Dancing with the Devil
by Karen U.
"Aunt Debra! Uncle Steve!"
The busty blonde grinned as the redheaded whirlwind came her way, reaching out to pull her niece into her arms, hugging her tightly. "Willow, honey, it's so good to see you."
Willow Rosenberg hugged her aunt a little tighter, then pulled away, turning to her uncle. "It's so good to see you, too. Both of you," she said as she let her Uncle Steve pull her into a big bear hug that nearly took her breath away.
"Hey, hey, need to breathe here!" she said with a laugh, playfully shoving Steve away, then looking from one to the other. "I can't tell you how excited I am to see you two."
"I imagine I'm just as excited," Debra returned with a grin, pushing her blonde hair out of her face. "I've missed you so much, little one. It's been, what? A year since we saw you. Now you're even more grown up. Geez, you're twenty-one now-"
"Old enough to drink legally," Steve said, earning a groan from both women.
"That is not all there is to life, darling," Debra reminded her husband, and Steve Austin made a face.
"Yeah, there's the Undisputed Championship, too, but that little twerp Jericho has that," he said, then quickly added at his wife's look. "And family. Family's important, too. Extremely important. The root of all evil... No, wait. That's money. Family is the root of good stuff."
Willow turned to look at her aunt. "How much has he had to drink today?" she questioned, and Debra laughed delightedly as she hooked her arm through her niece's starting to head over to the baggage pick-up.
"Not a thing, surprisingly enough," she replied. "He was just so excited about you coming here-"
"Oh, really?" Willow said questioningly, sending a look over her shoulder at her uncle, who looked decidedly embarrassed by the revelation. It was funny, she supposed, that she felt so much more at home with her southern belle of an aunt and her redneck uncle than she did with her parents, but it was the truth. Debra and Steve made her feel wanted, which was a nice change from the way she felt in the home of Sheila and Ira Rosenberg. Her father had cared at first, sure, but he'd lost interest in having a daughter as she had gotten older, and her mom... Well, it was certainly something that Debra had never met Buffy and hadn't seen Xander in years but still referred to them by name and knew exactly who they were while Sheila called them Bunny and that Harris boy as if she'd never met them before in her life. Geez, it was still so hard to believe that the smiling blonde she was standing with was Sheila's younger sister, but she was. But back to her slightly embarrassed-looking uncle... "Why, Uncle Steve, I'm touched...I didn't know you cared."
He gave her a gruff look, trying not to look like he was blushing, rubbing at his bald head. "Yeah, well, don't let it get around. I'm the-"
"Toughest son of a bitch in the World Wrestling Federation, I know," Willow replied, nodding her head solemnly. "You eat babies for breakfast and all that."
Steve made a face. "Well, actually, I drink beer for breakfast, but that just doesn't sound quite as disgusting or creepy as what you just said," he informed her, and Willow sighed, trying not to make a face at her own comment. Truth was, they'd just vanquished a nasty-looking and thoroughly evil demon that did just that back in Sunnydale. The damn thing had knocked her for a loop in the battle, too, which was why when the invitation to join them for a few weeks had come from Deb and Steve, she'd jumped at the chance. Her life in Sunnydale had become just a little too much to take as of late, and she needed the break. Buffy and the others had thought it would be good for her, too, encouraging her to go, even... Willow preferred to think that they had encouraged her to go because she needed the break and not because they didn't want her around, but part of her couldn't help wondering what the true reason was. Sometimes she just felt like they didn't trust her anymore... Not that she had really given them much reason to trust her.
But that wasn't what she was here to think about.
"So, Willow, how many bags did you bring?" Debra questioned as they went to the baggage claim.
"Uh, two, actually."
"Just two? For three weeks or more? Oh, honey, we are going to *have* to do some shopping while you're with us. Lots of it. You got your parents' credit cards?" the woman questioned with a smirk, reminding Willow of just how well Debra and Sheila *didn't* get along. In fact, if Sheila knew where it was that Willow had headed for three weeks, she would have pitched a fit.
"I have my own money, actually," Willow replied, thinking of just how much money she had made doing some freelance computer work over the past several years. No, money was not something she lacked.
"But it's more fun to spend someone else's," Debra replied with a grin that had Steve mentally tallying just how much of Debra's shopping his wallet could handle over the next month or so while Willow was with them... Small price to pay to see his wife so happy, though. Willow was, quite honestly, one of Debra's favorite people in the entire world, and well... He liked her, too. "Oh, and I'll have to introduce you to some of the other women... Especially Lita. You'll like her."
"She hates me," Steve put in helpfully as he snagged the first of Willow's bags, and his wife glared at him.
"Well, you did hit her with a chair six times."
"Hey, I'm sorry for that now. I'll even tell her so. It won't happen again, I promise," he said dutifully, then added at Debra's look. "I will never again hit a diva with a chair."
"You better not-"
"Unless it's Stephanie," he finished up, trying not to laugh as both women suddenly smacked him upside the head, shouting in unison.
"Now, you be careful while we're here. No running around without one of us."
"Yes, Uncle Steve," the redhead said a bit dutifully, trying not to roll her eyes at the man's warnings, but he could somehow tell she was denying herself the gesture of exasperation and he gave her a look.
"Come on, now. There are some people back here that you do not need to be running into alone. They're mean, they're nasty, and some of them are actually pretty disgusting. Trust me, I know."
Willow lifted her brows. So far it didn't sound like too much of a change from Sunnydale. Except, of course, for the fact that the people Steve was talking about were just that... people. As in human. "Uh, Uncle Steve, I can actually take care of myself pretty well. I'll be okay-"
"And don't call me that while other people are around. At least, not unless I say it's okay."
"Call you what?"
"Uncle Steve," he informed her, and she lifted her brows again.
"And just why not? Are you embarrassed to let people know that you're related to me... Albeit by marriage, but still..."
He gave her a warning look. "Willow, you know that's not true. You're my absolute favorite niece-"
"Aren't I your only niece?"
"Whatever. The point, I just don't want to see you get hurt while you're here. We've got some pretty nasty guys here, and they might go after you to get to me."
The redhead crossed her arms over her chest, cocking her head slightly. "And just how many guys have gone after Aunt Debra in order to get to you?" she questioned, and he scowled.
"Well, um, recently... Not so many."
"That's what I thought. Steve - *Uncle* Steve - don't worry about me so much. I can handle more than you think I can," she told him, and his eyes narrowed slightly as he took in her expression.
"And the thing that worries me is... I actually believe you. Can't say as much I like that," he told her, scratching his head a little. "Anyway, the point is Willow, I want you to be safe while you're here-"
"Which probably means you should stay the hell away from the likes of me," a new voice put in, and both Willow and Stone Cold turned to find a rather large man standing in the doorway, his hair pulled back in a ponytail, and Austin scowled at the visitor.
"Willow, this is Triple H. He's the sumbitch-"
"That once had you run over with a car?" Willow supplied, looking at the very large, very muscular man with the rather prominent nose and intense gaze. The word 'intimidating' flashed through her mind... This man defined it. "The man you dropped from a crane or something like that?"
"Well, um, yeah. Hunter and I are tagging together tonight, so-"
"So I just find it a little odd that you would actually agree to tag with a guy who once had you run over with a car," she said, lifting her eyebrows at her uncle, and he smiled slightly. "See, where I'm from, you have people that do that put in jail, you don't team up with them. But then again, that's just us."
"Yeah, well, at least this way I'll know where the long-nosed sumbitch is. We were once tag team champions together, you know."
"Was that before or after you hit Lita with a chair six times?"
"During, actually," Triple H responded as he stepped into the room, eyeing the little redhead who was sitting on the table, her legs swinging back and forth, admittedly amused by her. Not too many people would give Stone Cold Steve Austin lip like she had been doing... At least, they wouldn't and get away with it. "So, Austin, you going to introduce me to your friend?"
"No," Steve replied flatly, and Willow snorted, sliding off the table to extend her hand, which Triple H took, vaguely noting that both of her hands would probably fit inside one of his. Damn, but she was a little thing.
"I'm Willow Rosenberg. His niece... By marriage, actually."
"Ah, so you're from Debra's side of the family, then?" At her nod, he smirked, looking over at Austin. "Well, that explains why you actually have manners. As your uncle told you, I'm Triple H, but you can call me Hunter. It's far nicer than what Austin calls me."
Willow smirked slightly. "I'll be sure to let you know about that," she said, and then Stone Cold stepped forward, smacking at their hands.
"Okay, okay! That's enough physical contact. Don't touch her."
Hunter lifted a brow. "You planning on doing that every time someone introduces themselves to her?" he questioned, vaguely thinking about how funny it would be to see Austin do that to Ric Flair... or the Rock for that matter.
"Actually, no. There were a few people I was thinking about actually punching if they touched her."
"Is Angle one of them?"
"Then I'd say we're on the same page for once," Triple H said. "We've got him and Jericho tonight-"
"Which means a foreign object or two will be brought into the ring," Austin said with a nod, thinking of the way the Undisputed Champion usually managed to remain the Undisputed Champion. "We'll have to be ready."
"For him, and for Stephanie," Hunter reminded him, making a face, not liking that he had to bring up his soon to be ex-wife but knowing it had to be said. Ever since things had come to a head and he'd dumped her instead of renewing their wedding vows, Stephanie had done her damnedest to cost him every match she possibly could...
Willow sat there quietly for a few minutes longer, listening to the two men go from insulting Hunter's ex-wife to actually discussing their match, and after awhile she stood up and headed for the door. Steve looked at her in confusion when she did, and the little redhead quickly mouthed that she was going to find Debra before continuing through the door. Her aunt had headed for the divas' locker room, saying she wanted to wait for Lita and Lilian, both of whom she was adamant that Willow needed to meet. Since Steve had given her the general lay-out of the arena they were at for the day, Willow figured she wouldn't have any trouble finding the locker room. And she wouldn't have, really...
That is, if trouble hadn't found her first.
Willow made her way slowly through the halls of the arena, looking curiously around as she headed in what she had been told was the direction of the women's locker room. She asked a blonde lady - who had introduced herself as Lilian Garcia, the ring announcer - where it was, and Lilian had shown her the general direction... She just hoped she found it as easily as the blonde woman had made it sound.
Sighing, the little redhead continued on her way, turning a corner and nearly bumping into a tall blonde woman who had her hair in a ponytail. "Oh, I'm sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going," the blonde apologized, and Willow shrugged.
"And I'm not exactly *sure* where I'm going, so I wasn't really paying much attention to what's going on around me," the redhead replied, and the other woman frowned.
"What are you looking for? Maybe I can help. I'm Torrie Wilson, by the way," she added almost as an afterthought, offering her hand to the other woman, and Willow shook it.
"Willow Rosenberg. I'm-"
"Debra and Steve Austin's niece," Torrie finished for her cheerfully, then grinned at Willow's look of surprise, hurrying to explain. "I just came from the divas locker room, and Debra was in there, so she told me you had come to visit. It's really nice to meet you, by the way."
"Nice to meet you, too. Is, uh, was Debra still in there when you left? That's who I'm looking for. I was with Steve, but Triple H came by to talk about their tag team match tonight, so I thought I'd find Debra and maybe explore a little," she said, and Torrie nodded.
"Sounds like a plan," she said, then linked arms with the little redhead. "Come on, I'll take you to her, and tell you anything you want to know about the WWF in the meantime..."
"You know, that could be a dangerous offer," Willow replied, and Torrie laughed.
"Maybe... So, how long are you here for? Debra didn't say for sure, just that you were visiting."
"A few weeks, maybe more," the redhead stated, and the blonde nodded.
"Well, you'll have plenty of time to get used to everyone by then... And annoyed by most of us. Have Debra and Steve told you who to avoid?" she questioned, and the witch shook her head.
"Not really. Steve told me not to go anywhere without one of them, though... And you can see how well I'm following *those* instructions," Willow stated, causing Torrie to laugh.
"Well, obedience isn't really a trait many of us have," the blonde diva admitted, then sighed. "Well, in terms of women, steer clear of Jazz. She's pretty scary... And Stacy's very self-centered and vain. All of her conversations center around her. Avoid Stephanie if at all possible. She's Vince McMahon's daughter, and the woman is trouble-"
"Triple H's soon to be ex-wife, right?" Willow clarified, and Torrie nodded, sending Willow a look.
"Yeah. He did well to be rid of her. She lied to him and said she was pregnant, and... She's just bad news. The other women are nice enough, though. Molly's sweet, if a little odd, and Lita's so cool... She seems really tough and all, and she is, but she's nice, too. Trish is pretty nice, and Jackie's nicer than she seems at first. And Lilian - the ring announcer - is great. Ivory will talk your ear off, but she's not on the road right now, so you may not get to meet her. Terri's a bit of a brat, but she's not on the road, either... She's co-hosting Excess right now," the blonde said, and Willow sighed, her eyes wide.
"This is going to be a lot to remember, isn't it?" she said, and Torrie laughed.
"Once you meet everybody, it'll get a lot easier. Of course, I haven't even started in on the guys yet... And there are tons of them. Most of them won't bother you, though. I walk out with Tajiri, and he's really great. I'll introduce you, but I should warn you... He's Japanese, and he doesn't speak much English."
"Well, um, actually, I know some Japanese," Willow told the other woman, and the blonde grinned in response.
"Oh, that's great. Sometimes it just gets really frustrating for all that are concerned when I have to translate everything-"
"Well, well, well. Look who we have here."
Willow and Torrie stopped at the sound of the voice, the tall blonde woman frowning at the two men standing in front of them and blocking their path. "What do you want, Test?" she questioned, vaguely wondering if she should try to get Willow to just make a run for it or something. Test was, after all, incredibly unpredictable, and Christian wasn't exactly Mr. Stable himself, either.
"Oh, I want a lot of things, and you just happen to be one of them," he said with a smirk, and Willow could feel Torrie stiffen beside her.
"Well, you don't always get what you want," the tall blonde woman said, making a move as if to go, and Test reached out to grab her arm.
"Not so fast, Torrie-"
"Damn it, let her go!" Willow said, and Test shot a look her way.
"Oh, who's your little friend?" he questioned, then smirked. "I always liked redheads. I mean, there's Lita-"
"Who told you no as flatly as I did," Torrie spat out, cringing as Test reached out to grab Willow's hair... Only to be rewarded by a knee to the groin.
"You little bitch!" he swore as he released her, and both Willow and Torrie stumbled backwards, turning to go.
"I don't think so," Christian said as he grabbed each woman by the arm. Torrie went for his eyes with her fingernails, and he shoved her away, tossing her into the wall before turning to Willow, gripping her arms with both hands, his hold on her tight enough that she thought he was going to leave bruises. "That was not very smart-"
"Get the hell away from those women!"
The shout came from an unfamiliar voice, and Willow slumped against the wall as someone slammed into Christian from behind, looking up in time to see a tall blonde man - somewhere between Christian and Test in height - throwing him to the ground, and a guy with dark brown hair nailing a recovering Test with a chair. A third guy, his orangish-blonde hair mostly hidden beneath a baseball cap, was checking on Torrie, and then he turned to her, concern evident in his green eyes.
"You okay?" he questioned in a soft southern voice as the other two men came back, Test and Christian retreating down the hall and no longer worth their time.
"Yeah, I'm fine... But, uh, who exactly were those guys?" she questioned, and Torrie sighed before answering, rubbing at the arm that had slammed into the wall.
"The big one was Test. He's, uh, he's slowly working his way down the women's roster and being turned down by each and every one of us," she said, and Willow lifted her brow.
"And the other one?" she asked, drawing a scowl from the tall blonde man standing next to her.
"He's my brother."
"I'll kill them! I'll frickin' kill them! Twist their little neck... Those little sumbitches-"
"Uncle Steve, calm down. I'm fine," Willow interrupted her uncle's tirade, sending a look over at the dark-haired man who had brought her back to the locker room, citing the fact that she shouldn't be alone in the halls after what had happened - his name was Matt Hardy. His younger brother Jeff had been the man with the orangish-blonde hair and the baseball cap, and he had gone with Torrie to go find Debra and let the blonde woman know what had happened. The third man - the tall blonde guy named Edge - had gone off in search of someone, though Willow wasn't sure who.
"You are not fine. Those two little bastards are going to have to answer to me tonight-"
"You already have a match, Steve. You're tagging with Triple H against Jericho and Angle, remember?" the redhead reminded him, glancing over at Triple H, who was standing in the corner with his arms crossed over his broad chest. He had an annoyed look on his face, though Willow wasn't sure if he was annoyed at having his strategy session interrupted or at what had happened to Torrie and Willow.
"We've got it covered, Austin," Matt spoke up, and Steve whirled around to look at the younger man.
"Now just what is that supposed to mean-"
"It means that Jeff and I already have a match against Test and Christian tonight, and Edge just went to try and bully his way into it so it'll be a handicap match," the elder Hardy brother replied. In all honesty, he didn't have a great deal of trust in Austin, nor did he really like him all that well, not with the way the man had acted in the past, but that didn't mean he didn't understand how the other man felt right now. To have his niece get attacked like that...
"And why would he do that?" Steve asked, and Matt sighed, opening his mouth to speak, only to have someone else answer instead.
"Because his brother's an asshole, and Edge knows it and feels guilty whenever Christian does something to hurt someone," a voice from the doorway said, and they all turned to look at the new arrivals. Torrie, Jeff, and Debra were all standing there, along with a redheaded woman - the person who had apparently spoken - that Willow could only assume was Lita. After all, hadn't that jerkoff Test said something about Lita being a redhead...?
Debra flicked a glance between her husband and the diva that he had once hit half a dozen times with a steel chair, then entered the room, heading over to her niece. "Willow, honey are you okay?" she asked, looking over the young woman for any visible signs of injury, and Willow sighed.
"I'm fine, Debra. The guy was just a creep," she said, refraining from mentioning that she'd dealt with far worse than that. A snotty wrestler was nothing compared to a pissed off hell-god... Or an invincible, demon-wannabe mayor, either.
"You can say that again," Jeff muttered, shoving his hands in his pockets as he shot a wary look at Triple H and Austin, neither of whom were among his favorites. Hell, he'd been out there when Austin had hit Lita with that chair... And he clearly remembered nailing both men with a steel chair on the SmackDown that had immediately followed that event, actually winning the Intercontinental title from Hunter later that night... Something told him that wasn't a pleasant memory for the Game. "Test seriously needs to be taught some manners, and Christian... Well, what I think of him can't really be said in mixed company."
"I doubt you could say anything worse than what Steve says," Willow told him, lifting her brows at the young man, and he responded by sending a slight smile her way, then nodding at the redhead that was standing next to him.
"This is Lita, by the way. Li, this is Willow-"
"It's nice to meet you," Lita said with a smile, crossing the room to shake the younger woman's hand, having decided to give the other woman a chance despite the fact that she was Steve Austin's niece. Hell, she didn't hold the fact that she was married to the man against Debra... And truthfully, Lita didn't exactly *hate* Stone Cold. She was just nervous around him, just like she was nervous around Triple H. "I'm sorry the circumstances kind of suck, though."
"What a way to start your visit," Debra said with a shake of her head as she looked at her niece. "Running into those two buffoons-"
"Actually, I started off by running into Torrie, which wasn't so bad," Willow corrected, glancing over at the blonde woman, who seemed to be sporting a new bruise on her elbow from where Christian had tossed her into the wall.
"Yeah, well, meeting Test and Christian kind of makes it all bad," Torrie started to say, then cut herself off when Edge appeared in the doorway. He paused momentarily at the sound of his brother's name, a shadow coming over his sharply handsome face, but then it cleared, and he stepped into the room, heading over to Lita. The pretty redhead wrapped her arms around his waist, leaning into him slightly, and Edge responded by putting his arm around her shoulders. Willow saw Matt Hardy glance away briefly at the exchange, but then he straightened his shoulders, looking at the tall blonde man.
"So, what did you get?"
"I talked to Flair, and he was more than amenable," Edge replied, his voice slightly clipped. Willow could hear the underlying anger in the man's voice, and she wondered if it was always there... She also wondered what had happened between the two blonde brothers, instinctively knowing that it was something big. Maybe she could ask Debra about it later...
"What else happened?" Jeff asked, catching the tone of the other man's voice, and Edge sighed.
"Well, unfortunately, I already have a match against that bastard Regal, so... Flair's willing to make it a six man tag - the three of us against Regal, Test, and Christian, but... I told him I'd have to talk to the two of you first," he said, looking from one Hardy brother to the other, and there was something meaningful in his glance that Willow didn't understand... Yet another thing that she'd have to ask her aunt to explain to her...
"We'll take the match," Matt said after a moment, exchanging a glance with his brother, and Jeff nodded.
"Yeah, we can handle Regal-"
"I'll be out there to keep an eye on him," Lita interrupted, looking up at the blonde man, and after a moment, Edge nodded, heading for the door once more, this time taking the redhead with him.
"I'll go tell Flair."
“What’s going on here?”
Debra turned to look at Willow at her niece’s question, a confused expression on her face. “What do you mean, honey?” the blonde woman asked, and the redhead sighed, pushing her hair away from her face as she spoke.
“I mean, I feel like everyone’s talking around me or something... You know, like there’s this big secret that everyone knows about except for me, and I don’t like it,” Willow said, though she refrained from adding that it felt like her first few weeks without magic had in Sunnydale... Like everyone was talking around her or in some sort of code. Of course, this time, she wasn’t pretty sure it was unintentional. Plus, no one was looking at her as if she might have a break down at any moment.
Debra frowned. “We don’t mean for it to seem that way, I swear, honey. I guess sometimes we forget that people who come to visit don’t quite know everything that’s been going on like the rest of us do,” the blonde woman said with a sigh, looking around the basically empty room. She and Willow were the only two people in it, Torrie having been walked back to Tajiri by Matt Hardy, who had then gone to join in brother, Edge, and Lita for talking strategy in their six man tag for later that night, and Triple H and Steve had gone to find Flair to see if they could get Stephanie banned from ringside. “What is it that you want to know?”
“Well... Edge and Christian are brothers, right? Have they always had this kind of animosity towards one another, or... I don’t know...”
Debra shook her head, a shadow briefly coming over the blonde woman’s lovely face. “Actually, they used to be close... As close as Matt and Jeff Hardy are now. Best friends and everything. They were a tag team. Champions a bunch of times over... They used to not get along too well with the Hardys, but obviously that’s changed a bit now for Edge. Anyway, Edge started having all sorts of success on his own. He won the King of the Ring tournament last summer, which is a pretty big deal, and then in August he became the Intercontinental champion, which is another pretty big deal. It’s an important title. Christian... He just couldn’t handle his brother’s success, and he attacked him one night in the middle of the ring. It was an ugly sight. Horrible... They fought back and forth for a few months, and though they haven’t had any matches against each other lately, Edge still keeps an eye out, keeping an eye on what Christian does. Guess he feels guilty or something... Maybe responsible for what his brother’s done, though that’s just not right in my opinion. Christian’s a grown man who made his own decisions.”
“They just happened to be bad ones, but that isn’t Edge’s fault,” Willow said, thinking of some of the things she and her friends had said and done over the past several years. Bad decisions had been made by all, but no one could have stopped them from making them at the time.
“You’re right about that. But Lita was right when she said Edge felt responsible. Christian’s his kin, so... What else is it that you wanted to know?”
“Well, this just could be me, but... I kept getting this weird vibe... What’s up between Matt Hardy and Lita? And is she with Edge, or-”
“She’s datin’ Edge. Has been for about a month or so now. He treats her well, which is good. Otherwise Matt and Jeff would kill him. And you’re right about the vibe between her and Matt... Something used to be between them, at least, but he kind of screwed it up.”
“Oh, by becoming a self-centered jerk who broke up with her on national television,” Debra said, and Willow’s eyes widened slightly before the little redhead nodded.
“Yeah, that would do it. On national television?”
Debra nodded solemnly. “In front of God and everyone. He’d just been getting to be a bit of a jerk for a couple of months... He and Jeff hadn’t been getting along, either, and Matt kind of dragged Lita into the middle of it. She was tryin’ to be a good girlfriend to Matt and a good friend to Jeff, and it just wasn’t possible since Matt wanted her to choose. Geez, the night before he broke up with her, Lita’d been the special guest referee in the pay per view match between Matt and Jeff... Something she’d basically been challenged into doing. He expected her to call it for him, and she called it as best she could, trying to keep it right down the middle. She’s not an experienced referee. Anyway, in the end, Jeff’s the one who won the match,” the blonde woman said, and Willow frowned.
“If all that happened... Why are they all friends again?”
“Oh, when the Undertaker tried to destroy Jeff and Lita, I think Matt realized what it was that he’d just about given up, and he nearly got himself destroyed on the next show tryin’ for payback. Whatever happened between them and a month or so ago, I don’t know for sure, but they’re friends again, though I do know that Lita told Matt they could only ever be friends again. Nothing more. I’m glad of it, though. I think Edge is better for her. He makes her laugh a lot-”
“He seemed kind of intense to me.”
“He can be. Of course, I’d be pretty intense, too, if some jerk were using brass knuckles against me in just about every damn match,” Debra said, then shrugged at Willow’s look. “That would be William Regal.”
“Stupid sumbitch,” a voice grumbled as Steve and Triple H made their way back into the room, and Debra and Willow looked up in surprise.
“What is it?” Debra asked, and it was Hunter that answered.
“Angle is claiming Stephanie as his manager, which means she gets to be out at ringside. Which means she’ll probably interfere-”
“What if I’m out there?” Debra wanted to know, standing up and smoothing out her clothes. “I could at least warn you if she tried something-”
“I don’t want that bitch attacking my wife,” Steve began, but Triple H lifted a hand, calling for silence.
“Wait a minute. Stephanie might try something if Debra were out there, but what if... What if we had two women with us?”
“What do you mean?” Steve questioned, and his eyes narrowed when Triple H looked over at Willow. “No way. That is not going to happen-”
“I can handle it, Uncle Steve,” Willow interrupted, causing her aunt to look at her in surprise and Triple H to smirk slightly.
“So, are you in?”
“You don’t have to do this,” Debra said as she and Willow stood backstage, staying a few feet away from Steve and Hunter, the two men going over some last minute strategy before they walked out. “Steve wouldn’t hold it against you.”
“I know he wouldn’t. In fact, he’d probably rejoice. He doesn’t want me out there, and he doesn’t want you out there, either. But I’m going out there,” the slender redhead stated, raking her hand through her hair as she spoke.
Debra sighed, crossing her arms over her chest, then shrugging. “Okay, then. I know I can’t stop you, but... Be careful out there. Don’t do anything stupid... Not that I think you would, but...”
“I’m good, Aunt Debra,” Willow told the older woman, putting a hand on her arm. “Don’t worry about me.”
The blonde stared at her niece for a long moment, then nodded, moving to go over and stand with Hunter and Steve. Sighing, Willow went to join them, flicking her gaze to the monitor that showed the ring, which was currently occupied by two men and a confident - or was it smug - looking brunette.
Triple H looked up as Austin’s music began, taking Willow’s arm and preventing her from following her aunt and uncle through the curtain, knowing it would have more of an impact if she walked out with him instead... Plus it would really piss Stephanie off.
“I thought I was going-”
“Oh, you’ll be at ringside. This way, Austin can claim Debra as his manager, and I’ll claim you as mine. One night only, of course.”
Willow lifted a brow as she looked at the slight smirk on the Game’s face. “Oh, really? And this has nothing to do with the fact that Stephanie will be pissed as hell to see you get walked to the ring by another woman?” she questioned, and Hunter’s smirk grew just a tad.
“Well, there’s that, too. Come on, Red. It’s game time,” he said, and Willow shook her head, rolling her eyes as she followed him through the curtain.
“That was so lame.”
Willow may have thought Triple H’s line was lame, but his plan wasn’t, the redhead quickly realized as she walked out alongside the man. She could almost feel the shock of the crowd as they were announced... But that was nothing compared to the look on his soon to be ex-wife’s face.
Now, Willow hadn’t watched much wrestling in her life. She’d seen some of Steve’s matches, though even those were mostly sent to her by her aunt. She wasn’t really one to sit down and watch an episode of RAW or SmackDown, mostly because of the whole ‘demons out after dark’ thing that led her to doing things that generally didn’t involve watching television. She had, however, watched the episode of RAW in which Triplw H had dumped his lying, conniving wife at the alter instead of renewing their wedding vows, and the little redhead remembered quite well the expression on Stephanie McMahon’s face as the show went off that night... She’d fully expected a catlike hiss to come from the woman’s lips as she nearly snarled in anger...
That look was a pretty fair match to the expression on the brunette’s face at this very moment. Or at least, it was once the shock on her face wore off.
Hunter smirked, turning his head to speak to Willow as they headed down the ramp. “Isn’t it great? You can see the fury from here.”
“Lovely woman. You must truly miss her,” the redhead replied, and Triple H actually chuckled before continuing on his way, giving Willow a stern look before he made a move to get up on the ring apron.
“You stay here... And don’t do anything stupid.”
“Why does everything keep saying that?”
“They are *not* bringing her out there with them,” Jeff Hardy said hotly, and Lita looked over at him with raised eyebrows.
“Um, Jeff, it seems like they already did.”
“But she’s so tiny! She could get hurt. Damn it, Test and Christian have already gone after her tonight-”
“Do you really think Austin’s going to allow that to happen?” Lita wanted to know, and the younger Hardy brother scowled at his friend.
“He hurt you.”
The redhead crossed her arms over her chest. “Jeff, I know he did, but that was a long time ago, and...”
“You’re willing to forgive and forget? Yeah, right-”
“You’re friends with Edge, aren’t you? And Rob Van Dam? And... I just think we have bigger things to worry about than Stone Cold seeing as he’s pretty much seemed like a good guy as of late. And it’s obvious that he cares about his niece,” she said, and Jeff sighed, then scowled again as he looked up at the screen.
“I can’t believe she walked out with Triple H,” he muttered, and his older brother snorted.
“I think that was more for Stephanie’s benefit than anything else,” Matt stated, watching the screen as well, then cursing under his breath. “And speaking of Stephanie...”
Damn it, that hurt.
Willow grabbed the ring post, holding onto it in order to keep her feet as she was suddenly hit from behind, whirling around to face her attacker, annoyed green eyes meeting enraged blue.
“How dare you walk out with him! He’s mine-”
“I think you lost all claim on his when he called you a no-good, lying bitch at your most recent wedding,” Willow spat back, wanting to rub at the back of her head where the brunette had hit her, but also not wanting to give the other woman the satisfaction of knowing that it had actually hurt. Geez, from what she’d seen, the woman in front of her was a pampered little bitch that was ten times more self-centered than Cordelia had ever been.
Stephanie didn’t get to finish whatever she was going to say as Willow suddenly lashed out, slapping her hard across the face and sending her stumbling back. Not wanting to give the other woman a chance to recover, she reached out and grabbed hold of her arm, yanking her forward, lifting her other hand as she did so and nailing the woman right in the face. Stephanie moaned as she touched her face, more than likely to see if anything was broken, and the redhead dragged the larger woman up so that they were face to face.
“I don’t suggest you finish that statement, and I don’t suggest you mess with me again. You won’t like the results,” Willow informed her before dropping her to the floor, looking up into the ring to see that it appeared that Austin and Hunter had things well in hand, so she really wasn’t needed now that Stephanie was out of the picture. So instead of sticking around, the redhead turned around and headed up the ramp, walking through the curtains to the backstage area...
The sound of the crowd cheering echoed through her ears.
“Oh, that was so cool!”
“I can*not* believe she punched Stephanie,” Edge hooted with a shake of his head, and Lita grinned in response.
“I knew I liked that girl. That was so great. Looks like Austin’s niece can take care of herself,” the redhead said with a smirk, then flicked a look over at Jeff, who was still watching the monitor with a brooding expression on his face. “Jeff? Willow’s no longer on the screen-”
“I can’t believe she walked out with Triple H,” the younger Hardy brother muttered for what could have been the billionth time since Stone Cold’s niece had appeared at the top of the ramp next to the Game.
Matt rolled his eyes. “And as I’ve said before, I imagine that was just to get at Stephanie. They call Helmsley the Cerebral Assassin for a reason. The man knows how to get at people,” the elder Hardy brother reminded Jeff. “Having Willow walk out there in the first place was just a numbers game... Two women on the outside for him and Austin, one for Angle and Jericho. He wanted to shock and piss off Stephanie by having Willow walk out with him. You know Stephanie has no clue who Willow is-”
“Yeah, and he put her in danger by having her out there with him. She’s a target for Stephanie now,” Jeff put in, and Edge lifted a brow at his friend.
“I think she just showed that she can more than likely handle Stephanie-”
“Physically, maybe she can. But think of the power a woman like that has. She’s Daddy’s Little Girl and all that crap,” Jeff said, his arms crossed over his chest as he spoke. “She could sic ‘Daddy’ on Willow.”
“She’s Austin’s niece, though. Steve won’t let anything happen to her,” Lita said, knowing deep down that, despite her own uneasiness around the Rattlesnake, she could be sure that he would do whatever it took to take care of Willow.
Jeff shook his head, his expression angry. “But don’t you see? McMahon hates Austin. Austin hates McMahon. Austin’s niece just clocked McMahon’s daughter in front of God and everyone. Willow knocked Stephanie on her ass, you guys. She just put a target on her own back by doing that-”
“She was just defending herself,” Matt put in, and Jeff simply raised a brow at his older brother before continuing.
“And you really think McMahon’s going to give a rat’s ass about who started it out there? She put a target on her back by lifting a hand to Stephanie McMahon, and when Vince finds out she’s not just Triple H’s little toy, or whatever the Game was trying to get people to think she was tonight... When Vince McMahon finds out that Willow is Stone Cold Steve Austin’s niece, it’s just going to get worse. Not only will he see Willow as a target because of what she did to Stephanie; he’ll see her as a way to get to his worst enemy.”
“Are you going to tell me I’m overreacting?” the younger Hardy demanded to know as he cut off his brother’s words, and after a long moment, Matt shook his head.
“No... No, actually, I’m not,” Matt said as he crossed his arms over his chest, mirroring his little brother’s stance without even realizing it. “I see what you’re saying, and...”
“Willow could very well be in trouble now,” Lita finished when Matt trailed off. “Austin’s smart enough to figure that out, don’t you think-”
“Yeah, but... You saw the way he reacted when he heard what Test and Christian pulled tonight. He’s protective of her. I don’t think... He wouldn’t put her in a position of danger, you know?” Matt said with a frown, and Jeff shrugged.
“Yeah, but he did. Or he let Triple H do it... And Willow’s right hook helped with it, too. God, do you think she even realizes what it is that she’s done? She didn’t seem the real wrestling type. She’s so small, and fragile, and...”
“Fragile people don’t clock Stephanie McMahon in the face,” Edge broke in, then shrugged. “Look, I think she’s tougher than she looks. She didn’t break down when my brother and Test pulled their asshole routine. Seemed more pissed off than scared. I’d say she has a spine, but that doesn’t mean she has a clue the can of worms she just opened for herself out there.”
“She needs someone to watch her back,” Jeff decided, and Lita lifted a brow at her friend.
“I think that’s what her uncle is for,” the redhead said, and Jeff scowled.
“Yeah, well, a little extra help couldn’t hurt.”
He watched the replay of what had happened on the screen, anger flashing in his eyes as he watched the slender, almost frail-looking redhead slam her fist into the face of the Billion Dollar Princess. He watched as the young woman sneered in Stephanie’s face, unable to read the girl’s lips as she spoke, but figuring that he could find out what had been said later on. He’d get the entire play-by-play from Stephanie. Lord, but she’d be angry tonight. She’d probably tear into Angle and Jericho for even allowing it to happen, not that they could do anything about it. It had been started and finished so quickly that the two men in the ring hadn’t been able to get away from Austin and Triple H in order to help Stephanie, and truthfully, the Princess had started it all herself.
Not that Stephanie would let that little fact take away from her self-righteous anger.
It would be the girl’s fault in Stephanie’s mind, the girl’s fault for retaliating... Whoever she was. And that was the mystery, wasn’t it? Some little redhead walking out with Triple H... Lilian Garcia hadn’t even announced the girl’s name. Or if she had, he hadn’t noticed it. He’d been to busy being in shock himself. But he was over the shock now. Over the shock and leaning towards very, very angry. Some mystery redhead suddenly appearing, walking out with Triple H... He wondered what the girl was to him, what she meant to Hunter.
How much he could hurt Hunter through that girl.
But first... First, it would be a good idea find out who she was, find out her strengths, her weaknesses... The easiest way to get to her. To get at her, and through her, to get at his former son-in-law. To destroy them, to destroy them both.
No one messed with Vince McMahon’s daughter.