DISCLAIMER: I do not own Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, 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.
SPOILERS: Mention of events from 7-19-04 Raw.
JUST A REMINDER: Please read the author's notes at the end – they are IMPORTANT!!!!!
Flowers for Jericho
A bachelorette party with the token male stripper.
A sorority sleep-over with a dim-witted pizza delivery guy.
A bag of Double-Stuf Oreos at a Weight Watchers' support meeting.
Chris Jericho stood in the ring, living the supposed male fantasy: ten wanton females that looked at him like a piece of meat.
Why was it that he felt utterly and completely violated?
Jericho hadn't expected to be involved with this entire Diva-search fiasco tonight. After his refusal to drool and flirt (a la Hunter, Edge, and Orton) at the elimination round the other night, he had hoped he would be relieved of his duties. God knows there were tons of wrestlers backstage who would eagerly love this attention. And yet here he was, in the ring with the ten finalists, bored out of his mind, for the 2nd time that night.
Yes, he loved boobs, but this was overkill.
Finally, the last girl giggled out her name and hometown, and Chris was struck with an idea. With revenge on the brain, he told the girls of an immunity envelope that was hidden in the general manager's office and sent them a huntin'. They responded with enthusiasm, eagerly following him to Bischoff's office and tearing the place apart. After a few suggestions and muffled chuckles, Chris retreated towards his locker room, allowing the girls to finish their vandalization.
There had been no flowers and no sign of his admirer when he and Shelton arrived earlier that evening. Although he supposed that he should have felt disappointed, relief instead had washed over him. Instead of spending the last week thinking about what to say to the girl, he had mulled over another pressing issue.
How on Earth could Stephanie McMahon like HIM???
Despite a brief truce during their partnership, Chris had done nothing but torture her. He made fun of her breasts time and time again. He had strung together as many nasty adjectives possible to describe the Billion-Dollar Princess. There was even that infamous pie-in-the-face incident. That wasn't flirting, by any means.
What troubled him, however, were the kisses.
To this day, Chris Jericho had never thought of his reasoning behind those kisses, beyond their distraction value. She was there, she was in the way, and kissing her seemed like the best course of action. After all, they hated each others' guts.
At least, he had THOUGHT the feeling was mutual. He wasn't sure of anything now.
God, what if she took those kisses the wrong way? Chris wondered to himself for the 1,023 time in three days. There was no way she could have seen the first one coming; Chris himself had felt her gasp against his mouth during the act itself. But before he pulled her in for the second one, at Summerslam, he specifically remembered the look in her eyes.
Yes, the surprise was there. But this time, there was no shock; and while she did not kiss him back, she seemed to complacently accept the kiss.
And he REFUSED to get into the time he sent her flowers, while she was still married to Hunter. That was merely to psyche her out, nothing more…
….. God, it could be her.
Chris shook his head of that train of thought. It wasn't her; there was no way she could have lied to his face that many times without him noticing. But, try as he might to quiet his doubts, the small voice in the back of his head was busy listing out Stephanie's guilt in the matter.
A few feet away from his locker room door, Jericho spied Shelton and Stephanie chatting and laughing. He frowned; since when had those two been so buddy-buddy?
His confusion turned into anger when Stephanie's hand rested on Shelton's arm while she laughed at something else the young man said. Chris noticed her curled hair, her short black miniskirt that barely peaked out beneath her Raw t-shirt, and a giant-sized smile that Shelton returned.
Did he just catch them flirting?
Something was up, and Chris wanted to know what before his anger exploded.
Forcing his hands to unclench, Jericho strolled up to the pair, pretending to be indifferent to their conversation. "Benji, have the swallows returned to Capistrano?" he asked casually.
The younger man rolled his eyes at Chris's question, personally feeling that the code talk was ridiculous. "Nope. No sign of her, CJ."
"Awww, look at you give Jericho a nickname," Stephanie cooed, pinching Shelton's cheek. Shelton swatted the hand away with a groan, while Chris glowered at the brunette. "Can I come to your fort, or are no girls allowed?"
"There is no…"
"Girls are allowed, Princess, but no skanks," Jericho interrupted, continuing to glare at her. Her eyes, however, were still focused on Shelton. "We're trying to keep it clean."
Her retort was cut short by her headset buzzing to life. "McMahon! Get your ass down here and help the crew clean my office, dammit!" Bischoff's voice shouted, causing her to wince.
Stephanie sighed, reaching behind her to turn off her headset pack. Being Bischoff's personal slave was starting to grate on her nerves. "See you later, Shelton," she said, brushing past Jericho and wearily walking down the hallway, imagining the prisoners' yells of 'Dead Woman Walking'.
Chris's frown grew deeper as he watched her retreating figure. Not once did she acknowledge his presence, nor did she even look him in the eye.
This did not bode well for his newly constructed world of denial.
Shelton glanced at Chris's profile and could pretty much guess what was running through the blond man's mind. After all, Jericho had spent the entire last week calling him and telling him reason after reason why Stephanie could not like him. "Before you blow a gasket, she wasn't coming on to me, man," he said.
Chris glanced at Shelton, his frown turning into a smirk. "Like I would care," he retorted, crossing his arms defensively. "It would be an insult to you, however, to be her rebound fuck after she was with that idiot Edge."
"You really are oblivious sometimes," was Shelton's response, feeling almost sorry for his friend. His sorrow was cut short when he spied a certain figure approaching.
About to refute Shelton's claim of obliviousness, Chris noticed his friend stiffen and rub at the cast on his hand. Looking up, he caught sight of Batista and Flair walking towards them, and was filled with both curiosity and worry. While Shelton had never detailed the exact reason behind his freak-out involving his broken hand, Jericho had been led to believe that Evolution was behind it; the smirk Batista was currently giving the young man was adding to the surmounting evidence. Straightening up, Chris stepped a bit closer to the Evolution members, ready for their attack.
Surprisingly, it was Batista who made the first verbal assault. "Look Ric, it's the World's Most Pathetic Tag Team."
Flair snickered. "Back in my day, we used to call them the Rockers," he reminisced, making sure to stay somewhat behind his personal ogre.
Chris looked at Shelton, waiting for the young man to say something. When he made no move to speak, Jericho allowed himself the pleasure to retort. "Oh boy! I didn't know that the traveling circus was in DC this week!" Placing a hand on Shelton's shoulder, he pointed first at Batista, and then at Flair. "Look Benji, there's the 'World's Strongest Douchebag'… oh, and there's 'The World's Flabbiest Sodomizer.'" Chris grinned at their pissed off faces, dropping his voice to a near-whisper. "Be careful, though; I hear the old one has a thing for big noses."
Ready to defend his mentor, Batista charged at Jericho, only to be held back by the World's Flabbiest… errr … Ric Flair. "C'mon big guy, let's go take out Benoit. We'll deal with that idiot later," he consoled, leading the much larger man away.
"Big noses and protruding veins," Jericho amended, once they were out of earshot.
Finally looking up, Shelton gave him a forced amused look. "World's Flabbiest Sodomizer?" he repeated.
Jericho shrugged. "It's not like you were any help," he explained.
Unbeknownst to Chris Jericho (or Chris Benoit, for that matter) it was a bad night to have the name of 'Chris', for Batista took them both out within the span of an hour. Jericho turned out to be the luckier of the two, suffering only a mild concussion (from his head bouncing off the concrete floor) and a severely wounded ego (from blacking out after a clothesline).
After a brief stint in the trainer's room, Chris was released into Shelton's care. Pressing an ice pack to the back of his head, the worn-out Canadian allowed the other man to lead him to his dressing room.
"Now I see why you hate Batista so much," Chris commented wryly, trailing a hand on the wall in a feeble attempt to walk steadily.
Not in the particular mood to talk about his personal angst with the Evolution strongman (or douchebag, depending on who is asked), Shelton let that comment slide. "I still think you should have gone to the hospital with Benoit."
Jericho swung his free arm in exasperation, nearly topping over before Shelton grabbed him by the back of his tights. "Wha for? It's just a concussion."
"A CAT scan may do you good. You've been acting crazy all week." With less than an entire hallway to traverse, Shelton decided to bring up the obvious. "It's Steph, isn't it?"
Jericho's head flew up, causing him to moan in pain at the sudden movement. "It's Steph? What's Steph?" Jesus, did Shelton KNOW it was her?
The younger man couldn't suppress a chuckle. "The one driving you crazy."
Chris let out an exasperated sigh, clutching the ice-pack more firmly to his neck. "She's always driving me crazy, Benj, lest you forget our torrid and extended history."
Truer words had never been spoken. But Shelton was looking for something a bit more explicit, unfortunately. "Speaking of forgetting, we're here," he announced, stopping in front of the locker room door. At Jericho's confused silence, he gestured towards said door. "You do know that she's probably in there, right?"
The blond man groaned, unwilling to deal with this pest of an admirer while suffering a mild concussion. "Twenty bucks she copped out with another bouquet."
Seeing the opportunity for easy money, Shelton seized the other man's hand, shaking it vigorously. "Deal. I'll be in catering." With a final supportive squeeze of the hand, the young man wisely high-tailed out of the area. He wasn't quite sure what to expect; an injured, cranky Chris Jericho did not bode well for the poor girl, though.
Chris watched Shelton walk away, then returned his attention to the door. So this is it, he thought ominously, flinging open the door and sweeping the room with his eyes.
His eyes locked on brown curly hair, causing his heart to race. Stephanie! He couldn't speak, his tongue going dry a mere second earlier.
Hearing the door open, the woman slowly turned towards him.
Suddenly, his heart plummeted to his feet, as Nidia, not Stephanie, met his shocked gaze.
Seeing that it was Chris Jericho in the doorway, the young woman stumbled to her feet. "Chris, hi," she greeted awkwardly, clutching a single red rose in her right hand.
"It's you?!" he sputtered out, not caring if he sounded like a cad. For Christ's sake, it was Nidia!
Her deep brown eyes flitted downwards. "Yeah, it was me," she said after a moment.
Chris nodded once, unable to think of what to say. Of all the people he had expected to find in his locker room, she was never considered. Hell, he didn't expect anyone but Stephanie… and now that he thought about it, he had wanted his admirer to be Steph. She had the most right to be here, given the kisses they had shared in the past. But this girl… he didn't even know her last name! Had they ever even spoken?
Nidia chose that moment to snap her gum in the silent room, causing Chris to jump a bit. "Sorry," she said, her cheeks flushing a bit. "So, um… yeah. Now what?"
It was obvious to Chris that she, like him, was at a loss for what to do or say. However, he couldn't stop obsessing over the fact that he had truly wanted Stephanie to be his admirer. Realizing that Shelton had tried to point that out to him just minutes earlier, Jericho wanted nothing more than to hunt down his best friend and demand to know how. But first… he had to say SOMETHING to her… "Well, uh… maybe you'd like to get dinner sometime?" he stuttered, borrowing Stephanie's proposed idea.
The girl froze, her gum falling out of her open mouth and hitting the floor. Immediately Chris wished to take back his dinner proposal. "Really? Wow! I never thought… I'd really like that." Reaching into her front pocket, she extracted a piece of paper as she approached him shyly. "My number is on there… oh, and this is for you, I guess…"
Chris absently took the rose and the paper, still eyeing the door. "Well, thanks… for everything," he amended. He knew he should be acting more grateful; her bouquets and notes had cheered him up, at the very least. But his disappointment over the situation still pervaded. Without waiting for her to respond, he turned and left his locker room, eager to run into Shelton, or better yet, Stephanie.
The sounds of the crowd booing echoed in the hallway, cueing him in to the fact that the Divas-in-training were still on. Rushing towards catering, Chris clutched at the rose in his hand. Maybe he could give this to Stephanie, but what would he say? What would she say? What…
He stopped short, catching sight of the youngest McMahon standing by the gorilla. Taking a deep breath, he stepped closer, ready to make a fool of himself. After all, he did have a concussion to blame, if worse came to worse.
Chris didn't have to say a word to feel like a fool. Not when he saw Edge's hand resting on her lower back. Or the way she tilted up her chin to offer him a small smile.
Too little, too fucking late.
Trying his best to ignore the pair, he dejectedly continued his walk towards catering, wanting nothing more to find Shelton and leave the bloody arena. He didn't know that she and Edge were serious; didn't she tell him it was all rumors not a week ago?
Things just weren't making sense, he could feel it. Shelton was so sure that the girl had been in his locker room just now. Stephanie had been unwilling to participate in his schemes, and yet she had given him a book on flowers and suggestions on what to say. Come to think of it, Stephanie was rather willing to help as long as she didn't have to hunt the girl down…
Something was up. Chris Jericho may have learned who had sent him the flowers, but the mystery was far from over.
Author's notes: OK, OK, I am going to take a moment and sincerely apologize to y'all. This isn't the end of the story; rather the end of the flowers. I honestly never planned on writing a sequel, but as I was typing this last chapter I couldn't bear to end it all. Plus, there were so many loose ends, involving the flower meanings and such; it would have been a bloody mess. So there will be a sequel, titled "Flowers Can't Keep Secrets." The first chapter of that should be posted soon… unless enough of y'all tell me to bugger off for teasing you like this :)
Please review and let me know what you think; did you expect it to be Nidia? Do you care to read a sequel where Chris chases Steph, or should I just add an epilogue to this fic?
And, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for sticking with me until the very end. Each review was appreciated; most were so kind that they truly made my day. It was my honor to write for you all. Please take care, and I hope to see you back for the sequel.