A/N: Here's the epilogue I promised! Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed last chapter. I'm going to be turning my attention to Visions now, but since classes have started, don't be surprised if my updates are a little sporadic to begin with. I might have a couple of one shots that come out before then involving the ever-so-nice-sweet-southern-boy Ted DiBiase. I can't wait until he breaks away from Legacy! Sorry, I digress... But seriously, thank you to everyone out there who read and enjoyed this story (or any of my stories really) I'm glad to have the chance to share my work with you and even happier to know that you all enjoyed it. Thanks for the support and I hope you'll venture along with me on some of my other stories. For now though, enjoy the final piece of Gone.
Stephanie was laying with her head resting on Chris's chest as he absently flipped through the channels. Ash had long since been put to bed, but neither one of them could sleep, so they had decided to stay up and watch some TV. She felt so content lying there with him, so peaceful. It was a wonder that they were able to go back to their normal lives at all after everything that had happened to them.
JBL, Adamle, and Ian had all been sent to prison for not only their involvement with what had happened, but also a slew of other crimes that had gone unpunished over the last decade or so. When the charges were being read off, Ted DiBiase made sure that he had found as much as he could to permanently remove them from society. He'd also found every single person from the police force that had been getting paid off by JBL and found evidence to have them punished as well. For his efforts, he was awarded a medal and promoted to a lieutenant when the former lieutenant took the captain's position.
Kurt Angle was, without question, the unsung hero of the day. Chris and Stephanie had both thanked him numerous times, each time he had waved them off telling them that it was nothing and that he was only happy that he could help. The WWE headquarters was in the process of being rebuilt and the company re-established with Kurt leading the way. Chris and Stephanie still held ownership to the business, but they decided to bow out of the spotlight for the time being.
Vince had been admitted to a nursing facility, due the amount of care that he required, and once he got there, he started to seem a little like his old self again: cranky, hot-tempered, and driven. The Alzheimer's was still an issue for him, but he seemed to be doing better every time that Stephanie went to see him.
Chris and Stephanie had both kept a close eye on Ash, once they were all released from the hospital. One of the staff had recommended a counselor for them all, but they decided to take the business card and wait it out. Chris and Steph were both cynical about what the counselor would be able to do for them, considering everything that had happened. They both spent as much time with him as they could and he seemed to be doing okay – happy and playful like a normal five-year-old boy.
As for Chris and Stephanie themselves…they hadn't talked much about everything. They fell back in sync with each other and Chris had moved in with her for Ash, but they both weren't really sure where they stood with the other. There had been plenty of times that Stephanie started to open her mouth to initiate a conversation with him, but something always came up right at that moment, or she never had the right words to say. They were comfortable with each other and there were rarely any awkward moments, but she still wanted to clear the air with him. She realized that he had stopped flipping through channels and had settled on a movie that was on.
"What movie is this?" She asked him, stretching slightly. He yawned.
"Not sure." He said. "Looks like The Thing." Stephanie crinkled her nose at him.
"Sci-fi again?" He smirked and tried to hand the remote to her.
"Well, if there's anything better on, I challenge you to find it." He said to her. She shook her head and took the remote from him, quickly pushing the button to turn the TV off.
"Hey now, why did you do that?" He asked her. She reached over the top of him and turned on the lamp. They both squinted at the sudden change of brightness. She propped herself up on her elbows so that she was hovering over him slightly.
"I think we should talk." She said to him. He looked at her.
"About what?" He asked suspiciously.
"About the night that you almost killed yourself." She said, with him groaning and trying to get up before she finished her sentence. She pushed him down gently and kept her weight on him.
"Why do you want to talk about that?" He asked her, finally settling back down into the couch they were laying on.
"Because I need to know what happened." She said. He sighed irritably and looked away from her.
"Stephanie…" He started.
"No, Chris." She cut him off. "Now you know that I normally don't pry about stuff like this, but this is something I need to hear. I need to know what happened and I need to know why you didn't go through with it." Chris sighed again and laid his head back against the armrest of the couch, looking straight up at the ceiling. Stephanie watched him, wondering if she had picked another bad time to try and bring this up, but she needed to know what happened. Partially because she felt responsible and partially because she wanted to help keep him from ever getting to that point again. After a few minutes of nothing but silence, he finally looked at her and swallowed thickly.
"Look, this is something that I've been trying to forget. I've been trying to bury it and move on like that part of my life never happened." He told her seriously. She nodded.
"I know." She told him. "And I'm not trying to rip open old wounds, but I just…I think that if we're ever going to get a second chance at us we need to be completely open and honest about everything that happened when we were apart. No secrets." She said as he took a deep breath. "I've told you about Shawn and how that happened, but you never really opened up about this, and I think that it's something that needs to be talked about. For my sake as well as yours." He studied her for a moment.
"Fine." He finally relented. "Can I sit up?" He asked.
"Only if you promise that you're not going to walk away from me." She said. He held his hands up in surrender.
"I won't walk away." He promised. She took him at his word and moved off of him so that they were both sitting across from each other on the couch. He looked around the room once and shifted his weight a few times, the memory clearer than he wanted it to be – the wound not quite healed. He studied his hands for a few seconds and then cleared his throat.
"I don't really know what you want me to say." He told her.
"Just tell me what happened." She encouraged him. "Tell me what happened that day, or wherever you want to start from." He sighed once more and looked at his hands again.
"You know most of everything else I would tell you." He said. "The only time I ever showed that anything was wrong was when you were around." He looked at her and he could already see the hurt in her eyes. He knew that as much as it would hurt him to talk about this, it would hurt her just as much to hear it. He knew that she felt responsible, and even though he wanted to tell her that it wasn't her fault, he couldn't ever quite bring himself to speak the words. Part of him wanted to blame it on her, even though he knew that he was the one who had brought himself to that state. Since he hadn't been able to place the blame, he'd simply shoved the whole thing aside in his memory and refused to think about it, choosing to live in the moment.
"It was the day I got the divorce papers." He told her. "I knew what it was before I opened it, but I went ahead and ripped it open, letting them sit on my coffee table." He paused for a moment. "Once they were on there, I just sat and stared at them. All I could think about was how I had lost you again and how worthless my life had become."
"I'd been drinking a lot – you knew that. It was the only way that I could get to sleep anymore, since everywhere I turned you were there. That memory of you and Shawn…it haunted me. I couldn't deal with it, with losing you to him. So I tried to drink you away. But I knew that wasn't working either." He took a deep breath and continued to avoid her gaze.
"The idea had floated into my head one night, while I was waiting to pass out." He admitted. "I wondered if anyone would notice I wasn't there. If they would care enough to come to the funeral. I wondered if you would come, or if anyone would tell you. Then I pushed it away. For the next couple of weeks, I kept wandering into a gun shop and looking at different models, trying to decide which one I would use if I ever got that desperate. It calmed me for some reason."
"Staring at those papers that day, I decided that if I was had to go the rest of my life without you, I didn't want to do it anymore." He said, his voice cracking a little bit. "I went out and bought a handgun and the smallest box of bullets I could find. When I came back, I set them on the coffee table next to the papers and stared at all of it for I don't know how long."
"I finally picked up the pen to sign the pages and I made it all the way to the last page before I hesitated. I must have put the pen to the paper a hundred times before I was finally able to sign it. I ripped a hole in the page, I was so quick with it." He paused, taking a deep breath to prepare himself for the next little bit.
"I can't remember loading the gun or when I picked it up, but I know that when I put the barrel against the side of my head, everything started flashing in front of me – like a movie. I saw you and Shawn together, I saw your face when I blew up at work, I saw you as Shawn told me to stay away from Ash…everything that had brought me to this point, and I started to squeeze the trigger." Chris finally looked up from his hands to Stephanie's face and felt his heart wrench at the tears in her eyes. She reached over and grabbed one of his hands. "But, right as I started to do that," he went on, "I saw everything about my life that had made me happy – Ash being born, marrying you, being with you, wrestling in that ring… and I realized that I was staring at a picture that was across the room."
"It was the picture of Ash and me on that beach – the one you took when we went on vacation." He said. "I saw it and I couldn't stop the thoughts that came barreling through. 'What would he think, years later when he was told that his father couldn't deal with his problems and killed himself? Would he do the same thing later in life if things didn't turn out the way he planned? Would he hate me for doing it?' And it was all too much, I couldn't deal with the thought of disappointing him or hurting him more than I already had. I threw the gun away from me like it was poison and I just…broke down." He finished. Stephanie reached over and pulled him as tightly against her as she could as the tears fell from her eyes.
"Ash was my reason." He told her, his own eyes beginning to tear up. "He's the reason I'm still here, no matter what happened to make me get to where I was. He's my world for that, my everything."
"I'm…I'm so sorry." Stephanie sobbed into his shoulder. "I never meant to hurt you like this. I never meant for anything to happen…" Chris pulled away from her and looked her in the eyes.
"I know." He said to her. "I know you never meant for that, you made a mistake. We all do. It's part of being human." He said. "I don't mean to make it seem like this was all your fault, but…" He trailed off. "But I guess before I can let this work between us, I need to be sure that you won't hurt me like you did before. I just…I can't go through this again, Stephanie."
"Don't get me wrong – I love you with everything I have." He said. "But I just can't go through another break with you. It almost killed me…I won't let you in just to tear me down again." She kept her eyes fixed on his and she knew that he was laying it all out on the table for her. It was time to make the decision they'd been skating around ever since the whole mess had started. It was the question she had been asking herself ever since he moved back in. Could she put her insecurities aside and believe that they were meant to be together – that they deserved to be happy? Over the course of the time that she'd spent with him these last few weeks, her choice had been made for her.
"I don't want to hurt you ever again." She said to him. "I don't want you to leave ever again. You're as much a part of me as I am to you, and I think that we can do it this time. I think that this could be our second chance to make right what we screwed up the first time around." He slowly smiled at her and she smiled back.
"And I guess there's something I should tell you, since we've agreed to this whole 'no secrets' thing." She said. He gave her a look.
"This doesn't involve something like you stealing a crayon from your brother twenty years ago or something like that, does it?" He asked. She chuckled at him.
"No, it has nothing to do with him." She said, smacking him playfully on the chest. "It has to do with you."
"Oh, well, do tell then." He said. She looked at him and smiled.
"I'm pregnant." She said to him. He stared at her.
"You're…" He trailed off. She nodded.
"Our second chance." She said to him. "What better way to start it off?" He reached over and ran his fingertips over her belly. He was overflowing with so many emotions he didn't really know what to do or say.
"Should we name him Chance?" He asked her finally, smirking. She shot him a look.
"Absolutely not." She said sternly. "Besides, it's going to be a girl." Chris laughed.
"That's what you said about Ash." He reminded her.
"Well you got what you wanted last time. Now, it's my turn." She said to him, sticking her tongue out. He smiled and pulled her tightly against him, hugging her for everything that he was worth, her clinging onto him like he would disappear.
"I love you." He told her softly. He felt her nod as her chin move against his shoulder.
"I love you too." She said, just as soft before he leaned back to kiss her.