A/N: Thanks for the reads, reviews, and everything else. Obviously, I had to address Dolph's concussion, blah, poor guy, so it's Dolph/AJ heavy, sorry if that doesn't float your boat, but that was a pretty big deal. Either way, I do hope you enjoy, leave a review if you feel so inclined. :)
She couldn't immediately tell something was wrong.
Looking back, she felt like she should have, but at first, she didn't think anything of it. He rolled out of the ring, but he got back inside, and she thought he looked fine. It wasn't until he tried to pull off his t-shirt and struggled that she thought something might be wrong. It wasn't like him, and it was a true testament to how much she knew him that something as simple as taking off his shirt would tip her off, but it did. There were many nights where he would be hovering over her, and he could pull his shirt off one-handed in one lithe movement, so to see him struggling with both hands when he wasn't even horny and hurried, something was not right.
Still, he kept going, and she was trying to ascertain what was wrong with him. He finally rolled out of the ring and she rushed to his side, kneeling down next to him, "Ziggy, are you okay?"
"AJ?" he said foggily, and now she really knew something was wrong.
"Yeah, of course, baby," she ran her hand through his hair as she leaned in closer, being mindful that Del Rio was still in the ring. Surely, he wouldn't come over here to do anything to Dolph if she stayed by his side.
"What are you doing here?"
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Why are you here?" he asked, his eyes narrowing just a little bit. "Where are we?"
"Dolph, babe, we're at SmackDown," she told him slowly and clearly, the worry growing in her eyes by the second. She swallowed hard as Del Rio continued to posture inside the ring. She looked around for E, but he was down on the other side of the ring, so she brought her attention back to Dolph. "Babe, do you know what day it is?"
"Why are you calling me babe?" he asked her, and her breath started to quicken. "Why am I down here?"
"Okay, okay, we've got to get you backstage," AJ said, panic starting to rise in her throat or maybe that was bile rising up in there, she couldn't tell, but her stomach felt like it was twisting in her gut. "Come on, Dolph, can you stand up?"
"Of course I can stand up, what kind of question is that?" he wondered as he struggled to get to his feet, but was having trouble getting his footing. AJ tried to help him as much as he can, but he was so much bigger and practically dead weight. Finally, Big E made his way over as he saw AJ struggling with Dolph.
"E, help me, we have to get him backstage," AJ said, as E picked up the slack and slung Dolph's arm over his shoulder. He took the load off AJ and she grabbed Dolph's hand and held it in hers. "He doesn't know where he is, he doesn't know why I'm with him."
"Shit," E mumbled under his breath as they hurried their pace backstage.
"Aren't you in NXT?" Dolph asked. "What month is this? Isn't it Christmas?"
"Oh God, oh God, oh God," AJ muttered to herself as they made their way backstage. "Trainers, we need the trainers, doctors, we need help over here!"
Almost immediately, Dolph was ripped away from her and he was told to sit down in a chair, she tried to make her way to him, but a lot of personnel were hovering around him as she started to shake a little bit. Dolph didn't remember where he was, and he didn't even know what day or month it was. Her panicked eyes turned to panicked breathing, and she wrapped her arms around her bare torso and tried to calm herself down, but now she could hear Dolph trying to ask questions that nobody was answering. Tears started to well up in her eyes and she was trying so hard not to let them fall because she wanted to watch what they were doing with her boyfriend with complete clarity.
Suddenly, two arms were wrapped around her and she didn't know whose they were, but she looked up and saw it was Stephanie hugging her. "Hey, shh, it's okay," Stephanie told her, running her hand over AJ's hair as the smaller woman sunk into the embrace of her idol. "He's going to be fine, alright?"
"He didn't know why I was with him," AJ mumbled into her shirt, the tears spilling over now. Stephanie was here because her husband was here, and seeing AJ standing there, looking completely lost, alone, and broken, there was no way Stephanie could stand idly by. Everyone was tending to Dolph, but nobody was paying attention to the person most worried for him. Stephanie, her motherly instincts kicking in, went straight for AJ and hugged her to her.
"He'll be fine, alright, he's awake and that's something," Stephanie told her, having some knowledge when it came to concussions. You weren't in the business this long without gaining some knowledge.
"Mommy, does AJ need a hug?" Flynn asked, coming up with her sister in tow. Chris was off warming up for his match later so the girls were sitting with their mother. Kensington was dutifully holding onto Flynn's hand like she had to when her mommy was doing something and she had to sit with her sister for a second.
"I think she'd like that a lot," Stephanie told her daughters. Flynn threw her arms around one of AJ's legs while Kensington took the other.
"Thank you," AJ said, pulling away so she could smile down at the little girls. "A hug is just what I needed." She wiped at her eyes as she looked back over to her boyfriend who was still getting checked on. They were looking at his eyes with a light right now and feeling around his neck. "What if he doesn't remember we're together, Stephanie? What if I lose him over this?"
"You're not, okay," Stephanie bent down a little to look her in the eye. "He's probably just disoriented."
"What if he goes back to Vickie?" AJ apparently didn't hear or care what Stephanie just said. "He could think he's still with her, and I'll be alone. She'll take him back because she thinks I stole him, and if he doesn't remember, she'll take him back." AJ started to rock back and forth, pulling at the strands of her hair falling around her face.
"He's not going back to Vickie," Stephanie assured her. "He's not going to go back to her, he loves you."
"He didn't know why I was out there, he didn't know E, he didn't know anything."
"He knew who you were though, right?"
"Yes, but he might just remember me as that girl from NXT or Daniel's girlfriend or that crazy chick, maybe he'll believe I'm crazy, and…I can't lose him, Stephanie, I can't, he's the only one who's ever loved me for me," AJ said, wiping the tears from her eyes again.
"AJ, shh, shh," Stephanie tucked her hair behind her ears like she did for her daughters when they were upset. "AJ, look at me, okay, look at me." AJ looked up at her, her eyes sad and doe-like. AJ could feel Flynn taking her hand and she couldn't believe how nice the entire Jericho family was. "Breathe, okay, just breathe. Everything is going to be alright."
"But nothing," Stephanie cut her off and shook her head. "He's going to be alright, and he's not going to fall out of love with you, and he's not going to forget you. This isn't a movie, this isn't going to end up with him getting his entire memory erased, alright?"
"He looked so scared, and like he didn't want me out there, like I wasn't supposed to be with him," AJ sniffled.
"AJ!" AJ's head whipped around as she heard her name being called. "Where's AJ? I want AJ! Where is she?"
"You better get over there," Stephanie winked at her. "Seems like someone didn't forget after all."
AJ rushed to her boyfriend's side, pushing through people to get there, not caring who she might have shoved. She knelt by the chair he was sitting in, and she grabbed his hand, "Hey," she told him, sniffling still, but so incredibly glad he wanted her near him. She ran her hand over his hair, "I'm right here."
"Nobody would tell me where you were," he scowled at everyone looking at him. "They wanted me to go away, but not without you."
"We need to take him to the trainer's room for a more thorough evaluation," one of the doctors explained. AJ nodded, and she turned to her boyfriend again. He still looked completely out of it. His eyes were glazed over and not sharp like they usually were. He looked off in his own little world, and she sighed a little.
"Ziggy, come on, the doctors have to see you, but I'll stay right with you, alright?" AJ told him and he nodded vaguely to her as he was helped up. His hand immediately sought hers out and she grabbed it tightly, giving him an encouraging smile as he leaned on her. He lurched a little while walking, but they made it to the trainers and she helped him sit on the table.
"What happened?" Dolph asked her, turning around, "I don't…was I not on Raw?"
"You were, babe," she told him, reaching up to run her hands through his hair again. She knew he must have a headache so she gently massaged his scalp. He closed his eyes and savored her touch against his head. She leaned forward and pressed her forehead to his shoulder, just wanting to make sure he was still there with her.
"I don't…I don't remember getting here, I remember we flew to Virginia from Tampa on Sunday, but that's all," he told her, "what…why am I here? What is here, is this SmackDown, right?"
"Yeah, this is SmackDown, it's Tuesday, we're taping it early," AJ explained to him. "We drove from Virginia last night, we stopped at a gas station, we took a silly picture and I posted it on Twitter."
"What happened though? Why can't I remember?" he shook his head, looking down as if trying to figure out what was going on and why he couldn't remember.
"Swagger kicked you in the head a little while ago."
Dolph looked up and rolled his eyes, "Classic Swags."
AJ allowed herself one small laugh because at the very least the sense of humor wasn't knocked out of him. "He wasn't careful, he was reckless because you wanted to grab a ladder, he's an idiot and if I could, I would beat him senseless right now."
Dolph laughed, wincing when his head hurt, "You could, you're the toughest chick I know."
"I try," she told him.
"I love you so much," he told her hazily, and even if he was saying it because he was concussed and had no filter right now, it was just nice to know he did remember that, that he remembered their relationship and her. It was still bad, none of this was good, but at the very least, he knew her.
"I know, I love you too," she said as the doctor came over.
"I'm going to need to do some tests, so if you want to leave for a little while, it's probably better I just examine him."
"She shouldn't have to go," Dolph said irately. His concussion was also making him a little aggressive.
"I'll be fine, Ziggy, I'm just going to get cleaned up," she told him, cognizant of the fact that she probably looked like a mess. Normally Dolph would have noticed and commented, but he was so out of it, he didn't even seem to care.
"I don't want her to go," Dolph told the doctor, "you can't make her, I'll go with her."
"Ziggy, I promise, I'll be back, alright," she told him, kissing his cheek. "I promise, but you've got to get checked out."
"Okay," he told her, looking at her imploringly for a moment. She kissed his cheek again and slipped out of the room, leaning back against the wall for a second. She closed her eyes until she heard footsteps and saw E stalking her way towards her.
"How is he?" E asked.
"They're checking him out, he remembers me at least, so he'll remember you, I think Stephanie was right, he was just dazed, but yeah, he definitely has a concussion," AJ said with a sigh. "This is not how the night was supposed to go."
"You're telling me, so who was it, Del Rio, Swagger? Who do I have to kill?" E asked, already flexing his arms and going ahead with cracking his knuckles.
"It was Swagger, but let's not get into that right now, alright," AJ said, "I just want to make sure he's alright first and foremost, revenge or anything that resembles it can wait until later. I feel drained."
"Come here," E opened up his arms and she stepped into his hug. "Nothing's going to get him down, I mean, come on, he's the show-off, he's probably showing off how he can do a concussion better than anyone ever."
AJ laughed, "You're right, he has to do everything better."
"Exactly," E said, "You want me to walk you to your locker room, I figure you wanted to clean up."
"Do I look that bad?" she wondered.
"Your boyfriend was just hurt, you look fine," E told her and she smiled at his attempt at cheering her up. AJ let him walk her to her door, and she pushed it open to go assess the damage in the bathroom mirror. It was far worse than she thought. Mascara streaks slashed across her face as if she was going to war. She looked and felt terrible. She went about washing the makeup from her face, feeling a lot better once it was gone. That didn't mean she could just leave it off though, she never knew what might come up, and besides, she didn't want to look as haggard as she felt so she put some makeup back on, checking herself out.
Her eyes were looking better since she'd washed her face, not as red-rimmed, but you could tell she'd been crying. She leaned back against the wall and tried to calm herself down. The initial fear was gone, thank goodness, and all that was left was raw nervousness. She didn't know everything about concussions, but she knew enough to know that memory loss was never a good sign. She rubbed her hands over her shorts while trying to regain her composure. Dolph was going to need her right now, and she couldn't be there for him if she was a nervous wreck.
It took her about twenty minutes to calm down and when she left, she was going to make a beeline for the trainer's room to check on her boyfriend. On the way there, she nearly ran into Kaitlyn, getting into a verbal tussle with her. Kaitlyn even dared suggest that Dolph might be her secret admirer (which was sort of true, but only sort of). Clearly, Kaitlyn didn't hear about what happened to her boyfriend, but she didn't want to get into that with her former best friend. Natalya came in to make the save for her friend, and AJ left because she had better things to do, well, she would in a second. After a few minutes, she stalked back over to Kaitlyn.
"You know, it's not Dolph, just to tell you," AJ said, "he's very happy with me, thank you very much."
"And why wouldn't he be, you have the experience, right?" Kaitlyn shot back at her.
"Just because Cody wouldn't give you the time of day, doesn't mean my Ziggy wants you. And in case you're blind, he got a concussion earlier and can't even remember today or yesterday, so thanks for making me feel horrible. It's already been a rough night for me having my boyfriend almost not remember he was with me, but you know, whatevs."
AJ turned on her heel and walked away, not even listening when Kaitlyn called after her. She didn't need people like that in her life. She didn't want to surround herself with people like that any longer. She wouldn't. Now, someone else needed her, and she was going to take care of her boyfriend because he was hurting, and when he hurt, she hurt. She planned to go to Tampa this weekend without Dolph (sometimes they needed a little time apart), but there was no way she was letting her boyfriend be alone now.
Stephanie walked out onto the patio with a couple bottles of water, "Hey, you two, thought you might want something to drink, you guys look thirsty."
"Thank you, Stephanie, you're nice," Edyta said as she came over and grabbed one of the waters.
"Don't you think this would be better indoors?" Stephanie wondered as she watched Chris trying to remember a couple moves. "It's pretty warm out here."
"More space," Edyta said. "I think it's better. Besides, we are only doing the basic of moves. There's not much room in that ring, and yes, I don't think we'll be dancing long, no?"
"No," Stephanie sighed, "thanks again for doing this. He really, really wants to beat Fandango."
"I don't know much from what he showed me, but Chris will win, I'll make sure of it," Edyta said. "Cheryl put him in good hands."
"It's too bad she couldn't be here, I know she'd love to see the kids and everything, it's been too long since we've gotten to catch up with her."
"With who?" Chris asked, wandering over. Stephanie took in her husband's appearance. He was completely rumpled and sweaty, and yes, he was hot too, but she was trying not to get distracted and fan herself or anything like that. But she really was getting a little too turned on by her husband at the moment.
"Cheryl," Stephanie answered. "We haven't been out to California in a while, at least the whole family hasn't, and it'd be nice to see her again, don't you think?"
"We'll be out there for SummerSlam, we can arrange something," Chris said, "now, we should probably get back to work."
"Sweetie, you know we're not going to give you an hour or anything, right?" Stephanie said. "I mean, I know Vickie is running the show and has it in a stranglehold, but I still know how the show goes and what's planned, and you're probably not going to have to do an entire choreographed number."
"I know," Chris shrugged, walking away and starting to do his steps over again, "I just wanted to be prepared."
"It doesn't hurt, it's not problem," Edyta told Stephanie with a shrug. She had her own competitive husband at home so she knew what it was like. "I don't mind, I like dancing."
"You're sweet, Edyta, but you have no idea what you're getting into, this guy you're kind of facing, well, let's just say, he's a little dramatic, and he's not above doing something really bad to get a win, that's how he's been beating Chris after all," Stephanie sighed, "but again, thank you for indulging my crazy husband."
"I heard that!" Chris called towards her.
"Maybe you were supposed to!"
Dolph shook his doctor's hand again. "Hey, Dr. Fiel, you remember my girlfriend, AJ, she insisted on being in here because she's a worrywart."
"Don't listen to him, he's the one with the concussion," AJ shook the doctor's hand as he gestured for them both to take a seat. Dolph waited for AJ to sit first before taking a seat next to her.
"So give me the news," Dolph said.
"Well, the good news is it's not going to take that long for you to recover, and you should make a full recovery. You might not get those two days back, but you've been retaining memories and your headaches are better, right?"
"Yeah, now it's just like a dull ache," Dolph responded.
"And we've done the scan, and there doesn't appear to be any lasting damage," Dr. Fiel said, "which is a great sign. But the bad news is, I can't medically clear you to wrestle, especially not as soon as this Sunday. I also recommend that you not travel this week. I know you traveled home, but you probably felt bad the entire flight, yes?"
"He had to take some nausea pills," AJ answered for him. "He was still pretty groggy from the night before."
"Yeah, so I wouldn't recommend you travel, and I want to get another scan midweek to make sure nothing has changed in the interim, for precautions sake of course. We don't take these kinds of things lightly nor does your employer."
"Don't worry, Dr. Fiel, I'll make sure that he doesn't go anywhere," AJ said. "I'll take away all his keys if I have to, lock him in the closet if it's a must."
Dr. Fiel laughed. "You're on the road to recovery, Dolph, but we want to make sure that you are 100% well before you do anything strenuous like that. Take it easy, rest, try and relax. You'll be back to your normal life in no time."
Dolph sighed, "Thanks, doc, I really appreciate it."
He was upset, of course, but tried not to show it, especially not in front of his doctor. He really wanted to wrestle this Sunday. He'd been hoping (but he was also realistic) that he might get cleared to wrestle, but it wasn't to be. This was going to be his first big title defense, the show where he was going to show all the naysayers that he deserved that belt, that he'd more than earned it. Now that was all down the drain.
And his belt, what was going to happen to the belt? Was he going to be stripped of it? He'd barely held it for a month, and now it could be taken away from him because of Jack freaking Swagger! How was that even fair? He'd worked so hard, and it was starting to feel like those eleven minutes again. Everything would feel tainted if he was stripped of the title now. That night, that epic night where all the stars aligned, where his dreams came true with his girlfriend by his side, it would amount to nothing but a pipe dream, a second where he got the glory and nothing else.
"Ziggy, come on," AJ gently led him out of the office and down the hallway to make his next appointment. He was in a bit of a daze thinking about how he would surely be stripped of the title, and what did that mean? Who was he if he didn't have the World Title or the briefcase? He wasn't even sure anymore. AJ made his next appointment for him, making sure it was a time she could take him, and they walked outside into the afternoon sun. "Is your head okay, do you feel foggy?" AJ asked him, stopping him on the sidewalk and walking in front of him so she could look him in the eyes.
"No, it's not that, it's nothing, Jeannie."
"No, what is it? Dolph, if something is wrong with you right now, you need to tell me, we're here at the doctor's and if it's something with your head, please don't try to play the show-off and act like it's nothing and—"
"I'm just thinking about how I'm going to get stripped of the title. They'll do it, and God, you know Vickie has just been waiting for something like this to happen so I'm sure she'll be whispering in Teddy and Booker's ear to get the belt off me."
"No, no, no," AJ shook her head. "No, Dolph, that's not going to happen. I will not let that happen, do you hear me?"
"What can you do, Jeannie, I love you, but you don't have the power," Dolph shrugged helplessly. "All those months waiting for the right moment, all the times spent working so hard and being so damn good at being so damn good."
"They can't!" AJ said passionately, "they aren't taking that belt away from you, I will do anything to make sure that doesn't happen."
What that ended up entailing was AJ going to Raw. She hadn't planned on it, but she had to make sure they didn't take her boyfriend's title away. Whatever she had to do, whomever she had to go to, she didn't care, they were not taking away that belt from her boyfriend. Even if she had to beg on her knees to Vickie Guerrero, she was willing to do it if it meant that Dolph could keep his belt. There were no limits to her love for him, and she wasn't going to see him give up something he'd worked so hard for.
Flynn scrunched up her nose, "You look really pretty, Edyta," Flynn complimented her, "but that's not good to wrestle in. You're wrestling, right?"
"No, I'm dancing with your father," Edyta explained to her.
"Oh yeah, I forgetted," Flynn sighed, "because he didn't dance for a really long time, you know that. He didn't win his thing, and I saw him dance, but I don't really remember because I was just a baby like my sister."
"He was very good, he still is," Edyta said kindly.
"He's a better wrestler though," Flynn nodded. "And he's a better Fozzy person too, but still that's not as good as wrestling, and I got to see my daddy play on Friday when he was with Fozzy, and tonight, I gets to see him in wrestling, maybe, and all that is good. He's good."
Stephanie came over and picked up her eldest daughter, "I'm sorry, Edyta, when she gets on a Chris tangent, she starts to get a little wordy."
"I'm just talking," Flynn pouted, jutting out her bottom lip. Stephanie made a funny face and Flynn instantly perked up. "Mommy, are we going to the gorilla now so we can watch the show and Daddy because he's first!"
"Yes, we are, that's where we're headed. Edyta, good luck, and be careful out there, alright, things could get…dangerous," Stephanie said, "if that happens, just get out of the ring as fast aso you possibly can."
"I'll be fine," Edyta said, but Stephanie worried for the woman. She had no idea the lion's den she was walking into. She had no doubt that Edyta would be comfortable in front of the crowd, but this was not the same crowd she was used to. Wrestling crowds were a different beast altogether, and Stephanie couldn't see this ending well.
She tried to tell her husband over and over again that this was a dumb idea, but he refused to listen to her. It was something about pride he told her over and over again, so much so that she might as well get it tattooed to her forehead, or maybe he could add it to the growing tattoo on his arm (she missed his arms). She didn't care what he thought it was, she saw it as it really was, and it was Chris trying desperately to get back at Fandango for the WrestleMania loss, but her husband wasn't being her husband. Maybe he'd become too lackadaisical since returning, thinking this was all fun and games, but that wasn't who he was, not really.
Chris was a former champion, a man who said the fans were nothing, lower than nothing really, that they were parasites and beneath him in every way. That was the man that could beat Fandango with one of his hands tied behind his back. He needed to stop with the funny stuff and get to the beating up people stuff. That was Chris's bread and butter, and what would dancing accomplish, nothing really, not in the end. It wasn't like you could win a match dancing, well, not for some people. Scotty 2 Hotty had the worm, but that was beside the point.
Chris's phone rang on her desk and she looked at the number, smiling as she answered it, "Hey, Cheryl, what's up?"
"Oh, hey, Steph, is Chris around, I just wanted to wish him luck with this crazy thing."
Stephanie laughed, "You have no idea how crazy it actually is."
"Knowing your husband, I figure it's really bad, right?"
"You got that right," Stephanie said, "Chris and I were talking about you over the weekend, next time we're all in California, we're all going out, our treat."
"That'd be great, I miss you guys, how are the kids? Chris sends me pictures sometimes, they look like they've gotten so big, Kensy doesn't even look like a baby anymore."
"She's getting so big and independent."
"And Flynnie is adorable, is she still the craziest girl in the world?"
"Crazier. And of course I'm sure Chris bragged about Sawyer."
"You mean what he did for his birthday, oh yeah, I think he told everyone he knew," Cheryl laughed, "did you get the gift I sent then?"
"Yeah, we're sending out thank yous when we're actually at home," Stephanie said as Chris walked out of the bathroom after changing. "Oh, here's Chris, talk to you later, Cheryl."
Stephanie handed the phone to Chris and walked over to grab Kensington's hand, "We'll be at the gorilla, which is where the production table is, where I run the show," Stephanie explained to Edyta, "so I'll see you before you go out there, but good luck."
Stephanie led the girls out to the gorilla and waited for the show to start. Vickie, in an actual smart move (Stephanie would be remiss to say that Vickie wasn't at least competent at her job), put the dance-off first to get it out of the way. She was grateful that her husband would be on first so that they could get to the real show afterwards. She still thought it was dumb for her husband to even try this, but she wasn't in his brain, she didn't know his motives, so she would just let it go, even if she thought her husband was walking into a trap.
Chris practiced for this. He practiced for this, and he wanted to win this. Nobody could ever say he wasn't competitive. After good luck kisses from his favorite girls, he and Edyta make their way out there and to the ring, which was covered in parquet to mimic a dance floor. Chris led her into the ring and stared down Fandango in his ridiculous outfit. That should have tipped Chris off to how silly this entire thing was, but he pushed it out of his brain. It was the principle of the thing really. He wanted to beat Fandango at his own game, and if that was a dance-off the so be it.
Before they danced, Chris decided to remind people that when it came to ridiculous things on Raw, he was the one who always came out on top. When he was forced to play musical chairs, he won at that, when he was forced to be on the WWE version of The Price is Right, he did that as well. He was a master as this kind of thing, and this time would be no exception. If he was going to dance, he was going to dance. Fandango was first, and his music started up and he did…nothing.
Chris should have known, but before he could continue with his dancing, Fandango and Summer Rae started their dance, well, they did until Summer Rae crumpled to the floor. Edyta, not being used to this kind of thing, went over to check on the girl. Fandango acted disgusted with his partner, and Chris, seeing that Fandango was leaving, went over to check on her too. This gave Fandango the opportunity to jump him and beat him senseless around the ring.
It would be the last time.
When Chris finally made his way backstage, Edyta helping him the entire way, very much confused by what was going on, he was pissed off. Stephanie walked up to him and he put his hand up, "Save it, Stephanie."
Stephanie never saved it. She grabbed the hand in her face and kissed his palm. "Sweetie, I think it's time to go back to being Chris Jericho. This is not Chris Jericho. You know who you are, you know what you've done, you know all the things you've accomplished, and dancing on a wrestling show, sweetie, come on. Do what you have to do, do what you know you can do."
"Wrestle, Daddy!" Flynn told him, pounding her fists against the table.
"Usually, I'd tell her to be quieter and use her indoor voice, but I think she's telling you what to do better than I ever could. Wrestle him, Chris, break him, you know his name, you know how to be serious. You know how to kick ass, so go and do that. Be Chris Jericho."
"I think I need to take a walk, Flutterby, do you want to take a walk with me?" Chris asked.
"No! I'm watching wrestling," Flynn told him, shaking her head. "I'm helping Mommy run the show."
"Kensy-bug, do you want to take a walk with me?" Chris wondered. Kensington nodded enthusiastically and Chris lifted her and held her against his hip. "Come on, Edyta, I'll walk you to your dressing room and I'll get one of the limos to take you to the airport."
"Thank you, Chris, I'm sorry that happened to you," she said sympathetically.
"Believe me, it happens more than I'd like to admit."
AJ paced around her locker room, her phone buzzing with her boyfriend's tweets every so often. He was making light of the situation, and she loved him for it, but she was dead serious. Teddy was set to make the announcement soon, and she was on edge. She knew Dolph was too, and he was trying to mask it with comedy. She didn't even need to be near him to read him. That was another new thing for her. With Daniel, he was always so standoffish that she could never get a read on him. The other men in her life kept her at arm's length, but Dolph let her in so completely. This past week, taking care of him, she saw a vulnerable side she'd never seen before.
AJ was about to leave when she heard her phone ring. She went over to it expecting it to be Dolph, but it was actually his mother. She answered immediately, "Kelly, hey, is everything okay?" She was already on edge, she didn't need even more on her plate.
"No, sweetheart, I just wanted to make sure you were alright, I was just talking with Dolph, making sure his head was in the right place, and he mentioned you were there to make sure he didn't lose his belt. I just wanted to thank you for that. He's worked so hard."
"I know," AJ told her, "I'm making sure he keeps it, I don't care what I have to do."
"He appreciates it, we all do, I like your tenacity."
"Thanks, Kelly," AJ told her, "I just don't think it would be fair, and if they do try to strip him, they'll have to pry that belt from my cold, dead hands."
"My son is in very good hands," Kelly laughed, "I'll let you go, I just wanted to wish you luck, and I know you can do it."
"Don't worry, Kelly, I will."
The brief phone call helped calm her down some, but she was still anxious for the announcement and decided to go wait at the gorilla for it. She could at least talk to Stephanie and thank her again for what she'd done for her the week before at the SmackDown tapings. She'd already called her over the weekend, but she felt like she should say it again. AJ was distraught and Stephanie was there for her, and it meant something to her.
AJ shuddered as that voice pierced her thoughts. She turned around and looked at the older woman. "I'm really not in the mood for you tonight, Vickie."
"How is he?" Vickie asked, her voice calm, normal, and not condescending. AJ knew she looked haggard tonight, she didn't need a mirror to tell her. She felt like she'd aged 10 years over the last week, and it was reflected in her tonight. She was dressed in her Dolph shirt, a tribute to her boyfriend, but she was anything but happy. Vickie could only spell trouble for her, but this wasn't the Vickie she was used to, so she couldn't be the AJ Vickie was used to.
"He's doing better," AJ said, "he still has some slight headaches, but it's more like a dull ache in his head. He's getting another scan this week to make sure things are okay. He'll be fine, his memory of those two days is still patchy at best, but other than that he's doing okay."
"Thanks for letting me know, I hope he feels better," Vickie told her genuinely, and their affections for one man connected them in that moment. It wouldn't be fair to say that Vickie wasn't someone who once had importance in Dolph's life.
"I'll tell him you said so."
"I also gave Teddy the authority to decide what to do with the title, I don't think I could have been unbiased," Vickie told AJ.
AJ was stunned. She was so sure that Vickie would want him stripped of the title, but the odds were looking better now, "Thank you, we appreciate that."
Vickie just nodded, and AJ turned to walk to the gorilla, taking a deep breath. When she got there, E was already there, waiting for her, jumping in place. He cracked his knuckles as she came near, and as much as she knew the tiredness was rolling off her in waves, the rage was rolling off E. His reaction over Dolph's injury was just pure rage. She touched his arm and he nodded to her before she went over to where Stephanie and Flynn were sitting.
Stephanie looked up from what she was doing, "Oh, hey, AJ, what can I do for you?"
"I just wanted to thank you, both of you actually, for what you did last week when I was upset, I just…I probably didn't deserve it because of what Dolph has done to your husband, but thank you."
"Hey, it was nothing, and AJ, we can still be friends, you know," Stephanie smiled at her and AJ gave her as strong a smile as she could muster, but not knowing Dolph's fate as champion made everything feel strained.
When Swagger and Zeb thought Dolph should be stripped of the title, she and E had no choice but to go out there and make sure that didn't happen. E intimidated first, but she got on the microphone and told Swagger that it was him that should be suspended and fired for what he'd done (all while getting in a little shout-out to her boyfriend at home). She wasn't letting Swagger swoop in and take it from her boyfriend. She would fight them both before doing that.
Dolph turned to Nacho on the couch next to him, "Look at your mother, Huevos, she's kicking ass and taking names. That's why I love her, she doesn't go down without a fight, we're lucky to have her, aren't we?" Nacho just looked up at him. "Well okay then, I'll just tweet about it!"
When Teddy said that the title wouldn't be stripped from Dolph, AJ felt it was a victory. Everything felt better, the air felt cooler, and Teddy even gave E a match, telling the world to pick the opponent. She could only hope E would get his hands on Swagger. She would like to see the carnage.
Chris looked at Kensington, "You think Mommy and Flynnie are right, Kensy-bug? Should I go back to being Chris Jericho?"
"Uh huh," Kensington told him, "Be Daddy!"
"Well, I guess I could, I suppose I should. I want to beat him, this time I really want to beat him."
"Do it, Daddy," Kensington smiled sweetly at him.
"Okay, Kensy-bug, I think I will."
The vote went exactly the way AJ wanted, with Swagger winning, and E able to take out his rage on the man who injured her boyfriend. The match didn't exactly go the way she wanted though, at least not with the outcome. She wanted to see Swagger bent and broken in the middle of the ring, and while E was able to get in some good shots, he was counted out. She supposed it wasn't as bad as a pin, but she wanted E to get in even more offense. After the match, Del Rio came down to the ring, and she watched in anger as the two men who wanted Dolph's title fought it out. Neither one of them were worthy of getting in the ring with her boyfriend, but either way, Dolph would win. He just needed to be cleared first.
Her match was on right after E's so she simply climbed into the ring and sat on the ropes. The whole peanut gallery was coming out for the match, Nattie had Kaitlyn, Hornswoggle, and Khali with her, and then the Bellas had to join in on the fun. AJ scowled at the two of them, not forgetting that those two left her high and dry the week before. They were petty and mean, but of course, people thought they were pretty and let their snide behavior slide. No matter though, she wasn't out here to wrestle them, just Nattie, and she was looking forward to it.
She had a little rage to get out herself.
Dolph scowled as he watched the match. He'd never seen the show from this side before. Usually when he watched a show, it was after the fact, and he would fast forward through the things he wanted, and he never paid attention to things like commentary, but right now, it was hard not to, what with all the voices talking all at once. He was getting a bit peeved because nobody was calling the action in the ring, and it was disrespectful to the women in the ring. He may not necessarily like Nattie, but he respected the hell out of her wrestling ability and talent in general. And AJ, well, that was the woman he loved, and to have the announcers and the other divas talk over this match, well, he hated it.
So he tweeted about it.
Yes, it was snarky of him, but it pretty much said all it needed to say. He missed his girlfriend, that was a given, Kaitlyn needed to shut up because she was being petty because AJ happened to be a different person now, and the Bellas, well they were just jealous bitches who were trying to make his girlfriend out to be something she wasn't. Yes, she'd had a rough summer the year before, but he and AJ started dating in October of last year. She was hardly passed around the locker room, and he resented them for saying something like that. It was the announcer's jobs to keep tabs on the in-ring action, and these three dumbasses were pretty much hitting on the Bellas. Was this how it was always like? He finally had to mute them as he tried to watch his girlfriend.
Nattie was throwing her in the ring before climbing in herself. Nattie then picked up AJ and looked like she was about to do a backbreaker, but AJ came to life and locked Nattie into an octopus hold, what AJ was now calling the Black Widow. Dolph grinned as he watched his girlfriend make Nattie submit. He almost immediately tweeted about it, knowing she'd read them later and be happy.
AJ was thrilled she won, and she watched in amusement as Kaitlyn tried to help Nattie out of the ring. That was quick and dirty, just like she liked it. She sent a glare to the Bella twins before she climbed out of the ring and made her way quickly up the ramp. Tonight she'd kicked ass, but she had bigger things to think about.
She had a boyfriend who needed her.
Chris Jericho was tired of playing by the rules. He was tried of letting Fandango dictate how this was going to end. So he decided to end it himself, that Sunday at Extreme Rules. Chris was done joking around. Stephanie was right, he was a wrestler, he was not a professional dancer, and he wasn't going to let this punk rookie get the better of him once again. He needed to remind himself and the world of who he was and what he was about. He'd held every belt you could imagine he'd accomplished everything he ever wanted, he was a rock star, he had a radio show, a TV show, and a family who meant the world to him. He would win this Sunday, he would teach Fandango a lesson, and there was really only one reason people needed to believe that he was going to win.
Because he was Chris Jericho.