DISCLAIMER: I do not own the wrestlers that appear in the following story. They are the property of the actors and actresses that portray them, as well as the WWE.
CHRISTMAS IN JULY
It had been an hour and she still hadn't seen him. Frankly, between the staring, the whispering and the lack of HIM, she was starting to get irritated.
Tipping her head back, Stephanie McMahon finished off her third glass of champagne, hoping to enhance her already buzzed perception. Courtesy of her mother's pity invite, she was at the 4th Annual WWE 'Christmas in July' banquet. Boasting fancy appetizers (which no one was really eating) and an open bar (by far the largest incentive to come), the banquet was a lame attempt for Vince and Linda to raise company morale. After reluctantly agreeing to attend, Stephanie suggested to her mother that the money used for silly events such as these instead be given out to deserving wrestlers as a surprise bonus. Linda McMahon simply gave her a blank stare, followed by a motherly smile and a guest list.
This was the mismanagement that plagued the WWE these days, yet it did not deter Stephanie's desire for wanting to become an active member of the family firm. This was the official reason as to why she had accepted the invitation to the gala; no one knew of her ulterior motive.
Placing her empty glass on a nearby table, Stephanie sighed and scanned the crowd for the circulating bar backs. Unfortunately, she could not spot much amongst the sea of red and green (yes, unfortunately, in order to attend the party one had to dress in traditional Christmas garb). She did not desire, however, to leave her place against the wall and walk to the bar; that would only draw attention back to her. And she had received enough attention from the first hour of being there.
Of course, she didn't blame them. She was dressed to impress with her short silk red dress (her only concession to the dress code). But it wasn't her dress, her painted red lips or even her presence that got the most attention.
It was her hair. She had dyed it in hopes of garnering the attention of one particular man who had a supposed fetish for blondes.
Her information had been futile, though. It seemed that her blonde locks caught the attention of every single man except him.
When Stephanie had walked in, tossing her long blonde locks over one shoulder, the room literally fell silent. She watched as her father whispered something violently to her mother, his face irate. She saw Hunter's shocked expression before he high-tailed it across the room, assuming that she had come to sue him over the divorce papers yet again. She bit back a chuckle as Kurt squeaked before loudly telling the Big Show 'not to let that bitch steal a crippled man's show back'.
And then she saw the group of men eyeing her with lusty eyes.
It was fun for the first twenty minutes. Men like Edge, Rhyno, and Maven were going out of their way to say hello and tell her how much they liked her hair. John Cena brought her the first glass of champagne with puppy love shining in his eyes. She passed by a tipsy Hurricane and heard him call her a 'Hurri-hottie' to Matt Hardy. Even Paul Heyman stopped talking to the Dudleys long enough to gape at her.
After awhile, though, Stephanie became tired of the advances, and the men became tired of her constant rejections. So after a brief conversation with Dawn Marie and Nidia, she was left alone beside the wall to drink champagne and wait to see HIM. The rest of the partiers gathered in clumps about her, whispering about her appearance and speculating about her presence at this event. The more they drank, the louder the whispers became; for the most part, Stephanie was amused by what she overheard.
Catching sight of a passing waiter, Stephanie broke away from her thoughts as she flagged him down and took not one but two flutes of champagne. Setting her extra glass beside her, she tossed a few bills on the man's tray and told him to walk back over this way in fifteen minutes or else. As the waiter scurried away, she brought her glass to her lips, taking large gulp after large gulp.
It was in the middle of another gulp when she caught sight of him over the rim of her glass. She nearly choked on the champagne as he came through the crowd, his eyes instantly locking on hers. Managing to control her gag reflex, she gave him her best smirk, inwardly pleased when both surprise and recognition flitted across his features.
"Jericho," she greeted coolly, tipping her glass towards him.
The blond man, after stopping about a foot away from her, simply stared. No snide comment, no jab, no nothing.
At a loss for what to do, Stephanie decided to resort to old tactics. "The invitation said red or green formal attire Jericho, not wrapping paper," she commented, gesturing to his silver button down and black vinyl pants.
Her words seemed to shake him out of his stupor. "What the hell did you do to yourself, McMahon?" he asked loudly, gesticulating with his left hand. And although it had been a long time since they had last talked, she thought his voice held an undercurrent of anger. Strange.
Twirling a nearby blonde lock, she shrugged, unwilling to tell him her real motivation for dying her hair. "Wanted to fit in," she said, gesturing to the crowd. Nearly all the women, both Divas and crew members alike, sported platinum hair or blonde highlights. Pausing on the sight of Trish Stratus and Christian heavily making out under an awning, she let out a chuckle. "Looks like blondes do have more fun."
Jericho followed her line of sight to the couple, scowling in recognition. Quickly turning back towards Stephanie, he caught sight of her other glass of champagne and grabbed it, suddenly needing a drink. "I'm not having fun," he muttered to himself before taking a large swallow.
Hearing his quiet words, Stephanie watched him with amusement. "Jealous? I told my father to have her de-clawed; it looks like she still has them sunk deep into you."
"Like I would actually be jealous of that trash," Chris immediately denied, thus proving his guilt. "Besides, you don't de-claw bitches; yours are still intact."
Stephanie rolled her eyes, and yet was somewhat relieved that he was teasing her like normal. "Har dee har har. At least I…" she trailed off, catching sight of someone walking closer.
Like any other breathing woman on the planet, Stephanie McMahon thought that Dave Batista was hot; tonight, however, in a dark green dress shirt and Santa hat, she couldn't take her eyes off of him. Reminding herself to thank her mother for coming up with such a corny theme, Stephanie gave the approaching man a lascivious grin. "Your opponent is coming up behind you," she said to the forgotten man before her.
Jericho whirled around, instantly locking eyes with the man he would face at Vengeance. He wanted nothing more than to slap the confident look off of the face of the much taller man; however, there were strict rules of conduct at these banquets that, if broken, would result in harsh consequences. Crossing his arms, Chris returned his attention to Stephanie (who was still ogling Dave). "Steph, you didn't tell me that there were going to be performing gorillas at this shindig!" he exclaimed dryly.
Dave didn't acknowledge Chris at all; instead, he sidled up to Stephanie, his lips slightly upturned. "Hello Stephanie," he greeted, taking her free hand and pressing a kiss to the back of her knuckles.
Forcing her knees to stay locked, she suppressed a giggle (thanks, in part, to the glare that Chris was now giving the two of them). Reminding herself that this handsome hunk was, unfortunately, in cahoots with her ex-husband, she removed her hand from his grip. "Dave," she greeted politely.
"You should wash that hand, Stephanie. Those lips have been kissing Triple H's ass for over a year now," Chris grumbled, downing the rest of his champagne. He couldn't believe that the oaf had the audacity to come over here and make a play for her.
Dave sneered at Chris momentarily, before returning his attention to the youngest McMahon. "You look lovely tonight, Stephanie," he complemented, a smile lighting up his features as she blushed prettily. "If you're done associating with these boys," Dave spat out the last word in Jericho's direction, "Perhaps you'll join me with the other men by the Christmas tree."
Between the kisses and the smiles, Stephanie was sorely tempted to scrap her plans and latch herself to the handsome man in front of her. However, as her eyes flitted over to said tree, she caught sight of her ex-husband staring directly at her. She scowled and looked away, immediately smelling a set-up. Disgusted by the fact that Hunter knew she'd be drooling over his teammate, she frowned deeply at Dave. "I don't see any men, Dave; however, I do see a pack of assholes." Ignoring the anger on his face, she pinched her nose. "It does explain the smell."
Rather baffled at her sudden coldness, and unable to think of a witty retort, Dave turned on his heel and stormed towards the bar, leaving the other two to snicker at his retreat. Releasing her nose, Stephanie relished the warm tingling that was taking over her body, a sure sign that the alcohol was taking over. Finishing off the last of her champagne, she took both her and Chris's empty glasses and set them by the others. "Now where in the hell is that waiter," she muttered, leaning against Jericho so she could safely stand on her tiptoes.
Taking note of her glassy eyes and flushed cheeks, Chris placed a supportive arm around Stephanie's middle. "I think you've had enough to drink, Princess."
Her blue eyes suddenly locked onto his, her gaze jumping back and forth in an attempt to focus. "I'm not as drink as you thunk I am," she stumbled, laughing at herself for her complete lack of credibility. Her brain was just a bit hazy, but her motor skills were being directed by the champagne. "You should loosen up and have a few more yourself. Pull that stick of righteousness out of your ass." With that statement, Stephanie somehow tripped over her own feet, avoiding an embarrassing face plant thanks to the arm around her face.
Pulling the tipsy woman back to a standing position, Chris gave her a bemused look. "If I have a few more drinks, who's going to keep you from falling, Princess?" he questioned.
"If you don't have a few more drinks, how am I going to tell you…" she trailed off, a hand coming up to cover her mouth. Maybe she HAD drank a bit too much; blurting out the details of her plan was, in fact, never part of the plan. Turning away to hide her blushing face, she pretended to search the crowd for the waiter again. "Where in the hell is that guy? I gave him twenty bucks, dammit," she complained.
Chris didn't buy her cover up attempt. "You don't need any more booze, Steph. And since when is a McMahon afraid to speak her mind?" She was trying to focus on him again, tilting both her head and her body to the right simultaneously. With a sigh, he wrapped his arm around her tighter, forcing her to stand up straight. "What could you be so afraid to say to me that would make you want to blame the champagne?"
Out of nowhere, her eyes cleared. And it became clear to Chris what her big secret was, since it was linked to the emotion swirling in her eyes.
She liked him. And from the way she kept licking her lips, it was a serious crush.
Chris couldn't believe what he was seeing. After all these months of no contact, she appears at a party with blonde hair and crushing on the King of the World himself. His stomach fluttered with a mixture of emotions: embarrassment, excitement, awkwardness. Despite the name-calling and the pies in the face, he had held a torch for her for years; but the flame dwindled when he fell under Trish's spell, and he let go of his feelings towards the youngest McMahon. After all, he truly believed that she hated him.
Of course, he conveniently overlooked the passionate kisses they had shared, and the constant sexual tension between them during their partnership.
Unsurprisingly, the tension had returned, since Stephanie could see the surprise bouncing around in his eyes and guessed that he had figured out her secret. Breaking the intense gaze, she let out a guttural sigh, deciding to come clean. "Even though I got fired, I still watched both shows from home. The thing with you and Trish… it revolted me. I nearly put my foot through the television the night you two kissed." She shuddered at the memory. "It was a wake up call to me, to say the least. So I decided to accept my mom's invitation to come to this stupid party. To see you." She swallowed a few times, feeling as if her sweating palms were stealing the moisture right out of her mouth. "And, well, I dyed my hair,"
"So that I'd notice you," Chris finished. It all made sense: her unexpected presence at a company party, the way her eyes lit up when she spotted him, tamping down her nerves with all that alcohol, and her comment about her bleached hair. Now that he had the answers, however, he didn't know what to do or say. He had long abandoned his hopes of ever having a relationship with her; did he really want to drudge up those feelings once again? After all, he was still recovering from Trish… and yet, he desperately wanted to kiss those soft lips again.
Unable to raise her eyes to his, Stephanie was in agony. She had no idea what he could be feeling or thinking, and she was starting to wonder if her confession was her worst idea since signing Mr. America. Deciding that another glass of champagne would thoroughly squelch the voices in her head, she pulled away from his grasp and started tottering towards the bar. "I'm going to kill that fucking waiter," she mumbled to herself, concentrating on her steps and cursing the food service industry.
Surprised by her retreat, Chris caught up to her quickly, placing an arm around her shoulders and pulling her towards the exit. "No more alcohol, Steph. Let's go get some fresh air and sober you up a bit."
"Why would I want that?" Stephanie pouted, allowing him to lead her. At least her buzz kept her from feeling like a total idiot.
"Because a gentleman never takes advantage of a drunken lady," Chris stated, echoing the words of his father as he held open the door and led her into the cool night air.
Steph's heart started to beat a bit faster in her chest. "So what does this mean?"
Settling her down on a bench, he sat down beside her. "We'll figure out what it means later. For now, though, let's talk about this hair of yours."
Her face fell. "You don't like it," she pouted, feeling silly for ever dying it in the first place.
He shook his head slightly. "I like it only if you like it. Personally I think you look beautiful either way," he stated with a cheesy grin.
Chris didn't give her a smoldering stare or a kiss on the hand like Dave Batista, but Stephanie felt herself melting anyways. Scooting closer to him, she tapped his leg a few times. "Chris? What you said before, about not taking advantage of a drunken lady?"
"Well, can the drunken lady take advantage of you?"
Author's notes: Went to dinner with my oldest brother tonight. He commented that our waitress looked like a blonde Stephanie, and BAM! I came home and started writing. I apologize for any glaring grammar or spelling mistakes, but I was rather excited to get this out of my head and posted on ff.net. I hope you enjoyed this fluffy interlude; I'll get back to writing Flowers now :) Leave a review and let me know what you think! Take care all!