A/N: Thanks for all the feedback on this story, everyone, really appreciate it, hope you enjoy the chapter. :)
"How dare you humiliate me like that!"
Stephanie was just turned around talking to Chris when her brother stormed backstage, seemingly intent on talking to her. She turned around and saw her brother looking especially irate, and it made her want to laugh more than anything. Knowing she got one over on her brother was satisfying enough, but doing that and making him look like he did right now was just icing on the cake.
"Did you say something, Shane?" Stephanie asked coyly. He stomped to her, stopping when he was in her space. She stood her ground, though, not letting him intimidate her. Chris was right behind her, placing his hand on the small of her back, letting her know that he was there to support her, but not there to intervene. She could handle herself.
If this were months ago, before Chris, she wasn't sure if she could handle herself. She wasn't sure she would have had the courage to face down her brother and tell him the what for. She'd been so under her father's thumb, and her brother's thumb that speaking up just wasn't an option. That was different now, and she was different now, and her brother didn't intimidate her in the slightest. She raised her chin defiantly in preparation for whatever it was he was going to say.
"I said how dare you humiliate me out there!" he yelled at her again.
Stephanie cringed at the volume of his voice, "Do you think you can cut down on the yelling, I'm standing right here, and I can hear you," she said condescendingly, enjoying how she was making him fume. If she could get steam to come out of his ears, that would be wonderful.
"You don't treat me like that, I'm a McMahon, damn it," Shane seethed.
"Like that's supposed to scare me into treating you differently?" Stephanie asked, crossing her arms over her chest. "It doesn't. I treat all those who defy me the same way. You're lucky with what you got, and you're lucky that I didn't schedule an impromptu match between you and Chris."
"I'd love to get my hands on you," Chris said, "you know what's funny? I bet that's what you wanted me to say to Trish, isn't it?"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Shane tried to maintain his innocence, but when caught in a web, lying wasn't going to do anything but get you more twisted and knotted.
"Shane, stop, you're obvious," Stephanie told him, "you are so bitter that I have power and you don't. If you wanted it so much, you should have gone after it harder, but you didn't. You were content to sit around and let Dad do all the work, but that wasn't how I wanted to be."
"It's because of him that you're doing any of this," Shane pointed at Chris, like he was the perpetrator of every bad thing that happened to him over the past few months. Shane brought this upon himself. If he'd only wanted to work with Stephanie instead of vehemently against her, things could have been different.
"It's because of him that I got the courage to do everything I wanted," Stephanie corrected her brother. "It's because of him that I didn't have to sit around and let my life happen the way you and Dad wanted it to happen."
"Would that life have been so bad, the one you gave up? You loved Andrew, you fought to be with him. I didn't want you with him, but I grew to like him," Shane reminded her. He'd fought so hard against the idea of his sister and Andrew, and it was all for nothing because his sister left him at the altar.
"Maybe, maybe not," Stephanie answered logically. "I don't know what it would have been because I didn't choose to lead that life. But, if it was anything like I think it might have been, I'm glad I got away."
"Oh, and how would it have been since you seem to think I'm your oppressor, and Dad too, does he know that he's been keeping you under lock and key. Are you growing out your hair, Rapunzel?"
"Insulting me isn't going to get you anywhere," Stephanie told him calmly. Her brother could resort to name-calling, but she wasn't going to stoop to his level. She had to maintain the upper-hand and keep her cool. "At the end of the day, I'm still your boss, and that means that I have the ability to discipline you as one of my employees."
"I'd like to see you try."
"Oh, I would," she told him, "and I never said you were my oppressor, and Dad hasn't been either, but I've always been looked at as the baby in the family, the one whose opinion means the lowest. Don't you think I have ideas for this company? Of course I do, but it was you Dad went to, and when I tried to speak up, I was never heard. Dad stuck me in accounting, a safe little nook of the company where I could just squirrel away and not be seen or heard. You just didn't want me around. I feel now like Andrew was just a rebellion, someone who was against the norm, who wasn't approved by Mom and Dad."
"We listened to you," Shane said, but she had a point, and he was starting to see it. There were times when Stephanie tried to speak up, but he remembered her father shooting her down before she could ever say anything. Still, that didn't mean she had to have free reign over everything, and her coup of the company left him out in the cold.
"You didn't, and you know it, so I had to take matters into my own hands."
"If Andrew was a rebellion, what is he?" Shane gestured to Chris again.
Stephanie looked up at Chris and smiled softly, her eyes sparkling as she stared at him, "He's the man I love."
"That you married on a whim."
"Yeah, I did," Stephanie said, "but I don't regret it. Chris isn't in this for what he can get out of me, and you should know that. Chris saw the me that I wanted to be before even I could. That's why I love him. He's the one who knew I could do this, and I am doing this, Shane, and if you think I'm humiliating you, fine, but that's not what this is about."
"We were supposed to run this together!" he was back to his argumentative state. He was supposed to get this company, he was the one who worked directly under Vince so the company should have gone to him, that was what was right and fair, and she'd snatched everything from underneath him. How was he supposed to feel?
"You were never going to let me help run it, let's not fool ourselves," Stephanie scoffed at the mere suggestion that her brother would have her as anything but a well-positioned lackey for him. He was so looking forward to the day their dad retired so he could have the entire company at his disposal.
"I would have given you a great position."
"I found an even better one," Stephanie grinned, knowing that would draw her brother's ire and it did. He scowled even further. "I'm willing to work with you, Shane, I am, but we both know that you're not willing to work with me, I think your little stunt with Trish proved that. What did you hope to gain out of that, really?"
"I still don't know what you're talking about."
"Okay, well, here's what I think you were doing since you won't admit to it. I think you were trying to make Chris leave me or make me think that Chris had a wandering eye so I would run back to you and you could take over, I mean, that's pretty much what you said out there anyways, and it wasn't difficult to figure out what you were doing with her."
"Save it, Shane, until you grow up, stay out of my business…actually, no, you know what, I think I will have you face Chris, next week, I'll announce it later. If you want to be in charge so much, here's your chance to prove that you can really be in charge, what do you think, Chris?"
"A match against your brother, is that even fair to him?"
"Um, no, I don't think so," Stephanie tapped her chin, "but my brother likes to play dirty as it happens, and two can play at that game. You really should have probably tried to keep me away from Chris if anyone, I mean, Andrew, he was just like you and Dad really, I totally dodged a bullet there."
"I'm not going to have a match, you can't just make me have a match."
"I think if I went over your contract, I could definitely put you in a match, isn't that something in your onscreen contract, and don't tell me that you're actually scared to have a match? I thought you were Shane McMahon, daredevil, who didn't back down from a challenge, and now you're backing down from this? I thought better of you, Shane."
"I like to think we would have a great match," Chris smiled slowly, an eerie smile, "because while I may let my wife fight her own fights, that doesn't mean I don't back her up 100 percent, and I don't like it when people set out to make me look unfaithful to my wife."
"I never doubted you for a second, Chris," Stephanie grabbed his hand and squeezed it. "See, I know what he's like, I know how he works, and the mere thought that he would go after Trish proves that you didn't know what you were dealing with, but I think it's only fair Chris gets to have some payback over what you tried to do."
"You keep saying that I had anything to do with Trish, but maybe it's just that your husband has a wandering eye."
Chris started to move forward as if to kick Shane's ass right then and there, but Stephanie stepped in front of him, and held him back. If she hadn't, she knew that Chris would wail on Shane, and while that would be great, it wouldn't be good for her. Shane would probably call foul on it so it was better saved for the ring. Then Chris could go to town and stiff Shane all he wanted.
"Don't go there, Shane, don't say things that will get your ass kicked," Chris said over Stephanie's shoulder, and she really had to hold him back. "I will get you in the ring, and I will beat you to within an inch of your life if I get the chance."
"Fine, bring it," Shane said, knowing that he could have back-up, he would have back-up. Shane had his friends in this company, and they would have his back in this match. "You're right, I don't back down from challenges, so you and me, let's do it."
"Good, fine, let's," Chris nodded resolutely.
"Okay, okay, next week, Shane, you and Chris." She knew that her brother had something up his sleeve. He'd probably have the Mean Street Posse out there, and he'd probably have Test, but Chris had his friends too. The good thing with Chris's friends were they were better wrestlers than any of Shane's friends. So the odds would sort of be even, but with a definite tip towards Chris. Shane could believe he had the upper-hand going into this though. With her taking over all the power, he probably needed those few moments where he thought he was in control.
"Good, I look forward to it," Shane said. Chris sucked at his teeth a little as he nodded his head. He, too, knew Shane wouldn't make this just a regular one-on-one match, but that was okay, the chance to knock this guy down a few pegs and get revenge for what he'd put him through with regards to Trish, it would be worth whatever came next.
"Not as much as I am."