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as you burn the bridge between us

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AJ totally expects the text. It’s a text she’s either received or sent just about every week since Survivor Series, since that kiss cost her the title but gained her this. Sure, she’d rather have her baby back in her arms, would rather be breaking her own record for holding it, but she supposes that this is good, too.

So, AJ makes her way through winding corridors backstage, following the directions to the room Brie’s found in this arena for them to meet in. There’s a spring in her step – in fact, she’d go as far as to say that she’s almost skipping – but honestly, she doesn’t blame herself for it. She’s on her way to an attractive woman for good, somewhat hateful but scorching hot sex. Sometimes, it even extends past that, past whichever room is empty or corner of the locker room is the most secluded. Sometimes, it extends into creeping around in hotel corridors until they’re in a room together, and then making each other scream the goddamn walls down. They’re definitely not friends, and AJ wouldn’t say she even actually likes Brie, but it’s enough for her right now. She might even go as far to say that it’s perfect for her right now.

This is the room, AJ’s sure of it. There’s no-one else around, and after knocking on the door once, it creaks open for her. AJ steps inside.

The room’s super small, practically just a closet, but AJ doesn’t mind. Of course Brie’s already there, and she looks like she’s trying to be serious, a frown on her face, and oh, is she upset? Does she need AJ to cheer her up? AJ can do that. She knows just the thing. She tries for a kiss, arms winding around Brie’s neck and pulling her closer, but Brie stops her, pushing her away.

“AJ–” she starts to say, and AJ has to scowl at her, because what? They usually don’t bother wasting time with useless greetings. “That’s just – that’s not why I’m here today.”

AJ frowns harder.

“What do you mean?” she says. “That’s always why you’re here, why we both are. So unless you’re going to express your undying love to me, I suggest we get to it sooner rather than later?”

“I’m not here because of that, either,” Brie says. She sounds like she’s trying her best to be firm. “I’m here because – because this has to stop.”

What? What has to stop? This – this whatever it is between them? No more secret locker room trysts? No more of those hotel room nights?

“What?” AJ repeats her first thought aloud.

“We really can’t see each other anymore. I’ve been thinking about it, and I think it’s best that we don’t. I need to be a good teammate for Nikki, and I can’t do that if I’m sneaking around with you.”

“Nikki?” AJ says, indignant. If there’s someone out in the corridor, they can probably hear her. “She didn’t find out, did she? She didn’t put you up to this?”

“Of course she didn’t!” Brie exclaims, defensive. “I can make my own decisions. And I’m careful. She still has no idea. She’ll never know.”

“But she treated you like crap, don’t you remember? Since Summerslam, all through the fall, all the way until you went running back into each other’s arms at Survivor Series!” Just mentioning the event makes AJ remember that first unexpected kiss she had with Brie, there in the ring, and it was nothing compared to some of the heavier embraces they’ve shared since, but thinking about it makes AJ’s blood burn hot all the same.

Brie looks uncertain, biting down on her lip like she knows she has to agree, like she’s remembering it as well, and AJ starts to think maybe, and–

“She’s family,” Brie says simply. “I want to help her do the very best she can.”

“Even after everything she did?” AJ still can’t quite believe it. Her voice is shaking uncharacteristically and she can’t seem to make it stop. She clenches her hands into fists at her sides. “Even after she betrayed you the way she did?”

“Even after that,” Brie says, and how can she not sound like she’s regretting it? Did this mean nothing to her? Not that it meant all that much to AJ, of course, but – well. She never thought it would end so easily. She wanted it to dramatically come crashing down, to swallow her whole, just as it had with all her past loves.

AJ doesn’t know why she’s feeling choked up all of a sudden, because she doesn’t – she doesn’t feel anything for Brie, she swears it, though that doesn’t stop her vision going blurry with tears as she turns to leave, letting the door slam behind her.