As Chris stood there, it was almost like...well, he didn't know what it was like exactly, but it was strange to say the least. He didn't really want to come here, this place held such terrible memories for him. It also held the best memory, but it was always overshadowed by those years of torment he had suffered.
The water was still calm, like it was the last time he was here, but he had to make peace with it. This place didn't take his wife, it didn't steal her away and she wasn't buried at the bottom of the sea. She was standing next to him, holding their two month old son. He stood there by himself, just staring out at the water. Stephanie was giving him space as she bounced the crying Bryant around.
"Regan, not so close to the water, ok," Stephanie said as she walked over to where Regan was standing, throwing rocks into the water.
"Ok Mommy," Regan said, taking a few steps back.
Stephanie's bruises had healed and her smile had never faltered once in that entire time. Her face was once again not marred by ugly bruises and black eyes. Just like she said they would, the bruises healed and the pain she had been through disappeared with time. She had had to remind Chris of that a few times, but even he managed to get the concept.
Trish had been sent to jail for attempted murder and aggravated assault after a speedy trial that didn't linger within the court system. She wouldn't be up for parole for another ten years. And even after that, the chances of her getting out were very slim. The McMahons were wealthy, and could pull some strings to make sure Trish never got a taste of freedom again. It was the least she deserved for all the troubles that she put Chris and Stephanie through; the very least.
Stephanie, showing off how strong she was, testified against Trish at the trial. Chris remembered her getting up, sitting on that stand and saying every word while staring Trish dead in the eye. Stephanie had no fear about testifying, and seeing Trish's face as Stephanie spoke, you could just tell that Trish knew she was going to be sent to jail. And Chris had never been happier to hear the word, "guilty," more in his entire life.
And after that, they settled into a life that they had sought out since Stephanie had gotten her memory back. Chris was happy now, he could honestly say that he was happy. But he didn't have anything to be sad about. His life had finally reached a perfection that he thought he could never achieve. Was it really just a few years ago that his life was topsy-turvy?
"It's ok baby, shh, it's ok," Stephanie whispered to their son. She grabbed a light blanket out of the baby bag on the ground and putting it over the baby, keeping the wind away from his face. "There, that's better, huh Bry?"
Bryant was adorable, and he did look like Chris, at least around the eyes. Staring into the baby blues, a person could get completely mesmerized. He was a chubby little thing too, with the most pinchable cheeks anyone had ever seen. Except they had learned he hated to have his cheeks pinched, if the death look anyone got was any indication. Chris wouldn't dare say it to Stephanie's face, but it was the exact death look she gave to people. He never told her that because she was liable to give him that look and it was pretty terrifying. He was a little on the cranky side, but they just thought that was a McMahon trait, or Chris thought it was a McMahon trait, Stephanie simply glared at him for saying that and then threatened to tell the rest of her family so they could glare at him too.
Regan was a great big sister, helping Stephanie whenever she could. Stephanie preferred to stay at home for now. With Regan in pre-school and Bryant almost three months old, she was just content to play the mom card that she had missed out on with Regan. Chris had lightened his work schedule some, only working when absolutely necessary. He hated leaving his family behind, even more so after that day when he had left them and almost lost them.
But he didn't want to think about that anymore. They were in England to clean out Stephanie's old flat that she had lived in when she had amnesia. She had decided to not keep it anymore, as she didn't feel she needed it anymore. It was part of the whole, "moving on" thing they were trying to do now.
And so here he stood, in the same spot that Stephanie had come back to him at. The same spot where she miraculously appeared and made all the pain disappear. All the times before then, all the loneliness, all the sadness, all the days he didn't want to get out of bed knowing that he wouldn't get to see the blue pools of water that were Stephanie's eyes, they were gone, like the wind on a summer's day.
"Penny for your thoughts," Stephanie asked as she stood next to Chris, holding Bryant close to her chest.
"Just thinking about the last time I was here," he told her.
"Oh yeah, when was that again?" she teased.
"The day I got you back."
"Oh that's right, it must have slipped my mind," Stephanie said, leaning her head against his shoulder. Her brown hair fell against his arm, tickling it slightly. He reached out his arm to snake it around her back and wrapping his arm around her waist. She sighed and he turned his head to drop a kiss to the spot where her hairline met her forehead.
"What would you have done if I hadn't come back?" Stephanie asked curiously. Her eyes followed Regan as she ran to grab some rocks to throw into the water.
The question surprised Chris because Stephanie hardly brought up the time when she wasn't with him. He didn't know exactly how to answer that. He could tell her grandiose things like how he wouldn't have been able to go on and how he wanted to kill himself, or he could tell her the truth. The truth won out.
"I would've kept on going, just like I did every day that you were gone. I'd pick myself up and I'd keep going because Regan needed me. I would miss you, and I'd think about you, but I'd still keep going."
"That's what I'd want you to do," Stephanie said quietly. "I would want you to go on. I'd want only the best for you."
"Why do you love me so much?" She didn't mean to make it sound so emotional, but as she felt the tears coming to her eyes, she wanted to know. Chris had lost her, and he could've easily moved on. She could've come back and he could've had a whole new family, a whole new love, but he hadn't.
"That's a silly question," Chris said simply.
"How is it silly?"
"Because I've told you enough times for three lifetimes. I tell you often enough that I love you, and you still need to know why I love you?"
"But you had two years to get over me, and you didn't," she pointed out.
"If you think for one second that I was going to get over you in a measly two years, you're crazy. How long had we been together before you disappeared? Three years, I think it was, it would've taken me at least twice as long to get over you."
"But why?" she asked again.
He closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them to stare out at the water. "Lots of people don't believe in that perfect person, and I was one of those people. I certainly didn't believe that there could possibly be one person out there for me. Not when I was out with any girl I could find--"
"I don't need to know about that part thank you very much," Stephanie said sternly.
"Sorry," Chris apologized with a laugh, "That was until I met you. And I won't say it was love at first sight or any silly notion like that. I just met you and then I got to know you, and damn if you weren't the most intriguing, interesting person I'd ever met in my life. And I had to ask you out, but I was so nervous, and then that storyline with you and Hunter was heating up so fast that I almost felt like I could lose you to him so I got off my ass and took the plunge. And that's when I realized, there is one perfect person for everyone, and you are my person Steph, you are that one person that I feel complete with. When you were gone, I felt incomplete, and it's because you were and are it for me. Because you are unequivocally the most spectacular person I've ever come across in my entire life. And there's not a single word in the known universe that can accurately describe why I love you."
Stephanie smiled and nodded, "Well, I think that was pretty thorough."
"You asked," he shrugged.
"I should've known better," she said with a quiet laugh then patted her hand against Bryant's diaper. "And someone needs a change, I'm going to go change him in the car."
"Ok, don't forget the baby bag," Chris said, going to pick it up and slipping it through Stephanie's arm to rest on her shoulder. She kissed his cheek and then started to walk up to the car, disappearing into the fog. The heat of her kiss felt like it burned into his cheek as he could feel it, even after she had left.
Regan ran up to Chris and looked up at him, "Daddy, carry me, I'm tired."
Chris smiled and lifted her easily. She rested her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes. After expending her energy running around looking and throwing rocks, Regan quickly fell asleep on Chris's shoulder. He felt an odd sense of deja vu as he stood there, holding Regan in his arms, staring out over the water...
It was so quiet at that second that Chris almost felt like he and Regan were the only ones in the world. He couldn't hear a sound except for the soft lapping of the water up onto the beach. It was almost like he was back in time, that nothing had changed and he was back to standing at that beach, without Stephanie and without Bryant. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath of the salty air and opened them again.
He looked down and instead of seeing Regan, the four year old, he saw Regan the two year old. He looked around and didn't see anything but the fog that had rolled in. He felt odd, like he wasn't supposed to be here. He looked down and saw that he was wearing the same clothes he had on that day so long ago and started to panic.
"Stephanie!" he called out, but he received no answer. "Stephanie, where the hell are you!"
Again, there was no answer, and he looked behind him to see that it wasn't the car that he had driven to the beach with Stephanie, it was the car that he had rented to drive to the beach when he thought he was visiting...Stephanie's final resting place. He ran up to the parking lot overlooking the water and looked around, thinking someone was playing a cruel joke on him. That had to be it, this had to be a cruel joke. There was no way that he had dreamed up the fact that Stephanie had come back to him.
No matter how hard he looked, he couldn't see her anywhere, and he couldn't see the car that they had come in. He was so scared that he was trembling, causing Regan to wake up. He looked into his daughter's young face and couldn't believe that he was back here. Where was here? What the hell was going on?
"Daddy, we go now?" Regan said.
"Regan, where's Mommy?" Chris asked her, dreading the answer.
"Water," she said, pointing behind Chris's shoulder to the water beyond. "She left remember?"
"No, she didn't leave, she didn't!"
"Daddy?" Regan asked quizzically, not understanding her father's behavior. "You say Mama gone."
"No, she's not gone." Chris put Regan down and started running all over the place trying to locate his wife. He ran everywhere, Regan watching him with tears in her eyes because she didn't know what was going on with her father. Chris continued to run around, looking for something that wasn't there. He ran back over to Regan and dropped to his knees in exhaustion.
"Stephanie!" he cried out...
"What?" Stephanie said.
Chris opened his eyes and looked to his right where Stephanie was driving the car. She looked over at him briefly, a questioning look in her eyes. Chris sat up and looked around, Stephanie was keeping her eyes on the road as she drove, and looking to the backseat he saw that both Regan and Bryant were fast asleep, Regan's head leaning on the arm of Bryant's car-seat, while Bryant's tiny hand had somehow come to rest on top of her head.
"Chris, what is it? If it was about that cat that ran across the road, I dodged it," she told him.
"No, it was nothing," he said.
"Ok, I was going to yell at you if you woke up the kids, but it looks like they're out for the next couple of hours, they'll probably sleep on the plane too."
"Yeah," Chris said, "That's good, more time for us."
She laughed, "Yeah, we don't get a lot of that right now do we?"
Chris smiled as he looked at her. Those dreams came and went every so often, though they were starting to become very infrequent. But they still scared him. He didn't tell Stephanie about them because she would reassure him that she was indeed real and every moment he spent with her was real, but he knew the dreams would disappear over time. He just needed more time.
"No, we don't," he said, "Maybe we can have my parents take them to Canada for a visit."
"I don't know, Bryant is so young, maybe when he's a little older."
"Ok," Chris smiled, "Sometime in the future."
Chris simply reached his hand across and took her free hand and held it his own while she drove. She gave him a small smile in recognition before training her eyes back to the road. She gave his hand a slight squeeze which he returned.
And that was all he needed.
A/N: Well, this ends a very, very long series that started almost exactly two years ago. I hope you enjoyed all the chapters and everything, and I hope that the ending was at least satisfying. I'll miss this story since I worked on it for so long, and I want to thank everyone who's read this and who's enjoyed this and reviewed it. So thank you all so much. :)