and reached out to take her by the arm. Kurt stood in his way again, pushing him back. "Fuck Kurt, get outta my way, that's my damn woman."

Debra shut her eyes, and shook her head. She reached out and wrapped her trembling arms around the former Olympian's arm. "No."

"No, what the hell do you mean no?" He scowled but was pulled back by trainers again. He watched his girlfriend leave with another man, her small hand clenched inside his. He shouted at her but she didn't turn, pressing herself further to him as if his words could no longer hurt her.