Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, no disrespect is intended.

Morass

If I'd had my choice I wouldn't be here in Seattle, hanging on backstage, answering the same question a hundred times over. "Oh yeah, the leg's great, rehab's going well, probably August…" But Chris can be very persuasive when he wants to be, he's the master at deflecting back away from himself. "It would mean a lot to me, but I understand if you'd rather stay home." There was no way around it, if Chris wanted me here, I was here.

After all the matches ended, things began to settle down somewhat, and I found a spot to sit and observe. I've always had a hard time melting in to the background, but backstage at a WWE event was the perfect place for Dave Bautista to become invisible.

"Watch out! Jericho will hit you! He'll knock you right down!"

I turned my head, found Vince had interrupted his conversation with Lawler just as Chris walked past. The pained look on Chris's face deepened when Vince continued his joke,

"Especially if you're a girl!"

I chewed my lower lip, watched as Chris joined the conversation for a moment, could see the worry lines deepening around his eyes. He was hiding something from Vince, and in that moment I understood why he had asked me to come.

How many times had he been there for me? How many times had he sacrificed his well being for mine? Chris jokes in interviews that he's as tough as a hockey puck, but the thing is, it isn't a joke. He is tough; he is able to work through just about anything while having loads of tenderness and understanding for everyone else.

I saw the chinks in his armor in a flash, and when he finally broke away from the pair of them I made my move, followed him until he gained the haven of his dressing room. Me closing the door behind us caught his attention.

"Hey," he said, "I know you're tired. I probably shouldn't have even asked you to come." He smiled, and the worry was effectively squashed down again. "Why don't you go back to the hotel, we'll meet up for breakfast tomorrow before you fly home."

I tipped my head to the side. "No."

"David," he said, his tiredness coming through in his voice, "I'm sorry."

I stepped closer. "Sorry for what Chris? Sorry for dragging me out here, or sorry for losing your cool with a pack of unruly fans?"

"Touché," he said softly.

"Talk to me Chris," I said. "Tell me about it."

"There's nothing to tell," he said as he slumped down in a chair. "I'm the golden boy, I sell my heeldom so well that it drives the fans nuts. They hang around like a pack of dogs waiting to spit on me, harangue me, it's just like the old days only better because it's Chris Jericho riling them up."

"Is that what you believe, or is that what Vince believes?"

He smiled again, tiredly. "It's what we all believe." He took a deep breath. "I know what you're trying to do David, and I'm too tired to argue with you."

"I'm not arguing with you Chris, or did you mean argue as in 'leave me alone Bautista, I can take care of myself?'"

"That," he said.

I took the only other chair and sat down, leaned forward to meet his gaze. "I know you can take care of yourself Chris, I've been watching you do it for nearly seven years now. But you'd be lying if you told me that you asked me out here just to watch you flail around in the Chamber with guys who have a God-complex. I'm not trying to fix you, and I'll never try to fix you. That's your job. If you can fix me, then you can fix yourself."

"So, then why are you here?"

I could see a little of the anxiety fading; the well-placed humor had done its trick. "You asked me to be here," I said simply.

He closed his eyes and slumped lower in his chair.

"Look Chris," I said as I leaned back in my own chair, "I get all that, the giant heel who does so well at his job that people think he's really an asshole. You're able to pull that off in ways that the guys in the good old days never could. There's a line that divides you. Half is Chris Irvine, the daddy, the husband, and the nice guy who would never hit a girl. The other half…"

"Is Chris Jericho who not only hit a girl but spit on her to boot."

I waited for him to open his eyes, and when he did I raised my eyebrows in silent question.

"I didn't know she was behind me," he said at last, "But I didn't spit on her."

"So you can take all the press on this, aside from the part that says you hit a girl."

He gave me a patented Jericho smirk. "Yeah."

"Well," I said as I drew a deep breath, "I guess this too will pass."

He laughed then, not a deep laugh, but a small resigned laugh. "So sayeth the great Batista." He bent to work on the laces of his boots. "Have I ever told you that you're good for me?"

"A few times," I said. "So, you still think I should go back to the hotel, sleep, and then meet you for breakfast?"

"Nope," he said. He stood and started stripping out of his clothes, reaching for street clothes.

"That's what I thought."