Disclaimer: I own nothing. The characters are the property of themselves and of World Wrestling Entertainment. The song "Regret" is property of Seven Wiser and Wind-Up Records.
Author's Notes: This is really my first all-out romance fic (my first disastrous attempt is available on my other name). I hope I didn't slaughter the characters. As well, this is based on the 5 July 2004 show of Raw. I did not see this show on the television, only from the results, and I hope that I did not make any errors on the show.
As well, things have been changed. I have no knowledge of Stephanie McMahon's wedding date; things have been changed to fit the story. I hope no one takes offense.
The song is "Regret," by the band Seven Wiser.
As always, constructive criticism is always appreciated.
I'm Nothing But Alone
The scorn was always there. The repeated passes we had in the hallways, the meetings over which she presided, the matches that she watched backstage avidly. I knew that about her: she tried to make things perfect, and if by watching the matches backstage she could somehow perfect them, she would. She had confessed that to me, that frigid night in which the heat that we generated could have erased even the most Arctic night.
/Did you hear me calling'?
The day you walked out/
There was no recognition in her eyes now when I spoke to her. "So," I said, as casually as I could. "I'm going at Randy?"
"It says so on the schedule," she said, not even looking up. "If that's what it says, then there you go."
"I don't understand the beginning," I said, trying to coax her into saying something. "I don't understand the beginning at all. Musical chairs?"
"Why are you bothering me?" She looked her, her eyes, the very same eyes that had looked at me with such longing, were hard, intense fires now. "You know they'll you'll be told in the briefing. Stop bothering me. I'm busy."
She started away from me, but I caught her arm. She turned toward me, pulling her arm away as though I was plagued. "Don't touch me," she said, shrilly. "Don't touch me!"
Like I had touched her that night? When my hands had spread over her body in places that her breath come from her in short gasps?
"Stephanie," I said, unable to keep the pain from my voice. "Stephanie, you have to talk to me. Tell me what went wrong."
/Didn't even turn around
To see me trying'/
Her eyes, it seemed for a moment, seemed to lose that protective mask that she wore everywhere. For a moment she was the girl that had giggled with me, laughed with me, and held my hand the night I learned of my grandmother's death.
"That was a year ago, Chris," she said, harshly. "Get over it. Get over yourself. I'm engaged now. Stop talking to me."
I caught her arm again, and she scraped at me with the other, leaving bright red marks on my skin where her nails had dug in.
"I told you not to touch me!" she hissed again. "Get away from me! It's over, don't you understand?"
"I understand," I said, raising my voice as she pulled away from me again. "I understand, but I don't understand why."
"You know," she said, her eyes suddenly glistening. "You know, Chris. It's over between us. We're professionals, and I will treat you like I treat anyone else. Now please, stop. Just get away from me."
"But why? You never told me why!"
"Stop, Chris. Just stop." She spun on her heel and marched down the hall.
I cursed myself for being so weak, for not being able to follow. I felt a part of my heart shrivel. Why? I had asked the question for the past year. Why? She had never answered me. I had come home one day, to my own house, and found her clothes and possessions gone. Gone, inexplicably gone, and she nowhere to be found.
The terror I had felt that day, in finding my house unexplainably empty, was nothing I had ever felt before. Nothing I ever wanted to feel again. It was like everything inside me had disappeared. Emptied into some dark pool that was away from my heart. I could feel nothing, except the stark panic, except the unconquerable fear inside my head, nothing except the adrenaline that I could feel flooding my veins, speeding my heart.
I thought I'd lost her, lost her to something that had crept inside my house and taken her. My calls to her cell phone were unreturned, and her parents had no clue to where she was. She was gone, vanished, vanished without a trace. My heart had nearly taken a dive then, nearly went into a tailspin that I would surely never recover from, never be able to pull out from.
After my calls, when I had gone to the front yard to start a frantic search, she stood there, radiant, the light framing her.
My heart leapt, beat wildly, and I wanted to sob in relief. Wanted to cry in relief.
And when I saw Hunter Levesque in the background, I didn't know why. Why his car was parked in front of my house. Why I could see her things piled up in the back. And why he was sitting impatiently in the driver's seat, tapping his fingers on the dash.
When I saw her face, nearly broken, yet happy it its shame, I understood why.
/In this life
I'm nothing but alone/
"Stephanie," I'd said, holding out my arms to her, trying to draw her into my embrace, but in my heart, I think I'd already known. When she pulled away from me, I had stared, dumbfounded, knowing, but refusing to believe. Refusing to believe that the woman whom I'd given my heart to could betray me.
"We were worried," I tried. "I called your parents, your brother, they didn't know where you were. Your stuff wasn't here, I was so worried."
"I'm sorry I made you worry," she said, eyes sparkling and apprehensive at the same time. "I . . . Chris, there's no easy way to say this."
"Did he hurt you?" Inside I already knew, but the numbing disbelief stayed just below the surface. "Did he hurt you? Stephanie? Did he take you? Why's your stuff in his car? Stephanie?"
Now the luminance left her eyes and the shame was the only emotion I saw.
I felt my heart tailspinning, but not in the way I had imagined earlier, not in the grief and fear and worry over what would happen if she had been taken. No, I found it spinning in another direction.
"Chris, I'm sorry. It's over. I . . . I don't know what to say."
"You . . . why . . . I don't understand."
"Chris, stop making it harder than it has to be. I've fallen out of love with you. You . . . you've always been there, Chris. It's not your fault. It's mine. I'm sorry. I . . . Hunter's been here always, Chris. I've known him longer than I've known you. And . . . well, the past few months I've been seeing him a lot more than you know."
Her words slipped away from me, lost, but at the same time, not lost. I absorbed them stupidly, not knowing what to say, not wanting to say anything.
"I don't understand," I repeated, my tongue feeling thick and foreign.
"Chris, stop. Please. I'm taking my stuff and I'm leaving with him. I'm sorry I hurt you."
She leaned forward and kissed my cheek. I did nothing, not realizing, not fully realizing that she was leaving me. My jewel, my angel, my perfect complement was leaving me. My witty, beautiful, smart, funny, my achingly lovely half was leaving. Leaving me.
She turned, and I had enough sense to grab her arm.
She pulled away from me and the horn on the car shattered the quaint silence that had been in the street.
"I'm sorry, Chris," she said quietly, her face grave. "I loved you, Chris. Alright, I loved you. It's not your fault. Let me go."
"Stephanie." I breathed her name, and as she strode away, the lush breeze teasingly pulling her hair, I felt it, everything she had said, fall upon me. I could feel her words, her words spoken with grace and bearing, her eyes showing the only true emotion, the shame. The brightness at the beginning, the shame when she spoke to me, and then the deep, deep brightness again, the horrible brightness which contradicted all her shame.
I breathed her name again, as she got into the car. As the engine roared to life, Hunter's arm went to hers, and she grabbed it like it was a lifesaver, as though if she let it go, she would fall and drown in whatever waters of sorrow she was fighting against. Whatever sorrow she felt.
Her sorrows were nothing.
The Cadillac roared a second time and the car pushed away from the curb, heading in the direction of the freeway. I could see her possessions rattling in the back, the clothes she had kept at my place, the chairs she had moved in, the little decorations that she had put into my house. "To brighten it up," she had joked. "Men didn't know how to decorate."
She had stopped, I thought now. She had stopped a few months ago. She stopped bringing her stuff to my house. Stopped putting flowers on the tables or putting new pictures on the walls.
I breathed her name again. I felt my heart tailspinning in the other direction, felt it flying not into the fear I had been expecting, but into oblivion, into nothingness, into a cold and hard blackness.
It was worse than the fear. It was worse than the grief. I would have rather been spinning senselessly into worry than spinning knowingly into a bleak and dark day.
I felt tears rise up behind my eyes, felt the tears start to push through my eyes, one by one.
Unable to stop them, unable to do anything but breathe her name, I went back inside my empty house.
/Trying to understand
This in front of me
You never gave a damn about me/
I walked back to the locker room, knowing that I should find Randy and discuss my match with him. The briefing was in half an hour, and my fellow wrestlers were starting to trickle in. I had come an hour early, for the sole purpose of finding and seeking out Stephanie McMahon. She was designated for this purpose; she wasn't really supposed to be here, anyway. Of course she was welcomed: she was Vince's daughter and could come to any functions. She had come with me, of course.
Did I really count that? No. She was with the man she loved; she had every right.
And now? She came to be with the man she was engaged to.
And that counted. She wasn't supposed to be here.
Entering the locker room, I was surprised to find Jay Reso lounging about.
"What are you doing here?" I asked stupidly.
He looked at me, getting up, through mockingly hurt eyes. "That's my greeting?"
I recovered my senses. "Well, it is a little unorthodox. Shouldn't you be at home, resting, or some other nonsense I know you engage in?"
He laughed, a pleasant sound that I hadn't heard in awhile, since learning that his body had betrayed him. "Sorry, buddy, I've got some contract clearances I need to do. Nothing too major; just a bit more money to make sure you go broke."
"Whatever, wiseass. Like you could ever, anyway." I went to my bag and belongings. "So how's your lovely wife?"
"I think she's cheating on me."
I looked up to see his solemn face.
"What? What do you mean?" Thinking it was something kindred, I moved compassionately toward him. I knew what it felt like to have the short end of the stick.
"She says she spent last night with her sister."
Thinking that he must have spotted her, making it doubly worse, I took another step. I felt the familiar grief well up in my heart. At least I had been blissfully unaware until she'd brought up the subject.
"So?" I asked, as gently as I could. "What's so funny about that?"
"I spent last night with her sister." And he howled with laughter, rolling onto the ground.
I stood, frozen with shock.
/Now how could you just
Turn your back on me?/
"That's such a funny joke! I was howling when I heard it, and I get a kick out of it whenever I hear it again! Jeez, should have seen your face, Chris! I thought you really believed me! Loser!"
Reeling with shock still, I took a step back. "That's not funny," I said, shaking my head. "That's really not funny at all."
"Oh, how not? It's rather hilarious, if you ask me. One of those kickers that really pack a kick. Like the Lightning actually winning the Stanley Cup, jeez, what a hoot. I can't believe you actually bought it. You know my wife; she wouldn't cheat on me. She'd never find another manly stud like me."
Shaking my head, I attempted a smile; I thought it failed rather dismally. "Yeah, haha. Guess I'm behind the times. Where would she ever find another manly stud like you?"
"Unless it was me, of course."
Laughing with him, I started to sort through my things halfheartedly, while he kept up the conversation. I filled in my necessary part, but my head was drifting somewhere between roses and chocolate.
Had I really wanted his wife to have been cheating on him?
Yessir, I had. I could share this bitter experience with him. He wouldn't laugh or think any differently of me; he'd experienced it first hand, and knew what a bitch it could be.
Nobody in the company knew that she had cheated on me. I had never told anyone, and she and Hunter had made it a point to not be seen together in public for weeks after she had first told me. She had watched me warily those first few weeks, as though she was afraid what would happen if I told anyone what had transpired between the two of us.
I felt pain leak through me while Jay chatted gaily behind me. I hadn't told anyone. I don't know what kept me away from it. I felt, with a measure of certainty, that if I told anyone what had happened, I would feel immensely better. I could blame her and have someone else blame her.
Because, as much as I told myself not to, I blamed myself for everything.
/Now, after everything I've done for you
I've never walked away from anything but you/
There was pain in my arm.
A wicked twist had left me reeling. Orton was a smart kid, and I knew he'd rise far in the business. It was in his genes, but it was also in his heart. He worked professionally, had great laughs with the guys, but his eyes were aimed to the top. In a way, he reminded me of me, the me that had worked years ago, before I'd ever met Stephanie and my life had been filled with her, not anything else, even the business I had loved.
I still loved it. I loved it the way Randy loved it, but Randy was younger. Naïve. Still not knowing what years of work could leave you—treasured and cherished memories of pain and glory, or bitterness of wasted years and nothing to show. I had thought myself on the first path, a part of me still did.
And then the fool I was had gone and fallen in love and then fallen through heartbreak.
The pain in my arm was standard, since that particularly nasty twist that Randy had given me. He'd tried not to, but things happened. I took my Aleve and started to ride it out. There was no way around the pain.
Jay had left long ago, his last crack, "Musical chairs? Boy, you really do like hoots, don't you?"
I'd thrown my towel at him and he'd kicked it back, purposefully rubbing his shoe in it, leaving a black shoeprint on its white surface.
"Go home," I'd told him. "Go home. Your wife's waiting for me, though."
"Whatever, manly stud," he'd replied. "And you believe me. Hah! Farewell, fair maiden."
It was easy conversation, one full of laughs, but it left me downhearted and depressed, when it should have left me feeling perky. But I'd seen Stephanie. And I'd seen Hunter. And they'd been holding hands.
It killed my mood, for some unexplainable reasons.
The door to my room opened.
/Taking everything from me
And turned it upside down/
Vince McMahon peered in.
I stood up immediately.
"Vince?" I asked, respectfully.
His face looked slightly worn. Haggard. Angry. I'd been afraid of that wrath when I'd been with Stephanie, afraid to see disproval in his eyes, or some sort of approval and a job promotion, which I didn't want, just because I had, for a short time, his daughter's heart. Stephanie hadn't pushed that, either. I suspected things about her fiancee, but I kept those to myself.
Now I wasn't afraid of him, afraid of him the way I had been when Stephanie had been my girl. He looked angry now, but I couldn't fathom why he'd be angry with me. He'd complimented me after my match, telling me that I'd made Randy look good. Which wasn't all too difficult, since I had a hard time making myself look good.
"Chris, can I talk to you?"
Confused, I nodded. He came in, shutting the door, shoving his hands deep into his pockets.
"Vince?" I prodded gently, not wanting to upset him.
He sighed deeply, and then his angry eyes came up. "Oh, what the hell. There's not easy way to ask. I need to know. Did Stephanie cheat on you?"
Taken aback, I said nothing, nor made any motion with my head. He watched me carefully.
Swallowing painfully, regaining my consciousness, I asked carefully, "Why do you ask?"
He growled. "I want to know, Chris."
"Have you asked her?"
"I'm asking you."
There was no way to argue with that logic. "Yeah. She did."
"And you didn't tell me?"
I looked at him in surprise, feeling the familiar pain billow up inside me. "I didn't want to. I didn't tell anyone; I still haven't. Nobody knows. Nobody needed to know. It was my business."
He was watching me through hawk eyes. "It was my business."
"Vince . . . it's personal, Vince. I didn't see the need to involve you. She never told anyone, I'm sure, and I'm sure she didn't want me telling, and I didn't feel the need to. Why are you asking me?"
He lowered his eyes for a moment. "She's . . . she's in a bad way, Chris. There's something wrong with her. Now, she won't confide in me, or her mother, and I got the inkling something was wrong when she didn't come for the staff briefing."
I had, too.
"Hunter doesn't know where she is. I asked him if you might know, since I thought you two were still close."
Where he got that idea was beyond me, since we avoided each other like the plague.
"He got . . . very protective. He told me that they'd been together for over a year and that she wasn't interested in you anymore. And well, I did the math. You two were still together a year ago."
He was avoiding my eyes. I swallowed, again painfully.
"Well, yeah, okay. She did. With him. But that's over now."
"Well, it may be, but I can't find her. She's nowhere to be found. I didn't want to ask you, but I'm worried. And I thought you might now. And well . . . I . . . I wasn't very fair to you, Chris."
Wasn't very fair? How?
"I treated you pretty badly after she broke it off with you. I assumed you had done something wrong."
Treated me badly? I'd never noticed anything. Well, of course, that was a few months after I'd learned about it, and I hadn't really noticed anything.
"She never broke it off with anybody who hadn't done anything to make her, and she always seemed happy. I assumed you had done something wrong. Of course, that is biased, since she is my daughter, but sue me. And well, when I hear it was her, not you, it makes me a little angry. I thought I had raised my daughter better. I'm sorry."
He lowered his head even more. I felt tears in my eyes and I willed them back savagely. I was not going to cry! There was nothing to cry about! I'd lost her more than a year ago, and I'd been spinning for over a year, but it was over! Vince knew; he'd condemned her! I was supposed to feel better!
As Vince lowered his head, I felt myself start to spin faster.
/So I see you out there
Regret is on your mind/
"I . . . sorry to spring this all on you at once, Chris. It's really not damn decent of me."
Yes, I wanted to shriek at him. Yes, and look at what you're doing to me.
"It's wrong, I know, but . . . um . . . so you don't know where she is?"
My voice came out harsher than I intended it to. "No, I don't. We don't talk anymore. We're not 'close,' like you said. She doesn't want to talk to me."
He started to back up the moment the first word left my mouth. "I'm sorry to have bothered you," he mumbled, and I felt a small wave of disbelief roll over me. This proud, powerful man was backing away from me. Out of shame? Certainly not fear. Out of shame. Shame for his daughter.
"Sorry," he mumbled again. "If you see her, please tell her she's missed. See you later, Chris. Nice show." And he was gone, shutting the door quietly behind him.
I sat down heavily on the bench, holding my head in my hands, clutching my hair. It had been a year ago and I still wasn't over it. Over her. I wasn't over anything, and I wanted to be, so badly.
I was still spinning, tumbling through a void that I should be able to spring from, recover and fly from. Why was it so damn difficult? She had gotten over it, obviously. She was prancing around like some damn deer in mating season; she was a princess, and she had found her prince. Not in the man that had been devoted to her; the man that had stolen her.
So what? Was he better than me? Better-looking? Was he better in bed? Better in holding her and touching her and making her yell in delight? Did he have some fount of intelligence and humor that I had never before witnessed? Was he possessed by charm and wit that had never before made them known? What was it she saw in him, exactly? He was cruel and not kind and not loving. How could she love him? How could she love him!
The questions were endless. I had asked them for days after her things had disappeared from my house, days and days and days. I asked them still, in the quiet times when I sat alone, or when I saw her, or when I sat with the opened but untouched bottle of Coors on my counter. I asked them, that endless litany, again and again and again, and no matter what, I could never find the answers. Like spinning, I could not make them stop.
The door to my room opened again.
/I'm sick of trying
In this life
I'm nothing but alone/
I raised my head slowly toward the door.
"I don't know where she is, Vince, I'm sorry—"
Stephanie McMahon stood by the door, locking it quietly, her hair a ruin and her clothes rumpled. Coming closer to the center of the room, I saw that she had been crying; her eyes were bloodshot and dark smudges of mascara marred her pale cheeks. She looked a mess and I only gaped at her.
Sniffling, she said, "I had to wait until I was sure you were alone."
"I . . . your father's looking for you. They can't find you. You didn't show up for the briefing."
"I know . . . I know they're looking for me. Do me a favor and lock that door, will you?"
For a moment I felt a childish urge to stamp my foot and tell her that no, I would not comply with her demands. I turned around and locked the door anyway. A year and I was still under her spell.
We stood for a long moment, eyes not meeting, and then she said in a hoarse voice, "I've been thinking a lot, Chris." She waited, like she wanted me to say something. I remained silent. She cleared her throat. "I've been thinking a lot," she repeated, still not meeting my face. "About us, I mean. And what I did to you."
The fires jumped in my belly again and the pain intensified.
"Chris, I . . . I really don't know how to say this, Chris. I've missed you."
My head shot up. I looked at her, shocked. I didn't dare breathe, lest this be fantasy.
"I've missed you so much," she said, and started crying again.
I moved toward her, before I knew what I was doing. I took her in my arms and moved my fingers through her hair, holding her close to my chest, her sobs muffled by body. After a short while she stopped shaking. She looked at my arms through her tears.
She sighed. "Chris," she whispered. "I . . . I'm engaged now. I . . . I know what I did to you was wrong. It was shameful. I'm getting married in two weeks and I don't want . . . I don't want to feel ashamed. I don't want to feel ashamed of what I've done to you."
I wanted to let go of her right then. I wanted to push her away and scream at her and make her look at the damage she'd done to me.
But I couldn't. As I held her in my arms, oh, I never wanted to let her go. I wanted this to go on forever. I could smell her, feel her warmth, feel the tips of her fingers on my arms, feel her comforting weight. I wanted it to last, last like I thought it would, always. I wanted her to be with me. I wanted to kiss her and stroke her hair; I wanted to make her gasp, I wanted her to kiss me, I wanted feel her, all of her, all of her at once.
I cursed myself for my weakness.
"I want to know that you've forgiven me, Chris. I know you probably can't. I know you probably won't. I haven't forgiven myself. I . . . you were better, Chris, than anyone. It was my fault, my fault. It was never you. And I know you probably won't forgive me. But . . . I wanted to see you one last time. I wanted to see you one last time before I couldn't anymore."
I held her, not wanting to let her go.
Be strong. She had made me feel this heartbreak. Made me go through all this pain. Made me live this life. Be strong; let her go.
I released her and she choked back a sob.
"I don't forgive you," I said, clearly, turning my back on her. "You . . . no, I don't forgive you. I don't forgive you at all."
She was crying again; I could hear her soft sobs. She choked out, "I know you can't; I don't blame you. I . . . I'm sorry. For everything."
I didn't face her as she tapped toward the door, slowly.
If she walked through that door, I would never see her again.
Maybe it was better, then. If she walked through that door.
I'd never see her again, see her like she was offering now.
Never feel that hair, that weight, that warmth, those lips—
"Stephanie," I said in a strangled whisper.She stopped moving.
I turned around, feeling the tears spill from my eyes. I went to her and grabbed her, her lips finding mine, pressing against me, hard.
"I love you," I whispered, desperately. "I love you so goddamned much."
She didn't say anything; she let me carry her toward the carpeted floors of the showers, where I laid her down, getting down besides her. She started to take off her shirt, and I didn't stop her.
I knew I should, but I didn't. I wanted to stop it, I wanted to make her stop. She should stop; there was nothing beyond this moment. She was getting married. It was sinful. She should stop more than anything.
I kissed her desperately, hard, fast, not wanting to let her go, wanting to make the moment last forever, so that she would never leave, never marry, stay with me always.
It was wrong, but I couldn't stop it. I kissed her, again and again and again and again, and I couldn't stop it.
The spinning had stopped, she was in my arms, and the only thing that mattered was that the world was right again.
No matter the consequences of tomorrow.
/Why everything for me is upside down
You never gave a damn about me/
"Do you ever regret it?" she asked me quietly after it was over, after it was finished.
"What?" I asked her, drowsily, holding her tightly.
"You? No. Never."
"Chris, I loved you. I still love you."
"Then leave him." The words came from me, but I couldn't stop them. I figured I'd have to say it sometime. I hadn't meant for it to be now, after that time, but it had sprouted from me, more than I'd intended.
She said nothing for awhile; she stroked my hair. I felt myself drifting off toward sleep when she spoke again. "I can't leave him. I love him. I . . . he's comforting, Chris. With him I have a future."
I wanted to get stirred up; I wanted to be angry. It didn't matter; she could say whatever she wanted. I'd be angry later. Now there was her and her alone.
"With you, I'd have one too. But Chris . . . you don't deserve me. We were both drunk one night, Chris, me and him, while you were with your family. I missed you so much, but I couldn't have you. He's . . . he's passionate, Chris, and he's gentle and he loves me. He's different than you."
"And he's better than me? So you love him more?" I said it with no animosity.
"No, Chris. He's not. But . . . you don't deserve me. You're better than me. You deserve someone who will love you all the way. Not someone who runs off with the first guy she meets. Who allows it go on."
"I want you, Stephanie. You're the only I've ever wanted."
Tears filled her eyes. "I know. It hurts so damned much. Making you go through what you're going through. But this is right. I know it."
I said nothing. If it was right, why did it hurt so much? Why did it hurt so fucking badly if it was right?
"I'm sorry, Chris. I love you."
I closed my eyes.
"I love you too, Stephanie," I said, feeling the pain overwhelm me, carry me. I fell asleep.
/Every time you sit and think of me/
It was four in the morning when I woke up and she was gone.
I found her hair tie on my gym bag, sitting there colorfully, neatly. Leaving it for me. One brown hair stuck from its surface. I picked it up, studying its brightness.
She was gone now, really. For good. For reasons she thought were true, reasons I knew weren't.
She was gone. A memory. A year of life wasted. Another year coping. Another year of my life wasted.
Gone now, forever. Nothing left, nothing but those few memories. And the regret, all the regret.
"Damn you, Stephanie," I said to myself, the tears threatening to spill. "Damn you, damn you to hell."
I threw the hair tie in the trash.
I picked up my gym bag, left the arena, called a taxi.
I was spinning still, spinning and spinning and spinning.
But somehow, I thought I was spinning slower. Just a little. One little spin at a time. Slowing slightly.
But it was enough.
For now, it would really have to be enough.
/In your head you're crawling back to me/