DISCLAIMER: I do not own Chris Jericho, Nidia, 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 battle royal from 7-26-04 Raw.
JUST A REMINDER: This is the sequel to Flowers for Jericho. If you didn't read it, then more than likely you won't understand a thing that's going on. If you like that sort of obliviousness, however, be my guest and continue :)
Flowers Can't Keep Secrets
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Or plagiarism, depending on who one asked.
Avoiding the curious eyes of both co-workers and technicians backstage, Chris Jericho kept a tight grasp on his bouquet of flowers as he navigated his way to his locker room. Only this time, he had done the purchasing of the blooms, not the receiving.
Oh yes, there was an agenda to fulfill tonight that had nothing to do with wrestling or titles.
It was all about the ladies, as Shelton liked to say. Two very specific ladies.
Despite last week's dinner invitation, Chris had made no effort to contact Nidia to set a date. In fact, the more days that passed, the more reluctant he grew about fulfilling such an obligation. He didn't have any sort of feeling towards her, beyond a slight admiration for her newly-purchased tits (which, rumor had it, was funded by a second mortgage on the double-wide that she had shared with Jamie Noble).
While it was a nice rack, it couldn't be compared to Stephanie McMahon's.
So, after consulting Shelton about the matter, the two men decided that the best course of action was for Chris to retract his offer of dinner. While Nidia would be crushed, no doubt, Chris would give her a bouquet of yellow roses as a peace offering and leave it at that.
Yellow roses, according to the flower dictionary, were a symbol of friendship. Chris only hoped that Nidia was as educated in the meaning of flowers as she appeared to be. Otherwise, he feared she may get the wrong idea and then he'd have to go through with the dinner out of pity.
If there was anything Chris Jericho could not stand, it was a pity date. Besides, he spent the majority of his free time feeling sorry for himself these days, and all because of Stephanie.
But that was a whole other can of worms. First things first, he wanted to get the Nidia situation over and done with. Finally catching sight of his dressing room, he scurried inside to drop off his gym bag. Automatically, his eyes scanned the room for any bouquets; a routine action that the Canadian was immediately saddened by. Unless a waiting bouquet was from Stephanie, they wouldn't have meant a thing to him.
No such luck, Chris thought to himself mournfully. While she continued to deny a relationship with the Intercontinental chump, she reportedly still had dinner with Edge last Monday, and was overheard to have said that she "cared deeply about him".
Chris snorted at that thought. Stephanie didn't care about anyone but herself; that's what he liked about her. Her selfishness reminded him of… him. And once he brought this to her attention, it was only natural that she would sever her ties with that loser and agree to have dinner with the King of the World.
But first things first, he had to get rid of Nidia… tastefully. Over the years, Chris had noticed that no matter how much one chick hated another one, would sympathize with one another if one was 'wronged' by a man. The idea made him grimace; the last thing he needed was a backstage chick rebellion against him. So, with the eleven yellow roses still in hand, he exited his locker room and went to search out the newest Raw Diva.
His search was over before it began, for the diva in question stood just outside his door, ready to knock. Her chocolate brown eyes dipped to look at the flowers in his hand before she met his surprised gaze. "Hey," Nidia said softly.
Chris, somewhat embarrassed for no particular reason, answered her greeting by thrusting the roses in her face. "These are for you," he quickly explained, praying that she would catch the hidden meaning.
Giving the blond man a slight smile, Nidia took the proffered flowers, burying her face in the blooms to inhale their scent. "Mmm… what are these for?" she asked.
The heat began to rise in his cheeks; he never expected to have to EXPLAIN this. He longed to make a snide remark and take the two steps backwards into the sanctuary of his locker room, but running away was not part of his M.O. "Well, um… you see…"
Understanding flickered across her face. "Oh, I get it! Yellow roses… ya just want to be friends huh?" she filled in for him, snapping her ever-present gum for emphasis.
Despite the fact that she got the hidden feeling, Chris worried that he was coming across as a schmuck. Usually he wouldn't give two shits about what she thought of him, but through his friendship with Shelton he had grown something of a conscience. Just another reason to hate rookies, he amended mentally. Again, though, he was little equipped to deal with these new moral developments, and thus did not know what to say to the girl before him. "Look, Nidia, it's not you, it's me…" he stuttered
In the background, he swore he could hear the trumpets sounding, calling to assemble the army of women for the rebellion. God, what had made him think of that cheesy line?
Nidia didn't lash out at the panicked man, much to his surprise. In fact, he swore he could see relief in her eyes. "Chill, Chris. I totally get it. We don't have to go to dinner; we don't even have to be friends if ya don't want to. I won't hate ya."
Trumpets? He was mistaken; he now heard a choir of angels singing the 'Hallelujah Chorus'. And yet…
There was that tugging again in the pit of his stomach. She had given him the easy way out, but that conscience thing was stopping him from taking it. Reaching out, Chris placed a hand on her shoulder, squeezing it gently. "Who said anything about not being friends? I did give you those roses, didn't I?"
"I guess so," she beamed, tilting her head upwards to give him her biggest grin.
Chris did not return her smile, his eyes catching sight of some faint bruising on her neck, just beneath her chin. "What happened here?" he questioned, his hand moving from his shoulder to trace a section of the bruise.
Immediately her free hand slapped his away. "Ah, that's nothing. Happened in the ring awhile ago," she explained quickly, her smile never wavering.
Jericho was suspicious, but let her odd behavior slide. After all, he knew little about her behavior in general; who was he to call her out on acting weird? "Well, I'd better go see what I'm doing tonight. I'll see you around Nids."
She giggled a bit at the nickname as her own hand touched the fading bruises. "See ya 'round, Chris."
With a final nod, Chris turned to his right and made his way towards catering, hoping to run into a technician. Or even better, the backstage coordinator. Catching sight of a headset, Chris strolled up to the vaguely familiar young man. "Hey kid! What's going on!" he announced loudly, falling into his boisterous facade.
The technician (Scotty, as he was called by his other techie friends) looked at the blond man warily. It hadn't been that many weeks ago that this same man had him up by his collar and was threatening to beat him into a pulp. Scotty didn't know what he had done this time, but he hoped that the cheerful greeting wasn't some sort of sick farce. "Look, if this is about Ms. McMahon…" he started.
Chris's brow furrowed; where on Earth had that come from? "What about Stephanie?"
Scotty blanched, realizing with a start that Jericho wasn't asking about his boss. Desperately he racked his brain for a cover; however, his degree in engineering did little to construct a decent lie. "Oh well, I, um, just figured you wanted to see her… since she's my boss."
His suspicions aroused, Chris decided that a little intimidation wouldn't hurt. After all, he felt as if he KNEW this boy from somewhere… "Why don't you cut the crap, Junior, and tell me what's really going on," he growled, stepping closer to his companion and extending to full height.
Convinced that the man before him was indeed bipolar, Scotty feared for his life. And, like most in his shoes, he did what came natural: gave the other man a hard kick to his shin. After Jericho yelped and crumpled over in pain, the young technician bolted in the direction of the gorilla, to hide behind said boss and pray for his safety.
It took only seconds for Jericho to recover.
And mere milliseconds to want to beat the shit out of that little bastard.
"GET BACK HERE YOU PUNK!" Chris bellowed, righting himself and running after the boy. He was convinced that the kid had panicked because he knew something about Stephanie. Something that people didn't know, maybe even something that Chris wasn't allowed to know. In any case, the secret involved Steph, and that was reason enough to break each of the kid's fingers until he squealed.
Stephanie McMahon was in her own little world when she caught sight of a technician running towards her. In the time it took for her to place the young man's name to his face, the running man had skidded to a halt beside her, and was now crouched behind the production boxes that she had spread her work upon. Thoroughly confused, she looked down at the trembling young man at her feet. "Scotty, what in the hell are you doing?" she asked, sidestepping a bit to the left.
"I didn't say anything, Ms. McMahon, I promise!" Scotty's muffled voice floated up from the floor.
As she processed his words, she caught sight of another man rushing towards her. This time, however, she didn't have to search her brain for his name; she'd know those tights anywhere.
Coming to a stop before Stephanie, Chris gave her a brief look before scanning the area. "Where did that little asshole go…" he muttered under his breath.
Somewhat displeased at his lack of a greeting, Stephanie crossed her arm and gave him an annoyed look. "Something I can help you with, Jericho?"
Unable to spot the technician, Chris forced himself to calm down and switch targets. This was the opportunity he had been waiting for: he was alone, with Stephanie, and Edge was no where in sight. Hence the alone part. "Actually, there is something you can answer for me, Steph," he responded, leaning towards the brunette.
Stephanie's eyes widened a bit at his suggestive tone, but she kept her cool demeanor. "And what would that be?"
"Well," Chris leaned even further, his face now inches away from hers and his voice dropping to a near whisper. "Did it… hurt Steph?"
Her brow furrowed; this was all too strange. Even Scotty had stopped trembling at her feet, listening to the odd exchange. "Did what hurt?"
"Did it hurt… when you fell from heaven?"
The King of the World? So he proclaimed. The Undisputed Champion of musical chairs? At the moment, yes. The master of cheesy lines? Most definitely.
Long live the king.
Stephanie snorted, unable to believe that she had walked into the oldest (and stupidest) pick-up line. "What's going on, Jericho? You know I don't know anything about this battle royal tonight, other than you're in it…" she trailed off as she watched his hand come towards his face.
Slowly, Chris moved to tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear, making sure that the backs of his fingers stroked her jaw line. His actions earned him a slight shudder, and he grinned. The line had been a ruse; designed to catch her off-guard so that he could work his real mojo. "The only thing going on, Stephy, is dinner tonight."
God, she was so confused. She blamed his hand (which was still trailing a feather-light caress on her cheek) for her complete inability to comprehend the current situation. "Dinner tonight?" she repeated dumbly.
Chris smiled broadly at her words. "Why Steph, I thought you'd never ask." Hook, line, and sinker ba-by!
Out of the corner of her eye, the brunette saw Scotty look up at her, a dumbfounded look gracing his features. His outward appearance was a rather good reflection of her inner reaction to Jericho's words. Deciding that her brain might explode from further contact, Steph moved her face away from Chris's caressing fingers. The lack of sensation immediately allowed the blood to properly flow once again. "That's funny, Chris, because I didn't ask. And besides, I thought you and Nidia…"
He cut her off with a dismissive wave. "If I was interested in her, then I would be hitting on her."
Steph inhaled sharply. "Oh," was all she could manage to say.
Chris was about to bring up the dinner plans once again when his Canadian nemesis strolled up to the scene. "Well well well, isn't this a cozy scene?" Edge remarked dryly, flipping his dripping locks over his shoulder and wrapping an arm around Steph's shoulders.
Chris gritted his teeth; his first instinct was to deck the douche bag for ruining his plans. And yet, Steph's words about the battle royal floated across his thoughts and an idea struck. "Just the man I wanted to see! I was about to look for you in catering, but I guess you've already been pulled out of the deep fryer."
Steph (and Scotty, who was still in hiding), tried not to giggle at Edge's confused expression. Edge's greasy locks had been a constant source of backstage humor for years, and yet the blond man was still oblivious to the jabs. "What are you talking about Jericho?"
Chris groaned; this idiot was his adversary for Stephanie? "I'm talking about the battle royal tonight, Edgeward. What do you say we join forces and get rid of the others?"
Edge stroked his chin. "I don't know… one shot from Batista and you'll be laid out as usual," he remarked with a grin.
Opening his mouth to retort, Chris was cut off by Stephanie. "But Edgie, you really can't cheat in a battle royal. Maybe you should reconsider."
Chris internally rejoiced at her words and at her apparent disgust for Edge's recent tactics. "What do you say? Watch each other's backs until the end?" Chris prompted, holding out his hand.
After a minute of silent contemplation, Edge grasped his outstretched hand. "You got it," he agreed with a toothy grin.
Chris mirrored his fellow Canadian's wide smile. Oh, he would watch Edge's back. In fact, he would watch it fly over the top rope as he eliminated the bastard. For Jericho had decided that he would be victorious over Edge both tonight, and in the long run, in regards to Stephanie.
The undisputed champion of her heart, after all, had yet to be crowned.
END CHAPTER ONE
Author's notes: I know its late guys, and I'm truly sorry. I hope it makes sense; I've had to write it during my breaks of my first job, and rewrite it after I got home from my second. All this working is exhausting my CJ muse, to be sure :)
Let me take a moment and thank you all for coming back and reading this sequel. Your overwhelming response to Flowers For Jericho was truly amazing. I am lucky to have such awesome (and supportive!) reviewers. So honestly guys, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I can only hope you'll enjoy this installment as much as the last. Leave me a review, e-mail me, IM, whatever, tell me what you think. Am I too heavy on the drama? Is Jericho's 180 in regards to Steph completely unbelievable (he is pining away for her, after all)? Let me know! Thanks guys, and take care!