They walked into the arena for Smack Down on Tuesday morning. Paul led Casey through the maze of the backstage area. He'd made some kind of comment about how small the venue was, but she reminded him that Tupelo wasn't exactly a large metropolis. He walked up to the men's locker room and started to go in to drop his stuff off before taking her around to the women's locker room when Stephanie walked up - desperate to talk to him. Stephanie pointed in the rough direction of the women's locker room and told Casey to go.
"Stephanie, I have nothing to say to you." Paul said as he leaned against the wall outside the door. "We've been over everything a million times already."
"I just wanted to apologize again and say that I'm still willing to do anything to get us back." Stephanie whine. "I didn't mean to hurt you."
"Sure, just like you didn't mean for me to find you sucking off Andrew while Jay slammed you from behind in my hotel room." Paul said. "Apology is not accepted. Get out of my face and stay out of my life, Steph."
Paul disappeared behind the door of the locker room before Casey could even think of going back down the hall to check on him. She had just started to open the door in front of her when it opened and she was face to face with Torrie and Stacy.
"Hi, Casey." Stacy said cheerfully as they ushered the new girl into the locker room. "So, are you ready to start work?"
"Yeah, I've been ready." Casey said. "So, how do things go around here?"
"Just grab an untaken locker, get a copy of the script and we then go to the production meeting to listen to Stephanie tell us how wonderful the crap she and the other writers create is." Torrie stated. "After the meeting breaks down into another scene from hell between Steph and Hunter, we go to catering and get lunch before going over scenes and taping some stuff for later."
"Oh, I see." Casey said. "So, let me guess Stephanie and Paul, uh, Hunter were a couple?"
"Yeah, they dated and seemed to be getting pretty serious until she cheated on him." Stacy said. "She's such a whore - I mean she had the best looking of the single guys and she screwed around on him and let him catch her at it. Stupid, just plain stupid."
"Uh-huh." Casey replied.
She followed Stacy and Torrie to the area for the production meeting. Paul walked in shortly after they did and brushed his hand across her shoulders to let her know he was there. The entire group had been sitting there for about ten minutes when Vince and Stephanie finally walked in. Stephanie's face was still streaked with tears as she tried to conduct the meeting. Casey glanced over her right shoulder and saw Paul move about uncomfortably in his chair. Stephanie broke out in a fresh batch of tears and ran from the room. Vince finished conducting the meeting and sent everyone to lunch. Casey had just started to turn around to talk to Paul when she noticed that Vince had motioned for him to come up and talk. Casey decided to follow Stacy and Torrie to catering instead of waiting to find out what Vince was going to talk to Paul about.
"Hey, Casey, how'd the shoot go?" Kurt asked as he sat down at the table with them.
"Fine, Kurt." She said quickly. "We're not friends, you know, I don't want to hang out with you."
"Hey, backstage everyone gets along or at least tries to." He said. "I'm trying to make up with you because I was wrong, okay, so can you at least save busting my balls for in the ring?"
"I'll try." Casey said. "So, are you ready for the show?"
"Yeah, and I can't wait to see how we match up - especially since we're gonna go face to face in the King of the Ring finals." Kurt said excitedly.
"What's this, I hang around a few minutes after the meeting and you try to move in?" Paul said as he came over and sat down. "Casey, we need to talk a little later, okay?"
"Sure, is everything okay?" She asked.
"I just want to tell you something." He answered.
The rest of the day went by as a blur of activity until show time. Casey was then seated in the front row of the audience in a seat close to the timekeeper's table. The last match of the show was the #1 Contender Match between Triple H and Kurt Angle. Michael Cole and Tazz had introduced Casey to the crowd earlier as the former United States and World Freestyle Amateur Wrestling Champion. Cole even went on to state that he had been shocked back in 2000 when it was announced that Casey wasn't part of the Olympic team for the Sydney games. Tazz said she was a hot little tomato and the Olympics missed out big time.
Casey sat there fairly stoically as Kurt's music played and he made his way to ring side. She was even caught on camera getting into the "YOU SUCK" chant with some of the fans around her. Then when Triple H came down the ramp, she cheered and was even shown catching his water bottle. The match was back and forth for quite a while and finally, Hunter landed a sharp kick to Kurt's mid-section. Casey jumped over the barricade and took the timekeeper's chair. She slid into the ring and behind Hunter just as he wrapped Kurt up for the pedigree. Counting in her head, she swung the chair and landed the most believable blow possible to Hunter's back. After he crumpled to the canvas and Kurt stood to figure out what happened, Casey ran up the ramp and toward the backstage area. Teddy Long awarded the match to Triple H via disqualification and Kurt got out of the ring and chased after Casey.
She walked out of the locker room and was heading out toward the rental car when she heard from one of the other guys that she'd really hit Paul. Immediately, she took off toward the trainer's office. He was laying face down on one of the tables with an ice pack on his shoulder. Casey walked in - nervous about what was going to happen between them. She hadn't meant to hit him and tried to check her swing but with the crowd and the cameras and everything it just happened way too fast.
"How are you?" She whispered as she came up to check on him.
"Been better, been worse." He said as he attempted to smile up at her. "Don't worry about this, it's just a bruise. I'll be fine, we're just trying to limit the soreness and stiffness, babe."
"Good, I guess." She whispered as she knelt down so that she was eye level with him. "I didn't mean to hit you."
"I know that." He said. "But we were in front of a TV crowd and it was your first time on the air like that and shit happens. Don't worry about it."
"Let me make it up to you." She whispered.
"If you're thinking along the same way I am, you're on." He said as he got up from the table. "I just need to go take a shower and we can get out of here."
"Okay." Casey replied as she tossed the melted ice pack into the cooler and walked out of the room behind Paul.
They walked back around to the locker room and Paul announced "Woman on the Floor" when he opened the door in case any of the other guys were less than decent. The only one still in the room was Kurt. He was just finishing getting dressed to leave for the hotel. Casey sat down in front of Paul's locker and waited for him to get showered and ready to go.
"You smacked him pretty hard, Casey." Kurt said. "He's gonna be sore for a few days."
"I know." She said quietly. "I feel bad about it, but he keeps saying it's okay because it was just a heat of the moment type of a thing. I didn't mean to hit him at all and I thought I'd stopped short of him until I heard the thud of the chair against his shoulder."
"Well, don't take this the wrong way, but I hope you can hit me that hard - or at least so that it appears that hard or harder in our match." Kurt said. "Take care of him and he won't even remember it in the morning."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Casey asked.
"Use your imagination." Paul said as he walked back from the shower after the door closed behind Kurt.
Casey turned and looked up at Paul. Her eyes scanned over his freshly showered nakedness and she smiled to herself. He got dressed and they left for the hotel. They rode in virtual silence and Casey was still worried about how badly she may have hurt Paul's shoulder. Paul was thinking about explaining the scene that he knew Casey had seen between him and Stephanie from earlier in the day.
They walked into the hotel and rode the elevator up to their room. Casey opened the door and Paul slumped down in a chair and kicked off his boots before getting ready for bed. She had stripped down to her bra and panties before turning the covers down on the bed. She turned around to talk to Paul and he was still sitting in the chair with his head in his hands rubbing his temples as if he had a massive headache.
"What's the matter, babe?" She asked. "Wanna talk about it?"
"Yeah, I need to." He said as he looked up at her. "Sit down."
"Okay." Casey said as he pulled her onto his lap. "What's up?"
"I know you heard what happened between Stephanie and I at the arena today." He said. "I wanted to tell you that I mean it when I say I'm finished with her."
"Okay, baby." Casey said as she stroked his hair softly. "If you say it's over, I believe you. I mean the two of you were split before I met you, right?"
"Yeah, we split up right after Valentine's Day." He said. "She cheated on me the whole time I was in Birmingham for rehab on my leg, but I didn't know about it until I caught her. I looked like such a fucking idiot when I walked back into work with her still hanging on me - the scene at the hotel when I caught her made me look even worse. I threw her, Drew and Jay out of the room and just couldn't stop screaming. Vince finally came down to my room and tried to get me to let Steph explain. I told him what was going on was pretty self-explanatory."
"Baby, I'm so sorry." She said as she held him. "And she was begging you to take her back today, man is she ever a glutton for punishment."
"No, she thinks this is her world and everyone else is just her puppets." He said. "She doesn't know about us - at least I don't think she does - and it will be better for us both if we keep it that way for a while."
"Okay." Casey said. "So, what does that mean?"
"Means that I need you to try to hang around the girls as much as possible at the arenas and stuff." He said. "When we're back at the hotel it's one thing, but we need to keep her from causing any shit for either of us for a while. Right now, I wanna forget about her."
"I think I can help you with that." Casey said as she got up. "Why don't you take your clothes off while I run you a hot bath?"
"I just took a shower at the arena, babe." He said, puzzled.
"I know that, but I want you to relax and not do anything at all once you're in the tub." She said. "Let me take care of you, okay."
"Sure." He said as he got up and stripped his shirt off.
He entered the bathtub a few minutes later and she motioned for him to get into the tub. Paul sank into the mass of bubbles and leaned his head back against the cool tile wall behind him. He closed his eyes and didn't remember anything until he woke almost an hour and a half later when he heard the water draining out of the tub. He stood up - or tried, because his legs had gotten almost completely numb from being folded in the tub - and tried to grab a towel to dry off with. Casey batted his hand away and dried him from head to toe. He looked in the mirror and tried to figure out how she washed his hair without his knowing it, but decided that he wasn't going to worry about it. She walked him back into the bedroom and had him sit on the bed so she could dry his hair and brush it out. When she was finished getting all the tangles out of the soft blonde locks, all Paul wanted to do was lay down and sleep. Casey stripped her bra off and put on one of his t-shirts and pulled his head over onto her lap. She slept sitting up so that he could sleep just the way he was.
He woke first when the phone rang with their wake up call. He pulled
her into his arms and kissed her good morning.
"Morning, baby, how did you sleep?" She asked as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Better than I have in months." He said. "What was in that bath anyway?"
"Just some bath oil that I got at a health food store. It always works when I can't sleep or am really stressed." She said. "You didn't even put up a bit of a fight when I slid you down enough to wash your hair."
"How did you sleep sitting up?" He asked; suddenly conscious of how she had to stay so he could sleep the way he woke.
"It's no big deal. My grandma used to say I could sleep anywhere and
through anything." Casey said. "I'm going to get a quick shower and then I
guess we need to hit the road."
They had just entered the hotel lobby when Stephanie walked out of the restaurant. She immediately saw that Paul and Casey were holding hands as they walked. Casey initially tried to let go of Paul's hand, but he just shook his head. They made their way to the car without a scene.
"So, what happened to not letting Steph know we're together?" She asked.
"I decided that I wasn't going to hide my feelings to spare hers." He said. "I mean at least I wasn't the one who cheated. I never have."
"Okay, what's that supposed to mean?" Casey asked, suddenly worried
about the relationship she was in.
"You didn't hear about all the tabloid press crap from after Joanie left the WWF about how I was banging Stephanie before I broke up with her?" Paul asked.
"Yeah, but it was in the Enquirer for God's sakes, I never believe any of the shit in those papers anyway." She said. "So, where are we off to for tonight?"
"We're going home until Friday when we have to fly into Saskatoon." Paul said. "I just love being able to sleep in my own bed."
"Yeah, me too." She said. "Of course, sleeping in your bed works for me, too."
The two days at home went by too fast and they found themselves in Canada early Friday afternoon. The house shows went okay, and Casey was
surprised when she was scheduled to be on Raw as well as Smack Down for the week. Vince told her that she was going to have to face the Undertaker to
explain why he should be facing Triple H instead of Kurt Angle.
During Raw, Taker made the long walk down the ramp to call Casey out
to the ring.
"As I guess, you all know, I'm defending this belt against Triple H at King of the Ring." He said. "I want to thank the person who gave me the Game. Cassandra Jackson, your status as a former World Champion doesn't mean anything when you step into my yard, girl, so you better come down and explain yourself."
On the Titan Tron, the audience saw Ric Flair trying to keep Casey from walking to the ring. He told her that Taker was only setting a trap for her and she should let it go.
"I can take care of myself, Mr. Flair." She said as she walked off.
She walked down the ramp and got into the ring. She stood in the middle of the ring as Taker stalked around her. Casey showed no fear and didn't even look a bit surprised when Taker offered to shake her hand.
"Taker, let me explain myself to you." She said as she took the mic from him. "You see, you may not care why I did what I did, but it matters to me because I wasn't doing it as a favor to you. By getting Kurt Angle disqualified so he couldn't compete against you at King of the Ring, means that I can have him to myself. That Olympic Jackass owes me - big time."
"So, you didn't do it as a favor to me." Taker said as he rubbed his chin. "And you didn't do it to guarantee Triple H the shot at me, either. So, then exactly what does Kurt owe you?"
"Show up at Smack Down, Champ, and find out." Casey said before she
got out of the ring.
The fans the next night at Smack Down were waiting for an explosion. They knew that Taker, Kurt, Hunter and Casey were all going to be on the same show. In fact, before anyone else had a chance to do anything, Hunter made his way to the ring to call out Casey.
"Casey Jackson, Former United States and World Freestyle Wrestling Champion." He said as he paced between the ropes in the ring. "Your credentials don't mean a damn thing here when you interfere in my matches. So I suggest you get your ass down here and explain why you bashed me with a damn chair last week."
Casey's music - now that it had finally been recorded - hit and she walked to the ring. Hunter stood in the center of the ring and didn't move. Casey walked down the ramp and walked straight up to stand toe to toe with the Game.
"Triple H, please allow me to apologize for hitting you last week." Casey said. "I am sorry that I had no other way to get to Kurt Angle than by attacking you. And just so we both know where we stand, I'd do it again in an instant if I had to."
"Very well." Hunter said. "But before you run back up the ramp and out of the arena again, uh, I want to let you that I'm going to keep my eye on you because if you attacked me once, you'll attack me again."
"Stand in line, Hunter." Kurt said as he made his way to the top of the ramp. "That little bitch cost me my shot at the Undisputed Title and I want to know why. I think I deserve an explanation, Casey."
"Sure, Kurt, just like I deserved a spot on the Sydney Olympic Team." She said. "But you took that away from me, you told the IOC and the USOC that I wasn't worth it because the US team would look like idiots for having a woman as the champ. You refused to wrestle against me at an exhibition and that killed my shot at matching the same amount of Olympic medals that you have. It killed my chance to be as respected as an athlete as you are, Kurt."
"You want a shot at me?" Kurt scoffed. "You seriously think you can wrestle as well as I can. Fine, when do you want it?"
"Well, since I told Mr. McMahon that I wanted to enter the King of the Ring contest, that sounds good to me." Casey said. "Do you think you're up for that?"
"Actually, Casey, you're going to be able to get your hands on Angle earlier than that." Taker said as he joined Kurt on the ramp. "You see, I just talked to Mr. McMahon myself and tonight's main event is going to be you and Triple H against me and Kurt. So, I suggest you get your gear on."
"Fine with me." Casey said as she turned and looked at Hunter.
"Fine." Hunter said through clenched teeth as he stared up the ramp toward the two men at the top of it.
Michael Cole and Tazz continued with the show. A backstage exchange
between Triple H and Casey flashed up on the screen.
"Casey, do you think you can hold up your end of the match?" Hunter
asked as he barged into her locker room.
"Better than you can knock on a door." She said as she pulled up her
singlet. "So, you ready to go do this?"
"Yeah." He said as he stared after her.
Tazz had to make a comment about the rear view that Triple H had when Casey finished getting dressed. Casey's music played first and she walked down the ramp for the match. She was standing next to the referee while Hunter came down to the ring. Kurt was introduced next and got in Casey's face before Taker got to ringside. When he arrived on his motorcycle and got into the ring, the bell rang.
"Cole, I tell you that Casey must be a real hellcat to wanna mix it up in a match like this." Tazz laughed. "Back in the Hook no one - not even the toughest guy that ran with Joey Numbers would mess with a tomato like her."
"Tazz, I think she's looking for respect and she's starting at the top." Michael replied.
Hunter started the match against Taker, but Taker quickly tagged in Kurt. Kurt pointed toward the corner and told Hunter to tag in Casey. Hunter looked over and Casey extended her hand. She tagged in and Kurt ran at her and attempted a spear. She moved and he ended up diving straight through the ropes headfirst. Triple H put him up on the ring apron and Casey drug him back in. She flung him into his corner and he tagged Taker. Casey didn't back down from the big man and even got a few good shots in before she slid between his legs and made the tag in her corner. Hunter re-entered the match
and got Taker set up for the pedigree when Kurt interfered and tried to take him down and slap on an ankle lock. After Taker had rolled out of the ring, Casey entered and caught Angle with a spear and then a belly to back suplex.
She got back out of the ring before the ref returned. Kurt crawled over and tried to get a tag from Taker, but he wasn't at the corner. Hunter set Kurt up for the pedigree and got the pin fall.
Taker left the ring and headed up the ramp with his belt. Hunter was chasing the big man out of the arena when Kurt snuck back into the ring and
attacked Casey from behind. As the show went of the air, Kurt was shown with Casey in an ankle lock in the center of the ring while officials tried to
get him to release the hold.
The house shows for the rest of the week had Casey and Paul teaming against
Taker and Kurt. Casey found the wear of the road to be the hardest part of
her new career. Paul kept telling her that she'd get used to it after a while. On her first day off in almost three weeks, Casey walked into the garage to talk to her grandfather. She found him sitting behind his desk reading the newspaper. He looked up at her when she walked in and smiled. She was wearing a pair of beat-up cut-offs and a tank top.
"You want a job?" He teased. "I can always use a good pair of hands under the hood."
"Whatcha got on the docket today, Pops?" She asked as she sat down on the corner of the desk.
"Ms. Martin brought the Taurus in for a tune up. Mike - the supposed mechanic I hired - went out drinking last night and hasn't shown up yet." John said as he looked at his granddaughter. "I promised her it would be ready by noon and it hasn't even been started on."
"I'll do it." Casey said as she got up from the desk. "It might do me a world of good to get my hands dirty."
"Is there a problem, Casey?" John asked as he grabbed her hand.
"Nah, Pops, I just need to feel at home for a while, that's all." She said with a slight smile.
Casey went into the garage and popped the hood on the Taurus. She changed out the oil, spark plugs and wires and serviced the transmission. Ms. Martin walked into the office at 12:15. Casey slammed the hood closed just as the other woman walked in.
"Casey, have you finished with the work for Ms. Martin yet?" John called out to her.
"Yeah, Pops, she's ready to roll." Casey said with a grin.
"Casey, I didn't know you were home. My sons watch WWF all the time and we were surprised to see you on there." Ms. Martin said as she wrote her check. "So, what's it like to live the life of a jet-set athlete?"
"Constant travel, no home cooked food, motel beds so lumpy you can't imagine how you slept on them when you get up the next morning." Casey said,
"But other than that, Theresa, I have no complaints."
"I wouldn't have any complaints either if I was also seeing New Hampshire's most eligible bachelor, either." Theresa said as she followed Casey out to her car. "Thanks for getting the work done on it."
"Anytime I'm in town." Casey said as she wiped her hands.
After Theresa Martin left, Casey went about cleaning and re-stocking the garage. John just let her do what she wanted to and when Mike finally showed up for work at 1:30PM, he let her take him to task on being late and the condition of her garage.
"Hey, John, I'm here." Mike said as he walked through the side door of the garage. "Sorry, I'm late. I guess Ms. Martin took her car somewhere else. I'll make it up to you."
"Pops went up to the house to get a bite to eat." Casey said as she walked out of the office. "But as the sign out front says, this is Daniels and Jackson Auto Repair and that makes me co-owner. If you ever take another car into this shop and no-show on the morning it's due back to the customer, you will be finding another place of employment. Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
"Crystal." Mike said quietly.
"You will also make sure that the shop is swept out and everything is put away neatly when you leave at night from now on." Casey said. "The place is clean now, keep it that way."
"Fucking bitch." Mike muttered almost inaudibly.
"I heard that." Another male voice announced from the door of the garage.
Casey turned around to see Paul standing there. She couldn't help but break out in a huge smile when she saw him lounging against the doorframe of the office. He had some red and white carnations in his hand as well as a picnic basket.
"What are you doing here?" She said as she walked over to him.
"Uh, thought I might get lucky enough to take my favorite mechanic to the river for lunch." He said with a sly grin. "I figured that we could use some quiet "us time" without having to worry about autographs and rental cars. What do you say?"
"Let me go to the house and wash up." She said.
"Nah, we'll go just as we are." He said. "I already have a change of clothes for you at my place. John's coming back to the shop in a minute or two and said we can take off."
"You think of everything, don't you?" She asked.
"I try." He said with a smile.
"Let's go." She said as she walked over and took the flowers from him.
The short trip to the river couldn't go by fast enough to suit her as Casey sat next to Paul. He had his arm draped around her shoulders as he drove. He parked in the secluded spot that they'd come to on their first date. She grabbed the basket and told him to make sure he got his keys out of the ignition. He flipped her off.
"Promises, promises." She giggled.
They ate and then she went for a swim. She didn't care that it was the middle of the afternoon, as she took her clothes off and dove into the river. Paul sat on the bank watching her swim and splash around as if she didn't have a care in the world - but knowing better.
"Are you going to join me?" She asked after a while.
"I don't think so, but I'm enjoying watching you." He said.
Casey got out of the river a little while later. After putting her clothes back on, she sat down beside Paul. The expression on his face made him seem distant or very worried about something.
"Hey, you, I thought we were supposed to be enjoying our time off." She said as she sat down beside him. "Is there something wrong that you're not telling me?"
"I was just thinking, wondering if you'd be happier at home instead of on the road all the time." He said. "I mean I never really asked you if you were ready to run away and join the circus of a life I lead - I just figured that you did since you thought of it as an unattainable dream."
"Paul, listen to me, and listen carefully." She whispered as she pushed him down so that she was sitting straddle of his hips holding his shoulders on the ground with her hands. "I love working for the WWF. I love the travel - even if it does wear you down. I love going into the arenas and seeing posters with my name on them. Everyone I work with treats me great - even Kurt - and I am truly happy."
"Well, John called me right after you started working on that car this morning and I was afraid that you would rather do that." Paul said.
"I enjoy working on cars because I like the smell of gasoline and I like to work with my hands." She said. "I like getting dirty and sweaty and knowing that I've done an honest day's work. Some how, I think I'm a guy trapped in the wrong body or something."
"Well, if that's the case, then I guess I'm gay." Paul said with a laugh. "Cause I think you're the sexiest guy I've ever seen."
Casey got up and turned around and shook her ass at Paul. He started laughing so hard he could barely catch his breath. She took off running around the park and he gave chase - finally pinning her against a live oak tree. She pulled him close and kissed him deeply, with a different kind of passion than he'd felt in any other kiss she'd given him before.
"Wow." He said. "Where did that come from?"
"My heart." She whispered.
"What do you mean?" He asked.
"I guess I've been resisting letting myself fall in love with you." She said as they walked back to the truck. "When I was in Maui on the photo shoot and you said that you loved me, I was scared. I mean we hadn't known each other but for about a week. I returned the sentiment with words but not real emotion, without knowing what I was saying or what the implications of their meaning. But when I looked into your eyes a little while ago, when you were telling me that you were afraid you'd almost over-stepped your bounds with regards to my career, I knew that you meant it when you said you loved me. And I realized that the confusion that I've been dealing with the last week or so was love."
The rest of their time off was spent together - discovering everything they could find out about each other. Paul learned that Casey wasn't afraid of anyone seeing her body at anytime. She learned that his occasional insecurities about his stemmed from when he was a teenager. He'd been almost too tall for his weight until he learned from a few body builders how to put weight on and keep it in the right places. He learned that she didn't go to either her Junior or Senior Proms because of wrestling events.
They returned to the road for the house shows before King of the Ring. When they arrived in Columbus for King of the Ring, they walked in and found their locker rooms before going to the production meetings and filming all the last minute vignettes needed to fill in the show. Paul was sitting in the catering area when Casey walked in after filming one of her spots for the show. She grabbed a bottle of water and a plate of food before walking over to the table he was sitting at.
"You didn't save me a chair." She pouted.
"Why don't you sit right here?" He said as he pushed back from the table and pulled her onto his lap. "See, isn't that better than any chair?"
"Except that a chair doesn't poke me." She mouthed off. "I take it you've already eaten."
"Yeah, and I have too much down time today." He whispered into her hair.
"Hunter, can I talk to you for a minute." Stephanie's screech came across the catering area.
"Is it personal or professional?" He asked, gruffly.
"Don't be like that, I just want to talk to you for a minute." She whined. "Come by my office later when you aren't so busy, okay?"
"Sure, later." He sighed.
Casey finished eating and then ran off to take care of some more promos and
a photo shoot that they were doing with each of the final four competitors in the King of the Ring tournament. Casey, Kurt, Rob and Matt were each posed with the trophy and a crown and robe. Once they were done with individual photos, they had photos taken for each match up. Casey walked back around to her dressing room to change into her clothes for the show and heard a heated argument that was going on behind Paul's dressing room door. She started to knock, but then thought better of it. She'd just opened her door when she was almost run over by Stephanie as she ran from the room in tears. Paul stepped out in the hallway with an exceptionally angry look on his face. There was also a light trail of blood coming from the corner of his mouth. He nodded at Casey and then went back into his room and slammed the door.
Casey had just slipped a sweatshirt on over her new gear when there was a
knock on her door. She was surprised to find Stephanie standing there.
"Hi, Steph, what can I do for you?" Casey asked sweetly.
"Oh, I'm just here to drop of a copy of the script with a few minor changes for your match with Kurt." Stephanie said. "Don't worry, you're still winning, we've just added a little bit of spice to it."
"Okay, thanks for bringing it by." Casey said as Stephanie walked off.
Curious, she opened the tabbed pages of her script and read that Kurt was supposed to pull her shorts down and spank her on the outside of the ring until they were in danger of a double count out. Everyone knew that Julie had redone Casey's ring gear so that she was wearing something like super-short bike shorts and a sports bra instead of the much more masculine looking singlets. Her reading was interrupted by a knock on her door. She opened it to find Paul and Kurt both standing there with copies of the script in their hands.
"Casey, have you read the re-write that Steph just brought by?" Paul asked - his voice laced with anxiety.
"Yeah, babe, I've read it." She said. "It doesn't bother me as long as Kurt leaves me able to sit down later."
"Well, I guess that settles that." Kurt said as he turned to go. "I promise it will only sting for a minute or two. But I'm still not real comfortable with having to finish the match with you wearing nothing but a sports bra and a thong."
"All it says in my script is that you pull the shorts down - not off, Kurt." She said with a laugh. "You know, just a little exposure to remind everyone that there is a difference between us."
"Oh, you're asking for it, now." Kurt laughed as he and Paul walked out.
Casey walked around the backstage area stretching and trying to calm her nerves before she her first match of the night. Matt walked up to her and asked if she was ready. She nodded and stripped off her sweatshirt as she followed him up to the stage area. Her music hit and she walked through the curtain and beneath the imposing 25-foot tall replica of an electric chair that was set up as the throne for the King of the ring. She got into the ring and waited for Matt's display of perpetual motion. After he entered the ring, Charles Robinson had the bell rung.
The match was fifteen minutes of back and forth action that had the crowd fairly divided over whom they were going to cheer for. Casey did her best to keep everything on the mat, while Matt had to throw in some of his trademark aerial maneuvers. At one point, Casey seemed to be getting the match under control and had wrapped her arms around Matt for a belly to back suplex. He hit her hard with an elbow shot to her left eye. Leaving her safety zone, Casey climbed the turnbuckles to attempt a drop kick off the top rope. Matt caught her and knocked her off - she slammed the right side of her rib cage hard against the ring steps below. She slowly crawled back into the ring and scored the pin with a small package roll up. The two of them shook hands and Matt helped her to the back. Paul was waiting for them with a worried expression on his face.
"How bad are you hurt?" He asked as he took her from Matt. "And don't give me a line of bullshit, Casey."
"I'm not sure." She said softly. "I mean I know I need stitches to close the cut over my eye and I hurt my ribs on that fall. I think it's a really deep bruise, but I'll need X-rays later to be sure."
"Are you going do your second match?" He asked - already knowing the
"Yeah, babe, but I'm gonna rest as much as possible until time for it." She said softly. "You need to concentrate on Taker and not worry about me. You're the one whose doing Hell in a Cell tonight."
"Okay, I'll get out of here and let Jack do his magic and then I'll watch your match with Kurt, okay." He whispered against her cheek.
"How bad is she hurt, Hunter?" Vince asked as Paul started out.
"Ask her." Paul said as he motioned for Vince to walk in.
"Hi, Vince, how's it going?" Casey asked as cheerfully as she could. "Did you catch my match with Matt? It was great."
"Cut the crap, Casey, how bad are you hurt?" Vince said as he walked up to her.
"Uh, Jack's putting stitches in my face and I have some pretty banged up ribs." She said. "They'll need x-rays, but I'll do it after the show. Once the cut's fixed and my makeup's redone I'll be good to go."
'In that case, don't change ring gear." He said with a grin. "I like the look of you getting hurt in your first match coming back for repairs and going right back out. It makes you look about as tough as a two dollar steak."
"My grandpa always told me I was." She said. "It's one of my better qualities."
Casey - during the time of Kurt's first match and then the Intercontinental Title match between Eddy Guerrero and Al Snow - got herself put back together and drank a bottle of water and a protein shake that she picked up in the catering area. She was stretching her shoulders and back out when one of the production guys grabbed her to get her back to the curtain. Kurt was already standing there and took one look at Casey and knew she shouldn't be competing in the upcoming match.
"Case, are you good to go?" He asked.
"Yeah, let's just get it over with." She said. "If we get to a point that I can't talk to you, put me in a sleeper or something so I can get a breather, okay?"
"Okay." Kurt agreed. "I guess the breather that you'll get for the spanking will help, too, huh?"
"Unfortunately, yes." She said as her music hit.
After the two of them were in the ring, the bell rung and they locked up. Kurt kept the match at a fairly slow pace - only speeding up when Casey tried to change the pace. They were at about the 12-minute point of the match when Kurt rolled out of the ring and Casey attempted to knock him down with a baseball slide under the bottom rope. He moved out of the way, but because she'd slid on her right side, she was fairly winded and he seized the opportunity to put in the spanking that Stephanie wrote in. He grabbed Casey by her ankles and pulled her so her legs hung off of the ring apron, but her feet couldn't touch the floor. The crowd counted the smacks he landed across her bottom after he pulled hr shorts down - revealing both her ass and the lime green thong she was wearing - ten in all. He let her drop to the floor and pull her shorts back up and he crawled into the ring to break the count. After they were back in, she caught him with a drop toehold and made him submit to a textbook STF. After breaking the hold, Teddy Long raised Casey's hand in victory. Kurt had gotten out of the ring, but turned around in time to see Casey collapse on the canvas.
Jerry Lawler left his position at the announce desk and got in the ring to check on Casey. Paul was watching everything unfold in his locker room, frozen in fear. After a few scary and silent moments, Casey got up and was helped to the back by Teddy and Kurt. Even though she was in pain and barely able to catch her breath, smiled when the camera got in her face at the top of the ramp. When they dropped her off at the trainer's office, Casey begged Kurt to go talk to Paul for her. She'd barely gotten the words out of her mouth when he was at her side.
"Hunter, she's gonna be okay." Jack said as he stepped up to the table. "I'm going to give her some oxygen until she can get rested enough to breathe and we'll make sure she's ready to go to the hospital as soon as you're ready to go. We've got it under control, just give us enough space to do our jobs."
"Okay." He whispered.
"Baby, go focus on your match. I don't want to have to worry about you being in a different hospital room from mine, okay." Casey whispered. "Don't worry about me, I'm not going anywhere but to the shower in a little while."
"No, don't even get up to take a shower until I'm done." He said. "Let Jack work on you - they have a monitor so you can keep up with my match. I'll help you get your shower taken when I'm done."
"Just go do your match." Casey whispered against his cheek. "Kick Taker's ass for me, okay."
"Sure." He said quietly as Kurt pushed him out of the room.