The Red-Hot Referee

Hunter stood in front of the mirror and stared down his own reflection, weary hazel eyes gazing back at him with a grim contempt that even he, himself, couldn’t quite put a finger on. As far as moods went, his was the very worst--and that was putting it mildly. To say that The Game was in a state of mind most foul that night would have been the understatement of the year. As far as he was concerned, there was only so much crap a man could take, and his threshold for bullshit had long since been surpassed. This, Hunter knew, was bullshit at its finest--though it wasn’t as if he’d expect anything better from the likes of one William Regal.

Still, the General Manager’s actions had put Hunter in one hell of a predicament, stuck hopelessly between the proverbial rock and hard place. On one hand, he’d safely secured his title shot at Wrestlemania, eliminating five other men in one of the most sadistic matches known to man. That much, he knew, was his. Nobody was taking that from him. But on the other hand--and there was always that other hand--was this match, this new stipulation of Regal’s doing. That night, in the main event, John Cena would face the champion, Randy Orton. If Cena won, then Hunter would ultimately be facing two men, Cena and Orton, in a Triple-Threat match for the title. Not the same odds, Hunter thought begrudgingly, that he’d had going into this. The ultimate kicker, however, was that the special guest referee for this main-event determining match would be none other than himself.

It was easy to be fair and impartial, Hunter realized, when both parties involved were the top two on his metaphorical shit list. I can’t play favorites. I hate them both. If anything, Hunter would call the match as he saw it. And if nothing else, he could always be lenient and let the two beat the unholy living crap out of one another. In fact, he would probably enjoy doing so. This could be fun.

For the first time that night, a smile came to The Game’s face.

Still, a lot was riding on the outcome of that match. It was just that damn important.

The bearing of it weighed heavily on Hunter’s mind, and to put it frankly, he had more on his mind than was healthy for any man. But of all of the obvious things that plagued Hunter at present, not one of them was the not-so-obvious notion that someone might be watching him at that very moment--the truth being that there was. But as Hunter stood at the mirror, he couldn’t sense the presence of the man who concealed himself in the dim shadows of his locker room. He didn’t feel the back of his neck prickle, didn’t feel the rove of prying eyes over his bare backside as he tugged his t-shirt off over his head and exchanged it for the sleeveless referee‘s shirt.

He glanced at the clock on the wall. Seeing that he still had a good ten minutes or so before the match, Hunter sighed. Let’s just get this over with. He grabbed his duffel bag from the bench beside him, returned to his locker, and tossed it in. It was in that particular moment that Hunter finally felt the presence of someone slipping up behind him, grabbing him around the waist.

In a split second, Hunter was deadly tense, a bomb ready to go off, and in the next, there was a voice in close proximity to his ear. Low and husky and heavily Texan, the voice thoroughly defused Hunter, sending a powerful jolt to every nerve in his body.

“Easy there, tiger.” Hunter could have placed that voice anywhere. With a scowl in place on his features for good dramatic effect, Hunter turned to face an inevitably smirking JBL, who was currently looking far too amused for his liking. “What’s the matter, Hunt?” the latter inquired, raising both eyebrows in mock-surprise. “I can see somebody’s got your undershorts all in a knot.”

“I’m a little on edge here, Bradshaw,” answered Hunter, a bit crossly. “In case you hadn’t noticed.” Even as he spoke, the tension was beginning to recede from his muscles and he found himself relaxing back into Bradshaw’s hold. “You know, you startled the hell out of me.”

“I guess so,” grinned Bradshaw. “I thought you were gonna take my damn head off for a second there.”

“Well, I would have. If you hadn’t been creeping around back here like some sort of stalker--the hell are you doing back here, anyway? Shouldn’t you be hiding out somewhere discreet, considering Finlay’s out for your head on a stake right about now?”

“Way ahead of you,” declared Bradshaw triumphantly. “To answer both of your questions, Hunter, I was in here watching you get dressed when I thought, ‘hey, you know, Finlay would never think to look for me here, now, would he?’” A cocky grin crossed the Texan’s face. “Two birds, baby. One stone. Not bad for a man on his toes, thinking on the run.”

“Or pulling stuff completely out of his ass,” countered Hunter with a smirk. “Did you just say you were watching me dress?”

“Yeah,” came John‘s response, completely without shame. Hunter raised both eyebrows in response.

“You are a strange, strange man, Mr. Layfield.”

“And you’ve got to be the sexiest damn thing on God’s green earth.” He flashed his most charming smile at Hunter.

Really, now.” Hunter’s hands slid down Bradshaw’s waist, coming to rest on his hips and pulling him gently forward. “Keep talking.”

“Well, I’m just stating facts,” Bradshaw said matter-of-factly. “I mean, just look at you. You are, by far, the hottest referee I’ve ever seen in my life.” His eyes locked on Hunter’s as his hands ran brazenly across Hunter’s chest, skimming down his stomach as an afterthought. Hunter felt his pulse accelerate, felt his breath hitch involuntarily. The action didn’t go unnoticed by Bradshaw, who smirked. “Mmm. All that rock-hard muscle. You’re a sin in yourself. You ought to be against the law.”

Hunter’s mind grappled for a smart comeback and came up empty. To be honest, Hunter had a few things in mind himself that probably were against the law in some book somewhere. He was quite certain Bradshaw was up to something--what that something might be, Hunter wasn’t sure. But if there was one thing Hunter knew about Bradshaw, it was that he could be terribly charming, and a hell of a smooth talker when it benefited him. At his best, Hunter knew, Bradshaw could be downright disarming. Dangerous, when he wanted to be. This, Hunter came to realize, even as it dawned on him that he was now pinned back against the wall, Bradshaw’s thigh pressing into his groin in a way that made it damn near impossible to see straight.

“Christ, Bradshaw,” Hunter managed, his voice coming out a lot huskier and nowhere near as firm as he’d intended. “What’s gotten into you?”

“You,” purred John from somewhere in the crook of Hunter’s neck. “And not nearly enough. That, my darlin,’ presents a problem.”

“For whom,” Hunter grated out. “You or me?” At this, Bradshaw chuckled, the sound reverberating against Hunter’s throat.

“Depends,” he answered, pressing a kiss to the flesh beneath his lips. “John Bradshaw Layfield always gets what he wants. And what I want, Hunter, is you.” He emphasized his point by driving his hips against Hunter’s, pressing himself flush against the other man.

“My God, John…” Suddenly, Hunter found it inexplicably difficult to stand. He braced himself back against the wall as Bradshaw pressed still closer, hands finding the masculine curves of his waist once more, his mouth attacking a sensitive spot on the side of Hunter’s neck.

“Not quite,” he murmured between kisses. “But I’m pretty damn close.” He took Hunter’s face in both his hands, his lips finding the other man’s in a blaze of a kiss that was more heated than either of them had expected. A low groan escaped from deep in Hunter’s throat and he reciprocated, running a hand roughly through John’s sandy-colored hair, letting it come to rest on the back of his head. Bradshaw, in turn, deepened the kiss, ravaging his mouth until neither of them could remember how to breathe. One hand was tangled in Hunter’s hair, the other found the hem of his shirt, sliding beneath the material and up his stomach, trailing over sensitized skin. Hunter wasn’t sure whether to hit the ceiling or buckle to the floor. This is a bad idea.

“John,” Hunter gasped, fighting hard to cling to the last fringes of self-control that he still possessed. Think unsexy thoughts, he told himself. Mr. McMahon’s ass. Jillian Hall singing Celine Dion karaoke. My title belt, around that fucktard Randy Orton’s waist.
And just like that, the cold sting of reality smacked Hunter back into his clear and present reality. “John.” He pulled away from Bradshaw’s lips just long enough to grab the other man’s wrist and peer at his Rolex. “Shit. I’ve got to go. The match is in three minutes.” He pressed a lingering kiss against Bradshaw’s mouth before slipping from his grasp. “Though, I’d be willing to take you up on this conversation at a later time.”

“My hotel suite has a mini-bar,” offered Bradshaw with a suggestive wink. Hunter rolled his eyes playfully, then grinned.

“You know, I don’t know what the hell I was doing for fun before you came along.”

“Yeah, me either,” grinned Bradshaw. Then, as an afterthought, he added, “You know, I saw Randy Orton in here earlier, trying to get in your head. You want me to rough up that pipsqueak real good for you before Wrestlemania, you just say the word. Hell, I’ll take both of ‘em out for ya.”

“Yeah, I‘ll get back to you on that one.” Hunter headed for the door.

“Hey, Hunter?” He stopped, turned back.

“Yes, John?” Bradshaw paused, looking as if he were going to say something profound--instead, his face broke into a grin.

“You can referee my matches anytime, sweetheart.” Hunter rolled his eyes.

“That is the worst pickup line I’ve ever heard.”

“Say what you will,” said John, “but you just might end up the next Mr. Layfield.” He gave Hunter a playful swat on the ass. “Go knock ‘em dead, baby.”

Hunter smirked as he left, thinking that, before the night was over, he might do just that.