So...yeah. I wrote exactly one paragraph on this, years ago and never felt inclined to continue or post it. Blame Caty that one chapter of this got finished and saw the light of day. LOL. And despite the semi-wacky idea, let me know what you think!
It's basically "Butterfly Effect" meets "Bedazzled" I suppose.
Long after everyone else had departed, Hunter remained.
Half of this afternoon's attendees had given him dirty looks throughout the proceedings. The other half had been sympathetic towards him. The latter understood the entirety of the situation: that no matter what had gone down between them, he was very much in love with Stephanie.
He hung his head shamefully, forcing his blonde locks to cascade around his face. Loved. The word was loved. Past tense. Not because his feelings had vanished, but because Stephanie was gone.
The woman was a complete force of nature when she wanted something…or, she had been. And when it was all said and done, she'd lost the will to fight. The fact that he'd been a large part of why she'd given up on life tore his gut into pieces. So much so that when he received a visit from the police regarding the accident, he'd promptly thrown up onto the nearest surface.
When medical professionals arrived, she'd still been breathing, but barely. Wearing the same dress she had been during the renewal of their vows. Clutching his wedding ring tightly in her palm, in the same hand that she wore hers on. The symbolism was unmistakable for him and anyone else that knew her well. That's why the majority of her family and friends detested him.
Everyone else ruled it as an accident, said that Stephanie was disoriented from the night's events…
That she'd gone looking for the limousine she'd arrived in and couldn't find it. Of course that was because he'd taken it and left her at the arena. Instead of returning inside, she wandered about in a daze, until she ended up on the street, where a car struck her.
Hunter knew this woman better than most. None of the shit her family or anyone else pulled had driven her to disorientation. Hell, even when she'd suffered head trauma she remained remarkably intact.
So either he'd screwed her up so bad that her brain shut down or she'd well and fully intended to die that night because of what happened between them. Either way it was his fault that she was…gone.
Stephanie Marie McMahon-Helmsley was gone from the world forever and he had no idea how to deal with it. The images of her smiling face began to play through his mind. The sound of her laughter, smell of her hair and feel of her skin were fresh in his memory and attacking him all at once. Feeling devoid of all energy and hope, he crumbled to his knees and buried his face in his hands.
Nobody was around, so he allowed the tears to flow freely. They shook his body with their intensity and choked him with their utter vengeance. He'd been a terrible husband and now he would never have the chance to make it right. He could never tell Stephanie that he was sorry or let her know how much he loved and appreciated her and all she did for him.
Not only had he lost Stephanie, but everyone else who cared for her had lost her as well. It was unbearable to think that he'd never experience being with her in any way, shape or form again.
"Oh, God!" He sobbed. "Why?" He questioned, looking up at the sky as if he was waiting on an answer. The sky remained silent, except for dropping a few beads of wetness around him. Hunter ran his hands over his face wearily and simply stared at the inscription on Stephanie's grave. Vince had fought him on including the part about her being a loving wife. As shitty and broken as Hunter felt, he hadn't had the energy to fight back.
Although no paperwork of any kind had been drawn up, he had indeed made his separation from her public. To be honest, he had no idea what his plans would have been from there. She'd died under an hour later. And now he feared that anything he thought or said on the matter was tainted by the tragedy. "Please."
Fuck it; he didn't even know what he was saying or what exactly he was begging for. "Bring…bring her back. I – I can't…" he trailed off on another round of tears. The cool wetness of the grass met with his face as he lay down next to her final resting place.
Maybe if he lay here long enough, he'd join her in death. God knows he had absolutely fucking nothing to live for now. No kids, because they'd postponed having them until his career was more stable. And when it seemed those plans had fallen through, it turned out to be a lie. The career he'd neglected her for was certainly gone, for obvious reasons. Added to the fact that he couldn't even stand looking in the mirror after all of this shit…and it really seemed he had no reason to get up from this spot.
"I…I'd do anything," he mumbled softly. "I – w-w-want her back," he stuttered out through his shaky breaths. He allowed his eyes to slip closed as the rain began to fall harder.
Hunter opened his eyes a sliver and quickly tensed up and shut them again. What the hell was with the lights? Jesus. Many times, he'd woken up only to find himself under the brighter lights of a hospital room. But this was beyond that in terms of illumination. It felt like he may go fucking blind. But maybe that was because his eyes had yet to adjust.
With that thought in mind, Hunter risked another glance through his eyelids and found that it wasn't quite as bad as the first time. Slowly, he adjusted and was able to open his eyes fully. He groaned and pushed himself to sit up on his knees. He looked all around him, finding nothing but an expanse of bright whiteness.
"Hello?" He called out, moving to stand up.
A…well, he wasn't sure what it was exactly, appeared out of nowhere before him.
"Ah, you're awake!" It exclaimed, with almost a melodic voice.
Hunter eyed the thing quizzically, deducing that based on appearance and tone, it was a male. He ignored the lighthearted opening and instead asked, "Where the hell am I?"
"That's always everyone's first question," the creature sighed, its expansive wings following the movement of the rest of its body. Its face was oddly baby-like. "You notice the lighting and nothingness and it goes right over your heads that I'm here," it complained in a huff.
"Uh huh," Hunter muttered and started to pinch himself. Surely this was a-
"You're not dreaming."
"You're not dead, either," it told him, seeming rather bored. It must experience this a lot.
All of a sudden, Hunter remembered exactly what had gone on before he woke up in this eerie place with an overgrown infant. He'd been wallowing in self-pity and despair, next to Stephanie's grave. He'd been hoping to die…but this…thing said that he hadn't.
"My name is Nathaniel and I'm an angel," it told him proudly. "I can hear your thoughts," it explained after Hunter looked on in astonishment.
"Why am I here? I…put me back! Uh, on Earth! I don't want to live. So if I'm not dead, put me back in the cemetery so I can starve and get hypothermia from the rain and die."
"Oh, that won't do. A member of your family has already come here too soon. We can't have another! He would be highly displeased-"
"What?" Hunter asked, wrinkling his nose in confusion. "Nobody in my family has…oh. Stephanie? Stephanie died too young?"
Hunter somehow managed to smile brighter than the strange, sterile, blinding whiteness that he was apparently trapped in. But the space didn't matter. Stephanie had died before her time. They had to send her back. His prayer – or whatever - was being answered. Thank God.
"It doesn't work that way, Hunter. Your wife is already dead. You're here with me now because you're still alive."
"Bring her back to life…I'm sure you have powers. Or – or trade me for her! Please!" Hunter insisted.
"Despite our powers, we do have established rules."
"Great! Yeah, great. Whatever it takes."
"Up here, boss is really set on the number three. The Trinity, I imagine," Nathaniel explained. "These are the rules, Hunter. You have three prayers that are guaranteed to be answered immediately. Understand that your prayer will have a domino effect on the reality as you knew it. You'll have all of your memories, but for everyone else nothing has changed. While in the alternate reality, you may call on me at any time. I cannot tell you the outcome of your choices, nor advise you on what to pray for. You may ask a total of three questions in each reality. You can ask whatever you like."
"Can I – I don't know – mix and match at all? Trade a prayer for a question or vice versa?"
"These are the rules," the angel reiterated.
"Okay," Hunter said, nodding his head in determination. "Then I want to go back to the night Steph died. Take me back to the moment after she said her vows to me."
"Is that your prayer?"
Hunter considered. Although things had been complete shit in his marriage after his injury, he'd never actually entertained the idea of leaving her. Even finding out that she'd hired an actor to play a doctor to assist her with a fake pregnancy hadn't pushed him over the edge. Not until he'd gone out to the ring and heard her ramble on about her love and affection for him and whatnot. It was like he'd heard everything she said, through filtered ears.
Poison. He'd taken it all in as poison intended to destroy him and as a result he'd completely fucking snapped. Nathaniel said that he'd have all of his memories. So that meant he could change the outcome. He could keep his cool long enough to get Steph in private to talk about things. It seemed like a good, solid plan. And even if his relationship wasn't totally smoothed over, it couldn't possibly result in her wandering into traffic and thusly her death. "That's my prayer," he confirmed.
Nathaniel nodded and opened his wings, enveloping him in the array of feathers. Hunter hadn't been expecting that, and actually yelped as the bright world was overcome by darkness.
Hunter opened his eyes and gasped, looking around frantically. He heard a roar and blinked hard, realizing that it was the crowd cheering him. He was in the ring. He shook his head to clear it of the cobwebs it was currently experiencing. Maybe he'd just blacked the fuck out during the ceremony because he was so angry with Stephanie.
Stephanie. His brown eyes slowly tracked over and there she was. Happy, healthy and most importantly, alive. She was looking at him with a mixture of confusion and nervousness, awaiting his custom vows, just like the rest of the world was.