The knock on the door to Stephanie’s office is enough to make it obvious who’s waiting out there.
She doesn’t know why Nikki’s here; she didn’t ask her to be. They haven’t fucked in over a month, not since before Night of Champions. Not in a hotel room, not backstage, and Stephanie certainly hasn’t taken any more trips over to Nikki’s home when they’re both off work.
“Come in,” she calls, sounding her best to sound bothered by the visit, like Nikki’s being a burden. To be fair, she does have work to do, even though it won’t take all day.
Nikki takes priority in Stephanie’s mind, though, as much as she doesn’t want to admit it to herself.
“What do you want?” she asks, because of course Nikki wants something. It’s the only reason she’d be here – one of the things Stephanie’s learnt that about her since the summer. So much for trying to mould Nikki into a perfect Authority lapdog. It hadn’t worked quite as well as it had with Rollins.
“I need in on that title picture,” Nikki – well – demands.
Stephanie looks up from her computer to raise an eyebrow up at Nikki.
“Everyone wants in, Nikki,” she says simply. “You’ve just gotta earn your shot like everybody else.”
Nikki scoffs like she can’t quite believe what’s just been said.
“You know I deserve it.”
The thing is, Stephanie does know. Knows how hard Nikki’s been working recently, knows how petty she’s being to keep her out of the title picture, away from that championship that she could so easily capture if given another chance.
“Is that the best you can do for a reason?” Stephanie asks. “That you apparently deserve it?”
“There’s also the fact that I’ll tell all about us if I don’t get what I want. What I deserve.”
Oh, shit. Whatever Nikki means by that, it better not be something that has as much of a consequence as Stephanie thinks it could.
“Tell who, tell Hunter?” Stephanie almost laughs, then: a near hysterical sounding snort. “As if it would even bother him; he’s got Rollins just as I have you. Well. I suspect things are more than a little different between them, but it’s still there. It still means that telling him wouldn’t make any difference.”
“Of course I know that. I’d be blind not to.” Nikki rolls her eyes, then narrows them when they settle back onto Stephanie. “No, I mean everyone. A live announcement right in the middle of Monday Night RAW. And it’ll take a lot more than taking away my airtime and switching my mic off to stop me, if that’s what you’re already thinking.”
It is what Stephanie was already thinking.
“You wouldn’t dare,” she says, fighting to keep calm, composed. Nikki can’t know that she’s got to her yet.
“Oh, but… you know I would. You saw what I was willing to do to Brie, to my own twin sister. Why wouldn’t I expose you, too?”
“What I mean is that you wouldn’t dare to do it to yourself. This puts you in the wrong as well. And I got you ahead. Don’t you remember the reason why any of this is even happening in the first place? Because of what I did to you to get at Brie. Because I put you through hell to get to her. I can easily do all of that again.”
That apparently didn’t have the desired effect: Nikki doesn’t seem disconcerted by the threat at all.
“I think everybody would be too busy concentrating on what it meant for you to think about me. I can make my own way back up there if I have to. Win matches, threaten the title… but there’s no way you can recover from that. I know there isn’t.”
“Fine,” Stephanie tells her, sounding defeated although it didn’t take much to have her this way. Just the mere idea that people could find out, and she’s brought down to her knees for Nikki, willing to do anything so Nikki will keep her mouth shut. “Survivor Series. I’ll give you matches against AJ over these next few weeks. As many as it takes for you to beat her. And if you don’t…”
“Oh please,” Nikki cuts in. “As if I won’t.”
“And if you don’t, I’ll sort something out. OK?”
Nikki hums as if she’s considering, and her smile, though sickly sweet, is just pure malice.
“I won’t let you down,” she says eventually, though really she’s saying you better not let me down, and that smile on her face is enough to tell Stephanie that there’ll be consequences if she does.