AJ’s the one who broke it off, and even now, Kaitlyn never thought it’d bring about so much change.
She hadn’t expected it – surely the ease with which they’d gone from best friends to girlfriends showed they were meant to be – but suddenly AJ’s met someone else and wants to just be friends again.
OK. Kaitlyn takes it, accepts it. There isn’t any other way to go about it. If someone wants to leave her, she can’t make them stay. Besides, it isn’t like she won’t still get to have AJ as her friend.
But what she expected even less was AJ’s someone else being Daniel Bryan.
His relationship with AJ is – turbulent. As turbulent as AJ herself seems to be becoming. She’s hot and she’s cold and she’s everywhere in between, wrapped up in whichever member of the male roster she’s moved onto now with diminishing amounts of time or regard for anything else. There’s Punk and there’s Kane and there’s Daniel again, and everything’s confusing, but Kaitlyn stands by AJ through it all – a shoulder to cry on and somewhere she can vent her feelings.
It still hurts, though: listening to AJ’s problems. Not just because Kaitlyn knows she’d start up their relationship again in an instant if AJ asked, but because none of them are what’s good for AJ.
Cena certainly isn’t, either. He belittles her and talks down to her, and really, it’s no wonder that AJ’s allegiance shifts again. Kaitlyn doesn’t understand why it shifts to Ziggler, though, considering everything he’s said to AJ in the past. To get back at Cena, she guesses. Still – maybe he’s better for her than Cena was. AJ seems to think so, accompanying him to the ring and hanging off him at any given opportunity. (Kaitlyn thinks she’s the one who’s best for AJ. Maybe it’s selfish, but she can’t even begin to deny it.)
The new year seems to come before Kaitlyn can even blink. Suddenly, she’s thrown into the Divas Championship picture. It’s the twentieth anniversary of RAW, the show’s in her home city, and the circumstances of the match give her an edge over Eve.
And she wins.
It’s her moment, it’s even more her moment than winning NXT was. When she gets that belt in her hands, it feels like all her hard work since then is finally, finally starting to pay off.
Backstage, she’s almost automatically surrounded by what feels like half the Divas Division to tell her well done, and once the crowd around her has subsided, there’s someone else at her side. Someone she didn’t think would bother with well wishing.
“Congratulations,” AJ says, a touch snide. Her eyes flicker to the championship in Kaitlyn’s arms. She nods at it. “I’ll be after that.”
Kaitlyn doesn’t doubt that she will be. It’s always been what AJ’s wanted the most: to make her achievements solid and concrete, to have her own place in the history books. And really, getting her hands on the title is the only way that can be done in the Divas Division. They don’t get to have matches that mean anything to anyone other than themselves, don’t get to impress with fancy stunts and stipulations, don’t get to have more than a few minutes.
So, it’s the title or nothing.
It’s June by the time AJ gets her chance. Dolph’s got his own championship now, and it’s obvious that the happy couple want to be champions together. If there was a way for AJ and Kaitlyn to hold titles simultaneously, Kaitlyn would try to make it happen. She doesn’t want to lose – nobody wants to lose – but the title is AJ’s everything. More than Dolph is to her, and more than Kaitlyn was, too.
(There’s a memory Kaitlyn always goes back to, a memory of a night long before AJ turned into this, before any of this was even on the horizon. They’re on another nondescript hotel bed, and Kaitlyn’s back is against the headboard, and AJ’s in her lap, and they’re kissing. It’s sweet and soft and everything that Kaitlyn knows today’s AJ would cover up and hide away. They laugh when they pull back from each other, AJ’s breath tickling Kaitlyn’s face, and it’s all easy, so, so easy, and–)
And they can’t ever be like that again. As much as Kaitlyn wants it, wishes she could have it, AJ’s been moulded by her chase for title gold, by all the relationships she’s had since Kaitlyn. Transformed into someone completely different, someone who would humiliate her best friend and former girlfriend on live television, someone with cold blood.
Kaitlyn can’t let her feelings get in the way of retaining, of winning. So what if AJ’s wanted this her whole life? So what if it’s her dream? Kaitlyn clutches tighter at the title belt on her shoulder. AJ might have changed, might have worked her way into Kaitlyn’s head with no signs of leaving it any time soon, but.
Kaitlyn isn’t going to let go without a fight.