|Hugs and Kisses
Author: DCFanatic4life PM
A sweet, little Jericho-Stephanie story...with secrets, plans, and set-ups galore...oh, and lots of other characters as well...Updated every week...Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Chris Jericho & Stephanie McMahon - Chapters: 423 - Words: 3,458,473 - Reviews: 2,301 - Favs: 95 - Follows: 56 - Updated: 06-18-13 - Published: 10-14-04 - id: 2094087
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"The good thing about being the boss is you have access to all the video and photography we want."
AJ laughed, "I guess when you're the boss you can get away with stuff like this."
"Of course I can," Stephanie said, "if I wasn't the boss, I wouldn't want to be here."
"Is it hard? I mean, of course it's hard, but when you first started, were you really scared?"
"Not really," Stephanie shrugged, "when I came back as the General Manager, I was more excited than anything. I'd been kicked out for so long that it felt like a new lease on life when I finally got to come back. I hated those months I couldn't be around the show. I know I brought it on myself when I put myself in that match with Chris and Hunter, but I really thought Chris would win. I believed in him."
"Because you loved him?"
"No, I liked him, but I just…I trusted him. When I got kicked out, it kind of felt like I was just wandering around, kind of lost. It wasn't a great feeling to be honest," Stephanie sighed, "so when my father approached me with the job, I jumped at it. I needed it, but I was still nervous because so many people remembered what happened when Hunter and I took over."
"I was terrified when I took over. But I thought about how you were the GM, and you were really good at it, and it didn't seem so scary anymore, you know," AJ shrugged. "You're really like the coolest role model there is. I didn't want to be tied down to Daniel so it seemed the best opportunity."
Stephanie saw an opening for what she and Chris had discussed the week before. They wanted to find out what the truth was between Cena and AJ. Things just didn't seem to add up right now, and neither one of them actually wanted to confront AJ on her personal life because it was as it implied: personal. But they didn't want to defend a girl who was going behind their back and conspiring against him. If anything, Chris and Stephanie were looking out for their own instincts.
"Daniel not the right guy for you, huh?"
"Not at all, I think I blinded myself to him when we first started going out," AJ revealed, biting her lip and staring off into the distance. "He was the first real guy who ever showed an interest in me, like for reals."
Stephanie was once again struck by how much older she felt than AJ. She wasn't even that much older, only about 11 years, but there was such an innocence to AJ, and she looked like a teenager so that didn't help. "First boyfriend?"
"Sort of, there was nothing serious before that," AJ told her, "I guess, I don't know, guys never really saw me as sexy. I'm not exactly curvaceous or tall or super pretty like you are."
Stephanie laughed, "Believe me, there were times I felt so awkward and dopey. You just have to find that right guy who makes you feel good about yourself."
"Yeah, he has this knack for making you feel like you're the only person in his universe," Stephanie said, catching a dreamy look on AJ's face. The only problem was that it was sometimes hard to distinguish between AJ's dreamy look and her crazy look. The two seemed to go hand in hand.
"Daniel never did that. Punk, I think he did, I mean, I think that I made myself think that he was this awesome guy, and in a lot of ways, he is, but there's just…and Kane was just a moment of insanity," AJ laughed to herself. She didn't know what she was thinking when it came to Kane. Maybe it was his physique, that big, strong, manly, insane vibe he gave off. She felt for him in that insane way. It was like he could understand the darker parts of her that she didn't even understand herself.
"You seemed to be in a really bad place then."
"I was, it was all the attention, just…all of sudden," AJ stiffened her back a little. "I didn't know how to handle it, I still kind of don't. Every time I see Vickie or think about what she's doing to me, I want to punch her so much. That can't be normal…or healthy."
"If that's not normal or healthy, I don't know what is because believe me, being in this business, there have been tons of people who I've wanted to punch in the face, and some I have," Stephanie said conspiratorially as they both laughed, "but what about John?"
"What about him? Please don't tell me you believe the crap about him and me? It's such BS. I can't even tell you."
"Well, that's good to hear, but would you ever develop feelings for him?"
"No, I don't think so, he's my friend, you know," AJ said, "just my friend."
"So do you have your eyes on anyone?" Stephanie asked in what she conceived to be a friendly tone, as if they were just girlfriends talking and gossiping together. Part of Stephanie was also worried. AJ had no qualms about putting her relationships on display, and if she was hiding one, Stephanie hoped that it wasn't because it wasn't a good relationship. This girl deserved something good in her life after all the crap she'd had to go through over the past several months.
"Well, I wouldn't say that," AJ said, but then she quickly clammed up. "I mean, you know, it's hard when you're working around so many good-looking, eligible guys, but like, I don't really have my eyes on anyone, not like that."
"I see," Stephanie nodded, looking back to the computer screen. "It's hard to be single in this business. I mean, it's not hard, but it's so tempting to be with a coworker. I don't think I could've ever been with someone not in the business. Nobody gets it but someone who works with you, don't you think?"
"Oh, absolutely," AJ said, "plus you get to be around them all the time."
Stephanie was now convinced it was someone in the company that AJ was seeing. Chris walked into the room and up behind Stephanie and AJ, who were huddling together in front of the desk in his and Stephanie's hotel room. He ushered his two girls into the room, both of them wrapped in big, fluffy towels, straight from the indoor pool downstairs.
"Hey there, what's going on?" Chris asked, coming up behind his wife and AJ and slinging his arms around both their shoulders. "Why am I looking at Vickie in a swimsuit, that's just not what I need to see right now. As if some of the people down at the pool weren't enough to look at."
"We're making a project," Stephanie turned her head to kiss Chris's cheek.
"Mommy, I swim!" Kensington skipped over to Stephanie and grinned up at her. Everything was pretty much obscured with the towel except her head. Stephanie leaned down and kissed Kensington's forehead.
"Did you have fun with Daddy?" Stephanie asked.
"The mostest," Kensington grinned, puckering her lips for a kiss. Stephanie leaned down and pressed a kiss to Kensington's lips, making the little girl happy.
"Daddy was throwing us around the pool, but we had floaties so we didn't die," Flynn said, shaking her head a little so little droplets of water flew all over the place. Kensington laughed uproariously as she was splashed with drops of water.
"I'm glad that didn't happen," Stephanie told her with a laugh. Flynn puckered her own lips up this time and Stephanie gave her a kiss too.
"Come on you two, little fishes, let's take a bath so we can get ready for the show later," Chris picked up both his daughters in one fell swoop and escorted them to the bathroom for their baths.
"You're so lucky," AJ said, watching as Chris disappeared into the bedroom. "Your daughters are so adorable, and I know your son is a spitting image of Chris."
"Thanks, they love hearing they're cute," Stephanie laughed.
"I'd love to have kids someday," AJ said, and there was that dreamy look again. Oh yeah, there was someone alright because AJ was picturing kids with someone right this second, and if Stephanie didn't know better, she would say that AJ was falling, and falling hard for whomever this mystery man was.
"You'd think they'd roll out the red carpet for me," Punk scoffed as he opened the door to the arena.
"You think way too highly of yourself," Britt told him. "Unbelievably so, to the point where it's bordering on narcissism, oh wait, it crossed that border a while ago."
"You don't find me charming?" he asked, looking at her indignantly and pressing a sarcastic hand over his heart. "Well, there are plenty of women who want to kiss the ground I walk on."
"I'm not one of them, I can assure you that," Britt said, "is this really a huge accomplishment?"
"Uh yes, yes it is, do you know how long I've held this title?"
"I do, you don't let me, or anyone else for that matter, forget about it, but there have been longer reigns, I know there have."
"Yeah, there have been, but not for a really long time, so I'm really something special right now. Plus, I've worked hard to retain this thing, and I've turned away anyone who's been trying to get their dirty hands on this beauty," Punk patted the title slung over his shoulder. "So yes, I should be getting a red carpet, and at least I'm getting a celebration tonight."
"That should be fun," Britt deadpanned. "You know, when you're not here, your ego goes way, way down. I think I like that guy better."
"You don't like this guy? God, are you insistent on just knocking me down constantly tonight?" Punk joked with her. She gave him a little shrug, and he pulled her into a headlock, running his knuckles over her hair.
"You do know I know about five different ways I could kick your ass right now, right?" Britt reminded him and he let go quickly as she laughed. "If it came down to a real fight, Phil Brooks, I could take you any time, anywhere."
"Is that a promise?"
"It's a threat," she poked him in the chest before combing her fingers through her unruly hair. "This is the guy I like, not the one that's obsessed with being the champion. But I get it, I really do, you think that because you're not some prototype, typical wrestler, the belt is something that sets you apart."
"Don't psychoanalyze me," he warned her jokingly.
"I'm only calling it as I see it," Britt said, then jerked her thumb towards Vickie's door. "Well, it looks like it's time I go see the wench and see what kind of horrors she has planned for the evening. How did you get her to agree to your celebration thing?"
"Didn't ask her," Punk told her, "I asked Stephanie."
"Oh, so you went right over Vickie's head."
"Yup, I did," Punk said, "I know Heyman doesn't like her, and sometimes I get really mad at her myself, but I like Stephanie, I trust her, so I went to her, and she's letting me have the main event. She said that I deserved it. I think she probably just had sex with Chris when I asked her because normally, she'd turn me down."
"Gross, I don't want to think about their love life. So are you like planning to, what, denounce every other champion that's come before you?"
"And declare that you're going to be the champion forever."
"Already got the speech ready."
"Cocky son of a bitch," Britt muttered.
"Not denying that," Punk winked at her. "I have to be cocky around here, that's the only way to get what you want. If you're a pushover, you end up losing every single match you're in. You may be in the business, Britt, but you're not out there, you don't know what it's like."
"I know I don't," Britt said, "I just want you to be careful. I mean, you've got Ryback on you all the time, and I know you've got goons now, but that doesn't mean you aren't vulnerable. At some point in the future, you're going to lose your belt, I don't want you to lose your identity too."
"Who's losing their identity," Chris seemingly snuck up out of nowhere. He managed to grab Punk's belt without Punk being able to get it back, and Punk tried to snatch it back vainly. Chris sidestepped him, "come on, let me just hold her for a few minutes. You don't have to worry, I don't work here anymore so I'm not going to challenge you for a match."
"Whatever," Punk scoffed.
"Hello, old friend," Chris stared in mock love with the belt. "You were supposed to be mine, you know that. You would have loved it around my waist, all snug, plus you would have been able to hang out with your friends, my kids."
"Your kids can still see it…around my waist," Punk said, "what the hell are you even doing here? I heard that you were bailing on everyone."
"Where did you hear that?" Chris asked, suddenly somber as he stared bullet holes through Punk It reminded Britt a little bit of when the two of them were pretending to hate each other. Obviously, Punk had struck a nerve.
"Sorry, man, I didn't mean to imply anything," Punk said, taking back the belt, "just stupid rumors going around about you and Stephanie, but you know I never take stock into that crap. It's all it is, crap. I mean, have you seen my Twitter mentions, we're surrounded by hearsay and gossip."
"What are you hearing?" Chris asked.
Britt tried to place a calming hand on Chris's arm, but he shrugged it off and she took a small step backwards. Chris was irate now, and she really didn't want to get on his bad side. He could really get into bad moods. "Chris, it's nothing."
"Wait, so you've heard stuff too?" Chris swiveled his head towards Britt, looking at her accusingly now too. Punk looked to Britt as well, hoping she could explain what they'd heard and not him. Chris wouldn't punch Britt, but he would definitely punch Punk.
"It's nothing," Britt implored him, "I swear to God, Chris, it's nothing, please, please just drop it, for everyone's sakes. Where are the girls?"
"Don't try to change the subject, please, just tell me what people have been saying. I won't get mad at anyone, I swear," he glanced over at Punk and nodded. "Can't you just tell me? I won't fly off the handle."
"Fine," Britt said, "but I'm only the messenger, and I really don't know who started these rumors, but if I had to make a guess, I'd take Vickie because she's trying to make AJ's life miserable, and with Stephanie's newfound mentorship over AJ and her threats towards Vickie, it seems likely."
"Spit it out, Britt," Chris said through clenched teeth. If people were spreading rumors about him and Stephanie, it was only a matter of time before they got to Stephanie. He wondered if this was the source of her attitude towards him leaving and missing him. It would make sense if something had got into her brain regarding the two of them.
"Well, it's just been going around that things aren't so great between you two, and that you've been going away a lot because you'd rather be out on the road than with Stephanie. People have been saying that you finally realized that Stephanie wasn't the one for you."
"Do they think I've cheated on her?" Chris was seething. If he heard any of this, he was going on a rampage. He might not be in wrestling shape, but he was always in kick your ass shape. If it came to it, he would beat everyone around here for spreading such baseless rumors.
Unless they weren't baseless, at least on Stephanie's end.
"No, no, I haven't heard that, have you heard that, Phil?" Britt wondered.
"No," Punk answered truthfully.
"Thanks for telling me, stupid people around here," Chris muttered. "I could…thanks for telling me."
Chris stalked off, heading straight for Stephanie's office. He threw open the door, startling Stephanie and the girls. They all looked up at him, eyes varying shades of blue and gray, in confusion. Chris paced back and forth, thinking about what he'd just heard. So the rumor mill was going full force again. This was one of the things he hated about businesses in general, the damn work gossip. It was worse with wrestling to be sure. You spent most of your time with these people, and that left gobs and gobs of time for rumors and gossip.
"Daddy, are you okay?" Flynn asked, looking up from her Play-Doh, but Chris didn't answer her, just kept walking and thinking and looking odd to her.
"Daddy, you 'kay?" Kensington emulated her older sister, but even the sweet cadence and curiosity of her voice didn't deter Chris's pacing.
"Mommy, I think Daddy's sick," Flynn told her mother, looking at her worriedly.
"No, I don't think it's that," Stephanie told her daughter as she rose from her seat, walking over to Chris. "Don't worry, I'll take care of Daddy."
"Daddy, I hope you feel better," Flynn said as she nudged Kensington, "Tell Daddy you hope he feels better, Kensy."
"Fee better!" Kensington said, raising her hands, her fingernails crusted over with Play-Doh.
Stephanie pressed her hand against the crook of Chris's arm. This seemed to bring him from his pacing, but not his reverie. He turned abruptly to Stephanie, but before she could even get a word in edgewise, he took Stephanie's face in his hands and stared at her, long and hard, and in a way that make Stephanie nearly squirm. It was like he was looking straight into her soul and trying to suck it out of her eyes. It unnerved her a little, and she had to break his gaze before she was left a soulless husk.
"What's going on?" Stephanie asked him quietly, her eyes darting towards the girls, who were busy playing again, although she caught Flynn looking at them every once in a while. Nothing got past that girl. She always had to be on top of things, knowing everything she possibly could know. Stephanie took a step to her left, just slightly more out of her daughter's earshot and encouraged Chris to make the same move, which he did a moment later.
"Have you heard the rumors about us?"
Stephanie looked at him, furrowing her brows together in thought. She wracked her brain trying to think of what he could mean, and then it dawned on her, "Oh, those rumors about you and me and being on the verge of separation because I simply cannot deal with three children on my own, and who does Chris think he is dumping me with all the responsibility while he goes out and drinks every night? Those rumors?" She gave a little laugh, but Chris's frown only deepened.
"You knew there were rumors about us and you didn't tell me?" he accused.
"No, I didn't because it's not a big deal. I know what's going on, you know what's going on, who cares what other people think. Other people have never held much regard for me and my relationship with you."
"How could you let that go on? People are sitting there thinking we're on the verge of divorce and this doesn't bother you?"
"No, it doesn't because I know it's not true," she grabbed his elbows to keep his wildly gesticulating arms at bay. She took a step closer. "It's okay, their rumors mean nothing."
"Is that why you said you missed me, asked me to cut back? Because you heard what they said and thought it was true?"
"Chris, that's ridiculous. I'm perfectly capable of having my own feelings, thank you very much," Stephanie told him. "I told you I missed you because I missed you. You're my husband, I miss you when you're away, that's it, that's all. We're not separating unless you have something to tell me."
"How much do you love me?"
"Ridiculous question, but slightly lower than I love Sawyer, Flynn, and Kensy," Stephanie told him, rubbing his arms. "It's just rumors, probably spread by Vickie to try and put fire under the flame…is that the saying? I don't know, all I'm trying to say is that it was probably her stupid way of trying to get back at me."
"By getting this reaction out of you, getting you to believe it, getting you to leave me as she doesn't realize that our relationship is far more stable than that. She must think we're the biggest idiots on the planet if she thought that would work."
"Chris," she used that tone with him, the one she used when she was right and he needed to admit it. "I don't hate you, the rumors have no basis in the truth except for the fact that I do miss you when you're gone. Vickie's out for blood, preferably mine and AJ's, especially after last night, I mean, did you see her?"
Chris allowed himself a little laugh, "It was pretty funny seeing her face after you doctored those photos."
"And remember how she reacted when she came backstage?"
"Oh man, that was too funny."
Vickie was fuming as she stomped backstage, looking like a demented Clydesdale, stomping around and trying to buck all the people surrounding her. "How dare you!"
"How dare I what?" Stephanie slipped off her headphones and gave an innocently treacherous smile to Vickie.
"Those pictures, I know you had something to do with this," Vickie slammed her fists against the table, glaring at Stephanie. "I don't think AJ is smart enough to think of something like that, but we both know someone who is."
"Now who's getting all defensive," Stephanie said, her voice tight and curt. "You're the one trying to destroy someone who didn't do anything to you. I mean, really, Vickie, are you so petty that you have to belittle someone to prop yourself up? Is that what your life is like?"
"Stay out of my business, Stephanie. The board is the one who hired me, not you, you can't do a damn thing about it."
"Stop it!" Flynn said, rising from her chair to stand on it. "Don't yell at my Mommy! She's better than you, and you should be nice because mean people don't get anything! They only get meanness and that's bad!"
Stephanie held her tongue for a second before she hooked her arm around Flynn's waist, "Flynnie, it's okay, I've got this one, but thank you for defending me."
"Why are you mean?" Flynn disregarded her mother's words as she looked at Vickie. "You don't have to be mean, only mean people get mean things done to them."
"Do you think you can keep your child in check?" Vickie asked glibly, folding her arms in front of her. By this time, AJ had stumbled her way backstage and was staring at the exchange with a certain amount of trepidation in her features. She didn't know where Tamina was, and she didn't want to get into another altercation with her.
That was the one thing Vickie should not have done. Stephanie rose to her full height, which was considerably taller than Vickie, especially with the heels Stephanie was wearing. Sometimes when she wore heels, she was taller than her husband. She stared down her nose at Vickie, the vitriol flaring from her eyes. Stephanie's tongue felt thick with hatred. Stephanie was like a fierce tiger who protected her cubs to the death. Nobody messed with her children, nobody.
"If my daughter wasn't standing right next to me," Stephanie's voice was slick like oil, and almost pleasant in its deadliness. But oh, there was venom there, "the things I would say to you right now would make your toes curl and then, and only then, would I slap the taste out of your mouth. I would draw blood and gladly do so. You may have been hired by the board, but I've known most of those people for years, far longer than you have, and if I have to, I will make them bend to my will, and if they won't, I'll have them all thrown off, and have people I trust appointed. I have more power than you could ever dream of, Vickie Guerrero, so you go play your little games, you try to get into people's heads. I'll just sit back and watch the carnage. You're going to take care of everything yourself anyways."
"And I only caught the last half of it," Chris said. "You're right, she's probably the one. It just hit me because of what you said, and I don't want people trying to figure out what's going on with us."
"I know," Stephanie said, "we good?"
"Yeah, we're good," he leaned forward and kissed her, one hand snaking to the back of her neck while the other grabbed her around the waist and pulled her flush against his body. She had just enough time to grab him and hold onto him as he kissed her further, his tongue sneaking into her hot mouth, and exploring it expertly, knowing every nook and cranny already, but exploring them nonetheless.
"Get a room!" Kensington said and her parents broke apart to satiate their laughter.
"Kensy-bug, where did you learn to say that?" Chris asked incredulously, never before hearing his little baby girl say something so timely.
"Oh my God," Stephanie blushed and pressed her face against Chris's shirt. "She must have overheard it when Shane said that to us the night of my mom's election. After, when we went out to eat and we were sitting in the corner making out, and my brother told us to get a room."
"How did our two year old daughter turn out so snarky?" Chris laughed.
"She's going to be trouble," Stephanie said, "Kensy, Daddy and I are allowed to kiss, and when we want to get a room, we'll get one."
"You have to get one for us too, Mommy," Flynn reminded her, "b'cause we're your kids, and you hafta because you're the Mommy, and that's your job."
"No, my job is to be the President of the WWE."
"No!" Flynn said. "You hafta be a mommy too."
"Do I really have to?" Stephanie asked.
"Oh my God, am I interrupting?" AJ asked as she burst into the room without knocking first or if she did, nobody bothered to hear it. She took in Chris and Stephanie in a loose embrace and figured she'd interrupted something important.
"No, just standing here, holding my wife," Chris let his wife go, well, not really. He let Stephanie turn in his arms and he rested his arms around her waist, leaning his chin on her shoulder as he listened into the conversation. "Don't mind me, I can keep secrets."
"Oh," AJ smirked a little. She didn't have much chance to get to know Chris beyond what Stephanie told her about him and their marriage. He had been on tour a lot and when he was here, he was usually taking the girls somewhere and he didn't have the chance to just sit around and listen to them. He didn't make her uncomfortable, she was just hyperaware that this man was Chris Jericho, and he was a legend in this business.
"Did you need something, AJ?" Stephanie asked kindly, her hand absently running over Chris's forearm.
"No, not really, it's just that Vickie says she has more evidence and I was wondering if she maybe gloated to you about it or anything. I just want to know what I'm up against this time. I really don't know why she's doing this, I mean, I get that she gets some sort of sick satisfaction out of it, but to still keep it up, it's weird."
"Yeah, but she's one of those people who will never let anything go, ever," Stephanie rolled her eyes, "she hasn't even come to see me—"
"From what happened yesterday, I think she might steer clear of you forever," Chris quickly kissed Stephanie's neck. "After the tirade you unleashed on her, she better fear you."
"Hi," Kensington came up between her mother and AJ and smiled up at the person in front of her. She recognized AJ, but didn't know her that well. She leaned against her mommy's legs and smiled. "What you doing?"
"I was talking with your mommy and daddy," AJ said kindly.
Flynn, not wanting to be left out, always hating to be left out jumped in front of Kensington, "You like my mommy."
"I do, she's really cool, you're lucky."
"I know that," Flynn said as if it was the most obvious thing. "Do you like my daddy?"
"Flynnie, we should let AJ go, she has things to do."
"My daddy is the best in the world at what he does, and that is everything!" Flynn threw her arms wide to signify that her father was the best in the world at everything he could ever possibly do. Chris laughed and came around, picking her up and throwing her in the air a little as he tickled her.
"Come here, you," Chris kissed her cheeks as she giggled.
"You're so lucky," AJ said to Stephanie as she watched Chris with his daughter. Stephanie bent over to pick up Kensington, who hugged her around the neck for a moment. Then she laid her head on Stephanie's collarbone. "You're just so lucky."
AJ was getting that dreamy look on her face again, and Stephanie was convinced this meant AJ was seriously falling for whomever it was Chris caught her on the phone with. "Do you want kids one day?" Stephanie boldly asked.
AJ bit her lip and bounced on the balls of her feet for a few seconds as she glanced at Kensington and Flynn, who was making funny faces at Chris and trying to make him laugh. "Yeah, someday I do," AJ said, "I mean, if I find the right guy and all that."
"Of course, if you find the right guy."
"I'm gonna go," AJ jerked her thumb towards the door, "I may know one person who might know what Vickie is doing, I'll see you later, Stephanie, bye, bye, Kensy! Bye Chris, bye Flynn!"
"Bye," Stephanie said as she watched her leave. She turned on her heel as soon as the door clicked shut. "She's in love with whomever this guy is. She's completely head over heels, I can tell."
"She keeps getting this dreamy look on her face. She's into whoever this is. I hope he's a good guy, we should find that out. He could be using her, we can't have that, she's too naïve a person to realize if someone is duping her."
"Okay, well, maybe we'll get some hints later."
AJ was mortified when Vickie brought out her "eye witnesses." Was there no level this woman wouldn't stoop to? She'd obviously never seen either of them, but it was so easy to bribe someone to tell lies like these two people were saying. John was a friend, a good friend, one who was more than willing to cover for her, but she couldn't always rely on him. Sometimes she felt like she was asking too much of him. So when she'd had enough, she went down to the ring to take care of things herself.
She got in Vickie's face about this whole thing, daring her to fire her, daring her to do what Vickie was too cowardly to do. She didn't know why she'd incurred Vickie's wrath, but she wasn't going to back down. John eventually did come down, though she didn't need him there. His presence was nice to have though, if only because it gave her some kind of backup. What she wasn't expecting, and could not have expected was when he told Vickie he would give her something to think about.
John turned to her and did something so unexpected that AJ just froze there. John leaned in and suddenly, he was kissing her. It lacked passion, it wasn't a very good kiss for that reason and many others. John didn't want to be kissing her, that was for sure, or maybe he was just a really bad kisser. He wasn't into it, and she wasn't either, and it was tender and almost friend-like in its quality. Why was he doing this? This proved nothing but Vickie being right, but then, maybe this looked as bad as it felt and everyone was convinced they were just friends now.
"Oh yeah, the guy she's with is not that guy," Chris chuckled as he saw John's awkward attempt at kissing. "If that man loved her, that kiss would not look like that."
"What would it look like?" Stephanie asked. "Would it look like someone stalking across the ring and grabbing a girl and kissing her and bending her over backwards and then dropping her on her butt?"
"That's exactly what it looks like," he said smugly, playing her at her own game. "That kiss out there, no."
AJ had an idea. It was a bold one, a strange one almost, but if she really wanted to protect the person she was with, if she really wanted to keep up this ruse, to keep the anonymity she had fought so hard to attain for what was turning out to be the best relationship of her young life. She had to let Vickie believe this lie, she just had to. Nobody could say that AJ had all her screws in place. Sometimes she went rogue, sometimes she was so unpredictable it was crazy, people thought she was legitimately crazy.
This was one of those times.
When John turned to talk to Vickie again, AJ defiantly grabbed John's arm and hauled him towards her. She launched herself into his arms, and kissed him for everything he was worth. This was a kiss, not whatever John had tried to pass off as a kiss. This was something to write home about. When John actually began to respond to the kisses, she was a little surprised, but had to go along with it. Oh God, what if Cena thought she actually wanted him now? That would not be good, not good at all.
Before she could think about it further, John was ripped away from her and she saw Dolph going after John, and John fighting back. AJ quickly got out of the ring, watching as the two men fought each other. She followed them up the ramp, immediately noticing that John was limping. Had he been hurt in the attack? She'd feel terrible if he was because he'd only been trying to defend her. She kept a safe distance from Vickie, but when she got backstage, her thoughts turned to John who was sitting in a chair and getting examined. She spared a glance towards Dolph, who was talking to Vickie and walking away before she rushed to John's side.
"John, are you okay?" she asked with concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine," but he was wincing and she knew he was trying to be tough. "I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" She glanced towards the trainer who was prodding his leg, specifically his knee. "You're not okay, you're hurt."
"I'll be fine," he repeated, then in sotto voice, "About that out there—"
"No, I get it, you were trying to deflect, I mean, not deflect, but you were just trying to get under her skin, and I think you did. I'm sorry I—"
"No, it was cool," he shrugged her off.
"We've got to get this taped, John," the trainer said and John nodded, standing up and trying to put weight on it, but not able to.
"Do you want my help?" AJ felt obligated to ask, but he shook his head and leaned his hand on the trainer's shoulder as he limped away. AJ felt a presence next to her and she looked to see Stephanie, who had seen the whole scene from the production table.
"You okay?" Stephanie asked.
"Aside from feeling responsible for that, yeah," AJ said morosely, staring at John.
"Why do you feel responsible? It's not like you asked Dolph to come out and attack him."
"Huh? Oh, yeah, no, it's just, if I hadn't kissed him like that, Dolph probably wouldn't have had the nerve to attack," AJ explained.
"You don't know that."
"I'm going to find Vickie, I have some unfinished business with her."
After confronting Vickie and finding out that she was going to do nothing like usual (and issuing a vague threat to Tamina), she decided she had to try a different tactic. First though, she had to make a phone call. After said phone call, she started walking down the hallway only to be stopped by Layla. Layla tried to talk sense into her, but AJ was not to be deterred. She had to go into the men's locker room, and she had to do it now.
She reached the door and she stood in front of it steeling herself for the inside of said room. It wasn't going to be pretty, she knew that. It was the men's locker room, who knew what went on in there. Still, she had to do this, she had to do it for John, for herself, she just had to do it. She threw open the door with no more hesitation, and at first, all the men were surprised to see her, as they should be. She could hear the showers running and begged the gods above not to let anyone walk out right now. Then they all parted and she could see Dolph sitting in the far corner. She took another deep breath and headed right over to him.
He looked up at her when she was close, and she asked him who the hell he thought he was. She was about to say more when Dolph cut her off with a scathing commentary on what he thought of her. No words were spared or minced, he cut straight through to the bone. AJ took another deep, calming breath though she didn't feel so calm now. They were just words, they were just words, they could not hurt her, though they were sharp, they could not make her bleed.
When Dolph was through with his diatribe, when his guard was let down, she rained blows on him, hitting him where she could with her small fists. He was too stunned to fight back at first, but before he could get away from her, Cena was pulling her off and away from Dolph. She struggled, but then Dolph hit Cena and she was thrown aside. She watched as they fought and crashed into a set of stalls, hurting John further. She rushed to his side again, kneeling there, but unable to think about what came next. She glanced up and away, but kneeled there nonetheless, trying to find where she fit.
"Oh my God," Stephanie said under her breath, making Chris look at her.
"I'm sure the stalls don't cost that much," Chris shook his head, "and maybe John just tweaked his knee. I'm sure we'll get a better assessment of that tomorrow."
"No, no, that's not it," Stephanie said, "I know who it is. I know who AJ is seeing."
"Huh?" Chris said. "How could you possibly know?"
"It's Dolph," Stephanie looked at her husband, her eyes flashing with understanding. It was all clear to her now. So much of it was clear to her.
"What? But after that? He just cut her down to size."
"Chris, think about it," Stephanie said, "think back to two people who were trying to hide their relationship, who were trying to hide their feelings so they resorted to insulting each other, and making other people think they hated each other."
"Holy…you're right," Chris snorted in amusement. "Wow, yeah, you're absolutely right."
"This is perfect," Stephanie said, "this is absolutely perfect."
"Oh no, I see the wheels are turning, what's going on inside your head, McMahon."
"Same thing that's always going on in there."
"You've got a plan forming, don't you?"
"Oh, I think I've got a plan."