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Catching Up - Kate
NC-17 - language, m/m slash
Characters: Sandman/Raven
Summary: Written a few years ago, before Sandman's debut in TNA.
Disclaimer: We own neither the characters nor the individuals who portray them. Written solely for our entertainment.

He's got nerve, I'll give him that.

Three years. Three years since I last talked to the bastard, and now he just calls me out of the blue. God only knows how he got this number. I probably should've asked, but try coming up with intelligent questions when you've got Raven on the phone chatting you up like an old buddy. Which, for those keeping score at home, we aren't. Just about the only positive memories I've got of the guy are of me kicking his ass in ECW, which I didn't get to do nearly often enough for my tastes.

You know how some people just flat-out piss you off? Like, for no good reason, you�ll start to passionately hate the checkout girl at the supermarket, or the guy standing next to you in the bank? I guess that's what our problem really boiled down to. I mean, don't get me wrong, he did plenty of stuff to make me hate him: he stole my wife and kid, he went after my friends, he crucified me for the love of God. But honestly, I hated him way before any of that. Just rubbed me the wrong way, I guess. At least, that's what I've decided to believe. I try not to spend too long thinking about him. It's just not healthy.

"Can I come over, Jim?"

What is this, a fucking sleepover? I swear I almost hung up the phone, but the "Jim" caught my attention. Don't think he's ever called me that. Sometimes it's just been "Sandman", most of the times it's just "Jackass", but "Jim"...that's a new one from him. I haven't got a damn clue what it means, but it's interesting, isn't it?

So, like an idiot, I told him to come on over. I gave him directions, even though I got the distinct impression he already knew where my house was. Maybe Lori told him. I wonder if he'll even mention her. If he does, I'll just thank him for giving me some advance warning on what a bitch she was. Made the divorce a hell of a lot easier.

I'm still trying to come up with potential motives for this little social call when he knocks. I'm a little surprised, to tell the truth. I halfway wasn't expecting him to actually show up, and I definitely wasn't expecting him to knock. The door was open, and I kind of figured that he'd just breeze right in. He's just that type of guy.

I pull open the door, and he's leaning against the wall of my porch, trying to look casual and doing a pretty damn good job of it. He's in his old cutoffs, a ripped-up concert T-shirt, and, best of all, dark sunglasses. At 11:30 at night. Loser. I bet he can't see a damn thing.

I guess he took the laugh I was struggling to hold back as a welcoming smile, because he flashed a grin back at me. It looked forced. Not that I blame him, you know. I'm not exactly ecstatic to see him again either. But he's normally a better actor than this. He looks distracted, and offers a half-hearted, "Hey, Jackass," before turning to stare out at my lawn.

We stand there a while, with him frowning at the grass, which could really use a trim, and me frowning at him, who could really use a shave. Finally, I realize that he's waiting to be invited in and take a step back from the door. He glances up at me for a second, but I can't tell what he's thinking behind those stupid glasses. Without a word, he brushes past me and moves straight into the living room.

I shut the door behind him and turn around to find him already comfortably ensconced in my favorite chair. Asshole. "Have a seat," I grunt sarcastically, moving toward the couch. He leans his head back against the headrest, not bothering to respond. I finally notice what was bothering me about his appearance in the darkness on the doorstep: his hair's gone. Not gone, gone, but all fucked up from the long curls I'm used to. It's short now and slicked back, combed straight like he's trying to make it look longer than it actually is. I don't like it. I couldn't even drag his limp carcass around by this shit.

He notices my stare and touches his hair self-consciously. "I don't like it, either," he confesses before I can even say anything. "Wasn't my idea. Hair vs. hair match."

I nod. "I heard a while ago you were in that Nashville promotion. Still there?"

"Yeah, they haven't fired me yet," he says with a small grin. "That's actually what I came to talk to you about."

"About you getting fired?"

"No, about TNA in general."

Great. Just what I wanted to hear. Raven wants to give me a sales pitch on his new company. "I ain't interested," I tell him flatly.

He turns away, and even though I can't see his eyes right now, I bet they're flicking all over the room. He's always doing that, scanning places and people, making mental notes, even while he's trying to figure out what to say next. I wonder what he's noticing, and then I wonder if I'm getting paranoid. Probably. But Raven's always got an ulterior motive or two stored away, and sometimes a little paranoia helps around him.

"Got anything to drink?" he suddenly asks, turning back to me.

"Stupid question," I snort. He stares at me and I take the hint, going into the kitchen to grab a couple bottles of beer.

By the time I come back he's absently rifling through the junk drawer in the side table by his chair. He doesn't even bother to look embarrassed at being caught, just shuts the drawer and takes one the beers. "Haven't heard much about you," he comments as he takes a drink.

"Haven't been working much," I respond as I return to my seat on the couch, deciding to cut to the chase. "And I ain't really interesting in doing it now, either, so you can save your spiel."

"Fair enough." Raven hesitated for a minute, figuring out how to continue. And here I was hoping that he'd just drop it. Silly me. "Can I ask why?" he finally comes up with. Not exactly brilliant, but he sounds genuinely curious.

Unfortunately, I forgot the stunningly witty answer that I had all stored up for that question, so I just shrug and answer honestly. "I just don't see the point. It's not fun anymore. Not since Paul E."

His expression doesn't change as he drops his gaze to the floor, and I wish again that he'd take off those damn sunglasses. Raven was probably closer to Heyman than anybody in ECW, with the exception of Dreamer, of course, and I knew he had to miss the company as much as I did. Probably more. "How are you still doing it?" I ask after a pause.

He takes another long drink before he answers, still staring at the floor. "I still love wrestling. Extreme or not." Shrugging, he looks up at me. "You'd be amazed what time can do. I mean, did you ever think I'd be in your house this long without us trying to kill each other?"

Good point, I think, grinning a little before becoming serious again. "But don't you miss it?"

"I try not to think about it," he says frankly. "And I try to take some of the good parts with me. I've got a new Flock, did you know that? Had a new Flock," he corrects himself, his expression darkening.

"You chase them off already?"

"They turned on me."

"Probably had a good reason," I point out, more to start an argument than anything else. I'd much rather see Raven pissed off at something than feeling sorry for himself.

"Yeah, I guess so." He pauses a moment, taking another drink of his rapidly vanishing beer. "I don't want to have to fight them both," he suddenly admitted.

"Talk to whoever you need to talk to. Get a partner." I think I know where this is heading, and it's not something I want to hear.

Finally, Raven pulls off his sunglasses, depositing them casually on the side table. "I don't want any partner," he says, focusing on me. "I want you."

"I see," I respond slowly, sipping my own beer. Raven's silently demanding an answer, but the ball's back in my court and I feel like taking my time. After a silence that stretched way too long, I say lightly, "So you just came by to ask me? This isn't a recruitment mission for TNA or anything?"

"God, no," Raven looks disgusted at the idea. "Why would they send me of all people to try to talk you into anything?"

"That's what I was wondering," I admit. "I thought the management was just partially retarded or something."

"Close." Raven suddenly smirked a little. "You know who's starting to get some serious pull? Vince Russo."

"You gotta be kidding me!" I exclaim. "Well, that ends the discussion right there, doesn't it? There's no way I'm working with that jackass again."

"Russo's not that bad," Raven argued. "And at least he's fairly easy to manipulate. You and I could pretty much run the show."

"Very true," I admit, then shake my head. "Sorry, man, but I just don't see much incentive to come help you out in your little match."

Undaunted, he gives me a wry smile. "You mean the promise of the pleasure of my company isn't enticing enough for you?"

I snort again. "Not hardly." Raven suddenly stands up and I think for a moment that he's leaving, that I've survived the surprisingly cordial visit and can go back to my life now. As usual, I was wrong. Grabbing his now-empty bottle, he heads toward the kitchen. I raise my eyebrows in annoyance. Make yourself at home, why don't you, Raven?

He returns in a few moments with two more open beers, handing one to me and then seating himself on the other end of the couch. I consider reclaiming my chair, but opt instead to stay on the couch and drain the remainder of my first beer so I can start in on my second. Raven's never outdrunk me yet, and I don't plan to let him start tonight.

Raven, meanwhile, unlaces his black boots, toes them off, and leans back against the arm of the couch so that he's facing me, pulling one knee up toward his chest. He's daring me to object, but it's not worth it, so I stay quiet. He's got a tear in his jean shorts on the back of his bent leg, so he's actually showing quite a bit of the back of his thigh. Enough to realize that he's definitely not wearing boxers under the denim, if anything at all. The mental image conjured up by that line of thought is completely uncalled for and disturbs me more than I can say.

Raven shifts back against the arm of the couch, making himself comfortable. He's watching me unnecessarily closely, but his words seem innocuous enough. "So what have you been doing, Sandman? While you've not been wrestling, I mean."

Staring at walls and going stir crazy? Nah, that'd just encourage him to keep pushing this TNA thing. But I'm pretty sure he'll know if I'm lying, so I just try to keep it vague. "I've been pretty busy. Just stuff around the house, you know. Nothing exciting."

He nods. "When did you stop drinking?"

I consider pointing out the obvious, that we're each holding a bottle of beer, but decide against it. He's right, really. I've been laying off the hard stuff for a while now. I don't know how he knew that; probably went through my cabinets or some shit like that. He's waiting for an answer, so I shrug. "A while now. It's not as much fun when you're not on the road. There's a difference between getting smashed with the boys and waking up in some strange hotel room with a story to tell and getting drunk by yourself and passing out on the couch."

He accepts this explanation, even though I'm pretty sure he has no idea what I mean.

Two hours later, I'm amusing myself by coming up with plans to get Raven out of my house. We've been sitting on the couch in dead silence for seventeen and a half minutes, and while Raven doesn't seem to notice the awkwardness, I'm getting desperate. I'm working out Plan M in my mind right now, which is basically slipping something in one of his beers and then dragging him onto the porch. I can't think of anything in the house that'd work, though...I've got some Drano somewhere, but he probably drinks that for fun. I still like Plan A best, which was just to beat him into unconsciousness and deposit the body somewhere. That won't work either, though. Nine times out of ten I would've kicked his ass for just showing up at my house, but now that I've invited him in and we've talked for a couple hours, it seems a little inhospitable to turn around, say "Oh, by the way," and punch him.

I turn to look at him, but he�s staring straight forward, oblivious. That bothers me. Honestly, Raven's one of the most observant people I know, and all night he's been completely clueless to my growing discomfort. He's been dropping little touches on my arm, on my thigh, giving me these frighteningly intense stares and just when I finally think he's going to try something...nothing. Just turns away or makes some innocuous comment or something. I'd say he's just playing with my head, but he doesn't seem to be taking advantage of it like he normally does. Maybe it's just my overactive imagination.

"So," Raven says, turning to look at me. "This is it, huh?"

"What?" Damn. Didn't mean to jump like that.

"This is it," Raven repeats, almost managing to swallow his smile. "This is what you do when you're not wrestling. This is what's so damn fun that you can't tear yourself away."

"Yep," I respond, staring at him challengingly. "Sometimes I even watch TV."

Raven snorts, turning away.

"Listen, I didn't know I was supposed to be your entertainment for the evening. So if you're bored, you can just get the hell out of my house." When in doubt, be blunt, I guess.

Raven tilts his head as if considering. "Nah," he finally responded. "You're always entertaining, Sandman."

"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?"

"Just what I said," he responds, stretching his arms above his head and half-yawning. "What are you so damn nervous about?"

"I'm not nervous," I insist, grabbing a magazine to leaf through without really seeing it.

"Sure you are," he presses. "You're waiting for something to happen. What is it?" I stay silent, and he continues. "Talk to me. What are you waiting for? What do you want?"

"I don't want anything from you," I snap, more defensive than I meant to be. This can't be my imagination. Can it?

"You can say it, Jim. It's OK." Raven shifts, moving closer to me on the couch.

I toss the magazine back onto the table and close my fist, ready to punch him if necessary. "Stay the fuck away from me, Raven," I growl.

He blinks, looking a little confused. "OK," he says cautiously, retreating into his corner of the couch. We sit in silence again for couple seconds as I berate myself for freaking out. I don�t know what the hell's wrong with me. "I need to use the bathroom," Raven stated quietly.

"Down the hall, to your left," I mutter, pointing him in the right direction. Raven leaves and I lean forward, putting my head in my hands. Really, what the hell? He's being reasonably normal for once, and I'm freaking out. Why am I so defensive? I need some time to think this one out. Unfortunately, I don't have time, because he's in my bathroom and probably still waiting for an explanation.

I wish he hadn't come over. Actually, surprisingly, that's not true. I just wish he would've left before I got weird. Honestly, it's been kinda nice having him over. I don't plan to invite him for Thanksgiving or anything, but it was cool to kind of see what's been going on with him, to talk about ECW with somebody who remembered it.

I always did like talking to Raven, I suddenly realize. Except for the whole crucifixion/family brainwashing business, I really think we could've gotten along fine. 99% of the time he's just being an ass, but he's fun to argue against. Keeps you on your toes. And he's intense, you know? Conversations with him are always a trip, but he cuts through all the small talk and bullshit and hits on some serious stuff sometimes. I like that.

I just hate how he stares at me like I might be his next meal. It's disconcerting. And I know he doesn't mean it like that, and I know he probably does that to everybody, but it doesn't stop me from feeling like he's two seconds away from either kicking the shit out of me or screwing me into the floor.

And there's that mental image his ripped shorts conjured up. Damn. That is definitely inappropriate. I should describe it to him someday; it'd be worth it to see the look on his face. Though now that I think about it, I'm not completely sure what his reaction would be. Sometimes he thinks seems to think shit like that's funny, sometimes he gets mad, sometimes he takes it seriously. I don't know. The really disturbing part is, I'm not quite sure what reaction I'd like him to have.

I should stop thinking. This is just going from bad to worse. As if on cue, Raven comes out of the bathroom. Maybe I can just get him out of the house really quick so I've got some space to think.

"Raven, man, I've been thinking--"

"Don't hurt yourself," he interrupts smoothly, reclaiming his seat on the couch. He crosses his arms over his chest, leaning back and staring at me. Just when I start to continue my sentence, he breaks in again. "I've got a question."

Sigh. The quickest way to get him out is to tell him what he wants to know, I guess. "What?"

"Do you want me to kiss you?"

Shit. Wasn't quite ready for that one. I stare at him for a while, hoping that I can catch a glimpse of that infuriating little smirk of his and turn this all into some weird kind of joke. Maybe not. He looks as serious as I�ve ever seen him, silently demanding an answer. Patient fucker, I�ll give him that. Uncomfortably, I shift my gaze to the floor and take a slow sip of my beer as I hope for some sort of natural disaster to break this silence so I won't have to. No suck luck, and I've taken too much time to blow him off with a wiseass comment now. "Yeah," I finally grunt, not lifting my eyes. I'm an eloquent bastard sometimes.

Raven doesn't even twitch, and for a minute I think he didn't hear me. Damned if I'll say it again, though; getting it out once was hard enough. I meet his eyes again and hope he gets the message that way. Apparently that was the cue he wanted, because as soon as I look up he starts leaning toward me, placing one hand on my upper arm for balance. He's moving ridiculously slowly, and I'm suddenly terrified. Do I open my mouth, pucker up, close my eyes? Scream and run? Jesus, this feels like the slow-motion death scene from a B horror flick.

He's so close now I can feel the body heat coming off him. His lips look so soft, and all I have to do is lean forward and claim them. I don�t though, and he pauses momentarily as I get a sudden rush of exultation. Too bad, Raven. I'm not gonna make it that easy for you.

I stop breathing as he moves forward again, but at the last possible second he tilts his head and brushes his lips feather-soft against my cheek. What the fuck? I almost giggle, I'm so high-strung, but it dies in my throat when his free hand suddenly grabs my chin, tilting my face toward him. He's pulling me forward as he leans in closer, closer, closer, until finally...

He disappears. I blink and refocus, and he's leaning back casually against the arm of the couch staring at a point about three feet above my head. "What is that shit about?" I want to scream. What actually comes out is something more along the lines of, "Uhngh?"

It was definitely a question though, and he looks at me like I had just asked why the sky was blue. He reaches out and picks up his beer bottle, absently tracing the rim of it with one finger as he stares at me. He tries to take a sip but remembers halfway through that the bottle is empty. Rising to his feet, he murmurs, "Another beer," and turns toward the kitchen.

"I got it," I grunt and walk quickly past him, pushing him gently back down on the couch. I am the host after all, and it gives me something to do other than sitting on the couch waiting for him. I go into the kitchen, leaving the door open behind me, and grab two beers from the fridge. "Goddamn cocksucker," I fume to myself, glaring through the open door at Raven, who was leaning his head back on the couch and closing his eyes. I have the beer, but I'm not quite ready to go out there yet. I decide to pour the beer into glasses to give myself more time to get my head together.

"Who the fuck do you think you're intimidating, Raven?" I growl under my breath as I retrieve the glasses. "Not me, that's for damn sure." It's complete bullshit, but saying the words is really making me feel better. I picture the last time I got to hit him with a steel chair and almost laugh out loud. "You think you're gonna scare me with all your little psycho bullshit? I don't think so, buddy. I think you're just an ace short of playing with a full deck, my friend. I dated a schizophrenic girl once who was more predictable than you."

"What was her name?" Raven murmurs from about a foot and a half behind me, and I drop the beer on the counter. It doesn't break, thank Christ, and I quickly grab it and set it upright on the counter before whirling around to face Raven. The yell that had been building in my chest all night finally comes out. "What the fuck is wrong with you?" God, that felt good.

Raven frowns and tilts his head to one side. I wait for a response, but none seem to be forthcoming. Maybe I need to be more specific. "Why are you following me? What do you want?" Nothing. I give an exasperated sigh and walk over to the kitchen table, dropping onto one of the stools. I plant my elbows on the table (sorry, Mom), bury my face in my hands, and pray to every God ever conceived that he'll be gone when I look up.

Of course, that would be too easy.

I jump so violently when I feel Raven's hands on my shoulders that I hit my knees on the underside of the table. "Fuck!" I yell, displaying that vaunted vocabulary again. Raven's grip tightens until I still.

"You're tense."

"Thank you, Captain Obvious," I snort and try to shrug him away, but he doesn't take the hint. This is getting fucking ridiculous. I stand up and turn around to glare at him, but he's just looking at me with this strangely calm expression. No, not calm, confident. He looks confident, like he's already won something. I'm so pissed I can't even string together enough four-letter words to vent, so I just focus my mental energy on making his head explode. It doesn't work. It suddenly occurs to me that he's trying to start a fight with me. I mean, he's pretty much just begging to get punched. Why else would he come annoy me, of all people?

I don't want to punch him, but I can't take looking at that smug expression anymore. Pushing my way past him with my shoulder, I head back into the living room.

I didn't realize he was following until I sat down in the armchair and discovered him three feet behind me. "Is something wrong?" he asked, raising his eyebrows in what I guess was supposed to be an impression of innocence. I'm completely gaping at him. I can't help it. I have never realized that a human being could be so infuriating. Amazing.

"What do you want?" I manage, still staring in amazement.

Raven shrugs, dropping the innocent expression. "I want the truth," he says indifferently. "I want you to be honest with yourself and with me."

Honest. He wants honest. "I hate you," I inform him, as honestly as possible.

"I know. But you also want me."

"I want you to die."

"You know what I mean."

And I do. And that's a problem. "That's ridiculous," I tell him, as convincingly as I can.

Raven frowns. Looks like I've finally managed to annoy him for a change. "Ridiculous or not, it's what you want," he insists. "I've seen you looking, Sandman. I know what you're thinking. I just can't believe how immature you are, pretending you don't want it."

"Oh, I'm the one being immature, huh?" I snap. "Isn't that just classic Raven? You're the one running hot and cold like a cockteasing teenage-"

"I'm trying to get a reaction, idiot," Raven interrupts. "I'm trying to get you to man up and cut the shit."

"You're a guest in my house," I protest. "What was I supposed to do, just throw you on the couch and have at it?"

Damn. I didn't think human eyes could glow like that. His glance flickers to the couch back to me, and suddenly I get a sick feeling in my gut. I'm not quite sure what it means, but I'm pretty sure it's something I want no part of. Raven starts moving slowly toward me, and I start wondering where I left my Singapore Cane. Every muscle in my body is tensed when he stops a few inches in front of me, though I'm not sure whether my body is telling me to run away, punch him, or return to the couch idea. Oh, wait. Unless my jeans just magically shrank a little, at least part of my body has decided on the couch.

It's still Raven's call, though, so I force myself to play it cool and keep my mouth shut, staring almost challengingly up at him. He's impressively still, but he's standing and I'm sitting, so I'm pretty confident I can wait him out. Amazingly, I was right on that one. I'm still making eye contact, but I can see the muscles in his arm abruptly tense and move toward me. He's got the same look in his eye he always has in the ring before hitting me with shit, so I reflexively jerk back into the chair away from the fingers that were reaching for the side of my face. He raises an eyebrow at me and I frown. I flinched, and we both know it. I open my mouth, hoping to salvage a little dignity with one of my patented witty comebacks, and he moves his hand, brushing his thumb delicately over my lower lip. Whatever comment I had planned dies a horrible, silent death as the gears in my head fuse together.

A moment later, I realize that he's kissing me, or rather, than we are kissing. It's not nearly as awkward as I had expected, and it seems my body's autopilot has decided that he can handle this portion of the evening. One of my hands has slipped around Raven's back and is attempting to pull him closer, wanting more contact than the rough tongue and smooth metal stud darting in and out of my mouth. The position we're in makes the kiss a little uncomfortable, and my neck is objecting to bending back far enough to reach him. I try pushing him down to kneel in front of me, but he resists. Of course he does. It couldn't be that easy, could it?

He starts to move back and I let him go, but he grabs a fistful of my shirt and pulls me with him, yanking me out of the chair without breaking the kiss. He's kissing harder now, maybe trying to make up for his loss in leverage. I push harder, too, not wanting to be outdone, and it suddenly strikes me as funny that we�re being so competitive about kissing. That train of thought gets derailed as the backs of my knees encounter the couch that I hadn't been aware Raven was navigating me toward. My legs give out and I land hard on the cushion.

I glare up at him, and he barely manages to hide a smile behind a deliberately blank stare. He doesn't seem in a hurry to join me on the couch, so I fight the urge to grab him and decide to try to outwait him again.

"I still want a drink," he announces unexpectedly, in a carefully neutral voice. "Would you like anything?"

I'm tempted to give a very crude answer to that, but I hold back. Without waiting for an answer, Raven turns and heads back into the kitchen.

OK. I haven't had that much experience in these situations, but this seems like a pretty damn inconvenient time to go out for a beer. My first inclination is to be royally pissed off at the continuing mind games. Or, a hopeful thought points out, maybe he plans on using the beer in a fun and interesting way. I consider that for about half a second before rejecting it. I love beer as much as the next guy (assuming the next guy isn't Steve Austin), but certain things just shouldn't taste like beer. Like popsicles. Or bubble gum. Or sex.

I'm getting impatient waiting for him to get back. I get up, wandering around the living room, locking the front door and taking the phone off the hook and whatnot. As I'm moving the phone, I notice his last half-drunk beer, still cold, sitting on the coffee table. What the hell is he doing in my kitchen?

One way to find out. I slip over to the kitchen door, pushing it open just enough so I can see him. I don't move quite as smooth as he does, but this is my house and I know how to avoid the creaky floorboards. Apparently, home field advantage is working for me, because he doesn�t look over. He's perched on my countertop, sipping a glass of water and staring at the clock on the wall.

About thirty seconds go by and he finally moves, finishing the water, setting down the glass, and sliding off the counter in one fluid motion. On impulse, I retreat around a corner of the living room and into the darkened hallway, finding a spot I can watch the room without him seeing me. He comes out from the kitchen, notes my absence from the couch with a little frown, and starts scanning the room. I pull back a little farther into the hallway, just in case. When I move forward again to see into the room, he's grabbing his sunglasses and heading for the door.

Great. Another mind game. This time, though, I�ve got a little advantage of surprise going for me. I go to him as quickly and quietly as I can, but apparently I'm not quiet enough, because he starts to turn back around just as he was reaching for the doorknob. I shove him in the back, pressing his chest up against the door. Using my body to pin him there, I try to sound intimidating as I growl, "Just where the hell do you think you're going?"

He's doing that thing again where he's trying not to smile. I'm starting to hate that. "Home," he says flatly. "Thought you'd changed your mind."

It's kind of bothering me that he's not fighting at all. "About having something to drink?" I ask.

"About this whole situation." He almost manages to sound like he doesn't care. Almost.

It suddenly hits me that he was giving me a chance to think about it, to back out if I wanted. How odd. "I said I wanted to, didn't I?" I demand, sounding angrier than I had intended.

Still pressed against the door, he manages a shrug. "People say lots of thing. They rarely mean any of them."

Hell, no. There is no way I'm letting him get started on one of his "poor, pitiful me" promos. Putting my hands on his shoulders, I flip him around to face me, slamming him back against the door. He still doesn't offer any resistance, relaxing his neck and letting his head rest back on the wood. His eyes are closed, and all the heat from a few minutes ago is gone now. He looks almost bored.

"Well, I mean what I say," I insist, "so stop being such an annoying cocktease and get your ass on that couch." For whatever reason, that finally makes him smile, although he twists his head to the side to try to hide it. I grab his chin and drag his face back to mine, but a spark of the heat's coming back into his eyes, and I get suddenly distracted with how pretty his lips are. How did I not notice that before? Somebody should've told me.

Yeah, interjects a sarcastic voice in my head, Tommy Dreamer should've come up and said, "Hey, man, how's it going? Raven has a really nice-looking mouth. I just wanted you to know." I need to find a way to turn that voice off. Raven's noticed me staring at his mouth by this point, and I've dealt with all the sarcasm I feel like dealing with right now, so I kiss him before he can say anything.

A couple seconds later, it's a flashback to a few minutes ago, with Raven steering me toward the couch. He's not kissing quite as forcefully as before, and I wonder if I've bruised his lips. Mine are definitely sore, and his bottom one was looking kind of swollen. He's not complaining, though, and I really don't feel like stopping.

This time when he pushes me down onto the couch, I grab him and drag him down with me. He wasn't expecting it, but he adjusts quickly and climbs onto my lap, his knees pressing into the cushions on either side of my thighs. He tilts his head to one side, slipping his tongue farther along the ridge on the roof of my mouth, and I notice that I had forgotten to close the curtains on the window by the front door. I knew I forgot something. Raven shifts his weight on my lap, rubbing against me through two layers of denim and shattering any illusions I may have had about standing up to fix the curtains. Oh, well. The neighbors will just have to deal with quite an eyeful if they're the Peeping Tom types. They never liked me anyway.

Of course, I would've said the same about Raven a few hours ago, and apparently I would've been wrong. He's broken the kiss to nuzzle the side of my neck, tickling me with his stubble and whispering things into my skin that I can't understand and really don't care to try. My entire concentration is focused on the friction between us, caused by his grinding. I want to push back against him but my hips are pinned by his weight, so I settle for grabbing his hips and pulling him down hard against me. His hands tighten on my shoulders and he freezes. I do it again and drag a soft, almost reluctant moan out of him. Dammit, I'm pretty sure my jeans are shrinking after all, because there is no way that Raven of all people is getting me this hard.

He slips one hand around my back, grabbing the hem of my shirt and smoothly pulling it off over my head, laying it on the couch beside him. Pulling back away from me a little, he forces a little smirk. I'm not buying. My pants may have suddenly developed a mind of their own, but I can feel him pressing on my thigh and he's not nearly as much in control of the situation as he seems to think he is.

In any case, he leans forward, lapping at the hollow of my throat and starting to work his way down, running his fingers along my ribs and sides. I jump at the first little bite, right above my left pec, but he's back to kissing and licking the area so quickly I don't have time to object. I growl at him when he does it again, and I can feel his mouth twist into a smile. Bastard. I can't really tell him to stop, though, because that tongue ring of his is killing me. Really, I need to call my congressman or something and have him declare that thing illegal. It's like a freaking foreign object, and that's not fair.

My pants situation is reaching a critical point, and I'm pretty sure that my blood has completely stopped circulating to the lower half of my body. Raven's mouth is still right above my belly button, and I'm tired of waiting. I reach for the button of my jeans, but Raven knocks my hands away and glares up at me. "Impatient," he mutters before returning his attention to my stomach.

I could fight him on this, but it's more entertaining to piss him off. So I force myself to yawn and drape an arm over the back of the couch. "No, just bored," I inform him, trying my best to control my breathing.

His eyes snap back up to mine and he leans back, considering. "Bored, hmmm?" he says softly, running a finger down the zipper of my jeans. I try to swallow my hiss, but I'm pretty sure he heard it. Regardless, he stands up. "I guess we'll just have to kill the foreplay, then." With an overly dramatic reluctant sigh, he slips off his T-shirt, tossing it on the couch with mine, and toes off his black boots. Raising an eyebrow challengingly at me, he dropped his jean shorts, casually stepping out of them.

I snort in laughter when I notice that he's not wearing underwear. "Laundry day?" I ask. He smirks again and shrugs. He�s apparently content to let me stare for a while, and because I believe in humoring guests, I oblige.

Yeah, I definitely hate the hair. I always thought it was kind of stupid to have long hair in wrestling, myself. I mean, why give your opponent one more thing to grab onto when you're trying to get away? And it always got tangled in barbed wire and shit. I remember telling him to cut it in ECW. I thought he refused just to be contrary, but it turns out he was right. He doesn't look right without it. Why in the blue hell would that idiot let himself get dragged into a hair vs. hair match? Maybe he was coked up or something.

I almost ask him about it, but I can see him watching me out of the corner of my eye. He's starting to look impatient, so I decide to continue my perusal. I'm liking the new tattoos. That sword across his torso is hot. I'd mention it to him, but I don't feel like sitting through a twenty-minute lecture on symbolism and foreshadowing and all that other English class crap.

Other than that, he's pretty much a flashback to ECDub. He's put on some weight. (Pot, kettle, black, I know.) It doesn't really make him look old, though. Just different. That pisses me off. With all the drugs I've watched him swallow, he should look at least as old as I feel.

My anger is interrupted by my libido, which breaks into my train of thought to inform me that, if nothing else, Raven is a hell of a lot more naked than I remember him being in ECW. Good point, my pants note, constricting again. Son of a bitch.

"I thought we were killing the foreplay," I comment, dragging my eyes back up to his face.

He laughs a little, stepping forward and dropping to his knees. He uses his hands on my thighs to push my legs open, slipping between my knees. His hands slide up to grab my hips as he leans forward, nuzzling the bulge in my jeans. I can feel the heat of his breath as he rubs his face cat-like against my crotch.

I swear under my breath as he presses against a particularly sensitive spot, letting my head fall back against the couch. He laughs again, huskier than before, and pushes harder against the same spot.

"Don't," I warn, suddenly fighting to retain control of both my body and my breathing.

"Why not?" He tilts his head to the side, resting it against my thigh, still amused.

"Because I don't want to come like this," I answer honestly. My jeans may be betraying me at the moment, but they're still my favorite pair, and I don't want to have to burn them.

"What makes you think I really give a flying fuck what you want?" Raven purrs.

I freeze like somebody threw a bucket of ice water on me. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" I demand, trying not to sound as panicked as I suddenly feel.

He shakes his head, still smirking, his voice dangerous. "Don't worry, Sandman, I'm not planning on leaving you hanging. But 'I' is the operative word. Tonight, I'm calling the shots."

Unbe-fucking-lievable. I mean, the guy's totally naked on his knees and he's pulling a power trip. "Like hell you're calling shots in my house," I inform him, trying to steady my breathing.

Raven actually throws his head back to laugh at that, and my glare isn't doing anything to dampen his amusement. "I've been calling shots since I walked in the door," he declares, sitting back on his heels. "Fuck it, Sandman, why the hell would you even let me in here if I hadn't talked you into it?"

Well, screw me for trying to be a nice guy. "I figured it'd be easier to kick your ass if we were actually in the same house together," I retort.

Chuckling, Raven moved to the side, reaching for his shirt on the couch. "You couldn't do that in ECW, asshole. I'm not worried about it now." Grabbing his shirt, he stands up, pausing for a moment. "Could have been fun," he offers almost regretfully despite the smirk. "But if you're not playing by my rules, we're not playing."

Seriously, what is wrong with this guy? He comes in, teasing for hours, gives me the hard-on from hell, and then just leaves? The more I think about it, the angrier I get, and by the time he's scooped his jeans and boots off the floor, I'm on my feet. There's no way this asshole's leaving without an explanation. Grabbing one arm, I spin him around to face me. "I've had about enough of this hot and cold shit. What the fuck is going on?" I growl.

He glowers at me and drops his clothes, twisting his arm away and shoving me hard backwards. The back of my legs hit the couch, but I catch my balance and come back at him, returning the shove. That was probably a mistake, I decide as I watch him regain his footing, the surprise in his eyes turning to raw hatred. He comes at me swinging, with a wild punch that I sidestep. He crashes into the couch, which gives me a momentary advantage that I use to shove him up against the closest wall. Raven pushes back, but I use my height advantage get some leverage, pressing his shoulders hard into the wall. He twists suddenly to his left and I lose my grip on his right shoulder. His right arm immediately snaked around my neck, pulling my face down toward his. We kiss almost brutally, fighting for control of the situation. I pull back when I taste blood, not sure whose it is.

Raven moans as I pull away, leaning his head back against the wall, eyes fluttering closed. I think he's the one bleeding; it looks like I might have split his lip. He doesn't seem to mind, though, panting heavily as I try to decide what to do.

"Raven," I say carefully, letting go of his arm. "I..."

His eyes open and he stares blankly at me a moment before sliding down the wall onto his knees. "Condom," he whispers, his voice suddenly hoarse. "Jean shorts. Front pocket, left side."

About damn time. I leave him kneeling on the floor, going back to the pile of clothes he left on the floor and pulling out his jean shorts. I have to consciously will my hands to stop shaking as I dig through the pockets. It's funny; now that Raven seems to have cut out the small talk and the mind games and the fighting, his silence is making me a little nervous. I'm mentally and physically exhausted from dealing with him, and we haven't even really done anything yet. This is just so damn surreal.

I finally find the condom in his pocket, along with a small tube of lubrication. Raven must've been a Boy Scout; he sure seems to be prepared. Grabbing both items, I go back over to Raven.

He's managed to turn himself around so that he's facing the wall, resting on his knees. His hands are on each thigh, eyes closed in concentration. His cock looks almost as painfully hard as mine feels, and his whole body is tense with the effort of remaining still. I touch him on the shoulder and he glances back at me briefly before wordlessly rising onto his knees, spreading them slightly. Unzipping my pants, I shove them and my underwear halfway down my thighs, a little dizzy with the sudden relief. I would take them all the way off, but I'm not sure I'm physically capable of untying my shoes at this point. Kneeling behind Raven, I tear the condom package open and roll it onto myself quickly, then grab the lube and squirt some onto two fingers. It's still warm from being in his pocket. Raven jumps a little when I touch the top of his ass crack, planting one hand on the wall in front of him for balance. I work my fingers down to his hole, but he shakes his head before I can slip inside to stretch him out.

"Won't make it if you do that," he rasps. "Just do it now."

I appreciate his honesty and all, but it's not doing a hell of a lot for my own self-control. Picking up the lube again, I coat myself as quickly as possible, emptying the whole tube. "You're going to get rug burns," I point out. "We can move this-"

"Now, jackass," he growls. I smile a little. There's the whiny, demanding asshole I have sometimes been forced to tolerate. I crawl closer to him and he spreads his legs wider to give me a little more room. Grabbing his hips, I pull him down slowly, penetrating him as smoothly as I can. He makes a small sound in the back of his throat as soon as the head is fully in, and I pause to give us both time to adjust. The heat is almost unbearable. "Go," Raven insists, trying to press back. My hands on his hips keep him still, though, and he stops struggling after a few seconds.

"You're not calling shots, Raven, remember that?" I whisper into his ear. He growls in frustration and I start to laugh, but then he unexpectedly bucks, breaking out of my grip and slamming himself hard onto my lap. The sensations are so intense that everything goes white. I could hear a soft, steady moaning, but it took me several seconds to regain enough thought processes to realize that it was coming from me. Raven is leaning his head against both forearms, which are pressed against the wall in front of him. He isn't making any noise, but there's a hitch in his gasps that makes each breath look like a silent sob. Concerned, I press a kiss to the tattoo on the back of his shoulder blade. "You OK?" I murmur softly.

He pulls in a deep breath, forces himself to hold it for several seconds, then hisses it out, shaking his head to clear it. His breathing returning to normal, he turns his head to the side and offers me a shaky smile. "Fine," he says, his voice still uncertain. "Feels good."

Yeah fucking right. There is no way that didn�t hurt like a bitch. He seems OK with it, though, placing his palms flat on the wall and trying to push me a little bit deeper. I don't know if he's trying to impress me or what, but it's working. That's the last time I feel bad for hitting him too hard with a goddamn stick, that's for sure.

I reach around his waist and grab his cock, and he jerks in surprise. He squirms a little, but stops when I start setting a rhythm with my hand and hips, finding a deep, slow, rocking motion that lets me maintain some semblance of control. Raven's head falls forward and I watch a drop of sweat work its way down the back of his neck. Normally, I'd make a wisecrack about his lack of conditioning, but we're both panting too hard to make conversation an option at this point. Hey, I suddenly realize. I finally found a way to shut Raven up!

The silence is getting heavy again, making the soft sounds of our motion and our heavy breathing seem almost deafening. Raven's lips are moving noiselessly, but I can't see his face well enough to tell if he's mouthing anything in particular. I haven't really drunk enough to catch a buzz, but everything feels dreamlike. I change my angle slightly and Raven moans, bringing my attention back to the reality of the situation.

One of Raven's hands closes around mine, urging me to pump him faster. His tension reminds me how close to the edge I am, so I start driving harder, pulling almost completely out of him before slamming back in. I don't want to hurt him, but he just pushes back harder the rougher I get. With a harsh yell that surprises me in its volume, he stiffens and releases, covering both our hands.

His body's sudden tension sends me over the edge, and I come in several short, quick strokes as he collapses back against me. After a few deep breaths that allow the strongest of the aftershocks to ripple through us, Raven twists to one side, slipping off my lap and sprawling on his back on the floor. I stay on my knees a little while longer, getting my head together and waiting for him to say something. He doesn�t, though�just stares blankly up at the white ceiling. When I'm sure I can walk, I pull the condom off, stand up, and head to the bathroom to clean up. Raven doesn't even blink. He looks like he might stay there for a while.

In the bathroom I use a washrag to clean off the worst of the mess and pull up my underwear and jeans. I look like hell, so I splash some cold water on my face to try to cool down. Then I sit on the toilet, trying to figure out my next move. I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to say to him. It wasn't a mistake, but it was...I don�t know what the hell it was. It was good, for one thing. And it's something I really wouldn't mind doing again. I really hope he doesn't think this changes anything between us, though. He may be a lot hotter than I expected, but he's still an asshole who spent years ruining my life. Well, shit. I better go talk to him before he falls asleep.

I stand up and hear the front door slam. I come out of the bathroom just in time to see his car take off through my front window. Unbelievable. I go to sit on the couch, shaking my head, and discover a sheet of scrap paper, covered in his hasty scribble. "Hey, Jackass," I read out loud, "I'm kicking your ass the next time you try crap like that. Call me when you get in town." Under the note was a TNA business card, with Jeff Jarrett's cell phone number scribbled on the back. I glance up at the clock. If I catch a late flight, I can probably be in Nashville by morning. I toy with that idea for a while before grabbing the remote and turning on TV. Screw him. I already know I'm going, but a little waiting won't kill him. Maybe I can find a TNA recap show and see what kind of mess he's dragged me into this time.