DISCLAIMER: I do not own Kurt Angle, Stephanie McMahon, or other wrestlers that appear in the following story. They are the property of the actors and actresses that portray them, as well as the WWE. Vince, I'm overworked, underpaid, malnourished, and tired as a dog… and here I am, staying up late to finish this chapter. Dedication to the game, that's what I'm saying.
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CHAPTER ELEVEN

I woke up the next morning in a surprisingly good mood for a Thursday. I credited my cheery disposition and my perma-smile to all the glorious time I had spent with Chris Jericho in the past two days.

In the middle of my breakfast, I received a phone call from the source of my happiness. I was immediately worried; a non-morning getting up early on a televised show day only spelled trouble. My intuition would prove correct as he would groggily inform me that he wouldn't be able to meet me for lunch, and that he'd see me at the arena.

No good morning wishes. No explanation of why he couldn't keep our date. No comments about our growing relationship. Hell, there was even no padding on his words. It was a raw dismissal that caused the clouds to grow over my head.

The rest of the morning, I bitched and screamed during my meetings. People who were unfamiliar with me looked frightened, the rest were unfazed. Part of me knew that it probably wasn't right to take out my anger on them; the other half didn't bloody care for the simple reason that I, Stephanie McMahon, was stood up by Chris Jericho.

Kurt, being the overly-supportive best friend that he was, was more than happy to fill in for Jericho at lunch (since I had mistakenly pre-emptied the time). Since I hadn't left the hotel conference rooms all day, he dragged me down the street to a small diner, claiming that 'the fresh air would do me good'. Secretly, I wondered if he was trying to save the hotel restaurant staff from my wrath; if so, that was rather unfair. Keeping my emotions bottled in was not healthy, to say the least.

Pulling out my chair for me, Kurt gave me another tentative smile. "See, isn't this nice? Now you won't be cooped up in that hotel until we leave for the arena."

I huffed, crossing my arms. "This place is filthy, and now my lunch will have to be shorter since I have to walk BACK to the hotel."

"Steph, the hotel is five minutes away; I doubt you'll be late for anything," Kurt replied, still in cheerful mode and making my hand itch to slap him. Opening his menu, his eyes skimmed through the typical diner fare with fake enthusiasm. "Look, they have chocolate milkshakes! I bet that sounds good to you, huh."

My mind skipped from the question in his eyes to the idea of a milkshake to whatever reason he had conjured up that would make me crave something fatty and chocolaty. Needless to say, my attitude did not improve. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?" I growled, my hands reaching for the cutlery.

Kurt's face blanched, giving me my answer before his mouth even opened. "N-n-n-no, I wasn't… I mean, I thought one would cheer you up some."

My best friend was always a horrible liar. And, as much as I wanted to bitch and scream at him, I knew that I'd only end up apologizing to him later. Apologies were never my strong suit. "If you say so, Kurt. But you better not make any comments when I get cheese fries with my burger."

"Yes ma'am," he responded with a mock-salute, successfully getting a small giggle out of me.

Lunch was relatively quiet after that, with Kurt attempting only to bring me out of my funk with jokes or comments about the questionable food. And while I appreciated every word, I had no desire to cheer up; Chris Jericho had ruined my day, and I would act however I wanted to.

During my post-lunch meetings with the Smackdown magazine, I multitasked between paying attention to the editors and deciding on my course of action for the show tonight. I knew that Jericho would still plan on calling me out for his inaugural Smackdown Highlight Reel; and broken date or not, I would have to make an appearance. However, beyond the fact that I didn't know what he'd ask me (minus his promise to stay away from my trial with cancer), I had no idea how I was going to exact my revenge on him for the broken date.

He needed to be humiliated, the way I felt when I called Kurt and explained why my lunch hour was now free. He neAnd the only way to do that was to attack his gigantic ego on his own show.

A couple comments about the bra and panties match would do quite nicely, as long as I could get the incriminating Polaroids and video footage as a visual aide.

Standing up from my chair, I interrupted the rambling editor-in-chief with a hand. "I think you have got this all figured out. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a show to prepare for," I explained as I gathered my things. I knew that walking out of this meeting would bring on some heat from the magazine staff, but I needed to place a call to the production head immediately in order to get my plan in effect.

Nodding at the curt 'goodbyes' from some in the board room, I rushed outside, turning on my cell phone and paging Arnie, the head honcho of the famed WWE video montages.

He called me back within seconds. "Yeah boss?"

I grimaced; I had told him numerous times that 'Ms. McMahon' would do quite nicely. "Arnie, I know we go on air in four hours, but I need some visual aides for the Highlight Reel tonight."

He squeaked a few times in surprise. "I don't think that's possible Boss. We're already working overtime on Mr. Jericho's request."

"Mr. Jericho's request?" I stammered with surprise. What could he be planning?

There was a brief pause on the other line, and I realized that Jericho's request was probably some sort of surprise for me, and that Arnie had blown it wide open. "Look Boss, I thought you knew about it…"

"It doesn't matter Arnie," I cut off quickly, starting to get mad. When Jericho did a montage for his show, it usually poked fun at his guest. He was adding insult to injury to my already ruined day, and that made my blood boil. "How much do you have done?"

"About six seconds."

"Good. This is what I want you to do…"


"Do I look okay?" I asked Dawn Marie as we exited my limo at the arena later on.

She let out a huge groan, not bothering to glance at my ensemble. "For the last time Steph, you look fantastic."

"But do you think Jericho will think I look fantastic?" To be honest, I wanted him to fall to his knees with lustful appreciation, so that I could crush him with my four inch stiletto heels. For Dawn's sake, however, I stayed in the realm of reality.

"For someone you're pissed off at, you are sure acting like you care about what he thinks," she commented, rolling her brown eyes at me.

"Look who's talking! Like you didn't dress that way to make Cena jealous," I shot back, pointing to her black miniskirt and thigh-high boots.

She laughed. "I guess we're both pathetic then." Reaching my office, she sped up to open the door for me. "So what's on tap for tonight anyway?"

I shrugged, walking in the opened door to dump my things on the desk. "I knew I wasn't going to be able to top last week, with that bra and panties match, so I kept it pretty low key. Although I did sign a match between John Cena and Kurt," I said with a wink.

Dawn's head whirled around to look at me with surprise. "Are you serious?"

"Yep."

With a nod, she rushed over to give me a hug. "Have I mentioned lately that you're the best general manager ever?"

I hugged her back, then broke away to sit down at my desk. "I try to look out for the best interests of my wrestlers." Reaching into my briefcase, I started pulling out the paperwork for tonight. "Hey Dawnie, do me a favor?"

"What kind of favor?" she asked as she dug around in her purse, no doubt looking for her nail file.

"Go find Kurt and tell him to stop by my office. I might need his help later tonight."

Tossing her purse aside, Dawn gave me a curious look. "Help with what?"

"Jericho," I replied absently as I looked over the estimated attendance for tonight. She grumbled something under her breath, then exited the office.

With her gone, I tossed the paper aside and went to stand in front of the mirror. Sticking with my latest color obsessions, I was wearing white linen pants and a black plunging v-neck shell. I played with my bangs a bit, but I was pretty satisfied with the way my wig looked tonight. My scrutiny was interrupted by a loud knock at the door.

My heart sped up briefly as I both prayed and worried at who it could be. "Come in," I called, turning towards the door.

A very large man wearing a security guard uniform entered. I openly gaped at the man, who was as tall at the Undertaker and twice as wide. "You requested extra security, Ma'am?" the guard stated, his voice low and scratchy.

A smile spread across my face; there was no way Jericho could get past this behemoth of a man. "I did indeed. What's your name?"

"Percy."

I blinked, biting back a chuckle. A name like that didn't quite fit the giant in front of me. "Well, Percy, are you familiar with our show at all?" He nodded, and I grinned wider. "Good. I have a lot of work to do tonight, but I'm afraid that Chris Jericho is going to barge into my office and cause trouble."

Percy frowned, crossing his arms. "He won't get past me Ma'am. Nobody does."

"Call me Stephanie. And I believe you Percy."

The giant guard nodded again, and then lumbered out of the room. Once the door clicked shut, I laughed giddily to myself as I returned to my paperwork. If Jericho wanted to speak to me, he was going to have to wait until the Highlight Reel.

Ten minutes later, just as I was giving my authorization on a few expense forms, I heard loud voices out in the hallway. Hoping it was Jericho, I leapt from my seat and rushed to the door, as not to miss a word of it.

My trip was not in vain, for I instantly recognized Chris's angry voice floating through the door. "…Mean I can't see her? Do you know who I AM???"

"Ms. Stephanie has given me strict orders not to let you in Mr. Jericho," Percy explained in that deep voice of his.

I giggled at Chris's answering moan. "You're kidding, right buddy? This is some sort of joke because I couldn't take her to lunch?"

"Do I look like a joke, pal?" Percy growled back. I could almost picture him crossing his arms and looking down at Jericho in disgust; it was then that I wished I could get a window in my office door, just for the visual.

"A joke… only if it's about the Subway diet."

I gasped, waiting for the sound of Percy's fist hitting Jericho's mouth. Of all the people to possibly push buttons with, he chooses the hulking guard.

There was no such noise, only the sound of a third voice. "Excuse me, sir, but Stephanie asked to see me, the one and only Olympic Champion?"

I smacked my forehead. Kurt had arrived, and was more likely than not shoving his gold medals in Percy's face.

"Go right ahead, Mr. Angle," Percy replied in a higher, more friendly voice. I snorted out loud, stepping back so that I didn't get clocked by the opening door.

"The doofus gets to go in?!" I heard Chris exclaim. "This is unbelievable!"

"Thanks for all your help, kid. If you'd like an autograph, I'd be more than happy to oblige after my business with Steph is done." Without waiting for an answer, my best friend strolled into my office, waving over his shoulder. "Hey Jericho, thanks for being busy during lunch. I certainly enjoyed filling in." With a smirk, Kurt slammed the door shut, then turned to me with a grin.

"Your autograph?" I asked, shaking my head.

"You can have one too, after that guy flattens Jericho," Kurt said, wrapping an arm around my shoulder and moving me back closer to the door. "Nice revenge, by the way."

"You haven't seen anything yet," I commented, trailing off at the sound of a throat clearing in the hallway. "Shhh, here's round two."

"Alright buddy, what's it going to take for you to step aside?" Jericho bargained. "Cash, chicks, chitlins…"

"Why don't you make me stand aside?"

"Oooooh!" Kurt and I exclaimed simultaneously. If he was going for a punch in the mouth, then he was succeeding.

"Steph, is that you?"

I smacked myself in the forehead while Kurt snickered; apparently we were eavesdropping a bit too loudly. Luckily, Percy came to my rescue. "You've disturbed Ms. Stephanie long enough. I suggest you find someone else to harass."

"But she's my favorite person to harass," Chris said loudly, most likely trying to get on my good side. That wasn't going to work today, but it was nice to hear.

Kurt caught my smile and rolled his eyes. "Are you enjoying this?" he whispered.

"You know it," I responded. Deciding that I had enough with the scene outside, I turned and walked back to my desk. "Now Mr. Angle, I do actually have business to discuss with you."

Kurt groaned before going to sit on the couch. "This can't be good."

"It concerns a certain ex of a certain friend of ours."

His eyes gleamed. "Do I get my hands on him tonight?"

I tapped a finger to my chin. "I was thinking a 'win by submission' match, myself. Will that work for you?"

Kurt rubbed his hands together. "Excellent. One tapping-out punk, coming up." Standing from his seat, he gave me a curious look. "Does Dawn know about this?"

I shrugged, leaning back against the desk. "Yeah, and she pretended like she was okay with it. I still think she's hung up on him though."

My best friend shook his head. "Of all the people to be hung up on," he commented sadly, heading for the door. "Hopefully she'll find someone new by the end of the week."

That was an interesting thought. "Kurt, do you know any guys..."

"No," he said quickly before darting out the door. Kurt wasn't big into matchmaking, and would always refuse to offer up his friends for a worthy cause. Frankly, I think he was more worried about losing his male friends; he did spend the majority of his free time with me or Dawn. With that business taken care of, I returned my attention to the paperwork on my desk.

While I attempted to do something productive, however, my mind kept bringing up Jericho. Some minute part of me felt guilty for banning him from my office, even though he did call off our lunch date. This part of me knew I was acting like a child; sulking and pointing fingers when he really hadn't done anything wrong. It would have been worse for him to stand me up, or bring Trish to the restaurant or something.

Eventually, though, that little voice was squelched by my bitchy alter-ego. No use getting soft now; I still had my little Highlight Reel surprise for him. And, in the long run, Jericho deserved it – after all, he built up my expectations of him yesterday.


Percy turned out to be more than helpful that night. Besides keeping Jericho out of my sight (and allowing me to catch up on ratings reports), the surprisingly soft-hearted man made sure that my coffee cup was always full, as well as bringing me assorted pastries. I tried to object at first to the sugary treats, but gave in after he lifted up his shirt and showed me "what fat looked like". And in a gentlemanly turn, he offered to escort me to the stage for my highly anticipated spot on the Highlight Reel.

"Thanks for walking with me, Percy," I said, smoothing out the nonexistent wrinkles in my white linen pants. Truth be told, I was a bit nervous at seeing Jericho face to face, after the stunt I pulled earlier. "I don't know where Dawn ran off to."

That wasn't entirely true; I had my suspicions that my dark-haired friend had either: a. ran into John Cena or b. ran into someone to make Cena jealous with. I just hoped that she wouldn't ask me to cancel the main even tonight; Kurt had his heart set on facing the Master of Thuganomics. Plus, I had already plugged the hell out of it with commercial teasers.

"It's no trouble Ms. Stephanie," my companion replied. "I'm just glad I was able to be of some help to the prettiest woman in Raleigh."

Percy was, in no way shape or form, the type of guy I went for, but I still blushed at his compliment. Before I could thank him, though, we were confronted by a stage hand.

"Ms. McMahon? Chris Jericho just called for you in the ring," the man said before rushing off, clipboard in hand.

I almost laughed at the departing figure, beyond glad that my duties did not include those of the backstage personnel. Turning to Percy, I gave him one last smile. "Thanks for everything, and you promise to let me know if you want a permanent job with the WWE, right?"

He nodded solemnly. "Yes ma'am. You better get out there and put that boy in his place."

I chuckled, running a cautious hand through my hair. Everything, thankfully, felt in place; so with a deep breath I readied myself and walked out to my music.

Once again, I was surprised by the number of cheers that I received upon my entrance. They quickly, though, faded away into a chant of 'slut', as if the blond man in the ring had somehow reminded them of my unflattering nickname. I kept my smirk firmly in place; it would be wrong for the general manager of Smackdown to give an entire crowd the finger. Besides, I would be lying if I said that the demeaning name didn't make me feel slightly more comfortable.

His blue eyes sought out mine as I approached the ring; although his cocky grin gave away little to what he was feeling. There was almost a giddy-like excitement to him, as he paced around in the ring waiting for me. I suspected it had to do with his 'surprise' for me, and almost started feeling guilty again. Almost.

I pouted a bit as I climbed into the ring, a bit peeved that he didn't sit on the middle rope to assist me. Oh sure; then they'll play the Macho Man's theme song and you two can twirl around in the ring like some uber-couple, I thought to myself snidely. We weren't a couple and it wouldn't get me anywhere to pretend that we were. Stomping over to the corner, I took the extra microphone and returned my attention back to Chris Jericho. "Well, Jericho, I guess I should welcome you back to Smackdown."

He let out a stage laugh, leaning against one of the ropes. "Stephy, Stephy, Stephy… you don't have to hide behind all that professionalism. We all know you missed the Highlight of the Night," he stated, licking his lips in that infernal way.

I cocked an eyebrow in his direction. "Really? We've been able to sign a number of new talents, now that we don't have to pay for that inflated head of yours," I retorted.

"Ah, but you've missed my talented head; don't deny it Princess."

The crowd cheered as Jericho capitalized on my poorly chosen words. Instead of trying to win the battle of wits, I decided to play into it. Giving him my best glare, I tossed my hair over my shoulder. "What's wrong Chris; jealous that I didn't pay attention to your so-called talented head? Now I see why you'd run off to join Bischoff's show; he's pretty good at massaging 'heads' like yours."

Jericho looked surprised as the crowd laughed. "That's funny Steph, but you shouldn't be so humble. Your reputation far precedes you in the WWE as the best head massager in the company." He paused to scratch at his head. "What was your title again? It's been so long…"

The crowd began to rumble with excitement, anticipating his next few barbs. I, on the other hand, could barely keep the smile off of my face. Didn't want him to catch on just yet.

Suddenly he snapped his fingers, startling me a bit. "I got it! I called you a filthy, dirty, disgusting, brutal, bottom-feeding, trash-bag ho," he enunciated, the crowd screaming along every word. Jericho laughed to himself as they began chanting his name, before he starting walking around me in a slow circle. "But you know, I don't think that title works for you anymore, Steph. You've changed."

His words were echoing one of our more serious conversations, and for the first time that night, I started to worry. Crossing my arms, I sent him a death glare, a nonverbal warning that he'd better keep it professional. If he goes back on his promise...

Seeing as I wasn't going to talk to him or to the audience, Chris brought the microphone back to his lips. "Yes, you've definitely changed. No longer are you the trash-bag ho of days gone by, but you've evolved… into the Briefcase Bitch!"

I suspected that this was the point where I threw a fit, so I dropped my mouth open in surprise. His eyes met mine with some sort of apology before he turned to face the Jeritron 5000. "What's wrong Princess, don't believe me? Let's take a look at the footage."

I nearly jumped for joy when the lights dimmed a bit and the video montage started on both the Jeritron and the big-screen. Making sure to give the blond man one more disgusted look, I turned my attention to the center of the ring.

The video started out predictably enough, with a baby picture of me looking cute and innocent. I rolled my eyes as 'The Dawn of Time' music started playing, wondering if Jericho had planned some sort of evolutionary pictorial. How boring.

Of course, the video blipping out immediately brought a grin to my face and a scowl to his. "What the hell is this?" he shouted into the mic, waving his arms about as the screen stopped scrolling… to reveal a still image of Chris wearing his bra and boy shorts ensemble, bent over at the waist while Hunter appeared to bum-rush him from behind.

I clasped a hand over my mouth to keep the giggling in as photo after embarrassing photo was shown. In the background, 'Girls, Girls, Girls' by Motley Crue belted out of the speakers, adding to the vivid picture montage. I didn't know how Artie managed to secure the rights to that song in so short a time, but I had to give him credit for such a perfect fit.

Finally, the video faded out with a still shot of Chris tugging at his shorts. Jericho immediately fixed me with the evil eye as I wiped away a few tears. "Like I said, Jericho, welcome back to Smackdown," I stated simply. The crowd was a mixture of boos and cheers when my music kicked in and I quietly walked backstage.

God, that was satisfying, I thought to myself when I ducked through the curtain. It had been ages since I was able to one-up Jericho in front of an audience. With nothing better to do than gloat, I hung around in the gorilla area, waiting for him to come backstage and lambaste me.

As soon as his blond hair was visible, I pounced. "Did you enjoy my welcome back present, Jericho?" I asked snidely.

I waited for an insult, a curse, even a death threat. But all I got was a glare before he started walking off towards his locker room, which infuriated me to no end. Oh sure, I was expected to be a good sport about all the times he teased me on TV; but he couldn't take the same treatment back? It was completely unacceptable.

"What, are you just going to walk away and ignore me like a little bitch?" I called out, nearly tripping over my feet to start chasing after him.

"Perhaps I'm just waiting for you to sic that overgrown pituitary gland on me," he mumbled, speeding up his pace.

Weaving a hand through the back of my hair, I sprinted after him. "Sure, pretend this is all about Percy, instead of you just admitting that I beat you at your own game out there."

"Whatever," he said, storming into his locker room and slamming the door.

Not to be deterred, I managed to get there before he threw the lock, and muscled my way inside. "And now you're slamming doors in my face! You've got some damn nerve, Chris Jericho; pulling this crap after you ditched me this afternoon!" I huffed, moving to stand before him. The thought of him being angry over this was making my blood boil. "Honestly, if I had known… mmphf!"

At that point, I was cut off by his lips. The bastard kissed me, his arms wrapped around my waist, until my anger subsided and I felt myself start to relax. Just as I was about to kiss him back, he pulled back, a huge smirk plastered on his features. "I think I've found the cure for your big mouth."

"My big mouth! You id…" His lips returned to their spot; this time, I wasted no time in deepening it. A few hot seconds later, I broke away, desperate for air. "I do not have a big mouth."

His face squinched up in thought. "Big mouth, no. Incredibly sexy mouth, yes." His face descended towards mine again; but I avoided his lips and gave him a pout. "What?" he asked.

"Why did you cancel on me this afternoon?" Looking up at him, I put on the saddest face I could muster.

"Aw, Steph, don't look at me like that," Chris complained. "I went to go see one of the trainers at the hotel. My back was still killing me from our road trip yesterday, and I barely got a wink of sleep last night."

Feeling a bit foolish, I dropped my gaze to his sparkly pink button-down. "Oh," I said softly. I wasted my entire day, plotting my revenge on him and he actually had a legitimate excuse. Realizing that I probably should apologize, and yet having no desire to, I placed my hands on his chest and attempted to pull away from his embrace. "Well, uh, now that that's cleared up, I have some work to get back to…"

"Nuh uh," he interrupted, his arms tightening around me. I looked into his mischievous blue eyes and groaned out loud. "I think you owe me an apology."

I snorted rather unattractively, but I didn't care; he was out of his mind if he thought I was going to apologize NOW. "For what? It's not like I sicced Percy on you or put you in a handicap match."

"Oh? What about my sabotaged video montage, which I might add, was a tribute to you."

"Oh I bet it was," I conceded, rolling my eyes. "Like I said, that was your welcome back present to Smackdown."

His face turned red, and I could tell that he was losing his patience. "Steph, why does this hphmmm..."

This time it was my lips that silenced his. And before I got lost in the moment, I mentally conceded that Chris had indeed come up with the perfect solution to our big mouth problem.

END CHAPTER ELEVEN

Author's notes: And I'll cut this chapter off here. Wow, does it ever feel weird to be working on this story again; switching from 'Flowers' to this is quite the leap of genres.

Chapter twelve will pick up where this one ended, before you think that I just left Kurt and Dawn hanging by plot strings. I can only hope it won't take me another four months to post it :)

Anyway, I just want to thank you guys for consistently supporting and reviewing this story, even though it was on hiatus. Like I've said time and time again, each review is a blessing to me, and forces me to obsess even more on subsequent chapters. So I hope that I didn't disappoint with this long overdue update; please review and let me know what you think! Take care, and I hope to update soon!