"Will you calm the hell down already?" Trish asked Chris in an irritated voice.
"How am I supposed to calm down? I'm supposed to be meeting Stephanie tomorrow!" Chris said, still pacing nervously back and forth across the room. "Think about it. This time tomorrow, I will be with Stephanie, and she'll be telling me something that could either make me or break me..."
"I understand that you're nervous, but you're, like, really wearing the carpet down," she said with a slight roll of her eyes. "And besides, I'm sure whatever she has to tell you won't be something that's going to break you."
"How would you know? She's broken me once before," he reminded her.
"True, but didn't she say that you guys could be together if you just waited a little longer?" she countered.
"Well, yeah, she did say that, but I've been waiting for her for so long now," he said, collapsing on the chair and closing his eyes. "I don't know if she wants to be with me or not, and it... It hurts."
"She kissed you. Obviously she wants to be with you," she remarked.
"Yeah? We did a lot of other things besides just kissing, and look where that got me," he said, opening his eyes and fixing her with a piercing gaze. "It got me here, to the point where it feels like I'm just fading away, like without her, I'm nothing. Do you know how that feels, Trish? To become so dependent on someone that it feels like you just can't live without that person? That nothing's worth saving if you can't save your relationship with that person? Because that's how it feels to be without Stephanie..."
"I'm sorry, Chris," she said quietly after a minute, looking away. "This is all my fault."
"It's not your fault," he said, looking away as well.
"Yes, it's my fault. If I hadn't been so intent on getting Hunter so that I'd be able to execute my plan, none of this would've ever happened," she argued. "Hunter never would've cheated on Stephanie, and Stephanie never would've been driven into your arms..."
"It would've happened whether or not you and Hunter had cheated together," he said, thinking of Stephanie. "I didn't know it, but it was only a matter of time before Steph and I really found each other... And I love her so much that I feel like we would've found our way to each other regardless of whether or not you and Hunter had been together..."
"I never did apologize for that, though, the whole fiasco with me and Hunter," she said, looking back at him. "So... I just want to say that I'm sorry. I know it's a little too late for that, but I think-"
"Don't apologize for it. Your infidelity led Stephanie to me... You should never be sorry for that, no matter what happens with Stephanie and me in the future. I love her so much...and I'm really glad that she was mine, even if it was only for a little while. Even if she never loves me again... It'll hurt, but I think I'll live, when I think of the way it used to be with her..."
She observed his face, noticing the unshed tears in his eyes. "Don't tell me you're about to cry, Jericho?" she said in disbelief.
"Hey, guys can cry... Just not in front of other guys," he said with a laugh, wiping the tears that were involuntarily leaking from his eyes. He cleared his throat before he spoke again. "Seriously, though, Trish... What if it doesn't work out? What if she's meeting with me to tell me that she's back with Hunter for good? What if..."
"Ok, I can't listen to this anymore," she interrupted. "I hate to see what this is all doing to you...especially since it's not as bad as you're making it out to be. I've been talking to Hunter, and while I can't tell you everything that he's told me, I can tell you this... It's not going to be something that you expected. You are going to be so surprised..."
"Wait a minute, so you know what's going on?" he asked incredulously.
"I know some...stuff," she said noncommittally. "But that stuff is for Stephanie to tell you, not me... It's her news, not mine."
"News? What news?" he asked nervously.
"You'll find out when she tells you," she replied, standing up. "For now, I guess you'll just have to wait. I'm going to go take a shower, and then I'm going out for a few drinks."
"Trish? Wait, Trish, I want to know!" he exclaimed. "Tell me!"
"You'll find out soon enough, and then you'll be glad I didn't tell you," she called over her shoulder, right before she disappeared into the bathroom and closed the door.
He sat back down in the chair and sighed heavily. Now all he could do was wait.
Stephanie and Hunter's hotel room...
"Hey Steph, look what just arrived at the door," Hunter said excitedly, walking into the room and holding out a manila envelope. "Some kind of special delivery... I wonder what it could be, arriving at our hotel room on a Sunday, no less..."
"You know what that is! Give it to me!" Stephanie exclaimed, reaching for the envelope.
He just smiled, holding it up out of her reach, taunting her. "I don't know... I mean, anything could be in here... How do you know that there's something important in here? It could just be...copies of your old school report cards or something."
"Stop being an asshole. I don't have time to waste," she said impatiently, getting up and walking over to him. She snatched the envelope out of his hand and started to walk back over to the bed, but he put an arm around her and pulled her firmly against him.
"Hold on, Steph," he said seriously, all joking aside. "There are some things I need to say before you open that envelope. We both know what's in there, and we both know what it means once we open it... So I better say all this now before, well, before we're over..."
"Speak, then," she said, kind of appalled by his behavior.
He led her over to the bed and gestured for her to sit down, and then he knelt in front of her, holding her hands in his. "Steph, when we first got married, my goals were simple. I wanted to live up to your expectations, to make you happy, to build a life with you..."
"The only real expectation I had of you was that you would love me," she interrupted. "That's what I wanted."
"And I did love you... I do love you," he replied, squeezing her hand lightly. "I was going to be the most faithful husband, because you were the love of my life, the only person that I could see myself with. And then Trish came along that night and...you know what happened that night."
"Yeah. Risky sex on the hood of the rental in the parking garage. Spare me the details," she muttered, rolling her eyes at the thought.
"Yeah," he agreed. "But as time went on, it became more than that. Trish, she became more than just my...what could I call her? Co-conspirator?"
"Fuck buddy?" she suggested, trying to sound snide, but she couldn't.
"She was more than that," he said, looking away. "I guess that's what we started out as, but somewhere along the line, I fell for her, and I told her. She didn't want to acknowledge my feelings for her or her feelings for me, and when she finally did, I decided to end it with her."
"Why would you end it with her when she started to acknowledge your feelings? And her feelings?" she wondered.
"Because she told me that she'd been using me, and I realized how much I'd been hurting you," he said quietly. "This whole thing is my fault. I mean, I was an idiot. I wouldn't even touch you for months... I drove you into the arms of Chris Jericho..."
"And I'm glad you did," she said, smiling a little. "This past year or so has been completely crazy, and there have been times where the pain and hurt were just way too much for any one person to bear, but all of that led me straight to Chris... To be honest, I'd go through all that shit times ten, just to get the chance to be with Chris again."
"Wow... Now that's love," he said, smiling a little at her. "You are so in love with him... I don't even know why I didn't see it before."
"I didn't see it for a while, either, and when I did, it scared me," she admitted. "I knew that I loved him, but I was ashamed to tell him, ashamed to admit that I failed at something."
"What did you fail at?" he asked curiously.
Her answer was simple. "Our marriage. It fell apart and...that was my fault."
"Our marriage falling apart wasn't your fault," he argued. "So stop saying that it was. We fell for other people, and that's all that we can really say."
She smiled a little again and nodded. "Yeah, you're right... So what did you want to tell me?"
"I feel like I owe it to you to say that... If, for some unknown reason, Jericho-"
"Chris," she cut in. "Call him Chris."
"Right, Chris," he said with a slight smirk. "Anyway, if he decides not to take you back, which will be impossible, especially when he finds out about the baby... If he decides not to take you back, I'm willing to give up my future with Trish and stay with you."
"But we're already divorced, if this envelope contains what we think it contains," she pointed out.
"And we can always just get remarried. It happens all the time, because marriage is really fickle these days," he replied, squeezing her hand again. "In fact, I could just stay with you and we can be a couple..."
"A couple of what? Two people in love with two different people?" she asked, one eyebrow raised. "Thanks, but no thanks."
"Hey, can't say I never offered," he said, standing up straight. "And you definitely can't say that I was a selfish asshole or something."
"You sure about that?" she joked.
"Hey, that offends me," he said with mock anger. He looked down at the envelope, then back at her. "Open it, Steph, and tell me that it says what we want it to say..."
"Ok." Her hands shook a little as she opened the envelope, and she looked inside for a moment before looking back up at him. "This is it. We're...done."
"Wow, just like that..." He'd known what it was and he still couldn't quite believe it.
"I guess I won't be needing this anymore," she said softly, reaching down to take off her ring. She held it in her hand and looked at it, then held it out to him.
"No. Keep it," he told her. "It'll help you remember the good times we had..."
"Well, did you need me to stay? Because I planned to go out with Trish and tell her the news...but if you need me..." His voice trailed off.
"I'll be fine," she said shortly.
"Gonna call Chris tonight?" he wanted to know.
"No, I'll talk with him tomorrow," she answered, looking down at her hands.
"Tomorrow? What are you waiting for, Steph?" he asked incredulously. "We're divorced, we're not together, you're free to be with him without facing any repercussions... So why don't you just go tell him everything?"
"Because I told him I'd meet him tomorrow on Raw," she replied with a sigh. "And that's when we'll meet, tomorrow, no matter what you say."
"Ok, well since I can't persuade you..."
"I'm going to be going." He looked at her and pulled her to her feet. "I love you, Steph, and this will sound really bad but I'm glad you decided to file for a divorce... I was too much of a wimp to do it myself."
"I wouldn't call you a wimp. I know why you didn't do it," she replied. "So this is goodbye?"
"We work together. This isn't goodbye," he said with a laugh. "As a matter of fact, I'll probably see you tomorrow on Raw."
"Yeah, probably," she said, laughing as well. "Now isn't Trish waiting for you?"
"We're meeting at a bar a few blocks away, so she probably is." He hugged her, then kissed her on the cheek and whispered into her ear. "Go get with Jericho."
"Chris," she whispered back. "And Hunter? I love you, too..."
She watched him go, then sat down on the edge of the bed and twirled her ring around, just looking at it. So this was what it all came down to. It was over now, and now she could be with Chris...
Now the question was, would she call him tonight or wait until Raw to confront him?
A few hours later...
"I'm sorry, but we couldn't save your baby," the doctor told Stephanie, looking sadly at her. "We tried everything, but nothing worked..."
"What do you mean, you couldn't save my baby? What happened?" Stephanie asked, looking around frantically.
"You had a miscarriage... There was nothing we could do," the doctor said solemnly. "The injuries from the car accident were too severe. It's a wonder that you even survived."
Stephanie closed her eyes as she felt the tears coming. "And where's Chris?"
"Who's Chris?" the doctor wanted to know. "Is he the man who was in the car with you?"
"Yes... He's the baby's father," she replied.
"We lost him, too..."
Stephanie sat straight up in bed, feeling her stomach. She looked around the room. It was completely dark and no lights were on, so she couldn't see much. She guessed that she must've fallen asleep shortly after Hunter had left, and she just hadn't bothered to get comfortable in the bed.
"Where did that dream come from?" she asked herself aloud, rubbing her stomach lightly. She didn't feel any pain or anything, so she guessed that it had been a dream... But wait, what if something was wrong with Chris?
The lamp on the bedside table was on before she knew what she was doing, and her cell phone was in her hands in a matter of seconds. She dialed his number quickly and waited, praying that he'd answer.
"Yeah?" he answered groggily.
"I need to see you," she said right away. "I need you to come to my room right now."
"Steph?" he asked curiously.
"Yes, it's me, now could you please come over?" she pleaded.
"We're supposed to meet on Raw, remember?" he reminded her.
"I know, but something happened and I can't wait anymore," she said, sniffling a little. "I had a really bad dream, too, and it scared me and I thought you were dead... Please, Chris, I need to know that you're ok."
"Well, you're talking to me, aren't you?" he asked logically.
"Yes, but I really need to see you," she said, pleading to the point where she was almost begging. "Come over, ok? I... I need you."
"Whatever, Steph," he said, and before she could say anything else, he ended the call.
He's not coming, she thought sadly, wrapping her arms around herself. He's not coming...
Chris may have acted nonchalant and a little uncaring on the phone, but he felt anything but that. He dressed hurriedly, and in record time, he was out the door and in the hall. He had no idea where the hell her room was, but he knew that he was going to find it, because she needed him. That was all that he could think of. Never mind the fact that she'd hurt him. The only think that he could think about was that little four letter word, need. She needed him.
He thought about knocking on every single door on every floor just to find her, but then he remembered what time it was and decided that the logical thing to do would be to go down to the front desk and just ask. He waited for an elevator, and when the doors opened, his eyes widened in surprise at the couple that stepped out in front of him.
"Chris, are you going to be in the room tonight?" Trish asked him as he just stood there looking at them.
"Um, no, actually, I was headed down to the front desk," Chris replied, then turned to Hunter. "But maybe you could help me. See, I-"
"Before you say whatever you needed to say, I think you need this," Hunter interrupted, pulling out a cardkey. "Steph is too much of a chicken to call you and tell you how she feels, but I suggest you go up to our room and confront her. She has some things to tell you that'll change your whole perspective on all this shit that's been happening lately."
"Done with the speech?" Chris asked, taking the cardkey from him. Hunter nodded and told him the room Stephanie was in. "Thanks," he said, then stepped quickly into the elevator and waited patiently for it to go up...
Stephanie sat there on the bed holding herself, silent tears streaming down her face. She couldn't stop the tears from coming, because Chris... He wasn't coming. She heard the door open, and she quickly dried her eyes. "That you, Hunter?"
The door closed, and Chris hurried into the room and over to her. "Steph, are you ok?" he asked worriedly. How many times had he told himself that he would resist her, that he would turn her away if she called him? Enough, he thought as he took a few steps closer to her. He'd told himself so many times that he wouldn't go back to her if she called, but she'd called, and despite everything he'd said before, he was there. Where else would he be? He loved her, and there was no way he could just stay away when she called.
"Chris," she breathed, rushing over to meet him. It had only been a few days since she'd last hugged him, but it had been two months since she'd really felt him this way and let him hold her this way. She knew what she'd told him and she knew what he needed to hear, but she didn't care for the moment. She just had to feel him, to prove to herself that the dream she'd had, had really been just a dream.
"I know something's wrong," he said, surprised that she had walked over to him and put her arms around him. Instinctively, he put his arms around her and pulled her closer, holding her against him, where it all felt so right. When he felt her tears wetting his shoulder, he wrapped his arms around her a little more securely and just held her. "Tell me what's wrong."
"I needed to know that you were ok. I need you," she whispered, starting to run her fingers through his silky hair, this hair she hadn't touched in what seemed to be a lifetime. "Chris, I need you so much..."
"You know, what about when I needed you, Steph?" he asked, frowning slightly and pulling back a little. "What about when I was hurt, or when I was scared and I needed you?"
"I'm sorry," she said softly. "I'm sorry I ended us, I'm sorry for all of it. But I need you now more than I ever have... I've missed you and I need you." She was babbling and she knew it, but she couldn't stop, because he was there. He had come to her despite the way she had ended things with him. His appearance alone was like a miracle to her, and it provided her with the hope that maybe he would see things her way...
"So you need me," he said, and despite the promise he'd made to himself concerning his relationship with her, he smiled a little and pulled her closer. He'd dumped Trish for her, and he hadn't been able to get this woman out of his mind. He knew she didn't love him, because she'd basically told him that on that fateful day two months ago. He knew that she loved her husband, and even though it was a painful thought, he knew that she had only been with him for the sex. That's how it had all started, so what else could he have expected? I know I should feel used, but it's not her fault that I fell in love with her... She never mentioned love that night when she stepped into my shower...
"Chris, did you hear me?" Stephanie asked anxiously.
From the look on her face, she had just said something really important, and he had been too zoned out to hear it. "I'm sorry, what did you say?" he asked.
"I said Hunter and I are through. We've decided to end our farce of a marriage," she said in a low voice.
"Farce?" he repeated, and she nodded. "But you love him."
"Yeah, I did... I do," she said, and a few more tears escaped from her eyes. "In the beginning, I loved him, and when he cheated on me with Trish, I still loved him. I was one lovesick fool... But he told me that he's in love with Trish, and that's who he wants to be with..."
"And you're ok with that?" he asked, one eyebrow raised.
"I'm perfectly fine with that," she confirmed, and she hugged him. "Because I've got you... I want to be with you."
"So what are you saying to me, Steph?" he asked, hugging her back. Inside, he was jumping for joy, but he knew that he shouldn't get elated yet... There was probably a catch somewhere.
"I'm saying that I want to be with you, Chris," she said simply, resting her head on his shoulder. "I want to be with you, I want to be everything with you..."
"I don't know how that's going to be possible...unless you can grow to love me," he said, feeling a little upset. He would take her back, but he wouldn't be the only one to have real feelings in their relationship, or things would never work out between them.
"I can't do that," she said immediately.
He pulled away and looked hard at her, holding both her hands in his. "Why not, Steph? Can't you somehow picture yourself falling in love with me and-"
"No," she interrupted. "I...no."
He dropped her hands and sighed. Was this what she'd called him here for? To get his hopes up again, then dash them? "Then as much as I want to be with you... I just can't, not if I'm the only one who has any true feelings in this relationship." He turned and headed for the door.
"I never said that!" she called after him, but he kept walking. She couldn't lose him again. She had to tell him. "Chris, I can't grow to love you because I already love you!"
He turned around to look at her, his heart in his throat. Had she really just said those words he had dreamed of her saying once again, and had she really meant them this time? He walked back over to her and put his hands on her shoulders, holding her out at arm's length. "Tell me again," he ordered, almost exactly like that first time she'd ever told him. "Please."
She looked into his eyes. "I love you," she whispered. "I've loved you for a while now, and I was completely sincere when I told you that the first time...and all those other times after that."
"So what happened? Why did you suddenly just change your mind two months ago?" he wanted to know.
She sighed a little, thinking about that day when she'd...well, broken his heart. "I was being too stubborn, I guess. I wasn't ready to tell Hunter... I didn't want to admit that I had fallen for you while I was still married to him...but now I don't have that problem, do I?"
"So you love me?" he asked her quietly.
"I do," she whispered, caressing his face lightly. "I love you so much, Chris..."
"God, Steph, I love you, too," he whispered back, and he pulled her to him and kissed her. He was the happiest man alive, it seemed, and he wanted to tell her. "Do you know how happy you've made me?" he asked breathlessly.
"It gets better," she said, staring at him nervously. She had already known how he was going to take the news of her loving him, but this other news... He might not like it very much. "Or worse, depending on how you take it..."
"I don't think that's possible," he said, smiling at her. "But go on. What were you going to say?"
She said nothing. Instead, she took his hand and placed it over her stomach, then looked up into his eyes, hoping that he understood what she was trying to tell him.
"What are you trying to tell me?" he asked, looking at her with wide eyes.
"You're going to be a dad," she said in a tiny voice. She closed her eyes and waited for his explosion of anger, and when it didn't come, she opened her eyes again and looked warily at him. He was just staring blankly at her, mouth agape. "Chris, are you ok?" she asked worriedly.
"I'm going to be a dad?" he asked in disbelief, removing his hand from her stomach and running it nervously through his hair. "You mean you're pregnant?"
"Yeah," she replied. "Remember all those times I was sick and I said it was a stomach bug?" She paused and he nodded. "Well... It turns out that it wasn't a stomach bug... I'm almost two and a half months pregnant. You and I are going to be parents in a couple of months."
"Wow, Steph, I don't know what to say," he said, looking away. He wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. "I mean, wow, this is big news to spring on a happy man. Are you trying to kill me with joy or something?"
"So...you're happy about this baby then?" she asked curiously, instinctively putting a hand to her stomach. She had been prepared to brave out this pregnancy alone if he had decided not to take her back. This baby, this little bundle of life inside her, meant everything to her, because it was a part of her and the man she loved... But if he accepted the baby, well that was ten times better!
He looked at her with that same look of disbelief on his face. "How could I be anything other than happy? Steph, I'm ecstatic and proud and excited all at once! This baby is a symbol of our love and passion..." He kneeled down on one knee and got eye-level with her stomach. He lifted her shirt up and pressed his lips against her still-flat stomach, then pulled back to speak, lips brushing against her skin with every word. "Hi there, baby. It's your daddy. How's it going in your mommy's stomach?" He pressed his ear against her stomach as if waiting for the baby to speak, and he looked up at Stephanie with a smile on his face. He had a feeling that he was going to enjoy being a parent, and he was going to enjoy sharing parenthood with Stephanie...
She pulled him back up and leaned on him, just because she missed being able to touch him, to feel him. "I didn't know how you were going to react. I even considered the possibility of you saying that the baby was Hunter's and not yours."
"It's not, is it?" he asked, hoping against hope that it wasn't. He didn't think that he would be able to take it if this baby wasn't his, not after already believing that it was his own. No, that kind of confession from her would be too much for him to handle...
"Nope," she said happily. "This little life inside me came from us...me and you. He or she is ours..."
"This is like a dream," he said, putting one hand on her stomach. "Me and you...and a baby. We're going to have a life together... It's like a dream, something I thought would never be possible after what happened two months ago."
"Yeah, it is like a dream," she agreed, touching his cheek softly. "What can I say? Sometimes the dream that seems most unattainable... Well, sometimes it comes true..."
A/N: Thanks for your support in this story, everyone! I'm such a sucker for happy endings with these two, and I just can't help it! I wrote the end of this chapter right after I wrote chapter 11, believe it or not... Please review! Thanks everyone, for taking a chance and hopping on this ride with me... Almost 7 months and 31 chapters later, we're finally at the end! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!
And a special thanks to DCFanatic4Life...for letting me use parts of her story and profile, and for making me believe in this story! You've inspired me the whole way and I can't thank you enough! Take a bow, Nina! ;-)