A/N: Thanks for all the reviews and everything. This story has always gotten so much love, and it's always made me happy. I feel like we're winding down, however, so we'll see how many more there is to go. Hope you like the chapter, and reviews would be lovely. :)
"So then I'm trying to run to the stage because I'm about to be late and I know Rich is already there, and I've got two people trying to do my hair and one of my shoes is untied, and I swear, I had another person who was walking practically hunched over trying to tie my shoe while I'm walking."
Shayna laughed, "But I remember that, and you didn't look winded at all."
"Well, I had about five seconds to catch my breath, and they tied my shoe, and we were out there, and so you could never tell, but God, that was just so embarrassing getting locked into the green room. It reminded me of the time when I was with Ralphus and we had the spot where I got lost in the arena. Sometimes, it just gets completely crazy, but you have to act like it didn't."
Stephanie laughed as she hooked her arm through Chris's. "Tell them about the lost drumstick."
"Oh, God, that is way too long a story to tell now when they girls are pretty much dead on their feet." Chris gestured towards Flynn and Keagan. Keagan was in Hunter's arms, fast asleep, her head buried against his neck while her arms were loosely around his shoulders. Ferris wasn't doing much better, leaning into Stephanie, her eyes closing and opening every so often before she'd slightly jerk awake.
"Yeah, I think they're wiped," Hunter said, stroking Keagan's back. "It's been a long day for all of us though, I think."
"Yeah," Stephanie said. She took a deep breath and looked at Hunter, "I know that things haven't been easy for you, Hunter, for any of us really, but thank you for coming back and thank you for…I don't know, not hating me forever."
"At the end of the day, you're the mother of my kid, and we've got to make this work for them," Hunter acknowledged, "even if it means I have to listen to this guy's stupid stories."
"Wow, wow," Chris said, but it was good-natured, and he could tell that Hunter was just teasing him, without malice. It was quite the change, but they needed this. Hunter wasn't a great guy, but he wasn't either, and all they could do was hope to even out and accept the other. "Now the truth comes out."
Hunter shrugged, "Had to at some point."
"We better get going though," Shayna said, "since the girls are falling asleep and everything. Thank you for inviting me, it really means a lot to me. I know that…well…"
"We get it," Stephanie didn't make her continue. The prices had been paid already, everyone had already done their sentence, and they shouldn't feel further punished for past mistakes. They all made them, none of them were totally absolved, so what was the point in dredging up all their past sins? It would only bring up past hurt, and nobody needed that. "It's okay, we were glad to have you."
"Still, thanks," Shayna reiterated. She wasn't a bad person. Stephanie really wanted her to be at first, but now that things were starting to get better, she was glad Shayna wasn't the bitchy whore she wanted her to be so Stephanie would find it easy to hate her. If Shayna was going to be around her girls, she wanted her to be a good person, and she was.
"Okay, well, so do I just hand this over to you?" Hunter lifted Keagan a little to indicate he was talking about her. Keagan let out a slight groan and mumbled something incoherent before lapsing back into silence.
"Here, why don't you take her back to your place, and she can spend the rest of the weekend with you," Stephanie said.
"Are you sure?" Hunter asked, and she nodded. "What about Ferris? Would they be okay being separated for a couple days?" He didn't want to overstep his new boundaries and ask if she wanted to come along too, but he would gladly have her over for the rest of the weekend.
"Ferris, honey," Stephanie shook her daughter a little bit. Ferris turned her head only enough so she could see her mother. "Do you want to stay with Hunter and Shayna for the rest of the weekend, Keagan is going to stay with them, and you can too."
"Okay," Ferris said, and Stephanie wasn't sure that she even knew what she was agreeing to, but Ferris wouldn't mind spending time with them. Hunter, although not her biological father, still held a spot in her heart, and it wasn't like she wanted to forget him.
They paid the bill, and Chris carried out Ferris while Hunter took care of Keagan. They loaded them into Hunter's car, and he already had things of theirs at his new place, so they didn't need to stop at Stephanie and Chris's for anything. They arranged to pick up the girls on Sunday night, and waved as they drove away.
"So we're this…family now," Stephanie turned to Chris with a short laugh. "The four of us and the girls, we're a family, weird how that works out, huh?"
"Yeah, I mean, if you ever told me I'd be having a nice family dinner with Hunter Hearst Helmsley, I think I would have punched you in the face because clearly you were possessed by the devil," he wrapped his arm around her waist as they walked back to their car.
"I know, same with me and Shayna. I really thought that I would despise her every time I saw her, but I can't, I don't want to," Stephanie shrugged. It was hard to hate someone who made a mistake that you'd made yourself. "So…how do you think the interview is going to come out?"
"I think it'll come out okay."
The interview was scheduled to air the next week, and by the time it rolled around, Stephanie was a ball of nerves over it. She didn't want the girls to see it so that evening they spent with her parents, who took them out to dinner and to a movie, which would distract them, and they wouldn't notice their mother shaking all the time and wringing her hands. The show was scheduled to air at ten, and she was fidgety all throughout dinner. She could barely eat because she was so nervous, and she tried to calm herself, but it was difficult.
"It's just an interview," Chris held her hand. He'd been through this kind of thing before, maybe not to this magnitude, but he'd had in-depth interviews where truth was sought, and dirt was dug up. "When it's over, it's done with."
"It won't ever completely stop though, will it?" Stephanie turned to him. "I mean, I understand that now, it won't ever really be over, and I have to accept that."
"Can you? To be with me, it kind of means you have my baggage to go along with it."
"Yeah, I can handle it, can you handle mine?"
"Yeah, I can," he smiled at her.
She almost watched the interview as detached from herself. She saw herself on the screen and could hear herself talking, but it almost felt like she was looking at someone else entirely. It was her story, but she wasn't the one telling it. She sounded good, made a few jokes, and there was a light-heartedness to it, but deep down, she could see the pain and the uncertainty of herself, and she felt Chris squeeze her hand in support. She'd given interviews before, nothing like this though, and nothing that put herself out there. She was thankful when it was over because it felt like she could breathe again.
Then Hunter's part started up, and it was like she couldn't breathe again. They didn't know what he was going to say, and even though he said that he hadn't said anything against them, he could have been lying, and would hope for the best afterwards. But, and it shouldn't have surprised her as much as it did, his interview was honest, but didn't delve into the dirty details. He was diplomatic, and he told it like it was. What she came away thinking from it was that he'd accepted what happened and was ready to move on from it in the best way possible for the girls.
"Was that so bad?" he asked.
"Yes," she laughed, "we just put our entire lives out there. I kind of feel like the spotlight is straight on us now. Should we look outside for paparazzi trying to peer into the house to get our reactions?"
"I'll just tweet about it," he said, grabbing his phone and shooting out a tweet that said he hoped everyone enjoyed the interview and respected that their lives were private now. "See, done," he told her once he was done, and she really wanted to believe that would be the end of it. At least the story was out there now.
"So what happens now?" she asked.
"We get married, I return to wrestling, at least as a guest star or whatever, but definitely, definitely getting married," he told her.
"How many paparazzi do you think are going to try to get pictures of our wedding?"
"I'm expecting helicopters to fly around," he told her jokingly, "people in the bushes, it'll be chaotic, but as long as I get to marry you, I think I won't care about any of that."
"Do you think people are going to want the wedding pictures?"
"Yes, but I'm not going to sell our wedding," Chris told her, "I really don't want to sell our love for money. This interview was to get the truth out there, from here on out, it's just about us. The wedding is going to be about us, not about the paparazzi. I'm sick of celebrities who sell themselves for the money. I think we have enough."
"Between the both of us, I'm thinking yes," she told him. The phone rang and she picked it up. "Hello?"
"Hey, it's me."
"Hold on, let me put you on speaker," she said, pressing the speakerphone button. It was Hunter, and she could only guess that it was about the interview. "Okay, you're on speaker, it's just me and Chris here, the girls are with my parents."
"How do you guys think it went?" Hunter asked.
"I think it went okay," Chris said, "I think we got the story out there, so there can't be any more false reports on it. Plus, we're all getting along now, so even if they wanted to try and turn us against each other or act like we're still fighting, I think that proved we aren't, and if they take pictures of us, they know that we're not fighting or hating each other."
"Yeah, I agree, and uh, thanks for not making me look like a complete asshole, I know that you easily could have told the truth about what an asshole I was after we got divorced and before we got divorced, and thank you for not going that route." Hunter couldn't believe how he'd behaved now that he looked back on it. The girls were everything good in his world, and thinking back to his abandonment of them made him so ashamed. This entire thing was a learning process for him too, and he'd learned what was really important in his life.
"You could have done the same with us, but you didn't," Stephanie said, "see, we're already proving what a good relationship we have together, the paparazzi is screwed now."
"I hope so, I think I'm ready to get back to my real life. And, I just wanted to say I'm glad that we're all happy," Hunter told them, and it took a lot of forgiveness on both sides to say that. "You two are happy together, and that makes me happy, and I'm never going to say that again so I hope you're recording this conversation."
"No, but this is going to stick out in my mind for sure," Stephanie told him, "and you too, with us, I mean, we're glad you're happy."
"It all worked out the way it was supposed to, I think," he told her, and in the end, it was probably supposed to be this way. They all went through so much, but at the end of the day, they were with who they were supposed to be with, and they could still love each other, maybe in different ways, but again, that's how it was supposed to be.
"Yeah, I think so too."