I felt the chill as soon as I stepped out of the arena ten minutes later. It was refreshing to be outside. I sighed and made my way over to my car. I needed to be alone and think. Maybe it was a good thing Stephanie wasn't with me at the moment. If only things could go back.. but there was no point in wishing. I had to live in the present and stop thinking about the past. I needed to just start over.. a beer didn't sound so bad..

"Jericho, don't you hear me talking to you, boy? You ignoring me now too?" I heard a voice say as I got to my car. I looked up to see none other than Ric Flair, leaning against my car. Great, just what I needed..

"I'm not in the mood." I said lowly as I headed over to him. He was leaning on the driver side. I looked at him for a few seconds, expecting him to move out of my way.

"Well, that's too bad!" He yelled as he pushed himself off my car. He took a step towards me, making me lean back. "There are things that need to be cleared up!"

"Look, I don't need this right now, okay?" I snapped, frustration building inside of me. When would the night end? "So just move your old Jurassic Park ass out of my way so I can get the hell out of here already!" I gave him half-a-second to comply, before shoving him forcefully out of my way. I didn't have the patience anymore.

I frowned and reached into my pocket, searching for the key to my car. I didn't find them, but I kept searching all of my pockets as my thoughts somehow drifted back to Stephanie. The effect that woman was having on me was inexcusable. Since when had I become so attached? Of course, deep down I knew the answer. It made me feel so pathetic.. so weak to be so vulnerable. I was supposed to be hard.. untouchable..

"Looking for something?" I heard a familiar voice ask from behind me, which stopped my search for my keys and my thoughts on Stephanie. I took a deep breath as I straightened, and could mentally see Ric Flair smirking behind me. I spoke slowly and deliberately.

"Give me back my keys."

"Aw shucks Chris, have we no manners? Ya forgot to say please, kid." He replied. That was it. I wanted to leave and I was through talking to this stubborn old mule.

"You know what?" I said as I turned around, but I never got the chance to follow up the question before I saw something being swung at me. I tried to get a hand up but it was too late. I felt the impact and briefly recognized the taste of a steel chair, before falling down. I covered my face and rolled over, blaming myself for not seeing this coming.

"You like that, Jericho? You mess with Hunter, you mess with all of us!" I heard that cocky son of a bitch Randy Orton say. I wanted to reach out and give him his, but I was barely recovering from his chair shot. I was suddenly rolled back over and yanked up to my feet. I was going to have one hell of a headache now.

"You thought you could get away with it?! NO ONE MESSES WITH US, ESPECIALLY NOT A PUNK LIKE YOU!!" The man yelled, making my ears ring. I blinked and looked up at the person who had the grip on my jacket. I saw a slightly blurred sight of Batista, and he didn't look too happy. "This is for Triple H!" He finished shouting, and I thought I heard Flair and Orton snicker. I winced and tried to get out of his grip, but I was still feeling that chair shot.

Batista knew it and took full advantage. He kneed me in the stomach, knocking the wind out of me and making me double over. It only then occurred to me that these guys were on me for what I had done to Hunter. I had been so preoccupied with Hunter telling Vince, that I forgot he had his own crew to do the payback for him. How stupid could I be?

I could barely react before Batista had me lifted up onto his shoulders. I knew this was going to hurt. Why had I even done that to Hunter, to get this treatment? 'Because of Stephanie.' My mind automatically answered. I braced myself, with the last thing registering before he powerbombed me on the concrete being Ric Flair hitting his trademark "whooo".

"Watch who you cross next time. Don't mess with Evolution, Jericho, cause that's messing with the best!" I faintly heard Ric Flair say. "Oh, here are your keys. Have a nice night." He dropped the keys next to me, and I heard them all take their leave.

I closed my eyes, not moving from where I landed, the pain becoming unbearable. The chair shot, I could somewhat handle, but this was bad. I wasn't ready at all for a three-on-one attack. My head felt like it had exploded after Batista slammed me against the ground. Maybe it had and I just couldn't see it. My thoughts once again drifted back to Stephanie as my senses began to fade. The things I went through for her..

I wondered where she was. She seemed too busy for me. Maybe she really was out of my league. It was like I was an obligation to her or something.. my thoughts trailed as I felt the pain begin to intensify and my muscles stiffen. He had really put some force into that powerbomb. I grit my teeth and forced myself to bear it. It would die down after a few minutes anyways.

Maybe the problem between me and Stephanie was a lack of communication, I thought to myself. We weren't open like we used to be. There was also the trust issue. Had I rushed back into our relationship? I didn't want to believe that. Why would she lie to me again? She did once and she said it hurt her, unless of course, that was all a bunch of lies too.. now I wasn't even thinking clearly.

"Chris! Wake up!" I recognized her voice, but it seemed so distant. I suddenly felt her hands on me. How long had she been there? It had only felt like a few seconds since Evolution had left.. "Chris!" She shouted, this time her voice coming in clearer and louder. This time I picked up on the worry in her voice, and shifted my weight a little. I winced, mentally cursing Hunter for this fiasco. I opened my eyes back up slowly and looked up at her. I thought I saw tears in her eyes from relief.

"Chris.. are you okay?" She asked, obviously concerned. I nodded and lifted up my hand slowly to her. Ignoring the hellacious headache I now had, I focused only on her. I reached up to her cheek and gently caressed it with the back of my hand. I smirked a little when I saw her shudder, but I didn't know if it was from the cold, or from my touch. She took my hand in hers. Her hand felt warm.

"Come on, Chris." She said as she offered to take my other hand. I closed my eyes again, already visualizing myself beating the living hell out of Evolution for this. For some reason though, it wasn't as violent of a scenario as it normally would have been. I felt her tapping the side of my face then. "I think we should take you to a hospital." I heard her say.

"No." I said, shaking my head. I refused to give them that satisfaction. I looked back up at her and took her other hand. She helped me sit up slowly. My head was pounding and felt like it was going to fall off. I winced and leaned forward, and suddenly, I felt her touch me.

Her touch was so tender, it made me forget about everything that had happened that night. It soothed out the pain in my head as she gently massaged my temples. Nothing else mattered. Everything disappeared, and suddenly, it was just me and Stephanie. It felt so good, I didn't want her to stop.

She moved down from my temples to the sides of my neck, and then down to my shoulders. Her touch brought warmth back into my system and eased the pain. I sighed as she eventually finished, and we made eye contact. The cold look that I had grown so accustomed to in the past was gone. Her usual sharp eyes were replaced with softened ones. And they were for me. I was indeed one lucky man.

"Chris? What's wrong?" She said, snapping her fingers in front of my eyes. She watched me carefully with a keen eye. I felt something inside of me do a flip-flop under her careful observation. I had gone through so much for this woman, and I had always deemed it out of stupidity. That wasn't it. It was just love, pure and simple. It was simple yet so overwhelming, that it hurt when she ignored me. She had the power to hurt me, but she also had the power to help me.

"Are you sure you don't want to go to the hospital?" She tore in, and I slowly shook my head.

"I'm sure." I answered, before starting to stand. She was at my side instantly. It took a moment, and Stephanie to lean on, but then I was standing. After I got my own balance, I let go of her. I looked down at myself and slowly dusted myself off, before seeing her feet as she stepped in front of me. She tilted my head back up so we were again making eye contact.

"Chris, I'm sorry." She said honestly, and I shrugged it off casually.

"It's no big deal." She sighed at my response, while I leaned back against my car. I was going to be very sore the next day.

"It is a big deal, to me it is. I didn't realize it, but I was ignoring you, and I feel bad for it. I know.."

"Stephanie -" I started, but she raised her hand. I knew better than to keep going, so she continued.

"I know that you're still hurt, and I should be more considerate." She stated simply.

"You have work to do, it's okay. I just overreacted.. I'm sorry if I was being a dick, I'm just learning to let go.." I winced and rubbed my lower back. "I'm learning, and I'm sorry." I finished.

"You have nothing to be sorry about, it's all my fault." She continued, and when I went to say something, she raised her hand again. "No Chris, it is. I'm sorry about everything, and if it makes anything right, I just want you to know that I am sorry, and I do care about you. I love you, Chris. I want you to be happy."

I looked down and nodded, and then felt her step up to me and give me a gentle hug. She wrapped her arms around my waist in such a way so as not to hurt me. I sighed and pulled her closer, not caring if it hurt more. I just wanted to feel her against me. I held her close for a good minute, not letting go. She was the only thing worth getting up for, and I never wanted to let her go. We stood content in each other's arms, until she looked back up at me.

"I love you, Stephanie." I blurted out, and she laughed.

"Sure you don't just have a concussion and are just rambling?" She asked playfully.

"I have a headache, not a concussion, and I'm not rambling. It's just the truth." I shrugged, not letting go of her. "I'm going to be here to protect you." I added.

"Well.. I'm going to be here to take care of you." She said, snuggling in closer against my chest. Her hands moved up my back, slowly massaging my sore muscles. I winced but then eased at her touch. "Chris?" She asked quietly.

"Yeah, Steph?" I answered, as I leaned my head on her shoulder. She stopped massaging me but kept her arms around me.

"Are you okay?" She asked. I didn't move and waited for a few seconds before answering. I sighed and straightened, and she looked up at me.

"Now I am." I said quietly, seeing her eyes light up brightly. I smiled a little before leaning in to kiss her. I felt nothing short of happiness when she kissed me back, an emotion I had not honestly felt in years. She was mine again. Nothing else mattered anymore.

I had my queen, and now I was finally complete.

~ Dee End ~


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