A/N: Thanks for the reviews and everything, happy reading! :)
Stephanie watched quietly as her ex-husband conducted his interview with Diane. Initially, she wasn't going to watch the interview, but Hunter told her it was alright so she and Chris were sitting with Shayna, watching. She wasn't going to lie, it was a little difficult to watch, seeing him talking about feeling hurt, the sense of loss he had when he found out Ferris wasn't his. She knew that nobody was blaming her necessarily, but she still felt responsible for all this heartache.
Sometimes her mind wandered to the what-ifs. She knew it was dangerous, those what-ifs, she knew that it was a dark place to go when there was nothing she could do to change the past, but still, late at night or when she had a free, quiet moment, her mind tended to wander, and she was left thinking about what would have become of them all had things come out sooner. What would her life be like if she'd figured it out, told the truth, said anything to Chris or Hunter.
She might be with Chris, but then again, she might not be. Maybe at the time, they just weren't ready for each other. Even though Hunter left her, she probably would have always taken him back. She loved him so much at the time, she probably would have always taken him back. But if she told him about Chris, if she told Chris about them, if she figured out the timing, maybe she would have stayed with Hunter regardless. There was just no telling what might have happened.
"He's doing well," Chris leaned over to whisper to her.
"Yeah, he is," Stephanie agreed, "I'm just glad he's not trashing me."
"Or us," Chris added, trying to take some of the blame away from her again. He was always doing that, making it their thing and not just her not telling anyone that she probably slept with Chris. She didn't much remember that night, but she knew something had to have happened when she woke up naked. Yes, sometimes that didn't equate sex, but she knew, she had known, she had figured, very strongly, and still, she said nothing.
When Hunter was done with the interview, he took off his microphone and walked over to them. "What did you think?"
"Thank you," Stephanie said simply. "I know you could have gone a lot of ways with that interview, but thank you for being so…well, I'm not sure the word for it, but thank you for not just taking this as an opportunity to drag my name through the mud."
"That's not what this is about, Steph," he told her, shaking his head, "this was about making sure that everyone knows the truth so that you can get harassed less in public, and the girls won't get their faces splashed everywhere. I don't want that for them any more than you do."
"I know," she said, glad that he was putting the girls first. Right after the divorce, he put himself first, and it wasn't even a contest. He'd been selfish, leaving her with the kids, barely talking to them, never seeing them, but he was owning up to his responsibilities now, and it was such a nice change. "Still…"
"There's no sense in talking badly about anyone anymore," he said, taking a glance at Chris when he said that. Chris gave an imperceptible nod in agreement. "That time has passed."
"And now it's time to heal," Chris added, "as a family, a kind of out there family, but a family nonetheless."
"Exactly," Hunter said.
"Have dinner with us tonight," Chris said, and he even surprised himself with that one. Both Hunter and Stephanie swung their heads to look at Chris. Both had the same look of incredulity on their face. He might actually be wearing one too.
"What?" Hunter was the first to respond, and his voice sounded a little strained.
Chris just started talking, not really knowing what was going to come out of his mouth, "Well, it's been a long day for all of us, and this interview, well, it's kind of a new start, you know, it's kind of a new start for all of us. We're in this as a family, and we have to start getting along for the girls, right? So why not show that we're the adults, and we're capable of acting like a family. I mean, come on, what are we going to do when one of the girls has a recital or something, or graduates or gets married, are we just all going to come and go in shifts, never interacting? That's no way to raise them."
"You have a point," Stephanie said, and she wanted to say more, so much more in praise of him, but she couldn't find the words to say it. She thought it was so big of him to do this, to initiate this, and he was right. They were going to spend the rest of their lives together as a family. They weren't just going to stop being parents to the girls, and that meant they would be around, they would always be around, and it was time they started to accept that rather than ignore it.
"You can invite Shayna too," Chris told him. "She's someone important to you, and that means she should be important to the girls. They obviously like her, they both talk about how nice she is, so we can all go out to dinner, my treat, and we can start to show them that we can all be parents at the same time, don't we owe that to them after all the fighting they've had to see?"
Hunter contemplated it for a moment, and Chris was right, so he agreed, "Yeah, okay, I can do that, do you want to meet somewhere at maybe 6, and we can start to do this co-parenting thing right."
"Yeah, that sounds great," Chris nodded, looking to the last link in the puzzle. Both Hunter and Chris looked at Stephanie, and she felt very on the spot right now. Luckily for her, she was really warming up to the idea.
"Yes, I think this can only be a good thing. As long as it doesn't delve into a food fight, I think we can manage, how about that Italian place," she told Hunter, "you know the one, right?"
"Yeah, I do, we'll meet you there."
After it was decided and agreed upon, they said goodbye to Diane and the rest of the crew who made quick work of leaving the premises. Hunter left to go back to his hotel for the time being, and Chris and Stephanie went over to her parents to pick up Ferris and Keagan. They went back home to relax before dinner, and Chris went into his office to get some work done. Before long, there was a small knock on the door and he looked up to see Ferris standing in the doorway.
"Hey, Bueller, what's up?"
"Hi," she said shyly, taking a few steps inside. "I just wanted to see what you were doing."
"Oh, well, come on over," he said, opening up his arms to her. She bounded over happily, throwing herself into his embrace. He lifted her into his lap and she looked at what he was doing. "I'm just writing some lyrics for another album I'm going to do with my band, and going over some offers that we've been given for different talk shows to do."
"That sounds like fun," Ferris said, glancing over the different things, but not really understanding what he was doing. "Are you going to do a lot of shows?"
"I was thinking maybe a couple, mostly ones in New York so that I don't have to travel that far away from you guys. I don't really like being away from you, so the closer I can be to you the better."
Ferris beamed. She was probably thinking back to how Hunter never seemed to make time for them, and here was Chris, not wanting to spend any time away from them. It was nice to feel wanted, to feel like the number one thing in someone's life. "But if you went to somewhere far away, couldn't we go with you?"
"When school is over, sure, that would be fun, having you, Keagan, and your mom travel around while I go on tour or if I go make appearances, but for now, it's just easier for everyone if I stay around here, and only go away for a short time. I'm Chris Jericho, I think people would be willing to wait for me."
"Because you're really famous, and that's why the photographers and stuff follow us around, that's why they take pictures of us, right? It's because you're my daddy, and you're famous, so they want to take pictures of me too, but I don't really get why."
"I don't really get why either," Chris said, kissing the top of her head. "If I could stop them from taking pictures of you, I would, and I'm hoping with the interview that I did with your mom and Hunter, that it will."
"What did you talk about?"
"Mostly about how we're doing, and what it was like to find out I was your daddy," Chris told her straight. Ferris wasn't someone he wanted to keep the truth from. She was his daughter, and the least he could do was be straightforward with her. He wanted them to have a good relationship, especially since he'd missed so much already, and he was really still laying the foundation for the two of them.
"Were you mad?" Ferris asked, wondering what he felt like. Maybe he didn't want to be her daddy when he found out, maybe that's why nobody knew, maybe they thought he'd be mad about it.
"Not at all," he said firmly, making her believe the words, "I was really, really happy, and really, really shocked. It's not everyday you find out things like that, but I was so happy to be your daddy, and even if I wasn't, it wouldn't decrease my love for you any less. I loved you before I knew, I love you now. You're a huge part of my life."
"I'm glad you weren't mad."
"I would never be mad. I told the interviewer the truth, I told her I was surprised, but excited. I don't want you to ever think that you aren't something I want in my life, Bueller. You are definitely something I wanted. You and your mom and Keagan, you guys mean so much to me. This is where I want to be, here with you guys."
"And what about Hunter?"
"He's always going to be Keagan's dad, and he's always going to be your dad too."
"Doesn't that make you mad?"
"It did in the beginning because I really wanted all of your love, but then I realized that he loves you too, and I shouldn't be the kind of person who tries to restrict that. He was your dad for seven years, and that's okay."
"Do you guys hate each other?"
"No, that's why we're all going to dinner tonight, it'll be us and your Dad and Shayna, and we're all going to go out together as a family because that's what we are," he explained to her. "There are tons of different kinds of families, and this is ours. We can all get along, and we can all have fun together."
"So maybe sometime we can all do something together like go to the park?" Ferris looked so hopeful in that moment. Chris couldn't say that would ever happen, but he couldn't say it wouldn't either. He couldn't picture himself casually going to the park with Hunter of all people, but who was to say it wouldn't happen? Once they put the grudges and the past behind them, why couldn't they be something akin to friends.
He may never actually be friends with Hunter, the type of friends that would go out and have a beer together and maybe catch a hockey game, but they could be the kind of friends who took their kids out and had fun, and didn't worry about hating each other. They could be the kind of friends who just loved their kids so much they would make it work to make them happy.
"Yeah, that could happen, but it'll take a little bit of time."
"That's okay," Ferris grinned, "I like that, Keagan and I were scared that we'd have to be separate all the time or something."
"Never, you guys won't have to do that. Tonight will be the start of that. Tonight is going to be good, we'll all have some good food, and we'll talk, and we'll laugh, and you'll see that nobody is mad at each other, not anymore, got it?"
"Got it," Ferris said happily. It was a load off her mind. She wouldn't feel like she had to split her love up anymore. If everyone was happy and together, that would be the best thing ever. She and Keagan wouldn't have to worry anymore.
Everyone could just be happy for once.