Title: Take a Beating for Love

Author: Crimson Coin Crimson_Coin@yahoo.com

Summery: After the December 1, 2003 episode of RAW, Chris Jericho tries to make amends.

Rating: PG 13 for language and some violence.

Disclaimer: I do not own Chris Jericho, the WWE or anything else mentioned in this fic. They are all property of themselves, which is most definitely not mine.

Archiving: More than welcome, just tell me about it.

Timeline: The week after December 1, 2003

+++

Chris Jericho swallowed the lump in his throat. He'd seen the tape of last week's show. Seen Trish Stratus crying at what she'd overheard. And Chris felt like shit. Like complete and total shit. He'd made her cry and here it was only because he was trying to be tough, to be one of the guys and show off for Christian. He sighed, looking at the door to the woman's locker room. He knocked.

"Hang on." A voice called.

A voice he distinctly recognized as Trish. He held his breath as the door opened.

Trish had a smile on her face. "I'm almost ready for ..." but the smile fell, her voice trailing off as she recognized who actually knocked. "You!"

He held up his hands defensively. "Wait, wait, wait. Just let me explain."

"There's nothing to explain."

And Chris nearly died at the choke in her voice, that she was already trying to hold back the tears. "No, there ... I just need to talk. Give me 5 minutes. That's all I ask. Just five."

Unable to say 'No', Trish stepped aside, letting him inside. She closed the door, facing him and crossing her arms. "You have 5 minutes."

"I know how this all has to look and I saw the show last week afterwards and I know that you overheard which I wish you didn't cuz it's not like that at all. Cuz ... well I didn't mean it like it came out, well I did but I didn't cuz it's not like that." He reached up, rubbing the back of his neck as he stared at his feet. "See cuz yeah, I'll be honest that it started off as a bet but then the more I got to know you the more I liked you and the less it was about the bet and the more it was about us and about you and I actually forgot about the bet until Christian brought it up again and I didn't know what to do so I played along. But it's not about the bet, none of the stuff I said to you was about the bet cuz I meant them all and I meant it when I talked about my feelings and about really liking you and about liking you for so long cuz that is true and I have."

Trish set her jaw, just listening and watching as he spoke as sporadically as possible.

"But I never meant to hurt you." He rambled on. "Cuz I didn't want to see you in pain and I wish that this stupid bet never happened and I just had the balls to go up to you of my own accord and not for a little challenge, but you're so much more to me than a stupid bet and it's not about the bet, nothing is about the bet. And please, Trish, I just need you to give me another chance and let me make it up to you cuz I don't want to lose this cuz it feels so good when I'm with you and that doesn't make sense but it does and I don't know what I'm doing but I know what feels right. And you feel right with me and I don't want to lose that cuz I finally feel happy when I'm with you and you keep me in line and in shape and no other woman ever could do that and you could after that first week when you stopped me to thank me in the hall and you said that I didn't need to be Chris Jericho, but just Chris, and I was head over heels for you from then on."

Trish pressed her lips tightly together.

"But I have to make this up to you and I'm so sorry that it started this way and if I could change everything so that there was no stupid bet, I'd do it in an instant cuz I hated seeing you cry. When I saw you cry from that clip from last week and it broke my heart cuz I never meant to make you cry. And now it's next week already and just seeing you with all that hurt in your eyes is killing me. Please, Trish, just let me do something ... anything to make it up for you. So that you don't leave me because I don't want to lose you."

Trish's manner remained cold. "You should have thought about that before you even made that bet."

"I know I should have." He weakly responded. "And I'm so sorry but I never had the courage to confront you before and when I did you shot me down and I always wanted to have something with you and this was an excuse for me to start something but I never could have gone through with the bet even if I won and we made love ... cuz that's what it would've been to me ... and I'd have never admitted it to him in hopes that it would be retribution if you ever found out, but you found out before and I wish you just never knew."

"So you would have gone on with our relationship and lied to me about your primary motives? Chris, that's not exactly a great way to build a healthy relationship."

"No, I know it's not ... I just mean that everything is so funky and I can't help it and I want to be with you and this all feels too good and it's killing me."

"Killing you?" She shook her head at him. "How do you think I feel?" She opened the door for him. "Please, leave. It's been over five minutes."

"Please, is there anything I can do? Please God, tell me we're not over."

Trish sighed. "Chris, I can't be with you. Not when the entire foundation of our relationship has been a lie. I'm sorry."

Heartbroken, he walked to the door, pausing to stare right into her eyes. "I will make it up to you. I'll prove myself." He pledged then walked out the door.

+++

Chris Jericho stood alone in the center of the ring, boos echoing throughout the arena. He took the mic and brought it to his mouth. "Yeah, I deserve that." The crowd booed even louder. "But see now I'm gonna make your day. Cuz I am volunteering myself for an ass kicking."

The crowd cheered.

Jericho smiled, shaking his head. "Yeah, I figured you'd all like that. So here's the deal. To prove myself to Trish and that I didn't mean to be such a damn assclown ... I am letting three guys beat the ever loving hell out of me ... for her. And so that I'm being completely fair ... I am going to let this audience decide who those three men are. Well? Let's hear it you assclowns. Who's the first guy?"

And slowly the crowd chant rose. The voices distinctly chanting for Goldberg.

And the World Champion's music hit. Goldberg walked down the ramp, stopping just outside the ring. And he waited, with a shit eating grin spread clear across his face.

"Alright." Jericho spat into the mic. "That's fine. What other assclown do you want? Come on I know that everybody backstage wants to kick my ass."

The crowd chant changed to HHH.

Hunter's music hit, and HHH walked down the ramp, taking his place beside Goldberg.

"Perfect." Jericho laughed. "Anyone else you genius's want. Come on, you want to see me in pain and I know it. Let's have it."

Kane's music blasted through the arena and the big red monster strode down the ramp. But Mic Foley interrupted, Trish Stratus at his side. "Wait wait wait."

The crowd booed.

Foley shook his head. "There is no need for that. But you see ... I want to put on a good show. And believe me, Chris; I would absolutely love to see you get your ass kicked. But I want more than that ... see I want a good match. Which means that there are some more stipulations to render. Like we shall make this a submission match ... you have to tap, Chris. And the man that makes you tap? Well he becomes the World Champion."

The crowd roared its approval as Jericho's eyes widened in the ring, watching as Goldberg, Hunter and Kane all clenched their teeth ... ready to kick his ass. Jericho shook his head. "Wait wait wait ... I need something to fight for ... to keep me going. Can't I have a positive stipulation too?"

The crowd chanted 'No', but Foley turned towards Trish, whispering lowly to her. Chris watched, worried as Trish just watched him. Watched him with sad eyes and then she ducked her head and slowly nodded, then walked back behind the curtain.

Foley laughed into the mic. "So Chris, I have a really good reason for you to fight back. If you last for one hour ... one hour. The title becomes vacant ... and you get one hour ... with Trish Stratus." Foley raised a single finger. "One hour of her time ... right after this match. And the match? ... It's no DQ."

The moment the words left Foley's mouth, Chris turned around and fell hard to the mat ... a chair hitting him right on the head.

+++

Chris cried out in pain as Hunter slammed the hammer end of a sledge right into his stomach and Jericho collapsed to the ground, clutching his ribs. He glanced up at the TitanTron, to the time left counter. He still had seven minutes. And he was in so much pain. Just so much pain.

That first chair shot at the very beginning had busted him open; Chris had been bleeding from the head for almost an hour already. And to make matters worse, Hunter had decided to slam Jericho's head into an exposed turnbuckle for an unknown amount of time. A giant welt was already forming on his chest from where Goldberg had tossed him over the ropes to the outside, where he landed on the steel stairs. His limbs excruciatingly sore from the three men constantly working his muscles, his back a bruised mess from Kane's constant beatings. Jericho couldn't even stand.

Chris was relieved when the three men turned their attention away from him and towards each other. It gave him some moments to recoup, to gather some strength. Had he gotten in any offense during this match? Chris didn't think so. It had been one painful thing after another. And Chris couldn't fight as he was pulled back into the center of the ring.

He forced his eyes open and he saw Hunter with a sadistic smile on his face. Chris viciously shook his head ... because Hunter had a Sledge in his hands. "No, please." Jericho pleaded, but Hunter laughed and used the sledge to wrap Jericho's legs ... then applied the figure four leg-lock ... with the sledge to add more pressure.

Chris threw his head back, wailing in utter pain. His legs and knees being bent and twisted in ways that they certainly weren't supposed to bend. He heard Hunter coaxing him to tap, heard the other man's voice talking smack ... trying to make him tap. But Chris refused to tap. He could not tap. "NO!" He cried. "NO! NO! NO!"

Angered, Hunter increased the pressure. "TAP YOU SON OF A BITCH!"

"NO!!" Chris cried. "TRISH!" The pressure was gone and Chris recoiled into himself. He couldn't even role to the corner of the ring ... he was just to weak. Straining, he looked up at the timer. Three minutes. Only three more minutes. Blinking profusely, Chris glanced up ... his eyes widening as Kane stood over him, a chair in the big man's hands.

And Kane slammed that chair down across Chris's chest. Shot after shot after shot, Kane relentlessly beat Chris with the steel chair. One shot then another, the skin turning red then black and blue with each vicious assault. Then Kane stopped, tossed the chair to the sides and lifted Chris with ease, bear hugging him with greatest strength.

Chris didn't have the energy to scream his pain. It hurt too much, he was to weak. He felt his ribs crunching, even hear a crack ... but couldn't feel the pain. He didn't know if something was broken ... or even what it was that cracked. He felt the darkness coming as Kane shook his limp body with little effort. That's when he saw her. Trish standing at the top of the ramp with her hand over her mouth. No, he had to fight.

"Trish." He mumbled to himself. "Trish." And he just kept saying her name. Gathering his strength and saying her name ... letting the thoughts of her keep him alive. Then Chris fell; he was dropped.

Goldberg was attacking Kane and Chris lay helpless on the ground, seeing that only two minute and a half were left on the clock. He faintly heard the crowd chanting his name. They were chanting Jericho? His eyes clouded over ... he couldn't think straight. All he could feel was the pain, the tired. He was just so exhausted he didn't have the strength. He couldn't see, couldn't think, couldn't feel. He didn't know what was happening.

He felt being dragged to the center of the ring and then he felt ... somebody. And he felt the move ... then the pain. His body barely registered the new pulling in his chest and thighs. Whoever was applying this move ... well it was his move. His Walls of Jericho. And Chris couldn't ... but he had to. He just had to fight. He didn't have the strength to do anything. He felt the blood continuing to ooze from his head wounds. That blood making a disgusting pool, and he was laying in that pool.

He felt the pull, the sweat the blood, the pain. And he could see Trish's face in his head. Just see her ... he had to fight. He faintly felt someone touching his hand, lifting his wrist. What the ...

His mind screamed NO!!! His hand fell to the mat.

No, he had to fight. He felt someone raise it again. NO NO NO NO NO NO!

It fell for the second time. No, he was so close ... he wasn't going to tap. He wasn't going to give. Gathering every bit of strength, Chris fought as his hand was lifted for the final time. He had to keep it up; he had to fight.

His hand hit the mat; the bell rang. The pressure was gone and Chris couldn't move. Couldn't move as he lay in a pool of his own blood and sweat. Couldn't move as he lay crumpled and destroyed in the ring. He forced open a single eye, focusing on the TitanTron ... and on the one minute sixteen seconds still left on the clock.

+++

Chris didn't know how long he lay in the center of the ring. He knew the crowd had dissipated, the arena empty. He registered that the lights had dimmed, only the emergency lights shining in the arena. That was good, it was too bright before anyway. And Chris just lay there. He simply couldn't move.

He just kept thinking of that minute sixteen. Only one minute sixteen seconds left. So close ... but almost means nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Chris focused on his body. Hmmm ... sorta sticky right here. That was probably all that blood that oozed from his head. How much blood had he lost anyway? He tried to roll off of his side, but simply couldn't. He just lay crumpled on his side, his hair in his eyes, his body a battered mess. Everything just hurt so much. His lip was swollen and red, a little cut splitting it down the center, that giant gash on his head pulsating as it slowly dribbled blood, though now it was mostly scabbed. His eyes hadn't swollen shut, surprisingly. But on the contrary, his crimson mask had long since dried ... and dried his eyes open. So they burned, the blood actually dripping into his eyes to burn them even more.

He was laying so far on his side that he was almost on his chest, his back exposed to the air, his legs twisted in a most uncomfortable way, but he just didn't have the energy to fix that. He didn't think anything was broken ... being that he'd had broken bones and knew the feel. And what he felt was not broken bones ... simply bruised everything. Battered, beaten and bruised everything.

He could feel a presence. Somebody was with him. He wasn't alone. He moaned, trying to see whom it was; but he just couldn't. "Who ... ugh?" He licked his lips, the coppery taste of his blood coating his tongue. Then hands were on his back, small gentle hands. "Don't..." he begged. "Don't move ... me. It ... hurts ... too much."

The body moved in front of him, but his hair was still in his eyes; he couldn't see. Those hands ever so delicately cupped his face, soft fingers carefully brushing the sticky fibers out of his eyes. But he still couldn't see, his eyes blinded by the blood. Then he felt liquid, cool water being poured over his face and hair, those fingers combing the water through his hair then stoking his face.

The water felt good, the touch comforting. He felt the dried blood cracking as it moistened and he blinked his eyes. It hurt, but it was for the best and he tried to clear his vision. He still couldn't move, and he just felt that water over his face, some on his chest as those hands caressed his chest then back up to his face and tucking his hair behind his ears.

He could smell the faint scent of vanilla. The only person he could think of that wore vanilla was the one person who this most likely ... wasn't.

It took a few moments, but his eyes finally focused and he looked at this ... his eyes widened, her name slipping from his lips.

Trish didn't react to him, showed no emotion. She just continued on her task of cleaning the blood from his face, keeping her touch as delicate as possible. After a minute, she put the bottle at her side then stroked her thumb over his cheek. "Are you ok?"

"No."

She closed her eyes, the sight of him in so much pain tearing at her. She hated to admit it, but that entire match was so hard for her. She watched the whole thing, and her heart broke more and more with each painful move that he endured. Because he was hurting like that for her. "Where does it hurt?"

"Everywhere."

She licked her lips, blinking a few times as she looked at his chest and legs. "Where does it hurt most?"

"My heart."

Her eyes flew to his, shocked at his response. And she simply looked at him.

He still couldn't move, just lay there helpless and looking up at her. "Why are you here? I lost. You don't need to even acknowledge my existence anymore."

Trish didn't answer him. "Can you walk for me? Come with me and we can get out of here?"

"I don't know."

Trish gently brushed her fingers over his brow. "What if I say that I'll give you a kiss?"

He managed to muster a smile. "Well, how wonderful and intoxicating that is ... I don't think I even have the energy to kiss you back."

"No man has ever gone through so much for me." Trish said softly. "And everything you went through I don't even know how you made it so far. And I ... it still hurts, Chris. It hurts that you started everything because of a bet."

"But I got my ass kicked because I love you." He whimpered, trying to shift his weight, but failed. "And let me tell you ... love fucking hurts."

Trish cupped his face in her hands, leaning down as if to kiss him.

"No, don't." Chris stopped her. "I'm all bloody and messy and gross. Don't kiss me now."

"I don't care." She breathed, pressing her lips to his. Softly, affectionately, she kissed him. Once then again and again, she kissed his lips. "I want to start all over again." Another kiss then another. "Like there was never a bet." She kissed his lips again then down his chin, along his jaw, cheek then back to his lips, licking at them lovingly. She could taste the slightest coppery tinge, but she didn't care. Surprisingly, it didn't even repulse her so she didn't stop. Just kept kissing him, slipping her tongue past his lips to ever so slightly lap at the inside of his mouth.

Chris still couldn't move, he could barely respond to her kiss. Only purse his lips enough so she knew he was kissing her back. He tried desperately to return with his tongue, but he was just so tired, he was having trouble.

That didn't deter her, however, because Trish continued to kiss him. "Do you need to go to the hospital? Your cuts don't look that bad, they just need cleaned. Your body? Are you ok? What do you need?" She kissed him a bit more forcefully, but still careful not to hurt him.

Chris whimpered, overwhelmed that she was with him ... of her own will. And kissing him ... of her own will. "I just ... I just need to get back to my room ... to the hotel and rest. I just need to rest." He licked his lips as she pulled back for good, and he looked up at her.

"You're staying with me tonight, Jericho." She said with a smile. "I'm not letting you sleep alone, not with your condition. I want to keep an eye on you."

He smiled. "I swear I'll be a good boy."

She laughed. "I'm not too worried about you. You're helpless right now, probably will be for a while. And plus ... I don't think you'll be pushing your luck when it comes to me anymore."

"No, honey. Not gonna happen." He readied himself. "I will move for you." Determined, Chris clenched his teeth, his body painfully tensing as he took some breaths, and then pushed up on his hands. His body shaking, she quickly reached around him, holding him as best she could and helping him stand. He staggered gracelessly to the ropes, leaning quite heavily on her then grabbing the ropes to rest. He had managed to stand.

"I'm proud of you." Trish said, caressing his brow and chest, rubbing his arms in comfort. "Now I need you to keep going. I can't carry you so I need you to help me to help you."

"So you choose me?" he asked, unsure. "You ... you're giving me another chance?"

"I'm giving you more than a chance. I'm willing to pick back up where we were ... before I knew about this bet. I love you too, Chris. And despite everything that happened ... I can't just give up on you, on us. Not yet." Trish seriously said in a low voice. "I swear to God, Chris, if you break my heart again ..."

"No," Chris interrupted. "Not gonna happen. This whole ... woman thing ... well I've never felt this way, it's new to me. But God help me if I fuck this up."

Trish smiled, genuinely. "Ok, Chris. I'll believe you. Are you ready? Will you come back with me?"

"Oh yeah." He breathed, smiling back for her. "And we're gonna get back and I don't care what you do, as long as you just kiss me until I fall asleep."

Trish actually blushed. "I'll clean your sorry ass up and put you to bed is what I'm gonna do."

And somehow, he managed to look more pitiful then he already did. "You aren't gonna kiss me anymore?"

"Oh I'm gonna kiss you." Trish teased. "I'm just not rushing anything."

"Ok," he said with a nod. "We'll take our time ... just like I'm gonna have to take my time stumbling to the car."

"Well, here's the deal." Trish bit on her lip a moment. "If you can move as fast as you can, and we get back to the hotel within the hour ... then once I have you all cleaned up and laying down and ready for bed and relaxed ... well then I'll kiss you until you can't stay awake anymore."

Chris smiled. "Well, we better get going. Cuz I only got about two and a half hours of juice left ... max."

Chuckling, Trish only shook her head, helping him out of the ring, and slowly up the ramp.

*** AWWWWW ... see Jericho died for us. HE MADE TRISH CRY!!! And thus he got his ass kicked. So ... read, review, and all that jazz.***