'You Wouldn't Believe' rolled through the speakers as the promoter popped through the curtain and made his way down the ramp. Taking the steel steps two at a time, he slipped into the squared circle, took the mic and smiling out at the crowd said, "Well folks, it's time for our Main Event and I for one don't want to keep you waiting any longer." Taking a breath, he began, "The following contest is an IRON MAIDEN match for the World Championship. Whichever combatant has the most falls at the end of sixty minutes will be declared the winner. Introducing first, she is the challenger, she stands 5’6” tall... is the Scream Queen… ladies and gentleman I give to you MISS NEVE CAMPBELL!"
The lights went out, then came back a deep blue as 'Black Hole Sun' poured into the arena. Neve came through the curtain shortly thereafter and paused to let the feel of the arena envelop her. Standing calmly at the top of the ramp, Campbell enjoyed the chaos for another few seconds before heading to the ring for the biggest match of her career. Despite the title implications and the much larger audience, the brunette was still clad in a simple two piece black tankini with matching pads. Reaching the ring apron, Neve slid under the bottom rope and rolled to her feet all in one motion. Standing in the center of the ring, she gave Fannin the briefest of nods before heading to her corner to await the arrival of the champ.
When the crowd had calmed a little, Fannin brought the mic back up and said, "And her opponent, standing at 5’3” tall, she is the ONLY three time World Champion in the history of this promotion. Ladies and gentlemen she is the SLAYER.... SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR!”
Silence for a moment, then 'Man in the Box' growled to life and the legions of Slayer went nuts as their heroine slipped through the curtain. Holding the belt in one hand, the wiry blonde lifted the strap over her head and grinned confidently as the masses roared their approval. Much like her opponent, Sarah is clad in her usual battle attire consisting of a blood-red leather one-piece outfit with high black boots and fingerless black gloves. Turning her gaze to the brunette waiting for her in the ring, Gellar strode down the ramp and smoothly eased under the bottom rope. Popping to her feet, she saluted the fans one more time before handing the belt to the official. Treating Fannin to the same cursory nod that Neve had given him, Sarah jogged to her corner and waited impatiently for the bell.
The bell sounded, the timer clicked from 60:00 to 59:59 and before the eyes of the world, the Slayer and the Scream Queen went to war. Understanding that they would need every second to enforce their will on the other, Neve and Gellar strode out of their corners and immediately slipped into their respective stances; an MMA style striker's stance for the blonde and a more traditional grappler's crouch for the brunette.
Meeting in the center of the ring, the rivals pace slowed considerably and they began to circle. It wasn't that they had lost their nerve and they weren't exactly afraid of what the other could do, but they were both extremely aware of her opponent's abilities and they didn't want to give up an early fall to an impulsive mistake. Never letting her eyes leave the blonde's, Neve quickly extended her right hand and Gellar returned the favor. Ritual properly observed, they broke apart and continued to circle until Sarah lashed out a Low Kick that hit with a loud THWACK on the outside of the brunette's left thigh.
Subduing a grimace, Neve soaked up the blow and resumed her study of the Slayer. She knew that lunging at the blonde with outstretched arms would be tantamount to suicide. She'd eaten enough Throat Thrusts, High Knees and Super Kicks from Gellar over the course of her career to have developed a healthy respect for the champion's striking ability. This thought had just cleared her head when Gellar tensed up to administer another Kick but as the blonde started to fire, Neve twisted away from the blow, lunged in close and wrapped her right arm around the Slayer's head. Yanking the smaller woman over double, Neve clasped her hands and jammed Gellar's temple into the point of her hip.
Grinding the Side Headlock as hard as she could, Neve blew a bit of hair out of her eyes and said, "You should have just let me go Sarah." Then she punctuated the statement by putting even more pressure on the champ's noggin.
Fighting down the urge to simply pound away at the brunette's midsection (couldn't waste the energy, at least not yet) Sarah felt along the curves of Neve's arm and when she didn't find anything useful she turned her attention to the challenger's midsection. Locating the slight dip of the Scream Queen's navel, the blonde balled her hand into a fist and PIK PAK PEK, drove a trio of short, sharp punches into her belly. The assault loosened Neve's grip and that was all that Sarah needed to wrench her head free of the brunette's vise.
Resuming her stance on autopilot, Sarah gared at Neve over her fists, "And we should have settled this years ago."
Neve glared at her, "You don't want to settle anything! You just want a show. It's all about ‘the show’ with you, isn't it Sarah?"
Sarah's expression was equally stony. "Of course you'd find a way to make this about me. YOU'RE the one ready and willing to walk out of here letting everyone think you’re some sort of unbeatable legend. Magnanimity is the height of arrogance Neve and as you must know - I PUNISH arrogance."
Neve shook her head, "You can't beat me Sarah. You've pinned me before that's true enough, but BEAT me? Actually send me out of any arena with my head hanging? It's beyond you. I see it in your eyes Slayer. I wasn't avoiding you and we both know it."
Sarah didn't want to hear it and demanded, "Shut up!"
But Neve persisted, "I've never ducked a challenge in my life... you knew I would take you on anytime you had the guts to ask me to my face and you conveniently ignored that fact until I wanted to leave and you could throw this righteous indignation shit in my face. The truth is, I wasn't ducking you, you were ducking me. Because deep in your heart you knew that I was the one monster the Slayer couldn't put down."
Sarah was wily enough to know when she was being goaded and that it would be a mistake to lash out, but she just couldn't help herself. The cold confidence she heard in the brunette's voice was like a silver nail being jammed into her forehead. Delicate features twisting in an infuriated scowl, she snarled, "LIAR!" as she lunged in low in hopes of yanking Neve's right leg out from under her with a Single-Leg Takedown.
Unfortunately for her, this was exactly how Neve had hoped she would react and the brunette greeted her accordingly. Moving in to meet the blonde's charge, Neve tied up Sarah's skull in a Front Facelock and fell to the mat, bringing the smaller grappler down on top of her. The second her back hit the canvas, the Scream Queen Scissored her legs around Sarah's trim hips and crossed her ankles.
Guillotine Choke secure, Neve CRUSHED down on the Facelock and the Scissors, a move that caused the champion to wriggle furiously. Regarding her opponent's thrashing back with a look that wasn't nearly as calm as it appeared, Neve jiggled her legs and pulled back hard on the blonde's captured neck. Finding her voice, the challenger said, "Tap out Sarah. By my guess you've still got fifty-seven minutes, that more than enough time to prove me UNNGHH!"
Much as she had escaped the brunette's Headlock, Sarah focused in on something vulnerable and hammered away at it. Only this time, she found the Scream Queen's kidneys and SPANKED some world-class licks off the defenseless area. The grip on the Slayer's neck relaxed and the blonde was able to pull her head free which in turn meant that she was able to enjoy the startled look on Neve's face when she drove a stiff-fingered Throat Thrust into the brunette's windpipe.
As Neve gagged, Sarah wriggled her way free of the Scream Queen's guard and settled into a tight straddle of the brunette's chest. Already in the process of reloading her fists, the Slayer paused just long enough to tell her foe, "Someone's needed to do this to you for a long time."
Her words were still spilling out when her arms began shooting down and back, down and back; tick-tocking Neve's helpless head back and forth with a CRACK followed by a whole barrage of slaps that were really more like Palm Strikes. Pinned by the merciless whirlwind, it became clear to Neve that she'd have to engineer an escape to this very soon, otherwise Sarah would literally 'slap her out' and the momentum of such a win might make the Slayer unstoppable.
Doing her best to clear her head between shots, Neve waited until Sarah was rearing back to deliver another strike and when the blonde's arm started to come down, the Scream Queen shot out both hands and wrapped them around the champ's wrist in a death-grip. In the same motion, Neve TWISTED hard to her right and succeeded in dumping Sarah off her perch and onto the mat.
Even though her eyes were still watering from the slaps, it was impossible to mistake the fury in Neve's eyes for any other emotion. Maintaining her grip on the Slayer's left wrist, she pinned the struggling limb flat against the mat just long enough for her to swing her body around so that she was laying perpendicular to the blonde's left side. Only then did she let go of Sarah's wrist and even then she didn't really let go. She just traded one prison for another as she Scissored Sarah's arm between her thighs.
Squirming wildly through all of this, Sarah's eyes went wide when she heard the Scream Queen growl, "You're gonna tap now Slayer."
Trying to avoid disaster, the blonde forced the side of her face flat against the canvas and cradled her free arm over the back of her head. A heartbeat later the brunette's hands were fumbling at her defenses as Neve tried to worm her hands across Sarah's nose and then lock them, thus securing a neck-snapping Crossface. Fighting against this possibility with every fiber of her being, the tangled champion waited until Neve's hand was close enough and then she darted forward and BIT down as hard as she could. Sarah smiled around a mouthful of flesh as she heard Neve shriek, but her counter betrayed her when Neve's jerking pulled the Slayer's head up off the mat.
Sarah had just realized her mistake when the brunette tugged her hand free and promptly locked them across Sarah's nose. An instant later a white-hot bolt of agony raced through her neck as Neve reefed back on the brutally simple hold. When she finally cinched the Crossface in, Neve just CRANKED down on it. She didn't really want to injure Sarah, but the blonde had really pissed her off with those slaps and if rough was how Sarah wanted it, rough was how she would get it. Relaxing the hold for a moment, Neve resumed shredding Sarah's neck and demanded, "TAP!"
Ignoring the brunette's voice, Sarah fumbled at Neve's intruding hands for nearly ten seconds before she found what she was looking for. Isolating the Scream Queen's pinkie from the lace of her other fingers, the Slayer wrapped her fingers around the digit and pulled on it as hard as she could. Sarah was rewarded with a pained shriek and an almost immediate reprieve from the Crossface as Neve broke away to nurse her distended finger. Using her glorious escape as a means to block out the pain in her neck, Sarah scrambled to her knees just in time to see Neve do the same.
Cradling her hand, the brunette regarded her foe with cold eyes as she said, "Those are the rules then?"
Sarah nodded, "My World Championship is on the line so yeah, those are the rules."
Nursing a feeling other than blinding pain back into her finger, Neve sank into a crouch and said, "Understood. Ready to go?"
Sarah adjusted her gloves, then settled into a crouch of her own, "Are you?"
With the challenge as their signal, blonde and brunette lunged forward but their fingertips had barely touched when Neve pivoted on her plant foot and JAMMED a hard Knee Lift into Sarah's sleek, leather-sheathed midriff. The Slayer's mouth gaped open only to be hammered shut shortly thereafter when Neve banged a quartet of stubby jabs against her face. Forcing the stutter-stepping blonde back against the ropes, Neve took hold of her right wrist and said, "That was for slapping me."
Receiving no response, the challenger whipped her gamine opponent into the ropes on the opposite side of the ring. As Sarah began her return trip, Neve stalked to center-ring and when the Slayer was within arms reach, she shot out both hands, plated them against the champ's chest and SHOVED straight up, sending the blonde skyward with a beautiful Flapjack.
It might have been even more impressive if it had worked out the way Neve intended, but when Sarah reached the apex of her momentum, she shifted position and was able to pull her legs up against her chest. Knees almost directly under her chin, Sarah waited until gravity took over before she PISTONED out both feet and caught Neve square in the chest with a Dropkick delivered fresh from the middle of nowhere. The soles of the Slayer's boots knocked all the wind out of Neve's lungs and sent her sprawling head over heels nearly to the edge of the ring where she landed with a thick THUD!
A few seconds later, she raised an arm, grabbed hold of the middle rope and used it to pull herself up. The brunette raised her head to locate Sarah and saw the blonde executing the telltale sidestep that was a precursor to her Super Kick. Eyes wide and startled, Neve tossed herself between the top and middle ropes, a move that effectively took her out of Sarah's range and brought down a chorus of boos in the wake of the aborted Super Kick.
In the ring, Sarah wasn't peeved about missing the opportunity to kick Neve's head off, in fact, quite the opposite was true. Neve had seen the Super Kick coming for her and she'd hauled ass in the other direction. It meant the Scream Queen wasn't fearless after all and perhaps even better, it meant that she was afraid of the Slayer. Watching from a safe distance as Neve caught her breath, Sarah whispered, "You're not safe out there Neve. You aren't safe anywhere."
Hot on the heels of that statement, she bounded into the ropes and hurled herself toward the challenger's small section of ringside. From her place on the outside, Neve heard the fans start to roar and that meant Sarah was on the move again. Lifting her head to the squared circle, she saw the blonde aiming her boots for her face and knew there was another Dropkick with her name on it.
Aches forgotten, the challenger spun to her right and dove under the bottom rope at the exact same time Sarah slid her Low Dropkick into the empty space the brunette had so recently vacated. The Slayer's momentum carried her under the bottom rope and out onto the floor, which was okay with Neve because it meant she could keep a better eye on Sarah as she was getting into the ring. Cursing as she realized Neve had evaded her attack, the Slayer glanced back at the ring and her frown deepened to a full-on scowl when she saw Neve waiting for her.
Making a minute adjustment to her briefs, the brunette smiled at the champ and said, "Why're ya out there Sarah? I don't want to beat you by count-out."
Ignoring the whine of the ref's count, (He was only at 'THREE' anyway) Sarah fired back, "You're not going to beat me at all!" Stepping to the edge of the ring, Sarah dipped her knees and then hopped up onto the apron in a single smooth motion. Climbing between the ropes, the blonde kept her eyes glued to Neve's as she closed the distance between them. Raising her hands to shoulder level, she wiggled her fingers in the brunette's direction and taunted, "Think you got what it takes?"
Neve smiled wickedly and brought her hands up as well, "Thought you'd never ask."
They lunged for one another again, but where Neve was expecting to find a lock-up, she found the heel of Sarah's left Boot sinking into her gut. “UNNNGH!”
Mugging cattily into the challenger's paralyzed features, Sarah chirped, "You don't have what it takes to submit me Neve. You probably don't believe that now... but you will."
Taking hold of the Scream Queen's wrist, Sarah pointed her rival into a corner on the far side of the ring and whipped her away without another word. The Slayer was just beginning to release her grip on the taller woman's wrist when Neve clamped down, planted her feet against the canvas and tugged the champ forward to effectively reverse the Irish Whip.
Keeping her head clear as the turnbuckles rushed toward her, Sarah put on the brakes and managed to turn into the pads before she hit with a muted BWUNG. Letting out a groan that was far more pained than she actually felt, Sarah waited loose and limp in the corner as Neve roared in to pile on. When the brunette reached the point of no return, Sarah planted her right foot and BLASTED her left leg out in a Thrust Kick that would've decapitated the challenger had it connected. What actually happened was quite different and more than a little painful for the champion.
Guessing that Sarah would be ready with a kick, Neve dodged the blow with centimeters to spare. As Sarah's boot whizzed over her right shoulder, Neve grabbed the blonde's ankle with one hand and when she was sure Sarah couldn't go anywhere, she balled her other hand into a fist and SMASHED an Uppercut against the back of the Slayer's left knee. Sarah gaped and tried to pull her leg free, but Neve just pulled the blonde's gam off her shoulder and held it at waist level.
Backing up, the Scream Queen forced Sarah to hop along in her wake and when they'd reached mid-ring, the challenger promised, "You aren't gonna kick my ass tonight Sarah. In fact, you're not going to kick anything."
Sarah was still processing the threat when Neve twisted hard to her left and fell to the mat, a move that ripped Sarah off her feet and wrenched her knee all at the same time. Listening to Sarah groan, Neve knew the Dragon Screw had been successful and she decided right then and there that Sarah's knee was going to be the focal point of her attack plan. Pushing to her feet, Neve stalked over to Sarah, helped herself to a handful of golden locks and hauled the Slayer to her feet. When Sarah was vertical, Neve took hold of her left ankle and pulled it off the mat. Holding the champ in position for what looked to be another Dragon Screw, the challenger was ominously silent as she raised her right arm over her head, cocked her elbow and then brought the pointy joint stabbing down against the Slayer's barely padded knee! Teeth bared in an angry grin, Neve listened to Sarah moan for about two seconds before she spun the blonde around on her good leg. When Sarah's back was to her, Neve stepped in close, took possession of the Slayer's left ankle again and rudely folded it up.
Digging the blonde's heel into the meat of her own butt, Neve wrapped her free arm around the smaller girl's waist and chided, "The last time we were in the ring together, you kicked my face in. I hope it was worth it because it's never going to happen again"
Letting Sarah mull her choice in silence, Neve bent her knees, then straightened up to hoist the Slayer off the canvas with her left leg still folded awkwardly beneath her. With Sarah temporarily suspended above her, Neve dropped to one knee and as Sarah came down, the Scream Queen angled her fall so that her folded shin slammed hard against the brunette's posted knee.
“AIIIIIIEEEE!” Sarah threw her head back and shrieked; the shudder that ran through her lithe frame was almost enough to tear her from Neve's grasp, but the challenger hung on and while the blonde was still fighting off the worst of the Shinbreaker, the brunette lifted up again. Instead of delivering another jolt to the Slayer's knee, Neve simply dropped to the mat, a move that sent Sarah crashing down on the back of her head and shoulders in an improvised Belly-to-Back Suplex.
Laying on her back, Neve tossed Sarah's jittering leg away and got to her feet. Stalking around behind the blonde, Neve watched as Sarah massaged her knee, then flexed the leg several times to see if everything was still in working order. Apparently it was, because the champ rolled onto her other knee a moment later and pushed up. Sarah had barely had time to note her newly achieved state of verticality when Neve stepped in behind her and THWAP dropped the flat of her left foot against the back of Sarah's tenderized knee.
Sarah collapsed flat on her back and though her first instinct was to protect the wounded extremity, she had to adjust in mid-thought as the brunette poured herself across the Slayer's chest and hooked her bad leg. Leaning as much of her weight onto the champ's chest as possible, the Scream Queen mouthed her first fall in time with the ref's count…
Tweaked knee or not, Sarah tore free of the cradle and flopped over onto her side to break the count. Shooting the zebra an irritated look, Neve buried her hands in Sarah's hair and scraped her off the mat. Muscling the Slayer into the ropes, Neve pressed against her and snarled, "I'm gonna take this leg from you Sarah. Right now it's only aching when I hit it, imagine what it'll feel like after I've had the chance to work on it for a little while. You won't be able to stand or kick and you certainly won't be able to do this..."
She stepped back and whipped the champ toward the ropes. But when the time came for her to release Sarah's wrist, Neve clamped down even tighter and YANKED the blonde right back into her. Now she did release the Slayer's wrist but only so she could sweep both arms around the champion and lock her hands against the small of her back. As soon as her hands were locked Neve dipped her knees, then lifted up and fell back, tossing Sarah all the way to the edge of the ring to land flat on her back with a cringe-inducing BWAM!
It wasn't the flashiest move in the Scream Queen's arsenal, but few would argue that the Overhead Belly-to-Belly Suplex wasn't one of the most effective, or dangerous for that matter. Taking a moment to catch her breath, the brunette glanced to the screen over the entry way and saw the clock read 49:11.
Filing this bit of information away with the myriad other tidbits that would be needed during the course of the battle, the brunette sat up, got her feet under her and went back to work on the Slayer. Finding Sarah right where she had left her (sprawled and gasping near the ropes) Neve reclaimed her ownership of the champion's left ankle and gave it a few sharp jerks. The pain of this tactic got Sarah's attention no problem, but if the Scream Queen had been expecting a panicked reaction she was destined to be disappointed.
Gritting her teeth against the pain in her leg, Sarah snatched the ropes in a death grip and demanded, "BREAK!"
Technically, she was well within her rights as a competitor to do this, but Neve was also perfectly within her rights to say, "I don't think so!" and plant the hard point of her boot in the blonde's hamstring. When the first kick didn't make Sarah let go of the ropes, Neve hacked away a few more times and finally the Slayer chose to defend her leg over clinging to the cables. Running the referee off with a sneer, Neve dragged her squirming prize to the middle of the squared circle and pulled the captured gam up to an almost perfect ninety degree angle. With the champ at her mercy, Neve looked down and asked, "Is this what you wanted Sarah?"
Futilely trying to wrench her way free of the challenger's clutches, Sarah growled, "What I WANT, is to feel my boot on your face as strap the title around my waist."
Neve shook her head, "Not gonna happen! But you might get to feel your own boot against your face if you don't tap out soon."
Proving her point, Neve stepped over Sarah's leg and swung around, a move that many fans believed was the beginning of the Figure Four Leglock or the Spinning Toe Hold. Neither turned out to be correct, what Neve had in mind was much simpler. When her back was to Sarah, the Scream Queen rose up on her toes and quickly dropped to the mat. Sarah's leg was scissored between the brunette's knees and the jolt of Neve's landing sent another bolt of pain lancing up the Slayer's taut frame.
Calmly getting to her feet, Neve was about to perform another Spinning Legbreaker when Sarah panted, "You think you're the only one who can pick apart a joint?"
Pausing, Neve fired back, "I think I'm the only one who can do it right NOW!"
Her eyes flashing, Sarah said, "You KNOW I'm going to get you for this NevUNNNGHHHH!"
Neve twisted around and dropped to her knees, cutting Sarah off before she could finish. Wanting to make sure the crowd felt like they were a part of something special, the brunette got to her feet, looked out into the sea of faces and asked, "ONE MORE?"
The mob roared and Neve took that to be an affirmative. Moving quicker this time, she spun around Sarah's leg and executed a tiny hop that translated into much more pain for the champion when the brunette's knees rejoined the canvas. After her third Legbreaker, Neve decided it was time to really test the blonde's will.
Pushing up, she held the Slayer's leg tight as she said, "Don't fight this Sarah. The longer you fight it, the more you'll regret it later."
She spun around the champ's leg for a fourth time but this time she completed the turn and the fans went nuts as the Scream Queen went about slapping on the Figure Four Leglock.
When Sarah saw Neve complete her rotation, she realized what was coming and felt a totally uncharacteristic burst of pure terror. But this isn't always a bad thing. In the Slayer's case, her fear acted like a strong dose of smelling salts and when Neve leaned down to grab her other ankle, the Slayer unleashed a hard Kick THWAP to the challenger's face!
Resisting the urge to taunt her adversary, Sarah prized her ankle free of Neve's hands and scrambled to her feet as the Scream Queen grunted and staggered away. Forcing aside the pain in her left knee, Sarah stalked after the retreating brunette and lit her up with another Kick, this one to her right thigh!
Neve yelped and dropped to one knee which was more than fine with Sarah. Unable to stop the smile from crossing her face, the Slayer said, "That's right where you belong Neve."
Then she was sprinting into the ropes facing her foe and bearing down on the stunned challenger. With less then three feet between them, Sarah left the canvas in a short leap and lashed out her right leg in a smooth, brutal arc that ended when the Slayer's shin slammed WHAM into Neve's temple to drive the Shining Wizard home.
Letting out a low, wounded groan, Neve toppled over onto her side and tried to cradle her head, but Sarah had vengeance on her mind so she wasted little time in sinking her hands into the brunette's hair and YANKING her to her feet. Pulling the taller woman in close, Sarah ground her forehead against Neve's and hissed, "You wanna go after my knee Neve? Then go right ahead. I've got two knees, but you've only got one back."
Trailing off, the vindictive Slayer stepped to the challenger's right and wrapped one arm across the brunette's chest and under both arms while the other snaked itself behind Neve's legs. Holding her rival tight, Sarah hoisted Neve into the air, twisted her so she was roughly parallel to the mat and then dropped to one knee (her uninjured right knee it should be noted) to nearly snap Neve in two with a simple Backbreaker.
Not ready to let her victim go just yet, the Slayer placed one hand against Neve's chin and the other against her knee so she could presssssss down and really exacerbate the pressure of the hold. Adding a gentle rocking motion to make things even more unbearable, Sarah smiled coldly and said, "You're gonna break Neve. I'm gonna work you over until you can't even stand and then you're going in the Sharpshooter. And you better hope that doesn't happen until much later, because if there's much time left on the clock, I'm gonna run the score up on your helpless, sobbing ass."
Neve grunted something that was probably a response, but Sarah wasn't in the mood to figure out what it was so she rolled the Scream Queen off her knee and stood up. Hands on her hips, the Slayer told her fans, "NEVE THINKS SHE'S HOBBLED ME, BUT SHE'S THE ONE THAT'S GONNA NEED A WALKER WHEN THIS MATCH IS OVER!"
Looking to show the mob exactly what she meant, Sarah pulled Neve to her feet and marched her to the nearest convenient corner. With the brunette facing the buckles, Sarah stepped in behind her and doubled over so she could worm her head between the Scream Queen's torso and right arm. At the same time, she wrapped her left arm around the brunette's waist while her right hand got a good grip on the back of Neve's knee. Steadying her nerves, the Slayer lifted the challenger into the air, but instead of delivering a typical Belly-to-Back Suplex, she stepped forward and rudely wedged Neve's legs between the top and middle ropes.
Shoving forward just long enough to confirm that her opponent wasn't going to slip free, Sarah stepped back, grabbed the bottom of Neve's black tankini top and pulled it up to expose the curve of the brunette's back for all to see. Grinning to the fans, Sarah explained, "JUST SO I KNOW WHERE I'M LANDING!"
She pulled back her right arm and CRACCCK, drove a flat-palmed Slap against the challenger's ivory skin. Smirking as Neve 'uunnghhed' in pain, Sarah wheeled around and took off for the corner on the opposite side of the ring. She reached her destination, turned around and roared back at the helpless brunette. Consoling herself with the fact that this was going to hurt Neve's back a whole hell of a lot more than it would hurt her knee, Sarah dropped into a crouch, sprang into the air and tucked her knees up under her chin less than a second before she DROVE both joints into the space between Neve's shoulders.
Displaying the ingenuity that had made her the only three time world champ in the promotion's history, the Slayer shot her hands forward and laced them under Neve's chin before she'd even started her short descent to the canvas. When it did happen, she pulled the Scream Queen down with her and treated the brunette's spine to another miserable shock, this time compliments of a brilliantly delivered Lung Blower.
Rolling the wheezing beauty off her knees, Sarah got to her feet, grabbed Neve by the wrists and draaaaged her into the center of the squared circle. Tossing the boneless limbs aside, Sarah pounced across Neve's chest, hooked both legs and waited impatiently for the ref to count, 'ONE... TWO' Neve shot a shoulder off the canvas, breaking the count with a good second to spare.
Annoyed but not discouraged, Sarah pushed up and brought Neve along for the ride. Doubling the taller woman up with a thick Knee Lift, Sarah trapped her in a skull-grinding Front Facelock and quickly slung the brunette's near arm across her shoulders. Taking hold of a generous handful of black tights, Sarah paused and said, "I know you don't believe it, but I AM better than you. I hit harder, I work my holds tighter and I as much as you'd hate to admit it, I can throw a stiffer Suplex."
Done with the preamble, Sarah bent her knees and then popped her hips to take the Scream Queen up and over with a frighteningly quick Snap Suplex. As the challenger thudded against the mat, Sarah brought her legs up and in, then kicked them out and rolled over onto her knees. Getting her feet under her, the Slayer reset her footing and then pasted Neve with a second Snap Suplex. Still not satisfied, the champion tightened her grip, rolled over onto her knees and pushed to a vertical base. Making a small show of tugging up on Neve's tights (such a tactic invariably got a cheer from the crowd and this was no exception) Sarah turned in a slow, calm circle before she bent her knees a final time and drilled Neve into the ground with the third Snap Suplex in less than a minute.
When Neve's back hit, Sarah finally released her grip and somersaulted back across the Scream Queen's downed form. Popping to her feet, Sarah waited for Neve to sit up and the second she did, she jumped up and THWAPPED both boots into the brunette's face with a Low Dropkick. Neve 'offhed' and collapsed back with her arms flung wide over her head which made Sarah's next move even easier. On her feet in an instant, the blonde stood at Neve's left side and faced away from the downed brunette. Glancing at the clock, Sarah said, "Let it be noted that at just past the twenty minute mark, the destruction of the Scream Queen began in earnest."
The words were still coming out of her mouth when went into a crouch and sprang straight into the air only to execute a gorgeous back-flip that brought her down tummy-first across Neve's chest. Loving the feel of the air rushing out of the challenger's lungs, Sarah completed the Standing Moonsault by hooking Neve's far leg.
A moment later the ref was in position and counting off, 'ONE.. TWO..THRNO!' Neve rolled a shoulder up the second before Sarah could claim the first fall as her own.
Pounding the canvas with a tightly balled fist, the blonde got to her feet and put some weight on her left knee. There was a mildly painful twinge, but she'd worked through far worse in the past and she was convinced it would hold up for what she had planned next. Leaving Neve in a heap at center ring, Sarah jogged to the nearest corner and hopped up onto the top rope.
Sinking into an expectant crouch, the blonde waited for Neve to get her feet under her and several seconds later, the Scream Queen did just that. Licking her lips, the blonde let out a low whistle and when Neve whirled to confront the source of the noise, Sarah was already in the air.
Dive-bombing down on the brunette, the Slayer spread her legs in a looseV and when they slipped around either side of the challenger's head, she clamped down tight. Simultaneous with the closing of the scissors, she leaned back and twisted hard to the right aiming to take Neve off her feet with the Top Rope Hurricanrana.
Alas, this was not to be. As Sarah was dropping to the mat, Neve dug in her feet and threaded an arm between the champion's legs and locked her hands across the smooth plane of Sarah's left thigh. With Sarah hanging upside down with her head only a few inches above the mat, it was a simple thing for Neve to turn her over onto her belly and sit down hard. The crowd cheered wildly; the Single-leg Crab wasn't one of the brunette's finishers, but she had it cinched in deep and on Sarah's bad leg to boot.
Tucking the Slayer's ankle under her armpit, Neve leaaaanned back on the hold and Sarah shrieked in agony as the sole of her boot came very close to the back of her head. Bouncing all of her weight against the small of Sarah's back, an infuriated challenger panted, "This is where you and I differ Sarah. You can only go after one target at a time while I am currently breaking your leg, back and spirit all at the same time. Now be a good Slayer and TAP!"
Shaking her head 'no' Sarah howled "NEVER!' and started clawing her way toward the ropes. She'd only made it a few inches when Neve stood up, adjusted her grip and then sat back down, this time with her ass almost directly against the base of the champion's neck. Bending the blonde into the unholyC of a Boston Crab, Neve flipped hair out of her face and said, "There's still about 37 minutes left in the match Sarah. You really think holding out is such a good idea?"
Eyes clenched tight against the torment of the Crab, Sarah dug her claws into the mat and spat, "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
Then, despite the considerable agony it caused her, the Slayer pushed up off the canvas and resumed her crawl to the ropes. Unable to believe that Sarah was capable of this kind of strength, Neve let the champ carry her weight until she was almost within reaching distance of the lowest cable. Then she tossed the blonde's leg aside, spun around and dropped down so she could wrap both hands around the Slayer's middle in a rough Waistlock.
Crushing the smaller woman against her, the Scream Queen pushed up and bridged back to drop Sarah on the back of her head and neck with a German Suplex. With Sarah folded in half by the power of the throw, the brunette maintained her bridge and rose up on her toes in an attempt to keep the champ in place as the ref counted…
'ONE... TWO... THRNOO!' But Sarah tore her way free of Neve's arms and slopped over onto her belly to break the count.
Rubbing the ache out of her back, Neve got to her feet and made a few adjustments to her togs. By the time she was done, Sarah had regained her feet as well, which was good because Neve wanted the Sarah standing for this next part. Already showing signs of wear after about 25 minutes of abuse, the Scream Queen and the Slayer locked eyes and searched the other for any signs of weakness. After more then ten seconds of silence, Neve said softly, "You're going to kneel for me Sarah."
Sarah's eyes narrowed in disbelief, "You've gotta be out of your fucking mind if you think IARRRGGHHH!"
Neve shot forward and THWAP, Snap Kicked the side of Sarah's left knee and just as the challenger hard predicted, the blonde knelt, albeit on an involuntary basis. Looking down as Sarah looked up, Neve smiled and said, "Told ya!"
Sarah opened her mouth to reply but Neve cut her off with a vile Knee Lift SMACK, to the champion's forehead. As Sarah sprawled onto her back, Neve muttered, "I can't believe you had the guts to claim you throw a better Suplex. God, that's just..." Neve pulled the blonde to her feet and reeled her in.
Standing chest-to-chest with the woozy Slayer, Neve looped an arm around her opponent's waist and threaded the other between Sarah's legs, making sure to give her rival's butt a sharp taunting squeeze as she did so. Her grip in place, Neve popped her hips and tossed Sarah up and over, dropping the champion on her head once again with a ring rattling T-Bone Suplex. Not even bothering to wait for Sarah to stop quivering, Neve rolled the smaller woman in half with a tight cradle and bore down tight as the ref counted…
'ONE... TWO... THRENOOO!' Sarah balled up a fist and slammed it into Neve's jaw to keep the score tied at zero by the slimmest of margins.
Irritated that she hadn't been able to score a fall yet, the Scream Queen sank her hands into Sarah's sweat-soaked locks and dragged her up. Placing a shoulder in Sarah's belly, the challenger muscled her foe up into a Fireman's Carry and turned so that all four sides of the arena could witness her dominance. Placing one arm over the back of Sarah's neck and her other hand under the blonde's knee, Neve told her, "Shattered knee or broken neck, I really don't care which it is Sarah but one way or another, you're going to stay down."
When the Slayer didn't respond, Neve bent her knees and pushed up hard on Sarah's thighs to sling the champ off her shoulders in what SHOULD have been the beginning of a Samoan Driver.
Instead, the champ used Neve's push to flip out of the brunette's clutches and land on her feet less than a yard away. Reacting with pure instinct, Neve lunged forward with claws extended and THWAP, promptly ate Sarah's right foot as the blonde tagged her with that awe-inspiring Super Kick of hers. Incredibly, Neve didn't go down, she just staggered back in a drunken lurch. This changed a moment later when Sarah Michelle Sarah pounced on her and wrapped the glassy-eyed brunette in a tight Front Facelock.
Working hard to keep Neve from sloshing out of her grip, Sarah reefed back on the hold for an instant, then rose up on her toes and DROPPED backwards as hard as she possibly could. The Scream Queen was torn off her feet and the crown of her skull was spiked brutally into the mat, the impact of Sarah's Snap DDT actually freezing the brunette in a perfect headstand before gravity pulled her onto her back. Gorging on the adrenaline and the cheers of the crowd, Sarah propped to her feet, dropped into a crouch and SLAMMED both palms against the canvas and roared, "THAT'S IT!"
Slipping into an evilly patient crouch, the Slayer stalked around behind her opponent and when Neve rolled onto her knees a few seconds later, the Slayer purred, "You made me kneel, so I'll make you kiss my feet."
She flicked out her right leg and CLAPPED an echoing Buzzsaw Kick directly behind the Scream Queen's ear. Neve's eyes rolled back in her head before she slumped face-down on the mat. Obeying the cries of her fans, Sarah rolled the challenger onto her back, sat heavily on her chest and hooked Neve's left leg in a tight half Matchbook pin. Raising her free hand over her head, Sarah ticked off the ref's count…
"ONE... TWO... THREE!'
The stadium erupted in cheers as the Announcer exclaimed, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the score is now one to zero in favor of Sarah Michelle Gellar!"
Pushing off the brunette's chest, Sarah put her hands on the hips and glanced over her shoulder. The clock read 29:59. Smiling, the champion glanced back at her moaning opposition and said, "You feel that Neve? That's me starting to roll you downhill." Leaning down, she SLAPPED the challenger across the face and said, "Now get your ass up so I can do it again!"
Looking over her fallen nemesis, Sarah kept expecting the ref to step in and order her to back off - then remembered there weren't any rest periods between falls. Face lighting up in a malevolent smile, the Slayer said, "Don't strain yourself getting up Neve; lemme help you..." She took hold of the brunette's shoulder-straps and scraped her off the mat. Switching her grip from fabric to flesh, Sarah snatched Neve's left wrist and backed her into the ropes. Placing her forearm across the brunette's throat, Sarah leaned in close and whispered, "I just kicked your face into the upper deck and it felt REALLY good. Soon as the fans bring it back to the ring, I think I'll do it again."
Speaking no more, the Slayer whipped her opponent across the ring and waited just long enough for Neve to begin her return trip before taking off after her. Tearing across the canvas, Sarah leapt into the air and snapped out her right leg, catching the brain addled challenge squarely across the nose with the back of her calf. There was one of those telltale THWAP followed by another "UNNNGHH' from the Scream Queen as the Running Calf Kick snapped her head back and sent the brunette to the canvas in an unladylike heap.
She would have stayed in that position for much longer if it had been allowed, but Sarah came over after only a few seconds and hauled the challenger to her feet. Setting her sights on the corner, the Slayer marched her spaghetti-legged foe into the turnbuckles and deposited her there chest-first. Standing behind the brunette, Sarah took each of the challenger's arms and placed them over the top rope to ensure that she would have unrestricted access to the brunette's back.
Pointing out her control over the Scream Queen with a tawdry slap to Neve's butt, Sarah leaned against the taller woman's back and whispered in her ear. "I'm gonna start kicking you again Neve. You just start blubbering when the pain gets to be too much, OK?"
Getting no response, the blonde stepped back, took the rope to Neve's left in both hands and leaned back on her wounded leg. The pain that ensued wasn't the most pleasant thing she'd ever encountered, but it was all worth it if it meant dismantling this pretender to her throne in such emphatic fashion. Deciding she'd start at the top and work her way down, Sarah lined up her shot and then THWAP, sliced her right leg up and kicked Neve across the base of her neck. Sarah's leg came down and stayed there for less than a second, then it was up again and THWAPP to Neve's neck. This was followed by a third strike and that's when the crowd finally started to get into it.
Though it was a little unorthodox to be counting off kicks, there was nothing that said it couldn't be done, so when Sarah shifted her aim and started hacking away between the brunette's shoulder-blades, they kept count for her, 'FOUR... FIVE... SIX...' The Slayer moved south again and this time she homed in on the small of the Scream Queen's back. 'SEVEN... EIGHT... NINE...' Finally pausing to breathe, Sarah waited an extra beat then, THWAPP, gave a last kick to Neve's ass.
As the crowd roared 'TEN!' Sarah spun Neve around, took hold of her wrist and whipped her across the ring. As soon as Neve hit with a loud BWUNNG in the far corner, Sarah exploded forward in a dead run that put her on a collision course with the kick-drunk brunette. When Neve was only a few feet away, Sarah sailed off her feet and brought her right knee up, catching her oblivious foe across the jaw with a gorgeous Leaping Knee Lift. A terrible shudder went through Neve's sturdy chassis and as Sarah stepped back to let her come stumbling out of the corner, most guessed the challenger would only make it a half dozen steps before she just went down on her face.
Turned out she didn't even make it that far, but that was because Sarah stepped in behind her, placed her hands on the brunette's shoulders and leapt into the air so she could land on Neve's shoulders with one lean, tanned thigh framing either side of the Scream Queen's head. The blonde was just starting to lean forward to begin the motion that would complete the Victory Roll when Neve balled her left hand into a fist and THUDD a crude punch off the champ's forehead.
Sarah groaned and leaned back but she didn't tumble off her perch and that made it easy for Neve to reach up and grab Sarah's right wrist in her left hand and vice-versa. With the Slayer's wrists crossed behind the brunette's head, Neve turned in a smooth half circle, rose up on her toes and then dropped backward, drilling Sarah spine-first into the canvas with the rarely seen (at least Stateside) Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex. Keeping her hold on the blonde's wrists after she hit the mat, Neve bridged up and held Sarah in place as the ref slapped the mat, 'ONE... TWO...' Sarah tugged her way free of Neve's grasp and rolled over onto her stomach.
Furious that she'd given up the first fall to the Slayer, Neve got to her feet and pulled Sarah to hers. Slipping behind the champion, Neve tied her up with a Waistlock and when she was sure the blonde wasn't going anywhere, she turned her attention to the audience. "SO YOU LIKE COUNTING DO YA? WELL HERE'S SOMETHING WORTH COUNTING!"
As her words faded she planted her feet and popped her hips taking the blonde up and over with a German Suplex. Sarah hit hard on her head and shoulders, her legs thrown back over her head, toes touching the canvas. When Neve connected with the Suplex she didn't hold the bridge but she didn't let go either. Taking a deep breath, she rolled to her feet and brought Sarah along for the ride. Not sparing a moment, she popped her hips again, spiking Sarah with a second German Suplex. The impact was no less painful for Sarah and the blonde only moaned when Neve tugged her up and then tossed her right back down with a third German Suplex. Now the unspoken but generally agreed upon rules of pro-wrestling said that if one was going to link German Suplexes, the chain ended at three. And while no one would argue with the quality of Neve's throws, those same unspoken rules dictated that unless it was a pin, no one counted to three, so why bother ticking off the German's?
Imagine their surprise then when Neve rolled onto one knee and pushed back to her feet with Sarah nearly limp in her grasp. Turning to all four sides of the ring, Neve waited for the crowd's pitch to build before dumping Sarah on her head with a FOURTH German Suplex. Sarah hit the mat with a sick, boneless sounding THUD and suddenly the mob ROARED as they realized what the Scream Queen was attempting. When Neve got to her feet and bridged back, they finally began to count. 'FIVE........ SIX........ SEVEN........ EIGHT........ NINE........'
By the time she reached the penultimate German Suplex, Neve was breathing hard through her mouth and she was pretty sure Sarah was unconscious. Dragging both of them to their feet, Neve released the Waistlock, spun the Slayer around to face her and quickly doubled over so she could force her head between the blonde's torso and left arm. Wrapping her arms around the champ's waist one more time, the brunette turned so that her back was to the corner and then she TOSSED Sarah up and over with a Release Northern Lights Suplex that ended with the blonde slamming against the turnbuckles and getting caught up in the unenviable Tree of Woe.
Resting on her haunches, Neve took in the 'HOLY SHIT' chants and then muttered, "I don't think so guys. You'll KNOW when we've reached Holy Shit territory." Getting to her feet, Neve found her voice and roared, "LETS SEE HOW SARAH LIKES IT!"
Riding a wave of applause, the Scream Queen sprinted to the opposite corner, tagged the buckle and then loped back toward the strung-up Slayer. As the yards shrank to feet, Neve went into a deep crouch and sprang into the air. At the apex of her ascent, Neve pulled her legs in and held them in that position as the descent started. At the last possible moment the challenger pistoned both gams out and drove them full force into Sarah's face to complete the damndest Dropkick seen all evening.
The skull-shattering force of the blow finally managed to knock the Slayer loose from the corner and she tumbled to the mat like a dead tree. Deep in her heart Neve believed that Sarah could be pinned right then and there, but the challenger wasn't done with her yet. She didn't want to beat Sarah with one of her own moves, she wanted to beat her with something that was uniquely Neve Campbell!
Already knowing what that special something was, Neve pulled Sarah to her feet and forced her to turn around. Stepping in close behind the Slayer, Neve draped the blonde's left arm behind her neck while simultaneously encircling Sarah's waist with her left arm. That done, the brunette bent down and threaded her right arm under Sarah's right thigh and lifted up, forcing the toned limb to extend out in front of the blonde at a rough ninety degree angle. Almost done, the Scream Queen put a little more 'oomph' into her hold and was able to lock her hands together across Sarah's navel.
Crushing down on her pair of holds, Neve whispered, "Try not to wriggle Sarah, it'll just draw more attention to how helpless your ass looks." Speaking no more, the challenger bridged up and fell backwards to deposit Sarah squarely on her head and shoulders compliments of the Suplex she called The Canadian Cradle.
Unable to tell if Sarah was twitching or not (she was, and the fans were eating it up) Neve simply maintained her bridge and waited patiently as the ref counted, "ONE...TWO... THREE!"
The bell rang a second time and the Announcer told the stadium, "The score is now tied one fall apiece!"
Finally releasing the cradle, Neve rolled to one knee and gave Sarah's upturned rump a loud, somehow haughty looking SPANK!
Checking the clock (23:17) Neve smiled and said, "I bet you'd really like a rest period right about now wouldn't you Sarah?" The blonde just groaned and while Neve was disappointed not to get anything more banter-worthy from her rival, she was pleased to see that the Slayer was still conscious. Feeling adequately prepared for this next stage of the war, Neve got to her feet, buried a claw in the champion's hair and peeled her off the mat. Slipping around behind the smaller woman once again, Neve pressed her lips to Sarah's ear and whispered, "Now that you know I can throw you; it's time you found out what a stretching really feels like."
Pressed in tight against Sarah's back, Neve reached around the blonde with her right leg so it looped around Sarah's side and between her legs, effectively hooking Sarah's right leg with the entangling limb. Then, using both hands, Neve pushed down on Sarah's head and neck, stretching the trapped blonde's torso painfully across the Scream Queen's knee. The Abdominal Stretch was locked in perfectly and Neve poured on the pressure; wrenching the blonde's torso at a hideous angle. The pain of the hold brought Sarah back a little bit, but she was far too weak to do much beyond groan and tug at her captor's intruding arms. Forcing a little more pressure down on the blonde's head, Neve released half of her grip so she could THUP an occasional punch into the Slayer's paunch. After almost a minute had elapsed, the brunette wiggled her knee against the Champ's ribs and said simply, "Submit."
Sarah wouldn't even entertain the notion. Shaking her head 'no' just so the ref would get out of her face, the champion found her voice and said, "I thought you were working on my knee, not my ribs. Guess all those kicks to the head must have scrambled your circuits a little."
Neve smiled and her hand, SLAPP, against the blonde's leather-clad ribs. "Silly little Slayer, you're not just my opponent. You're the canvas I'm using to paint a masterpiece. Therefore it's only right that I stretch every...single... inch."
She got quiet but Sarah filled the void with a pained shriek as Neve cranked down even harder on the Abdominal Stretch. Grinding her elbow back and forth across the Slayer's undercarriage, Neve added, "Give up now Sarah... or I'll make this a lot worse."
Pretty face twisted by pain and a rather maniacal smile, Sarah chuckled and replied, "When I get you in the Sharpshooter... you're going to SCREAMUUNGHHHH!"
Having had enough of the champion's mouth, Neve suddenly released the pressure on the Stretch, but Sarah's freedom was short-lived as the brunette grabbed a huge handful of her hair and bent her backwards. Stuffing the Slayer's chin into her armpit, Neve trapped Sarah's right arm and torso in an unbreakable loop and locked her hands to secure the Dragon Sleeper.
Wrenching up on the neck-snapping hold, the Scream Queen shook her victim left and right as she cooed, "You're helpless Sarah. Tap out before you pass out."
Hating the feel of the tears being squeezed from the corners of her eyes, Sarah hissed, "I am NEVER helpless."
Her words were still hanging in the air when she balled her hand into a fist and sent it sailing north where it caromed off the brunette's chin. Unprepared for the blow, the challenger grunted and broke the hold. Nearly delirious with joy, Sarah collapsed onto her knees and tried to massage the pain out of her neck. She had just started to coax the pain away when Neve grabbed her under the arms and pulled her to her feet.
Before Sarah could so much as cry out, the Slayer felt her left leg fold up against her butt as she was hoisted into the air. A heartbeat later she came down shin-first on Neve's knee. This time, she really did scream. She tried to bite it back, but the agony in her knee was too strong and she settled for a bout of quiet sobbing after the worst of the pain subsided. Her left knee was still throbbing like an insane tuning fork when Neve grabbed her by the head and yanked her to her feet.
"Forgot about your knee didn't you Sarah? Shouldn't have, joint pain like that doesn't go away, at least not in the time you've got left."
Looking to make Sarah do some damage to her own leg, Neve took hold of the champ's wrist and whipped her into the ropes. Watching the blonde's progress, Neve saw that she was heavily favoring her left leg now, but she was still able to run on it and that meant the Slayer was still extremely dangerous. When Sarah came hobbling back to her, Neve doubled over in anticipation of tossing the blonde into the lights with a Back Body Drop but she may have telegraphed the move a tiny bit because Sarah Leap-frogged over her and as she sailed by, slapped her arms around Neve's waist and locked her hands.
As Sarah began the Sunset Flip, Neve resisted the urge to panic and instead planted her feet against the mat. Leaning forward as far as she could, she managed to keep her balance when the Slayer landed flat on her back almost underneath her. Thinking fast, Neve dropped to her knees and sat on Sarah's chest, smearing the Slayer's shoulders to the canvas with an impromptu Schoolgirl Pin.
The ref was still sliding into position by the time Sarah planted her feet flat on the mat and bridged up and out of the hold in a move that had to be seen to be believed. In less than a second Sarah was on her feet behind the kneeling Neve and even when she was injured (perhaps ESPECIALLY when she was injured) that was not a place any Slayer opponent wanted to find themselves. Not exactly sure of what had happened, Neve glanced over her shoulder and....THWAP, was cordially reintroduced to Sarah's right foot as the blonde dimmed Neve's lights with the same Buzzsaw Kick she'd pinned her with earlier.
As Neve moaned and flopped down on her face, Sarah dropped to her knees, rolled the brunette over and hooked both legs in a tight cradle. Nodding along with several thousand Sarah fans, the blonde held on for dear life as the ref counted, 'ONE... TWO... THRENOOO!"
The move wasn't going to beat Neve twice and one night and she proved it by kicking out at the last second. Rolling away from the cover, Sarah wanted to make sure these people knew she was back in the fight and she did so by rolling onto her shoulders, tucking her knees against her chest and then springing to her feet in a leap that would have made Shawn Michaels proud. Landing the nip-up caused a bolt of pain to roar through her left knee, but aside from the tiniest shiver of her leg, the crowd wouldn't have known it.
Raising a hand high over her head, the champion roared, "TIME TO START RUNNING UP THE SCORE!"
Obeying the 'FUCK HER UP SARAH' chants to the best of her abilities, the Slayer pulled Neve to her feet and immediately crossed the brunette's eyes with a wicked Knee Lift to the forehead. With Neve doubled over and prone, the blonde let go of her hair and stepped to the right so she could take a place by the Scream Queen's side. Turning on a dime, Sarah took off in a flat out sprint, heading for the cables only to come roaring back a second or two later. As she got within grappling distance, the champ shot out both hands and reached around Neve's head to cup her under the chin. The moment her hands were in place, Sarah torqued her hips and fell to the mat, nearly twisting the challenger's head from her shoulders with a lightning quick Swinging Neckbreaker.
THUNK! Neve's head slammed the canvas and Sarah rolled to one knee, sank her hands into the brunette's hair and got to her feet. Tossing the Scream Queen into the nearest corner, Sarah threaded Neve's arms over the top ropes, leaving her exposed in a crudeT. Turning her back on the challenger, Sarah raised her right arm, pulled the pad from her arm and whispered, "THIS is why I'm the champion."
'Champion' was still coming out of her mouth when the Slayer DROVE the point of her elbow into the canyon formed by Neve's heaving breasts. The move was relatively simple by pro-standards, but it was frighteningly effective and in certain apartment wrestling circles, it had come to be known simply as The SMG Elbow. In the promotion it didn't have a proper name but that didn't stop it from almost caving in Neve's chest. Allowing herself a moment to grrriiiiind the point into her sternum, Sarah spun around, wrapped her arms around Neve's waist and hoisted her into a sitting position on the top turnbuckle.
Climbing up after her prey, Sarah held Neve's face at crotch-level as she said, "You better hope that your back is strong as you think it is."
Intent on testing her challenger's mettle, Sarah hopped into the air, wrapped her legs around Neve's head and locked her ankles. But when the blonde started to fall back, she twisted her body to the right, angling her fall to land OUTSIDE the ring. The 'HOLY SHIT' chants hadn't even started when Sarah tore Neve loose from her perch and tossed the Scream Queen into a ten foot freefall that ended with the brunette going SPLATT against the thinly-padded mats at ringside.
The landing wasn't too pleasant for Sarah either, but she had the luxury of preparation, so it was no surprise to anyone when the champ was the first to regain her feet. Limping over to the smoldering wreckage of the challenger, Sarah pulled her up with a handful of togs and tresses and rolled her under the bottom rope. Mentally numbing the pain in her ribs and knee, the Slayer climbed up onto the apron and grabbed the top rope in both hands. Silently begging Neve to get up, the blonde was made to endure this torture for about ten seconds and then the brunette finally rolled onto her hands and knees and pushed up.
Not caring that Neve's back was to her, Sarah pulled back, then leapt onto the top rope. She stayed there just long enough to bend her knees and leap toward the oblivious Scream Queen. Rolling through the air, Sarah lashed out with her right leg and THWAP drove the side of her foot into the back of Neve's head with a Springboard Spinning Heel Kick. The brunette dropped like she'd been shot and that might have actually been more pleasant than what Sarah actually had planned for her. Overloading on adrenaline at this point, the Slayer popped to her feet, drew a thumb across her throat and roared, "SPIRAL BOMB!"
Jogging over to Neve, she scraped the brunette off the mat and jammed her head between her thighs in a Standing Headscissors. Wrapping her arms around Neve's gulping waist, the blonde dipped her knees and then HOISTED Neve up into the stall position for her finisher. Only vaguely aware of the crowd noise, Sarah started to spin in a circle, pulling off half a dozen wobbly rotations before sitting out and nearly driving Neve through the canvas with her Spiral Bomb.
Normally the Slayer would just lean forward and hold her foe down but Neve wasn't anything like normal and Sarah treated her as such. Tossing the brunette's legs aside, Sarah crawled up the Scream Queen's frame until her crotch was nuzzling the challenger's chin. Sinking her nails into Neve's hair, Sarah purred, "No one's above a little humbling Neve, not even you." Then she pulled Neve's face up into her groin and ground away on the brunette's features as the ref counted, "ONE... TWO... THREE!"
The bell sounded again and the Announcer said, "The score is now two falls to one in favor of Sarah Michelle Sarah."
Indulging in one final pelvis-to-nose grind, Sarah dropped Neve's head and turned her attention to the clock which now read 17:01. Glancing down into Neve's face, Sarah said, "You like that Neve? I've got almost twenty minutes to keep doing it. But I think I'll tenderize you a little bit more first." Hooking a handful of the brunette's top, Sarah pulled the challenger to her feet and forced her to bend double. Moving around to Neve's right, Sarah grabbed the Scream Queen by the scruff of the neck and held her in place. Scuffing the toe of her right boot against the canvas, Sarah whispered, "It might not be pretty, but it'll get the job done."
Her right leg came 'whicking' up and it smacked THWAPP on Neve's face. The Slayer immediately reset her feet and hit another kick to the exact same spot. Some of the braver fans tried to count along with the barrage, but they soon realized it was beyond hope. The champ wasn't interested in having this total tallied, she just wanted to kick the life out of her rival.
The crowd was oddly silent during her assault and for a while, the only sound was the steady THWAP, THWAP, THWAP, THWAP of the Slayer's boot to Neve's forehead. Eventually the blonde's leg started to tire and she released Neve's head, took a step back and caught her breath. Seeing exactly where she wanted her heel to land, Sarah sprang into the air and extended her right leg as far as she could. When gravity took over, her outstretched leg came down slamming her heel across the base of the brunette's head and shoulders with a cleaving Axe Kick. Neve was taken off her feet and driven face-first into the mat with the sort of force that was usually seen with DDT's or Piledrivers.
Spread out on the canvas, it didn't look like the Scream Queen would last fifteen seconds, let alone fifteen minutes, but Sarah wasn't taking any chances. She might had a one-fall lead over the challenger, but she'd be more comfortable with two or three falls to work with. She knew there was only one hold that could achieve that goal, so rolling to her feet, the Slayer trudged over to Neve's legs, dropped to one knee and flipped the brunette onto her stomach. Taking an ankle in each hand, she stood up, nodded a confirmation when the audience started to ROAR for the Sharpshooter and…
…stepped through with her right leg, planted her foot next to Neve's left hip and after crossing the Scream Queen's toned gams over her intruding leg, Sarah bent her knees to begin the final turn. That's when Neve reached up and stuck the middle and ring fingers of her left hand in the Slayer's gaping maw!
Before anyone knew what happened, Neve locked in a Mandible Claw and TUGGED down as hard as she could. The sudden shift in balance caught the champ off guard and she was quickly rolled onto her shoulders in something that might have been called an Inside Cradle if had been done with a little more finesse. Regardless of how it had been achieved, Sarah's shoulders were down and Neve was on top of her which meant the ref was needed.
Dropping to his knees, the official slapped the mat, 'ONE... TWO... THR-NO!' Sarah's frantic wriggling paid off at the last second and she was able to break free of the pin and spit Neve's fingers out of her mouth.
Scrambling away from the challenger, Sarah got to her feet and angrily wiped a shine of spit off her chin. Fixing the recovering brunette with wide, furious eyes, the blonde sneered, "You're going in the Sharpshooter tonight Neve. I might have to break your back to do it, but it will happen."
Just then the Scream Queen pushed to her feet and Sarah figured now was as good a time as any to send her right back down. Hurtling forward in a limping run, the Slayer waited until Neve's head started to turn in her direction before she left her feet and jabbed out her right leg in a Thrust Kick that would send Neve's chin shooting out the back of her skull.
The operative word in that last sentence was 'would' because as the shoe-leather closed in on her face, Neve dipped aside and Sarah ended up blasting a hole in empty air. Despite the miss, Sarah's landing was perfect until she put too much weight on her left leg and the tweaked limb nearly buckled. The champion had just bit off a surprised bleat of pain when Neve stepped in behind her and drove a MURDEROUS Hook into the Slayer's liver.
Sarah's face went pale and she started to sink to her knees, but Neve wrapped her up in a loose Waistlock and whispered, "You sat on my face Slayer... that means I'm get to drop you on yours." Molding herself against Sarah's back, Neve applied a Half Nelson with one arm and a Waist Lock with the other. With absolutely no hesitation, Neve bent her knees and then bridged up and back, dropping Sarah almost directly on the top of her head with the Half Nelson Suplex, a move that was one of the simplest and most deadly in her repertoire.
The impact of the throw flopped Sarah over onto her belly and judging by the boneless way she laid on the canvas, she could have stayed there for quite a while, but time had grown short and Neve was down by a fall. So after taking just enough time to catch her breath and make sure all her teeth were still intact, Neve got to her feet and pulled Sarah to hers. Skipping out on her usual boot to the gut, Neve merely jerked Sarah's head between her thighs and trapped her in a Standing Headscissors.
Snaking her arms around the champion's waist, Neve inverted the smaller girl and didn't even bother to maintain the stall, she just dropped to the mat and SPIKED Sarah's head into the ground with her Sit-Out Piledriver.
The successful application of the challenger's finisher brought a rousing cheer from her fans and many of them implored Neve to go for the cover but the brunette wasn't going to do that just yet. She might be accused of piling on after the fight, but she could deal with that later. Right now she wanted to make sure that Sarah was going to stay down for a three count. Working in silence, Neve pulled her victim to her knees and hastily applied another Standing Headscissors.
A second later she bent down, but instead of wrapping her arms around the Slayer's waist, she laid her arms over the blonde's elbows and clasped her hands across the back of Sarah's thighs, just above the knee. Holding back a sob of her own, Neve inverted her adversary, breaking her grip as she did so to keep Sarah suspended by her arms. With her hands clasping the back of the champion's thighs, Neve spread her opponent's legs wide and turned in a full circle just so there could be no doubt about what she was doing. Completing her rotation, the Scream Queen bent her knees and then jumped into the air to come down comfortably on her butt while Sarah's head was driven into the canvas courtesy of the Package Piledriver.
Rolling the motionless blonde onto her back, Neve pushed to her knees, scooted forward and matter of factly lowered her ass onto the blonde's face. Neve didn't bother with theatrics, she simply put her hands on her hips and gave those world-class hips a little wiggle as the ref counted…
"ONE... TWO... THREE!" The bell rang and just in case anyone had been dumb enough to be at the concession stand, the Announcer told them, "The score is now tied at two falls apiece."
Not knowing or even caring if the blonde could hear her, Neve reached forward, patted Sarah's heaving midriff and purred, "Jennifer's description of your nose didn’t do it justice, Sarah."
Leaving the Slayer to digest her taunt, Neve pushed off the champion's face only to saunter over to her feet and pick them up in the looseV that Sarah had held her in only a few minutes prior. More than ready to take the lead for the first time that evening, Neve was just beginning to step through the blonde's legs when Sarah BURST into life and started clawing her way to the ropes. Cursing the blonde's tenacity, Neve dug her hooks into the champion's ankles and growled, "Fuckin' sit still Sarah!"
Jerking and twisting like a live wire, Sarah yelled, "Screw you Neve!" and continued her frantic progress to the cable.
Unable to believe that Sarah had that kind of fight left in her, Neve could only shake her head in astonished disgust when the Slayer grabbed the bottom rope. Much to the challenger's surprise, Sarah didn't immediately call for the break. Instead reached up to the middle rope and started pulling herself higher. Not sure what the blonde was doing, Neve shifted both of her hands to the champ's wounded left leg and reefed back on it several times, but despite what must have been excruciating pain, the Slayer held on until she was able to get her free leg under her. Balancing on one foot, Sarah spared a glance at the clock before she told the challenger. "Only ten minutes to go Neve. If I have my way you're going to spend most of it in the Sharpshooter."
Neve smiled. "That's just it Sarah. For once, you aren't going to get your UNGH!"
The Slayer had tricked her opponent into making a huge mistake. Neve had focused her attention on Sarah's face and that meant she didn't see the blonde's foot until it slammed THWAPP against the side of her face. The Enziguiri connected beautifully and perhaps even more importantly, was able to direct her landing so her bad knee didn't take her full weight.
Going back to the ropes to help her get up, Sarah set her sights on the reeling challenger and without even considering how much pain it might cause her, the Slayer charged after her prey, left her feet yet again and took Neve's head off with a Running Enziguiri that sent the brunette tumbling to the canvas in a crippled heap. Heavily favoring her wounded leg now, Sarah limped back to vertical base and pulled Neve to her knees.
Stuffing the blonde's head between her thighs, Sarah wrapped her arms around the brunette's abdomen, squeezed down on both holds and snarled, "You couldn't beat this before and you sure as hell can't beat it NOW!"
Saving the rest of her breath for the task ahead, Sarah dipped her knees and then HOISTED Neve up onto her shoulders for a second Spiral Bomb. She'd made it through less than one rotation before her knee gave out and she collapsed to the canvas with Neve landing a few inches away. Keeping a respectful distance, the ref checked for signs of life and when there were none, began his count. The fans had really started to get antsy when he reached 'SEVEN' but Neve allayed their fears, rolling onto her belly and pushing up to all fours. Her breath in great tearing gasps and starts, Neve struggled to her feet and shambled over to Sarah.
Burying her hands in the blonde's sweaty mane, the challenger pulled Sarah's head between her thighs and wearily cinched her arms around her waist. That was as far as she got though. Without warning, Sarah hooked her arms around the back of Neve's legs and PULLED back, sweeping the Scream Queen off her feet with a Double-Leg Takedown. Neve's breath was knocked out of her in the landing which is good because if there had been any air in her lungs, she would have let out a terrible shriek as Sarah spread her legs in thatV that everyone in the stadium had been waiting all night to see.
On autopilot now, Sarah stepped through with her right leg, planting it on the mat next to Neve's left hip. As soon as that was done she crossed the captured legs over her right leg and locked them in place. Almost done now, she rolled Neve over onto her stomach and sat down, finally able to give the challenger a taste of the Sharpshooter. Grinning despite the myriad aches and pains that were coursing through her system, Sarah leeaaaaaned back on her finisher, bounced her ass against Neve's lower back a few times and demanded, "SCREAM MY NAME NEVE! SCREAM MY NAME OR I'LL BREAK YOUR BACK!"
Neve did scream, but it wasn't anything cogent. Much as she hated herself for doing it, she screamed long and loud as the Slayer continued to mangle her spine. Lifting her head to the entryway, she saw there was only about five minutes left in the match. Knowing that to surrender now would be to ensure defeat, the brunette reached deep into her reserves and planted her palms against the mat. Letting loose with another awful shriek, the challenger puuuushed up on her hands and began to crawl her way to the ropes.
A few feet higher up, Sarah felt the movement, glanced over her shoulder and hissed, "NO FUCKING CHANCE!"
She leaned into the Sharpshooter even harder, but doing so caused her knee to tremble so badly she decided it was safer to straighten up. Clinging to the hope that Neve's spirit would snap before she got to safety, Sarah sobbed in disappointment when the crowd cheered and the ref tapped her shoulder to enforce the break. Not ready to give up on the Scream Queen's back just yet, Sarah released the Sharpshooter but quickly reassumed control over Neve's ankles and pulled her back to the middle of the ring. Tossing the limbs aside, she raised her good leg and drove a hard Stomp DEEP into the pit of the brunette's belly. Neve 'ooffed' and folded up around her foot, then the Slayer panted, "You stay right there!"
She rudely rolled the challenger onto her belly before moving to the nearest corner as quickly as she could where the blonde made her way to the top turnbuckle much more gingerly than usual, although she made it with no problem. Turning around to face the ring, she ducked down in a crouch, calmed the roaring inside her head, and then leapt out into the void. Turning so that her back was facing the mat, Sarah held her breath and waited for gravity to bring her CRASHING down on Neve's back with the Senton.
The Slayer's newest bit of offense caused both women a great deal of pain, but Neve definitely got the worst of it because she wasn't even moving when Sarah shoved her over onto her back and hooked both legs. Eyes torn between the ring and the clock (four minutes left) the whole arena counted along with the ref as he slapped the mat…
'ONE... TWO... THRENOOOOO!' When Neve kicked out, Sarah wanted to boot the zebra between the eyes but that would've gotten her disqualified and meant one hell on an ignominious end of her reign as champion. Instead, she turned the brunt of her ire to the Scream Queen and she felt much better for doing so.
Moving like a broken robot, Sarah pulled Neve up alongside her and trudged the brunette into the nearest corner. Her movements slow and sloppy with fatigue, Sarah hooked Neve around the waist and somehow managed to hoist her into a seated position on the top turnbuckle. Searing Neve with a Double Chop to the kidneys just to keep her docile, the Slayer slipped through the ropes and climbed the turnbuckle from the outside.
Holding onto the brunette's hair to keep her balance, Sarah wedged Neve's head between her thighs and wrapped her arms around the challenger's waist. Feeling her knotted hands dig deep into the Scream Queen's paunch, Sarah flipped hair out of her eyes, pushed up and... was met with a sudden resistance? Growling her disapproval, the blonde looked down and saw that Neve had grabbed hold of the top rope and was holding on tight to prevent Sarah from landing the Sunset Bomb.
Breaking her grip on the brunette's waist, the Slayer whispered, "Sorry Neve, this is out of your hands now."
She reared back to send another chop into Neve's sides but then the Scream Queen straightened up and drove a tidy little Left-Right-Left combo into the blonde's belly. Sarah 'ooffhed' and she almost lost her balance; luckily for her Neve was there to catch the Slayer and reel her into a loose Front Facelock.
Slinging the champion's near arm over her shoulders, Neve slowly got her feet under her and placed them on the second rope. As the capacity crowd held its breath, Neve lifted Sarah off her perch and held her directly over her head. Just as the mob was getting excited for a Superplex, Neve stepped back off the rope and dropped to the mat. The trip was an easy one for her, she landed on her feet after all, but Sarah was driven forehead-first into the top turnbuckle via the craziest Brainbuster anyone had ever seen.
Sarah's neck seemed to telescope for a moment, then the Slayer was falling to the canvas beside the challenger where she hit with a sweaty THUD. Standing over her, Neve looked up into the lights and drew a deep breath. Letting it out, she turned to the clock which read (1:30).
Her voice a rusty croak, Neve said, "Plenty of time!"
Taking Sarah by the wrists, she dragged the insensate Slayer to the middle of the ring and made sure to turn her so that the blonde wouldn't be able to look at the clock. It might not matter at this point, but Neve didn't want her to know how much she had to endure. Moving back to the blonde's feet, Neve took an ankle in each hand, spread them in theV and went to work.
Oblivious to the frenzied voice of the mob, Neve placed her right leg between them, and then executed a one hundred and eighty degree turn to her left over the blonde's weakened left leg. Completing the revolution, Neve snatched Sarah's right leg and fell backwards. Landing hard on the canvas, Neve laced her free leg over the Slayer's bent ankle and pressed down to cinch in the Figure Four Leglock.
Palms flat against the mat, Neve waited a single heartbeat and then PUSHED herself off the canvas. Sarah bolted off her back and screamed into the rafters. She didn't want to, hated herself for it in fact, but there was no way she could prevent it. Given the beating her knee had already taken, the Leglock was quite possibly the greatest pain she'd ever endured and it blotted out everything else in her world. She didn't think of the ropes, the ref, the clock or even Neve. Just the pain and how to make it go away.
Sarah was still flailing and pulling at the trapped joint when Neve's voice broke through the haze, "Give up Sarah."
Neve's words burned a searing hole through the fog in her brain and the blonde's eyes were remarkably clear when she panted, "Never."
She flattened her hands against the mat and tried to pull herself toward the ropes, but Neve just pushed up and the blonde collapsed in a fresh bout of pained gasping. Rocking up and down on her hands, Neve sighed, "I've got it cinched in deep Sarah and we both know you don't have what it takes to drag us to the ropes. So give up before I snap your knee."
Getting up on her palms again, Sarah tried to crane her head around to locate the clock, but she couldn't do it. Turning her gaze back to Neve she countered, "I don't have to escape Neve, I just have to lastARRRGGHHHHHHH!"
Neve tensed her legs and Sarah went into a fit of jerks and spasms that looked almost electric. Dark eyes cold and calm, Neve said, "You won't make it that far....GIVE.... UP!" Those last two words were punctuated with another pair of colossal constrictions from the challenger's legs and Sarah had to bite deep into the meat of her right forearm to keep from screaming again.
Totally unaware of how little time was left on the clock (27 seconds) Sarah focused all her strength into one final PUSH and forced her upper body off the canvas. For a moment she and Neve were eye-to-eye and then Neve lunged forward grabbed Sarah by the hair and wedged her head under the brunette's right armpit. The instant the blonde's head was trapped, Neve slipped her arms under Sarah's and clasped her hands between the blonde's shoulders, effectively adding a Butterfly Lock to the Figure Four. Leaning back on the former while she pushed down on the latter, Neve's whole body trembled with the exertion of trying to bend the Slayer to her will. Screaming almost as loudly as Sarah now, Neve shrieked, "SUBMIT!"
Inexorably trapped in Neve's hellish web, Sarah's iron will finally snapped and she began frantically wriggling her hands, hoping that would be enough to get the ref's attention. Unfortunately for her, the dope was closer to her head than her hands and the display went unnoticed. It was with a broken heart (and five seconds left on the clock) that Sarah Michelle Sarah whimpered, "I…OK…I… submit."
The official called for the bell and it sounded at the same time as the buzzer. A moment later, the Announcer had to fight to make himself heard over several thousand screaming fans as he said, "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FINAL SCORE IS THREE TO TWO, YOUR WINNER AND THE NEEWWWWW WORLD CHAMPION, NEVE CAMPBELL!"
The brunette released her dual holds and flopped back to the mat. She heard the Announcer, the fans and her theme, but she just couldn't do anything about it, she was too damned exhausted. It wasn't until the ref pulled her to her feet and handed her the strap did a bit of her energy come back. Holding the ten pounds of leather in gold in trembling hands, Neve couldn't hold back the tears when the crowd started to chant, "UNCROWNED NO MORE!"
Nodding a thanks to her supporters, the Scream Queen was about to climb the turnbuckles for a proper salute when she heard a shuffling behind her. Turning around, Neve saw the ref helping Sarah to her feet. Needing to make sure the blonde was ok, the brunette almost tossed the belt down but then her eyes met the Slayer's and she stopped. Remembering that she'd just taken Sarah's most prized possession, Neve made a one-time exception to her rule and slowly looped the belt around her waist.
Snapping the clasps shut, she limped forward and stood in front of the Slayer. Silence reigned for several seconds, then Sarah nodded and said quietly, "It looks good on you."
"Better on you."
Sarah shook her head 'no' and sighed, "Not tonight."
Before the ref could pull Sarah away, Neve stepped in and gave the blonde a hug, telling her, "You're the best in the world Sarah."
The Slayer returned the embrace and replied, "Says the girl who just beat me for the title."
Neve stepped back, "You're staying. And you're going to wear this thing again. In my book that makes you better!"
Sarah's smile was weary but a bit of her old spark had already returned. "Four time Champ DOES have a nice ring to it! Now lemme get outta here Neve, I gotta ice my knee down so can at least make an appearance at the after-party."
Neve stepped aside and as Sarah limped past her, she mouthed, 'LET'S HEAR IT.' at the fans. Sure enough, a 'THANK YOU SARAH!' chant started up and didn't stop until the blonde had disappeared through the curtain at the top of the ramp.
Alone with the championship for the first and only time, Neve said, "Might as well enjoy this while I can." Then she climbed the nearest turnbuckle and showed the gold to all who cared to see it. And when she was done there, she moved onto the next corner and the next and the next.
Finally, after the TV feed had gone dark and Black Hole Sun was halfway through its second run, Neve slipped out of the ring. She made it about halfway up the ramp before the fans started calling, 'PLEASE DON'T GO!' When she'd reached the entryway, Neve took the belt off her waist, and lifted it high overhead. Offering a small smile into the galaxy of flashbulbs, the Scream Queen whispered, "Don't worry. I'll be here if ya need me." Then she slung the strap over her shoulder, gave the crowd a final wave and slipped through the curtain.
Ruby's fading out
time to say goodbye.
During the After-Party...
Sitting quietly among the mild cacophony of the bar that took up a good half of the left side of the ballroom, Sarah Carter offered the bartender a polite nod as he slid her a glass of red wine. She hadn't specified type or vintage, but with Fannin throwing the party, she could guess that it would be from a very good region and a very good year. Raising the delicate crystal to her lips, she took a small sip and was pleased to find out she had been right on both counts.
Catching sight of her reflection in the bar's mirror, the dark-eyed blonde tilted her head to the right and slowly brushed her bangs away from her forehead. Carter's eyes narrowed the tiniest bit when she spotted the stitches. Running at a slight upwards slant from left to right, the wound was barely noticeable, but the 'barely' part had still been too much for her tastes, thusly, she went with bangs and even though everyone at the party KNEW she had been in one of the (if not thee most) vicious matches on the show, you'd never have guessed it just by looking at her. Dressed in an elegant black gown, Carter looked more heartbreaker than facebreaker, and that was exactly how she liked it. Made the beatings more fun when her opponents had no idea what had just hit them.
Sarah had just let her hair drop back into place when a most familiar and most unwelcome shape slid onto the stool beside her.
Ignoring the blonde for the moment, Kristin Kreuk got the bartender's attention and said, "Gin and Tonic please." Slowly turning to face Sarah, the brunette glanced at the mirror and said, "It's a shame Straker's as good as he is. In a few weeks, we won't have any mementos of our first meeting." In a move that was a mirror image of the one Sarah had performed a moment ago, Kristin brushed the hair off her forehead to reveal a three inch line of stitches that ran almost directly parallel to her left eyebrow.
Regarding the Hellcat with an icy expression, Carter's pretty face broke into a regal smile as she said, "While I can't speak for you, I can honestly say that I'll never forget the feel of you wriggling helplessly underneath me. Or the roar that went up from several thousand people as I pinned your shoulders down."
Kristin's expression went dark for a moment but then her G&T showed up and she occupied herself with the drink. Fixing the blonde with a level gaze from over the rim of her glass, the Hellcat sipped, found it to her liking and said blandly, "Yes, well, when one's career up to now has consisted of being Kristen Bell's bitch, I suppose any win, even a fluke, would seem worthy of the highlight reel."
More than a little irritated by the smug condescension she heard in the brunette's voice, Carter set down her wine and said, "As much as I'd love to sit here and discuss how much fun I'd have proving you wrong, it would be in poor taste to undo the work Dr. Straker has put into sewing up your head. So if you'd kindly state your business, you can leave and I won't have to trouble myself with getting your blood out of this dress."
Nonplussed by the blonde's casual threat of violence, Kristin treated her new rival to a glittering, feline smile as she said, "I just thought you should know that thanks to overwhelmingly positive feedback from the office and fans, we've already been signed for a pair of rematches, one in January and the other in February. Seemed only fair that you find out as soon as possible. Anyone who is able to exceed their normal capabilities, even if it's only for a single night, deserves to enjoy her moment before she sinks back into mediocrity."
Despite outward appearances, Carter's blood was boiling. Somehow, despite the fact that she'd beaten Kristin to within an inch of her life only a few hours ago, the Hellcat was calmly and honestly announcing that such a thing could never happen again.
Setting her fluted glass on the gleaming teak surface of the bar, Sarah's voice was eerily calm as she said, "Your concern is appreciated but unnecessary Kristin. No matter what happens between us, I will NEVER forget the fear in your eyes or the pain in your voice as they carried you out of the ring. Now what else did you want to tell me?"
The brunette's eyes were the only window into the storm roaring inside her mind, but that tempest was about to pour forth from a much more obvious source. With her glass placed beside Carter's, the Hellcat leaned toward the blonde as if to tell her something and just like that, her right arm darted out and she buried a claw in the base of Sarah's loosely hanging ponytail.
Wrapping the hair in her hand, Kreuk pulled Carter's head back at a sharp angle and brought her face to within inches of Sarah's. Speaking very softly, Kristin purred, "If I EVER see you wearing this... rat's nest in a braid when you're in the ring against me, I'll rip it off your head. And if you EVER ponylash me again, I'll rip it off your head and then feed it to you." She released Sarah's hair and asked, "Have I made myself clear?"
Smoothing out the edges of her frayed tresses, Sarah slid off her stool and waited patiently as Kreuk did the same. Going nose-to-nose with the red clad vixen ('if she'd shown up in black, I would have jumped her already.' Sarah thought.) Carter raised her right hand, extended her index finger and very deliberately pressed it against the Hellcat's sternum. Her voice colder than an Arkham ice storm, the blonde whispered, "Perfectly clear. Now I want you to do something for me."
Leaving her foe's hand right where it was, (if she reached for it, the brunette was afraid she might break the bitch's wrist and that would put a kibosh on the January rematch) Kristin said, "Anything for you Sarah honey."
Licking her lips, Sarah cooed, "I want you to remember what this feels like. Because the next time I touch you here, it'll be with the point of my elbow. And I'm not going to stop touching you until I hear it crack." She pulled her finger away and threw the Hellcat's words back at her. "Have I made myself clear?"
Kristin didn't immediately answer. Instead, she picked up her glass and took another sip off the Gin and Tonic. Stepping to within kissing distance of the blonde, the green-eyed grappler said, "I'll break your arms before you get the chance."
"Oh you're going to give me plenty of chances Kris, losers like you always do. And if you don't get out of my face right now, I might just take one of them."
Kreuk hesitated. Not because she was afraid, but because she really, REALLY wanted to slap that insolent look off Carter's face. In the end she refrained, if only because she didn't want her fun broken up by Stark or some of the other more meddlesome partygoers. Offering Sarah a wicked smile, Kristin sighed, "All right, we'll save this for the new year. But in the spirit of giving, here's an early Christmas present."
Before the blonde could even flinch, Kristin spun around in a lightning-fast half circle and FWAPPED her ponytail across Sarah's incredulous face. Not even bothering to look over her shoulder, Kristin strutted off into the crowd and called back, "Re-gifting is such a bitch, isn't it Sarah?"
Hands curled into tight balls of white-knuckled rage, Carter took several deep breaths and when she'd regained a modicum of control, she whispered, "You don't know what you've started Kristin. But you will. By this time next year, I promise that you will be INTIMATELY aware of just what you've stepped in." Picking her glass off the bar, Sarah went off in search of more pleasing conversation, no need to ruin a wonderful night mulling over a loser right?
Down at the other end of the teak bar, Jessica Biel and Neve Campbell were having a more polite-but no less interesting-conversation. Having finished her Avalanche Ale, the blonde called for another, then picked up where she’d had left off. Fixing the Scream Queen with an impressed smile, she said, "Five seconds to go. Five... fucking... seconds. Damn champ, I don't know how you pulled that off, but I bet it was harder than it looked."
Neve's smile was bright, but tired. "You have no idea. Sarah's small, but she might as well be made of steel. I worked on her knee for the entire match and still it almost wasn't enough...." She paused for a moment, then added, "And don't call me champ. You know I already vacated the title and handed it back to the front office."
Holding off on her beer for a moment, Biel looked more than a little curious as she asked, "Is it true what they're saying; there's gonna be a tournament?"
"Yeah. Sixteen girls; single eliminationl; winner gets the strap. It'll start next week and the finals;ll be the end of January."
Tapping the bar nervously, Jess thought about her next question. She knew it wasn't exactly politic, but she had to find out. Clearing her throat, she said, "So, do you know who's gonna to be in?"
Neve laughed softly and nodded. "I should: I made the list."
Jessica gaped for a moment, then regained her composure. "…and?"
Jessica groaned, "You know damn well…am I in?"
The brunette provided an affirmative. "Of course…along with fifteen other deserving names including Durance, Garner and Gellar, of course. Seemed only right since she won't be able to exercise her rematch clause."
Biel thought over this piece of information, "I beat Erica tonight, I can beat her again. As for Garner and her pet Crumpet Sucker..."
"How are you feeling by the way?" Neve interrupted. "The abuse you took from Erica was bad, but the double team by those two was nothing short of spectacular. A reprehensible back-stabbing by the way…"
Jess smiled sourly. "'S'okay Neve. If I’d been watching and not on the receiving end, I’d say the same thing... Anyway, I'm sore, but Straker says nothing’s broken. I'm gonna take it easy on my ribs for a several days, but I'll be ready for the start of the tourney."
Taking a sip from her Grey Goose, Neve asked, "What about Garner and Ryan? You don't strike me as one to take a beat-down without retaliating?"
Biel offered an evil little chuckle, "Oh there'll be retaliation, alright. Even if they're joined at the hip, I'll find a way to get them alone and then...."
"Then they'll realize they shoulda crippled me when they had their chance."
Neve knew the feeling. "I understand desire for revenge, but be VERY careful with Garner. She might not be as quick as three years ago, but she's wrestling smarter and that makes her very dangerous. You already know what the Spy Groove feels like, I can tell you from personal experience the Running Knee she usually follows with can put your lights out."
Biel nodded. "What about Ryan?"
Unfortunately, the Scream Queen wasn't as much help. "She's very good and that she comes from the same promotion in England that brought us Piper and Dormer. What little I've seen seems to indicate she's mimicking Jennifer's style with even more high-flying bullshit. She's second banana to Garner right now, but this time next year, she could very well be more dangerous than her partner."
Taking a long swallow from her beer, Jessica smiled coldly, "Not gonna happen Neve. I'm gonna snap that bitch over my knee before she gets a chance to threaten anyone. Then I'm gonna mail both halves to sweet Jenny G before I put my boot in her face."
The brunette smiled appreciatively, she'd made similar statements at various points in her own career. She was about to wish the blonde well when Jessica turned and asked, "Can I ask you a question?"
Despite the aches and pains running through her limber frame, Neve's mind was as quick as ever, "You mean beside that one?"
"Smart ass!" Biel grumbled.
Brushing some hair off her forehead, Neve said, "Whaddaya wanna know?"
Jessica's pretty face was dead serious as she made her query, "You've beaten me and you've beaten Sarah. Given what you know about us, can I beat her?"
The Canadian's dark eyes didn't waver from her American friend's as she said, "You're still thinking about what happened at the end of our match aren't you?"
Biel stared stonily into the bottom of her glass. "She punked me HARD, Neve. I don't back down from anyone, but I backed down that night. I want her to know it'll NEVER happen again!" She glanced at the brunette and waited patiently.
Sighing quietly, Neve said, "You CAN beat her, but WILL you beat her? I don't know. She's taken a lot of crap over the last few years, but I have no problem admitting that Sarah Michelle Sarah is the toughest woman I've ever faced. Sure she's small, but she moves like lightning and I've seen her nearly decapitate girls six inches taller with a Super Kick. And that's not even her finish; if you're going against her you've gotta worry about the Spiral Bomb, not to mention the Sharpshooter. No one puts that hold on like her Jess... I've seen strong girls BREAK when Sarah's got their legs, hell, I've been very close to being one of them. So you ask me if you can beat her and judging from the heart I saw from you tonight, I say yes you can, BUT you'd have to wrestle the match of your life to do it."
The blonde processed these words for several seconds before she said, "I can do that." There was silence between them for a moment and then Biel added, "I want you to know something Neve."
The Scream Queen tilted her head to the right and waited patiently.
"I appreciate the hell out of what you said about me at the end of our match and I figure the best way to show that is by winning this tournament. So I'm gonna march through everyone in my path and when it comes time for the finals, I don't care if it's Garner, Sarah or whoever else is lucky enough to make it that far. They're gonna get busted up something terrible and that belt is going around my waist."
Thinking the blonde was done, the Scream Queen replied, "Then I wish you the best of luck Jess..."
"There's more," Biel said quietly. Neve fell silent to let Jessica finish. "Once I've won the belt and proved I'm not some one hit wonder, I'm gonna call you out. They say the definition if insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, but I HAVE to try. Even if the title's around my waist, if I can't defend it against the woman who held it last, I don't deserve to be the Champ. I'm sorry if this sounds presumptuous, I just didn't want you to be surprised when if it happens."
Neve sipped from her vodka and remained silent. Just when Jess was about to say something else, the brunette spoke. "If you CAn win the title, you’ll have earned the right to issue a challenge. If you make it, I'll be there to accept, but I want you to know; you'll be a much better wrestler the next time we lock horns... but so will I."
Biel nodded somberly, "I know. That's why I need to face you again."
Neve smiled and extended her hand. As Jess accepted the gesture, the Scream Queen told the blonde, "You're sounding like a champion already Jessica Biel. When you've got the belt to go with it, look me up and we'll dance again. But until then, keep your eyes on the more immediate challenges."
"I will. Nothing wrong with having a long term goal is there?"
"No problem at all," the brunette confirmed.
Having helped himself to a fresh Molson (God bless the woman who invented the ‘open bar’) Simon 'Simguy' Lumic went wandering through the after-party crowd in search of his employer. Nodding and smiling his way through a few perfunctory greetings (not to mention a brief, but far more involved promise to Sarah Carter to study footage of her Dog Collar Match before the night was over) Lumic found Fannin at a small table in the back of the room where the promoter was currently occupied with a plate of bacon-wrapped something or other. He waited for him to finish chewing before he said, "Hey Rich, can I talk shop to you for a second?"
Fannin indicated an empty chair. "Sit down and we'll palaver Sim. Is this about your new gig as Ali's handler for her World Tour?"
Settling into the chair, Lumic shook his head and said, "It's about Bell and Sarah."
Fannin groaned, he and the statistician had been down this road numerous times in the last six months. The latest public outburst just meant everyone else had figured out what he and Sim had known for a while now. "I know you don't approve Sim - either from a business or fan standpoint - but ya gotta believe this the best decision for everyone; Sarah and Kristen most of all."
Taking another swig from his beer, Lumic said, "I agree with you up to a certain point. Given Kristen's rather bold announcement after the beating she gave Lacey, I certainly wouldn't want her within striking distance of the Slayer for a few weeks either. But to keep them away from each other entirely? Shit Rich, I'm not even going to be here and I'm worried about how to make that work."
The promoter looked troubled, it was obvious he'd been trying to figure it out too. "I won't pretend that it doesn't suck... and that it's not remarkably lame of me to foist a dangerous situation on the rest of the office staff, but I have faith in them. If they can calm our warring blondes down, they can gently direct them into other feuds and away from one another. It's not pretty and the fans will probably bitch a lot, but it'll keep two of our biggest names, figuratively I mean, from killing one another and that's gotta be priority one."
Trying to frame his response as carefully as he could, Sim said, "I understand, believe me I do. We all love Kristen and Sarah a little bit and the last thing we want is to see them hurt. But consider this, even if the guys in the office manage to succeed in diverting them from one another, neither of them is going to forget what happened here tonight. And if we as an organization cover it up and let them stew, eventually they'll bump into each other anyway and the resulting explosion will be far worse than it is now. It'd be better for everyone involved to just let them hash it out right now and establish who's boot is gonna be on who's throat."
Fannin took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes for a few seconds and when he turned back to Lumic, he saw that the promoter didn't just look worried, he looked downright haunted. "That's the problem Simon, you and I both know there's NO WAY that Kristen or Sarah will ever concede a feud to the other, not unless something drastic happens. So we could let them have a few matches and they'd be great, probably tear the house down... but they'd also be far from conclusive. Even if one of them took a best of three, the other would immediately demand to make it a best of five and after that it would be a best of seven and so forth and so on until the point when a plain old wrestling match wouldn't be good enough for either of them any more. Eventually they'd want a gimmick and to be perfectly honest, my worst fear is seeing Kristen Bell and Sarah Michelle Sarah go at it in a Last Woman Standing or God help them both, an I quit match. Because they won't bend a knee to one another and when something won't bend, the only thing it can do is break."
Simguy thought for several seconds, then asked, "You really think they would go that far? I mean, sure they hate each other, but I they're professionals too. Causing permanent injury to an opponent would result in them becoming Cuthbert-grade pariah's in the locker room."
Fannin shrugged. "I don't think they'd do it on purpose... or at least with any forethought, and they certainly wouldn't brag about it later... but yeah, I can see one inflicting a career-ending injury on the other. Let's not forget, this is the Sharpshooter and the Bell Curve we're talking about here. Between those two holds, they could conceivably break both arms, both legs, and their back. It's those holds that scare me Simon. Pins and Knockouts they can right off as leverage and luck, but a submission... those can't be explained away without saying 'she was better than me' and I'm afraid that Sarah and Kris would die before they'd admit something like that."
Deciding that he wasn't going to change the promoter's mind, at least not yet, Sim nodded and said, "Fair enough. But I would like to it to be made known that I think this is going to cause us a hell of a lot of grief down the line."
Fannin smiled wearily. "Duly noted. On a more pleasant subject, when do you and Allison leave for Colorado?"
"Shortly after the first of the year. I'm going to get her out there about a week early so she can get used to training at a higher elevation and to give her time enough to get acclimated to Dani's arena of choice."
Rich snickered a little. "Have you told her that it'll be a Mud Wrestling match?"
Forcing down a grin of his own, Lumic replied, "Not yet, but I'll make sure she knows before the end of tonight. Fishel's going to be tough enough for her as it is, no sense in adding another hurdle."
"Speaking around a mouthful of hor'dourves Rich mused, "You think she can put Dani down on her home turf... err, mud I mean?"
"If she brings that mean streak she showed Eliza tonight with her, then yeah, she can. It won't be easy, but she'll walk out with the strap."
It looked like he was about to say something else, but just then Sarah Carter separated herself from the crowd and strolled over to the table. Offering the promoter a pretty smile, the victorious blonde laid her hand on Lumic's shoulder and said, "Sorry to interrupt, but Simon here promised to help me go over the tapes from my match and I'd like to do that before I'm tempted to drive my elbow through Kristin's heart."
Wincing at the thought, Rich said, "Don't worry Sarah, we're done here. Though now it occurs to me that a pair of Kristen's are warring with a pair of Sarah's. Maybe there's some sort of odd historical precedent for this that we need to have Archer look into."
Sparing Fannin one last look, Sim got up from his chair and said, "We need to keep an eye on this Rich. As much as I want to see a winner emerge, I don't want it to happen at the cost of their careers." Then he offered his arm to the waiting blonde and as Carter took it, he asked her, "Are you sure you're ready to watch yourself get beaten with a chain while I do my MST3K shtick?"
Sarah's lips turned up in a regal smile. "As long as you do the same when I'm lashing Kristin."
"Not a problem," he joked.
As he watched them melt into the crush of partygoers, Fannin thought about what Lumic had said and sighed. He was right of course, there was no way they could keep Bell and Sarah away from one another forever, but he'd be damned if he'd let two of his stars kill one another without doing everything in his power to stop it. Deciding it was time for another food run, the promoter stood up and said, "I think I picked a very good time to go on vacation."
At a small table near the edge of the ballroom, Billie Piper and Allison Mack had been going over the finer points of their respective matches and when the conversation finally lulled after more than half an hour, the two friends reverted to another favorite past-time, talking smack.
Eying the American over her bottle of Harp, Billie asked, "I 'ear yer gonna be fightin' with Dani Fishel on the first leg a' yer world tour. 'ow ya feelin' bout yer odds?"
Absently examining the bottle of her own drink (Rolling Rock for those keeping score at home) Allison smiled confidently and answered, "Pretty good I'd say. Rumor has it that she's lost a lot of weight and her stamina's through the roof, but that just means she'll have to suffer through a longer beating."
Fixing Mack with a mischievous grin, Piper said, "Ya know Alli, if yer lookin' ta get yer ass kicked by another blonde, there's no reason to change time-zones. I'll do it free a charge."
Snorting a little, the American reached out, poked an index finger into Billie's left bicep and adopted a terrible cockney accent as she asked, "Why my dear Miss. Piper, was that a challenge? Surely you're not ready for another thrashing."
The Briton groaned and rolled her eyes. "I do NOT sound like that. And what thrashing? Last time I checked, ya beat me by the skin a' yer teeth, which I was kind enough to let ya keep by the way."
Settling back into her own voice, the IC champ countered, "Ya gotta stop feeding me straight lines like that Billie. Because I'm your friend I'm gonna pass up the opportunity to make a dentistry joke, but I WILL note that it wasn't the skin of my teeth that beat you, it was the Brit busting power in these arms of mine."
Piper arched an eyebrow. "Brit busting power? 'ave ya been squeezin' out some a my countrymen without tellin' me?"
Allison grinned before she replied, "Of course not, you know I only have arms for you..." She paused for a moment, then added, "All joking aside Billie, any time you want another shot at the strap, just say the word. Consider it an open challenge."
"That's nice of ya ta say Alli, but I've decided I don't want the title, at least not at the moment. For now, all I want is you."
Mack regarded her curiously. "Well I'm flattered but..."
"In the ring ya dolt." Piper clarified.
"Ok sure, but why give up a shot at the championship?"
Draining the rest of her lager, the Brit said, "Well first of all, I don't want ta cut yer tour short and second, after ya won it back in the Triple Threat, I realized it wasn't the title that made our scraps so damned enjoyable, it was the fact that for the first time in my career, I was facin' a lass that I wasn't sure I could beat..."
Allison opened her mouth to speak but Billie raised a hand to cut her off. "Ya can speak yer peace in a second Mack, just lemme get this out in the open, it'll make me feel better."
The American nodded and Billie went on.
"Like I was sayin', goin' into the Triple Threat, I wasn't sure I could beat ya, but after it was over, despite the fact that ya walked out of the arena with the gold, I knew I could and I knew I would, it was just a matter a' time. As I see it, that time is comin' very soon. Mark my words Allison Mack, the next time we meet I'm gonna hold yer shoulders down for three. And it won't be for any title, save for the pride of bein' able ta say that I kept my word."
Turning her empty glass by the neck, Allison locked eyes with the other blonde and said, "You know I'd never make it easy for you right?"
Piper laughed out loud and replied, "Alli if I ever thought ya were sandbaggin' me in the ring I'd beat yer arse ten times worse. Of course it's supposed to be 'ard, that's the whole bloody point. If beatin' ya were easy, I wouldn't give a fuck."
The American couldn't help but let loose with a laugh of her own, something about the English girl swearing was just funny. After a moment, a contemplative look came over her face and she mused, "This thing between us... I don't know what to call it. Rivalry seems too pedestrian and feud seems too cliché. But whatever it is, I'm pretty sure it's just getting started. So before we go any further, I want you to answer one question for me."
Billie's dark eyes were calm and serious when she said, "Out with it."
Mack took a deep breath and said, "Are you willing to let this go on for years? Because I think that's what it's going to take. I'm not exactly sure what either of us is trying to prove yet, but I don't seeing it resolved in a year, or even two or three. Quite frankly Billie Piper, I think you're my archrival. I consider myself lucky to be blessed with one who's so pleasant, but that doesn't change that fact that I get a thrill out of beating you that I don't get from any other opponent."
Piper tucked a few strands of loose hair behind her ears, then leaned forward and told her, "I'm in this for the duration Alli. I don't know 'ow long it's gonna take, but when the end finally does come, yer gonna know that I'm the better wrestler." She smiled and Allison returned the expression but they were more challenging than friendly.
After a moment, the tension passed and Allison said, "We can settle this later, for now I want to know about this Natalie Dormer chick. Is she as nasty as I think she is?"
The Brit's features flooded with pure hate for a moment before she was able to quell the facial uprising. "She's a fuckin' bitch is what she is, but she's also a 'ell of a lot more dangerous than ya know. Natalie could give Scarlett lessons in 'ow ta be a miserable twat and that's me being generous. Thought I'd put 'er away for good when I threw 'er through a window back in Crouch End but apparently shit clings together and now she's workin' with Elisha and 'er slags."
Mack was worried. She'd seen the Brit plenty pissed off before (she'd been the source of that irritation several times in fact) but she'd never seen that sort of murderous rage before. Speaking carefully, the American asked, "Do you intend to take them on by yourself?"
Piper shrugged. "I only INTEND ta go after Natalie. If 'er ass-bag friends get in my way I'll put them in the ground right beside Dormer."
Allison's frown deepened. "I'm not gonna warn you away from her Billie, but I will tell you that if Natalie's hanging with Elisha, she's probably even worse than you remember. After what she tried with that sledgehammer, I'm convinced she's at least borderline psychotic and if you get in the way of whatever plans she's cooked up, you could find yourself in a very bad way."
"I can take care a' myself Alli." Billie said grimly.
"I know you can." the other blonde replied tersely. "But that doesn't mean you have to take on Destruction Inc by yourself. I already told you that I'd come running anytime you wanted to fight and the same holds true if you need a partner. I'm not about to sit around and watch some pack of tramps put the boots to your ass. If anyone gets to do that, it'll be me."
Piper smirked. "I'll keep that in mind Alli. But I'll make sure to save a few kicks fer yer Yank backside after I've finished with Natalie and the others."
Allison returned the smirk. "Good to know the arrival of another Briton hasn't dulled your competitive streak. I thought I was going to find a new nemesis for a moment."
"You aren't gonna get rid of me that easily Alli Mack. The two of us 'ave got some business to attend to, I've just gotta put some slags in their place before'and."
Allison pushed up from the table and put her hands against the small of back. Stretching a bit, the American chided, "All right, but if I have to watch your stubborn ass take a single beating, I'm gonna come on the run whether you like it or not."
Billie stood up and placed a hand on the American's shoulder. "Fair enough Mack. Now if ya don't mind, I'd like ta stop pondering what I'm gonna do ta Natalie and start pondering where I'm gonna get another pint."
"That'd be the bar Billie. If you'd start drinking real beer you might not forget that so fast."
Already heading toward the bar, Piper glanced over her shoulder and said, "I'm going to forgive that because you've obviously never 'ad a proper lager, but if ya slander my drink again, we're gonna get to fightin' right now."
Nudging Billie with her shoulder, Allison smiled and conceded, "Ok. Truce for now?"
"Sure. But no more talkin' til we're 'oldin' another drink, it just doesn't feel right."
Looking to make things right, the two blondes slipped into the crowd and headed for the bar.
She hadn't been sure of it at first, but now she was. She was being watched. And not in the good, 'damn, that little blonde chick knows how to work a blue dress' way either, she thought. This felt more like being hunted and she didn't like it at all.
Taking another look around the ballroom of the Miskatonic University Student Union, Kristen Bell searched the faces of the after-party crowd in hopes of finding the source of her discomfort, but aside from a few beaming smiles from the males around her, no one seemed to be putting off the bad vibes being sent in her direction.
Biting her bottom lip in an unconscious gesture of concentration, Bell broke away from the crowd and made her way toward the large pair of French doors that dominated the far end of the room. Those doors lead out onto a huge balcony that commanded a beautiful view of Arkham and the Miskatonic River. Normally it would be crowded with guests, but with the mercury reading in the mid-twenties and the promise of more snow on the way, it was deserted tonight and that meant that if the blonde's would-be stalker followed her out, she'd have no trouble identifying her.
She paused in mid-stride. She had said her. Was she sure that whoever was watching her was indeed a her? Yeah, it was definitely a female gaze she felt crawling along the back of her neck. Continuing on her winding trek toward the doors, Kristen glanced over her shoulder and confirmed that it wasn't the Slayer who was scoping her out. And there she was. Near the center of the room, Sarah was almost lost from view among an admiring crush of fans congratulating her on her match. The other blonde wasn't even glancing in Kristen's direction and even if she had been, Bell already knew it wasn't Sarah. Love her or hate her, the Slayer was a direct sort of individual. If she wanted to get in your face, she would just do it... as she had done shortly after Kristen's own victory over Lacey Chabert earlier in the evening.
Rather annoyed that she hadn't been able to isolate the source of her unease yet, Bell reached the doors, reached for the handle and paused. Glancing out into the cold December night, she muttered to no one in particular, "Suddenly I'm glad I opted for a long sleeved dress tonight. Hope you did the same..." Opening the door all the way, Kristen strode out into the temporarily windless night and strode to the edge of the balcony.
Listening to the door creaaaak shut, she counted off the seconds in her head, 'One... two... three... four... five... six... seven...' She hadn't heard the telltale 'click of the closing door and that meant her tail had followed her out into the dark.
Smiling out onto the lights of the ancient town, Kristen waited a few more seconds before she asked casually, "Ya ever play a game called Red Light, Green Light when you were a kid? One of the basic rules was that when I said Red Light, everyone who was moving had to freeze and if I whirled around and caught them doing otherwise, they were out. Same rule applies here. If I turn around and you're still moving, you're going to be picking your teeth up off this balcony."
Still hearing nothing, the blonde whirled around on her heel, saw her mystery guest less than five feet away and broke into an 'Of course!' kind of smile. Arms crossed against her chest, Bell said, "Should've known it'd be you. Ya don't call out the master without pissing off a lot of her students."
Michelle Trachtenberg arched an eyebrow in Bell's direction. "A student? Is that all you think of me?"
Kristen shrugged. "Don't know really. By all accounts you're a very good wrestler that always seems to find herself on the receiving end of a terrible beating. It's a trend that's held through tonight and though I don't really even like you, I hate Elisha a whole lot more, so I'm obligated to ask if you're feeling ok after that mugging she and Dirty Skanks Incorporated put on you."
The auburn-haired beauty grimaced, then nodded. "I'll be fine. Cuthbert and her pack of wolves will get what's coming to them. But you know that's not why I'm here."
Kristen gave her the slightest of nods, then said, "I understand why you think you have to do this, hell, I did it myself once... does Sarah know you're out here?"
Trachtenberg shook her head 'no.' "She'd kill me if she did."
Bell smiled. "Yeah, I know what that's like. Anyway... I called out your mentor... punked her out if you want to use the common vernacular... and since you were trained by the Slayer you feel duty bound to put a hurting on the girl who did the punking." Kristen paused for a moment, drew in a deep breath and continued, "It's all very admirable and I assure you, a very BAD idea."
Seemingly immune to the cold, the brunette stalked forward until she had to look down and Kristen had to look up. Keeping her voice steady, Michelle said, "Over the last few years I have watched Sarah face every possible threat you can imagine. She fought Katie by herself, she fought the LAS by herself, she even fought Neve by herself. During all those wars when she was gearing up to face insurmountable odds, I offered to help and she always told me she had to do this by herself, so I kept my mouth shut and watched her go out to the ring and win. And I want you to know right now that she doesn't NEED or WANT my help in taking you out, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to lend a hand. Sarah's defeated the best in the world and she deserves your respect, but since you don't respect anyone, I'm going to beat some into you."
Silence reigned for several moments before Kristen answered, "Sarah's luckier than she'll ever know. She's got a great group of friends willing to stick up for her in times in crisis and any one of them could have stepped up and tried to stop me. Let's see, there's Eliza.... no wait, she's still picking bits of cage out of her face. Well, there's Katie... but she's occupied herself with taking down Jennifer and her legion of fatasses. Hey, there's always Alyson.... oh I forgot, she went bat-shit insane and no one knows where she is."
Trachtenberg spoke through gritted teeth. "You shouldn't be worrying about what they might have done. You should be terrified about what I WILL do. You're going to have a hard time convincing anyone that you're ready for Sarah when I'm sitting on your face. And I will too. A nice, long rump-scrub is just what your arrogant, bony little ass needs to teach you respect for your betters." She smiled malevolently and it was clear to the blonde that Michelle wanted to grind her nose something fierce.
Doing everything in her power to keep her voice in check, Kristen replied, "You're right Michelle, I might end up kissing some ass before this thing is over, but if it happens, it'll be the Slayer who makes it happen, not you. Any of those other three, they might have been able to stop me, but not you... You're the Zeppo. And I'll be damned if I came this far to get stopped by the Zeppo."
Eyes narrowed to furious slits, Michelle snarled, "Talk all you want Kristen, but when I get you in the ring and the dwarf tossing starts, all your talk won't mean shit. And after I've ridden a few hard miles into your face, everyone will see what I already do. You're nothing but a mouthy little bitch."
The brunette took a step back and then CRAACK, she lashed out with her left hand and slapped Kristen across the cheek. Blowing the blonde a kiss, Trachtenberg cooed, "Sarah sends her love." With that, she spun around on her heel and headed inside to rejoin the party.
Forcing herself to ignore the stinging heat in her cheek, Kristen watched the brunette through the glass and said softly, "Oh Sarah you need to talk to your friend. Turns out she's ate-up with wall-to-wall dumb and it's really going to cost her." Turning back to the balcony, Kristen Bell gazed down on the lights of Arkham and thought about just what sort of message she was going to send with Michelle's beaten, broken body.
Later that morning....The faintest traces of orange and yellow were just beginning to peek over the edge of the eastern horizon as Richard Fannin stepped out the front doors of the Yellow Sign Tavern and carefully locked them behind him.
Glad that her had lugged all his stuff down to the Plymouth before he crashed last night, ('ok, only a few hours ago' he wearily admitted) the newly absentee promoter turned to the nearly empty parking lot of the Sign and grinned at the Fury. Noting that the Arkham road crews had done an admirable job of keeping the streets clear, Fannin walked down the steps, took in a deep breath and held it. Savoring the near silence that only happened when the old town was starting to wake up, he exhaled a plume of steam and told the car, "Looks like the roads are all clear Christine. As long as we don't get hit by a surprise blizzard, I think we'll be hitting the U.P. sometime early this afternoon."
As per usual, the Plymouth said nothing but that was ok, she knew the way to the cabin better than Fannin and he was more than happy to let her lead the way. Shrugging his battered but comfortable leather jacket up over his shoulders, Rich strolled across the chilly asphalt and was in the process of fumbling his keys free when a voice from behind him asked, "So that's it huh? You were just gonna leave without saying goodbye?"
Muttering curses as the keys hit the pavement, he picked them up, turned around to greet his accuser and rolled his eyes. "Jeez Neve, how long you been standing there listening to me rambling at my car?"
The ivory-skinned brunette smiled knowingly. "Just long enough. I knew you were going to try to slip out when no one was looking, wanted to let you know you weren't going to get away with it."
Shaking his fist at her, Rich adopted his best Scooby-Doo villain voice and muttered, "And I would've gotten away with it too if it wasn't for that meddling brunette!"
Stifling a smile, Neve asked, "So where are you headed Mr. Fannin?"
The thought of his destination brought a huge grin to the young man's face. "I've got this cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it's about fifteen miles north of a little dip in the road named Rock if you'd believe that."
"Sounds like a happenin' place," the brunette said dryly.
"It is the very antithesis of a happenin' place Ms. Neve and that's exactly why I love it there. No one knows me, even better, no one knows how to get in touch with me. So sometime later this afternoon I'll hit the north woods and for the next few months, I'm going to do absolutely nothing while I eat a whole lot of whitefish and try to figure out what I'm going to do with myself. And if at the end of those few months I decide to do nothing at all, well... that's just icing on the cake."
"For all this talk of doing nothing, I bet you've got the place rigged up with a high-speed net connection."
Fannin offered her a 'ya got me' sort of look. "I'm not a savage Neve, I needs my internet. Besides, I'd hate to have to wait for the mail to deliver the show to me seeing as how you've set up such an interesting title tournament..." Fannin sounded like he was going to continue in that vein until he noticed the worn out duffel bag that was laying at Neve's feet. Titling his head to the side, he commented, "Looks like I'm not the only one hitting the road. Where are you headed this fine morning Ms. Neve, if I may be so bold?"
Speaking rather casually, the Scream Queen replied, "Oh a friend of mine has a cabin in the Upper Peninsula, not too far from a town with the charming name of Rock. I was gonna swing on up there and see if he'd let me stay for a while."
Rich looked startled. "Man, talk about a small world. What's his name? Sven Grammersdorf? He's the only other cabin I can think of within easy driving distance to mine."
Neve just shook her head 'no.'
'Hmmhing' to himself, Fannin continued, "Not Sven ehhh? Well I guess I'll just have to drop in when you get..."
The brunette arched an eyebrow in a perfect 'stop being a dope' glare and Fannin just stared at her for several seconds without saying a thing. Then his face crumpled in a rather pained expression and he asked, "Do I always come off as this willfully dense?"
Another 'no' from Neve. "Not usually."
Carefully examining this new bit of information, he cleared his throat and said, "Just to be perfectly clear. You're talking about my cabin right? And thusly I would be the 'friend' in question?"
Yet another nod, this time a yes. The girl was nothing if not patient.
Not exactly sure what the hell his brain was trying to do to him, Rich was helpless to stop his mouth from saying, "There's not a lot of room up there. All I've got is the one bed and a couch and the couch doesn't even fold out."
Faintest hint of a smile from dark-eyed beauty. "I'll take the bed then, problem solved."
Fannin's face fell. "Aww c'mon Neve, I'm like six foot three and the couch is like five feet long. I didn't build a getaway cabin in the middle of nowhere to sleep on the couch."
She knelt to retrieve the strap on her bag, "I never said anything about you sleeping on the couch."
Now Fannin actually gaped. Inwardly demanding that his traitorous mouth just shut the hell up for once, the flummoxed young man was able to do so for only a few seconds before he blurted out, "I sleep on the left."
Neve slung the strap over her shoulder and stood up. Fixing Rich with a challenging grin, she chided, "Fight'cha for it."
Finally adjusting to the fact that he wasn't the victim of some bizarre hidden camera trick, Fannin was able to stop examining the mouth of this particular gift horse and said, "Ya know what, we can hash that out later."
Slipping his keys free for the second time that morning, Fannin went around to the Plymouth's trunk, popped it and then stepped aside so Neve could deposit her luggage. After she had done so, the brunette turned to Fannin and said, "There's something I've been meaning to tell you for about three years now... I would have done it a long time ago, but work kept getting in the way."
Glancing around the empty lot, he turned back to her and said, "Not much work going on right now Nev..."
She pushed up on her toes and kissed him. It didn't last long and it certainly wasn't the sort spit-swapping display that passed for romance on celluloid these days, but it wasn't the chaste kiss of a friend either. Roughly a billion things passed through Fannin's mind in those brief seconds and all of them were good, but the one that he kept coming back to, the one that was ringing in his ears even as she pulled away was, 'This is not over. I don't know what this means exactly, but it feels more like beginning than ending.'
Catching his breath, the now former promoter tried to wipe the dumb grin off his face and almost succeeded before saying, "That was delightfully unprofessional Ms. Neve."
Looking up to meet his gaze, she leaned her chin against his chest and replied, "I don't know how to tell you this Mr. Fannin, but you're not the boss of me now."
"I suppose I'm not." he said thoughtfully. Without thinking, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders and hugged her close. He was hardly surprised when she returned the embrace and for nearly a minute the two friends ('Is that even the right word anymore?' he thought. 'God I hope so.') stood in the empty lot of the Yellow Sign and thought about everything that had led up to this point.
Eventually, Fannin pulled away and said, "Shall we hit the road then?"
They split up, with Fannin heading to the driver's side and Neve going to the passengers door. Rich had just about opened his door when he groaned and said, "Oh lord, I didn't open the door for you. Does that make me a cad?"
Sighing heavily, Neve just slipped into the Fury and waited. When he joined her she said, "Rich, I've been thrown off cages, hit with chairs, I've even been Powerbombed onto the windshield of this very automobile. I THINK I can handle a door by myself."
"That's good, for a second I thought you were going to get all high maintenance on me."
Neve regarded him with a bland stare.
"That's gonna cost me later isn't it?" he asked.
"Thought so." He put the key in the ignition and gave a twist; the Fury rumbled to life. Hand on the radio dial, Fannin glanced at his passenger and said, "You up for a little music this early?"
"Sure. Long as it'll keep us awake."
He flipped the switch, cranked the dial to 101.1 (WARKM - Arkham's greatest, and only, rock station). He couldn't hold back a laugh as the Plymouth was filled with the gong that heralded the start of Metallica's 'Wherever I may Roam.' Chuckling, he turned to Neve and said, "A little on the nose, don't you think?"
She responded by twisting the dial nearly all the way to the right. Settling back in her seat she said, "Let's get out of here Mr ‘Big’ Dick Fannin."
Turning his attention to the road, Fannin eased the old car out of the parking lot and made a left. Rolling toward a single red light, he sneaked a look over at Neve and whispered, "This should be fun." Then the light turned green and as Fannin gunned the engine, the Fury roared north.
Continue to the Last Hurrah #11